DayBreaks for 6/26/19 – Unfulfilled Expectations

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DayBreaks for 06/26/09: Unfulfilled Expectations

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2009:

The boy was 10 years old. He was known as Phineas. His grandfather, in his will, had left him an island – Ivy Island. Phineas had never seen the island, but dreamt of it often. He pictured how he’d build a house, raise cattle and grow prosperous. But he’d never seen it. All that was about to change. After several requests and years of asking, his father finally agreed to take him to see the island. The father, young boy and a hired hand climbed into the wagon and slowly made their way toward the coast of Connecticut. Finally, as they crested a hill, the father told Phineas that if he ran to the tree line and looked toward the sea, that he’d see his island. The young boy leaped down from the wagon, ran though the trees and caught his first glimpse of Ivy Island – the place of his dreams. However, what he saw wasn’t what he expected. Instead of a beautiful, green island surrounded by the beautiful blue sea, he saw 5 acres of swampy marshland.

Phineas grew bitter and it affected the rest of his life. In fact, later on, Phineas (who was to become known as P.T.), coined the phrase, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” You know him as P.T. Barnum, the circus huckster who lured people with promises of freaks and absurdities.

There is something about bitterness that is ugly. Scripture talks about bitterness in this way from Heb 12:15: See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

Brain tumors are sometimes very difficult to remove because they grow “roots” that intertwine with the brain stem and other parts of the brain. These roots are very difficult, if not impossible, to extract. Bitterness has the same potential to get into our heads and grow into all the little, dark places where it settles in and makes itself at home.

When it seems like life lets you down, we can become bitter. The promise of a raise wasn’t kept, the recognition that was earned wasn’t delivered, the marriage that was supposed to last forever doesn’t. These are facts of life. They do happen and they happen in some way or form to everyone.

What do you do about it? First, in the Hebrews passage, part of the solution seems to be to not overlook God’s grace – rather than meditating on the wrong has been done to us, focus on how much we have received from God that we had no right to expect. Second, realize you can’t stay in a protective shell – you have to move on. You could choose to shelter your heart if your love has been betrayed, but what a horrible life that would be! Love again – take the risk. Let Jesus bring you healing. Don’t give bitterness a place to grow in your heart. It was meant to hold God’s love, not bitterness.

PRAYER: Give us hearts that hold no bitterness.  Give us eyes to see that we deserve nothing from You.  Give us hope in Your eternal love for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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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 6/03/19 – Blameless and Guiltless

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DayBreaks for 6/03/19: Blameless and Guiltless

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2009:

Psalm 32:2 – Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him.

Can you imagine what it would feel like to have never committed a sin?  I can’t, either.  But, I can imagine that it would feel quite different from anything we’ve experienced before.  I’ve never flown by my own power before so I can’t imagine the freedom that an eagle feels, but I would have to think that it might be something like the exhilaration of being sinless and having no memory of anything from the past that wasn’t pleasing or honoring to God. 

That being said, it is important that we consider a Scriptural perspective on sin and the believer.  In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason noted that there is a difference between blamelessness and guiltlessness: “…blameless is not quite the same as being guiltless.  Objectively these two conditions are identical, but they are attained through different routes.  If someone is guiltless, it simply means that he has done nothing wrong.  If he is accused of wrong, then  he is accused falsely and that is all there is to it.  But if someone is blameless it means something far more mysterious: it means that no matter how horrible his offenses may have been, all the charges against him has been dropped.  Absolutely no blame attaches to him, because the very one he offended has exonerated him.”

I was pondering just today the dilemma of righteousness.  Goodness knows that I am a sinner!!!!  Yet God says that He has given me the “robe of righteousness” that is Christ’s righteousness.  Many are the times that I don’t feel righteous.  Many are the times that I don’t feel blameless, and deservedly so.  The challenge for me, and possibly for you, is to believe and accept with a full heart that when God draped the robe of Jesus’ righteousness over my shoulders and over yours, that when God sees me, He sees me as blameless, guiltless and righteous. 

I sometimes tend to think of degrees of blamelessness or righteousness.  What folly!  One is either blameless and righteous, or one is not.  There is no middle ground, no gray area.  The only way one can be blameless and righteous is for one to have no guilt – none at all.  When God looks at me or you, He isn’t seeing us in our efforts at being righteous.  He is seeing us as totally blameless and righteous – for He sees us in Christ, totally forgiven – so much so that no guilt or blame can attach itself to us. 

Hard to believe and accept isn’t it?  Doubt it?  Check out Jude 24, which assures us in his wonderful doxology, that it is the Lord who is “able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious Presence without fault.”  Glory be to God!

Prayer: Words fail me, Lord, as I struggle to grasp this glorious truth of a life in Your Son Jesus’ righteousness!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/7/19 – It Doesn’t Work That Way

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DayBreaks for 5/07/19: It Doesn’t Work That Way

From the DayBreaks archive: May 2009

It never fails.  It seems that no matter how often I talk with people (even Christians!), I will almost invariably hear some comment about how the person hopes they have enough faith to be allowed into heaven, or that they’ll have done enough good things that God will overlook the bad things they’ve done and the scales of “justice” will tip in their favor on judgment day. 

Why is it that people struggle so much with the concept of grace?  Perhaps it’s because deep down inside, it’s something that we seldom experience in this world from other human beings.  We are much more familiar with “justice” (i.e., getting what we deserve) and judgment from other humans.  And, let’s be honest about it, we often get worse than what we deserve (injustice) from other people, too. 

