DayBreaks for 8/15/18 – Singleness of Heart

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DayBreaks for 8/15/18: Singleness of Heart

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

Every so often it seems that an individual, or group of people (even as large as a nation at times), gets it into their head to do something and they are driven to do it.  Such was the case with Kennedy’s challenge to put men on the moon by the end of the ‘60’s.  If some of our politicians who are running for office today are to be believed, we can do all sorts of things if we just decide to do it. 

I’m not quite as convinced.  While the elimination of hunger and poverty are good and worthy goals and we all should work as hard as we can towards those ends, Jesus himself said that “the poor will always be with you.”  And how about eliminating war?  Scripture says that in the end times there will be wars and rumors of wars.  How I wish it were not the case, but it is. 

Still, it is fascinating to read of wholehearted human endeavor—amazing stories of total dedication and commitment to a cause or purpose.  For example, the U.S. Marines have a super secret sniper program that is run out of Quantico, Virginia.  The sniper school admits 25 people for an eight-week course consisting of 16-hour days of training and practice.  Very few who enter the program will pass.  To graduate, each must go on a mock mission into a well-defined area where instructors search for the sniper.  If they can find him, they can fail him.

To get within range of the target, the sniper may have to move forward at a rate of only one inch per hour.  They may sit or lay in position for days – absolutely still, despite cold, rain, insect bites, and fear.  No one gets out of the Marine Corps sniper school without singleness of heart.

We expect that kind of intensity from Olympic champions, concert pianists, neurosurgeons and everyone else at the highest levels of human achievement.  Somehow, we’ve gotten it into our head that since our God is a very loving and forgiving God (very true) who wants no one to be lost (also very true!), that we can have a lukewarm commitment and dedication to Him.  Not so.  God expects single-mindedness and complete dedication when we come back to Him.  God deserves such singleness of heart because He is God! 

Sadly, many intend to come back to God—sometime.  But they may well fail because their intention never becomes intense.

How committed to living as godly of a life as possible are you?  What can you offer as proof and evidence of that kind of single-hearted dedication?

Jeremiah 29:13-14 – You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.

PRAYER: Our hearts and minds are so easily distracted, Lord!  Help us to have single vision – and to focus that vision on the cross!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 6/01/18 – The Sin of Silence

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DayBreaks for 6/01/18: The Sin of Silence

If someone were to ask you what you think the greatest sin is that is described in the Bible, what would you choose? Some might choose David’s counting of the people of Israel that led to many deaths. Others might be tempted to think of the sin in the garden that had such massive repercussions for all of mankind. Still others might point to Judas’ betrayal of Jesus as the worst sin ever.

I ran across this and thought it was provocative and thought provoking: could the greatest sin be when Jesus asked those who were trying to trap him a simple question – “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” and those he asked stood silent in response. The sin wasn’t in the question, but perhaps the greatest sin was in their silence in response to the question.

To stand silent when the power to heal is within reach; that is sin. They knew Jesus could heal as that was indisputable, that wasn’t the issue. The question was whether he would heal on the Sabbath!  They stayed silent when all they had to do and should have done was say, “Please, Jesus, heal the poor man!”

In like manner, one could argue that our communities have the ability to empty our jails of crime, our shelters of the abused, our rest homes of the lonely and our streets of hopelessness.  Our world could beat hunger, fight AIDS, educate its masses and so much more; but we lack the commitment. Perhaps, we should say; we lack the committed!  Too many are silent (including me!), too many are critics. We need to pray for laborers in the harvest. We need to pick up a scythe. We need to address the question and not be silent.

PRAYER: Lord, do not let silence be my sin.  Let us be a voice for the silent and advocates of the disenfranchised. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/29/17 – The Hardest Part is Getting in the Water

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DayBreaks for 11/29/17: The Hardest Part is Getting in the Water

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Have you ever competed in any kind of sports?  When I was in high school, I played basketball, tennis, football and ran a little track.  I found the competition very exciting.  I loved basketball above all other sports.  I remember one game, I was fouled with 2 seconds to play.  We were behind by 1 point so I had a chance to win the game.  The opposing coach called a timeout, intent on “icing” me – making me think about whether or not I’d be able to make the shots or whether I’d miss.  We were playing in the opposing team’s home gym.  The crowd was pressed all around the court and they were yelling.  The official blew the whistle and we walked back onto the court and I took my position at the free-throw line.  I missed the first shot, and then I missed the second shot.  I had failed.  I felt awful – like I’d let my teammates down, my coach down, my school down.  I wanted to bury my head in the sand and never come up again.

