DayBreaks for 6/15/21 – Lessons in Human Nature #3

NOTE: Galen is out of the office until 6/28 so we’re featuring DayBreaks from the past.

Mt. 28:9-10 – And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.”

Today’s text describes Jesus meeting Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” in garden after his resurrection.  How I would have loved to be there to witness the scene, to see the tenderness and joy of the dawning realization that Jesus was no longer dead, but alive!

Jesus was in the city (or just outside of it), and the “my brothers” (the apostles-to-be) were in hiding somewhere in the city.  They were terrified for their own skin ever since the crucifixion.  Jesus was eager to meet with them, to let them see him – alive-forever-more, vibrant with eternal life.  So why not just go into Jerusalem and meet them right then?

Certainly it wasn’t because Jesus was afraid of running into the Romans or the priests and religious leaders who had crucified him.  Jesus wasn’t afraid of them to start with, and now, risen in glory and imbued with all power from the Father, he certainly had nothing to fear from anyone or anything. 

So, why the instruction to go to Galilee?  It was a long, perilous journey on foot or donkey.  Perhaps it’s because if we want to see Jesus, we need to make some effort.  We need to go where He can be found rather than waiting for Him to come to us.

Does Jesus come to us?  Yes.  Must we come to Him?  Yes.  We usually want to meet Jesus on our terms, on ground of our choosing, at times of our choosing.  However, Jesus, not us, is LORD.  He is the one who chooses the times and seasons no matter how much we might want to think otherwise. 

Are you ready to follow his instructions, even when it seems there is a simpler, easier way?  It could be that he is just wanting you to know whether you are truly a follower, one who will go great distances, to be with Him.

PRAYER: Jesus, I know that many times I want you to come to me on my terms, in my timing.  I want the simplest way possible, I want to resist the long, arduous and dangerous journey and I’d rather sit in my recliner and wait for you to come to me.  Re-mold my heart to undertake any journey you lay in front of me!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple, all rights reserved. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/14/21 – Lessons in Human Nature #2

NOTE: Galen is out of the office until 6/28 so we’re featuring DayBreaks from the past.

Mt. 27:55 – And many women who had come from Galilee with Jesus to care for him were watching from a distance.

The various descriptions of human behavior around, or at the time of the crucifixion, are fascinating.  Here, we learn that there were many women who were followers of Jesus (after all, they’d followed him all the way from Galilee to Jerusalem) were witnesses to the crucifixion.  This is not surprising, I suppose.  Just as in modern times, it seems that women are often the first to follow Jesus, and a visit to a local church will find more women than men in attendance.  So, first of all, let’s give women their due.  There is a great deal that we men can, and should, learn from them!

But here, we find the women “watching from a distance” – what a description!  Why were they at a distance?  It wasn’t apparently because women weren’t allowed to be close to the actual site, for Mary, Jesus’ mother, was at the foot of the cross.  I suspect it was a combination of fear and revulsion.

The revulsion part comes in to play at any gruesome scene.  Consider cars passing by a fatal accident on the road.  There is a fascination with what is going on, but does anyone really want to stick their head inside the car and witness the carnage if you don’t have to?  No. 

The fear part is obvious.  Death and crucifixions were afoot. 

The lesson here is this: we want to be involved with Jesus, to see him and his story and hear his words, but only from a distance.  When we get too close to Him, the temperature rises and the water gets hot, just as Peter learned in the courtyard of Pilate.  These women were most likely very interested and concerned about what was happening, but also terrified – Romans didn’t care if they crucified men, women or children – and these women may well have been terrified for their lives so it is hard to blame them. 

That makes me ask: what would you and I have done?  Would we have been there at all?

PRAYER: Lord, I know you don’t want followers who follow at arm’s distance, but disciples who are covered in your dust, disciples who have your blood fall on them from the cross, not who stand at a distance.  Forgive us our quaking fears for our own safety over the advance of Your Kingdom.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 6/11/21 – Lessons in Human Nature #1

NOTE: Galen is out of the office until 6/28 so we’re featuring DayBreaks from the past.

Mt. 27:48-49 – One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. But the rest said, “Wait! Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save him.”

