DayBreaks for 10/15/20 – The Street Orphan and God

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In No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, Max Lucado tells the story of a time when he was a missionary in Brazil. It was very common for young children – some no doubt orphans – to beg for something to eat. One day, while on his way to teach a class, a small boy tapped Max on the hand and asked, “Pao, Senhor?” (Bread, sir?)

Max had grown familiar with this sort of request and always tried to help when he could. He told the young boy to come with him and they went into a shop where Max always bought his coffee. He told the young boy to go and choose a pastry and the little fellow excitedly ran to the counter to make his selection.

Max took his coffee to the end of the counter where people would sit to drink their coffee, but the boy was not in sight. Looking around, he saw the boy outside, face pressed against the window, looking into the café.

When the boy saw Max, he scampered in to Max and looking up at him from about belt-buckle level, said “Obrigato.” He paused for a second and said, “Muito obrigato!”, or “Thank you very much!”

Max’s response was wonderful. He said that those two words in Portuguese stirred his heart to the point that he wanted to buy the entire stock of pastries for the young boy because of the gratitude that he’d shown for such a simple gift!

In reflecting on the encounter, Max made such a simple, yet profound observation: if he was so moved by those two words from the little boy expressing such gratitude for a piece of pastry, how must God feel when we take the time to thank him, really, really thank him, for saving our souls?

When is the last time you did that?

PRAYER: Thank you, God, thank you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/11/20 – No Matter the Prognosis

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NOTE: I am on a “retirement/anniversary” trip and will be out until late September. In the meantime, I’m sharing recycled DayBreaks for 2010. Thanks for your understanding!

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2010:

In his book If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil, Randy Alcorn recalls his friend, writer Ethel Herr, who had a double mastectomy. Two months later doctors discovered that the cancer had spread. One of Herr’s friends, shocked and fumbling for words, asked her, “And how do you feel about God now?” Reflecting on the moment the question was posed to her, Herr says:

“As I sought to explain what has happened in my spirit, it all became clearer to me. God has been preparing me for this moment. He has undergirded me in ways I’ve never known before. He has made himself increasingly real and precious to me. He has given to me joy such as I’ve never known before—and I’ve no need to work at it, it just comes, even amidst the tears. He has taught me that no matter how good my genes are or how well I take care of my diet and myself, he will lead me on whatever journey he chooses and will never leave me for a moment of that journey. And he planned it all in such a way that step by step, he prepared me for the moment when the doctor dropped the last shoe … God is good, no matter what the diagnosis or the prognosis, or the fearfulness of the uncertainty of having neither. The key to knowing God is good is simply knowing him.” 

Isn’t it good to have a traveling companion like Jesus, who will go with you on every step of your journey?  He has chosen the journey for each of us.  He could have chosen it and patted us on the back and said, “Good luck!  I hope to see you when it’s all over!”  But he didn’t.  He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  I have a hunch he emphasized the word “never” when he said that.  He wanted us to be sure.

I don’t know where your journey has already led you.  I don’t know where your journey will take you.  I don’t even know where my journey will take me.  We have this assurance, though: it isn’t really the journey that leads us, is it He Who leads us, and no matter the prognosis, we can safely complete the journey with Him at our side!

PRAYER: Thank You for choosing the journey that is perfect for each one of us, and for promising to travel with us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/20/20 – Just a Piece of Wood?

Imagine yourself sitting across a table from someone who is perplexed and puzzled by life and the Bible. Perhaps they’d thought that becoming a Christian would solve all their problems and doubts. But it didn’t. Maybe they’re an unbeliever who is trying to find something to make life worth living. And so, they ask, “What is it that is truly important, that really, really matters?” And then they sit quietly staring at you expecting words of wisdom to fall from your lips. What would you say?

Some might mumble something about the two greatest commandments – surely that must be the answer, right? After all, how can love ever be the wrong answer? The point is that those are the two greatest commandments, but they mean diddly-squat if the main gist of the book is missed.

Fortunately, we don’t have to guess as to the answer. Paul answered it for us in 1 Corinthians 15 when he penned these words: For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures. That he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

There you have it. That’s it. Too simple? It wasn’t simple from God or Jesus’ standpoint. The truth is this: what matters is the cross and the events following.

How can a couple pieces of wood be what counts? As Max Lucado put it in No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, “History has idolized it and despised it, gold-plated it and burned it, worn and trashed it. History has done everything to it but ignore it. That’s the one option that the cross does not offer…Its bottom line is sobering: if the account is true, it is history’s hinge. Period. If not, it is history’s hoax.”

