DayBreaks for 5/14/18 – Robbed of Joy

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DayBreaks for 5/14/18: Robbed of Joy

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008

There was once a man who had lived a long time.  Someone once asked him what it was that had robbed the most joy from his life.  The old man never hesitated, but answered simply, “Things that never happened!”

How much of my life have I spent worrying about things that might happen but which never did?  I can become frozen with fear and not let my children play in the front yard.  I can refuse to leave my house for fear of being in a traffic accident on my way to work.  I can never shake someone’s hand or hug someone or give anyone a kiss for fear of disease.  I can stop drinking water or eating food because it might be poisoned!  We all would tend to say that doing those things would be silly, yet we worry about many things.  Jesus knew someone like that and her name was Martha: “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Lk. 10:41-42).  What had Mary chosen? Jesus!

Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow because tomorrow will take care of itself.  We need to be focused on where we are right now in this day that God has made (Matt. 6:34).   The apostle Paul also counsels us to: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7).  Paul doesn’t say that we shouldn’t care about things – just that we not be anxious about them.  How do we do that?  We take everything to God as a request – and then we leave it there, with Him.  The result: His peace will guard and protect our hearts and minds.

Here’s three keys to happiness that you may find helpful in your walk with Him today (and tomorrow!!!):

Fret not – for He loves you, John 15:9: As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love”  He loves you now and forever!

Faint not – for He holds you, Psalm 139:10: …even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  No one can snatch you from his hand!

Fear not – for He keeps you, Psalm 121:5: The LORD watches over you– the LORD is your shade at your right hand…  He will not slumber nor sleep, but always watch over you!

Don’t let things that you only imagine in your mind rob you of your joy in Christ!  It is that very joy that may draw your neighbors to Him through you!

PRAYER: Fill our minds with the joys of your promises and the certainty of your goodness so we don’t worry about things we shouldn’t. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

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DayBreaks for 4/18/18 – A Home We’ve Never Visited

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DayBreaks for 4/18/18: A Home We’ve Never Visited

From the DayBreaks archive, dated 3/18/2005:

I am often possessed by a sense of great sadness at the amount of pain in the world.  No one – not one – is immune to the suffering, pain and disappointment.   It searches us out as a mother looks for a lost child.  And it always finds us.  Yet there is still nothing like going home.  For anyone who had anything approaching a normal upbringing, “home” is sweet music to our world-weary souls.  It promises remembrances of safety, of love, of belonging and being cherished.  It fires joy into our hearts and longing into our spirits.  Home.  Perhaps the finest place on earth.  But there is only one place that is home, and much of the rest of the world is brutal and heartbreaking.

Philip Yancey, in Disappointment With God, wrote: “For people who are trapped in pain, or in a broken home, or in economic misery, or in fear – for all those people, for all of us, heaven promises a time, far longer and more substantial than the time we spent on earth, of health and wholeness and pleasure and peace.  …The Bible never belittles human disappointment (remember the proportion in Job – one chapter of restoration follows forty-one chapters of anguish), but it does add one key word: temporary.  What we feel now, we will not always feel.  Our disappointment is itself a sign, an aching, a hunger for something better.  And faith is, in the end, a kind of homesickness – for a home we have never visited but have never once stopped longing for.”

 T.S. Eliot put it like this:

“And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.”

Rev. 21: 1-4 – Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a beautiful bride prepared for her husband.  I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever.

Copyright by 2018 Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

PRAYER: It is hard to understand the requests of the disciples until we put ourselves in their place, Lord, and realize that we would have likely done the same thing.  Help us not to seek our glory, but yours!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 3/16/18 – My Father’s World

 

DayBreaks for 3/16/18: My Father’s World

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

“This is my Father’s world, and too my listen ears, all nature sings and round me rings the music of the spheres.  This is my Father’s world, I rest me in the thought, of rocks and trees of skies and seas, His hand the wonders wrought.” 

I’ve always loved that song.  I remember on the morning after my father died and I was waiting for the train that was bringing our oldest son home from Seattle, that as I wandered around the train station and the marshland nearby (there was a walking trail through it), I sang this song inside my head.  It felt strange to sing it, for my father was no longer in this world and I felt that loss very keenly. 

As I sang it to myself, over and over, I knew and understood that as much as I would miss my dad and his being in “my world”, that I was not Fatherless.  This was still my Father’s world, and even as He’d given that gift to my dad, He’d also given that same world to me – to all of us. 

