DayBreaks for 1/31/20 – Standing Before God

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DayBreaks for 1/31/20: Standing Before God

My faith roots come from a very legalistic background. A common question posed to keep us in fear regarding salvation was, “If you sin and are run over by a truck and killed before you can ask for forgiveness, will you be saved?” The answer they wanted to hear was “No” because it was only fear that could keep us young people in line. We were taught (and this part is true) that God was always watching and we might be able to fool people but never God – and that some day the books would be balanced and we’d find ourselves in the most serious trouble imaginable. And so we cried and literally shook with fear for our sinfulness. 

But flip that argument around: are we any better if God is kind, but also safe and controllable? I think not. If God were kind, safe and controllable we have an entirely different problem: he wouldn’t be God at all.

You see, small gods do small things – because that’s all they can do. I like how Steve Brown put it in A Scandalous Freedom: “If you have never stood before God and felt afraid, then probably you have never stood before God. (Heb. 10:31) You have stood before an idol of your own making. Worse, your life will remain silly and superficial because you worship a silly and superficial God.”

At the same time, Jesus says his yoke is easy and his burden is light. How can he say that? Because as Aquinas said, the cross didn’t secure the love of God, but the love of God secured the cross. All who believe have been adopted. Not only have we been reconciled to that great and mighty and totally holy God by Christ’s sacrifice, but something else happened: we received Jesus’ righteousness – and not just a part of it, but all of it…ALL the goodness of Christ was credited to your account and mine.

What is the practical application of this wondrous truth? Here it is: if you are a Christian, it means that God will never be angry with you again. He has turned his wrath away from you because he credited ALL of Christ’s righteousness to your account. And here it is in a nutshell: how can God be angry at perfection?

It is a truth too good to be true – but it is true. Find freedom because Christ died to give it to you!

PRAYER: God, I can hardly believe you see me as holy and righteous as Christ because you’ve given me his righteousness as my inheritance as your child! No words can ever express enough gratitude for what you’ve done! Thank you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 12/30/19 – The Right Goal

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DayBreaks for 12/30/19: The Right Goal

From the DayBreaks Archive, 12/27/99:

Who do you want to be like? Who is your hero? I recently asked that question in my adult Sunday school class and got some interesting answers, but not the answers that you might have expected. What do you think the Jews of Jesus’ time would have answered to that question? Some would probably have suggested that they wanted to be like their father, Abraham. Some may have chosen Moses or David or Daniel or Elijah.

Jesus would one day tell them what the answer should have been, and the answer would have set them all back, just as it does me. His answer is found in Matthew 5:48: Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

No Jew would have dared to suggest that they could have been like God. As I think of my own life, I think that I would have also picked some of the characters from the Scriptures. I would be content to be a man of faith like Daniel, to deal with temptation as did Joseph, to be a man after God’s heart like David. I would be happy to be 1/10th the Christian that the apostle Paul was. But you see, that’s the problem. We set our sights too low. God has already set the target for us when he said, Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

It seems that God has a far loftier goal than we set for ourselves. The fallacy of my thinking that I’d be content to be 1/10th the Christian that Paul was is that you can’t be 1/10th of a Christian. You are either a Christian or you are not. And in God’s eyes, if you are a Christian – you are entirely Christian and your goal shouldn’t be set to be anything like another human – but to be like Christ, to be like God Himself.

Why does God set that goal for us? Because He knew how low we’d set the target if left to our own thinking. He knew we’d be content to be better than our neighbor. But He also knows that being better than our neighbor would never suffice.

God has high ideals for you. That’s actually good news. The even better news is that He has made Himself responsible for helping you reach the target! Colossians 1:28 says that it is IN CHRIST that we are presented perfect. Ephesians 1:13 tells us who those are who are IN CHRIST: And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit…

We won’t get there on our own, but to those who believe, who are therefore “in Christ” – well, you just can’t get more perfect than that!

PRAYER: Let us dream the dreams you have for us, Lord, to be led by your Spirit to be holy and righteous, knowing that it is only by the blood of Jesus that we ever reach that perfection.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 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 5/03/19 – God’s Expectations

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DayBreaks for 5/03/19: God’s Expectations

From the DayBreaks archive: April 2009

Have you ever been the “victim” of someone else’s expectations of you?  Perhaps it was when you were a child: your mom or dad may have wanted you to be a doctor or lawyer when you grew up, but neither was of interest to you.  Or, perhaps you dad wanted you to be as great of a football player or basketball player as he was (or thinks he was!) in his hey-day.  Maybe your mother wanted you to be more beautiful than you were…and so she went to great lengths to get you interested in make-up and pretty things.  Parents, for the most part, really do want good things for their kids.  It’s just that often we don’t know what will really be good for them and what won’t.  But that does very little to temper our expectations. 

