DayBreaks for 2/07/20 – Why Don’t We Get Better

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DayBreaks for 2/07/20: Why Don’t We Get Better?

Romans 7:18 – For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right but not the ability to carry it out.

That’s the apostle Paul who said that. Quite a statement coming from him, don’t you think?

Why is it that year after year, decade after decade, most of us struggle with specific sins in our lives? We wrestle them, beg forgiveness and tell God that we’ll try harder to stop sinning in those ways. We weep over them. We may beat our selves as a way to discipline ourselves into obedience. Then, when we finally feel like we’ve achieved a measure of success, well, we blow it again.

I think Steve Brown in A Scandalous Freedom may be on to something when he wrote: “The greatest cause for our not getting better is our obsession with not getting better.” Here’s his reasoning:

“When Paul talks about the abolition of the law in the book of Romans, he gives us a powerful way to get better, because he knew that getting better wasn’t the point. Our relationship with God is the point, and that is the place where we ought to get obsessive. When I am obsessed with being better instead of being consumed with God’s love and grace, I become prideful if I can pull it off and self-centered if I can’t…Holiness hardly ever becomes a reality until we care more about Jesus than about holiness.”

Don’t get Steve wrong – holiness is important and God says we must be holy as he is holy – but where does that holiness come from? From being good? From defeating my sin? No, for we will never be that holy. It comes from receiving Jesus’ holiness as our own through God’s mercy and grace.

If we could become as obsessed about really knowing Jesus’ mercy and grace as we are about our sin problem we will have taken a huge step forward.

PRAYER: Jesus, help us to really know you and not just know about you, and in knowing you understand what it means that we are already clothed in your holiness as we stand before God. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 1/9/20 – Not Quite White

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DayBreaks for 1/09/20: Not Quite White

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

As some of you know, photography has become one of my hobbies.  There’s not much that I enjoy more than getting off to some place that is pretty or interesting or which has wild animals and taking pictures of them.  I can’t say that I’m much good at it – but I hope to get better and I’m reading things to help me learn. 

I was recently able to spend part of a day in Yosemite where there was snow on the ground – not a lot of it, but enough to make the place even more magical than it already is.  There is a challenge to taking good pictures in the snow.  The color white reflects back 36% of the light waves that hit it.  Camera light meters, however, have a real problem with white.  They see white and rather than seeing all of it, they see only 18% (half) of the light waves bouncing off a white surface.  As a result, cameras, left to automatic exposure, will typically render white snow as a dingy gray.

As I struggled a bit to get good exposures in Yosemite in the snow, I got to thinking about how the Bible says white is symbolic of purity and black is representative of sin.  We would like to think that we’re “white” spiritually.  This is never clearer than in the case of those who think that they’re “pretty good people” who don’t smoke, drink or cheat.  They think they are good enough through their own efforts.  But just like the camera has a problem with recognizing whiteness, so our inner eyes often struggle to see our own dingy grayness and instead we choose to think we see purity when it is in fact lacking.  We make the problems we may have (even sin problems) someone else’s fault: they provoked me to anger, they cheated me so I’m justified in talking about them behind their back, or she wore too short of a skirt and made me lust. 

That thinking doesn’t fly in God’s Kingdom.  We can contribute to creating sinful environments that will either trip us up, or those around us, but ultimately, we are responsible for how we respond.  We are responsible for our own sin. 

The best any of us are on our own is like the blackest black you can imagine.  It’s what the prophet was saying when he said, “All our righteous deeds are as filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6).  They aren’t even gray – they’re filthy black!

Then, in steps Jesus, armed with the ability and knowledge to turn us white once again.  Just as a photographic exposure can be adjusted to make the white more “white”, Jesus can take our sin-stained souls and brighten them up so that we will “shine like stars in the universe” (Phil. 2:15). 

The eye of the camera is fooled by whiteness…and we can let our spiritual eyes be fooled, too. 

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for cleaning us up and making us shine!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/20/19 – Perfect Perfection

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DayBreaks for 08/20/19: Perfect Perfection

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

Perfection, in particular human perfection, is one of the rarest things on earth – if it exists at all.  The sports world shows how rare and short lived that perfection is.   For example, during the week of July 20, 2009, Chicago White Sox ace Mark Buerhle, pitched a no-hitter, but not just a no-hitter – he’d thrown a perfect game!  And that win moved the White Sox moved into a tie for first place.

