DayBreaks for 4/29/16 – Not the Laundromat

DayBreaks for 4/29/16 – Not the Laundromat

From the DayBreaks archives, April 2006:

Isaiah 64:6 (NIV) – All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

“Every one of us has become ragged, so damaged by sin and guilt that it seemed like the logical thing left was to discard the human race.  Toss it out and start over.

“But this God could not bring himself to do.  So God proposed reconstructive surgery.  God proposed to take the human race to where he could change filthy rags and remove the guilt and sin that left the objects of his love so unlovely.

“There really is such a place.  It’s called the cross.” – Love Beyond Reason, John Ortberg

Sometimes I go out and use the weed-whacker or my John Deere mower to cut down grass.  When I’m feeling especially energetic, I may do some digging – we have seemingly miles of PVC pipes on our property to water the plants that the former owners put it.  When I do these things, I inevitably come back to the house with either grass, mud or both, all over my shoes, socks and jeans.  My shirt will be spackled with bits of grass that the weed-whacker or mower threw into the air.  By the good graces of my wife, those dirty clothes find their way into the laundry and they wind up clean again.

It’s one thing when we’re considering clothes to talk about the laundry.  The washing machine can get the dirt out of our clothes.  But the washing machine can’t get the dirt out of our hearts and souls.  You can’t take your soul to the Laundromat – you’ve got to take it to the cross of Christ in order to get clean. 

Laundromats may be expensive – but they’re nowhere near as expensive as the cross that cleans us up and makes us presentable to God. 

PRAYER:  Thank you Jesus for reaching out to us as our sins were sweeping us away.  Thank you for snatching us back from the raging torrent of death and destruction that was headed our way.  Thank you, Lord, for the cross and for making us clean once again!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/28/16 – What I Struggle to Believe

DayBreaks for 4/28/16 – What I Struggle to Believe

I suppose all of us have our struggles with faith. It seems to be a fairly normal part of the human condition. There are those who don’t believe in a Creator but who choose to believe that somehow, something came out of nothing and exploded with tremendous force without an apparent cause. This would seem to contradict the laws of cause and effect and it certainly doesn’t explain how something (matter) came to exist in the first place. But that’s not what this is about.

You see, I, and most Christians I know, don’t really struggle to believe in a Creator – the God of the Bible. We may hold different opinions on how God did that which He did do – was it via a big bang that He created the universe (after creating the matter) or did He do it some other way? True believers have differences of opinion on that, but true believers also believe in a Creator.

I have no problem believing in the Creator. None whatsoever. That which exists just won’t let me deny His work in creation. So what is it that I have a hard time believing?  Read on.

I struggle to believe that in this vast created universe, that God even knows that I exist, and even more so, that not only does He know I exist, He loves me and cares about me.

What is it that makes me feel or doubt those things?

For the first subject, I suspect that running the universe in all its immensity and complexity, is a big, BIG job. God Himself said as much in Job. He doesn’t say that it is a job that is too big for Him – not at all!  But can you imagine how big of a job it must be? I know when I’m very busy, I don’t think that often about other people – even those most important to me. I get caught up in my work and thinking about it. So, I am really imposing my own human limitations on an unlimited being when I think He’s too busy to notice me.

As to the second point, even if He does know I exist somewhere in the vastness of the universe, why should He care about me and love me? Ah, now there’s the rub, isn’t it? What have I done to commend myself to Him and His good will? Nothing, really. Sure, I know that Scripture says I am made in His image, but what a flawed image of Him I reflect! But, Scripture says it – and even more than that – Christ’s crucifixion is proof of it!

You see, what we struggle to believe most of all is the truth that we can see on Calvary through the eyes of faith. What a truth it is! It is our challenge to believe it, accept it and be forever grateful for it!

Isaiah 43:1 (NLTse) – But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you, I have called you by name; you are mine.”

