DayBreaks for 4/19/17 – The Cave and the Sun

DayBreaks for 4/19/17: The Cave and the Sun

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

“There was once a dark cave, deep down in the ground, underneath the earth and hidden away from view.  Because it was so deep in the earth, the light had never been there.  The cave had never seen light.  The word ‘light’ meant nothing to the cave, who couldn’t imagine what ‘light’ might be.

“Then one day, the sun sent an invitation to the cave, inviting it to come up and visit.

“When the cave came up to visit the sun it was amazed and delighted because the cave had never seen light before, and it was dazzled by the wonder of the experience.

“Feeling so grateful to the sun for inviting it to visit, the cave wanted to return the kindness and so it invited the sun to come down to visit it sometime because the sun had never seen darkness.

“So the day came, and the sun came down and was courteously shown into the cave.

“As the sun entered the cave, it looked around with great interest, wondering what ‘darkness’ would be like.  Then it became puzzled, and asked the cave, “Where is the darkness?” – Source Unknown

I sometimes get overwhelmed with a sense of the darkness in the world.  How silly of me!  If Christ lives within me, how can I be in darkness?  John 8:12 says as much: When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.  All who follow Him WILL NEVER WALK IN DARKNESS, but will have the LIGHT OF LIFE!  Wherever I go, Jesus goes, and like the sun, there can be no darkness when He is present!

John 12:46 (NLT) – I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the darkness.

PRAYER: Father, forgive me for being so focused on the darkness that I forget that I am in the light and that I will never walk in darkness!  Help us this day to follow Jesus and to always be aware of the light He brings with him no matter where we go!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/15/17 – Silence

DayBreaks for 4/15/17: Silence

From the Holy Week devotional guide from our church:

“The silence is excruciating. He’s dead. That’s all the disciples knew. They couldn’t try to distract themselves with busyness because it was the Sabbath. They just had to sit in it – the pain of loss weighing down on them with no escape. We had hoped He would be the One to redeem Israel, some of his followers said after he died (Lk. 24:21). We had hoped. Losing a loved one is devastating (and none of them had ever experienced love the way Jesus had loved them) but they not only lost him, they lost hope. Hope that they would be redeemed by him, hope that he was who they thought he was. But now he was dead. The apostles had staked their whole lives on him being the one to redeem, but then in his greatest act of love, they ran away from him, piling guilt on top of their pain of loss. Afraid and ashamed. Now they’re trapped in the painful silence of Saturday.

“But Saturday isn’t the whole story. We know that. We know that there is incredible hope: real, true, eternal redemption nearly bursting through seams of that dark, silent Saturday. On Sunday that hope explodes onto the scene of history as a reality to experience with joy and wonder in the face of the Risen Savior. On Saturday that hope is a reality in the form of a promise to be trusted in, amid the silence, the doubt and the pain. A promise from the lips of Jesus: I will rise again on the third day. A promise from the beginning: that the serpent’s head will be crushed (Genesis 3:15), sin will be conquered, that death will be put to death and that redemption will be accomplished by the One who came to redeem – not just Israel – but all who would believe in Him.

“That promise should have given great hope to Jesus’ followers in the painful silence of Saturday. And it should give hope to us when we feel like we’re living hrough that same kind of painful silence day after day. One this side of history, we have more than a promise. He has Risen and conquered sin and death and given us His Presence. But all things are not yet the way they’re supposed to be. There is still a promise to be fulfilled. Jesus is coming again to deal the final deathblow to death, to rid the world of sine and to wipe away the last tears of grief (Rev. 21:19-20).

“Maybe you find yourself overwhelmed with the silence of a question that has gone unanswered; a loved one who stands at a distance, resistant and angry; a realization that your shame is ever before you. There is hope. Jesus has overcome all our Saturdays. You don’t have to live in the dark, silent shadow of Saturday. You can live in the amazing hope of Sunday.” – Ryan Brown, discipleship director, Perimeter church

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for providing all we need. Thank you for not abandoning us in our times of painful silence. Facing days of undertainty knowing that You are with us, calms our anxieties and our fears. We look with hope to Your coming when You will make all things right. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/22/17 – Searching for the Light

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DayBreaks for 2/22/17: Searching for the Light

NOTE from Galen: Sorry about the inconsistent delivery of DayBreaks lately. We’ve been battling internet issues (still are)!

John 18:2-3 (NIV) – Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.