In case you don’t know the distinction, there’s a big difference between a no-hitter and a perfect game.  In a no-hitter, it means no batter gets a hit against you, but you can walk batters, hit batters with a pitch, and your team can make errors on the field, and it still counts as a no-hitter.   In fact, you can even lose a no-hitter through some of those means.  Still it’s hard to pitch a no-hitter:  out of 2,430 regular season Major League baseball games played every year only a few no-hitters are pitched. As of July 2009, there have been a total of only 281 no-hitters thrown in the history of baseball. Most pitchers will never throw a no-hitter in their entire career.  The greatest pitchers in baseball may pitch two or three no-hitters in their career, with a few having thrown 4.

A perfect game is a much more difficult.  The pitcher not only must prevent all 27 hitters from getting a hit, he also cannot allow a single walk, he can’t hit any batters, and his team must not commit any errors!  Despite the thousands of Major League baseball games played every year and the tens of thousands of games that have been played over the history of baseball since the major leagues began in 1871, Mark Buerhle’s perfect game was only the 18th ever pitched.

But Buerhle didn’t stop there.  In his next start, he was again perfect for the first five and two thirds innings, setting the record for consecutive batters retired over a several-game stretch—45 batters up and down—but then, as it inevitably had to, human limitation took hold.  In the sixth inning, with two outs, Buerhle walked a batter.  Some hits followed.  He got out of that inning, but in the seventh he gave up more hits and was pulled from the game.  He had given up five runs on five hits, and the White Sox lost the game 5 to 3.  For the six games after his perfect game, the White Sox lost five of six games and fell several games behind the Tigers. 

Among human beings, if perfection is possible, it is only temporary.  Most of us may not achieve perfection at all in any sense in our human endeavors.  Have you ever loved perfectly?  Drew the perfect picture?  Developed and executed perfectly the perfect plan?  Parented perfectly?  Been a perfect child, sibling or friend?  Me neither.  Perfection just isn’t a human trait.  In fact, one could argue that a perfect game isn’t really perfect unless the pitcher never throws any balls out of the strike zone, etc.  But we like to pretend that we do things perfectly once in a while.  Perhaps it makes us feel better.  Or perhaps it is a deadly delusion.

Is perfection possible?  Yes, it is.  And if you are a Christian, believe it or not, you’ve been made perfect, not only for a temporary period of time, but eternally: Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Hebrews 10:13-14) 

You have been made perfect if you are in Christ.  Forever.

Now, go and celebrate THAT!

PRAYER:  Lord, it is hard to grasp and to feel that we are in any way, shape or form, perfect.  Sin besets us so frequently and causes us to despair.  We praise Your Name for the sacrifice that has made us already perfect in Your most holy eyes!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/12/19 – The King is Dead, Long Live the King!

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DayBreaks for 4/12/19: The King is Dead – Long Live the King!

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2009:

Isaiah 6 describes a visit of Isaiah to the temple in the year that King Uzziah died.  Uzziah had been king for 52 years – a good one, too.  He’d done wonderful things, and he had been able to hold the mighty Assyrian army, under the command of Tiglath-Pileser at bay on more than one occasion.  But now, now the king is dead. 

We don’t know why Isaiah went to the temple when he did, but perhaps it was because the young man was seeking some reassurance.  The king was dead, now who would protect Judah?  Who would keep them safe, if anyone could, from Assyria?  I don’t doubt that Isaiah had some of these thoughts running through his head as he entered the temple to pray – seeking some peace in the maelstrom with Uzziah’s death.

In two places in Scripture there are retellings of visions that holy men had of our great God.  One is found in Isaiah 6, and the other in Revelation, where John had a vision of God enthroned in glory above.  There are similarities and differences between their two visions that are instructive.  Isaiah’s vision took place first – by a span of about 800 years.  Isaiah describes seeing seraphs around the throne with their 6 wings, covering their eyes, constantly singing (all day and all night forever and ever!), “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord!”  In John’s vision, 800 years later, are seraphim are still singing their never-ending song about God’s holiness, never tiring of giving Him glory.  But while there are many similarities, there are also two things that are radically different:

800 years before, only the angels were singing.  Heaven’s music was performed by a very select and elite company – a chamber choir of angels in God’s throne room.  But now, with John’s vision, that all has changed.  No longer is it just the angels who sing, but all living things in heaven and on earth join into the song! It is no longer an aria reserved for just a few chosen angelic tongues, but it has become the praise song of all creation.

