DayBreaks for 8/7/17 – Even So Grace Might Reign

DayBreaks for 8/07/17: Even So Grace Might Reign

Romans 5:20-21: And the Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Where would we be without the book of Romans and its expounding grace to us? There is no greater treatise in print on the subject, of that I’m fairly confident. Without the book of Romans, I fear we’d be miserable people.

We all know the drill: no matter how hard we try, we cannot be perfect, no matter how much we might wish to be perfect. No matter how many times we promise God that “I’ll never do that again!”, we do. In fact, I suspect that our protestations of self-will and self-strength to be able to NOT do something is a virtual guarantee that we will. Just ask Peter and he’ll tell you that the very thing he said he would never do, well, he did it less than 24 hours.

In Romans 5, we’re told that the Law came so that transgressions might increase. What on earth does that mean? Did God give the law so we would sin more? Of course not! But, without the Law we wouldn’t have known what was sin and what wasn’t. So our awareness of sin increased, for sure. Transgressions also increased because humanity grew and became more populous and with each and every human born upon this planet, there was more sin (though that’s not the point of the writer of Romans).

But how pervasive was that sin? It was as pervasive as where its rule was best demonstrated: in death and dying. And how pervasive is that? Well, I don’t know about you, but I’d say it’s darn near 100%. In fact (and I don’t think I’m overstating this) I’d go further: it is 100%. That is how pervasive sin is.

Don’t despair, though, because we need to read the last phrase of the passage again: grace abounded all the more…even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life…

When he says “grace abounded all the more”, what does he mean? More than what? More than death! Why? Because it is grace that reigns to not temporal life, but eternal life in Christ Jesus.

The grace of God is something that we can’t really wrap our minds around. It’s too big for our puny minds. We must take by faith what Scripture says about it, though, we must not ever think that I have sinned too many times, too egregiously, too frequently and that God must be totally disgusted with me. That’s not what grace says. Grace teaches us that God loves us as His children – no matter what. He may at times be disappointed for us, but not with us. He expects childish behavior out of us – believe it or not. And while he may be disappointed that we must bear the consequences for our foolishness, he will still love us now and forever as His children. Grace reigns…because God reigns.

PRAYER: Father, I am so thankful for your grace that abounds even more than sin and the effects of sin! Thank you for always loving me as your precious children even when I am willful and self-centered. Let me love you more so as to hurt you less. In Jesus name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/24/17 – Once Again, Lord

DayBreaks for 3/24/17: Once Again, Lord

NOTE: Galen is traveling this week. This week’s DayBreaks will be from the May 2007 archives.

How many times in my life have I had a conversation like this with God: “Oh, God.  I’m so sorry.  I’ve done it again.  I’ve failed you.  I’ve let you down.  I’ve sinned again even after I promised you that I wouldn’t.  You must hate me.  I don’t understand why you continue to forgive me instead of striking me dead – which you have every right to do.  I’ve let you down so many, many times.”  If I had a penny (let alone a nickel) for every time I’ve had that conversation, I’d own all of North America by now.

It gets old, wearisome.  I know that God doesn’t want to hear that from me any more – I figure he must be at least as tired of hearing it as I am of saying it.  I am so grateful that He is a merciful and patient God!

Eugene Peterson recently was talking about this line of thinking and he had an interesting perspective on it that helped me.  Apparently, he, too, has had that conversation with God over and over and over.  He found himself saying it again to God not too long ago, when he said that he had an epiphany, and the Spirit set him straight about one thing.  He said it was as if God spoke these words to him: “No, you never let me down.  You never held me up.  I’m the one who holds you up.”

Wow.  Do you see how, even when we are in the midst of our conviction about our dreaded sinfulness and weakness, that we make it all about US in our human pride?  “I (capital, first person singular) let you down, God.”  It isn’t about me.  The story of the glory of salvation isn’t about my stopping letting God down.  That’s not it at all.  The glory of salvation is that He holds us up, covered in the blood of the Lamb, cleansed and forgiven. 

How foolish to think that I can hold God up, and I’d have to hold him up in order to let him down!  No, He is the lifter of my head, he is the lifter of my soul, the restorer of things broken.  May we learn to shift our thinking from what we can and have done, to glory in what God does!

