DayBreaks for 5/07/18 – Drowning Rats and Hope

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DayBreaks for 5/07/18: Drowning Rats and Hope

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:     

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 by 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 has 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: Thank you that you not only didn’t leave us hopeless, but gave us the greatest reason for hope ever! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 4/25/18 – The Surprising Proclamation

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DayBreaks for 4/25/18: The Surprising Proclamation

John 4:25-26 (NIV) – The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”  Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.

The verses above are taken from the story of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well in Samaria.  It’s a fascinating story for a variety of reasons.  Jesus, a man, initiating a conversation with a woman.  It wasn’t supposed to happen that way – not in that age.  Jesus, a Jew, speaking to a Samaritan.  It wasn’t supposed to happen – Jews and Samaritans were supposed to hate one another.  Jesus was a rabbi, a very holy man – and this woman was, well, less than virtuous.  She had gone from one relationship to another, and was now living with a man to whom she wasn’t married.  No self-respecting rabbi would strike up such a conversation.

But Jesus wasn’t into self-respect, he was into love and sharing that love with anyone who needed it – and certainly, it would appear that this woman had perhaps mistaken many things for love in the past. 

The most amazing thing, however, about this story, was Jesus’ announcement that he was the Messiah.  As far as we know, this is the very first time that Jesus identified himself this blatantly.  He hadn’t made this kind of proclamation to even his disciples, so why this woman?

I believe he announced himself to this woman precisely because she was the kind of person who needed to know that the Messiah had come.  This woman probably had lost most of her hope for her life.  Her track record this far had not been stellar.  With the first relationship, she probably had hoped that “my life is set and I’m on track for happiness.”  But her heart had been broken.  Then came a succession of more men – and with each one, more heartbreak had come and a bit of hope had died as each relationship died.  Perhaps she wondered, deep in her heart, if there would be any hope for her at all.

And to this hurting, shame-filled, discouraged woman, the Messiah is revealed for the first time.  It was for women (and men) just like this one that Jesus had come.  And in revealing himself to her, hope and possibility were reborn.

Our sins burden us and crush us and destroy joy and hope.  Stop by the well and drink the Living Water that the Messiah gives and you will never thirst again.

PRAYER:  Lord, thank you for revealing yourself to sinners like us.  Renew our hope and open our eyes to what it means that the Messiah has come!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/8/18 – The Perils of a Cold Heart

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DayBreaks for 3/08/18: The Perils of a Cold Heart

NOTE: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive,  March 2008:

An early candidate for 1998’s “Darwin Award” (an annual “award” given to the stupidest thing that someone did during the year – usually awarded posthumously), from Remy, France: “Jacques LeFevrier left nothing to chance when he decided to commit suicide.  He stood at the top of a tall cliff and tied a noose around his neck.  He tied the other end of the rope to a large rock.  He drank some poison and set fire to his clothes.  He even tried to shoot himself at the last moment.  He jumped and fired the pistol.  The bullet missed him completely and cut through the rope above him.  Free of the threat of hanging, he plunged into the sea.  The sudden dunking extinguished the flames and made him vomit the poison.  He was dragged out of the water by a kind fisherman and was taken to a hospital, where he died of hypothermia.”

I’ve wondered what makes people contemplate suicide.  I understand financial stress, grief, despair, anxiety, depression, etc. – at least at some level.  I’ve never reached the point where I felt that life was so hopeless that I had no other option.  I have had friends who have committed suicide and it is heartbreaking.  I don’t know what problems were hounding Mr. LeFevrier, but he was determined to leave nothing to chance.  As it turns out, it wasn’t the noose, the poison, the fire, the pistol or the fall that took his life.  It wasn’t even really something external – but something internal.  His core body temperature fell to such a low level that his organs couldn’t do their job – his heart and brain stopped.

