DayBreaks for 11/30/18 – Doubting Worshipers

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DayBreaks for 11/30/18: Doubting Worshipers

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

I look forward to worship every Sunday morning.  I love music and we celebrate communion each Sunday.  I even usually manage to get something out of the message (in spite of the fact that I’m the one doing the preaching!)  I enjoy the fellowship before, during and afterwards, and the entire experience usually will draw me closer to God.

I must always guard and be aware of the fact that not everyone who is present is on the same page.  Goodness knows, there have been days when I’ve been in worship when I would have preferred to be somewhere else.  And I feel certain that the same can be said for people each and every Sunday.  Every Lord’s day when we gather, there are those who have had very trying and difficult experiences during the week.  There have been those who prayed asking for some boon from the Lord, only to get a “No”, or maybe no answer at all.  And that can be hard to take.  Others struggled in their relationships and may have had a fight with their spouse that very morning.  Been there, done that.

There’s an interesting scene in Matthew 28 where Jesus meets with his disciples after his resurrection.  The eleven (remember Judas is dead) show up on the mountain where Jesus will ascend, and as verse 17 says, When they say him, they worshipped him, but some doubted.  What a strange comment!  Have you wondered who it was that doubted?  It was apparently more than just one, for it says, “some doubted.”  Was it the majority or minority?  What was it that they doubted?  Were they still doubting the resurrection, even after several appearances?  Were they doubting His divinity?  Were they doubting that his flesh, as well as his spirit, had been raised?  How long did the doubting continue?  For an entire lifetime?  Did it ever fully end?  If so, when?  We simply do not know.  All we know, is that even though they were worshipping him, they still had doubt in their heart.

There is comfort to be found in that knowledge.  There have been times I’ve sat in worship and had my doubts – times when I’d been wrestling with God and what kind of God He really was.  At other times, I’ve doubted if He was there at all.  Thank goodness, I’ve got company – some of Jesus’ own immediate disciples! 

What does that tell us?  It tells us that Jesus accepts our worship – with our frequent doubts.  Jesus welcomed them, and their worship, even as their hearts and minds were filled with doubts!   When you are struggling with your faith, you might be tempted to think that you should stay away from worship because you’d feel like a hypocrite.  Don’t feel that way.  If Jesus accepted the worship of his followers on the mountaintop (knowing their hearts and minds), he will accept yours that comes from a heart of faith – even if there are doubts living side-by-side with your faith.

PRAYER: Father, I thank you that you understand our weak faith and our doubting hearts and that you still welcome us and our worship.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/30/18 – On Account of Me

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DayBreaks for 10/30/18: On Account of Me

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2008:

Yesterday, I shared from Matthew 11:4-6 where Matthew recorded the story of John the Baptist’s moments of doubt.  He’d dispatched followers to find out if Jesus was the one that they had been expecting, or if they should be on the lookout for someone else.  Jesus invited them to stay long enough to see and hear for themselves the great things that Jesus was doing – evidence of a Divine power that no human alone could exercise.

But at the end of the time the followers were with Jesus, he commissioned them to return to John with this kind of report from Mt. 11:4-6: Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.  Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.

Did you get that last little bit?  “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”  What did Jesus mean?  Why would anyone fall away after witnessing the great miracles Jesus was doing – giving sight, making legs strong, fixing eardrums, curing diseases and even raising the dead?  It would seem that those things would have exactly the opposite effect: they would keep one from falling away. 

Not so, apparently.  Remember the context: John’s in prison, awaiting his beheading for antagonizing King Herod by telling him he was an adulterer.  John had done great things for Jesus, publicly proclaiming at the Jordan: Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!  He had prepared the way for Jesus excellently.  Jesus had said no man ever born of woman was greater than John.  That’s very high praise.  But here’s John, stinking up the dungeon, and after all that John had done for Jesus, would it be too much to think that when Jesus got word of John’s plight, that he’d come to see John at the very least, or perhaps even to get him out of prison?  And so John had waited.  Jesus didn’t show up.  He didn’t write to John.  He didn’t send messages to him via his own disciples to encourage John to stay strong.  No, none of that.  Jesus was off preaching far away from the dungeon in which John found himself.  And it makes John wonder: “Was I wrong about this guy?  Why is he out there doing great things for others but not for me?  I’m his cousin, for Pete’s sake, and I spent my life preparing Israel for Jesus’ ministry!