PRAYER: Father, You know our struggle with faith and how because of our sinfulness we struggle to believe You love us. I am thankful that our little faith doesn’t threaten You or cause You to love us less. Let us accept the wonderful truth that You are aware that we are here in the vastness of space and that You love us enough that You died for us to prove it to us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/27/16 – He Whispers to Us

DayBreaks for 4/27/16 – He Whispers to Us

Stashed away in a drawer or box in many an attic, nearly forgotten, is a batch of old 33 and 45 rpm records from the ’50s and early ’60s. Worn and scratchy, long since outdated by the flashy digital technology of compact discs and .mpe downloads, these primitive vinyls were once the jewels of a great treasure trove. Elvis’ grinding out “Hound Dog,” Buddy Holly and the Crickets’ hiccuping “Peggy Sue,” Chuck Berry’s joyful hot licks in “Maybellene,” the Coasters’ slapstick tour de force “Charlie Brown,” the mournful “Tears On My Pillow” by Little Anthony and the Imperials, the impenetrable and probably scandalous “Louie, Louie” by the Kingsmen, and the teenaged gropings of the Paris Sisters’ “I Love How You Love Me” — they are all there, and more.

Here and there in this dusty stack, one may find an occasional recording by the great blues master Jimmy Reed. A share-cropper’s son, Reed brought the throbbing harmonica-and-guitar-driven black rhythm-and-blues of the Mississippi Delta into the popular rock-and-roll mainstream. Maybe you and your high school friends, long ago fancying yourselves a budding rock band, would play and replay these recordings — “Big Boss Man,” “Bright Lights, Big City,” “Hush, Hush,” “Baby What You Want Me To Do” — trying to imitate Reed’s hypnotic rhythms on your cheap Silvertone electric guitars, attempted in vain to capture the pain-soaked cries of his mahogany voice in your too-tight, too-white, suburban throats.

However, in placing the phonograph needle again and again in the grooves of Jimmy Reed’s records, one could begin to notice something curious. If one listened very carefully, there could sometimes be heard, ever so faintly in the background, a soft woman’s voice murmuring in advance the next verse of the song. The story that grew up around this — and perhaps it is true — was that Jimmy Reed was so absorbed in the bluesy beat and the throbbing guitar riffs of his music that he simply could not remember the words of his own songs. He needed help with the lyrics, and the woman’s voice was none other than that of his wife, devotedly coaching her husband through the recording session by whispering the upcoming stanzas into his ear as he sang.

Whether or not this story is accurate, Christians will surely recognize a parallel experience. Jesus tells his followers that the role of the Holy Spirit is, in effect, to whisper the lyrics of the gospel song in the ears of the faithful. When Jesus was present, he was the one who instilled in them the right words, coached them through the proper verses, taught them the joyful commandments. But as Jesus approached his death, drawing near to his time of departure, knowing that the disciples would be on their own without him, that task is to be handed over to the Holy Spirit.

We are often afraid that we don’t know what to say, or that we’ll say something wrong…and so we say nothing at all. Listen for His whisper. Speak up what you hear Him say to you!

PRAYER: Help us be still enough to hear the whisperings of Your gentle Spirit and trust that He will give us what we are to say as we sing Your love song to the world! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 4/26/16 – King and Country

DayBreaks for 4/26/16 – King and Country

I confess that I am baffled by the current crop of national candidates for the highest office in our land. I realize that politics is an incendiary topic and I seldom write about it. Don’t worry – I’m not really writing about it today, either, so it is safe to read on!

I find myself dismayed at the choices before us. Where have the great leaders gone to? Why and how did we get to this point in our history where we seem to have such a shortage of genuine, true leaders? I can’t know the realities in their hearts regarding their faith, but I do see signs that I find deeply disturbing about nearly every single one of our presidential candidates and I am struggling with the question of “Who will I vote for?” if so and so are the nominees.

On Sunday, one of the teachers at our church spoke on this issue as so many are wrestling with the same things I’m feeling. His message was: King and Country and focused on may passages that talk about what God has to say about living as a citizen in this world.

