DayBreaks for 8/14/18 – Where the Fire has Been

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DayBreaks for 8/14/18: Where the Fire Has Been

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

One of the great threats in California this year (and almost every year) has been wild fires.  Surely, you’ve heard or read stories about it in the news.  There was a strange night of lightning storms that swept California a while back, and over 800 fires were running amok around the state.  Even to this date, some are still burning. 

Wild fires are nothing new.  Back in the days of the pioneers, there were times when the owners of a log hut would look contentedly out over the miles and miles of swaying, tall grass when they would catch a glimpse of a dark cloud out on the far distant horizon.  As they watched it over a period of time, they could see that behind the apparent cloud was a fierce, fiery glare.  Although it was still a long way off, there could be no doubt about what it was – the prairie is on fire and the winds were driving it straight toward the settlers.

Driven by the wind, the fire would approach at speeds of fifteen miles per hour or more.  What could they possibly do to stop it?  Nothing, absolutely nothing.  There were no flying bombers that could drop tons of flame retardant chemicals, no helicopters that could chopper off to the nearest water hole and fill a huge bucket with water that could be dropped on the fire.  It was true that wise pioneers build a firebreak around their little settlements, but such fire breaks were only effective for an ordinary grass fire, but not for any kind of safety from a massive wild fire sweeping across miles and miles of grassy plain. 

Men and animals with terror–stricken eyes would flee from the onrushing cataclysm for their lives.  No time for thinking was left.  What can be done?  Was there to be no escape, no deliverance?  Would all inevitably perish?

There was one—and only one—hope of escape.  What is it?  How is it accomplished?  It involved the very element (fire) that was pursuing them and threatening them!  If the pioneers struck a match and lit the grass at their feet, the new fire, blown by the wind, would move ahead of them as if fleeing from the oncoming torment itself.  This new fire would burn the prairie ahead of the fleeing pioneers, consuming all before it, leaving the ground, blackened and bare.  As soon as a patch of the prairie was burned, the men and animals could then pass onto the scorched ground into a zone of safety.  Why were they safe?  Because there was nothing left to consume!  The fire started by the pioneers had already burned over the place once, leaving nothing for the approaching flames to burn when they arrived!  The pioneers were then safe and secure from the devouring fire which now raged around them but which could not touch them itself! 

Because of our sins, the fires of hell sweep towards us, seeking to consume and burn us until we are dead.  But, as believers, we can do something about it: we can so burn the knowledge of the Word of God into our lives that the flames of the outside world and hell itself will have no influence!

1 Jn 2:15-17 (NIV) – Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

PRAYER: Thank You for the Word, the Life, that has prepared a safe place for us where we can be secure from the fire to come!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 6/22/18 – Do You Mortify?

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DayBreaks for 6/22/18: Do You Mortify?

Romans 8:12-13 (ESV) So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

The Continental Divide runs up from South America all the way up into Canada. On the eastern side, all the water runs toward the Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico, on the western side toward the Pacific. You can literally stand in the road and have one foot on the eastern side and one on the western side. It’s easy when there to move from one extreme to the other. But it’s far harder to move from unholiness to holiness.

Through the middle of our lives is a divide – far wider and far more significant that the Continental Divide.
Earlier in Romans 8:5-8, Paul describes that our minds must be changed, transformed. But that’s not enough. Verses 9-11 say our entire being must be transformed – not just our minds, but our bodies/fleshly nature, too.

The real application here comes in verses 12-13 where we are, by the Spirit (not by our own power!), to put to death the deeds of the body. The whole thing is predicated on verse 12 where Paul says we are not debtors to the flesh. The word debtors here would be better translated as “obligated.” We are not obligated any longer to live in the ways of the flesh. We have the Spirit of God in us.

John Owen, writing long ago, said that we must “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” What is called for is a continual rampage against sin in our lives. We are told to kill it, to mortify, to put it to death.

The billion dollar question though, is are you, am I, mortifying the flesh? Consider this analogy: if an intruder broke into your home and began firing bullets at your family trying to kill them, what would you do? We wouldn’t just invite them to sit down for a cup of coffee so we could discuss things. We would FIGHT – even to the point of killing that intruder in order to preserve the life and peace of our family.

How are we fighting sin? Are we fighting it with the same (or more!) passion as we would that intruder? Or, are we unwilling to kill sin because we want to be able to play with sin once every so often? Have we become so afraid of legalism that we’ve forgotten about the demand for holiness? Yes, God is gracious – far more gracious than we can imagine – but God is very clear: we are to kill sin in our lives by the Spirit. That means letting the Spirit do the killing, but that can only happen as we yield to Him and His control.

We can’t afford to be ho-hum about sin. The devil isn’t ho-hum in his attack on us. Our death is his intention! How could we be ho-hum about our sin when we see the price Jesus paid on Calvary to rescue us from it?

Let’s fight like our lives depend on it – and let Jesus’ holiness that has been credited to us take care of the times we fail.

