DayBreaks for 9/22/15 – Who’s Voice Is It?

DayBreaks for 9/22/15: Whose Voice Is It?

Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice. – John 10:1-5

This is a rather terrifying passage for several reasons. First, there are those who will intentionally put forth great effort to steal the sheep. Satan, of course, does this. I’m not talking about merely taking people from one congregation to another, though that is often referred to among pastors as “sheep stealing.” What Jesus is describing is far more insidious. It is done with malicious intent or there would be no need to sneak over the wall into the sheep enclosure. We can’t forget that there are those who want the church to decline, and there is at least one who wants our souls to die for all eternity.

The scariest part, though, is that it makes me wonder how well I hear Jesus’ voice, and how well other “Christians” hear it today. What do we hear and who is saying it? Our Supreme Court has seemingly taken it upon themselves to be the arbiter of morality and to decide matters relation to life and death and marriage. We must never forget that the voice of the Supreme Court (even the majority of the judges) is not the same as the voice of God. Where God has spoken the Supreme Court has no authority over the Christian. It is one of those situations where we must, as did Peter, say “We must obey God rather than men.”

Everything we read in the mainstream press about trends in our culture, about what is good or bad, needs to be filtered against the voice of the Shepherd – and NO ONE else’s voice (including mine!)

Even though the majority of the US populace may be in favor of something, God’s Kingdom is not a democracy where right or wrong are determined by polls. We might do well to remind ourselves that when we look at the stories of God’s people in Scripture, more often than not, the majority of His people were always in the wrong and while there were a few righteous prophets who railed against the popular thinking for one reason and one reason only: they’d heard the Shepherd’s voice and understood that their highest calling was to do as He commanded.

It broke their hearts to see the condition of their land. It should break ours, too. But we should not despair. God was able to restore His people many, many times…and He can restore our nation, too…but not if the prophets amongst us stop listening to the voice of the Shepherd and stop calling us to repentance.

PRAYER: Jesus, we want to hear your voice when it whispers peace to us, but seldom do we want to hear it when what you say doesn’t please us or tickle our ears. Change us to welcome ALL your words! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

Advertisements

DayBreaks for 9/09/15 – Much More than a Cross

DayBreaks for 9/09/15: Much More than a Cross

Do you want to know something that really bothers me? It bothers me when people act in very blatant, un-Christian ways when they’ve got a cross hanging from around their neck on a chain. I make no judgment call on their salvation, but we are told that “by their fruits you will know them” and their fruit certainly seems to be lacking in many such cases. I fear that the cross has been reduced, for many, to nothing more than a piece of jewelry. I have nothing against people wearing a cross – but it seems to me that it should cause us to be even more careful in our conduct before others, for the cross says something about us – or, at least, it should.

The people of Lithuania take cross bearing a little more seriously than we do. For them the cross symbolizes faith, hope and love. There are crosses are everywhere in the countryside, on roads, in city parks and village squares. Communities and individuals erect crosses to bring them health and to commemorate events like weddings, births and christenings. Crosses are also erected to commemorate historical events. One of those events was the Baltic Way, in which millions of people linked hands stretching across the Baltics from Estonia to Lithuania on August 25, 1989. About 9 monuments commemorate this extraordinary event.

The nation’s pride is the Hill of Crosses, located north of Siauliai. Lithuanians erected crosses there as early as the mid-19th century. The Soviet government couldn’t tolerate that kind of spiritual expression, so they totally destroyed the hill in 1961, then again in 1973 and 1975. But people kept erecting more crosses, until in 1980 their destruction stopped. Today the crosses number in the many thousands. They are different sizes and shapes, some simple, some ornate, but they immortalize Lithuania’s troubles, misfortunes, joys, hope and faith.

For them, the cross is more than a symbol in the church. It is symbol for the world to see. A symbol that will not go away. It is a symbol of sacrifice. A sacrifice that gives each and every one of us hope and faith and courage.

Jesus didn’t invite us to wear a cross, but to bear a cross. We must never forget that.

PRAYER: Jesus, whether we wear a cross or not, let us live our lives in such a way that we never bring shame on the cross where you died for us, or on you and your church! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

Daybreaks for 9/07/15 – The Secret to Standing Up

Image result for daniel in the lions den images

DayBreaks for 9/07/15: The Secret to Standing Up

Do you remember when you were first trying to learn to walk? I don’t either, but I suspect our parents started us down the path to walking by helping us learn to stand up first. It’s a combination, I guess, of figuring out the crawling thing first, watching people walk, and standing on your own two legs.

There are times when standing up isn’t easy. I’ve been on the deck of a boat out on the ocean where the oncoming swells were up above my head. It wasn’t easy to stand at all (let alone keep my breakfast down!) There are other times when I was coming out of anesthesia and walking, at least in a straight line, was rather a challenge. I would imagine that in both those situations I appeared a bit comical (except maybe for throwing up over the boat railing)!

