DayBreaks for 12/13/16 – The Feast Will be Eaten

DayBreaks for 12/13/16: The Feast Will be Eaten

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

It is Christmas season!  Do you feel any of the excitement yet?  I do!  I don’t usually get excited about Christmas until much closer to the holidays (this is a busy time of the year for pastors, after all!), but for some reason, the joy of Christmas has gotten to me early!  I’m not sure why, but I suspect that some of it may be because of a book I just recently finished reading (you’ll hear more about that in the future!) that has awakened me much more to the Presence of Christ – not just at Christmas – but at all times in my life as a believer.  Still, I could choose to be a bah-humbug about it all if I wished to do so.  But that’s not the choice I’ve decided to make. 

Choices are so critical in all aspects of our life.  Some are choices about what to do, and those are the kind that we think of the most: where to live, what to do for a living, what to eat for dinner, what to wear.  It would probably be astounding to know how many decisions a day that we make.  Most of them are insignificant, but there are some doozies every now and then, too. 

But the choices that perhaps have a lot more to do with what and who we are very seldom are about things that we do, but about how we choose to see and respond to life.  We seldom consider that we can choose to be grateful or complainers, grumpy or joy-filled, loving or bitter.  N. T. Wright, in Evil and the Justice of God, wrote: “Indeed, throughout the new Testament we are constantly warned that the choices we make in this life, especially the choices about what sort of person we might become, are real and have lasting consequences which God himself will honor.  But we do not have the choice to sulk in such a way as to prevent God’s party going ahead without us.  We have the right, like the older brother, to sit it out; God has the right to come and reason with us; but the fatted calf is going to be eaten whether we join in or not.”

You can choose your attitude and how you respond to both the good and bad of life.  Much of it has to do with your confidence and trust in God and whether or not you believe He knows what He’s doing in, through and with your life.  You KNOW that God wants you to be filled with the joy of being His child, and He wants you to be infectious with that joy and love.  What will you choose?  Will you join in the party, or will you sit by yourself, bitter and disgruntled?  God’s feast is prepared, the door is open, the music is playing.  Are you read to join in the celebration?

PRAYER:  How Your joy fills us, Lord!  Make our hearts thankful, joyful, loving and excited to be Your children.  Give us Your Spirit of love and peace so that we can share it with others and begin, here and now, to celebrate the feast of life that we have in You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/30/16 – The Greatest Reunion in History

 

DayBreaks for 11/30/16 – The Greatest Reunion in History

Luke 23:50-56 describes some activities that went on after Jesus expired on the cross.  It is the story of Joseph of Arimathea who went to Pilate and requested permission to take the body of Jesus and bury him in his own tomb.  The story is told much as a journalist would report on any activity on a normal day.  Luke has a way of lulling us to a comfortable spot only to make us jump awake again.  But not in this instance.  Jesus was in the tomb – the hero of the story has been taken out of the picture for the time being.

As I pondered this passage, I found myself asking, “Where was Jesus when this was going on?  What was he doing? Is this when he descended into hades to preach to the dead? Was he in the Father’s Presence (“This day you shall be with me in paradise….”)? We can speculate, but we don’t know for sure.

But if we are to understand his words to the thief on the cross as I believe Jesus intended for us to understand them, I think he was in Paradise, and I found myself wondering what that reunion was like? Can you picture the reunion between the Father and Son and Spirit as they hugged in joyful reunion? Were there tears? What words were spoken between them? What must the song of the angels have been like at Jesus’ homecoming? (Not just now, but after the ascension, too!) We have no answers to these questions because ultimately, they are irrelevant. Our curiosity can distract us from what is important: Jesus’ substitutionary death, vicarious, bloody, sacrificial. Jesus (God) died. Nietizsche was right – but he just had the timing all wrong.  And he didn’t anticipate the events of the following Sunday.