PRAYER: Jesus, we aren’t very good at killing sin. We cannot do it on our own. Let us cry to you every single day and put our will and fleshly desire to death. Let your Spirit have that work in us that we so desperately need! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/21/18 – The Most Important Sins

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DayBreaks for 6/21/18: The Most Important Sins

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2008:

Long ago, the Roman Catholic church came up with a list of sins that they said were “mortal”, or deadly.  Naturally, they were the sins that the church felt were the worst sins of all.  That’s why they were called deadly.

Are there certain sins that really bug you?  By that I don’t mean sins that you struggle with yourself.  We all have sins like that, too.  What I mean is certain sins that really make you mad, that you just can’t understand and which disgust you and make your stomach turn? 

In his little, but thought-provoking book, The Smell of Sin, Don Everts had a very interesting insight.  He wrote: When we sit down to list the sins that bug us, are they ever the sins we struggle so deeply with?  Or are we quick to ignore the logs in our own eyes while focusing so intently and with such passion on the specks in the eyes of those around us?…Jesus never made a hierarchy of sins.  Sins of idolizing money are just as smelly as sexual sins…So the most important sins must always be our own.  Our own.

You get the point: the sins that should really bug us are PRECISELY the sins that we struggle with ourselves.  Not the sins of someone else, but our own.   We need to a change of heart about what sins turn our stomach, even as they turn Jesus’.  Let us live with the attitude and understanding that the most important sins are mine.

PRAYER: Lord, we are so prone to minimizing our own sins and thinking that they don’t stink in Your nostrils like the sins that we hate.  Let us never shrug our shoulders at our own sin.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/01/18 – The Sin of Silence

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DayBreaks for 6/01/18: The Sin of Silence

If someone were to ask you what you think the greatest sin is that is described in the Bible, what would you choose? Some might choose David’s counting of the people of Israel that led to many deaths. Others might be tempted to think of the sin in the garden that had such massive repercussions for all of mankind. Still others might point to Judas’ betrayal of Jesus as the worst sin ever.

I ran across this and thought it was provocative and thought provoking: could the greatest sin be when Jesus asked those who were trying to trap him a simple question – “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” and those he asked stood silent in response. The sin wasn’t in the question, but perhaps the greatest sin was in their silence in response to the question.

To stand silent when the power to heal is within reach; that is sin. They knew Jesus could heal as that was indisputable, that wasn’t the issue. The question was whether he would heal on the Sabbath!  They stayed silent when all they had to do and should have done was say, “Please, Jesus, heal the poor man!”

In like manner, one could argue that our communities have the ability to empty our jails of crime, our shelters of the abused, our rest homes of the lonely and our streets of hopelessness.  Our world could beat hunger, fight AIDS, educate its masses and so much more; but we lack the commitment. Perhaps, we should say; we lack the committed!  Too many are silent (including me!), too many are critics. We need to pray for laborers in the harvest. We need to pick up a scythe. We need to address the question and not be silent.

PRAYER: Lord, do not let silence be my sin.  Let us be a voice for the silent and advocates of the disenfranchised. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/27/18 – Kidy S Noy Pgg

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DayBreaks for 4/27/18: Kidy S Noy Pgg

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2008:     

How many times have you heard someone say, “It’s just a little white lie”, or “It’s not big deal” when they are talking about something they’ve done which was wrong?

To sin: from the Greek hamartia, meaning “to miss the mark.”  You’ve probably heard that before, I imagine.  And I know that I’ve written about it before in DayBreaks.  It’s an archery term, describing what happens when the archer, well, misses the mark, the target. 

Missing the target may not be too bad if you’re shooting at a bulls-eye ring of circles that’s backstopped by a bunch of hay bales or a dirt hillside.  But it takes on an entirely different color if you’re talking about William Tell shooting at the apple on the head of his son.  In that case, missing the target could be horrible or not so bad – depending on which direction you miss!

So, let’s agree that missing the mark can be a bad thing in arrows, bullets, throwing knives or bomb dropping.  But how about in our loving obedience to God?  Does a little missing of the mark here or there really make that much difference?  Is it that noticeable, especially considering the fact that God is engaged in cosmic warfare against evil, not to mention He must be pretty busy keeping the universe going according to schedule? 

Sin is missing the mark.  Did you wonder about the title of today’s DayBreak?  If you haven’t figured it out, it’s the words “Just a bit off” typed on the computer keyboard one letter off to the right.   Let me ask: how much difference did it make?  When you first looked at the title, could you tell what it was?  Did you notice it? 

God notices all we say, do, think, don’t say, don’t do or don’t think.  And when we miss even a little bit, it gets His attention.  But there’s a key difference: God knows what we were doing, whereas you probably had no clue what the title of this DayBreaks meant.   You probably just assumed Galen had gone wacko (not a bad assumption, by the way.) 

Missing the mark matters when it comes to God – always.  Sin matters – always.  Let’s stop pretending that it “won’t affect me and it doesn’t hurt anyone else.”  Those are Satan’s lies and have no place in our thinking.  And our missing the mark can make it very hard for anyone else to understand what being a Christian is all about.

