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.

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DayBreaks for 9/22/16 – Only If We Despair

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DayBreaks for 9/22/16 – Only If We Despair      

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/19/2006:

Copyright © 2006 Christianity Today. September 2006, Vol. 50, No. 9, Page 118

“But it is important for Christians not to confuse the existence of bad news with our reaction to the bad news—and here it is useful to look at The Screwtape Letters.

“C. S. Lewis’s famous novel was conceived and written during World War II, when so much looked bad. One of the most striking moments in the story arrives when the inexperienced junior devil, Wormwood, chortles over the horrors of war. Screwtape sternly admonishes his nephew not “to forget the main point in your immediate enjoyment of human suffering.” In war, says the senior devil, people die. But hell gains nothing from mere human misery and death, he warns. It is the state in which people die that matters.

“Lewis is not suggesting that we celebrate our suffering or that we stand blind to the suffering of others. His point, rather, is that Christians should not mistakenly think that bad news here on earth means Satan is winning. Men have done terrible things to each other ever since Eden. The horrors of war—like the other pains and scars of life—pose a challenge to faith. Lewis suggests that what truly matters is how we meet that challenge: the battle, that is, in the spiritual realm.

“As the writer of Hebrews said to discouraged believers, “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the Cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Heb. 12:1-3).

“Lewis’s vision of Satan is far more useful and scary than Hollywood’s. The film industry loves making movies about hell. In these high-budget visions of the underworld, demons usually emerge to do bad things to people, causing death and destruction here on earth. The hero either slays them or works some mystic incantation that sends them back, after which life on earth returns to what it was before. The demons are just like other Hollywood bad guys: terrorists, serial killers, the ruthless rich out to rule the world. In these visions, the bad thing about Satan is that he wants to do bad things to us here and now.

“C. S. Lewis’s marvelous imagination, by contrast, should remind us that this vision is dangerously wrong. The terrible tragedies that befall the world work to Satan’s benefit only if we despair. Suffering, as Screwtape reminds his nephew, often strengthens faith. Better to keep people alive, he says, long enough for faith to be worn away. The death of a believer is the last thing the Devil wants.”

Galen’s Thoughts: Sometimes I’m tempted to think that Satan loves misery and death.  I’m not sure that’s right.  After all, I rather doubt that Satan licks his chops when he contemplates his own fate in eternal hell.  So Lewis’ point is a good one: he only relishes death of humans when they die without Christ.  He’d much rather that we as believers stay alive long enough to give him more time to beat us up, to wear down our resolve and surrender to the suffering of this world, blaming it on God with the result being that we reject Him.  I don’t know about you, but I, for one, don’t want to give Satan that satisfaction.  How much better that we spend our time, not in thinking that the suffering is what matters, but that the souls of men and women are what truly is important.

PRAYER:  We are a depressed and discouraged society.  The enemy even attacks us from within the sheepfold, Lord!  But help us stay focused on the ultimate realities with which we are faced.  Help us to realize that our despair plays into Satan’s hands.  May we find comfort and assurance and sustenance beside You in green pastures beside the still waters.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

DayBreaks for 9/03/15 – How a Fish Stick Changed the World

DayBreaks for 9/03/15: How a Fish Stick Changed the World

Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread. And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. But the whole group was startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost! “Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.” As he spoke, he showed them his hands and his feet. Still they stood there in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder. Then he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”  They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he ate it as they watched. – Luke 24:35-43 (NLT)

Several days had passed since Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. There was no denying what had happened – and no one doubted he had died. The facts were obvious to all who were there. There was no expectation of a joyful reunion on earth. Such things just don’t happen – they didn’t then, and they don’t today.

And so let us be gracious to Jesus’ early followers. When Jesus does appear, there is fear galore, but not the tiniest inkling of faith. They recognized his form, his appearance, but they, like we, would probably make the assumption that a ghost looks like the person they once was (if we can speak of ghosts in such a way.)

What does Jesus do? He invites them to touch his body and thereby be convinced of his corporeal substance. This is flesh and bone, not as phantasm. You’d think that would be enough to convince them. The flesh, I’m sure, wasn’t cold and rigid, but warm and flexible. Yet it wasn’t enough to convince them. It probably wouldn’t have been enough to convince me, either.

So, Jesus asks for something to eat. They hand a him a piece of fish – a fish stick, if you will. And Jesus eats it. As Dave Buckley said in his blog post: “Enter the fish finger! This is the moment. The moment that a fish finger changed everything…As Jesus swallowed that fish finger, suddenly the idea of of him being alive again was easier to swallow too.”

That’s all it took – one fish stick. Their disbelief turned into a faith that would lead them all, save one, to martyrdom. That fish stick changed the world – and it has changed eternity because it turned doubters into absolute believers.

I don’t think I’ll ever look at a fish stick again in the same way because once the disciples saw a fish stick disappear, they never saw Jesus again in the same way.

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 7/13/15 – Weep No More!

DayBreaks for 7/13/15: Weep No More

Winners.  Losers.  Victors.  Vanquished.

No one likes to lose.  Athletes hate it with a passion.  Business persons, do too.  When armies lose, nations tumble and lives are lost.  When the famous stop being famous, when the “beautiful people” are older and no longer “beautiful”, they feel lost and adrift as that which gave them “value” is now gone.

