DayBreaks for 4/08/19 – Fear Him

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DayBreaks for 4/08/19: Fear Him

DayBreaks for 4/08/19: Fear Him

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2009:

Fear.  I don’t know anyone who likes feeling fear.  But the Bible has a lot to say about fear.  More often than not, it encourages us to not be afraid.  God knows what fearful creatures we are.  But the Bible doesn’t say that all fear is bad.  In fact, some fear is very beneficial.  What keeps a sane person from jumping out of a plane with no parachute?  What keeps you from sticking your hand into the flames that are on the stove burner?  Fear…fear of the pain or outcome of those actions. 

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” Proverbs 1:7 says.  It should be obvious to us why this is so, but just in case we missed it somewhere along the line, let us remind ourselves of his words:

All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. – 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 (NIV)

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. – Matthew 10:28 (NIV)

 

I recently was pondering the fear of the Lord as I was preparing a message on the wrath of God as part of a series of messages on aspects of God’s nature.  As I prepared for the message that Sunday, I ran across a “paraphrase” of the passage from Matthew 10 that is quoted above that I thought put this whole aspect of the fear of the Lord into proper perspective.  Here’s what it had to say, “Fear Him, Who when you’re dead, isn’t finished with you yet.”

That is a sobering thought.  It should cause anyone to pause and consider – even believers.  All the people in this world who may have been a pain in the neck, who may have caused you endless trouble, will not bother you after death – but God will still be there, and He will be waiting for you and for me.  When we die, God is far from finished with us.  We would do well to keep that thought in mind as we wind our way through this world. 

Prayer: We resist authority and having to answer to anyone, even You, Lord.  Shake us out of our sleepy lethargy to realize that it is wise to fear You and that You are the Ultimate One with Whom we have to deal!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

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DayBreaks for 3/15/19 – Perfect Love

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DayBreaks for 3/15/19: Perfect Love

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2009:

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  –  1 John 4:16-18 (NIV)

I think that this passage says more about love than I’ve ever realized or appreciated.  It starts out talking about how we know and rely on God’s love for us, followed by John’s short but simple declaration: God is love.  Isn’t that wonderful news?  What if it had not been so?  What if all John could say about God was something like, “God is anger” or “God is unstable” or “God is vindictive.”  Thank goodness that God is not those things, but that primarily over and above anything else, He is love. 

Secondly, if we live in love, God lives in us.  That suggests, as I wrote about a week ago, that without God we cannot love at all.  He first loved us…and when we live in that knowledge and awareness, then we can love – but not before.  Love is made complete in us (nothing lacking) so we can have confidence that when the judgment rolls around, we have nothing to fear. 

But then comes the point I want to look at today.  There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  If you are like me, you’ve probably taken this verse about perfect love casting out fear and berated yourself because you fear of God.  First, let me say that it is not such a bad thing to have a healthy respect/fear of God – Jesus in fact told us to fear the one (God) who can cast both body and soul into hell.  Fear, it seems, is not an unwarranted response to the immensity of God’s power. 

That being said, perfect love casts out fear, taking away our fear of punishment in the judgment.  I’ve asked myself over and over many times, why do I remain fearful of God?  Partly it is because I know my sins, and as David put it, they are “ever before me.”  No matter how hard I try to pretend, they are real and they are very, very many.  Partly it is because my love for God is not yet perfected – so my love is not “perfect”, it has holes in it – largely because all human loves have always carried pain with them and we have to protect ourselves from being hurt too badly and too deeply. 

But, as I thought about this passage, I think I’ve got another point of view on it, too.  What love is perfect, or maybe a better way to put it would be “Whose love is perfect?”  Certainly not mine or yours.  There is nothing about us that is perfect or complete.  Only God’s love is perfect.  This phrase “perfect love drives out fear” may be talking more about God’s love for me than of my love for Him.  His love is the only perfect love.  His love drives out the fear that comes from impending and fearful punishment.  It is, as John said, God who lives in us. 

I need to apprehend the love of God more in order to drive out the fear that sometimes invades my soul.  My own love will never be perfect enough to drive it away, but His can…and will.

