DayBreaks for 8/06/18 – A Painful, Unasked Question

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DayBreaks for 8/06/18: A Painful, Unasked Question

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

1 Peter 3:15a (NIV) – But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…

I must admit that I’m troubled.  I have been forced to look more closely into the mirror lately, and I am distressed by what I see.  I’m not talking about gray hair and wrinkly skin.  I’m talking about myself – the real me that hides somewhere inside this “fleshly tent” as Scripture so aptly put it.

I like to think of myself as a fairly upbeat, hopeful, cheerful and fun-loving person.  Who doesn’t want to think of themselves in those terms?  Have you ever known anyone who had a goal in life to be downcast, hopeless about everything, sad and determined to remain miserable all their life?  I don’t know anyone who set out with those life goals and I doubt that you do either.  I know some people who seem to have many of those negative characteristics much of the time – but it was never their great desire to be that way.  Somehow, life beat the tar out of them (or so is their perception of what life has done to them) and they are just that way now.  It is really sad.

But here’s what’s really bothering me: Peter seems to suggest that people will ask me (and you if you are a believer) about the hope that they see and observe in us, in our lives.  Here’s the painful question-that-never-is-asked: Why has no one asked me about the hope in me?  When is the last time someone actually came up to you and said, “Wow.  I don’t know what it is that makes you so positive, hopeful and upbeat.  What is it?  Can you tell me?”  Have you EVER had anyone ask you that question?  I don’t know that I have – and that really bothers me because it is contrary to the image I want to hold of myself. 

Could it be that we don’t know what it is to have hope?  Have we as believers surrendered our hope to the malaise and discontent and despair that flows through our world like a mighty ocean?  Or, if we do have hope, why is it not visible, why is it not causing people to ask the question that Peter alluded to?  Somehow, I believe Peter WAS asked that question, and I’ll bet he had the answer ready.

Will you join me in a pact to be more hopeful?  To let your hope show like brilliant rays of sunlight through the tall trees of despair?  It’s time that people asked us the question: “Why are you so hopeful?”

PRAYER:  Oh, Lord, I am deeply distressed that no one asks me the question!  Reveal to us, Lord, where our hearts and hope needs to change so that people feel that they can’t NOT ask us about our hope.  Fill us with undying hope for we have an undying future!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 8/2/18 – For the Love off the World

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DayBreaks for 8/02/18: For the Love of the World

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

Can I tell you something?  In many ways, I love this world.  What do I mean?  I don’t mean that I love the “world” in the sense of fallen behaviors, sin, diseases, disasters and the like.  I am sick and tired of such things. So please understand that when I say that I love the world, I mean that I’m fascinated by the beauty of creation: the starry canopy above, the roaring power of the ocean, the sheer majesty of mountains, the gurgling of the brook, the touch of the wind.  There are so many places I’d like to see: the pyramids (this has been a life-long dream that may or may not ever come true), the African wildlife, the grandeur of Alaska and the Himalayas.  I’d love to watch kangaroos hopping around in Australia, to see the fjords of Sweden and Norway, to watch the cold waters of the North Sea crash against the coastline of Scotland.  I’d love to visit Machu Piccu in Peru and see the part of New Zealand where Lord of the Rings was filmed.  I would like to see the Great Wall – and I’d like to see Antarctica up close and personal.  Will I ever see all those places?  I’m sure I won’t – and in fact, I’m fairly resigned to not seeing very many, if any, of them at all. 

I love the world.  It is my Father’s world, after all.  He made it – and may I say, He did a pretty spectacular job of it. 

Why do we love this world so much?  As was true of so many things, I think C. S. Lewis was right on top of it when he wrote at the end of the Chronicles of Narnia: It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling.  He stamped his right fore-hoof on the ground and neighed, and then cried: ‘I have come home at last!  This is my real country!  I belong here.  This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now.  The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this.

There is it: …the old Narnia…sometimes looked a little like this.  The very finest things and places in this world enchant us so because they remind us of our real home…the real Narnia, where Aslan/Christ lives and rules and where sin has not touched even the tiniest blade of grass – nor will it ever do so.  My love of the things I’ve listed above is a reassurance to me that I will love what is in the Heavenly Kingdom that is still ahead of me. 

Can’t you hear the siren call in your soul to such places?  Let that pull you forward, out of the muck and mire of this world and lead us to be heavenly-minded children of the Great King.

2 Peter 3:13 (NASB) – But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

PRAYER:  Thank you, mighty God, for giving us a creation filled with such delights!  Thank you for the echoes of eternity you have placed in our hearts that call us home to you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/01/18 – The Hope of a New Beginning

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The Raising of Lazarus, Vincent Van Gogh, 1890

DayBreaks for 8/01/18: The Hope of a New Beginning

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

“Yellow is not my favorite color. But now that I know the story of Vincent van Gogh, I have come to value yellow differently. This famous Dutch painter, sadly, tossed away the truth imparted him in his Christian home and sank into depression and destruction. By the grace of God, as he later began to embrace the truth again, his life took on hope, and he gave that hope color.

