DayBreaks for 9/30/15 – Struggling With God’s Reliability

DayBreaks for 9/30/15: Struggling with God’s Reliability

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

From 2020 Vision, by Bill and Amy Stearns: “Why do we often worry about whether God will come through for us?  Why can’t we spend the ‘last’ 75 years of our lives in solid confidence of His working in our lives and feel deeply satisfied with life?  Perhaps because somehow we’ve gotten the idea that God is supposed to respond to our pleas, to what we feel are our needs.  And often He doesn’t.  We become disappointed with Him and – perhaps without ever hinting at such blasphemy – feel that He’s unreliable.  The prophet Jeremiah felt exactly that way in his life of troubles; he complained to God, Will you indeed be to me like a deceptive stream with water that is unreliable? (Jer. 15:18)  The KJV of that passage puts it about as forcefully as a translator would dare when speaking to God: Wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail?

“Many people who reject God, even when raised in a Christian environment, can point back to a specific event that convinced them that God – if God exists at all – is unreliable.  They’ve prayed that God would save the life of a loved one, and the person dies.  They experience a horrible personal trauma and God doesn’t rescue them; therefore they feel that God doesn’t care.  Even some Christians live the life of a practical atheist.  They know He exists and has saved the, but they frankly don’t trust Him because He has ‘let them down.’

“But maybe it’s time for us to get scriptural in our expectations of God’s reliability.  He won’t always do what we think He should do.  But He will always do exactly what He says He will do.  And on this we can base a whole new life of confident assurance, of encouraging hope.  God will do what He set out to do, and as we align with that, we have steadfastness and sureness like an anchor of the soul – even through tough times of doubt and tragedy.” 

Do you get the critical point here?  God won’t always do what we think He should, but He will always keep His word.  So when we think that God has promised to heal and He doesn’t, we must have misunderstood or misapplied that promise.  We must understand that God never fails to do what He said He would.  There is no force in the universe that is strong enough to make Him break His promise.  Let us pray for wisdom to better understand what God has said He will do – and not to put our expectations on Him as if we were the potter and He were the clay!

PRAYER: God, we need to be filled with understanding and to be reassured that You are absolutely, totally reliable and trustworthy. We know in our head that You are, but in our fear we sometimes doubt. Increase our trust! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

Advertisements

DayBreaks for 9/29/15 – The Power of One Life

DayBreaks for 9/29/15: The Power of One Life

We know some of the huge impact that the life of Jesus had on the world. But then, He was the Son of God, right? One would expect that He would have an unmatched impact on the world. But there are times when we think that we can’t make much of a difference – after all, we are mere humans, born into normal, ordinary lives without much apparent power or influence.

If that’s how you feel about your own life, you need to think again. One person armed with the gospel of peace can change the world.

Telemachus did. He was a monk who lived in the 5th century. He felt God saying to him, “Go to Rome.” He was in a cloistered monastery but he put his possessions in a sack and set out for Rome. When he arrived in the city, people were thronging in the streets. He asked why all the excitement and was told that this was the day that the gladiators would be fighting in the coliseum, the day of the games, the circus. He thought to himself, “Four centuries after Christ and they are still killing each other, for enjoyment?” He ran to the coliseum and heard the gladiators saying, “Hail to Caesar, we die for Caesar” and he thought, “this isn’t right.” He jumped over the railing and went out into the middle of the field, got between two gladiators, and tried to stop them. The crowd became enraged and stoned the peacemaker to death.

When the Emperor of Rome, Honorius, heard about the monk he declared him a Christian martyr and put an end to the games. Legend has it that the very last Gladiatorial game was the one in which Telemachus died.

Chances are that you won’t be stepping into a physical gladiatorial confront today, but you will have a chance to influence the world for the best.

PRAYER: Lord, it is easy to think we are powerless and can’t make much of an impact in this world. Our sins have beaten us down and our shame and frequent failures cause us to surrender before the battle is even joined. Remind us of the great power that dwells within us and which you have placed at our disposal. Let us all make the world a better place this and each day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

Daybreaks for 9/07/15 – The Secret to Standing Up

Image result for daniel in the lions den images

DayBreaks for 9/07/15: The Secret to Standing Up

Do you remember when you were first trying to learn to walk? I don’t either, but I suspect our parents started us down the path to walking by helping us learn to stand up first. It’s a combination, I guess, of figuring out the crawling thing first, watching people walk, and standing on your own two legs.

There are times when standing up isn’t easy. I’ve been on the deck of a boat out on the ocean where the oncoming swells were up above my head. It wasn’t easy to stand at all (let alone keep my breakfast down!) There are other times when I was coming out of anesthesia and walking, at least in a straight line, was rather a challenge. I would imagine that in both those situations I appeared a bit comical (except maybe for throwing up over the boat railing)!