Could Jesus have been saying: “Blessed are you, John, if you don’t fall away for what you perceive I have failed to do for you.”  Did John want a deliverance?  I think so – he was human.  But he didn’t get it, not even in what appears to be his hour of greatest need.  And Jesus simply says, “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” 

Perhaps you are in a dungeon of your own, or someone else’s making right now, and your doubts have surfaced and bit into your faith a bit.  You wonder why Jesus hasn’t come to help you, or that person you love that you’ve been praying for.  And you wonder, “Is this Christianity real or not?”  Take courage from the words of Jesus that preceded this difficult statement: look at what Jesus has done, and is doing.  Can anyone other than the Son of God do those things?  No.  God’s favor rested on Jesus.  Like John, we at times must be reminded of the great things Jesus does, but also remember that we are blessed if we don’t fall away on account of Jesus – and what he has not done for us in this world. 

John didn’t get his miracle of deliverance.  But he got his answer, and it was enough to see him through faithfully into eternity.  You may not get your miracle of deliverance from disease, divorce, economic ruin, a job loss or anything else.  But you don’t need it: “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”

PRAYER: I fear, sometimes Lord, that we believe we should have special treatment in this world and that we shouldn’t be subject to the same kinds of disasters that strike others.  At times of our struggle, help us to remember that those who never saw you or touched you after your resurrection and still believe are even more blessed than those who did touch you and see you with their own eyes.  Help us to never fall away on account of something You do, or don’t do, for us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/11/18 – Hearing Voices

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DayBreaks for 6/11/18: Hearing Voices

When I was a pastor, I spent many hours talking with church members who were wrestling with what one might call, “voices of condemnation.” They weren’t hearing literal voices, but as I listened to them, I could see how their lives, in many cases, had been negatively influenced by things said, taught, or even preached to them. There are many such scenarios:

  • Someone “raised” in a home, in which they perceived what they did was never good enough;
  • Someone “raised” in a church, to which they were taught acceptance before God was about “performance”;
  • Someone feeling judged because they were from a different race or ethnicity;
  • Someone wondering if God was judging them, because they were undergoing some suffering;
  • Someone struggling to read the Bible or pray because of some inner turmoil;
  • Someone wondering if God had abandoned them.

I’d love to think that coming to faith in Christ means we no longer have to battle “voices” like these, that once you’re a believer, you no longer have to carry around that “baggage”. However, it’s just not true. All of us, to varying degrees, have that “baggage” or “voices” we have to deal with. It’s a part of living in this broken world.

Yet, we have God’s Word. We have the Spirit of Christ within us. We have Romans 8. I love Romans 8, because it boldly declares there is therefore no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. (8.1) I love Romans 8, because it says we have been set free from the law of sing and death (8.2). I love Romans 8, because it proclaims we have received the Spirit of adoption as sons. (8.14) I love Romans 8, because it says the sufferings of this world are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (8.18) I love Romans 8, because it tells us the Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (8.26) Lastly, I love Romans 8, because nothing will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (8.39)

Are you hearing the old voices still? Read Romans 8 over and over and over again until you hear the voice of God. You can trust Romans 8…after all, they are the inspired words of God.

PRAYER: Lord, give us ears to hear your voice, and your voice alone! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/19/17 – In the Midst of Doubt

DayBreaks for 9/19/17: In the Midst of Doubt

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

Doubts.  Uncertainties.  This past Thursday morning I was in a meeting with other pastors and we were discussing a particular aspect of doctrine.  Now you might think, “Wow, that really sounds exciting…a real snoozer!”  Normally, I’d have to agree with you.  As one of the pastors put it, “Doctrine, schmoctrin! I’d rather talk about Jesus!”  Right on!  Part of the reason that we struggled with the conversation so much was that we all recognized and admitted our own imperfect knowledge and understanding.  I think that one of the reasons that God chooses to save us by faith in Christ and not by passing a theological or doctrinal test is that He knows not one of us would ever get any, let alone all, of it perfectly right.  And so, while some discussions of doctrine are at least important, and some are very interesting, our doctrinal certainties are not the basis of our salvation. 