For some time now, I have been spending my daily quiet time in the gospels, seeking to know Him better, to understand how He acted and what He did – and why.  In the process, we are often forced to confront our human nature as portrayed by the humans who interacted with Him in the days of His humiliation.

Matthew 27 has several such instances.  In the text above, Jesus has already been nailed to the cross and is nearing the moment of his death.  He has just cried out, asking why God has forsaken him.  Some of the people standing around thought he was calling for Elijah.  One ran to get a sponge with sour wine.  Why?  I’m not sure, but it would appear to have been a gesture that shows some genuine concern over his suffering – with the sour wine being a sort of pain killer. 

But notice what the others do: they refuse to give anything to Jesus that might ease  his suffering in any way.  They thought he’d been calling for Elijah and they are more interested in seeing if Elijah is going to come than in easing the suffering of the man who was suffering on the cross.

It seems that as humans our curiosity sometimes trumps our compassion. We who carry and wear His name and who claim allegiance to His cause are appalled by such callousness.  We think we would never be callous to the suffering of Jesus.  But is that an accurate assessment?  I don’t think so.  How sensitive are we to the pain our sin causes Him?  Is it enough to cause us to cease and desist?  Or does our curiosity with sin and the way we dabble in it of higher importance to us than the pain we cause Him?  Alas, it is far easier for us to engage in theological trivialities and to ignore his suffering on the cross because of our sin.

Likewise, if we see people suffering and turn away, we’re like the priests and Levites of the Good Samaritan story and we’ve failed to give the cup of cold water to ease the suffering of someone made in his image.

PRAYER: Jesus, we would like to believe that we would do anything to prevent you pain, but I fear that when it comes to our sinfulness that we are blind to the pain it causes you. Make our hearts more sensitive and may our eyes fill with tears for how we have hurt you so many times.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple, all rights reserved. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/10/21 – The Three Kick Rule

NOTE: Galen is out of the office until 6/28 so we’re featuring DayBreaks from the past.

A big city California lawyer went duck hunting in rural Texas.  He shot and dropped a bird, but it fell into a farmer’s field on the other side of a fence.  As the lawyer climbed over the fence, an elderly farmer drove up on his tractor and asked him what he was doing.

The litigator responded, “I shot a duck and it fell in this field, and now I’m going into retrieve it.”

The old farmer replied.  “This is my property, and you are not coming over here.”

The indignant lawyer said, “I am one of the best trial attorneys in the U.S. and, if you don’t let me get that duck, I’ll sue you and take everything you own.”

The old farmer smiled and said, “Apparently, you don’t know how we do things in Texas.  We settle small disagreements like this with the Texas Three Kick Rule.”

The lawyer asked, “What is the Texas Three Kick Rule?”

The farmer replied, “Well, first I kick you three times and then you kick me three times, and so on, back and forth, until someone gives up.”

The attorney quickly thought about the proposed contest and decided that he could easily take the old codger.  He agreed to abide by the local custom.

The old farmer slowly climbed down from the tractor and walked up to the city feller.  His first kick planted the toe of his heavy work boot into the lawyer’s shin and dropped him to his knees.  His second kick landed square on the man’s nose.  The barrister was flat on his belly when the farmer’s third kick to a kidney nearly caused him to give up.

The lawyer summoned every bit of his will and managed to get to his feet and said, “Okay, you old coot, now it’s my turn!”

The old farmer smiled and said, “Nah, I give up.  You can have the duck.”

The moral of the story: be careful when running after things you think you desire.  You may eventually get what you want, but it’s not worth the pain.  Far better to run after the things that God says are best for us!

PRAYER: Lord, we think we know what we want and we are prone to want things that aren’t going to be good for us.  Please, keep us from the inevitable pain that comes from chasing our dreams for our lives instead of your plan for our life!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 6/09/21 – Live Good Lives

NOTE: Galen is out of the office until 6/28 so we’re featuring DayBreaks from the past.

1 Peter 2:12 (NIV) – Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

Yeah, I know, I wrote about this verse yesterday, but I’m writing about it to emphasize a different point today.  This past Sunday, Dave McNeely was speaking about this verse as he challenged us to be submitted to three things: to God, to the government and to other powers that be in our lives such as our bosses at work. 