PRAYER:  Lord, have mercy on us.  Help us to focus on the goal we’re shooting for – to become like You, to carry Your likeness engraved on our hearts and minds.  Help us to fly true and straight to the center of the target!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/26/18 – Why Sin Vanished from Our Vocabulary

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DayBreaks for 4/26/18: Why Sin Vanished from Our Vocabulary

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2008:     

When is the last time that you heard the word “sin” actually spoken outside of a church – other than in a sneering derisive way?  I don’t know if I can honestly recall.  In fact, one wonders if perhaps the word is spoken very often inside churches these days.  Why is that?  No less than 50 years ago, the word could be heard at least every once in a while from politicians, businessmen, teachers, professors and certainly in churches.  Why no more?

It has to do with the shift in our thinking from the realm of spiritual things being relegated to nothing more than personal belief without anything to recommend it to a serious thinker or scholar as being more than just superstition.  When the Bible as God’s special revelation was thrown out, and when the real historical Jesus was made into a farce by the “Historical Jesus movement”, and when universities began teaching that anything the wasn’t scientifically provable should be thrown on the dust heap as so much gibberish, then there was to sin anymore, no mark that we would be missing.  Because, you see, God can’t be scientifically proven, therefore He must not exist. 

So, if you ask most people in our culture what, if anything, they think of sin, Don Everts in The Smell of Sin suggests it would be like asking them what they think of unicorns.  (In fact, I suspect that some might give more credence to the existence of unicorns – perhaps even if only in the past – than they do to the existence of God, although there’s far more evidence for the latter!)  Still, most people know that unicorns are a myth.  As Everts says, “So the debate is: is it a cute myth or a silly myth or a destructive one?  Sin really has joined the ranks of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny in our culture: something that you once believed in as a child but have since grown out of…So, what does sin smell like to most of our neighbors?  Nothing.  Air.”

Has sin vanished from your vocabulary?  Have you relegated it to something other than what it is?  Have you developed cute names for it (“goof-up”, “mistake”, “slip of the tongue”, “mis-step”, “an oops”)?  God calls it sin.  And He reminds us very clearly: (Ezekiel 18:4, NIV) – For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son–both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die.

PRAYER:  Father, keep us from believing fairy tales and give us the wisdom to believe You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/27/18 – The Prison and the Prisoner

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DayBreaks for 3/26/18: The Prison and the Prisoner

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2008:

Thomas Costain wrote a book called The Three Edwards, and in it he tells about an historical event from the 14th century.  Two brothers, Raynald and Edward, were bitter enemies.  Edward mounted war against Raynald, captured him and imprisoned him in Nieuwkerk Castle. 

But this was no ordinary prison.  The room was relatively comfortable and there was no lock on the door – no bolt, padlock or crossbeam.  Raynald, though a prisoner, was free to come or go at will.  In fact, it was better than that: Edward promised Raynald full restoration of all rights and titles on a single condition: that Raynald walk out of his cell.

There was only one problem: Raynald couldn’t walk out of his cell.  The door was smaller than a typical door…and Raynald was enormously fat.  He was so fat that he could not, no matter how much he squeezed and heaved and pushed, get himself through the doorway to his cell. 

So, in order to walk free and reclaim all he’d lost, he only had to do one thing: lose weight.  That would have come easily to most prisoners that were fed bread and water.  But it didn’t come easily to Raynald.  Edward has disguised a great cruelty in his apparent act of generosity to Raynald.  Every day, Edward had Raynald serve the richest, sauciest foods, sweet and tasty, along with as much ale and wine that Raynald could drink.  Raynald ate and ate and grew larger and fatter.  He spent 10 years trapped in that unlocked cell, and was freed only after Edward’s death.  By that time, his health was so ruined that he died soon afterwards.

As I read this tragic story, I was struck by several truths:

FIRST: Satan takes us prisoner by capitalizing on our desires, weaknesses and tastes.  He doesn’t need to create those things in us, he just takes advantage of our appetites.  And then he sets out to do his best to see to it that we stay sated with the pleasures of sin.

SECOND: Raynald had a choice – he could only eat as much as was truly necessary, he could have exercised in his cell, and he could have walked through the cell door after losing enough weight.  But Raynald was too fond of his sweets and tasty delights – thereby becoming his own warden, held in a prison only by his own weaknesses.  The same is true for us – Satan can’t keep us in the prison.  It is our choice – to continue to smother ourselves and indulge in our passions and sin, or to leave the prison behind.

THIRD: We think that the things we long for in our human nature are what will make us happy – that if we have enough of something, then we will be free at long last, not realizing (or at least not admitting to ourselves) that we are only perpetuating our imprisonment.  Freedom awaits us outside the imprisonment of our desires.  What would you rather have: freedom or another piece of cheesecake?

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross. – Jesus

PRAYER: Father, our hearts and stomachs and eyes lie to us about what it is that we really want and what it is that is really good for us.  Give us the strength through Your Spirit that lives within us to deny ourselves for that which is far better and which will never fade away.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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