DayBreaks for 4/06/18 – Unclear on the Concept

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DayBreaks for 4/06/18: Unclear on the Concept

From the DayBreaks archive, 1998:

This emergency room story was interesting: “A 28-year old male was brought into the ER after an attempted suicide.  The man had swallowed several nitroglycerin pills and a fifth of vodka.  When asked about the bruises about his head and chest he said that they were from him ramming himself into the wall in an attempt to make the nitroglycerin explode.”

Galen’s Thoughts: My first reaction to the story: duh!  Acts chapter 8 tells us about Simon the magician.  Simon had made a living by practicing magical arts before the gospel came to his town.  Many in his city heard the gospel and believed, including Simon.  But when he saw what happened when the apostles laid their hands on people, he saw an opportunity and went for it.  He did what many do: he tried to bribe God (through the apostles).  Here’s the outcome from Acts 8:18-22: When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”  Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!  You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God.  Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart.”

Have you ever tried to “bribe” God?  “Lord, if you’ll just get me out of this financial mess, I’ll tithe the rest of my life.”  “Lord, if you’ll heal my child of this disease, I’ll go to church every Sunday till I die.”  “Lord, if you’ll just give me through this battle alive, I’ll stop drinking and serve you the rest of my life.”  I’m ashamed to admit that I have tried to bribe Him.  The only problem is: God cannot be bribed – least of all by humans.

Both the man in the ER and Simon the magician were unclear on the concept.  Simon was not interested in bringing the Spirit to others but rather to gain the power and prestige of being able to do so for his own selfish motives.  Selfish motives are forever the bane of preachers and teachers.  We must remember that we cannot at the same time show how clever we are and how wonderful Christ is.  Christ must have the preeminence. 

Secondly, Simon forgot that not all gifts can be bought with money.  I may look at a birthday gift for my wife or children and buy it with money, but character cannot be bought.  Certain gifts are dependent on character.  It is impossible to bring the Spirit to others unless you first have the Spirit yourself. 

Are you clear on the concept that in all things Christ must be first and you must be last?   Be sure that in all things He is first in your life and that you put Him front and center so He (rather than you) is glorified!

PRAYER: Jesus, give us hearts that are content to yield all glory to you and to seek none for ourselves! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 2/21/18 – An Imitation of the Master

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DayBreaks for 2/21/18: An Imitation of the Master

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

So, how do you plan to spend your day today?  Did you create a “laundry list” of things that you need to get done or should do?  How’s it going so far?  Has the list gotten smaller or bigger as the day progressed?  How much time do you spend planning out your next day? 

It seems that no matter what I do or how meticulously I might try to plan things, it never seems to quite work out like I’d planned.  Perhaps that’s what the writer of Proverbs had in mind when he wrote in Proverbs 19:21 (NLT) – You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.  I think I’ve got my day all figured out, but NOT!  I often look at the things that come along in the course of a day as being unwelcome events…after all, I’ve got a plan and if I can just run it like clockwork, it’s the best thing, right?  Not really.  Why should I think that my well-laid plans are the best thing for me to do each day, or the best way to do them, or even that they’re the most important things to do on any given day? 

We need to learn to welcome interruptions.  Mark Buchanan says that the devil seeks to distract, but God seeks to interrupt, and how quickly we fall prey to Satan’s distractions but how we equally quickly grow oblivious to God’s interruptions.  Satan wants us to become distracted from God and godly things, but God wants to interrupt our schedules and plans with things which are more important.  Who am I to say that the interruption by the person in the next cubicle is not a portion of a God-directed plan for something greater than the accomplishment of my little plans?  Isn’t that perhaps what the writer of the Proverb was saying?

Jesus’ life was dominated by purpose – he came to offer his life as a ransom.  Reading the gospels, especially John, one gets the sense that Jesus entire life was spent moving towards Jerusalem and the cross.  And indeed, it was always his purpose.  But along the way, many things happened to him that we would consider interruptions.  It isn’t clear that Jesus kept anything like a detailed itinerary of his daily schedule.  In fact, his daily life seemed to be lived by interruption: a woman who touches his clothes and is healed, a dead son begin wept over by his mother, a dinner at a taxpayer’s house, a wedding feast in Cana, a leader of Roman soldiers who entreats him for a healing, little children who wanted to be held, storms on the sea, fishing with his buddies, questions from the scribes and Pharisees – and the list goes on virtually endlessly.  He always found time for telling stories, for people along the route to the cross who hadn’t scheduled a moment of his time. 

