DayBreaks for 8/14/17 – Seeking God

DayBreaks for 8/14/17: Seeking God

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2007:

I love the story of the prodigal son.  It is my favorite story that Jesus told.  As a father, I can understand the emotions in the story.  As a wayward child, I can understand what it feels like to return home again.  As the older brother, I can see my envy and pride that keeps me from rejoicing with what is good.  There is one thing, though, that I think is unique about this story.  Jesus describes the father as running to greet his home-coming son.  To the best of my knowledge, I can’t think of another situation in the Bible where God runs to meet anyone.  That doesn’t mean He doesn’t meet them, or come to us.  After all, Jesus “came” to seek and save the lost.  We could not have bridged the gap ourselves by raising ourselves up to heaven to reach Him.  So it is necessary for God to come to us.  But run to us?  That’s something that a father just doesn’t do in the middle eastern cultures.

And while I love the idea that God, in Jesus, stooped so low as to come to us, Jesus also plainly encourages us to “SEEK and ye shall find…”  Elsewhere, we’re told that if we seek God with all our heart, that He will be found.  I find great comfort in that – sort of.  The question is: how do I know when I’m seeking him with ALL my heart?  I can easily deceive myself.

In Hearing God, Dallas Willard talks about our role in seeking God: “Generally speaking, God will not compete for our attention.  Occasionally, a Saul gets knocked to the ground and so on, but we should expect that in most cases God will NOT run over us.  We must be open to the possibility of God’s addressing us in whatever way he chooses, or else we may walk right past a burning bush instead of saying, as Moses did, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why they bush is not burned up…The reality of God’s voice does not make seeking for it unnecessary.  When I seek for something, I look for it everywhere.  It is when we seek God earnestly, prepared to go out of our way to examine anything that might be his overture toward us – including the most obvious things like Bible verses or our own thoughts – that he promises to be found (Jer. 29:13).  But we will be able to seek Him only if we honestly believe that he might explicitly address us in ways suitable to his purposes in our lives.”

I fear that many times I’m far too lazy.  I want God to do all the work.  And in a sense, He has.  But we must still seek Him while He may be found.  And if we do, it is then that I believe He runs to meet us.

PRAYER: Give us hearts and energy to seek you early in the morning, at noontime, at night, and always.  May we want You more than anything! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/27/17 – The Real Danger

DayBreaks for 4/27/17 – The Real Danger

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

As a child, I was fascinated by the story of Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego.  My mind would swim with images and imaginings of what it looked like, of the sounds of the roaring furnace, of the great king Nebuchadnezzar in all his finery as the music blared and the masses bowed down.  That is, they bowed down with the exception of three people: the Hebrew boys otherwise known as Azariah, Mishael and Hananiah. 

I always thought that this was a story about idolatry.  I’d always thought that the temptation they faced was to worship the golden idol of the Babylonian king.  After all, that’s how I remember the story from the flannel graphs that my Sunday school teacher used to help us “see” the stories.  It is only recently that I believe God opened my eyes to a more significant truth.  The story is about idolatry, all right, but the idol that the young men were being tempted to worship wasn’t really the 90-foot tall golden sculpture. 

No, the real test was one about worship.  What would be worshipped?  They’d been taught as Jewish children that “the Lord our God is One” and that “No one is like the Lord our God.”  They knew full well that He was the only One who was worthy of worship.  The idol that these boys were confronted with – and which they were tempted to bow down and worship – was themselves, their earthly lives.  If they worshipped the idol, they’d save their lives – if they didn’t, they might lose their lives.

Would these three young men be wise enough to recognize which was the greater danger: to die in a fiery furnace, or to worship and esteem something else (even if it is your physical life) higher than the worship of God is idolatry?

We are our own greatest idol.  We need to cast aside the idol of self that leads us to hoard money, love, compassion, wisdom, possessions, pleasures.  Even if it comes to laying down our lives in order to worship God, doesn’t God have a right to ask that of us?  Of course He does. 

Do you recognize your own self-worship and idolatry?  Every time we choose our way, our dreams, our own joys rather than His, we are bowing down to the idol of self-worship.

PRAYER:  Father, help us to recognize our idolatry and our self worship.  Give us the wisdom to be able to discern the greatest danger – the danger of not giving you the worship and glory that you alone deserve.  Tear down our idols of self-interest that we may be true worshippers!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

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.