So it is with us.  It isn’t the things around us that will prove our undoing – it is what is within us.  Matthew 24:12 says: Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold… .  We can spend great amounts of energy and time to make sure the circumstances surrounding our life are just right, leaving no stone unturned in our efforts.  We can install backup system after backup system to make sure our life is planned to the smallest detail.  But you know what?  Those things don’t matter.  They are just details.  What matters is what is within.  Is your heart on fire after God, or is it cold and unfunctioning?  When Jesus once again comes crashing through the barriers of time and space with a trumpet blast and the earth and the heavens are consumed with flaming fire all the backup plans we may make prior to then will go up in smoke – literally!  But it is the heart and what is in it that will determine what happens next.

What is your core heart temperature?  What are you doing to fuel the fire of your heart towards greater love and service to God and His creation?  Mr. LeFevrier never would have guessed in his wildest dreams that he would have died of coldness.  I hope and pray that coldness doesn’t claim any of us!

PRAYER: You are a consuming fire, Your Spirit appeared as tongues of fire…light our hearts on fire that they may never grow cold, lest we die.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/08/18 – A Fisherman Extraordinaire

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DayBreaks for 1/08/18: A Fisherman Extraordinaire

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

I’ve recently finished preaching a series of messages from 2 Peter 1:1-11 and I’ve really come to appreciate the apostle Peter more than I ever had before.  I have always liked John, and Paul was, without a doubt, an incredible advocate for the Christ.  Peter – well, I suppose that I remembered too many of the stories from my childhood that seemed to emphasize his flaws.  Peter didn’t write a gospel, but he almost did: most believe that the gospel of Mark was a collection of stories that Peter told about living with Jesus for 3 years.  If so (and it is quite likely true that Peter told those things to Mark who wrote them down), it is interesting how Peter presents himself, especially at the beginning:

  • A man who brashly asks to walk on the water, but who was last seen sinking and on the verge of drowning before the Lord lifted him up;
  • We’ve seen Peter pretending to be a ninja when he attacks the high priest’s servant with a sword during the arrest of Jesus – and we learn that his skills as a swordsman aren’t very good because he wasn’t swinging at the ear, but the man’s head;
  • We find him falling asleep in the prayer meeting Jesus organized in the garden of Gethsemane on the night he was betrayed;
  • We see him sputtering lies and nonsense, denying his dearest friend – at precisely the moment when Jesus most needed him as a friend.

Why did Peter tell those true stories?  Because they make Peter easier to trust, to believe in.  And they give us hope, too.  That’s the irony of a humble man: the more he admits his failings, the more likely we are to throw in our lot with him – to like him.  There is, after all, no fool as dangerous as a man who doesn’t know he’s a fool.  But a fool who confesses it and learns from it – ah, there is a man or woman we can trust, for they are learning life’s lessons and gaining in wisdom.

But what Peter doesn’t tell at all is that he became the undisputed leader of the 12.  In spite of all the above, Jesus never gave up hope in Peter.  He saw things in Peter that Peter never could have imagined.  Peter had likely only ever dreamed of taking over his father’s fishing business and being able to put bread and butter on the table for his family.  And then one day, a stranger came along the sea shore and spoke words that stirred Peter’s heart, and Peter accepted the man’s invitation to learn to catch men instead of fish. 

There are many days when I look at my list of failures (and it’s certainly a longer list than Peter’s!) and think that I’ll be lucky if I can get the job as the groundskeeper outside of the pearly gates – forget about even getting inside.  There are times I’ve felt that surely God must be saving the deepest cell in hell for me and Satan.  When I begin to feel that way, I need to stop listening to Satan as he tries to fill my head and heart with discouragement and start listening to Jesus, who whispers to me that he loves me, that all my sins have already been paid for and taken away and thrown into the depths of the sea.  I need to remember that he calls me precious, beloved, his child.  In short, Jesus whispers to me, “Remember Peter?  See how he turned out?  You’ll be no different, because it wasn’t Peter that made himself change – it was me who changed him, and I’m going to do the same thing with you.”

I know that I’ll not be the second-coming of Peter.  But I don’t have to be.  I just have to be who God made me to be, and who He is changing me to become. 

