DayBreaks for 5/18/17 – Courageous Faith

DayBreaks for 5/18/17: Courageous Faith

John 12:42-43 (ESV) – Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

Who doesn’t love glory? Who doesn’t love to receive praise and recognition and, yes, honor? On our birthdays we pretend to not care that we’re the center of attention, but we are inwardly pleased to be recognized as having achieved yet another milestone (especially as we get older and the milestones become more significant!) But this is entirely different. Though many leaders of the Jews believed in Jesus (how could they not given all he’d done and how he taught?), they didn’t confess him.

When I read today’s passage, my heart and mind instantly jump into judgement mode: “Shame on them! What cowards!” And to make it worse, I then jump almost instantly to boastful mode, “I wouldn’t have done that! I’d have boldly proclaimed my belief in Jesus – no matter the cost!” But would I really?

We don’t know who these “authorities” were who believed, though we might surmise Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were among them. But there were others, for John says there were “many” who believed in Jesus. To be a Jewish authority, you HAD to be part of the synagogue, part of the heart and soul of the nation’s faith and religion. To proclaim faith in Jesus would have been religious, social, political and even economic suicide to these men – and those who depended on them. When I think of it in that light and think about my own insecurities about my livelihood and finances, I find myself less than certain that I would have stood up to be counted as a follower of Christ.

It is lessons like this that put my weak faith into perspective. In spite of how I might try to honor my own faith by thinking how great or strong it is, if I insert myself into the shoes of those “many” authorities, I realize how weak my faith may truly be. Are you ready to take a stand for your faith in Jesus if it means the loss of your job, your reputation, your income – perhaps even your ability to ever find and hold work again? That’s what was at stake for these men. That doesn’t mean that they made the right choice – but this lesson in human frailty is sobering to me.

One other thing makes it easier to seek the praise of men rather than God. The praise of this world is immediately accessible as long as I do what the world wants me to do and think. God’s praise is primarily held in reserve for the day I stand before His throne. But His approval is the only approval that will endure and that will matter on that day. He won’t give me approval for following the ways of the society and world, but He will give me approval for even my weak faith in Jesus – and that will make all the difference.  

PRAYER: How we need greater, fearless faith, Jesus! Give us bold hearts and the vision necessary to see that it is only the praise of the Father than matters – and then to live courageous faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 5/11/17 – The Wednesday Worry Box

DayBreaks for 5/11/17: The Wednesday Worry Box

Ah, worry. Do I ever worry? I’d like to say that I don’t, but I do. In fact, just yesterday I found myself worrying about whether or not my Medicare Advantage coverage would be in place in time, and also about whether or not my first insurance payment for it would arrive in time. I thought hitting the age when you go on Medicare was supposed to be good because you no longer had those huge insurance payments – but I found myself worrying. Not good.

Sometimes, even I’ve managed to learn that if you will just wait, problems take care of themselves. A man by the name of J. Arthur Rank had a system for doing that. He was an early pioneer of the film industry in Great Britain, and he also happened to be a devout Christian.

Rank found he couldn’t push his worries out of his mind completely; they were always slipping back in. So, he finally made a pact with God to limit his worrying to Wednesday. He even made himself a little Wednesday Worry Box and he placed it on his desk. Whenever a worry cropped up, Rank wrote it out and dropped it into the Wednesday Worry Box.

Would you like to know his amazing discovery? When Wednesday rolled around, he would open that box to find that only a third of the items he had written down were still worth worrying about. The rest had managed to resolve themselves!

If, like me, you find yourself often having a troubled heart, you may want to make yourself your own Wednesday Worry Box. But even more important, lel’s ask God to give us a new perspective. Let’s ask him to give us patience so that you do not jump ahead and worry about a problem that may never come. But most important of all, ask God for more faith. Faith in God is the best remedy for all our problems. Jesus put it plainly, Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.

Do those problems really work themselves out? I don’t think so. I think what really happens is that they are really resolved by my Father who is looking out for me and my best interests – and I never needed to worry about them at all!

PRAYER: Thank you for being willing to work to resolve my worries before they become realities, and for caring so much about me. Help me have increased faith that you are more than up to the task of dealing with all that worries me! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 4/27/17 – The Real Danger

DayBreaks for 4/27/17 – The Real Danger

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

As a child, I was fascinated by the story of Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego.  My mind would swim with images and imaginings of what it looked like, of the sounds of the roaring furnace, of the great king Nebuchadnezzar in all his finery as the music blared and the masses bowed down.  That is, they bowed down with the exception of three people: the Hebrew boys otherwise known as Azariah, Mishael and Hananiah. 

