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 1/17/17 – The Body of Truth is Bleeding

DayBreaks for 1/17/17 – The Body of Truth is Bleeding

We like to think of the stories of Jesus when he welcomed the little children, where he forgave the woman taken in adultery, where he speaks of the lilies of the field and birds of the air while reminding us that we don’t need to worry, for he is on our side.  Those are not only good stories, but they are true and reveal to us a lot about the nature of God that was fully contained in Jesus.  But those are not the only stories of Jesus in the Scripture.  And some of the other stories are less comforting and far more disturbing.

The cleansing of the temple (John 2:13-22) is an excellent case in point.  We don’t see “Jesus, meek and mild” in that story.  We see an enraged Savior.  He’s not acted impulsively – he took the time to “fashion” a whip – before tearing through the tables and corridors of the temple, tossing around the tables and undoubtedly the “earnings” of those who were selling things in the temple of God for exorbitant prices. 

We don’t like to contemplate that image of Jesus, do we?  How many people have you ever known who said that the cleansing of the temple is their favorite Bible story?  I know of no one who loves that story for its own sake. 

Jesus was a passionate man, and is a passionate God.  He loves goodness – and is passionate about it.  He hates evil and anything associated with it.  Perhaps more than anything else, he loves truth and hates falsehood.  Jesus loved the truth so much that he said, “I am the truth.”  How important does Jesus think the truth is?  It is as important as Jesus himself, for he is truth!

In The Importance of Being Foolish, Brennan Manning wrote: “In our society, where money, power and pleasure are the name of the game, the body of truth is bleeding from a thousand wounds.”  Jesus is bleeding from a thousand wounds, for he has been misrepresented (perhaps unintentionally) by those who would claim to show others what Jesus is like.  They portray only the soft, tender, gentle Jesus, but not the Jesus who is incensed by injustice, by unholy lives, by dilution and twisting of the clear truth of Scripture. 

How do we go about trying to be discerning about truth?  Again, I think Manning had something worth considering: “The first step in the pursuit of truth is not the moral resolution to avoid the habit of petty lying – however unattractive a character disfigurement that may be.   It is not the decision to stop deceiving others.  It is the decision to stop deceiving ourselves.”  We need to have the same passion for truth that Jesus held in his heart.  If we don’t, we are not true disciples and are only deceiving ourselves.

PRAYER:  God, open our eyes to truth and to our own self-deceptions.  Help us to love truth and hate deceitfulness and dishonesty.  Give us the discernment to recognize truth when we read it, see it or hear it – and to recognize falsehood in all its forms as the tool of evil.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  All Rights Reserved.

DayBreaks for 10/24/16 – Another Ram in the Thicket

DayBreaks for 10/24/16 – Another Ram in the Thicket

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2006:

The story of Abraham and Isaac has always intrigued and fascinated (and horrified) me.  There are obvious lessons to be learned from the story: the faith of Abraham, the obedience of Abraham, the trust of Isaac (even when it became apparent that he was the “sacrifice”), the importance of trusting God.  I’m not sure if Abraham or Isaac was the most relieved when the angel stopped Abraham’s hand and they saw the ram caught by its horns in the thicket.  And I have searched the haunted halls of my heart asking myself if I could have ever done what Abraham did – and I’m driven to my knees in humility by the answer.

But, perhaps instead of taking the extreme case of sacrificing a child, we need to look at other things that are much more close to home.  As Chuck Swindoll put it in Fascinating Lives of Forgotten People: “What it is that you are gripping so tightly?  A possession?  Your vocation?  A dream?  A consuming relationship?  The Lord may be in the process of taking it from you.  He’ll gently tug on it at first, giving you the opportunity to release your grip.  If you resist, He’ll eventually have to pry your fingers away…My advice?  Voluntarily release it.  Trust the Lord to provide.  He has another ram in the thicket.  You can’t see it right now, but He has it waiting.  Only after you have placed your sacrifice on the altar will you be ready to receive God’s provision.”

We all grip tightly to things in our world and in our lives.  I seriously doubt that God is asking any of us right now to sacrifice a child.  But I don’t doubt for a moment that He’s asking each of us to let go of something that has become a god in our life.  What do I mean?  Anything that we put our confidence and trust in is an idol, a god, if you will.  And we all have confidence in something in this world that pulls us away from trusting Him entirely and completely.  Do you know what those things are in your life?  I think that they’re probably the things that we fear happening the most: losing jobs, a stock market crash, losing our health, losing a friend that may not be a positive influence. 

What are you afraid of the most?  Is it possible that right now God is trying to teach you to surrender that to Him, trusting Him completely for all that you need today, tomorrow and forever?  As Chuck said, “He has another ram in the thicket.”  Do you believe that?

