DayBreaks for 6/02/17 – Longing to be Just A Little Bit Better

DayBreaks for 6/02/17: Longing to be Just a Little Bit Better

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

Have you ever had your dreams shattered?  Have you wondered where God was when life became too much to bear?  Have you ever thought that if you had more in life you would get more out of life?

In his book, Shattered Dreams, Larry Crabb wrote: “Satan’s masterpiece is not the prostitute or the skid-row bum. It is the self-sufficient person who has made life comfortable, who is adjusting well to the world and truly likes living here, a person who dreams of no better place to live, who longs only to be a little better—and a little better off—than he already is.”

When it comes to spiritual matters, we are destitute before God.  People who possess true joy are quick to admit and accept that they are dependent on God, not on their own wisdom, knowledge, looks, talent or strength.  Those with true joy yearn for a better relationship with Him in both the good and hard times – and they have found that joy to be rooted in the relationship itself, not in fulfilling worldly dreams. 

When we think it all depends on us, we’re miserable because if we fail, we’re responsible for our failure.  If we don’t get what we want, we think it must have been because we just didn’t try hard enough, and so we commit ourselves to trying even harder the next time.  It’s a treadmill of disappointment, resolve, determination, effort and more disappointment.  We just simply aren’t big enough to manage life alone.

Maybe you’re one of those people who is self-sufficient, self-confident to a fault.  You look back at the track record of your life and achievements (good or bad) and are pretty comfortable with and in your own skin.  It’s one thing to love being alive, but another thing entirely to like living here in this broken world.  Don’t you still have dreams of a better place?  Instead of just wanting to be a little bit better (and better off, as Crabb noted), wouldn’t you rather be born again to a new and living hope that will never perish?  You know that this world will someday end – and chances are that your life will end long before this world does.  What are you investing for eternity?

Matt. 5:3 KJV – Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

PRAYER: Time and life are so short and out of our control, Lord.  Thank you that you are in control at all times and in all ways.  May your kingdom come quickly!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/19/17 – The Truth About Dead People

DayBreaks for 5/19/17: The Truth About Dead People

Colossians 2:13 (NLT) – You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.

No matter how many sermons you might hear, no matter how many books about God’s grace that you might have read or may read in the future, we keep coming back to a concept that we have to be “good” in order to get into heaven.

Every time we fall into our “sin trap” – that sin that plagues you year after year – we begin to despair and think that surely, we’ve exhausted the grace of God and benefits of Christ’s blood. I understand that way of thinking perhaps better than most because I was raised thinking that if you committed a sin and didn’t get a chance to ask for forgiveness before you were struck by lightning and killed, then you probably wouldn’t go to heaven. Guilt was huge in my early years of faith.

I invite you, though, to look at the passage today. Read it carefully. Let it sink in. See if you really grasp what it is saying.

Here’s the key: we all have read how we were dead in our sins. That’s not hard for any person of faith to understand. But think about the implications of that statement. Here’s the question: how much can a dead person do? Uh, nothing, right? We could do nothing to make ourselves “alive”…it was an act of God that made us alive with Christ because he forgave not some, but ALL our sins. Past, present, future. Period.

Dead people can do nothing. We are TOTALLY dependent on God for our “life” – for our salvation. Isn’t it great to know that it isn’t dependent on us and how “good” we are!

But can we trust Him? If we can’t trust this Father, who can we trust? And remember Jesus statement that he will not lose even a single one that the Father has given him (made alive) (John 18:9) and that no one can snatch people out of the Father’s hand – not even me.

PRAYER: Thank you for these great assurances, and for the power of Your Word to hold us firm and safe. Thank you for making us alive in Christ! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 4/17/17 – Now You’ll See

DayBreaks for 4/18/17: Now You’ll See

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007:

I don’t have to tell you that life can get pretty hard.  If you are more than 24 hours old, you’ve probably discovered that fact for yourself (and come to think of it, getting into this world isn’t so easy, either)!  It is difficult, at times, to hold onto hope.  But it is very important that we do so!  Think about this example from Today In the Word, May 1990: A number of years ago researchers performed an experiment to see the effect hope has on those undergoing hardship. Two sets of laboratory rats were placed in separate tubs of water. The researchers left one set in the water and found that within an hour they had all drowned. The other rats were periodically lifted out of the water and then returned. When that happened, the second set of rats swam for over 24 hours. Why? Not because they were given a rest, but because they suddenly had hope!  Those animals somehow hoped that if they could stay afloat just a little longer, someone would reach down and rescue them.

It is sometimes easier to hope than others.  But as G. K. Chesterton put it: Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all…As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.  I think he makes a good point.  If we were the rats in the tank in the experiment and could see a way to get ourselves out of the tank, then what would we be relying on?  Ourselves.  And then it isn’t hope, is it? 

Of course, we aren’t rats in a tank.  We are of much greater value.  We weren’t put here be some crazed scientist for the purposes of experimentation.  God isn’t performing laboratory experiments on us.  We need to remember that it was our sin that put us in the tank – not some all-powerful cosmic scientist to watch creatures struggle to see what they would do!  We alone are responsible for the fact that we are drowning.  God alone is responsible for the fact that there is a way out of the tank.  God has spent thousands of years rescuing us from the cesspool of our sin and shame and He is still about the business of rescuing broken and drowning people today. 

