DayBreaks for 7/9/19 – Final Judgment

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DayBreaks for 07/09/19: Final Judgment

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

No one likes the idea of being subject to a judgment against themselves.  We don’t want to be dragged into a court of law by a disgruntled neighbor, co-worker or stranger – even if we are guilty or liable for something.  We don’t like being judged.  Just look at the emotional reaction of people when they even “feel” like they’re being judged!!!

The Bible plainly speaks about judgment.  There’s simply no getting around the fact.  There are those in theological circles that are considered universalists, who hold that even after death, God will continue to hold out the possibility of salvation until eventually everyone gives in and receives salvation because the find the offer irresistible at some point after death – even if it takes thousands or millions of years.  Others (annihilationists) hold that it is only those who have accepted God’s offer of eternal life and that the wicked will just simply cease to exist at death.  The traditional view (which I ascribe to) is that there is eternal reward and eternal punishment, based on our acceptance or rejection of God’s merciful gift.

In musing on this, N. T. Wright wrote: “I find it quite impossible, reading the New Testament on the one hand and the newspaper on the other, to suppose that there will be no ultimate condemnation, no final loss, no human beings to whom, as C. S. Lewis put it, God will eventually say, “Thy will be done.”  I wish it were otherwise, but one cannot forever whistle “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy” in the darkness of Hiroshima, of Auschwitz, for the murder of children and the careless greed that enslaves millions with debts not their own.  Humankind cannot, alas, bear very much reality, and the massive denial of reality by the cheap and cheerful universalism of Western liberalism has a lot to answer for.”

Judgment is a very sobering thought.  It is also a very real reality (as if there were any other kind.)  We have a hard time bearing such searing reality as that of facing the ultimate Judge in the Final Judgment.  But denying it won’t make it go away, no matter how hard we try to click our heels and say “I want to go home…I want to go home…I want to go home” to get away from the great white throne – it won’t happen.

Be ready for it.  Expect it.  Live with it in mind and in heart.  Jesus will be our shield against the wrath of God on that great, and terrible, day. 

PRAYER: Thank You, Jesus, for having already prepared out case before the Judge.  Thank You for telling us the verdict in advance.  You, o Lord, are our only hope and defense!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 4/02/19 – A Burned Patch of Ground

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DayBreaks for 4/02/19: A Burned Patch of Ground

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2009:

In the early days of American life on the great plains, if a wildfire was started by a thunder strike or a careless settler or Native American, the results could be incredibly catastrophic.  If you’ve never seen the great plains, they are largely flat and windswept.  And therein lies the problem.  Once a fire started on the prairie, if there was any wind, it would move across the plains with startling rapidity.  The stronger the wind, the faster the destruction would travel, sweeping every living thing from its path. 

Settlers could often see the smoke from an approaching wildfire.  That wasn’t the problem.  There weren’t enough trees or hills to block the view.  So they could see the fire that was coming there way.  The problem was that if the wind was strong enough, there was simply no way to outrun the fire – not even on horseback.  Some other solution had to be found.

So it was that the settlers did the only thing that they could: they would light a match and burn a patch of ground as large as possible, but large enough to hold the family and their livestock (if they had time!).  Once that patch of ground was burned, the terrified family would huddle together in the center of the scorched earth and watch as the wildfire raged onward towards them.  As the fire reached the scorched earth, it found nothing to consume in the burned patch of ground and so the flames would simply “split” and move past the huddled family and animals, moving on its way, leaving the family behind, alive. 

God’s Holy Word says that there is a wildfire coming – a wildfire of the Lord’s own making: And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. He will come with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. – 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8 (NLT)  And again: The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. – 2 Peter 3:9-10 (KJV)

Yes, the fire is coming.  No one will be able to outrun it. No one will be able to hide from it.  We need to find a safe place to stand when it happens so that we are not swept away.  The good news is that God created that safe place for us.  At the foot of the cross is the only patch of scorched earth where we can and will be safe.  Let us rush to the safety that God offers, for the fire may be much closer than we think.

