DayBreaks for 10/15/19 – The Longest Distance in the Universe

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DayBreaks for 10/15/19: The Longest Distance in the Universe

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2009:

If you’ve ever driven across the United States, you know how far it is!  And America is a relatively small land mass compared to Asia or the length of Africa.  Even flying overseas to other countries can be a long, long haul!  Traveling takes time.

I suppose that the longest distance that one could travel and remain on earth would either be around the equator, or the north/south meridian that would take one around the globe in a north to south direction.  I hate to think how long such a trip would take.

Some time ago, I read a statement that the longest distance in the world is the 18 inches between the human mind and the human heart.  What did they mean?  They meant that it’s easy to accept something with the mind and intellect, but very hard to really accept it and believe it with the heart.  For example, the Word tells us that we are no longer his enemies, nor even his servants, but His children.  But does it always feel like it to you?  After you’ve been doing things that you know you shouldn’t have been doing it is hard to believe that he welcomes us.  His promise from 1 John 1:9-10 to forgive us if we confess our sins is easy enough to memorize and tuck away in the gray matter of our brains, but it’s not as easy to really believe we’re forgiven and then to live like it.  And while we nod our heads in the affirmative when he tells us that greater is the One that is in us than the one that is in the world, and that we have His power at our disposal – it is much more difficult to act as if it is true because though we have head knowledge, our heart acceptance is woefully lacking. 

What difference does all this make?  We are hampered by the fact that what we know hasn’t traveled the 18 inches to our hearts.  We know we are to love Him, and that if we do love him, it will mean that we will obey Him – we don’t ever seem to really get to around to obeying him as if we love him. 

I wish there was a silver bullet that would enable all that head knowledge to make the journey to our hearts so we could live it out.  I don’t know of such a silver bullet, other than taking what He says on faith – and then to start to live like we believe it.  That means we will take more risks and step out more on faith than we have in the past.  It means we will take on challenges that are too big for us – and which we know are too big for us – and then watch Him make it happen through His own power so He gets the glory – not us. 

How much of what He has said and promised to you has made that longest journey in the world to your heart?

PRAYER: We are so grateful for your patience with us – and we ask that you help us to live what we know intellectually and to live lives of faith, not hesitation!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 9/30/19 – Pain and Joy

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DayBreaks for 9/30/19: Pain and Joy

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

How would you feel if someone that you couldn’t see showed up to your door one day and offered you a deal like this one: “Hi!  I’m here to offer you a deal.  I know that you are concerned for your children.  Every loving parent is and you are clearly a loving parent.  Here’s the deal I’ve got for you: I will guarantee you generations of descendants.  I will make sure that they have a place to live.  I will see to it that they are taken care of and loved forever.  But, in order to have me do those things for you, your descendants will have to go through a few minor things, in particular, they’ll have to wait 400 years to get their land and in the meantime, they’ll be slaves to the most powerful nation on earth. How’s that sound? Do we have a deal?”

Chances are, you’d slam the door quickly and tell the visitor to “take a hike.”  And you’d have plenty of company. 

The scenario, of course, is not just a made-up story.  It really happened to a man by the name of Abraham and it is recorded in Genesis 15:13-14.  What is amazing is that Abraham essentially said, “Sure!  Sounds like a deal to me!”

We could always marvel about this grand old man of the faith.  He earned that nickname the hard way – by being tested and purified by the fire many times in his life.  I doubt than many, if any, living today would want to go through the same kind of testing to earn a similar nickname to “father of the faithful.”  But that’s not really the point that I’m after today. 

I’m sure that it was great for Abraham to hear that his children and their descendants would be cared for and loved by God.  But I’m also sure that it was very painful for him to hear about the 400 years of servitude that would precede their taking possession of the land of promise.  And so, at one and the same time, Abraham’s descendants because both his greatest joy…and his greatest pain.

