DayBreaks for 3/22/19 – Even the Darkness Dazzles

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DayBreaks for 3/22/19: Even the Darkness Dazzles

In order to be God made man and to lead our exodus from this world to the next, Jesus had to die like we do: alone, with no particular glory. Otherwise he would have been an anomaly instead of a messiah, and it would have been hard for us to see what he had in common with the rest of us.

As it was, he died very much like those who died on either side of him, one of them begging to be saved from what was coming, the other asking to be remembered when Jesus got where he was going. Jesus could not do anything for the one who wanted to be spared, but he did a great favor for the other. He told him that the darkness was a dazzling one, with paradise in it for both of them.

Perhaps it was the transfiguration that helped remind Jesus of this dazzling world beyond: when light burst through all his seams and showed those gathered what he was made of. It was as if he experienced a flash-back of his pre-incarnation glory. If we had been allowed to intrude on that moment, it would have been because someone thought we might need a dose of glory too, to get us through the night. Some people are lucky enough to witness it for themselves, although like Peter, James and John, very few of them will talk about it later.

What the rest of us have are stories like the transfiguration and the crucifixion, and the chance to decide for ourselves whether we will believe what they tell us. It is a lot to believe: that God’s lit-up life includes death, that there is no way around it but only through, that even the that death darkness can dazzle.

1 John 1:5 (CSBBible) – This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in him.

PRAYER: Thank you that there is no darkness in, or for, you and therefore the death darkness for your children dazzles with your glory! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

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DayBreaks for 2/20/19 – I AM #6: The Door

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DayBreaks for 2/20/2019: I AM #6: The Door

John 10:9 (CSBBible) – I am the gate. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture.

To understand this I AM statement, we need to understand shepherds and sheep. Earlier in chapter 10, Jesus referred to a gatekeeper. Near most villages there was a communal sheepfold that had a gate that could be locked and only the owner of that sheepfold had the key. But that’s not what Jesus is describing here.

Once out on the hillsides, there was no sheepfold like that. Instead, sheep would be herded into an enclosure most likely made of piled up rocks with a gap in the rocks at one place where a “door” was. But the door wasn’t made of wood – it was the shepherd who would lay down across the opening to prevent critters from entering or the sheep from leaving. None could cross without the awareness of the shepherd. Jesus claims that he is that shepherd, stretched out across the opening. He doesn’t rely on some sort of physical barrier to guarantee the safety of the sheep – any movement of the sheep in or out is only done with his knowledge and agreement.

But there’s another thing to note here: he says that the sheep can come in and go out. That would mean something very specific in the Hebrew language. To be able to have the ability to come in and go out indicated a life absolutely safe and at peace. That is the kind of life we have with Jesus as our gatekeeper. He watches over us, guides our steps, and seeks us out if we get lost.

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for the life of peace we can have with you as our gatekeeper! In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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

DayBreaks for 2/14/19 – I AM #3: The Good Shepherd

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DayBreaks for 2/14/2019: I AM #4: The Good Shepherd

John 10:11 (ESV) I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

We’ve all seen people who obviously work just because they want the money. Their attitude, effort and words make clear that they will do as little as they can to avoid being fired and they’re happy as long as their check shows up.

The Good Shepherd is quite the opposite. He’s no hireling. He is deeply invested in each lamb in his flock. He bought them and paid for them, perhaps watched each one being born and rejoiced to see them join “his family”. This is how the Good Shepherd feels about his sheep!

Being absolutely responsible for the welfare of the sheep, in ancient times, if anything happened to the sheep that were in his care, the shepherd was required to show proof that it was not his fault. In Amos, the shepherd was even required to bring a piece of a leg or an ear from the very mouth of the lion or wolf if necessary as proof of the reason for the loss.

The shepherd was sent out among the flock just as soon as he was old enough to go and the animals became his companions and yes, even friends.

