DayBreaks for 7/12/18 – Out of the Kingdom of Darkness

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DayBreaks for 7/12/18: Out of the Kingdom of Darkness

The world watched with baited breath as a small army of divers and rescue personnel descended into a treacherous and deadly cave in an effort to rescue the “Wild Boars” – a soccer team and their coach, who had become trapped when monsoon rains flooded parts of the cave system. For a period approaching 10-12 days, the boys and their coach were in the cave with very little food. They drank water that dripped from the cave ceiling. And they were in darkness…total, utter darkness. I read that one of the boys in particular was terrified of darkness but he went with his teammates in an effort to overcome his fear. 

Fortunately, seemingly miraculously, all twelve boys and their coach made it out alive thanks to the sacrifices of their rescuers. Tragically, on Thai navy SEAL diver died during the effort to rescue these boys.

Colossians 1:13 (ESV) – He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son…

If you want to know what the kingdom of darkness looks like, just ask those boys. They know what darkness means. You can’t see. It is a place of fear. It is a place of want. It is uncomfortable and threatening. You long for light. It gnaws at you and causes you to give up hope and despair of rescue.

If you want to know what gratitude feels like, just ask those boys. Can you begin to imagine how their hearts leaped when the British divers with a headlight on their foreheads first popped up in the darkness and found the boys? Can you imagine how hope must have been reborn in that instant that they first saw light again? Can you try to imagine how each boy felt when at long last they exited the mouth of the cave that had held them captive and threatened them with certain death unless a miracle happened?

I don’t think most of us have a clue as to how dark was the kingdom that held us in its clutches. We don’t often see it as darkness because it is a darkness of the spirit brought about by the blackness of sin. The enemy of our souls makes it appear as light – he’s such a good liar – and we fall for it over and over again. For a sense of what it was like inside the caves, see this (and that was the easy part – try imagining even that without flashlights in passages as small as 15 inches wide!)

But miraculously, someone came searching for us, found us, and led us out of that inky black place into a kingdom diametrically opposite to that which held us. He is the Light, and in Him is no darkness at all.

But just as with the twelve boys and their coach, someone gave their life to rescue us. Unlike that navy SEAL diver, though, the one who gave his life for us came back to life and now guides us through the darkness of the former kingdom to the light. He’s been through that blackness of death that would kill us and been victorious over it so that he knows the way out of the darkness. We need not fear. He will not fail us!  

We should be terrified of the darkness that surrounds us for when it is seen clearly it is terrifying. But we should never doubt our rescue or our Rescuer. 

And one more thing: our Rescuer has turned the tables on darkness. While it was dangerous for us as we were trapped there, now that we have been delivered not only do we no longer need to fear the darkness itself, but he has made us dangerous to the kingdom of darkness because now we have experienced the way out and can help others find the Light. 

It’s a dark, dark world. Let’s be brighter. 

PRAYER: Jesus, all glory to you for descending into the darkness, experiencing it, for your victory over it, so that you could lead us into your kingdom of Light and Life. May we never take the Light for granted! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 7/4/18 – Is This It?

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DayBreaks for 7/04/18: Is This It?

I find it interesting that some of the DayBreaks I wrote in years past are just as relevant, though perhaps in a slightly different context, than when they were first written.

From the DayBreaks Archive, June 2008:

Just this past week, the stock market fell 380-some points in one day.  It wasn’t the only day the market fell.  In fact, June was perhaps the worst month for the stock market since the great depression, according to one news source.  On the same day, oil prices surpassed $140 per barrel, and some were saying that it’ll blow past $150 very soon, in spite of the Saudi’s agreeing to pump some more oil.  The situation with Iran doesn’t look promising.  Due to the cost of energy, the cost of food is rising rapidly, General Motors is struggling to survive and other large companies that have seemed to be rock solid pieces of the American financial foundation are sinking.  People are being let go.  Inflation seems to be a real threat, even as the housing market continues to sink. 

Last Thursday night, my wife and I attended a financial seminar on retirement planning and received some good guidance on investments, etc.  One of the key thoughts that kept running through my mind was this: I’m so grateful that I’m not dependent on financial investments either for this life or the next.  Not even a million shares of Google could get me into heaven.  Nor can it feed my belly or assuage hunger. 

Does it scare me at all to see what is happening in America and the world?  Yeah, I guess it does a bit.  More because I worry about my kids and grandkids and what their world might be like.  God, however, isn’t affected by the falling stock market, rumors of wars, greenhouse gases, the price of oil or an uncertain future.  There is no such thing as an uncertain future to Him.

