DayBreaks for 2/28/19 – An Unspoken Thanks

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DayBreaks for 2/28/19: An Unspoken Thanks

From the DayBreaks archive February 2009:

I’ve been struck recently by the amount of ingratitude in my life.  I don’t think that I’m alone, but I don’t wish to project my shortcomings on to any of you.  All the hype on the news about how awful things are have created in many of us a sense of “Yep, it’s terrible.  Things are worse than they’ve ever been and I see no hope that things will be better.”  And, we tend to be so down-in-the-mouth and dispirited that we ignore an entire panoply of blessings each day.

In his book, The Holy Wild, Mark Buchanan was musing on the faithfulness of God.  It’s a topic that we don’t often ponder, for good reason: faithfulness is about as boring as a 1978 Buick that just keeps on running and refuses to just quit.  Someone who has an old car might see someone driving a new, shiny, sporty vehicle.  The owner of the flashy car may say to the old Buick owner, “Why are you still driving that thing?  You were driving that when we last saw each other 10 years ago!” to which the Buick owner replies, “Yeah, but it’s faithful.”  In other words, it keeps on working.  Or, to put a slightly different spin on it, “Yeah, it’s as boring as all get out, but it just keeps working.” 

You see, faithfulness is boring.  We come to expect faithfulness after a while because something (a person, car, pet, etc.) is always there, always does what it is supposed to do.  We presume faithfulness and are shocked when it doesn’t happen.

The same is true with God.  We know in our heads that God has promised to be faithful – and we believe it – at least at some level.  But that’s dangerous because it means we take Him and what He does for granted.  In Buchanan’s book, he ponders the wonder of leaves.  Leaves when they are dry are very fragile, yet just the other day, I was sitting in a restaurant with my wife and sister and her kids, and it was windy and raining outside, but I looked outside and saw a dried leaf clinging to a branch.  Leaves can even cling to trees through a hurricane or tornado.  But when they’re dry, they are so very fragile.  Leaves give us shelter from the blazing summer sun, they provide food for animals and people, they drink down the poison of carbon dioxide and give us back life-giving oxygen in exchange.  Each spring, leaves appear on trees all over the world by the trillions or quadrillions (who knows how many leaves God creates each spring?!??!)  And my guess is that not one time in your life, have you ever had to ask God to put leaves on trees in the spring.  And I’d also be willing to bet that not once have you stopped to give Him thanks for those leaves that give you life.  I haven’t. 

Leaves and their ilk are signs, reminders if you will, of God’s faithfulness.  When something in your life gets you down and discourages you, when you are tempted to feel that God has failed and let you down, stop and ponder a leaf or two – and remember that they are reminders of God’s faithfulness – even when we fail to give Him thanks for such simple things. 

Hebrews 12:28 (NASB) – Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe…  We have received citizenship in a kingdom which we don’t deserve.  We have much, even this very moment, that calls out to us to give Him thanksgiving.

Prayer: Father, thank You for making leaves!  Thank You for making us!  Thank You for all good things!  In Jesus’ name, Amen  

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

 

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DayBreaks for 3/15/18 – Out of My League

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DayBreaks for 3/15/18: Out of My League

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

I don’t know how it happened.  But I’m glad it did.  It happened a long time ago – 38 years in August, to be precise.  Somehow, don’t ask me how, but the girl I loved agreed to marry me and we were married on an August day in 1970.  Why she agreed to it I don’t think I’ll ever know.  As the saying goes, “She’s out of my league.”  My wife is smarter than I am, more spiritually attuned to things, a deeper thinker than I am, a much better communicator of many things, she’s filled with a mother’s love and compassion – and she’s far better looking than I am.  Now, can you tell me why she married me?!?!?!  I can’t.

At the recent National Pastor’s Conference, John Ortberg was one of the main speakers (I could listen to him speak all day and night!)  Apparently, he feels that same about his wife as I do.  It seems that we both married over our heads and out of our league.  (If truth be told, I think that’s the case with most of us men…women seem to be far better as a general rule!)  It’s hard to believe that I have had such great “luck” as to have my wife as my partner and friend for nearly 38 years now. 

Can’t the same thing be said about Jesus?  If my wife is out of my league, how about Jesus?  He’s so far out of my league that you can’t even see him from here!  And yet, and yet…if the Bible says anything at all, it says this: “Jesus loves me.” 

My wife is lovely and the most beautiful woman in the world to me, but if I were married to a supermodel, do you know how I’d feel?  I’d be scared out of my mind.  Look at the lives of supermodels or the super-actresses and actors – the “beautiful people”, if you will (as far as the world is concerned).  It seems that if they’re not in rehab, they’re hopping from one lover to the next, from one set of marriage vows to another.  If I were married to a supermodel, I’d always be fearful that she’d find someone more in her league than I am, and that perhaps any love she had for me would grow cold and would be withdrawn. 