Of course, it wasn’t the pieces of wood that made it special. It was the transaction that took place there: the transference of my sin onto his lashed shoulders, him taking my sin into his pierced hands…and paying the price for it that I should have to pay.

What matters? THAT is what matters.

PRAYER: Jesus, when I begin to doubt your love, to think that my sin is too great a burden even for you, when life crushes in and suffocates me, remind me what matters and turn my heart to contemplate what happened there. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/31/20 – Standing Before God

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DayBreaks for 1/31/20: Standing Before God

My faith roots come from a very legalistic background. A common question posed to keep us in fear regarding salvation was, “If you sin and are run over by a truck and killed before you can ask for forgiveness, will you be saved?” The answer they wanted to hear was “No” because it was only fear that could keep us young people in line. We were taught (and this part is true) that God was always watching and we might be able to fool people but never God – and that some day the books would be balanced and we’d find ourselves in the most serious trouble imaginable. And so we cried and literally shook with fear for our sinfulness. 

But flip that argument around: are we any better if God is kind, but also safe and controllable? I think not. If God were kind, safe and controllable we have an entirely different problem: he wouldn’t be God at all.

You see, small gods do small things – because that’s all they can do. I like how Steve Brown put it in A Scandalous Freedom: “If you have never stood before God and felt afraid, then probably you have never stood before God. (Heb. 10:31) You have stood before an idol of your own making. Worse, your life will remain silly and superficial because you worship a silly and superficial God.”

At the same time, Jesus says his yoke is easy and his burden is light. How can he say that? Because as Aquinas said, the cross didn’t secure the love of God, but the love of God secured the cross. All who believe have been adopted. Not only have we been reconciled to that great and mighty and totally holy God by Christ’s sacrifice, but something else happened: we received Jesus’ righteousness – and not just a part of it, but all of it…ALL the goodness of Christ was credited to your account and mine.

What is the practical application of this wondrous truth? Here it is: if you are a Christian, it means that God will never be angry with you again. He has turned his wrath away from you because he credited ALL of Christ’s righteousness to your account. And here it is in a nutshell: how can God be angry at perfection?

It is a truth too good to be true – but it is true. Find freedom because Christ died to give it to you!

PRAYER: God, I can hardly believe you see me as holy and righteous as Christ because you’ve given me his righteousness as my inheritance as your child! No words can ever express enough gratitude for what you’ve done! Thank you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 1/27/20 – The Truly Great Emancipator

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DayBreaks for 1/27/20: The Truly Great Emancipator

There is a story, true or not, about Abraham Lincoln and a time he went to a slave market. There he noticed a lovely, young African American woman being auctioned to the highest bidder. He bid on her and won. He could see the fiery anger in the young woman’s eyes and could imagine what she was thinking. Another white man who will buy me, use me, and then discard me.

As Lincoln walked off with is “property”, he turned to the woman and said, “You’re free.”

“Yeah. What does that mean?” she replied.

“It means that you’re free.”

“Does that mean I can say whatever I want to say?”

“Yes,” replied Lincoln, smiling, “it means you can say whatever you want to say.”

“Does it mean,” she asked incredulously, “that I can be whatever I want to be?”

“Yes, you can be whatever you want to be.”

“Does it mean,” the young woman said hesitantly, “that I can go wherever I want to go?”

“Yes, it means you are free and can go wherever you want to go.”

“Then,” said the young woman with tears welling up in her eyes, “I think I shall go with you.”

This is a story of what God has done for us – and what the Christian faith is all about. We’ve been bought with a price. We have a new master, one who, once he paid the price, set us free. Who wouldn’t want to go with such a master?

PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, that when you set us free, we are free indeed forevermore!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 11/28/19 – The Blessings of Darkness, #3

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DayBreaks for 11/28/19: The Blessing of Darkness, #3

The two Psalms in scripture that have not a single ray of light or hope are Psalm 39 and 88. And while you may think it is strange to be talking about this topic on Thanksgiving, let me assure you that it is very, very appropriate.

In Psalm 39, the writer concludes that God has turned his face away from the sufferer. This is about the worst thing that an ancient Jew could have imagined. The implication is that God no longer sees because he no longer cares.

In Psalm 88, the writer concludes that darkness is his only friend, the only companion that is still with him – not even God is nearby. God couldn’t find him if he tried because the darkness is all there is.

It is interesting that these two Psalms are in Scripture, but they are prophetic. It would be Jesus who would cry out that God had turned his face away and forsaken him on the cross. And it was that same Jesus who would be swallowed up by the darkness that covered the earth during his crucifixion, but more so the darkness of our sin he took upon us and the darkness of the sealed tomb.

