So, what do you think it would take to REALLY make you content? A new job? A new house? A new spouse? Another child? A bar of chocolate?
Contentment is such an elusive butterfly, seemingly forever out of reach. When you get that thing that you think will make you happy and content, it either breaks, gets lost, gets scratched (why does that always happen with a new car?) or a new model is released the next week that you didn’t know was coming!
The simple fact of the matter is that we are far too busy to be content. Contentment carries with it a slow pace, a lack of urgency. Picture a cow laying in a green pasture chewing her cud. It’s a picture of contentment, even if crude.
Our busyness steals the opportunity to be content right out from under us. And why are we so busy? Because we are craving that promotion, the first $million, the new car, the better house and so we jump into the rat race with both feet and we lose our chance for contentment at that instant. We hurry and scurry so much today because we think it will give us contentment tomorrow. Fools, we are.
And surely you know this, too: that things will never give you contentment. They cannot. It is not within their power. I think Max Lucado (No Wonder They Call Him Savior) put it perfectly when speaking about what can give us contentment: “An hour of contentment…an hour when we realize that a lifetime of blood-sweating and headhunting can’t give us what the cross gave us in one day – a clean conscience and a new start.”
Now, go lay down in a green pasture and contemplate that for a while.
Have a nice weekend, everyone!
PRAYER: Give us the ever present awareness of what the cross gave us and makes possible for us even today! In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>
NOTE: I should be back tomorrow! In the meantime, I’m sharing recycled DayBreaks for 2010. Thanks for your understanding!
From the DayBreaks archive, September 2010:
We Americans like to think that we’re pretty determined, persistent, tenacious even. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” We take pride (there’s that nasty word!) in how dogged we can be. When we consider that our ancestors created a country and shaped it through persistence and hard work, carving out settlements, fighting tyrant kings and governments, creating new and amazing inventions that have fueled our health, economies and culture, we have become a symbol to the entire world of hard work, diversity and freedom. But let me ask you a question: do you love going to the Department of Motor Vehicles? Me, neither.
Would you voluntarily subject yourself to going there 960 times in order to get your driver’s license? That is precisely what Cha Sa-soon, a Korean lady, did in her quest to get her own driver’s license. This amazing 69-year old woman studied diligently, but she just couldn’t seem to pass the written part of the driver’s test. She first took the 50-minute, 40-question test once a day starting in April 2005, five days week – and each time she failed. Perhaps thinking that she needed to study harder to prepare, she eventually slowed down to only taking the test twice each week. Finally, on her 960th attempt, she got enough of the questions right to pass.
Local news outlets heard the story and it wasn’t long before the tale caught the ear of vehicle manufacturer, Hyundai-Kia. The company asked people to post congratulatory messages online, and after an overwhelming response, Kia gave her the keys to a brand-new Soul.
That, my friends, is persistence! Cha Sa-soon really wanted to drive and was determined not to let anything stand in her way!
It causes me to think of several things:
How determined am I to obey Christ? Does my ability to resist sin even begin to compare to the diligence of this woman? She wanted something so badly that she could taste it and she refused to let anything stand between her and her goal. It often doesn’t take much to get me to surrender to temptation. My persistence is poor!
Persistence is a good trait. We are to persist in prayer, we are to persevere in doing good – though we may fail over and over and over. Even the disciples question about forgiving 70 times 7 is only about half way to the 960 attempts at this woman to pass the test! Thankfully, God isn’t counting down to a point where He will refuse to forgive us if we humbly repent and ask for His forgiveness.
While this woman was given a new Soul (that’s a model of Hyundai car in Korea), only Jesus can give us a new, clean soul after our record has been tarnished. And thank God that He does!
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. – 2 Timothy 4:7-8
PRAYER: Father, give us strong spirits to fight the good fight and to finish the course strong! In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>
NOTE: I am on a “retirement/anniversary” trip and will be out until late September. In the meantime, I’m sharing recycled DayBreaks for 2010. Thanks for your understanding!