I always thought that this was a story about idolatry.  I’d always thought that the temptation they faced was to worship the golden idol of the Babylonian king.  After all, that’s how I remember the story from the flannel graphs that my Sunday school teacher used to help us “see” the stories.  It is only recently that I believe God opened my eyes to a more significant truth.  The story is about idolatry, all right, but the idol that the young men were being tempted to worship wasn’t really the 90-foot tall golden sculpture. 

No, the real test was one about worship.  What would be worshipped?  They’d been taught as Jewish children that “the Lord our God is One” and that “No one is like the Lord our God.”  They knew full well that He was the only One who was worthy of worship.  The idol that these boys were confronted with – and which they were tempted to bow down and worship – was themselves, their earthly lives.  If they worshipped the idol, they’d save their lives – if they didn’t, they might lose their lives.

Would these three young men be wise enough to recognize which was the greater danger: to die in a fiery furnace, or to worship and esteem something else (even if it is your physical life) higher than the worship of God is idolatry?

We are our own greatest idol.  We need to cast aside the idol of self that leads us to hoard money, love, compassion, wisdom, possessions, pleasures.  Even if it comes to laying down our lives in order to worship God, doesn’t God have a right to ask that of us?  Of course He does. 

Do you recognize your own self-worship and idolatry?  Every time we choose our way, our dreams, our own joys rather than His, we are bowing down to the idol of self-worship.

PRAYER:  Father, help us to recognize our idolatry and our self worship.  Give us the wisdom to be able to discern the greatest danger – the danger of not giving you the worship and glory that you alone deserve.  Tear down our idols of self-interest that we may be true worshippers!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/07/17 – Child Saints and Resurrected Lizards

DayBreaks for 2/07/17: Child Saints and Resurrected Lizards

From the blog of Doug Dalrymple (my son!), dated 12/4/06 about his son (my grandson!):

You expect your children to see angels. Fresh and innocent as they are, how could they not see angels, right? You expect them, once sufficiently articulate, to spout forth little bon mots of ageless toddler wisdom that somehow suddenly make clear the ways of God and illumine the labyrinth of the human heart. But, no, children do not leap from their mother’s wombs straight into the full flush of sainthood. In my experience, children are just as likely to misapprehend the faith of their parents as to utter unsolicited spiritual profundities.
I have been equally charmed and horrified by what comes out of the mouth of my three year old son when he decides to talk theology. For instance, while considering a picture of the Crucifixion (with Mary and John standing to either side of Christ), my 3-yeard old son once explained to me that it was St. John himself, and no one else, who had taken up the hammer to nail Jesus’ hands and feet to the wood. A ghastly thought! I gently corrected him and changed the subject lest he say something even worse.
But every now and then something charming does pop out of his curious little mind. Not long ago we were out for a hike with his mother and sister, visiting a little farm tucked away into the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains. We approached a spot where he’d seen a dead lizard the week before. “Papa!” he said, “look – there’s a lizard over here – and it’s dead!” He ran ahead in his excitement, pointing the way. I followed and helped him to scan the ground for the unfortunate reptile. It was gone. “He’s not here anymore – where did he go?” he asked. “I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe another animal ate him up,” I suggested. “No…” the boy answered, “but maybe God raised him from the dead!”
“Well…” I hesitated. “I don’t know…but, maybe He did.”

Galen’s Thoughts: We are all to quick to deny God’s miracles.  If we don’t see it, we think it didn’t or couldn’t have happened.  For all we know, God, when no one else was looking, raised that little lizard from the dead.  After all, that’s how He raised His own Son – in the dark of the tomb while no human eyes were watching.  Oh, for the faith of a little child once again!

PRAYER:  Thank you Father for giving to the little ones the eyes to see your wonders and to believe in your miracles.  Give us those kind of eyes, and faith!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

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 11/18/16 – A Point of Faith

DayBreaks for 11/18/16: A Point of Faith

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2006:

John 11:21-27 (NLT) Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.  But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”  Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”  “Yes,” Martha said, “when everyone else rises, on resurrection day.”
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again.  They are given eternal life for believing in me and will never perish. Do you believe this, Martha?”

 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.

I have read and re-read and preached and taught on this passage many times, but I never got it until now.  For years, I read this and thought that Martha was expressing great faith – faith that Jesus would raise Lazarus right then and there if he only asked God to do so.  But after Jesus makes the statement, “Your brother will rise again,” Martha makes it clear that she expects no such thing – at least not until the day of the resurrection.  Her faith was sufficient to believe he would rise then, but not before. 

