DayBreaks for 3/09/17 – Because You Have Met Me

DayBreaks for 3/09/17: Because You Have Met Me

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2007:

Exodus 4:4-5 (NIV) – Then the LORD said to him, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand.  “This,” said the LORD, “is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers–the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob–has appeared to you.

The nerve of some Biblical people amazes me.  Moses, while we’re told that he was the meekest man, was very bold at times with God.  His first known encounter with God in the wilderness at the burning bush shows how stubborn we as humans can be.  All of a sudden, out of the blue, Moses is drawn to the bush and told that God wants to send him on a mission to lead Israel out of 400 years of captivity and slavery in Egypt.  God speaks of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph – and the promises He made to them and how He intends now, in the time of Moses, to fulfill those great promises.  And what does Moses do?  He hems, haws, and otherwise tries to avoid the mission.  He gives God lots of excuses (not reasons) why he’s not the right person.  Moses would learn that it didn’t pay to argue with God.  But he hasn’t learned it yet.  And so he worries that Israel will not believe that God wants to relieve them of their slavery, and he asks God for signs to give to the people that will convince them.

And so, finally God makes the statement to Moses that’s found in Exodus 4:5, after having Moses’ staff turn into a serpent: This is so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob – has appeared to you.

I’d missed this for nearly 55 years now.  It wasn’t the serpent that would convince people that Moses had been sent by God.  It was really nothing more than God telling Moses that the people will know that He sent Moses because Moses has met God.  (God has appeared to him.) 

Each day as I wander through the streets of town, go into buildings or stores, pull up to the gas pump, buy a Dr. Pepper – I wonder if people can tell that I have met God?  What kind of evidence is there that I’ve met Him – and He has met with me?  And it’s not just that I’ve met Him – He lives within me in a way I don’t know if He did with Moses!  The evidence of having met the Maker is radical and life-changing.  From this encounter onward, for as long as he lived, Moses was a changed man.  He still had moments of weakness and doubt, but the people would follow him because he knew the Lord’s name…another way of saying, he knew God. 

Having met God doesn’t make us perfect, but if it hasn’t changed us – RADICALLY changed us – perhaps we’ve never met him like Moses did in the wilderness.  We don’t have to have a burning bush in our life to meet Him.  Yet, He is all around us, and in us.  We need to learn to do what Moses finally did: stop arguing and fighting with Him and let Him have His way in us, to use us for His glorious purposes (which will, by the way, work to our benefit!) and to let others know we have met God and been sent by Him.

PRAYER: Sometimes, Father, much to our great embarrassment, we hide the fact that we have met You.  We are too fearful, weak-kneed and stubborn to bear witness for you.  May we truly meet You even now, may we be radically changed by that encounter, so that wherever we go, people will know you exist and that by our changed lives, they will know we have met the Living God.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/01/17 – Structured in Blood

DayBreaks for 2/01/17: Structured in Blood

I Peter 4:8 – Love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.

What is the very essence of the Christian faith?  One could argue, convincingly, that it is the cross of Christ: his incarnation, sinless life, sacrificial death, and subsequent resurrection.  Surely those are weighty things of great import that deserve our full and undivided attention.  God forgive us if we neglect them!  But I don’t believe that those things are the core of the Christian faith.  Those things are effects of the core cause.  The core cause, the fundamental element, behind all those things was the love of God for people – people like you and I, who get our lives all messed up and stained with sin, who spit in the face of His Son, lash him with scourges, and nail him to wood that he created for this very purpose.  It was the love of God (John 3:16) that started the whole thing.  Christianity is not a religion of hatred or judgment or anger – it is the purest love song ever sung.

The core cause, the fundamental element, behind all those things was the love of God for people – people like you and I, who get our lives all messed up and stained with sin, who spit in the face of His Son, lash him with scourges, and nail him to wood that he created for this very purpose.  It was the love of God (John 3:16) that started the whole thing.  Christianity is not a religion of hatred or judgment or anger – it is the purest love song ever sung.

In his book, The Importance of Being Foolish: Learning to Think Like Jesus, Brennan Manning wrote: “The axis of the Christian moral revolution is love (Jesus called it the sign by which the disciple would be recognized).  The danger lurks in our subtle attempts to minimize, rationalize, and justify our moderation in this regard.  Turning the other cheek, walking the extra mile, offering no resistance to injury, being reconciled with one another, and forgiving seventy times seven times are not arbitrary whims of the Savior.  He did NOT preface the Sermon on the Mount with, ‘It would be nice if..’  His “new” commandment structures the new covenant in his blood.” 

Love.  When you think about it, what enabled Christ to turn the other cheek?  Love.  What enables mere humans to do the same?  Love.  Why would anyone willingly walk an extra mile out of their way carrying the burden of others if not for love?  Why would someone not respond to injury by fighting back?  Because there is something greater at stake than a battle over some event or circumstance – there is a battle for the souls of mankind, prompted by love.  What could cause reconciliation where there as been hurt?  Only love.  What enables someone to forgive their spouse or child 70 times 7?  Surely, it is only love. 

