DayBreaks for 10/21/20 – Of Rifles and Expectations

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Who was the first person you ever let down, besides God? Chances are it was your parents. But can you remember the pain of letting down the first person you loved that lead to a break-up and the resulting excruciating pain?

Expectations are killers. Max Lucado says they’re like rifles – when used the right way and in the right circumstances – they are valuable and necessary. The problem is that far too often we often use they the wrong way and at the wrong time. The result is we shoot those we love with a bullet of expectation.

Examples might be a father who presses a child to be the great athlete he fancied himself to be, or a parent pushing for a doctor or lawyer. A spouse pressing the other spouse because they can’t afford the house or things that one of them wants. The boss who tells the employee that though they’ve earned vacation time, those who want to get ahead must be willing to sacrifice for the good of the firm (and what is sacrificed is family relationships!)

Lucado says that expectations create conditional love: “I love you, but I’ll love you more if…’  The latter part may go unspoken, but its definitely implied.

Is it right to have expectations of others? Sure! We should encourage each other toward excellence. But as Lucado again says, “…it was Christ on the cross who taught us how to use expectations. Does he demand a lot? You better believe it. Does he expect much? Only our best. Does he have expectations? Just that we leave everything, deny all, and follow him.

“The difference? Jesus couched his expectations with two important companions. Forgiveness and acceptance.” – No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, by Max Lucado

Here it is in a nutshell: Christ died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8), not after we’d lived up to his high expectations. And he never says, “I love you, but I’ll love you more if…”. His love has no strings attached, no dependencies on excellent performance in denying self and sin. His “I love you” is unqualified because it is married to his forgiveness and acceptance.

Can we not do the same for one another, especially those you claim to love?

PRAYER: Lord, keep me from firing the rifle of expectations today unjustly. And if I am let down today, let me emulate Jesus in his forgiveness and acceptance that he extends to me every single day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/04/20 – How He Understood

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From the DayBreaks archive, September 2010:

I wonder what my last conscious thought in this world will be.  I would suppose that it might depend on what I’m doing when that happens.  I have some sense of what I hope they would be, but no one really knows in advance.

It is interesting and informative to look at the final statements of Christ from the cross.  He, of course, knew that he would rise from the dead, but we still get a glimpse into Jesus heart and mind as his final hours and minutes counted down.  Hebrews 2:16-18 says: We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.  We often read this passage and find consolation in it and the fact that it means Christ understands what it is like to be tested – and that is certainly part of the point the writer was trying to make.  But perhaps we see things the same way all the time and we miss out on other lessons.

In one of his final recorded statements from the cross, Jesus prayed a simple, yet profound prayer: Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.  I have always thought of that as a prayer for those who had been complicit in the arrest and faux trials, those who had beaten and spit upon him, those who had put the crown of thorns on his head and had stripped him and mocked him with a purple robe, of those who pounded the nails.  And yes, of you and I.

But how was it that Jesus came to know that we didn’t know what we were doing?  Could it have been by the fact that he became one of us, and had so perfectly identified and understood our limitations and shortcomings that he had “learned” that we have no clue about the things we do?  Perhaps his statement for they do not know what they are doing referred not only to what was happening in those few hours, but a description of human life in general.  If we really knew what we were doing when we give in to sin – we wouldn’t do it.  If we really knew how little things in this life matter, we would not have so many idols that we worship through our actions.  If we really know how what we do affects God – we wouldn’t do it.  But the point is that we don’t know, and to a degree, we can’t know it all.  And maybe that’s why Jesus pled for us in our ignorance.

PRAYER: We fool ourselves into thinking that we know what we are doing.  Help us learn how foolish and ignorant we are.  Thank You, Jesus, for praying for us and pleading our case before the all-knowing Father!  In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/03/20 – Two Miraculous Words

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We are all familiar with the story of Peter’s betrayal. It is one of the most shocking and stunning failures recorded in scripture. The brash Peter was the first to declare who Jesus was and his believe in his Divinity. He tried to save Jesus from the crucifixion. But when it came right down to the nitty-gritty, when the pressure was on, Peter failed miserably. I suspect most of us would have, too.

Mark 16.6-7 captures these instructions from the angel to the women who arrived at Jesus’ tomb early on Sunday: He said, “Don’t be afraid. I know you’re looking for Jesus the Nazarene, the One they nailed on the cross. He’s been raised up; he’s here no longer. You can see for yourselves that the place is empty. Now—on your way. Tell his disciples and Peter that he is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You’ll see him there, exactly as he said.”  

It is said that the gospel of Mark captures the teaching and account of Peter of the gospel. In the angel’s message, there were two words which must have lit up Peter’s heart…and Peter.

