DayBreaks for 10/23/20 – Out of the Depths

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Image from the movie, The 33.

You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. – Psalm 71:20

 He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains. – Psalm 95:4

This past week we were privileged to witness one of the most amazing rescues I can recall.  Thirty-three miners escaped from the depths of the earth (the story is told in the movie, The 33).  I don’t know for sure, but someone said that when they came to the surface, they were wearing shirts that had Psalm 95:4 stenciled on their back.  These 33 men endured great anguish and fear yet came through their ordeal with a perspective that is amazing. 

There are so many rich lessons for us to grasp in this event:

As Psalm 139 says, there is nowhere either above or below the earth that He cannot be found.  And one of the miners said that God was in that time and place, as was the devil, but God won.  He always does – and always will!

I thought about being “re-born” to a new and living hope.  Surely these men can now read those words with renewed appreciation. 

I thought about how God has translated us out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His Son…and how the miners had been in the mines for so long that they had to wear sunglasses even at night when they came up out of the mine into the light. 

The joy that they and their loves ones experienced is certainly understandable!  These men, as good as dead, were alive and could live “normal” lives.  The joy that swept the world at their survival – even the joy that filled my own heart at their rescue – was powerful and strong.  But there is an even greater miracle, an even greater reason for joy that we have as Christians: we have been saved by the grace of God!!!  Did those miners deserve being rescued, being saved?  I don’t know if “deserved” is the right word – but because they were humans, the efforts were made.  God made a far greater effort and had to span a distance far greater than 2050 feet in order to rescue us from a death that was every bit as certain (even more certain, as it turns out!) than the miners faced in the dark bowels of the earth.  Why should our joy be any less?  Why don’t we react to our salvation with the same wild abandon as those miners?

It is a question worth pondering.  Perhaps it’s because we don’t really believe we are bad enough to deserve eternal punishment.  Perhaps it’s because we have never considered ourselves as good as dead.  Maybe it’s because we haven’t begun to grasp the life that God has given us.  Maybe it’s all of the above and other reasons, too.  I’m ready to begin celebrating my salvation more than I have in the past, and I hope you will, too.

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for seeing fit to spare the lives of the Chilean miners!  We rejoice in the new lease on life that they have been granted.  Help us to come to a far greater appreciation of what YOU have done for us than we have ever experienced before!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/12/20 – The Man Without Breath

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From the DayBreaks archive, October 2010:

The Hawaiians have a name for those of us from the mainland who are of Caucasian descent.  They call us haoles (pronounced “how-lees”).  I never knew the meaning of that name until two weeks ago. 

In 1778, Captain Cook became the first European to visit the Hawaiian islands, then known as the Sandwich Islands.  The Hawaiians had never seen a Caucasian before, and were stunned at his pallor.  They called him a haole, which means a person “without breath.”  In other words, because he was so pale, they thought he was dead – a walking ghost perhaps, or possibly a god. 

As I heard this story, I couldn’t help but recall the Biblical account of creation: how man came to live only when God breathed into him the “breath of life.”  Our life originally found its origin in the very breath of God.  “And man became a living soul.”  It didn’t take us very long, however, before we found a way to “kill” ourselves – through our rebellion and sin.  And, once again, we were dead – spiritually, we were haoles, without life.  God wasn’t content to leave things that way however, and in writing to the Colossians, Paul said: And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. –  Colossians 2:13-14

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, we find an interesting note in the text: As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. – John 20:20-22  How did Jesus give us life again?  By breathing into them (and us!) His Holy Spirit!

We are not people without breath.  We are a people who have been given the very breath of God.  Let’s not look and act like we’re dead to anything – except to sin! 

PRAYER: For physical life, we give You our thanks.  For reviving our dead souls through Your sacrifice and Spirit, we rejoice!  May we look and act as those who have been revived and raised from the deadness of our sin!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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 10/09/20 – What About the 99?

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(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 10/06/20 – Playing Games at the Foot of the Cross

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Matthew 27:35-36 (NLT2) – After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. Then they sat around and kept guard as he hung there.

The day started like any other for the Roman soldiers. Another day, another execution. So they went to the hill called Calvary, nailed the offender to the cross and then got down to the serious business of gambling – right at the foot of the cross.

There were items to be divvied up – a cloak, an inner garment and some sandals to be sure. So they bet on who would get what and a few walked away with the spoils from the Nazarene.

Have you thought about how that scene must have looked to Jesus as he looked down at them? It must have been mind-blowing! Here they were, mere feet away from the most important and earthshattering event ever – and they were oblivious to the simple fact that it was God on the tree. At least they all seem to have been oblivious except one who eventually started paying attention and made his own startling declaration about who they were killing.

Oh, it’s so easy to be shocked by their behavior and games they were playing at the foot of the cross! But let’s not miss this: we aren’t that different than those soldiers – even those of us who bear the name of the Crucified One!

Consider: churches fight over a finite population of potential members. We dole out condemnation and judgments. We are seeking our own personal gain (a sandal here, a cloak there) to get ahead, get something for free.