Can the same happen with Jesus?  No.  Romans 8:35-39 (NLT) –  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 are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death?  (Even the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.  And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away.  Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Is Jesus out of my league?  Absolutely.  (He’s out of yours, too, by the way.)  Is his love for me real?  Look at the nail prints in his hands and feet.  Will his love for me ever be withdrawn or given to someone else with me being left in the cold?  Never! 

PRAYER: The depth of your love is amazing, Jesus!  Thank you for the words of encouraging reminder that Romans records for us – letting us know that you will never turn your back on us, that you will always love us.  May we always see your love engraved on your hands and feet when we are tempted to doubt and become fearful.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/05/17 – Caleb and Courageous Conviction, #3

Hill country, Israel. 

DayBreaks for 7/05/17: Caleb and Courageous Conviction, #3

When I was young, I could run and run and run and seemingly never tire. So, for the most part, I ran longer races when I ran track in high school. And I was fairly good at it – though I knew it was not something I’d ever do as a living or career. Then, seemingly almost overnight, I didn’t enjoy the endurance races any longer. I don’t know why, but they just weren’t fun any longer.

Endurance is a hard quality to cultivate. As we get older, our endurance seems to get less and less physically. That is to be expected, I believe, as our bodies start to show the strains of the decades.

Caleb way a man of courageous endurance. When he approaches Joshua with his request to be given the hill country for his inheritance in the Promised Land, he was 85 years old. He was around 40 when he went into the land as a spy, and around 80 when they returned and finally entered the land. Now, at 85 he stands before Joshua and says, in Joshua 14:10-12 (NLT) – Now, as you can see, the LORD has kept me alive and well as he promised for all these forty-five years since Moses made this promise—even while Israel wandered in the wilderness. Today I am eighty-five years old. I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then. So give me the hill country that the LORD promised me. You will remember that as scouts we found the descendants of Anak living there in great, walled towns. But if the LORD is with me, I will drive them out of the land, just as the LORD said.” That, my friends, is a man of endurance and conviction!

What can we learn from Caleb about this? Several things, I believe:

FIRST: passion for the good needn’t diminish as we get older. While for most of  us our physical strength will decline, our spiritual strength should be growing stronger day by day as we have mounting evidence of the Lord’s faithfulness. Caleb hadn’t forgotten the promise of the Lord concerning the hill country. Now, at 85, he was ready to claim that promise.

SECOND: Caleb recognizes that the victory will be won, but that it won’t be won by his own unabated strength: it will be won if the Lord is with me. I don’t for a second believe that Caleb felt that “if” was up for debate. He knew he’d drive the residents of the hill country out just as the Lord said.

THIRD: though the pathway may be long and arduous, there is a reward at the end of a life for courageous conviction. Caleb trusted in the Word of the Lord. He had seen it come true over and over and over – and had never once seen it fail. In spite of having to endure 40 years of struggle in the desert, Caleb had not forgotten the promise. He had not deserved the desert – he had not been one of the faithless 10 spies. Yet he had to endure it, then he had to survive the battles to take the majority of the promised land. Endurance must have been his middle name.

FOURTH: as time grows shorter for each of us, we need to lay hold of the things that God has promised us. For Caleb, it was the hill country. For you and I, we, too, must press on to take possession of the Promised Land that the Lord has promised us. The promises that the Father has made to us are no different than the promises He made to Moses, Joshua or Caleb. The Father that was faithful and made those promises come true is the same Father who has given you His promise. It may have been many years in the coming, but it will come. Stay strong like Caleb. There are multitudes of blessings for a life of courageous endurance – not the least of which is a place in the Promised Land.

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for men and women like Caleb who show us that we need not grow faint or weary in our journey. Thank you for being faithful to your promises then and now. Let us rise up to take the hill country you have set before us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/01/17 – Obedience

DayBreaks for 5/01/17: Obedience

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

Listen to this story.  I don’t know the source of the story, but here it is:

“How we admire the obedience a dog shows to its master!  Archibald Rutledge wrote that one day he met a man whose dog had just been killed in a forest fire.  Heartbroken, the man explained to Rutledge how it happened.  Because he worked out-of-doors, he often took his dog with him.  That morning, he left the animal in a clearing and gave him a command to stay and watch his lunch bucket while he went into the forest.  His faithful friend understood, for that’s exactly what he did.  Then a fire started in the woods, and soon the blaze spread to the spot where the dog had been left.  But he didn’t move.  He stayed right where he was, in perfect obedience to his master’s word.  With tearful eyes, the dog’s owner said, “I always had to be careful what I told him to do, because I knew he would do it.”