All the beings in heaven watched Peter’s denial of Jesus and my guess is that most of them were stunned at the fisherman’s failure. And now, it seems as if the host of heaven wants to be sure that Peter gets the message that there are second and third and infinite chances with God. It is as if the message from God through the angel was saying, “Tell his (Jesus’) disciples and especially Peter that He is going on ahead of you to Galilee.” Peter is singled out by name.

Why? Because Peter needed to know and believe in second chances, that with God a failure isn’t fatal. In our modern world that isn’t often the case. It seems that all it takes is one failure and you’re written off. We even have a saying about it being a “dog eat dog world” that stresses the point. Our world doesn’t go much for grace.

Max Lucado suggests that Jesus would have some counsel for us about our dog-eat-dog world: “It’s a dog eat dog world? Then don’t live with the dogs.”

Do you need a second chance? Third? Ten thousandth? As Max put it: “It’s not every day that you find someone who will give you a second chance – much less someone who will give you a second chance every day. But in Jesus, Peter found both.”

You can, too!

PRAYER: Father, thank you for knowing when we need encouragement and for being the God of second chances for us every day. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen. Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/02/20 – Two Trees, Two Hills

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Jesus trudged up the hill of Calvary where he would be killed on pieces of a dead tree, accompanied by a crowd. Judas walked to another hill, another tree where he would die by a noose by himself.

Both had a purpose: one to grant forgiveness and pay for sin, the other to end his suffering because of his guilt and shame at what he’d done.

You and I will never walk up Calvary for the reasons Jesus did, but we have all walked in Judas’ footsteps, haven’t we? We don’t know why he betrayed Jesus – was it greed or disillusionment with the Messiah he’d hoped for? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that Judas couldn’t forgive himself for what he’d done.

We have all walked there: we’ve betrayed those we love, we have betrayed Jesus by promising him on Sunday that “I will never do that again!” and on Monday we’re back to wallowing in the mire. And we feel like Judas must have felt as we walk up our own hill of regret. We groan, we weep, we try to forget but the Spirit and our conscience won’t let us. As Paul said, Who will rescue me from this body of death?

The two trees 2000 years ago weren’t all that far apart. If only Judas had walked to the other tree where guilt and shame were paid for instead of to the hanging tree.

Yet I can’t be too hard on Judas, can you? I can’t criticize him too hard for the tree he chose. As Max Lucado said in No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, “To think that Jesus would really unburden our shoulders and unshackle our legs after all we’ve done to him is not easy to believe. In fact, it takes just as much faith to believe that Jesus can look past my betrayals as it does to believe that he rose from the dead.  Both are just as miraculous.”

Life, for Judas and us, is so close to the tree of hope.

Choose the tree you walk toward carefully and one will set you free and the other is full of regret.

PRAYER: Jesus, help us look to the tree where our shame dies and not focus with regret on our sins that you have already forgiven and paid for. In Your name I pray, Amen. Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/31/20 – If I Only Had One More Chance

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We aren’t told what the disciples did after Jesus’ death and burial. We know they didn’t show up at the trial or the crucifixion – except for John, that is. We can surmise (I suspect correctly) that they ran and hid. It’s likely I might have done the same.

How did they spend the time from Friday until their meeting again in the upper room? The Bible is silent. Perhaps they began to come together, led by their shame and seeking consolation from their fellow disciples in their misery. Maybe they just pulled a hood up over their face and hid in a dark room or walked the back streets of Jerusalem kicking themselves for their cowardice.

But they did come back together sometime on Sunday. Was it simply misery loves company or might it have been that they heard muffled whispers that Jesus had risen. Something drew them back to the upper room where they’d had their Passover meal and where Jesus had washed their feet. Maybe they were just hoping against hope that there was some truth to the resurrection rumors. Gather they did.

Then, with the room closed, as they share their shame with one another, Jesus walks through the wall into their midst. Not one word of condemnation or recrimination is spoken. And the darkened hearts of the disciples are filled with the brilliance of the Light of the World.

What are we to learn? It’s not a secret. As they sat there saying something like, “If I only had one more chance, I’d tell Jesus I’m sorry and I’d not fail him again”, he appears and just as the father of the prodigal son didn’t let him ask forgiveness, Jesus extends forgiveness before they can ask.

Jesus knew their hearts and thoughts. He knew how they felt and how badly they’d failed him. Yet a joyous celebration is on tap and the tears of joy overflow.

All Jesus requires of any of us who have “done it again”, who have failed to follow him and stand by him is a heart that knows its own brokenness and we are welcomed.

