DayBreaks for 6/20/18 – Was James Crazy?

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DayBreaks for 6/20/18: Was James Crazy?

In James 1:2-4, James wrote, Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Did you catch what James is suggesting?  “Consider it all joy”?  I mean, how many of us really wake up in the morning and say, “God, please send me trials today that I can be joyful!”  You’re much more likely to think: “James, you’re a nut.  Give me a break.  Every0one knows that trials are things to be avoided, not embraced!” 

Did James mean what he wrote?  Yes, I believe he meant EXACTLY what he said.  Pay close attention to his words or we’ll misunderstand what he’s trying to teach us.  He did not say: “Consider yourself lucky when trials rain down on your life a cloudburst.”  What he did say was this: “Consider it all joy.”  There is a difference between happiness and joy.

Larry Crabb perceptively wrote in his book, Shattered Dreams, “People who insist on happiness never find joy.”  We have a tendency to think that happiness and joy are the same thing.  They are not.  Happiness results when things we like and enjoy come to pass, but it is transient – it comes and goes.  Joy, however, is not something the comes and goes with the changing of circumstances.  Joy is a calmness that runs beneath life’s storms, it is a delight that settles the heart and gives the soul an anchor that holds fast in the midst of the greatest storms of life. 

May you experience both joy and happiness…but don’t confuse the two.  And if you can have only one – choose the joy that can rule in your heart even in the midst of various trials!

PRAYER: We thank You, God, for joy.  We thank you that in the midst of trials, we can have joy even though happiness seems far away.  May we have that joy knowing that in our trials, you are perfecting us and completing us as You please.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 5/14/18 – Robbed of Joy

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DayBreaks for 5/14/18: Robbed of Joy

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008

There was once a man who had lived a long time.  Someone once asked him what it was that had robbed the most joy from his life.  The old man never hesitated, but answered simply, “Things that never happened!”

How much of my life have I spent worrying about things that might happen but which never did?  I can become frozen with fear and not let my children play in the front yard.  I can refuse to leave my house for fear of being in a traffic accident on my way to work.  I can never shake someone’s hand or hug someone or give anyone a kiss for fear of disease.  I can stop drinking water or eating food because it might be poisoned!  We all would tend to say that doing those things would be silly, yet we worry about many things.  Jesus knew someone like that and her name was Martha: “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Lk. 10:41-42).  What had Mary chosen? Jesus!

Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow because tomorrow will take care of itself.  We need to be focused on where we are right now in this day that God has made (Matt. 6:34).   The apostle Paul also counsels us to: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7).  Paul doesn’t say that we shouldn’t care about things – just that we not be anxious about them.  How do we do that?  We take everything to God as a request – and then we leave it there, with Him.  The result: His peace will guard and protect our hearts and minds.

Here’s three keys to happiness that you may find helpful in your walk with Him today (and tomorrow!!!):

Fret not – for He loves you, John 15:9: As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love”  He loves you now and forever!

Faint not – for He holds you, Psalm 139:10: …even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  No one can snatch you from his hand!

Fear not – for He keeps you, Psalm 121:5: The LORD watches over you– the LORD is your shade at your right hand…  He will not slumber nor sleep, but always watch over you!

Don’t let things that you only imagine in your mind rob you of your joy in Christ!  It is that very joy that may draw your neighbors to Him through you!

PRAYER: Fill our minds with the joys of your promises and the certainty of your goodness so we don’t worry about things we shouldn’t. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/24/17 – The Shout of Victory!

DayBreaks for 5/24/17: The Shout of Victory

John 19:30 (NIV) – When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

The final words of Jesus from the cross have often been misconstrued.  Some movies have pictured Christ, with uplifted eyes, croaking out softly, resignedly, “It is finished” and then bowing his head and dying.  I don’t believe that is an accurate picture at all, and here’s why: when we compare the four gospels we find a very interesting thing. The other three do not tell us that Jesus said, “It is finished.” But what they do tell us that he died with a great shout upon his lips.  John doesn’t speak of a great shout, but instead tells us that Jesus’ very last words were, “It is finished.”  We can safely conclude that the great shout and the words “It is finished,” are one and the same thing.  In Greek, “It is finished” is one word — tetelestai — and that’s what Jesus shouted.  It was no meek or resignedly defeated word that he spoke.  He didn’t say, “It is finished,” in weary defeat; he shouted it out just like a person shouts for joy because the victory is won!  He seemed to be broken on the Cross, but he was NOT!  He was victorious on the cross!
Just in case you think I might be wrong, there’s another strong clue that makes this concept even more certain.  John says that Jesus bowed his head and gave up his spirit. The word that John uses is the word that was often used to describe someone setting their head back upon a pillow and entering into rest.  For Jesus the strife was over and the battle was won; and even on the Cross he knew the joy of victory and the well-deserved rest of one who has completed his task and can lean back, content and at peace.