When the Jews were taken captive by the Babylonians, they must have felt like losers.  Daniel 1:2 describes it like this: And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god. – Daniel 1:2 (ESV)

Judah, the more “faithful” of the two kingdoms, held to the strong illusion that they were true to God.  They felt He would protect them.  Yet they honored him with their lips but their hearts were far from Him.  Even the glorious house of God that had been built by Solomon was razed to the ground, the temple objects taken from the temple and put into the temples of a false God.  Do you suppose they felt like losers?  I think they did.

There have been plenty of things lately that may make the church feel like all is lost.  That God has abandoned us.  That the fight just as well be over because the outcome is so clear and obvious.  And we may well feel like losers.

Don’t.  Check this out: And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” – Revelation 5:5 (ESV)

You see, it isn’t over until it is over.  Jesus WILL have the final word..the FINAL word.  And that Word will bring victory for the church.

Things may look dismal.  I get it!  They start to look more and more hopeless – especially in the past couple of years.  But the victory will be gained.  Rather than weeping over the present state of affairs, take heart, Christian!  Weep no more, but join in with great expectation because you are on the winning side!

PRAYER: Jesus, things haven’t gone well in the past few years on this planet, but you already know that.  I pray you will keep us from discouragement or surrender! Help us remember that rather than weeping over the state of affairs, that you call us to join you in the present work and the great victory celebration to come!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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

DayBreaks for 6/12/15 – The Sahara Forest

Image by Joel Kimmel

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DayBreaks for 6/12/15: The Sahara Forest

Sometimes it is hard to feel we have much significance. You may be small of stature and dreamed of being in the NBA and your ambitions lie shattered on a gym floor. You may have dreamed of owning your own business or leading a Fortune 500 company – and maybe even did – only to see it goes down in flames.  You may have dreamed of having children only to know the sorrow of not being able to have them.  You may have dreamed of doing great things for the Lord only to find yourself in a tiny, insignificant role in some back-water town in a back-water location.  And now, perhaps you see yourself as so small and insignificant that desperation long ago was lost in favor of something even worse – giving up. And now your life seems pointless…and you feel utterly worthless.

A small fellow, not much over 5 feet tall, applied for a job as a lumberjack in Alaska. The foreman, thinking to discourage him, gave him a large ax, set him before a tree hundreds of feet tall, and yards in diameter, and told him to chop it down. Within minutes the tree had been felled. The amazed foreman asked him where he’d learned to chop trees so powerfully. The little fellow replied, “When I worked in the Sahara forest.” “You mean, the Sahara desert.” “That was after I got there,” said the small lumberjack.

The point of the story is that size is less important than spirit, or intelligence, or courage — a point made when King David was selected at a young age: Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature … for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.

A faith that grows has heart, a heart that belongs to God. Faith grows from the inside out. You sprang from the heart of the Almighty God and you still have a place there. When you are tempted to doubt your significance, remember the cross. Remember the Divine One who came to seek you out and then died for you. Remember that He knows the number of hairs on your head and the heartbeats of your lifetime. His knowledge of you is that deep and that intimate and all-encompassing. Would He bother to know those things about you if He didn’t think you were worth it? And to top it off, He loves you with a never-ending love!

PRAYER: Don’t let us think that our value and worth, or even our significance, depends on what we have done or will do, but on Who loves us and in Whose image we are made!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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

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 12/25/13: When Christmas and Disappointment Collide

_MG_8297John 1:4-5 (NLT)The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. 5  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

This afternoon we attended a Christmas Eve service at Perimeter Church in Johns Creek, GA.  It was the first of three services to be held today, and due to the size of the crowd, they had it live in the main auditorium and broadcast into two other venues on site.  We attended the 3:00 p.m. service…and were extremely fortunate to find a seat.  We figured that this would be the least crowded of the three services…I still think that is probably correct, but I don’t see how they could have seated more people.  As my son put it: “It’s great that the hottest ticket in town is going to church on Christmas Eve.”

Randy Pope, the senior minister at Perimeter, spoke on the subject of when Christmas and Disappointment Collide.  The premise was basically this: disappointment can destroy your Christmas, but a proper understanding of Christmas can destroy your disappointment. 

When we understand what Christmas really is, we understand that as Christians, there is always a bigger story going on than what we can see, that it is a better story than the story we are living….and it will ultimately become visible and that story will sway the entire future.  Why?  Because of Christmas – of the Incarnation, because of a God who chose not to remain aloof and untouched, un-phased by the pain and suffering in the creation, but Who chose to to get down and dirty with us, to bring us the Light.

As part of the service (even in a sanctuary that holds somewhere around 2300 people, we joined together in singing Silent Night while holding candles.  That is today’s picture.  I loved the imagery of the Light….and how, 2000 years after God awoke in a manger of straw, what John wrote long ago is true: “The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness can NEVER extinguish it.”

Understand this truth and your despair and disappointment about your work, your health, your finances, your relationships, whatever – are demolished by the Light that filled that manger and for whom the angels sang.

Merry CHRISTmas, my friends!

PRAYER: Thank You, Lord Jesus, for destroying despair, dispelling the darkness and for your eternal victory!!!!  We worship You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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