DayBreaks for 7/18/16 – RX for a World Torn Apart

DayBreaks for 7/18/16 – RX For a World Torn Apart

From our Sunday worship bulletin (and some of my own input, too):

Whatever comes out of these dates, we’ve got a better chance of survival if we work together. Do you understand? If we stay together, we survive. – Maximus

This quote is from the movie, “Gladiator,” and the context is gladiators coming together to fight a common enemy. I love the quote because it’s a great illustration for the church. If the church works together, if it stays together, then whatever common enemy we face, we can survive. Now, Jesus said He would build His church, and therefore the church at large is not going to disappear. We’re here to stay. Still, the church, in this age, can certainly be threatened. There are enemies which would seek to eliminate it. So, the church is in a definite battle. There is spiritual warfare going on.

Who is the enemy? The apostle John instructs the church to …not love the world or things in the world. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world. (1 John 2:15-16) In this context, we get a glimpse that the enemy is, in some ways, our own sinful desire. The apostle Peter also says, Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8) The enemy is the devil, and it’s the world around us, made up of sinful people, including us. My contention is often the enemy (regardless of who or what it is) threatens to pull us apart, isolate us from one another, and bring us to disunity.

This is a huge issue, not just for the church but for our nation. But what’s so scary about it for the church is that it’s often subtle. We can easily testify Jesus is our Lord and Savior, and our lives can be isolated from one another. We are not working together or staying together. We may have gotten to the point, in which we understand we even need to be together.

So, what do I mean “to be together”? Well, we’re in relationship with others in the church, those who know us, including some of our struggles. Yes, that’s scary, and there are a lot of challenges with that. Still, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek it out. Why? Because we need one another. To walk this journey of faith, which is hard enough, I’m convinced we can’t do it on our own. We need the church. We need to be in relationship with God’s people, and that’snot just your name on a roll.

The enemy is at the gates. If we’re to stay together, as a church, as a nation, if we’re to work together, we must first be together. United we stand and survive, divided we fall.

PRAYER: Jesus, in an age characterized by anonymity, isolation and texting instead of face-to-face conversations, it’s easy for us to withdraw, to not be together with others. Let us learn from your example that you didn’t text us from heaven, but you came to BE with us. Create that desire in us to be with others, to risk the relationships, so we can work together in peace and harmony. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 3/14/16 – We Walked Together

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DayBreaks for 3/14/16: We Walked Together

NOTE: Galen will be traveling for the next 10 days or so. You will be receiving messages from the DayBreaks archive during that time!  From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

Psalm 55:1-14 (NLT) – Listen to my prayer, O God. Do not ignore my cry for help! Please listen and answer me, for I am overwhelmed by my troubles. My enemies shout at me, making loud and wicked threats. They bring trouble on me, hunting me down in their anger. My heart is in anguish. The terror of death overpowers me. Fear and trembling overwhelm me. I can’t stop shaking. Oh, how I wish I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest. I would fly far away to the quiet of the wilderness. How quickly I would escape— far away from this wild storm of hatred. Destroy them, Lord, and confuse their speech, for I see violence and strife in the city. Its walls are patrolled day and night against invaders, but the real danger is wickedness within the city. Murder and robbery are everywhere there; threats and cheating are rampant in the streets. It is not an enemy who taunts me— I could bear that. It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me— I could have hidden from them. Instead, it is you—my equal, my companion and close friend. What good fellowship we enjoyed as we walked together to the house of God.

Many see reference in verses 12-14 of the betrayal of Christ by Judas, and perhaps it is rightly so.  However, verse 13 makes that seem difficult – certainly Judas was not an equal to Christ, even if he did sit in the place of the intimate friend at the last supper.  Perhaps that’s just my own hang-up: we are joint heirs with Christ and will inherit all things with Him, He is our elder brother – we are related by blood – His blood – and we bear His image (as defaced as it may be in us from time to time.)  He calls us “friend”, not “slave” or “servant.”  Those things, as incredible as it may sound, speak of equality – an equality that is not based on inherent worth, but worth imputed to us by a gracious Father through the blood of the Lamb.

While it may be that we should see Judas in verse 13 and the bitterness of the betrayal, I think I again more properly see here Messianic language: verses 4-5 seems to speak of the agony of the Garden where the terror of death and what was about to come to pass was becoming a crushing weight on Jesus’ spirit.  Verse 6 reminds me of Revelation, where the woman who gives birth to the child flees to the wilderness, a place of quiet and safety, prepared beforehand by God for her.  The Israelites fled to the wilderness in their exodus – and because God was there with them, it was a place of relative safety for them, in spite of their many rebellions.  As Christ hung on the cross, did he see the city of Jerusalem (vs. 9) that had become full of violence that had led to the slaughter of the Lamb of God?  (I must admit that I struggle with how the first part of verse 9 fits!)  The city was walled…and history showed that it would not fall to the Romans until 70 AD, but the fall had already started and was sure to happen because of the wickedness inside.  Murder (the killing of the innocent Lamb), the religious leaders robbing God of His due (both worship and the blood money that was paid to Judas belonged to God and they’d stolen both from Him), all were visible to His tear-filled eyes.  Yet, Jesus knew it was not his enemy who was afflicting him (vs. 12), but rather that He was smitten by God for our sins and offenses!  How he must have longed to walk in equality again to the house of God, side by side with the Father, freed from the humiliation of the fleshly nature that he bore to the cross!

