DayBreaks for 5/02/19 – The Reason to Live…and Die

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DayBreaks for 5/02/19: The Reason to Live and Die

From the DayBreaks archive: April 2009

God created humans to live a life of love.  There was an article in the February 2009 issue of Fast Company magazine that confirmed this truth. The article described a very successful man that I’d never heard of, and you probably haven’t either.  His name is David Kelley, and he is the founder of what many regard as the premier design firm in the country—Ideo—and has been a respected professor at Stanford University for more than 30 years.  The man is enormously creative – a genius.  Suddenly, at 56 years of age, Kelley learned he had cancer.  In the Fast Company article, Linda Tischler wrote:

“What ensued was sheer hell. Chemo, surgery, radiation. Mouth sores. A throat so raw he could barely swallow. Nausea so severe he couldn’t concentrate enough to read or even watch TV. “I spent nine months in a room trying not to throw up,” he says. The treatment wrecked his saliva glands and his taste buds. He lost 40 pounds.

“Kelley is happily married and has one daughter. This is where the idea of being created for love comes in. As Kelley struggled through the difficult emotions that come with this kind of experience, he discovered his reason to live. Kelley says about his daughter:

“At first, you think, ‘I don’t want to miss her growing up.’ That’s motivating, but not that motivating. It’s when you manage to get out of yourself and start thinking of her that you get the resolve to continue. When you think, ‘I don’t want her not to have a father’—then you want to stay alive.

“What gave Kelley a reason to endure the suffering of his treatment was not the pleasure he would get out of experiencing life with his daughter, as wonderful as that would be. Kelley realized that what truly motivated him was the benefit he could bring to his daughter. What motivated Kelley at the deepest level was selfless sacrifice for another—love. We were made for this.”

Galen’s Thoughts: I will confess this: having had one episode of cardiac bypass surgery, I am not eager to contemplate ever having such surgery again, although it is probably in the cards for me somewhere down the road.  Many have been the times that I’d considered what I’d do if the doctors were to tell me some day “You need another bypass operation.”  Would I do it?  My thinking has run along these lines: if it were just me, probably not.  But I now am richly blessed with 6 grandchildren, and I’ve told myself “Yes, I’d do it because I want to watch them grow.”  That is a selfish motive (not necessarily a bad one, but self-centered nonetheless.)  It would be much better to say, “I don’t want then growing up without their Pop-pop.” (That’s me!)  That switches the motivation and focus away from me and my wishes, to them and their needs. 

After all, isn’t that the motivation that led Jesus to the cross?

Prayer: Lord, give us wisdom to find the way to love others properly, to find our motivation for living and life, death and dying, in loving service to them and You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 4/25/19 – Love You Forever

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DayBreaks for 4/25/19: Love You Forever

From the DayBreaks archives, April 2009:

Ah, the promises of endless love! How they sweep us off our feet when we are young…and how they comfort us in our declining years. Endless love has been immortalized in endless love songs. It seems that the world simply cannot get enough of the idea of a timeless, endless love. We want to believe in a love that will never die, will never end, will never fade or lose it’s luster. We want to believe that our love – and those things we love – will go on beyond the grave.

When my children were little, there was a book that I loved to read to them, even though I struggled to read it each time because it nearly always made me cry. The name of the book is Love You Forever by Robert Munsch.  It is the story of a mother’s love for her little boy, from his earliest days, right through the period called “the terrible twos”, through the rebellious teen years and on into the boy’s middle age. No matter what the boy’s age is, the mother is always consistent: she gathers the sleeping form of her son into her aging arms and holds him with the tenderness that only a mother can muster. As she holds the sleeping baby/child/boy/man, she sings the same song over and over to him: “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.”

It is a beautiful book, and a beautiful thought. Don’t we all long to be loved like that? But there is one problem with what the mother has to say – not so much a problem, but a lurking reality that can’t be escaped: “…as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.” Implied in the words of the song is the inevitable specter of death and the reminder that at some point she will die and no longer be able to sing her love song to her “baby.”

