DayBreaks for 11/04/19 – Cheap Guilt

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DayBreaks for 11/04/19: Cheap Guilt

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

It was, I believe, Deitrich Bonhoeffer who originated the phrase “cheap grace” to describe the attitude of the heart that cheapens what was necessary for us to receive forgiveness and salvation.  There were some who would say, even in Biblical times, that we should “sin that grace may abound” (Romans 6:1).  Such are purveyors of the doctrine of cheap grace.  We are reminded that we were saved not with the blood of bulls and goats, but the blood of the very Son of God (1 Pet. 1:19).  There’s nothing cheap about that, nor about the sheer volume of grace that flows through Calvary from the throne of God!

But cheap guilt?  Is there such a thing?  In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason makes an argument for why he believes such a thing does exist: “But guilt too can become cheap.  Cheap guilt enervates and paralyzes.  Like a giant leech it latches onto the conscience and saps all the dignity and vitality out of it.  True contrition, on the other hand, purifies the conscience, bathing it as in tears even while energizing it with the vision and the power for positive change.”

If I had a nickel for every person and every time that someone said to me that they feel like giving up because of their sin and shame and guilt (suspecting that those things add up to too tall of a pile for God to deal with in His grace), I’d own the L. A. Dodgers!  I can’t honestly say that I’ve ever felt so guilty that I felt like just giving up this relationship with Christ.  That could be because I am in denial about the depth of my sin, or it could be because I understand that I’ve been washed in the blood of Christ and touched by His grace – and that God’s grace is far greater than any guilt I may carry. 

Guilt is a crushing burden to haul around on our backs.  That’s why Jesus carried all our guilt and shame on his back to the cross – so we wouldn’t have to carry it anywhere ever again.  Hebrews 10:1-2 (NLT) says: The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared.  Don’t miss the point of this argument: the old law couldn’t take away sin (“provided perfect cleansing”, vs. 2), but the sacrifice of Jesus which has purified believers “once for all time” (Heb. 10:10) allows “their feelings of guilt” to disappear.  But we have to accept by faith (even if we can’t understand with our minds and hearts that it is so) that we have perfect cleansing and our feelings of guilt should have disappeared.

Have you still been toting a knapsack full of guilt on your back?  It may be because you are victim of “cheap guilt”, letting it paralyze you instead of knowing that your guilt has been removed and that you are freed from guilt for all time.  We must not confuse conviction of wrong-doing in our lives by the work of the Holy Spirit with guilt.  One is positive and leads to repentance and restoration…the other leads to the pit.

PRAYER: Make us sensitive to our sin in a way that leads us to repentance, Lord, not to guilt that you died to take away from us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/20/19 – Receiving a Death Sentence

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DayBreaks for 06/20/09: Receiving a Death Sentence

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2009:

I always find video clips of court sessions where the defendant receives a death sentence interesting.  It is the expression, or lack thereof, on the face of the defendant that interests me.  Sometimes there is no reaction, sometimes they are stunned, at other times they have a very strong physical reaction.  I have often wondered how it must feel to them at that moment when the sentence is read. 

Last week, my beloved boxer, Casper had a close call.  We were going out for our daily walk to the mailbox to get the bills and junk mail.  We’d barely walked out of the garage and he collapsed and struggled to get back up.  After a few seconds that seemed like hours, he gave up struggling and lay in my arms.  I felt for his heartbeat and could feel nothing.  He stopped breathing.  I was at first puzzled, hinking perhaps he’d hurt his hind leg, but then the reality hit me: injured legs don’t stop hearts or breathing.  And my worst fear came to mind: that Casper, like the last boxer I had before him, had dilated cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart).  It is a relatively common problem in boxers and it had taken Ramses’ life when he was just 5 years old.  All I could think to do with Casper was hold him, talk to and pet him, and then it hit me: do CPR and see if you can get his heart beating and lungs working again.  So, I thumped him on the ribcage a few times, gave him a few breaths of air, and (praise God!) he came back.  Today, you’d never know anything happened by looking at him or watching him.

