DayBreaks for 4/20/17 – Almost Home

DayBreaks for 4/20/17: Almost Home

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

The little town of Franklin, TN, was the sight of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.  In the space of only 5 hours, 7000 men were killed and thousands of others wounded.  In that short amount of time, northern troops alone used up 100 wagon loads of ammunition.  Accounts written at the time described bodies being stacked six or seven deep for more than a mile along the Columbia Pike.  No one had ever seen anything like it.  The state of Tennessee didn’t have enough money to turn the entire area into a state park to commemorate the battle, but in the battleground stands the Carter house that now serves as a museum and memorial to this bloody battle. 

As terrible as the battle itself, there was one person who died on that day over 140 years ago that is arguably more tragic than the other 6999.  As the battle of Franklin raged, the Carters’ youngest son, Todd, was outside.  He was running for the shelter of home when he was struck down and died, virtually in the shadow of the house.  He was taken into the home dead.  Even today, more is probably written about that young boy who died in the battle than about any of the others who died. 

Several things about this story that struck me: 

First of all is the power of the death of the innocent.  It just doesn’t seem right when a young child is struck down because of the violence of adults.  Yet it happens.  And when the innocent die, people take notice.  An absolutely perfectly innocent person was struck down by our violence and sin.  And similar to Todd Carter, much has been written and said about him.  Jesus Christ, the innocent, was killed by us and for us.  He was almost home when he was “hit”, but he died willingly as a sacrifice – not running in terror. 

Secondly, I thought about how close we can come sometimes to being “home free” only to fail to actually arrive there.  We can’t control the people and events around us.  We know our intent – to get home safely – but sometimes things interfere with our well-laid plans, and in the shadow of the rooftop we fall.   I am very thankful that God is the One who will get us home.  I rejoice that He recognizes that I can’t make it on my own, that I alone would surely be cut down by Satan’s bullets.  He is able to handle our eternal destinies (2 Tim. 1:12).  We need to finish the race well, 2 Tim. 4:7-8, and not die in the home stretch.

The saddest thing, though, is to hear about those who are almost on the porch of the house and ready to enter, but who Satan snatches at the last moment.  The story of Paul’s defense before Agrippa is heart-wrenching, from Acts 26:28-29a: Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”  Paul replied, “Short time or long– I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am….”  There is no evidence Agrippa “made it home”.  How tragic and sad.

There are those today who are almost home but who aren’t quite there yet.  What a tragedy if we let them languish so close to heaven’s door. 

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for the innocent Christ who died for us.  Help us to understand that we don’t control the events that swirl around our lives, but that in You, we are safe forever.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/17/17 – Now You’ll See

DayBreaks for 4/18/17: Now You’ll See

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007:

I don’t have to tell you that life can get pretty hard.  If you are more than 24 hours old, you’ve probably discovered that fact for yourself (and come to think of it, getting into this world isn’t so easy, either)!  It is difficult, at times, to hold onto hope.  But it is very important that we do so!  Think about this example from Today In the Word, May 1990: A number of years ago researchers performed an experiment to see the effect hope has on those undergoing hardship. Two sets of laboratory rats were placed in separate tubs of water. The researchers left one set in the water and found that within an hour they had all drowned. The other rats were periodically lifted out of the water and then returned. When that happened, the second set of rats swam for over 24 hours. Why? Not because they were given a rest, but because they suddenly had hope!  Those animals somehow hoped that if they could stay afloat just a little longer, someone would reach down and rescue them.

It is sometimes easier to hope than others.  But as G. K. Chesterton put it: Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all…As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.  I think he makes a good point.  If we were the rats in the tank in the experiment and could see a way to get ourselves out of the tank, then what would we be relying on?  Ourselves.  And then it isn’t hope, is it? 

Of course, we aren’t rats in a tank.  We are of much greater value.  We weren’t put here be some crazed scientist for the purposes of experimentation.  God isn’t performing laboratory experiments on us.  We need to remember that it was our sin that put us in the tank – not some all-powerful cosmic scientist to watch creatures struggle to see what they would do!  We alone are responsible for the fact that we are drowning.  God alone is responsible for the fact that there is a way out of the tank.  God has spent thousands of years rescuing us from the cesspool of our sin and shame and He is still about the business of rescuing broken and drowning people today. 

Romans 5:5-6 reminds us: And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  You see, God didn’t just build a ramp out of the tank, He got in the tank with us and lifted us out. 

When you despair of ever seeing or feeling the joy of a sunrise again, look around you.  You will see the Son of God at your side.  He will not fail you.  He will not let you down.  You may have to reach the point where the situation is “hopeless” before you turn to Him so you can learn what hope really is. 

We all need to remember that “hopeless” is a human term – it doesn’t exist in God’s dictionary.