We hold rallies celebrating how righteous my cause is and how unrighteous you are if you differ from my views. We write books about what other believers are doing wrong. We major in telling tales about the “others” and take joy in unveiling weaknesses – not for the purpose of restoration – but to take them down! We argue over points of “doctrine”, about other denominations and whether or not they are “of the Lord”.

And Jesus must look down at us in stunned disbelief.

As Max Lucado put it: “We, too, play games at the foot of the cross…So close to the timber yet so far from the blood…we are so close to the world’s most uncommon event but we act like common crapshooters huddled in bickering groups and fighting over silly opinions.

“May they all be one,” Jesus prayed.

“One, not one in groups of two thousand. But one in One. One church. One faith. One Lord. Not Baptist, not Methodist, not Adventist. Just Christians. No denominations. No hierarchies. No traditions. Just Christ.”

What can we do to stop playing games at the foot of the cross? Build bridges, toss a rope to someone struggling to keep their head above the swelling tide, pray for unity. Choose to “be the soldier who snaps to his senses, jumps to his feet, and reminds the rest of us, ‘Hey, that’s God on that cross!”

There are far too many games being played at the foot of the cross. Let’s refuse to play those petty games any more!

PRAYER: Jesus, take mercy on us! Turn us from game playing to Kingdom building! In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/29/20 – Getting a New Soul

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NOTE: I should be back tomorrow! In the meantime, I’m sharing recycled DayBreaks for 2010. Thanks for your understanding!

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2010:

We Americans like to think that we’re pretty determined, persistent, tenacious even.  “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”  We take pride (there’s that nasty word!) in how dogged we can be.  When we consider that our ancestors created a country and shaped it through persistence and hard work, carving out settlements, fighting tyrant kings and governments, creating new and amazing inventions that have fueled our health, economies and culture, we have become a symbol to the entire world of hard work, diversity and freedom.  But let me ask you a question: do you love going to the Department of Motor Vehicles?  Me, neither. 

Would you voluntarily subject yourself to going there 960 times in order to get your driver’s license?  That is precisely what Cha Sa-soon, a Korean lady, did in her quest to get her own driver’s license.  This amazing 69-year old woman studied diligently, but she just couldn’t seem to pass the written part of the driver’s test.  She first took the 50-minute, 40-question test once a day starting in April 2005, five days week – and each time she failed.  Perhaps thinking that she needed to study harder to prepare, she eventually slowed down to only taking the test twice each week.  Finally, on her 960th attempt, she got enough of the questions right to pass.

Local news outlets heard the story and it wasn’t long before the tale caught the ear of vehicle manufacturer, Hyundai-Kia. The company asked people to post congratulatory messages online, and after an overwhelming response, Kia gave her the keys to a brand-new Soul. 

That, my friends, is persistence!  Cha Sa-soon really wanted to drive and was determined not to let anything stand in her way!

It causes me to think of several things:

  1. How determined am I to obey Christ?  Does my ability to resist sin even begin to compare to the diligence of this woman?  She wanted something so badly that she could taste it and she refused to let anything stand between her and her goal.  It often doesn’t take much to get me to surrender to temptation.  My persistence is poor!
  2. Persistence is a good trait.  We are to persist in prayer, we are to persevere in doing good – though we may fail over and over and over.  Even the disciples question about forgiving 70 times 7 is only about half way to the 960 attempts at this woman to pass the test!  Thankfully, God isn’t counting down to a point where He will refuse to forgive us if we humbly repent and ask for His forgiveness.
  3. While this woman was given a new Soul (that’s a model of Hyundai car in Korea), only Jesus can give us a new, clean soul after our record has been tarnished.  And thank God that He does!

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. – 2 Timothy 4:7-8

PRAYER: Father, give us strong spirits to fight the good fight and to finish the course strong!  In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/28/20 – Seasoned With Salt

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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:

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. – Colossians 4:5-6

The way we say things, especially when it comes to acting as ambassadors (ones sent on a mission) for God, can be crucial.  Consider this story about a woman who worked in an ophthalmology practice that specialized in LASIK eye surgery: “I am expected to comfort nervous patients.  But prior to one operation, the patient was so frightened that she was actually shaking.  Nothing I said seemed to calm her.  So, after the doctor finished operating on her left eye, and before he began on the right, I wanted her to know the surgery was going well.

“There,” I said, patting her hand reassuringly, “Now you only have one eye left!”

Oops!  When I worked in the high-tech world, we had our own language that we understood when we talked about computers and techonolgy: RAM, RGU, CCU, SDRAM, I/O, megahertz, etc.  We knew what we were talking about and could understand each other perfectly well. 

As Christians, we have our own language, too, and I fear we sometimes fail to connect with those who are not yet believers due to how we talk – and/or how we act.  For example, in the recent couple of weeks, much was made of the pastor in Florida who planned a Koran burning at his church.  His actions and plans drew the attention of people around the world – even the President weighed in on the matter.  The pastor had a right, as an American, to say what he wanted to say – it is a freedom of speech issue.  But was it wise to say and act as he did (or as it turns out, as he planned to)?  What got more press: that one man’s actions, or the actions of thousands of pastors around the country and world who stood up and spoke the Word of God faithfully last Sunday?  That which sensationalizes may get press – but it seldom, if ever, saves.  We can never change the message – but the message can, and should, change us.