This song should be a daily part of our worship, I think.  I don’t know about you, but I find it all too easy to get down on the world – to just see the ugliness of it, the greed and rape and killing and abuse.  Let us not forget, however, that it is God’s world – made with the words of His mouth.  It is not the world that is bad, it is men and women.  If nothing else, singing this song should fill us anew with the wonder of God’s creative power, and we need to remember that this is His world – it is not a wasted effort by God that He hates and which He will someday throw out in the trash.  No, I rather think God loves His creation and if I read this verse correctly, He’s at work redeeming it, not planning to trash it: Colossians 1:19-20 (NASB) – For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

Did you catch that?  He’s working to reconcile ALL THINGS to Himself – whether things on earth or things in heaven.  And this: Romans 8:22-23 (NIV) – We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  The creation groans…it awaits its own redemption, just as we await the fullness of our deliverance.

I hope to remember to sing this song to myself much more often in the future.  It matters how I see the world.  If I see it as something horrendous that must be avoided at all costs, from which I must distance myself, I’ll not have God’s own heart for the creation and people that He declared good and that “He so loved”.  Just as some people refuse to watch the news because it’s just too ugly and painful (as a result they become out of touch with life lived on this sphere), we’re tempted as believers who are so repulsed by the evil we see and sense all around us to just shut it off.  We can’t – we mustn’t – if we are to be followers of the Rabbi.

PRAYER: Lord, have mercy on our souls.  Fill us with the wonder of your world, with love for its people, with hope for its future, with praise for your greatness and confidence in your work to redeem all things to yourself.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 1/15/18 – It Is Finished..It Is Just Beginning

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DayBreaks for 1/15/18: It Is Finished…It Is Just Beginning

John 19:30 (ESV) – When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
I honestly don’t know if there are three more poignant words than those three that fell from the lips of Jesus with his dying breath. “It is finished!” Matthew and Mark record that Jesus cried out in a loud voice but don’t tell us what he said. Luke says that Jesus cried out loudly, Father, into your hands I commit my spirit…and then died. I’m not disturbed by this “disconnect” at all and I could see Jesus having said those final two statements in any order.

While I won’t for a second presume to know what was in the mind of Jesus at that moment, I will venture a guess. We know from his evening in the garden that he was dreading the crucifixion that loomed just ahead. He didn’t want to have to go through it, but we are told that he “joyfully” endured the cross and its torments for us. It is possible that Jesus was referring to the suffering (which none of us can imagine) that he had endured for hours suspended between sky and ground. Who could blame him if that’s what was on his mind? That being said, I think that was the least of the reasons for his shout from the cross.

I tend to think that there was something much more significant in his heart that led to those words, It is finished! I suspect it was more about the following:

FIRST: rather than focusing on the pain, I think he was focused on the reason behind the pain – the price for sin needed to be paid and now it had been paid in full. The sacrifice was finished. The separation of God from man was no longer inevitable.

SECOND: the rule of death that had held sway from the death of the very first human was finished. The stench of eternal death was swept away with the dying breath of Jesus as he cried out.

THIRD: the power of Satan to claim human souls was finished – at least for those who would accept the One who made the sacrifice. Satan could no longer demand the souls of every human being.

FOURTH: the power of a law that could condemn and convict us of sin but which could never be kept or save was shattered and washed away by the blood he’d shed establishing a new covenant.

FINALLY: the ordeal of the incarnation was finished for all practical purposes. There seems to be something quite different about Jesus in his resurrection body. The humiliation of God becoming man was finished. We have no record of Jesus ever being tempted again after his resurrection as he was in his pre-cruficixion days. He seems to have begun to take back some of the glory of his pre-incarnate state with the blinding light of the resurrection morning, the ability to appear and disappear at will, and to ascend into the clouds.

I suppose it is a combination of the above that led to Jesus’ cry. And while that was finished, something new as beginning: the ability for humans to be sinless in God’s eyes, the ability for humans to be reunited with God. While all those things ended with Jesus’ words, for humanity it was just the beginning. We have been given a new chance, a new hope, and new life – and new we must begin to live like citizens of the Light and not of darkness any longer.

How are you doing with that?

PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, for finishing what you came to do. Help us to live up to the new beginning you died to give us! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 1/10/18 – God Help the Fish

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Image courtesy from iStock photo.

DayBreaks for 1/10/18: God Help the Fish

When you think of it, we all like fairy tale stories in one form or another. We like stories of frogs becoming princes, of ugly ducklings that become beautiful swans and the down-and-out who rise above adversity yet remain kind, compassionate and humble.

Sam Houston was the first president of the Republic of Texas. It’s said he was a rather nasty fellow with a checkered past.  Later in life Houston made a commitment to Christ and was baptized in a river. The preacher said to him, “Sam, your sins are washed away.”  Houston replied, “God help the fish.”

