DayBreaks for 5/12/17 – The World’s Deadliest Illusion

DayBreaks for 5/12/17: The World’s Deadliest Illusion

John 19:10 (NIV) Do you refuse to speak to me? Pilate said. Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?

I’ve got to admit that I’m fascinated by the great illusionists.  To this day, I don’t understand how David Copperfield could make an airplane, the statue of Liberty, or even a nickel disappear like he does!  Fascinating. 

The greatest illusion of life may be the fact that we think we have power, that we put ourselves in a position of judging God.  Of course, there is some truth to this idea that we have power – God has given us the right to choose, but we must not mistake that for having power.  Our choosing is a God-given right and he gives us the power in our hearts and minds to choose many things.  One of those things we can choose to believe is truth – or we can believe lies.  Pilate found himself in a situation where he truly thought he had jurisdiction over Jesus, that he, Pilate, was in charge of the unfolding events and that he would determine the outcome.  He claims to have the power to either free Jesus or kill him.

Think about that a moment: recall how that when Jesus was being tempted to cast himself off a high place so Satan would yield to him, even Satan noted that Jesus had the power to summon angels to come and catch him so he wouldn’t even hit his foot against a stone.  Do you think for one moment that Jesus, as he stood before Pilate, could not have called a million angels to come and obliterate Pilate, the angry mobs, the hypocritical religionists, and the entire Roman army and empire?  In the OT, all it took was a single angel to kill 185,000 Assyrians!  If an angel is that powerful, how much more powerful is the One who created them?!!! 

Pilate had no idea what he was saying because he’d bought the lie of having power over Jesus, and by extension, over God.  We are not so very different.  We think that through our prayers we can manipulate God into doing what we want him to do – and we may even think that He’s obligated to give us what we pray for – but he’s not.  We think that we can lift a passage out of context and make it an absolutely binding promise on God – forgetting that God sets conditions (some of which we know and some of which we don’t), that involves our obedience, or our faith, or our motives.  James says we can ask but not receive because we’re asking for something driven by our own greed and selfishness – not so we can use if for God’s purposes.  So we can’t just take Jesus’ statement that we can ask for anything and that God is under our power to have to give it – we tend to forget the conditions: if you ask in my name, for the things that Jesus wants, that he approves of for us.

If we had power in any way, shape or form over God, He would no longer be God – we would be.  If in any way at any time, humans can force God to do something, God is no longer all-powerful, he would cease to be El Shaddai, The Lord God Almighty. 

The end result of our belief that we have power over Jesus is seen by our rebellion to God’s ways.  If we believe we are in control of our lives, that we have only ourselves to answer to, we will choose inevitably what we believe is in our own best interests.  And because we cannot see the future events before they unfold, we’re at best guessing blindly as to what will be in our best interests in the long run.  Only one who knows the consequence of every decision, the intricacies of every human interaction with absolute clarity, can know what will work out for the best for us in the long run. 

Because Pilate truly believed he had power over Christ, he made the decision to crucify him, not knowing that he was doing exactly what God had planned to have happen from eternity past.  God’s plan will not be thwarted by puny humans who have a god-complex about themselves. 

This calls for deep introspection – not by ourselves, but by the Spirit.  We can’t trust ourselves to be honest or to see the truth.  I need to take some quiet time aside and ask the Spirit to search my heart and show me where I seem to think that I’m God and that He is not.  And then I need to ask God to forgive me, humble me, change me so that instead of being like Pilate, I’m like Jesus, who constantly submitted himself to the will and power of the Father.

PRAYER: God, keep us from the foolishness of thinking that we have any control or power over you.  Help us to remember we are the clay – not the Potter, we are just sheep and You are the Shepherd.  Help us to yield our desire for control to the control of Your Spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 4/28/17 – Why Christ HAD To Rise

DayBreaks for 4/28/17: Why Christ HAD to Rise

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

Easter is over, but Christ is still risen!  It seems that many forget in the hustle of everyday life that such an earth-shattering event really did take place.  Maybe saying it was earth-shattering is a bit strong – many alive on the face of the earth at the time never heard about it in their lifetimes – they just didn’t have that opportunity.  And being such scientifically minded moderns as we are, we find it a bit hard to believe that something that happened so long ago in the days of yore when science was, well, rather unscientific, we may be a bit skeptical about the resurrection. 

In John 20, it says (talking about the disciples after Jesus resurrection and before Jesus had appeared to them), They did not yet understand the Scriptures that Jesus had to rise from the dead.  I can hardly blame them, even though Jesus had told them numerous times, in very plain language, that he would rise from the dead on the third day. 

