DayBreaks for 9/04/17 – As We Forgive Others

DayBreaks for 9/04/17: As We Forgive Others

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

From The Scrivener, blog by Doug Dalrymple:

I know that all the Hutus who killed so calmly cannot be sincere when they beg pardon, even of the Lord. But me, I am ready to forgive. It is not a denial of the harm they did, not a betrayal of the Tutsis, not an easy way out. It is so that I will not suffer my whole life asking myself why they tried to cut me. I do not want to live in remorse and fear from being Tutsi. If I do not forgive them, it is I alone who suffers and frets and cannot sleep… I yearn for peace in my body. I really must find tranquility. I have to sweep fear far away from me, even if I do not believe their soothing words.”  The quote is from a Rwandan school teacher named Edith. She is interviewed in Jean Hatzfeld’s book, Une Saison de Machettes, reviewed here by Theodore Dalrymple.
“Edith’s sentiments are telling, I think. When we withhold forgiveness from someone who has wronged us, we often do so because we feel that to forgive that person would be to give him something beautiful, a gift he manifestly does not deserve.  I think this is an accurate instinct; forgiveness truly is a gift.  Forgiveness may, in measure, relieve the perpetrator from the burden of his crime, or the spiritual consequences of it – provided the perpetrator is, in fact, conscious of that burden or those consequences.
“But not all are conscious of their crimes or culpability.  Speaking from my own experience as a sinner, it is easy enough for a man to remain ignorant (willfully or otherwise) of the hells he’s unleashed in the lives of others.  In his novel, Silence, Shusaku Endo writes that sin “is not to steal and tell lies. Sin is for one man to walk brutally over the life of another and to be quite oblivious of the wounds he has left behind.”  But even in such cases, when we withhold forgiveness we only make ourselves victims twice over.  The perpetrator may never appreciate the gift of forgiveness, but the walls we build in our hearts against our neighbor serve also to separate us from God.  We cannot at once be separated from our neighbor and united to God.  Without forgiveness, there is no peace. As Edith says, “If I do not forgive them, it is I alone who suffers and frets and cannot sleep… I yearn for peace in my body.”

Isn’t it interesting how we want to make everyone pay for the things they’ve done to hurt us?  And how little we want to pay for the hurts we’ve inflicted on others – we usually explain them away with a toss of the hand or head or some remark about how they deserved what they got because of something they’d done.  But I think Doug’s point is valid: “We cannot at once be separated from our neighbor and united to God.”  Isn’t that what it means when we’re told that if we don’t love our neighbor, we can’t love God?  1 John 4:20 (NLT) – If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we have not seen?

PRAYER: Jesus, your love alone is fully holy and righteous, and we have so much need to learn to love as you do!  Help us to start by learning to forgive from the heart, not just for the sake of others, but for our own sake as well.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 8/24/17 – On Rough Water, #3

DayBreaks for 8/24/17: On Rough Water #3

They say that the best way to tell if someone has learned anything is whether or not there has been a change in behavior. I’ve written twice recently about Peter and his adventures in water walking. And yesterday, I suggested that perhaps what Jesus meant when he said “O, you of little faith” to Peter wasn’t so much about Jesus power to keep Peter walking on the water (after all, Peter did cry out to a man walking on the water to save him!), but about whether Jesus might be willing to save a man who started sinking.

So, did Peter learn from this episode? I think he did. Consider:

FIRST: remember that Peter was the one who asked the Lord to invite him to walk on the water in the first place. Perhaps the last instance where Peter and Jesus interacted at the lake was after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, after the denial. Peter and the disciples had left Jerusalem and returned to Galilee as Jesus had instructed them…and they then went fishing. Early one morning as they were out on their boats, they witnessed someone walking on the shore who tells them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat and they take in a huge haul of fish. Jesus, we’re told, was on the shore cooking fish. As soon as Peter recognized it was Jesus, he didn’t shout out to Jesus to invite him to walk on the water to the shore. I think that this is a sign that he had learned some things about himself and his weaknesses.

SECOND: in the instance during the storm, Peter asked Jesus to invite him to come to him on the water. Not this time, however. Peter jumped right in and swam to shore. What that tells me is that Peter had learned something about the love that Jesus had for him…and he couldn’t wait to get to Jesus. Peter got wet the second time, but he was so eager to get to Jesus that he got wet of his own volition the second time.

Why did Peter now trust in the Lord’s love? After all, the denial had been sandwiched in between the walking on the water and jumping in to swim to Jesus. You’d think that if Peter had doubted Jesus’ love the first time, he’d surely doubt it after the denial. But he doesn’t appear to doubted at all. Why? What had changed? The crucifixion…the crucifixion changed everything. No one who stood there that day who had the slightest inkling of what was going on could ever doubt God’s love.

