DayBreaks for 11/29/16 – Psalm 23 for the Advent Season

DayBreaks for 11/29/16: Psalm 23 for Advent

Here is a version of the 23rd Psalm that ought to be mandatory reading each day of Advent. Maybe it’ll speak to you as it did to me:

The Lord is my pace setter . . . I shall not rush

He makes me stop for quiet intervals

He provides me with images of stillness which restore my serenity

He leads me in the way of efficiency through calmness of mind and his guidance is peace

Even though I have a great many things to accomplish each day, I will not fret, for his presence is here

His timelessness, his all importance will keep me in balance

He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of my activity by anointing my mind with his oils of tranquility

My cup of joyous energy overflows

Truly harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruits of my hours for I shall walk in the Pace of my Lord and dwell in his house for ever.

PRAYER: Lord, even as David spoke great truths about you in Psalm 23, may this remind us in our own busy and frenetic lives that when we abide in you we shall always have your peace! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/10/16 – A Significant Variation

DayBreaks for 11/10/06: A Significant Variation

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2006: (Galen is traveling again)

Genesis 1:3-5 (NIV) And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning–the first day.

I love the book of Genesis.  I’m so excited because I started teaching a new Bible study on it just last week.  So many of the great stories of the Bible, and really all of the great themes of the Bible, are found in the book: creation, light/darkness, the fall, Messianic expectation, sacrifice, compassion and grace and mercy, Lordship, faithfulness, covenant living, redemption, forgiveness, and on and on and on. 

But I recently was fascinated all over again by the creation story itself.  When we talk about a 24-hour period of time, we speak in these terms: “I’m working day and night.”  If someone asked you what constituted a day, you’d probably say “Twelve hours of daylight, 12 hours of night,” or something very similar.  Yet in chapter one as it tells the story of God’s creative genius, all six days of creation repeat the sequence: “And there was evening and there was morning – the first day.”  Do you see it?  Evening comes before the daylight, night before day.

“So?” you say.  “Big deal.”  Maybe you’re right.  But I don’t think that God put anything in His Word that isn’t intended to show us or teach us something.  The “day” in Genesis starts with night, and ends with the close of a period of light, when a new day starts again.  So what’s the point?  Day #1 started at a time when mankind couldn’t have worked or done anything if we wanted to.  It starts with darkness…a time when God alone can work.  And when we sleep.  Then, we wake up each morning and we can see what God has been doing all night.  He’s been preparing the sun to ride across the sky again, for the earth to continue spinning on its’ axis, for the plants to refresh the oxygen and break down the carbon dioxide. 

But there’s more to it than just that.  God works in the darkness of our lives, when we can’t see our way.  And perhaps that gives new meaning to the oft-quoted verse from Psalms 30:5 (NLT) – His anger lasts for a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may go on all night, but joy comes with the morning.  From the reading of the text of Genesis 1, it appears that God pronounces His work good once the light has shone – after the night when He’d been so busily creating. 

One more thought also occurs to me: it was dark as Jesus hung on the cross, and it was morning when He arose.  Again, we see God working in the darkness, again it was for our benefit.  And He was doing work that we could not possibly do for ourselves.

May His Light shine upon us, and when He and we see what He’s been doing in our lives, may we echo God’s words: “It is very good!”

PRAYER: Father, at times the night seems do deep and dark.  We are frightened by every little sound, every creak of the floorboard.  Help us to remember that You never sleep, You never slumber, and that You perhaps do Your greatest work in the darkness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/08/16 – The Most Important Vote You Will Ever Cast

DayBreaks for 11/08/06: The Most Important Vote You’ll Ever Cast

Well, the day that many have dreaded has arrived. This quite likely has been the most vitriolic and ugly election cycle for the highest office in our land that has ever taken place. People on both sides are sick and tired of it, ready for it to be over. Friendships have been strained, words have been spoken that should have been left unsaid. But it is election day and we will soon know the outcome.

Many have stressed greatly over and have great fears about what will become of our nation regardless of who wins this election. I understand that…I have my own concerns in that regard, too. But I need to take a step back and remember some pretty important things:

  1. No matter who wins today, God is still in control;
  2. No matter who wins today, Jesus is still seated on the throne and he’s not even breaking a sweat to stay there;
  3. No matter who wins today, my salvation is not affected and I’ll still be called to be a witness tomorrow even as I am today;
  4. No matter who wins today, I need to remember that Jesus promised us that the gates of hell will NOT prevail against His church – Jesus will defend and protect His bride (which is different from our nation!);
  5. No matter who wins today, my hope is to be placed in Christ, not in any human ruler;
  6. No matter who wins today, my greatest allegiance it to the King of Kings and I need to be wise enough to recognize when His interests are at stake and to take a stand for righteousness.

You’ve heard it many times during this election cycle: people of every persuasion are saying that this is the most important vote you will ever cast. Let me tell you the truth: they are wrong. It is not even close to the most important vote you will ever cast. The most important vote you will cast is your vote either for Jesus or against Him. Your eternity hangs on that vote. All the people running for office in this election will die and meet their Maker and answer for what they have done and in whom they have believed and with whom they have cast their lot – with themselves or with Jesus.

Cast your vote wisely!

PRAYER: God, we do pray for our nation today. We pray for the men and women of Your choosing to be elected. We pray for wisdom as people all over this country try to make sense out of all the claims and counterclaims, promises kept and broken, of those who would be our leaders. We cannot see hearts as You can. But more than anything else, Lord, let us vote for Jesus to be our King and Master and find our rest and hope in Him and Him alone! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/31/16 – Forgiveness and Present Realities

DayBreaks for 10/31/16 – Forgiveness and Present Realities

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2006:

NOTE: Galen is taking a short vacation.