The next week, we were playing a different team, this time in our home gym.  Can anyone say “Déjà vu?”  Unbelievably, the scenario was repeated.  Down by 1 with just a few ticks of the clock, and I was fouled while shooting.  Once again, the opposing team coach called timeout.  My mind was spinning with the irony of it all – and the horror at what had happened the previous week.  After the timeout, I went to the free-throw line and made the first free-throw.  At least now the game was tied and at worst, we’d go into overtime.  The second free-throw also went through and I was a hero for the rest of the day. 

What made the difference between the first game and the second?  Hard to say.  But one thing I know: in the intervening time, I made a determined effort to shoot a LOT of free throws at every practice.  After practice, I’d go home and shoot free throws at the hoop on the back patio.  I can’t begin to guess how many free throws I shot between the first and second game.  To this day I don’t know if that’s why I made the shots during the second game, or if it was just God’s blessing.  And frankly, at the time, I didn’t care too much why – I was just relieved.

Kim Linehan held the world record in the Women’s 1500-meter freestyle.  According to her coach at the time, Paul Bergen, said his 18-year old was the leading amateur woman distance swimmer in the world.  She would exercise endlessly, swimming 7 to 12 miles a day.  Someone once asked her what was the hardest part of her regimen.  She replied: “Getting in the water.”

It is difficult to make strong beginnings.  It is difficult, day after day to get in the water, to step up to the free throw line and practice.  It is difficult, day after day to step up to the plate and take swings at being a Christ-like man or woman.  It would be so much easier to just stay in bed, to skip the practice, to circumvent the discipline.  But one thing is sure if we do that: we’ll never know or experience victory.  All we’ll know is defeat. 

Maybe this morning you feel as if you’ve just about had it.  You’re ready to surrender to that temptation that just keeps nagging you.  You’re ready to throw in the towel on your marriage.  You’re sick and tired of working so hard and getting so little recognition for it. 

Get in the water.  Once you do, good things start to happen.  Practice the spiritual disciplines that will equip you to win when hard times come, that hone your responses to a fine, shining point.  And never forget that it isn’t really you that gains any victory, it’s Jesus!

PRAYER:  When we are weary, God, tempted to not make the effort to be what you want us to be and to do what you want us to do, change our hearts and charge us with new fire from above.  Help us to do our part and get in the water and leave it up to you whether we walk on the surface or swim!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/25/17 – From Coward to Courage

DayBreaks for 9/25/17: From Coward to Courage

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

From In the Grip of Grace by Max Lucado: “During the early days of the Civil War a Union soldier was arrested on charges of desertion.  Unable to prove his innocence, he was condemned and sentenced to die a deserter’s death. His appeal found its way to the desk of Abraham Lincoln.  The president felt mercy for the soldier and signed a pardon.  The soldier returned to service, fought the entirety of the war, and was killed in the last battle.  Found within his breast pocket was the signed letter of the president.”

Application:

What a poignant story.  A soldier running from duty, most likely because of fear.  Captured, caught, condemned to die, he pleads for mercy – an appeal of the sentence that would have caused him to be hanged and remembered as a coward.  The plea lands on the desk of the commander in chief.  And mercy flowed down to a man who didn’t deserve it. 

We’ve all needed a pardon from time to time.  Just as with the soldier who had exhausted every appeal, except to the commander in chief, we were out of appeals, too. Like him, if our Commander in Chief hadn’t granted mercy, death was certain.  The case had been heard already and sentence passed.  This was the only hope left. 

What touched the heart of president Lincoln?  I don’t know.  By offering a pardon, others might desert when the times got tough and hope for a similar pardon.  Some of the generals were no doubt angry about the president’s pardon – after all, discipline must be maintained in a military organization.  They probably felt he was soft, or too old, or just to tired to think straight and make a good decision.

Imagine the relief and happiness in the heart of the soldier when he heard the president’s decision!  He was free.  He could have gone home.  Who would want him in their unit when the chips were down?  But instead of running home, he ran back to the front lines and fought for the rest of the war, only to be killed in the last battle of that great conflict.  What happened?  He was touched by the president’s act of grace.  His pardon was so precious to him that it changed his life.  He carried his pardon with him the rest of his days.   