Secondly – and this difference is more noteworthy and important than the first one – in Isaiah’s vision the seraphim around God’s throne use two of their wings to cover their eyes.  Even though these angels around the throne of God must be and are holy because otherwise they would not be permitted into His presence to offer their worship, they could not behold the perfection of God’s holiness.  They must cover their eyes, for His holiness is too much even for these heavenly beings to look upon.  BUT: in John’s vision, the creatures who surround the throne are “covered with eyes, in front and in back.”  Each has six wings still, but now they are covered with eyes all around, even under the wings, according to John.  They are ALL eyes.  They cannot help but to look full upon the Lord who is high and lifted up.

Why the change?  What happened in those 800 years?  John, the beloved disciple, answered the question in his apocalypse: Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne. This is the Lamb that John the Baptist had spoken of when he shouted: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

The difference is simple, but profound.  While once man – even a man as upright as Isaiah – couldn’t look upon the Lord and even the heavenly host dared not look upon God, now, because of Jesus, the Lamb of God who has taken away the world’s sin, everyone and anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord, can look.  All of us men and women of unclean lips, because of Jesus, can now look directly upon all that was once forbidden even to angels to see. 

And that alone, is the reason that not just the angels sing around the throne after Jesus, but that all creation – even the souls of the mighty prophets who at one time dared not join in that song – can join in and sing: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.

Prayer: You are Holy, Lord, and we join our song to that of the living creatures to say without ceasing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord!”  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 6/22/18 – Do You Mortify?

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DayBreaks for 6/22/18: Do You Mortify?

Romans 8:12-13 (ESV) So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

The Continental Divide runs up from South America all the way up into Canada. On the eastern side, all the water runs toward the Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico, on the western side toward the Pacific. You can literally stand in the road and have one foot on the eastern side and one on the western side. It’s easy when there to move from one extreme to the other. But it’s far harder to move from unholiness to holiness.

Through the middle of our lives is a divide – far wider and far more significant that the Continental Divide.
Earlier in Romans 8:5-8, Paul describes that our minds must be changed, transformed. But that’s not enough. Verses 9-11 say our entire being must be transformed – not just our minds, but our bodies/fleshly nature, too.

The real application here comes in verses 12-13 where we are, by the Spirit (not by our own power!), to put to death the deeds of the body. The whole thing is predicated on verse 12 where Paul says we are not debtors to the flesh. The word debtors here would be better translated as “obligated.” We are not obligated any longer to live in the ways of the flesh. We have the Spirit of God in us.

John Owen, writing long ago, said that we must “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” What is called for is a continual rampage against sin in our lives. We are told to kill it, to mortify, to put it to death.

The billion dollar question though, is are you, am I, mortifying the flesh? Consider this analogy: if an intruder broke into your home and began firing bullets at your family trying to kill them, what would you do? We wouldn’t just invite them to sit down for a cup of coffee so we could discuss things. We would FIGHT – even to the point of killing that intruder in order to preserve the life and peace of our family.

How are we fighting sin? Are we fighting it with the same (or more!) passion as we would that intruder? Or, are we unwilling to kill sin because we want to be able to play with sin once every so often? Have we become so afraid of legalism that we’ve forgotten about the demand for holiness? Yes, God is gracious – far more gracious than we can imagine – but God is very clear: we are to kill sin in our lives by the Spirit. That means letting the Spirit do the killing, but that can only happen as we yield to Him and His control.

We can’t afford to be ho-hum about sin. The devil isn’t ho-hum in his attack on us. Our death is his intention! How could we be ho-hum about our sin when we see the price Jesus paid on Calvary to rescue us from it?

Let’s fight like our lives depend on it – and let Jesus’ holiness that has been credited to us take care of the times we fail.

PRAYER: Jesus, we aren’t very good at killing sin. We cannot do it on our own. Let us cry to you every single day and put our will and fleshly desire to death. Let your Spirit have that work in us that we so desperately need! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/09/17 – You ARE Holy

 

DayBreaks for 6/09/17: You Are Holy

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2007:

Holy ground. The Holiest of Holies. Terms from the Scripture that we are familiar with. We believe that the ground on which Moses stood was holy. We believe that the temple was made holy by the One who dwelt there. For sure, these things are true.

There was nothing special about the sand and rock on which Moses stood. They were made of the same chemicals and molecules that is the essence of the created world. Iron, magnesium, copper – whatever kind of rock and sand he stood on, was still made up of electrons, protons and neutrons spinning and twirling around one another in an atomic dance.

