DayBreaks for 10/03/19 – The Nature of Faith

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DayBreaks for 10/03/19: The Nature of Faith

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

I think that Christians struggle with faith.  That statement can be interpreted at least two different ways: 1) that we struggle to believe, and 2) that we struggle to understand what faith is. 

We all understand the first struggle rather implicitly.  We know there are times we find it hard to believe.  We may not struggle to believe that God exists (though we may, from time to time), but this first struggle is more pronounced when we find ourselves or someone/something that we love that is in great pain and anguish.  In that case, we struggle with our faith in the proclamation that “God is a good, loving God.” 

The second case is more the one I’ve been thinking about lately.  I feel confident that the world doesn’t understand the very nature of faith.  All you have to do is read carefully what is said about “those Christians” and you’ll quickly see that they believe people of faith have taken leave of their senses.  They think that to have faith in God is superstition – nothing more and nothing less than blind, ignorant wishful thinking. 

Is that really true?  Is that the real nature of faith?  I don’t believe so.  Our faith is neither baseless nor wishful thinking.  If you didn’t believe (have faith) in the law of gravity, would you ever jump upward to grab a basketball or in a frenzy of joyful dancing leave your feet?  No, you wouldn’t.  If you believed that you would just keep going up and depart the atmosphere into the void of space where you’d suffocate, you’d never jump!  We have faith that the laws of gravity will not be superseded even once when we jump.  And that faith is based on observance of the situation and past performance. 

We sometimes say we have faith in someone.  What is that faith based on?  It’s based on observation of that person and their character over some period of time that has shown them to be faith-worthy.  The same is true for the fact that we have faith that the brakes on our car will work, that the steering mechanism won’t become disconnected and that the key to our front door will continue to work in the lock as long as the lock doesn’t change.  Even though molecular motion says that the molecules in the lock (and in the key and in our hands, etc.) are constantly moving, we believe the key will still work in the lock because of the history we’ve had with the lock.

The same is true of Christian faith.  It is not a blind, thoughtless, ignorant superstition, but an intelligent response to evidence we see all around us, to the past performance of the One that we see as the explanation for all that exists.  Atheists must have faith in something – for them it is chance and time that they put their faith in as the explanation for what they see and experience.  But what of the things we can’t see?  They never can explain how anything came to be (how did the matter in the big bang come to exist?) in the first place – even if time and chance were the operative factors involved. 

So, faith isn’t foolish.  Faith is reasonable.  Faith is based on past observations about reliability and performance.  No one would realistically walk up to a total stranger on the street corner who is unshaven, homeless and filthy and hand them their life savings and say, “I trust you’ll keep this safe for me.”  Why?  Because we don’t know if they are reliable.  God, however, has demonstrated faithfulness throughout every generation.  And we can go to Him, hand Him our eternal destiny, and with faith say, “I trust you’ll keep this safe for me.”

We have faith because of reliability, a proven track record, personal experience and because it is the only reasonable thing to do.  Faith isn’t blind. 

PRAYER: We are grateful that You have proven Yourself over and over to us and that You will always be worthy of our faith in You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/30/18 – On Account of Me

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DayBreaks for 10/30/18: On Account of Me

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2008:

Yesterday, I shared from Matthew 11:4-6 where Matthew recorded the story of John the Baptist’s moments of doubt.  He’d dispatched followers to find out if Jesus was the one that they had been expecting, or if they should be on the lookout for someone else.  Jesus invited them to stay long enough to see and hear for themselves the great things that Jesus was doing – evidence of a Divine power that no human alone could exercise.

But at the end of the time the followers were with Jesus, he commissioned them to return to John with this kind of report from Mt. 11:4-6: Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.  Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.

Did you get that last little bit?  “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”  What did Jesus mean?  Why would anyone fall away after witnessing the great miracles Jesus was doing – giving sight, making legs strong, fixing eardrums, curing diseases and even raising the dead?  It would seem that those things would have exactly the opposite effect: they would keep one from falling away. 

