DayBreaks for 5/06/20 – The One Hope

290 Hope Quotes That Will Empower You

DayBreaks for 5/06/20: The One Hope

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2010:

The background: On Easter Sunday 2009, our nation was reeling. The mortgage crisis was in full swing. The roller—coaster nature of Wall Street was making everyone sick to their stomach. Long—trusted financial institutions were being shut down or bought out at an alarming rate. Unemployment rates were skyrocketing. Sensing heavy hearts in his congregation that Easter, John Ortberg, pastor of Menlo Church in Menlo Park, California, and author of a number of best-selling Christian books, offered a powerful reminder about the hope of Easter — a reminder that would serve us well still at this time. Ortberg said:

“I cannot think of an Easter in recent memory where there was a bigger need for hope, for something that would breathe life into the human spirit. A year ago, so many people … felt like they were on pretty solid ground. [Now they] find themselves in circumstances they never would have predicted.

“A lot of people … are feeling anxious. They have pressures … that they did not have [before]. They [regret] decisions they’ve made over this last year. They wonder where things will stand a year from now.

“Nobody ever wants a season of hard times … to come, but when they do, they have a way of making you … ask, What am I really counting on? Am I building my life on a foundation that’s solid enough that circumstances beyond my control cannot take it away? That’s why I’ve been looking forward to Easter … [a time when] we gather to remember the only hope capable of sustaining a human life through everything.

“People have not gathered for the past 2,000 years to say, “The stock market has risen. It has risen indeed.” They have not gathered to say, “The dollar has risen. It has risen indeed.” Or, “the employment rate has risen.” Or, “the gross domestic product has risen.” Or, “General Motors has risen.” Or “the value of your 401(k) has risen.” Here’s the one hope that has held up human beings across every continent and culture for two millennia of difficult times of poverty, disease, pain, hardship, [and] death itself: “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.”  

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, glorified above, hallelujah, for You live forevermore!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2010 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 2/07/20 – Why Don’t We Get Better

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DayBreaks for 2/07/20: Why Don’t We Get Better?

Romans 7:18 – For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right but not the ability to carry it out.

That’s the apostle Paul who said that. Quite a statement coming from him, don’t you think?

Why is it that year after year, decade after decade, most of us struggle with specific sins in our lives? We wrestle them, beg forgiveness and tell God that we’ll try harder to stop sinning in those ways. We weep over them. We may beat our selves as a way to discipline ourselves into obedience. Then, when we finally feel like we’ve achieved a measure of success, well, we blow it again.

I think Steve Brown in A Scandalous Freedom may be on to something when he wrote: “The greatest cause for our not getting better is our obsession with not getting better.” Here’s his reasoning:

“When Paul talks about the abolition of the law in the book of Romans, he gives us a powerful way to get better, because he knew that getting better wasn’t the point. Our relationship with God is the point, and that is the place where we ought to get obsessive. When I am obsessed with being better instead of being consumed with God’s love and grace, I become prideful if I can pull it off and self-centered if I can’t…Holiness hardly ever becomes a reality until we care more about Jesus than about holiness.”

Don’t get Steve wrong – holiness is important and God says we must be holy as he is holy – but where does that holiness come from? From being good? From defeating my sin? No, for we will never be that holy. It comes from receiving Jesus’ holiness as our own through God’s mercy and grace.

If we could become as obsessed about really knowing Jesus’ mercy and grace as we are about our sin problem we will have taken a huge step forward.

PRAYER: Jesus, help us to really know you and not just know about you, and in knowing you understand what it means that we are already clothed in your holiness as we stand before God. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 1/24/20 – Marks of Clarity

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DayBreaks for 1/24/20: Marks of Clarity

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

There are times in my walk with God when things seem very clear.  But then again, there are times when I long for even the slightest inkling of clarity.  At times my relationship with the Lord is so real and palpable that I can’t help but be overwhelmed with the wonder of it all.  But then again, there are times (if I am to be honest with God, you and myself) when it all seems very unreal and like a sham.  And I find myself pondering from time to time: which is real?  Which reflects the real me and my relationship with God?  Am I only fooling myself when I feel so close to Him that I weep? 

