DayBreaks for 8/15/17 – It Takes a While

DayBreaks for 8/15/17: It Takes a While

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2007:

God certainly has different ways than we do.  We all like to do things in the easiest, most simple way possible.  We aren’t given to wanting to work harder or longer than we absolutely have to.  And so, we take shortcuts and labor hard to find the quickest way to get somewhere. 

When we go on vacation and have a specific destination in mind, I tend to be pedal to the metal until we get there.  I’ll look at the map and find the shortest and most direct route to get where we’re going.  In fact, I not only look at the mileage, but the amount of time each route will take.  I really want to get there!  I’m often not much for appreciating the journey itself.  Just this past summer (2006), my wife and I drove to Iowa for a family reunion.  No dilly-dallying around.  We high-tailed it as fast as we could.  We didn’t have a lot of time, nor a lot of money, to lolly-gag on our way.  “Interstate 80, here we come” – all the way from California to Iowa. 

God, it is clear, has other ways of “traveling”.  Take Israel, for instance, as they came out of Egypt.  The most direct route would have taken Israel northeast along a path that curved around the southeast corner of the Mediterranean Sea.  The distance would have been a mere 200 miles or so.  Even with a group as large as the nation of Israel, such a trek could have been managed in 2-3 weeks at most. 

But God had a “better idea.”  I can’t imagine how Israel felt on the first morning when the pillar of cloud headed not to the northeast, but to the southeast.  The Bible even tells us why this happened.  It wasn’t because God had a bad sense of direction.  It was because God knew that along the route would be strong armies that Israel would have to fight.  And God knew that if they encountered such difficulty, things could be really bad.  Here’s what the Word says: (Exodus 13:17-18 (NIV) – When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter.  For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”  So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle.

You see, it wasn’t that Israel didn’t have weapons to do battle – it explicitly says they left Egypt “armed for battle.”  So the problem wasn’t armaments, it was a heart problem.  For 400 years, Israel had been slaves.  They thought of themselves as slaves – a subordinate, powerless, third rate people with a God that had been on vacation for 4 centuries.  Sure, some of them remembered the stories of how God had dealt with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, but they had not had personal experience of God at work.  At least, not that they could see. 

So, the point is that Israel didn’t know God and had no reason (as far as they were concerned) to trust Him if they encountered an enemy.  They needed to learn to follow and believe in Him and His goodness.  And that takes time.  As someone once said, “It took one night to get Israel out of Egypt, but it took 40 years to get Egypt out of Israel.” 

I sometimes get frustrated with the rate at which I make spiritual progress.  I know others who feel the same way.  I hear it often: “I feel I should be a better Christian by now,” or “I feel like I should not still be struggling with this issue.”  I hear it all the time.  But the point is that God is as patient with us as He was with Israel, and that He will choose the route to the Promised Land that ensures us that when we get there, we’ll have learned to trust Him. 

It takes a long time to get Egypt (earth) out of our focus and onto God as all that we need.  How are you doing?

PRAYER: Father, thank you for choosing the right pathway for each one of our lives as we traverse this world.  Thank you for leading us out of slavery, through the desert, and into a place of learning and trusting in you.  Help us to learn our lessons well, Lord.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/14/17 – Seeking God

DayBreaks for 8/14/17: Seeking God

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2007:

I love the story of the prodigal son.  It is my favorite story that Jesus told.  As a father, I can understand the emotions in the story.  As a wayward child, I can understand what it feels like to return home again.  As the older brother, I can see my envy and pride that keeps me from rejoicing with what is good.  There is one thing, though, that I think is unique about this story.  Jesus describes the father as running to greet his home-coming son.  To the best of my knowledge, I can’t think of another situation in the Bible where God runs to meet anyone.  That doesn’t mean He doesn’t meet them, or come to us.  After all, Jesus “came” to seek and save the lost.  We could not have bridged the gap ourselves by raising ourselves up to heaven to reach Him.  So it is necessary for God to come to us.  But run to us?  That’s something that a father just doesn’t do in the middle eastern cultures.

And while I love the idea that God, in Jesus, stooped so low as to come to us, Jesus also plainly encourages us to “SEEK and ye shall find…”  Elsewhere, we’re told that if we seek God with all our heart, that He will be found.  I find great comfort in that – sort of.  The question is: how do I know when I’m seeking him with ALL my heart?  I can easily deceive myself.

