DayBreaks for 4/04/18 – The Undoubting Doubter

Image result for doubting Thomas

DayBreaks for 4/04/18: The Undoubting Doubter

If I were to mention the names of certain disciples to you and ask you to write down the first word that comes into your mind, it is unlikely you would come up with the same words. If I were to mention the name of Judas many of you would write down the word “betray” or “betrayer” but not all of you. If I were to mention Simon Peter, some of you would write down the word “faith,” but not all of you. If I were to mention the names of James and John, some of you would write down the phrase “Sons of Thunder,” but not all of you. But when I mention the word Thomas, there is little question about the word most everyone would write down. It would be the word doubt or the label, “doubter”. Indeed, so closely have we associated Thomas with this word, that we have coined a phrase to describe him: “Doubting Thomas.”
You may be interested to know that in the first three gospels we are told absolutely nothing at all about Thomas. It is in John’s Gospel that he emerges as a distinct personality, but even then there are only 155 words about him. There is not a lot about this disciple in the Bible but there is more than one description.

When Jesus turned his face toward Jerusalem the disciples thought that it would be certain death for all of them. Surprisingly, it was Thomas who said: Then let us go so that we may die with him. (Interestingly, Thomas is said by tradition to have died a martyr’s death in India, having angered local religious authorities by his preaching of the gospel, they ran him through with a spear. How ironic that he would die in that manner after having placed his hand in the spear wound in Christ’s side!)

It wasn’t Peter who said …let us go so that we may die with him. It wasn’t John or Jesus’ half-brother James. Thomas’ words were courageous, yet we don’t remember him for that. We also fail to point out that in this story of Thomas’ doubt we have the one place in the all the Gospels where the Divinity of Christ is bluntly and unequivocally stated. 

It is interesting, is it not, that the story that gives Thomas his infamous nickname, is the same story that has Thomas making an earth shattering confession of faith? How did Thomas move so quickly from the bold confessor to the doubting one? I think it may be that those who are the most hopeful fall hardest when those hopes appear shattered and belief comes hard – if at all. But look at his confession after seeing the risen Christ: My Lord, and my God. Not teacher. Not just Lord. Not Messiah. But God! It is the only place where Jesus is called God without qualification of any kind. It is uttered with conviction as if Thomas was simply recognizing a fact, just as 2 + 2 = 4, and the sun is in the sky. You are my Lord and my God! These are certainly not the words of a doubter. Again, it wasn’t Peter, James or John who uttered those five huge words so laden with meaning.

Today, however, I want to ask you this question: who is Jesus to you? Is he your favorite moral and ethical teacher? Do you call him Lord? He is so much more than just Lord, as Thomas noted: he is God.

If you aren’t willing and ready to let him be both your Lord and God – with all that entails in terms of absolute, utter obedience to even the slightest thing he may ask or command – then we need to rethink our relationship with him. Too much is at stake to not think seriously about this!

PRAYER: Jesus, open our eyes to this profound truth that you are both Lord and God and there is no excuse to not follow every word that came out of your mouth and to commit ourselves unreservedly to humble obedience. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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


DayBreaks for 3/17/17 – Would I Say Yes?

DayBreaks for 3/17/17: Would I Say Yes?

There are moments that grab us by the throat and really force us to take a HARD look at ourselves in the mirror. More often than not, I don’t like what I see when that happens.

This past Sunday our lead teacher was telling us about a trip he’d taken the prior week to Lima, Peru to meet with a set of pastors from around the world. These pastors meet once a year and have done so for about ten years now. He shared with us some of the ways the discussion had changed over those ten years.

He said that when they first met, the subject of the Muslim population and faith came up and there was a sense of resignation and desperation. Based on the statistics that were available at that time, they were told that in 100 years, based on the birth rate in Muslim countries and the pace with which the Muslim faith was growing that the population of the world would be 99% Muslim in 100 years. The pastors, all Christians, found that to be discouraging because as Christians we believe that the only way to the Father is through Jesus (John 14:6). There was a sense of despair among the Christian pastors.