So what was Jesus’ secret and what dictated Jesus’ schedule?  How did he number his days aright?  Perhaps Jesus came the closest to answering that himself in Mt. 11:1-11, when he said, The wind blows wherever it pleases.  You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.  So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”  Jesus listened and watched the Spirit – and did what the Spirit directed.

Peter, after saying Jesus is the Lord of all, describes how Jesus spent his days: God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and…he went around doing good.  (Acts 10:36, 38) 

There you have it: the sum of Jesus’ earthly vocation is that he wandered and he blessed.  Jesus was a vagabond physician, the original doctor without borders.  His purpose was crystal clear – but his methods appear to be random.  Henri Nouwen observed something like this about his own life: “My whole life I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted until I discovered the interruptions were my work.”

PRAYER: May we discern Your interruptions, Lord, and may we go with You to do what You want us to do together.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/12/18 – The Spirit and the Wind

DayBreaks for 2/12/18: The Spirit and the Wind

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

John 3:8 (NIV) – The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

Without a doubt, the aspect of the Trinity that we know the least about would be the Spirit.  Even His name, “Spirit”, seems strange and mysterious to us compared to Father or Son.  We long to lay our eyes upon the Father and upon the Son, but how often have you heard anyone say, “I can’t wait until I see the Spirit!”

As you probably know, the word for Spirit in Greek is pneuma.  It’s translated as breath, wind, spirit.  In John 3:8, it is the word that Jesus uses when speaking of the Holy Spirit.  That just makes it all the more mysterious, don’t you think?  You cannot see the wind itself, but you can see its effects.  So it is with the Spirit.  Jesus says the wind blows where it decides to go, and so does the Spirit.  The wind can be gentle or powerful, so it is with the Spirit.  It is interesting to me, that in Genesis 1:2, the Spirit of God is introduced, and as the KJV puts it, “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” – just like the wind that moves over land and sea. 

I have been focusing a lot lately in my life on trying to see and perceive God more clearly though the things that He has created.  Sometimes my eyes are covered and I struggle to see Him in things, but at others, I wonder if I sometimes go a bit too far with my perceptions.  We live in a time when we have a scientific explanation for everything, where even the human genome has been fully mapped, where earthquakes are no longer believed to be an act of God (or the gods to the pagans), where eclipses are understood to be naturally occurring celestial events rather than a sign of displeasure from on high.  Solomon said that “to everything there is a season” but modern man in all our supposed wisdom, says “To everything there is an explanation.”  Something great has been lost, I fear.  Mystery has been subsumed by the mundane and de-mystified.

Here’s my point: what if, just for sake of conjecture, we were to think of the breeze, the wind as being the Spirit passing by instead of being caused by competing areas of high and low pressure in the atmosphere?  After all, the wind and Spirit are used interchangeably in some Biblical texts.  Maybe it isn’t just the movement of air molecules that brushes your face when you step outside today – maybe it’s the breath of the Spirit, or the caress of His hand as the Spirit moves around you. 

Would that not be a better way for us who are believers to think of the wind?  While I’m not possessed of enough wisdom and insight to know whether or not it is true, Scripture says that the Lord will never leave us – and where the Lord is, the Spirit is.  And if we were to start to think of the wind as the Spirit every time we sense the breeze, if we let it draw our thoughts to God would we not be better off than explaining it away as just the difference in atmospheric pressure?

PRAYER: Sometimes, Lord, we listen too much to science and not nearly enough to Your Spirit, that we confess is mysterious indeed to us.  Teach us through the things that You’ve created, capture our imaginations and hearts anew with the awe and wonder we once knew as little children, and direct our thoughts toward You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/8/17 – The Crushing Weight

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DayBreaks for 11/08/17: The Crushing Weight

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

How do you deal with pressure?  Some folks love it, others hate it.  Pressure can come from a variety of sources: it can be imposed from someone in authority telling you want to do and when it has to be done, or from having wasted precious time when you could have been working on something important.  It can be generated by the manipulative expectations of parents, children, spouses or friends.  We can generate our own pressure based on unreasonable and impossible expectations we place on ourselves.  Other pressures are more physical: that squeezing of the chest that indicates a heart attack or the weight of a car falling on top of you. 

The following comes from Sidney Greidanus’ book, Preaching Christ from Genesis: “The nuclear submarine Thresher had heavy steel bulkheads and heavy steel armor, so it could dive deep and withstand the pressure of the ocean.  Unfortunately, on a test run in 1963, the Thresher’s nuclear engine quit, and it could not get back to the surface.  It sank deeper and deeper into the ocean.  The pressure became immense.  The heavy steel bulkheads buckled; the Thresher was crushed with 129 people inside.