PRAYER: Father, how You must have delighted to greet Your Son after His sacrifice and work was completed! I believe Your joy wasn’t just for Him, but also for us being able to be freed and cleansed from our sin! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 11/28/16 – Awaiting the Light

DayBreaks for 11/28/16: Awaiting the Light

Sunday marked the first Sunday of Advent. Maybe this year it will hold special meaning for us all.

For millennia, the people of God awaited the Messiah, hinted at in the garden of Eden, prophesied about to Abram and many others in the Old Testament. None of those lived to see the Messiah (called the Light in the gospel of John) when He showed up. In fact, for almost all those thousands of years, darkness seemed to prevail and dominate. Yet the people of God never gave up their hope.

Advent is a time of hope. We are reminded of the long period of waiting from the time the concept of a Redeemer first appears in the Old Testament until the birth of the Christ child. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Hoping against hope, His people were often filled with despair and cried out to their God.

Is it all that different today? We read of atrocities in the middle east, just this weekend we heard about a shooting in New Orleans. We have many in our country who are terrified and horrified about the outcome of the election as they fear the future. Some of those are brothers and sisters in faith.

We should let this time of Advent remind us of the long period of waiting before the Light appeared – but He did appear even as it was foretold. God’s people were vindicated to have never lost their hope. We remember that at Advent.

But that’s not all that we hope for, is it? If so, we’re hoping for something that’s already happened and we don’t need to hope for it any longer.

We who are of the faith should also at Advent hope in the fact that the Light will come again. It was prophesied – as was His first appearance. The first hope was rewarded and met with its fulfillment – and our hope will be, too. We hope, in spite of all the events in the world, that this may be the day when the Light shines once more.

This next time that the Light appears, however, will be different than the first. In the first He came as a baby in a manger. In the second He will come as the victorious King of Kings. In the first He came to show us what the kingdom looks like. In the second he will bring the Kingdom in its fullness. When He came the first time, He knew He would have to leave and there would be a second coming. When He comes this next time, He will never leave again. And once He comes this next time we will never need to hope again for all wrongs will be righted, all injustice will meet with justice, all struggles and strivings will cease…forever.

This is the hope we celebrate on this first week of Advent. It hope it is your hope, too.

PRAYER: Thank You Lord Jesus for the sure hope that we have in Your coming once again! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple.  All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 11/03/16 – Many Ways to Lose Your Life

DayBreaks for 11/03/16 – Many Ways to Lose Your Life

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2006:

I try to get into the gym 5 times a week to exercise.  I must confess that many days I really don’t want to go in there and exercise.  But I do – primarily because if I don’t, my cardiologist will read me the riot act.  And it helps create the illusion, too, that by exercising, I will live healthy and well forever.  I know that’s an illusion, but it’s one that I like to hold close to my heart!

Part of my routine is riding the exercise bike.  B-O-R-I-N-G.  Sure, there are TV’s to watch if you’re so inclined, but I find my time is much better spent if I read something.  Sometimes, it’s a sports or outdoors magazine, sometimes it’s a book that I’m interested in.  Just recently, I was reading Outdoor magazine and they had an article about world-class mountain climbers.  They were recalling some of their harrowing moments on the side of mountains like McKinley, Everest, K2, etc.  One comment that was made by the wife of a climber who had died on Everest really struck me.  She said, “There are many ways to lose your life besides dying.”  In her case, she meant that her husband would have “died” if he’d not been able to climb mountains – to do the thing he so loved.

We live in fear of dying.  We decorate caskets with favorite sports team logos, line them with satin as if they were a jewelry box for holding diamonds.  Our fears can cause us to never take any more risk than is absolutely necessary: we can stay inside, never drive, never ride in a vehicle, never fly, never eat any food that we’d not grown organically ourselves, etc.  But that wouldn’t be much of a life, would it? 