Here’s the big difference between the shepherd and the hireling: the shepherd served because of his love for the flock in his care while the hireling only wanted money. Jesus called us his friends and wasn’t just willing to lay down his life for the poor flock in his care, but actually did lay it down. And that’s why he’s not just a good shepherd, he is THE Good Shepherd.

PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, for shepherding us with love and rejoicing over each one of us! In your name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/11/19 – I AM #1: The Way

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DayBreaks for 2/11/2019: I AM #1: The Way

John 14:3-6 (ESV) – And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me…”

One can’t blame Thomas. Jesus had just said he was going away without saying where he was going. Bless his heart, Thomas wanted to find Jesus again once he’d gone away, so what Thomas was really asking was, “How will we find you? What path to what place must we follow?”

Jesus’ reply wasn’t what Thomas expected, I’m sure. Where was Jesus going? To death, to the tomb…and then ultimately back to pre-incarnation glory. If we want to find Jesus again after his going away, not only is he the destination, but also the way to get there.

What is a “way”? A path – like a path through the jungle or dense forest. Without pathways through such places we’d get lost and die. The irony here is that not only is Jesus the destination, and the path, but as long as we stay on the path we will not be lost for in addition to being the path, he has promised to never leave us – he walks the path with us.

Stay on the path with him and you will  find him…walking beside you all the way.

PRAYER: Lord, in our search for meaning and happiness and fulfillment we take so many detours off the path to the left and right, thinking “This time it’ll work!”, only to find that the only pathway to that which we hunger for is you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/15/19 – In the Presence of Resurrection

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DayBreaks for 01/15/2019: The Presence of Resurrection

I love the story of the disciples on the way to Emmaus.  The pathos in the story is nearly palpable as they recount to Jesus the events that he seemed (to their way of thinking) ignorant of: the happenings in Jerusalem in the past 5 days or so.  That they’d had their hopes dashed is clear from their words: We had hoped He was the one…we had thought He was the Messiah come to save Israel. (Luke 24:21) The despair is virtually dripping from their hearts and lips.

How long they walked we don’t know, but the distance from Jerusalem to Emmaus was about 7 miles and at a normal walking pace on a flat road (which the road wasn’t) it would take about 2 hours to cover that distance.  What would you have given to walk with Jesus for two hours?  Yet, Jesus was not recognized by them because God, it says, had concealed his identity from them.  (That makes me wonder, too – why would God ever choose to conceal his identity?)  And so they walked and talked for some hours…and all the time they were in the presence not just of a risen one, but of resurrection itself. 

Are you a Christian?  If so, you are walking in the Presence of Resurrection, too.  Yet I go through my day often totally unaware of my constant Companion.  How did the story end for the Emmaus disciples?  The last word in verse 26 is “glory”.  The story ends in glory!  What began in despair and bewilderment finds culmination in glory!  That is the story of our life, is it not?  Much of life is a journey from the bliss of infant unawareness to the burden of adulthood and the increasing burden of advancing age.  All through life, the Resurrection walks beside us.  And our story will end in glory!

John 11:23-26 (NIV) – Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Prayer:  As you turned the hearts of the Emmaus disciples from bewilderment to glory, we open our hearts to you today, Lord, that you may do the same for us this day!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/26/18: Not Like the World Gives

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From my friend, Barney Cargile, Barney’s Bullets:

Christmas Day, 1863. America’s poet laureate, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, found himself in a deep state of depression. America was embroiled in the Civil War, the bloodiest conflict in our history. A devout abolitionist, his heart was broken by the terrible war. But even worse, his personal grief was overwhelming.  A month earlier, his oldest son was critically wounded in battle. Two years prior, his wife Fannie burned to death right in front of him, when her clothes caught fire. Longfellow was severely injured in an effort to extinguish her, and carried severe scars for the rest of his days. 

Looking out his window in Cambridge, Mass, in intense despair, he ruminated on the angel’s words to the shepherds in Luke 2:14, “Peace on earth, good will to men”. He scoffed, “There is no peace on earth. These tragic events mock God’s promise of peace.”  