What a wonderful picture – not of a quiet, broken Jesus on the cross, but of one who knows that it is finished, that it has been finished well, that it will never have to be repeated again.  The price for my sin has ALL been paid!

Do you believe that? That everything that it took for you to be saved and forgiven is finished? That there’s nothing more that you can add to make it more sure? That there’s nothing more that God needs to do for it to be true? That you, too, can rest your head knowing that it is all finished? Maybe the next time we get discouraged in our walk and relationship with Jesus, we would do well to shout out, “It is finished!”

PRAYER:  Will we ever really grasp the victory that was won on Your cross, Lord?  We hang our heads in shame that you had to pay such a price for us, yet we lift our eyes to you in gratitude and wonder for your love.  May we echo your words, “It is finished!” regarding our sinfulness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 4/16/17 – Easter Sunday

DayBreaks for 4/16/17: Easter Sunday

From the Holy Week devotional guide from our church:

“Running. We run for a lot of reasons…for health and exercise, for sport and leisure, for a race or competition of some kind…but sometimes we run because we’re compelled to do so. Perhaps a dog in the neighborhood starts chasing you, suddenly running isn’t so much a choice, but an instinct. Or maybe you’re a parent and you’ve experienced the feeling of instinctively running to the aid of a hurt child. In moments like those you don’t stop and consider, ‘Should I run or walk?’ You simply run. You run out of concern, you run out of fear, or perhaps more descriptively, you run out of desperation.

“This was the kind of running Mary Magdalene and the disciples were doing on that glorious Sunday morning; although, at first it wasn’t glorious to them. There was confusion. Can you imagine the questions going through their heads as they ran? ‘Did they take his body? Is this some sort of cruel trick? Could it be that he actually resurrected from the dead?’

“Spiritually speaking, we run to a lot of things, for a lot of reasons. We run to  human relationships to give us the love and security that we can ultimately only get from Christ. We run to entertainment and electronic devices to give us the rest and escape that only Christ can give as our true rest and refuge. We run to money and our job performance to give us a reputation and comfort that will never be enough.

“We’re all runners. But are we running to Jesus, the very one for whom we were created…the very one by whom we are saved?

“Most often we won’t run to Him until we recognize our ongoing desperate need for Him. We run out of desperation to Him as we recognize that He doesn’t just give truthful answers, He is truth. We run out of desperation to Him as we realize that He doesn’t just point the way, He is the Way. We run out of desperation to Him as we realize that He doesn’t just give life, He is life (Jn. 14:6)

“He is life because He defeated death. Our wildest dreams have indeed come true! Run to Him!” – Jeff Norris, director of young adults and families, Perimeter church

PRAYER: Jesus, you are the way, the truth and the life. Give me strength to run to You and to forsake the other things I run to instead of you; the things that will never love me like you do. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/14/17 – Ho-Hum, It’s Easter Week

DayBreaks for 4/14/17: Ho-Hum, It’s Easter Week

From the Holy Week devotional guide from our church:

“On occasion, I will record a sporting event of a team I’m cheering for. If they win the contest, then I can watch and enjoy, even when it seems the other team is winning or making ground. I can relax because I know the outcome. Now, I must say that as much as I like being able to relax while I watch it, it’s just not as exhilarating when my team wins.

“For me, Easter can sometimes be like that. I know the outcome of what happens, but honestly it can be sort of ho-hum. At times, there’s not much joy or exhilaration for me, even though it certainly is the most important day of the year for Christians. I believe I lack an appreciation of what it took to get there.

“At that time when our Lord was crucified, the disciples didn’t know what would happen a few days later. They had been told but maybe they were in such shock or it didn’t register. That day was a horrific day for our Lord and it was certainly quite difficult for His disciples. It truly was a dark day. Then, Sunday came. Can you imagine the joy; even the exhilaration when they saw their Lord had risen? Just think of the emotional swing they must have gone through.

“For us, our exhilaration may not necessarily come from knowing Jesus rose from the dead, but may come from knowing why He rose from the dead. Our exhilaration may come from knowing that day (we remember it as Good Friday) is when our Lord suffered and died for our sins, and ironically our exhilaration eventually starts from seeing our darkness, as those who are no different than those who mocked Him, spat upon Him, and rejected Him as King. Our darkness is our sin and our penalty He takes upon himself, by dying on the cross. John Stott, pastor and theologian, said ‘Until you see the cross as that which is done by you, you will never appreciate that it is done for you.’ Yes, it is our pride, our greed, our lust, our anger, our hate and our many other sins that put Him there.

“On this Good Friday, ask God to help you see what you did to put our Lord on the cross and then thank Him. He paid the penalty you deserved. Reflect on it. Meditate on it.