Oh, my goodness!  How many times, O Lord, have I read this passage and not seen it?  Sometimes the most amazing truths of scripture are in the most innocent and innocuous phrases and words.  The passage, of course, describes the horrible moment when Judas leads the soldiers and officials out from Jerusalem, across the Kidron valley, to the garden of Gethsemane to earn his 30 pieces of silver for betraying Jesus.  It is not Judas alone – but an attachment of soldiers (quite a few according to the other gospel accounts.)  But that’s what I’ve always known…but notice the last sentence: “They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.” 

Do you see the great irony?  Loaded with torches and lanterns, they go seeking for the One who is the Light of the World.  How many lessons are here?  I don’t know, but here’s a few thoughts:

FIRST: it is easier to see light in the darkness.  It would have been easier to find Jesus if they had put their own lights out long ago and heard the seen the message that was Jesus.  “The light shines in the darkness” John had written.  He wasn’t in hiding.  The darker the night the brighter the light shines.  On this night, the light was at its brightest, even as darkness raged in the flickering shadows.

SECOND: they carried weapons.  We know they had at least one sword among them – and almost certainly, many more than one.  But the deadliest weapons they carried that night weren’t swords and spears, but hatred, prejudice, learnedness, jealousy and envy.  Those are the weapons that take lives away from the living and leave them as walking corpses! 

THIRD: Jesus was not in hiding.  They didn’t need to search for him.  They didn’t need the lanterns and torches to find him, not really.  Lanterns and torches are merely aids to help feeble human eyes to get past the darkness, to be able to apprehend what is at the edge of our vision.  What is it that we bring when we search for Him?  Are we bringing armfuls of human creations, human reasonings as we come looking for the Light of the World?  Would we not be better to come, as the old song put it: “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to thy cross I cling”?  What we need most to bring to Jesus is not the light of human mind or thought, nor even human will, but to simply bring our darkness and the night of our blighted souls to Him to be seen and healed by the Light Himself.

PRAYER:  God, we are so evil and wicked.  And sometimes we come to Jesus armed with all sorts of human creations, even those we have made to make ourselves look or seem more presentable to You.  Help us to understand that what you wish us to bring to the Light of the world is our darkness, to leave it with Jesus and to remain in the Light all the days of our lives.  Forgive us for our foolish pretension and prideful arrogance.  May we come to you humbly in our brokenness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/17/16 – The Message of Zebulun and Naphtali

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DayBreaks for 10/17/16 – The Message of Zebulon and Naphtali

Matthew 4:12-16 (NLT) – When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he left Judea and returned to Galilee. He went first to Nazareth, then left there and moved to Capernaum, beside the Sea of Galilee, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This fulfilled what God said through the prophet Isaiah: “In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali, beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River, in Galilee where so many Gentiles live, the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined.”

This passage is most often thought of in conjunction with the Christmas story – and for good reason. But there is much deeper truth just below the obvious.

Zebulun and Naphtali were sons of Jacob – and they were the founding members of the two tribes that carried their names. They aren’t as famous as some other tribes, but there is something worth knowing about these tribes and the fact that Jesus went there as he was beginning to announce the good news.

After the death of King Solomon, what had been known as Israel split into two parts: the northern kingdom (which kept the name Israel) and the southern kingdom (called Judah). Eventually both kingdoms would be overwhelmed by surrounding world powers due to their idolatry and disobedience. But the northern kingdom was the first two fall.

Zebulun and Naphtali were part of the northern kingdom that was carried away by the Assyrians in 722 BC. In fact, Zebulun and Naphtali bore the brunt of the Assyrian army as it devastated and destroyed Israel.

By the time of Jesus, the area once occupied by Zebulun and Naphtali had become known as Galilee of the Gentiles because people from all nations dwelt there and it was a wild, wooly and very dark place spiritually – and it had been for centuries.

It was to this place, so dark and vile, that Jesus went early in his ministry. He went to these people who were in a darkness so deep that the people there “sat” in darkness…it was so dark that they couldn’t even move. But Jesus brought to them the Light. Those who lived where death had long cast its shadow saw the Light that had come from heaven above.

So what, you might ask?  Several things strike me about this passage:

FIRST: Jesus isn’t afraid to go into darkness. He came into a world of darkness from a place of eternal light and glory. He did it to bring that light to mankind.

SECOND: If Jesus took the light into the darkness, I must ask myself how good of a job I am doing of imitating my Lord and Master? I am to be like him – and so are you.

