DayBreaks for 3/13/19 – It’s the Truth

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DayBreaks for 3/13/19: It’s the Truth

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2009:

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”  – Matthew 9:9-13 (NIV)

I recently received an email from a believer in which this person was a bit despairing about their Christ-walk.  On the one hand, I find that encouraging.  It says that the Spirit is still speaking to them – and that they are listening.  It is important that we listen to the Spirit and His take on our walk.  But, I have found in my own experience that the enemy can also attempt to convince me that because I’m not walking as close to Christ as I should and because that’s been true of nearly all my life, that I should just give up now and stop trying.  After all, if I stop trying, I’ll stop feeling guilty, right?  I’ll lose my shame, right?  No…those things are emotions that are planted deep within us.  We would just be in denial.

Then, I was thinking about this passage in Matthew.  I love what Jesus says, For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.  Who, after all, would there have been for Jesus to call if he’d come to call the righteous?  No one!  His expectation for is that this: we are sinners.  We will be sinners until the day we die.  We will always be sinners as long as we breathe the atmosphere of this world.  He knows it, he expects it and isn’t shocked by it.  If you are a sinner, Jesus came to call you…and He calls you still, day in and day out through the loving voice of the Spirit.  The Spirit will never encourage you to give up your faith walk.  Only the enemy will do that.  The Spirit will point out to you and to me our need for greater righteousness, but He is a comforter, a friend, who encourages us to walk forward into greater holiness and obedience. 

So, if you’re feeling down about your sinfulness and poor Christian walk, determine if you’re hearing from the enemy who wants to defeat you in your walk with Christ because you are a sinner, or the Spirit who wants to encourage you in your walk with Christ even though you are a sinner.  There’s a world of difference…and that’s the truth.

Prayer:  What a comfort it is to know, Lord, that you know we’re sinners and you came for us and you come to us over and over through your Spirit to encourage us and lead us into greater obedience, love and holiness.  Give us the wisdom to discern the voice of the Spirit and to distinguish it from the voice of Satan!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

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DayBreaks for 10/03/18 – No He Didn’t!

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DayBreaks for 10/03/08: No He Didn’t!

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2008:

“The devil made me do it.”  Those words were a common phrase in comedy skits by Flip Wilson a good number of years ago.  Invariably, just after doing something that was bad, he’d utter those words in a meek way and the audience would break into laughter.  I remember laughing at it, too, at least until it got too familiar and lost its novelty.

There is even a biblical basis for the saying – sort of.  In Genesis 3:13, after Adam and Eve had sinned, Adam says (paraphrasing), “Eve made me do it.”  Eve (being a quick study and noticing that God didn’t strike Adam dead) noticed that God had turned his attention onto her, and said, “The serpent tricked me, that’s why I ate it.”  (NLT)

Nice try, Eve.  But there’s a subtle difference between what Eve and Flip Wilson had to say.  Eve said she was “tricked.”  Flip said, “The devil MADE me do it.”  In reality, Satan is a deceiver, and Eve had it right.  Yet, ever since the fall, we’ve been blaming our sinfulness on the devil making “me do it.”  Biblically speaking, if you are a Christian, Satan has no power over you.  Get this (and listen closely and pay attention): Satan cannot make you do anything.  He can’t make you lie, cheat, steal, get drunk, lust, envy or kill.  He can’t make you do one single sinful thing!  We simply can’t say, “The devil made me do it.”

So, where does the blame lie?  Square on our shoulders.  James 1:14 nails it: Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires.  These evil desires lead to evil actions, and evil actions lead to death.  So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. (NLT)

We make excuses to “excuse” our bad behavior – a behavior that springs from within us.  No more “The devil made me do it.”  God’s never bought that line, and He isn’t about to start buying it now.

Hebrews 2:14-15 (NIV) – Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil– and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

PRAYER: We’ve tried so many things to avoid having to admit that we are responsible for our own sin, Lord.  Help us to stop making excuses and admit that we are sinners desperately in need of Your grace!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/20/18 – The Entrance of Evil

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DayBreaks for 7/20/18: The Entrance of Evil

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2008:

AVONDALE, Ariz. – An Arizona man said his 3-year-old Labrador retriever was so excited for the Super Bowl that he devoured two very expensive tickets to the game.   Chris Gallagher, of Avondale, Ariz., said he asked that a courier slip the envelope containing two Super Bowl XLII tickets under his doormat but the envelope was instead inserted under the door — and into the waiting jaws of his dog, Buddy, The Arizona Republic reported Tuesday.  Gallagher said the tickets, which he purchased for friends, were valued at $900 apiece.  However, he said the seller assured him that the tickets can be replaced in time for game day.

The dog owner said the tickets were only the latest of Buddy’s many victims, which have included sunglasses, shoes and footballs.  “He’s a trouble-maker,” Gallagher told the Republic. “But he looks at you with those big eyes and you can’t be mad for long.”

