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.

 

DayBreaks for 2/10/17 – When the End Comes

DayBreaks for 2/10/17 – When the End Comes

When we think about “the end”, there are probably lots of things that cross your mind.  I think of the blast of the trumpet, I think about what it will be like to actually look up to the heavens and see Jesus for the very first time, surrounded by who-knows-how-many angels, riding on a great white war horse.  I think about what it will be like to see the spirits of the dead popping up from the ground all around.  I think of how I’ll feel – will I know fear, or will my relationship with him be such that there is no fear?  What kind of looks will be on the faces of those who will only for all eternity know him as their judge and not as their Savior?  What kinds of shrieks and cries will fill the air?  Imagine the looks of wonder, shock, joy and dismay that will be seen on people’s faces.

I think about the end of suffering, of pain, disease, death.  I think about not ever having to pay income taxes again, or to never again have to make a house payment (not even on my “mansion” in heaven!)  And I wonder what the One who sits on the throne looks like, I can’t wait to see the four living creatures are like and to hear the sweet music of heaven!

But there’s another thing that will accompany the end that I don’t often think about.  Julian of Norwich put it this way: When the end comes and we are taken for judgment above, we will then clearly understand in God the mysteries that puzzle us now.  Not one of us will think to say, ‘Lord, if it had been some other way, all would be well.’

How many times have I thought God should have done something differently, or in a different way than He has?  Certainly, if He’d only asked me first, I could have told Him a better way than He decided on by Himself!!!!  There are mysteries that deeply trouble me: why we find it so hard to forgive (given the way we have been forgiven by Him!), why we are so quick to judge, why there are tornados, tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, diseases, divorces?  Why is there such a thing as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome?  Why did He let someone be born only to die within minutes, hours or days?  What purpose do all those things serve, or do they serve any purpose at all?  (I have to believe that they do, or He would not permit them to happen.)  And so, I trust that Julian was right: that the day will come when we will not question God, but will KNOW.  Where we will not accuse Him of choosing the wrong way, for we will see with our own eyes and understand in our own hearts and minds that God did, indeed, choose the best way for everything, and that in the end, “all will be well.”

PRAYER:  Lord Jesus, as you know, It is hard to live by faith when we are alive in a world of such brokenness and unanswered questions.  Teach us to trust You, that there is a rhyme and reason to all things, and that in every decision You make, that You have chosen not only wisely, but perfectly.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 1/23/17 – Don’t Be Afraid of Things Dying

DayBreaks for 1/23/17: Don’t Be Afraid of Dying Things

John 12:23-24 (NLT) – Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.

We have an aversion to death and dying things. We don’t like to watch anything that is dying. For some people it is so strong that they won’t even visit those who are dying or diagnosed with a deadly disease because it is too uncomfortable. It is my belief that this is innate within us because death is an enemy and adversary. Yet in the verse above, Jesus speaks a universal truth: the death of a single seed that is sown in the ground brings forth an abundant harvest of life.

While losing physical life is hard, there are other things that are perhaps even more painful for a person to “live” through, for example, the loss of dreams. Dreams die hard and they take a toll on us when it happens. But loss of hope is perhaps even more sad and tragic.

Perhaps you find yourself right now having lost a loved one, a spouse, a child, a job, a dream. Perhaps you’ve given up hope as your hope died. I think Jesus would tell you not to be afraid of things dying, because when something dies, new things come to life.

While your hope and dreams may lie shattered right now, take heart for new life and new hopes and new dreams may be just around the corner. A new life awaits you not just in heaven, but while you continue to sojourn here.

PRAYER:  Jesus, loss is hard for us to deal with. Help us to trust in the principle of new life springing from things that have died because you are the one who gives life and as long as you live we have nothing to fear.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/29/16 – Fixer Uppers

DayBreaks for 12/28/16: Fixer Uppers

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

From NEWS OF THE WEIRD by Chuck Shepherd, United Feature Syndicate: “A year ago, News of the Weird reported that a jury in Westminster had convicted Cal State-Long Beach engineering professor Elena Zagustin, 61, of massive health violations at her exceptionally odoriferous and messy home, which included many buckets substituting for broken toilets. By September, Zagustin had sold the house (at a discount for its conditions, but still, because of the California real estate market, $301,500), and when the buyers pried the door open, they found trash two feet high in every room.”