For those who know Jesus, the words could be sung to us: “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my child you’ll be.” Only when Jesus sings that to us it takes on an entirely different meaning, for the phrase “as long as I’m living” takes on real meaning when applied to Christ. For him, it’s not haunted by a shadow of his potential demise, but rather becomes a reminder that we will indeed be loved forever, liked for always and that we shall forever and eternity be his beloved child! God lives, and God loves, forever.

Do not fear…do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:16-17)

Prayer: Lord, in your embrace we find peace and love everlasting for neither your love, nor you, will ever die.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 3/15/19 – Perfect Love

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DayBreaks for 3/15/19: Perfect Love

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2009:

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  –  1 John 4:16-18 (NIV)

I think that this passage says more about love than I’ve ever realized or appreciated.  It starts out talking about how we know and rely on God’s love for us, followed by John’s short but simple declaration: God is love.  Isn’t that wonderful news?  What if it had not been so?  What if all John could say about God was something like, “God is anger” or “God is unstable” or “God is vindictive.”  Thank goodness that God is not those things, but that primarily over and above anything else, He is love. 

Secondly, if we live in love, God lives in us.  That suggests, as I wrote about a week ago, that without God we cannot love at all.  He first loved us…and when we live in that knowledge and awareness, then we can love – but not before.  Love is made complete in us (nothing lacking) so we can have confidence that when the judgment rolls around, we have nothing to fear. 

But then comes the point I want to look at today.  There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  If you are like me, you’ve probably taken this verse about perfect love casting out fear and berated yourself because you fear of God.  First, let me say that it is not such a bad thing to have a healthy respect/fear of God – Jesus in fact told us to fear the one (God) who can cast both body and soul into hell.  Fear, it seems, is not an unwarranted response to the immensity of God’s power. 

That being said, perfect love casts out fear, taking away our fear of punishment in the judgment.  I’ve asked myself over and over many times, why do I remain fearful of God?  Partly it is because I know my sins, and as David put it, they are “ever before me.”  No matter how hard I try to pretend, they are real and they are very, very many.  Partly it is because my love for God is not yet perfected – so my love is not “perfect”, it has holes in it – largely because all human loves have always carried pain with them and we have to protect ourselves from being hurt too badly and too deeply. 

But, as I thought about this passage, I think I’ve got another point of view on it, too.  What love is perfect, or maybe a better way to put it would be “Whose love is perfect?”  Certainly not mine or yours.  There is nothing about us that is perfect or complete.  Only God’s love is perfect.  This phrase “perfect love drives out fear” may be talking more about God’s love for me than of my love for Him.  His love is the only perfect love.  His love drives out the fear that comes from impending and fearful punishment.  It is, as John said, God who lives in us. 

I need to apprehend the love of God more in order to drive out the fear that sometimes invades my soul.  My own love will never be perfect enough to drive it away, but His can…and will.

Prayer:  Amazing love, how can it be, that You my Lord should die for me!  May we apprehend the perfect love You have for us as our Father that will drive away our fear!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

Daybreaks for 3/12/19 – When the Light Dawns

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DayBreaks for 3/12/19: When the Light Dawns

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2009:

You know how you feel when you re-read a certain passage of Scripture and discover in it a thought that you’d never seen before?  That happened to me as I prepared recently for a sermon on God’s love.  I’ve been preaching a series on the nature of God – trying to understand and know Him better so that we can rest confidently and with peace in Who He Is and what we are to him.  Unless we can rest in assurance that God is every bit as good as His word and unlike people who flip-flop daily, we will never be willing to risk much for a God who is flaky and unreliable.  Why should we?  He might fail us when we need Him most, or He may decide to change the rules of the “game” of life capriciously and viciously.  He is, after all, under no obligation to tell us if He did such a thing.  So, if He’s not trustworthy in Who He Is and what He does, we’re in a world of trouble if we risk anything on or for him.  When I came to the section on dealing with God’s love, I read 1 John 4:19 again (for probably the hundredth time or more) but saw something new in it this time.  You’ve gotta love how the Spirit works!!!