We who are alive today couldn’t stand on Golgotha the day Jesus died so we could see with our eyes the length and breadth of Jesus love. We can only see it through eyes of faith. Even though he stood far off, Peter saw it firsthand. And he never doubted Jesus’ love again. Neither should we.

PRAYER: Jesus, I wonder how much more we’d understand your love if we’d stood on Calvary’s hill as you died. Help us to see it with the eyes of our souls so we will leap into the water and swim to you rather than fear rejection. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/23/17 – On Rough Water, #2

DayBreaks for 8/23/17: On Rough Water #2

Matthew 14:26-31 (ESV) – But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Why did Peter sink? Of course, we know the answer because the passage tells us. He was afraid when he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the wind. So let’s not waste time on that question when I think there’s a better question to ask.

Why does Peter call out to Jesus? If Peter really was a man of little faith (as Jesus says), why did he call out to Jesus? In what way had Peter demonstrated a lack of faith? After all, he’d stepped out of the boat, walked on the water, and when he got in trouble, he called out to Jesus! All of those things cry out “faith!” to me, and probably to you, too. So, why would he have called out to Jesus if he didn’t have faith that Jesus could do something about his sinking situation?

On Sunday, I think I heard an answer. It wasn’t a question of whether nor not Jesus could do something. All Peter had to do was look at Jesus walking securely on the water to know that Jesus could do anything he wanted to do! I think that is was a question of whether or not Jesus would do something. It wasn’t a question of ability but of willingness. Peter wasn’t sure that Jesus would be willing to save him. Why? Not sure, but I suspect it revolved around several things: 1) Peter knew he had in some sense “failed” because he was sinking; 2) Peter wasn’t sure enough about Jesus’ love for him given not just this failure, but others that Peter and Jesus were certainly aware of.

I believe Peter had all the faith in the world about Jesus’ ability, but like us, he’s prone to doubt Jesus’ willingness after we’ve blown it yet again. After all the promises to God to never to that thing again – we do it. After all the times when we’ve thought evil thoughts, after all the times we’ve failed tests that God has sent our way…we don’t believe that Jesus loves us enough to help. And that is why Jesus says Peter is a man of little faith.

Do you see it? When we doubt that Jesus could possibly love us enough, we’re being just like Peter. We’re expressing lack of faith not in Jesus’ ability, but his willingness to save a “wretch like me”.

So what does Jesus do when Peter cried out: immediately he reached out and grabbed Peter. Will we learn from that, will we come to believe that Jesus loves us enough to reach out to us in spite of our bazillion failures? Peter came to believe it. I hope we do, too.  

PRAYER: Lord, when we are tempted to doubt that you love us enough to rescue sinking people like us, remind us of your willingness to bear the awful crucifixion for us. Whenever we begin to doubt that you could possibly still love us in spite of our failures, let us remember the lengths you went to in order to show us your endless and immeasurable love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/26/17 – A Proof of the Truth of Love

DayBreaks for 5/26/17: A Proof of the Truth of Love

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

Tears.  Sorrow.  Grief.  Three words that we hope don’t come anywhere near us, for when they do they are always unwelcome visitors.  Would that life were always full of joy, happiness and laughter!  That is, after all, how God intended for life to be, and how it will someday again be for those who love Him! 

In the meantime, we are awaiting that revealing and dawning.  And as the ocean is full of water, so our lives are full of tears.  It doesn’t take much for me to cry.  I am sometimes embarrassed by my readiness to cry, wishing that I were more stoic, that perhaps things didn’t affect me as much.  Those are usually times when I am in a public situation, sometimes in the pulpit, or at the beside of a person in great pain and facing death. 

What can you say to someone who is crushed, broken hearted by loss or some great sorrow?  I know I struggle to find words.  They do, too.  They may be crying, and yet they still seem to be able to say, “I’m sorry for crying.”  I usually am quick to assure them that tears are not bad.  Jesus cried.  And I tell them that tears are a part of the language of love, for if we did not love, we would not weep with loss.

I found it interesting that my oldest son, Doug, was reflecting on this the other day in his blog, when he wrote: “Perhaps sorrow like this can be a kind of gift, too.  It is at least proof of the truth of love, and hope is never far from love.” (Doug Dalrymple, 5/10/07, The Scrivener)

The sorrow that produces weeping is a gift, for it reveals what is in our hearts, and if nothing else, surely it must be proof of the truth of a love that may have even gone unexpressed in happier times. 

Let your tears flow when you need to cry.  They are part of God’s heart, too.

PRAYER:  Lord, may we join in the weeping that comes from your heart for this broken and bloody world of darkness and loss.  May we weep unashamedly because of the love that you put into our hearts for You and those around us.  And may we also weep for our brokenness.  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 4/12/17 – The Widow’s Offering

DayBreaks for 4/12/17: The Widow’s Offering

From the Holy Week devotional guide from our church:

“On the surface, I don’t believe it can be any clearer what’s being said here. It’s important to give, to tithe, and to sacrifice. However, I want you to look deeper and be inspired by something that motivates me, and I hope I will encourage you as well.