Amid all the panic, as Christians we can be lights in the darkness, projecting the truth of what we know in our hearts, simply this: this is God’s world and all will end exactly as He wills it – without exception. 

We, of all people, should not run around panicked about what may or may not be.  We, of all people, should be filled with peace, even as we see the world around us start to disintegrate at a faster rate because we know Who holds the future – and us – in His hands.

Is this the birth pangs of the end?  I honestly don’t know. Either way, let us lift our voices with John the beloved disciple and say, Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

PRAYER: Lord, you hold the times and the seasons in Your hand.  You alone have the wisdom to bring sense out of this chaos, to bring perfection out of such brokenness.  Let us be harbingers of the coming of the King, preparing the way for the coming of the Lord!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/29/18 – Three Reasons

 

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DayBreaks for 6/29/18: Three Reasons

From the DayBreaks Archive, June 2008:

When was the last time that someone did something that made you feel unimportant?  Chances are that it was fairly recently. It may have been the way you were treated by a co-worker or a boss.  It may have been the fact that your spouse didn’t greet you warmly when you got home last night.  It might even be that your dog wouldn’t even give you a warm sendoff as you went out the door this morning!  (You know it’s getting bad when your dog shines you on!)  Some were raised by parents who made them feel worthless – like human trash.

It is easy to get down on ourselves.  We grew up in a school system where our mistakes were pointed out.  Have you ever noticed how it is the errors on the page that are marked and counted instead of the right answers?  We might feel better about ourselves if the positive things we did were highlighted instead of the mistakes we made!

I ran across a quote from Lorne Sanny, the long-time head of the Navigators that I think is worth sharing.  It has a very biblical answer to the question of why we are important and valued by God.  Here it is:

“I can give you three reasons why you are important to God:

First, simply because of who you are;

Second, because of what you cost, and;

Third, because of what you can become.”

Who are we?  We are the pinnacle of God’s creation  –  made in His very image.  It was only after God made man on the sixth day of creation that He was moved to declare that what He’d done was VERY good (Gen. 1:31).  Everything else that He’d made up to then only rated “It is good.”  Mankind, however, was something else!  Psalm 8:5-6 says we were made only slightly lower than the angels, we’re crowned with glory and honor and we are charged as rulers over the works of His hands!

What did we cost?  You know the answer to that one already.  We were purchased not with the blood of bulls and goats, but with the blood of the Son of God (1 Peter 1.18-19).  In this age of multi-billion dollar mega-mergers and huge corporate buyouts we are somewhat dulled to the scope of the finances involved.  Yet not one corporate CEO or president has yet bought out their enemies by literally bleeding to death for them.  Why?  The cost is too great.

What can you become?  You can become like a bright star in God’s heavenly galaxy (Phil. 2:5); a partaker in the Divine nature (2 Peter 1:4); a pillar in God’s temple (Rev. 3:12); like a tree besides fresh waters (Ps. 1:3); and certainly not least, His son or daughter (Rev. 21:7).

Never let anyone tell you that you are not important or valuable.  God begs to differ!

PRAYER:  We often feel so small and insignificant in this vast universe that was created by Your hands.  When we feel useless and insignificant, help us to remember that truth that You find us precious and that we are important in Your eyes!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/27/18 – Buying an Occupied Field from Prison

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DayBreaks for 6/27/18: Buying an Occupied Field from Prison

From the DayBreaks Archive, June 2008:

The year was 586 B.C. and Jerusalem was being threatened with obliteration.  Eleven years earlier, the Babylonians had sacked the city and led the cream of the crop of the residents away into captivity across 700 miles of scorching desert.  In the intervening years, those left behind in Jerusalem grew restive, then began to plot how they might be able to throw off the yoke of Babylonian rule.  The people believed that if they could only get Egypt to fight with them, then they’d be freed…at least from Babylon.  So, Egypt agreed to help. 

When the Babylonians heard of the plot, they were very angry, and their army again marched against the city.  Egypt turned tail and ran, realizing they would be defeated and had nothing to gain in the looming fight.  Israel stood alone against the full fury of Babylon. 

Jeremiah, the prophet of God, was in prison.  He had been falsely accused of conspiring with the Babylonians and the people of Jerusalem were tired of hearing his preaching about their need of repentance.  One day, while imprisoned, Jeremiah’s cousin, Hanamel, showed up and asked Jeremiah if he’d buy Hanamel’s field that just so happened to be located in Jeremiah’s home town of Anathoth.  Jeremiah didn’t waste one minute – but counted out 17 shekels, had a deed drawn up and set aside for safe keeping.  Oh, and there’s one more thing you should know about this strange deal: at the time, the army of Babylon was camped on the very property that Hanamel was trying selling to his cousin, Jeremiah.  Jeremiah knew that, but bought the land anyway.

