DayBreaks for 8/21/18 – Against All the World

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DayBreaks for 8/21/18: Against All the World

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

A man by the name of Athanasius, an early bishop of Alexandria, strongly opposed the heretical teachings of Arius, who had declared that Christ was not the eternal Son of God, but a subordinate being. After suffering 5 exiles, Athanasius was finally brought before the Roman emperor Theodosius, who demanded that Athanasius stop his outspoken opposition to Arius’ teachings. The emperor reproved him and asked, “Do you not realize that all the world is against you?” Athanasius is said to have quickly responded, “Then I am against all the world.”

Most of you who read DayBreaks work in the secular world (or are students or home-makers). It’s difficult working in the world and trying to be a Christian. I know what it’s like – I worked in the secular workplace for years. I’ve seen how companies frown on employees exercising their right to express their faith. I’ve seen how something as innocent as a group of employees gathering together for breakfast before Christmas to sing Christmas carols can lead to protests from employees who are of other faiths. Those kind of things make it hard to express your faith in ways that are noticeable. So, we feel all alone – surrounded by disinterested (at best) co-workers or overtly hostile ones.

I imagine Peter felt that way when he denied the Lord. Where were the remainder of the apostles? Nowhere to be seen – but that didn’t mean they didn’t exist. They just didn’t “stick” together – they scattered and their faith was individually tested. I’d be willing to bet that you probably aren’t all alone – there are probably other believers who may be feeling just as isolated as you. (Remember how Elijah thought he was all alone, too, after fighting with the prophets of Baal? God reassured him that there were others who hadn’t bowed down to Baal.) More often than not, it is our fear of letting our light shine that keeps us feeling alone. And it is much easier to stand strong if we stand together instead of scattering like the apostles did at the crucifixion.

The need to take a stand is crucial. If we can’t do it now, what will happen when the day comes that you are truly alone? How will you fare then? Would you have the courage of Athanasius? Would I? Until then, find a brother or sister and start a workplace bible study at your lunch break once a week. You might find other brothers and sisters you didn’t know you had, and who knows, you might even have the privilege of leading a few others to Christ!

PRAYER: Father, give us the courage that makes us able to stand against “all the world”, whether it is before Presidents, kings or emperors.  As Your body in this world, may we draw strength from one another and stand strong for You and truth!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 3/2/17 – Visiting With Isaiah, #4

DayBreaks for 3/02/17: Visiting With Isaiah, #4

Isaiah 6:5-7 (ESV) – And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

These verses take place right after the vision of the One who is seated on the throne. It isn’t surprising that Isaiah had this reaction given his description of the Throne Dweller. But as if often the case, if we forget the context of a passage, we miss nuggets that are priceless.

If you were to go back and read Isaiah chapter 5, you’ll hear woe after woe after woe pronounced by Isaiah to his listeners. He was dishing it out with seeming relish.

But now things have changed. He has not just heard the voice of the Lord but has been in the Presence itself. In spite of all the woes that he’d dished out, perhaps Isaiah needed to understand his own place and his own righteousness (which was no righteousness at all compared to that of the Lord) before he would be a fit servant and messenger for God.

When Doug Fell shared this passage, he described an incident with his young son who at the time was still using a pacifier (they call pacifiers “dummies” in South Africa). His son had come to his dad all excited. His dummy was still in his mouth but he told his dad how excited he was. When Doug asked him why he was so excited, he was informed that it was because his son and dropped his dummy but had washed it before putting it back in his mouth. Doug was rather pleased that his son had taken that initiative. Doug asked him where he had washed it and his son eagerly led his father into the bathroom. Doug was a bit perplexed because he knew his young son couldn’t have reached the sink. His worse fears were realized when his young son led him to the toilet bowl, pointed and said, “In there!”, then proceeded to take the dummy out of his mouth, swish it around in the toilet bowl and pop it back into his mouth before his dad could stop him.