The range of emotions that must have flowed through Christ on the cross is incomprehensible.  Perhaps it is best that we are spared the knowledge of most of what went through his mind – except for the few utterances that passed his lips.  Yet, lest we make him too human and not enough God, we shouldn’t speculate too far.  He died very quickly – as far as crucifixion goes.  Indeed, as verse 8 hints, he did escape quickly by dismissing his Spirit into the hands of the Father.  Certainly, this world is enveloped in a raging storm of hatred and Christ experienced it more than anyone else ever has.  This is such a humbling passage – it cuts to my heart.

TODAY’S PRAYER:  Jesus, how I wonder about all the thoughts that went through your mind as you hung suspended between heaven and earth.  Did you think about me?  What did you think of when my name flashed through your mind?  What do you think of me today, Lord?  Are you pleased with me?  Reveal to us your thoughts and direction for our lives.  How we long to walk together with you into the House of God!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/16/15 – Pick Up the Baby

DayBreaks for 12/16/15: Pick Up the Baby

Do you remember when you came home from the hospital with your first baby? I do. We were young – oh, so young – and neither of us really knew what to do with a crying baby. We were clear across the country from our parents and as the baby howled, we were at a loss what to do. Even at the hospital when the nurse placed the baby in my wife’s arms as we were ready to drive away (no car seats back then that I can recall!), my wife started crying as we drove off, eeking out the words between sobs: “I don’t know how to take care of a baby!” Fortunately, a truly gracious and wonderful older woman from church came to our rescue!

Sam Levenson tells a wonderful story about the birth of his first child. The first night home the baby would not stop crying. His wife frantically flipped through the pages of Dr. Spock to find out why babies cry and what to do about it. Since Spock’s book is rather long, the baby cried a long time. Grandma was in the house, but since she had not read the books on childrearing, she was not consulted. The baby continued to cry. Finally, Grandma could be silent no longer. “Put down the book,” she told her children, “and pick up the baby.”

Good advice. Put down the book and pick up the baby. Spend time with your children. Particularly at Christmastime. We have the mistaken notion that good parents give their children lots of things. Wrong.

In a survey done of fifteen thousand schoolchildren the question was asked, “What do you think makes a happy family?” When the kids answered, they didn’t list a big house, fancy cars, or new video games as the source of happiness. The most frequently given answer was “doing things together.”

Will you give that most precious gift to your family this year? Forget about all the fancy, expensive presents. Time together as a  family is truly priceless…and it echoes the truth of the Incarnation as well!

PRAYER: Jesus, still our hearts and open our eyes to the priceless gift you’ve given us of our families, loved ones and friends. Thank you for them! Let us be resolved to spend quality time in the midst of these most amazing gifts this year and be a little less concerned about batteries, bikes and video games. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2015 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 8/27/15 – The Power of Together

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DayBreaks for 8/27/15: The Power of Together

From the DayBreaks archive, 8/29/2005:

It hasn’t been that long – you may remember it. A few years back a tremendous human drama played out above and below ground in the Quecreek mine in Pennsylvania.  A group of miners were drilling in a coal mine shaft. Unbeknownst to them, their map was wrong. They believed that they were hundreds of feet away from an old mine shaft that had long ago been flooded.  As their drill bit broke through into the flooded shaft, millions of gallons of water began pouring into the mine where they were working. The water filled the lower section of the shaft and cut off their escape route to the surface. They were trapped in a cold, totally dark mine shaft. 

I probably would have totally freaked out – I am claustrophobic, and one of my worst nightmares is to be trapped somewhere. But these men decided early on that they would live or die as a group. They wouldn’t split up, taking their chances as individuals. Whatever their fate held, they would face it together.  And so days passed while rescue teams drilled a new hole through which the men might be rescued. As they huddled together in the cold, dark wetness of the shaft, when one member became too cold, they would all huddle around that man and hold them until they warmed up, and then they’d take turns warming others. 

Eventually, the rescuers managed to reach the men and they were all rescued from several hundred feet underground. The rescue was shown on television.  It took place at night, as I recall, when the first miners were brought up to the surface, soaked, dirty, but very, very happy to be alive. I was very moved by the images of the men coming up out of that dark pit.

As Christians there are powerful lessons in what happened to these men. 

FIRST: it’s important to have the right map. If they’d not had an incorrect map, they wouldn’t have ever drilled the hole that let the water in. We can easily look for direction in the wrong places. Guidance must come from a reliable source.  If you want truth, you must turn to the Truth.

SECOND: there was power in the men staying together. It’s easy to think that we can go it alone and survive. And in fact, rather than binding together as people who are going through an ordeal (make no doubt about it, we are living in a very serious and deadly situation), we often turn on one another and are more interested in scoring points rather than survival and helping one another live. 

THIRD: waiting must be extremely hard to do when you are in a flooded tunnel with a diminishing air supply in total darkness. Yet these men realized that their best chance for survival was to stick together and wait for rescue to come. They could have untied themselves and tried in vain to swim through the pitch-black tunnels in search of the exit – and they would have drowned, almost certainly. As Christians, we need to tie and bind ourselves together with the love of the Lord, helping one another survive until the Rescuer from above appears.  Scripture is full of admonitions to persevere, to wait upon the Lord and His time and will. 

Romans 8:23-25 – Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

PRAYER: God, help us love one another truly from the heart and be united in love and by the family ties that bind us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.