PRAYER: Oh Lord, you are truly great!  We are nothing more than the sheep of your hand, the clay you have formed and fashioned, and that you have redeemed.  Thank you for lifting us up, for holding us up, for your glory!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 11/16/16 – The Flesh Will Not Die Quietly

DayBreaks for 11/16/16: The Flesh Will Not Die Quietly

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2006:

In my capacity as a pastor and as a former associate chaplain for the police department in the town where we used to live, I have had the occasion to be present at several deathbeds to watch people die and leave this world behind.  Some have been old, others young, some of the deaths were expected, some were not.  But one thing that never ceases to amaze me is how hard the body fights to continue to live.  Even those who are dying of horrible diseases, who have suffered tremendous indignity and pain for years untold, seem to have the same thing happen when the time actually comes: the body fights to stay alive.  The flesh seems to have a mind of its own at those moments.  I know that some of those who I watched die would much rather have departed and gone a long time ago, but the flesh would not die quietly.  I think it is because we were not made to die in the beginning – and it is a vestige of that fact that makes the body fight to the bitter end.

We will all die someday, and we all hope our passing will be peaceful and calm – and quick.  But Paul, the great warhorse missionary, put it in a different perspective in 1 Cor. 15:31 when he wrote: I die every day–I mean that, brothers–just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord.  In what sense did Paul die every day?  I believe he was stating his goal, even his desire, that each and every day he would die to himself, to his wanting his own way and desires more than he wants those of the Lord.  And certainly, it is true that THIS part of the flesh doesn’t die quietly.  It fights to the very end to dominate our spiritual selves.  Paul understood something that we may not yet have grasped: that if we want to have life after this life, we need to die before we die. 

You know the verses as well as I: if we strive to save our lives, we will lose them, and if we lose our lives for Jesus sake, we will find real life.  Other verses talk about putting to death the old man, the old nature that is fleshly and out of alignment with God and things of the Spirit.  The flesh dies hard.  But it must die if we are to be fully pleasing to Him.  

PRAYER: Father, when pride fills our hearts about something we’ve done, please let us glimpse Jesus.  Let us see His glory and be put into a proper sense of perspective that we may be truly humble before You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/11/16 – The Mortal Enemy Within

DayBreaks for 11/11/16: The Mortal Enemy Within

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2006: (Galen is traveling again)

Just this past week, once again we heard of the leader of an evangelical group being accused of secret sin.  I don’t know at the time of this writing if the allegations will prove to be true or false, God knows and only time will tell the truth of the matter.  Regardless, it is sad and tragic.  I hope and pray that it is false and will be shown conclusively to be false.  But it reminded me again of the danger of secret sin in our lives. 

Don’t pretend that you don’t know what I’m talking about.  We all have them.  Some may just be things we think in our heads, but others may be acted out under the cover of darkness, or with great guile so as to not be seen and caught in our sin.  We are a deceptive lot when it comes to sin. 

I’ve read that there is an insect that physically, to all appearances, is very much like a bumble bee, but which is actually a terrible enemy to the same bee.  But because it looks so much like the bumble bee, when it shows up at the hive, it will sometimes be admitted into the bees’ nest, and there it will lay its own eggs.  When the eggs finally hatch, the larva of the interloper devour the larva that come from the bees’ own eggs.  So, while it shows up looking and pretending to be a bee, it turns out to be a consuming enemy. 

It’s the same way with the sin (secret or otherwise) that we harbor in our hearts – it eats away at the vital elements of our spiritual lives and if left unresolved and unremoved, destroys our ability to grow and be useful to the Master and others.  What makes it so insidious is that it comes masked in the guise of a friend and helper.

What are the secret sins that you’ve managed to keep hidden from prying eyes?  What intruders (lies of Satan) have you let infiltrate your heart?  Here’s how to know: look at what culture wants you to believe and compare that to what the Word teaches.  We fall for the Destroyer’s lies all of the time!

The warning from Numbers 32:23 is especially necessary for us: “…and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.”  If that’s not good enough for you, listen to Jesus’ own words on the matter: Luke 12:2 (NLT) – The time is coming when everything will be revealed; all that is secret will be made public.  If that doesn’t make you stop and think twice about your secret sin, you (and I) need to read it again.  May we all resolve that by the Spirit of the Lord, we will turn aside from our secret sin as we confess it and repent.