But this year, as I read that passage, I was struck by the simple word “had”.  It is a significant word – the writer could have said that they didn’t understand that Jesus would rise from the dead, but that’s not what he said.  John said Jesus “had” to rise from the dead.  And that got me thinking.  Why did Jesus have to rise?  Several reasons, I think:

FIRST: If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, it would mean that there was something (death) in the universe that is more powerful than God, which is impossible given the definition of God and His omnipotence.  If Jesus (God with us) could not raise himself from the dead, he couldn’t possibly have been God.  But if he could raise himself from the tomb, then surely He must be God!

SECOND: Life has, in spite of appearances, always been stronger than death.  Consider how it works with a grain of wheat: one grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, but that one grain of wheat gives life eventually to thousands of grains of wheat in subsequent generations.  Think of the great people of the past and what comes to mind?  Is it not their life, and not their death?  We speak of such people as “living on” in their deeds, words, thoughts.  And, who hasn’t seen a seed that has sprouted and grown through inches of asphalt, cement or even rock?  Why?  Because life is stronger than death, and Jesus was “the Way, the Truth, and the LIFE.”

FINALLY: I preach and teach about the cross a great deal.  I make no apologies for that.  But recently I have wondered if I’ve emphasize that too much and underemphasized the resurrection of Christ.  After all, the apostles went everywhere teaching and preaching the resurrection.  Many people were crucified during the time of Christ – but what made him unique was the resurrection!  What good would it have been if Jesus had lived a sinless life and if God had accepted Jesus’ sacrificial death for us, but Jesus hadn’t risen?  Paul is clear in Corinthians: if Christ isn’t risen, then there is and will be no resurrection for anyone.  Here’s the point: if Jesus perfect life ended with the grave, our sins could have been forgiven, but so what?  If he didn’t rise, we won’t rise.  We’d lie in the grave and become dust and remain dust – eternally.  And those are some of the key reasons Jesus had to rise from the dead.

Let me share the brilliant observation by theologian Jaroslav Pelikan: “If Christ is risen from the dead, then nothing else matters; if Christ is not risen from the dead, then nothing else matters.”  You see, it all depends on Christ and his resurrection.

PRAYER: I thank You, Father, for the little word “had” – that Jesus “had” to rise from the dead.  Thank You that He did rise, and that because he has risen, nothing else in this universe really matters.  The reality of His resurrection is the dominant fact of all the universe.  May we live as if we truly believe He is risen from the dead!.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 3/01/17 – Visiting With Isaiah, #3

DayBreaks for 3/01/17: Visiting With Isaiah, #3

Isaiah 6:4 (ESV) – And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.

Have you ever lived in a place where lightning storms are commonplace? I have. I rather enjoy the thunder and lightning as long as I can stay inside and be awed by the light show and the sounds.

I recall sitting in an open doorway in the African bush and listening to the peals of thunder that shook the building and the incredible noise rolled through the heavens and along the ground across the vastness of the African plains. I pictured it rolling all the way home to America.

I often sit now in our home in Georgia and listen to the thunder. I don’t mind it one bit, but it scares our dog nearly to death each and every time we have such a storm.

In the passage in Isaiah, it isn’t totally clear to me who it is that is him who called. I tend to believe it is the voice of the One seated on the throne that is calling to Isaiah (God’s voice is often described that way in scripture), but it could be the voice of the seraphim. If it is the latter, imagine what the voice of the One on the throne must be like if even the mighty seraphim sound like peals of thunder! But I think it was the voice of the One on the throne that Isaiah is referring to.

This one seated on the throne is not like the wizard of Oz who has to pretend to be powerful and use fakery to appear great. This One is powerful. This One is the very definition of power. The dwelling of this One is filled with smoke. We shouldn’t think of it as the eye-stinging smoke from a fire, but of incense offered up in worship.

In the Old Testament, the Presence of God Almighty was often shrouded in smoke or thick clouds for a reason. To look upon Him would have been enough to have killed any mortal for the vision would be more than we could bear. So in Isaiah’s vision, he hears the voice from the house filled with smoke, so even the One seated on the throne is hidden from his view.

Try this one on for size: 1 John 3:2 (ESV) – Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

What Isaiah saw shielded by smoke will become perfectly, crystal clear to us. We won’t see Him hidden behind a smokescreen. We shall see Him JUST as He is – face to face with the Almighty, not as strangers, but as sons and daughters whom He deeply loves ad whom He has been waiting to welcome home!

