DayBreaks for 6/26/18 – The Measure of Success

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DayBreaks for 6/26/18: The Measure of Success

From the DayBreaks Archive, June 2008:

How can you tell if someone has been a successful person or not?  There are those who are considered successful if they attain some position or career or relationship that they have pursued.  There are those who don’t seem to have accomplished much in terms of prestige, money or honor, but who have been considered successful: Mother Theresa’s life could hardly be pointed out as a failure, not even in the world’s eyes. 

As we are about eight years into the 21st century, I wonder what success would look like for companies that I’ve worked for, for employees who have been near and dear to my hearts, from family (children, grandchildren), for the country that I live it.  I would think that we could ask a wide range of people to describe what would look like success in this century and get an even wider range of responses. 

But perhaps the most crucial question is this: what would be a measure of success for the church of Jesus in the 21st century?  Would it be necessary to convert a quarter of the world’s unbelievers to be successful?  50%?  95%?  100%?  Would the church still not be considered successful, even if that happened, because there would still be poverty and hunger in the world?  Would success demand not only conversions, but full bellies in all the world?  No more killing?  Peace?

I am not wise enough to really answer those questions.  I know that there are those who see only a dim, bleak future for the church as we are still in the infancy of the millennia.  I can understand that point of view.  Things do look rather bleak and dark.  But that’s when God has always done His best work – when it’s bleak and dark.  At the beginning of the creation of the world, it was darkness that covered the face of the deep, and God did pretty good work in making the Himalaya’s and Pacific, didn’t He?  It was dark in the tomb of Lazarus and later on, in Jesus’ own tomb, and God did more than just “pretty good work” in those instances.  God can work just fine in the dark – and in fact, when it’s dark, the light is all the more visible.

We tend to forget what it was like for the brand new church in the early century or two after the church’s birth at Pentecost.  The first 4 centuries of the church were a time when our first brothers and sisters faced odds of success more incredibly difficult than ours.  And yet, as J. P. Moreland so wonderfully put it in The Kingdom Triangle, “…yet they were so victorious that today we name our children Peter and Paul and our dogs Caesar and Nero!” 

Yes, that’s a certain measure of success.  We see dark times, but we forget that in the past 50 years, there has been an incredible explosion of Christianity all over the world.  It’s happening everywhere in the world except for one place: Western culture.

Don’t give up.  Success is guaranteed by God’s own promise.  I will build my kingdom, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it.  Just remember this: the kingdom of God begins in the hearts of men and women just like you.  The enemy has laid siege works against your heart to discourage and depress you.  Don’t let him prevail when God’s success is just ahead.

PRAYER: Holy One, let us see some of Your victories in our own lives and the lives of those around us that we may be filled with the encouragement of what You are doing in this world!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

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DayBreaks for 5/31/18 – God’s Dike

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DayBreaks for 5/31/18: God’s Dike

Much of Holland was once part of the ocean; but the industrious Dutch built great dikes far out in the shallow sea, and so reclaimed the land. As their dikes hold the ocean back, on the landward side the people occupy their homes, farmers till their land, and the wheels of commerce turn.

Many of the rural lowlanders have a quaint way of referring to Sunday, the Christian sabbath. They speak of it as God’s dike. Why? one might ask. Because what God’s people do on this day each week serves society in the same way a dike serves the land. As the dike holds back the sea, so does Sunday and the worship experience help to hold back the flood of evil which is forever threatening to overflow the people.

God interposes the instruction and inspiration of Christian worship as a bulwark against wrong. The Christian sabbath is civilization’s strongest social buttress against the overwhelming flood of evil and fear and despair which are forever pressing hard upon us. By means of it, the forces of righteousness are made stronger against all the powers that would undo us.

What we do in worship every Sunday is to strengthen our dikes, to help keep them in good repair. When we go to worship, we are not merely doing something for ourselves – we are also doing something for the world. We are taking part in an unceasing effort which involves many millions of people and stretches over many centuries of time. Let’s be aware of the vast enterprise we’re involved in, and let’s be glad we’re in it.

PRAYER: Lord, protect us through our worship, and change the world because of it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 2/06/17 – Venture Out in Faith

DayBreaks for 2/06/17: Venture Out in Faith

Revelation 3:8 (ESV) –I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

“One night at the end of a special Saturday night worship service,” writes Warren Hudson of Ontario, Canada, “a thunderstorm unleashed a bolt of lightning that plunged the church into darkness.” With the congregation seated in total darkness, the pastor felt his way to the kitchen to find some candles. The pastor handed out the candles to everyone present. Persons lit their candles in much the same way as many churches do on Christmas Eve, each person lighting the candle of the person next to them. The worshipers then made their way through the church’s winding hallways to the front door.

“Peering out, we could see the rain coming down in sheets,” Warren remembers. With traffic snarled, people were running for the nearest shelter. Looking around they realized that the entire city was in darkness. “There in the darkness we stood,” Warren writes, “a little band of Christians, each clutching a light, not sure whether to venture out into the storm or stay inside the church in hopes that the storm would soon blow over.”

