DayBreaks for 11/17/17 – Win the War, Lose the Victory

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DayBreaks for 11/17/17: Win the War, Lose the Victory

NOTE: Galen is traveling…again.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

There are 79 countries around the world that have a problem with unexploded landmines.  Over 110 million unexploded landmines lie buried in these countries.  There are estimated to be 37 million unexploded mines in Africa, Angola alone has 10 million, with 70,000 amputee children.  A landmine can remain deadly for up to 50 years. 

Gideon is a fascinating character in the Old Testament.  As one of Israel’s judges (more is written about him in the book of Judges than any other character) he defeated 120,000 of the enemy with 300 men armed only with pitchers, ram’s horns for trumpets and lanterns.  Pretty heady stuff.  But he’s also known as the man who asked God for a fleece, even after he’d already been told by God what He was going to do and after God had already given him another sign.  In fact, Gideon had at least 4 signs from God before the battle began!  Still…his name is in the roll call of the great people of faith in Hebrews 11, and mine isn’t!

But what happened after the battle is what is often overlooked.  Gideon had started out fearful and humble.  God won a great victory over the enemies of Israel through Gideon.  And after the battle and its immediate aftermath, Gideon seems to have lost some perspective.  He acted in a very vindictive manner against the foreign kings and against the people of the tribe of Gad.  He told the people that he wouldn’t be king, but that the Lord would rule over them, but there’s no indication that he ever called the nation to repentance and worship of the one true God.  He started living as if he were a king…and in fact, he named one of his sons, Abimelech, which means “my father is king”.  He was wealthy and seems to have grown a bit lackadaisical.  Abimelech was one of 70 sons born to Gideon, and he wound up murdering his 69 brothers.

At the end of the battle, it appears that all will end well with Gideon, that he’s now a solid man with his head screwed on straight.  But there were landmines in his heart and in the things that surrounded him.  And clearly, judging by the results to his family, the dangers of war linger long after the last battle had taken place.  Heroes in battle are not always heroes in everyday life. 

Presbyterian pastor Andrew Bonar wisely said, “Let us be as watchful after the victory as before the battle.”  We have been given a great victory by the Lord our God – victory over death, over sin, over the old man and even victory over the enemy of our souls.  But, let’s not forget that there are plenty of landmines out there waiting for a wayward step.  We need to be watchful. 

No matter who you are, moral laxness will cause problems.  Just because you have won a single battle with temptation does not mean you will automatically win the next one.  We need to be constantly watchful against temptation.  Sometimes Satan’s strongest attacks come after a victory.

Psalms 60:12 (NIV) With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.

PRAYER: Lord, we are grateful for what You have done for us and through us.  Thank You for the victories – great and small, that we experience because of You.  Help us to watch our step and be ever alert, for even though the war is won, we don’t want to lose victories along the way.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 11/10/17 – Come, Sit With Me

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DayBreaks for 11/10/17: Come, Sit With Me

NOTE: Galen is traveling.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Today I’m just going to share this story told by Larry Crabb in his book, The Pressure’s Off (2002):

One Saturday afternoon, I decided I was a big boy and could use the bathroom without anyone’s help.  So I climbed the stairs, closed and locked the door behind me, and for the next few minutes felt very self-sufficient.

Then it was time to leave. I couldn’t unlock the door.  I tried with every ounce of my three-year-old strength, but I couldn’t do it.  I panicked. I felt again like a very little boy as the thought went through my head, “I might spend the rest of my life in this bathroom.”

My parents—and likely the neighbors—heard my desperate scream.

“Are you okay?” Mother shouted through the door she couldn’t open from the outside.  “Did you fall? Have you hit your head?”

“I can’t unlock the door!” I yelled.  “Get me out of here!”

I wasn’t aware of it right then, but Dad raced down the stairs, ran to the garage to find the ladder, hauled it off the hooks, and leaned it against the side of the house just beneath the bedroom window.  With adult strength, he pried it open, then climbed into my prison, walked past me, and with that same strength, turned the lock and opened the door.

“Thanks, Dad,” I said—and ran out to play.

That’s how I thought the Christian life was supposed to work.  When I get stuck in a tight place, I should do all I can to free myself.  When I can’t, I should pray.  Then God shows up. He hears my cry—”Get me out of here!  I want to play!”—and unlocks the door to the blessings I desire.

Sometimes he does.  But now, no longer three years old and approaching sixty, I’m realizing the Christian life doesn’t work that way.  And I wonder, are any of us content with God?  Do we even like him when he doesn’t open the door we most want opened—when a marriage doesn’t heal, when rebellious kids still rebel, when friends betray, when financial reverses threaten our comfortable way of life, when the prospect of terrorism looms, when health worsens despite much prayer, when loneliness intensifies and depression deepens, when ministries die?