Prayer:  Amazing love, how can it be, that You my Lord should die for me!  May we apprehend the perfect love You have for us as our Father that will drive away our fear!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 12/13/17 – When Words Don’t Come

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DayBreaks for 12/13/17: When Words Don’t Come

From the DayBreaks archive, December 2007:

You’ve heard of writer’s block – when a writer just can’t think of what to write.  Although it would be a long stretch to call myself a writer, I can identify with that syndrome!   Here’s a news flash for you: preachers get it, too, but I call it “preacher’s block.”  It’s what happens when the week is spinning by like an altimeter on a nose-down jet – and you just can’t seem to find the inspiration or words for the message on the coming Sunday.  You start to sweat, you shift uneasily in the chair, you wander a hallway or two as if you’ll find inspiration there.  Sometimes, it even works.  Do you want to know when I have the greatest trouble with “preacher’s block”?  It’s at Christmas.  For me, Christmas sermons are the toughest of all. 

Words and inspiration can come from the strangest of places – after all, if God could speak through a donkey to Balaam, He can certainly bring inspiration from any corner He chooses.  But sometimes we are just plain fearful – fearful that when we’re confronted with a challenge to our faith, that we won’t have the words.  So, we keep our mouths shut. 

How should we react then?  Remember the story of Moses – how he questioned God’s wisdom in choosing him because of his slowness with words?  Paul, the greatest missionary the world has ever seen, was a lot like Moses.  He said he didn’t come to the Corinthians “proclaiming…in lofty words or wisdom”, but rather “in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.  My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.” (1 Cor. 2:1-5)  Where was Paul’s confidence?  Was it in his own words and ability to speak them?  No, it was that God was speaking with him, giving life to the words that Paul did speak.

When you think about it, Moses and Paul were two of the people most responsible for the writing of the Word of God.  Both were weak with words.  God chose them precisely BECAUSE they were weak with words!  That weakness made it so that they might have a greater chance of clinging tightly to God who spoke in union with and to them so that they might speak what the hearers needed to hear in order to be drawn to God.  Paul and Moses seemed to suffer from “apologist’s block” in their own person – not trusting in what they had to say.  As a result, they didn’t trust in themselves, but in God.  And that’s just what God loved about them!

When you are given the opportunity to talk with someone about Jesus, to share your faith, do you take advantage of it?  If you find yourself in that position, it’s because God has chosen YOU to represent Him at that moment in time.  If you find or fear you have “apologist’s block” – good!  Just don’t let it stop you from talking to that person anyway.  Whisper a little prayer inside your head, aim it heavenward, and ask God to electrify what you say with His power. 

PRAYER:  Father, give us Your words to speak.  Thank you for making us weak in our own selves so we will lean on You, for Your words hold the power of life!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/3/17 – How Long, O Lord?

DayBreaks for 10/03/17: How Long, O Lord?

Las Vegas. Violence. Bloodshed. Maimed bodies. Lifeless bodies. Families destroyed and wrecked. Lives ended, eternities begun. All by one man in a matter of moments.

I love this world. I hate this world.

Much will be said and analyzed over the next few weeks and months about the mindset of the man behind the massacre. The truth is that we will never fully know on this earth because he killed himself before he could be questioned. But I know this: whatever was in his mind was evil. Whatever drove him to do this could not be seen as good, not now, not ever.

At our church, we recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of the first Sunday worship. It was a time of great celebration and worship, giving glory to the One to Whom it truly belongs. One of the songs that were sung that morning was “Glory Is Yours”. I think it was originally done by Elevation Worship, and here’s a link to their YouTube version of the song. It is an awesome song about the awesome God we serve, but as I listened to it today after hearing about the Vegas tragedy, I was struck by the line that says, “Oh God, the glory is Yours, the kingdom has come and the battle is over…” It made me weep as I thought about the shattered lives in Vegas, in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, China, Korea, the United States, England, France, Germany and on and on, for there are shattered lives everywhere. And I longed, oh how I longed, for the time when we can stand before the throne and sing those lyrics, Oh God, the glory is Yours, the kingdom has come and the battle is over… and it truly will be over once and for all. For though the kingdom has come, it is not yet fully present as long as things happen as they do in this world.

As I understand Scripture, things aren’t going to get better before the end. In fact, if anything, they’ll get worse or remain the same. So I’m not under any illusions about utopia before the second coming. What will it take to fix all the brokenness? The second coming. But that WILL fix it. Until then, what should we do? 

We should pray. Pray for changed hearts – including our own. Every heart has dark places that need the Light. Pray for those whose lives are broken and shattered around the world daily. Pray for those believers who are being beaten, tortured and killed for their faith.