From the DayBreaks archive, September 2010:
In his book If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil, Randy Alcorn recalls his friend, writer Ethel Herr, who had a double mastectomy. Two months later doctors discovered that the cancer had spread. One of Herr’s friends, shocked and fumbling for words, asked her, “And how do you feel about God now?” Reflecting on the moment the question was posed to her, Herr says:
“As I sought to explain what has happened in my spirit, it all became clearer to me. God has been preparing me for this moment. He has undergirded me in ways I’ve never known before. He has made himself increasingly real and precious to me. He has given to me joy such as I’ve never known before—and I’ve no need to work at it, it just comes, even amidst the tears. He has taught me that no matter how good my genes are or how well I take care of my diet and myself, he will lead me on whatever journey he chooses and will never leave me for a moment of that journey. And he planned it all in such a way that step by step, he prepared me for the moment when the doctor dropped the last shoe … God is good, no matter what the diagnosis or the prognosis, or the fearfulness of the uncertainty of having neither. The key to knowing God is good is simply knowing him.”
Isn’t it good to have a traveling companion like Jesus, who will go with you on every step of your journey? He has chosen the journey for each of us. He could have chosen it and patted us on the back and said, “Good luck! I hope to see you when it’s all over!” But he didn’t. He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” I have a hunch he emphasized the word “never” when he said that. He wanted us to be sure.
I don’t know where your journey has already led you. I don’t know where your journey will take you. I don’t even know where my journey will take me. We have this assurance, though: it isn’t really the journey that leads us, is it He Who leads us, and no matter the prognosis, we can safely complete the journey with Him at our side!
PRAYER: Thank You for choosing the journey that is perfect for each one of us, and for promising to travel with us! In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>
NOTE: I am on a “retirement/anniversary” trip and will be out until late September. In the meantime, I’m sharing recycled DayBreaks for 2010. Thanks for your understanding!
From the DayBreaks archive, September 2010:
Who have you let down already today? Maybe no one, so ask yourself that question again tonight when you go to bed and see if your answer has changed!
We all have been guilty of letting others down. Sometimes we get over it, sometimes we don’t.
Noble Doss was a football player – an excellent one. He dropped lots of passes throughout his career, but in spite of all he caught, he painfully remembered one he dropped. In 1941 he was part of the University of Texas football team that was ranked #1 in the nation heading into a matchup with their conference rival, Baylor University. They held hopes for an undefeated season, but for that to happen, they would have to win the game against Baylor. In the 3rd quarter of their game, Doss’ team was ahead 7-0 when the Longhorn quarterback hurled a long pass to Doss, who was wide open. The only thing I had between me and the goal was 20 yards of grass, Doss recalls. The pass was right on target and as one, the Longhorn fans rose cheering to their feet. Doss locked his eyes on the ball and reached out for it, but somehow, it slipped through his hands. With just seconds remaining later in the game, Baylor tied the score, Texas lost their top ranking, and their chance to go to the Rose Bowl and to have a perfect record. Until he died in 2009, Doss said: I think about that play every day. He felt, keenly, that he’d disappointed his teammates and let their fans down, too.
Sure, he had plenty of other memories: he was married more than 60 years, was a loving father, grandfather, and he served in the Navy during WW2. He’d been on the cover of Life magazine with his Texas teammates, he intercepted 17 passes during his college years – a UT record that stands to this day. He went on to win 2 NFL championships with the Philadelphia Eagles. By all accounts, Doss was a man of great integrity and honor – that’s what everyone said about him – even while he was still living! But while most people remember the life he lived, the plays he made and the TD’s he caught, Doss remembered the one he didn’t catch. In fact, when he once met a new UT Longhorn’s head coach, Doss told him about that play, and he wept when he spoke of it.
Fear of failure is crippling. Because we are afraid we may fail (and let ourselves and others down) we may never get into the action at all. Or, perhaps because of a failure in your past, you no longer are involved in ministry, outreach or fellowship. You may have withdrawn, and like Doss, you fear you will carry that disappointment with you until you die – and that it will often bring tears when you think of it.
You fear that you may disappoint God – and that may be the deepest fear any of us carry. After all, if we disappoint God – well, let’s just say that’s not a good thing to do. We fear that God may give up on us. Yet He knows our make-up – that we have deceitful hearts, that the imaginations of our hearts are evil continually, that no good thing dwells within us. He knows all those things about you and me – and He still died for us. Does that sound like Someone who is going to give up on you?