“Let’s look at her FOCUS! Here is a woman living an uphill battle. She is a woman in a time where so little value was placed on her gender and potential. Most women were not allowed to leave their homes, nor were they allowed to speak in public. Simply put, most women held the same status as a slave. This woman was a widow, which meant what love and relationship she once had in her life was now gone. She suffered the pain of a loved one’s death and the loss of a secure future. In a sense, this widow had nothing going for her and little to live for. In every direction, her life was about pain. Who among us cannot relate to the pain this widow experienced?

“However, reading the story of this widow’s actions is inspirational. While reading this passage, I visualized this timid, humble, and respectful woman approaching the offering box. She was focused on one thing…God! She wasn’t focused on the fact she was broke, probably jobless, and didn’t have any excess money to give. Frankly, one could easily assume she might want to hold onto her last few coins to give herself some sense of security for the next day or two? No, not her! Even though she had experienced the death of her husband and loss of companionship and security, her pain was great, but her focus was not on her story. It was on Him!

“The widow’s story is like a movie. I’m sure we all have movies that inspire us, motivate us to new heights, and even bring us to tears as we relate to the hero’s ability to overcome obstacles. This widow’s story is a biblical picture of an overcomer with an attitude that says, ‘I will not quit.’ As hard as her life was, she was prepared to put her confidence in God’s faithfulness. It all goes back to her FOCUS, her ability to trust, to see what is most important It is awe-inspirit as she surrenders her life’s struggles to the loving arms of the Father!

“Easter is a time of reflection, sadness, joy and great celebration. It is a time to FOCUS. Focus on our personal struggles and pain but also on the finished work of Christ. Though we cannot make sin disappear in our lifetime, as the movie of our life is played, we can experience what it is like to live as overcomers because of what Jesus has done! This widow gave us an example to follow. She was a humble servant, a dedicated giver, and most importantly a lover of the Mighty God!

“Where is our FOCUS? Jesus looks beyond the outward appearance and sees directly into the heart. Are we preoccupied with our struggles or are we living in the reality that Christ has overcome those struggles? As we focus on the finished work of Christ, our story will look remarkably like the widow’s story.” – Brent Weber, director of Kidsquest and Impact Arts Academy, Perimeter church

PRAYER: Lord, when we consider that You were obedient, even unto death, it seems a reasonable service of worship for us to present ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable. Lord, only You can give us a heart that is willing to live sacrificially! In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/10/17 – The Danger of Easter

DayBreaks for 4/10/17: The Danger of Easter

From the Holy Week devotional guide from our church:

“Every year at Easter, Christians from all around the world gather to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus. We flood our churches, fill our pews, crowd our auditoriums, cram into our cathedrals, all to hear again the story of one who suffered, died and was raised for the sake of sinners. We come to be moved, to have our hearts softened. To be reminded of the cost of our sins and the hope of Christ’s resurrection.

“Yet, it is here, during the very event where it seems the gospel if most highlighted, that the gospel is in the most danger. Because amid all the hubbub and pageantry, there is this risk: that we would be affected by the spectacle, filled with compassion for the suffering of an innocent one and guilt that we were its cause, but left blind to the most vital piece of all. That what we commemorate is not just the bare historical death of Jesus nor even His resurrection. No. It’s the revelation of the very heart of God for sinners. That this sacrifice was no cold act of duty, but the glorious expression of a compassionate Savior, a Savior whose every step toward the cross flowed out of love for us.

“The great peril is that Easter would come and go and we would not realize that it was for us. That, as Romans 4:26 says, He was delivered up to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification. That Jesus’ willingness to die in our place arose not out of rote submission to the Father, but out of a burning desire to save you and me. Here is the hope of sinners. It is that, as Thomas Goodwin once commented, ‘Christ’s heart was a full in [this pursuit of our forgiveness], as the sinner’s heart to desire it.’ Every breath He expended was in the service of our salvation and pursued out of love for us.

“Our aim with this devotional is not to rehearse mere historical facts. It is not to work up our emotions, though we would love to engage our affections. Instead, our aim is…that each of us would be able to say with full confidence what Paul did in Galatians 2:20: I love by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. That it was for our trespasses that He was delivered up and it was for our justification that He was raised and it was His joy (Romans 4:25; Hebrews 12:2). – Caleb Click, young adults pastor, Perimeter church

PRAYER: Lord, as we enter this week of preparation, help us to set aside the distraction that so quickly take our heart and mind away from You. As we celebrate the finished work of Christ remind us, during this time, that He was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.