DayBreaks for 7/12/18 – Out of the Kingdom of Darkness

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DayBreaks for 7/12/18: Out of the Kingdom of Darkness

The world watched with baited breath as a small army of divers and rescue personnel descended into a treacherous and deadly cave in an effort to rescue the “Wild Boars” – a soccer team and their coach, who had become trapped when monsoon rains flooded parts of the cave system. For a period approaching 10-12 days, the boys and their coach were in the cave with very little food. They drank water that dripped from the cave ceiling. And they were in darkness…total, utter darkness. I read that one of the boys in particular was terrified of darkness but he went with his teammates in an effort to overcome his fear. 

Fortunately, seemingly miraculously, all twelve boys and their coach made it out alive thanks to the sacrifices of their rescuers. Tragically, on Thai navy SEAL diver died during the effort to rescue these boys.

Colossians 1:13 (ESV) – He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son…

If you want to know what the kingdom of darkness looks like, just ask those boys. They know what darkness means. You can’t see. It is a place of fear. It is a place of want. It is uncomfortable and threatening. You long for light. It gnaws at you and causes you to give up hope and despair of rescue.

If you want to know what gratitude feels like, just ask those boys. Can you begin to imagine how their hearts leaped when the British divers with a headlight on their foreheads first popped up in the darkness and found the boys? Can you imagine how hope must have been reborn in that instant that they first saw light again? Can you try to imagine how each boy felt when at long last they exited the mouth of the cave that had held them captive and threatened them with certain death unless a miracle happened?

I don’t think most of us have a clue as to how dark was the kingdom that held us in its clutches. We don’t often see it as darkness because it is a darkness of the spirit brought about by the blackness of sin. The enemy of our souls makes it appear as light – he’s such a good liar – and we fall for it over and over again. For a sense of what it was like inside the caves, see this (and that was the easy part – try imagining even that without flashlights in passages as small as 15 inches wide!)

But miraculously, someone came searching for us, found us, and led us out of that inky black place into a kingdom diametrically opposite to that which held us. He is the Light, and in Him is no darkness at all.

But just as with the twelve boys and their coach, someone gave their life to rescue us. Unlike that navy SEAL diver, though, the one who gave his life for us came back to life and now guides us through the darkness of the former kingdom to the light. He’s been through that blackness of death that would kill us and been victorious over it so that he knows the way out of the darkness. We need not fear. He will not fail us!  

We should be terrified of the darkness that surrounds us for when it is seen clearly it is terrifying. But we should never doubt our rescue or our Rescuer. 

And one more thing: our Rescuer has turned the tables on darkness. While it was dangerous for us as we were trapped there, now that we have been delivered not only do we no longer need to fear the darkness itself, but he has made us dangerous to the kingdom of darkness because now we have experienced the way out and can help others find the Light. 

It’s a dark, dark world. Let’s be brighter. 

PRAYER: Jesus, all glory to you for descending into the darkness, experiencing it, for your victory over it, so that you could lead us into your kingdom of Light and Life. May we never take the Light for granted! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 6/15/18 – The Lifestyle of a Tourist

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DayBreaks for 6/15/18: The Lifestyle of a Tourist

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2008:

It was only about a month ago that I was a tourist.  My wife and I were on vacation in Florida, at the world’s number one vacation city: Orlando.  We lived in Florida many years ago, but I was stunned at how much Orlando had changed.  The air was still hot and humid, but everything else had changed.  The orange groves that used to blossom and smell so sweet were nowhere to be seen.  But there I was, in my shorts and touristy-looking shirts.  I’m sure that wherever we went, we were quickly spotted as tourists. 

Tourists live a different lifestyle than residents.  Tourists don’t have to get up and go to work in the mornings.  Tourists don’t have to cook, mow the grass, wash the car or water the lawn.  When you’re a tourist, someone does all that for you.  And that’s not bad.