William Cowper was a Christian songwriter of years gone by.  He wrote some of the favorite songs of the church, including the hymns O For a Closer Walk with God, God Moves in a Mysterious Way His wonders to Perform, and There Is a Fountain Filled With Blood.  For a period of time, he lived in a house with John Newton, a converted slave-trader and author of Amazing Grace.  It is interesting how little grace Cowper actually experienced.  For long years he feared that he had committed the unpardonable sin and was hounded by false rumors of an illicit affair.  As a result, Cowper suffered a nervous breakdown, tried several times to kill himself, and was kept for some of his life in a straightjacket in an insane asylum for his own protection.  During the last quarter of his life, he avoided church entirely.

He wrote these word: “Where is the blessedness I knew, When first I sought the Lord?  Where is the soul-refreshing dew Of Jesus and His Word?  What peaceful hours I once enjoyed!  How sweet their memory still!  But they have left an aching void The world can never fill.  Return, O Holy Dove, return Sweet messenger of rest!  I hate the sins that made Thee mourn And drove Thee from my breast.”

There are many who might consider Cowper a prime candidate for the title of Christian hypocrite for his struggles, a man who wrote beautifully and convincingly about things he found hard, if not impossible, to put into practice.  I prefer to think of his hymns as being the real marks of clarity in a very troubled life.  He was the one who wrote: “Redeeming love has been my theme, And shall be till I die.”  Perhaps I am naïve, but I see in Cowper’s struggle my own struggles and in his struggling faith, a reflection of my own.

PRAYER: Father, thank You for redeeming love that loves a wretch like me!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 8/28/19 – Like Being Buried Alive

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DayBreaks for 08/28/19: Like Being Buried Alive

NOTE: Galen is on vacation for the next couple weeks and may not respond to any comments until he returns on 9/9/19.

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

Of all my nightmares, perhaps none is as terrifying to me as being buried alive.  That, and falling from a great height are the stuff of sleeplessness for me.  I suspect that many are those who share my fears on both scores.  You could just as easily take the verse that says, “It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the Living God” and shorten them for me to this: “It is a terrible thing to fall!”  Heights, and being buried alive, give me the heebie-jeebies!

I found Mike Mason’s insight in The Gospel According to Job very interesting as he described being a Christian this way: “The lot of God’s children on this earth is something like being buried alive.  First we are raised with Christ and made into entirely new creatures, pure and blameless, washed and redeemed and lifted up to Heaven.  All of this happens by faith – which is to say, not in some imaginary way, but in a way more gloriously real than this present world can bear to behold.  Yet no sooner has this spiritual transaction taken place, no sooner have we been veritably seated with Christ in the heavenly realms, than immediately we are sent down to earth again , just as Jesus was, and entrusted with a mission: As the Father sent me, so I am sending you (Jn. 20:21).  The moment we are born again we are sent right back into the world of sin and death.  In fact, we are set back down into exactly the same circumstances in which we found ourselves before we were saved, and there we are told to take up the work of the Son of God in that situation, however painful it might be.  And this is a lot we are to accept with increasing graciousness.”

Many find the Christian life a disappointment.  Yes, at the moment of conversion, there is a freeing of the soul from the chains of the grave and death.  Yes, there is joy at that moment.  But if the motive for becoming a Christian is to simply escape the tough things of this world, well, we’ll be sadly mistaken.  After becoming a Christian, for however many years we sojourn here as God’s kids, it is like being buried alive.  We know that somewhere “out there” is light, fresh air, beauty – but in the meantime we may only be able to see darkness and the air is foul and filled with a stench that comes from a rotting humanity still embroiled in sin.  And all the while, the devil sits and grins.  He grins when we despair that this Christian life doesn’t bring immediate and lasting release from struggles – and that we get discouraged. 

I’m not able to choose the circumstances in life where God has placed me to do His work.  That’s His prerogative as God to choose those things for me.  But I can and do have a responsibility for how I react to those circumstances.  Yes, remaining in this world is a bit like being buried alive – but I don’t have to worry.  The day is coming when all who are in the grave will hear His voice…and His children will rise.  And the being buried alive will be over – and it will have seemed as nothing compared to even the first nanosecond spent in His literal Presence!

