DayBreaks for 4/26/17 – God and Circumstances

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DayBreaks for 4/26/19: God and Circumstances

From the DayBreaks archives, April 2009:

Suffering is a very hard taskmaster.  It’s not easy to predict what the outcome of suffering will be.  Some suffer and conclude that God is not, and cannot, be good – nor does He care or suffering would not take place.  Strangely and remarkably, it seems that often those who really do suffer the most are the first ones to sing songs of praise to God and His love. 

Just today, I read an email from an organization in our fair town that is involved in conducting and coordinating community events.  Here’s what it had to say: “It has been awhile since we have communicated with everyone and it seems that each day that goes by, the world continues to evolve in ways that many of us never imagined. As this is not an excuse for our lack of recent communication, it has however caused all of us to look deeper into ourselves, push ourselves harder than many of us are used to and simply try and survive.

I understand that there are people in pain in our community (and in yours) and that pain is real and people are afraid and in some cases, suffering.  So, please don’t get mad at me when I say that I think this statement was a gross exaggeration.  Most (not all) Americans have no idea what it means to “simply try to survive.”  American grocery stores are full of food, there are safety net programs that help feed the hungry and shelter the homeless.  Yes, they are being stressed to higher levels than ever before, but they still exist.  Such things don’t exist in most of the world.  As a general rule, we are far from “simply try(ing) to survive.”

Yet circumstances often dictate our attitudes and our devotion to God.  How quickly we are swayed and surrender our trust in Him!  Consider again the list of spiritual heroes in Hebrews chapter 11: now there is a list of people who truly were simply trying to survive…and many of them didn’t, dying as martyrs.  What characterized those who had their names place in the roll of honor of the faithful?  Simply this: they refused to let God be defined by their own circumstances and experiences.  They understood that God was above and beyond all circumstance, and that His character is never, ever defined by human experience nor circumstances. 

No matter whether your circumstances and present experience is good or bad, God doesn’t change with circumstances.  If He ever has been good, it is a fact that He will always be good.  Sometimes, I think, God controls circumstances, but more often than not, He’s interested in controlling and directing outcomes.  It’s what we do with the circumstances that He’s most interested in.  What will you do with your circumstances today?

Prayer: God, forgive us when we treat you as if you are fickle and a changeling rather than the Rock who never changes and who is always good.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 3/29/19 – Winners and Losers

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DayBreaks for 3/29/19: Winners and Losers

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2009:

Remember “Rocky”? Rocky had a tough time of it in every one of those movies. He would take a terrific beating in the ring, only to struggle to his feet by sheer will power and come back to win the fight. Fanciful stuff, but sometimes it does happen, and when it does the whole world stands and applauds! Remember the “miracle” Mets? Remember the U.S. hockey team when they defeated the Soviets in the Olympics? The women’s hockey team in the last Olympics? How about Dan Jansen who finally won a gold medal in speed skating after falling in each of the previous two Olympics?

How many times have you been knocked down by struggles, heartbreak and sin in your life? In my life, it has been too many times to count. Consider these words from Bob Gass, who wrote in Word for Today on February 24, 1999: Winners are just losers who got tired of losing; they decided to get up one more time than they were knocked down. The Bible is full of their stories. The prodigal came back from a pigsty (Lk. 15). Joseph came back from prison (Gen. 41). Peter came back from a shameful denial (Mk. 16:7). And by God’s grace, you can come back, too. Listen to Psalm 37:23-24: “If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.”

There were others, too: David came back from adultery and murder, Abraham from lying and deceit; Elijah from fear and cowardice. It’s a long and distinguished list – and they are God’s saints, men and women of faith who were very human, too.

As we face the sin and struggles in our life, we must decide whether we’ll settle for being a loser or if we will fight on to be a winner. The loser finally throws up their hands and says, “I’ll never be good enough. I’ll never beat this sin. I’ll never measure up, so I guess I just as well give up.” That’s dangerous. No matter what you’ve done (remember David sin, the prodigal son and Peter with his denial – have you done anything worse??), you can get back up through the grace of God and stand once again.

You see, God loves the underdog, too. He cheers us on, but even more important, He assures us, through the inspired words of Paul, the victory if we don’t grow weary and give up: Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Gal 6:9) The harvest, my friends, is victory! Victory in such a way that sin will never touch us again, never even tempt us. God Himself will put the crown of victory on your head!

So, what’ll it be? Keep getting up! You may stumble, but God will pick you up. Look to Him for your victory and trust Him to be as good as His Word!

Prayer: Lord, we know that the victory must come from You and You alone.  Help us to persevere in the face of great odds and the bruisings of life that we may receive and participate in Your victory!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 3/18/19 – Rowing Into the Wind

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DayBreaks for 3/18/19: Rowing Into the Wind

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2009:

John 6:16-21: When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified. But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.