That’s why Jesus didn’t say it would be nice if we did those things, but left them optional.  They are most definitely NOT optional for His children.  For it is those very things that characterize the Father, and His children must be like Him.  How important were those things?  He wrote them in his blood.

We can also look at the flip side: what causes one not to turn the other cheek, walk the extra distance, hit back when hurt, refuse to be reconciled, refuse to forgive (as God through Christ has forgiven us)?  One thing, and one thing only: a lack of God’s love in us and through us.  Harboring smoldering resentments, sucking on the sour grape of bitterness, withholding full and complete forgiveness say as much about us as does the love that might cause us to do the opposite, and they reveal what is most cherished in our hearts – self-love, or God’s love. 

PRAYER: Father, we need so much to truly learn to let your love come alive in us and to forgive and truly experience Your love within so that we can then love others in the same way.  For all who wear Your name, but who haven’t experienced the true love that defines Your very nature, open our eyes and hearts to love as You do.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/12/17 – The Power of Team

DayBreaks for 1/12/17: The Power of Team

Ecclesiastes 4:12 (AMP) –And though a man might prevail against him who is alone, two will withstand him. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.

On September 12, 2011, Brandon Wright, a 21-year-old Utah State University student, was driving his motorcycle en route to the school’s computer lab when a BMW pulling out of a parking lot collided with him. Both vehicles burst into flames. The BMW driver quickly escaped from the car, but Wright was trapped under the 4,000-pound sedan.

The horrific accident drew an immediate crowd of students and construction workers. One passerby walked around the burning vehicles to survey the situation and saw a motionless body, apparently dead, beneath the BMW. Another individual, testing his strength, attempted to lift the car, but without success. A handful of others joined the effort but could not budge the car. A young woman lay on the ground to peer under the car and saw evidence that the trapped victim was still alive.

The flames were intense at the front of the car, where the motorcycle also lay on the ground burning. Nevertheless, at this point a dozen members of the growing crowd joined shoulder to shoulder at the side of the car, lifted in unison, and tilted it high enough to allow another rescuer to pull Wright to safety. At that point the city’s emergency responders appeared on the scene. They doused the flames and transported Wright to Intermountain Medical Center, where he was treated for two broken legs and a fractured pelvis.

What one person could not accomplish alone, a team of people did. “Every one of those people put their lives in danger,” assistant Logan police chief Jeff Curtis said. “Those people are heroes. You can only speculate what the outcome would have been if they hadn’t lifted that car.”

I have often wondered how Jesus feels about how people from different denominations think about and treat those from other churches or traditions. I cannot imagine how sad it must make him when we spend more time judging on another because of silly trivialities instead of working together to save those who are pinned under the weight of sin, despair, loneliness and shame.

Are you part of a small group or team of some kind? Talk about this with them. Pray about it, and let His Spirit lead you to something you can do together that will bring someone to the Great Physician.

PRAYER: Help us not to worry about getting glory for ourselves, but for rescuing those who are trapped in the clutches of the evil one. Teach us to work together for Your glory and the greater good of Your kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/11/17 – Hearing the Hard Words

DayBreaks for 1/11/17: Hearing the Hard Words

Proverbs 27:6 (AMP) –  Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are lavish and deceitful.

We love to hear about ourselves – all the good things we’ve done, how bright we are. We love to have our exploits recounted and to have other people brag on us. Even the most humble among us secretly find delight in it.

Very few people like to hear the truth about themselves. It’s hard enough when we open the Word and learn some hard truths: 1) there is none that is righteous; 2) there is none that is good except for God; 3) our most righteous deeds are like filthy rags. Now, don’t those things make you feel really good?

The truth is that the Truth isn’t necessarily designed to make us feel good. Oh, it makes us feel good when we understand that on the other side of the “bad news” about who we are and the things we’ve done lies the truth of forgiveness and grace. Guilt is part of the grace of God because on the other side of the guilt lies the understanding of grace. No, the purpose of the truth about us is so we will realize our need for a Savior.

There’s another truth we need to hear and take to heart, but it’s a much more difficult on in some ways. It’s one thing when God, who is perfect and sinless, tells us about our shortcomings, but it’s another thing entirely when others tell us about our faults. How often have you asked others to totally level with you…to tell you the unvarnished truth about how they see your and your life? I like how John Ortbeg put is: Trying to grow spiritually without hearing the truth about yourself from somebody else is like trying to do brain surgery on yourself without a mirror. – John Ortberg sermon, “Loving Enough to Speak the Truth”

Who can you ask to “level” with you? How long has it been since you’ve done it (if ever)?

PRAYER: Jesus, thank You for telling us the truth about ourselves. May we be that kind of friend to others – and give us friends who will do the same for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/03/17 – Moving Into the Ward

DayBreaks for 1/03/17: Moving Into the Ward

Dr. John Rosen, a psychiatrist in New York City, is well known for his work with catatonic schizophrenics. Normally doctors remain separate and aloof from their patients. Dr. Rosen moves into the ward with them. He places his bed among their beds. He lives the life they must live. Day-to-day, he shares it. He loves them. If they don’t talk, he doesn’t talk either. It is as if he understands what is happening. His being there, being with them, communicates something that they haven’t experienced in years – somebody understands.