In between that time and the meeting they held this past week, much in this world has changed. This year, the reports of the pastors from some of the darkest parts of the world we quite different. They spoke of how literally millions of Muslims are coming to Christ – in unprecedented numbers. Why is this happening? There were two factors:

FIRST: because of thousands upon thousands of visions that are being given to Muslims around the world. These aren’t just happening in one country or two – but all over the world, where men and women who didn’t have any knowledge of Jesus had a vision (or visitation) by Jesus that has led them to faith. I’ve read stories about these visions and they are incredible. We must never think that God is not at work.

SECOND: the rise of radical, militant Islam is driving people from the faith in which they grew up. The vast majority of Muslims are repulsed by the actions of ISIS and other such groups. ISIS was trying to terrify people into becoming Muslims, but God is using that horrible group (and others like it) to bring millions to know Jesus.

Prior to the teaching time, there was a baptismal service where several people were baptized. They were asked the normal questions that the church has always asked those who are desiring to become Christ-followers. And every person who was asked gave the expected response that they recognized that they were sinners who could be saved only by the grace of God and that they believed in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It is always wonderful to witness such things.

But here’s what grabbed my attention at the start of the teaching time. As our lead teacher shared the stories about Muslims coming to faith, he also shared that the stories they heard about the persecution of Christians and the church were heartrending. Millions are coming to Christ, but thousands upon thousands are being martyred for their commitment to Christ. And because it is a fact of life in Muslim countries, when someone wants to become a Christian, the church asks the usual questions, but then the church in those places adds another question that goes something like this: “Are you ready and willing to die for your faith in Jesus Christ as a martyr?” If those wanting to become Christians say no, the church (at least in some places) tells them they are not ready to become followers of Jesus.

That question was not asked of me when I became a believer, and I doubt that it was asked of you, either. And I asked myself: how would I answer that question? Am I ready and willing for martyrdom just to follow Jesus? Are you? And if I had been asked that question, would I have proceeded with the decision to become a Christian? Just because it wasn’t asked doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t all be ready to say yes. After all, we are all asked to take up our cross…and follow in his footsteps, even if they lead to death.

PRAYER: Jesus, I know that I should be willing to die for you because you already died for me. I am grateful that I live in a land where I am not confronted with that as an ever-present reality. I pray for those for whom martyrdom is a very real possibility at any given moment on any given day. I thank you for their faith, for their example to us. And I pray, Father, for their steadfastness even as I beg your forgiveness for my own lack of obedience and fear. Give us God-sized faith that will stand in any test, I pray, In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 8/11/16 – Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

DayBreaks for 8/11/16 – Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

From the DayBreaks Archive for August, 2006:

From News of the Weird, 7/10/98, UPI by Chuck Shepherd: “The New York Times reported in June that NASA has successfully field-tested an oil-spill-catcher that could have cleaned up the disastrous 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in about a week. A Huntsville, AL, hairdresser named Phillip McCrory came up with the idea to put discarded hair into mesh pillows, and a NASA researcher determined that 1.4 million pounds of hair would have soaked up the Valdez’s 11 million gallons in about a week. By contrast, Exxon Corp. spent $2 billion over several years and caught only about 12 percent of the oil.”

This kind of gives new meaning to the concept of having oily hair, doesn’t it? I couldn’t help but think about how easy it is to clean something up when you’ve got the right tools – like say, 1.4 million pounds of hair. What was a huge task with the wrong tools is made quick and easy when you’ve got the right ones.

A few thoughts: Sin is no different. People try to clean up their lives with all kinds of things: by trying to be a good person, by trying to stop being unfaithful or to stop swearing or drinking. By giving to their church and sitting in the pew some try to alleviate their bleeding consciences. Others, trying to get rid of their guilt, go to secular counselors who wind up telling them that “You’re OK! See, we’re all OK! What you did is normal and natural and you only did what you had to do.” But the problem with all of that is that it doesn’t really take away the scum from our lives. There is only one thing that can take our sin away and that is the blood of Jesus. And it is instantaneous. It is effective. All the things that we try to do from a human perspective can’t really clean our conscience, because deep inside we know the explanations for why we did what we did can’t undo the wrong we participated in.