Spiritually, it isn’t easy to always stand up either. The sermon on Sunday was about Daniel chapter 6, where Daniel, who must have been around 80 years old at the time, was made one of the top three rulers in the Medo-Persian empire, and was about to be made the top guy after the king himself, when some of the other satraps and rulers grew jealous of him and set out to try to destroy him. They tricked the king into issuing a decree that no one could pray to anyone except to the king himself for the next 30 days. You see, they knew Daniel’s habit of prayer and unable to find any other fault in him, the had the king pass that self-honoring law.

Daniel didn’t forsake his prayer habit, even though he could have gone into his closet and prayed in the dark, or just “prayed in his heart” for 30 days. He stood a stand for what his conscience told him he needed to do. And how did he take that stand? By kneeling down three times a day to pray toward Jerusalem.

What would I have done? Do I even pray three times a day? Do you? What if I’d been faced with a life or death choice – stop praying or die? How important is prayer to me? Or rather, how important is my relationship with my God?

If someone offered all Christians $5,000,000 to stop praying for 30 days, my guess is that there would a many, many more Christian multi-millionaires. We could justify (or at least rationalize it) in a variety of ways. “Think of all the good I could do for others with that money…and God would be glorified!”

No. Daniel would have said “No!” How do I know that? Because something far more valuable to him than $5,000,000 was at stake – it was his life.

And he stood by kneeling down.

Sometimes the only way to stand is to get down on our knees and then do what we know will bring God glory, not what will bring us honor or glory.

PRAYER: Father, give us the courage to take a stand for You and Your honor and glory! May our knees grown calloused from prayer, for there is great need and penitence to be made for all the times we’ve refused to stand. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 9/04/15 – Yes, But I Do

DayBreaks for 9/04/15: Yes, But I Do

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)

If we believe in Jesus, we should know that the various boundaries we used to include and exclude, to categorize and sort, are erased both on the inside and the outside. We should, I say, because we don’t always act like we believe it.

Fred Craddock tells the story of a missionary sent to preach the gospel in India near the end of World War II. After many months the time came for a furlough back home. His church wired him the money to book passage on a steamer. When the missionary reached the port city he discovered a boat load of Jews had just been allowed to land temporarily. These were the days when European Jews were sailing all over the world literally on the run for their lives, looking for a place to live, and these particular Jews were staying in attics and warehouses and basements all over that port city.

It happened to be Christmas, and on Christmas morning, this missionary went to one of the attics where scores of Jews were staying. He walked in and said, “Merry Christmas.” The people looked at him like he was crazy and responded, “We’re Jews.” “I know that,” said the missionary, “What would you like for Christmas?” In utter amazement the Jews responded, “Why, we’d like pastries, good pastries like the ones we used to have in Germany.” So the missionary went out and used the money he’d received to pay for his ticket home to buy pastries for all the Jews he could find staying in the port. Of course, then he had to wire home asking for more money to book his passage back to the States.

As you might expect, his superiors wired back asking what happened to the money they had already sent. He wired that he had used it to buy Christmas pastries for some Jews. His superiors wired back, “Why did you do that? They don’t even believe in Jesus.” He wired back: “Yes, but I do.”

What good is our faith if it doesn’t make a difference in how we love and demonstrate our love for God and for others?

PRAYER: Forgive us doubting humans, Jesus, for seeing and thinking with earthly eyes and minds. Don’t ever let us forget that You are the One who turns things from impossible into reality! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 8/31/15 – The Hidden Deception of Sin

DayBreaks for 8/31/15: The Hidden Deception of Sin

Daniel 5 is a fascinating chapter. Belshazzar, the titular king of Babylon and grandson to the great Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, was one of those who never learned from history. His grandfather’s pride led to his being punished with the disease of boanthropy – believing and acting like a cow – until he repented and came to his senses and was restored to his grandeur.

Belshazzar surely would have heard the story. Had he learned? No. He was filled with pride. Daniel 5 says as much, but it is evident in what was happening in the capital even as the enemy was at the gate.

Nabonidus, Belshazzar’s father and the actual king, was gone waging war against the Medes and Persians, and Belshazzar was left in the citadel of Babylon to rule in his absence. The Medes and Persians were outside the walls, threatening the city. So what does Belshazzar do? He hosts a wild party.

What was Belshazzar thinking? We can only surmise, but he had invited all the nobles to a great feast that night. It seems as if Belshazzar was mocking the enemy, or trying to convince his nobles (and perhaps himself!) that they had nothing to fear for he was, after all, the king of Babylon!

If there is a sin that has plagued creation since the time of the beginning, it would seem to be pride: pride in thinking we know better than the Creator what is good and best for us, pride that causes us to think we created our own successes and are alone responsible for our achievements. It is pride that makes us seek more and more possessions, more and more power, more and more fame and glory for ourselves. And Belshazzar had it in spades, this sin called pride.

Pride blinded Belshazzar to what befell his grandfather. Sin blinded him to the realities of the situation with which he was confronted. And that is what sin does best: it makes us unaware of the danger involved. Especially when sin is coupled with God’s long-suffering nature.