As far as we know, Jeremiah never set foot on the land he’d bought, never built upon it, neither planted nor harvested any crop from that land.  Jeremiah, when he bought it, had no idea if he’d ever be a free man again.  So, what possessed him to buy this piece of property?  God told him to, and that was all Jeremiah needed.  Jeremiah knew and understood something that everyone else seemed to have forgotten: God is as good as His word.  And God had said that the Jews would one day buy fields and build houses and raise crops, that those who were exiled would return.  Jeremiah believed those words, and he acted on the hope that beat in his heart.

Why?  Jeremiah, unlike the rest of the people in Jerusalem, had hope.  He wasn’t filled with wishful thinking.  One key difference is that hope results in action while wishful thinking is just that: sitting and thinking.  Jeremiah wanted to participate in the plan of God for His people and by buying the field, he gave wings to his hope – and gave hope to many others who witnessed this strange man acting in a strange way, as if saying, “I know the Babylonians are on the land, I know I’m imprisoned by my own people and I don’t know if I’ll ever be set free, but I know God and I want to be part of His unfolding plan for His people.”

Hope acts.  Hope is infectious.  Hope won’t let us sit still when we see God at work.  How’s your hope?

PRAYER:  God our Father, in a dark age fill our hearts with hope like Jeremiah’s and let us realize that You are at work here, that though the enemy may be camped against Your church, that Your plan will not be defeated for the world, for the church, or for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/26/18 – The Measure of Success

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DayBreaks for 6/26/18: The Measure of Success

From the DayBreaks Archive, June 2008:

How can you tell if someone has been a successful person or not?  There are those who are considered successful if they attain some position or career or relationship that they have pursued.  There are those who don’t seem to have accomplished much in terms of prestige, money or honor, but who have been considered successful: Mother Theresa’s life could hardly be pointed out as a failure, not even in the world’s eyes. 

As we are about eight years into the 21st century, I wonder what success would look like for companies that I’ve worked for, for employees who have been near and dear to my hearts, from family (children, grandchildren), for the country that I live it.  I would think that we could ask a wide range of people to describe what would look like success in this century and get an even wider range of responses. 

But perhaps the most crucial question is this: what would be a measure of success for the church of Jesus in the 21st century?  Would it be necessary to convert a quarter of the world’s unbelievers to be successful?  50%?  95%?  100%?  Would the church still not be considered successful, even if that happened, because there would still be poverty and hunger in the world?  Would success demand not only conversions, but full bellies in all the world?  No more killing?  Peace?

I am not wise enough to really answer those questions.  I know that there are those who see only a dim, bleak future for the church as we are still in the infancy of the millennia.  I can understand that point of view.  Things do look rather bleak and dark.  But that’s when God has always done His best work – when it’s bleak and dark.  At the beginning of the creation of the world, it was darkness that covered the face of the deep, and God did pretty good work in making the Himalaya’s and Pacific, didn’t He?  It was dark in the tomb of Lazarus and later on, in Jesus’ own tomb, and God did more than just “pretty good work” in those instances.  God can work just fine in the dark – and in fact, when it’s dark, the light is all the more visible.

We tend to forget what it was like for the brand new church in the early century or two after the church’s birth at Pentecost.  The first 4 centuries of the church were a time when our first brothers and sisters faced odds of success more incredibly difficult than ours.  And yet, as J. P. Moreland so wonderfully put it in The Kingdom Triangle, “…yet they were so victorious that today we name our children Peter and Paul and our dogs Caesar and Nero!” 

Yes, that’s a certain measure of success.  We see dark times, but we forget that in the past 50 years, there has been an incredible explosion of Christianity all over the world.  It’s happening everywhere in the world except for one place: Western culture.

Don’t give up.  Success is guaranteed by God’s own promise.  I will build my kingdom, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it.  Just remember this: the kingdom of God begins in the hearts of men and women just like you.  The enemy has laid siege works against your heart to discourage and depress you.  Don’t let him prevail when God’s success is just ahead.