The quality of the clean-up is important, too. The Valdez disaster was terrible, costly and as you can see from the story, the recovery efforts weren’t very successful. Yet, if sin was as easy to get rid of as oil spills, we wouldn’t have needed Jesus. We needed him at the beginning when we became believers – to claim his blood as our cleansing agent, and we need him constantly to cleanse us from the blackness of our sin. What if Jesus’ cleansing were only as effective as Exxon’s efforts and you were left with 88% of your sin?

I Jn 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from ALL unrighteousness.

Jesus blood is the perfect cleansing agent – while we may sin from time to time, it is forgiven totally, completely and without reservation. Don’t carry your burden of sin and guilt for one more moment. He died to make you clean!

PRAYER: Behold, what manner of love you have shown us that you call us your children and dress us in the finest clothing and invite us to the party of all eternity!  Help us to stay clean and alert as we go through this day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.


DayBreaks for 7/25/16 – The Most Important Trash Can

DayBreaks for 7/25/16 – The Most Important Trash Can

No matter where you go in Disneyland or Disney World. They are everywhere. No, I’m not talking about families or smiling faces or Mickey Mouse ears. I’m talking about garbage cans. If you pay close enough attention, you’ll find one approximately every thirty feet or so.  Do you know why?

If you think it’s just because there is so much trash in Disney’s confines, you’d be right…but that’s not why. Walt Disney himself is responsible for the fact that they are about 30 feet apart. You see, Walt reasoned that is took someone about 30 steps to eat a hot dog from start to finish, so about every 30 feet there is a trash receptacle waiting to receive the associated trash. In order to keep the place clean it was important to have enough garbage cans so people could get rid of their garbage frequently.

We, as humans, need to frequently unload our “garbage”, our sin. James puts it clearly: if we say we are without sin we are not – we are liars, which makes us sinners. Guilty…every last one of us. And we need to get rid of our garbage.

Fortunately, God has made it easy for us to do so…though at great cost to Himself. If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us…(1 John 1:9). 

Do you know one of the things I’m so very grateful for about that verse? It doesn’t say “If we confess our sins and never ever commit them again He is faithful and just to forgive…”  If that were the grounds for our forgiveness, I would still be in my sin…and so would you. Oh, I understand the concept and importance of repentance, but I also understand the nature of my weakness. If my forgiveness were conditioned on my perfect repentance, it would be works and performance based. I’ve tried to live that kind of life and it is very discouraging.

Disney put his trash bins 30 feet apart. God has placed the confessional booth within reach of every single human being who wants to come to Him…and you don’t even have to walk 30 steps to get there!

PRAYER: Father, thank You for making forgiveness and salvation so easily accessible to us, even though it was far from cheap for You to do so. May we take advantage of the opportunity afforded us to come to You in confession and find Your faithfulness and justness on display! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 5/06/16 – Confession and Grace

DayBreaks for 5/06/16 – Confession and Grace

From the DayBreaks archives, May 2006:

Psalms 66:9-12, 18 (NLT) – Our lives are in his hands, and he keeps our feet from stumbling. You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver melted in a crucible.  You captured us in your net and laid the burden of slavery on our backs.  You sent troops to ride across our broken bodies. We went through fire and flood. But you brought us to a place of great abundance…If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, my Lord would not have listened.