Galen’s Thoughts: I have recently been utilizing John Eldredge’s Epic video series as part of the Sunday morning messages.  On this past Sunday, we were covering Act Two: The Entrance of Evil.  As an illustration slide, I showed an image of a fearsome looking creature – red-faced, possessed by rage, vicious teeth bared in a terrifying grimace.  It was, of course, representative of Satan. 

One of the members of the congregation came up to me after seeing the picture and made an excellent point: if that is how Satan really appeared to us, would any of us really fall for his deceptions?  She noted that Scripture speaks of Satan as able to appear as an angel of light. (2 Cor. 11:14) 

Here’s the point: Satan is pictured in Scripture as a roaring lion, and as if he were an angel of light.  Like the dog, Buddy, if we look into Satan’s eyes, he doesn’t look frightening and scary.  He looks like something that you cannot resist – or which you find no reason to avoid.  And therein is where he gets his great power – he appears so innocent.

Evil doesn’t usually come into our lives looking like evil.  Instead, it looks like fun, or it looks safe, or tame, or innocuous.  It doesn’t look like evil – it looks like anything but.  And that’s where we can’t let ourselves be deceived by the one who came to deceive, kill and destroy.  Don’t let him fool you.  Don’t look into his eyes and think he’s harmless.  He most definitely is not!

PRAYER:  Lord, I confess that I often don’t work hard enough to discern the lies and deceptions that Satan throws my way!  I pray that you will give us the wisdom to not be fooled by Satan’s “big brown eyes” into thinking he’s harmless.  Awaken us to the power and strength and true intent of our enemy!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/13/18 – Of Dogs, Tickets and the Devil

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DayBreaks for 6/13/18: Of Dogs, Tickets and the Devil

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2008:

AVONDALE, Ariz. – An Arizona man said his 3-year-old Labrador retriever was so excited for the Super Bowl that he devoured two very expensive tickets to the game.  

Chris Gallagher, of Avondale, Ariz., said he asked that a courier slip the envelope containing two Super Bowl XLII tickets under his doormat but the envelope was instead inserted under the door — and into the waiting jaws of his dog, Buddy, The Arizona Republic reported Tuesday.

Gallagher said the tickets, which he purchased for friends, were valued at $900 apiece. However, he said the seller assured him that the tickets can be replaced in time for game day. The dog owner said the tickets were only the latest of Buddy’s many victims, which have included sunglasses, shoes and footballs. “He’s a trouble-maker,” Gallagher told the Republic. “But he looks at you with those big eyes and you can’t be mad for long.”

If you’re a long-time DayBreaks reader, you’ll know I love dogs.  In fact, as I sit here writing this, my wife’s dog is sleeping at my feet, and mine is curled up on his favorite chair (he thinks of it as his “throne”) about 8 feet away.  So, don’t get me wrong – I love dogs.  And their big eyes can melt my heart and resistance in the tick of a clock!  And that, I’m quite convinced, is fine.

Sadly, in one way, Satan is a lot like my dog.  While Casper (my dog) can be full of mischief and playfulness, Satan can also appear as innocent as can be…looking at us with big eyes, tricking us into thinking he’s not dangerous.  “Aw, come on!  This’ll be fun!” 

Why is it that I can go from being furious at Satan one moment to falling for his stories and his big eyes the next?  Casper (my dog) wants nothing more than to be loved and to play.  Satan hates me.  He hates you.  He doesn’t want to bring us happiness or joy.  He’s great at the bait and switch – let us think something will bring us happiness – and then when we’re into it too far to easily get out, he lowers the hammer on us.  Satan doesn’t want to play.  He wants to kill.  Don’t fall for his “soulful eyes”!

PRAYER: God, we are so easily misled by the innocent look of temptation!  Let us see Satan as he truly is and not be fooled by his deceit.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/30/18 – Satan’s Strategy

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DayBreaks for 5/30/18: Satan’s Stragegy

It pays to know your enemy.  Ask any soldier and they’ll tell you that it’s important to understand how the enemy thinks, what their strategy is in given circumstances, what kind of tools, equipment and weaponry they have at their disposal.  It is only a fool who goes into battle without having considered the capabilities of the enemy. 

We spend a lot of time as Christians contemplating Christ and what he has done.  It is only right that it should be so, for one cannot dwell on the subject and person of Jesus too much.  Still, I can’t help but wonder if we don’t gather too little “intelligence” on our enemy, Satan.  Fortunately, Scripture is full of information on how Satan works to draw us into sin.

What is the impression that most people have about Christianity?  They believe Christians are repressed, and repressive, because the critics of Christians believe God is repressive.  Do you know why?  It’s because of the very first lie that Satan told – his first deception.  When he approached Eve, he caused her to come to the conclusion that God was repressive because He’d said, “Thou shalt not eat.”    By drawing God into question by saying (paraphrased): “Did got really say you couldn’t eat anything at all that you wanted to?”, he put the concept of a repressive God into human minds.  And it’s been there ever since. 

