DayBreaks for 1/28/19 – Neon Promises

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DayBreaks for 01/28/2019: Neon Promises

Have you ever really noticed how many neon signs there are in your town? Have you paid attention to what they claim and what they try to sell you?

I recently was listening to an old rock song by Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band called Fire Inside. It contains these lyrics:

There’s a hard moon risin’ on the streets tonight

There’s a reckless feeling in your heart as you head out tonight,

Through the concrete canyons to the midtown light

Where the latest neon promises are burning bright…

I had never paid close attention to the lyrics before, but for some reason, the concept of neon promises struck a chord in my thoughts and spurred this DayBreaks. If you’ve been to any big (and sometimes small cities), you’ve probably seen neon signs promoting things like these: “All you can eat! $5.95!”  “Girls! Girls! Girls!” “Paradise!” “Fresh pies!” “B-B-Q!” “Cocktails and Dreams!” “Beer on tap – happy hour – $1!”

Satan is no idiot. He knows how attracted we are to beautiful, shiny, colorful and bright things. And he knows how those things draw us with promises of dreams about to be realized, hopes fulfilled, pleasures and freedom to do as your heart pleases without consequence or regret.

But, in reality, all they are is empty neon promises. They shine bright for a while but they are empty, filled with nothing more than the hot gasses contained in glowing glass tubes.

I thought about how the promises of God offer things so different than neon promises: “I will never leave you or forsake you.”  “I will remember your sins no more.” “I have come that you may have life and life overflowing.” “Come to me and I will give you rest.”

Does the different between those promises strike you as much as it does me? God’s promises relate to the deepest desires of my heart and soul rather than simply the desires of the flesh. Even if you eat all the food you want for $5.95, you’ll be hungry again tomorrow, but Jesus gives us the bread that makes it so that our souls will never again hunger.

I’ve had enough of neon promises that can’t fulfill. I hope you have, too, and that we will all recognize them for what they are: just tubes filled with glowing gas.

PRAYER: Father, than you for your promises which are real, deep and eternal. Keep us from falling prey to the neon promises of this world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 11/27/17 – An Unpredictable Future?

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DayBreaks for 11/27/17: An Unpredictable Future?

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

How would you describe the future?  You might describe certain things that you want or hope to have happen in the future, but my guess is that at some point you’d couch your description in terms like, “If I could, I would…”.  I am always amazed at how many of the supermarket tabloids have covers that relate to some prediction of the future by people like Nostradamus, or some modern-day “psychic”.  There is something in us that would like (we think) to be able to predict or know what the future holds.  I think that we’re actually far better off not knowing myself.

When I speak of an unpredictable future, I am not talking about one that is unstable…just one that can’t be very well predicted by human experience.  As humans, we just don’t have the requisite knowledge or skill to be able to predict with any degree of certainty what will take place.  And that’s especially true because to some extent, our “possible” futures are based on our past and present experiences.  But what happens when something totally out of the realm of human experience intervenes?

In his book, Theology of Hope, Jurgen Moltmann mused on the topic of the future and what God’s promises mean related to the future: “A promise is a declaration which announces the coming of a reality that does not yet exist.  Thus promise sets man’s heart on a future history in which the fulfilling of the promise is to be expected.  If it is a case of a divine promise, then that indicates that the expected future does not have to develop within the framework of the possibilities inherent in the present, but arises from that which is possible to the God of the promise.  This can also be something which by the standard of present experience appears impossible.”

The future towards which we move cannot be predicted by any human, no matter how wise he or she may be.  It takes One who is not only all-wise, but all-powerful, to control the events so that the future finds it’s fulfillment for which it was planned.  Certainly, in Genesis when God makes his initial promises to humanity, he was declaring a reality that, at least in time, did not yet exist.  The future is not dependent on the experiences of your life, or of all our lives put together.  It is dependent only on the God who made and formed the promise and who shapes the future to His liking. 

What does the future hold?  I can’t predict it…but that doesn’t mean it isn’t predictable.  With God, all things are possible.  We think of Him interacting with the world as we know and experience it, but that is at least limited, if not false, theology. 

You don’t need to consult actuarial tables to know what the future holds.  They can’t tell you.  God can.  And He does tell us another thing about the future: we don’t have to worry about it because it’s in His perfectly capable hands!