The relationship between our sin, confession and God’s gracious reply to our call for help is very clear in this passage.  The pictures of “oppression” under the hand of God are stark and almost shockingly brutal:

  1. We are melted like metal in a crucible of great heat. Of course the purpose is to produce something that is of greater value. The final product of such smelting is purer silver or gold.  Gold sells for nearly $1277 an ounce today – and that’s a lot more than you get for just an ounce of ore that holds gold.  The finished product always has greater value that the raw material.  But it is interesting to contemplate: the finished product was in the raw materials all along – it just needed to be extracted to achieve its full, potential value;
  2. Like animals, we were captured in his net and slavery resulted. I can see this several ways: first, slaves were captured peoples in the ancient world for the most part. They’d been subdued by a power greater than they and slavery was the natural result; second, Jesus promised to make his followers fishers of men – but had they not already been caught in Jesus’ net?  God has always been the first and greatest “fisher of men”, and the “burden of slavery” is that of being a slave to the king of the entire universe, not the king of a tiny corner of the world.  It brings to mind the saying that “I’d rather be a servant in heaven than a ruler in hell.”  The burden of the slavery to God includes carrying our own cross on our backs, even as Jesus did in Jerusalem;
  3. The troops that ride across the broken bodies could have been literal enemy troops, or even such things as disease and infirmities that break us. Surely Christ must have felt that his body was being trampled by vast hordes of troops – and indeed, the Roman troops did “ride across” his broken body with their whippings, beatings, etc.;
  4. Fire and flood were both used by God for judgment. Fire burns out the impurities and tests the validity of something (as the metal in the crucible). Without fire, there’s not much purification.  Even today, doctors sterilize instruments through great heat.  The flood washed away the evil in the day of Noah – providing a fresh beginning for humanity that was accompanied by a covenant with God. 

But here’s a key point: the result of all this wasn’t devastation, but being brought to a place of great abundance – it was good things, not bad, in hindsight at least, that came out of these trials and sufferings.  In other Psalms, we see that even the writers had problems in the midst of their sufferings in seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but in hindsight, we can nearly always find the silver lining if we look faithfully enough.

Finally, note the importance of confession if we want God to hear us.  He won’t put up with our pretension of holiness, or our denial of our evilness.  He will accept a heartfelt confession.  How much of our unanswered prayer is because of the lack of confession in our life?   Probably much more than we’d like to admit.

I need to spend more time in confession to God after truly allowing the Spirit to search my heart and reveal my sinfulness to me.  I dare not trust my own heart and mind to do that searching, for my heart is “deceitful above all things” as Scripture notes.  I must invite the Spirit in and when He points out things, I must confess if I want God to hear me once again. 

PRAYER: Thank you for the privilege of suffering for you.  Thank you for catching us in the net that you’ve thrown into this world to capture our hearts.  Help us to humble ourselves that our confession before you may be quick, honest and pure.  Thank you for the promise of your forgiveness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.


DayBreaks for 12/01/15 – Isolated and Alone

DayBreaks for 12/01/15: Isolated and Alone

Confession is a lost art and sorely neglected discipline. I believe we’re missing out on a great blessing from God in our failure to be open and honest with one another. Sure, it can be very painful if you confess to someone who is a tattle-tail or a gossiper, but when confession is done properly in the context of a body of trusted believers, it should be a time of refreshing, not of guilt or shame.

Why do we struggle so to be open about our sinfulness? Richard Foster, in Celebration of Discipline, may have hit it on the head: Confession is a difficult discipline for us because we all too often view the believing community as a fellowship of saints before we see it as a fellowship of sinners. We feel that everyone else has advanced so far into holiness that we are isolated and alone in our sin. We cannot bear to reveal our failures and shortcomings to others. We imagine that we are the only ones who have not stepped onto the high road to heaven. Therefore, we hide ourselves from one another and live in veiled lies and hypocrisy.

The problem most certainly comes when we see the church as a fellowship if saints instead of a fellowship of sinners. Are we saints? Absolutely! We are declared holy by God Himself – in spite of our sinfulness, because that sin has been dealt with by Jesus. But are we not also a fellowship of sinners – first and foremost? Isn’t it our acknowledgment of our sinfulness that drew us to Christ and the fellowship of the church to start with? 

