DayBreaks for 11/29/19 – It Is for Us

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DayBreaks for 11/29/19: It Is for Us

A real woman named Joy teaches underprivileged children in an inner city church.  Her class is a lively group of 9-yr-olds who love life and aren’t in the least afraid of God.  But there is an exception – a timid, withdrawn girl named Barbara. 

Her difficult home life had left her afraid and insecure.  For the weeks that Joy was teaching the class, Barbara never said a word.  Not once.  The other kids sang, talked, giggled and laughed.  Not Barbara.  She was silent.  Always there, always listening, always speechless.

Then one day Joy taught a lesson about heaven.  Joy talked about seeing God and about eyes that would never fill with tears and lives that would never come to an end.  Barbara sat fascinated, never taking her eyes off Joy.  She listened hungrily, taking it all in.  Then she raised her hand, and in her tiny voice said, “Mrs. Joy?”  Joy almost fell over.  Barbara had never said anything.  “Yes, Barbara?”  Then little Barbara let it out: “Is heaven for girls like me?” 

Oh, I would have loved to see Jesus’ face when this little girl’s tiny question reached his ears!!!  This was like a desperate prayer that a good God somewhere in heaven would remember a forgotten soul somewhere on earth.  It was a hope that God’s grace would seep into the cracks of Barbara’s life and bathe her in the grace the church and her family had failed to give her.  It was a voice wondering if this God could take a life that no one else could use or seemed to want, and to use it as nobody else could.  It was a plea for God to do what He does best: to take the ordinary and dull and unspectacular and make it sparkle and shine and be supernaturally extraordinary and special.  It’s hoping that what God did when he parted the Red Sea would happen again, that God who used a stone to drop the giant Goliath, or that he who could turn the water into the finest wine could take little Barbara and see her safely to heaven.  Would the God who fed 5000 with a boy’s box lunch do something for her?  Would he take three spikes and a wooden beam and make them the hope of all humanity – including Barbara?  Would God take this rejected little girl and make her feel precious?  (Adapted from Max Lucado’s Cast of Characters)

The answer to those questions are all answered: “Yes!”  God would and did do something for this little girl who so desperately wanted God’s heaven.  “Yes!” God did take 3 nails and a wooden cross and instead of a monument to bloody and excruciating death make them into a symbol of life cleansed and set free.  “Yes!” God can take this little girl, and thousands like her – male and female alike – and whisper into their ear who very precious they are.

One more: “Yes!” No matter what your home life has been like, no matter how difficult your life experience may be – God answers, “Yes!  Heaven is a place for people JUST LIKE YOU!”

Won’t you accept the gift He offers you?  It’s free for the taking.

PRAYER: Thank You for making heaven a place for people like us – sinners all, redeemed ONLY by the blood of the Lamb!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

PRAYER: Jesus, we long to live surrounded eternally by your Light. Give us strength to persevere in this world that is often so dark. We give you thanks this day for the glorious future that you have guaranteed to us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/28/19 – The Blessings of Darkness, #3

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DayBreaks for 11/28/19: The Blessing of Darkness, #3

The two Psalms in scripture that have not a single ray of light or hope are Psalm 39 and 88. And while you may think it is strange to be talking about this topic on Thanksgiving, let me assure you that it is very, very appropriate.

In Psalm 39, the writer concludes that God has turned his face away from the sufferer. This is about the worst thing that an ancient Jew could have imagined. The implication is that God no longer sees because he no longer cares.

In Psalm 88, the writer concludes that darkness is his only friend, the only companion that is still with him – not even God is nearby. God couldn’t find him if he tried because the darkness is all there is.

It is interesting that these two Psalms are in Scripture, but they are prophetic. It would be Jesus who would cry out that God had turned his face away and forsaken him on the cross. And it was that same Jesus who would be swallowed up by the darkness that covered the earth during his crucifixion, but more so the darkness of our sin he took upon us and the darkness of the sealed tomb.

Jesus knows the darkness, too. He didn’t only know the blazing glory of heaven, but the darkest darkness of the entire world as he bore the sins of the entire world.

But the story doesn’t end in darkness, does it! The One who suffered that darkness revealed to us the faithfulness of God, the one we might accuse of our misfortune and the world of blackness that swallows us up. He rose in glory like the sun and he is the reminder to us that no matter how dark our darkness may be on this Thanksgiving – or at any other time in our lives – that God sees things through to the Light and will bring us even out of the darkness of the tomb into His eternal Light!

