DayBreaks for 7/21/20 – Purpose Behind the Pain

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From the DayBreaks archive, July 2010:

There are many things about the ways of God that I can’t even begin to understand.  I think that it must needs be so.  He is infinite – I am finite.  He knows all things – I know virtually nothing.  He sees all things including thoughts – I see only what my eyes behold and I fail to understand what I see.  I do not understand why little children are afflicted with leukemia and cancer, or why they are abused and mistreated by those who have responsibility to care for them.  It is all beyond me.

As I prepared for my sermon this past Sunday in which I would be talking about difficulties and trust – even and especially when we don’t understand – I was pondering the value of suffering.  I have often looked at the story of Job and wondered why it was necessary for Job to pass through such ordeals.  Job is not alone – there are many in Scripture who suffered…there are many today who suffer.  And I, like every other human who faces suffering, leap immediately to the “Why?” questions. 

I want to know the why’s and wherefore’s, like the apostles who wondered why the man was born blind, or why the tower of Siloam fell and killed 18 people.  In both of those cases, Jesus redirects their thinking from looking backwards for answers to the “Why” questions and to look instead at the present and future to try to understand God’s redemptive purpose in such events.  In the case of the blind man, Jesus said it was so the glory of God could be manifested in that man’s life.  In the case of the tower, the point was that God wanted to get us to consider whether or not we would be ready if the tower were to fall on us today or tomorrow.  Neither looked backward…always forward to the furthering of God’s redemptive purpose.

I have often thought that the purpose behind suffering was for us to understand our own weakness and lack of faith – to reveal, if you will, our own little faith and to grow as a result.  But, yesterday morning, I realized that this was a very self-centered view of suffering and its purpose.  Might not God also allow us to suffer not so we come to realize how weak our faith is, but even more to understand how faithful God is?  That view brings glory to Him – the other view is so focused on us that we might miss the very chance to bring glory to Him by trusting Him more. 

There is a purpose behind each and every pain.  That doesn’t mean each and every pain is caused by God, but simply that there is a purpose related to redemption – our own, and that of the world, in each hurt.  Let us resolve to look forward to understand how God wants to use such events in our lives to further His kingdom.

Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62

PRAYER: Lord, help us to understand Your purpose for us today and tomorrow and each day for the rest of our lives.  May we not concern ourselves with questions that are too big for us to ask, let alone understand, lest we get distracted and lose focus on what is most important.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/20/20 – Just a Piece of Wood?

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.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/15/20 – Not Even Close

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From the DayBreaks archive, July 2010:

Do you get discouraged of fighting the same battles over and over and over? It happens to me more often than I’d like to admit. I may have the best intentions in the world, but something comes up and my best intentions remain just that: intentions. I’m reminded of all the times my kids were little and I promised them I’d take them to the park to play on the playground equipment some evening after work – but by the time I got home I was just too tired. The day had pressed hard upon me and I couldn’t find the energy and my plan fell flat, along with the look of excitement and hope in my children’s eyes. It breaks my heart to even think about how I let them down – and how many times I disappointed them.

Sometimes it seems as if all the world is that way. Have you noticed? There are days when it seems that this world is on a greased sled destined straight for hell. And I guess, in a way, that is true. What became of God’s glorious plan to win the world to Himself in love? How could anyone resist the story of a love so great, and which was manifested so clearly? Yet clearly, sadly, it is true. The world is going to hell for the single reason that most reject God’s offer of grace, mercy and forgiveness.

Has God’s plan failed? Did He make the cosmic mistake of all time by entrusting His plan into human hands? I mean, if He wanted to be sure the job got done right, why didn’t he give the job of evangelization to the archangel Michael? Surely, he could have persuaded more people to believe in God than sinful, deceitful, fallen man!!

I can’t tell you why God did it the way He did. I can’t answer the tough questions that people send me about God’s plan and seeming risky choices. You will have to ask those questions to God yourself – and be content with the fact that you may not get an answer until you get to ask Him in person. Has God failed?

I know that God, when He walked among mankind, wept in sympathy. He cried as He stood by the tomb of Lazarus. He cried in prayer – especially in the garden of Gethsemane. But when the canopy of the sky splits wide open and Jesus comes back, one thing will be certain: that God’s eternal plan – conceived before the foundation of the world – was never threatened, never put in jeopardy, never was it even close to being on the edge of defeat.

For all the times we look around us at the horror in the world and are tempted to wonder where God went to (is it any wonder that during the chaotic 60’s and 70’s that the “God is dead” movement started?), we will do well to remember that God hasn’t gone anywhere. He isn’t off fighting a last gasp battle in an effort to win the war. The war is done – over- caput. All that is left is the mopping up action.