Isn’t this a great passage?  I love the simple, yet timeless lessons buried in it!  Consider:

FIRST: Did you notice how the waters grew rough right after it says, “…and Jesus had not yet joined them.”  It is not insignificant that the waters in our own life are always tougher to navigate when we try to make our own way through the waves without Jesus. 

SECOND: It is interesting that, even though they saw someone walking on the water towards them, that they weren’t willing to take the person into the boat until they knew it was Jesus.  I suppose that makes sense – after all – what normal human could walk on water, and I imagine that they thought he was a spirit of some kind.  Yet, sometimes, even when we know that Jesus is coming to us, we still aren’t willing to let him into the boat of our lives!

THIRD: As soon as Jesus is in the boat, the safety of the shore is reached.  As soon as we take Jesus into the boat of our lives, our destiny is safely delivered, not because of the result of our labor, but as the result of having Jesus “aboard”.

FOURTH: It appears the disciples were headed to Capernaum because that’s where Jesus told them to go and that he would join up with them there.  Shawn Craig, writing in “Between Sundays” said this: “Obedience to God’s will does not mean everything will go smoothly, that the wind will always be at our backs and that the journey will be easy.  Jesus told his disciples to cross to the other side of the lake, even though he knew the wind would be working against them.  Despite the wind’s contrariness, they struggled on, because they knew they were doing his will.”

If Jesus has sent you on a mission (and if you are a Christian, you’ve been sent on a mission to love God and our fellowman enough to share the gospel), the wind will work against you.  It is important that we don’t lose heart in the effort.  Perhaps it was just at the point that Jesus came to them that the disciples were ready to give up – I don’t know.  But miracles happen when Jesus shows up!  Let’s keep rowing – that’s our job – and let’s let him do his job – to get us to the destination safely!

Prayer:  Journey with us, Lord, as we navigate the shifting seas of life!  May we work in concert with Your Spirit at all times!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 3/11/19 – A Most Sobering Truth

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DayBreaks for 3/11/19: A Most Sobering Truth

On Sunday we recognized, remembered and honored the persecuted church around the world. I’m sure you know the stats: more Christians were martyred in the 1900’s than in all the other centuries combined. In fact, based on one source I consulted, 65% of all Christian martyrs ever were killed between 1901-2000. At one point at the height of communism and fascism, 330,000 annually were dying. Best guesses are that presently between 100-150,000 are being martyred each year – that’s over 410 martyrs each and every day, 365 days a year.

Yet, statistics only go so far. They tell neither the personal stories of those who suffer and die for their faith, nor the stories of their families. Putting a face to those who suffer is much more impactful than the numbers themselves.

On Sunday, we had some people with us from China and India who shared stories – and in the case of the brother from India – his own personal story of beatings and his struggle.

But, as harrowing as some of the stories are, what impacted me the most was this verse from 2 Timothy 3:12 (ESV) – Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…  Read that VERY CAREFULLY. It is part of inspired Scripture and is says that not just some, but ALL who desire to live a godly life will be persecuted. That brought me up short. Are you being persecuted for your faith, really? I am not. Part of that is living in America where we have some freedoms, but the verse didn’t say that only those living in countries without religious freedom would be persecuted…it says that ALL who desire to live a godly life in Christ will be persecuted.

The reason I’m not being persecuted isn’t because I live in America – but this verse tells me that it is because I don’t desire to live a godly life. All my life I more or less assumed I wasn’t persecuted because I lived in a free county. And all my life I’ve been wrong.

PRAYER: Forgive me, Lord, for wanting a persecution free life more than I desire to live a godly life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 3/06/19 – Signs and Decisions

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DayBreaks for 3/06/19: Signs and Decisions

From the DayBreaks archive February 2009:

“In my experience, signs follow decisions. The way you overcome spiritual inertia and produce spiritual momentum is by making tough decisions. And the tougher the decision, the more potential momentum it will produce. The primary reason most of us don’t see God moving is simply because we aren’t moving. If you want to see God move, you need to make a move!

“I learned this lesson in dramatic fashion during the first year at National Community Church. We had been praying for a drummer to join our worship team for months, but I felt like I needed to put some feet on my faith, so I went out and bought a four-hundred-dollar drum set. It was a Field of Dreams moment: if you buy it, they will come. I bought the drum set on a Thursday. Our first drummer showed up the next Sunday. And he was good. He was actually part of the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps.

“Rock and roll.

“I cannot promise that signs will follow your faith in three minutes or three hours or three days. But when you take a step of faith, signs will follow. God will sanctify your expectations, and you will begin to live your life with holy anticipation. You won’t be able to wait to see what God is going to do next.” – Matt Batterson, Wild Goose Chase, 2008

Abraham had to pack his bags and family before he took the first step.  Noah worked for years before the first drop of rain fell.  Moses had to stretch out his hand before the Red Sea parted.  The high priests had to put their foot in the flowing Jordan before God stopped the water.  Elijah had to pray, build altars, douse them with water…before fire fell from the sky.  The apostles had to go in faith that Jesus would be with them when they went out into a hostile world. 