Where does love come from?  1 John 4:19 tells us: We love because He first loved us.  Whenever I’d read this verse previously, I automatically assumed that it was taking about us loving God in response because He loved us first – sort of a cause and effect thing like “Every action demands and equal and opposite reaction.”  But let me encourage us to look more closely at what this verse says.  It doesn’t say that we love God because it’s a response to His love towards us.  It simply says, “We love because He first loved us.”  Was John perhaps telling us something about from where love springs?  Why do we love AT ALL?  Because He loved us first – in the beginning – at the very start of our existence.  Was John trying to tell us that God put the hunger and our need for love within us along with the very image of God Himself?  Maybe you’ve heard the arguments for God’s existence that run along these lines: we have no way to explain the idea of good and evil without there being a Source of good in the universe and a source(s) of evil.  But, because there is good – there must be a God.  I’ll grant you that it’s not the strongest argument for God’s existence, but it is a valid one, I think. 

In a similar vein, I think John was trying to tell us that His love is what awakens love in us at all – otherwise, we’d know nothing of love, period.  Love wouldn’t exist at all in the absence of God.  The lovesickness that often pervades our hearts is there because we are haunted by the memory of God’s love that was put into our souls when He created us.  This love isn’t just mushy sentiment.  It is the kind of love the Father to the prodigal son showed when he hitched up his robes, cast aside his own dignity and ran to meet the returning prodigal. 

Have you ever considered yourself in the story of the prodigal?  Who is it that runs to greet you?  Is it not Christ, risen, yet bearing the scars in his hands and feet and on his back from the scourging and his head from the crown of thorns?  Is it not this Christ who has hitched up his robes and comes running to meet you while you are yet far away?

I love it when the Light of the Word dawns on us!

Prayer:  The mysteries and depth of Your Word is astounding!  We rejoice in the truths You show us about the reality of the world in which we live and the truth about the universe You have created!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 3/8/19 – The Heart of the Scandal

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DayBreaks for 3/08/19: The Heart of the Scandal

From the DayBreaks archive March 2009:

Why was Jesus such a stumbling block to the Jews?  Why is he such a hurdle for modern man to overcome and welcome?  There probably are as many excuses (and perhaps reasons) as there are folks who refuse to accept him – then, or now.  I can think of several reasons:

FIRST: no one wants to be told they have to die to themselves.  After all, haven’t we been raised with the encouragement to “follow your own heart”?  And doesn’t that seem like good advice?  “Be true to yourself.”  But….this is not biblical advice AT ALL!  The heart is “desperately wicked”, Scripture says.  Why follow it?  If anything, we need to lead our hearts to the cross over and over and there kneel down in the dirt realizing that our most righteous acts smell like dirty, rotten, filthy socks or underwear (“rags” as Scripture puts it.)  To follow our hearts will get us in trouble every time.  Jesus said we need to die to ourselves – we don’t want to do that.

SECOND: Jesus says our focus should be on things above – and our concern should be for the coming and completion of the kingdom of God.  Again, this takes the focus off of us.

THIRD: while we aren’t saved by obedience, Jesus made it clear that God cares about holiness.  Sadly, too many of us care more about our own “fun” – which usually means we are doing things which may be unholy that are momentarily fun but which are unholy and deadly in the long run.

FOURTH: here’s the point I really want to make about why Jesus is hard for many to accept.  Do you recall the 1996 song by Joan Osborne titled, “What If God Were One of Us?”  There were those who found the song sacrilegious, and I can understand that.  But that is the very same reason that so many rejected Jesus in his life – including friends and family members – they felt he was sacrilegious when he claimed to be God – “like one of us.”  Phillip Yancey said, “By any measure Jesus led a tragic life: rumors of illegitimacy, taunts of insanity from his family, rejection by most who heard him, betrayal by friends, the savage turn of a mob against him, a series of justice-mocking trials, execution in a form reserved for slaves and violent criminals.  A pitiful story, to be sure, and that is the heart of the scandal: we do not expect to pity God.”