“The Navy searched for the Thresher with a research craft that was much stronger than submarines.  It was shaped like a steel ball and was lowered into the ocean on a cable.  They finally located the Thresher at a depth of 8,400 feet: one and a half miles down.  It was crushed like an egg shell.  That was not a surprise, for the pressure at that depth is tremendous—3,600 pounds per square inch.

“What was surprising to the searchers was that they saw fish at that great depth.  And these fish did not have inches of steel to protect them.  They appeared to have normal skin, a fraction of an inch thick.  How can these fish survive under all that pressure?  How come they are not crushed by the weight of the water?  They have a secret.  Their secret is that they have the same pressure inside themselves as they have on the outside.  Survival under pressure.

“John assures us, “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”  We will be victorious in the battle against Satan because Jesus poured his Spirit into our hearts.  “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

If we don’t have the Spirit functioning inside of us, we, like the Thresher, will be crushed by the enemy.  Alone, we are not able to sustain our lives under his relentless pressuring attacks.  Is it any wonder that we fail when we struggle against Satan in our own strength and wisdom?  We must be filled with the overflowing of the Spirit to survive, and not just to survive, but to thrive in our situation. 

Ephesians 3:14-19 (NIV) – For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

PRAYER: Daily, Lord, we are put under pressure to compromise and surrender the ground You’ve given us to protect.  Fill us up completely, so that not only are we equal to the pressure, but that the Spirit within us will flow out of each pore of our bodies and souls that Your glory and goodness may abound!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/27/17 – How Could He Not Have Sinned?

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DayBreaks for 10/27/17: How Could He Not Have Sinned?

Hebrews 4:15 (ESV) – For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Yesterday, I wrote about Peter’s denial and how God used stories like that to encourage us in our human weakness – not to encourage us to be weak – but to know that in spite of our failures He still loves us. We are just like Peter. There is only One who lived a sinless life.

So, how did Jesus do it? How did he manage to live sinlessly?

Philosophers and theologians like to debate subjects which may seem trivial at times. And they like to sound like they know what they’re talking about. My guess is that philosophers probably come closer to knowing what they are talking about because I’m not convinced that finite human minds can really begin to grasp God and His mysteries very well.

One such subject in the theological realm is the peccability of Christ. Peccability means “liable to sin, susceptible to temptation”. In a nutshell, the argument is about whether or not Christ could really have sinned. The NT is clear he was human: he had to learn, grow, he got hungry and tired, he ate, he was tempted just like us, he cried, he bled, he died. It is equally clear that he was God: “I and the Father are One”, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father”, etc.

So, if he wasn’t just half human and half divine, but fully human and fully divine, how could he have not sinned?

I think it must be the case that in his humanity he could have sinned, the divine nature was so much stronger (as one would expect) that he was able not to sin. It boils down, I think, to this: He was led by and in constant harmony with the Spirit that dwelt in him fully. And the strength of that Spirit because of Jesus’ walk in the Spirit was able to defeat every temptation.

And there’s the rub, isn’t it? Aren’t we supposed to have that same Spirit in us? Yes. So why don’t we live flawlessly? Because we are not in constant harmony with that Spirit. We don’t have the 100% God nature that Jesus had that enables him to overcome.

The secret to overcoming sin is to walk in the power of the Spirit. I wish I had a magic wand that would let me and you do that. My experience is that I’m not sufficiently in tune with the Spirit to overcome sin always – let alone often.

Should I despair over this sad state of affairs? Well, I certainly should repent when I fall and pray for the power of the Spirit to be unleashed more in my life, but I don’t think God wants us to despair over it. I believe that the same divine nature that was able to prevent sin in Jesus will, through the blood of Jesus, present me to God sinless and pure on the day of Judgment. And that’s something not to despair over, but to rejoice in!

PRAYER: Jesus, we all need to walk more in the power of Your Spirit. Mortify the fleshly desires that lead us into sin, and help us cry out for help when we are tempted rather than stifling Your power to keep us from sinning. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/06/16 – The Spirit Cries for a Refill

DayBreaks for 10/06/16 – The Spirit Cries for a Refill           

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

From BIZARRE NEWS: “How many times have you been enjoying a beer in your favorite bar or restaurant when you suddenly notice that your glass is empty! What to do? The waitress is nowhere to be seen and the bar is lined two deep with thirsty patrons clamoring for the bartender’s attention. Perspiration beads your brow as the anxiety of going three, four, even five minutes without another beer begins to gnaw on you.  

“What will happen? Will you die of thirst? Will you sober up?  But before speculation runs wild the waitress shows up at your table with a brand new, ice cold, frothy beer. Is she psychic? No. It turns out you have been drinking out of the latest in bar technology. The “Smart Glass.”  