But then, a Christmas miracle occurred. In an instant, everything changed, and Longfellow penned these words: 

I heard the bells on Christmas Day. 

Their old familiar carols play. 

And wild and sweet, the words repeat 

of peace on earth, good-will to men! 

Through the church bells, God reminded Longfellow of the big picture; the TRUE peace that the baby in the manger brings to earth. God is not dead, nor does he sleep. He hasn’t abandoned us. The Prince of Peace still triumphs, even in the midst of war and personal tragedy, bringing peace that passes understanding: peace with God.  

Face it, if Jesus came to rid the world of war and suffering, he did a pretty lousy job! But what if…he brought something greater? What if, he did more than anyone ever dared imagine? What if he delivered a unique kind of peace, a peace so great, it transcends external circumstances? That’s the peace that inspired Longfellow to compose this cherished Christmas poem. Jesus promised, “The peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives.” (John 14:27)

Our world and lives today abound with conflict and turmoil. Like Longfellow, we have a choice: cave in to despair, or embrace the peace Jesus offers. Longfellow “heard the bells on Christmas day” and his life was changed forever.

I know it’s the day after Christmas, but one more thing about the peace that Jesus gives: it is a lasting peace and it can fill your heart for the rest of your life. Embrace it!

PRAYER: Lord, we are nearly at the new year and we pray that we will know your special peace throughout the year no matter the circumstances. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 9/26/17 – The Reality of Now

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DayBreaks for 9/26/18The Reality of Now       

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

John 17:3: Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

Lk. 17:20-21: The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.

If you are like most of us, we think of heaven as being “out there” somewhere in the future.  The place of heaven isn’t so much of a topic for thought as is the time when we shall arrive there.  We can easily trust that heaven will not only meet, but infinitely surpass our wildest imaginings.  And perhaps that’s why, when life caves in, we long and hunger for it to come soon.  I think such things are only normal and natural.

But God has a way of not operating in normal or “natural” ways.  And the things that the inspired writers of Scripture captured for us deserve more attention.  Jesus, in his own words, says that eternal life is “that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”  Isn’t that interesting?  Heaven is not a particularly a place (although there is such a place), but what makes heaven heavenly is the knowing of God and Jesus which we will experience.  And, by the way, it is available, and present, now…not just out there in the future.

The Luke passage is even more stunning: it won’t be something we see coming, this kingdom of God, but it is within us.  A kingdom is the place where a king rules, where he lives.  We might think of the kingdom of God as being heaven (and that’s not incorrect) but the fact is that God’s rule is everywhere…and His Presence is, believe it or not, within us.  That means that His kingdom is also within us…now. 

As Mark Buchanan said in Things Unseen: “There is something about heaven that we must grasp, because if we don’t, we’ll miss everything else.  We’ll read the music but never sing, study the choreography but never dance.  It’s this: heaven starts now.

“Eternity is not primarily a measure of time – chronological time stretched to infinity.  It is not first and foremost a place.  Eternity is primarily a quality of relationship.  It is first and foremost a presence; to know God and Jesus Christ.

Perhaps the one claim Christianity makes that is the most offensive to the world and presents the greatest stumbling block is that there is only one why to God…and that way is belief in Jesus (not in Mohammed, Buddha, or any other person).  All a Christian has to do is say, “Christianity, Jesus Christ, is the only way to God,” and you’ll instantly be branded as a closed-minded, bigoted person.  But when you understand that eternal life is to know Jesus (as Jesus said in John 17), it makes perfect sense.  If eternal life is to know him, if you don’t know him – there cannot be eternal life.  Heaven is intimate knowledge, not of something, but of Someone – the only true God and Jesus Christ, the one He sent.

PRAYER: Almighty Lord, we long to know you better, to experience in greater measure and purity the eternal life that only comes from knowing You.  Keep us from the pride in our hearts and minds that might tell us that we already know you, guard us so that we don’t stop seeking to learn to know you better each passing day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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