DayBreaks for 12/16/13 – The One Who Was to Come

DayBreaks for 12/16/13 – The One Who Was to Come

Matthew 11:3 (NLT)  “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”

John wasn’t the only one who ever asked this question.  There are many at this time of year who ask the same question.  Perhaps you are one of them. 

At Christmas we talk a lot about joy and peace and we sing songs about being merry, joyful and adoring of the Bethlehem Baby.  It would be enough, to an alien from another planet, to make one think that only good things happen at Christmas, that all struggles are banned and that there simply is no room for non-faith.  Would that it were that simple, right?  At present, I know far too many who are struggling with cancer, heart issues, mysterious illnesses, suicides, violence, broken relationships and the like.  It is enough, given the joyful noises we make at Christmas, to make one wonder if there’s any truth to this “I bring you tidings of great joy….” bit. 

We are possessed with the idea that if we follow the Christ, our life will somehow be smoother, or at least all fit together in a way that makes good sense to us.  Then we run smack into the reality that the only guarantees Jesus made to us had to do with what comes after this life. In fact, Jesus very clearly expected and said that his followers would have a harder time getting through this life than those who walked away. But we still have these expectations (perhaps more so at Christmas than any other time of the year) of a “Savior” and what he’d be like and what he’d do, and when Jesus doesn’t meet them we begin to wonder…and perhaps doubt, if he is really who we thought he was.  Many are the empty church pews that used to be full of people who believed in Jesus Christ. But, at some vital point in time, he didn’t live up to their expectations and they went home and never returned. When their families still fought, they still faced frightening decisions, and couldn’t make ends meet on a budget, they began to wonder if they had made a mistake with Jesus.

Maybe that’s what happened to John. He said he had come to baptize with water, and the one following him would baptize with “fire from heaven.” So where was the fire? John couldn’t see any. So far there wasn’t even smoke. So far, the Pharisees and Sadducees were still in charge of the faith, and Rome was still in charge of the visible world. In fact, instead of bringing in the kingdom, Jesus had kept pretty quiet up north while John got himself arrested and thrown into one of Herod’s dungeons on a mountaintop down by the Dead Sea. That might make a person ask some questions. Is this how a real Messiah would behave?  Would He let this happen?

I have no idea if that’s what happened to John or not.  I’d like to think it’s as plausible as any other explanation.  Regardless, I take some real comfort from John’s doubting.  If John the Baptist, as high up as he ranked (Jesus said no man born of woman was greater than John!), still had some questions, maybe there is room for me and questions, now at Christmas or at any other time.

PRAYER: Lord, thank You for Christmas and for stories of great heroes who struggled in their lives with believe and doubt.  Thank you for the encouragement that you will never ultimately disappoint those who remain true!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 04/19/12 – Must I Always Be?

DayBreaks for 04/19/12 – Must I Always Be

Must I always be...your Thomas?

 I found this poem and I thought it might bless you today.  There is freedom in being honest with Jesus about both the good and bad:

“Let me meet you on the mountain, Lord, Just once.

You wouldn’t have to burn a whole bush.

Just a few smoking branches

And I would surely be …your Moses.

 

“Let me meet you on the water, Lord, Just once.

It wouldn’t have to be on White Rock Lake.

Just on a puddle after the annual Dallas rain

And I would surely be…your Peter.

 

“Let me meet you on the road, Lord, Just once.

You wouldn’t have to blind me on North Central Expressway.

Just a few bright lights on the way to chapel

And I would surely be…your Paul.

 

“Let me meet you, Lord, Just once.

Anywhere. Anytime.

Just meeting you in the Word is so hard sometimes

Must I always be…your Thomas?” – Norman Shirk, April 10, 1981, KQ (Dallas Seminary)

PRAYER: Thank you for understanding our faith and doubt, failings and triumphs, our hopes and wishes versus the reality of our shortcomings!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 01/04/12 – Life’s What If’s

DayBreaks for 01/04/12 – Life’s What If’s

The what if questions of life are endless...and dangerous...