Galen’s Thoughts: Loyalty.  Character.  Perseverance.  Courage.  Faithfulness.  These are all words that come to mind.  Sounds like a super-hero.  And then I have to stop myself and remember that I’m talking about a DOG!  But what lessons that dog can teach us!

I’m heart broken by this story for several reasons:

FIRST: I grieve for the dog’s sake.  I can’t imagine what it was like – how great the temptation must have been to cut and run through the forest away from the heat and torment of the flames – yet the dog stayed put.  I mourn the loss of the dog, but at a deeper level it makes me mourn my own lack of courage in obedience to the one I call my Master.

SECOND: I mourn that I am not more broken hearted by the loss of eternal souls than I am in the loss of the dog.  What is wrong with me, with us, when we have deeper feelings about the loss of a dog, albeit a tremendously loyal one, than the lives of those that surround us every day?

FINALLY: I am haunted by the final words of the dog’s master: “I always had to be careful what I told him to do, because I knew he would do it.”  What would my Master say about me?  Oh, how I wish Jesus could say, “I always had to be careful what I told Galen to do, because I knew he would do it!”  Instead, in my fear and weakness, I far too often run from the heat of the struggle into perceived safety.  But it is only perceived safety and it certainly isn’t obedience.

The love of the dog’s owner is clear in his tears – he loved his dog.  The pride of the owner is clear in his words – he was justifiably proud of the obedience of his dog.  I look at Jesus and see his tears for me and I know He loves me with all his heart.  I just wish my obedience was loyal enough that Jesus could be proud of me.

PRAYER:  Lord, forgive my lack of obedience and loyalty!  It seems to take no more than even the slightest distraction to pull me away from you sometimes.  Help me to have the kind of character you wish to develop in me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 1/27/17 – The Ends of the Earth Have Seen His Salvation

DayBreaks for 1/27/17: The Ends of the Earth Have Seen His Salvation

Psalm 98:3 (TNIV) – He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of God.

We, like all of humanity before us, have tried our best to make God in our image, and when we read certain passages of Scripture, we can misconstrue them with great ease.  For example, when we read the first 3 words of Psalm 98:3 (TNIV), we would be tempted to think that the implication is that for a while, God forgot his love and faithfulness to the house of Israel.  Such is not the case.  God doesn’t forget anything.  When Scripture says that God forgives and forgets our sin, never to remember them against us again – it means that God will never bring them up against us again.  He still knows our sin – past, present and future.  He wouldn’t be Infinite if he were truly forgetful – even of things like sin.  And, with each lash of the whip, with each blow of the hammer upon the nails, our sins were embedded into the back, hands and feet of Christ.  It appears, based on Revelation 5:6, that even in heaven, the scars caused by our sins are visible upon the Lamb.  We talk about not being able to take things with us when we die, but Christ apparently took these “souvenirs” of his time on earth to heaven with him, perhaps to remind us throughout all eternity of the love that drove him to the cross.

But, what’s important in the passage above isn’t that God forgot our sins, but that he never forgets his love and faithfulness to his people.  How far does it extend?  To the ends of the earth.  What does that mean?  I think it may mean two things:

FIRST: physically, the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, has reached to all the ends of the earth.  North, south, east, west – all four points of the compass have heard of the glory of God, if by nothing other than the glory of the creation (Romans 1).  From the beginning, there has been a moral sense in mankind wherever he is found. 

SECOND: I can’t help but wonder if this verse isn’t speaking with the certainty of completed prophecy: God has decreed that at the time of the “ends of the earth” when the dead will rise and the great judgment scene takes place, the earth (mankind) will see the salvation of God for his beloved children.  All the wicked and hateful angels and people from all ages will stand in the judgment and see the salvation of God poured out upon those who through faith have accepted Christ, trusting in God for their deliverance.  What a scene that will be!  And we will all live to see it!

PRAYER:  Lord, we long for the day when You vindicate Your righteous ones, made perfect through the Lamb!  And our prayer, Lord, is that before that great and terrible day arrives, that whose who are lost at this moment will turn to Jesus in faith.  And on that day, may we be numbered with the faithful and fully see Your great salvation!!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 5/4/16 – The Master and the Reward

DayBreaks for 5/04/16 – The Master and the Reward

From the DayBreaks archives, May 2006:

It’s confession time.  I must confess that I’m guilty of envy.  It was over two years ago now that the Lord called us to this town to plant a new church.  I love it here.  I love the body that the Lord has formed.  They are the most delightful people that I think I’ve ever been involved with and I love them dearly.  So what am I envious of?  Well, on Friday and Saturday, I was at a Men’s Advance (as opposed to “retreat”!) where there were numerous other church planters.  Some of them have been at if for quite a few years, some are even “newer” church planters than I.  Here’s what I’m envious of: some of them have seemingly been more “successful” in their church plants…they’ve got larger congregations and are able to do more things than we can.  And I am envious. 