What shouldn’t we do? We should not fear as believers. Why? Because, as I read today on the Elevation Worship website: For every fear, there’s an empty grave. And that really does make a huge difference, don’t you think? For fear of terrorism, of mass murderers, of those who can kill the body but not ever come close to touching the soul of those held in His hands can do their worst, but the empty grave changes everything. Our fears can be buried there because Christ has emptied the tomb so our fears can go there to die.

As “Glory Is Yours” says, there will never be anyone, anything like Him, and that gives me peace in this shattered world.

PRAYER: Jesus, heal those who are hurting. Drive the darkness out of our hearts with Your Light. And with saints throughout the ages, we cry out, How long, O Lord, how long? Even so, come Lord Jesus! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/02/17 – Between Intimacy and Fear

DayBreaks for 10/02/17: Between Intimacy and Fear

From our Sunday worship bulletin: “We live in irreverent times when people show less and less respect for positions, traditions, and institutions. At times, we even see this attitude in churches. Many have become very ‘casual’ about the things of God.

“Much of the current preaching heard in evangelical churches teaches us that God desires to have an intimate, personal relationship with us, and indeed He does (Jas. 4:8, John 15:15). We told that we can call God, ‘Abba’ (or ‘Daddy’), and rightfully so. However, there should be a balance between intimacy and awe. Right after James writes ‘Draw near to God’, he continues with ‘Cleanse your hands you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded’. While the Bible reveals God’s desire for intimacy with us, it also shows us His awesome holiness, majesty, and power. Much of what we find in Scripture is meant to create greater reverence for Him.

“A good example of the proper balance between intimacy and awe is found in the apostle John. He was one of Jesus’ closest friends, part of the ‘inner circle’ of disciples with Peter and James. Six times in his gospel, John calls himself ‘the disciple Jesus loved.’ If anyone had the right and privilege to be ‘chummy’ with Jesus, it was Joh, but in Revelation 1:10-20, when John sees Jesus in heaven in all his glory, with His eyes ‘like a flame of fire’ and His face ‘like the sun shining in full strength, he didn’t say, ‘Hey man! How’s it goin’?’John said, ‘When I saw Him, I fell at his feet as though dead’ (Rev. 1:17).  Here’s someone who knew Jesus as well as anyone ever had, and yet, he was full of reverence and awe at the sight of his risen Lord.”

So, somewhere between casual friendship and terrifying fear, between being with a close friend and the Eternal Almighty God, we are to encounter Christ. I am confident there are times we are to come to Him like a little child and crawl up and snuggle in His arms, but there are also times we need to fall on our face as did the disciple that Jesus loved more than any other. To focus solely on one or the other is to deny the truth in a dangerous way.  

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, may we know You in all Your fullness and may we know you both as Abba and as the great I Am! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/29/17 – Stars and Fear

Multiwavelength Crab Nebula

DayBreaks for 9/29/17: Stars and Fear

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

I love the mountains.  I love the ocean.  I love the forests.  I love redwoods.  But there isn’t much of anything, not even the Pacific Ocean, that makes me gasp in wonder as much as staring up thoughtfully at the night sky.  The vastness, the coldness of space plays tricks with my frail human mind.  I can’t even begin to grasp it.  When I stand on the beach at the edge of the Pacific, I can touch it, I can feel it, I can taste and smell it in the air.  But I can’t do that with space.  As vast as the Pacific is, I can get some sense of its size by flying over it for hours on end.  Try that with the universe. 

It’s really strange – the stars don’t go away in the daytime, you know.  It’s just that because of the brightness of the sun, we can’t see them.  They’re still there – blazing away. Every second of the day and night the sun alone burns 700,000,000 tons of hydrogen and converts that into 695,000,000 tons of helium and 5,000,000 tons of energy in the form of gamma rays.  At the center of the sun the temperature is 15,600,000 degrees Kelvin.  That’ll cook a hot dog for you…really fast.

I could go on with facts and figures about the sun for a long, long time.  I never tire of the wonder of it all – the immensity.  And to think it all came into being by the words, “Let there be…”  Wow.

I could wander among the stars ceaselessly, mesmerized by the beauty of that part of God’s creation.  (In case you like to do that, too, you can go to this web site for incredible deep space pictures: http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/.) 

But space is dark, and space is hostile.  It is not a place for the timid or those concerned about security.  Not everyone is cut out to be an astronaut.  And stars are only seen by night.  