Someday when you get up in the morning – it will be the last time you get up. It will be the last time you will ever sleep. It will be the last sunrise you ever see. Your plans for your life may not have worked out like you wanted them to. But God’s plans for your life – for your eternity – are doing just fine, thank you. Don’t worry – God isn’t about to be knocked out in the final round. No “Hail Mary” passes at the end of the 4th quarter of time will defeat Him. And because He will win you need to be sure that you are on His side if you want to share in His victory.

PRAYER: In this world of so much bitterness, hatred and confusion, I am so grateful that Your plan is being executed perfectly!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/10/20 – The Gears of History

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Since the dawn of humanity things have been pretty much the same – at least as regards ultimate realities. People are born. They grow, they eat, the reproduce, they age, they die and go into the grave and are forgotten. It’s been that way and will be that way as long as this present world endures.

Or so it seems. Perhaps it’s not really true, but we just can’t see it yet. In a real sense, when Christ rose from the dead, a massive shift took place. History began moving backward – and it is painfully, slowly moving that direction still today.

Here’s what I mean: when you think about the fall, Adam and Eve tried to shift the blame. “She gave it to me” and “the serpent told me” became their mantras. Ever since then we’ve been trying to shift the blame.

But then along comes Jesus and instead of shifting the blame, he takes it on himself. They tried to transfer it, but Jesus accepted it. And in so doing, Jesus begins to transfer back to humanity what we were created with: blessing from God, not accusation. While Satan is the accuser, Christ is the accepter. Where the law demands death that has been with us from the beginning, Christ announces eternal life. While we shift blame, Jesus shift blessing.

As Jared Wilson says it in The Story of Everything, “As Christ dies, the gears of history grind to a halt. The sky goes black. In the temple, where God’s presence is said to dwell, the gigantic curtain keeping men out is shredded top to bottom. But not just so that man may go in. Now, the presence of God comes out. The gears of history begin to crank in reverse. Time moves in a different direction. Jesus comes out of his grave. The witnesses stand in the garden. They expect death. They deserve death. But a new thing is beginning. God is reversing death.”

Ever since that day, we inch slowly, inexorably, toward the way it was in the beginning when God’s rule was fully absolute. What moved the needle in the wrong direction was the fall. What moved the needle in the right direction was Jesus’ death and resurrection.

We will get back to the garden. We see it in Revelation. We will get back to glory. In the meantime, my calling and yours is to help bring the kingdom tiny bit by tiny bit, day by day, in how I emulate Jesus.

PRAYER: Father, there is no way we could have turned the tide of history. I thank you that not only could you change the direction of the universe but that you did and that you did so in precisely the ways we most needed. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/9/20 – The Forgetfulness of God

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DayBreaks for 7/09/20: The Forgetfulness of God

The story of the creation and fall of man in the garden is ancient history. It is intriguing in so many ways. But even as it is ancient history, it is as new as this day’s sunrise.

There is no secret in Scripture that Satan and God are at odds with one another and they work for different goals. Yet, it is intriguing in the temptation narrative from the garden how Satan seeks to manipulate the situation.

He starts by asking what appears to be a very simple, harmless question: Did God really say…? That question alone is fascinating, but the name Satan uses for God is even more intriguing. Satan doesn’t use the word Yahweh-Elohim (the Lord God) as God is described in Genesis 2, but simply uses the term Elohim (God). What’s the big deal? Satan is removing the relational Yahweh from his language. The implication Satan is making is that there’s a distancing, that God is not a Supreme Being that one can know and engage in a relationship, but a theoretical idea to ponder. Deitrich Bonhoeffer noted this when he said, “Satan does not…fill us with hatred of God, but with forgetfulness of God.”

It is only after planting a seed of doubt about God at all to challenging and contradicting what God said about pending punishment should they disobey.

And the very first thing they learn after seeking to be like God is that they are in fact exceedingly vulnerable. There was no sense of being empowered to a greater position or of being enlightened other than to their miniscule-ness. They are ashamed and try to hide.

Satan is a smart cookie. He’s no fool and no one should play him as a fool. He’s certainly not on an equal footing with God, but he’s no idiot. And rather than seeking to get us to hate God, he’s quite content with getting us to forget God. Once we forget God and his omniscience, we are freed from boundaries (or so we believe) because the thought of a watchful God has vanished from our minds, giving us permission to do in secret things we’d never do in the light.

The secret, I suspect, to living a Godly life has more to do with mindfulness of God than any sort of human willpower and determination to “do good”. 