“The best-kept secret of van Gogh’s life is that the truth he was discovering is seen in the gradual increase of the presence of the color yellow in his paintings. Yellow evoked (for him) the hope and warmth of the truth of God’s love. In one of his depressive periods, seen in his famous The Starry Night, one finds a yellow sun and yellow swirling stars, because van Gogh thought truth was present only in nature. Tragically, the church, which stands tall in this painting and should be the house of truth, is about the only item in the painting showing no traces of yellow. But by the time he painted The Raising of Lazarus, his life was on the mend as he began to face the truth about himself. The entire picture is (blindingly) bathed in yellow. In fact, van Gogh put his own face on Lazarus to express his own hope in the Resurrection.

“Yellow tells the whole story: life can begin all over again because of the truth of God’s love. Each of us, whether with actual yellows or metaphorical yellows, can begin to paint our lives with the fresh hope of a new beginning.” – Scot McKnight, The Jesus Creed, Paraclete Press, 2004

Galen’s Thoughts: One of my very favorite verses in Scripture is in Revelation, where Jesus says, “Behold, I make all things new.”  We like “new”, don’t we?  Whether we’re talking about a car, a new recipe, a new friend, a new home.  We like new things.  In the English the word “new” is deceptive.  The Greeks had 2 different words for new: chronos (new in time) and kairos (new in kind).  In the Revelation passage, Jesus uses “kairos”, as if he’s saying, “I will be making everything new – like nothing you’ve seen before.”  Jesus gives us new beginnings – a beginning like we’ve never had, one with a different outcome than our first “beginning.”  

When will it happen and we obtain the new beginning?  At two different times, actually.  We receive some of it now when we accept Christ, but we receive it in full when the “new world” that Jesus makes come to pass.  It’s when Matthew 25:34 (NIV) becomes a reality: Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

Don’t miss that last phrase: “…the kingdom PREPARED FOR YOU since the creation of the world.”  God’s kingdom is to be our kingdom…it has been prepared for us.  We normally think of the kingdom as being God’s…but as His children, we inherit all things along with Christ. 

Are you ready for the new kingdom?  Are you ready for a new beginning, as Van Gogh found?  Paint your world with hope and joy, for the kingdom awaits you!

Luke 12:31-32 (NLT) – He will give you all you need from day to day if you make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.’”

PRAYER:  How can we get our minds around what You have done for us?  That You should choose to give us the kingdom that rightly belongs to You is incomprehensible.  Thank you for new beginnings, for new worlds and new heavens in which righteousness, and we, will dwell!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/27/18 – Buying an Occupied Field from Prison

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DayBreaks for 6/27/18: Buying an Occupied Field from Prison

From the DayBreaks Archive, June 2008:

The year was 586 B.C. and Jerusalem was being threatened with obliteration.  Eleven years earlier, the Babylonians had sacked the city and led the cream of the crop of the residents away into captivity across 700 miles of scorching desert.  In the intervening years, those left behind in Jerusalem grew restive, then began to plot how they might be able to throw off the yoke of Babylonian rule.  The people believed that if they could only get Egypt to fight with them, then they’d be freed…at least from Babylon.  So, Egypt agreed to help. 

When the Babylonians heard of the plot, they were very angry, and their army again marched against the city.  Egypt turned tail and ran, realizing they would be defeated and had nothing to gain in the looming fight.  Israel stood alone against the full fury of Babylon. 

Jeremiah, the prophet of God, was in prison.  He had been falsely accused of conspiring with the Babylonians and the people of Jerusalem were tired of hearing his preaching about their need of repentance.  One day, while imprisoned, Jeremiah’s cousin, Hanamel, showed up and asked Jeremiah if he’d buy Hanamel’s field that just so happened to be located in Jeremiah’s home town of Anathoth.  Jeremiah didn’t waste one minute – but counted out 17 shekels, had a deed drawn up and set aside for safe keeping.  Oh, and there’s one more thing you should know about this strange deal: at the time, the army of Babylon was camped on the very property that Hanamel was trying selling to his cousin, Jeremiah.  Jeremiah knew that, but bought the land anyway.

As far as we know, Jeremiah never set foot on the land he’d bought, never built upon it, neither planted nor harvested any crop from that land.  Jeremiah, when he bought it, had no idea if he’d ever be a free man again.  So, what possessed him to buy this piece of property?  God told him to, and that was all Jeremiah needed.  Jeremiah knew and understood something that everyone else seemed to have forgotten: God is as good as His word.  And God had said that the Jews would one day buy fields and build houses and raise crops, that those who were exiled would return.  Jeremiah believed those words, and he acted on the hope that beat in his heart.

Why?  Jeremiah, unlike the rest of the people in Jerusalem, had hope.  He wasn’t filled with wishful thinking.  One key difference is that hope results in action while wishful thinking is just that: sitting and thinking.  Jeremiah wanted to participate in the plan of God for His people and by buying the field, he gave wings to his hope – and gave hope to many others who witnessed this strange man acting in a strange way, as if saying, “I know the Babylonians are on the land, I know I’m imprisoned by my own people and I don’t know if I’ll ever be set free, but I know God and I want to be part of His unfolding plan for His people.”

Hope acts.  Hope is infectious.  Hope won’t let us sit still when we see God at work.  How’s your hope?

PRAYER:  God our Father, in a dark age fill our hearts with hope like Jeremiah’s and let us realize that You are at work here, that though the enemy may be camped against Your church, that Your plan will not be defeated for the world, for the church, or for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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 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.

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.