DayBreaks for 1/19/16 – Holy Land Lessons – My Father’s House

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Home of Simon Peter’s family, Capernaum, Israel. Photo property of Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/19/16: Holy Land Lessons: My Father’s House

I attended a church in my early years where we often sang the song, I’ve Got A Mansion, and the words to the first verse and chorus went like this: “I’m satisfied with just a cottage below, A little silver and a little gold. But in that city where the ransomed will shine I want a gold one that’s silver lined.
Chorus: I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop, In that bright land where we’ll never grow old, And some day yonder we will never more wander, But walk on streets that are purest gold.”

Let me go on record here that I never liked that song (but we sang it a lot in the churches I used to attend!!!) because it essentially says something to the effect of I’m miserable now, but someday I want You to make it up to me for all my sacrifice and suffering and give me a mansion and that’ll make it all worth it!” I think it misses the point entirely. The glory of heaven won’t be a shiny home – for God Himself is our very great reward – to be with Him and enjoy Him forever – not to live in a sparkling, huge, gold and silver home! Listen to what Jesus said to us (and I’m sure someone’s imagination took this out of the Hebrew/1st century context in which Jesus was speaking and came up with the idea of shining, metallic mansions): John 14:2 (KJV) – In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

That’s how the King James put it. Unfortunately, it is a lousy translation and totally misses the point of what Jesus was saying as I learned during our journey to Israel this month. Fortunately, newer translations get to the core of what Jesus was saying. For example: John 14:2-3 (ESV) – In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that WHERE I AM YOU MAY BE ALSO.

Here’s the point: in today’s picture that I took in Israel, you can see a “family home”. This just happens to be the home of Peter that is located in Capernaum (authorities are nearly 100% certain it is the actual home of Peter). The inner circle was Peter’s primary area, but there are other circular structures outside of the inner circle that were divided by stone walls, but still part of the overall complex. Here’s the point: people back then didn’t have individual homes (unless they were very, very rich). They had communal or “family” homes. There were walls made out of stone dividing out the rooms, but all the people of the extended family basically lived in the same home. As the family grew, another room would be attached to the same basic structure – it just expanded to include family. They had their own rooms, but not their own mansions. So when Jesus said he was going to prepare a room for us (not a mansion!!!!), he was referring to the typical homes in which close, intimate family would reside.

What is Jesus saying? We will not live in our own mansion…we will live in HIS very own house, in a room of our own, but part of the intimate gathering of his family. We will be His children there, we can crawl up in our Father’s lap, we will join in the story-telling, the singing, the joyful feasting – and we won’t miss a minute of it because we will be RIGHT THERE.

Now, isn’t that far better than a gold and silver mansion? If you want a mansion somewhere on the edge of the New Jerusalem, I’m sorry if I’ve burst your bubble. But God has something far greater and more glorious than that in mind for you and me: Psalm 23:6 (ESV)Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD forever.

There, we shall find all our hearts and souls ever longed for (and more!!!) – forever!

TODAY’S PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for giving me a room in your house. I can’t wait to settle in and be part of the family that literally gathers at your feast table and sings and laughs together forever! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

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DayBreaks for 1/18/16 – They Still Know His Name

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Photo Galen C. Dalrymple, 2016, Sea of Galilee at sunset.

DayBreaks for 1/18/16: They Still Know His Name

“Grander earth has quaked before

Moved by the sound of His voice

Seas that are shaken and stirred

Can be calmed and broken for my regard…” – It Is Well, Bethel Music (link to YouTube for this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNqo4Un2uZI)

It was less than two weeks ago that I found myself on a boat crossing the sea of Galilee. I’d seen it before, but never been on the water. A gentle breeze was blowing and I found myself in thought about what had happened on that body of water 2000 years ago, when a man fell asleep in the back of the boat in the middle of a storm. The waves and wind screamed out in their torment while he slept peacefully.

Those with him feared for their lives – the boat, they would tell him after waking him, was sinking and they would all drown. His reaction was to speak – to tell the wind and sea to be calm – and instantly the storm was over. Why? Because they recognized the voice and name of the One who had made them and to Whose will they were still subject. And at that realization, the fear of the disciples changed from the storm to Whomever this was that was in the boat with them.

You’ve heard the story so many times before. You’ve thought about the implications – about the storm on the sea as an analogy for the storms in our lives and how Jesus calms us. But being on the sea makes it come alive with new meaning.