THIRD: we are in a time of deep frustration and despair in America right now. We are seeing, first hand, how dark it has gotten in this country that has been historically so blessed by God. We are stunned by the nature and character of the choices before us of those who would lead not just our country, but the free world. It is very, very easy to despair. We live in a land of darkness. But Jesus (and his followers) are still here and that means there can still be light if we choose as his people to be like the city set upon a hill.

Jesus came into the darkness in the Incarnation. He went into the darkness of Zebulon and Naphtali. He entered the darkness of the tomb. And every time he has emerged with victory in hand. Wherever Jesus is, there is hope.

Let’s not lose hope. Let’s pray. Let’s reflect the Light that dispels the darkness!

PRAYER: Thank you for not being afraid to come into the dark to rescue us. Help us to not be afraid to go into the darkness with you. We pray for our nation, that the Light might once more burn brightly as your people repent and turn from the darkness to the Light once again.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

 

DayBreaks for 4/18/16 – The Lesson From the Darkness

DayBreaks for 4/17/16 – The Lesson From the Darkness

It is at night when thoughts come to haunt me.  It is at night that I do most of my worrying and when my fears are the most pronounced and find their greatest freedom to rampage inside of my head and heart.  And, often, I am unable to put them back into a cage until the sky brightens and daylight arrives. 

It has always been darkness that has bothered us the most.  Yet, now that Easter is over, I want to look one more time at the story of the Resurrection “morning.”  Here is the text: John 20:1-2 (NLT) – Early Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, ‘They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and I don’t know where they have put him!’

Do you see it?  The Resurrection didn’t happen in the morning.  John, being an eyewitness to the events, is very, very clear about it.  When Mary came to the tomb, it was still DARK.  And Jesus was ALREADY gone!  He had already risen.  Christ rose in the darkness of the night.  None of us know exactly what hour or minute it was – but it was dark.  We know that much.

So what’s the big deal?  It struck me that Christ died in the daylight and rose during the night, in darkness.  It might seem to us that it should have been the other way around.   If Christ had risen in the middle of the day, more people would have seen the resurrection (in fact, there was no human who witnessed the actual moment of resurrection.)  If he had died at night, wouldn’t it seem to have been more fitting?

Here’s what I think we should make of this:

I think Christ died in the daylight because we needed to see it happen, for several reasons:

FIRST: we needed to be able to see the ugliness of what happened.  The ugliness of sin, the hatefulness of the human heart.  It could have happened in the dark, but we’d have missed it.  And God didn’t want us to miss the meaning, or historical fact, of the death of His Son.

SECOND: we needed to be able to see the love of God in all its fullness – and it was never seen so clearly or fully as on the cross.

I think Christ rose in the darkness because, as he had put it, it was the hour and time of the darkness’ power.  Over and over, darkness is linked with lies, deception, sin…and with the rule of Satan.  Jesus rose in the dark of the night to:

FIRST: show us that we need not fear the dark any longer, because our Friend is there.

SECOND: to show us his power – he went straight into the world of darkness through Calvary, and he rose at the height of the power of the enemy – while it was dark (both in terms of light and in terms of the darkness that settled upon with world because of sin and death.)  Jesus didn’t need to wait until the darkness faded to have enough power to rise – he rose when the darkness was the fullest!  If Jesus had risen in the daylight, would we have fully understood his victory over the darkness? 

When the sun comes up, my fears and torments cease.  The Son has risen…the Son has come up and the time for fear is over and the time for rejoicing has come!

TODAY’S PRAYER:  We praise you, most Holy Lord, for your great power that drives way our fears and replaces them with hope, joy and love.  Thank you that you allowed us to see the ugliness of sin in its fullness.  May we repent in tears and ashes for our waywardness.  Lead us safely through this darkness to your glorious home!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/01/16 – Praying in Deepest Darkness

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Photo, Galen C. Dalrymple, 2013.

DayBreaks for 2/01/16: Praying in Deepest Darkness

I have always been tormented by the prayers of Jesus in Gethsemane. To think of the very Son of God in such anguish – brought about by things he didn’t deserve – and to know that he did it for me is unfathomable.

In the sermon on Sunday, the preacher was talking about prayer and he made reference to this prayer. Many times in prayer, we are formal and stiff in our language, as if we think that sounding proper and saying all the right things in the most pious and holy language we can must will somehow curry us favor with the Almighty. How foolish we are to think that.