PRAYER:  Thank you, God, for all that You have entrusted to us.  Help us to recognize that You are the source of all good things and that we have been given all we have to benefit others.  May we hold our possessions with very loose hands.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

 

DayBreaks for 10/20/16 – The Race I’m In

DayBreaks for 10/20/16 – The Race I’m In

I ran across an amazing story. I don’t know this woman, nor have I met her or anyone who knows her, but I must say that I admire her! Why? Because one day, at age 42, in beautiful(?) downtown Cleveland, she ran a marathon by accident (yep, all 26 miles, 385 yards of it). Her name was Georgene Johnson. Still is. On the day of the race, she accidentally lined up with the wrong group at the starting line. She meant to line up with the runners for the 10K group, where she belonged. Not the 26 mile group, where she didn’t.

It wasn’t until she hit the four mile mark that she realized her mistake. So, what did Georgene Johnson do? She just kept going, finishing the race in four hours and four minutes. But it’s what she said later (by way of explanation) that really impressed me. Said Georgene: “This isn’t the race I trained for. This isn’t the race I entered. But, for better or worse, this is the race I’m in.”

Isn’t that true of most of us? Relatively few of us are exactly where we figured we’d be in life, or even where we planned to be….doing exactly what we figured we’d be doing. But we are where we are, and (for better or worse) we’re keeping our feet moving.

You may be disappointed, feeling you somehow got in the wrong race. You didn’t. You’re in a race that God chose for you. You may have gotten there by getting in a wrong line somewhere once upon a time, but God knew you would get in that line. The question is, what will we do? We can throw up our hands and just sit on the curbside and quit moving, or like Georgene, we can look around us, admit we’re not where we thought we should be, but keep on going.

How do you think Georgene felt after she finished the race? I bet she felt tired, but terrific. That’s how most people feel when they don’t give up, when they don’t grow weary. After all, He helped Georgene mount up as if on eagle’s wings, and if you keep at it, you, too, shall soar!

PRAYER: It is easy for us to not be very happy with where we are and to give up instead of working through difficulties, Lord. Remind us that you, too, worked through many difficulties and your word even says you “learned obedience” by the things you suffered! Help us to have firm resolve and to keep on moving until we find our feet on the streets of gold!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

 

DayBreaks for 7/19/16 – One Old Man and a Boat

DayBreaks for 7/19/16 – One Old Man and a Boat

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2006:

I remember the story of Noah from my childhood.  I was fascinated, as nearly all children are, by animals.  I still love animals (okay, except definitely not rattlesnakes!)  To imagine being shut up on an ark full of animals for such a long period of time and to listen to the rainfall hammering on the roof was pretty heady stuff for a young boy’s mind. 

I love the stories of the Old Testament.  I get so wrapped up in them that sometimes I overlook the great meaning behind them – that they are more than just mere recitations of history.  For example, the story of Noah is about a lot more than just one man and a boat.

What should we learn from the story of Noah?  Well, there are probably lots of things:

  1. God will not tolerate wickedness indefinitely;
  2. God will judge the wicked;
  3. God will provide a way of escape for those who love and obey Him.

But I think that there are a couple more lessons in the story of Noah that we should think about as well.

Mankind has a strong bent toward self-destruction.  The men and women of Noah’s day were so wicked and twisted in their thinking and behavior that they refused to hear God’s Word.  They were headed toward destruction and even though they had a messenger from God telling them exactly what was going to happen, they didn’t care and they didn’t change.  They kept on marching to whatever appeared to be right in their own eyes. 

We’re really no different today.  We pursue what we want – even though God has already told us what the consequences will be.  And we have the free choice, as did the people of Noah’s day, to destroy ourselves.   I don’t hold to the theory that mankind is going to destroy the world with nuclear weapons because I believe the Word teaches that the world will pass as a result of the direct action of Jesus Christ when he returns.  But the fact remains that we are full of sin and that sin is deadly and destructive.  God will not tolerate it forever.

Secondly, unless we take the time to think about it – we miss the incredible truth of what one person who is obedient to God can do.  One man, Noah, who found grace in God’s eyes and was declared by Scripture to be the most innocent man of his time, and through his obedience was responsible for the continuance of the human race.  What if Noah had refused?  What if he’d laughed at God and told him that He was crazy?  But he didn’t.  He obeyed – and as a result of his obedience, we are here today. 

Look around you.  Can you see the flood waters of evil on the horizon?  We have within us the seeds of our own destruction through rebellion to God.  Perhaps God is calling you to be the Noah in your family, in your neighborhood, in your school or place of business.  How will you answer Him?  Through you and your faith God may draw your entire family into His eternal Presence and save you from the destruction that will fall upon the ungodly.  God will do His part – will we do ours?

PRAYER:  Jesus, we need Your Spirit to be turned loose in this world, and that includes in our own hearts.  We want to be faithful women and men who will be the ark-builders that act on faith in obedience to Your command.  When we feel that we’re just not up to building that ark, please remind us that it isn’t our ark, but Yours, and You want it built and You will provide all that we need in terms of courage, wisdom, knowledge and strength to obey You.  Let us remember that Your best work is always done in broken vessels like us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/13/12 – The Day Jesus Met the Lawyer

DayBreaks for 7/13/16 – The Day Jesus Met the Lawyer

The parable of the Good Samaritan arises out of a discussion between Jesus and a Pharisee. Please understand that the Pharisees were more than just religious folk – they were the lawyers of their time, so here we see a religious lawyer asking Jesus a question on the nature of the law. Luke sets the stage this way: Behold a lawyer stood up to put him to the test.