I have had storms in my life. I, like those in the boat with Him, have been afraid. I have called out to Him in the storm. Sometimes it seemed as if He couldn’t hear me over the raging of the storm. Sometimes I doubted that He would answer even if He could hear me – for I was too sinful. Sometimes it seemed as if He wasn’t even there (if he ever had been there), and I trembled in frustration and fear and pain.

Yet in hindsight, I can see that even at those moments, He was there. He did hear. And as with the disciples in the boat, He did care. He took action out of regard for the disciples, and he took action for me, too, not just that day He was on the boat with them, but on ALL those days when I so desperately needed Him.

I find myself not as fearful these days after having the luxury of being able to look back over 63 years of life and seeing that He has never once really let me down or let me drown. And now there is a quieter spirit in my soul that believes, ever so slightly more, that He never will fail me or let me down.

Why do I have that comfort? Not because my faith is so much stronger or that I deserve it more or because there are not storms in my life, but because of two things: 1) I have seen His faithfulness, but even more because 2) the wind and the waves still know His name, and they must yield to Him.

Mark 4:37-41 (NLT) But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the water, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”

TODAY’S PRAYER:  Jesus, how comforting it is to know that the same winds and seas that knew your voice and authority 2000 years ago still know who you are – and they still obey you instantly. In the shrieking storms that assail our lives, let us take comfort in knowing that everything in heaven and on earth and in all creation MUST yield to your voice when you speak – and that you act and speak on our behalf throughout our entire lifetime. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 1/15/16 – Our Ultimate Choice

DayBreaks for 1/15/16: Our Ultimate Choice

John Donne was the author who wrote the famous line about “Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”  You may not have realized he wrote that line while he was suffering from what he believed was the plague.  People were dying all around him, he was very, very ill.  And when a friend of his died, he penned those words.

Throughout his ordeal, he kept writing about his despair and his fears.  In his book, Devotions, he describes how he came to resolve his fears.  First, he looked up every biblical reference to the word fear.  And as he did so, “it dawns on him that life will always include circumstances that incite fear: if not illness, financial hardship, if not poverty, rejection, if not loneliness, failure.  In such a world, Donne has a choice: to fear God, or to fear everything else.

“In a passage reminiscent of Paul’s litany in Romans 8 (‘For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels, nor demons…will be able to separate us from the love of God…’), Donne checks off his potential fears.  Great enemies?  They pose no threat, for God can vanquish any enemy.  Famine?  No, for God can supply.  Death?  Even that, the worst human fear, is no permanent barrier to those who fear God.

“Donne determines that his best course is to cultivate a proper fear of the Lord, for that fear can supplant all others.  Finally, he prays, ‘…as thou has given me a repentance, not to be repented of, so give me, O Lord, a fear, of which I may not be afraid.”  (Where Is God When it Hurts?, Philip Yancey, pg. 180)

Every one of us is afraid of something.  But Donne’s conclusion that we either should fear God or everything else is a great conclusion.  If God is real and He is all that we can imagine Him to be (and more!), we don’t need to fear anything else.  But if God isn’t what He’s cracked up to be, then we had better be afraid, very afraid – of everything else that exists.  Fear God or fear everything else – what’ll it be?  Fear God – and fear nothing else!!!

TODAY’S PRAYER:  Lord, let us fear only You, trusting in Your goodness so that we need fear nothing and no one else.  Then, let our confidence in Your faithfulness move us to do Your work at Your prompting.  Free us from the prison of fear of anything except You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 1/14/16 – The Two Legs of Fear and Joy

DayBreaks for 1/14/16 – The Two Legs of Fear and Joy

It never ceases to amaze me: you can talk with two different believers about how we should react to an Almighty God and one will stress the fact that He is a fearsome God – and they’ll quickly point out that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  Then, the next Christian you speak to will stress His mercy – and they’ll quickly point out the scriptures which tell us that “perfect love casts out fear.”  So who is right?  Is God Someone we should fear, or is He Someone that is our loving Father, pouring His mercy, grace and love upon us?

I think both are right.  Why does Scripture seemingly present two sides of God?  I don’t know about you, but there are times in my life when I need to be held and comforted by a Father, and there are times I need very much to be reminded that God is not to be trifled with – not even in the least!  And so, I think that God, knowing how we vacillate and move from one neediness to another, makes sure that we have exactly the Word of counsel that we need at any moment in time.