I don’t know about you, but I play the game of “What If” like a pro!  I am so prone to trying to figure out the future, to plot a course through all the eventualities in order to guarantee an outcome that I’m sure to be happy with.  What a fool I am!  Here’s a story about a little boy who was learning to play that game early:

Erma Bombeck told this story about a little boy named Donald who talked about education and the fears of going to school: “My name is Donald, and I don’t know anything. I have new underwear, a loose tooth, and didn’t sleep last night because I’m worried. What if a bell rings and a man yells, “Where do you belong?” and I don’t know? What if the trays in the cafeteria are too tall for me to reach? What if my loose tooth comes out when we have our heads down and are supposed to be quiet? Am I supposed to bleed quietly? What if I splash water on my name tag and my name disappears and no one knows who I am?”

Does Scripture have anything to say about playing “What If”?  I think so – sometimes in unexpected ways.  We are told not to take thought for tomorrow for a very logical reason: today has enough problems of its own, and who knows if we’ll be here tomorrow or not!  But our most common fears aren’t about whether or not we’ll be here tomorrow, but about what might happen.  We tend to assume we will be here.

There’s another passage that, when viewed in a certain way, is about the “what if’s” that we are more prone to worry over: Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:35-39

The list of “what if’s” includes trouble, calamity, persecution, hunger, being destitute, in danger, even threatened with violent death.  None of those “what if’s” can separate us from His love or cause us to get lost to His sight.  Demonic attack, fears for today, worries about tomorrow, not hell itself, says the writer, can separate us from His incredible, enduring, powerful, saving love!

PRAYER: Jesus, I sometimes get so scared about what will happen tomorrow, next week, next month.  Though I may be separated from a home, family members, from all the things I love and cherish – help me find comfort in Your abiding Presence and promise. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 4/27/11 – Loyal In Spite

DayBreaks for 04/27/11 – Loyal In Spite

Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. 2 He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; 3 a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. – Isaiah 42:1-3

Loyal

I know a few people who never seem to have doubts about their faith.  For them, faith just seems to come naturally.  It doesn’t seem to need any watering or cultivating – perhaps they have the gift of faith.  My own faith has not always come that simply.

I know that we are to be like little children – trusting, not worrying about what our Father can or will provide.  I wish that I were that way more often.

I find comfort in knowing that I am not alone with the doubts that have at time caused me to ponder the reality of the Christian claims.  I don’t feel that I’m weaker for having explored those questions – quite the contrary – I feel I’ve grown through those explorations.

The church in many places and times, has judged harshly anyone who admitted to doubts.  Philip Yancey, in Reaching for the Invisible God, wrote: “Reading the biographies of great people of faith, I must search to find one whose faith did not grow on a skeleton of doubt, and indeed grow so that the skeleton eventually became hidden.  In his novel The Flight of Peter Fromm, Martin Gardner has a professor suggest that today’s intellectually honest Christian must choose between being a truthful traitor or a loyal liar.  Adam, Sarah, Jacob, Job, Jeremiah, Jonah, Thomas, Martha, Peter and many other characters in the Bible demonstrate a third category: the loyal traitor, who questions, squirms, and rebels yet still remains loyal.”  It was the next sentence that really struck me: “God appears far less threatened by doubt than does His church.”

There are many who, driven to despair by doubt they felt they could not express for fear of being ostracized, walk away from the church.  Would it not be better to bring those doubts into the Light and in a loving, caring way explore them?  There are also many who have brought their doubts up only to be criticized for it…and then they walk away from the faith.

For me, I’m comfortable in the company of Adam, Sarah, Jacob, Job, Jeremiah, Johan, Thomas, Martha and Peter.  The Lord was comfortable with them, too.  

PRAYER: We are all bruised reeds and smoldering wicks, Lord Jesus!  Thank you for your patience and tenderness with our frailties!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2011, Galen C. Dalrymple  ><}}}”>

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