That night, Doug said, when he was tucking his son into his bed, his little boy asked for a goodnight kiss. Doug confessed to a peck on the forehead that night rather than on the lips.
I am a man of unclean lips. We are all people of unclean lips, are we not? It is a symbol of our impurity, of the filth that clings to us on this mortal coil and it should be enough to revolt us. But not God.

God touches the lips of Isaiah with a coal from the altar – from the place of sacrifice. It is a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Christ that would cleans not only our unclean lips, but all of our iniquities.

Note one more thing: it is not Isaiah who takes the initiative to be made clean. Isaiah cannot get the coal for himself. It is God who takes the initiative to cleanse Isaiah’s uncleanness.

Why does God do such a thing, not just for Isaiah but for you and me, too? Isaiah 43:25 tells us the answer: I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.

God gives us forgiveness not just for our own sake, and indeed, He is under no obligation whatsoever to do so. He does it for his own sake. What can God possibly gain to benefit from our forgiveness? Several things, but certainly it must include these:

FIRST: God’s reputation is at stake. Remember the confrontation between Satan and God in Job? What kind of a God would He be if He created us, knowing we would fall and be great sinners, and not do anything to redeem us? He would be a hateful God, a God who delighted in seeing His creation tortured in eternal flames if He left us hopeless for eternity. But His reputation is at stake and all his claims to be a loving, compassionate, merciful God of forgiveness and grace would be proven to be lies if He just left us as fallen creatures. Praise God He didn’t do that! And praise God that he acts for his own sake as well as ours!

SECOND: God is a God who longs for fellowship and relationship with His creation and creatures. He could not have relationship with us if he were to leave us as unclean people. He is too holy for sin to exist in His presence, so the only way he could have relationship with us was to do something about our uncleanness – so He did do something about it – for His own sake and His own delight so we could fellowship forever as holy, clean beings!

PRAYER: Thank you for acting for your own sake and for letting us reap the benefits of your actions! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/19/16 – I Need Somebody

DayBreaks for 4/19/16 – I Need Somebody

When was the last time you needed somebody?  If you live in America, it may have been a while since you have really needed someone.  I mean REALLY NEEDED someone.  With so many of life’s necessities and even luxuries so readily available to us, we can usually just go and get our food from the store, our clothing, just about anything that we “need” or want.  It is dangerous, because it creates an illusion of self-sufficiency that can be very harmful.

And so, the times when we really need someone are typically times when we are afraid.  When we face something that is bigger than we are, that we can’t just wrestle to the ground with our muscles or figure out with our brains.  Fear, perhaps like nothing else, can drive us to look to someone or something for help. 

The story is told of a little boy who became very frightened one night when he heard and felt the thunder shake the house.  Like most of us did when we were little, he ran to his parents bedroom and begged them to let him sleep in their bed.  “I’m scared,” he said, “I have to sleep with you.”  His parents leaned over and said, “Go back to your room and remember that Jesus is with you.  There’s no reason to be scared.”  The little boy stared at them with a pleading look on his face and said, “I know Jesus is with me, but right now I need somebody with skin on!”

How wonderful – and how honest.  First of all, when we are afraid, we can take comfort in knowing that Jesus “had skin on” – Hebrews 4:14-16 (NIV) – Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  We can find His grace and mercy when we are in need – whether it is need of provision or deliverance from fear.  That’s why God gave us Jesus and became one of us!

Secondly, there are times in this world where we walk by faith and not by sight, when we need someone with “skin on.”  And that’s why God gave us one another!