Jesus knows the darkness, too. He didn’t only know the blazing glory of heaven, but the darkest darkness of the entire world as he bore the sins of the entire world.

But the story doesn’t end in darkness, does it! The One who suffered that darkness revealed to us the faithfulness of God, the one we might accuse of our misfortune and the world of blackness that swallows us up. He rose in glory like the sun and he is the reminder to us that no matter how dark our darkness may be on this Thanksgiving – or at any other time in our lives – that God sees things through to the Light and will bring us even out of the darkness of the tomb into His eternal Light!

PRAYER: Jesus, we long to live surrounded eternally by your Light. Give us strength to persevere in this world that is often so dark. We give you thanks this day for the glorious future that you have guaranteed to us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/11/19 – A Day in the Vineyard

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DayBreaks for 11/11/19: A Day in the Vineyard

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. When he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the market place; and to those he said, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ And so they went. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did the same thing. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day long?’ “They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last group to the first.’ When those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius. When those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they grumbled at the landowner, saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.’ But he answered and said to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’” – Matthew 20:1-15 (NASB)

The world has been going through tough times economically.  Certainly it has affect you or someone you love.  Jobs are hard to find.  People are taking jobs that they otherwise would not have even applied for, let alone considered.  I know people who would be thrilled to find a job at minimum wage right now.  They would jump at the chance to earn any money.  I’m sure you know people in that situation, too.

The story of the laborers in the vineyard has always been an interesting story to me.  We have a sense of fairness that is built in us by God.  As we consider this story, it is a good exercise for us to put ourselves in the place of those hired first and who worked all day for a denarius (the wages for an entire day’s labor).  We would be glad for the work, right?  We would feel a denarius was fair wages – so there’s no complaint there.  But if we came to the end of that day and learned that people who’d been hired at the end of the day for just one hour got the same pay – wouldn’t you be a bit upset?  Then, let’s place ourselves in the situation of the last-minute hires: we’d be happy for the work and pay and extremely surprised by the unexpected generosity when we received the wages for a full day.  We wouldn’t appreciate the argument put forth by the full day workers – we might be afraid that they’d convince the vineyard owner that he was, indeed, being foolish and not thinking clearly. 

The story is intended to make us appreciate grace – the grace that God has shown to us.  It may be informative for us to hear the rabbinic version of the story.  In the version told by rabbis of the time, the late workers worked so hard that they accomplished in one hour what took the other people a full day to accomplish – and they were rewarded for their extra-hard work.  This, however, is not part of the biblical story.  Jesus says absolutely nothing about how hard either the full-day workers or one-hour workers worked.  That’s not the point.  Jesus’ emphasis is on the generosity of the employer (God in the parable), who lavishes His rewards on both the long-time workers and the newcomers.  As Philip Yancey put it: “No one gets cheated and everyone gets rewarded, far beyond what they deserve.”

PRAYER: Help us not to be envious, Lord, of what You give others nor to compare it to what You have chosen to give us.  May we realize that we have no claim at all on Your goodness, nor any reason to expect goodness from You at all.  Let us understand a bit more fully the depth of the riches of Your grace that abounds toward us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/12/19 – How Quickly We Forget

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DayBreaks for 9/12/19: How Quickly We Forget

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

The long, hot summer of Cloverdale is nearly over!  I’m so glad.  I hate it when it is hot.  The summers here are long…the heat can get really bad.  And after a few months of summertime, I tend to forget how much I appreciate the cool of fall and even the “cold” of winter (although it doesn’t get all that cold here!)  And, wouldn’t you know it, after a few months of the “cold” I forget what it feels like to be warm and I start to long for the warm, lazy springtime.  Such a fickle creature I am.

We don’t seem to have much capacity for remember things very well.  Sure, I remember my multiplication tables just fine, thank you.  But I often either forget or take for granted the love of my wife or children, the smell of the forest floor after a light rain or the roar of the ocean.  If I stop and think about those things hard enough, I can remember them to some degree…but never quite like the real thing.

We are getting older and perhaps that’s partially why our “rememberers” don’t work so well any more.  There may, however, be other factors that have conditioned us to be forgetful.  In Crazy Love, Francis Chan wrote: “We are programmed to focus on what we don’t have, bombarded multiple times throughout the day with what we need to buy that will make us feel happier or sexier or more at peace.  This dissatisfaction transfers over to our thinking about God.  We forget that we already have everything we need in Him.”