PRAYER:  Thank you, Lord God Almighty, that you hold not only the future of the universe and the world but of each and every one of us who have put our trust in Christ, in your hands.  May we sleep well tonight knowing You are in control!   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/15/15 – Will I Ever Win the Lottery?

DayBreaks for 10/15/05: Will I Ever Win the Lottery?  

Today after working out in the gym, I stopped in the convenience store to get a couple diet Dr. Pepper’s. As I was entering the store, there was a neon sign that showed the value of the lottery for tonight. I think it was something like $80 million dollars. That’s not chump change!

Well, let me tell you right know that I know I will never win the lottery. They tell me that you have to play in order to win, and I refuse to fork over hard earned money to try to win something when I’ve got a far better chance of being struck by lightning than winning the lottery!

In fact, I’m the kind of person who never wins anything. I’m not lucky that way, I guess. And I’m skeptical of even trying to win because I know the odds are stacked against me.

If you’re like me, you may sometimes feel like you’re not even going to make it to heaven. If I stop and think about it, if I start dwelling on my failures and faults (which are many!), I can start to question whether I’ll get “there.” It is a very uncomfortable feeling, isn’t it?

That’s why I so love and desperately cling to these verses: And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day. – John 6:39-40

I think perhaps Jesus made that statement just for my benefit.

Several things are noteworthy: first, Jesus says that this is God’s will, not just something that God hopes will happen. And God has a way of ultimately getting His will! Second, Jesus says he will “not lose even one”. Have you ever been overlooked? Forgotten? Left out when it came right down to the choosing? My fears of being left out when I stand before the throne of God are pointless, according to Jesus. I will not be forgotten, I will not be left out, I will not be rejected!

Will I win the lottery some day? No. But then I’ve already won something of far greater value!

PRAYER: Jesus, forgive me when I doubt. Forgive me when I think that your blood isn’t sufficient to cover even my sins. Thank you for the incredible comfort that comes from knowing you will forget and lose no one on that day that the Father has put into your hands – including me! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2015 Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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.

 To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 11/02/11 – The Groom’s Promises

DayBreaks for 11/02/11 – The Groom’s Promises

In the Old Testament, Israel is pictured as God’s bride, his precious, beautiful delight.  In the New Testament, that imagery is appropriated for the church, his spotless bride.  It is a delightful image – that of God being “married” to his people.  It is an image that gives us joy and security and it makes us feel cozy and warm.  And it should.

But something horrible happened with Israel.  Israel was unfaithful to her vows to God.  And something terrible has happened with us, too.  We, too, have often been unfaithful to our Lord.

In Not a Fan, Kyle Idleman gave this very touching, and painful, example: suppose you go to your best friend’s wedding and he gives the most beautiful, heartfelt vows to his wife, words from deep in his heart, promising her that he will forsake all other loves until death rips them asunder.  You can tell that he is deeply moved by his vows because he struggles to get the words out in between the catches in his breath and the tears running down his face.  She, likewise, gives her vows back to him and they are pronounced husband and wife.

Then, suppose you learn later they went off on their honeymoon and while they were on their trip, the groom met a girl on the beach and was unfaithful to his wife.  As soon as you hear it, you know that the words he spoke really had no value, no worth.  You’d rightly conclude that the words that were emotionally expressed in public meant little because they weren’t backed up with faithful commitment and action.

Even though there shouldn’t be, there is a big difference between believing in Jesus and making a commitment to follow him.  Jesus has never been satisfied with just words of belief (even the demons speak those words!) – he’s watching to see if those words are lived out in your life.

We think of belief as simply accepting that something is true.  But biblical belief doesn’t stop there – it always includes a commitment to follow.  Think about it: following by definition is more than mental assent – it requires movement.  We stress belief in churches, but not discipleship, not following.  If you read the gospels and count it up, you’ll find that Jesus says “believe in me” about 5 times.  But do you know how many times he invited people to “follow me”?  It’s about 20 times.

Are you walking in his footsteps?  Have you cheapened your vows to the Lord?  I don’t know if there is a deeper pain than the loss of a child, but the pain of infidelity must be right up there.  And when we wander from our vows to let him be the Lord of our hearts and to love and follow him forever – he knows that kind of pain.

PRAYER: Father, I’m broken-hearted to have caused you such pain.  Forgive us when we break our vows, create new and pure hearts within us that love you and you alone, until life unites us for all eternity!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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