DayBreaks for 10/22/18 – Paying Too Much for Too Little

Image result for expensive necklace

DayBreaks for 10/22/18: Paying too Much for too Little

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2008:

From “The Necklace” by Guy Demaupassant: “A couple of moderate means was invited to a lavish company party. The wife, Mathilde, so wanted to impress the guests that she borrowed what she supposed to be a very expensive necklace. They had a great time, and she was proud of the necklace, but the evening was ruined when she arrived home and discovered the necklace had been lost without notice.

“In order to pay for the lost necklace, the couple moved into a cheap, run-down apartment, and both worked at whatever jobs were available. It took them 10 long years to repay the debt. Old and worn down, the wife saw her friend from who she had borrowed the necklace. Unrecognized, Mathilde told her friend the truth about what had happened. Great was her shock when her friend Jeannie told Mathilde the necklace was only cheap glass – an imitation, worth only a few dollars.”

Galen’s thoughts: There are sharply contrasting lessons for us here:

FIRST – the couple reminds me of humanity. I respect their integrity to replace the necklace. But they spent far too much for something that had little value. They shelled out 10 years of their life for an imitation of the real thing. But haven’t we all been there? Investing time in the wrong places and things – thinking that things had great value only to discover too late that they were cheap imitations? We pay a great price for things of no value, but are we truly willing to spend our entire life for the true pearl of great price (Matt. 13:45-46) – knowing God and being known by Him?

SECOND: before buying anything, we consider the price/value relationship – at least at some level. Is it well made? Will it last? Will it do what I want? How badly do I want it compared to what must I spend to get it? Consider for a moment the price God paid for humanity. If you are like me, you’re tempted to say, “He paid too much for too little” – we don’t do what He wants and we are prone to great failures. But God has a different perspective on it than we do. What loving father wouldn’t give his own life to save his child? God knows better than we how great the cost was – and we weren’t cheap.

Let’s make sure that what we are living (and dying) for is worth what we’re paying for it. And let’s also make sure that the life we’re living is worthy of His investment!

PRAYER: Give us the wisdom to recognize true value in life! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 4/14/16 – Negotiating With Kidnappers

 

 

DayBreaks for 4/14/16 – Negotiating With Kidnappers

A few years ago there was a true story about a man in New York City who was kidnapped. His kidnappers called his wife and asked for $100,000 ransom. She talked them down to $30,000.

The story, thankfully, has a happy ending: the man returned home unharmed, the money was recovered, and the kidnappers were caught and sent to jail. But, don’t you wonder what happened when the man got home and found that his wife got him back for a discount? Calvin Trillin was the writer of this story. He imagined out loud what the negotiations must have been like: “$100,000 for that old guy? You have got to be crazy. Just look at him! Look at that gut! You want $100,000 for that? You’ve got to be kidding. Give me a break here. $30,000 is my top offer.”

Mark Trotter concluded his rendition of the story with this thoughtful comment: “I suppose there are some here this morning who can identify with the wife in that story, but for some reason I find myself identifying with the husband. I’d like to think if I were in a similar situation, there would be people who would spare no expense to get me back. They wouldn’t haggle over the price. They wouldn’t say, ‘Well, let me think about it.’ I like to think that they would say, ‘We’ll do anything for you.'”

There are numerous lessons one could draw from this story, but what strikes me is that the One who had not just the right but the power to negotiate a lower priced ransom for me didn’t negotiate. He paid a price that no one else would have paid. He paid a price that no one else could have paid. Could he have forced a negotiated settlement with the enemy of our soul? Of course. But he didn’t. He set his flinty eyes directly at the cross in Jerusalem and went there without flinching to pay the ransom for me. And He did the same for you.