Maybe you are struggling with unrealistic expectations of yourself.  Some people hold themselves to impossibly high standards, while others don’t hold themselves to any standard of excellence at all.  Your employer may have unrealistic expectations of you in terms of how many hours you work, what you are expected to achieve. 

Expectations can be killers.

But hasn’t God said, Be holy, even as I am holy?  Now THERE’S a tough expectation to live up to!!!!  Be as holy as God?  Didn’t Jesus command, Be perfect…as your Heavenly father is perfect (Matt. 5:48)?  And didn’t the KJV, in describing Job, record that God Himself said that Job was “perfect”?  Talk about being set up for failure – this is looking like it could be the most colossal failure of all time!

Ah, here’s the release from the tension, and it’s found in Hebrews 10:14, where we are reassured that Christ…has made perfect forever those who are being sanctified.  Did you get that?  Christ “HAS MADE PERFECT FOREVER” those who are being sanctified.”  Past tense.  Done deal.  The perfection that God demands of us has been achieved – only not in us, but it was done by Christ himself!  God, being a good Father, knows we can’t live up to that expectation on our own, so He resolved the issue for us.  Note the second part of the verse, too: although we have been made (past tense) perfect, we are still “being sanctified.”  So, while our sanctification goes on, our perfection has been achieved.

Doesn’t this make some kind of sense: would God, being perfectly loving and knowing perfectly well what we are truly capable of (and what we aren’t), expect us to do the impossible?  As Mike Mason said in The Gospel According to Job: “Surely not – except by His grace.  And that is precisely the point: it is God’s grace, and nothing else, that declares a person perfect.  It is in God’s eyes that people achieve perfection, not in their own or in the world’s.  In our Heavenly Father’s garden, perfection is by faith and not by sight.”

Prayer: What a comfort it is to know that You know us perfectly well, and yet You have chosen to see us as perfect in Christ Jesus.  Thank You for understanding our inadequacies and for making provision for us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/27/18 – Kidy S Noy Pgg

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DayBreaks for 4/27/18: Kidy S Noy Pgg

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2008:     

How many times have you heard someone say, “It’s just a little white lie”, or “It’s not big deal” when they are talking about something they’ve done which was wrong?

To sin: from the Greek hamartia, meaning “to miss the mark.”  You’ve probably heard that before, I imagine.  And I know that I’ve written about it before in DayBreaks.  It’s an archery term, describing what happens when the archer, well, misses the mark, the target. 

Missing the target may not be too bad if you’re shooting at a bulls-eye ring of circles that’s backstopped by a bunch of hay bales or a dirt hillside.  But it takes on an entirely different color if you’re talking about William Tell shooting at the apple on the head of his son.  In that case, missing the target could be horrible or not so bad – depending on which direction you miss!

So, let’s agree that missing the mark can be a bad thing in arrows, bullets, throwing knives or bomb dropping.  But how about in our loving obedience to God?  Does a little missing of the mark here or there really make that much difference?  Is it that noticeable, especially considering the fact that God is engaged in cosmic warfare against evil, not to mention He must be pretty busy keeping the universe going according to schedule? 

Sin is missing the mark.  Did you wonder about the title of today’s DayBreak?  If you haven’t figured it out, it’s the words “Just a bit off” typed on the computer keyboard one letter off to the right.   Let me ask: how much difference did it make?  When you first looked at the title, could you tell what it was?  Did you notice it? 

God notices all we say, do, think, don’t say, don’t do or don’t think.  And when we miss even a little bit, it gets His attention.  But there’s a key difference: God knows what we were doing, whereas you probably had no clue what the title of this DayBreaks meant.   You probably just assumed Galen had gone wacko (not a bad assumption, by the way.) 

Missing the mark matters when it comes to God – always.  Sin matters – always.  Let’s stop pretending that it “won’t affect me and it doesn’t hurt anyone else.”  Those are Satan’s lies and have no place in our thinking.  And our missing the mark can make it very hard for anyone else to understand what being a Christian is all about.

PRAYER:  Lord, have mercy on us.  Help us to focus on the goal we’re shooting for – to become like You, to carry Your likeness engraved on our hearts and minds.  Help us to fly true and straight to the center of the target!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/27/17 – How Could He Not Have Sinned?

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DayBreaks for 10/27/17: How Could He Not Have Sinned?