Because we have all sinned and seem to have “gotten away with it” (which is really just God’s incredible patience to have not stricken us dead on the spot, for “the soul that sins shall surely die”), we are blinded to the danger of our sin. It is like playing with a king cobra and not being bit. It leads us to a false sense of well-being and we conclude that “all must be well” when in reality, as Belshazzar found out, it was not well at all. That very night, in Daniel 5, Belshazzar was overthrown and killed.

We have recently seen how this happens with the entire Ashley Madison hack. Those who thought they were “safe” in their secret sins one night, awoke the next morning to find they had been deceived into thinking they were safe and their infidelities were secret and hidden.

Sin’s deception is hideous. It makes us unaware of the danger. And that is perhaps the greatest danger of all.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. – Galatians 6:7 (ESV)

PRAYER: Keep us from deception and from convincing ourselves that all is well when we sin! Reveal to us the danger in the things we do – yet seem to get away with. Make us wise to Truth! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 8/25/15: Fix Me!

DayBreaks for 8/25/15: Fix Me!

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

“There lies within each of us the desire to be fixed. It has been ingrained into our minds that as long as we continue to repent of all sin we are well off. We have put so much emphasis on not doing bad and repenting of our wrongdoings that we have forgotten to do good. This is why our altars are packed full every single Sunday and our soup kitchens are lacking in volunteers. Erwin McManus in Seizing your Divine Moment says “We have defined holiness through what we separate ourselves from rather than what we give ourselves to.” We like to think that all we need to do is stop doing the bad stuff and then we will be well off. We have come to the conclusion that God is our almighty doctor, church is his office, and we just need to go for our weekly checkup to assure ourselves we have done nothing wrong. We choose to live our lives in search of a remedy for our most current predicament and we are content with continually being fixed.”  (From “Constant Remedies” by Nathan Colquhoun)

How do you like the feeling of being broken? It’s not much fun, is it? I’ve never had any broken bones except my nose, so I can’t relate to a broken bone too much, but I can relate to feeling broken inside. I’ve felt it several times: at the death of my father, the times our children have moved out of the home to start their own lives, the times when my wife and I have been at bitter odds with one another, when a beloved dog died. There are many things in life that make us feel broken. But it is interesting to contemplate that we may spend so much time grieving over our sins (we should grieve over them for they are very serious), that we forget to do the things that are GOOD, the good works for which God created us. 

You’ve probably known people as I have, who are so wrapped up in their guilt and shame that they can’t get out of their own self-constructed dog-house. Not even after surrendering their lives to Christ! As Mr. Colquhoun says later on, there is only one cure for that – and it’s the blood for Jesus. That’s the only thing that can take away our guilt and shame. Once we’ve claimed His blood, we need to claim the promise of wholeness and forgiveness that comes along with it. To do anything less than accept his forgiveness to cover and remove our guilt and shame is nothing less than a lack of faith in his promises!

We need to move past the constant prayer of “Fix me!” to one of “Let me do your work each moment of every day.”

PRAYER: Lord, I don’t want to be content to just not to bad…I want to do good for Your glory and the benefit of Your creation! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 8/21/15 – Our Birthmark

DayBreaks for 8/21/15: Our Birthmark

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

I have some very dear friends who are very interested in “activism.” What do I mean by that? I mean that they’re engaging our culture in as many different ways as possible to try to bring more of the Light to bear on the world’s darkness. They engage in debates, letter-writing campaigns, lobbying efforts, make phone calls to talk radio hosts and some even have run or consider running for public office. Don’t get me wrong, my hat is off to them. I think that what they’re doing is good – they’re at least trying to be the salt and light that we are all called to be. Some folks are called to be more activist than others. Some are more given to acts of service (like Mother Theresa) than political wrangling. God needs people of all kinds, shapes and sizes to do what He wants done.

Still, there’s a part of me that thinks we need to be cautious in our activism. The things we usually become activists about are the things that anger and frustrate us. And anger is not a very good motivation when it comes to doing the Lord’s work. At least not if the anger is something other than righteous indignation. If our anger is directed towards the person and not their actions, we may be missing the boat and working out of ungodly motivations.

Wouldn’t it be true that if our activism, no matter how well-intentioned it is, drives the possibility of love out of the heart of those towards whom my activism is directed, then I am not a proper representative of the gospel of Christ? If my attitudes produce frustration that blocks their way to the cross, I must not be spreading grace, but rather demanding adherence to law.

It is true that a culture war is inevitable and must be fought. I am convinced that such is, indeed, the case. We can’t just let it go by without even raising Godly concerns and truth to the forefront. But we shouldn’t use the same weapons that the enemy uses. We should use the weapons of the Spirit, being armed with grace at all times. 

When you stop to think about it, when we were born into the family of God, our birthmark changed from anything that characterizes the world to become something that characterizes the kingdom of God. We should have but one birthmark: not political correctness, legal or moral superiority, but love. No matter how much we might achieve without love, Paul reminds us that it is of no value. 1 Cor. 13:1-3: If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

The next time we’re tempted to react hotly to something in our culture, let’s be sure our birthmark shows.

PRAYER: Let us never betray our Father! Lord, help us clearly demonstrate Who our Father is! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.