Romans 5:5-6 reminds us: And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  You see, God didn’t just build a ramp out of the tank, He got in the tank with us and lifted us out. 

When you despair of ever seeing or feeling the joy of a sunrise again, look around you.  You will see the Son of God at your side.  He will not fail you.  He will not let you down.  You may have to reach the point where the situation is “hopeless” before you turn to Him so you can learn what hope really is. 

We all need to remember that “hopeless” is a human term – it doesn’t exist in God’s dictionary.

PRAYER:  This day, Lord, let us be filled with hope, for this may be the day of His return!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/15/17 – Silence

DayBreaks for 4/15/17: Silence

From the Holy Week devotional guide from our church:

“The silence is excruciating. He’s dead. That’s all the disciples knew. They couldn’t try to distract themselves with busyness because it was the Sabbath. They just had to sit in it – the pain of loss weighing down on them with no escape. We had hoped He would be the One to redeem Israel, some of his followers said after he died (Lk. 24:21). We had hoped. Losing a loved one is devastating (and none of them had ever experienced love the way Jesus had loved them) but they not only lost him, they lost hope. Hope that they would be redeemed by him, hope that he was who they thought he was. But now he was dead. The apostles had staked their whole lives on him being the one to redeem, but then in his greatest act of love, they ran away from him, piling guilt on top of their pain of loss. Afraid and ashamed. Now they’re trapped in the painful silence of Saturday.

“But Saturday isn’t the whole story. We know that. We know that there is incredible hope: real, true, eternal redemption nearly bursting through seams of that dark, silent Saturday. On Sunday that hope explodes onto the scene of history as a reality to experience with joy and wonder in the face of the Risen Savior. On Saturday that hope is a reality in the form of a promise to be trusted in, amid the silence, the doubt and the pain. A promise from the lips of Jesus: I will rise again on the third day. A promise from the beginning: that the serpent’s head will be crushed (Genesis 3:15), sin will be conquered, that death will be put to death and that redemption will be accomplished by the One who came to redeem – not just Israel – but all who would believe in Him.

“That promise should have given great hope to Jesus’ followers in the painful silence of Saturday. And it should give hope to us when we feel like we’re living hrough that same kind of painful silence day after day. One this side of history, we have more than a promise. He has Risen and conquered sin and death and given us His Presence. But all things are not yet the way they’re supposed to be. There is still a promise to be fulfilled. Jesus is coming again to deal the final deathblow to death, to rid the world of sine and to wipe away the last tears of grief (Rev. 21:19-20).

“Maybe you find yourself overwhelmed with the silence of a question that has gone unanswered; a loved one who stands at a distance, resistant and angry; a realization that your shame is ever before you. There is hope. Jesus has overcome all our Saturdays. You don’t have to live in the dark, silent shadow of Saturday. You can live in the amazing hope of Sunday.” – Ryan Brown, discipleship director, Perimeter church

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for providing all we need. Thank you for not abandoning us in our times of painful silence. Facing days of undertainty knowing that You are with us, calms our anxieties and our fears. We look with hope to Your coming when You will make all things right. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/14/17 – He Was Never More Immanuel

Image result for Good Friday

DayBreaks for 4/14/17: He Was Never More Immanuel

As we participated in a Maundy Thursday service last night, I was struck once again with the pathos of this week. Talk about a roller coaster of emotions!

But even more, as I thought about the entire life of Jesus, I couldn’t help but be drawn to contemplate his experience. The Eternal One from glory, becoming a human babe, laid in a manger and helpless. The very one who spoke the universe into existence couldn’t utter a single word – just a noisy cry. Yet even in that stage of his life, he was Immanuel – God with us. We just couldn’t recognize him.

As he grew he was like any precocious kid, I imagine, never sinning, but I can imagine he was as full of mischief as any other boy of his age. Yet even in that stage of his life, he was Immanuel – God with us. We just couldn’t recognize him.

As he began his ministry, people began to notice that there was something about him that was different: the way he taught was unlike anything they’d ever heard before. The way he healed, the way he loved even the most outcast of people. And they began to wonder if this was Immanuel – God with us. But there were only a few who recognized him.

And then comes Holy Week. From raucous cheers and disciples high with hope that this would be the time when he took the throne of David and overthrew the crushing Roman rule, to feasts with friends, eating food and drinking like any man. And they hoped this was Immanuel – God with us. At least for a few days.

Then comes good Friday. They no longer wanted Immanuel, and when they saw him arrested, beaten within inches of his very life, marched to Calvary where the nails would pierce his hands and feet – he didn’t look at all like Immanuel.

I think, however, that there was never a time where he was MORE Immanuel than on Good Friday. Everyone can identify with a jovial, joke cracking, eating and drinking human – that’s easy. Jesus apparently loved feasts and a good meal and a little wine. He loved parties. And he identified with us in that sort of joy. But the ultimate identification with mankind was when he died like one of us. He didn’t look at all like Immanuel then, but can there be any disagreement that it was when he drew his last breath that he most fully was Immanuel – identifying himself with us in the event we all fear the most?

