DayBreaks for 8/20/20 – A Lot Can Change in One Day

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Time is an interesting thing. First, it’s an earthly construct because there is no such thing in eternity. It is said that God lives in the eternal present, perhaps that’s why he gives his name to Moses as “I Am”.

But for us mortals, time is important. Each tick of the clock marks the passage of our life from its beginning to its mortal end. Time matters to us as people – and it should.

We sometimes grow weary of time, or more accurately, of how long things take. It can lead to discouragement and despair, a loss of faith and hope that things will change.

I think the Bible has a lot to say to us about time if we just read a bit between the lines. Consider the events of the crucifixion week. One day Jesus enters as a triumphant hero. A few days later he’s despised and rejected. One day he is acclaimed and lauded and the next he’s spit upon and mocked. If that was all there was to the story it would be utterly depressing leading us to think that only bad things happen with the passing of time, but that would be wrong.

On Saturday of that week the talk of the town must have been the Nazarene’s crucifixion and the way the sky grew dark, the earth shook, the temple curtain tore from top to bottom and how those previously buried popped up out of the ground and walked around. For those who’d hoped in him it was a day of dark despair. But it was about to change.

On Sunday the stories changed. In the span of just one day things went from utter dejection to incredulous wonder and joy as stories of his appearing and the empty tomb wound their way through the streets.

What’s the point? Maybe you are despairing, thinking it is useless to even try anymore to hold on to hope. You may be thinking of cashing in all your chips and saying goodbye to this world. Please don’t! A lot can change in a day – from death to life, from unemployed to employed, from weeping to joyful laughter. A lot can change in a day and you have the promise from the Almighty Father that his plans for you are good ones so that you might prosper if you just hang in there.

Today may be a mess for you, but don’t give up hope. A new day is coming and it just MIGHT be the day it all turns around for you! Wouldn’t it be a shame to miss it?

PRAYER: Father, for those despairing today I pray you will give them hope again. Remind them of your love and your good plan even when it is too dark for them to see it. Let us never forget that one single day can make an eternity’s worth of difference! In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 1/24/20 – Marks of Clarity

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DayBreaks for 1/24/20: Marks of Clarity

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

There are times in my walk with God when things seem very clear.  But then again, there are times when I long for even the slightest inkling of clarity.  At times my relationship with the Lord is so real and palpable that I can’t help but be overwhelmed with the wonder of it all.  But then again, there are times (if I am to be honest with God, you and myself) when it all seems very unreal and like a sham.  And I find myself pondering from time to time: which is real?  Which reflects the real me and my relationship with God?  Am I only fooling myself when I feel so close to Him that I weep? 

William Cowper was a Christian songwriter of years gone by.  He wrote some of the favorite songs of the church, including the hymns O For a Closer Walk with God, God Moves in a Mysterious Way His wonders to Perform, and There Is a Fountain Filled With Blood.  For a period of time, he lived in a house with John Newton, a converted slave-trader and author of Amazing Grace.  It is interesting how little grace Cowper actually experienced.  For long years he feared that he had committed the unpardonable sin and was hounded by false rumors of an illicit affair.  As a result, Cowper suffered a nervous breakdown, tried several times to kill himself, and was kept for some of his life in a straightjacket in an insane asylum for his own protection.  During the last quarter of his life, he avoided church entirely.

He wrote these word: “Where is the blessedness I knew, When first I sought the Lord?  Where is the soul-refreshing dew Of Jesus and His Word?  What peaceful hours I once enjoyed!  How sweet their memory still!  But they have left an aching void The world can never fill.  Return, O Holy Dove, return Sweet messenger of rest!  I hate the sins that made Thee mourn And drove Thee from my breast.”

There are many who might consider Cowper a prime candidate for the title of Christian hypocrite for his struggles, a man who wrote beautifully and convincingly about things he found hard, if not impossible, to put into practice.  I prefer to think of his hymns as being the real marks of clarity in a very troubled life.  He was the one who wrote: “Redeeming love has been my theme, And shall be till I die.”  Perhaps I am naïve, but I see in Cowper’s struggle my own struggles and in his struggling faith, a reflection of my own.