Peter never would have dreamed that he’d preach the first gospel sermon on Pentecost and that 3000 would believe through the words that God gave him to speak.  After he’d denied Christ in the wee hours of Good Friday, he never dreamed he’d have the courage to go to the cross himself and give his life for Jesus (as Jesus had gone to the cross and given his life for Peter.)  By God’s grace, Peter became all that God meant for him to be.

By God’s grace, we, too, shall become what He wants us to be.

PRAYER:  Lord, thank you for your whispers of reassurance that you love us just as we are and that you’re constantly at work to see us become the finished work of art that you intended us to be before we were born.  Thank you for the love that refuses to let us go, no matter how great our failures!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 7/27/17 – The Intimate Dance of Faith and Hope

DayBreaks for 7/27/17: The Intimate Dance of Hope and Faith

Preface: I’ve recently started reading Jurgen Moltmann’s Theology of Hope, and thus far I’ve found it to be a fascinating book.  Be on the lookout for numerous DayBreaks based on this work in the future.  

Christian hope has been the target of nay-sayers for a long, long time.  Some criticize the Christian hope as causing us as believers to live in a never-never land of make believe, as if we were children who hope for a cotton candy but who haven’t yet been told that the machine is broken and there will be none – not for good or bad little boys or girls.  And as a result, we’re considered foolish for hoping in something that those who don’t believe think doesn’t even exist. 

Others attack the idea and principle of Christian hope from a different angle: they say that it distracts us from the present realities, causing us to be disconnected from the only life that we shall ever possess and the urgent needs of the present world.  If all we Christians are good for, the thought goes, is being distressed in this world and focused on a future world where things are infinitely better, we won’t spend much time trying to make this place better.  Instead, we’d write it off as a colossal loss as we live in hope of something better. 

Of course, Moltmann would not agree with either of those two propositions.  In his introduction, he reveals some insights into the intricate relationship of faith and hope that help me understand it a bit better.  I’ll share some of those with you in the next few days.  For example: “Hope is nothing else than the expectation of those things which faith has believed to have been truly promised by God.  Thus, faith believes God to be true, hope awaits the time when this truth shall be manifested; faith believes that he is our Father, hope anticipates that he will ever show himself to be a Father toward us; faith believes that eternal life has been given to us, hope anticipates that it will in some time be revealed; faith is the foundation upon which hope rests, hope nourishes and sustains faith.”

“Thus in the Christian life faith has the priority, but hope the primacy.  Without faith’s knowledge of Christ, hope becomes a utopia and remains hanging in the air.  But without hope, faith falls to pieces, becomes a faint-hearted and ultimately a dead faith.  It is through faith that man finds the path of true life, but it is only hope that keeps him on that path.”

To put it in my meager terms, hope is what gives faith its wings, it’s feet.  Just because we believe God is true and will be so, it is the hope that someday that truth will be shown and recognized by everyone – even His enemies.  Through faith we accept that we are his “offspring” and our Father, it is hope that allows us to call Him the kind of Father that we can proclaim as “Abba” – a good, loving Father who will forever be so.

Hope and faith are joined at the hip.  Faith without hope would be interesting, but not very uplifting or encouraging.  Hope without faith is virtually a non-sequitur and a childish dream. 

In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul speaks of an unlikely trinity – certainly not one that an earth-bound mind would conjure up: Then abide these three: faith, hope and love…and the greatest of these is love.  Paul was speaking about what remains in this world I believe, and not in the one we hope for, because once that world is realized, there will be no more need for hope nor for that matter, faith.  We will see the object of our faith and walking by faith will be no more.  And, once we are in full possession of the heavenly blessings, what more is there to hope for beyond that ecstasy?  Nothing.  But love will remain – and it will remain throughout all eternity.  That shouldn’t cause us to relegate faith and hope to a backseat in our present walk, but it should enhance our appreciation of the necessity of both until they fulfill their purpose and deliver us to heaven’s portal.