PRAYER:  Give us the grace to pass the years of our wandering with grace as we endure a temporary world with temporary troubles!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/09/19 – The Psalm of Darkness

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DayBreaks for 08/09/19: The Psalm of Darkness

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

O LORD, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry. For my soul is full of trouble and my life draws near the grave. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like a man without strength. I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more, who are cut off from your care. You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. Your wrath lies heavily upon me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves. Selah You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them. I am confined and cannot escape; my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, O LORD, every day; I spread out my hands to you.  Do you show your wonders to the dead? Do those who are dead rise up and praise you? Selah Is your love declared in the grave, your faithfulness in Destruction? Are your wonders known in the place of darkness, or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?  But I cry to you for help, O LORD; in the morning my prayer comes before you. Why, O LORD, do you reject me and hide your face from me? From my youth I have been afflicted and close to death; I have suffered your terrors and am in despair. Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me. All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me. You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend. – Psalms 88:1-18 (NIV)

This may be the darkest passage in Scripture.  Before we write it off as being guilty of spiritual hyperbole, we need ask ourselves: “Haven’t I felt that way at one time or another?”  Aren’t there times in your past where you have cried out to God, feeling that you were in the “pit”, that you were “cut off” from His care and even His vision?  I don’t know anyone who hasn’t, at some point or another, suffered from those feelings. I think we need to accept this Psalm as being direct from an honest, anguished heart – a prayer with a sharp tip that is pointed upward to God.

Why would God choose to include such a passage in His Word?  It might discourage people from becoming believers, right?  Imagine if all believers all of a sudden were possessed by a dark spirit such as filled David’s heart.  Do you think anyone would find Christianity attractive?  It might even discourage some believers from continuing in their faith.  If David was a man after God’s own heart and he felt this way, what hope is there that my relationship with God would be a more fulfilling one, or one even as “good” as David’s when he’s expressing himself this way?

In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason offers one suggestion: “…there can be a strange comfort in the reading of this psalm in times of trouble.  It is good to be reminded that such a black outpouring really is Scriptural, that prayer need not be upbeat and optimistic.  The true believer does not always rise from his knees full of encouragement and fresh hope.  There are times when one may remain down in the dumps and yet still have prayed well.  For what God wants from us is not the observance of religious protocol, but just that we be real with Him.  What He wants is our hearts.

The effectiveness of our prayers and prayer life should never be judged by how it makes us feel, or how well we feel we prayed.  It should be judged by honesty.  God wants the real you and I – whether we are up or down, filled with hope or bitterly discouraged. 

PRAYER:  Lord, I know that at times I have prayed with the hidden motive of trying to manipulate You.  I know I have not always been honest in my talking with You.  Father, I want to give you my heart regardless of its condition, to be real and genuine with You and before You.  Help me to be real.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/11/19 -The King is Listening

DayBreaks for 6/11/19: The King is Listening

In a far country lived a band of minstrels who traveled from town to town presenting music to make a living. They had not been doing well. Times were hard; there was little money for common folk to come to hear the minstrels, even though their fee was small. Attendance had been falling off, so one evening the group met to discuss their plight. ‘I see no reason for opening tonight,’ one said. ‘To make things even worse than they may have been, it is starting to snow. Who will venture out on a night like this?’ ‘I agree,’ another disheartened singer said. ‘Last night we performed for just a handful. Fewer will come tonight. Why not give back their meager fees and cancel the concert? No one can expect us to go on when just a few are in the audience.’ ‘How can anyone do his best for so few?’ a third inquired. Then he turned to another sitting beside him. ‘What do you think?’ The man appealed to was older than the others. He looked straight at his troupe. ‘I know you are discouraged. I am, too. But we have a responsibility to those who might come. We will go on. And we will do the best job of which we are capable. It is not the fault of those who come that others do not. They should not be punished with less than the best we can give.’ Heartened by his words, the minstrels went ahead with their show. They never performed better. When the show was over and the small audience gone, the old man called his troupe to him. In his hand was a note, handed to him by one of the audience just before the doors closed behind him. ‘Listen to this, my friends!’ Something electrifying in his tone of voice made them turn to him in anticipation. Slowly the old man read: ‘Thank you for a beautiful performance.’ It was signed very simply–‘Your King.’

Your King hears every song and cry of your heart – he never misses a word.