PRAYER: Jesus, we long to live surrounded eternally by your Light. Give us strength to persevere in this world that is often so dark. We give you thanks this day for the glorious future that you have guaranteed to us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/27/19 – The Blessing of Darkness, #2

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DayBreaks for 11/27/19: The Blessing of Darkness, #2

Yesterday we looked at Psalm 88 – one of only two Psalms that don’t have any ray of hope or light. I want to explore it a bit further today.

In Psalm 88, Heman is very vocal about the source of his trouble: You (meaning God).  God is not hearing Heman. He has had so much trouble that he believes he is near Sheol (the grave) and he says it is God who has put him there. Not only that, but God has caused his friend to distance themselves (vs. 8) from Heman, making him repulsive to them. It is God’s wrath that is heavy on him (vs. 7). In spite of that, He cries out day and night to God (vs. 9) but feels utterly rejected (vs. 14) and is so despairing that he calls the darkness his only friend (vs. 18).

What are we to make of this? Was God to blame for the darkness around Heman? I honestly don’t know, but Heman believed it. His cries are not unlike those of Job.

What is the lesson here for us? I think it may be this – if God is to blame for it (the Spirit inspired these words, remember!) – then it is a tool God is using for our good, not our harm. And what good could that possibly be? Maybe this: the value of the darkness is that it reveals to us if we are in this to serve God or to be served by Him.

It is in the darkness that we find out the truth about our motives. Satan’s accusation against God was that Job only served Him for what God did for him – that Job’s relationship with God was basically a selfish one.

I suspect that Heman learned a great deal from this darkness. And I suspect he figured it out the right way because he was still calling out to God in the midst of the darkness. He wanted answers – which he may or may not have received  just like Job – but the greatest lesson is what he learned about his motivation for being a worshipper of God.

PRAYER: Father, reveal to us, in our own darkness, the motives of our heart and our reason for claiming to be Your children. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/26/19 – The Blessing of Darkness, #1

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DayBreaks for 11/26/19: The Blessing of Darkness, #1

There are Psalms of lament and then there are Psalm 39 and Psalm 88 and they set a new standard for “darkness” in the Psalms because all the rest of the Psalms of lament have at least some ray of light, of hope, in them but not these two.

Why did God include these Psalms?

Psalm 88 says that it is a psalm composed by Heman the Ezrahite. That’s not a name you are probably familiar with, but it would appear to be that he was the grandson of the prophet Samuel. Heman was appointed by David as one of the leaders of the Temple music/worship (1 Chron. 6:33). He was a singer.

When we think of our worship leaders we tend to think of those who sing praises and are happy and cheerful. Heman, at least at the time he was inspired to write this was not having a mountaintop experience. In fact, he was very, very low: ..I am like the slain lying in the grave, whom you no longer remember… (vs. 5). He goes on in verses 6-8 and five times in those three verses he is clear that it is “You” (God) who is to blame for this mess and darkness. From my youth, I have been suffering and near death. I suffer Your horrors. I am desperate. (vs. 15)

Is it okay for believers, even our revered leaders, to despair at times? Is it wrong for anyone of us to have the feelings expressed by Heman? No. Remember: God chose to have these words recorded for us, and He Himself inspired these words to be written for our benefit so we could know that we can be honest with him about where we are. Even in his darkness, though, Heman cries out to God. And there’s a lesson for us, too. It isn’t wrong to despair in the darkness, but rather than closing God out we need to cry to him.

PRAYER: When we are surrounded by darkness, Lord, let us emulate Heman and pour out our hearts to you knowing that you understand and do hear, even when we think you may not be listening. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/25/19 – Where Insignificance Goes to Die

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DayBreaks for 11/25/19: Where Insignificance Goes to Die

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

At the northern end of the Locke Hill Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas, is a tombstone marking the final earthly resting place of Grace Llewellyn Smith.  Her marker has no date of birth and no date of death.  One might wonder why – was it because no one knew them?  That’s not likely given the fact that the names of her two husbands are also on her tombstone.  Our best clue as to why her tombstone has no dates of birth and death may be found in the other words that are carved into the granite, that say this: Sleeps, but rests not.  Loved, but was loved not.  Tried to please, but pleased not.  Died as she lived…alone.