How is Satan seeking to make you forget God? What will you do to see to it that you remember Him more often?

PRAYER: Father, we are so prone to Satan’s sneakiness and we so quickly forget you, even as Israel did of old. We beg you to fill us with awareness of your presence and existence and watchfulness so that we can never forget you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/08/20 – The Christian’s Security

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DayBreaks for 7/08/20: The Christian’s Security

Security is a dancing phantom, much like the shadows of clouds that flit across the landscape. Yet we long for security in an insecure world. We fear for our health. We fear for our financial “security”. We seek secure investments. We lock our doors in an effort to ensure security. We fear hackers and stolen identities, so we pay for security systems to make our digital identities secure. We may arm ourselves to ward off a nightime intruder. We don’t walk alone at night in a dark place. We do all these things because of our fears in an effort to be secure.

Security in Jesus is not something that I was raised with. In many ways, I grew up in a hellfire and brimstone church that had one trembling with fear every time you had an evil thought or did something you shouldn’t. At those moments we were urged to smell the smoke of the pit that was licking at our feet and about to pull us downward forever.

I thank God that I’ve learned a bit more about security as a Christ-believer. Consider these things:

ONE: the Christian is united with Christ, seated with him (Ephesians 2:6);

TWO: we are hidden with him in God (Colossians 3:3);

THREE: we cannot be divided or separated from him by life or death or anything in existence (John 10:29, Romans 8:38-39).

What is the implication of those things? Simply put it is this: the Christian is as secure as Christ himself is secure!!!  And you just don’t get more secure than that. 

I love what Martin Luther said: World, death, devil, hell, away and leave me in peace! You have no hold on me. If you will not let me live, then I will die. But you won’t succeed in that. Chop my head off, and it won’t harm me. I have One who will give me a new one.

It is so much better to smell the rarified air of heaven than the smoke of the pit.

Believer: rest in Christ. You are as secure as he himself is!

PRAYER: We shout with joy for the security we have found in your, Lord God! Thank you for understanding our fears and our need to feel secure and for giving us the security we sought! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/01/20 – The Invitation to Come Home

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DayBreaks for 7/01/20: The Invitation to Come Home

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2010:

Years ago, I read a moving story about a young man who had quarreled harshly with his father and left home in his anger.  During the years he was gone, he continued to stay in touch with his mom, and he wanted very badly to come home for Christmas, but he was afraid his father would not allow him.  His mother wrote to him and urged him to come home, but he did not feel he could until he knew his father had forgiven him.  Finally, there was no time for any more letters.  His mother wrote and said she would talk with the father, and if he had forgiven him, she would tie a white rag on the tree which grew right alongside the railroad tracks near their home, which he could see before the train reached the station.  If there was no rag, it would be better if he went on.

The young man decided this was a risk he could take, so he started homeward.  As the train drew near his home; he was so nervous he said to his friend who was traveling with him, “I can’t bear to look.  Sit in my place and look out the window.  I’ll tell you what the tree looks like and you tell me whether there is a rag on it or not.”  So, his friend changed places with him and looked out the window.  After a bit the friend said, “Oh yes, I see the tree.”  The son asked, “Is there a white rag tied to it?”  For a moment, the friend said nothing.  Then he turned, and in a very gentle and quivering voice said, “There is a white rag tied to every limb of that tree!”

That, in a sense, is what God is saving in John 3:16 and 17. God has removed the condemnation and made it possible to come freely and openly home to him.  God didn’t tie white rags to the tree – He had himself nailed there.  The cross is our sign that it is safe to come home to the Father!

PRAYER: For the welcome You give us, we, in our desperation for our Father’s love, thank You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/26/20 – The Greatest Protest

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DayBreaks for 6/25/20: The Strongest Protest

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2010:

Author Henri Nouwen tells the story of a family he knew in Paraguay. The father, a doctor, spoke out against the military regime there and its human rights abuses. Local police took their revenge on him by arresting his teenage son and torturing him to death. Enraged townsfolk wanted to turn the boy’s funeral into a huge protest march, but the doctor chose another means of protest. At the funeral, the father displayed his son’s body as he had found it in the jail—naked, scarred from electric shocks and cigarette burns, and beatings. All the villagers filed past the corpse, which lay not in a coffin but on the blood-soaked mattress from the prison. It was the strongest protest imaginable, for it put injustice on grotesque display.

Isn’t that what God did at Calvary?  The cross that held Jesus’ body, naked and marked with scars, exposed all the violence and injustice of this world. At once, the cross revealed not only what kind of world we have, but also what kind of God we have: in a world of gross unfairness we have a God of sacrificial love.