There in the darkness the light of truth struck him. In this most dramatic way he realized what it means to be the “light of the world.” He writes, “It occurred to me then that this is the temptation I face every day. It is easy to play it safe and be a good Christian in church. It is a lot harder to venture out in faith into the storms of the world.”

It is easy to be a good Christian in church. It is not nearly so easy when we are outside the four walls of a comfortable building – but that is our mission. I suspect that if Jesus were to write a letter to us today he’d tell us that he’d much rather we were good Christians outside of the church building than inside.

Can you choose one thing this week that you will do “out in the storm” for Jesus and for the love of those around you?

PRAYER: Jesus, at the start of this new week, let us not be fearful of the surrounding storm but rather let us be good Christians and servants for you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/30/17 – The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail

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DayBreaks for 1/30/17: The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail

It was just over one year ago that I took the photo shown above. We were at Cesarea Philippi in Israel. If that doesn’t ring a bell to you, it is the location where Jesus had a very famous conversation with Peter and the other apostles. Jesus had just asked them who people said he was and they replied that some thought he was one of the old prophets come back to life. But then Jesus made it more personal, asking who they thought he was. Peter’s response was breathtaking: you are the Christ, the Son of God. In response, Jesus said: Matthew 16:18 (ESV) – And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

The ancients believed that the cave you see on the left in the photo was the gateway to hell. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Jesus was looking at it when he made his statement. 

As I was driving home from the airport on Saturday night, this verse was running through my mind. I’ve read this verse since I was a young boy, heard it read, read commentaries on it and heard sermons preached over it. It’s one of those great statements of Jesus that we love to hear because it encourages us, especially when things seem to heading the wrong direction.

That being said, as I ran it through my mind, a thought dawned on me about what Jesus may have really been saying. Most people read it and believe Jesus was saying that all of Satan’s minions and not even Satan himself with his great power, will be able to overthrow by force the kingdom of God. I believe that to be true. If I didn’t believe that was how things would turn out, I cannot imagine what life would be like.

But look closely at what Jesus said. He didn’t say that the armies of hell wouldn’t conquer the church. He didn’t say that at all. He said that the “gates of hell” (not the armies of hell) would be able to conquer “it” – with “it” being his church. As I pondered what that might me, it struck me that gates are not an offensive force to keep things in. They are defensive structures designed to keep things out. And that brought a new insight to me.

Could Jesus have been saying that even the gates of hell that Satan had so carefully constructed to keep mankind in a doomed, damned state, would not be strong enough to keep the kingdom/church from rescuing those whom the gates of hell were designed to keep in their bondage and damned condition? It seems to make sense especially in light of 1 Peter 3:18-20 (ESV)For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.  

In other words, Jesus may have been proclaiming that his church would overcome the gates of hell to reach the lost and that the gates of hell would not be strong enough to prevent it from happening.

I do not know precisely what Jesus meant, but I believe both are true: 1) Satan and his armies are puny compared to the power of the Almighty God, and; 2) until He returns for His church, it will continue to plunder the stronghold of the enemy. Both give me courage, and while the first gives me great hope, the second gives me a great challenge because I am to be part of the army that attacks the gates of the enemy to help free those held in darkness.

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for the assurance of the victory of your church against all the forces of darkness and evil. We pray to have the courage we need to attack the gates of the enemy to help led those in darkness into the Light that shines in the darkness and cannot be put out. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 8/29/31 – Jesus’ Fiancee

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DayBreaks for 8/29/16 – Jesus’ Fiancee

Let us rejoice and exult and give Him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure – for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. – Rev. 19:7-9

In Revelation, we (the church) is pictured as the Bride of Christ getting ready for the wedding day. That means that you and I are his fiancees! But what does that mean, practically speaking?

It means, above all else, that our relationship with Him is supposed to be our “first love”, not so much in terms of time, but in terms of importance. It is to take priority over ALL other loves. Earlier in Revelation, the church at Ephesus  was told by Jesus that they had abandoned their first (primary) love – namely, Him. We might be surprised – they had done great works, kept to the truth, persevered, were pure and had made a great impact on their city – but they had become complacent and let other loves take priority. They were just going through the motions as far as Jesus was concerned – going all the right things but without love for Jesus as the motivating force behind those things.

So, Jesus as the good physician gives them this recipe for getting right with him again: 1. Repent – realize the truth about themselves and turn from their present attractions; 2) Remember the passion and zeal of when they first fell in love with Jesus; 3) Repeat what they did in the beginning (being their whole hearted love for their fiancée – and keep at burning furiously.

Think about how a bride approaches her wedding day. As it gets closer and closer, her heart is filled with adoration for her soon-to-be husband, and she tells him over and over how much she loves him. She loves talking with him, being with him as much as possible, never tiring of their closeness. She eagerly does things for him not out of obligation, but as demonstrations of her love. When she talks with others, she can’t stop talking about him, she takes pride in introducing others to him. And when he’s not present, she longs for him to return.