Do you get it? It’s a trick question! I am sure it’s not the first time and won’t be the last time that a lawyer poses a trick question. It was the kind of question in which any kind of an answer would pose still further problems (such as the proverbial “Have you stopped kicking your dog yet?” question – there is no way to succeed with a question phrased in that way.) So, here’s the test question: Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life. Now right away we know that this man was a Pharisee, because the Pharisees believed in eternal life and the Sadducees did not. Jesus could tell that this man was an astute student of the law so he asked him: What is written? In other words, use your own mind to discern the essence of the law. Jesus, like a good discussion leader, throws the question right back in his lap.

The lawyer has a good answer. He said: You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart and soul and mind and strength and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. This was a direct quote from Deuteronomy 6. It was part of the Shema, a confession regularly made in Jewish worship. Jesus says: “Excellent. You are correct.” If he were a teacher I suppose he would have said: “You get A+.” Jesus is saying he has no issue with that answer. Do this and you shall live. You have not only penetrated to the essence of the law but you have worded it succinctly. 

The question had been asked and the answer given. You would think that the man would be pleased and go home. But lawyers are never happy. A lawyer’s responsibility is to define the limits of liability. “But he, desiring to justify himself, asked ‘Who is my neighbor.'” In other words, where does my responsibility stop? Who exactly am I responsible for?”

Therein is a clue to the heart of a Pharisee (including modern-day Christian Pharisee’s): we want to know how far we are required to go, how much (or more properly, how little) is required of us. It is an indicator of a heart that isn’t totally sold out to God or His will.

When God has asked you for something such as obedience to His word and commands, do you in your mind and heart start a lawyerly discussion with God to press the issue to know how far you really have to go in obedience? If so, that may be an indicator that you’d be a good lawyer…and a Pharisee.

We are all pharisaical from time to time, but if we find ourselves asking these kind of defining questions instead of simply saying, “Yes, Lord and Master!” we may be much bigger Pharisees than we want to believe.

PRAYER: Jesus, I know there are parts of my life where I want to get away with doing as little as I can in response to your leading. Help me be more fully sold out to you and less of a Pharisee! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/4/16 – The Master and the Reward

DayBreaks for 5/04/16 – The Master and the Reward

From the DayBreaks archives, May 2006:

It’s confession time.  I must confess that I’m guilty of envy.  It was over two years ago now that the Lord called us to this town to plant a new church.  I love it here.  I love the body that the Lord has formed.  They are the most delightful people that I think I’ve ever been involved with and I love them dearly.  So what am I envious of?  Well, on Friday and Saturday, I was at a Men’s Advance (as opposed to “retreat”!) where there were numerous other church planters.  Some of them have been at if for quite a few years, some are even “newer” church planters than I.  Here’s what I’m envious of: some of them have seemingly been more “successful” in their church plants…they’ve got larger congregations and are able to do more things than we can.  And I am envious. 

I know it is wrong.  I know I shouldn’t be.  I know that there are reasons for why churches in one place grow rapidly and others don’t: the size of the town, the culture of the area, the energy and enthusiasm of those laboring to plant the church, even the geography and demographics make a huge difference.  But I’m envious of their “success”, and I ask God to forgive me for that envy.  I feel we are where we are supposed to be, that we’re in the place that He’s called us to. 

So what’s the point?  Well, simply this: during the men’s advance, part of the teaching on Saturday was about the parable of the talents from Matthew 25, and the Lord showed me what He wanted me to know.  Here’s the passage: Matthew 25:19-23 (NIV) – After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’  “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ “The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”

The point is simply this: the man who had 5 talents to begin with was told, “Come and share your master’s happiness!”  The EXACT same words are spoken to the person who was giving the 2 talents: “Come and share your master’s happiness!”  Perhaps even more important is what the Master did not say to the first man: “You’re the best I’ve got.  You’re my right hand man!  Ten talents – wow!”  Nor did he say to the second servant, “You know, you did great.  You really did, but did you hear about what Joe did!?  He made 5 talents.  Why didn’t you?  If he did, you could have, too!” 

No, his praise to both servants was identical.  It didn’t matter to the Master, you see, how much each had to start with or even at the end.  What the Master cared about was that the servants had taken what He’d giving them and used it to the best that they could. 

There’s a lesson for all of us who sometimes get concerned about how others are doing, instead of what we are doing with what God has given us.  Be faithful with what you’ve got – that’s all He asks.  Don’t compare yourself to others – the Master didn’t, and He won’t.

PRAYER:  Lord, forgive me for my envious heart, forgive me for thinking that I’m in a competition sometimes.  And forgive me for thinking that any of this depends upon me, instead upon Your Spirit.  Teach us to use all that you’ve given us for the expansion of Your kingdom and Your glory in this world.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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