Not so, apparently.  Remember the context: John’s in prison, awaiting his beheading for antagonizing King Herod by telling him he was an adulterer.  John had done great things for Jesus, publicly proclaiming at the Jordan: Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!  He had prepared the way for Jesus excellently.  Jesus had said no man ever born of woman was greater than John.  That’s very high praise.  But here’s John, stinking up the dungeon, and after all that John had done for Jesus, would it be too much to think that when Jesus got word of John’s plight, that he’d come to see John at the very least, or perhaps even to get him out of prison?  And so John had waited.  Jesus didn’t show up.  He didn’t write to John.  He didn’t send messages to him via his own disciples to encourage John to stay strong.  No, none of that.  Jesus was off preaching far away from the dungeon in which John found himself.  And it makes John wonder: “Was I wrong about this guy?  Why is he out there doing great things for others but not for me?  I’m his cousin, for Pete’s sake, and I spent my life preparing Israel for Jesus’ ministry!

Could Jesus have been saying: “Blessed are you, John, if you don’t fall away for what you perceive I have failed to do for you.”  Did John want a deliverance?  I think so – he was human.  But he didn’t get it, not even in what appears to be his hour of greatest need.  And Jesus simply says, “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” 

Perhaps you are in a dungeon of your own, or someone else’s making right now, and your doubts have surfaced and bit into your faith a bit.  You wonder why Jesus hasn’t come to help you, or that person you love that you’ve been praying for.  And you wonder, “Is this Christianity real or not?”  Take courage from the words of Jesus that preceded this difficult statement: look at what Jesus has done, and is doing.  Can anyone other than the Son of God do those things?  No.  God’s favor rested on Jesus.  Like John, we at times must be reminded of the great things Jesus does, but also remember that we are blessed if we don’t fall away on account of Jesus – and what he has not done for us in this world. 

John didn’t get his miracle of deliverance.  But he got his answer, and it was enough to see him through faithfully into eternity.  You may not get your miracle of deliverance from disease, divorce, economic ruin, a job loss or anything else.  But you don’t need it: “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”

PRAYER: I fear, sometimes Lord, that we believe we should have special treatment in this world and that we shouldn’t be subject to the same kinds of disasters that strike others.  At times of our struggle, help us to remember that those who never saw you or touched you after your resurrection and still believe are even more blessed than those who did touch you and see you with their own eyes.  Help us to never fall away on account of something You do, or don’t do, for us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 1/22/18 – When Salvation Comes to Your House

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DayBreaks for 1/22/18: When Salvation Comes to Your House

We often think of salvation as freedom – at least as being freed from something.  And that’s all well and good, and even accurate.  For those of us born in the United States, we’ve never experienced slavery.  The language of Scripture speaks of the delivery of Israel from Egyptian slavery as a salvation, freeing them from their oppressors.  It’s hard to argue with that, so I won’t even try.

If, however, all we think of when we think of salvation is freedom – the ability to stop being enslaved to someone or something, I think there’s something seriously wrong with our concept of salvation.  Take, for instance, the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus.  I won’t bother going through the story – let’s get to the point, and see something about what salvation really involves.

After Jesus spent some time with Zacchaeus (we’re not told much about their conversation at all), Zacchaeus breaks forth with an exclamation: Look, Lord!  Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.  (Lk. 19:8)  What prompted Zacchaeus to come to this conclusion and decision, we just don’t know.  We can only assume it was either something Jesus said, or just the experience of His holiness that moved Zacchaeus.  Regardless, he meets Jesus and changes his mind about things, but immediately he also changes his ways. 

But what is fascinating is Jesus’ proclamation at that point: Today salvation has come to this house.  Here’s what Mark Buchanan wrote about this incident, in The Rest of God: “When salvation comes to your house, first you think differently, then you act differently.  First, you shift the imagination with which you perceive this world, and then you enact gestures with which you honor it.”