PRAYER: Holy One, let us see some of Your victories in our own lives and the lives of those around us that we may be filled with the encouragement of what You are doing in this world!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/25/18 – One Week in Heaven

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DayBreaks for 5/25/18: One Week in Heaven

As of last night (5/24/18) my mom has been in heaven for one week. I don’t have anything special or profound to say today, but thinking about her there as brought me joy and peace. You see, she’d struggled with dementia for about the past 6-7 years and it had gotten really, really bad. It was one of those situations where you pray for the Lord to relieve the suffering and bring wholeness to her body and soul. And I believe he has done so.

I find myself wondering what it is like to transition from this earth to heavenly spheres. I don’t believe that for His children that they are ever alone because we have his very solemn promise to never leave or forsake us. So I don’t believe my mom was afraid or left alone for even a nanosecond. I believe she saw the Lord immediately and that he gently took her hand and walked her home.

I wonder how quickly we see our loved ones who have gone before. Does God give them a “heads-up” that someone they love is coming home so that they can meet them right away and have an unearthly celebration? I’d like to think so, but I really don’t know. I find comfort in believing that we do see the right away – and it seems just like God to do something like that for us. So I choose to believe that my mom has seen my dad again, that they’ve both been reunited with the little girl they lost in infancy, and with their parents.

How long does it take to meet the favorite characters from Scripture? (In a way, talking about “how long” is rather silly because there is no time there, but I can’t wrap my mind around that reality.) Has mom met Mary, Esther, Abraham, Daniel, Moses, Peter, John and David already? My daughter rather humorously mused that perhaps those folks have an appointment book so you can schedule time to meet them. I rather doubt that, but who knows?

So what is the point of all this? I guess it is simply this: the life to come will be utterly unlike this one. It will be incredibly glorious. It will be free from dementia, cancer, tears, pain and death. I believe those things because the Word declares them to be true. But I can’t imagine it. All I can do is get excited about this: 1 Corinthians 2:9 – That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 

That is all I need to know to understand that whatever heaven is like, however it all works, will be absolutely terrific. What our loved ones who have gone before have seen and experience exceeds our wildest imaginings.

Mom, I love you and miss having you here, but I’m sure you are enjoying your one week anniversary in a place we cannot begin to even dream of.

PRAYER: How comforting are your promises, how great your assurances are to us, Lord. I thank you for leading my mom safely home and for the place you prepared for her. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/21/18 – Before and Now

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DayBreaks for 5/21/18: Before and Now

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:

Through some recent reading, I’ve been led to contemplate the importance of the human concept of our origins.  I know the Biblical concept: man was made in the very image of God.  We come from Him, we are to live for Him, and we will some day return to Him – and at that time we’ll all have to give an answer for how we lived in this world (Heb. 9:27). 

It’s quite a different story if you reject the idea of creation and of the existence of a Divine Being.  Without believing in a Divinely ordained destiny for all of creation (including mankind), you are left to believe that everything is the product of chance and mathematical probabilities.  It means that you were born for no reason other than a chance meeting of reproductive materials.  It means that your life has no teleos – no goal toward which it is moving.  It means that when you die, it’s done, period, over and out. 

Jeremiah, at one point in his life, had an encounter with God that reveals the fallacy of such thinking.  In Jeremiah 1:4-5 (NIV), he wrote these words: The word of the LORD came to me, saying,  ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’”

God told Jeremiah wonderful things: “I knew you before you were even formed in the womb.  I didn’t just know that you were going to be, but I knew YOU.”  How could it be that God knew Jeremiah even before he was conceived?  It can only be that God had plans for a particular person (Jeremiah), and that God quite literally knew him.  That was the “before” in Jeremiah’s life.  And it was through understanding that he had a “before”, and a call for the present (he was consecrated) and that there was a purpose for his life (he was given as a prophet to the nations), that Jeremiah found meaning.  It is the “before” that gives the “now” meaning.

God didn’t just know Jeremiah before he was born.  He knew all of us.  David says that God knew every day that was appointed for him to live before he was born, that every thought he’d ever have and word he’d speak was known before he literally had a single thought.  In Ephesians, the great apostle Paul says that God chose us before the foundation of the world. 

What does all this mean for you and I?  It means that there is a definite purpose for our lives and that we are not to think our lives are meaningless, directionless and without value.  It means we don’t have to scurry around trying to find, or even to create, some kind of answers to life.  Instead, we can go to God to discover the reason and truth of our existence.   

Is it any wonder that there is so much despair among those who don’t know Christ?

PRAYER: Fill us, Lord, with the confidence that comes from knowing our before and how that shapes our now and directs our future.  Jesus’ name, Amen.

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