Spiritually, it isn’t easy to always stand up either. The sermon on Sunday was about Daniel chapter 6, where Daniel, who must have been around 80 years old at the time, was made one of the top three rulers in the Medo-Persian empire, and was about to be made the top guy after the king himself, when some of the other satraps and rulers grew jealous of him and set out to try to destroy him. They tricked the king into issuing a decree that no one could pray to anyone except to the king himself for the next 30 days. You see, they knew Daniel’s habit of prayer and unable to find any other fault in him, the had the king pass that self-honoring law.

Daniel didn’t forsake his prayer habit, even though he could have gone into his closet and prayed in the dark, or just “prayed in his heart” for 30 days. He stood a stand for what his conscience told him he needed to do. And how did he take that stand? By kneeling down three times a day to pray toward Jerusalem.

What would I have done? Do I even pray three times a day? Do you? What if I’d been faced with a life or death choice – stop praying or die? How important is prayer to me? Or rather, how important is my relationship with my God?

If someone offered all Christians $5,000,000 to stop praying for 30 days, my guess is that there would a many, many more Christian multi-millionaires. We could justify (or at least rationalize it) in a variety of ways. “Think of all the good I could do for others with that money…and God would be glorified!”

No. Daniel would have said “No!” How do I know that? Because something far more valuable to him than $5,000,000 was at stake – it was his life.

And he stood by kneeling down.

Sometimes the only way to stand is to get down on our knees and then do what we know will bring God glory, not what will bring us honor or glory.

PRAYER: Father, give us the courage to take a stand for You and Your honor and glory! May our knees grown calloused from prayer, for there is great need and penitence to be made for all the times we’ve refused to stand. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 9/04/15 – Yes, But I Do

DayBreaks for 9/04/15: Yes, But I Do

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)

If we believe in Jesus, we should know that the various boundaries we used to include and exclude, to categorize and sort, are erased both on the inside and the outside. We should, I say, because we don’t always act like we believe it.

Fred Craddock tells the story of a missionary sent to preach the gospel in India near the end of World War II. After many months the time came for a furlough back home. His church wired him the money to book passage on a steamer. When the missionary reached the port city he discovered a boat load of Jews had just been allowed to land temporarily. These were the days when European Jews were sailing all over the world literally on the run for their lives, looking for a place to live, and these particular Jews were staying in attics and warehouses and basements all over that port city.

It happened to be Christmas, and on Christmas morning, this missionary went to one of the attics where scores of Jews were staying. He walked in and said, “Merry Christmas.” The people looked at him like he was crazy and responded, “We’re Jews.” “I know that,” said the missionary, “What would you like for Christmas?” In utter amazement the Jews responded, “Why, we’d like pastries, good pastries like the ones we used to have in Germany.” So the missionary went out and used the money he’d received to pay for his ticket home to buy pastries for all the Jews he could find staying in the port. Of course, then he had to wire home asking for more money to book his passage back to the States.

As you might expect, his superiors wired back asking what happened to the money they had already sent. He wired that he had used it to buy Christmas pastries for some Jews. His superiors wired back, “Why did you do that? They don’t even believe in Jesus.” He wired back: “Yes, but I do.”

What good is our faith if it doesn’t make a difference in how we love and demonstrate our love for God and for others?

PRAYER: Forgive us doubting humans, Jesus, for seeing and thinking with earthly eyes and minds. Don’t ever let us forget that You are the One who turns things from impossible into reality! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 8/14/15 – Building Good Out of Evil

DayBreaks for 8/14/15: Building Good Out of Evil 

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

Genesis 50:20 –  As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil. He brought me to the high position I have today so I could save the lives of many people.

If you were going to be the architect and builders of the structures that will replace the fallen World Trade Towers, what kind of materials would you put in the foundation?  I don’t mean whether you’d put cement and steel, but what kind of quality would you look for to put into the foundation?  What goes into the foundation is absolutely vital.  The foundation holds up the entire weight of the building and the stability of the structure rests on it.  If you were smart, you’d get the best stuff that money could buy to pour into the foundation.

The same would seemingly be true for our lives.  The weight of our life and the stability depend on the foundation we have in life.  What you put into the foundation will determine how you weather storms, attacks and the process of wear and tear through aging.  But there’s one problem: the raw material we have to work with (our humanness) isn’t very promising foundation material.  In fact, we need to throw our humanness out so it can be replaced by Godliness and holiness and righteousness. 