In Where is God When It Hurts?, Philip Yancey asks: “What is the right way to approach a God we fear?  In answer (John) Donne holds up a phrase from Matthew’s story of the women who discovered Jesus’ empty tomb: they hurried away from the scene “very frightened but also filled with great joy…”  Donne sees in their “two legs of fear and joy” a pattern for himself.

Think about it: they were fearful, for the dead had come to life, the angels had appeared proclaiming his resurrection.  What would they do if they happened to encounter such a God in all His awesome power on their way out of the garden?  In fact, they’d seen him – and he was alive.  The world was full of strange new things that they couldn’t grasp or understand.  And yet, their legs moved with not just fear, but with joy – because the strange things that had occurred were signs “of the best possible news: Jesus had conquered even death.”

As we move through our day today, I hope and pray we’ll run on legs powered by both fear and joy – fear when we need to be fearful of Him, and joy when we need His joy.  He’s provided both for us!

Matt. 28:8-9 NLT – The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to find the disciples to give them the angel’s message.

TODAY’S PRAYER:  Lord, help us to know you better, and in so doing, learn to both love you and fear you appropriately.  Help us to recognize our need for you.  Teach us the fear of a Holy God who will not tolerate sin.  Teach us the joy of a blessed Savior who paid the price for our sin.  Never let us take either your joy or fear for granted.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 1/13/16 – The Implications of “Seek First”

DayBreaks for 1/13/16: The Implications of “Seek First”

Galen is back but recovering from jet lag! New DayBreaks to resume shortly!

Matt 6:33 (NIV) – But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Is your life just filled with all kinds of distractions?  I try hard to not have my life be that way, but I’m not sure I’m very successful at keeping my life simple.  Some things are certainly more important than others.  What do you think is the most important thing in your life?  If you’re a husband, you may think that it is providing for your family.  That’s a God-given responsibility, so it is important.  If you’re a wife, you may think it is loving and caring for your family – another important, God-given duty.  If your mind happens to be thinking about business when you are reading this – it might be how to save your struggling company, or how to make wise business decisions so you can grow the business.  If you’re a student, it might be passing the next chemistry exam, graduating from high school or college.  There are plenty of things to distract us.

No one less than Jesus tells us what our first priority should be: seeking first God’s kingdom and righteousness.  That’s it.  That’s #1 – and it’s not even a close competition.  There isn’t anything else that we need or ought to pursue.  Why?  Because there’s nothing else that’s anywhere nearly as important, nor is there anything we will lack if we DO pursue His kingdom first and only in our hearts. 

So, what does it really look like, this business of seeking first HIS kingdom and righteousness?  Soren Kierkegaard mused on that topic and came up with this really profound way of looking at it.  He said, should a person get a suitable job in order to exert a virtuous influence?  His answer: no, we must seek first God’s kingdom.  Then, he asked, should we give away all our money to feed the poor?  Again comes the answer: no, we must first seek God’s kingdom.  So, should we go out and preach this truth to the world that people are to seek first God’s kingdom?  No, we are first to seek the kingdom of God.  Kierkegaard concluded: “Then in a certain sense it is nothing I shall do.  Yes, certainly, in a certain sense it is nothing, become nothing before God, learn to keep silent; in this silence is the beginning, which is, first to seek God’s Kingdom.”

Here’s the key: focusing on the kingdom of God will produce an inner reality as His kingdom is formed within our hearts and souls.  Nothing else can be first and foremost.  It can’t even be the desire to get out of the rat race so we can go pursue the kingdom – it must be the kingdom itself. 

Want to simplify your life?  Focus on one thing: the kingdom of God!

TODAY’S PRAYER: Father, our lives are so fractured and divided – and so are our loyalties.  We are so busy that we barely think of Your kingdom, let alone take time to seek it or find it!  Please teach us how to simplify.  Teach us how to trust in You to “add” all those other things to us that we need after we seek You first.  But Lord, please don’t add those things to us first – only add them once we’ve truly given Your kingdom first place.  Help us to each as individuals understand that that means specifically for ME today.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 1/12/16 – To the End!

DayBreaks for 1/12/16: To the End!

Galen is out of the country. While he is gone, you will be receiving DayBreaks from the DayBreaks archive from January, 2006.