If you look back at your life, isn’t that how it’s worked for you?  That the sources of your greatest joys become the sources also of your greatest pains, and that the things that have caused you the most pain often bring the greatest joys?  As Dr. Gerald Schroeder wrote in The Science of God, “If we mistake pleasure to be the avoidance of pain, we may miss some of the greatest pleasures in life, such as reaching the peak of a mountain or rearing children.  Ask parents the source of their greatest pleasure, and then ask them the source of their greatest pain.  It’s their kids every time.”

For all the complaining and moaning we often do about the pain in our lives, maybe we’re just too short-sighted to reflect back on the pain later and see how God has turned it into joy. 

PRAYER: Thank you for the many ways you teach us and for the fact that even our greatest pain can be turned into life’s greatest joy through your power!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/25/19 – Snakebit

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DayBreaks for 9/25/19: Snakebit

My son, Tim, recently wrote a brief article in the October 2019 edition of Christianity Today about a story in the book of Numbers. You may recall that the Israelites were in the wilderness when, in apparent desperation, they grumble about God. “Fiery” serpents show up and start biting them and many died. Moses intercedes and God instructs him to fashion a bronze serpent and put it up on a pole so that …if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live (Num 21:9, ESV).

It only takes five verses to cover the tale. As strange as the story is, Jesus alludes to it in John 3:14, saying that he would also be lifted up and that anyone who looked to him would find life everlasting.

But here’s what caught my attention in Tim’s article: “One of my favorite aspects of the Numbers story is what it requires

of the afflicted. If a snake bites your foot, the natural reaction is to look down. We are all tempted to fixate on our troubles and our fears. In order to look for God, in order to be healed, we have to lift our eyes and see God’s provision.”

We are often afflicted, are we not? And when we do, we hang our heads, downcast and we can’t seem to think of anything else but how we’ve been wounded. If the Israelites hung their heads in despair, they would die. They were forced to lift their eyes heavenward if they wanted to survive.

Nothing has changed since then. If we want to survive, we must still look upward. It’s a natural reaction to look at your foot if you’ve been bitten by a snake, it is intuitively unnatural to look upward. God knows our tendencies and that we will fixate on the wrong thing if we aren’t careful.

Struggling? Have you been snake-bit? Look up to see Jesus and find life!

PRAYER: Jesus, let us lift our eyes to you when we need help and when we have been ‘snake-bit’ to find deliverance!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/05/19 – God and Circumstances

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DayBreaks for 08/05/19: God and Circumstances

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2019:

I can’t help but think of Joseph when I think of circumstances.  It wasn’t his fault his father favored him.  It wasn’t his fault his father made him a special coat.  It wasn’t his fault God sent him the dreams that seemed to be the icing on the cake as far as his brothers’ hatred of him was concerned.  It wasn’t his fault he was thrown into the pit.  It wasn’t his fault the Midianite traders came and bought him.  It wasn’t his fault he got bounced out of Potiphar’s house.  It wasn’t his fault he was in jail and overlooked and forgotten.  It wasn’t his fault the plagues descended on Egypt.  None of those things were his fault, but they were all part of the circumstances of his life.

I know plenty of people who get frustrated with the circumstances in which they find themselves, and from time to time, I am among their number.  And like many of my Christian friends who find themselves in unpleasant circumstances, I will pray and ask God to change the situation.  You know what?  As far as I can tell (and my perception is as limited as yours), God seldom seems to change those circumstances.  Need some money to pay bills?  Pray about it…and see if a check shows up in the mail.  My experience has been that it seldom happens.  Need a change in health?  Pray about it.  It may or may not come to pass.  Praying for someone to continue living instead of dying?  If we all prayed about that until we were blue in the face, eventually that person will die – no matter how hard we might have prayed in the intervening time period. 

I am reminded of another who prayed for a change of circumstances.  He knelt down in a garden and pleaded with God to change the circumstances in which he found himself.  And, either God didn’t answer, or the Bible doesn’t record it.  Or, perhaps, there is a third option: God did answer with a “No” and Jesus was prepared to accept that answer. 

I fear that all too often I’m not prepared to accept God’s “no” to my request to change circumstances.  The result in Joseph’s life was the saving of the promised people – the very preservation of their lives through the famine.  It was also to build character in Joseph’s life.  Moses was no different – he often complained to God about the circumstances in which he found himself along with the rest of Israel.  He grew as a result. 