TODAY’S PRAYER:  God, please help us to run to Jesus when we are afraid, and help us to be someone with “skin on” for those who are around us who are frightened and who need comfort.  Clothe us in Jesus’ likeness that we can minister to those held captive by fear and need.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/14/16 – We Walked Together

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DayBreaks for 3/14/16: We Walked Together

NOTE: Galen will be traveling for the next 10 days or so. You will be receiving messages from the DayBreaks archive during that time!  From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

Psalm 55:1-14 (NLT) – Listen to my prayer, O God. Do not ignore my cry for help! Please listen and answer me, for I am overwhelmed by my troubles. My enemies shout at me, making loud and wicked threats. They bring trouble on me, hunting me down in their anger. My heart is in anguish. The terror of death overpowers me. Fear and trembling overwhelm me. I can’t stop shaking. Oh, how I wish I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest. I would fly far away to the quiet of the wilderness. How quickly I would escape— far away from this wild storm of hatred. Destroy them, Lord, and confuse their speech, for I see violence and strife in the city. Its walls are patrolled day and night against invaders, but the real danger is wickedness within the city. Murder and robbery are everywhere there; threats and cheating are rampant in the streets. It is not an enemy who taunts me— I could bear that. It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me— I could have hidden from them. Instead, it is you—my equal, my companion and close friend. What good fellowship we enjoyed as we walked together to the house of God.

Many see reference in verses 12-14 of the betrayal of Christ by Judas, and perhaps it is rightly so.  However, verse 13 makes that seem difficult – certainly Judas was not an equal to Christ, even if he did sit in the place of the intimate friend at the last supper.  Perhaps that’s just my own hang-up: we are joint heirs with Christ and will inherit all things with Him, He is our elder brother – we are related by blood – His blood – and we bear His image (as defaced as it may be in us from time to time.)  He calls us “friend”, not “slave” or “servant.”  Those things, as incredible as it may sound, speak of equality – an equality that is not based on inherent worth, but worth imputed to us by a gracious Father through the blood of the Lamb.

While it may be that we should see Judas in verse 13 and the bitterness of the betrayal, I think I again more properly see here Messianic language: verses 4-5 seems to speak of the agony of the Garden where the terror of death and what was about to come to pass was becoming a crushing weight on Jesus’ spirit.  Verse 6 reminds me of Revelation, where the woman who gives birth to the child flees to the wilderness, a place of quiet and safety, prepared beforehand by God for her.  The Israelites fled to the wilderness in their exodus – and because God was there with them, it was a place of relative safety for them, in spite of their many rebellions.  As Christ hung on the cross, did he see the city of Jerusalem (vs. 9) that had become full of violence that had led to the slaughter of the Lamb of God?  (I must admit that I struggle with how the first part of verse 9 fits!)  The city was walled…and history showed that it would not fall to the Romans until 70 AD, but the fall had already started and was sure to happen because of the wickedness inside.  Murder (the killing of the innocent Lamb), the religious leaders robbing God of His due (both worship and the blood money that was paid to Judas belonged to God and they’d stolen both from Him), all were visible to His tear-filled eyes.  Yet, Jesus knew it was not his enemy who was afflicting him (vs. 12), but rather that He was smitten by God for our sins and offenses!  How he must have longed to walk in equality again to the house of God, side by side with the Father, freed from the humiliation of the fleshly nature that he bore to the cross!

The range of emotions that must have flowed through Christ on the cross is incomprehensible.  Perhaps it is best that we are spared the knowledge of most of what went through his mind – except for the few utterances that passed his lips.  Yet, lest we make him too human and not enough God, we shouldn’t speculate too far.  He died very quickly – as far as crucifixion goes.  Indeed, as verse 8 hints, he did escape quickly by dismissing his Spirit into the hands of the Father.  Certainly, this world is enveloped in a raging storm of hatred and Christ experienced it more than anyone else ever has.  This is such a humbling passage – it cuts to my heart.

