DayBreaks for 3/11/19 – A Most Sobering Truth

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DayBreaks for 3/11/19: A Most Sobering Truth

On Sunday we recognized, remembered and honored the persecuted church around the world. I’m sure you know the stats: more Christians were martyred in the 1900’s than in all the other centuries combined. In fact, based on one source I consulted, 65% of all Christian martyrs ever were killed between 1901-2000. At one point at the height of communism and fascism, 330,000 annually were dying. Best guesses are that presently between 100-150,000 are being martyred each year – that’s over 410 martyrs each and every day, 365 days a year.

Yet, statistics only go so far. They tell neither the personal stories of those who suffer and die for their faith, nor the stories of their families. Putting a face to those who suffer is much more impactful than the numbers themselves.

On Sunday, we had some people with us from China and India who shared stories – and in the case of the brother from India – his own personal story of beatings and his struggle.

But, as harrowing as some of the stories are, what impacted me the most was this verse from 2 Timothy 3:12 (ESV) – Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…  Read that VERY CAREFULLY. It is part of inspired Scripture and is says that not just some, but ALL who desire to live a godly life will be persecuted. That brought me up short. Are you being persecuted for your faith, really? I am not. Part of that is living in America where we have some freedoms, but the verse didn’t say that only those living in countries without religious freedom would be persecuted…it says that ALL who desire to live a godly life in Christ will be persecuted.

The reason I’m not being persecuted isn’t because I live in America – but this verse tells me that it is because I don’t desire to live a godly life. All my life I more or less assumed I wasn’t persecuted because I lived in a free county. And all my life I’ve been wrong.

PRAYER: Forgive me, Lord, for wanting a persecution free life more than I desire to live a godly life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

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DayBreaks for 3/8/19 – The Heart of the Scandal

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DayBreaks for 3/08/19: The Heart of the Scandal

From the DayBreaks archive March 2009:

Why was Jesus such a stumbling block to the Jews?  Why is he such a hurdle for modern man to overcome and welcome?  There probably are as many excuses (and perhaps reasons) as there are folks who refuse to accept him – then, or now.  I can think of several reasons:

FIRST: no one wants to be told they have to die to themselves.  After all, haven’t we been raised with the encouragement to “follow your own heart”?  And doesn’t that seem like good advice?  “Be true to yourself.”  But….this is not biblical advice AT ALL!  The heart is “desperately wicked”, Scripture says.  Why follow it?  If anything, we need to lead our hearts to the cross over and over and there kneel down in the dirt realizing that our most righteous acts smell like dirty, rotten, filthy socks or underwear (“rags” as Scripture puts it.)  To follow our hearts will get us in trouble every time.  Jesus said we need to die to ourselves – we don’t want to do that.

SECOND: Jesus says our focus should be on things above – and our concern should be for the coming and completion of the kingdom of God.  Again, this takes the focus off of us.

THIRD: while we aren’t saved by obedience, Jesus made it clear that God cares about holiness.  Sadly, too many of us care more about our own “fun” – which usually means we are doing things which may be unholy that are momentarily fun but which are unholy and deadly in the long run.

FOURTH: here’s the point I really want to make about why Jesus is hard for many to accept.  Do you recall the 1996 song by Joan Osborne titled, “What If God Were One of Us?”  There were those who found the song sacrilegious, and I can understand that.  But that is the very same reason that so many rejected Jesus in his life – including friends and family members – they felt he was sacrilegious when he claimed to be God – “like one of us.”  Phillip Yancey said, “By any measure Jesus led a tragic life: rumors of illegitimacy, taunts of insanity from his family, rejection by most who heard him, betrayal by friends, the savage turn of a mob against him, a series of justice-mocking trials, execution in a form reserved for slaves and violent criminals.  A pitiful story, to be sure, and that is the heart of the scandal: we do not expect to pity God.”

That the Messiah would suffer and die was never in the Jewish psyche.  The Messiah, they thought, would never do those things.  They couldn’t live with a Messiah who would suffer and die – so they killed him to be sure.  And we can’t live without such a Savior. 

Prayer: Who would have believed our report, that the Son of God should suffer and die for sinners!  Father God, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit – thank you for this wonder and mystery of your love for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 3/7/19 – A Personal Friend

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DayBreaks for 3/07/19: A Personal Friend

From the DayBreaks archive February 2009:

Much is said these days about being friends with God or Jesus.  It was not always so.  For many long years (centuries probably, and millennia possibly) mankind was so much in awe of the Divine Creator that some groups wouldn’t even dare to pronounce His name.  Others held that the gods were disinterested in the doings of mere mortals…except to use us as their playthings for times when they got bored.  And, of course, there have always been those who blasphemed and spoke ill of their “gods”, too.   

But when Jesus came, he turned those notions upside down.  He said he would not longer call his disciples servants, but friends.  He taught His disciples to pray using the term, Abba (Daddy), when speaking to the Father. 