We took him to the vet who ran tests. I expected to hear the worst – to hear a death sentence pronounced on my beloved dog: “Casper has dilated cardiomyopathy.”  But instead, the vet said that the heart looked good, the EKG was perfectly normal.  So, the cause of the collapse remains a mystery.  It made me think, however, about death sentences.

It was the apostle Paul who referred to the sentence of death in 2 Cor. 1:9-10 (NIV): Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us…” 

In context, Paul is describing the sufferings they endured in order to preach the gospel.  I believe that when we were born, we all received a sentence of death due to our sin nature.  If you are born a human, you are born with that sentence hanging over your head.  You can’t avoid it by having your parents sign some kind of waiver.  The only way to avoid the death sentence is to be given a full and complete pardon by the Judge.  As Paul put it, we have been given the sentence of death so that we will rely on God rather than our own wiles and cleverness or our ability to excuse or argue that we’re not guilty of sin.  God has pronounced sentence: The soul that sins shall die and The wages of sin is death.

The problem is that we often fail to remember that we are under a death sentence until Christ gives us the reprieve and grants us real life.  Casper will die someday.  I will die someday.  But by God’s incredible grace, I shall live again.

Prayer: Father, death is such an enemy.  You have told us that the wages of sin is death, but the free gift You offer us is life through Christ Jesus.  May we consciously live in the awareness that all that is in this created world is passing away, including our physical bodies, and that we need the breath of Life more than we could ever imagine.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/6/19 – The Pathway to Rain

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DayBreaks for 2/06/2019: The Pathway to Rain

From the DayBreaks archive, 2009:

Jeremiah 14:1-11 (NLT) – This message came to Jeremiah from the LORD, explaining why he was holding back the rain: “Judah wilts; her businesses have ground to a halt. All the people sit on the ground in mourning, and a great cry rises from Jerusalem. The nobles send servants to get water, but all the wells are dry. The servants return with empty pitchers, confused and desperate, covering their heads in grief. The ground is parched and cracked for lack of rain. The farmers are afraid; they, too, cover their heads. The deer abandons her newborn fawn because there is no grass. The wild donkeys stand on the bare hills panting like thirsty jackals. They strain their eyes looking for grass to eat, but there is none to be found.”  The people say, “LORD, our wickedness has caught up with us. We have sinned against you. So please, help us for the sake of your own reputation.  O Hope of Israel, our Savior in times of trouble! Why are you like a stranger to us? Why are you like someone passing through the land, stopping only for the night?  Are you also confused? Are you helpless to save us? You are right here among us, LORD. We are known as your people. Please don’t abandon us now!” So the LORD replies to his people, “You love to wander far from me and do not follow in my paths. Now I will no longer accept you as my people. I will remember all your wickedness and will punish you for your sins.”  Then the LORD said to me, “Do not pray for these people anymore.”

We are in the middle of a drought right now here in California.  How foolish if we think that the Lord no longer holds back the rain for the same reason He withheld it in the past!  Yes, he sends rain on the just and unjust, but He is also equally able to withhold it at any time He chooses. 

But what I found especially intriguing about this passage was in verses 7-9 where the people plead with the Lord to help them.  It is a wonderful sounding plea, also reflecting some of our own doubts and confusion about why God acts as He does.  I know there have been plenty of times when I was confused by what God was doing or not doing, when it seemed He was a stranger or powerless to do anything (that, by the way, is a horrible assumption – just because He doesn’t act certainly doesn’t mean He’s powerless to do so!)  Pay careful attention to the reason the people approach the Lord: they say that their wickedness has caught up with them and that they’ve sinned, but they beg for His help for the “sake of Your own reputation.”  They never ask for forgiveness – they only get as far as a confession, which is short and not very convincing.  They never get past the confession to asking for forgiveness and they show no inclination towards repentance.  Instead, it is as if they are trying to convince God that it’s in His own best interest to just forgive them and send them rain.   

How many times have I tried to appeal to God’s self-interest thinking I could manipulate Him into a certain desired behavior?  I’m not even sure that God can have “self-interest”!  My repentance had better be real.  True repentance moves the heart of God but fake repentance, even when there are lots of fine sounding words, never does.  And if God’s mercies don’t rain down upon us, we will all die of the drought.