What step of faith is God asking you to take for Him?  Have you decided to do it…but have yet to take the first step?  Why are you waiting?

Prayer: Give us courage, Lord, to act in faith…trusting that You will be with us and bring about Your desired result!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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

 

DayBreaks for 1/21/19 – The Most Tragic Figure

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DayBreaks for 01/21/2019: The Most Tragic Figure

From the DayBreaks archive, January 2009:

If you were to pick the most tragic figure in all of Scripture, or in all of history, who would it be?  I suppose one could argue for a variety of persons:

ADAM: here is a man who walked and talked with God in the garden, and yet was overcome by sin.  If anyone had motivation to continue to walk uprightly because he had recognized so many blessings from his relationship with God, you’d think it would be Adam.  Yet, one whisper from the serpent and he and his wife fall!

CAIN: it didn’t take long for hatred, envy and jealousy to rise to the point that a man would kill his own brother.  Tragic, indeed.  And over something as foolish as whose sacrifice was most pleasing to God?!?!?!  Why kill your brother instead of taking up the matter directly with God?????

SAUL: this king had it all going for him: he was big, brawny, and popular with the people.  Maybe that’s why it all went to his head and he fell from the throne to madness, wallowing in self-pity and taking his own life.

Perhaps JUDAS is the most tragic figure in all of human history.  He certain is one of the most vilified – at least by believers – who shake and wag our heads at the heinous act he perpetrated. 

The, of course, there are the Atilla the Hun’s, Idi Amin’s, Joseph Stalin’s, Adolph Hitler’s, Genghis Khan’s…sadly, the list is rather long.  You may feel at times that your life has been the most tragic in all of history because it has been so difficult.  At times, we’re all prone to believing we’ve got it bad until we’re reminded of someone who truly is in dire straits. 

There is, of course, another totally different point of view.  While most of the people mentioned above were, well, not nice folks, perhaps the most tragic figure in history is God.  Every single human who has ever lived has wounded the heart of their loving Father.  And not just once, but over and over and over – countless times.  And we continue to do so, even knowingly many times.  And yet His love endures forever.

We need to stop thinking so much about the pain in our lives and consider more the pain in God’s existence.  We need to stop thinking about obedience so much as an act of submission to His will as a response to His heart of love.

Prayer: For all the pain You bore on the cross, and for all the pain we cause You now, we seek Your mercy and forgiveness.  Teach us to obey out of love for a heart that has always loved us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 01/02/19 – Commitment

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DayBreaks for 01/02/2019: Commitment

From the DayBreaks archive, January 2009:

Commitment.  How committed are you? “Well,” you might say, “that depends on what you’re asking about.” Fair enough. How committed are you to your marriage? How committed are you to your children? How committed are you to your church and faithful, every-day and every-week service? How committed are you to your job and to being a light for Christ in the world? How committed are you to Jesus?

What is commitment? We think of it as “stick-to-itiveness”. Or we think of it in terms of dedication to a purpose or determination to reach a goal. Those aren’t bad, but there’s another aspect of commitment that really shows whether or not we are “committed”. It came in a devotion from Bob Gass Ministries. Here’s what he had to say: “If I could pick one word to describe commitment, I’d pick the word – alone. Daniel dined and prayed alone. Elijah sacrificed and witnessed alone. Jeremiah prophesied and wept alone. Paul said, “…all men forsook me…” (2 Tim. 4:16).

“The place of commitment is the place where God intervenes on your behalf. When the three Hebrew children of God made the commitment, God brought them out of the fiery furnace without even the smell of smoke. King Nebuchadnezzar was so impressed that he said, ‘…there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.’ (Dan. 3:29) That’s what the world is waiting for, somebody who’ll put everything on the line, get into the fiery furnace and let the world see God’s power.”

Commitment….alone. Perhaps that is the true measure of our commitment, don’t you think? Am I willing to stand for God all alone? Am I willing to stand alone for my marriage? Am I willing to stand alone for God in a workplace that is overwhelmed with darkness and that is openly hostile to Christ? The Hebrew children had God, and each other. What if they’d been alone?

I see in this concept the power of fellowship, but also the demand for commitment even if we, like Daniel, have to stand alone. It’s easy to say we’re committed when we sit in a pew on Sunday morning, but the real test of our commitment comes outside the walls of the church building when we are alone in the world.

Let me ask again: How committed are you to your marriage? How committed are you to your children? How committed are you to your church and faithful, every-day and every-week service? How committed are you to your job and to being a light for Christ in the world? How committed are you to Jesus? What you do when you are alone will tell you the answer to these questions – and reveal the depth of your true commitment!

Prayer: Teach us the kind of commitment that you have shown to us, Lord, even as you endured the loneliness of this world, this life, and the cross.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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