PRAYER: Thank you for how closely you pay attention to us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/01/18 – Easter Reminds Me…

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DayBreaks for 4/01/18: Easter Reminds Me…

I am always loathe to leave Easter in the rear view mirror. I think that maybe the new year should start on Easter rather than January 1 because of all the Easter speaks to me. I suspect that I am not the only one who needs Easter reminders.

I struggle with a mother who no longer recognizes me but says that I remind her of her son. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle with a body that is aging and clearly on the decline. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle to make sense of a world that seems to have lost all sense of balance, where people from one religion cut the heads off believers of another faith. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle to understand why people are abused and belittled and subjected to so much injustice. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle to understand why little children get cancer and die, tearing the hearts out of their parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle to understand why some people never seem to find someone who will love and cherish them as beings made in the very image of God. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle to understand why two people who promised to love each other until death parts them decide to forsake those vows. Easter reminds me that it wont’ be this way forever.

I struggle with not being able to see my father any more. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle to make sense of the brutality of war and the death wrought by natural disasters. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle when I think of those without enough food who die of starvation and disease. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle to be fully and completely freed from my guilt and sin and the effects of the fall in this world. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I rebel at the thought of saying goodbye to those that I love, to walk into the Lord’s presence but to leave them behind. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I long for all things to be made new and for the fallen to pass. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I cannot see His face, except through a thick curtain of faith. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

PRAYER: God, thank you that for all the struggles and trials and pains of this life, that it will not be this way forever because of the resurrection! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/27/16 – The Shadow and the Sun

DayBreaks for 9/27/17: The Shadow and the Sun

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

I sit here in the office that is our kitchen, I look out through a window over the world famous Alexander Valley.  World famous, you say?  Yes, any oenophile knows about it.  (In case you’re not familiar with the term, “oenophile” means “wine lover”.)  It is here in the rich soil of Sonoma County, that some of the world’s finest wines are grown.  Much of the wine that comes from grapes here, I’m told, is never sold in the United States, but is exported to other countries – like France and Italy. 

We live on a hillside overlooking part of the valley.  Today is one of those kind of days that I love: the sky is mostly blue, but there are puffy marshmallow clouds drifting in from the sea, taking a somewhat southerly bent as they cross the valley.  I look out and can watch their shadows move languidly across the green vineyards and through the forests.  It is a beautiful sight to see and it brings a calmness to my soul, which is often times troubled.

Where we live there are people who love the heat of the summer.  I’m not one of them.  Fall is my favorite time – the air cools down and imparts an energy to my body that makes me want to shout for the joy of being alive!  In the summer, we have virtually no clouds.  It doesn’t rain here in the summertime.  At best, we may get a morning fog blanket from the Pacific coast that is just a few miles over that-a-way as the crow flies.  But then the fog burns off and the heat of the sun’s rays make the grapes grow and get fat and rich with juice.

I prefer cloudy days.  Not totally cloudy, but the drifty-dreamy days of fall before the heavy rains come to quench the thirst of the parched earth. 

The shadows – the darkness.  Both are metaphors used in Scripture to describe difficulties, evil, sin, times that are not good and that bode ill for the future.  On the other hand, the sun and light are used as symbols of good and of life.  Life is filled with a mix of shadows and sun, good and hard, peacefulness and turmoil.  It seems as if some live in places in their souls where there is only shadow, or at the most, very little sunshine.  And it can lead to despair and depression when all you can see is the shadows. 

I like what Jonathan Foreman said: “The shadow proves the sunshine.”  If there is a shadow, there must be a source of light.  Otherwise, there can be no shadow. 

In the middle of our lives, on the days when the shadows are deep and long, remember this: if you can see the shadow, there is a Light!

John 8:12 (NIV) When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

PRAYER:  Father, when life’s shadows are long and our hearts are filled with despairing darkness, help us to remember that You cannot be far away or there would be no shadow!  Help us to persevere through the clouds of this day until we see the morning Light!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 6/23/16 – How Ships Float – and Faith

DayBreaks for 6/23/16 – How Ships Float and Faith

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2006:

I recently spent some time talking and praying with a fellow pastor whose wife has been diagnosed with cancer.  They still haven’t settled on what the course of her treatment will be, and everyone is remaining hopeful that God will work a healing in her life, one way or the other.