PRAYER:  This day, Lord, let us be filled with hope, for this may be the day of His return!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/7/17: Still Running

DayBreaks for 4/7/17: Still Running

It is hard to fathom, but next week we begin “Holy Week”. There are parts about Holy Week that I love, but parts that make me terrified and feel like a worm. It is a week that will take us from the mountain of festive palms in the hands of the cheering throngs to the mountain of Golgatha’s despair. Perhaps that is why I have such strong reactions to it, why some resist it so. I mean, do we really need the emotional rollercoaster of Holy Week? What’s so wrong with just jumping from one parade to the next and skipping all the sacrifice and death stuff? What’s wrong with simply moving on to the joy of Easter, with its white bonnets, Easter eggs, family, friends, big ham dinner, and of course the empty tomb?

I think we already at least suspect, if not know, the answer to that. For starters, an empty tomb, at face value, is a lot easier to deal with than a dying, bleeding Savior on a cross. And then to remember that the bleeding Christ is the same one who invites ME to “Take up YOUR cross and follow me.” (By the way, that’s His invitation to you, too.) We are invited not just to remember His pain and suffering, but to enter into it ourselves – spiritually, emotionally and if it comes to it, physically. So, with all the pain and suffering that comes with Holy Week, is it any wonder that the human tendency is to try and ignore the events of the week and simply move on to the Easter celebration?

But as much as we’d like to skip Holy Week we know that the only way to Easter is through the cross. We know where the parade of Palm Sunday leads and we also know that we’re part of that parade. That is to say, we know this intellectually. Our hearts are another story. Our hearts may be more in sync with the disciples and the fear and disbelief that led them to run away. We do ourselves a favor if we remember that 2000 years ago His disciples ran from Him. It would seem that 2000 years later Jesus’ disciples are still running away.

Mark 14:50 (NLT) – Then all his disciples deserted him and ran away.

PRAYER: Lord, deep in my heart I know that we are meant to walk up the hill to Calvary with you – carrying our own crosses that cannot be denied if we are to be true disciples. But Lord, we don’t want to make that walk. Forgive us, enable us, to walk in your footsteps and not run. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 4/4/17 – Under Construction

DayBreaks for 4/4/17: Under Construction

2 Corinthians 5:4 (NIV) – For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

I tend to think of myself as fairly patient. Oh, there are things that make me very tense and impatient such as traffic if I’m on my way to the airport and I think I may not have a lot of extra time to get parked, get through security and all the way out to my gate. I’m not very patient if I’m supposed to be at a particular place at a certain time and my wife or someone else is making me later (or at least making me think I’ll be late.)

So maybe I’m not so patient after all. Perhaps I’m quite impatient. I know that to be true when it comes to my “perfection”. I am quite tired of waiting for the sanctification process to be completed in my life. I am quite tired of struggling with the same temptations week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade.

Not far from where we live they’re working on the freeway to add an additional lane both north and south-bound. I do not understand why it takes so long. I don’t know the rate with which cement cures. I don’t know why lanes are still blocked off when it seems they could be open and traffic could flow more quickly and smoothly. I’m tired of the struggle of the journey.

The construction work that God is doing in my life is frustratingly slow. I do not know why He chooses to take so long in His process of curing the cement of my heart so it is useful to Him and to others. Yet He seems to be content to let it happen at the pace He dictates.

Yes, I am a work in progress – and even when I can’t see much progress – I believe it is true. I am not a finished article. One thing, though, that I cannot ever afford to forget in the frustration is that while I am a work in progress, His work is not. His work is finished. Jesus has been seated at the right hand of the Father indicating his labor is over and what he set out to do – to cleanse us of all unrighteousness, has indeed been completed.

There is nothing more that Jesus can – or needs to do – for you or me to be saved. The justification is over – it is a finished work, completed, lacking in nothing. And while I struggle with the pace of the process of sanctification, and while I may be frustrated by the apparent lack of progress – I need to remember that right now, this instant, as far as the Father is concerned, I stand before Him in the perfection that Jesus possesses and has given to me. And that is enough!

PRAYER: Father, thank You for the gift of Jesus’ righteousness that surrounds us and shields our sin from Your holy eyes. As we long to no longer struggle with sin, never let us forget the righteousness that we already have – and that the day will come when we will stand in perfection before You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 4/03/17 – They Still Know His Name

DayBreaks for 4/3/17: They Still Know His Name

When things seem to get out of control, I often try to take control and “fix” things. I suppose it is a natural enough human trait, but that in and of itself should be enough of a warning to me that it’s neither smart nor good. After all, if the Bible knows what it is talking about, our natural human traits are nothing to be bragging about. My efforts to fix things more often than not land me in deep water.

One of the songs I have come to deeply love is It is Well, by Kristine DeMarco. The first part of the song goes like this:

Grander earth has quaked before

Moved by the sound of his voice

Seas that are shaken and stirred

Can be calmed and broken

For my regard.

 

Through it all my eyes are on you

Through it all, through it all

It is well.

Through it all my eyes are on you

It is well with me.

 

Far be it from me to not believe

Even when my eyes can’t see.

And this mountain that’s in front of me

Will be thrown into the midst of the sea.

 

Through it all my eyes are on you

Through it all, through it all

It is well.