The grace of Christ has caused men and women to do strange and heroic things.  To die singing songs of praise, to willingly submit their necks to the noose, their bodies to the flames, or their heads to the sword.  The grace of Christ turned Peter from a denier and coward to a martyr.  The grace of Christ empowered Thomas the doubter to be skinned alive (according to tradition).  The grace of Christ empowered 160,000 Christians around the world last year to say “Jesus Christ is Lord!” before their lives were offered as martyrs.

Have you found courage in the grace of Christ?  Has it changed your life forever?  Tell someone about it.  Don’t run from the battle – run to it.  The cause of Christ will move forward.  He’s looking for good soldiers who will, if necessary, die knowing their pardon has been established by the Commander in Chief.  This IS the call of the Master to us.  What will your answer be?

PRAYER:  Father, make us bold because of our thankfulness of what You’ve done for us!  Thank You for pardoning us and calling us into Your service!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 7/04/17 – Caleb and Courageus Conviction, #2

DayBreaks for 7/04/17: Caleb and Courageous Conviction, #2

There are some key statements in Joshua 14:7-8 (NLT) – Joshua 14:7-8 (NLT) – I was forty years old when Moses, the servant of the LORD, sent me from Kadesh-barnea to explore the land of Canaan. I returned and gave an honest report, but my brothers who went with me frightened the people from entering the Promised Land. For my part, I wholeheartedly followed the LORD my God.

First, there is a contrast: 1) Caleb claims that he gave an honest report on his return – a claim that could seem to be full of braggadocio if not for the fact that history proved his words to be true; 2) the 10 spies gave a contrary report – with the truly deadly result being the frightening of the people that in turn led to them all, save Caleb and Joshua, dying in the desert sands of the Sinai peninsula.

The second thing I want to point out is the effect the two varying reports had. Caleb’s report was dismissed, seemingly out of hand, because it would mean warfare to proceed. The 10 spies report only capitalized on those fears and scared the people. Caleb again declares his devotion to God and trust in Him to accomplish the delivery of the Promised Land to Israel.

Today is the 4th of July here in America – our country’s 241st birthday. Not many countries have lasted that long. Part of the reason it’s survived is because of the courage of the men and women who stood up for their convictions. But it’s becoming increasingly difficult (and dangerous) to do so.

It is always right to give an honest report. It pays dividends – it certainly did for Joshua and Caleb – they lived to set foot in the Promised Land as a result.

Today, stop and think about what kind of report you are giving these days. Do your words spell doom and gloom? Do they strike fear, anxiety and distrust in the hearts and minds of others? Satan is a coward and those that follow him are cowards. It takes strong men and women to take a stand, but just as God rewarded Joshua and Caleb, He will always reward those who give “an honest report”.

What you say and how you say it can make the difference in how others live – and in some cases, even in whether they live or not. Being bold in the truth is important. We need more people to take a stand for truth in our churches, families, schools and various levels of government. Will you be one of them?

PRAYER: Lord, I don’t want to be the reason someone become frightened when confronted with what I say. I want to speak truth lovingly – but without wavering. Help all Your children to be as bold as Caleb and may we see Your blessing as a result. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/03/17 – Caleb and Courageous Conviction, #1

The hill country of Israel.

DayBreaks for 7/03/17: Caleb and Courageous Conviction, #1

I heard an interesting sermon on Sunday about conviction, and I thought that some of the points were worth sharing, so there’ll be several DayBreaks about it this week.

First, a bit of background. You recall the story of the spies who were sent into the Promised Land to spy out the land. Twelve were sent – and twelve returned, but there were radically different reports given by two of the spies named Joshua and Caleb. We normally think of Joshua as having been the older because he became the leader, however in Joshua 14, we learn that Caleb was 40 years old at the time he went into the land to spy on the Canaanites. Most believe Joshua was perhaps 17-25 at the time, though we don’t know for sure.

What prompted Joshua and Caleb to come back with a different report? That’s a good question. There is a rabbinic tradition that says that one night while they spies were in the land, Caleb arose in the darkness and traveled to Hebron (where the giant descendants of Anak lived) and went into the cave where Abraham and the patriarchs were buried (Numbers 13 does say they went to Hebron.) While there at the cave, he had an encounter with the God of Abraham, Jacob and Joseph that filled him with the conviction about God’s promise to the patriarchs that the land of Palestine was to be theirs.