In Hearing God, Dallas Willard talks about our role in seeking God: “Generally speaking, God will not compete for our attention.  Occasionally, a Saul gets knocked to the ground and so on, but we should expect that in most cases God will NOT run over us.  We must be open to the possibility of God’s addressing us in whatever way he chooses, or else we may walk right past a burning bush instead of saying, as Moses did, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why they bush is not burned up…The reality of God’s voice does not make seeking for it unnecessary.  When I seek for something, I look for it everywhere.  It is when we seek God earnestly, prepared to go out of our way to examine anything that might be his overture toward us – including the most obvious things like Bible verses or our own thoughts – that he promises to be found (Jer. 29:13).  But we will be able to seek Him only if we honestly believe that he might explicitly address us in ways suitable to his purposes in our lives.”

I fear that many times I’m far too lazy.  I want God to do all the work.  And in a sense, He has.  But we must still seek Him while He may be found.  And if we do, it is then that I believe He runs to meet us.

PRAYER: Give us hearts and energy to seek you early in the morning, at noontime, at night, and always.  May we want You more than anything! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/7/17 – Even So Grace Might Reign

DayBreaks for 8/07/17: Even So Grace Might Reign

Romans 5:20-21: And the Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Where would we be without the book of Romans and its expounding grace to us? There is no greater treatise in print on the subject, of that I’m fairly confident. Without the book of Romans, I fear we’d be miserable people.

We all know the drill: no matter how hard we try, we cannot be perfect, no matter how much we might wish to be perfect. No matter how many times we promise God that “I’ll never do that again!”, we do. In fact, I suspect that our protestations of self-will and self-strength to be able to NOT do something is a virtual guarantee that we will. Just ask Peter and he’ll tell you that the very thing he said he would never do, well, he did it less than 24 hours.

In Romans 5, we’re told that the Law came so that transgressions might increase. What on earth does that mean? Did God give the law so we would sin more? Of course not! But, without the Law we wouldn’t have known what was sin and what wasn’t. So our awareness of sin increased, for sure. Transgressions also increased because humanity grew and became more populous and with each and every human born upon this planet, there was more sin (though that’s not the point of the writer of Romans).

But how pervasive was that sin? It was as pervasive as where its rule was best demonstrated: in death and dying. And how pervasive is that? Well, I don’t know about you, but I’d say it’s darn near 100%. In fact (and I don’t think I’m overstating this) I’d go further: it is 100%. That is how pervasive sin is.

Don’t despair, though, because we need to read the last phrase of the passage again: grace abounded all the more…even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life…

When he says “grace abounded all the more”, what does he mean? More than what? More than death! Why? Because it is grace that reigns to not temporal life, but eternal life in Christ Jesus.

The grace of God is something that we can’t really wrap our minds around. It’s too big for our puny minds. We must take by faith what Scripture says about it, though, we must not ever think that I have sinned too many times, too egregiously, too frequently and that God must be totally disgusted with me. That’s not what grace says. Grace teaches us that God loves us as His children – no matter what. He may at times be disappointed for us, but not with us. He expects childish behavior out of us – believe it or not. And while he may be disappointed that we must bear the consequences for our foolishness, he will still love us now and forever as His children. Grace reigns…because God reigns.

PRAYER: Father, I am so thankful for your grace that abounds even more than sin and the effects of sin! Thank you for always loving me as your precious children even when I am willful and self-centered. Let me love you more so as to hurt you less. In Jesus name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/31/17 – A Lack of Presence

DayBreaks for 7/31/17: A Lack of Presence

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2007:

Prayer is such a strange thing.  It is talking.  It is listening.  It is listening to a voice that isn’t heard out loud by others.  It is richly rewarding but often terribly troubling.  Prayer is so vital that we cannot do without it, not really.

From time to time I have people ask me questions about prayer and praying.  Some wonder if it really makes a difference.  Some wonder if God will hear them.  Some wonder if I believe that God does miraculous healings in response to prayer, as if my belief in it makes the difference.  Some ask me to pray for them.  I’d much rather pray with them. 

In his book, Prayer – Does It Make a Difference?, Philip Yancey talks about those times when we don’t even want to call upon the Lord in prayer for whatever our reason may be  As always, I appreciate his refreshing honesty about his own emotions and thoughts: Sometimes I come to God out of sheer determination of will, which may seem inauthentic.  When I do so, however, I need not put on a mask.  God already knows the state of my soul.  I am not telling God anything new, but I am bearing witness to my love for God by praying even when I don’t feel like it.   I express my underlying faith simply by showing up.