The gold and silver and wood and linen in the temple were the same chemical compounds that you can buy in the store today. They were the ordinary, routine stuff of existence with which we are so well acquainted. Nothing special there.

In both cases, however, they were holy for one and ONLY one reason: God was there. It was not a miracle of atomic transformation that made all these things holy, it was the miracle of His Presence. His Presence transforms where He is into a holy place  – the holiest of holy places.

Colossians 1:18-23 (NLT)  – Christ is the head of the church, which is his body. He is the first of all who will rise from the dead, so he is first in everything. Â For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and by him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of his blood on the cross. This includes you who were once so far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions, yet now he has brought you back as his friends. He has done this through his death on the cross in his own human body. As a result, he has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand in it firmly. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed by God to proclaim it.

The apostle Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, makes a dazzling claim in the passage quoted above. Here it is: you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. Wow.

Do you belong to Christ? Then you stand before Him – holy and blameless without a single fault! How can this be? When we became Christians, did the atoms of our flesh change to make us holy? No, no more than the atoms of the material of the wilderness floor or the temple walls. We are holy the same way they were holy: God is present with us. He now dwells in us as he did in the temple – and there His presence made the temple holy.

God sees us through the eyes of the Spirit. We see ourselves through the eyes of the flesh. We need to learn to see ourselves, and believe the truth about ourselves, as God sees us. Paul even stressed it: But you must continue to believe this truth and stand in it firmly. What truth was he talking about? Our holiness and blamelessness even when we don’t feel holy or blameless. Paul continued: Don’t drift away from the assurance you received. It is believing the truth about who and what we are IN HIM that fills us with the motivation and love and wonder to live for him more fully, each and every day.

PRAYER: Jesus, how desperately we need to take this passage to heart! To believe that we ARE now, and not just at some point in the future, holy and blameless as we stand before you. Let this truth transform our lives for your praise and glory! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/28/17 – Visiting With Isaiah, #2

DayBreaks for 2/28/17: Visiting With Isaiah, #2

Isaiah 6:2-3 (ESV) – Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”

The seraphim are interesting creatures and they certainly caught Isaiah’s attention, but not because of their unearthly appearance (which sounds quite amazing!), but because of what they were doing.

It appears that they perhaps circle over the top of the throne as they fly, but even these incredible creatures shield their eyes from the glory of the one seated on the throne, and they cover their feet – often thought of as being a very lowly and humble part of the body – because of the worthiness of the Being on the throne.

But the most amazing thing about these beings is what they say to one another: Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!

Stop and think about that for a moment. If you were standing (or hovering) over the throne of God, what might you be saying? Perhaps you’d say, Loving, loving, loving is the Lord or hosts, or perhaps Gracious, gracious, gracious or Magnificent, magnificent, magnificent. I could imagine saying all sorts of things, can’t you?

Not these creatures. The thing that so dominated their thinking and their speaking wasn’t the love of the one on the throne, or his grace, mercy, compassion or anything other than His holiness.

What is holiness? What does the word holy mean? It means different, other, set apart (especially for some purpose), special in some great way. What these amazing seraphim are captivated by is how unlike anything else this Lord is! This is intended to let us know that this is a One of a kind God, One who is not like us nor even like the seraphim themselves. He is completely Other.

So, what’s so special about that? Think about his holiness, his total otherness and then think about the Incarnation. This incredible one who is seated on the throne in Isaiah’s vision who is so Other is the one who made himself like us, removing his Otherness and taking on our Sameness – even sameness to the point of dying like King Uzziah did, and dying as we shall.

To echo the words of Isaiah in Isaiah 53:1a: Who has believed our report? Who would believe such a thing could ever happen, that the One whose glory fills the temple, leaving room for no other being to be glorified, would do such a thing?

One more note here: the seraphim are proclaiming his holiness not because of anything He has done, but simply because of who and what He is.

Ready for today’s challenge? Try this one on for size from 1 Peter 1:16 – we are told by God himself that we are to be holy, even as he is holy! Is that some kind of mean, sadistic joke? How can such a thing be? It can only be because He became like us, gave himself for us and even more – gives us His own holiness, the very same holiness that the seraphim talk about without ceasing – through the blood of Jesus.

Isaiah 61:10 (ESV) – I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

PRAYER: Lord, we can scarce believe that you have clothed us with your own righteousness and given us the holiness of Jesus that we may one day stand, unashamed in your holy presence! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.