You may be in hiding right now because of your brokenness. Meet him in the upper room. He’ll find you there with arms open wide!

PRAYER: Lord God, how gracious you are! Thank you for the story of your disciples and their failures. Thank you for showing us the magnitude of your forgiveness and love even in our darkest, most shameful moments! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/14/20 – The Great Masterpiece

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Wouldn’t you have loved to watch God create everything? I would have! I would love to see his face when he make the giraffe’s neck so long or set the eagle soaring! I can imagine that a huge smile spread from ear to ear as he painted the sunrise and decreed the vast colors of the universe. And so it appeared that his greatest creative act was saved until the last: making humanity in his image. No doubt, it was impressive to see unfallen man.

But he wasn’t done doing amazing things: he enrolled his own special effects department to make donkeys talk, have a 90-year old woman and a young virgin give birth, making the sky rain down fire or the sea part. And again, I imagine his huge smile and the applause of the angelic horde!

But he still wasn’t done. But the masterpiece wouldn’t be like the others, not at all. For this masterpiece was titled, “God on a cross.”

The cross was the pinnacle of God’s creative compassion. Yes, it was an act of love for Sarah to give birth and to part the Red Sea for the Israelites, but what happened on the cross was unparalleled. It wasn’t water that parted on the cross, it was flesh and muscle, light and darkness as the Creator died for his creation.

Max Lucado poses the thought of whether or not as the Creator hung there if his mind replayed the days of creation, or deliverance from Egypt. Did he see in his mind’s eye the face of every person who’d lived from creation until that moment and on into the future – including my face and yours? Did he remember walking up Moriah with Abraham and Isaac, or recall steering the stone from David’s sling to Goliath’s forehead?

We don’t know. But we know what he said: It is finished! His greatest masterpiece was done. His cry wasn’t a muttered, feeble utterance but a shouted proclamation. His mission was finished, the masterpiece that no one else could have created was complete and the Creator could now return home after what must have seemed much longer than 30-some years. It was God trying yet again to convince us that after all our failures forgiveness can still follow. And how we need it!

PRAYER: Jesus, you are not only the Master but the Masterpiece of creative love and compassion. We honor you for the fact that is it finished and nothing can undo your completed work! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/27/20 – The Tale of the Crucified Crook

Luke 23:42 (NLT2) – Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”

Have you ever thought about how outlandish this request was? Here was a violent man who by his own admission was receiving his just reward of crucifixion. He didn’t deny his guilt. Perhaps the only thing that is more shocking than his request was the fact that his “death bed” request was granted. But why? What are we to learn from this?

Some time ago someone broke into a department store. What was interesting was that they didn’t steal a single thing. All they did was spend their time inside switching price tags. An outboard motor was marked at $5 while stationary was priced at hundreds. And then they escaped.

The next morning it took four hours before anyone noticed there was a problem. In the meantime, some folks got great deals! But the pricing had nothing to do with the value of the item itself.

You see, we are living in a day and age when the value system is totally bonkers. We’ve raised the value of cheap thrills and degraded the value of human beings to nothing more than a pile of cells composed of a few minerals and water.

Jesus’ incredible granting of the thief’s request shows us that even the greatest of losers are valuable. Jesus was showing us by his response (Luke 23:43 – I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise) reveals what Jesus thinks of the value of the human race.

And get this: what could the thief do for Jesus? Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada. He would never be able to do a single thing for the cause of Jesus. But he didn’t have to in order for his value to be recognized. The love of the Lord doesn’t depend on what we do for him or could do if given the chance. You have value just because you exist!

Try to hold onto that thought the next time someone shames you, attacks you, or steamrolls you into the dirt. When someone tries to mark down your value, just smile because you know the truth about yourself. If you’d been the thief on the cross and made that request of Jesus you would have heard the same words spoken back to you that the thief heard.

I love what Max Lucado said in No Wonder They Call Him the Savior said: “…it makes me smile to think that there is a grinning ex-con walking the golden streets who knows more about grace than a thousand theologians. No one else would have given him a pray. But in the end, that is all that he had. And in the end, that is all it took.”   

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, have mercy on us sinners and remember us when your Kingdom comes in its fullness!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/22/20 – Why I’m Not Like Jesus

Let’s get one thing clear up front: I’m so far short of being like Jesus that it stings to contemplate. I also know this: I’ve got plenty of company, in fact, every other human on the face of the planet joins me in that condition.

The crucifixion of Jesus is described in Luke 23. Here was God made flesh, nailed naked to a tree, in excruciating agony of body and soul. All around him were looky-loos. That’s one thing, but there were many who “sneered” at him and “hurled” insults at him.