PRAYER: Father, we are so grateful that You love us with a love that refuses to give up or let go of us! Help us get over our fears of failure, of disappointing You, and trust in Your amazing grace and love! In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>
This will be a strange DayBreaks. I may be castigated by some for what I write today but please know that I mean no offense to anyone and I truly hurt for those who have been impacted by COVID-19, hurricanes, derechos, tornados, fires and the like. I would never minimize the pain and heartache involved in those events.
Today I attended a webinar about how the church around the world has responded to the pandemic. It was inspiring! Someone mentioned this verse from Luke 4:18-19 and Jesus’ sermon in the synagogue in Nazareth: The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
As I listened, speaker after speaker (these were leaders of some of the largest faith-based organizations in the world such as World Vision, IJM, Compassion International, Young Life and the like) talked about how the church globally was heroically responding to the pandemic, it struck me that rather than this being a year of terrible calamity and loss that we could see it as the year the Lord’s favor has been poured out globally. Hard is always hard, but it’s not always bad.
Strange, you say? Yes, I suppose in a way it is. But they told of incredible things the church is doing, of hugely increased interest in spiritual things globally, about people witnessing the love of Christ at work to help them and care for the sick and dying. They spoke of how God has had to push the church into new wineskin types of thinking to see and seize new opportunities on how to share the gospel with the world that make more people reachable with the Good News and love of Christ than ever before.
Someone relayed this Chinese proverb: “Not all storms come to disrupt out lives. Some stores come to clear our paths.” God is constantly trying to channel the church (that’s us, folks!) into his purposes and he’ll move heaven and earth to do it.
What might God be asking you to do in this crisis? How might you need to change your thinking to see increased opportunities around you?
Instead of being consumed with thinking of it as a disastrous year, we may need to change our thinking to see it as the year of the Lord’s favor when humanity is drawn to him through these extraordinary events. Although he cares about all aspects of our lives, his ultimate goal is to see heaven populated with people from every tribe, tongue and nation.
PRAYER: Lord, your ways are not ours. Your thoughts are not ours. Your purposes are beyond our comprehension. We feel somewhat adrift in this maelstrom but help us see your hand in the storm as you open doors of opportunity for your church and us as individuals to serve the world! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Don’t you just love being discontent? Doesn’t it make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? I’ll bet you got up this morning thinking to yourself, “Boy, I sure hope I am discontent today!” What? You didn’t think that? I’m shocked and appalled!!!!
We don’t like to be discontent, do we? And in American culture, our society seems to look upon discontentment as a mortal sin. Our culture is built upon a consumer model that suggests that you are discontent because you don’t have this or that – the latest iPhone, iPad, newest car or fanciest Bluetooth device hanging from your ear. Maybe you’ve grown discontent with your spouse and are thinking of trading them in for a new, flashier, more exciting model. Advertising is designed to play off of our discontentment and feeds our “wanter” – that part of us that thinks we’d be content and happy “if only…”
Let me suggest that discontentment isn’t the monster that it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it can be good: in her book, Dancing in the Desert, Marsha Crockett writes, “Sometimes discontentment is a good sign. It acknowledges our incompleteness, our yearning for fulfillment in the emptiness of our souls.”
Is it possible that your discontentment is being used by God to pull you towards the only One who can give true contentment in the deepest part of your soul? You already really know that getting more stuff won’t lead to contentment, don’t you? Certainly not contentment that will last.
God offers us contentment, but of a different kind that the world offers. 2 Peter 1:4 reminds us that Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. God offers us promises – ones that can never be broken, by the way – in order that we can share in the Divine nature and get away from the decay in the world that evil desires and discontentment bring about.
Consider whatever discontentment you currently struggle with to see how God might be using it to pull you towards Him and away from potential disaster!
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, let us be content in You and You only! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Time is an interesting thing. First, it’s an earthly construct because there is no such thing in eternity. It is said that God lives in the eternal present, perhaps that’s why he gives his name to Moses as “I Am”.
But for us mortals, time is important. Each tick of the clock marks the passage of our life from its beginning to its mortal end. Time matters to us as people – and it should.
