DayBreaks for 10/22/20 – Standing Within Inches of God

See the source image

It really happened, you know. The ten apostles (Judas was dead and Thomas was MIA) were huddled in a locked room, fearful for their lives. After all, if the one they’d hoped was the Messiah was killed, what was to stop them – mere followers – from being killed themselves? I can identify with fear – can’t you?

Then, incredulously, in the middle of the room Jesus appeared. Some might take it that he was a hallucination of fevered, grieving minds. That’s why his next appearance with Thomas added to the ten is so important – they touched him and you can’t do that with hallucinations.

What is so fascinating is how this “simple” appearance changed history. A rag-tag uneducated group of nobodies from backwater villages throughout Israel received a commission to tell the world what they’d witnessed. And you know what? They did exactly that! Not only did they tell the world, they died for the privilege of carrying that message.

What changed? Had they simple re-read the prophets and gained insight? No. They stood within inches of God. Sure, they’d stood next to Jesus, talked to him, walked with him, watched him before. But he hadn’t been dead during those encounters. And when he appears this time, he had been dead, really truly dead. But there he was! That’s something only God can do. It changed them and the world forever.

Imagine how you would feel and how you might be changed if your dead mother or father, brother or sister, friend or enemy who had died was to suddenly appear next to you!

Those eleven, plus others, went throughout the world because they could all say, “All I know is he was dead and now he is alive!”

They changed the world. Some say it would be impossible to replicate what they accomplished – that the world is just too big, complicated and evil for it to happen again.

But is it? After all, if God can die and then miraculously appear alive in the middle of a room once, couldn’t he move us all to change the world yet again?

After all, if one has stood within inches of God nothing can ever be the same again.

PRAYER: Lord, give us the faith to see you standing in our midst, sending us out to tell the world that though you were dead, yet you are alive forevermore! In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/14/20 – Hanging in the Balance

See the source image

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2010:

The island of Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiian islands.  As such, it has a long history.  Some of the history is beautiful and amazing, but it also has its dark moments. 

Before Kauai became part of King Kamehameha’s unified Hawaiian island kingdom, Kauai had its own kings who lived high up in the mountains in the center of the island.  The kingship would be passed from father to son as was typical in most monarchies.  When it came time for the wife of the king to give birth, she would come down from the mountain to a heiau (a holy place of worship) where she would give birth.  If the child that was born was a daughter, the baby would be automatically welcomed into the royal family.  If, however, the baby was a boy, a test was required to determine if the child was worthy to be a successor to the king.  After the child was born, the umbilical cord of the baby boy was wrapped in ti leaves and placed outside of the enclosure where the mother and baby boy would spend the night.  If the rats came during the night and ate the umbilical cord, it was believed that the boy was not worthy to be an heir to the kingdom and he would be put to death.  The boy would survive only if the umbilical cord was still intact and hadn’t been eaten by rats during the night.

As I heard about this practice of the ancient residents of Kauai, I couldn’t help but draw a contrast between this chance-laden, horrendous practice and how God deals with us.  The writer of the letter to the Romans describes our relationship with the King: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. – Romans 8:17

Are any of us worthy to be joint heirs with Jesus?  Absolutely not!  Does God leave us outside the door to see what chance may play into our future?  No.  Does He accept us only if we pass some test?  Yes, and no.  The test is a simple one: will you put your faith in My Son?  That’s it.  It’s not left to some rat to determine our fate, nor is it even up to Satan to determine our fate.  God leaves it to us, in a way, to make the choice that will allow us to be accepted as His sons and daughters. 

Have you chosen yet?  Eternity is hanging in the balance.

PRAYER: How thankful we are that You have a heart that is willing and eager to adopt us as Your children, to give us, along with Jesus, all things!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/09/20 – What About the 99?

See the source image

(Prompted by a conversation with a friend of mine – Valerie – thank you!)

Luke 15:3-5 (NLT2) – So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders.

I think we all love this story because at some point in our faith walk it describes every single one of us – we were all the sheep that was lost. We should rejoice in this story because it gives us insight into how precious a single lamb is to the Lord. It is good to know we are precious to someone and even more so as that someone is God Almighty.

But what of the 99? The story is set in the wilderness where the sheepfold would be at best a pile of rocks on nearly four sides. The shepherd brought the sheep into the fold at night and then lay down across the opening – becoming the gate to the sheepfold so that none of the sheep could wander without his knowledge.