PRAYER: I cannot imagine seeing You face to face, Lord, yet I believe that I shall, and that on that day, I will not be ashamed (Rom. 10:11)! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 3/04/16 – The End of the Mighty Hero

DayBreaks for 3/04/16: The End of the Mighty Hero

Ps. 52:5-9 – But God will strike you down once and for all.  He will pull you from your home and drag you from the land of the living.  The righteous will see it and be amazed.  They will laugh and say, ‘Look what happens to mighty warriors who do not trust in God.  They trust their wealth instead and grow more and more bold in their wickedness.’ But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God.  I trust in God’s unfailing love forever and ever. I will praise you forever, O God, for what you have done.  I will wait for your mercies in the presence of your people. (NLT)

This is one of the Psalms that I’ve not been very familiar with.  In fact, for the most part, I don’t remember it much at all.  But I like it!  Here’s what I like about it: The psalmist is confident that God will bring down the treacherous and evil ones.  But it’s more than that: it’s the way that God brings them down.  If it were me, I’d be laying out a plan to catch the “mighty” one that I’m after when they were on neutral ground, or at least on the ground of my choosing.  One of the keys in warfare is to choose the ground on which you fight – and make sure that you have the high ground!  What I like is this: God doesn’t need to wait until the “mighty hero” is out in the open and away from the ‘safety’ of his own tent.  On the contrary, God will boldly enter the stronghold of evil and take the wicked from the very place he feels safe and secure, and will remove his place from among the living.  God has no fear of mortals, nor of spiritual forces of evil.  I find that very comforting!

If we are wise, we will observe these goings on and will learn holy fear.  We’ll see how completely, easily and quickly the “mighty hero” is made to look puny and small, how that ill-gotten gain is going to be taken away, and we’ll not be envious of them, but encouraged in our faith in our great Protector and Defender.

And of course, God literally did, in the very person of Jesus, invade the tent of evil by boldly and fearlessly coming to earth.  It’s more than just rhetoric from a poet – it is the most astounding fact of history.

TODAY’S PRAYER:  Help us, Lord, to not be envious or fearful of the power of evil, but look to the might that is Yours and Yours alone, and in that confidence, find courage to live for You in this world.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 2/25/16 – Frothing and Faith

DayBreaks for 2/23/16: Frothing and Faith

The story of Jesus healing the demoniac, frothing boy in Luke 9 is an interesting one.  Jesus, Peter, John and James had just come down from the mount of Transfiguration only to be confronted by a large crowd and a man pleading with Jesus to heal his only child, a boy who was possessed.  Apparently, the other disciples of Jesus had tried to heal the boy but had been unable to do so. 

I wouldn’t be surprised if the father or the crowd was skeptical about whether or not Jesus could do anything to help.  After all, his followers had failed.  Why should it be any different with this Nazarene rabbi?  Perhaps there wasn’t anything different about him.  But the father’s love for his only child caused him to hope against hope that there was something different about Jesus, something that made him greater than his followers.

Jesus rebukes the crowd (and possibly in particular, his disciples) for their lack of faith.  His compassion for the child causes him to heal the boy and return him to his father.  The passage concludes “Everyone was amazed at God’s great power.” 

Several things to note here:

  1. In spite of his frustration with the lack of faith of the people, Jesus’ compassion dominates the situation;
  2. Jesus power is greater than the sum of all the combined efforts of his followers to deal with the problem in this young boy’s life, and His power wasn’t limited by their lack of faith;
  3. The power of God amazes all who see it, but it sometimes takes eyes that are open to see it as His power and not some “freak” of circumstance.

I’m glad that Jesus’ work in our lives isn’t limited by the lack of faith of people around us.  I am concerned, however, that I limit what I let Him do in my life by my own lack of faith.  When I am not ready and willing to step forward when He calls unless I have a “safety net” of my own concocting in place, I limit His ability to do with me what He chooses.  Not only does that affect me, but others He may bring into my life.  

The lack of faith in the crowd could have prevented them from asking for a healing for the boy.  But it didn’t stop them from asking and it didn’t stop Jesus from giving.  As “The Promise” bible version put it: So often we are ashamed of our little faith.  But how glad we are to find out that Jesus understands and puts our broken hearts and lives back together even when our faith seems gone.  What is the greatest problem facing you right now?  You answer, “I know, but my faith is gone.”  Just tell that to Jesus!  He will understand.

What is the greatest problem you face today?  Give it to Him, even with a weak faith, and watch what He does with it!

TODAY’S PRAYER:  May we respond to you in faith, but thank you, Lord, that Your mercy and grace are not dispensed to us in the same measure as we demonstrate our faith.  Make us bold, Lord, to seek great things from You that further Your kingdom.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 12/28/15 – In HIS Name, Not Mine

DayBreaks for 12/28/15: In His Name, Not Mine

“In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

That’s how Christians have ended their prayers for nearly two thousand years now.