I know it is wrong.  I know I shouldn’t be.  I know that there are reasons for why churches in one place grow rapidly and others don’t: the size of the town, the culture of the area, the energy and enthusiasm of those laboring to plant the church, even the geography and demographics make a huge difference.  But I’m envious of their “success”, and I ask God to forgive me for that envy.  I feel we are where we are supposed to be, that we’re in the place that He’s called us to. 

So what’s the point?  Well, simply this: during the men’s advance, part of the teaching on Saturday was about the parable of the talents from Matthew 25, and the Lord showed me what He wanted me to know.  Here’s the passage: Matthew 25:19-23 (NIV) – After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’  “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ “The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”

The point is simply this: the man who had 5 talents to begin with was told, “Come and share your master’s happiness!”  The EXACT same words are spoken to the person who was giving the 2 talents: “Come and share your master’s happiness!”  Perhaps even more important is what the Master did not say to the first man: “You’re the best I’ve got.  You’re my right hand man!  Ten talents – wow!”  Nor did he say to the second servant, “You know, you did great.  You really did, but did you hear about what Joe did!?  He made 5 talents.  Why didn’t you?  If he did, you could have, too!” 

No, his praise to both servants was identical.  It didn’t matter to the Master, you see, how much each had to start with or even at the end.  What the Master cared about was that the servants had taken what He’d giving them and used it to the best that they could. 

There’s a lesson for all of us who sometimes get concerned about how others are doing, instead of what we are doing with what God has given us.  Be faithful with what you’ve got – that’s all He asks.  Don’t compare yourself to others – the Master didn’t, and He won’t.

PRAYER:  Lord, forgive me for my envious heart, forgive me for thinking that I’m in a competition sometimes.  And forgive me for thinking that any of this depends upon me, instead upon Your Spirit.  Teach us to use all that you’ve given us for the expansion of Your kingdom and Your glory in this world.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

 

DayBreaks for 8/17/15 – The Except for Me Syndrome

DayBreaks for 8/17/15: The Except for Me Syndrome

There are optimists and there are pessimists and there are realists.  It seems that to some extent we have a predisposition one way or the other, and that’s OK.  I like to think of myself as a realist, but optimists would say I’m a pessimist, and pessimists would say I’m too optimistic.  I can live with that when we’re talking about the sorts of things that happen in this world. I’ll joke around about winning the Publisher’s Clearing House contest, but realistically, I’m not holding my breath. When I’m driving around and see billboards talking about what the lottery prizes are for the week, I may joke about getting a ticket, but I don’t – not because I’m a pessimist, but a realist. I know that I’m not going to win that $117 million dollars even if I did buy a ticket (which I won’t)! I suspect there are lots of people like me, who believe that great things will never happen.

The problem is when we carry that over into our relationship with God.  We can fall into what I am calling the “Except for Me Syndrome.” Think about these passages and see if you’ve ever had thoughts like these:

Long ago the LORD said to Israel: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. – Jeremiah 31:3 (NLT)  I hear myself sometimes say, “Yes, Lord, I believe that, except for me…you can’t possibly love me that way after all I’ve done.”

…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12 (NIV)  Are you thinking, “Yes, Lord, I’m sure that’s true for everyone except for me…I am far too sinful.”

However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. – John 6:37 (NLT) “I’d love to believe that, Lord, and I do…except for me. I’ve done too much to ever be accepted.”

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are… – 1 John 3:1a (ESV) “Everyone in the pew with me on Sunday is your child, except for me.  You couldn’t possibly be referring to someone like me as your child!”

He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. – Revelation 21:7 (KJV) “This is true of Christians, except for me, because I not much of an overcomer.”

For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us.  Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. – 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 (NLT) “How I wish I could believe this, Lord, that you aren’t angry with me ad that you’ll save me so I could live forever with you. I’m sure that you’ll save Billy Graham and Mother Theresa and good folks like that, most Christians, in fact, except for me.

My friends, if those words, except for me, are in your head when you think of the promises of God and the extent of his love and grace towards you, stop. Move those words out of your mind and your heart. God’s promises are either true or they are not. He is no respecter of persons. He never changes. He has never broken a promise or told a lie. He cannot do either. If He is able to save anyone and remove their sins as far as the east is from the west, He can do it for me, and for you. Not only can He, He has already done so for those who are in Christ!

PRAYER: God, as much as we’d love to dare to hope in your promises, we struggle sometimes to do so because we don’t really know you well enough! Help us lay hold of your promises and live in great celebration as children of the Great King! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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