DayBreaks for 1/16/18 – The Prescription for an Untroubled Heart

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DayBreaks for 1/16/18: The Prescription for an Untroubled Heart

John 14:1(ESV) – Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.

Troubled hearts are everywhere. My guess is you have something that is troubling your heart. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t. Scripture tells us to not be anxious – but just like this verse from Jesus, that’s far easier to say than to do. So how do we go about getting an untroubled heart?

Believe in God; believe also in me. Seven simple words, the longest consisting of just seven letters and two syllables. So how does it work?

First, think about what is troubling your heart. Is it fear of illness? Loss of job or home? A child who is in rebellion? A marriage that is falling apart? Ability to pay the bills? My guess is that you can come up with several things. It really doesn’t matter what it is, the cause of troubled hearts is found in this passage, this one little verse. Our hearts are troubled when we believe that God doesn’t know, care, or is powerless and indifferent to do anything. It is much harder to believe in someone or something you can’t see (like God), so Jesus makes it much more personal (“believe also in me”). The disciples had seen, touched and smelled Jesus and had seen his care and concern.

The hard part, of course, is always that we do not know what God will specifically do in any given situation. Will he heal? Will be lose our job? Will we go broke? Will someone die? Will the company be sold or go under? I don’t know the answers to those questions in my own life, let alone yours. But if our faith is based on some specific action that God will do, rather than His character and His promise to make all things work for our good, we aren’t really trusting or believing in God.

We need to also believe in His power. If I were to say to you, “Believe in Galen, believe in me for a trouble-free heart!” would you take that advice to heart? I would hope not! I have neither the power to fix what’s troubling you nor the wisdom to make sure that whatever is going on in your life will work out for your good and not harm. God, and Jesus, however, have both the power to fix it but also the wisdom to know whether or not it would be good for you if they fixed it in the way you want them to fix it.

It’s still easier said than done. But the key is to believe in God and in Jesus. Believe in their power, but even more in their wisdom to do what is right. No matter what happens in life, that is the key to a trouble-free heart.

PRAYER: Lord, we all need to heed your advice to us because our hearts are all troubled! Help us, we pray, to believe in You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 1/15/18 – It Is Finished..It Is Just Beginning

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DayBreaks for 1/15/18: It Is Finished…It Is Just Beginning

John 19:30 (ESV) – When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
I honestly don’t know if there are three more poignant words than those three that fell from the lips of Jesus with his dying breath. “It is finished!” Matthew and Mark record that Jesus cried out in a loud voice but don’t tell us what he said. Luke says that Jesus cried out loudly, Father, into your hands I commit my spirit…and then died. I’m not disturbed by this “disconnect” at all and I could see Jesus having said those final two statements in any order.

While I won’t for a second presume to know what was in the mind of Jesus at that moment, I will venture a guess. We know from his evening in the garden that he was dreading the crucifixion that loomed just ahead. He didn’t want to have to go through it, but we are told that he “joyfully” endured the cross and its torments for us. It is possible that Jesus was referring to the suffering (which none of us can imagine) that he had endured for hours suspended between sky and ground. Who could blame him if that’s what was on his mind? That being said, I think that was the least of the reasons for his shout from the cross.

I tend to think that there was something much more significant in his heart that led to those words, It is finished! I suspect it was more about the following:

FIRST: rather than focusing on the pain, I think he was focused on the reason behind the pain – the price for sin needed to be paid and now it had been paid in full. The sacrifice was finished. The separation of God from man was no longer inevitable.

SECOND: the rule of death that had held sway from the death of the very first human was finished. The stench of eternal death was swept away with the dying breath of Jesus as he cried out.

THIRD: the power of Satan to claim human souls was finished – at least for those who would accept the One who made the sacrifice. Satan could no longer demand the souls of every human being.

FOURTH: the power of a law that could condemn and convict us of sin but which could never be kept or save was shattered and washed away by the blood he’d shed establishing a new covenant.

FINALLY: the ordeal of the incarnation was finished for all practical purposes. There seems to be something quite different about Jesus in his resurrection body. The humiliation of God becoming man was finished. We have no record of Jesus ever being tempted again after his resurrection as he was in his pre-cruficixion days. He seems to have begun to take back some of the glory of his pre-incarnate state with the blinding light of the resurrection morning, the ability to appear and disappear at will, and to ascend into the clouds.

I suppose it is a combination of the above that led to Jesus’ cry. And while that was finished, something new as beginning: the ability for humans to be sinless in God’s eyes, the ability for humans to be reunited with God. While all those things ended with Jesus’ words, for humanity it was just the beginning. We have been given a new chance, a new hope, and new life – and new we must begin to live like citizens of the Light and not of darkness any longer.