But then he does something else. He puts his arms around them and hugs them. He holds these unattractive, unlovable, sometimes incontinent persons, and loves them back into life. Often, the first words they speak are simply, “Thank you.”

Christmas is now over, yet this is what the Christ did for us at Christmas. He moved into the ward with us. He placed his bed among our beds. Those who were there, those who saw him, touched him and were in turn touched by him and restored to life. The first word they had to say was “thank you.” And Christmas is one time when we say “Thank you” to him.

But now that Christmas is over, the questions before us are these:

  1. Will I continue to be thankful throughout this new year, and:
  2. Will I emulate Christ and “move into the ward” for others if called to do so by the Lord?

PRAYER: Lord, only you know what this year will hold, but I pray that we will be thankful all year regardless of what it holds for us, and that we will be willing to live and look like you and move into the ward so we can better love those who need to know love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/20/16 – He Can’t Look Away

DayBreaks for 12/20/16: He Can’t Look Away

Matthew 1:20-21 (NLT)  As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Matthew doesn’t want Joseph or any of us to get stuck in the dream. Matthew wants to bring us back down to earth, back to our waking reality, by invoking the name of Immanuel. Because if the Jesus, whose name was given to Joseph in a dream, is to do us any good, he’d better meet us and be with us in all those times when dreams end and when the crushing weight of a miserable world comes crashing down around our shoulders again. If he is only Jesus, the one who saves us from our sins, it would still be too easy to turn him into the one who also saves us out of the real world. But if he is Immanuel, then we realize we don’t have to go anywhere to meet him other than the hurly-burly reality of our Monday mornings and our Thursday afternoons. We don’t have to go find him in some other realm because he has already found us in exactly this realm and this world.
Immanuel is God-with-us in the cancer clinic and in the Alzheimer’s ward at the local nursing home. Immanuel is God-with-us when the pink slip comes and when the beloved child sneers, “I hate you!” Immanuel is God-with-us when you pack the Christmas decorations away and, with an aching heart, you realize afresh that your one son never did call over the holidays. Not once. Immanuel is God-with-us when your dear wife or mother stares at you with an Alzheimer’s glaze and absently asks, “What was your name again?”
Ever and always Jesus stares straight into you with his two good eyes and he does so not only when you can smile back but most certainly also when your own eyes are full of tears. In fact, Jesus is Immanuel, “God with you” even in those times when you are so angry with God that you refuse to meet his eyes. But even when you feel like you can’t look at him, he never looks away from you. He can’t. His name says it all.

PRAYER: I am thankful that you never look away from me, that you cannot look away because that would mean you are not Immanuel. Help me to look at you more often and find in you all I ever could need or want. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/04/16 – This Terrifying Aspect of His Nature

DayBreaks for 11/04/06: This Terrifying Aspect of His Nature

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2006:

As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” He was already in the boat, so they started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). But soon a fierce storm arose. High waves began to break into the boat until it was nearly full of water. Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. Frantically they woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you even care that we are going to drown?” When he woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the water, “Quiet down!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. And he asked them, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still not have faith in me?”1And they were filled with awe and said among themselves, “Who is this man, that even the wind and waves obey him?”   Mark 4:35-41 

From Michael Card’s Devotions From the Studio:

“Whenever Jesus is revealed in a new way, he has to tell the disciples not to be afraid. (Matt. 8:26, 14:27, 17:7, 28:10, Mk. 4:40, 5:36, 6:50, Lk. 5:10, 8:50, 12:32, Jn. 6:20, 12:15, 14:27) Too often we simply think of Him as “gentle Jesus, meek and mild.” But this is only a small facet of His infinite character. If we look closely at the gospels, we will see that those who were closest to Jesus we often terrified by His power, so frightened were they that He had to continually tell them, “don’t be afraid.”

“If He is the same yesterday, today and forever, where has this terrifying aspect of His nature gone? He is no less powerful now than He was then. What has become of this “disturbing presence” of Jesus?”

Galen’s Thoughts: Michael asks some good questions.  When, can I honestly say, was the last time that I was afraid of Jesus?  Have I given him cause to be angry with me?  Have I hurt him repeatedly and knowingly as if he didn’t even exist?  Perhaps one of the reasons that the 12 were so committed to their task of obeying Jesus by carrying the Word to the uttermost parts of the earth that they had so often been afraid by the demonstrations of his power.  And though they’d seen his love, they’d seen his power destroy a fig tree, calm the storm, overpower demons and raise the dead to life.  What could such a One do if he put his mind to it?  Were there any limits to his power? 

May Jesus become disturbing to us – just as disturbing as we need him to be to help keep us on the right pathway!

PRAYER:  Jesus, it is a comfort to know that you have all power in heaven and on earth.  It is a blessing to know that you will use your power to do what is right and just, and what is in our best interests.  Help us to never become complacent around you, but to always hold you in the highest regard.  We give you permission to disturb us time and time again when we forget your greatness and wander off into the pathway of sin.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.