Is God repressive?  Eve had it right originally in her response: “No, we can eat of any tree except one.”  Does that sound repressive?  There was only one prohibition, and it was so that they could remain free from guilt.  But Satan’s strategy is, as Don Everts put it, “subtle wooing,” not blatant aggression.  He wants to mislead us, not frighten us.  He wants us to think he is our friend, after all. 

But there’s only one friend who laid down his life for us…and it wasn’t Satan.  That speaks volumes.

PRAYER:  Steel our hearts against the enemy of our souls, Lord.  Help us to see that repression leads to slavery, but grace to forgiveness and freedom!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/28/17 – Watch Out for the Snake

DayBreaks for 3/28/17: Watch Out for the Snake

CHINA – “When arriving at the bottom of a tequila bottle after a long night with the guys, someone is always dared to take down the worm. However, very rarely, if ever, does the worm fight back. In China, alcoholic drinks such as rice wine contain preserved snakes or other creatures in place of the ever-popular worm. As a man named Li cracked open a bottle during his lunch break, the pickled snake lunged out of the bottle and bit him in the neck. The victim was taken to a hospital where he was not believed to be in any danger. According to the Xin Bao newspaper, the bottle’s stopper was made from wood or cork and allowed air in the vessel, helping the snake to survive in the bottle for a year.”

You know, I find that there are things in my life that I thought were dead and gone, but then they come back to bite me.  It seems to be at a time when I’ve been thinking, “Whew…I’m glad I’ve got that licked!” that they often raise their ugly head once again.  Such is the my constant need for reminders that I’m not so good or strong as I’d like to think. You’d think that at some point I’d learn how weak I really am.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s that I’m that weak or that evil is that powerful.  And when I reflect on it that way, I think that both are true.  I am far weaker in the flesh than I’d like to be, or than I want to admit to being.  But Satan is not a novice at this game – he’s been around the block more than once since the days of Adam and Eve.  And it’s not just me – everyone has fallen to his schemes.  It’s no excuse, though, for stronger than Satan is Jesus, and God won’t let me get away with excuses.

It only took a small fracture in the cork to allow enough air into the bottle to keep the snake alive.  Sadly, sometimes in our lives we don’t just leave a little crack for Satan to slither through, we leave the door wide open and hang out the “Welcome – come on in!” sign.  Would that we shut the door entire to Satan and opened the door wide for Jesus!

Beware – the snake will be on the prowl until his head is crushed one final time.

PRAYER: Help us to learn from our mistakes, to love You more, and to be alert to our enemy.  May we open the door of our hearts fully to Your Spirit!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 8/5/16 – From Light Bearer to Prince of Darkness

DayBreaks for 8/05/16 – From Light Bearer to Prince of Darkness

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2006:

When we think of the devil, we usually call him either Devil or Satan.  These names essentially mean the same thing: “adversary” or “accuser”.  But there is another name for the devil in scripture and it is found only once in Isaiah where he is called Lucifer (the NIV puts it “morning star”).  The name Lucifer means “light-bearer”, “bright star”, “brightness” or “morning star”.   In Isaiah 14.12-15 and Ezekiel 28.11-19, there are some passages that many believe to be descriptions of the fall of Lucifer (couched in terms of the king of Babylon or Tyre, respectively).  In Ezekiel it describes Satan as being the model of perfection among created beings, surpassing everything else beauty and wisdom.  He was described as being on the mountain of God, and Isaiah describes him as the morning star.

But, there was a problem.  As beautiful as he may have looked on the outside, there was a cancer eating away at him on the inside – pride that led to rebellion.  And instead of living up to his name of Lucifer (light-bearer), he became the prince of darkness that rules (temporarily) over the pit of hell. 

I’d not really thought too much about this before, but it struck me this morning that we are not all that different from Satan in many ways.  We were created to glorify God.  Mankind, among the things that are created in Genesis, is the only thing of which it is said that it was “very good”.  We were made in His image, to have fellowship with Him.  We were created to bear and reflect His glorious light. 

But, there was a problem.  Like Satan, our pride took over.  We began to exalt our wishes over God’s wishes for us. We filled ourselves up with our learning and our intellect and minds became darkened as we became convinced that we knew better than God what was the right way to do things and what was best for us. 

We all did it.  I’m not the exception to the rule and neither are you.  We, like Lucifer, were created to be light bearers but our light went out because of sin. 

But that’s where the similarity ends.  Lucifer is bound, destined to be cast into utter darkness forever.  God couldn’t stand for that to be our fate so He stepped in, and as Colossians 1.13 puts it: For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  Likewise, in Paul’s defense before Agrippa, he describes God’s work in Acts 26.18 this way: …to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.

Lucifer’s fate has been determined and decreed by God.  We have a choice.  We can be light-bearers, servants of the One in whom is no darkness at all, or servants of the prince of darkness.  As Joshua put it: Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…

PRAYER:  Help us to bear Your light not just today, but every day, that Your glory may be seen.  Help us Lord to keep our lamps trimmed and bright so that those who are lost in darkness may be drawn to You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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