As I sat talking with my friend, we got around to pondering the imponderables of life.  Although we are both people of faith, as is his wife, the questions still come about what purpose God has in this and why such things happen.  Sure, we both know the theological arguments for it, but when something hits that close to home, you do rethink things.

He shared with me an illustration that he’d read just recently about Romans 8:28 – you know, the verse we’re so fond of quoting about how “All things work together for good for those who love the Lord…”.  Here’s the illustration: if you were to take any of the individual parts of a huge ocean liner and throw them into the water, they would sink like the proverbial stone.  They just can’t float by themselves.  But when all the parts are organized and put into the right place and attached together in one finished product, the entire ship floats perfectly.  It is much more successful at floating than just the sum of its parts or than any one of its parts.  Why?  The key is in the verse from Romans 8:28: All things work TOGETHER…for good…”  Do you see?  Individually, any one part may not work at all, we would look at it and say “That can’t float!”  But somehow, when it works together with the rest of the parts, they ALL float magnificently.

And so it is with the things that happen to us in life.  I can’t explain how it works.  I can’t tell my friend why God has brought this trial into their life – but I can say that somehow, God takes all the individual pieces of our lives that would sink like a rock, puts them together in an intricate weaving of life, and he sees to it that in the end, it all WORKS TOGETHER for the best.

As you look at individual happenings in your life (like the striking of cancer, heart disease, losing a job, etc.) they look like nothing less than an unmitigated disaster of cosmic proportions.  But God sees all those things put together, working together, to make us something special that DOES work.  So, when you look at something that happens in your life that appears disastrous, remember that God is still working to fit it into the overall design that He has in mind for you, and that His design will do more than float…it will fly! 

PRAYER:  Lord, Your ways are so far beyond our understanding that we can only bow before you, knees knocking, and do our best to trust and believe that somehow, in a way that none of us can begin to fathom, You’re putting our life together perfectly.  May we rest in this certainty as we face the challenges and disappointments of life today and always.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/21/16: Holy Land Lessons – The Dangerous Desire for Ease

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Photo from the area of Dan of the worship complex. The metal stand in the center represents the believed location and size of the altar (significantly taller than a man). Photo by Galen Dalrymple, Golan Heights in Israel, January, 2016.

DayBreaks for 1/21/16: Holy Land Lessons: The Dangerous Desire for Ease

When the children of Israel entered the Promised Land, each tribe was assigned a certain “inheritance” in the land where they were to live. The tribe of Dan was assigned a territory along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, land held by the Phoenicians.

As it turns out, the Danites had a very difficult time with the Phoenicians. They proved to be a very touch adversary, and over time, the people of Dan grew tired of the difficulties they encountered in battling the Phoenicians and moved to a different part of the country where life would be easier.

But, there were problems with this. Dan was supposed to take the land they’d been assigned…but they failed. That wasn’t the biggest problem, though. The place that they moved may have been easier in terms of not having to fight to possess the land, but they moved right into the valley that was the heart of Baal worship. The physical struggle was less, but the spiritual battle was more difficult!

We often may complain about how difficult things are in our lives and we may seek relief from the struggles and difficulties. We actively seek out ease thinking that it is better for us and we envision how great life will be when things get easier.

There are many problems that come from a life of ease:

FIRST: when things are easy, we take things for granted and stop giving thanks or praying.

SECOND: ease causes muscles (physical and spiritual) to grow weak and flabby.

THIRD: when things are going our way, we tend to get prideful and give ourselves the credit for how we worked hard to get to that point of success and forget that it is God that gives success.

FOURTH: throughout Scripture, it was the poor who struggle who are more attuned to spiritual things because they realize that their hope lies not in a life of ease in this world, but of blessedness in the world to come.

I like ease. I’d rather sit in my La-Z-Boy than go to the gym. I’d rather not struggle. But I also realize it isn’t necessarily good for my heart – either physically or spiritually. There is growth in the struggle and it drives us to our knees in recognition of our need for God’s intervention. The people of Dan didn’t grasp that apparently. They became reviled among Israel because of their actions.

Don’t seek a life of ease. Be content with the life God has given you and the circumstances in which you find yourself. The struggle will make you stronger if  you let it.

Luke 12:19-21 (KJV) – And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

TODAY’S PRAYER: Help us not to seek a life of ease, but of service and faithfulness! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.