Jesus said that he’d come to give us “life – an abundant life” – one that overflows.  We often think that Jesus came to bring us salvation – and that is true.  He did come for that.  But he also came so we could have abundant life.  He doesn’t just save us from eternal torment in hell, but he also saves us from living wasted lives.  What if you worked hard your entire life and when you get to the end you discover, as you lay in your room gazing at the things that surround you, that you’re not very happy with what you have and did with your life?  Jesus doesn’t want that to happen to us.  When we get to the end of this life, he wants us to be of the mindset that we’re grateful for the life we’ve had to live, a life we can look back on and see was well-lived, but mostly to have the attitude of: “It’s been a great ride so far, Jesus.  Now, let the REAL adventure begin!”

If you feel that you’re living a wasted life – one devoid of meaning – I don’t think you’re living the Jesus-life.  All you have to do is read the New Testament and you’ll see that his life and the lives of his disciples were anything but wasted, dull, boring and meaningless.  It was in serving God, and people, that they found joy, and that’s where we’ll find it, too.  There are many ways to lose your life, but only one way to find it!

PRAYER:  God, we long for the fully abundant life you have offered to us.  Help us put everything else aside that slows us down or distracts us from running full-speed into the adventure of eternity with You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/26/16 – Can You Believe It?

 

DayBreaks for 9/26/16 – Can You Believe It?     

There are verses in the bible that are not all that exciting. For example, you can find a lot of them in Numbers! But then there are verses that blow us away…or at least, they should. Here’s one such passage:

Romans 8:30-31 (NLT) – And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?

Please pay special attention to the last sentence and the first five words: If God is for us…  Paul isn’t really asking the question or posing a hypothetical. He is stating a fact based on the truth of the preceding verse where he declares what God has done for us through Jesus…and he’s calling those verses in context to witness to the fact that God IS for us…the “If” is only there to be juxtaposed against the last six word: ..who can ever be against us?

But here’s the question: do you believe God is for YOU? Can you believe that He is NOT against you? Far too many, even Christians, think of God as sitting upon the circle of heaven looking down at us with a cosmic flyswatter just waiting for us to make the slightest mistake so He can squash us like a fly. And then they picture God laughing over whatever remains of us. Or, they see Him as furiously angry with them – eager to destroy as the scent of souls in hell fill is nostrils.

But that is 180 degrees opposite of what Paul has proven. If God is against us, would He have given His Son to die in agony for us? Would God has put Himself through the torture of watching His only begotten Son writing in agony if God was not for us? No way! 

What does it mean that God is for you? It means several things:

FIRST: God is not your enemy. Not once you have come home to him.

SECOND: God is not working against you nor wishing/causing bad things to happen to you. He works FOR you…so powerfully that even the bad things that do happen He is working out for your good.

THIRD: God will not let any enemy stand against you successfully. Not even the ruler of hell.

Perhaps you’re feeling like God can’t possibly be for you…a horrible sinner full of evil acts and even more full of evil thoughts and inclinations. But He is for you. And because of that, you’ve got the best Friend in the universe and He is absolutely crazy about you!

If you struggle to believe this good news, repeat to yourself over and over, day after day, until you come to believe it: God is FOR me!

PRAYER: We struggle to believe You could possibly be for us, God, because we do see our sin and frequent failures. Give us the faith to believe these inspired words from Your Spirit and let us rejoice in the this incredible truth! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/19/16 – Inexpressible Joy

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DayBreaks for 9/19/16 – Inexpressible Joy

From our worship bulletin:

“I knew he was going to lose it. I was to officiate the wedding of the daughter of a close friend of mine. The night before the wedding we had the rehearsal in the chapel. What a great setting. The groomsmen and bridesmaids took their places on stage. We processed out and then practiced coming in to the music. As my friend walked his daughter down the aisle it hit him. He began to tear up as he approached the front of the chapel. We paused. It was a wonderful moment.