We can do all those same things for Jesus as His fiancée. We tell him of our love through our worship. We talk to him through prayer and listening for the sound of his voice.  We can serve him out of love – not out of obligation. We can brag about him and tell others all about him.

As the Spirit searches your heart and mine today, how is our first (primary, most important) love? Is it burning hotter today than last year? Does it grow decade by decade, or has it dwindled? We need to be reminded that we may be doing all the right things, but unless we have stayed true to our first love and not wandered off to other loves by giving them priority over Jesus, we might receive the same kind of letter that the Ephesians did. And I am sure that wasn’t a comfortable letter for them to read. I wonder how they responded. Even more, I wonder how we will respond!

PRAYER: Jesus, we confess that we may have taken comfort in what we do instead of how we love you! We may have lost our first love’s passion. We ask you to help us remember the fire of the early love and to repeat our acts of love and devotion to you as in the beginning. Grow our love for you each day, each month, each year and decade into a pure, hot flame! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

 

DayBreaks for 10/16/15 – The One Who Stayed

DayBreaks for 10/16/15: The One Who Stayed  

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

Shel Silverstein wrote a poem called “The One Who Stayed.”  The story in the poem is about a Pied Piper who came along and piped all the children away.  His music was enchanting, and the kids followed him dancing, twirling and spinning happily on their way.  That is, all the children except one followed the Piper.  That one child went back home and stayed there.  His dad was proud of the son for not following – for not listening to the Piper’s tantalizing music.  But the son, deep in his heart, knew that he’d stayed behind for the wrong reason, and that for his entire life he would regret his decision:

“I cannot say I did not hear

That sound so haunting hollow –

I heard, I heard, I heard it clear…

I was afraid to follow.”

Perhaps the boy was simply afraid of leaving home.  Perhaps he was afraid of leaving his parents.  Maybe he was afraid to go because he didn’t know where the Piper would lead him, or what would happen to him when they arrived at their destination.  Or, perhaps the boy had too much at home and he was reluctant to give up his video games, fast car, and fancy clothes for a life on the road with an itinerant Piper.

A similar message was extended long ago to a rich young ruler who decided to stay home, too.  And we’re told that he went on his way sorrowful.  We know why he stayed home, and I believe, like the boy in the story, that he regretted that decision for the rest of his life. 

Today there are fathers who will applaud their child’s decision to stay home – to stay away from church, to ignore the calling of the Holy Spirit in the life of their children.  “Oh, I’m proud of you for deciding for yourself what you want.  Good for you.”  I fear for those children – and for those parents – who don’t have enough common sense to encourage their children to go to church, to live the adventure for which God created them.  For those parents who don’t do all that they can to help their children find their way to God – I tremble in fear for the questions they will face from God when they finally stand before His throne.  What kind of message are you communicating to your children when you let them not go to church so that they can play sports every Sunday, or to stay home and watch movies or play video games?  Aren’t you sending a message that says: “I’m proud of you for not going to church.  Games and movies are much more important that listening to the call and command of God.” 

Mom and dad: don’t think for a second that your children aren’t watching what you choose to do on Sunday, too.  They watch – they see – and if your actions make it clear that everything else in the world is more important than worshipping God and being with His family – don’t be surprised when your child winds up with no faith, or if they listen to the wrong piper and wind up in broken marriages, jail and perhaps even hell.

PRAYER: Lord, being a parent is a huge responsibility. Help us realize that we will be held accountable not just for what we are doing ourselves, but for how we are molding and influencing our children! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2015 Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 3/03/15 – Leave No Stone Unturned

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DayBreaks for 3/03/15: Leave No Stone Unturned    

 

NOTE: This week DayBreaks are from the archive as Galen is out of the country.  He will respond to messages after he returns. 

Matt. 13:44-46 – The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

These two short parables are fascinating.  I’ve always thought of them as describing the individual who discovers the treasure of salvation and then surrenders their life in order to take possession of such great wealth.  And that is true – these should be reminders to us that nothing compares with what we find in Jesus.

But since the church is made up of individuals who have come to salvation, can the parables also not apply to the church as a living body?  The field is the world, and God has put a great and mysterious treasure into the world through the Incarnation.  It is hidden from the eyes of those who are too prideful to acknowledge their brokenness and need, but is available to those who seek Him.  Pay careful attention to the first verse: once the treasure was found, it was hidden again until the entire field, not just the treasure, could be purchased.  If the field represents the world, the church has a great challenge and responsibility.  The treasure is here, hidden in the world.  The treasure can be seen as both the mystery of God in salvation, but also as the individual that is hidden (“lost”) in the world.  And the mission of the church is to leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of the treasure for which God paid such a high price. 

Whether or not that is what Jesus intended when he spoke these parables, the truth remains: we cannot leave any stone unturned, any price unpaid, to reach that which is hidden, buried and lost in the world.  When we were lost, God saw us as a treasure hidden in the world, and He sold all He had to purchase us.  How can we do any less?

Copyright by 2005 Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

PRAYER: Thank You for seeing us as a great treasure.  Help us to see the world, and the lost, in the same way!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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