We are, if my own life is any judge, far more like sinners than saints. Chances are, that until we come to honestly admit that openly and loudly, we’ll continue to act like good little Christians should act and never let on that we’re still desperately full of sin and sinful tendencies. And there are no exceptions to that rule. The most righteous among us is still a great sinner and all the pretending in the world won’t change that fact. As long as we deny that fact, we’re denying our humanity – and like any illness, as long as we deny it exists – it can’t be treated and dealt with. We have been set free from the consequences of sin as His children…though sin still tempts and often leads us down the wrong path.

James 5:16 – Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.

Copyright 2005 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

TODAY’S PRAYER: Give us the courage, Father, to take you at your word and to confess not only to you, but others, our sinfulness and brokenness. And then, by your grace and mercy, and the prayers of other sinners like ourselves, may we find your healing that our broken souls so desperately need. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2015 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 7/29/14 – What God Was Looking For in Eden

DayBreaks for 7/29/14 – What God Was Looking for In Eden

Galen is traveling through 8/5/14…new DayBreaks will resume after he returns. 

From the DayBreaks archive, 7/21/2004:

Genesis 3:8-13 (NLT) – Toward evening they heard the Lord God walking about in the garden, so they hid themselves among the trees. The Lord God called to Adam, “Where are you?” He replied, “I heard you, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.” “Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked. “Have you eaten the fruit I commanded you not to eat?”  “Yes,” Adam admitted, “but it was the woman you gave me who brought me the fruit, and I ate it.” Then the Lord God asked the woman, “How could you do such a thing?”  “The serpent tricked me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”

What do you suppose it sounds like when God walks?  My first reaction is to think of the Jurassic Park movies – and I imagine that God’s footsteps must sound like the mighty cinematic beasts created by the movie makers.  But, I doubt that’s what it would really sound like.  It would imagine that it was more like the sound of the wind in the trees, but that’s not the point.

God comes walking in the garden – and He knows something has changed.  Something is different.  And He knows exactly what it is.  Yet, as He comes, his first question is “Where are you?”  Why do you think that God asked such a question?  There can be no doubt that God knew exactly where Adam and Eve were hiding.  Adam said he was hiding because he was naked.  I don’t think that his literal nakedness is why he was hiding from God.  He knew that God has already seen him naked.  But now he knew that his “clothing” of innocence had been taken away, and the shame of his spiritual nakedness before God was more than he wanted to reveal, so he tried to hide.

What was it that God wanted when He came into the garden that evening?  I believe we get a hint from the third question that God asks: “Have you eaten the fruit I commanded you not to eat?”  What God was really doing with this question was giving Adam and Eve a chance to confess to Him what they’d done.  And, to their credit, they do – well, sort of.

Adam admitted his wrong and Eve didn’t deny it, either.  But was this true confession?  No.  It wasn’t even close.  Adam admitted he ate the fruit, but took no responsibility for his actions, instead blaming them on his bride.  And Eve, following the pattern of Adam, passed the buck along to the serpent.  Admitting that we’ve done something wrong is only the very first part of confession – the real heart of confession is taking the blame squarely on our shoulders – not trying to blame society, our spouse, our co-worker, the nasty lady at the bank, the too-spicy tamales that we ate last night, the media or anything or anyone other than ourselves for what we’ve done.  That is the heart of confession.  That is what God was looking for in Eden – confession – and instead He got a blame game.

Isn’t that like most of us?  “Yes, you caught me with my hand in the cookie jar again, God, but…”.  “Yes, Lord, I’ve been thinking of cheating on my spouse, but it’s her/his fault, you know…”.  “Yes, Lord, I know it’s wrong to steal, but if you hadn’t caused my car to break down I’d have had the money I needed and I wouldn’t have had to do this.”

God stills walks this earth, calling out to us: “Where are you?  Have you don’t the thing I commanded you not to do?”   He wants our heart-felt confession.  Will you give Him yours?

PRAYER: Father, we have so many sins to confess! Help us to see you as the One who is eager to hear our confession…and to forgive!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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