PRAYER: Father, thank You for redeeming love that loves a wretch like me!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 12/18/19 – Illuminated Cats and Despairing Prophets

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DayBreaks for 12/18/19: Illuminated Cats and Despairing Prophets

In his book Horns and Halos, Dr. J. Wallace Hamilton tells about one of the weirdest auction sales in history. It was in Washington, D.C., in 1926, where 150,000 patented models of old inventions were declared obsolete and placed on the auction block. Prospective buyers and on-lookers chuckled as item after item was put up for bid; such as a “bed-bug buster” or an “illuminated cat” that was designed to scare away mice. Then there was a device to prevent snoring. It consisted of a trumpet that reached from the mouth to the ear; and was designed to awaken the snorer and not the neighbors. The list was a long one, indeed!

This auction of old patent models was worth at least 150,000 laughs; but if looking a little deeper, those 150,000 old patent models also represent 150,000 broken dreams – a mountain of disappointments.
It may seem strange to talk about broken dreams and disappointment this close to Christmas. After all, this is the season to be jolly. But it’s not jolly for everybody, is it? For those who have lost loved ones this is the loneliest time of the year. And in a world that glorifies materialism, those who are struggling financially may find it to be most disappointing.
John the Baptist knew about disappointment. John is in prison, knowing his future isn’t looking too bright, and he’s looking for a sign – that the long-awaited Messiah has really arrived. That’s ironic, don’t you think? John the Baptist is the one who first proclaimed his coming, who baptized him, who witnessed the Spirit descend on him and heard the voice from heaven. But much has happened to John since we last saw him preaching and baptizing people in the wilderness, and now his heart is cast down.

You, too, may be cast down, but listen to the words of Jesus in response to John’s question: And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”  – Luke 7:22-23 (ESV)
Only by the power of the Incarnate one do such things happen. You may not be able to see an appealing future. You may feel you can’t take one more step. You may be diseased inside and out, deaf to words of encouragement, dead on your feet and surrounded by bad news. Jesus can deal with those and far more. Let us not be ashamed to own him this season.

PRAYER: Lord, for all who struggle this Christmas, let them find hope in the Incarnate One and his immense power and great compassion.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/28/19 – The Blessings of Darkness, #3

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DayBreaks for 11/28/19: The Blessing of Darkness, #3

The two Psalms in scripture that have not a single ray of light or hope are Psalm 39 and 88. And while you may think it is strange to be talking about this topic on Thanksgiving, let me assure you that it is very, very appropriate.

In Psalm 39, the writer concludes that God has turned his face away from the sufferer. This is about the worst thing that an ancient Jew could have imagined. The implication is that God no longer sees because he no longer cares.

In Psalm 88, the writer concludes that darkness is his only friend, the only companion that is still with him – not even God is nearby. God couldn’t find him if he tried because the darkness is all there is.

It is interesting that these two Psalms are in Scripture, but they are prophetic. It would be Jesus who would cry out that God had turned his face away and forsaken him on the cross. And it was that same Jesus who would be swallowed up by the darkness that covered the earth during his crucifixion, but more so the darkness of our sin he took upon us and the darkness of the sealed tomb.

Jesus knows the darkness, too. He didn’t only know the blazing glory of heaven, but the darkest darkness of the entire world as he bore the sins of the entire world.

But the story doesn’t end in darkness, does it! The One who suffered that darkness revealed to us the faithfulness of God, the one we might accuse of our misfortune and the world of blackness that swallows us up. He rose in glory like the sun and he is the reminder to us that no matter how dark our darkness may be on this Thanksgiving – or at any other time in our lives – that God sees things through to the Light and will bring us even out of the darkness of the tomb into His eternal Light!

PRAYER: Jesus, we long to live surrounded eternally by your Light. Give us strength to persevere in this world that is often so dark. We give you thanks this day for the glorious future that you have guaranteed to us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/27/19 – The Blessing of Darkness, #2

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DayBreaks for 11/27/19: The Blessing of Darkness, #2

Yesterday we looked at Psalm 88 – one of only two Psalms that don’t have any ray of hope or light. I want to explore it a bit further today.

In Psalm 88, Heman is very vocal about the source of his trouble: You (meaning God).  God is not hearing Heman. He has had so much trouble that he believes he is near Sheol (the grave) and he says it is God who has put him there. Not only that, but God has caused his friend to distance themselves (vs. 8) from Heman, making him repulsive to them. It is God’s wrath that is heavy on him (vs. 7). In spite of that, He cries out day and night to God (vs. 9) but feels utterly rejected (vs. 14) and is so despairing that he calls the darkness his only friend (vs. 18).

What are we to make of this? Was God to blame for the darkness around Heman? I honestly don’t know, but Heman believed it. His cries are not unlike those of Job.