How are you doing with that?

PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, for finishing what you came to do. Help us to live up to the new beginning you died to give us! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/12/18 – The Reaper’s Approach

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DayBreaks for 1/12/18: The Reaper’s Approach

From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:

From Bizarre News, 1/3/08:

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Doctors at a Providence, R.I., nursing home say a cat that keeps the patients company seems to be able to predict their deaths.  Staff at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center said the 2-year-old feline, named Oscar, will go into the room of a patient whose end is near, curl up next to them and purr, WebMD reported Thursday.  David Dosa, who submitted an essay on the cat to The New England Journal of Medicine — which published the paper Thursday — said the vigilant cat has been present for the deaths of more than 25 residents and often serves as a fill-in for family members who cannot be present at their loved one’s bedside. 

“As people would pass, the question (among staff) was always, ‘Was Oscar at the bedside?'” Dosa said.  “And the answer was invariably ‘yes.’  This is an end-stage dementia unit.  Deaths are common.” 

As for how the cat knows when a patient is near death, experts say there are a number of possibilities ranging from sense of smell to mimicking the behavior of  

humans who care for the dying patients. 

Isn’t it interesting how animals have such perceptive abilities?  Animals have been known to recognize an impending earthquake before they happen.  During the massive tsunami a few years ago that took so many lives in the Indian Ocean area, animals took off for higher ground in advance of any waves appearing.  Dogs (at least some of them) have the ability to sense an epileptic seizure before it strikes, and have even been trained to alert their masters before it happens. Others have been known to be able to smell cancers in humans and have been used as a diagnostic aid.  

But what struck me about this story was that the cat could sense approaching death.  Death is pictured in art as a tattered, black robed man with a scythe (the “grim reaper”) who approaches his victims.  We will probably never know how Oscar the cat could sense the approach of death, but it appears that this cat at least has the ability to detect its approach.

Without being morbid, I was led to wonder what we would do if we could sense the approaching death of others?  Would we, like Oscar the cat, draw near to them, or would we tend to shy away from them, not knowing how to act or what to say – as is sadly the tendency of many people when someone is clearly terminally ill?  What would we say to them?  If they were unbelievers, would we speak of the love of Jesus?  And if we’d do it then, why would we not do it while they’re still healthy and well and can have the blessed privilege of living for Christ in the here and now? 

I also wonder what we’d do if we could sense our own imminent death?  Is there anyone who wouldn’t want to know that death was drawing closer so that they could mend fences, speak those words of love and affection once again to a spouse, children and grandchildren?  Here’s the kicker: intellectually we know that death is approaching with every tick of the clock.  As Francis Schaeffer so aptly put it: “How then shall we live?”

Job 12:10 (NIV) –In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.

PRAYER: Lord, give us compassion for the sick and the dying, and help us to never lose sight of our own mortality.  Our hope rests in You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 1/11/18 – Everything Counts All the Time

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DayBreaks for 1/11/18: Everything Counts All the Time

From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:

Life is chock-full of seemingly innocent little moments of decision.  You’ll make so many decisions today and do so many things that really aren’t very important.  For example: you’ll decide which shirt or dress to wear today – and all things being equal, it really doesn’t matter what you choose.  You’ll decide what to eat (although if you have health problems, that can be important!)  You’ll decide which bank teller to go to, which check-out line at the grocery store.  While we may agonize over which pair of sunglasses make us look the most cool, it’s really nothing more than a trivial decision.  Much of life revolves around trivial things.

But, there are things in life that aren’t trivial at all.  Consider this from the California Southern Baptist (3/2/2000):

“Recently, Dieter Zander, the pastor of the first GenX church in America, spoke at an Evangelism Conference about reaching people in the age of relativism.  He cited a Barna study that asked people to use single words to describe Jesus.  They responded, “wise, accepting, compassionate, gracious, humble.”  Then he asked them to use single words to describe Christians, they said, “critical, exclusive, self-righteous, narrow and repressive.”

“There is a difference between knowing the good news and being the good news, Zander said.  “We are the evidence!  Everything counts—all the time.”

“With previous generations, a strong preacher could give a good message, even if the church was hypocritical and critical and people would still get saved,” Zander continued, “but not anymore.  I’m seeing a change in what seekers are looking for.  Not something they can relate to.  They are looking for a transcendent God.  They don’t want to be entertained they want to be transformed.”

I think Zander had it spot on: “There is a difference between knowing the good news and BEING (emphasis mine, GCD) the good news.”  I realize that in a very real sense, we cannot be the good news.  Jesus came from heaven to give us the good news and be the good news for us!  But, how we act, what we say, even how we think – in a way we can be the good news or the bad news.  Why does the world think of Jesus in such high terms but Christians in such negative ways?  Could it be because we are not being the good news?  Because as the world looks at us, they don’t see Jesus in us at all, but our old sinful, carping and complaining natures? 