Why should we be prepared to accept God’s “no” when we request a change in circumstances in our lives?  Because God has a plan.  He always has a purpose.  We seldom see it – not even in hindsight – but if we are to trust God with our souls should we not also trust Him with what He is doing in our earthly lives? 

I am not denying the power of prayer – not for one bit.  Just wrestling with the all-too-frequent “no’s” and why they come.  There is a purpose.  Was there a purpose in God’s denying His own Son’s request from the dirt of Gethsemane?  Most certainly!  And there is a purpose for the times God refuses to change my circumstances, too.  If God didn’t change Jesus’ circumstances, He may choose in His divine wisdom not to change mine, either.  Better I should learn my lessons quickly!

Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.  – Philippians 1:12-14 (NASB)

PRAYER:  I’m sorry, Lord, for the times I have grown frustrated and angry with You for not changing my circumstances.  Please, use the circumstances in my life to make me more like Jesus so that the gospel can move forward and progress.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/10/19 – Awake During Open Heart Surgery

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DayBreaks for 07/10/19: Awake During Open Heart Surgery

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

How much pain can one person carry?  I honestly don’t know the answer to that question.  I know that I’ve had very little pain in my life compared to millions and probably billions of other humans who have lived on this blue marble.  I can hardly imagine anyone, though, who perhaps bore so much pain as the ancient hero, Job.  His suffering was emotional, financial, mental, physical and spiritual.  I don’t know anyone else who has lost as much as Job did (especially his children!)  The pain of losing just one child would be unbearable…but try to imagine losing all 10 at once.  And for a time, Job, we are told, said and did nothing amiss.  Then, he finally seems to break.  But it wasn’t the loss of the flocks, herds, buildings.  It had nothing to do with his financial empire.  He didn’t even rail against God when his children died.  I’m sure that wasn’t because he didn’t love them – he surely cared a great deal about them.  No, Job seemed to “lose” it when he felt God has slipped away and left him alone.  It was then that Job began to struggle.  It was then that Job came face to face with a darker side of his nature than he’d probably realized existed. 

In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason wrote: “Being a believer in God necessarily implies grappling with the dark side of one’s nature.  Many of us, however, seem to be so afraid of our dark side that far from dealing with it realistically, we repress and deny it.  If we do so chronically, we need to ask ourselves whether we really believe in the healing power of Christ’s forgiveness and in His victory over our evil natures.  Perhaps we have never frankly come to grips with the fact that we ourselves are evil.  If we have not, then we are ill prepared for those times when believing in god is like being away during open heart surgery. For our Creator is not yet finished with us; He is still creating us, still making us, just as He has been all along from the beginning of the universe.   But for the short span of our life here on earth we have the strange privilege of actually being wide awake as He continues to fashion us, to watch wide-eyed as His very own fingers work within our hearts…the only anesthetic is trust…trust is not a passive, soporific thing.  When there is stabbing pain, trust cries out.  It is only mistrust, fear and suspicion that keep silent.”

Your life has had some level of pain.  I am frequently asked “Why?  Why is there so much pain involved with being a Christian?  You’d think that a loving God would do everything possible to spare His children pain!”  There is a certain rationale to that argument.  But I think it misses the point that Mike Mason makes: God is doing open heart surgery on us – our hearts MUST be changed if we are to live forever.  If they are not changed, we will die of our fatal condition.  No one does open heart surgery just for practice or for the fun of it.  It is only done when it is necessary to save or extend a life.  We are awake during the process.  

If God doesn’t do His surgery on our heart, we will most certainly die.  There will be pain.  But would any father not allow the pain in order to spare the life of the child?  Certainly, a good father would agree to have the child operated on so that the child could live.  The pain is part of the process of healing and being made well. 

What makes the surgery on our hearts bearable at all?  Trust.  Trust that God is reliable and doing what is not only good for us, but necessary for us if we are to live with Him in His home.  Belief that God knows precisely what is needed in your heart and mine – and that He will complete the work that is necessary.