The Father could have taken a different form of protest rather than the cruciform way.  He could have obliterated mankind in the blink of an eye.  He could have stopped the rain and plants from growing and watched while sinful humanity slowly, painfully, starved to death or died of thirst.  It is His world – He can do what He wants to with it.  But His love wouldn’t let Him do any of those things.  In many ways, there wasn’t much else He could have done and been the Being that John described when he said, “God is love.” 

PRAYER: We rejoice to have a God whose Name is Love!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/24/20 – God of the Broken Hearted

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DayBreaks for 6/24/20: God of the Brokenhearted

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2010:

Worship songwriter Brian Doerksen’s son, Isaiah, suffers from fragile X syndrome, a genetic condition which results in physical, intellectual, emotional, and behavioral limitations. In his book Make Love, Make War, Brian reflects on the day he and his wife first received medical confirmation of Isaiah’s condition. In the midst of his heartache, as Brian considered turning away from worship ministry altogether, God taught Brian a lesson that instead carried him further into his ministry:

“[After receiving the test results], I stumbled around our property weeping, confused, heartbroken. At one point I lifted my voice to heaven and handed in my resignation: “God, I am through being a worship leader and songwriter …” 

‘When I was able to be quiet enough to hear, I sensed God holding out his hand and inviting me: “Will you trust me? Will you go even with your broken heart—for who will relate to my people who are heartbroken if not those like you who are acquainted with disappointment?”

Reflecting further on this word from God, Brian wrote: “I used think people were most blessed by our great victories. But now I know differently: People are just longing to hear [others] speak of how they have walked through the deepest valleys. The world lifts up the victorious and the successful, but God lifts up the brokenhearted.”

There are plenty of broken hearts in the world.  Hearts are breaking every second and they can remain broken for years.  Doctors may be able to heal hearts that have suffered cardiac arrest or cardiac arteries that are clogged, but they can’t fix a broken heart.  Broken hearts remain the purview of God and God alone. 

When our hearts are breaking, we tend to do a variety of things to try to regain some sense of equilibrium, but we may struggle to turn to an invisible God to heal our broken heart.  Don’t hesitate.  He is not called the Great Physician for no reason!

PRAYER: All around us, Lord, are those with broken hearts, and we suffer from them, too.  For all those who are in pain this day, we ask You to heal their hearts!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/22/20 – We Matter

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DayBreaks for 6/22/20: We Matter

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2010:

What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him, visit him every morning and test him every moment? – Job 7:17-18

As you were driving in to work this morning, how many people stopped and applauded as you drove by?  When you left the house this morning, did you get a kiss or hug from someone who loves and appreciates you?  When you got to the gym to work out, did someone say, “I really want to introduce some folks to you because you’re so special”?  Probably not.  Chances are that you didn’t have a reserved parking spot in the parking lot.  Most likely, no cop pulled you over and gave you $100 and said, “You know, all these years I’ve seen you drive by and never once were you breaking the speed limit.  I just want you to have this to know how much I appreciate you!”  Not in this lifetime, right?  Not in this world!

It is easy to start to think that we really don’t matter very much.  It is so easy to get lost in the shuffling noises of 7 billion inhabitants of the planet called Earth.  It is easy to be overshadowed on the job site, in the grocery store, at the bank, in the church pew.  We want recognition.  We want to be appreciated.  We want to know that we matter to someone – somewhere – sometime.  And it is easy to feel and to be overlooked, ignored and to come to the conclusion that we just don’t really matter to anyone.

Listen to Jesus: Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. – Matthew 18:18-19

The ancients had a saying: “As above, so below”…meaning that if the gods got angry and went on a rampage, the gods would rain cataclysm and endless disaster down on the denizens of earth.  Jesus, however, turned that around: He who listens to you listens to me.  He who rejects you rejects me.  As below, so above.  What happens when believers pray?  Heaven responds.  When goes on when a sinner repents?  The angels break out in song.  When a God-mission succeeds, Satan falls like lightning from the sky.  On the other hand, when believers rebel against God, the Holy Spirit is grieved and saddened. 

Let’s not make the mistake of thinking that what we humans do here doesn’t affect anyone.  Let’s not play the foolish game of saying that “What I do isn’t affecting of hurting anyone else, so leave me alone!”  If Jesus knows what he’s talking about (and he does!) know this certainty: what we humans do here on earth affects the cosmos!  We matter – far more than we can possibly comprehend or know, because we matter to God!  And today you also matter because of what you will do, say and think.  Matter in a positive way!

PRAYER: Thank You that You notice us from heaven above and sing Your songs of love over us so we will know that without a doubt, we matter!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>