What is the lesson here for us? I think it may be this – if God is to blame for it (the Spirit inspired these words, remember!) – then it is a tool God is using for our good, not our harm. And what good could that possibly be? Maybe this: the value of the darkness is that it reveals to us if we are in this to serve God or to be served by Him.

It is in the darkness that we find out the truth about our motives. Satan’s accusation against God was that Job only served Him for what God did for him – that Job’s relationship with God was basically a selfish one.

I suspect that Heman learned a great deal from this darkness. And I suspect he figured it out the right way because he was still calling out to God in the midst of the darkness. He wanted answers – which he may or may not have received  just like Job – but the greatest lesson is what he learned about his motivation for being a worshipper of God.

PRAYER: Father, reveal to us, in our own darkness, the motives of our heart and our reason for claiming to be Your children. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/26/19 – The Blessing of Darkness, #1

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DayBreaks for 11/26/19: The Blessing of Darkness, #1

There are Psalms of lament and then there are Psalm 39 and Psalm 88 and they set a new standard for “darkness” in the Psalms because all the rest of the Psalms of lament have at least some ray of light, of hope, in them but not these two.

Why did God include these Psalms?

Psalm 88 says that it is a psalm composed by Heman the Ezrahite. That’s not a name you are probably familiar with, but it would appear to be that he was the grandson of the prophet Samuel. Heman was appointed by David as one of the leaders of the Temple music/worship (1 Chron. 6:33). He was a singer.

When we think of our worship leaders we tend to think of those who sing praises and are happy and cheerful. Heman, at least at the time he was inspired to write this was not having a mountaintop experience. In fact, he was very, very low: ..I am like the slain lying in the grave, whom you no longer remember… (vs. 5). He goes on in verses 6-8 and five times in those three verses he is clear that it is “You” (God) who is to blame for this mess and darkness. From my youth, I have been suffering and near death. I suffer Your horrors. I am desperate. (vs. 15)

Is it okay for believers, even our revered leaders, to despair at times? Is it wrong for anyone of us to have the feelings expressed by Heman? No. Remember: God chose to have these words recorded for us, and He Himself inspired these words to be written for our benefit so we could know that we can be honest with him about where we are. Even in his darkness, though, Heman cries out to God. And there’s a lesson for us, too. It isn’t wrong to despair in the darkness, but rather than closing God out we need to cry to him.

PRAYER: When we are surrounded by darkness, Lord, let us emulate Heman and pour out our hearts to you knowing that you understand and do hear, even when we think you may not be listening. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/30/19 – When the Good Falls Apart

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DayBreaks for 08/30/19: When the Good Falls Apart

NOTE: Galen is on vacation for the next couple weeks and may not respond to any comments until he returns on 9/9/19.

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

The other day in a Bible study that I was teaching, I was marveling about Enoch.  Yep, Enoch…the fellow who gets approximately 3 verses in Scripture.  You know him as one of the two men who never “died” – God took him without his death because, as Genesis puts it, “Enoch walked with God.”  What struck me about Enoch is that God didn’t choose to tell us stories about how Enoch lived out his faith.  There are no great deeds of recorded faith in action such as we see over and over with the patriarchs, or with Isaiah, Daniel or David.  I’m not sure what we should make of that, but if you look at the names of those who were contemporary with Enoch, it’s pretty easy to see that he lived in very wicked times…leading up to the great flood.  And we know that the world was getting more filled with evil as the flood approached.  Still, Enoch managed to live with God.  And maybe the reason we’re not told of great exploits of faith is because he just lived a faithful life, persevering in the midst of a rising tide of evil, walking with God in the midst of a wicked and evil generation.

As we talked about Enoch, some in the class started reflecting on how wicked the world is that we live in – and the talk almost became despairing.  (It seems to do that often with older folks – and this was a class for seniors.  Perhaps it is easier as we age to look back at a time in our lives many years ago and think that it was better when in fact it may not have really been all that different, I don’t know.)  Some said that they thought it took greater faith to do things similar to Abraham (leaving the only home you’ve known for a far, unknown and strange land, being willing to sacrifice a son, etc.) than to walk faithfully every day.  I tend to think that they are wrong about that.  It seems that as humans, we have an uncanny knack to be able to rise to heights when the situation calls for it (not always, of course!).  It may take greater faith in the long run to walk faithfully day after day…for 365 years in Enoch’s case…than to put one great display of faith together for a passing moment. 