Every encounter we have with another human being is loaded with implications for eternity.  Yes – every single one.  What you say, how you act, what we do and even how we think about them matters.  GenX is still seeking a transcendent God, but for them, the proof of His existence is transformed followers of God, people in whom the love of Jesus is perfected by their treatment of others.  It is, after all, what Jesus said would be the one sign of true belief and discipleship.

When you have that casual conversation by the water cooler today – realize it isn’t as casual as it appears.  When you greet the clerk at the grocery store, be the good news personified.  When you come in the door at home at the end of your long and trying day, remember that God expects you to be the good news at home, too.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16 KJV)

PRAYER: Father, thank You for sending Jesus, the best news the world has ever known.  Help us to not only know him, but to live like him so the good news may be alive and strong within us.  Help us to realize that as Your children and ambassadors in this world, that everything we do makes a difference all the time.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

PRAYER: God, I know my own sin is enough to kill all the fish in the sea, yet you promise me you have washed me clean and that I am your child. Help us all to being to grasp that simple, yet profound, truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 1/10/18 – God Help the Fish

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Image courtesy from iStock photo.

DayBreaks for 1/10/18: God Help the Fish

When you think of it, we all like fairy tale stories in one form or another. We like stories of frogs becoming princes, of ugly ducklings that become beautiful swans and the down-and-out who rise above adversity yet remain kind, compassionate and humble.

Sam Houston was the first president of the Republic of Texas. It’s said he was a rather nasty fellow with a checkered past.  Later in life Houston made a commitment to Christ and was baptized in a river. The preacher said to him, “Sam, your sins are washed away.”  Houston replied, “God help the fish.”

We see similar stories throughout the Bible as ordinary people, often very poor and outcast, who come to a special relationship with God or Jesus. The woman at the well, the woman taken in adultery, Saul of Tarsus, Zacchaeus and others are all examples. We are uplifted by their stories.

Yet, each and every believer in Jesus is like the pauper who becomes a prince or princess. We have to go through a process much like Sam Houston did – of being convicted of our estate (it must become clear to see!) – before God dresses us in the finest of robes, puts shoes on us, gives us his ring and reinstates us to a place in His own house.

How do you see yourself? You may not feel like the prince or princess just yet, but once your sins have been washed away, you are no longer what you previously were. You are a child of the King and you are growing to look more and more like him with each passing day, week, month and year. The day will come when you will stand beside him in glory, look in the mirror and see both his and your reflection, and will be amazed at how alike you are!

Hang tough! Persevere! Trust Him! He will finish the work he has started!

PRAYER: God, I know my own sin is enough to kill all the fish in the sea, yet you promise me you have washed me clean and that I am your child. Help us all to being to grasp that simple, yet profound, truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 1/09/18 – In a Different Light Entirely

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DayBreaks for 1/09/18: In a Different Light Entirely

Hardly a day goes by without me comparing myself to someone else in one way or another. It might be as simple as comparing how tall (or in my case, short) I am to someone else (I’m delighted when I find people who are more vertically challenged than I!) or thinner. It might be looks (but I usually wind up on the short end of that stick, too). Sometimes, though, it takes a more serious and harmful bent. I can start comparing my faith to that of others, or my practice of daily spiritual disciplines or my integrity to others. And when I read all the stuff that shows up on the internet each day, or hear about the horrible actions of someone on the news, I can get rather puffed up about myself. That’s why it is so serious and harmful – because I have no room to get all puffy about myself.

The problem, you see, is that when we compare ourselves to others, we quickly go right past comparison into judgements. And judging others is a very, very serious and deadly business. It’s not only serious because we’re admonished “Judge not” and that we’ll be judged in the same way we judge others, but it’s deadly when we start to think that I’m okay as I am because after all, look how much better I am than Tom or Sally, George or Jane. And the result of that is that I start to think that I don’t need Jesus very much.

Here’s what Fred Craddock, a great Christian preacher, said: “What’s frightening about listening to John (the Baptist) preach is that he puts you in the presence of God. And that’s what everybody wants, and that’s what everybody doesn’t want. Because the light at the altar is different from every other light in the world. In the dim lamps of this world, we can compare ourselves with each other, and all of us come off looking good. We convince ourselves that God grades on the curve, and what’s the difference? We’re all okay. And then you come in the presence of God, and you’re at the altar, and it’s all different. For if our hearts condemn us, think of this – – God is greater than our hearts and knows everything. There’s no way to modulate the human voice to make a whine acceptable. The whining is over. The excusing is over. It’s the school, it’s the church, it’s the board, it’s the government. It isn’t! All that’s over. It just stops. Like waking from a dream of palaces and patios to find the roof leaks and the rent’s due. Like shutting off the stereo, and you hear the rat gnawing in the wall. That’s just the fact of it. In my mind, I serve God. But there’s another force in my life, and I say, `I’m going to do that.’ I don’t do it. I say, `I’ll never do that.’ I do it. Crucified between the sky of what I intend and the earth of what I perform. That’s the truth.”