Are either you, or someone you know, disillusioned with God?  Do you feel that if He just gave you a bit more of “this or that” you’d find it easier to love Him or believe in Him or accept His will for your life?  Is it possible that our frustrations with God have been inadvertently influenced by marketers who labor at the business of making us feel discontent with what we DO have?

Chan’s conclusion: “Because we don’t often think about the reality of who God is, we quickly forget that He is worthy to be worshipped and loved.”  And that is true whether we never receive another single thing from God in our entire lives.

Let us take to heart the words of the fisherman from 2 Peter 1:3: His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  We’ve got it all.  Don’t let frustrations and lack in other areas of your life ever be confused or cause you to think that God has shortchanged you about anything!

PRAYER: God, keep us from ever thinking that You have shortchanged us in any area of our lives!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/09/19 – Handmade in Heaven

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DayBreaks for 9/09/19: Handmade in Heaven

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

You’ve read the labels before: “Handmade in Italy.”  “Made by hand in Ireland.”  “Handmade in China.”  Do all three of those statements give you the same feeling?  For many years, “handmade in China” would not stir one to think all that highly of the product, unless it was some special type of pottery or other work of art.  For a long time, “Made in Japan” and “Made in China” had reputations of suggesting poor quality.  To some extent, that has change in more recent times, but problems with toxic paints on toys and other manufacturing issues have once again made us skeptical of things made in places such as China.

On the other hand, “Handmade in Italy” probably would cause one to think that the product is worth something extra.  There is a higher reputation for things made in Italy (for example) versus China.  And the “handmade” part of the label leads one to suspect that an artisan made that particular product. 

What would be the most priceless artifact in history?  It might be hard to say, but I’d venture a guess that if there were a table or chair or some article made out of wood that could be verified as being handmade by Jesus that it would be the most priceless treasure ever found.  Bids would become astronomical!  Alas, no such artifact has ever been found. 

That is not to say, however, that we have nothing that was handmade by Jesus.  We do – plenty of things that were handmade by Him.  The sun, moon, stars, the oceans, mountains, animals…all were made by Him (John 1:3).  Truly, we live in a world of wonders! 

But the very best news is what John 1:3 implies: it means that you are handmade by Jesus!  Scripture speaks about this in many places, including Job 10:10-11 and Psalm 139 (my favorite Psalm).  Now what does THAT say about you?  You are priceless…far more so than a table formed under the blows and gouging planes that Jesus once held in His hands.  Jesus never died for a table or chair, though they’d be priceless today if they could be located.  But He did die for you. 

You are “Handmade by the Lord” and infinitely more precious than anything else in this world!

PRAYER: Thank You for forming us and shaping us by Your precious hands!  May we be worthy representatives of Your handiwork and bring glory to our Maker!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/13/19 – Forever Freed

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DayBreaks for 5/13/19: Forever Freed

John 8:36 (ESV) – So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

“Freedom!” It echoed from the lips of William Wallace and countless men and women throughout history. Freedom is precious – and it is something that the oppressed long for. Countless lives have been lost in pursuit of freedom.

In the context of today’s verse, the Jews claimed that they had never been the slaves of any man. That, technically, is not true. They were enslaved many times throughout their history, but their fierce determination to be free led them to stretch the truth in their statement to Jesus.  

It wasn’t so much slavery to other persons that Jesus was talking about. He was talking about something much more difficult. He was talking about enslavement to sin. But as William Barclay put it, we often say or think, “Surely I can do what I like with my own life.” He goes on: “But the point is that the man who sins does not do what he likes; he does what sin likes. A man can let a habit get such a grip of him that he cannot break it. He can allow a pleasure to master him so completely that he cannot do without it. He can let some self-indulgence so dominate him that he is powerless to break away from it. He can get into such a state that in the end, as Seneca said, he hates and loves his sins at one and the same time. So far from doing what he likes, the sinner has lost the power to do what he likes. He is a slave to the habits, the self-indulgences, the wrong pleasures which have mastered him. This is precisely Jesus’ point. No man who sins can ever be said to be free.”

What does slavery to sin mean? It means we’re enslaved to it’s power to overrule our own best intention to be obedient. It means we’re trapped in a cesspool of shame, guilt, embarrassment and regret.

As we often hear, “Freedom is not free”, meaning that there is always a price that is paid for freedom, and freedom from sin is no exception to that rule.

Do you long to be free from your guilt, shame and regret? You don’t need to be if you are a child of the King. If the Son has set you free, Jesus himself says that you are truly free. No need to carry those things on your shoulders for one more moment. Trust his promise. He who set you free and paid the price for that freedom is honored when you trust that he is as good as his word.

Prayer: For the freedom you purchased for us, Jesus, we humbly thank you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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