Thank God that He is not like us!  Thank God that He not only created but embodies mercy (not giving us what we really deserve) and grace (giving us the good things that we certainly don’t deserve)! 

Here’s a great explanation of why it doesn’t work the way a bank account does (i.e., where if you deposit more than you withdraw, you’re OK).  David Rich, in 7 Biblical Truths You Won’t Hear in Church (2006, pg. 37) explained it this way: “Picking, choosing, and deciding which sins are trivial and which are the biggies is a completely human tendency. A young man once told me, “It’s like a heavenly bank account. As long as I make more deposits than withdrawals, I’m in good shape.”

“I shared the biblical reality with him: the very first time he made a withdrawal, the account was emptied and closed forever. He thought that was a bit harsh. But I explained that I didn’t make the rules; God did. And I shared this truth with him not to depress him, but to make him aware and appreciative of God’s mercy.

“If you’re a believer, your account has been closed, and a new one opened in Christ’s name. You’re wealthy, but you can’t make another deposit or withdrawal. As Christians we just get the benefits of this new account, living off the interest—or, to put it another way, living off the blessing granted us by the blood of Jesus.”

Makes sense, doesn’t it?  Praise God for grace!

Prayer: We seem reluctant to admit that we can’t do anything to earn Your grace, but we are thankful for it more than words can ever say!  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 8/31/18 – When Paul Got It Wrong

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DayBreaks for 8/31/18: When Paul Got It Wrong

First, let me say that I have the utmost respect for the apostle Paul. It is quite possible that more people will be in heaven because of his work than any other mere mortal who has ever lived. But that doesn’t mean he was perfect. In fact, I have found one place in Scripture where I’m convinced that Paul got it dead wrong. It’s here in 1 Timothy 1:15 (CSBBible) – This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” — and I am the worst of them.

Paul was right about why Jesus came, but Paul couldn’t possibly have been the worst of sinners because I am. Here I am, 66 years old, still struggling with sin! The things that should have died in my long ago are still struggles and it seems they shouldn’t be alive and kicking, not now, not this far along in the journey. What is wrong with me!?!? Why am I this way???

I am this way, I reckon, because I still carry about with me a fleshly body and a human nature that are by definition corrupt. There is nothing, we are told, that is within us and our earthly composition that is anything other than dead – and the dead smell bad, just like my sin smells bad – even and especially to me. 

My guess is that unless you are a total neophyte to the concept of sin that you either feel like I do or have felt this way when the enormity of your own sin sits on your shoulders like a great, immense anchor. And that, my friends, is depressing, isn’t it?

We would do ourselves a disservice if we stopped reading at verse 15, though, for Paul goes on to say this: But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate his extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in him for eternal life.

What do I do when my sin and struggles are crushing my spirit with shame, and when our enemy is tormenting me with guilt? I remind myself of verse 16, and of this verse (Rom. 8:1-2) – Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.

God sees my sin. He doesn’t like it but he doesn’t hate me for it – it just breaks his heart. But when I launch out into eternity, having trusted myself and my eternal destiny to the hands of Jesus, I shall not be disappointed, I shall not be put to shame, for I, even now, bear my great guilt no longer. I face no condemnation because Christ faced it for me, and for you. Glory be to God!

PRAYER: Lord, have mercy on me a sinner! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/30/18 – Everyone in Hell has a Big But

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DayBreaks for 4/30/18: Every One in Hell has a Big But

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2008:     

Let’s take a closer look a favorite saying of those who know little or nothing of Scripture: “If you live a good enough life, you’ll make it to heaven.”

The following is from Greg Stier:

“After preaching in countless churches across the nation, I’m convinced that these fighting words are the biggest lie that is still being bought by millions of professing Christians. There is a mentality that “sure Jesus died for me, BUT…” As a matter of fact, I always say that “everyone in hell has got a big BUT”:

“BUT you also have to live a good life.”
“BUT you also have to obey The 10 Commandments.”
“BUT you also have to live by The Golden Rule.”
“BUT you also have to turn, try, seek, surrender…”

“The way of work and the way of grace are separate ways. If you seek to earn salvation via the way of work, you have to go the whole way. Jesus laid it out pretty clearly in the Sermon on the Mount. When Jesus begins the “You have heard…but I say unto you” list of impossible standards, I’m sure that everyone listening wilted. Those present (save Jesus himself) had unjustly been angry at their fellow man and had lusted at their fellow women. And having lusted, they were busted and unable to measure up to the ultimate standard of entrance into heaven: Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48). 

“If our people dare approach Christianity as a religion, then the standard is impossibly high. To get into heaven, we have to be as good as God himself.

“Oops.

“That’s why the offering of salvation is the way of grace through faith and not by good deeds (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Those ways, according to Romans 11:6, cannot be mixed: And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

“We need to do our best to help all of our people embrace the way of grace for the salvation of their souls. What’s interesting is that, when they do, good works will flow out of grateful hearts that long to please the Father who redeemed them through grace.”

Galen’s Thoughts: Paul got on the same bandwagon with Jesus when Paul wrote Galatians to show the foolishness of trying to please God by living the Law.  Still, I think Stier is on to a real truth: I think we’ll be surprised when we get to the judgment and we start to hear many say, “But Lord, I lived a good life,” “But Lord, I’m even a better person than some of those so-called Christians,”, “But Lord, there must be some mistake,” and “But Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or naked or in prison?”

There is only “but” that will work: “I am but a sinner, clinging to the cross of Jesus.”

PRAYER:  Father, teach us not to offer You excuses, but penitent, humble hearts.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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