God has climbed through the small window into my dark room.  But he doesn’t walk by me to turn the lock that I couldn’t budge.  Instead, he sits down on the bathroom floor and says, “Come sit with me!”  He seems to think that climbing into the room to be with me matters more than letting me out to play.

I don’t always see it that way.  “Get me out of here!” I scream.  “If you love me, unlock the door!”

Dear friend, the choice is ours.  Either we can keep asking him to give us what we think will make us happy—to escape our dark room and run to the playground of blessings—or we can accept his invitation to sit with him, for now, perhaps, in darkness, and to seize the opportunity to know him better and represent him well in this difficult world.

PRAYER: Lord, let us sit with You today and not run off into some other less beneficial and joyful activity.  May we find in You our greatest joy! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/18/17 – Living With an Intruder

DayBreaks for 9/18/17 – Living With an Intruder

Normally, I try to hold DayBreaks to a spiritual bent.  While today’s message is about spiritual things, it’s also about physical things.  Dick Peterson and his wife, Elizabeth, have been married for 37 years and they live in South Carolina.  They are fellow Christians, and today I’m sharing some of Dick’s writings.  For a number of years now, they have been living with an intruder: Elizabeth has MS.  This is just a part of the article, but I found it to be profound and thought-provoking.  It has certainly caused me to do some soul searching of my own.  I think that you may benefit from the part of it that I’m including.  You seldom find such gut-wrenching and soul-searching honesty. – Galen

“We both pray for healing.  With our families and our church, we agonize before God for a return to the day when Elizabeth can offer an open handshake instead of a permanently clenched fist, or take a flight of stairs without thought.

“But if we only grieve the loss, we miss the gain—that what this disease does to us may also be done for us.  Even as the MS steals abilities from Elizabeth’s life, a healing grows almost undetected inside.  When we talk about this, Elizabeth wonders aloud, “Did it really take this to teach me that my soul is more important to God than my body?”

“And I ask, “Is this what Jesus meant when he taught his disciples to serve?  When he washed their feet, did he look 2,000 years into the future and see me washing my wife’s clothes and helping her onto her shower seat to bathe?  Did it really take this to teach me compassion?”

“Could it be that God in his wisdom and love gives Elizabeth and me this disease to heal us from the inside out in ways he considers far more important than how efficiently nerve signals travel from her brain to her muscles?

“Whom do I love more?

“God’s healing can be sneaky.  We pray that Elizabeth will resume her old life; he wants her to assume a new life.  We long for change on the outside; he desires change on the inside.  We pray for what we want; he answers with what he knows we need.

“Is it wrong to want a whole, functioning body?  Not at all.  But though we focus naturally on the flesh, this disease compels Elizabeth and me to turn our minds to the Spirit.  The apostle Paul said, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6, NASB).  How unexpected is that?

“Truth be told, Elizabeth and I are still learning the realities of that revelation.  She tells me that when she had no choice but to submit to multiple sclerosis, she learned how to submit to her Lord.

“And he has made me question whom it is I love.

“When I pray for healing, is it for Elizabeth?  Or is it because her healing would make life so much easier for me?  I challenge, “Aren’t you the God who heals?  I love her and I want her well.”  But in the back of my mind I know I also want her healed for me.

“In response to my challenge, Jesus asks me as he asked Peter, “Do you love me more than these?”  I think, He wants me to love him more than my wife?  So I reply with Peter’s words, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.”

“Tend My lambs” (John 21:15), he tells me.

“I care for Elizabeth.  She’s his lamb.  Doesn’t that show I love him?

“But what is he really asking?  He’s asking if I love him more than these things I say I want, the things I’d have if this disease would just go away.  Now my answer’s not nearly as glib.  Can I actually love God more than my wife, but not more than these things I say I want?  They’re not bad things: a happy, healthy life together, a stroll on the beach without a wheelchair to become bogged down in the sand, getting to church on time because she can dress herself.

“The exposure shames me.  Do I love him more than these?” – Dick Peterson, Christianity Today/Marriage Partnership Magazine, 2007

PRAYER:  Father, I am humbled by this couple and the lessons you’ve been teaching them, and us through them.  These questions gnaw at my inner being.  I can’t answer them, and although I can’t find the answers in myself, Lord, You know…You alone know how I would react, and whether or not I love you “more than these.”  Hear our humble confession and help us to learn what love truly means and does.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 8/23/17 – On Rough Water, #2

DayBreaks for 8/23/17: On Rough Water #2

Matthew 14:26-31 (ESV) – But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Why did Peter sink? Of course, we know the answer because the passage tells us. He was afraid when he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the wind. So let’s not waste time on that question when I think there’s a better question to ask.