Bear in mind that she was in grief from losing her brother.  Jesus deals with her very patiently, very gently, but he sees that Martha needs to re-focus.  The problem Martha was having was that she was trusting in the resurrection at some point in the unknown future.  Her faith was in the resurrection, so Jesus redirects her faith with the words: “I am the resurrection and the life.” 

Standing right before Jesus, Martha had missed him entirely.  She’s seen him many times, heard his voice, spent countless hours in his presence with her sister and brother and others.  But she’d never seen him as the resurrection and the life before.  Jesus wanted to help her understand that her faith needed to be in HIM, not in some event in some unknown future.  What she wanted was to be found not around Jesus, but IN Him, for he is the resurrection and the life.  Jesus won’t bring the resurrection with him when he returns, for He IS the resurrection.

Where is your faith?  What is your faith in?  Is it in the positive-thinking world of pop-psychology, in self-help books, in prayer, in Christian fellowship, or in the resurrection?  It doesn’t matter, if your answer isn’t simply “Jesus”, your faith if misplaced.   

PRAYER: Lord, help us to find the Resurrection and the Life, both now and forever, and to place all our faith in Him!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/07/16 – What Does Heaven Care for Probabilities?

DayBreaks for 10/07/16 – What Does Heaven Care for Probabilities?           

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

I was recently reading a manuscript for a possible fiction book (somewhat along the lines of the Tolkein or C.S. Lewis Narnia tales) and towards the end of the book as the tension mounted and things got really interesting, someone was trying to encourage the hero of the book to not lose heart.  If you’ve been up for more than 10 minutes by the time you read this, you’ll know why.  It seems that things just come at us so fast, with nary a moment’s respite.  Not only do things hit us quickly, but they seem to pile up faster than we can push them off our plate.  If you haven’t been up for more than 10 minutes yet today – just wait.  It’ll happen to you today, too.  How do I know?  Well, I’m basing my statement on the probability that something will go wrong for you today.  Hopefully, it won’t be anything serious, but something is quite likely to not work out just as you wished.

When the action is fast and furious and we are beset and surrounded by enemies that are interested in only one thing – blood – we need to be reminded that we are in good company.  It happened to David – over and over, including Psalm 3 – where he writes out of his desperation about how he is surrounded.  It appears Psalm 3 was written when he was surrounded by the armies of Absolom (his own son!) who were trying to kill David.  We don’t know for sure how many there were with Absalom, but over 20,000 were killed in the ensuing battle.  Now that’s what I call surrounded by the enemy! 

Elisha found himself vastly outnumbered as the Arameans were laying siege to Israel.  Elisha’s servant was petrified – believing his day to die had come, but Elisha prayed to God and asked God to open the eyes of his servant – and God did.  When the servant could see, he realized that the hills surrounding his location were full of fiery chariots filled with angels.  The poor Arameans didn’t stand a chance.

Jesus, too, was surrounded and outnumbered by his enemies.  But the victory was firmly in his grasp.

The manuscript I was reading had a sentence that really struck me at the point when someone was offering the hero courage against his foes who outnumbered the good guys: “What does heaven care for probabilities?”  What a profound, yet perfectly simple, question.  The answer is obvious: nothing.  Heaven cares nothing about probabilities.  Heaven doesn’t have to deal with probabilities, for God deals only in certainties.  Probabilities are for creatures like us who cannot control times, seasons, events, or for actuaries who have to figure out the odds for insurance companies, or for gamblers.  God, in fact, seems to revel in the impossible situations – and in delivering His children from them.  Consider David, Elisha, Daniel, Joseph, Paul, Abraham and Sarah, the prophets, the early church against the entire world…and you’ll see what I mean.

Is your marriage “on the rocks”?  Does it seem to YOU that it will never get back on solid ground, that the odds are against you?  Have you lost hope for any reason, about anything?  About your salvation, even?  God laughs at probabilities.  When we face tremendous odds and we KNOW that we are on solid ground in our walk with Christ and KNOW that what we want is what God wants (like your marriage to stay together!), we can join God in His laughter, knowing that in reality, with God on our side, the odds are stacked in our favor 100%.

PRAYER: Lord, we need courage to face all that is in this world that attacks us, seeks to harm or destroy us.  Help us to see the heavenly hosts that are at Your beck and call to do Your bidding, to deliver us and grant us the victory.  May we be firmly based in obedience to Your Word.  May we want what You want.  May we join You in Your laughter and disdain for probabilities, and may we rest on Your certainty!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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