You know the pain of words. They can hit us like heavy stones, bruising and breaking us. They are meant to inflict damage to the body and psyche.

One must wonder what kind of people these were. We know some were the so-called religious leaders which would seem shocking if not for the fact the gospels have shown us their character already. One was a thief who was dying beside Jesus. But what troubles me is what Max Lucado pointed out in No Wonder They Call Him the Savior: they were jeering a dying man who was in agony. As Max wrote, who among us would jeer and hurl insults at a man sitting in the electric chair as he convulses in agony? We wouldn’t think of it – it is beyond the pale of human decency. Yet they did that to the Christ.

His response: Father, forgive… One might expect that he’d hurl taunts back: “Just you wait until after I rise from the dead!” or “I’ll get you back when I return in glory and you’ll fry for eternity!” But that’s not Jesus. That would be me. Even if I didn’t say it, I probably would have thought it.

As Max said: “Sometimes I wonder if we don’t see Christ’s love as much in the people he tolerated as in the pain he endured.” One of those he tolerated is me. Another one is you. Therein we see love.

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for tolerating us and begging God to forgive us even though we hurt you over and over. Help us all to be more like you this day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/01/20 – The Invitation to Come Home

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DayBreaks for 7/01/20: The Invitation to Come Home

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2010:

Years ago, I read a moving story about a young man who had quarreled harshly with his father and left home in his anger.  During the years he was gone, he continued to stay in touch with his mom, and he wanted very badly to come home for Christmas, but he was afraid his father would not allow him.  His mother wrote to him and urged him to come home, but he did not feel he could until he knew his father had forgiven him.  Finally, there was no time for any more letters.  His mother wrote and said she would talk with the father, and if he had forgiven him, she would tie a white rag on the tree which grew right alongside the railroad tracks near their home, which he could see before the train reached the station.  If there was no rag, it would be better if he went on.

The young man decided this was a risk he could take, so he started homeward.  As the train drew near his home; he was so nervous he said to his friend who was traveling with him, “I can’t bear to look.  Sit in my place and look out the window.  I’ll tell you what the tree looks like and you tell me whether there is a rag on it or not.”  So, his friend changed places with him and looked out the window.  After a bit the friend said, “Oh yes, I see the tree.”  The son asked, “Is there a white rag tied to it?”  For a moment, the friend said nothing.  Then he turned, and in a very gentle and quivering voice said, “There is a white rag tied to every limb of that tree!”

That, in a sense, is what God is saving in John 3:16 and 17. God has removed the condemnation and made it possible to come freely and openly home to him.  God didn’t tie white rags to the tree – He had himself nailed there.  The cross is our sign that it is safe to come home to the Father!

PRAYER: For the welcome You give us, we, in our desperation for our Father’s love, thank You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/08/20 – Forgiven

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DayBreaks for 6/08/20: Forgiven

We struggle with many things in life. We struggle with pride, pain, relationships, work, finances, failures, parenting, loving others who are different from us…the list could go on virtually ad infinitum. But there is one thing that we as believers struggle with perhaps more than non-believers. and that thing is forgiveness – and by that I mean accepting that we have been forgiven.

Why is that so?  You’d think that of all people on this green and blue orb that Christians would be the quickest ones to accept our forgiveness. And that’s true of many. But there are untold thousands, if not millions, of believers who just have a hard time accepting that our sins are forgiven. I think it is because while we have forgiveness, we also have the Spirit. Part of the role of the Spirit is to convict us of sin – not to torment of agonize us, but to cause us to confess and to steer us back into a good path.

If we are to believe anything about the cross, it must be this: that the price for ALL our sins was paid for – past, present and future, when the God-man died sinlessly. It wasn’t just for the sins I’d committed before I became a believer – though those are surely forgiven – but every sin I’ve committed since then and every sin I’ll ever commit in the future.

Maybe you did something this weekend, or last week, or last month or 20 years ago that you believe can never be forgiven. That simply isn’t true. To say it is unforgiveable is to deny the power of the blood of Jesus’ blood and sacrifice to take care of YOUR sin. My friend, you are not bigger, nor is your sin more powerful than the Father’s heart of love for you.

I love music and find it very powerful in causing me to think. And so I want to share this YouTube link with you from David Crowder’s Forgiven, where he says, “Forgiven, forgiven! Child there is freedom from all of it. Say goodbye to every sin you are forgiven.”

Walk in perfect freedom – now and forever!

Romans 8:1-2 (ESV) – There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for our freedom – bought and paid for by your mighty, invincible blood! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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