The preacher didn’t tell us who to vote for, but he did try to help put things into a well-informed, Biblical perspective for us. Here are some of the things he had to say:

  1. Our frustrations have grown to a fever pitch because we have placed our hope in government, not God. If we are counting on government and human leaders to deliver us, we will be disappointed 100% of the time. What we are longing for is the Garden – the way things were created to be originally;
  2. Jeremiah 29:7 describes the Israelites in Babylonian captivity and they wondered how they should live there. God’s answer, through His prophet Jeremiah, was that our role in exile should bless the place where we live and pray for it – be in it, but not part of it;
  3. He illustrated it by having two boxes on stage. One was a large box that represented the Kingdom of God, the smaller box represented America. He reminded us that it is the Kingdom of God that is the greater of the two and that our lives as Americans is not the pre-eminent thing, it is our life as Christians that encloses our life as Americans, not the other way around;
  4. The Kingdom of God demands our highest level of allegiance and all that we are to carry out our responsibilities as citizens of any earthly kingdom in light of His kingdom;
  5. The Kingdom of Jesus is not only our ultimate security, but our ONLY security.

I don’t know who will be the president-elect after November 4, 2016. Thank goodness I don’t have to know. Our fate as a nation is dependent on God and His plan, not some puny president. America is not God’s “chosen people”. That title once belonged to Israel. Now it belongs to all believers of any nation. And that’s the nation we should, and must be most concerned about!

PRAYER: Thank You, Lord for the reminder of priorities and of where our hope should rightfully rest! Let us find peace in our hearts even in the midst of this tumultuous time in our country, and help us as Your people to humble ourselves and pray so that You may heal our nation! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/25/16 – Insecure?

DayBreaks for 4/25/16 – Insecure?

If you are an honest human, you’ve probably awakened from time to time with a heart full of insecurity. If may have been about something you needed to do but didn’t feel competent enough to do. It have to do with not feeling safe. You know what you hope the outcome of things will be, but you fear that you won’t get that outcome. So, if you are like me, you can wallow in those feelings for a while: insecurity and fear.

Psalm 16 is great medicine for those times:

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in y our presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasure forevermore.

Now, isn’t that better than wallowing in insecurity? We have so much to be thankful for: 1) the Lord holds our lot; 2) we have a beautiful inheritance; 3) in His presence there is fullness of joy.

That’s all GREAT news! No, it doesn’t change our circumstances. The outcome may indeed not be what we are hoping for in the short run, but in the long run we have pleasures forevermore.

As we travel through tough times we do have a choice. We can give in to despair and let fear run rampant, or we can say to our soul, “I will not be shaken!” When we do, by the Spirit’s power, we can move forward.

Are you struggling today? I am not making light of your struggles or suggesting a trite, formulaic remedy. The struggle is HARD. Hurts are REAL. Don’t think I’m not aware of how real those are and how deep your pain may be right now. I’m simply trying to share something with you today that may be helpful while you are in your pain.

Security isn’t found in ignoring reality. It is found in holding on to the greatest Reality in existence – Jesus – and knowing He holds us!

PRAYER: Lord, I suspect that today we will all face some insecurities – some relatively minor while others may be truly, deeply struggling. Help us to remember that our lot is not dependent on the roll of the dice, but that YOU hold our lot in Your Almighty hand. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/22/16 – Too Little, Too Late

DayBreaks for 4/22/16 – Too Little, Too Late

From the DayBreaks archive April 2006:

“UNIONTOWN, Pa. – A man was so angry that his girlfriend wouldn’t heat up sandwiches that he threw a microwave at her and then proceeded to beat her to death. Walter Fordyce told police he argued with his live-in girlfriend, Mary McCann, when things escalated. He threw her to the floor, hurled a microwave oven onto her chest, and then stomped on her chest and banged her head against the floor. However, Fordyce claims his intent wasn’t to kill her. “It was an accident.   I didn’t do it on purpose,” police quoted Fordyce as saying.  He apparently ran to a neighbor’s for help, but nobody was home. He came back home and discovered she had no pulse, but found the time to go downstairs and drink a beer before going to another neighbor’s home to have them call 911.” 

Sometimes stories just don’t make sense.  Sometimes it is easy to tell if someone is telling the truth or making things up.  But sometimes, it isn’t all that easy to know.  In the case of Mr. Fordyce, his story just doesn’t hold water.  His lack of urgency showed that he really wasn’t concerned that his girlfriend might die. 

I wonder how the Lord feels about our “stories.”  I don’t mean the tale of our lives, but the stories we concoct to attempt to fool God.  King Saul tried it when he brought back spoils of war instead of leaving them behind and destroying them all.  God didn’t buy his excuse.  Moses tried excuses with God, too.  God didn’t buy them, either.