Yet, how does one really get to know God personally?  In his book, Reaching for the Invisible God, Phillip Yancey wrote: “In Jesus’ day the answer was shocking simple: you know him the same way you know anybody.  You introduce yourself, shake hands, strike up a conversation, inquire about his family.  Because of Jesus we need never question God’s desire for intimacy.  Does God really want close contact with us?  Jesus gave up Heaven for it.  In person he reestablished the original link between God and human beings, between seen and unseen worlds.”

In the Old Testament, God is spoke of and called “Father” a total of 11 times.  But what a change when we get to the New Testament, that refers to God as our Father a stunning 170 times! 

How do you get to know God personally?  Get to know Jesus.  Read the gospels, but don’t just read them.  On each page are jewels to be gathered about the nature of Jesus, of the things that stirred his heart, the way little things caught his attention and the way he reacted to people, places and things.  You can read his words.  And, through the Spirit, He is with us still.  While you may not be able to shake his hand as the disciples long ago did, you can still talk to him – and listen to him.  Oh, how much we miss by not asking him to speak with us more than we do!  Somewhere we got this infernal idea that prayer is about talking.  It’s not.  It’s to be far more about listening, I believe.

Yes, Jesus is a friend and a personal one at that.  But he’s also far more than just a personal friend, this friend is God.

Prayer: What a friend we have in Jesus!  We give you glory Father God for such a perfect revelation of Yourself!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 3/06/19 – Signs and Decisions

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DayBreaks for 3/06/19: Signs and Decisions

From the DayBreaks archive February 2009:

“In my experience, signs follow decisions. The way you overcome spiritual inertia and produce spiritual momentum is by making tough decisions. And the tougher the decision, the more potential momentum it will produce. The primary reason most of us don’t see God moving is simply because we aren’t moving. If you want to see God move, you need to make a move!

“I learned this lesson in dramatic fashion during the first year at National Community Church. We had been praying for a drummer to join our worship team for months, but I felt like I needed to put some feet on my faith, so I went out and bought a four-hundred-dollar drum set. It was a Field of Dreams moment: if you buy it, they will come. I bought the drum set on a Thursday. Our first drummer showed up the next Sunday. And he was good. He was actually part of the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps.

“Rock and roll.

“I cannot promise that signs will follow your faith in three minutes or three hours or three days. But when you take a step of faith, signs will follow. God will sanctify your expectations, and you will begin to live your life with holy anticipation. You won’t be able to wait to see what God is going to do next.” – Matt Batterson, Wild Goose Chase, 2008

Abraham had to pack his bags and family before he took the first step.  Noah worked for years before the first drop of rain fell.  Moses had to stretch out his hand before the Red Sea parted.  The high priests had to put their foot in the flowing Jordan before God stopped the water.  Elijah had to pray, build altars, douse them with water…before fire fell from the sky.  The apostles had to go in faith that Jesus would be with them when they went out into a hostile world. 

What step of faith is God asking you to take for Him?  Have you decided to do it…but have yet to take the first step?  Why are you waiting?

Prayer: Give us courage, Lord, to act in faith…trusting that You will be with us and bring about Your desired result!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 3/5/19 – Ready Every Day

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DayBreaks for 3/05/19: Ready Every Day

From the DayBreaks archive February 2009:

Robby Robins was an Air Force pilot during the first Iraq war. After his 300th mission, he was surprised to be given permission to immediately pull his crew together and fly his plane home. They flew across the ocean to Massachusetts and then had a long drive to western Pennsylvania. They drove all night, and when his buddies dropped him off at his driveway just after sun-up, there was a big banner across the garage—”Welcome Home Dad!”

How did they know? No one had called, and the crew themselves hadn’t expected to leave so quickly. Robins relates, “When I walked into the house, the kids, about half dressed for school, screamed, ‘Daddy!’ Susan came running down the hall—she looked terrific—hair fixed, make-up on, and a crisp yellow dress. ‘How did you know?’ I asked.

‘I didn’t,’ she answered through tears of joy. ‘Once we knew the war was over, we knew you’d be home one of these days. We knew you’d try to surprise us, so we were ready every day.'”

In Matthew 25 is the parable of the wise and foolish virgins who were invited to the wedding feast.  The wise virgins had enough oil to keep their lamps burning and were ready and waiting when the bridegroom showed up at the feast.  The foolish virgins had not exercised the foresight to prepare themselves so they were not ready when the bridegroom arrived. 

We need to be ready every day for a variety of things:

FIRST: we need to be ready for the arrival of the bridegroom.  It could be today that Jesus gets the word from the Father: “It’s time.  Go back and bring My children home!”  If that day is today, there is absolutely nothing that will stop it from taking place.  No one knows the day, except the Father.  Hence the need to always be ready!