I’d always assumed the rest of the sheep – the 99 – were in the sheepfold when the shepherd goes looking for the lost one. But the story doesn’t say that. It just says they are in the wilderness.

Now we might assume they were in the sheepfold and that another shepherd kept an eye on them, but the story doesn’t say that, either. So, did the shepherd just walk off and leave the 99 to the ravenous predations of the wolves or lions? I don’t think so – especially since the shepherd is Jesus!

While this story doesn’t say it, I think something much more amazing was to take place given this passage: John 10:27 (NLT2) – My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

Do you see it? The sheep wouldn’t have stayed behind. They would have followed the shepherd in his desperate and love-fueled search for the one that was lost. And isn’t that what we are all supposed to do – join the Good Shepherd in the pursuit of the lost ones?

When all the lost ones have been found, he will carry us all safely to our eternal destiny.

He won’t ever leave us stranded and alone and we should never stay behind when the Shepherd is on the move!

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for this reminder of how precious and special people are to you. Help my heart learn more of the rhythm of yours! In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/01/20 – Rag Tags and Ne’er Do Wells

See the source image

You are undoubtedly aware of “Who’s Who” lists that tout exceptional people. We may look up to them, may envy them and see them as the movers and shakers who change the world. What a waste – at least in God’s economy! Consider those rag tags and ne’er do wells that God chooses:

The father of the Jewish nation was an inveterate liar who twice said his wife wasn’t his wife. He traded his integrity for his own skin without a thought to what it would mean for Sarah. Where was his faith? Does that sound like a man who “believed God’s promises”? Who chose him to change the world and eternity as the ancestor of the Messiah? God.

A man 80 years old who looked like he’d live his life as a prince but who is now an outlaw – a murderer, in fact. On the run, hiding in sheep pens in the desert. Who would think of asking a killer to carry the Ten Commandments? God.

A shepherd boy who is sitting on a throne let his lust get the best of him. He got a woman pregnant and killed her husband in an attempt to cover things up. And then he went about his everyday life as if nothing wrong has taken place. Who would dare to say he was a man after God’s own heart? God.

A reluctant prophet is giving his calling but runs the opposite way, gets swallowed up by a fish and barfed out in the surf. Who would think he would be a good candidate to preach repentance to the enemies of his people? God.

Jacob was a shifty as they come. Gomer was a prostitute. Sarah laughed at God. Jesus’ ancestors were adulteresses, prostitutes and a woman who took baths in all the wrong places. Who would include such people in the ancestral line of the Son of God? God.

And you know, when I come to think of it, we’ve all traded our integrity for safety, hidden things we’re ashamed of, failed to act in faith, let our lust take over when it should have been put down.

What’s the point here? It’s not about the horrible those people did and not even about the horrible things I’ve done, but it is that God uses regular, ordinary, everyday people to change the world. Not superheroes. Why? Because whatever we lack in terms of perfection or righteousness, God makes up for it with his love.

You may long for God to use you but you block him because of your past (or present). Don’t give up on God because he won’t give up on you! Let him use you to change the world one encounter at a time.

PRAYER: I am comforted, Lord, knowing that you can still use a sinner like me to do your work. For those who doubt that you can use them, give them reassurance that they can be used just as they are to change the world! In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/30/20 – Godly Imaginations

See the source image

We know him best as “doubting Thomas” but often forget he was willing to march into Jerusalem side by side with Jesus after they religious rulers tried to kill him the previous time. Thomas, though he may have doubted, was built of stern stuff.

He was easily confused: when Jesus said they knew the way he was going, Thomas raised his hand and in effect said, “I don’t! What do you mean?”  For all his faults (which aren’t that different than mine), Thomas was loyal.

Could it be that Thomas wasn’t in the upper room during the first appearance of Jesus after the resurrection because he had taken the death of Jesus so hard? Might it have been because Thomas was so confused about the sudden and dramatic turn of events just a couple days before? He couldn’t imagine where this was all leading.

He couldn’t fathom a resurrection of a crucified man. That sort of flashy occurrence was outside of Thomas’ thought processes. He didn’t want to get his hopes up just to be disappointed again. Max Lucado says that Thomas appears to have been too honest to be gullible but too loyal to give us hope entirely. His doubt wasn’t caused by distrust, but by the reluctance to imagine the “impossible”.

