DayBreaks for 10/10/17 – Confidence Builders

DayBreaks for 10/10/17: Confidence Builders

From the DayBreaks archive:

Patrick O’Boyle once recalled the late-1940s Hyde Park “Speakers’ Corner” appearances of Frank Sheed, a Catholic author and publisher, with these words:

“Sheed could be devastating with hecklers.  Once, after Sheed had described the extraordinary order and design to be seen in the universe, a persistent challenger retorted by pointing to all the world’s ills, and ended shouting, “I could make a better universe than your God!”

“I won’t ask you to make a universe,” Sheed replied. “But would you make a rabbit—just to establish confidence?”

I suppose much of the human problem stems from the crazy idea that we could do things better than God.  We think we would make a world where there was no evil, no pain, no suffering; a universe where there are no hurricanes or stars that go super-nova – in short, we just think we could do better than God in just about everything. 

Have you ever really stopped to think how stupid such a thought is?  We who are as finite as a speck of sand in the entire universe are so proud and pretentious as to think we actually know better than God.  Hogwash! 

But when it comes to my own life, I’m really prone to think such things.  “God, having me suffer deprivation isn’t good for me.”  “God, there no good reason for what just happened to me!”  “God, I’m a faithful child of Yours, and things like this just aren’t right!” 

Maybe, when we have learned enough from life that we can see the interaction and inner-connectedness of every human thought and every human action on every other human, we would begin to get the tiniest bit of understanding about why things happen.  And, if we could see the eternal salvation that has come to who-knows-how-many-souls through hardship (which is usually God knocking on the top of our skull trying to get our attention!), we might think differently. 

At a Bible study I was teaching this past week, we were discussion Joseph and the period of time that he was left rotting in the prison after the cup-bearer was restored to his duties in the palace of Pharaoh.  It doesn’t seem fair to Joseph.  How could the cup-bearer forget the man who had interpreted his dream?  But, he did.  I’m convinced we should see God’s hand in that rather than just mere human frailty and forgetfulness.  Did Joseph have to learn more patience?  Did he need to learn to trust God more?  (Remember that Joseph had no inkling whatsoever that he would soon be the #2 man in Egypt.)  As I pondered those thoughts, another thought came to me: perhaps Joseph was left in the prison for another year or two (or longer) for the sake of some other human being, nameless and faceless and lost to humanity for about 3000 years now, who was also languishing in the prison? 

God’s ways aren’t our ways – but God can make rabbits, elephants and entire universes in the blink of an eye.  That should be a confidence builder for us to trust Him to know what is best for our individual lives!

PRAYER:  Father, thank you for all the things you’ve done to give us confidence in you.  Help us not to be so wise or smart in our own eyes that we think we can even begin to know better than you what is good for us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 8/28/17 – Humans and Infallibility

DayBreaks for 8/28/17: Humans and Infallibility

There is something about us humans that just loves certainty.  We’re not keen on the unknowns. We struggle with it and are uncomfortable if we’re not sure about things.  We even have actuarial tables that deal with probabilities. Insurance companies use them to decide who and what to insure and what to turn down.  Sure, they don’t know for sure when anyone will die or have an accident, but they have calculated the odds and are willing to risk money betting that you won’t die prematurely (i.e., before they get their money’s worth out of you.)  We speak highly of those who are so self-confident and sure of themselves.  They project an image of infallibility that we find comforting – and so they are the kind of people that others willingly and eagerly follow – the certainty they possess makes them seem safe. 

And so, when it comes to God and what we believe about Him, we would like to have certainty – or at least a bit more certainty than we naturally have.  Some people choose to not believe in God because His existence cannot be “proven”,  only speculated (albeit with lots of good reasons, in my opinion!)  No one has seen Him, many claim to have heard from Him, we blame things on him (even in insurance contracts) when we refer to them as acts of God. 