SECOND: we need to be ready to die.  Jesus may or may not come today…and we may or may not live to see tomorrow.  It sounds trite to say it, but it is true.  Just recently in our town, a 19 year old boy from a nearby town came here for the yearly Citrus Fair.  He was hit by a car and killed.  I know he wasn’t expecting it, I can only hope and pray that he was ready.

THIRD: there are opportunities that only come up once in a while and we need to be ready to grasp the opportunities to show the love of Jesus each day even as he demonstrates his love to us daily.  Make it a point, right now, to love someone today in a practical way.  You might not have the chance again tomorrow.

Prayer: Help us to be watchful, Lord, and ready, for Your return, for our own death, and for the chances that come our way to love others in Your name!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 3/04/19 – The Word Became Flesh

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DayBreaks for 3/04/19: The Word Became Flesh

From the DayBreaks archive February 2009:

One of the most amazing statements in Scripture is found in the gospel of John: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…  Here is a great mystery: that the Divine Word became flesh.  There are those who have puzzled over how this could be true, those who question the virgin birth and the fact that Jesus was begotten by the Spirit.  It is a rather remarkable fact.  But that’s not the most wonderful or amazing question that could be asked.  Instead of asking “How”, I believe we’d be better to ask the “Why?” question. 

John doesn’t leave us hanging on that point, either.  It was because the Word became flesh that we saw the glory of God in the person of His Son, Jesus of Nazareth.  Surely, it was the kind of thing that mankind had longed for from the time of the creation – to see the glory of God.  Even those who saw Jesus saw only a bit of the glory that belongs to God because it would have been too much for humans to bear to be exposed, in our flesh, to the fullness of the glory of God Almighty.  But a portion of it was made visible to us, and it should be enough.

The great Christian scholar and theologian, Karl Barth, had an interesting observation regarding this passage, which brings us to the point I want to consider today.  Here’s what he had to say: “The Word became flesh – and then through theologians it became words again.” 

Yes, Jesus became flesh.  He’s not here any longer in a fleshly form, but he is here in those of us who have fleshly forms.  The Word took up residence in human flesh when Jesus came, and the Spirit has taken up residence in human flesh in all believers.  The question is: has the Word remained incarnated in us, or have we turned the truth of the Spirit and of God into just words once more?  Is the Spirit of the risen Lord dwelling actively in you?  Are you listening to His promptings, taking action as He directs?  Is He a personal acquaintance with whom you have a relationship?  Or, has your faith just become a matter of words once more, drained of the vitality of the One Who is Life itself?

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. – Colossians 3:16 (NIV)

The Word still dwells in flesh.  Only this time it is our flesh.  Let it dwell in you RICHLY!!!!

Prayer: What an amazing thing, Jesus, that You became flesh!  How humbling that You still choose to live in our human flesh through Your Spirit.  May you dwell in us richly, Lord Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 3/01/19 – Unwanted

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DayBreaks for 3/01/19: Unwanted

From the DayBreaks archive February 2009:

John 1:10-11 (KJV) – He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

How, I wonder, could Jesus come to his own, God’s chosen people Israel, and they not know or recognize him?  They had been prepared by God Himself throughout thousands of years for the Messiah.  They expected him to come – but tragically, they didn’t see him as anything except a carpenter from Nazareth, a child born out of wedlock, trained in a trade by Joseph.

A widow had children who left her one by one to go to the “new country” (as she called it.)  As they made their tearful farewells, she heard each of them promise her that they’d save money and that they would send for her “very soon.”  Time passed; the children married and had children of their own, but no mention ever came in a letter suggesting they were ready to send for their aging mother.  She deeply longed to see them, but thinking they lacked the means to bring her to the “new country”, she scrimped and saved up enough money to afford on her own to pay them a surprise visit.  She anticipated a joyful reunion with her children and she longed to see them and to meet her grandchildren. Upon arriving her reception was the reverse of what she had hoped and longed for.  Her children had indeed prospered, but seemed annoyed at the surprise visit, and they belittled her old-fashioned clothing and way of speaking.  They had no room for her in their hearts.  The disappointed woman returned home and took up residence in a home for the elderly, where she proved to be a blessing to all about her, pouring out the vast flood of love that her own children had rejected.  She wasn’t bitter.  “It seems to me that I knew what our Lord suffered,” she told a friend, “when He came to His own dear people and they gave Him the cold shoulder.  Just think!  He came unto His own and His own received Him not!  I can understand how that wounded His loving heart.”

Perhaps the Jews failure wasn’t so much that they didn’t recognize Jesus, but that they had no room left in their hearts for this lover of their souls. 

I think we’d best not be too hard on the Jews, however.  How many times have I not found room in my heart for Him when He comes calling?  How many times have I been ashamed or afraid to let people know where I stand, and Who I stand with? 

Jesus loves us.  He came to be with us.  Will we send Him back home alone – and unwanted?

Prayer: Jesus, don’t give up on us!  Keep knocking at the doorway to our hearts.  Transform our hard hearts into hearts that rejoice to see You when You arrive!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>