Hebrews 4:15 (ESV) – For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Yesterday, I wrote about Peter’s denial and how God used stories like that to encourage us in our human weakness – not to encourage us to be weak – but to know that in spite of our failures He still loves us. We are just like Peter. There is only One who lived a sinless life.

So, how did Jesus do it? How did he manage to live sinlessly?

Philosophers and theologians like to debate subjects which may seem trivial at times. And they like to sound like they know what they’re talking about. My guess is that philosophers probably come closer to knowing what they are talking about because I’m not convinced that finite human minds can really begin to grasp God and His mysteries very well.

One such subject in the theological realm is the peccability of Christ. Peccability means “liable to sin, susceptible to temptation”. In a nutshell, the argument is about whether or not Christ could really have sinned. The NT is clear he was human: he had to learn, grow, he got hungry and tired, he ate, he was tempted just like us, he cried, he bled, he died. It is equally clear that he was God: “I and the Father are One”, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father”, etc.

So, if he wasn’t just half human and half divine, but fully human and fully divine, how could he have not sinned?

I think it must be the case that in his humanity he could have sinned, the divine nature was so much stronger (as one would expect) that he was able not to sin. It boils down, I think, to this: He was led by and in constant harmony with the Spirit that dwelt in him fully. And the strength of that Spirit because of Jesus’ walk in the Spirit was able to defeat every temptation.

And there’s the rub, isn’t it? Aren’t we supposed to have that same Spirit in us? Yes. So why don’t we live flawlessly? Because we are not in constant harmony with that Spirit. We don’t have the 100% God nature that Jesus had that enables him to overcome.

The secret to overcoming sin is to walk in the power of the Spirit. I wish I had a magic wand that would let me and you do that. My experience is that I’m not sufficiently in tune with the Spirit to overcome sin always – let alone often.

Should I despair over this sad state of affairs? Well, I certainly should repent when I fall and pray for the power of the Spirit to be unleashed more in my life, but I don’t think God wants us to despair over it. I believe that the same divine nature that was able to prevent sin in Jesus will, through the blood of Jesus, present me to God sinless and pure on the day of Judgment. And that’s something not to despair over, but to rejoice in!

PRAYER: Jesus, we all need to walk more in the power of Your Spirit. Mortify the fleshly desires that lead us into sin, and help us cry out for help when we are tempted rather than stifling Your power to keep us from sinning. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/4/17 – Under Construction

DayBreaks for 4/4/17: Under Construction

2 Corinthians 5:4 (NIV) – For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

I tend to think of myself as fairly patient. Oh, there are things that make me very tense and impatient such as traffic if I’m on my way to the airport and I think I may not have a lot of extra time to get parked, get through security and all the way out to my gate. I’m not very patient if I’m supposed to be at a particular place at a certain time and my wife or someone else is making me later (or at least making me think I’ll be late.)

So maybe I’m not so patient after all. Perhaps I’m quite impatient. I know that to be true when it comes to my “perfection”. I am quite tired of waiting for the sanctification process to be completed in my life. I am quite tired of struggling with the same temptations week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade.

Not far from where we live they’re working on the freeway to add an additional lane both north and south-bound. I do not understand why it takes so long. I don’t know the rate with which cement cures. I don’t know why lanes are still blocked off when it seems they could be open and traffic could flow more quickly and smoothly. I’m tired of the struggle of the journey.

The construction work that God is doing in my life is frustratingly slow. I do not know why He chooses to take so long in His process of curing the cement of my heart so it is useful to Him and to others. Yet He seems to be content to let it happen at the pace He dictates.

Yes, I am a work in progress – and even when I can’t see much progress – I believe it is true. I am not a finished article. One thing, though, that I cannot ever afford to forget in the frustration is that while I am a work in progress, His work is not. His work is finished. Jesus has been seated at the right hand of the Father indicating his labor is over and what he set out to do – to cleanse us of all unrighteousness, has indeed been completed.

There is nothing more that Jesus can – or needs to do – for you or me to be saved. The justification is over – it is a finished work, completed, lacking in nothing. And while I struggle with the pace of the process of sanctification, and while I may be frustrated by the apparent lack of progress – I need to remember that right now, this instant, as far as the Father is concerned, I stand before Him in the perfection that Jesus possesses and has given to me. And that is enough!

PRAYER: Father, thank You for the gift of Jesus’ righteousness that surrounds us and shields our sin from Your holy eyes. As we long to no longer struggle with sin, never let us forget the righteousness that we already have – and that the day will come when we will stand in perfection before You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.