When I am tempted to complain about God’s lack of presence, I remind myself that God has much more reason to complain about my lack of presence.

I wonder how many times God has thought: “I wonder why Galen won’t come and talk with Me about this.  I just wish he would!” 

For all the complaining we do about how God just doesn’t seem to be present, there have probably been 10 million times more that I have failed to show up in His throne room with my cares, concerns, fears and praises. 

Bottom line: I think our problems with prayer are not due to God’s failure to show up, but with ours!

PRAYER:  I thank you, Lord, for inviting us to bring all our cares and concerns to You.  Help our faith to grow so that we realize You are always there, eager and waiting for us to show up, and that You long to do far more than we can imagine or possibly believe.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/26/17 – A Giant, a Kid, a God

DayBreaks for 7/26/17: A Giant, a Kid, a God

I’m sure you remember the story of David and Goliath. For many, it is their favorite bible story (maybe especially for kids!). I always loved the story as a little boy – I think every little boy who heard it thought of themselves in the role as David!

I recently heard something that I thought was really good and wanted to pass it along. It will come at you in three parts, so let’s get started!

What is the perspective of the world when it comes to this story? Or, one might ask, what was the perspective of the Israelites as they stood there with the monster of a man, taunting them? Their reaction was: He’s too big to hit! Just think of what he might do to me if I were to hit him! He’d squash me like a bug! So, I think I’ll just leave Mr. Goliath alone because I don’t want to get squashed! I can understand that mindset, can’t you? If you’ve ever been faced with a bully, a BIG bully, you know precisely how it feels.

What is the perspective of David? It may have been something like this: He’s too big to miss! I couldn’t possibly miss him if I tried. Why, he’s bigger than my father’s stable! This is a no-lose situation! Let me at him! I think, from the way that David expressed himself, that he was full of confidence.

But, as interesting as both of those are, I think that this next perspective is the one that is the most intriguing. What was God’s perspective? Goliath is too small to matter. Watch what I’m going to do with him through a scrawny shepherd kid. I’ll squash him like a bug.

I like having that kind of God with that vantage point, don’t you?

PRAYER: Thank You for being such a BIG God who sees things for what they really are! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/21/17 – My Witness

DayBreaks for 7/21/17: My Witness

How many times in your life have you wished someone has witnessed something that happened and could back up your story? It may have been when you were a kid and it may have been something relatively insignificant, such as whether or not it was you or your sister who put their finger into the chocolate on the freshly frosted cake and messed it up. It may have been when you were in grade school when someone shoved you or called you a name and you retaliated by shoving them back – and the playground monitor saw you shove them, but missed the fact that they’d shoved you first. It may have been at the scene of a car wreck, or a crime – and you long for a witness who can verify your innocence.

You are not alone. Since day one of human history after the fall, we’ve been longing for a witness who could clear up the issues for us. Job is an outstanding example of that. Verbally and emotionally attacked by his “friends” and charged with some horrible sin that he must have committed to be suffering so, he cries out for a truth-teller, someone who saw what was true: Job 16:19 (NLT) – Even now my witness is in heaven. My advocate is there on high.

It is interesting that Job uses both the term witness and advocate in that utterance. There is a difference, you know. A witness just reports what they saw…an advocate goes to bat for you even if it’s against the odds or testimony of everyone else.

The concept of an advocate doesn’t disappear with Job. The Spirit is described as our advocate as well as counselor in John 14:26: – But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

I don’t know about you, but I have a bit of a difficult time identifying with the Holy Spirit. He is the mysterious part of the Godhead, the one we know the least about. He’s so ethereal (yet real!) and the last part of his name “Spirt” just adds to the confusion and mystery.

That’s why I really like this next verse: 1 John 2:1 (NLT) – My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. Who is our advocate in heaven? The Savior Jesus Christ! And of course, Hebrews explains how he is the perfect advocate for us.

Sometimes I think too much about the Spirit and even Jesus observing/witnessing all the things I do that I shouldn’t, and all the things I don’t do that I should. And I can get very depressed about that. But, I don’t think nearly enough about the Spirit and Jesus advocating for my plight before God Himself. If they are advocating for me, do you think for a second that the Father will disagree with them? No! They’ve held a mindset of perfect unity forever and nothing that I do is going to change that. Even if it came to a vote in the heavenly court (which it won’t!), it would be 2 versus 1 for acquittal as Jesus and the Spirit advocate for me. But perhaps the best news is that the judge himself is my advocate, Jesus: 2 Timothy 4:1 (NLT) – I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom…

Did you need that bit of good news today? I did!!!