So, what about certainty in what we believe?  I hope you won’t take this wrong, but in some ways, I’m less certain about things I believe than I once was.  By that, I don’t mean the existence of God, the divinity of Jesus, the reality of the Spirit, the reliability of the Bible, etc.  I believe in all those things, and as I get closer to the end of this planetary journey, I find my faith in those things grows stronger and stronger each day.  What I am talking about, though, is the degree of confidence I have in my own judgment and understanding.  When I was younger, I was very self-confident. I was part of a very legalistic religious tradition that, although they would have denied it, seemed to believe that Godliness was next to rightness – that you had to believe according to a long list of doctrinal positions on everything from card playing to dancing to co-ed swimming to the millennial questions, etc. 

And for a while, in my foolish younger years, I thought I had all the right answers.  I’m so grateful that God is merciful and forgiving of such preposterous foolishness.  In his book, Hearing God, Dallas Willard talks about this kind of thing in relation to “hearing” God and our level of certainty with what He is saying and wants us to do: Of course, you could still be wrong.   God does not intend to make us infallible by His conversational walk with us.  You could also be wrong about most of the beliefs on which you very successfully base your life.  But you are usually correct.  You could also be wrong in believing that your gas gauge is working, that your bank is reliable, that your food is not poisoned.  Such is human life.  Infallibility, and especially infallibility in discerning the mind of God, simply does not fit the human condition.

How many times have I had someone tell me that “God said He’s going to do this-or-that,” only to find out that He didn’t do it.  It’s sometimes enough to make you wonder who or what they are hearing.  We need to be cautious when we talk about how we’ve “heard” God tell us something.  Do I believe He can and does from time to time?  Absolutely!  But much is ascribed to God that I don’t think He ever said.  If it’s in the Word – count on it – if you keep it in context.  If it’s just in your head – be wary until God has confirmed it through the Word or through other means.  Telling others that God has told us something, only to not have that thing happen, can cause them to lose confidence in His existence. 

God invites us to listen to Him.  It’s the right thing to do.  Just be careful about what voice you’re really hearing.

PRAYER:  Thank you, Lord, that you do desire to not only hear from us, but to talk to us.  Help us to recognize you voice and not to read our own wishes and hopes into situations, but to trust you to reveal your holy and perfect will in due time.  Keep us from deception that we may walk in the pathway of truth.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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.

 

 

DayBreaks for 1/12/16 – To the End!

DayBreaks for 1/12/16: To the End!

Galen is out of the country. While he is gone, you will be receiving DayBreaks from the DayBreaks archive from January, 2006.

John 13:1 (KJV) – Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

Churches talk a lot about ministries.  Sometimes we are trying to get people to volunteer to help out, at other times, we’re trying to just get people involved who are sitting on the sidelines and being spectators.  There are plenty of ministry opportunities in this world: the tsunami victims, Katrina victims, Pakistani earthquake victims, those affected by the genocide in Africa, the poor and hungry here in the United States and perhaps in your own town.  The list of opportunities to minister to others is longer than could ever be printed, I suppose.

It is a good thing that we talk about ministering to our fellow humans.  God wants and expects us to do so, in the name of Jesus.  But sometimes we don’t focus that much on Jesus’ service to us.  At the last Passover, Jesus washed his follower’s feet.  In that washing of the feet, Fleming Rutledge sees strong parallels that we may have missed: the cleansing of the feet represents the cleansing by blood and water that was to come that Friday.  The laying down of his garments foreshadows the laying down of his life as a sacrifice.  She reminds us that this was his last action of Jesus towards his disciples as a whole before he lays his life down for them.  The apostle John seemed to grasp the significance when he noted that it was the proof that “he loved them unto the end.”

Ms. Fleming writes that he loved them “…to the end of his earthly strength, to the end of his earthly capacity, to the end of his earthly life.  But far more, to the end of the world, to the outermost boundaries of time, and beyond his own Second Coming into the time that is beyond time, he loves us to the end.