Psalms 90:8 (NIV) – You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.

Numbers 32:23 (NLT) – But if you fail to keep your word, then you will have sinned against the LORD, and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.

PRAYER: Lord, you have searched our hearts and you know us and you know every secret sin and thought we have.  Lord, we don’t want our secret sins to be found out, we don’t want them to be brought into the light of day to bring shame to you.  Help us to truly and deeply repent and turn from our secret sins.  May our lives be holy sacrifices to You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/25/16 – The Problem is on the Inside

DayBreaks for 10/25/16 – The Problem is on the Inside

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2006:

I was downtown at our local newspaper just this past week, dropping off some articles about an upcoming community wide seminar that we’ll be hosting at church in November.  It was just slightly after 2 in the afternoon, and I walked up to the door and found it locked, even though there were people inside.  The owner/editor of the paper saw me and came running to the door and unlocked it.  It seems that they were having problems with their burglar alarm and the repair man was there to work on it.  It reminded me of a story that I read by Max Lucado that I’d like to share with you.  In When God Whispers Your Name, Max Lucado writes:

“I rolled out of bed early—real early. I’d been on vacation for a couple of weeks, and I was rested. My energy level was high, so I dressed to go to the church office. My wife, Denalyn, tried to convince me not to go.

“It’s the middle of the night,” she mumbled. “What if a burglar tries to break in?”

“There had been an attempted break-in at the office a few weeks previously.  Ignoring my wife’s concern, I drove to the church, entered the office complex, disarmed the alarm, and then re-armed it.

“A few seconds later the sirens screamed. Somebody is trying to break in! I raced down the hall, turned off the alarm, ran back to my office, and dialed 911. After I hung up, it occurred to me that the thieves could get in before the police arrived. I dashed back down the hall and re-armed the system.

“They won’t get me,” I mumbled defiantly as I punched in the code.

“As I turned, the sirens blared again. I disarmed the alarm and reset it. I walked to a window to look for the police. The alarm sounded a third time. Once again I disarmed it and reset it.

“Walking back to my office, the alarm sounded again. I disarmed it. Wait a minute; this alarm system must be fouled up. I called the alarm company.

“Our alarm system keeps going off,” I told the fellow who answered. “We’ve either got some determined thieves or a malfunction.”

“There could be one other option,” he said. “Did you know that your building is equipped with a motion detector?”

“Then the police arrived. “I think the problem is on the inside, not the outside,” I told them, embarrassed that I was the culprit setting of the alarm.

“Am I the only one to blame an inside problem on an outside source?

“Alarms sound in your world as well. Heaven knows you don’t silence life’s alarm by pretending they aren’t screaming. But heaven also knows it’s wise to look in the mirror before you peek out the window.”

Let’s face it: there’s lots of temptation all around us, but that’s all it is: temptation.  The sin is inside our imaginations, minds and hearts.  When we sin, it is a problem that comes from inside us, and it will continue to be a problem until we learn not to blame everything and everyone else – and begin to confess our need to the One who can give us new hearts and minds that are hungry to please Him. 

PRAYER:  We confess, Lord Jesus, that there is really nothing good within us as humans.  It is only as Your Spirit lives in us that we can be freed from the power of sin.  Help us to want to do what is right, to bring you glory, to stop hurting you through what we do and think and say.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/13/16 – An Open Scandal in Heaven

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DayBreaks for 10/13/16 – An Open Scandal in Heaven

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

Genesis 4:8-11 (NIV) – Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.  Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.  Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.

We read this story about Cain and Abel and can easily miss some important things.  First of all, it reads as if it all happens instantaneously, but the fact of the matter is that we don’t know how much time passed between the time Cain killed his brother until God confronted Cain about his actions.  It may have been minutes, hours, days or weeks.  We simply don’t know, and all things considered, it’s not that important – except in this regard: for the period of time that passed (no matter how long or short it may have been), Cain probably thought he’d gotten away with something.  He harbored in his heart the secret vision of killing his brother, of his brother’s blood spilling out onto the ground.  He must have considered what he would tell his mother and father the next time he saw them and they asked where his brother was.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he avoided his parents as long as possible.  It’s a terrible thing to harbor dark secrets in our hearts about the things we have done, wondering, tormented by the fear of discovery, all while hoping that no one will ever find out.