I can get frightened by sounds I hear in the dark house at night, or sounds that seem to be just outside the bedroom window.  Night time is a time to be scared, but it is also when the stars can be seen.  An American astronomer spoke these wonderful words: I have lived among the stars for too long to fear the night.  Oh, how I like that!  It makes me think of the Jesus’ words in Revelation 22:16 (NIV) – I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.

Living in the Presence of that Star will be the most awesome of all.  Here, we see through a glass darkly, but then, oh praise God, then – we shall see face to face!  And there is no reason to fear the night, for there will be no more night…just the brightest Star of all, shining in glory eternally!

PRAYER:  Lord, you tell us that our lives are like a vapor that is here one moment and gone the next.  You have filled our lives with people – some we enjoy, others we don’t – and with moments to make a difference for eternity.  What a privilege you have given to us!  May we use life wisely before the vapor that is our days is gone.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/20/17 – Who Are You Afraid Of?

DayBreaks for 9/20/17: Who Are You Afraid Of?

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

Some time ago I shared a DayBreaks about a prayer walk I participated in through downtown San Francisco.  I shared that when we came to the Tenderloin part of town that I had some fear.  The people were unkempt, it is an area given to violence.  The looks in their eyes were contemptuous and hard. 

In reading further in Deitrich Bonhoeffer’s book, The Cost of Discipleship, chapter 25 talks about the decision that people must make to be disciples.  Here’s what he had to say: “They (disciples) must not fear men.  Men can do them no harm, for the power of men ceases with the death of the body.  But they must overcome the fear of death with the fear of God.  The danger lies not in the judgment of men, but in the judgment of God, not in the death of the body but in the eternal destruction of body and soul.  Those who are still afraid of men have no fear of God, and those who have fear of God have ceased to be afraid of men.”

This is, indeed, the crux of the issue.  We are too attached to our bodies – we are so attached to this life that we fear losing it.  No one would say that we would rather lose this life than the one to come.  In hearing “…the power of men ceases with the death of the body” we find ourselves yelling out, “Yes, but that’s what I’m afraid of!  I’m afraid of what may lead up to the death, too!”  No one wants to suffer.  If and since we all have to go, we all want to go quietly and peacefully.  But to some, and to increasing numbers in our day and age throughout the world, He grants the privilege to suffer and die for Him.  What gives Him the right to ask someone to do that?  The fact that He first suffered and died for us.  For you.  For me.  God has never asked us to do anything that He hasn’t first done Himself.   

We live in a day and age filled with growing fear.  We’re afraid of violence on the streets, of robbers breaking and entering, of rape in a dark parking lot, of terrorism striking into our community, of random shootings.  We don’t like to admit that we are afraid.  But it’s true.  Jesus himself said we SHOULD be afraid in Luke 12.5: But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.  Did you notice – after He has told us to fear the great Judge of all mankind, He reiterates it in case we missed it: Yes, I tell you, fear him.  

But doesn’t “perfect love cast out fear”?  Yes.  But in our culture, we’ve gone so far to the side of not fearing God, of seeing Him simply as a white-haired old gentleman with a toothless grin and kindly eyes, that we have forgotten His demand of holiness, of the fact that He can, and will, carry out judgment against sin and vengeance.  God hates sin.  All sin.  It doesn’t matter what the sin is – He hates it.  It must be punished.  It must be paid for.  Every single one of us deserves to be banished to outer darkness with Satan and his angels forever.  Not one of us can stand on our own two feet before God’s throne, look Him in the eye and tell Him, “I deserve to be let into heaven!”  On that day, no one will dare do such a thing.  No, I have a feeling that when we stand before Him and are confronted with the absolute Holiness that is His alone, even though we are believers and His children, that we will fall on our faces in shame and yes, fear.  But then – oh, praise God!!! – then, His very own Son will step forward and show God His nail-scarred hands and feet and say, “I’ve paid the price for this one.  Let him/her in.”  Then God will smile, nod His head in perfect and absolute agreement, Jesus will gently lift us up and tell us, “Welcome home!” as tears of joy stream down His face and mingle with our own tears of relief and thankfulness. 

That day will come.  We will stand before Him.  Jesus holds our destiny in His hands.  Thank God they are nail-scarred!

PRAYER:  May we live boldly in the holy fear of You and You alone.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>