I have no doubts in my mind about who Jesus is.  I have no doubts in my mind about what He can do (although since it’s far beyond our ability to imagine or comprehend, I don’t know ALL that He can do, so I just say, “He can do anything!”).  But every once in a while, something comes along that tends to knock the tracks off the tank of our life’s smooth progress and we begin to question, to ask (even if just for a fleeting moment), “Do I really believe this stuff?  Does it make any sense to believe it?”  Sometimes those thought-provoking questions come as the result of a cataclysm of worldly proportions (tsunamis, earthquakes, etc.), sometimes as a result of the fall of a man or woman of God who seems to have lost or abandoned all they ever held true for a momentary dalliance with sin.  Sometimes they come tip-toeing into my mind for no apparent reason at all. 

I am not the kind of person who is free from doubts.  I have had people tell me that they have never doubted for a moment the eternal existence of God.  Many times, such people also tell me that they’ve never felt the need to read any of the outstanding books that wrestle with the questions of God’s existence, evidences for it, for the resurrection, for the virgin birth, for the miracles, etc.  More power to them.  I’m glad that God has given them such a simple, yet strong and resolute faith.  Maybe someday I’ll reach a point where I never even have the thought or shadow of a doubt pass across my mind.  But for now – every once in a while, I wonder.  I ponder.  I question.  I think God can handle that just fine.  And, I feel stronger for having to wrestle with those things.  I think Thomas’ faith was stronger after he wrestled with his doubts about the resurrection and then had it confirmed as a result, don’t you?  Jesus said that Thomas was blessed because he believed – but those who have never seen and believed are at least equally blessed.  Jesus didn’t knock Thomas for the doubt.

So, what do you do when you are faced with doubts, when the moving picture of life beats you up one side and down another like an automated car wash? Here are some thoughts from my youngest son, Tim: 

“…I always recommend that in the midst of doubt, one continue to go to the places where one has met God before–it only makes sense.  But what’s most important for you to understand is that you do not need to “come back” to God.  God is not “back there” somewhere, as though you have left Him behind, and He is only in one place.  God has been right there with you all along, right beside your bed, with His hand on your shoulder as you wept.  We do not worship an abstract philosophical God.  We worship a God who cared about us in the midst of our suffering so much that He became human so that he could stand before suffering and death alongside us.  We worship a God who “so loved the world” that He gave Christ in order that whoever trusts in Him “should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Without realizing it, I can see that this is what I do when I question.  I got back to the place where I met God before – and find He’s still there.  The patriarchs made a habit of every so often revisiting places where they and their predecessors had encounters with God (Bethel, for instance).  There’s a lot to be said for that.  There is something about familiar surroundings that can help resolve the doubts.  And so I read the words and life of Jesus again, and there I’m struck down and reminded of what a great God He Is and why I believe in Him.  The answers that I found to the questions I’ve asked still hold water.  And I can’t avoid those answers – they are solid, like the Rock Himself. 

PRAYER:  Thank you for being patient with our shaky faith and deep-rooted questions, Lord.  Thank you for the story of Thomas and how you blessed him after his faith was confirmed.  Thank you for solid places upon which we can regain our footing when our faith falters.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/23/15 – Flirting With Unbelief

DayBreaks for 10/23/05: Flirting With Unbelief

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

Faith is such an intriguing topic.  We pray for it.  We practice it (to varying levels of success depending on the severity of the circumstances.)  When not much is truly at stake, it’s easier to say, “Yes, Lord, I trust you with this.”  But when life itself is on the line and we stand on the precipice of the great divide between this world and the next, how then does faith respond?  Chances are, that unless we’ve stood on that tiny shelf and looked down into the chasm of death ourselves, we really can’t answer that question very well.  It is an intriguing thing for me, as a pastor who has access to people who are looking into the grave, to observe their faith as it passes through the ultimate test.  With the very next step, they may plunge into the pit – and what then? 