Psalm 79:8-9 – Oh, do not hold us guilty for our former sins! Let your tenderhearted mercies quickly meet our needs, for we are brought low to the dust. Help us, O God of our salvation! Help us for the honor of your name. Oh, save us and forgive our sins for the sake of your name.

As I read and meditated on this passage, I found it interesting that David pleads with God to not hold us guilty of former sins.  What about the present ones?  What about all our future ones still waiting to be born? 

Surely, the plea is that God not hold us guilty at all, for we haven’t committed present or future sins yet – and at some point they will all be “former” sins – certain when we stand in judgment they will all be former!  Yet in a way, I suppose that we can only ask for forgiveness for the things that we have done – not for things we may yet do.  Our confession should be specific.  We cannot confess the truthful, yet painful, details of sins we’ve not yet committed. 

The Psalmist makes no claim to deserve such favor from God, only holding on to the “tenderhearted mercies” that belong to God, which David is confident will be quickly poured out to meet the needs of those who have humbled themselves.  Interestingly, his plea for God’s help is not for our sake or benefit, nor is it because we deserve it, but for the honor of God’s name.  Have you thought about how it would look if the Lord’s people are destitute forever, if there is no relief from the guilt and shame of sin, no ultimate vindication for those who cling to their faith like a drowning man holds to a piece of wood?  If such were the case, why would anyone want to be a follower, to be able to say “O God of OUR salvation”?  At some point, salvation must become a much more present reality than the way we experience it today, else there is nothing to draw us to it.  So, it is for the sake of the Lord’s name that we pray for His mercy to be poured out.

The day will come when the present reality is, pure and simple, the eternal reality.  At that time, all my sins will be in the past, already forgiven.  As I struggle through this life, that truth gives me strength to face another day full of hope and reassurance.

I am far too prone to see the benefits of God’s mercy and forgiveness and favor for my own benefit and comfort.  I need to learn to seek his mercies for the sake of His name.  How often do my reactions to unpleasant things in this life dishonor his name?  If I truly learn to celebrate His mercies for His name’s sake, I’ll be much better off and He will be glorified.

PRAYER:  Father, sometimes it is hard to believe that You forgive us so freely, for we know that there is nothing in us that could cause You to love and forgive us.  Help us to understand that You forgive us for Your own honor and sake, and that regardless of Your motive in forgiving us, that Your forgiveness is real and eternal.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 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 10/18/16 – What Christian Hope Means

DayBreaks for 10/18/16 – What Christian Hope Means

Every pastor has been touched and troubled when there have been those in the congregation who suddenly have faced unemployment. Like an ambush from two sides, unemployment attacks us with the fear of financial insecurity on the one side and the loss of self-esteem on the other. Job searching can deepen both. In just such a moment I encountered Brian. He is a competent and creative person whose skills and personality cannot be long overlooked. “It will work out, Brian,” I said. “God does provide.” “I hope so!” he replied. From the inflection of his voice, I knew he did not “expect” so.

One is reminded of Lucy’s encouragement to Charlie Brown in one of the Peanuts cartoons. “Look at it this way, Charlie Brown,” she consoles. “These are your bitter days. These are the days of your hardship and struggle …” The next frame goes on: “… but if you just hold your head up high and keep on fighting, you’ll triumph!” “Gee, do you really think so, Lucy?” Charlie asks. As she walks away Lucy says: “Frankly, no!”

Hope is like that. We speak of it more often than we believe in it. Hope is not a strong word for us. It has more to do with “wishing” than “expecting.” It has the sound of resignation, an inability to bring about, influence, or even believe that a desired event or goal might ever come to be. “Well, I hope so” has in its whimsical sound the same negation of the words that we hear in the sarcastic “Sure it will!” or “Well, I guess!” Hope, as we understand it, is not a word of excitement and expectation. It speaks of resignation and helplessness. “Well, I hope so …”

How then can we understand the New Testament’s strong use of the word? Repeatedly Paul writes about hope. To the Thessalonians he writes of the armor of God, including the “hope of salvation” as a helmet. To the Colossians he writes of the “hope laid up in heaven,” and of the “hope of glory.” Peter writes in his first letter that “we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, held in heaven for you.”

Given our understanding of the word, shivers run up our spines as we think about it. “Is that all we have?” we want to shout. “Is ‘hope’ all we have after all? Just … hope?”

In the NT, hope means more than wishful thinking. The action of hoping has nothing to do with a speculative desire. It is, rather, a fully confident anticipation of deliverance, won through the person and work of Christ. If you’ll pardon this rather simplistic explanation, it is like a child who is waiting for Christmas. They know it’s coming, they know it will come, but they can hardly stand the wait because they know it will be so wonderful when that day arrives! Our hope is even more sure than the fact that Christmas is coming, because for any one of us, we may die before Christmas or Christ may return before Christmas Day 2016. There is nothing that will stop the arrival of Jesus, there is nothing that will prevent him from making all things new, there is nothing that can force him to abandon his plan or change his mind about us. Our hope is assured, fully confident that Jesus can, and will, do all that he has promised to do and that we will be the recipients of that grace and goodness!

That is what hope means. Without hope we wouldn’t make it from one day to the next. With the Christian hope we can make it through anything.

Romans 5:5 (NLT) – And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

PRAYER: Jesus, we believe that you are as good as your word to us. Sometimes we struggle to hope for better things because things in this world so often disappoint us. Remind us daily that you will never fail or disappoint!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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