For however long of time that passed, Cain labored under the delusion that his sin was secret, but based on this text, as Chuck Swindoll put it, Cain learned that “A secret sin on earth is open scandal in heaven.”  Rather shocking and frightening when you hear it put that way, isn’t it?  The thoughts that I’ve had today that were angry, bitter, unforgiving, lustful or envious – they cry out to the throne of heaven as clearly and loudly as the blood of Abel.  And they are an open scandal in heaven.  The words I’ve spoken, the bad things I’ve done – they, too, are scandals on the front page of heaven’s newspaper. 

We call it a scandal when a congressman or public figure has their sins and faults splattered across the airwaves and printed on the front page.  Your sins are just as well known to God – even more clearly known, in fact.  And so are mine.

But if you go back and read the rest of the story about Cain and Abel, as Chuck Swindoll put it: “Even after the worst crime ever committed up to that time, the Lord demonstrated grace…God asked the murderous Cain a rhetorical question to convict him of his sin.  But Cain refused to repent.  What will we do?  It’s one thing to repent once your sins find you out, but we need to remember that God always sees our scandalous behavior.  In His grace, He gives us a chance to repent.  May we be wise enough to accept His grace!

PRAYER:  God, help us to remember that our lives are like an open book before you and that nothing we do is really a secret.  May the knowledge that you know, you see, and you are hurt by our sin help us to repent and return to you every time we go astray.  Thank you for your abundant grace and forgiveness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/11/16 – Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

DayBreaks for 8/11/16 – Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

From the DayBreaks Archive for August, 2006:

From News of the Weird, 7/10/98, UPI by Chuck Shepherd: “The New York Times reported in June that NASA has successfully field-tested an oil-spill-catcher that could have cleaned up the disastrous 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in about a week. A Huntsville, AL, hairdresser named Phillip McCrory came up with the idea to put discarded hair into mesh pillows, and a NASA researcher determined that 1.4 million pounds of hair would have soaked up the Valdez’s 11 million gallons in about a week. By contrast, Exxon Corp. spent $2 billion over several years and caught only about 12 percent of the oil.”

This kind of gives new meaning to the concept of having oily hair, doesn’t it? I couldn’t help but think about how easy it is to clean something up when you’ve got the right tools – like say, 1.4 million pounds of hair. What was a huge task with the wrong tools is made quick and easy when you’ve got the right ones.

A few thoughts: Sin is no different. People try to clean up their lives with all kinds of things: by trying to be a good person, by trying to stop being unfaithful or to stop swearing or drinking. By giving to their church and sitting in the pew some try to alleviate their bleeding consciences. Others, trying to get rid of their guilt, go to secular counselors who wind up telling them that “You’re OK! See, we’re all OK! What you did is normal and natural and you only did what you had to do.” But the problem with all of that is that it doesn’t really take away the scum from our lives. There is only one thing that can take our sin away and that is the blood of Jesus. And it is instantaneous. It is effective. All the things that we try to do from a human perspective can’t really clean our conscience, because deep inside we know the explanations for why we did what we did can’t undo the wrong we participated in.

The quality of the clean-up is important, too. The Valdez disaster was terrible, costly and as you can see from the story, the recovery efforts weren’t very successful. Yet, if sin was as easy to get rid of as oil spills, we wouldn’t have needed Jesus. We needed him at the beginning when we became believers – to claim his blood as our cleansing agent, and we need him constantly to cleanse us from the blackness of our sin. What if Jesus’ cleansing were only as effective as Exxon’s efforts and you were left with 88% of your sin?

I Jn 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from ALL unrighteousness.

Jesus blood is the perfect cleansing agent – while we may sin from time to time, it is forgiven totally, completely and without reservation. Don’t carry your burden of sin and guilt for one more moment. He died to make you clean!

PRAYER: Behold, what manner of love you have shown us that you call us your children and dress us in the finest clothing and invite us to the party of all eternity!  Help us to stay clean and alert as we go through this day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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