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think that Jesus was saying that because Zacchaeus was taking actions that he was saved because of it.  I think Jesus was pointing out the motive behind the actions: Zacchaeus had been saved, and the evidence of his salvation was a change of both mind and action.

Have you been saved?  What changes in action has salvation wrought in you?

PRAYER:  May our minds be change and our hearts rekindled by the wonder of the salvation that has come to our house, and may we live lives full of the evidence of that salvation.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/17/15 – Wait for ALL the Evidence

DayBreaks for 7/17/15: Wait for All the Evidence

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2005:

High profile trials catch our attention.  O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson, Scott Peterson, Robert Blake…the list could go on for a long, long time.  What I find fascinating is that we all form our opinions of the guilt or innocence of these people based on what we’ve heard or what someone told us, without having access to the evidence that’s shown in a court room.  As a general rule, I think we often make up our minds on their probable guilt or innocence before the trial even begins!  While we could debate whether the legal system is very effective and accurate, those folks had their problems, and I’m sure that they wanted all the evidence to be weighed before the jury finally decided their fate.

We all have hardships, too.  It’s part of life that we just can’t ignore or wish away.  It just doesn’t work like that.  And sometimes, quite often, in fact, people blame God for the hard times.  Even Christians sometimes put the blame at His feet.  It’s hard to keep things in perspective when we’re hurting.  Consider Phillip Yancey’s comments from Rumors of Another World: “No one gets an exemption from hardship on planet Earth. How we receive it hinges on whether we believe in an alternate reality that transcends the one we know so well. The Bible never minimizes hardship or unfairness—witness books like Job, Psalms, and Lamentations. It simply asks us to withhold final judgment until all the evidence is in.

“Why would anyone choose to follow a God who promises more hardship, not less? I will let the apostle Paul answer that question. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal’ (2 Cor. 4:16-18).

“Paul had two pictures of himself. One image he could view in a mirror, and the insomnia, beatings, imprisonments, and deprivations must have left their mark in the gaunt and weary face that stared back at him from the crude Roman glass. The other image he could not see. Nevertheless he could sense his inward self being renewed and made more fit, tempered by hardship. Belief in another world cast hardship in such a different light that he could compile a list of his many personal calamities and call them ‘light and momentary troubles.’”

It isn’t easy to focus on things you can’t see, to bet your life – no, your eternity – on the fact that what we wait for is worth it, regardless of what we must deal with here on earth.  You may be struggling to hang on to the idea that God is good and that He wants only good for you.  You may be ready to sentence God to being fickle, unfair and perhaps even cruel.  Wait.  The evidence isn’t all in yet.  Someday, God will present the evidence that will show that He is totally good and loving.  Wait for that day.  Then you can see for yourself that He is good, always!

PRAYER: Lord, help us wait until we see your goodness with our own “eyes”, and we can also then see ourselves as you view us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 12/18/13 – Something Happened Here!

DayBreaks for 12/18/13 – Something Happened Here!                 

John 1:14 (NLT)  So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

As I have said before, I love to visit places where world history changed, where great conflicts took place, struggles, advances in technology, where great words were spoken and things were changed forever. 

A couple of years ago while my wife and I were on a vacation road-trip through the American southwest, we went to the meteor crater in Arizona.  It doesn’t look like much as you drive up to it, in fact, it could be mistaken for a plateau.  But once you get there and walk up the side of the crater and can peer down into its depth and see its breadth, you immediately know: “Something happened here!”  The evidence is staring you right in the face.

There is a story of an old pioneer in times past who traveled westward across the great plains until he came to an shocking and abrupt halt at the edge of the Grand Canyon. He gawked at the sight before him: a vast chasm one mile down, eighteen miles across, and more than a hundred miles long! He gasped, “Something musta happened here!”

A visitor from another world to our world at Christmas time could observe the lights, the decorations, the trees, the parades, the festivities, and the religious services, and would rightly conclude “Something must have happened here!”

Indeed, something did happen. God came to our world in a unique and unexpected way on the first Christmas. Consider how the world has been changed as a result!