In this we are much like Thomas. We ponder things with wrinkled brows. We proceed with great caution. We don’t want anything, let alone God, to surprise us. So, we can’t imagine what God might do.

When is the last time that you let God surprise you?  When is the last time you claimed the promise that he is able to do “exceeding more than we are able to ask or imagine”?

Thomas got his proof. Legend says he traveled to India where they had to kill him to get him to stop talking about this friend of his who had lived, been crucified, but came back to life. Thomas learned to imagine God doing the impossible and to know for a fact that he can and does the impossible. This man of loyalty finally had his imagination captured and expanded by the God who has no limits. May our minds and hearts be expanded, too, knowing that Jesus must have smiled when he let Thomas touch his wounds, knowing that Thomas would never be the same, either.

PRAYER: Let us dream the impossible and count on you to make your fame and glory known through even humble, flawed beings like us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/15/20 – Two Natures

See the source image

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:

Henri Nouwen told a parable about an old man who used to meditate each day be the Ganges River in India.

One morning he saw a scorpion floating on the water. When the scorpion drifted near the old man he reached to rescue it but was stung by the scorpion. A bit later he tried again and was stung again, the bite swelling his hand painfully and giving him much pain. Another man passing by saw what was happening and yelled at the mediator, “Hey, stupid old man, what’s wrong with you? Only a fool would risk his life for sake of an ugly, evil creature. Don’t you know you could kill yourself trying to save that ungrateful scorpion?”

The old man calmly replied, “My friend, just because it is in the scorpion’s nature to sting, does not change my nature to save.”

This is, of course, a parable not so much about the nature of the scorpion, but the nature of the old man who was trying to save it.  And it is an apt reflection of our nature versus God’s nature.  To be quite honest, there isn’t a whole lot in our fleshly nature to commend us to anyone, let alone to God.  It is because of the awfulness of our fleshly nature that many despair of ever being recipients of God’s love and grace.   When we are focused on our own nature, we have plenty of good reason for despair.  Our focus, however, should not be on our nature nearly as much as God’s.  It is in God’s nature to save – because it is in God’s nature to love. God seeks the lost, heals the wounded, forgives the offender, and gives hope to those who are in despair, even though we have wounded Him again and again.

It is what God does. 

PRAYER: We love You, Lord, because You first loved us.  Help us to trust in Your goodness and loving nature!  In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/14/20 – The Prayer of God

See the source image

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:

When is the last time you spend the night in prayer?  Have you ever spent an entire night in prayer?  In Luke chapter 6, Jesus is described as going off to a mountain where he prayed all night to the Father.  One might wonder: why did Jesus pray at all?  Who was He praying to?  (If Jesus and the Father are One, who was there to listen?)  What did Jesus say to the Father?  Did He need to pray, or just want to? 

I don’t know the answers to those questions.  I think, however, that we can learn something from how Jesus prayed – even though the passage in Luke doesn’t record his words.  It is easy to say he spent the entire night in prayer, though it takes quite a few words in English to communicate that idea.  Not so in the Greek.  In the Greek, only one word is required: dianuktereuo, and it is a significant word.  It is a word that would be used to describe enduring at a task throughout an entire period of time.  It isn’t the kind of word that would be used to say “I slept all night,” nor would you use that Greek word if you were to say it was dark “all night”.  Those uses don’t require the sense of enduring.  The verse (6:12) essentially says that Jesus worked hard all throughout the night in his praying.  How did he work hard?  It doesn’t say, but I do find it comforting that prayer could be a struggle – for it often is for me.  If the Son of God toiled at prayer – either because he had so much to deal with, or because as a certifiable 100% human being, he struggled to concentrate and stay focused (just as I do) – I find it comforting, either way.

But that’s not all.  There’s another insight from the Greek that we can’t see in our English translations.  One English translation says He continued all night in prayer to God.  The actual Greek, however, means that He spent the whole night in the prayer of God.  Whenever He prayed, it was God’s prayer, the prayer of God. 