But what is sad is when Christians start to live all their lives as if they are tourists.  By that I don’t mean living as sojourners in a strange land – for we are to live like that!  What is bad about being a Christian living as if you’re a tourist is that tourists are often living on a tight schedule – too many things planned to see and do and not enough time to really enjoy any of it.  And so tourists want shortcuts – shortcuts through the lines at DisneyWorld, shortcuts through security at the airport, shortcuts to getting your luggage and to hit the road for adventure. 

Christians live like tourists when we want shortcuts through the life that God has designed and given to us.  We want instant sermons, shorter worship.  People seem to want a list of things they can do that will earn them instant credit at the gates of heaven.  People, Christians – don’t want to take the longer way and learn things as they go.  We are far too impatient for results and don’t focus nearly enough on the process and what it is meant to teach us.  It is interesting that, of all people, Friedrich Nietzsche (who was certainly no friend of Christ or Christianity) saw this so clearly: “The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is…that there should be long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.”  And the world tries to crush that “long obedience in the same direction” out of us, leading us to despair and give up.

Yes, we are like nomads in this world.  But we are not to be tourists.  We are residents here.  We are to engage in the sometimes long and painful processes that shape us, and which in turn, shape the world.  God isn’t looking for heavenly tourists – he wants folks who are coming to the kingdom to stay! 

PRAYER: Jesus, you persevered so much in this world and have given us an illustration of what it means to live as a stranger in a foreign place, yet remain fully engaged with life.  Help us to be patient – to see the blessing in the process and not just in the ending.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/12/17 – A Kingdom of Power???

DayBreaks for 10/12/17: A Kingdom of Power?

Mark 9:1 (ESV) – And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”

So, after you read the saying of Jesus in today’s verse, what do you think about the kingdom? Jesus said that there would be those present who heard his words first-hand who would not die until after the kingdom came with power.

Look around you. Does it seem to you that the kingdom has come with power? Does it seem to you that people are acting out and living according to kingdom principles and truth?

When you look at the death and destruction from recent hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, the Las Vegas massacre, the fires in northern California that are like hell itself has been released on earth…does it seem to you that the kingdom has come with power? It sure doesn’t seem so, does it?

But, if we come to that conclusion, we would have to say that Jesus was either mistaken and didn’t know what he was talking about, or he’s a liar. I’m not willing to take either of those positions.

So, how can we explain it? A couple of thoughts come to mind:

FIRST: given the inclination of the human heart to sin and depravity, how can the fact that we don’t all kill, steal, rape and otherwise do the most horrible things be explained? I think some of it is because of the influence of the Spirit at work in creation. All I really have to do is consider my own darkest impulses and the fact that I don’t give in to them somehow is a testimony to the power of the Spirit in my life (not that I’m bragging, I’m just saying that it is only because of the power of the Spirit unleashed in my own heart that I don’t do all those bad things) and I have to say there is some power at work. Imagine what you might do if not for the restraining power of faith and the Spirit at work in you.

SECOND: how many believers have there been since the founding of Christianity? The number must be in the billions, in fact, Google says that in 2010, Christianity was by far the world’s largest religion, with 2.2 billion adherents. How does that happen if not by immense power?!! Scripture is pretty clear that left to our own, we can’t even come to faith.

The kingdom has come with power: power to change individual hearts, power to lead 2.2+ billion to faith in our present age, power to restrain evil individually and culturally. Yes, there is still great evil in the world, but what would the world be like without the kingdom? I shudder to even contemplate the thought!

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for the Spirit and the power that is working in the world and in my own heart. May the power of the kingdom grow and expand in me, in my loved ones, in your church and in this world for your immense glory! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/30/17 – The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail

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DayBreaks for 1/30/17: The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail

It was just over one year ago that I took the photo shown above. We were at Cesarea Philippi in Israel. If that doesn’t ring a bell to you, it is the location where Jesus had a very famous conversation with Peter and the other apostles. Jesus had just asked them who people said he was and they replied that some thought he was one of the old prophets come back to life. But then Jesus made it more personal, asking who they thought he was. Peter’s response was breathtaking: you are the Christ, the Son of God. In response, Jesus said: Matthew 16:18 (ESV) – And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

The ancients believed that the cave you see on the left in the photo was the gateway to hell. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Jesus was looking at it when he made his statement. 