Peter is writing to people who were suffering.  They were being tormented and tortured for their faith claims.  They had to wonder if they should recant and take a few steps backward in their faith so they weren’t so obviously Christ-followers.  After all, it would alleviate a lot of problems and pain for them to do so. 

But that is not the advice Peter gives them.  He encourages them to hold strong.  He encourages them to “live such good lives” that even if accused, our lives will speak for themselves without a word from us.

What didn’t Peter say?  He didn’t say “Speak good things, speak the truth.”  He didn’t say that we needed to stand on a soapbox on a street corner and talk or shout over the din of the world as it passes by.  He said simply, “Live such good lives…” that there can be no refuting of the truth about Jesus. 

I worry sometimes about how we try to represent Christ.  We tend to do so with words.  Don’t misunderstand me: I know we are to confess him before men, to share the good news.  But if there’s anything that has hurt the church more than anything else that I’ve observed in my years on this planet it is this: when the church (people) say one thing, but fail to live up to it.  We let our mouths lead the way.  That’s not how it is suppose to work!  We are to let our LIVES lead the way.  As McNeely put it: Don’t let your mouth get in the way of your primary witness – your life.  You just can’t argue with deeds.

My encouragement for you today is the same as Peter’s: live such good lives!!!!  Let the world see your life and be in awe!  May your life always speak goodness, love, mercy, compassion, justice and truth.  If your life is characterized by those things, people will know where you stand.

PRAYER: Jesus, by Your Spirit, empower us to live such good lives!  We can’t possibly do it on our own.  We need You so desperately!  May the world glorify You, not because of what we say, but because of how we live!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 6/8/21 – The Day He Visits Us

NOTE: Galen is out of the office until 6/28 so we’re featuring DayBreaks from the past.

1 Peter 2:12 (NIV) – Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

I have been missing my kids and grandkids and friends from California a lot lately.  I don’t know why.  I can’t put my finger on the cause.  We’ve enjoyed being near our son and his family in Georgia, but something inside me has turned “homeward” and I’ve been missing our other children, too.  Of course, when we were in California, I missed our son and his family that lived “all the way down in Georgia.”  Now that I’m here, I’m missing those who live “all the way out in California.”  I guess it should not be surprising, nor shocking.  It is as it should be in a loving family where the miles seem like titanium walls that separate us from those we love.

I long for a visit.  It matters not if they were to come here, or if we were to go there.  To catch the first glimpse of them as they/we came out of the gate area at the airport would be better than frozen Snickers and ice-cold Dr. Pepper.  In fact, I’d give up both of those things forever if it meant I could have a glimpse of our “missing” family members.  And I’ve been missing my dad lately, too, though he’s been gone since 1998 (can it possibly be over 23 years ago???)

As much as I long to see my family members again, I need to remember that there is coming a day when God will visit us, too.  As sweet as it will be to see our family again, it will be even sweeter to see the One who was beaten and spit upon for me, who bled for me, who died for me, and who rose for me. 

The old fisherman encourages us to live in such a way that when God comes to visit us that both He and we will be overjoyed!  I don’t want to have any regrets on that day because I want to enjoy the celebration to the fullest.  And, I believe, we can look forward to that day knowing that we will be able to enjoy it because our guilt and shame that still plague us as long as we live halting, failing lives here, will be swept away with the first glimpse of His eyes as He looks upon us, His beloved children.  He’ll come rushing with arms spread wide and any trepidations we may have felt will no longer be there. 

Be ready.  Be ready for the day He comes to visit you!

PRAYER: How I long to see you, Jesus, to feel the hug that assures me that all is well and all manner of things will be well forever!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/07/21 – The Awesome Grounding of Hope

Romans 5:3-10 (NIV) – Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. 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. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

Some folks seem to have a hard time accepting hope as a good thing.  Take, for instance, these two quotes:

#1: “He who had never hoped can never despair.” – George Bernard Shaw 

Now, I can understand where he’s coming from, can’t you?  I’ve written before about disappointment, and how if we truly don’t expect something good and it happens, we’re joyful, but if we have high hopes/expectations that go unfulfilled then we are deeply disappointed.  But what would life be like without any hope?  We may not “despair” as per the quote, but neither, I suspect, would our lives be very joyful and our faces would be long consistently.  We’d mope and drag ourselves around, just waiting for the next hammer to fall on us.