The disciples once asked Jesus to teach them to pray, and he did. It was a prayer that is all of 13 seconds long. Jesus was no a pious windbag. He knew how to pray better than any of us. He didn’t use fancy words, but words that could easily fall from the tongues of a young child. “Our Father…”

And so we find this man of prayer prostrate in the garden, stretched out upon the ground, in the deepest pit of agony that any human has ever experienced. I know that others throughout history have died equally painful deaths on a cross and some perhaps even more painful. But the pain that most ripped Jesus’ that night was, I believe, already starting to settle on him: the pain of separation from God as he took on our sin. The darkness of all of history’s evil was falling on his soul. He was alone, and he was terrified.

So how did Jesus pray at that point? Did he summon up the highest theological language that he could (and he was the foremost theologian of all time – for he knew himself!)?

No, he didn’t even address God as YHWH, or Elohim. He didn’t string together lofty, wonderful adjective-lace terms such as Almighty God, Ancient of Days, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob or God of our fathers. No, this was a child, this was a son, and he called out to not YHWH, but Daddy! In his anguish, this was a child begging, pleading with his daddy, to let this darkness pass, to let it be over, to let the Light once more be Light.

That is a lesson of prayer we need to learn. That is how we are to pray.

Maybe right now you are desperate for relief, for deliverance from some torment. Maybe you are so ashamed you feel you can’t go to God. Maybe you are afraid you will be rejected in your darkness of soul. Let Jesus teach you to pray, “Abba, daddy!! If it be possible, let this cup pass from me!”

TODAY’S PRAYER:  Jesus, when I think of the agony of your soul in the garden I am crushed and so ashamed for my sin that added to your darkness and suffering. In my own darkness and shame, I cry out to you, “Daddy, have mercy on my soul and forgive me!”  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 8/18/15 – Gethsemane

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DayBreaks for 8/18/15: Gethsemane

Gethsemane was the most moving place I have ever been.  I wept. Yet, perhaps I wasn’t weeping only for my Lord’s suffering and anguish there. I was weeping because I put him there, as did you. I also believe I was weeping because my sin was never so apparent to me as when I knelt by that stone and touched it with my hand.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox wrote a poem simply entitled “Gethsemane”. I want to share it with you.

Down shadowy lanes, across strange streams

Bridged over by our broken dreams;

Behind the misty caps of years,

Beyond the great salt fount of tears,

The garden lies.

 

Strive as you may, You cannot miss it in your way.

All paths that have been, or shall be,

Pass somewhere through Gethsemane.

 

All those who journey, soon or late,

Must pass within the gardens gate;

Must kneel alone in darkness there,

And battle with some fierce despair.

 

God pity those who cannot say,

Not mine but thine, who only pray,

Let this cup pass, and cannot see

The purpose in Gethsemane.

I think there is another reason I wept I Gethsemane. You see, Gethsemane is not only on the eastern side of Jerusalem, across the valley.  Gethsemane is everywhere and we will all spend dark hours there someday if we haven’t already.

It would be dishonest to say that God makes everything all right in this world. The death of 3000 innocent souls who were simply going to work on September 11, 2001, tells me the world is crowded with Gethsemanes. The death of 1000 soldiers in Iraq tells me that peace has an enormous price. The burial of 350 children in a Russian town or Iraq tells me that evil still wins in this world. Don’t get me wrong. I as much as any man have hope in the resurrection. I am simply cannot deny the picture painted by the Psalmist when he asks, Will the Lord cast off for ever? And will he be favorable no more? Is his mercy clean gone forever? Doth his promise fail forever more? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? Hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? And I said, this is my infirmity.”

First question: Who do we turn to in our Gethsemane? Answer: God, even in our despair. Second question: What do we do? Answer: Pray to cope. Pray against temptation. Pray for one another. And pray for the Kingdom to come. Third question: Where do we go from here? Ah, now there’s the kicker.

How I wish there were an easy answer, but the answer isn’t easy because life isn’t. When Jesus left Gethsemane he went to Golgotha. At times we all seem to be running from the garden of despair to the hill of suffering. Look at the stories of the bible. At some time or another there has been a Gethsemane for all God’s people. For Abraham it was when he was asked to sacrifice his only son. For Joseph it was those unjust years in jail. Paul had any number of Gethsemanes in his experience; he once listed the number of times he had been stoned, whipped, robbed and shipwrecked.

Where do we go? Where our faith ancestors went…to our Gethsemane, and there we will meet our God.

PRAYER: God, I don’t want to go to Gethsemane. It’s too painful and too dark and it frightens me. I don’t want to walk from Gethsemane to Calvary. But since Gethsemane is part of every life, I pray we will meet You there. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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