Why does Peter call out to Jesus? If Peter really was a man of little faith (as Jesus says), why did he call out to Jesus? In what way had Peter demonstrated a lack of faith? After all, he’d stepped out of the boat, walked on the water, and when he got in trouble, he called out to Jesus! All of those things cry out “faith!” to me, and probably to you, too. So, why would he have called out to Jesus if he didn’t have faith that Jesus could do something about his sinking situation?

On Sunday, I think I heard an answer. It wasn’t a question of whether nor not Jesus could do something. All Peter had to do was look at Jesus walking securely on the water to know that Jesus could do anything he wanted to do! I think that is was a question of whether or not Jesus would do something. It wasn’t a question of ability but of willingness. Peter wasn’t sure that Jesus would be willing to save him. Why? Not sure, but I suspect it revolved around several things: 1) Peter knew he had in some sense “failed” because he was sinking; 2) Peter wasn’t sure enough about Jesus’ love for him given not just this failure, but others that Peter and Jesus were certainly aware of.

I believe Peter had all the faith in the world about Jesus’ ability, but like us, he’s prone to doubt Jesus’ willingness after we’ve blown it yet again. After all the promises to God to never to that thing again – we do it. After all the times when we’ve thought evil thoughts, after all the times we’ve failed tests that God has sent our way…we don’t believe that Jesus loves us enough to help. And that is why Jesus says Peter is a man of little faith.

Do you see it? When we doubt that Jesus could possibly love us enough, we’re being just like Peter. We’re expressing lack of faith not in Jesus’ ability, but his willingness to save a “wretch like me”.

So what does Jesus do when Peter cried out: immediately he reached out and grabbed Peter. Will we learn from that, will we come to believe that Jesus loves us enough to reach out to us in spite of our bazillion failures? Peter came to believe it. I hope we do, too.  

PRAYER: Lord, when we are tempted to doubt that you love us enough to rescue sinking people like us, remind us of your willingness to bear the awful crucifixion for us. Whenever we begin to doubt that you could possibly still love us in spite of our failures, let us remember the lengths you went to in order to show us your endless and immeasurable love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/05/17 – What To Do With Believers

DayBreaks for 6/05/17: What to Do With Believers

First, let me say that 20 years ago yesterday (6/04/97) marked the first ever DayBreaks. I thought about re-sharing the first DayBreaks I ever sent out, but decided against it. Instead, I just want to say this: I never expected DayBreaks would last so long. There have been times I’ve debated whether or not it was time to stop, but I never sensed a clear direction from the Lord to do that, so for now, we’ll continue on. But even more than that, I’ve come to love many of you who have written over the years, shared parts of your life (good and bad) with me as you wrote and told me your stories. I am humbled and honored at your trust. In addition, some of my best friends have come through DayBreaks – and I shall cherish our friendship and relationship as long as I live. Thank you to all who have shared this journey with me!

From the DayBreaks archive, June 5 ,2007:

An article I recently read by Mark Buchanan made an interesting observation about Jonah chapter 1 and Acts, chapters 27 and 28.  Both of those passages tell the story of a God-worshipper who is on board a ship, surrounded by unbelievers.  In both cases, a violent storm blows up on the sea and the “mighty ship was tossed” (to borrow a line from Gilligan’s Island!)  So severe was the storm in both cases, that the crew reached a conclusion that they would rather have not reached: all the cargo on the ship would need to be thrown overboard.  It wasn’t a case of their profits going up in smoke, but of their profits going down to Davey Jones’ locker.  But, at least in the case of Jonah, he was considered “cargo”.  Somehow, the pagans felt this disaster in the making was due to someone who had offended the gods, and Jonah was singled out. 

Remember: Jonah is on board because he’s fleeing from God.  When confronted by the pagan sailors, he’s boastful about himself and disdainful toward them.  As it turns out, there’s only one way for those pagans to survive the storm: they have to get rid of the God-worshiper – they have to throw him overboard.  And they do just that.

Not so in Acts.  There, the apostle Paul is on board the ship precisely because he has been following God.  He’s a prisoner of Rome, on his way via ship to be tried in front of Caesar, but even more important, he’s a man on a mission sent from heaven, who has been being obedient to that calling.  When the pagan sailors panic, Paul is wise, humble, and helpful – quite the opposite of his predecessor, Jonah.  Paul lets those terrified shipmates know that he cares deeply for them.  It turns out, there’s only one way for those pagans to survive the storm: they have to put the God-worshiper, the one who showed concern for them, in charge.