TODAY’S PRAYER:  Jesus, how I wonder about all the thoughts that went through your mind as you hung suspended between heaven and earth.  Did you think about me?  What did you think of when my name flashed through your mind?  What do you think of me today, Lord?  Are you pleased with me?  Reveal to us your thoughts and direction for our lives.  How we long to walk together with you into the House of God!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/27/15 – The Power of Together

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DayBreaks for 8/27/15: The Power of Together

From the DayBreaks archive, 8/29/2005:

It hasn’t been that long – you may remember it. A few years back a tremendous human drama played out above and below ground in the Quecreek mine in Pennsylvania.  A group of miners were drilling in a coal mine shaft. Unbeknownst to them, their map was wrong. They believed that they were hundreds of feet away from an old mine shaft that had long ago been flooded.  As their drill bit broke through into the flooded shaft, millions of gallons of water began pouring into the mine where they were working. The water filled the lower section of the shaft and cut off their escape route to the surface. They were trapped in a cold, totally dark mine shaft. 

I probably would have totally freaked out – I am claustrophobic, and one of my worst nightmares is to be trapped somewhere. But these men decided early on that they would live or die as a group. They wouldn’t split up, taking their chances as individuals. Whatever their fate held, they would face it together.  And so days passed while rescue teams drilled a new hole through which the men might be rescued. As they huddled together in the cold, dark wetness of the shaft, when one member became too cold, they would all huddle around that man and hold them until they warmed up, and then they’d take turns warming others. 

Eventually, the rescuers managed to reach the men and they were all rescued from several hundred feet underground. The rescue was shown on television.  It took place at night, as I recall, when the first miners were brought up to the surface, soaked, dirty, but very, very happy to be alive. I was very moved by the images of the men coming up out of that dark pit.

As Christians there are powerful lessons in what happened to these men. 

FIRST: it’s important to have the right map. If they’d not had an incorrect map, they wouldn’t have ever drilled the hole that let the water in. We can easily look for direction in the wrong places. Guidance must come from a reliable source.  If you want truth, you must turn to the Truth.

SECOND: there was power in the men staying together. It’s easy to think that we can go it alone and survive. And in fact, rather than binding together as people who are going through an ordeal (make no doubt about it, we are living in a very serious and deadly situation), we often turn on one another and are more interested in scoring points rather than survival and helping one another live. 

THIRD: waiting must be extremely hard to do when you are in a flooded tunnel with a diminishing air supply in total darkness. Yet these men realized that their best chance for survival was to stick together and wait for rescue to come. They could have untied themselves and tried in vain to swim through the pitch-black tunnels in search of the exit – and they would have drowned, almost certainly. As Christians, we need to tie and bind ourselves together with the love of the Lord, helping one another survive until the Rescuer from above appears.  Scripture is full of admonitions to persevere, to wait upon the Lord and His time and will. 

Romans 8:23-25 – Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

PRAYER: God, help us love one another truly from the heart and be united in love and by the family ties that bind us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 4/24/15 – Never Fly Solo

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DayBreaks for 4/24/15: Never Fly Solo

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2005:

John 15:15 (NLT) – I no longer call you servants, because a master doesn’t confide in his servants. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.

I grew up watching TV shows like “Gunsmoke”, “Palladin”, “Cheyenne”, “The Lawman” and other rough-and-tumble shows.  They were mostly all cowboy shows, and every single one of the heroes, with perhaps the exception of Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke, was a loner.  That was especially true of Richard Boone in the show, Palladin.  The theme song even trumpeted one of his virtues as being tough enough that he needed no one and he rode all alone.  No one seemed to know where he came from, where he was going, or anything else about him, except that he was a bounty hunter who tracked down the bad guys.  And Richard Boone made him seem tough!

Those kinds of shows, and commercials about the Marlboro man, who was also a loner, made me want to be like them.  I wanted to be the rock, the island – just like Simon and Garfunkle sang about.  It was, I’m not ashamed to say, kind of an ideal for the American male, and when I was young, I bought into it hook, line and sinker.  I prided myself on not needing anyone.  Jeremiah Johnson was a hero to me…and I actually thought several times about heading off to the high country with nothing but a backpack and high powered rifle to live off the land…alone.