John 13:1 (KJV) – Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

Churches talk a lot about ministries.  Sometimes we are trying to get people to volunteer to help out, at other times, we’re trying to just get people involved who are sitting on the sidelines and being spectators.  There are plenty of ministry opportunities in this world: the tsunami victims, Katrina victims, Pakistani earthquake victims, those affected by the genocide in Africa, the poor and hungry here in the United States and perhaps in your own town.  The list of opportunities to minister to others is longer than could ever be printed, I suppose.

It is a good thing that we talk about ministering to our fellow humans.  God wants and expects us to do so, in the name of Jesus.  But sometimes we don’t focus that much on Jesus’ service to us.  At the last Passover, Jesus washed his follower’s feet.  In that washing of the feet, Fleming Rutledge sees strong parallels that we may have missed: the cleansing of the feet represents the cleansing by blood and water that was to come that Friday.  The laying down of his garments foreshadows the laying down of his life as a sacrifice.  She reminds us that this was his last action of Jesus towards his disciples as a whole before he lays his life down for them.  The apostle John seemed to grasp the significance when he noted that it was the proof that “he loved them unto the end.”

Ms. Fleming writes that he loved them “…to the end of his earthly strength, to the end of his earthly capacity, to the end of his earthly life.  But far more, to the end of the world, to the outermost boundaries of time, and beyond his own Second Coming into the time that is beyond time, he loves us to the end.

Isn’t it wonderful to know that, in spite of all the loves you have experienced on this earth – parent, friend, child, brother or sister, spouse – that there truly is one love that will never, ever run out, get tired of you, stop loving you or get bored with you?  That is the love of Jesus for his followers.  And that is the love that will follow and chase us throughout all eternity!

TODAY’S PRAYER: Lord, even the best love that we’ve ever experience here on this earth has been flawed and has failed us – and we have failed others with our imperfect love – and we’re inclined to be fearful that your love may someday fail us, too.  Lord, how we long to fully experience a love that is perfect, without any flaw, which will never grow old or tired of us.  Teach us to love others with that kind of love, and most of all, to love you in response in the very best way possible until we are perfected in heaven and see you face to face!   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 1/11/16 – A Precious Privilege

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DayBreaks for 1/11/16: A Precious Privilege

Galen is out of the country. While he is gone, you will be receiving DayBreaks from the DayBreaks archive from January, 2006.

Well, actually, this isn’t from the archive. This one is “live”.

In case you’re wondering where I’ve been, I am in Israel on vacation with my wife. We were able to come through a generous gift and it has been an amazing experience. I was here about 18 months ago for work, but this is the first time my wife has been here.

Yesterday, the 10th, was a special day. Every day here is special. You can almost feel the holiness of God in this place, seeping up through your feet. Some places are more special than others and seem “holier” – though I know there is no variation in His holiness ever. But, if ever there was holy ground, is has to be here in this place.

On Sunday, we went to the Western Wall (better known as the Wailing Wall). The wall is part of the retaining wall that was built around the Temple Mount by Herod the Great (and later rebuilt by others). There is a rabbinic ban against Jews praying on the Temple Mount, and the Western Wall is the closest place to the site of the temple where Jews can pray. As a result, to the Jewish people, it is the holiest place of all to pray.

And pray we did. I had the privilege of praying for some of my friends there (some of you know who you are!) and inserting their names and request on slips of paper between the great stones of the lower portion of the wall. When I was here 18 months ago, I did the same thing. The feeling of specialness was no less this time.

Do we realize what a great privilege it is to pray for those we love? And what a great obligation it is to pray for our enemies, too?

Our prayers are often offered in haste…even there, at the wall, I wished for hours to pray. To lift up the names and needs, joys and fears, of not just myself, but my friends and family wasn’t a duty, but a privilege. And that, I believe, is how prayer is intended to be.

I came away realizing I don’t pray enough. The orthodox Jews who were at the wall were weeping, sobbing, praying with fervor and passion. Where did we lose that? How did we lose it? Most of our prayers are uttered in between appointments or things we’ve got to do urgently and our prayer life takes a back seat.

As holy as the Western Wall may be to the Jews, when we pray, we come into the very Presence of Jehovah, the Lamb and the Spirit. I hope I never take that for granted again.

Exodus 3:5-6 (NLT) – “Do not come any closer,” the LORD warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.

PRAYER: God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, hallowed by Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Open our ears to hear You, our tongues to speak Your praise, our hearts to the needs and joys of others, and teach us to pray. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.