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.  ><}}}”>

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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.

DayBreaks for 7/10/17 – Writing Checks You Cannot Cash

DayBreaks for 7/10/17: Writing Checks You Cannot Cash

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2007:You may have heard the phrase, “You’re writing checks your body cannot cash.”  More often than not, it applies to either an athlete or some famous person who is demanding more of their body than they can reasonably do.  Sometimes it might be some ingénue or party guy who stays out until the wee hours of the morning partying, drinking…and then has to get up and go to work the next morning – and the scenario is repeated over and over again, each and every day.  Sooner or later, as another saying goes: the chickens come home to roost.  The Holy Word puts it a bit differently: You will reap what you sow.Thanh Nhat Le, 51, was arrested in Dorchester, Mass., in April, when he tried to cash a check he wrote to himself for $7,550 on his account at a Sovereign Bank.  He had opened the account two weeks earlier, handing over $171 in small bills.  He was certain that he had plenty of money in his account, though, because in the interim, he had also mailed the bank three checks for deposit:  one for $250,000; one for $2 million; and one for $4 billion.We laugh at Mr. Le, knowing how silly and foolish his actions (and apparently his thought processes!) were.  Now, if Mr. Le were Bill Gates, he might have been able to cash that check for $7,550, but alas, he was just Mr. Le.  Yet, how the question begs to be asked: are you thinking that you’ve been making deposits of good deeds into an invisible heavenly account, thinking that the day will come when you will meet your Maker and that you’ll cash them in so that you can gain admittance to heaven?  It won’t work.  The price of admittance to heaven is too steep of a price for any of us to pay – not even Bill Gates can pay it!  It’s foolish to think that we can build up enough good deeds to please God.  Does that mean that God doesn’t like it when we do good things?  No, he loves it.  But, good deeds won’t get you any further than $4,002,250,171 of “deposits” got Mr. Le.  With our most righteous acts being like nothing more than filthy rags, our hope of heaven must rest on something else.  Jesus wrote the check and paid the bill that was as far beyond our ability to pay than the heavens are above the earth.  May we with humility and gratitude accept the gift He has given us!

PRAYER: Lord, may we bow before you as foolish children, yet grateful for what You have done.  Thank you, Lord Jesus, for giving us hope!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/15/16 – Dead Man Sitting

DayBreaks for 12/15/16: Dead Man Sitting

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

“In October 2005, an elderly man passed away while sitting in his parked car in Melbourne, Australia.  He remained that way for several days before his body was found and identified by city officials.

“After the man’s death, however, and two days before the discovery of his body, a police officer gave him a parking ticket and attached it to the windshield of his car.

“The head of the Maroondah City Council later apologized for the incident, saying: ‘It must be just so sad for the family, and we extend our sincere sympathies to them.’  He added, ‘It is simply a case of the parking officer not noticing.’”  – ABCNewsOnline, 10/21/05

I wonder about this old man.  As he sat in his car, did he feel a squeezing in his chest, a shortness of breath?  A pain inside his head?  Did he know he was staring death in the face?  Or did it all happen so fast that he didn’t even have a chance to think or feel anything?  If he’d felt something, might he not have rolled down a window, opened a door, and called for help?  Not knowing the details of the situation, I can imagine and picture all sorts of possibilities and questions.  But I’m sure that the man would have hoped for help to come.

But to spend too much time wondering about the man is pointless.  What I should wonder about is where everyone else was when this man was dying.  Several days passed as he sat there in the car, stone cold, unmoving.  People must have noticed the car sitting there for several days and a person in it.  Didn’t one of them take the time to go see if the man was OK?  Apparently not.  And the officer who even wrote the ticket may have assumed the man was just sleeping and, being polite, didn’t want to wake him.  I just don’t know, and I just don’t understand.

Is it any different each and every day when I look around me at the lives of those who don’t know Jesus?  They may be sitting in the cubicle next to you, walking through your checkout lane at the store, cashing your check at the bank.  They are there – and they are dying. 

I hope that we will not be as careless and un-noticing as the police officer who saw the car, saw the man, wrote the ticket, but never said anything to the man.  If someone, ANYONE, who had seen this old man in the car had come to him early on, he might have lived.  But they didn’t come, and he died. 

One of my greatest fears about the day of judgment is that some lost person that I knew in this life will look at me on that day as they are being led away and say, “Why didn’t you check on me?  Why didn’t you help me?”

Genesis 4:9 – Afterward the LORD asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?”  “I don’t know!” Cain retorted. “Am I supposed to keep track of him wherever he goes?”

The answer is: yes.

PRAYER:  May we have Your passion for the lost.  Give us Your eyes to see their future possibilities, both for glory and for horror.  May we be moved by Your Spirit to keep track of one another at all times and in all places.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 8/18/16 – Titanic Story, #1

DayBreaks for 8/18/16 – Titanic Story, #1

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2006:

This is from a letter to the editor of August ’97 Focus on the Family recounting a story about the sinking of Titanic and a man by the name of John Harper:

“…John Harper, who was on the Titanic and traveling to Chicago to become the pastor at Moody Memorial church.  In the icy water, Harper won his last convert just before he drowned – a young Scotsman who survived.  He later told how Harper called out – while clinging to a floating spar – “Are ye saved, mon?” and quoted Acts 16.31 just in time.”

Galen’s thoughts:

I wonder how I would have spent my last few minutes before dying in the icy water of the north Atlantic.  I might have had my mind occupied with my wife and children, parents or other family and friends.  I might have cried and been pleading with God to save me from drowning.  I don’t know if I would have been focused on trying to share my faith with someone else, but when you think of it, what better time could there possibly be to share your faith when those around you are on the verge of dying?

Isn’t that the sad part?  Because it is true that people all around us are dying and they are dying in their sins.  We, through the grace and goodness of God and for no other reason, have the life raft that they all need.  We just don’t see them as drowning, dying people.  We see them as laughing, shopping, working, studying, ordinary every day people who are just going casually about their business.  But without the saving blood of Jesus Christ, they are adrift in the cold waters that will take their life for all eternity. 

Part of the problem is that they, themselves, don’t realize that they are dying.  They think that they are just fine. That they are “unsinkable” and that all is well.  How sad and tragic! 

I’m reminded by a gospel hymn that was written long ago (I don’t remember the name of the composer) as he was aboard a ship that was sinking because the lighthouse wasn’t working.  The words go as follows, and they serve as a challenge to each one of us:  “Let the lower lights be burning, send a gleam across the wave, some poor fainting, struggling seaman, you may rescue, you may save.” 

We are the lighthouse.  We are to be set upon a hill so that the light can’t be hidden.  Let your light shine and rescue those who are dying.  Is your light shining bold and brightly?  This may be the last day you will have to reach a certain person, to touch them with the love of the Lord.   Throw out the lifeline to someone today!

PRAYER:  Give us Your sense of urgency for those who are lost and dying.  Give us boldness to speak words of truth. Your Words are truth and they are life.  May we never forgive that.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.