How foolish I was!  How naive!  Men (or women for that matter) aren’t meant to be like a cold iceberg that drifts through life, separated from the rest of humanity.  Isn’t that part of what was wrong with the Pharisee and priest who passed the injured man before the Samaritan stopped to help?  They didn’t need anyone…they didn’t want to be bothered by anyone. 

It is interesting that it was right before Jesus was to die that he made the statement in John 15:15 to his followers.  They were no longer to be servants.  They were to be friends.  Why did he not tell them that long before?  Surely he knew that they would be his friends even before he chose them.  I think it was because he was in need.  In need of friends.  As Harvey Cox, in When Jesus Came to Harvard put it: “He was fully human, and human beings need other human beings, not just as disciples but also as friends, which is what Jesus told his own followers at the Last Supper that he wanted them to be.  The point is clear.  Living a moral life is not a solo flight.”

Have you been trying to be He-man or Super-woman in your spiritual walk?  Trying to do it by yourself?  You can’t.  You need friends.  Jesus did.  And he wants to call you “friend”, too.  I need you.  And you need me.  We all need one another if we will be able to live a moral life.  We need the Spirit, but we also need people to encourage us, to hold us accountable, to lift us up when we fall down.  Are you being that kind of friend?

PRAYER: Jesus, we need You…and we need one another.  Keep us from the temptation to try to fly solo! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 01/15/14 – Where Thomas Found Faith

DayBreaks for 01/15/14 – Where Thomas Found Faith

NOTE: I am traveling for work this week so I’ll be recycling some DayBreaks from previous years.  New DayBreaks will resume again on 1/20/2014.  Thanks for your understanding!

From the DayBreaks archive, 1/7/2004:

John 20:26-28 (NLT)  – “Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”  “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.”

I like Thomas.  I have a hunch that if the truth were told and I were in his place, I’d have said the same thing.  “I won’t believe unless I see and touch his hands and feet!”  Think about it.  What would you think if at lunch today a bunch of your friends told you that they saw Princess Diana in the lunchroom?  Wouldn’t your first thoughts be, “Yeah, sure.  If you saw anything, you maybe saw an impersonator or a look-alike, but you didn’t see Princess Diana.  She’s dead and gone.”  Even if I went and saw such a person in the lunchroom with my own eyes, I’d probably not believe it was her, either.

In the case of Jesus, Thomas had a way of telling whether this was an impostor or not.  He had the nail holes in the hands, feet and the spear wound in the side.  But that’s not really the point that I want to make.  Thomas had missed the first “meeting” of Jesus with the other apostles for some reason – we’re not told why he wasn’t there, just that he wasn’t part of that meeting.  In John 20, however, things had changed.  Thomas was gathered with the rest of the apostles, and it is there, in the midst of the fellowship of believers, that he was once again drawn into the fellowship of faith.

Jesus could have chosen to appear to Thomas in his garden, or at the corner fish market or in the synagogue.  But he didn’t.  He waited until Thomas came back to the fellowship that Thomas found faith.

How is your faith?  Is it weak because you’ve not been in the fellowship of believers?  Stop pretending that you don’t need church – that you don’t need others who share a common faith in Christ Jesus around you all the time!  We are told that we should gather together not only so that we can worship God, but so we can encourage one another in our faith.  Don’t even pretend that you don’t need encouragement – it would be the height of hypocrisy!  Everyone needs encouragement in the Christian walk!

Perhaps you’ve been putting off going to church.  Isn’t it time to get started?  Who knows?  Perhaps like Thomas, you’ll once again discover what you once believed in and you, too, will make the same wonderful discovery and confession all over again, “My Lord and my God!”

PRAYER: Lord, it is our pride that makes us think that we are strong enough to not need the fellowship of the saints and communal worship! Free us from the delusions and lies the enemy tells us that we don’t need one another and encouragement! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2014 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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