#2: “Hope is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man.” – Nietzsche  

I must say that I find Mr. Nietzsche to be one of the most depressing and tragic figures in history.  Talk about nihilism!  This guy had it in spades…and he seems to have been chronically dismal, trusting nothing, hoping for nothing, finding life devoid of meaning.  Why was life devoid of meaning to Nietzsche?  Partly because he dared not hope for anything.  Apparently, he was bitterly disappointed by the hopes he had once held which were shattered.

Contrast those views with the message about hope in Romans 5:3-10, that concludes in verse 5 that “hope does not disappoint us”.  Why?  Because God has poured out his love into our hearts.  And what has that love got to do with anything?  We were powerless, enemies, yet Christ died not for the godly (there were none!), but for the ungodly and has justified us by his blood.  The conclusion about this Christian hope: we will be saved from God’s wrath through Christ!  We were reconciled to God through Christ’s death!  We shall be saved through Christ’s on-going life and power!  THAT’S WHAT THE CHRISTIAN HOPE IS ABOUT…hope that forms the anchor for our souls.  Perhaps it would be more appropriate to say “Hope is the greatest of all blessings because it relieves the torments of man.” Our hope is grounded, not in what another human might do for us, but in what Christ HAS DONE for us already!

PRAYER: Let our hopes soar into the heavenlies with the confidence that our hope will not disappoint, either now or through ceaseless ages to come!  In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/4/21 – The Two Lawyers

Revelation 12:10 (NLT) – Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last— salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth— the one who accuses them before our God day and night.

There are few professions that have the “reputation” that lawyers have.  That’s probably a very unfair generalization, but there are so many jokes about lawyers being sharks or blood suckers or just out to make a buck.  I want to believe that the majority are really decent people, but I have to admit that I’ve told my share of lawyer jokes in my day.

In Revelation 12, God has pulled aside the curtains of heaven and we learn about the prosecuting attorney (if you will), Satan.  Job had previously given us a glimpse of this activity, but lest we think that Satan’s activity in accusing Job before the throne of God is unique, this verse shows that Satan is accusing all of the brothers and sisters before God.  And he doesn’t just accuse us once in a while, he is constantly – day and night – in the accusing business.  He doesn’t seem to get tired of it, and he doesn’t get discouraged.  He is a ceaseless and persistent accuser. 

Does that frighten you?  Don’t let it.  On the other side of the bar is Jesus who pleads our case before the Father.  Which do you think is the better lawyer?  A created devil, or the Eternal Son of God?  Who do you think will win that case?  Oh, and don’t forget, Jesus has a special relationship with the Judge!!!!

There is one more thing we should note here before thinking that Jesus pleads our case based on our own merits.  He does not.  How is the case won?  By those who have applied the blood of the defense attorney to their sins through faith in Christ.  You see, Jesus doesn’t beg the Father to accept us because of our goodness…but he boldly proclaims us innocent by virtue of the applied blood! And the Father won’t argue against that!

Revelation 12:11 (NLT) – And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.

PRAYER: When we are tempted to grow discouraged by our sinfulness and we fear that Satan will surely win the case because of our guilt in God’s courtroom, let us look to our great Defender who will surely win the day!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/3/21 – The White Line

Adapted from Lee Eclov, Preaching Today:

The blizzard that blew through that March night during a big high school basketball game was ferocious. Our game was 40 miles from home and there was nothing between our two South Dakota towns but banshee winds and drift-gathering hills. Our bus driver, Maynard, thought we could make it but soon visibility turned to zero. He opened the folding entrance door and crept along, following the white roadside line for the whole trip. The 40 miles took hours. Maynard was our hero.