Isn’t it wonderful to know that, in spite of all the loves you have experienced on this earth – parent, friend, child, brother or sister, spouse – that there truly is one love that will never, ever run out, get tired of you, stop loving you or get bored with you?  That is the love of Jesus for his followers.  And that is the love that will follow and chase us throughout all eternity!

TODAY’S PRAYER: Lord, even the best love that we’ve ever experience here on this earth has been flawed and has failed us – and we have failed others with our imperfect love – and we’re inclined to be fearful that your love may someday fail us, too.  Lord, how we long to fully experience a love that is perfect, without any flaw, which will never grow old or tired of us.  Teach us to love others with that kind of love, and most of all, to love you in response in the very best way possible until we are perfected in heaven and see you face to face!   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 4/23/15 – Deeper Still

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DayBreaks for 4/23/15: Deeper Still

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2005:

Corrie ten Boom knew something about tragedy and suffering. She lived with a courageous faith. Upon emerging from a Nazi concentration camp she said, “There is no pit so deep that God isn’t deeper still.” She picked an apt analogy because pain and tragedy is a pit. For some, it appears bottomless. Many experience a falling, disorientation, a terror, as they grab for walls that are out of reach. They see only blackness, and hear only echoes of the life they used to know. And for many, they claim that God is not present. But Corrie ten Boom reminds us that even in the pits of tragedy, God is still there. He is present. Yes, pain is real. But God, indeed, is real, too. That’s where faith comes in.

On the wall of a concentration camp, a prisoner had carved these words:

I believe in the sun, even though it does not shine.
I believe in love, even when it isn’t shown.
I believe in God, even when he doesn’t speak.

As I write this DayBreaks, I’m in Florida at my sister’s home.  While the sun shines outside and the birds sing, it’s a bit darker inside.  Her husband died a week ago this past Sunday after a titanic struggle with pancreatic cancer.  She is a couple of years older than I, and she faces a future of raising 2 boys (currently 9 and 5) as a widowed mom.  It is a pit of tragedy?  Yes, it is – in human terms.  Her husband was a minister of the gospel and college professor.  But the human tragedy is still real and the pit is deep and the pain is deep.  And it will be for a long, long time.

But we also know that God is real.  He is the most Real reality that there is.  And though at times the sun doesn’t shine, and at times love seems to vanish, and though at times we may all cry out to God seeking answers to the universal question of “Why?”, even when He can’t be heard, He hears.  He cares.  He cries.  And He will heal.

Our faith in God must become deeper – and stronger – than our tragedy and despair.  If we allow our pain, tragedy or despair to be greater than God, we have made it our idol.  If we let it dominate our lives, fill our thoughts and minds – it has supplanted the place that only God is intended to fill.  By dwelling on those things instead of God, we are worshipping trouble rather than the One who will ultimately fix all things. 

May our faith in God’s goodness admit no boundaries, accept no limits, and grow until there is no room in our hearts for anything else.

Job 11:7-8 (NLT) – Can you solve the mysteries of God? Can you discover everything there is to know about the Almighty?  Such knowledge is higher than the heavens—but who are you? It is deeper than the underworld—what can you know in comparison to him?

PRAYER: When we are tempted to despair, remind us of Your goodness! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 4/06/15 – Love Unfailing

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DayBreaks for 4/06/15: Love Unfailing

I don’t know about you, but I am not ready for Holy Week to be over.  When I was pastoring a small church in northern California, this was by far my favorite week.  I loved preaching Easter-related messages.  I loved the deep meaning of the services and the contemplation of the reality that is the theme of the week.

The services for Holy Week 2015 have come and gone and the calendar has moved on, but I haven’t.   I want to linger in the mystery. 

I have just finished reading a book, The Insanity of God, (I’ll write about it in a few days) that has challenged me and my understanding of Jesus’ call upon our lives.  It has opened my eyes to truths about myself to which I was at least partially blind and in denial.  And it has, in spite of everything, left me rattled to the core as to my walk and understanding of what it means to be a disciple.  Suffice it to say, I’m not sure I have a clue what it means to be a disciple of His. 

