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 7/4/19 – The Bottom Line on Salvation

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DayBreaks for 7/4/19: The Bottom Line on Salvation

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

There have been many discussions and disagreements throughout church history about salvation.  I’ve even argued with myself about it from time to time throughout my life.  There is just something about us humans that likes to make things tougher than they really are.  I don’t know why that is so, but perhaps it is because we all want to be able to take some amount of credit for a positive outcome.  We like to appear heroic to ourselves and to others, and that means we must make some sort of superhuman effort to achieve something.  Think about it: who’s more heroic in your eyes – someone who has climbed Everest or someone who has hiked up a 3,000-foot peak?  Is the astronaut more heroic than the pilot of a Piper Cub?  Why?  Because they’ve worked long and hard and done something that seemingly no one else (or few others) have achieved. 

And so when it comes to salvation, we want to be at least a bit heroic – or we want to feel that way.  So, we make it harder than it is. 

A DayBreaks reader recently sent me the quote below from Kirk Cameron, the actor who is now doing lots of Christian work and who is a believer.  Here’s what Kirk had to say: “I used to be confused about how I was “saved”.  Was I saved by a belief I mustered up within my own heart, or was I saved by something God did in the purpose of His own heart?  Spurgeon shed more light on this crucial subject of who does the saving, when he said, “…even our repentance needs to be repented of.”  The point is that no earthly faith, repentance, good works, or belief that I have ever mustered from what exists in my own natural heart has ever saved me.  The Bible is clear: my faith doesn’t save me, Jesus does (Ephesians 2:8-9).  A believer’s faith in Jesus is a gift from God.  My faith is the connecting channel through which God saved me by His own love and grace.  So if you ever wonder if “your faith has saved you,” you may find this question helpful: “Is my trust in my own ability to hold on to Jesus, or is my trust in Jesus’ ability to hold on to me?”  If you have received that humble, repentant faith that causes you to love God and trust in Jesus and Lord and Savior, then I would be very confident in echoing Jesus’ words, “Your faith has saved you.” –  Kirk Cameron

To all who say, “I hope I have enough faith so I can be saved,” I think we must reply, “Rubbish.  It isn’t your faith that saves you – it is Jesus that saves you.  Now, do you have faith in that?”

PRAYER: For the wonder of salvation this day, we praise You!  For the blessings of the past, we praise You!  For the eternity that awaits because of Your faithfulness, we praise You, o Great God!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/24/19 – Under His Wings

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DayBreaks for 06/24/09: Under His Wings

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2009:

He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you will find refuge. – (Ps. 91:4)

You may have seen this, but the story is worth repeating. National Geographic several years ago provided a penetrating picture of God’s wings by describing a forest fire in Yellowstone. After the fire, rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno’s damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their mother’s wings.

The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had herded her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, perhaps instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her little ones. When the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, the mother remained steadfast.

The obvious lesson from this story is how the mother was willing to give her life to protect her precious little ones. As long as they stayed under the refuge of her wings, close to her beating heart, they were safe. But if they had ventured out, death would have been certain. As long as we stay close to God (under His protection), we are safe. But the moment we leave His loving embrace, we are fair game for all the terror that is in the world.

I couldn’t help but think of Luke 13:34 when I read this story: O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Jesus probably spoke these words from the road through Gethsemane as he approached Jerusalem for the crucial event in his life: the crucifixion.

His words are poignant for several reasons:

FIRST: God’s heart is on display. We must never forget the pain that God feels over humanity gone wrong and how it touches and evokes His love. Rather than shrug His shoulders and turn away, God’s reaction is to reach out to save us!

SECOND: Jesus described Jerusalem as the place where prophets were killed. He wasn’t crying out about the righteous in the city and inviting them to run to him for shelter. He was seeking the losers, the killers, the murderers of prophets and even those who were to soon scourge, beat, spit upon and crucify himself. In his love, he wanted to save even them.

What is your response to this one who offers you the safety of His protection? If you understand what He has done for you, it MUST make a difference in your life. Has it?