Prayer: You are our Shelter, Lord Jesus.  At the foot of the cross we run to You for deliverance from the fire that is sweeping our way.  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 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.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/25/17 – The Wheat, the Tares – and the Line Through the Heart

DayBreaks for 7/25/17: The Wheat, the Tares, and the Line Through the Heart

Matthew 13:24-30 (NLT) – Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew. “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’ “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed. “‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked. “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”

Jesus’ parable about the wheat and tares seems strange. In that parable, the lesson is not to try separate the wheat and tares. In due time, they will be separate by the Judge of all. So, why wouldn’t Jesus want us to go out there are start sorting it all out? I think there are obvious reasons: what we think is a “tare” may in fact be wheat in its early stages. How many of us would have seen Saul of Tarsus (a believer in God, even before his conversion, no doubt) as wheat instead of a tare?

One preacher asked the people at his church to imagine what would happen if they adopted a policy of weed-pulling, drawing a circle around their little town and making a vow that no evil would cross that line, that no weeds would grow within that border. He told them, “You know, you and I could spend the rest of our lives protecting that boundary, standing shoulder to shoulder with pitchforks and clubs, making sure that we kept drugs and alcohol and pornography and gambling safely on the other side. I think it would take all of our energy and most of our time. But what if we did it? What if we succeeded? What would we have? We would have a town characterized by the absence of evil, which is not the same as a town characterized by the presence of good. And maybe this is what Jesus was talking about all along, that it’s better to have a wheat field with weeds in it than a field with nothing in it at all.”
When that church in North Carolina later began a ministry to the children of a nearby trailer park, they had to decide what kind of ministry it would be. They could have chosen to root out all the sources of evil in that place-to chase down the drug dealers and the deadbeat dads, to confiscate handguns and arrest child abusers. Instead, they chose to put up a basketball goal, to tell stories from the Bible, to put their arms around little children, and sing songs about Jesus. And two years after they started that ministry, two years of going out there Saturday after Saturday to do those things, the pastor got a note in his box at church with five words on it: “Adrian wants to be baptized.” Adrian. The terror of the trailer park. That little girl who had made their work most difficult during the previous two years. Who would have guessed?
Instead of pulling weeds in the field where she lived, they just tried hard to BE  wheat themselves, and somehow Adrian saw that and fell in love with it and wanted it for herself. After she was baptized, there was a little more wheat in the field. And because she was there, soon, there was even more.

I know far too many Christians who continually want to cull the field, making decisions on the basis of assumed or real belief, behaviors, attitudes, speech, political stances, etc. One pastor’s wife looked back into her genealogy and traced it back over 500 years. In the process, they that she had a relative who was burned at the stake in Switzerland. Why? Because he had a different understanding of baptism than those who tied him to the stake, that’s why. They weeded him out. Then they burned him up.
As for me, I don’t always know whether I am weed or wheat. I believe it was Alexander Solzhenitsyn who said: If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. That includes my heart and it includes yours, too. For all I know, I may even be the weed in somebody else’s garden. Perhaps in your garden.

If Jesus was content to let the weeds be, why shouldn’t I? He’ll sort it out when the time is right for he is far better qualified to do so than any human.

PRAYER: Forgive me for thinking my answers are all the right ones, that I am in any way qualified to separate the wheat from the tares! Let humility rise within us, Lord, and let us just get about the business of being wheat and not something else that is deceitful. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/8/16 – Weighing the Heart

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DayBreaks for 1/8/16: Weighing the Heart

Galen is out of the country. While he is gone, you will be receiving DayBreaks from the DayBreaks archive from January, 2006.

Prov. 21:2 – All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart.

If you watch any of the “CSI” shows, you know that part of just about every episode is the autopsy, where the cause of death – as mysterious as it may be – is determined.  Part of the process of the autopsy is the removal of the internal organs, measuring, describing and weighing them.  I must confess, I’m not sure why they do all that every time, but I’m sure that there’s a good reason.

Scripture speaks about the LORD weighing the heart of man.  To us, that may be a mysterious reference.  The first thing to come to mind is probably a set of scales with the heart placed on one side and something else on the other until the scales balance.  The ancient world was largely dominated by Egypt, Babylon and the Persians.  Much of what Israel’s writers referred to came from their experiences with the Egyptians. 