That’s a scary thing to have to admit.  And it makes me wonder about my salvation in a way.  Oh, I know in my head that my salvation isn’t dependent on how “good” of a Christian I am, or how much I may sacrifice for Him.  It’s all about what He’s sacrificed for me and His mercy and grace.  But still…there’s that nagging voice of the enemy in the back of my mind that says, “You’re worthless.  Compared to some of those other folks who have given it all for Jesus, you’ve given nothing.  You’ve sacrificed nothing.  You will not be recognized on the day of Judgment.”  Deep inside, I know that’s Satan’s voice – not Jesus’.  Yet it is a loud voice and it is fairly convincing.

And so it was that two simple words we sang at our Easter celebration at church came leaping out at me with such force: love unfailing.  The song is This Is Amazing Grace, and here’s what it says in the chorus:

This is amazing grace
This is unfailing love
That You would take my place
That You would bear my cross
You lay down Your life
That I would be set free
Oh, Jesus, I sing for
All that You’ve done for me.

As I was celebrating, the concept of unfailing love washed over me and blew through my heart like the freshest breeze ever.  I had been dwelling on my failings and shortcomings…and not on His unfailing love for even someone like me!

My wife, bless her heart, is a saint.  And though I have to readily admit that my failings in love FAR outnumber her few failings in love towards me, there have been times when her love has not been all that I think it could have been.  I say that not to take her down in any way, but rather to lift her up – she is truly amazing.  But the hard truth is that every love of every human on this earth has at one time or another failed me.  And I have most certainly failed others many times over!

The problem comes when I think of Jesus’ love for me as if it were simply the love of another human being that will fail me when I stand before the throne of God.  It shall not be so!!!!!  Listen to His words: John 6:39 (NLTse) – And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. 

Lest we think that Jesus may love us, but the Father is angry with us, it is the beloved apostle John, who wrote these words: John 1:14, 17 (NLTse) – So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son…For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ.

On the day of judgment, I shall be saved.  Not because I’m something great or did anything at all of significance.  Not because I was or wasn’t a martyr.  Not because I was imprisoned for my faith or because I lived a life of little or no persecution.  I shall be saved because of unfailing love – a love that cannot now, nor ever, fail!

PRAYER: Jesus, we have never experienced love like yours upon this earth, and so we are tempted to believe that every love fails.  Let us lean with all our might into your unfailing love and trust your own words that you will not lose a single one!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 12/04/14 – Things Jesus Will Never Say

DayBreaks for 12/04/14 –Things Jesus Will Never Say

From the DayBreaks archive, December 2004:

Have you ever felt that you were asking too much from someone?  Have you ever felt that others were asking too much of you – either at work, at home, in a friendship, or in your church?  Sometimes people will tell you that you’ve asked too much.  Sometimes our confidence can be misplaced.

In Lion and Lamb, Brennan Manning wrote about the confidence that we can have in Christ: Again it is the saints, the extravagant lovers of God and people, who challenge us to push our confidence to extreme limits.  Paul writes in 1 Timothy 1:14-15: “The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.  Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.”

In modern times, some have said: “The good Lord is more eager to pardon a repentant sinner than a mother to rescue her child from a fire.”  Others said, “Our sins are grains of sand beside the great mountain of the mercies of God.”  Still another put it this way: “The moment we ask forgiveness, God throws our sins over His shoulder.  He forgets them, He annihilates them; they shall never reappear.”

Paul says we need to give FULL acceptance to the reason Christ came – to save sinners – and each of us is the worst.  One thing that I don’t believe we’ll ever hear from Jesus would be that we were ever too reckless in abandoning our hope and trust to Him, that we confided too much in Jesus, that we trusted in Him more than we should have, or that we hoped for too much from Him.  If anything, Christ might say to us, “Why did you not trust me more?  Why did you not believe in me completely, in simple, child-like faith?”

What do you think Jesus would say to you about your faith?

PRAYER: Let us abandon ourselves fully to hoping in You, Jesus! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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