Prayer: For Your protection this day, we plead.  Hold us close to Your sheltering wings in safety and peace.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 5/7/19 – It Doesn’t Work That Way

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DayBreaks for 5/07/19: It Doesn’t Work That Way

From the DayBreaks archive: May 2009

It never fails.  It seems that no matter how often I talk with people (even Christians!), I will almost invariably hear some comment about how the person hopes they have enough faith to be allowed into heaven, or that they’ll have done enough good things that God will overlook the bad things they’ve done and the scales of “justice” will tip in their favor on judgment day. 

Why is it that people struggle so much with the concept of grace?  Perhaps it’s because deep down inside, it’s something that we seldom experience in this world from other human beings.  We are much more familiar with “justice” (i.e., getting what we deserve) and judgment from other humans.  And, let’s be honest about it, we often get worse than what we deserve (injustice) from other people, too. 

Thank God that He is not like us!  Thank God that He not only created but embodies mercy (not giving us what we really deserve) and grace (giving us the good things that we certainly don’t deserve)! 

Here’s a great explanation of why it doesn’t work the way a bank account does (i.e., where if you deposit more than you withdraw, you’re OK).  David Rich, in 7 Biblical Truths You Won’t Hear in Church (2006, pg. 37) explained it this way: “Picking, choosing, and deciding which sins are trivial and which are the biggies is a completely human tendency. A young man once told me, “It’s like a heavenly bank account. As long as I make more deposits than withdrawals, I’m in good shape.”

“I shared the biblical reality with him: the very first time he made a withdrawal, the account was emptied and closed forever. He thought that was a bit harsh. But I explained that I didn’t make the rules; God did. And I shared this truth with him not to depress him, but to make him aware and appreciative of God’s mercy.

“If you’re a believer, your account has been closed, and a new one opened in Christ’s name. You’re wealthy, but you can’t make another deposit or withdrawal. As Christians we just get the benefits of this new account, living off the interest—or, to put it another way, living off the blessing granted us by the blood of Jesus.”

Makes sense, doesn’t it?  Praise God for grace!

Prayer: We seem reluctant to admit that we can’t do anything to earn Your grace, but we are thankful for it more than words can ever say!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/11/18 – Life in the Blood

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DayBreaks for 12/11/18: Life in the Blood

From the DayBreaks Archive, 12/8/98:

In Leviticus 17:11 and Deut. 12:23, the Israelites were told not to eat the blood of animals because “the blood is the life”. I’m sure that the Israelites didn’t understand exactly what God was getting at, especially as it relates to the life that we receive through the blood of Christ. Indeed, as this excerpt from C.S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair shows, His blood is our life! Aslan, the Christ-figure in the story, is talking to some children as they stand beside a stream that contains the body of the dead King (the human ruler of Narnia).

“Son of Adam,” said Aslan, “Go into that thicket and pluck the thorn that you will find there, and bring it to me.”

Eustace obeyed. The thorn was a foot long and sharp as a rapier.

“Drive it into my paw, son of Adam,” said Aslan, holding up his right forepaw and spreading out the great pads towards Eustace.

“Must I?” said Eustace.

“Yes,” said Aslan.

“Then Eustace set his teeth and drove the thorn into the Lion’s pad. And there came out a great drop of blood, redder than all redness that you have ever seen or imagined. And it splashed into the stream over the dead body of the King. At the same moment the doleful music stopped. And the dead King began to be changed…His eyes opened, and his lips both laughed, and suddenly he leaped up and stood before them.”

Galen’s Thoughts: What a marvelous picture of the gospel story! The “son of Adam” (humanity) at one and the same time is the very one who pierces the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and the one who needs His sacrifice (the dead king). It is only through the shedding of blood that sin is removed (Heb. 9:22).

Slowly, surely…as we have been drawn into contact with the blood of Christ, our lives begin to change. What was dead in us (our God-image) comes to life and what was alive in us (our sin-nature) dies!

Who would have thought on the night that he was born, that it would come to this kind of a shedding of blood? Only Jesus and the Father understood that what began that night in the stable would end on a blood-stained cross and that he’d be pierced by the very ones He had come to save.

Does it matter to you that He was pierced for your iniquities? Does it matter enough to keep you from piercing Him again tomorrow?