PRAYER: Lord, I don’t know why You thought we were worth the ransom given how often we have hurt you. Thank You for not flinching when it came to paying the price for our souls! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 4/13/16 – Costly Gratitude

DayBreaks for 4/13/16 – Costly Gratitude

Luke 7:36-38, 44-47 (NLTse) – One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat. When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them…Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume. “I tell you, her sins–and they are many–have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”

How much does it cost to be grateful? We’re inclined to think that gratitude is more a feeling than an action. I’m not so sure, though, that we’re really all that grateful if there isn’t also some action attached to it. It’s easy to say how grateful we are, but it’s an entirely different thing to show how grateful we are.

Pastor Victor Shepherd tells the story of a missionary surgeon he met who was rather gruff and to the point. On one occasion the surgeon was speaking to a small group of university students about his work in the Gaza Strip. He was telling us that we North American “fat cats” knew nothing about gratitude. Nothing! On one occasion he had stopped a peasant hovel to see a woman on whom he had performed surgery. She and her husband were dirt poor. Their livestock supply consisted of one Angora rabbit and two chickens. For income the woman combed the hair out of the rabbit, spun the hair into yarn and sold it. For food she and her husband ate the eggs from the chickens. The woman insisted that the missionary surgeon stay for lunch. He accepted the invitation and said he would be back for lunch after he had gone down the road to see another postoperative patient. An hour and a half later he was back. He peeked into the cooking pot to see what he was going to eat. He saw one rabbit and two chickens. The woman had given up her entire livestock supply–her income, her food, everything. He concluded his story by saying us that we North Americans (and perhaps Christians as a whole) knew nothing of gratitude. He wept unashamedly at the price of their gratitude.

There is another incident concerning gratitude that will never be forgotten. It’s about a woman who poured costly perfume over our Lord as she wiped his feet with her hair. Make no mistake–the perfume was expensive, three hundred denarii, a year’s income for a laborer in Palestine.

Enough to keep a family alive for twelve months.

What has Jesus done for you? What has he done for me? How am I showing my gratitude?

PRAYER: Jesus, in my heart I am grateful to you for so many things. Help me to show my gratitude with my hands and life as well. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 12/29/11 – What Have You Done Today?

DayBreaks for 12/29/11 – What Have You Done Today?           

The ultimate price was paid...by God's Son

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; 7 for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the desert, 9 where your fathers tested and tried me, though they had seen what I did. 10 For forty years I was angry with that generation; I said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known my ways.” 11 So I declared on oath in my anger, “They shall never enter my rest.” – Psalm 95:6-11

During the Second World War there was a young boy in a small town who had to go to the drugstore for his mother. As he arrived at the drugstore, he saw a poster on the front window that made a great impression upon him. It was the picture of an American soldier dressed in full battle uniform lying flat on his face, dead in the sands of a South Pacific island. He was lying there with the ocean cradling his body, and at the bottom of the poster was this question: “What have you done for your country today that’s worth this soldier dying yesterday?”

Now I want you to look back at a date long before WW2.  Let your mind carry you to a hillside outside of Jerusalem.  This is Calvary.  Open the eyes of your heart and look upon a cross, see Jesus, the Savior, the Son of God, as he writhes in agony as he pays the price for your sins and the sins of the world.  Ask yourself the question: “What have you done for Christ today that’s worth what He gave for you on Calvary?”

Let me tell you now: not one of us can find anything you have done or will do, either this day or any other day, that was worth the sacrifice of the Son of God.  Yet, it happened, not because of something we’d done that put him in our debt, but simply because of who we are – His creation, made in His image.

PRAYER: How little we appreciate all that You accomplished in Your sacrifice on Calvary, how little we should You our appreciation and thanks!!  Let us not ever forget that scene on the Jerusalem hillside, and be people of appreciative action.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 10/17/11 – Trivial Messages

DayBreaks for 10/17/11 – Trivial Messages

But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? – Luke 4:28

Jesus spoke these words to a large crowd that was following him.  He was talking about what it mean to be his follower when he warned them not to become a disciple until they’d really thought it through and considered the price it would require of them to follow him.