Romans 5:4-5 (NLT) – And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.  And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

PRAYER:  Lord God Almighty, we thank You for the twin blessings of faith and hope.  Thank You for opening our eyes through faith to Your existence and for the hope that it gives us that our lives are not meaningless, but that we are destined for better things and that our hope will not disappoint us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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.

DayBreaks for 3/22/17 – The Time Has Come

DayBreaks for 3/22/17: The Time Has Come

NOTE: Galen is traveling this week. This week’s DayBreaks will be from the May 2007 archives.

John 17:1 – After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.

“The time has come.” 

These words should haunt us, coming as they do from Jesus’ lips.  John, and the other gospels writers have taken us on an amazing journey of discovery of the Son of God.  His power has wowed us.  His love has stunned and surprised us.  His tenderness has given us hope.  And now, can’t you hear the weariness in his voice? 

How we view the arrival of something depends on what we anticipate that “something” will be like: good or bad, blessing or trouble, peace or distress.  I hate it when the appointment comes when I’m supposed to go to the dentist.  I’ve taken others to the hospital for major surgery, and the dread is palpable as we travel in the car.  We hate the moment when we are due to pile into the car for a trip to the funeral parlor for a service for a loved one who has died.  On the other hand, we rejoice when the time has come to leave for the airport to pick up your spouse or children or grandchildren whom you haven’t seen for a long time, or to go to Disneyland or for a much needed and long anticipated 3-day fishing retreat away from the noise and troubles of the world.  In either case, the anticipation can be excruciating. 

Either the sadness and dread can drive us into the ground, or the joy we anticipate gives us the butterflies in our stomachs that makes it hard to keep our feet on the ground when we walk.  In many cases, we don’t know what to expect – and the anticipation, the unknowingness involved – makes us nervous and anxious, hopeful yet not too hopeful lest we should be disappointed.
The time has come.  With Jesus, it wasn’t a question of anticipation for he knew fully what to expect.  He had known all his life – he knew why he’d come to this earth.  Every event of his life had led to this tipping point, this fulcrum.  And when the time comes, what does Jesus do?  He prays.  How did he feel about this “time” which had come?  We see mixed emotions:

FIRST: In the garden we see his human side, struggling and fearful of the great anguish and suffering that lay ahead, begging with the Father that this cup, and this time, could pass.  And who can blame him?  Think of your own most terrifying and dark moment – didn’t you cry out for it to pass?  Didn’t you cry out for God to take it away?  Jesus was as human as we are.  He had all the same feelings as we do.  His nerves fired pain impulses just every bit as exquisitely and perfectly as those of any other human being.  He made no exceptions for himself when it came to being able to identify with us in our humanity, he permitted himself no indulgences or luxuries to bypass human suffering.

SECOND: In Hebrews 12:2, and here, we see something about how the Divine side of Jesus dealt with this time.  He was God – every bit as much God as he was human.  As God, he could see the future outcome of events and happenings, and he could foresee the joy at the end of this “time” which had come.  And that joy was your face and my face.  It was being able to see us eternally before the throne of God in heaven in His Presence, and knowing that it was because of this “time which has come” that it would be made possible.  That joy, of seeing his brothers and sisters redeemed from the pit of hell and cleansed from the stench of sin, that gave Christ the power to move into this time which has come, and pray, Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You.

The time has come…what does that mean for you and I?  It means the time has come for us to be done with our past lives of sin and rebellion, to put our faithlessness and infidelity to God in the past.  The time has come for us to walk by faith, not by sight.  The time has come for us to take up our cross and follow him.  The time has come for the church to rise up in the power of the Spirit and speak truth into the world once again.  And ultimately, the time will come for us to face our own death and destiny.  Jesus had prepared himself along the way for the moment when his time would come.  Have you?

PRAYER: For Jesus’ resolve in the hour of his trial, Father, we are eternally grateful.  For strength for our own time which has come, we beseech Thee.  For the courage to speak truth into the world and the lives of those around us, we plead.  For Your mercies, which are new every morning, we give You praise.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.