If we take that last thought and we then reflect on the prayers of Jesus (especially his high priestly prayer on the night of his betrayal), it is even more significant.  I’ve often reflected on Jesus praying for us.  But this puts it in a slightly different light.  It wasn’t “just” Jesus, but it was God praying for me and for you.  I don’t know exactly what that means, but this I do know: it just doesn’t get any better than knowing that God is praying for me…and you!

PRAYER: For the deep, yet simple, mysteries of Your word and for Your prayers over and for us, we give our most heartfelt thanks!  In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

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

See the source image

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 9/04/20 – How He Understood

See the source image

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2010:

I wonder what my last conscious thought in this world will be.  I would suppose that it might depend on what I’m doing when that happens.  I have some sense of what I hope they would be, but no one really knows in advance.

It is interesting and informative to look at the final statements of Christ from the cross.  He, of course, knew that he would rise from the dead, but we still get a glimpse into Jesus heart and mind as his final hours and minutes counted down.  Hebrews 2:16-18 says: We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.  We often read this passage and find consolation in it and the fact that it means Christ understands what it is like to be tested – and that is certainly part of the point the writer was trying to make.  But perhaps we see things the same way all the time and we miss out on other lessons.

In one of his final recorded statements from the cross, Jesus prayed a simple, yet profound prayer: Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.  I have always thought of that as a prayer for those who had been complicit in the arrest and faux trials, those who had beaten and spit upon him, those who had put the crown of thorns on his head and had stripped him and mocked him with a purple robe, of those who pounded the nails.  And yes, of you and I.

But how was it that Jesus came to know that we didn’t know what we were doing?  Could it have been by the fact that he became one of us, and had so perfectly identified and understood our limitations and shortcomings that he had “learned” that we have no clue about the things we do?  Perhaps his statement for they do not know what they are doing referred not only to what was happening in those few hours, but a description of human life in general.  If we really knew what we were doing when we give in to sin – we wouldn’t do it.  If we really knew how little things in this life matter, we would not have so many idols that we worship through our actions.  If we really know how what we do affects God – we wouldn’t do it.  But the point is that we don’t know, and to a degree, we can’t know it all.  And maybe that’s why Jesus pled for us in our ignorance.

PRAYER: We fool ourselves into thinking that we know what we are doing.  Help us learn how foolish and ignorant we are.  Thank You, Jesus, for praying for us and pleading our case before the all-knowing Father!  In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/03/20 – Two Miraculous Words

See the source image

We are all familiar with the story of Peter’s betrayal. It is one of the most shocking and stunning failures recorded in scripture. The brash Peter was the first to declare who Jesus was and his believe in his Divinity. He tried to save Jesus from the crucifixion. But when it came right down to the nitty-gritty, when the pressure was on, Peter failed miserably. I suspect most of us would have, too.

Mark 16.6-7 captures these instructions from the angel to the women who arrived at Jesus’ tomb early on Sunday: He said, “Don’t be afraid. I know you’re looking for Jesus the Nazarene, the One they nailed on the cross. He’s been raised up; he’s here no longer. You can see for yourselves that the place is empty. Now—on your way. Tell his disciples and Peter that he is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You’ll see him there, exactly as he said.”  

It is said that the gospel of Mark captures the teaching and account of Peter of the gospel. In the angel’s message, there were two words which must have lit up Peter’s heart…and Peter.

All the beings in heaven watched Peter’s denial of Jesus and my guess is that most of them were stunned at the fisherman’s failure. And now, it seems as if the host of heaven wants to be sure that Peter gets the message that there are second and third and infinite chances with God. It is as if the message from God through the angel was saying, “Tell his (Jesus’) disciples and especially Peter that He is going on ahead of you to Galilee.” Peter is singled out by name.

Why? Because Peter needed to know and believe in second chances, that with God a failure isn’t fatal. In our modern world that isn’t often the case. It seems that all it takes is one failure and you’re written off. We even have a saying about it being a “dog eat dog world” that stresses the point. Our world doesn’t go much for grace.

Max Lucado suggests that Jesus would have some counsel for us about our dog-eat-dog world: “It’s a dog eat dog world? Then don’t live with the dogs.”

Do you need a second chance? Third? Ten thousandth? As Max put it: “It’s not every day that you find someone who will give you a second chance – much less someone who will give you a second chance every day. But in Jesus, Peter found both.”

You can, too!

PRAYER: Father, thank you for knowing when we need encouragement and for being the God of second chances for us every day. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen. Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>