PRAYER: Jesus, Spirit, thank you for being not just my witness but my advocate, and letting me know that you will pronounce me as righteous and innocent because of the blood You shed. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/06/17 – Caleb and Courageous Conviction, #4

DayBreaks for 7/06/17: Caleb and Courageous Conviction, #4

Our visit with Caleb comes to an end today, but there are a few more reflections I’d like to share.

Where does Caleb want as his inheritance? The hill country. That shouldn’t surprise most of us as we all love the hills and beauty of the mountains. But I don’t really think that’s why Caleb longed for this territory. Yes, he’d seen it before and gave a glowing report of the area 45 years or so earlier. He’d not forgotten what he’d seen there – and he longed to see it again. It had captured his heart and mind for four-and-one-half decades. But I think there are possibly deeper reasons for Caleb’s desire for this place.

But first, think about it for a minute. Caleb was 85 – get that and let it settle in – eighty-five years old! In order to take that hill country, what must you do?

FIRST: you must overcome the fear of the giants, the descendants of Anak, who lived there. Those very people had terrified the 10 spies 45 years ago and no one had yet routed them from their land. Yet Caleb wasn’t afraid. Why? The rest of the world looked at the giants there and said, “No way! We’d be slaughtered!” The Israelites looked at one another and said, “We’re like grasshoppers in their eyes!” Caleb looked at them and said, “They’re nothing compared to God!” It all depends on our focus, doesn’t it?

SECONDLY: to take hill country, you must attack uphill – and that, my friends, is the recipe for a military disaster. Yet Caleb’s 85-year-old heart and legs were crying out for just one more challenge – one more charge against the greatest of odds. He didn’t want to settle down in the lowlands and live a life of ease! He wasn’t afraid of the giants at the top nor discouraged by the steep slopes. As far as he was concerned, the victory was already won because God has promised it! He wanted one more adventure with God before he was finished. How hungry are you for adventures with Him?

So why did Caleb want this land? This is conjecture, but again, I think there were several reasons:

I think when he first saw it, he fell in love with the place. Who wouldn’t, after 400 years of slavery in Egypt and the hot burning sands of the Egyptian desert! Here was lush green, fertile land and beauty.

But I think there were far more significant reasons he may have wanted the hill country. I think he wanted the younger generations to learn something from the impending victory over the hill people giants. He wanted them to see and understand that nothing is ever impossible for those who have God’s promises in hand. They’d heard stories of the giants that terrified their parents and grandparents leading to the wilderness wandering. And here was an 85-year-old man with enough courage to take them on..uphill. This generation needed to learn from the older generation. And the younger generations today need to learn from us who are older. But that puts the onus on us, doesn’t it? What kind of example are we setting for them? Are we just getting old and long in the tooth and therefore we have quit attacking hills and giants when the Lord has said we should charge up the hill? Are we content now to settle into a pew and snooze quietly into the sunset? Our giants today are cultural and moral giants, but they can be defeated as surely as Anak’s descendants. No matter how old you are, you can still teach those who are younger about God’s faithfulness and goodness, about how He rewards the courageous who step out on His promises boldly with attack uphill, even in their old age. There is great power in an enduring witness of a life lived well to the end!

There’s an interesting historical note here. Many years after Caleb died, the hill country was still in the possession of his descendants. And finally, a young shepherd king rose to the throne of Israel and put his first capital in Hebron for a number of years. This was the land Caleb had conquered! Why did David choose Hebron? It was partly because of Caleb’s actions around 400 years earlier – it was conquered and secured territory. Jerusalem was not. Why? Because the hearts of the Israelites had grown faint again after coming into the Promised Land and they’d failed to remove the inhabitants of the Jerusalem area. It fell to David to take possession of what would become the new capital, Jerusalem.

One final thought before we say goodbye to Caleb for now. I was reading about endurance runners in Sports Illustrated and one of them made this comment (paraphrased): Endurance isn’t so much a matter of the legs – it is a matter of the heart and the mind.

Let us not think about the age of our limbs or the decades of our service to Christ, but rather about how we can finish well, like Caleb; of our how hearts can rise to a new challenge even now and how we can bless the younger generations as we do.

I don’t know about you, but I sure am looking forward to meeting Caleb who surely must be one of the most neglected heroes in the Bible!

PRAYER: Oh, God, how amazingly wonderful you are! Thank you for such a shining example that Caleb has set before us! Give us hearts and minds to rise to the challenge for as long as we live! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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