PRAYER: Father, we say things hoping we can get You to “fall” for them as if You were another human from whom we can hide the truth.  Lord, we have sinned against you.  We ask you for forgiveness.  We desire to repent from the evil we do and to experience once again the refreshing mercies that fall from Your throne of grace.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/31/19 – Forgiven and Restored

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DayBreaks for 1/31/2019: Forgiven and Restored

From the DayBreaks archive, 2009:

Is there any greater need of the human race than forgiveness? Freedom from the guilt and shame of the past, from what we have done and what we have been? People all over the world are shattered and broken because they have never found peace in their hearts and lives. Their past haunts them. Perhaps no one put it as profoundly as Marghanita Laski, a humanist author, who was on television shortly before she died. In one of the most shocking statements made on network television, Ms. Laski said, “What I envy most about you Christians is your forgiveness; I have nobody to forgive me.”

But sometimes, even Christians don’t really understand, accept or believe their forgiveness. Why? Because we can’t forget what we’ve done. Consider the stories of two men who went rampaging through museums and who severely damaged great works of art. In one case, it was Rembrandt’s painting “Nightwatch”. In the other, it was Michelangelo’s sculpture of the Pieta in St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome. What did the curators of the museums do with these great works of art that had been horribly damaged? Did they throw them out and forget about them, consigning them to the dumpster? No way! Instead, they got the best experts they could find and with the most painstaking effort, did all they could to restore the treasures.

You see, that is exactly what God does with us. We go, from time to time, on sin rampages. By our sin, we mar the beautiful artwork that is us – for we are, after all, made in God’s very own image, and what could be more beautiful than that? The “Curator” has a choice – to trash us or repair us. And He chose and chooses to repair us. How does He do it? He gets the best expert available – Jesus! But here’s the best news of all: not only does He restore us, but He makes us better than we ever were before – because when we accept Christ’s atonement by faith – God credits us with Christ’s righteousness! Romans 4:22-25 says it this way: This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness– for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

The righteousness that God credits to our account is far greater than any righteousness we have ever had. God takes the broken and marred works of art that are the men and women of His creation, forgives and repairs. His repair work is beyond perfect – for He doesn’t just restore us to our human condition, but makes us fit to be heavenly creatures, to live in His presence and to see Him face to face.

Struggling with your past? If you are a believer – don’t. As far as God is concerned, you don’t have a past – only a glorious future.

PRAYER: Thank You, Lord God, for the righteousness You have credited to us, for the forgiveness that gives us the hope and strength to press onward to the glorious future You have prepared for us!    In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/24/19 – Truth from the Burning Towers

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DayBreaks for 01/24/2019: You Were Made for More

On that tragic morning of September 11, 2001, The Brooklyn Tabernacle lost four of its members. One victim was a police officer. The officer’s funeral was held at the church building, and Rudy Giuliani, then mayor of New York City, had been asked to share a few thoughts. Here’s what the mayor had to say:

“You know people, I’ve learned something through all this. Let me see if I can express it to you. When everybody was fleeing that building, and the cops and the firefighters and the EMS people were heading up into it, do you think any of them said, ‘I wonder how many blacks are up there for us to save? I wonder what percentage are whites up here? How many Jews are there? Let’s see—are these people making $400,000 a year, or $24,000, or—?’

“No, when you’re saving lives, they’re all precious. And that’s how we’re supposed to live all the time. How would you want the cops to treat you if you were on the seventy-fifth floor that day? Would you want them to say, ‘Excuse me, but I’ve got to get the bosses out first’? Not exactly.

“I confess I haven’t always lived this way. But I’m convinced that God wants us to do it. He wants us to value every human life the way he does.”

The words of the mayor moved everyone who had gathered that day for the funeral.  Jim Cymbala was there as Giuliani spoke, and had this to say afterward: “I sat there thinking, My goodness, the mayor is preaching a truth that has eluded so many of our churches throughout New York and the country! He may have stood for other policies that I could not agree with, but on that day, he was right on the mark. The truth of what he said penetrated my heart.

