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.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 3/22/18 – There Was No One There

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DayBreaks for 3/22/18: There Was No One There

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2008:

Have you ever felt absolutely and totally alone?  I am not the kind of person who minds being alone – in fact, I rather enjoy it…most of the time.  But when I worked in high tech, I traveled a lot and there were many times when I’d go to a strange city (or even a strange country) and loneliness would settle over my soul like a shroud.  There are many places where loneliness raises its head and comes to sit next to you.  Once it arrives, it tends to stay.

Some of the loneliest places I’ve been read like a list of places most folks would like to visit: Ireland, Sao Paulo, London, and in America, Mississippi and Alabama.  I don’t know why I felt so alone here in the US, but when you’re in a foreign country (even one like Ireland or England that speaks my native tongue) you can feel desperately alone.  Without my family, my wife, my dogs or friends, loneliness haunts like a spectre.  The more foreign, the greater the haunting.

The story of Gethsemane is one of the most painful stories for me to read in the entire collection of Scripture, and having been there, is even more painful to me.  It appears to be the time of Jesus’ greatest loneliness, with perhaps the exception of the cry of dereliction from the cross itself.  Anticipation of agony is oft times worse than the pain we anticipate.  I wonder if it was that way for Jesus.

In his novel, More Like Not Running Away, Paul Shepherd wrote: “I’d always known, in one place in my throat, how Jesus must have cried in the garden—crying not to die, because there was no fear of death, and not to leave his friends, because he walked alone, and not to suffer, because the blood and bruises and thorns were part of his perfection—but crying because he could not find his Father’s face, because when he would suffer all that he could bear, the pain of every person, living and dead, in that dark moment, there was really nobody there.”

Jesus truly had no peers to swap celestial stories with.  He had no one on the planet who understood what he faced just in a matter of hours.  There was no one else who truly understood the weight of the world’s sin as it came and settled on him like a hot blanket on that Palestinian night.  If ever anyone was in a foreign land, it was Jesus.  If ever anyone found “there was really no one there,” surely it was He.  “We esteemed him smitten by God…” 

For all who have ever felt loneliness, for all who have ever felt that there was “no one there,” take heart in knowing that Jesus has been to that desolate place before you.  And no matter how alone he felt at the moment he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, he soon proclaimed with great confidence: “Into Your hands I commit my spirit!”  In the midst of his massively heavy aloneness, He still had confidence in the Father He knew and loved, and was supremely confident that the Father saw and loved Him and would not ultimately let His Holy One be abandoned. 

Dare we hope for the same assurance?  Absolutely, for His Father is our Father and is unchanging.

PRAYER: Fill our loneliness with the confidence of Jesus that we may, in childlike trust and faith, abandon ourselves into Your hands.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 12/01/15 – Isolated and Alone

DayBreaks for 12/01/15: Isolated and Alone

Confession is a lost art and sorely neglected discipline. I believe we’re missing out on a great blessing from God in our failure to be open and honest with one another. Sure, it can be very painful if you confess to someone who is a tattle-tail or a gossiper, but when confession is done properly in the context of a body of trusted believers, it should be a time of refreshing, not of guilt or shame.

Why do we struggle so to be open about our sinfulness? Richard Foster, in Celebration of Discipline, may have hit it on the head: Confession is a difficult discipline for us because we all too often view the believing community as a fellowship of saints before we see it as a fellowship of sinners. We feel that everyone else has advanced so far into holiness that we are isolated and alone in our sin. We cannot bear to reveal our failures and shortcomings to others. We imagine that we are the only ones who have not stepped onto the high road to heaven. Therefore, we hide ourselves from one another and live in veiled lies and hypocrisy.

The problem most certainly comes when we see the church as a fellowship if saints instead of a fellowship of sinners. Are we saints? Absolutely! We are declared holy by God Himself – in spite of our sinfulness, because that sin has been dealt with by Jesus. But are we not also a fellowship of sinners – first and foremost? Isn’t it our acknowledgment of our sinfulness that drew us to Christ and the fellowship of the church to start with? 

We are, if my own life is any judge, far more like sinners than saints. Chances are, that until we come to honestly admit that openly and loudly, we’ll continue to act like good little Christians should act and never let on that we’re still desperately full of sin and sinful tendencies. And there are no exceptions to that rule. The most righteous among us is still a great sinner and all the pretending in the world won’t change that fact. As long as we deny that fact, we’re denying our humanity – and like any illness, as long as we deny it exists – it can’t be treated and dealt with. We have been set free from the consequences of sin as His children…though sin still tempts and often leads us down the wrong path.

James 5:16 – Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.