We pray for healings.  Sometimes no healing comes.  Well meaning people may say that the only reason healing wasn’t granted is because the faith faltered – that is wasn’t really faith, but at most, wishful thinking or hoping.  Such well meaning people may have destroyed the faith of many who needed to be helped to grow in faith.  Shame on us when we think we know the reasons why God does or doesn’t do anything in a given situation.

But what about the times when healing DOES come?  We have another problem, then.  We live in a scientific age where it’s easy to explain how bacteria, viruses or tumors divide, grow and, sometimes, die.  And when that happens, we tend to not really exhibit faith too well, either.  Sometimes, there’s a diagnosis by a doctor that says there is a shadow on the lung or in the breast or contained in the cranium.  So we pray, our prayer chains light up like a blazing fire, and when a second opinion is sought or when the specialist is called in, the shadow is gone.  What happened? 

In a recent article in World Magazine, Andre Seu wrote about a diagnosis that filled her with dread, but when the second doctor ran the tests, nothing was found.  Here’s what she had to say: Now when do you have a certifiable miracle? Well, never, if you claim a priori that miracles have ceased. And never if, like me, your mind leaps like a duck on a June bug to naturalistic explanation: Doctor A blew it. The latter theory is possible, of course, but on the other hand, what would it take, and how much proof, before I acknowledged the supernatural in my life? (Father Abraham says even raising a corpse wouldn’t do it for folks of a certain ilk. Luke 16:31.) Francis Schaeffer draws the line precisely here between the Christian mind and the non-Christian mind: “I am not a Bible-believing Christian in the fullest sense simply by believing the right doctrines, but as I live in practice in this supernatural world.” (True Spirituality)

My violent intercessor seems to think that since we prayed watchfully (Colossians 4:2), and since the request we sought was granted, it’s a no-brainer that I need to give public glory to God. There are precedents, of course: The leper is healed and forthwith told by Jesus to go show himself to the priest (Matthew 8:4). Still I protested vainly: “Many godly people pray and are not healed.” Violent replied, “You were. Shout it from the housetops”—plus words to the effect that it’s a dangerous thing to ask the Almighty for something, and then, having received it, to flirt with unbelief. There was no gainsaying that, and in the end I saw the truth of it, and yielded doubt to faith, and that is why I tell you this.”  (Andre Seu, World Magazine, Oct. 1, 2005)

Have you received from God something you prayed diligently for, but when you received it, you gave the glory to medicine instead of God?  When will we learn that all healing truly does come from God – even when it is administered through the hands of a physician?  And rather than explain away such things as healings as a mere reversal or outworking of body chemistry, let’s climb to the top of the roof and there sing His praises for yet another miracle!

TODAY’S PRAYER: Father, we are so prone to rational explanations for all that happens in this world that we fail to give you the glory for what You do.  Open our eyes to see Your greatness and Your hand even in the tiniest things and teach us to sing Your praises!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2015 Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/13/14 – The Greatest Enemy of Faith

DayBreaks for 11/13/14 – The Greatest Enemy of Faith

Joshua 1:9 (NLT) – This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

If someone were to ask you what is the greatest enemy of faith, what would you say?  We tend to think in terms of polar opposites when asked such a question, so one might say “doubt.”  I can understand that way of thinking – it has a certain simple clarity to it, doesn’t it?  And, there are many in the Christian family who think doubt is a dirty word.  I, for one, don’t.  I think doubt leads to questioning and truth never has anything to fear from questions.  It is doubt that propels people to accept the old standard answers and formulas to find and discover new thoughts and insights.  The Old Testament prophets and King David certainly had no compunctions about expressing their doubts to and about God!  But, that’s not really what I want to talk about today.

I recently came across this insight: “The greatest enemy of faith is not doubt; the greatest enemy of faith is fear. Most of the world is controlled by fear, petty and big. Petty fears control people; great fears control nations. We could feed all the people in this world if we would stop building arms, but we are afraid. In the Beatitudes (Sermon on the Mount) Jesus said, “Those of you who make peace will be happy. You will be God’s own.” Yet even Christians are preoccupied with fear and protecting ourselves because we don’t believe what Jesus said. The Sermon on the Mount is an antidote to fear. But we have never seen fear as the crucial issue, only “doubt.”