The lifeless body hung on the cross for some time, bruised, bloodied, exposed and so very much alone. Yet even in death, perhaps more so than ever, he was Immanuel. No one recognized him as Immanuel, not then. But it didn’t change the facts of the matter one iota. The proof would be forthcoming.

As much as we speak and sing of Immanuel at his birth, it was at his death that he was most like us, that he was unlike every before, Immanuel, experiencing even that sting so that he could identify with all we must deal with on this mortal coil. Glory be to God for his great love.

PRAYER: Oh, Jesus! My heart breaks for what you experienced on this day – for me and those I love and those I don’t even know. I’m so sorry. Thank you for this ultimate identification of Immanuel. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/03/17 – They Still Know His Name

DayBreaks for 4/3/17: They Still Know His Name

When things seem to get out of control, I often try to take control and “fix” things. I suppose it is a natural enough human trait, but that in and of itself should be enough of a warning to me that it’s neither smart nor good. After all, if the Bible knows what it is talking about, our natural human traits are nothing to be bragging about. My efforts to fix things more often than not land me in deep water.

One of the songs I have come to deeply love is It is Well, by Kristine DeMarco. The first part of the song goes like this:

Grander earth has quaked before

Moved by the sound of his voice

Seas that are shaken and stirred

Can be calmed and broken

For my regard.

 

Through it all my eyes are on you

Through it all, through it all

It is well.

Through it all my eyes are on you

It is well with me.

 

Far be it from me to not believe

Even when my eyes can’t see.

And this mountain that’s in front of me

Will be thrown into the midst of the sea.

 

Through it all my eyes are on you

Through it all, through it all

It is well.

Through it all my eyes are on you

It is well with me.

 

So let go my soul and trust in Him

The waves and wind still know His Name…”

These are wise words – words I need to hear – often. I’m sure you need to hear them, too. Long ago, the winds and waves immediately responded to his voice because they knew his name. He had created the elements that made the wind and the water and those things had not forgotten His power. And when confronted by a legion of demons (who begged mercy from the singular Galilean carpenter) they obeyed his voice.

The demons and storms in my life, will, too, if I let go and trust in Him.

Your child may lie in a hospital bed this very moment. Your beloved parent or spouse may be in hospice care and the hours seem to fly too rapidly and the breaths to come too slowly. Your job may have vaporized. Your hopes for the future may have been dashed. And it may seem impossible that the storms in your life will ever stop lashing you. Don’t forget one thing: the waves and winds still know his name, and whatever is troubling you must yield to His power. There is no storm he cannot calm.

Mark 4:38-39 (ESV) – But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm
.

 

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, our Delivered, we cry to you in the midst of our battle, we rage against the storm that assails us and in the middle of that struggle we forget the power of your Name to still the raging. Let us trust in you to still the storm and give us great calm, too. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 3/24/17 – Once Again, Lord

DayBreaks for 3/24/17: Once Again, Lord

NOTE: Galen is traveling this week. This week’s DayBreaks will be from the May 2007 archives.

How many times in my life have I had a conversation like this with God: “Oh, God.  I’m so sorry.  I’ve done it again.  I’ve failed you.  I’ve let you down.  I’ve sinned again even after I promised you that I wouldn’t.  You must hate me.  I don’t understand why you continue to forgive me instead of striking me dead – which you have every right to do.  I’ve let you down so many, many times.”  If I had a penny (let alone a nickel) for every time I’ve had that conversation, I’d own all of North America by now.

It gets old, wearisome.  I know that God doesn’t want to hear that from me any more – I figure he must be at least as tired of hearing it as I am of saying it.  I am so grateful that He is a merciful and patient God!

Eugene Peterson recently was talking about this line of thinking and he had an interesting perspective on it that helped me.  Apparently, he, too, has had that conversation with God over and over and over.  He found himself saying it again to God not too long ago, when he said that he had an epiphany, and the Spirit set him straight about one thing.  He said it was as if God spoke these words to him: “No, you never let me down.  You never held me up.  I’m the one who holds you up.”

Wow.  Do you see how, even when we are in the midst of our conviction about our dreaded sinfulness and weakness, that we make it all about US in our human pride?  “I (capital, first person singular) let you down, God.”  It isn’t about me.  The story of the glory of salvation isn’t about my stopping letting God down.  That’s not it at all.  The glory of salvation is that He holds us up, covered in the blood of the Lamb, cleansed and forgiven. 

How foolish to think that I can hold God up, and I’d have to hold him up in order to let him down!  No, He is the lifter of my head, he is the lifter of my soul, the restorer of things broken.  May we learn to shift our thinking from what we can and have done, to glory in what God does!

PRAYER: Oh Lord, you are truly great!  We are nothing more than the sheep of your hand, the clay you have formed and fashioned, and that you have redeemed.  Thank you for lifting us up, for holding us up, for your glory!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.