Copyright 2005 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

TODAY’S PRAYER: Give us the courage, Father, to take you at your word and to confess not only to you, but others, our sinfulness and brokenness. And then, by your grace and mercy, and the prayers of other sinners like ourselves, may we find your healing that our broken souls so desperately need. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2015 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 08/15/12 – Changing Your N to a V

DayBreaks for 08/15/12 – Changing Your N to a V

Lonely…

Have you every been lonely?  I mean, REALLY lonely?  Perhaps it was in a strange town on a business trip.  Maybe it was in a foreign country where you knew no one and no one knew you, where the language and customs may as well have come from Venus.  Perhaps, sadly, it was in your own church, or even worse yet, in your own family.  Loneliness is epidemic.  We are bombarded with constant communication in the form of TV, movies, radio, the Internet, wireless devices such as cell phones and PDA’s that keep us up to date on all that is going on in the world, but we are still lonely.  Why?  Because none of those things really communicate WITH us.  They may communicate information TO us, but that’s different.

Psalm 23:4: “…You are with me…

Often times we are lonely because of something particular in our lives.  It may be a deformity of body, spirit, or mind.  David, the shepherd, wasn’t even among the first wave of brothers brought before Samuel for consideration as the future king of Israel because he was the “youngest son”.  Did you know that the term Jesse used to describe David as “youngest son” is literally “the runt”?  David knew and understood loneliness and rejection.  There must have been many nights as a shepherd, or when he was on the run for his very life from the pursuing Saul, that he sat alone in the cold, wrapped in a cloak, and longed for a friend that could see past his “runtiness”.

He found that friend in God.  “You are with me…” Even when no one else is close.  Even though I cannot see you.  Even though I may not hear you.  Even though I may not feel Your Presence, I know “You are with me…”.

The discovery of David is indeed the message of Scripture – the Lord is with us.  And, since the Lord is near, everything is different.  Everything!

“You may be facing death, but you aren’t facing death alone; the Lord is with you.  You may be facing unemployment, but you aren’t facing unemployment alone; the Lord is with you.  You may be facing marital struggles, but you aren’t facing them alone; the Lord is with you.  You may be facing debt, but you aren’t facing debt alone; the Lord is with you.

“Underline these words: You are not alone.

“Your family may turn against you, but God won’t.  Your friends may betray you, but God won’t.  You may feel alone in the wilderness, but you are not.  He is with you.  And because he is, everything is different.  You are different.

“God changes your ‘n’ into a ‘v’.  You go from lonely to lovely.”  – Max Lucado, Traveling Light

If you are His, you may feel lonely from time to time – it seems to be part of our human condition.  But you have been made lovely and you are precious to Him!

Isaiah 43:4-5 – “4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life.  5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you…”.

PRAYER: In our moments of loneliness, Lord, may we hear your heartbeat near us – steady and constant – reassuring us of your presence and unending love..  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 04/07/11 – God of the Abandonment, Part 1

DayBreaks for 04/07/11 – God of the Abandonment, Part 1

 

Abandoned...

 

From the DayBreaks archive, dated 4/05/2001:

Sadly, it isn’t uncommon at all to hear about children who have been abandoned.  Babies are left at the door of hospitals or adoption agencies.  Children are abandoned by a father or a mother.  A wife is abandoned by the husband that promised to stay until “death do us part”.  It happens far too often.  And it doesn’t only happen to unbelievers.  It doesn’t only happen to Christians.  It even happened to Christ: (Mark 15:34) “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”-which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

The idea of being abandoned by those we trusted is disturbing.  How are we to cope with it?  Let’s look at the crucifixion to learn how to deal with abandonment, for if anyone ever truly was abandoned, if anyone ever felt the utter depth of abandonment, it was Christ.  Can there be a cry of abandonment more haunting than that of Jesus on the cross?  Consider that Jesus and God had been together “in the beginning” (John 1:1-2).  There had never been a moment in time (or outside of time) where they had not been together.  Never had they failed each other.  Never had they been separated or apart – not even when Jesus came to earth as a human baby.

During his days on earth, Jesus understood abandonment.  The crowds turned from him after he’d fed them and challenged them with the statement that they would have to eat his flesh and drink his blood.  In a spirit of sadness, he was moved to ask his disciples if they, too, would leave and abandon him.  How did he deal with it?  Matthew and Mark tell us that after Jesus’ cry of abandonment, that he cried out one more time.  Luke tells us what those words were: Luke 23:46 – “Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

Do you see what Jesus did when he felt abandoned by God?  He, in turn, abandoned himself to God.  “Into your hands, I commit my spirit…”.  He didn’t give up on God.  He didn’t search for some other solution or a substitute, but he trusted Him who He had always trusted before.

What should we do when we feel abandoned?  The same thing that Jesus did.  It doesn’t matter who or what has abandoned you – your response should be the same.  Don’t become angry and bitter.  Abandon yourself totally to God!

PRAYER: Lord, how comforting it is to know that you understand how it feels to be alone and abandoned.  Remind us often that you will never leave us or abandon us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2011, Galen C. Dalrymple  ><}}}”>

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