We sometimes grow weary of time, or more accurately, of how long things take. It can lead to discouragement and despair, a loss of faith and hope that things will change.
I think the Bible has a lot to say to us about time if we just read a bit between the lines. Consider the events of the crucifixion week. One day Jesus enters as a triumphant hero. A few days later he’s despised and rejected. One day he is acclaimed and lauded and the next he’s spit upon and mocked. If that was all there was to the story it would be utterly depressing leading us to think that only bad things happen with the passing of time, but that would be wrong.
On Saturday of that week the talk of the town must have been the Nazarene’s crucifixion and the way the sky grew dark, the earth shook, the temple curtain tore from top to bottom and how those previously buried popped up out of the ground and walked around. For those who’d hoped in him it was a day of dark despair. But it was about to change.
On Sunday the stories changed. In the span of just one day things went from utter dejection to incredulous wonder and joy as stories of his appearing and the empty tomb wound their way through the streets.
What’s the point? Maybe you are despairing, thinking it is useless to even try anymore to hold on to hope. You may be thinking of cashing in all your chips and saying goodbye to this world. Please don’t! A lot can change in a day – from death to life, from unemployed to employed, from weeping to joyful laughter. A lot can change in a day and you have the promise from the Almighty Father that his plans for you are good ones so that you might prosper if you just hang in there.
Today may be a mess for you, but don’t give up hope. A new day is coming and it just MIGHT be the day it all turns around for you! Wouldn’t it be a shame to miss it?
PRAYER: Father, for those despairing today I pray you will give them hope again. Remind them of your love and your good plan even when it is too dark for them to see it. Let us never forget that one single day can make an eternity’s worth of difference! In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>
Perhaps my favorite Simon and Garfunkel song is The Boxer. It is a story of a poor boy who goes to New York city in hope but finds life tougher than he anticipated. Finally, he comes to a point where he’s thinking of “going home” but sees a boxer standing in a clearing. The boxer bears the scars from his many fights but the youth realizes that the boxer “remains”, i.e., he didn’t give up.
Much could be said about this short utterance from the cross: It is finished. What was on Jesus’ mind when he said these words? Max Lucado points out that it could have been many things: the millenia long plan and task of redeeming mankind was done. God’s message to man was done. The work that God has assigned to Jesus to accomplish was finished. The choosing and training of the twelve was finished. The love song of God has been sung and finished. The blood spilled. The Lamb had been sacrificed.
Do you think there were times Jesus, like the boy in New York city, wanted to go home? To hang up the gloves and quit? If he didn’t think that he wouldn’t have been human, would he? And he WAS human…100% God, 100% man. When might he have been tempted to quit? When he saw the lack of faith of his twelve and they squabbled over petty matters amongst themselves, wondering who would be the greatest. When Peter started to sink. When he grew weary of the constant testing and challenges of the religious leaders who should have recognized and welcomed him. When Joseph died. When he stood at Lazarus’ tomb or as his fingers buried themselves in the soil in Gethsemane when he asked if he could not finish the course laid out before him.
Yet, here he is, on the cross, marred by the scars of the battle, like the boxer in the clearing…and he remained. He didn’t give up. He persevered.
Maybe right now you’ve had all you think you can stand trying to juggle working from home and having kids around you day and night. Maybe you’re thinking of pulling the plug on a marriage that has been a struggle from the get-go. Maybe you feel you can’t fight the allure of the bottle or the needle one moment longer. Look at the boxer, fine, but look longer at Jesus. He didn’t quit. Too much was at stake to give up. Too much is at stake for you, too.
The one who finishes isn’t the person who bears no scars or wounds. Any human whose eyes have opened to see the light of day in those world bears scars from the visit here.
One final thought and we’re done. Jesus tells us that the victory doesn’t go to the one without scars or the strongest bully. It goes to those who persevere: James 1:12 (CSB) – Blessed is the one who endures trials, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
PRAYER: Lord, there are many right now who have been in the fight a long time and are battered and scarred. Grant us healing, but more than anything, grant us the power to finish – and to finish well. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Imagine yourself sitting across a table from someone who is perplexed and puzzled by life and the Bible. Perhaps they’d thought that becoming a Christian would solve all their problems and doubts. But it didn’t. Maybe they’re an unbeliever who is trying to find something to make life worth living. And so, they ask, “What is it that is truly important, that really, really matters?” And then they sit quietly staring at you expecting words of wisdom to fall from your lips. What would you say?