You’ve heard the term “fixer-upper”, right? It implies a building or car in less than ideal condition – one that needs lots of work to be useable. As horrible as the home in the story above may have been, if someone was willing, they could reclaim it and make it serviceable again.

Jesus faced this situation many times with the people that he met. Many people who were physically “unclean” and repulsive came to him. Matthew 8:2-3 tells of one of those encounters: “A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.”

Did you notice the keys for the leper? First of all, he had to know who to go to with his problem – Jesus! It would have done him no good to go to anyone else. But there was an even more important key to his being “cleaned up”: Jesus had to be willing for the man to be cleaned. What if this rabbi from Nazareth was not willing?

Physical cleansing is one thing and Jesus responded to the struggles of people with disease and physical illnesses. Moral filth pervades humanity. We won’t all suffer leprosy or some other disfiguring disease, but we all suffer from moral filth. Our lives were in horrible shape – the rooms of ours heart and minds were filled with every kind of filth imaginable. The same two keys apply: will we go to the right place for cleansing, and is he willing to take the time to “clean” us?

Jesus specializes in fixer-uppers. He doesn’t care how dirty you might be. You don’t have to be cleaned up first before He’ll accept you. He comes into the home of your heart and begins the life-long process of cleaning up what he finds there.

Our prayer should be the same as the plea of the leper: “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Just know this: Jesus’ response to us will be the same as it was to the leper: “I am willing. Be clean!”

PRAYER: How reassuring it is to know that you not only can, but do, wish to heal us of all our infirmities – physical and spiritual! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/20/16 – He Can’t Look Away

DayBreaks for 12/20/16: He Can’t Look Away

Matthew 1:20-21 (NLT)  As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Matthew doesn’t want Joseph or any of us to get stuck in the dream. Matthew wants to bring us back down to earth, back to our waking reality, by invoking the name of Immanuel. Because if the Jesus, whose name was given to Joseph in a dream, is to do us any good, he’d better meet us and be with us in all those times when dreams end and when the crushing weight of a miserable world comes crashing down around our shoulders again. If he is only Jesus, the one who saves us from our sins, it would still be too easy to turn him into the one who also saves us out of the real world. But if he is Immanuel, then we realize we don’t have to go anywhere to meet him other than the hurly-burly reality of our Monday mornings and our Thursday afternoons. We don’t have to go find him in some other realm because he has already found us in exactly this realm and this world.
Immanuel is God-with-us in the cancer clinic and in the Alzheimer’s ward at the local nursing home. Immanuel is God-with-us when the pink slip comes and when the beloved child sneers, “I hate you!” Immanuel is God-with-us when you pack the Christmas decorations away and, with an aching heart, you realize afresh that your one son never did call over the holidays. Not once. Immanuel is God-with-us when your dear wife or mother stares at you with an Alzheimer’s glaze and absently asks, “What was your name again?”
Ever and always Jesus stares straight into you with his two good eyes and he does so not only when you can smile back but most certainly also when your own eyes are full of tears. In fact, Jesus is Immanuel, “God with you” even in those times when you are so angry with God that you refuse to meet his eyes. But even when you feel like you can’t look at him, he never looks away from you. He can’t. His name says it all.