The Egyptian religion taught that the dead had to face a final judgment before the gods – very similar to the concept we find in Hebrews, where we’re told “It is appointed unto men to die once, and after that to face judgment.”  One of their gods, Thoth, recorded the responses of those examined, while the dead person’s heart was weighted in a scale against a feather that symbolized truth.  If the answers of the deceased to the questions they were being asked were correct, the heart did not overbalance the feather and the soul could enter the afterlife and live forever.  Failure, or having a heart that was too heavy because it wasn’t full of the lightness that truth carried, would be devoured by a demon-like god, Sebek, who looked like a crocodile. 

It is true that falsehood and deception make for a heavy heart.  As God weighs the hearts of us all, and especially as He weighs your heart, what will He find?  Is your heart light – filled with truth and goodness?  Or has your heart become heavy as a result of your sin and deception?  God WILL weigh your heart.  What will He find?

TODAY’S PRAYER: Father, You are the righteous Judge over all the earth.  You alone have the right to weigh our hearts and to proclaim judgment or vindication over us.  May we live our lives in constant awareness that we shall stand in Your Presence and be weighed on Your scales.  May our hearts be found pure and without dross that would weigh us down.  Thank you for the blood of Jesus that cleans our hearts and souls of sin!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 4/06/15 – Love Unfailing

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DayBreaks for 4/06/15: Love Unfailing

I don’t know about you, but I am not ready for Holy Week to be over.  When I was pastoring a small church in northern California, this was by far my favorite week.  I loved preaching Easter-related messages.  I loved the deep meaning of the services and the contemplation of the reality that is the theme of the week.

The services for Holy Week 2015 have come and gone and the calendar has moved on, but I haven’t.   I want to linger in the mystery. 

I have just finished reading a book, The Insanity of God, (I’ll write about it in a few days) that has challenged me and my understanding of Jesus’ call upon our lives.  It has opened my eyes to truths about myself to which I was at least partially blind and in denial.  And it has, in spite of everything, left me rattled to the core as to my walk and understanding of what it means to be a disciple.  Suffice it to say, I’m not sure I have a clue what it means to be a disciple of His. 

That’s a scary thing to have to admit.  And it makes me wonder about my salvation in a way.  Oh, I know in my head that my salvation isn’t dependent on how “good” of a Christian I am, or how much I may sacrifice for Him.  It’s all about what He’s sacrificed for me and His mercy and grace.  But still…there’s that nagging voice of the enemy in the back of my mind that says, “You’re worthless.  Compared to some of those other folks who have given it all for Jesus, you’ve given nothing.  You’ve sacrificed nothing.  You will not be recognized on the day of Judgment.”  Deep inside, I know that’s Satan’s voice – not Jesus’.  Yet it is a loud voice and it is fairly convincing.

And so it was that two simple words we sang at our Easter celebration at church came leaping out at me with such force: love unfailing.  The song is This Is Amazing Grace, and here’s what it says in the chorus:

This is amazing grace
This is unfailing love
That You would take my place
That You would bear my cross
You lay down Your life
That I would be set free
Oh, Jesus, I sing for
All that You’ve done for me.

As I was celebrating, the concept of unfailing love washed over me and blew through my heart like the freshest breeze ever.  I had been dwelling on my failings and shortcomings…and not on His unfailing love for even someone like me!

My wife, bless her heart, is a saint.  And though I have to readily admit that my failings in love FAR outnumber her few failings in love towards me, there have been times when her love has not been all that I think it could have been.  I say that not to take her down in any way, but rather to lift her up – she is truly amazing.  But the hard truth is that every love of every human on this earth has at one time or another failed me.  And I have most certainly failed others many times over!

The problem comes when I think of Jesus’ love for me as if it were simply the love of another human being that will fail me when I stand before the throne of God.  It shall not be so!!!!!  Listen to His words: John 6:39 (NLTse) – And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. 

Lest we think that Jesus may love us, but the Father is angry with us, it is the beloved apostle John, who wrote these words: John 1:14, 17 (NLTse) – So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son…For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ.

On the day of judgment, I shall be saved.  Not because I’m something great or did anything at all of significance.  Not because I was or wasn’t a martyr.  Not because I was imprisoned for my faith or because I lived a life of little or no persecution.  I shall be saved because of unfailing love – a love that cannot now, nor ever, fail!

PRAYER: Jesus, we have never experienced love like yours upon this earth, and so we are tempted to believe that every love fails.  Let us lean with all our might into your unfailing love and trust your own words that you will not lose a single one!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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