I don’t think that I’ll ever think of the enemy of faith the same way again.  We are afraid that God won’t really will show up or if that He’ll leave us hanging out there all on our own.  It is fear of what will happen to us if God doesn’t do something that freezes us: we don’t want to look foolish, to sound foolish and we certainly don’t want to be persecuted or antagonized by those who might mock us for trying to act on faith.  Fear, not doubt, is what causes us not to take the first step on the faith walk.

PRAYER: Let us boldly be on the gentle offensive, filled with the certain knowledge that neither Satan nor all his demons will have the victory! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

NOTE: Galen is a missionary with Medical Ambassadors International (MAI) and must raise his own support.  DayBreaks is free – but if you wish to help support his mission work, you may donate (one-time or recurring) by going to this link, then scroll down until you see SUPPORT MISSIONARIES section.  Below that header, on the left, scroll and then find and click on “Galen Dalrymple” and you’ll be taken to where you can make your donation.  If you prefer to donate via check, you may do so by writing your check payable to Medical Ambassadors International and put S090 in the “memo” field. Mail the check to Medical Ambassadors International, P.O. Box 1302, Salida, CA 95368.  MAI is a 501.c.3 organizations so all donations are tax deductible and Medical Ambassadors takes NO administrative fees of any kind out of your donations!

Your support would be deeply appreciated!

 

DayBreaks for 6/20/14 – When Doubt Sets In

DayBreaks for 6/20/14 – When Doubt Sets In      

 

 

John 14:18-20 (MSG) – I will not leave you orphaned. I’m coming back. In just a little while the world will no longer see me, but you’re going to see me because I am alive and you’re about to come alive. At that moment you will know absolutely that I’m in my Father, and you’re in me, and I’m in you.

Someone once wrote these words: “The reason mountain climbers are tied together is to keep the sane ones from going home.” Now, I don’t know about you, but I can appreciate and believe those words!  Heights are not my thing, and the idea of hanging on the side of a mountain secured by pitons and rope terrifies me!  Whoever it was that said those words was playing with us a bit, because we know the real reason: mountain climbers are tied together to keep from getting lost or going over a cliff. But there’s another piece of truth here. When things get tough up on the mountain, when fear sets in, many a climber has to be tempted to say, “This is crazy! I’m going home.”

The Christian life of faith can be like that at times – doubts set in, despair overwhelms us, and the whole notion of believing in God seems crazy – and we begin to wonder if we are lunatics to stick with it. Jesus knew his disciples would have days like that (and if they did, it’s pretty clear to me that we will, too!) So he told them we’re tied together like branches on the vine – or like climbers tied to the rope – tied together by the Spirit, to trust in One who is always more than we can understand, to keep us moving ahead on the journey of faith, to encourage us when believing seems absurd. “I will not leave you orphaned,” said Jesus. “I am coming to you.”

What is making you fearful today?  Perhaps you feel as if you are facing it alone.  If so, stop, pray, look around…and if you look long enough and hard enough (and are quiet enough!), you’ll see Him.  He’s right there beside you and He won’t leave!

PRAYER: Jesus, we’ve all had friends who left us in times of difficulty.  Thank you that You won’t leave us to face any situation in life on our own!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

NOTE: Galen, a missionary with Medical Ambassadors International (MAI), raises his own support.  DayBreaks is free – but if you wish to help support his mission work, you may donate (one-time or recurring) by going to this link, then scroll down until you see SUPPORT MISSIONARIES section.  Below that header, on the left, scroll and then find and click on “Galen Dalrymple” and you’ll be taken to where you can make your donation.  If you prefer to donate via check, you may do so by writing your check payable to Medical Ambassadors International and putS090 in the “memo” field. Mail the check to Medical Ambassadors International, P.O. Box 1302, Salida, CA 95368.  MAI is a 501.c.3 organizations so all donations are tax deductible and Medical Ambassadors takes NO administrative fees of any kind out of your donations!

Your support would be greatly appreciated!