I don’t know about the veracity of that rabbinical legend, but something stirred Caleb’s heart with conviction. In Joshua 14 starting with verse six, Caleb, at this time a man of 85 and most likely the oldest man in Israel (since only Joshua and Caleb who were alive when Israel left Egypt survived the wilderness wandering)  approached Joshua. Because he was the oldest man in Israel, people would listen to him. And he reminds Joshua about what the Lord told Moses about Joshua and Caleb 40-45 years earlier. Basically, Caleb reminds Joshua about how Moses had promised him the land on which Caleb had just walked.

Here’s the point for today: Caleb came back from the spying mission ready to go to war and take possession of the land. If you read his report he is full of courageous conviction about the ability of Israel to take the land. But ten of the spies reported that the band of spies were like grasshoppers to the giants in Palestine.

Therein, you see, is the problem. They were convicted that the people of the land saw them as tiny, puny and weak. But, at various points in the story, we are told that the people of Palestine were shut up in their cities because of fear of the Israelites. The ten spies were convicted and convinced by what they believe the inhabitants of the land thought of them. Joshua and Caleb (and Caleb seems to be the spokesman for the two of the spies who brought back a favorable report) was convicted and convinced by what God had said and promised.

Maybe you need to think about what you believe about yourself. You may think that you are weak, insignificant, powerless, puny and tiny because someone in your past has mocked and ridiculed you to no end. You may have yielded to the whispering of Satan in your ear that you’re too small and weak and sinful to ever be strong and courageous.

Who are you going to listen to? What others (including Satan) have said about you, or to what God says about you when He calls you His child, His beloved, that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus? Where will your conviction come from?

PRAYER: God, I thank You for courageous people like Caleb who remembered Your promises in the face of 6:1 odds and who stood on the courage of his convictions about Your faithfulness. For all those who are being convicted by the words others may say about them, I pray that they will hear Your words of love and worth when they are under attack and that they will be convicted by what You say, and not what anyone else says. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/28/17 – Held Captive

DayBreaks for 6/28/17: Held Captive

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007

Now I would like to stop the world for just one minute and ask you to think back. Think back with me to the first century. Think about those 50 years after Jesus’ death and what it must been like for Jesus’ disciples. Before the last one died their efforts had brought 500,000 men, women, and children into the ranks of the church. But what they had to suffer in order to accomplish this task is seldom discussed. We like the outcome of their discipleship but we don’t want to hear the cost of discipleship. So for the record here is the cost: History tells us…
1. John died of extreme old age exiled to the island of Patmos.
2. Judas Iscariot, after betraying his Lord, hanged himself.
3. Peter was crucified; head downward, during the persecution of Nero.
4. Andrew died on a cross at Patrae, a Grecian Colony.
5. James, the younger, son of Alphaeus, was thrown from a pinnacle of the Temple, and then beaten to death with a club.
6. Bartholomew was flayed alive in Albanapolis, Armenia.
7. James, the elder son of Zebedee, was beheaded at Jerusalem.
8. Thomas, the doubter, was run through the body with a lance at Coromandel, in the East Indies.
9. Philip was hanged against a pillar at Heropolis.
10. Thaddeus was shot to death with arrows.
11. Simon died on a cross in Persia (what we now call Iran.)
12. Matthew was first stoned and then beheaded.
What sacrifices! And I ask you why? Why did they choose to die this way? Why desert your father and mother, your wife and child, and your home? Why put up with the constant humiliation, and hunger, and persecution, and defeat town after town after town?
I’ll tell you why, because, in the words of Apostle Paul, they were held captive by the words and teachings of Jesus Christ. It is Paul’s way of saying they were slaves to Christ. But this wasn’t a begrudging slavery – they were so thankful that this master had set them free from their former captor – that they considered it a privilege and honor to be His slave.
1 Timothy 2:4-6a (MSG) – He wants not only us but everyone saved, you know, everyone to get to know the truth we’ve learned: that there’s one God and only one, and one Priest-Mediator between God and us—Jesus, who offered himself in exchange for everyone held captive by sin, to set them all free. Eventually the news is going to get out.

Romans 1:1 (MSG) I, Paul, am a devoted slave of Jesus Christ on assignment, authorized as an apostle to proclaim God’s words and acts. I write this letter to all the Christians in Rome, God’s friends.

The question that haunts me is: how do I feel about being a slave of Jesus? Does it stir my soul as it did that of the first disciples? If not, why?

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you freed us. Stir in our hearts the same passion that ignited the imaginations and actions of those you chose in the first century that we might be held captive by You and nothing else! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>