Shakespeare once asked the question: “What’s in a name?”

Christmas is over, but my guess is that during Christmas you heard and/or read the name of Jesus many, many times. I think that’s a good thing. The name of Jesus isn’t a magical talisman, but it is important. Why? Because there is power in His name!

Jesus said: You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! John 14:13-14 (NLT)

Let me suggest two illustrations that talk about what it means to as for something in the name of Jesus:

  • A pastor once shared about how he’d had one of those weeks when he lacked spiritual discipline. He’d prayed very little, didn’t read his Bible, didn’t talk to anyone about Jesus. At the end of the week he prayed, “I know I don’t have any right to come before you.” He then was stricken with the powerful sense that God was replying, “Well son, let’ suppose you prayed and read your Bible hours a day, served and led many to me. Would you feel like praying then?” The pastor thought to himself: I sure would! Then God said, “Son, you’re praying in your own name. If you had done all those things and more, you would have no more right to come to me than you do right now. You come in the name of my Son, you don’t come in your own name.”

Do you feel that if this past week you’d been more devout or disciplined, you’d have a “right” to pray, give, serve, etc.? If that’s how you feel, that’s self-righteousness. And, on the other hand, if you haven’t prayed because you’ve not been as devout or disciplined as you wish you had been, that’s self-righteousness, too.  The reason in both cases is you’re depending on your own merit to approach God, rather than the merit of righteousness of Christ.

  • Aaron Shust was recently describing how things work at his concerts. If his children are there, his little son likes to come back stage to see his daddy. He explained it this way: if his son comes with his own name tag on, he will be prohibited from coming back stage. But if he comes with his daddy’s name tag that says “ALL ACCESS” on it, he is let right through. Why? The difference is explained by understanding in whose name he comes.

The same is true with praying in Jesus’ name. We have no right to access the throne room of God if we come in our own righteousness or in our own name, but when we come to the Father with the ALL ACCESS pass that bears Jesus’ name, we are more than welcome!

It bothers me when I hear Christians pray but they never in the entire prayer say that they are coming or asking in Jesus’ name. There is power in a name – just ask Shakespeare.

TODAY’S PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for giving us the access pass to the Father. Guard our hearts against self-righteousness that thinks we can either come on the basis of our own goodness, or that we are too unworthy to come, but think we could have been if we’d been more devoted. Thank you, Lord, In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 11/27/15 – The Enforcers

DayBreaks for 11/27/15: The Enforcers

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2005:

Eph. 1:21-22 – Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else in this world or in the world to come.  And God has put all things under the authority of Christ, and he gave him this authority for the benefit of the church. (NLT)

We’re very familiar with these verses that form part of Paul’s great exultation at the beginning of the letter to Ephesus.  We get excited when we read about Christ’s great power and authority.  It’s good to know that He’s on OUR side!!!!  The fact that he has such power is comforting and encouraging to us as we struggle through things in this life.

But we sometimes miss the last part of verse 22 which tells us why God gave Christ such power and authority.  It wasn’t for Christ’s benefit, or to make him more grand and awesome.  Jesus didn’t need that – he’s grand and awesome enough.  No, God gave Jesus that kind of authority “for the benefit of the church.”

We, of course, are the church.  That means that God gave Christ that authority for our benefit.  Christ has already won the ultimate battle against Satan and death.  Judgment has been decreed…all that now awaits is the execution of that ruling by the Almighty God.  The question, however, is how well are we doing at applying the power of the Risen Christ (to whom God has given all authority in this world and the one to come) to our lives and to the society in which we live?  You might argue that it is Jesus who has that power, not us…and that’s very, very true.  But you don’t have to look far in Scripture to see that we have been given “all things” that enable us to live lives of godliness and power.  After all – it’s not just us – but Jesus who lives within us!

So, we must not become passive.  We must engage.  We are invaders in the kingdom of the enemy.  We are here to do a job that we don’t have the power to pull off – but He does.  We must begin to learn to wield the victory that Christ has already won.  We must learn how to enforce it, not shrink from the enemy in fear.  In Judges 3, God explains that He didn’t drive out all the inhabitants of the Promised Land for one reason: he left some to test the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience (3:2).  Do you see?  Much of what He allows in our lives is not for us to simply accept, but to get us to rise up, to teach us how to fight for the Promised Land.  God wants us to know how to wield the weapons and power necessary to take a stand and to fight!

Copyright 2005 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

TODAY’S PRAYER: God, let us be warriors for You, surrounded and empowered by the unlimited power of Jesus Christ.  Through His strength, let us reclaim this lost world for You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.