Given that epitaph, one can probably assume her date of birth and death aren’t there because no one really cared about her.  Her epitaph would seem to stand as a monument to futility.  Doesn’t it make you wonder about Grace Llewellyn Smith…about her life?  Did she perhaps choose those words herself in advance of her death as her way of telling the coming generations about her life and misery…or did she just live those words and someone else put them in stone?  She had two husbands…yet died alone.  Did she deserve that?  Was she some kind of shrew that drove two men and friends away forever?  Was she as bitter and forlorn as these words make her out to be?  What did she look like?  Was her hair flowing blond, or black?  Were her eyes sparkly or dull?  Did she ever laugh, and if so, at what? 

Bigger questions could – and should – be asked, including this one: what is it that causes some lives to be so productive and fruitful and others to be so empty and futile?  Loved but was not loved…can you imagine the long nights, the empty space in the bed next to her, the sounds of silence that must have filled the house where she lived?  The lack of response to messages and letters she may have left or written?  She loved…but received none back. 

Tried to please..but pleased not…can you hear the words of disappointment chopping into her heart?  “How many times do I have to tell you that I don’t like it when you dress that way!”, or “You’ve never amounted to anything and you never will!” or “Are you stupid –can’t you ever do ANYTHING right!”  The hurtful words keep chopping away – day after day – week after week – year after year – until a lifetime is gone and the words couldn’t hurt any more.

Died as she lived – alone.  How sad.  Dying alone.  How long had she been dead before anyone found her?  A day, or was it a week or more before someone wondered why they’d not seen her?  No one knows anymore.  It sounds like she was dead inside for most of her life. 

This is about as tragic as it gets.  Yet there are many Grace Llewellyn Smith’s in the world: the homeless living in the garbage dump in Ecuador, the party and bed-hopping hoi polloi in glitzy Miami Beach who seek love but don’t find it, the spouse that is now facing life alone who was constantly reminded of how pitifully useless and inept they are by the one who promised to love them until death parted them.  The list is long and varied. 

To human appearances, Grace Llewellyn Smith died alone.  Yet if Scripture is true in saying that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without the Father knowing it, surely neither did Grace Llewellyn Smith die alone.  One can only hope that she knew the Lord, for she surely was loved by Him.  In Jesus is the answer to every one of the critical lines in Ms. Smith’s epitaph: in Jesus we can find rest (“come to me all you who labor and are heavy burdened and you will find rest for your souls”); in Jesus we are loved eternally (“For God so loved the world…”); from Jesus we shall hear ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!’; and we will never die alone (“I will be with you always.”)

Are you a Grace Llewellyn Smith?  Do you know one?  Grab hold of Jesus – and never let go!

PRAYER: Lord, my heart breaks to read Ms. Smith’s epitaph and to ponder her lot in this world.  Open our eyes to the Grace Llewellyn Smith’s who are all around us, living lives of silent desperation, bleeding from a thousand wounds – who need what Jesus alone can give.  When we are broken and hurting, may we turn first to the One who can heal and cure our every hurt.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/22/19 – The Renewal of All Things

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DayBreaks for 11/22/19: The Renewal of All Things

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

As a general rule, I don’t like it when I have to renew my driver’s license, or my prescriptions, or my eyeglasses, or memberships to various organizations or subscriptions to magazines.  I don’t like renewing things.  I suppose there are several reasons for that: it implies that what I’ve got is older and not as up-to-date, and in fact, may be approaching the end of its useful life, which hints at the passing nature of all that exists in this world.  It is also expensive to have to renew car licenses – among other things!  Renewing stuff – bah humbug!  That, however, is not true of all things.  There are things that I don’t mind renewing at all: renewing my promises of love to my family and friends. 

My truck has a bad power window on the driver side.  I probably need a new window motor – but I’m thinking instead of getting a renewed one instead because it will probably be cheaper to get a refurbished one instead of a new one.  I’m cheap.  I’ll almost always take the cheapest route if I think it is worth the risk.  But there is always that risk – that nagging suspicion that something that has been merely “renewed” is not as good as a brand new one.  Usually that suspicion proves to be true.  It is more costly to buy new things than to renew old ones. 