The question is: what does that coming mean to you?  How has your history changed as a result?  How will you let it change you this year?  Can someone stand at the edge of your life and say “Something happened to you!”

PRAYER: Father, thank You for coming to this humble grain of sand that You created.  Thank You for the great changes that Your coming have brought and may we allow You to change us again this year and always!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 10/19/12 – Case Dismissed!

DayBreaks for 10/19/12 – Case Dismissed

Every so often we hear about a case being dismissed due to a lack of evidence.  Sometimes, no matter how much law enforcement might try, there just isn’t enough evidence to get a conviction, so the case is tossed out before it even reaches court.  If there’s plenty of evidence, however, the case will make it to court and the prosecution will proceed.

How different this is than our standing before God!  I’d not really thought about it until I read this story:

“In August, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration dropped all charges against a doctor who has been at the center of a prescription-drug fraud case because, said prosecutors, they have too much evidence against him and not enough space to store it. The U.S. Attorney in northern Iowa said her office needs to clear out the 400,000 paper documents and 2 terabytes of electronic data (the latter of which under current technology takes up little space but in DEA’s antiquated computer system hogs five percent of the agency’s worldwide electronic storage). The accused, Dr. Armando Angulo, has lived since 2004 in Panama, which will not extradite him. (He remains under indictment on state charges in Florida.)”  Associated Press via Ames Tribune, 8-16-2012, News of the Weird, 9/3/12

When our case on Judgment Day is dismissed, it won’t be for lack of evidence.  God could, if He chose, cause the vault of the universe to collapse with the weight of the evidence against us.  There is too much.  But, in spite of all the evidence that could be introduced to the heavenly court, for those who are disciples of the Son, we will find the case against us dismissed because of the forgiveness of God and His immeasurable grace!

PRAYER: Thank You, God, for your grace!!!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 05/16/12 – No Proclamation Needed

DayBreaks for 05/16/12 – No Proclamation Needed

The evidence is clear…

Matthew 7:16 (NLT) – You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?

John 13:35 (NLT) – Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.

The visitors walked through the orchard, among the trees heavy with ripe, juicy apples. The branches drooped down toward the earth from the weight of their fruit. The farmer, who has lovingly cared for the trees for many years, smiles with delight as he leads the tour. He explains how he has carefully cared for each tree, pruning it so that it would give its best yield. There is one thing that he did not inform the group. He did not tell them that this was an apple orchard. There was no need. The orchard was filled with apple tress. The fruit made it obvious.

Have you noticed how some people are so quick to profess and proclaim their Christianity?  I know that we are to confess and be witnesses, but have you ever felt that some folks were working hard to make it obvious by telling everyone about their faith and commitment?  It is almost as if they are trying to convince not only others, but themselves, about their faith.

If asked, we should proclaim our allegiance.  If persecuted, we should hold tight to our confession.  But in everyday life, we shouldn’t have to say a word because it should be clear to everyone, obvious even, Who we belong to by the fruit we bear and the love we have for one another.  Does that describe you?

PRAYER: May our walk with you be so close that there will never be any reason for someone to question who is the Lord of our life!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

I Am 2 is now engaged in a project to provide temporary shelter, food, water and adult care to 37 orphans in Migori, Kenya.  We are trying to raise up an army of compassionate people who will each contribute whatever they can – even $5-10 each, to help us provide care for these children until our partner in the project, BrightPoint for Children, can secure sponsorships for these 37 kids.  If you want to contribute, follow this link and scroll down to find the “Donate” button: Help the 37 Migori Orphans

Thank you!  Your donations are tax deductible for 2012.  If you prefer to send a check rather than give through PayPal, write it and mail it to: I Am 2 Partners, Inc., c/o 3678 Creekstone Drive, Norcross, GA 30092.