The point that Buchanan draws is this: the more that we genuinely care for the people in this storm-wracked world—the less we boast and denounce, the more we bless and serve—the more they will let us – and the Jesus we serve – into their lives and lives and souls will be redeemed and saved!

PRAYER: May we be the kind of God worshippers that You are pleased with.  May we answer Your call, may we be meek and humble, may we care and not denounce unnecessarily!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/17/17 – The Immanent or the Greater

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DayBreaks for 5/17/17: The Immanent or the Greater

Thanks to some writing by Mark Labberton, I’ve been fascinated again with the childhood story of Shadrach, Mescheh and Abednego.  I shared some insights in a DayBreaks before, but here’s one a friend had that I think is worth sharing.

I wrote before about how these young men had to discern the real danger when confronted with the choice of worshipping the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had built.  They had to decide for themselves if the greatest danger was in bowing down and worshipping the idol or in not worshipping the real and living God. 

As Hebrews, these three had been well versed in the 10 commandments, and I’m sure, could easily recite them by heart.  So, for them to truly be tempted to worship an idol, well, it probably wasn’t really a temptation for them at all.  Saving their lives might have been a temptation, but they certainly knew it was wrong to worship an idol.  But, here’s the thing: they believed that worshipping anything other than Yahweh was a greater risk and danger than worshipping the idol, however sometimes the immediate or immanent danger seems greater than the far off danger.  Even though they knew what was right and wrong, and they knew in their hearts that failure to be true to Yahweh was the greater danger, the heat from the fire was pressing against their skin, making itself felt RIGHT NOW, and the danger from not worshipping Yahweh probably seemed a long way off.

We are often tempted to compromise for a couple of reasons: we want immediate pleasure rather than delayed gratification, or we want to avoid the immediacy of pain and suffering.  The latter is just as dangerous as the first – and both can be deadly.

Is there some immediate suffering that you can foresee in your life that you’ve been wrestling with and trying to avoid by some compromise?  Are you thinking that you can set the record straight with God at some later point?  That’s very dangerous reasoning.  Remember the words of the writer to the Hebrews: (Hebrews 10:31, NLT) It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

PRAYER: In our foolishness, Lord, we often forget that it may be better to suffer now than to fall into Your hands later.  Give us courage and open our eyes to understand that just because one kind of suffering may be more immediate, that it doesn’t mean it is the greatest suffering we could encounter.  Let us have no other gods before You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 5/09/17 – The Believer’s Definitive Question

DayBreaks for 5/09/17: The Believer’s Definitive Question

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

So you struggle with being faithful. Join the crowd.  I don’t know a single person who doesn’t struggle with obedience, and even with their faith itself, from time to time.  It’s normal – and I think, at least to a certain extent – it is healthy to at least question faith once in a while to be certain that we don’t grow stale and complacent.  We need not fear the testing of faith.  There is greater danger in an untested faith when the time of trial comes.

There seems to be something about us humans that is a lot like a moth: we like to dance close to the flame.  In our case, it is the flame of temptation.  We seem to be drawn to certain things as individuals, and while it may vary from person to person, even as Christians we seem drawn to the flame.  The flame represents that which is familiar to us, something we’ve grown accustomed to and we find it to be predictable.  But, like the moth, we forget that the flame can burn us and kill us.  It’s a very dangerous place to be.

Still, many people show a tendency to get close to the flame of old temptations once again.  And not only do we have that tendency, we show an eagerness for it when we ask the question (when we clearly know the answer more often than not): “Would it be wrong for me to do this?” 

In his book, Grace Walk, Steve McVey suggests that the definitive question for the believer shouldn’t be whether or not we can do something, but instead, Am I abiding in Christ at this moment?  An unsaved person evaluates behavior on the basis of right and wrong, but the lifestyle of a Christian is to flow from the activity of Christ.  McVey’s point is that we have Christ in us and we are in him – so why would we even want to dance close to the flame?  Somehow, I can’t picture Christ walking around asking “Would it be wrong for me to do this?”, can you?  I think rather, he’d be focused on abiding in the Father’s love and not thinking about doing wrong, but about doing good. 

John 9:4 (NLT) – All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, because there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end.

PRAYER: Lord, we know that we are to abide in You, to let you live Your life through us.  It’s hard to give up our own life, even to One as powerful as Your Spirit.  Help us to have the mind of Jesus that is concerned about abiding in Your love and acting out of that love for the world.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.