“The world you and I live in is falling apart before our eyes. We are God’s only representatives on the planet and simply cannot take time to pick and choose who needs help. They all need help. They all need the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. They all need to be rescued from the horror of an eternity apart from God.” – Jim Cymbala, You Were Made for More (Zondervan, 2008), pp. 94-96

Will you do your part to be the love of Jesus living in this world?

Prayer: As we see people around us, Lord, may we see every human being as those desperately in need of the love and forgiveness You offer – and may we see and admit that need in our selves!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/10/18 – More than Enough

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DayBreaks for 12/10/18: More Than Enough

From the DayBreaks Archive, 12/8/98:

Long ago, a poor woman from the slums of London was invited to go with a group of people for a vacation at the ocean. She had never seen the ocean before and when she saw it, she started crying. Those around her thought it strange that she would cry after such an enjoyable holiday had been provided for her. Finally, one of them asked her why she was crying. Pointing to the ocean, she answered, “This is the only thing I have ever seen that there was enough of!”

How would you describe the ocean to someone who has never seen it? Many years ago now, my cousin from Iowa brought his family to California for vacation. We took them to the beach and their kids saw the ocean for the first time. Their daughter innocently turned to her dad and asked if we could drive to the other side! Obviously, she just didn’t have a concept of how much of the ocean there was!

Sometimes I feel I may be on the verge of exhausting God’s love and mercy towards me. It usually happens when some old sin problem pops up in my life once again, grabs me by the throat and pulls me down. Afterwards, I feel miserable, used, helpless and hopeless all at the same time. And it is at those moments when I need to see and feel the magnitude of God’s love the most. Perhaps that is why I love the words to the old hymn, “O The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus” that goes like this:

“O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast unmeasured, boundless, free!

Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me,

Underneath me, all around me, Is the current of His love;

Leading onward, heading homeward, to my glorious rest above.

“O the deep, deep love of Jesus, Love of ev’ry love the best;

‘Tis an ocean vast of blessing, ‘Tis a haven sweet of rest,

Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus, ‘Tis a Heav’n of Heav’ns to me;

And it lifts me up to glory, For it lifts me Lord to Thee.”

Micah 7:18-19 says, Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

Can there be anything dearer or more precious to the Christian than the love of Christ? There is more than enough of it to go around – no matter what you’ve done, where you’ve been or how long you were there. God never suffers from a power shortage or a love shortage. And that fact is music to my soul!!!

Prayer: There is no God like You, Lord, we plead for your compassion!  In Jesus’ name,.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/01/18 – Sitting in the Wrong Seat

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DayBreaks for 10/01/18Sitting in the Wrong Seat           

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

In her book Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit, author and speaker Beth Moore recalls a particularly insightful moment in her life:

“I will never forget watching an evening talk show featuring the story of the parents and killer of a young college student. The killer was his best friend. The weapon was high alcohol content inside a speeding automobile. …

“What made this particular feature prime-time viewing? The parents had forgiven the young driver… And if that was not enough, they had taken him in as their own. This young man sat at the table in the chair which was once occupied by their only son. He slept in the son’s bed. He worked with the victim’s father, teaching seminars on safety. He shared their fortune and supported their causes. He spoke about the one he had slain in ways only someone who knew him intimately could have. …

“Why did these parents do such a thing? Because it gave them peace. The interviewer was amazed; I was amazed. I kept trying to put myself in the parents’ position—but I could not. Then, as the tears streamed down my cheeks, I heard the Spirit of God whisper to my heart and say: “No wonder you cannot relate. You have put yourself in the wrong position. You, my child, are the driver.” God was the parent who not only forgave, but also invited me to sit at His table in the space my Savior left for me. As a result, I have peace.”

May His peace fill your heart today as you sit at His table!

PRAYER: Give us perspective to realize that we are the killer, not the one who has lost a loved one, but that we are the person who ran roughshod over Your heart of love through lives and deeds of sin!  Thank You for taking us in after what we have done to Your beloved Son!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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