As I was driving home from the airport on Saturday night, this verse was running through my mind. I’ve read this verse since I was a young boy, heard it read, read commentaries on it and heard sermons preached over it. It’s one of those great statements of Jesus that we love to hear because it encourages us, especially when things seem to heading the wrong direction.

That being said, as I ran it through my mind, a thought dawned on me about what Jesus may have really been saying. Most people read it and believe Jesus was saying that all of Satan’s minions and not even Satan himself with his great power, will be able to overthrow by force the kingdom of God. I believe that to be true. If I didn’t believe that was how things would turn out, I cannot imagine what life would be like.

But look closely at what Jesus said. He didn’t say that the armies of hell wouldn’t conquer the church. He didn’t say that at all. He said that the “gates of hell” (not the armies of hell) would be able to conquer “it” – with “it” being his church. As I pondered what that might me, it struck me that gates are not an offensive force to keep things in. They are defensive structures designed to keep things out. And that brought a new insight to me.

Could Jesus have been saying that even the gates of hell that Satan had so carefully constructed to keep mankind in a doomed, damned state, would not be strong enough to keep the kingdom/church from rescuing those whom the gates of hell were designed to keep in their bondage and damned condition? It seems to make sense especially in light of 1 Peter 3:18-20 (ESV)For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.  

In other words, Jesus may have been proclaiming that his church would overcome the gates of hell to reach the lost and that the gates of hell would not be strong enough to prevent it from happening.

I do not know precisely what Jesus meant, but I believe both are true: 1) Satan and his armies are puny compared to the power of the Almighty God, and; 2) until He returns for His church, it will continue to plunder the stronghold of the enemy. Both give me courage, and while the first gives me great hope, the second gives me a great challenge because I am to be part of the army that attacks the gates of the enemy to help free those held in darkness.

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for the assurance of the victory of your church against all the forces of darkness and evil. We pray to have the courage we need to attack the gates of the enemy to help led those in darkness into the Light that shines in the darkness and cannot be put out. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/26/16 – King and Country

DayBreaks for 4/26/16 – King and Country

I confess that I am baffled by the current crop of national candidates for the highest office in our land. I realize that politics is an incendiary topic and I seldom write about it. Don’t worry – I’m not really writing about it today, either, so it is safe to read on!

I find myself dismayed at the choices before us. Where have the great leaders gone to? Why and how did we get to this point in our history where we seem to have such a shortage of genuine, true leaders? I can’t know the realities in their hearts regarding their faith, but I do see signs that I find deeply disturbing about nearly every single one of our presidential candidates and I am struggling with the question of “Who will I vote for?” if so and so are the nominees.

On Sunday, one of the teachers at our church spoke on this issue as so many are wrestling with the same things I’m feeling. His message was: King and Country and focused on may passages that talk about what God has to say about living as a citizen in this world.

The preacher didn’t tell us who to vote for, but he did try to help put things into a well-informed, Biblical perspective for us. Here are some of the things he had to say:

  1. Our frustrations have grown to a fever pitch because we have placed our hope in government, not God. If we are counting on government and human leaders to deliver us, we will be disappointed 100% of the time. What we are longing for is the Garden – the way things were created to be originally;
  2. Jeremiah 29:7 describes the Israelites in Babylonian captivity and they wondered how they should live there. God’s answer, through His prophet Jeremiah, was that our role in exile should bless the place where we live and pray for it – be in it, but not part of it;
  3. He illustrated it by having two boxes on stage. One was a large box that represented the Kingdom of God, the smaller box represented America. He reminded us that it is the Kingdom of God that is the greater of the two and that our lives as Americans is not the pre-eminent thing, it is our life as Christians that encloses our life as Americans, not the other way around;
  4. The Kingdom of God demands our highest level of allegiance and all that we are to carry out our responsibilities as citizens of any earthly kingdom in light of His kingdom;
  5. The Kingdom of Jesus is not only our ultimate security, but our ONLY security.