We are “new creatures” – not just renewed ones – in Christ.  And that was expensive.  God wasn’t content to simply renew us – that wouldn’t be good enough.  We needed to be made new through-and-through, not just renewed and spiffed up on the outside.  We needed new hearts, new spirits, new life deep inside where the real “us” lives.  Our old hearts, hearts of flesh and stone, could never be renewed enough – they needed transplanting entirely – we needed new ones.  And God chooses to create that heart in us bit by bit.  We probably couldn’t stand it if it happened all at once!  We might not survive that experience!

We are, also, being ‘renewed’ day by day: Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. – 2 Corinthians 4:16, NIV)   We are renewed in the sense that with the dawning of each new day we are reminded that God will provide the strength for that one day, the courage for facing whatever life brings our way, renewed in a sense of purpose and meaning.  This is good renewal.

Here’s another one, from Matthew 19:28, where Jesus was describing his return to earth when he said, I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne.  The word for “renewal of all things” in Greek is palingenesis, used to describe the great conflagration after which history, having been purified, starts over.  This was a radically new concept when Jesus applied it to himself.  He was making the claim that his return would be accompanied by such power that even the material world and universe would be purged entirely of decay and brokenness.  It would be a time, as Timothy Keller put it in The Reason for God, that “All will be healed and all might-have-beens will be.”

At the end of the Lord of the Rings, Sam Gamgee, the faithful hobbit friend of Frodo and Gandalf, discovers that his friend Gandalf was not dead (as Sam thought he was) but very much alive.  Sam cries out, “I thought you were dead!  But then I thought I was dead myself!  Is everything sad going to come untrue?”  Keller said: “The answer of Christianity to that question is – yes.  Everything sad is going to come untrue and it will somehow be greater for having once been broken and lost.”

Let us await with patience the renewal of all things – when all will be as glorious as the moment God first spoke things into existence – including us!

PRAYER: We groan as we await the fullness of completely new hearts and the renewal of Your creation, Lord.  Teach us patience, fill us with trust, overflow our hearts with hope for the glorious future that awaits us as part of Your renewed creation!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/21/19 – The Test of Love

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DayBreaks for 11/21/19: The Test of Love

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

It is so very easy for me to love my wife, my family, my dog! It is not something that I have to work at hard at all.  That’s not to say that my love for them is perfect in any way.  Can I love them more?  Yes, I probably could in theory – but I don’t know how to do that.  I can’t imagine loving them more than I do, and if I did, I might be guilty of loving them too much.  (Jesus suggests that possibility in Mt. 10:37). 

So, how do I know that I love them?  I feel it in my heart.  But I must be careful to not let my feelings trick me and make a fool of me.  Feelings are way too changeable to trust.  There must be a stronger, more stern, proof than my feelings.

Paul Faulkner, a family therapist, described a man who determined in his heart to help out a very troubled teenage girl by adopting her into his existing family.  Why he chose to do it was not clear: she was very destructive, woefully disobedient and as dishonest as the day is long.  One day, while he and the rest of the family were gone at work and school, she cut class, came home and trashed the house looking for money.  When the man got home, she’d already left and the house was in a real mess.

His friends heard about what had happened and they encouraged him to not finalize the adoption.  They all said she would amount to no good, that he didn’t owe her a thing because she wasn’t really his daughter.  His reply to that statement was, “Yes, I know.  But I told her she was.”

Here’s the point: God has chosen to adopt us as His own beloved children.  We rebel, we trash the house, we talk smack about God and His goodness, we complain.  And our actions towards Him often seem to be anything BUT loving.  It would be one thing if God were to love us when we’re good, when we cheerfully obey.  But that’s not much of a test of love, is it?  The measure of His love is tested and revealed for what it is when we trash His house and steal what belongs to Him.  That is the test of real love.

And why doesn’t God just stop the adoption process that He started before the foundation of the world when He chose us in Christ Jesus?  Because He’s told us that we are his sons and daughters.  We may ransack the house, but we cannot dampen His love for us.  We may run roughshod over Him, but He still calls us “son” or “daughter”.  And He will complete our adoption because He told us He would.  Praise God that HIS love passes the test that ours never could!

…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.  Eph. 1:4-6 (NASB)

PRAYER: For our adoption and the Spirit which is the guarantee of our eventual inheritance, we shout “Hallelujah!” to Your name!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>