“My prayer for you and me is that this Sunday will truly not be so ho-hum. May there be joy! May there be exhilaration! There can be. He died for you!” – Bob Carter, staff chaplain, Perimeter church

PRAYER: Lord, I acknowledge that I am responsible for Your death on the cross. Lord, I accept that your death on the cross was for me. Thank you for paying a penalty I could never pay. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/13/16 – The Feast Will be Eaten

DayBreaks for 12/13/16: The Feast Will be Eaten

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

It is Christmas season!  Do you feel any of the excitement yet?  I do!  I don’t usually get excited about Christmas until much closer to the holidays (this is a busy time of the year for pastors, after all!), but for some reason, the joy of Christmas has gotten to me early!  I’m not sure why, but I suspect that some of it may be because of a book I just recently finished reading (you’ll hear more about that in the future!) that has awakened me much more to the Presence of Christ – not just at Christmas – but at all times in my life as a believer.  Still, I could choose to be a bah-humbug about it all if I wished to do so.  But that’s not the choice I’ve decided to make. 

Choices are so critical in all aspects of our life.  Some are choices about what to do, and those are the kind that we think of the most: where to live, what to do for a living, what to eat for dinner, what to wear.  It would probably be astounding to know how many decisions a day that we make.  Most of them are insignificant, but there are some doozies every now and then, too. 

But the choices that perhaps have a lot more to do with what and who we are very seldom are about things that we do, but about how we choose to see and respond to life.  We seldom consider that we can choose to be grateful or complainers, grumpy or joy-filled, loving or bitter.  N. T. Wright, in Evil and the Justice of God, wrote: “Indeed, throughout the new Testament we are constantly warned that the choices we make in this life, especially the choices about what sort of person we might become, are real and have lasting consequences which God himself will honor.  But we do not have the choice to sulk in such a way as to prevent God’s party going ahead without us.  We have the right, like the older brother, to sit it out; God has the right to come and reason with us; but the fatted calf is going to be eaten whether we join in or not.”

You can choose your attitude and how you respond to both the good and bad of life.  Much of it has to do with your confidence and trust in God and whether or not you believe He knows what He’s doing in, through and with your life.  You KNOW that God wants you to be filled with the joy of being His child, and He wants you to be infectious with that joy and love.  What will you choose?  Will you join in the party, or will you sit by yourself, bitter and disgruntled?  God’s feast is prepared, the door is open, the music is playing.  Are you read to join in the celebration?

PRAYER:  How Your joy fills us, Lord!  Make our hearts thankful, joyful, loving and excited to be Your children.  Give us Your Spirit of love and peace so that we can share it with others and begin, here and now, to celebrate the feast of life that we have in You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/8/16 – Taking the Joy Out of Christmas?

DayBreaks for 12/08/16: Taking the Joy Out of Christmas?

John the Baptist was born just shortly before Jesus, so I’m sure that he never preached a Christmas sermon in his life. But he did do a lot of preaching. His preaching wasn’t the warm, fuzzy, feel-good gospel. In fact, John couldn’t have had a very good grasp on the gospel itself until Jesus began to proclaim it – no one could have. Glimmers at best, flashes of what was coming, I’m sure, but not really any fine detail. And John’s message was one of repenting. His role was to prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah, much like preachers try to do at Christmas time nowadays.

If John felt that the best way to prepare people for the arrival of the Messiah was to talk about repentance, perhaps we should learn that we, too, should prepare for Christmas by repenting. Repenting in the Biblical sense is more than having a change of heart or a feeling of regret. It is more than a New Year’s Eve resolution. Repentance is a turning away and a turning back. A turning away from sin and a turning back to God.

Not quite a year ago, I stood in Bethlehem shortly after Christams and we saw what is known as Shepherd’s Field. Some time ago, bishop Joe Pennel of the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church, attended a Christmas worship service at Shepherd’s Field. As he heard the songs of the season, he thought to himself and later wrote: I did not look to God and say: See how virtuous I am. I did not utter: God, pat me on the back for all of the good things I have done. I did not pretend by saying: God, look at all of my accomplishments, aren’t you proud of me? Indeed, I found myself asking God to forgive me of my sins. That is how it works. The more we turn away from Christ the more enslaved we become to the power of sin. The more we turn to Christ, the more free we become from the bondage of sin. Turning toward Christ enables us to repent.

Someone once said half jokingly: If we are not careful, John the Baptist can take all of the fun out of Christmas. On the contrary, I think that it is John’s message that puts the joy into Christmas. For it is his message that calls us not to the way that Christmas is, but that the way Christmas ought to be. Christmas ought to be free from guilt and self-absorption. For that to occur there must be repentance. And then we are open to the good news that follows!

PRAYER: Jesus, as we draw near to the celebration of your birth, may we repent so that we are prepared to receive the joyous, good news that You bring to earth! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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