“Why did he cry? Well, he told me that they were not tears of sadness. He likes the guy his daughter married. He told me that they were tears of inexpressible joy. He went on to explain that sometimes words cannot express how we feel. Tears can. The thought of his daughter, the ride, marrying the man she loves, the bridegroom, brought him to tears of inexpressible joy.

“Now as Christians, there is something deeper that is happening in a marriage ceremony. It is a picture. We see it in the 21st chapter of Revelation, I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, ad he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.’

“Imagine the Father, seeing the bridegroom (His son Jesus) as the bride (the church) comes forward at the end of time for the consummation of all things. That will be a moment of inexpressible joy and that may well be why He will wipe every tear away.  It will be a joyous occasion.

“For now, we are called to look for a glimpse. We may see it in a daughter’s wedding. We may find it as someone we know comes to faith. We may experience it as our souls are healed through confession, repentance and forgiveness. It is just glimpse of glory and there is more to come. He is the God who gives inexpressible joy.”

PRAYER: God, we long to be part of the wedding of the Lamb and to experience Your eternal, inexpressible joy! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

 

DayBreaks for 8/22/16 – Misunderstanding Life – and the Father

 

DayBreaks for 8/22/16 – Misunderstanding Life – and the Father

There is no greater example of the gospel than that found in Luke 15 where Jesus tells three stories: the lost sheep, the lost coin…and the “prodigal son” story (and that’s a huge misnomer!) So, my dear, dear friend…this is a story for you…

Luke 15:17-20 (ESV) – But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

Our lead teacher (Randy) has been doing a series on this chapter and it has been so rich! Sunday, he spoke about this son – this younger, prideful, rebellious son and about his return home. There were some key points that I wanted to share from his message because they blessed me and I think they’ll bless you, too.

FIRST: this young, headstrong and inconsiderate man thought that in license there would be freedom. He wanted to cast off the restraints of living in the presence of the father, thinking that if he could only go and do what he wanted, to be in charge and control of his own life, that he could find happiness. But, as Randy noted, “License always ends in bondage.” We think that the lack of restraints is what will not only bring us joy, but bring us freedom. It won’t. It ends in bondage. License doesn’t set you free – the Truth is what sets us free!

SECOND: the son totally misunderstood the father. He is hoping against hope to be welcome to serve as a hired hand in the father’s house and business. That’s all he could aspire to, all he could imagine after what he’d done to his father. But this just shows how badly he misunderstood the father. There is no way that the father would take his son back as a hired hand! No! This son was treated to the father’s very own rob, to shoes for his feet, a ring for his hand…but far more than that, what was the greatest gift of the father was his embrace and kiss. Fathers don’t embrace and kiss hired hands…but they do their sons and daughters. This son had no idea how much he was loved by the father until the embrace and kiss took place!

THIRD: perhaps most importantly – and I hope you don’t miss this one – the embrace and kiss are NOT given to the son because he came home.  They are given because he was a son…a child so deeply loved by the father that no other response from the father was even possible! The embrace and kiss had to be given because the father couldn’t not constrain his love.

In order to come home, we have to believe in the love of the father. The young man believed – or rather hoped – that there was some compassion in the heart of his dad.  He just didn’t know the love that was in the father’s heart.

And so it is with you and me. We won’t come home (not to a physical or metaphysical place) but into the relationship of the Father’s person, unless we begin to believe He loves us. And when we make the first step, oh sweet joy! – the Father runs to us, encircles us with His almighty arms, and gives us a “welcome home” kiss!

Are you away from “home”, thinking that maybe if you’re super lucky, that the Father might let you inhabit the darkest corner of heaven as a sweeper of the golden street? Forget it! You will be welcomed as a beloved child – and the greatest celebration of all eternity will begin – and never end!

PRAYER: Oh, Father, Father, Father! Your love is so overwhelming! Help us believe that You love us like this – even more than this – and that we are welcome in the home of Your embrace forever! In the name of Christ Jesus, our Lord, Amen. 

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.