Sometimes serving God is like that. When we start we talk about vision and goals but then comes those blizzards where we can’t see a thing, our agenda is forgotten, and all we hope is to get safely home. Paul’s second letter to Timothy focused on staying the course. “Proclaim the word,” he told Timothy, “in good seasons and bad.” Blizzards are bad seasons.

Then, Paul’s last counsel to his protégé was this four-part assignment: But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (2 Tim. 4:5)

That’s how we follow the white line. What does that mean?

“Always Be Sober-Minded” (ESV). Keep your wits about you. Think before you act. Guard your tongue and your temper. My worst decisions sprang from frustration and impulsiveness. I trusted my instincts, which sounds much better than it is. Conflict and criticism sent my internal compass spinning. I’d get angry, depressed, and sleepless. Our only safeguard is to “be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

“Endure Hardship.” Not all beatings are measured in lashes, not all opposition comes from Judaizers, and not all shipwrecks are at sea. You may never have “despaired of life itself” as Paul did, but surely you’ve despaired. Having never been taught that suffering is as much a part of ministry as teaching, we wonder when it comes if we can bail out or find a better church. But weakness is our greatest ministry secret, “for when I am weak, then I am strong.” So, endure.

“Do the Work of an Evangelist.” I was aggravated when a guy told me he was praying that I’d get more involved in evangelism. Nonetheless, I started hanging out at a donut shop. In the next church it was at a bagel shop. I made friends with people who knew nothing about Christ or his church and sometimes I got to talk with them about Jesus. What’s more, I was a better shepherd for having searched for the lost sheep.

“Fulfill Your Ministry” (ESV). Paul had told Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you,” turning him from a timidity or cowardice to Spirit-given power, love, and self-discipline. Ministries run on empty, not when we’re weak, but when we pretend, when we turn sour, and when the Holy Spirit no longer has our attention.

Our primary ministry task is Word work, always tuning into Scripture for every dilemma, need, and opportunity. Also, our ministry is to embody and dispense grace in Jesus’ name to the harassed and helpless. When we are good shepherds people more easily understand Jesus.

It is frightening when we cannot see the way ahead. People are depending on us and the road is not safe. Jesus will carry us, but we must attend to our priorities: the Word, self-control, endurance, evangelism, and fulfilling our calling.

PRAYER: Help us through the blizzards in our lives and ministries, Lord, for your name’s sake! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/02/21 – The Witness

Proverbs 22:6 (ESV) – Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

“If your kids see you putting other things ahead of God, they will become discouraged and disillusioned, like a young Jewish boy who once lived in Germany.

“His father was a successful merchant, and the family practiced their Jewish faith. But then they moved to another German city, and the boy’s father announced that they would no longer attend synagogue. They were going to join the Lutheran church.

“The boy was very surprised and asked his father why the family was joining the Lutheran church. His father’s answer was something like, “For business reasons. There are so many Lutherans in this town that I can make good business contacts at the Lutheran church. It will be good for business.”

“That boy, who had a deep interest in religion, became so disillusioned with his father that something died within him. He said to himself, ‘My father has no real convictions.” The incident helped to turn him against religion with a vengeance.

“That young boy later moved to England and began to write. His name was Karl Marx. As the father of communism he wrote the “Communist Manifesto,” in which he called religion “the opiate of the masses.”

“I wonder if world history would have been different had Karl Marx’s father hadn’t put other things ahead of God.” – Adrian Rogers, Ten Secrets for a Successful Family, p. 38

Parents, your kids know whether you love God with all your heart. They see it with every decision you make that minimizes God in favor of another god.  What they want to see is parents with such love and reverence for God that they bring Him into every area of their lives and put him first in everything. Kids want to see whether their parents love God enough to obey him.

Believers, you too, are being watched by your friends and relatives who are watching to see if you are really committed to God. Your motives are being searched. People are in pain and looking for answers that only the gospel can give, but if they can’t see the genuineness of faith in you or I, why should they ever pay attention to anything we say about Jesus?

PRAYER: Father, for every parent, for every grandparent, I pray that you will help us understand the impact that our seemingly insignificant decisions may affect our little ones for eternity. For those with loved ones and friends in danger of losing their souls, help us be good witnesses for you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>