When is the last time you made up some crazy excuse to offer God for your disobedience?  I’ve done it far too often.  No, I don’t even speak them out loud, just inside my head, but God hears them just the same and knows that I’m just trying to cover my tracks. 

Mr. Fordyce got around to calling 911 after wandering around the house, having a beer and wasting a lot of time.  It was too little, too late.  When Christ appears again in glory, there will be all kinds of stories offered to him about why people didn’t take action sooner, to declare their faith and put their trust in him before the pulse stops.  Don’t be one of those who makes excuses.  It’ll be too little, too late.  Forever.

PRAYER:  Help us, Lord, to never try to fool you with clever stories and excuses for our disobedience.  Help us to understand the urgency of “coming clean” before you, of seeking your help and salvation while there is still time.  Help us also to realize that not only is our time for action running out, but that of our friends and neighbors and family members, too.  Give us your wisdom to live accordingly to this great truth.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/21/16 – Finding the One Needful Thing

DayBreaks for 4/21/16 – Finding the One Needful Thing

From the DayBreaks archive, 4/21/2006:

Luke 10:41-42 (NLT) – But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are so upset over all these details!  42 There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it—and I won’t take it away from her.

As I write this, it is Easter Sunday afternoon.  As was true of churches all over America, we had more people in church today than on almost any other day of the year.  It happens that way every year.  It is at one and the same time both a delight to every preacher and a frustration.  It’s a delight to see people that you’ve not seen come for some time when they come through the door.  It’s great to meet new people who may need to know about Jesus.  And it’s great to get to preach the Word at any time. 

But it’s also frustrating because it points out how frivolously some people take their faith.  They will show up for Easter and Christmas…and other than a funeral or wedding throughout the year, that’s about it.  Why?  I’m sure there are a lot of reasons, and while I know that in the verse above, Jesus rebuked Martha for being “upset” over many details, I think he would criticize many of us for being “obsessed” by so many things.  Perhaps distracted is more accurate.

I look at families who are extremely irregular in their church attendance.  They often have kids who are involved with soccer, football, baseball, gymnastics, cheerleading and other things.  It used to be that sports leagues had the decency to not have such things on Sunday because there was a respect for Sunday as a day of worship.  No longer.  And so many of these parents yield their God-given responsibility to raise their kids in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” so that their kids can participate in sports or hobbies.  The parents often believe that they’re just being supportive of their kids, and, in a way, they are.  But are they being supportive in the things that really matter?  What’s more important – God and worshipping him, learning about Christ and the faith, or kicking one more goal?  I fear greatly for many of these kids.  They are learning from their folks many wrong lessons – such as, “There are many wonderful things in life you can do, and church is just one of them.  But if you decide you’d rather participate in some organized activity rather than going to church, I’ll support your decision.”  For most of those kids, the day will come when their parents wonder why their children have no faith – certainly not a faith that will sustain them when life gets hard and the enemy spreads his lies.  The answer will be simple: it will be because their parents failed in their God-given responsibility to model the Christian life and to insist that their children attend church and participate in spiritual things as a priority over earthly pursuits. 

Jesus told Martha that there was only one thing worth being concerned about…and that Mary, by sitting at Jesus’ feet and learning and worshipping, had chosen that one thing.  The one thing that is needful for each generation is not to play organized sports or be part of some club, but to know Christ and Him crucified and risen from the dead.  I fear a dreadful judgment for parents who fail in this most sacred of responsibilities, and for the children whose parents didn’t have the spiritual insight to see how their “support” for what their children wanted to do could cost them in eternity.  If children haven’t established a faith in Christ by the time they are 18, the odds are that they never will come to know Him.

What are you teaching your children is the one needful thing in life?

PRAYER:  We are so easily distracted, Lord, from being with you.  We find and use every excuse to abandon you and fail to worship and fellowship with other Christians.  Open our eyes to the effect that our actions have on our children.  Help us to hunger and thirst after righteousness and not vicarious experiences through our children’s lives.  Forgive us and renew our commitment to putting You first, now and forever, in our lives.  We pray that you’ll draw our children to you and that they will come to know you, love you, and follow you all the days of their lives.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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