PRAYER: I am thankful that you never look away from me, that you cannot look away because that would mean you are not Immanuel. Help me to look at you more often and find in you all I ever could need or want. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/19/16 – Christmas in One Word

Graphic by Tim Etherington, https://i2.wp.com/www.byfarthersteps.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Immanuel.png?zoom=2

DayBreaks for 12/19/16: Christmas in One Word

G. K. Chesterton, the noted British poet and theologian, was a brilliant man who could think deep thoughts and express them well. However, he was also extremely absent-minded and over the years he became rather notorious for getting lost. He would just absolutely forget where he was supposed to be and what he was supposed to be doing. On one such occasion, he sent a telegram to his wife which carried these words: “Honey, seems I’m lost again. Presently, I am at Market Harborough. Where ought I to be?” As only a spouse could say it, she telegraphed back a one-word reply “HOME!”

This is precisely what this classic passage in the first chapter of Matthew does for us… it brings us home…

— Home to the real meaning of Christmas
— Home to the most magnificent truth in the entire Bible
— Home to our Lord’s greatest promise
— Home to the reason we celebrate Christmas

Namely this: “GOD IS WITH US!” When we accept Christ into our lives, nothing, not even death, can separate us from God and His love. It is what Christmas is about. God is with us. The great people of faith have always claimed that promise. Just think of it:

Moses caught between the Pharaoh and the deep Red Sea in a seemingly hopeless situation believed that God was with him and he went forward and trusted God to open a way and He did!

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego went into the fiery furnace into a seemingly hopeless situation and they trusted God to be with them and He was!

Little David stood before Goliath. What chance could a small boy with a slingshot have against this giant of a warrior? But David believed that God was with him and it made all the difference!

Now, it’s interesting to note that when the writer of Matthew’s gospel wanted to capture the meaning of Christmas, the meaning of the Christ event, the meaning of Jesus in a single word, he did a very wise thing. He reached back into the Old Testament, pulled out an old word, dusted it off, and used it to convey the message. The word was Immanuel.

Carry that Word with you this week, let the meaning sink deep into your heart. You may just find that your outlook on life is different.

PRAYER: Immanuel, thank You for being with us and in us! When we are lonely, afraid, discouraged, desperate – let your name and promise be sufficient for every situation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/12/16 – Headlines in Heaven

DayBreaks for 12/12/16: Headlines in Heaven

“Bombing at Egypt’s main Coptic Cathedral kills 25”

“Amid Aleppo Offensive, IS Recaptures Syria’s Palmyra”

“Turkey Blasts Claimed by Kurdish Militants: Country Mourns”

“At Least 160 dead in Nigerian Church Collapse”

“Orlando marks 6-month anniversary of nightclub massacre”                                                    

Those were among the headlines on Sunday, 12/11, as I was writing this DayBreaks. Was that day unique? No, sadly those headlines could have been written on any day of the week, or perhaps more to the point: on every day of the week. Such are the headlines that comprise our daily earth-bound experience. Why is this the case? It’s for one reason and on reason only: this world is broken and it has been broken since the fall.

As I was pondering that point today, I couldn’t help but think about what the news headlines will be once that Jesus has returned and we are in the new heaven and earth in which righteousness dwells and all that has been broken has been fully repaired. How will that happen, I don’t know how God can make all that is broken whole, how He can undo and erase all the pain and make it right – not just right – but perfected. But I do believe that He will do that somehow, someday.

And when He does, I wonder if we’ll still have news – and if we do, what that news might be like:

“Joy reigns eternal in every portion of the creation”

“Not one person died anywhere today”

“Today, no one had an evil thought or did an evil deed”

“Throughout the universe today, everyone treated others perfectly”

“Peace and love rule the universe”

“Curious fact: no one has aged or got sick in the last ten trillion years”

I can hardly wait for those kind of headlines to be the kind I read.

Even as I long for that, I am struck by the realization that even though such will be headlines only in heaven, that it is we humans who make the headlines here on earth by what we do. That tells me that if I am sick and tired of this broken world, that it is this time-bound world that we have a chance, even now, to create some of those kind of headlines by the things we choose to do or say today. Want some uplifting headlines? Do something good for someone today, and every day, until we read our first set of heavenly headlines!

PRAYER: Jesus, help us be those who contribute to a better set of news headlines tomorrow than we experienced today as we help your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus’ name, Amen.