In a recent speech to a graduating class, Timothy Tenant, the president of Asbury Theological Seminary, has some very profound and thought-provoking things to say.  We need to think about what he said not just as the universe of believers, but as individuals as well.  I thought it was good enough that I wanted to share it with you and let it challenge your thinking and heart as it did mine:

“Jesus is the Reason for the Season.”  It is evangelicals who have cried out the most against the commercialization of Christmas, but then became co-opted by turning the phrase “Jesus is the reason for the season” into one of the most commercialized phrases of all time, blazoned across t-shirts, coffee mugs and yes, church signs. They can be purchased at any local Christian book store, 10% off if you pick up a precious memory angel along with it.

“Free coffee, everlasting life – yes, membership has its privileges!” or “Walmart is not the only saving place.“  Do you hear what lies behind all of these messages?

“Evangelicals have become experts in finding a thousand new ways to ask the same question, “What is the least one has to do to become a Christian.”  That’s our defining question.  We’ve become masters at theological and soteriological minimalism.  We are the ones who have boiled the entire glorious gospel down to a single phrase, a simple emotive transaction, or some silly slogan.  It is time for a new generation of Christians, committed to apostolic faith, to declare this minimalistic, reductionistic Christianity a failed project!  It is wrong to try to get as many people as possible, to acknowledge as superficially as allowable, a gospel which is theologically unsustainable.  We need to be reminded of the words of Søren Kierkegaard, in his Attack Upon Christendom, where he declared, “Christianity is the profoundest wound that can be inflicted upon us, calculated on the most dreadful scale to collide with everything.” We, on the other hand, have made entrance into the Christian faith painless and almost seamless.  In the process, we have managed to produce as many nominal Christians as Christendom ever did.”

What kind of gospel are our churches presenting to the world?  A gospel full of warm fuzzies, but which demands nothing yet holds out promises of eternal bliss, or are we presenting the gospel that Jesus did: one that costs everything, but which is worth the price?

PRAYER: Father, forgive us for making the challenge of faith cheap and for not teaching ourselves and others that it is worth any cost in order to be the disciple of Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 8/16/11 – Cheap Grace, Costly Grace

DayBreaks for 08/16/11 – Cheap Grace, Costly Grace

If it's cheap, it's not grace....

I have been thinking a lot about grace lately.  I’m preaching a series on it.  One can scarcely deal with the subject of grace without touching on the concept of cheap versus costly grace.  Grace is free to us – a gift from God (Eph. 2:8-10), but it was not free to God.  It was exceedingly costly.  The grace we experience should never be thought of as a forgiveness “credit card” that lets us just do as we please and run up a bill.  Someone has to pay the bill – Jesus paid it on the cross – but every abuse of grace breaks his heart.  Today, I just want to share with you some of what Deitrich Bonhoeffer wrote about grace in The Cost of Discipleship, without further comment:

Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace. Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church’s inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing….

Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, a principle, a system. It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed as a general truth, the love of God taught as the Christian ‘conception’ of God. In such a Church the world finds a cheap covering for its sins; no contrition is required, still less any real desire to be delivered from sin. Cheap grace therefore amounts to a denial of the living Word of God, in fact, a denial of the Incarnation of the Word of God.

Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Grace alone does everything they say, and so everything can remain as it was before. Well, then, let the Christian live like the rest of the world, let him model himself on the world’s standards in every sphere of life, and not presumptuously aspire to live a different life under grace from his old life under sin….

Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

He then turned his pen and thinking to the opposite of cheap grace: costly grace!  Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man’ will gladly go and self all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “you were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.

Costly grace is the sanctuary of God; it has to be protected from the world, and not thrown to the dogs. It is therefore the living word, the Word of God, which he speaks as it pleases him. Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus.

PRAYER: Let us never abuse Your great grace, Lord Jesus!  Correct our sinful and foolish thinking about sinning in expectation and anticipation of Your forgiveness.  When we are tempted to cheapen Your grace, open our eyes so we see Jesus’ agony that enabled Your grace to be given to us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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