But still, in a sense, we must work with what we have.  Paul Tournier wrote: “The most wonderful thing in this world is not the good that we accomplish, but the fact that good can come out of the evil that we do.  I have been struck, for example, by the numbers of people who have been brought back to God under the influence of a person to whom they had some imperfect attachment…Our vocation is, I believe, to build good out of evil.  For if we try to build good out of good, we are in danger of running out of raw material.”

Anyone can take what is already good and build something good around it.  It takes a miracle of God to build something good out of evil.  Pray for His miracles in your life that you will become a home fit for the King!

PRAYER: We are very flawed material, Father, but how amazing that You can build good out of evil creatures! Help us to also see what good potential lies in everyone around us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 8/12/15 – When His Glory Departs

DayBreaks for 8/12/15: When His Glory Departs 

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

In Ezekiel chapters 8 through 10, a tragic story and scene unfolds around the temple.  The temple had been built by Solomon and on the day that the temple was dedicated, God’s glory came to rest in the temple.  As far as God and the Jews were concerned, it was His literal dwelling place on earth, from where He ruled over His creation and especially His people.  The tragedy comes in these chapters as His people have rejected Him in the hardness of their hearts and have worshiped idols made with hands.  And so, in Ezekiel’s vision, the visible glory of God departs from the temple.  Can you imagine what that must have been like for Ezekiel to witness – to see and know that the great God who had led them from the time of Abraham was withdrawing His Presence?  But it was more than just His Presence, it was His favor, His protection and His provision for them.  They were abandoned.

But, the worst part is that when the glory of God left the temple, instead of repenting and turning back to God, the sinfulness of the people of God increased.  Perhaps that shouldn’t surprise us, but it bothers me greatly.  I would have hoped that if I’d witnessed Him departing, that I would have fallen on my face and pleaded with Him to return, promising that I’d mend my broken ways and go back to my first Love.  But, I probably wouldn’t have, after all. 

Here’s the catch: as long as we feel or believe God’s Presence is near and real, we are restrained, at least to some extent, from doing all the evil of which we are capable.  This is how it works: when God is not perceived to be among us any longer, and when I’ve come to think of God in terms that really only apply to mankind rather than the all-powerful and holy Divine Being, when His glory in my mind and heart (since that is now the temple of the Holy Spirit) grows less, my sense of sin and its seriousness is lowered.  And since we don’t feel that sensitivity to our sin if we think God is removed from us, we sin more.  May God have mercy on us for our weakness and presumption of His grace! 

For ancient Israel, “Out of sight, out of mind” was a truism.  We are no different.  When we lose sight of His Presence, or even of the greatness of the Mighty One, we begin to slip into our sinful natures.  Perhaps this is part of the reason that we’re told to “set your minds of Christ Jesus”.  When our minds are on him, we’re less likely to cheapen his sacrifice for us by thinking that sin isn’t such a big deal. 

Ezek. 10:18-19 – Then the glory of the LORD departed from over the threshold of the temple and stopped above the cherubim. 19 While I watched, the cherubim spread their wings and rose from the ground, and as they went, the wheels went with them. They stopped at the entrance to the east gate of the LORD’s house, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them.

PRAYER: May your glory always be before our eyes that we may be aware of your Presence and turn from our sin! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 7/27/2015 – God’s Mirror

DayBreaks for 7/27/15: God’s Mirror

I’ve got one and so do you. In fact, just about everyone I know has one. It’s that reflective thing, called a mirror, that hangs over the sink. We take a peek in it every morning (and if truth be told, pretty much every time we walk by one or by a reflective window). Why? Vanity, to be sure, but also because looking in the mirror in the morning helps me see what needs to be done to make myself presentable that day. I usually shave (at least if I’m going out that day) and comb my hair. Strange thing I’ve discovered, though: I don’t like looking in the mirror as much as I did when I was younger. Now it’s more a necessity!

Would it make much sense for me to take that look in the mirror, see my wild, fly-away sleep hair and whiskers that needs tidying up only to do nothing about what I saw?

James essentially put that question to us when he wrote in James 1:22-25: Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

James is telling us that God’s word is a mirror for our souls, showing us the state of our hearts and what needs to be changed. Looking in the bathroom mirror each day show us what needs to be corrected in our outward appearance, and daily Bible reading reveals to us God’s holiness and desires for what we should be like, what we should do, and what needs to be corrected in our inner spiritual lives.

I am fairly certain that you took a look at yourself this morning to make sure things were in order, neat and in place before going out the door to face the day. But, did you look into God’s mirror to see what’s going on in your heart and what you need to do about that?

If it would be foolish for us to go out into the world without making sure our outward appears in cleaned up, isn’t it even more foolish to start out our day without looking into the condition of our heart and soul?

PRAYER: Help us live disciplined lives that look intently into Your mirror and reveal through Your Spirit what needs to be addressed! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.