I don’t know who will be the president-elect after November 4, 2016. Thank goodness I don’t have to know. Our fate as a nation is dependent on God and His plan, not some puny president. America is not God’s “chosen people”. That title once belonged to Israel. Now it belongs to all believers of any nation. And that’s the nation we should, and must be most concerned about!

PRAYER: Thank You, Lord for the reminder of priorities and of where our hope should rightfully rest! Let us find peace in our hearts even in the midst of this tumultuous time in our country, and help us as Your people to humble ourselves and pray so that You may heal our nation! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/10/15 – The Stone that Became a Mountain

DayBreaks for 8/10/15: The Stone That Became a Mountain 

There is a movie starring Hugh Grant by the name of The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down A Mountain that tells the true story of a Welsh village that took great pride in their “mountain”.  There was only one problem: when the surveyors came, they found that it actually lacked a few feet of height to truly be labeled a mountain…so it was just a hill. The villagers were incensed but came up with an ambitious idea: they would haul dirt and sod up to the top of the hill where they would pile it up until it was tall enough to be a mountain. And that is just what they did!

Daniel 2 relays the story of Daniel being given not just the meaning of the king’s dream, but also the meaning of it. The dream revolved around a series of coming kingdoms which would all be alike in some ways – except for one. In succession, Daniel lays out the Babylonian kingdom, the kingdom of the Medes and Persians, the Grecian kingdom under Alexander, the mighty Roman empire – and notes that they all will come and will go. But then he mentions another kingdom that certainly seems puny in comparison: As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces.  Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. – Daniel 2:32-35 (ESV)

This stone would be Jesus and though it begins small – with just the God/man to start with and a small handful of followers during his lifetime – Christianity has grown to fill the whole earth. It is estimated that there are 2.2 billion Christians in the world. Islam ranks second with 1.6 billion adherents. Jesus said he would build His church and hell itself couldn’t overcome it. The stone, cut out by no human hand, will shatter all worldly kingdoms. More amazingly, the stone grows to become a great mountain that fills the earth.

How does a stone become a great mountain? Only by Divine intervention, when we, who are “living stones”, are piled one upon another, one stone at a time until we become part of a great mountain, the eternal kingdom of God!

PRAYER: We praise you that you are a God who keeps His word, and that your kingdom, in spite of the odds, is great and everlasting! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen

DayBreaks for 6/18/15: Jack, the Beanstalk and Christianity

The Spread of the Gospel Map

To access the web page version, click:

DayBreaks for 6/18/15: Jack, the Beanstalk, and Christianity

If the growing seed parable seems to be about the mystery of kingdom growth, the mustard seed image is about the apparent weakness of the kingdom. The day will come when the results of the kingdom’s silent, steady growth will be impressive. Meanwhile don’t be surprised if the seeds you plant look ineffective. Don’t be surprised if the witness you have to offer gets laughed at on account of looking so puny. It’s the old “Jack and the Beanstalk” fable: Jack’s mother scorns the tiny beans he brings home from the market. They can never live off those! So in anger she hurls them out the window. Those beans were a non-starter, a mistake, a dead-end nutritionally and in every other sense. Except that, of course, they ended up sprouting into a beanstalk that went, in a way, clear up to heaven.

It seems every night now if you turn on the nightly news you get a strong dose of Boko Haram, ISIS, Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, Hamas and other politico-religioun-oriented terrorist organizations exploding bombs, beheading those who refuse to convert to their faith, kidnapping, raping, plundering…and it seems that the entire world is moving their direction.

I recently received a link to an animation that I think you may find reassuring.  Do you remember what Jesus said: how he would build his church and the gates of hell wouldn’t prevail against it?  The story of the mustard seed sure makes the kingdom seem small and weak, doesn’t it?

Don’t despair.  Be encouraged!  Jesus knew what he was talking about because he knows how this will all end!

Check out this video that shows the spread of Christianity since the time of Christ.  It also shows Islam and other world empires as they appear and disappear from the map…

http://westernconservatory.com/products/spread-gospel-map

PRAYER: Let us take heart, Lord, and be encouraged by your words of certainty about your kingdom and the end of all things!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.