Some might mumble something about the two greatest commandments – surely that must be the answer, right? After all, how can love ever be the wrong answer? The point is that those are the two greatest commandments, but they mean diddly-squat if the main gist of the book is missed.
Fortunately, we don’t have to guess as to the answer. Paul answered it for us in 1 Corinthians 15 when he penned these words: For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures. That he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
There you have it. That’s it. Too simple? It wasn’t simple from God or Jesus’ standpoint. The truth is this: what matters is the cross and the events following.
How can a couple pieces of wood be what counts? As Max Lucado put it in No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, “History has idolized it and despised it, gold-plated it and burned it, worn and trashed it. History has done everything to it but ignore it. That’s the one option that the cross does not offer…Its bottom line is sobering: if the account is true, it is history’s hinge. Period. If not, it is history’s hoax.”
Of course, it wasn’t the pieces of wood that made it special. It was the transaction that took place there: the transference of my sin onto his lashed shoulders, him taking my sin into his pierced hands…and paying the price for it that I should have to pay.
What matters? THAT is what matters.
PRAYER: Jesus, when I begin to doubt your love, to think that my sin is too great a burden even for you, when life crushes in and suffocates me, remind me what matters and turn my heart to contemplate what happened there. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
There are days that I love life. Days when I feel excited and happy and exuberantly vibrant. It is those kind of days that make me long to live forever. But even on the best of days, there are disappointments, hurts and anguishes that remind me that life here isn’t so grand. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful to God for all that He has done for me. I have no right to complain about the way He’s provided all things necessary for life for myself and my loved ones. But I think He also understands when I say that life in this world isn’t so grand. And I’ve got it easy.
Sometimes I think about the starving children and adults in many undeveloped countries. I think about those who suffer in pain-racked prisons of their own flesh, or those whose minds are sharp as tacks, but who have muscles, sinews and bones that respond to nothing – paralyzed in a physical body that makes them totally dependent on others (or machines) merely to breathe or be fed. Others live their entire lives(!) under the black and blue shadow of abuse – without love or a kind touch.
I am more convinced than ever that this is not what God intended. As I look around me, I grow more and more to despise this place. Even at the best of times, life becomes wearisome. A burden. And reality dawns on me that this CAN’T be home. Perhaps that’s why life is the way it is – a seemingly endless succession of sunrises and sunsets, of workdays, of cycles of illness and health, days of elation and discouragement – and an unending stream of problems of varying magnitude. God uses the drudgery and dreariness of life (read Solomon’s Ecclesiastes at face value!!!) to keep our appetites whetted for something better – FAR BETTER – than this world.
My transition to longing for a home that is different than this has taken the better part of my life. I felt like earth was home for many of those years. I no longer do. I came to the point of Hebrews 11:14b – …and they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. Do I believe there are aliens on earth? Yep – and I’m one of them! This can’t be home. So, I hang on to the passage from Heb. 11:16 – Instead, they were longing for a better country-a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
I don’t have to live here forever. In fact, I won’t live here forever. I don’t want to. Not when I’ve got a city built by God and a mansion prepared for me by Jesus’ own hands waiting for me. He was, after all, a carpenter, and I’m sure he’s the best there ever was or ever will be. Zeph. 3:20 reminds me that the day will come when God calls His people for a great gathering – At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home.
Home. Doesn’t it sound good in that context? His house. Not my home that needs paint and repairs. His perfect home. My heavenly home. Your heavenly home. Not this place where sewers and septic tanks get clogged, appliances fail and where it is either too cold or too hot. Once I leave here, I never want to come back, not even for a nostalgic, quick glance. Once we get to our real home, we won’t want to even take a peek backwards.
2 Cor. 5:6-9 – Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. Ah, there it is….at home with the Lord. That will be home, indeed!
PRAYER: Lord, how wonderful is the word “home!” How thrilling it is to live in Your Presence forever! Thank You for inviting us to spend forever with You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.