PRAYER: As we draw nearer to the celebration of your birth, may we not forget the reason for your coming to our rescue, Lord Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/30/18 – Everyone in Hell has a Big But

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DayBreaks for 4/30/18: Every One in Hell has a Big But

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2008:     

Let’s take a closer look a favorite saying of those who know little or nothing of Scripture: “If you live a good enough life, you’ll make it to heaven.”

The following is from Greg Stier:

“After preaching in countless churches across the nation, I’m convinced that these fighting words are the biggest lie that is still being bought by millions of professing Christians. There is a mentality that “sure Jesus died for me, BUT…” As a matter of fact, I always say that “everyone in hell has got a big BUT”:

“BUT you also have to live a good life.”
“BUT you also have to obey The 10 Commandments.”
“BUT you also have to live by The Golden Rule.”
“BUT you also have to turn, try, seek, surrender…”

“The way of work and the way of grace are separate ways. If you seek to earn salvation via the way of work, you have to go the whole way. Jesus laid it out pretty clearly in the Sermon on the Mount. When Jesus begins the “You have heard…but I say unto you” list of impossible standards, I’m sure that everyone listening wilted. Those present (save Jesus himself) had unjustly been angry at their fellow man and had lusted at their fellow women. And having lusted, they were busted and unable to measure up to the ultimate standard of entrance into heaven: Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48). 

“If our people dare approach Christianity as a religion, then the standard is impossibly high. To get into heaven, we have to be as good as God himself.

“Oops.

“That’s why the offering of salvation is the way of grace through faith and not by good deeds (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Those ways, according to Romans 11:6, cannot be mixed: And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

“We need to do our best to help all of our people embrace the way of grace for the salvation of their souls. What’s interesting is that, when they do, good works will flow out of grateful hearts that long to please the Father who redeemed them through grace.”

Galen’s Thoughts: Paul got on the same bandwagon with Jesus when Paul wrote Galatians to show the foolishness of trying to please God by living the Law.  Still, I think Stier is on to a real truth: I think we’ll be surprised when we get to the judgment and we start to hear many say, “But Lord, I lived a good life,” “But Lord, I’m even a better person than some of those so-called Christians,”, “But Lord, there must be some mistake,” and “But Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or naked or in prison?”

There is only “but” that will work: “I am but a sinner, clinging to the cross of Jesus.”

PRAYER:  Father, teach us not to offer You excuses, but penitent, humble hearts.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/22/18 – When Salvation Comes to Your House

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DayBreaks for 1/22/18: When Salvation Comes to Your House

We often think of salvation as freedom – at least as being freed from something.  And that’s all well and good, and even accurate.  For those of us born in the United States, we’ve never experienced slavery.  The language of Scripture speaks of the delivery of Israel from Egyptian slavery as a salvation, freeing them from their oppressors.  It’s hard to argue with that, so I won’t even try.

If, however, all we think of when we think of salvation is freedom – the ability to stop being enslaved to someone or something, I think there’s something seriously wrong with our concept of salvation.  Take, for instance, the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus.  I won’t bother going through the story – let’s get to the point, and see something about what salvation really involves.

After Jesus spent some time with Zacchaeus (we’re not told much about their conversation at all), Zacchaeus breaks forth with an exclamation: Look, Lord!  Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.  (Lk. 19:8)  What prompted Zacchaeus to come to this conclusion and decision, we just don’t know.  We can only assume it was either something Jesus said, or just the experience of His holiness that moved Zacchaeus.  Regardless, he meets Jesus and changes his mind about things, but immediately he also changes his ways. 

But what is fascinating is Jesus’ proclamation at that point: Today salvation has come to this house.  Here’s what Mark Buchanan wrote about this incident, in The Rest of God: “When salvation comes to your house, first you think differently, then you act differently.  First, you shift the imagination with which you perceive this world, and then you enact gestures with which you honor it.”

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think that Jesus was saying that because Zacchaeus was taking actions that he was saved because of it.  I think Jesus was pointing out the motive behind the actions: Zacchaeus had been saved, and the evidence of his salvation was a change of both mind and action.

Have you been saved?  What changes in action has salvation wrought in you?

PRAYER:  May our minds be change and our hearts rekindled by the wonder of the salvation that has come to our house, and may we live lives full of the evidence of that salvation.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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