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DayBreaks for 01/02/12 – How Foolish We Are

DayBreaks for 01/02/12 – How Foolish We Are

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! – Luke 24:17-25

Yesterday, the preacher at church spoke about Luke 24.  It is a wonderful story – the discovery of the empty tomb by the women, Peter rushing to see for himself (they thought the women’s declaration was the product of feverish, nonsensical minds), saw the empty tomb, and went away wondering what it meant.  Then, the encounter of the risen Lord with the Emmaus disciples.

One of the interesting things about this passage is how we refuse to believe the evidence that is right before our eyes.  The two disciples recited amazing things about the recent events in Jerusalem – not just the women’s story, but that of their “companions” who corroborated the women’s account.  Then, in verse 25, Jesus says, “How foolish you are…”  Why does he say that?  He tells us: they were slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.  In other words, they have all sorts of evidence, but still don’t know what to believe and what not to believe.

I must admit, the story of Jesus is an amazing one – one that is almost too good to believe…almost. Look at the evidence for the truth of the story.  We struggle to believe what is right before our eyes.  Yet if we ignore it, Jesus calls us “foolish”!

Let the Spirit speak truth into your heart.  Can you trust your life to this Jesus of Nazareth?  Look at the evidence.   It speaks for itself.  And believe!

PRAYER: Let us trust in the truth of the story of Jesus fully and sweep away our doubts, Father!!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 07/12/11 – The Signs of a Disciple

DayBreaks for 07/12/11 – The Signs of a Disciple

Matthew 25 contains frightening images of judgment.  It speaks of the time when Christ will come again in glory and He will separate all humanity into those who were his disciples and those who were not.  It is an interesting scenario that Jesus himself (who will do the separating) describes.  During my recent road trip, I was pondering this passage and was rather astounded at what I saw.

If you were to be put on trial, wouldn’t you find it to be a great advantage to know what the criteria for your judgment would be?  It would certainly help you prepare for your defense, wouldn’t it?  And if you knew it far enough in advance, you could change your life to comply with what you knew the judgment criteria would be.  Talk about an advantage heading into a trial!!!!

So, look closely at Matthew 25:31-46.  What you find may shock you.  Not once in that entire passage describing the judgment criteria does Jesus mention anything about frequent attendance at church, never does he mention the topic of correct doctrine or orthodoxy or practice, how generously we give, how much we pray.  He doesn’t mention memorizing Scripture, having a daily quiet time, teaching Sunday school or leading a small group.  No, those things don’t even appear in the list at all.  I suspect that if they did appear we’d feel a lot better about things because the church has majored in such things in America.

So what is there, in the criteria for judgment day?  Feeding the hungry, providing shelter, water, clothing.  Visiting those in distress and hurting alongside those suffering.  These are the things that, according to Jesus’ own words in Matthew 25, will form the criteria on judgment day.  Now how do you feel?

Don’t misunderstand my point: it is GOOD to be in regular worship, to give generously, to pray constantly, to have solid doctrine (while remaining humanly humble at our limited understanding of the things of God!), to memorize the Word, have quiet times and be involved with church service.  Those are all good things: but not the kind of things that save us, or others.

So, what does feeding others, giving water, clothing and companionship have to do with salvation?  I’m still thinking all that through, but here must be part of it: James tells us that God is love.  Jesus tells us that we are to love God above anything else, and our neighbor like ourselves…and that if we do those things, we have kept the law because all the rest of it is based on those two things.  Feeding the hungry in an effort to be saved won’t cut it (it’s an attempt to be saved by works) – but feeding them because we love them is something else entirely.  If we have that kind of love for others that we extend ourselves for them, not only are we obeying the second command, we are opening the door to spiritual discussions that can lead to their acceptance of God’s grace as they see it lived through us.  And, as an extra bonus, we will have conducted our lives in such a way that we’ll be better prepared for the judgment!

Why does Jesus look at those manner of things in judgment rather than orthodoxy and high levels of obedience?  Is it not because God is love…and the things Jesus will be looking at are measures of love and compassion?

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for showing us what the day of judgment will be like, and what matters to your heart.  Give us the courage to live so we can please you by helping those in need.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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