“That’s right, folks. A Japanese electronics company has developed a hi-tech pint glass that tells bar staff when it needs refilling. The intelligent glass is fitted with a radio-frequency coil in its base that emits a signal to a receiver set in the table when it’s empty.  

“The iGlassware system works by coating each glass with a clear, conducting material, enabling it to measure exactly how much liquid has been sipped or guzzled. When empty, the glass sends an electronic cry for more beer from the table to waiters equipped with hand-held computers on frequencies similar to those used by mobile phones.  

“This is a huge advance in the science of drinking. Now patrons don’t even have to go through the inconvenience of ordering drinks. They can devote themselves entirely and single-mindedly to the task of destroying their livers.”

Well, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that some enterprising soul came up with such a product.  Here’s the good news as I see it: it will work with wonderful drinks like Dr. Pepper, too!  Imagine never having to wait for a Dr. Pepper refill again!  Yahoo!

But this intelligent glass is a poor imitation of the spirit that God has put inside of us that lets us know when we need more of Him (which is always!)  In Psalm 84:1-2, 10, the Psalmist put it this way: How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty. I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the LORD. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God…  A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.  

These are among my very favorite verses in Scripture.  There is something deep within us that longs for home, for perfection, for a place where only that which is perfect and whole and wholesome can be found.  I long for the day when I shall see the gates of the city and be ushered into His Presence!  I have a hunch that when it happens, I, like the Psalmist, will shout with a joy I’ve never felt before!  All the joy that we’ve ever felt in this world will be nothing compared to that joy, because here we know that joy is temporary, that just around the next corner lies more heartache and sadness.  Such will not be the case when we “enter the courts of the Lord”.  We will know that the joy we feel then will never diminish, but only grow greater and greater throughout all eternity.  You could take the joys of a thousand days lived on earth and it won’t compare to a single day in the courts of heaven.  Is it any wonder that the writer would be content to be the gatekeeper in God’s house than in a luxurious palace owned by the wicked?  Whatever joy they have will vanish with their last heartbeat, but the joy of the gatekeeper only begins with the last heartbeat. 

But there is a risk: it is difficult to live in the here-and-now as a fully engaged Christian if I think too much about the there-and-then existence in heaven.  The temptation to become escapist is huge.  I must trust that in the due course of time that I will enter those courts…and that it will have been far more than worth the wait.  Until then, my spirit cries out for a refill!

PRAYER: Let my heart long for only you, Lord!  Fill us anew with faith, courage, hope and trust!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/11/16 – Spirit Signs

DayBreaks for 5/11/16 – Spirit Signs

As the story goes, a little girl was visiting her grandmother one beautiful spring morning. They walked out into her grandmother’s flower garden. As grandmother was inspecting the progress of her flowers the little girl decided to try to open a rosebud with her own two hands. But no luck! As she would pull the petals open, they would tear or bruise or wilt or break off completely. Finally, in frustration, she said, “Gramma, I just don’t understand it at all. When God opens a flower, it looks so beautiful but when I try, it just comes apart.” “Well, honey,” Grandmother answered, “There’s a good reason for that. God is able to do it because He works from the inside out!”

God works from the inside out. That is the great message of Pentecost Sunday, isn’t it? This is what the disciples finally came to understand at Pentecost. Jesus had ascended into heaven. And He had told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit.

Here is where the story of Pentecost picks up. The disciples are back in the Upper Room waiting and wondering and some of them likely were grumbling impatiently and nervously. “What in the world are we doing here? All this waiting around is driving me up the wall! There’s no use. He’s gone and without Him, we are nothing. It’s over! We’d just as well face it. What is this Holy Spirit business anyway? Maybe we misunderstood Him!”

Maybe just then they heard a sound. The breath of God began to blow on that place like the rush of a mighty wind. Images of fire danced around them. Suddenly, their fear was gone, replaced by peace and confidence, courage and strength and unity and they began to speak and communicate the word of God boldly and amazingly people from all different backgrounds heard and responded and 3,000 people were converted that day.

It’s interesting to note that the three classic symbols for the Holy Spirit in the Bible remind us of how God works through us and how God works from the inside out. Do you remember what they are? The three traditional symbols of the Holy Spirit in the Bible: Breath: the symbol of Life. Fire: the symbol of Power. The descending dove: the symbol of Peace.

Are those three things visible in your life? Do people around you see the Spirit at work within you?

PRAYER: Jesus, may be know the Breath of Life, the Fire of the Spirit, and the Peace that comes from You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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