That the Messiah would suffer and die was never in the Jewish psyche.  The Messiah, they thought, would never do those things.  They couldn’t live with a Messiah who would suffer and die – so they killed him to be sure.  And we can’t live without such a Savior. 

Prayer: Who would have believed our report, that the Son of God should suffer and die for sinners!  Father God, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit – thank you for this wonder and mystery of your love for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 3/01/19 – Unwanted

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DayBreaks for 3/01/19: Unwanted

From the DayBreaks archive February 2009:

John 1:10-11 (KJV) – He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

How, I wonder, could Jesus come to his own, God’s chosen people Israel, and they not know or recognize him?  They had been prepared by God Himself throughout thousands of years for the Messiah.  They expected him to come – but tragically, they didn’t see him as anything except a carpenter from Nazareth, a child born out of wedlock, trained in a trade by Joseph.

A widow had children who left her one by one to go to the “new country” (as she called it.)  As they made their tearful farewells, she heard each of them promise her that they’d save money and that they would send for her “very soon.”  Time passed; the children married and had children of their own, but no mention ever came in a letter suggesting they were ready to send for their aging mother.  She deeply longed to see them, but thinking they lacked the means to bring her to the “new country”, she scrimped and saved up enough money to afford on her own to pay them a surprise visit.  She anticipated a joyful reunion with her children and she longed to see them and to meet her grandchildren. Upon arriving her reception was the reverse of what she had hoped and longed for.  Her children had indeed prospered, but seemed annoyed at the surprise visit, and they belittled her old-fashioned clothing and way of speaking.  They had no room for her in their hearts.  The disappointed woman returned home and took up residence in a home for the elderly, where she proved to be a blessing to all about her, pouring out the vast flood of love that her own children had rejected.  She wasn’t bitter.  “It seems to me that I knew what our Lord suffered,” she told a friend, “when He came to His own dear people and they gave Him the cold shoulder.  Just think!  He came unto His own and His own received Him not!  I can understand how that wounded His loving heart.”

Perhaps the Jews failure wasn’t so much that they didn’t recognize Jesus, but that they had no room left in their hearts for this lover of their souls. 

I think we’d best not be too hard on the Jews, however.  How many times have I not found room in my heart for Him when He comes calling?  How many times have I been ashamed or afraid to let people know where I stand, and Who I stand with? 

Jesus loves us.  He came to be with us.  Will we send Him back home alone – and unwanted?

Prayer: Jesus, don’t give up on us!  Keep knocking at the doorway to our hearts.  Transform our hard hearts into hearts that rejoice to see You when You arrive!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 2/14/19 – I AM #3: The Good Shepherd

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DayBreaks for 2/14/2019: I AM #4: The Good Shepherd

John 10:11 (ESV) I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

We’ve all seen people who obviously work just because they want the money. Their attitude, effort and words make clear that they will do as little as they can to avoid being fired and they’re happy as long as their check shows up.

The Good Shepherd is quite the opposite. He’s no hireling. He is deeply invested in each lamb in his flock. He bought them and paid for them, perhaps watched each one being born and rejoiced to see them join “his family”. This is how the Good Shepherd feels about his sheep!

Being absolutely responsible for the welfare of the sheep, in ancient times, if anything happened to the sheep that were in his care, the shepherd was required to show proof that it was not his fault. In Amos, the shepherd was even required to bring a piece of a leg or an ear from the very mouth of the lion or wolf if necessary as proof of the reason for the loss.

The shepherd was sent out among the flock just as soon as he was old enough to go and the animals became his companions and yes, even friends.

Here’s the big difference between the shepherd and the hireling: the shepherd served because of his love for the flock in his care while the hireling only wanted money. Jesus called us his friends and wasn’t just willing to lay down his life for the poor flock in his care, but actually did lay it down. And that’s why he’s not just a good shepherd, he is THE Good Shepherd.

PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, for shepherding us with love and rejoicing over each one of us! In your name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>