We see similar stories throughout the Bible as ordinary people, often very poor and outcast, who come to a special relationship with God or Jesus. The woman at the well, the woman taken in adultery, Saul of Tarsus, Zacchaeus and others are all examples. We are uplifted by their stories.

Yet, each and every believer in Jesus is like the pauper who becomes a prince or princess. We have to go through a process much like Sam Houston did – of being convicted of our estate (it must become clear to see!) – before God dresses us in the finest of robes, puts shoes on us, gives us his ring and reinstates us to a place in His own house.

How do you see yourself? You may not feel like the prince or princess just yet, but once your sins have been washed away, you are no longer what you previously were. You are a child of the King and you are growing to look more and more like him with each passing day, week, month and year. The day will come when you will stand beside him in glory, look in the mirror and see both his and your reflection, and will be amazed at how alike you are!

Hang tough! Persevere! Trust Him! He will finish the work he has started!

PRAYER: God, I know my own sin is enough to kill all the fish in the sea, yet you promise me you have washed me clean and that I am your child. Help us all to being to grasp that simple, yet profound, truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/20/17: Christmas Surprises

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DayBreaks for 12/20/17: Christmas Surprises

Who doesn’t enjoy opening presents on Christmas day? Let’s be honest: we all love it, don’t we? We wonder what’s inside that package, box or envelope. We love surprises!

Under a cultural-exchange program, rabbi Alan Abramsky and his family in Roanoke, Texas, were hosts to a rabbi from Russia at Christmas time. They decided to introduce him to a culinary treat that was probably not available in his country: they took him to their favorite Chinese restaurant.

Throughout the meal, the rabbi spoke excitedly about the wonders of North America in comparison to the bleak conditions in his homeland. When they had finished eating, the waiter brought the check and presented each of them with a small brass Christmas-tree ornament as a seasonal gift.

They all laughed when Abramsky’s father pointed out that the ornaments were stamped “Made in India.” But the laughter subsided when they saw that the rabbi was quietly crying. Concerned, Abramsky’s father asked the rabbi if he was offended because he’d been given a gift for a Christian holiday.

He smiled, shook his head and said, “Nyet. I was shedding tears of joy to be in a wonderful country in which a Buddhist gives a Jew a Christmas gift made by a Hindu!” A time of miracles. A time for stories.

From time to time we hear someone say, “Wouldn’t it be great if it could be Christmas all year long.” Surprise! That was God’s intent. That is why God invaded our planet and gave us the gift of God’s Son. There is only one thing that stands in the way of celebrating Christmas all year long: you and I. Let’s agree to not stand in the way of anyone celebrating Christmas all year long!

PRAYER:  Jesus, we don’t want to cause people not to celebrate Immanuel all year long, year after year, decade after decade. Let us never lost the sense of the miraculous that is so present in this season. Let us overflow each and every day out of lives that are filled with wonder. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/31/17 – Where Things Go to Die

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DayBreaks for 10/31/17: Where Things Go to Die

Yeah, I know it’s Halloween, and there will be “zombies” walking around carrying buckets and bags for candy tonight. There will be other “undead” creatures wandering the sidewalks and streets, but this DayBreaks doesn’t really have anything to do with dead things like that. But it does have to do with where things can go to die.

I lived on the farm as a kid, and it wasn’t unusual for a cat or a skunk to go into a crawl space that ran under the side of the corn crib when it came their time to die. You typically wouldn’t see them – you’d smell them before you noticed that they were no longer around. And even for us humans, we have places we tend to die: at home, in a hospital, at a convalescent center. After all, we will all die and we need a place where we can do that.

But what I’m interested in today is a lyric from a song in worship on Sunday that talked about the place where all our sin and shame goes to die. That place? The cross of Jesus, of course!

What does it mean that our sin and shame can truly go there to die? It means that I don’t need to feel crushed any longer by the sin in my life, no matter what that sin may be. It is dead. It is nailed to the cross. And I also no longer have to be weighed down with my shame for all that I’ve done, and all the good that I know I should have done, but which I left undone. That shame, the reports of those things, will never be revealed as I’ve been washed clean and carry the shame of my deeds and thoughts no longer. And if my shame were to be revealed, rather than being embarrassed by it, I should exult in the greatness and completeness of His forgiveness and grace. Instead of dying of my shame, my shame died so I can exalt His greatness!

Some dead things, like cats in a crawl space, stink. My sin and shame is dead, too, and the scent of the grace of Jesus accompanies my soul. In the Father’s eyes, it is as if those things never happened for the price was paid that took those things away…forever!  

PRAYER: Thank you for providing the perfect place for our sin and shame to die and be hidden for eternity! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.