Ouch. As they say, truth hurts.

Any human comparisons we make are vain, pointless and dangerous. There’s only one Light that shows reality: the Light that is bright enough to get past every one of our defenses and shows us for what we are so we will realize how desperately we need Him!

PRAYER: Spirit, we invite you to shine Your light into our lives and reveal our guilt in comparing ourselves to others and taking solace in what we see in that very dim light. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/08/18 – A Fisherman Extraordinaire

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DayBreaks for 1/08/18: A Fisherman Extraordinaire

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

I’ve recently finished preaching a series of messages from 2 Peter 1:1-11 and I’ve really come to appreciate the apostle Peter more than I ever had before.  I have always liked John, and Paul was, without a doubt, an incredible advocate for the Christ.  Peter – well, I suppose that I remembered too many of the stories from my childhood that seemed to emphasize his flaws.  Peter didn’t write a gospel, but he almost did: most believe that the gospel of Mark was a collection of stories that Peter told about living with Jesus for 3 years.  If so (and it is quite likely true that Peter told those things to Mark who wrote them down), it is interesting how Peter presents himself, especially at the beginning:

  • A man who brashly asks to walk on the water, but who was last seen sinking and on the verge of drowning before the Lord lifted him up;
  • We’ve seen Peter pretending to be a ninja when he attacks the high priest’s servant with a sword during the arrest of Jesus – and we learn that his skills as a swordsman aren’t very good because he wasn’t swinging at the ear, but the man’s head;
  • We find him falling asleep in the prayer meeting Jesus organized in the garden of Gethsemane on the night he was betrayed;
  • We see him sputtering lies and nonsense, denying his dearest friend – at precisely the moment when Jesus most needed him as a friend.

Why did Peter tell those true stories?  Because they make Peter easier to trust, to believe in.  And they give us hope, too.  That’s the irony of a humble man: the more he admits his failings, the more likely we are to throw in our lot with him – to like him.  There is, after all, no fool as dangerous as a man who doesn’t know he’s a fool.  But a fool who confesses it and learns from it – ah, there is a man or woman we can trust, for they are learning life’s lessons and gaining in wisdom.

But what Peter doesn’t tell at all is that he became the undisputed leader of the 12.  In spite of all the above, Jesus never gave up hope in Peter.  He saw things in Peter that Peter never could have imagined.  Peter had likely only ever dreamed of taking over his father’s fishing business and being able to put bread and butter on the table for his family.  And then one day, a stranger came along the sea shore and spoke words that stirred Peter’s heart, and Peter accepted the man’s invitation to learn to catch men instead of fish. 

There are many days when I look at my list of failures (and it’s certainly a longer list than Peter’s!) and think that I’ll be lucky if I can get the job as the groundskeeper outside of the pearly gates – forget about even getting inside.  There are times I’ve felt that surely God must be saving the deepest cell in hell for me and Satan.  When I begin to feel that way, I need to stop listening to Satan as he tries to fill my head and heart with discouragement and start listening to Jesus, who whispers to me that he loves me, that all my sins have already been paid for and taken away and thrown into the depths of the sea.  I need to remember that he calls me precious, beloved, his child.  In short, Jesus whispers to me, “Remember Peter?  See how he turned out?  You’ll be no different, because it wasn’t Peter that made himself change – it was me who changed him, and I’m going to do the same thing with you.”

I know that I’ll not be the second-coming of Peter.  But I don’t have to be.  I just have to be who God made me to be, and who He is changing me to become. 

Peter never would have dreamed that he’d preach the first gospel sermon on Pentecost and that 3000 would believe through the words that God gave him to speak.  After he’d denied Christ in the wee hours of Good Friday, he never dreamed he’d have the courage to go to the cross himself and give his life for Jesus (as Jesus had gone to the cross and given his life for Peter.)  By God’s grace, Peter became all that God meant for him to be.

By God’s grace, we, too, shall become what He wants us to be.

PRAYER:  Lord, thank you for your whispers of reassurance that you love us just as we are and that you’re constantly at work to see us become the finished work of art that you intended us to be before we were born.  Thank you for the love that refuses to let us go, no matter how great our failures!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.