Regardless, Psalm 11:3-4 says, When all that is good falls apart, what can good people do?  The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD sits on His throne in heaven.  David asks the question that so many of us have asked at some time or another in our lives: when all that is good and decent and holy seems to be falling apart, what are we to do?  You’ll notice that David didn’t then launch into a list of “Do A, B and C to turn things around.”  Instead, he answers the question with a declarative statement: God is in His temple, enthroned on high.  What does that have to do with his question?  Simply this: God’s rule isn’t affected by the storms of our lives and our problems don’t perplex Him in the slightest.  That’s not to say He doesn’t care about them, but He knows perfectly well what to do when the good falls apart.  He is still on the throne, issuing decrees to His servants and angels.  While this world and all that is in it may go down the tubes, God’s rule won’t.  Human wreckage doesn’t discourage Him.  In fact, a quick look at the life of someone like Joseph shows us that God specialized in turning disaster into triumph. 

If you are considering how bad the world is, let me try to re-direct your thinking and your vision upward – to the throne room of God, where He still, and always will, sit in Majesty!

PRAYER: We get fearful as we see the tidal waves of evil beating upon our culture, upon the church, upon our own lives, Lord.  Help us to redirect our vision when times are tough and to remember that you remain on the throne now and forever!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/09/19 – The Psalm of Darkness

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DayBreaks for 08/09/19: The Psalm of Darkness

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

O LORD, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry. For my soul is full of trouble and my life draws near the grave. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like a man without strength. I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more, who are cut off from your care. You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. Your wrath lies heavily upon me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves. Selah You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them. I am confined and cannot escape; my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, O LORD, every day; I spread out my hands to you.  Do you show your wonders to the dead? Do those who are dead rise up and praise you? Selah Is your love declared in the grave, your faithfulness in Destruction? Are your wonders known in the place of darkness, or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?  But I cry to you for help, O LORD; in the morning my prayer comes before you. Why, O LORD, do you reject me and hide your face from me? From my youth I have been afflicted and close to death; I have suffered your terrors and am in despair. Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me. All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me. You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend. – Psalms 88:1-18 (NIV)

This may be the darkest passage in Scripture.  Before we write it off as being guilty of spiritual hyperbole, we need ask ourselves: “Haven’t I felt that way at one time or another?”  Aren’t there times in your past where you have cried out to God, feeling that you were in the “pit”, that you were “cut off” from His care and even His vision?  I don’t know anyone who hasn’t, at some point or another, suffered from those feelings. I think we need to accept this Psalm as being direct from an honest, anguished heart – a prayer with a sharp tip that is pointed upward to God.

Why would God choose to include such a passage in His Word?  It might discourage people from becoming believers, right?  Imagine if all believers all of a sudden were possessed by a dark spirit such as filled David’s heart.  Do you think anyone would find Christianity attractive?  It might even discourage some believers from continuing in their faith.  If David was a man after God’s own heart and he felt this way, what hope is there that my relationship with God would be a more fulfilling one, or one even as “good” as David’s when he’s expressing himself this way?

In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason offers one suggestion: “…there can be a strange comfort in the reading of this psalm in times of trouble.  It is good to be reminded that such a black outpouring really is Scriptural, that prayer need not be upbeat and optimistic.  The true believer does not always rise from his knees full of encouragement and fresh hope.  There are times when one may remain down in the dumps and yet still have prayed well.  For what God wants from us is not the observance of religious protocol, but just that we be real with Him.  What He wants is our hearts.

The effectiveness of our prayers and prayer life should never be judged by how it makes us feel, or how well we feel we prayed.  It should be judged by honesty.  God wants the real you and I – whether we are up or down, filled with hope or bitterly discouraged. 

PRAYER:  Lord, I know that at times I have prayed with the hidden motive of trying to manipulate You.  I know I have not always been honest in my talking with You.  Father, I want to give you my heart regardless of its condition, to be real and genuine with You and before You.  Help me to be real.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 2/6/19 – The Pathway to Rain

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DayBreaks for 2/06/2019: The Pathway to Rain

From the DayBreaks archive, 2009:

Jeremiah 14:1-11 (NLT) – This message came to Jeremiah from the LORD, explaining why he was holding back the rain: “Judah wilts; her businesses have ground to a halt. All the people sit on the ground in mourning, and a great cry rises from Jerusalem. The nobles send servants to get water, but all the wells are dry. The servants return with empty pitchers, confused and desperate, covering their heads in grief. The ground is parched and cracked for lack of rain. The farmers are afraid; they, too, cover their heads. The deer abandons her newborn fawn because there is no grass. The wild donkeys stand on the bare hills panting like thirsty jackals. They strain their eyes looking for grass to eat, but there is none to be found.”  The people say, “LORD, our wickedness has caught up with us. We have sinned against you. So please, help us for the sake of your own reputation.  O Hope of Israel, our Savior in times of trouble! Why are you like a stranger to us? Why are you like someone passing through the land, stopping only for the night?  Are you also confused? Are you helpless to save us? You are right here among us, LORD. We are known as your people. Please don’t abandon us now!” So the LORD replies to his people, “You love to wander far from me and do not follow in my paths. Now I will no longer accept you as my people. I will remember all your wickedness and will punish you for your sins.”  Then the LORD said to me, “Do not pray for these people anymore.”

We are in the middle of a drought right now here in California.  How foolish if we think that the Lord no longer holds back the rain for the same reason He withheld it in the past!  Yes, he sends rain on the just and unjust, but He is also equally able to withhold it at any time He chooses. 

But what I found especially intriguing about this passage was in verses 7-9 where the people plead with the Lord to help them.  It is a wonderful sounding plea, also reflecting some of our own doubts and confusion about why God acts as He does.  I know there have been plenty of times when I was confused by what God was doing or not doing, when it seemed He was a stranger or powerless to do anything (that, by the way, is a horrible assumption – just because He doesn’t act certainly doesn’t mean He’s powerless to do so!)  Pay careful attention to the reason the people approach the Lord: they say that their wickedness has caught up with them and that they’ve sinned, but they beg for His help for the “sake of Your own reputation.”  They never ask for forgiveness – they only get as far as a confession, which is short and not very convincing.  They never get past the confession to asking for forgiveness and they show no inclination towards repentance.  Instead, it is as if they are trying to convince God that it’s in His own best interest to just forgive them and send them rain.   

How many times have I tried to appeal to God’s self-interest thinking I could manipulate Him into a certain desired behavior?  I’m not even sure that God can have “self-interest”!  My repentance had better be real.  True repentance moves the heart of God but fake repentance, even when there are lots of fine sounding words, never does.  And if God’s mercies don’t rain down upon us, we will all die of the drought.

PRAYER: Father, we say things hoping we can get You to “fall” for them as if You were another human from whom we can hide the truth.  Lord, we have sinned against you.  We ask you for forgiveness.  We desire to repent from the evil we do and to experience once again the refreshing mercies that fall from Your throne of grace.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 12/07/18 – Bones of the Past

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DayBreaks for 12/07/18: Bones of the Past

From the DayBreaks Archive, 12/8/98:

A few years ago, a large group of Vietnam veterans met in New York to commemorate the Vietnam War and its effect on their lives. Many were still suffering emotional wounds from that conflict. A Vietnamese Buddhist monk came to the gathering and told a moving story. During the war, a young Vietnamese woman was killed, leaving behind her husband and young son. The husband, needing to provide for himself and the boy, traveled far and wide looking for odd jobs. Often he left the child with neighbors. After one long trip looking for work, the man returned to find his village demolished and his neighbors gone. Searching through the rubble, he found some small bones scattered around. He was sure that these were the remains of his son. He wrapped the bones in cloth and carried them with him everywhere he went. Many years passed, and one night the old man heard knocking on his door. He called out, “Who’s there?” “It is your son! My kidnappers set me free and I have spent many years trying to find you!” The old man yelled, “You are a fake and a cruel man. My son is dead. Leave me alone!” He would not open the door. The pounding continued for a while, but then it stopped. The young man gave up and left.

A heartbreaking story. Here was a man who obviously loved his son deeply. Yet he was too afraid to give up the bones that he’d carried for years. He never found the happiness that was knocking at his door because he was so determined to hold onto the bones of the past rather than live in the joy of the present.

Are you holding onto the bones of your past so much that you are denying yourself the joy that Jesus intends for you to have today? If so, you need to let the bones go. They are only bones and they are relics from the past that need to be discarded so you can answer the knocking at the door of your heart. Perhaps they were very precious to you – like the bones of his son to this old man in the story. I understand. God understands. But they are from the past and we must not live there or we will miss the blessings and opportunities that God has designed for today. Isaiah 43:18 contains God’s instructions for us in this matter: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.”

“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 3:13-14

God gives us the choice: live with the bones of the past, or live in the here-and-now with the Lord of the past, present and future.

Prayer: Lord, let me find and know your joy today!  Help me forget the former things as I anticipate what is to come!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>