Through it all my eyes are on you

It is well with me.

 

So let go my soul and trust in Him

The waves and wind still know His Name…”

These are wise words – words I need to hear – often. I’m sure you need to hear them, too. Long ago, the winds and waves immediately responded to his voice because they knew his name. He had created the elements that made the wind and the water and those things had not forgotten His power. And when confronted by a legion of demons (who begged mercy from the singular Galilean carpenter) they obeyed his voice.

The demons and storms in my life, will, too, if I let go and trust in Him.

Your child may lie in a hospital bed this very moment. Your beloved parent or spouse may be in hospice care and the hours seem to fly too rapidly and the breaths to come too slowly. Your job may have vaporized. Your hopes for the future may have been dashed. And it may seem impossible that the storms in your life will ever stop lashing you. Don’t forget one thing: the waves and winds still know his name, and whatever is troubling you must yield to His power. There is no storm he cannot calm.

Mark 4:38-39 (ESV) – But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm
.

 

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, our Delivered, we cry to you in the midst of our battle, we rage against the storm that assails us and in the middle of that struggle we forget the power of your Name to still the raging. Let us trust in you to still the storm and give us great calm, too. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 3/31/17 – Warmed by the Wrong Fire

DayBreaks for 3/31/17: Warmed by the Wrong Fire

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007:

John 18:17-18 –  “You are not one of his disciples, are you?” the girl at the door asked Peter.  He replied, “I am not.” It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.. As Simon Peter stood warming himself, he was asked, “You are not one of his disciples, are you?”  He denied it, saying, “I am not.”

I’ve been preaching through the gospel of John for a bit over a year now (I’m sure the congregation is about ready for something different!), but as we’ve gotten into the final 5 chapters, I’ve been touched and amazed again by the drama and scenes of the final hours of Christ.  The washing of the disciple’s feet, the establishing of the Lord’s Supper, the prayers for the disciples, for you and I, the encounter in Gethsemane, the trials, crucifixion and resurrection.  Is there any story in all of human history that can compete with these events?

When Jesus was inside the home of the high priest, John went in with him, because John was an acquaintance of the high priest but Peter, apparently, was not. He stayed outside, away from close proximity to Christ.  It was night in Jerusalem, and it gets cold at night – every cold.  And this night was no exception.  You know how when you’re really tense and nervous about something how it makes you shake and shiver?  No doubt Peter was shivering – and not just from the temperature. 

Peter drew close to the fire to warm himself…John mentions that twice.  What can we conclude?  Peter was cold, but the greatest coldness was that which was in his heart, not that which surrounded his body.  Rather than following John into the chief priest’s home where his soul could be warmed by the presence of the Lord, he chose an earthly fire made of mere wood. 

We often get cold.  This is a cold world – and we need warmth.  We can stick with Jesus at those times, drawing our warmth from the One who is a consuming fire, the Light that will forever illumine all eternity, or we can turn to some earthly solution for our warmth.  What is your tendency?  When your world gets cold, do you seek to draw closer to him? 

PRAYER: God, we get so cold in this world sometimes.  Please help us to recognize where genuine warmth and comfort comes from, and to stay with Jesus through thick and thin.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 3/30/17 – Who Do You Really Want?

DayBreaks for 3/30/17: Who Do You Really Want?

John 18:3-4 So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”

Of course, Jesus knew the answer to the question he asked, but as he always seemed to do, the question was not to gain knowledge for himself, but to cause those who had come to arrest him to consider their actions and what they were doing.  They had the right answer: “Jesus of Nazareth.”  They wanted Jesus, all right, but not for the right reasons.  They didn’t want him as Lord or even as a rabbi.  They wanted him as a captive – a prisoner.

The question is very valid nearly 2000 years later, and it is still Jesus who asks it: “Who is it you want?”

Let’s not be too quick to chime in, as did the soldiers: “Jesus of Nazareth.”  That’s the obvious Christian answer, the expected response that upholds our status as believers.  But do we want Jesus as a captive who we would put in a box and call him forth to perform for us on demand?  Do we want a Jesus of Nazareth that is a construction of our own mind and wishes, or are we willing to accept the Jesus of Nazareth that calls us to carry our cross daily, to die to ourselves, to be poured out for others even as He was poured out? 

I fear that far too many of us, indeed all of us, have distorted visions of Jesus.  American culture has made him a warm, fuzzy creature, a best buddy.  And there is some truth to that, but American culture doesn’t want much, if anything, to do with the other part of Jesus: a Lord that confronts us with demands. 

Who is it that you want?  Why do you want him?  He refuses to be a magic genie or talisman that we can pull out when we want him.  We must surrender to him.  Are we really willing to do that?

PRAYER: Jesus, we often don’t really mean it completely when we say that we want you.  We want you as our Savior, but not necessarily as our Lord.  Help us to learn that your greatest blessings are reserved for those who obey you and submit themselves to you.  Give us submissive hearts that want you just because of who you are in all your fullness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.