Perhaps you’ve been trying for a long time to talk with someone about Jesus – with little or no success.  While that may be due to a variety of factors, it may be a problem with your words.  Try a different approach…and above all, make sure that your life is living up to what your mouth is saying. 

PRAYER: Jesus, fill our hearts with Your Spirit and our mouths with Your words of grace!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/24/20 – For the Long Haul

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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:

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.  –  Romans 5:1-5

Fred Craddock, in an address to ministers, caught the practical implications of consecration. “To give my life for Christ appears glorious,” he said. “To pour myself out for others … to pay the ultimate price of martyrdom – I’ll do it. I’m ready, Lord, to go out in a blaze of glory.

“We think giving our all to the Lord is like taking a $1,000 bill and laying it on the table – ‘Here’s my life, Lord. I’m giving it all.’

“But the reality for most of us is that he sends us to the bank and has us cash in the $1,000 for quarters. We go through life putting out 25 cents here and 50 cents there. Listen to the neighbor kid’s troubles instead of saying, ‘Get lost.’ Go to a committee meeting. Give up a cup of water to a shaky old man in a nursing home.

“Usually giving our life to Christ isn’t glorious. It’s done in all those little acts of love, 25 cents at a time. It would be easy to go out in a flash of glory; it’s harder to live the Christian life little by little over the long haul.”

PRAYER: It is hard to persevere, Lord.  We would much rather have it done with!  Fill us with the assurance that perseverance creates proven character and that the character that grows in us will result in hope that will never disappoint us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/08/20 – Fear, Part 2

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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:

The gospels record for us the story of Jesus and his disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee when a violent storm arises.  While the disciples are trying to save their skin from the raging storm, Jesus sleeps.  I don’t know how many of you have ever been in a serious earthquake, but it certainly gets your attention!  It would be hard to sleep through a “big one”.  The word that Matthew uses to describe the storm is one we don’t usually associate with the ocean.  He used the term seismos to describe the violence of the storm.  This is the same word we use to describe an earthquake – seismographs record the shaking of the earth.  Matthew uses this word on two other occasions, too: 1) when the earth shook at Jesus’ death; 2) when the earth shook at Jesus’ resurrection.  Clearly, this was a terrific storm to have qualified for the word seismos!  Yet one gets the sense that Jesus would and could have just kept sleeping through the entire “seismic” event.

It is instructive to see what fear does to the disciples when this storm hits them.  First, though, let’s notice that the storm came “suddenly” upon them.  It hadn’t been building for some time – it was not stormy one moment, and then the weather changed – FAST!  Some of the storms that bring fear into our lives are long, drawn out storms that we can see coming and that stay for a long time.  Others, like this storm, take us by surprise.  Either way, there are things we need to learn about what fear does to us from this story:

FEAR CAUSES THEM TO QUESTION JESUS’ CARE FOR THEM.  They asked Jesus, after waking him up, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”  They immediately question Jesus’ goodness and the genuineness of His care for them.  Doesn’t that sound familiar?  When storms hit many people – their first reaction is “What’s wrong with You, God?  I thought you cared about me!”  This is one of the most tragic effects of fear – even on His closest followers.

FEAR CAUSES THEM TO BECOME CONTROL FREAKS.  Implicit in their criticism that Jesus must not care for them is the unspoken demand that He should care about them and that it is about time that He demonstrates that!  Fear arises because we suddenly find things spinning out of our control, so we grab on to something that gives us at least the illusion of having control.  For some, they run to the cupboard and pull out chocolate, others will reach for the bottle or work extra hours or clean the house until it is spotless all in an effort to have some control and sense of being in control. 

FEAR CAUSES THEM TO NOT SEEK JESUS’ HELP: It is interesting that the disciples do not ask Jesus to do anything.  Instead, they accuse him, as already noted, of not caring. 

FEAR CAUSES THEM TO FORGET REASONS THEY SHOULD BELIEVE: Don’t forget that these are men who have been with Jesus for a while – they’ve seen him do amazing things such as give healing to the sick, sight to the blind, strength to shriveled and crippled limbs, turn water into wine and cast out demons.  Shouldn’t all those things have been enough to create belief?  Yes, they should…but fear does funny things to us and makes us forget prior deliverances and demonstrations of God’s power and love. 

These are all daunting problems created by fear, but the worst of all may be that when we are afraid, our safety becomes the primary thing in our life.  As Max Lucado put it, our fear-driven concern for our safety becomes our god until the storm has passed.  It was so with the disciples – even though God was riding in the boat with them.

PRAYER: Lord, forgive us for questioning your care for us, for trying to control you and our circumstances, for trying to order you around, for not seeking your assistance, for forgetting all the reasons we have to trust in your goodness and love.  Don’t let us make our own safety our god!  In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/04/20 – How He Understood

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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

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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.  ><}}}”>