PRAYER: Though this surgery is painful, Lord, we open our hearts to You and invite you to do what is necessary to make us fit to be Your children and to live in Your Presence throughout all eternity.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/4/19 – The Bottom Line on Salvation

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DayBreaks for 7/4/19: The Bottom Line on Salvation

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

There have been many discussions and disagreements throughout church history about salvation.  I’ve even argued with myself about it from time to time throughout my life.  There is just something about us humans that likes to make things tougher than they really are.  I don’t know why that is so, but perhaps it is because we all want to be able to take some amount of credit for a positive outcome.  We like to appear heroic to ourselves and to others, and that means we must make some sort of superhuman effort to achieve something.  Think about it: who’s more heroic in your eyes – someone who has climbed Everest or someone who has hiked up a 3,000-foot peak?  Is the astronaut more heroic than the pilot of a Piper Cub?  Why?  Because they’ve worked long and hard and done something that seemingly no one else (or few others) have achieved. 

And so when it comes to salvation, we want to be at least a bit heroic – or we want to feel that way.  So, we make it harder than it is. 

A DayBreaks reader recently sent me the quote below from Kirk Cameron, the actor who is now doing lots of Christian work and who is a believer.  Here’s what Kirk had to say: “I used to be confused about how I was “saved”.  Was I saved by a belief I mustered up within my own heart, or was I saved by something God did in the purpose of His own heart?  Spurgeon shed more light on this crucial subject of who does the saving, when he said, “…even our repentance needs to be repented of.”  The point is that no earthly faith, repentance, good works, or belief that I have ever mustered from what exists in my own natural heart has ever saved me.  The Bible is clear: my faith doesn’t save me, Jesus does (Ephesians 2:8-9).  A believer’s faith in Jesus is a gift from God.  My faith is the connecting channel through which God saved me by His own love and grace.  So if you ever wonder if “your faith has saved you,” you may find this question helpful: “Is my trust in my own ability to hold on to Jesus, or is my trust in Jesus’ ability to hold on to me?”  If you have received that humble, repentant faith that causes you to love God and trust in Jesus and Lord and Savior, then I would be very confident in echoing Jesus’ words, “Your faith has saved you.” –  Kirk Cameron

To all who say, “I hope I have enough faith so I can be saved,” I think we must reply, “Rubbish.  It isn’t your faith that saves you – it is Jesus that saves you.  Now, do you have faith in that?”

PRAYER: For the wonder of salvation this day, we praise You!  For the blessings of the past, we praise You!  For the eternity that awaits because of Your faithfulness, we praise You, o Great God!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/02/19 – Earning Trust

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DayBreaks for 07/02/19: Earning Trust

(NOTE: sorry about no DayBreaks yesterday, our internet was down!)

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

The year was 1921, the city was New York.  Dr. Evan Kane is performing a routine appendectomy.  He’s done this over 4000 times in his 37-year medical career, so it’s old hat to him.  But there are two things that this time are different, that make this a special operation. 

First, Dr. Kane was concerned about the dangers of general anesthesia and he is doing this surgery using local anesthesia.  It wasn’t easy finding a volunteer to go through this surgery because no one knew for sure how well local anesthesia would work in such a surgery.  Many of Dr. Kane’s associates agreed with the dangers of general anesthesia, but volunteers were hard to come by.  Finally, Dr. Kane found a volunteer willing to undergo the experiment.  He’d looked long and hard for a volunteer before he got one. 

As it turns out, the surgery was successful.  The patient experienced only mild discomfort and was released two days later. 

Thanks to the courage of the brave volunteer, local anesthesia was shown to be an effective treatment option that in many cases is highly preferable to general anesthesia.

The second special thing about this surgery is that the volunteer was Dr. Kane himself.  Yep – he operated on his own appendix under just local anesthesia.  Why did he do this?  First, of all, he was convinced of what he believed and was willing to “put his money where his mouth was.”  Secondly, he couldn’t persuade anyone else to try it, so he became a patient in order to convince other patients that they could trust him as the doctor.

This is the core of the gospel and our great hope.  Christ became one of us, enduring the things we endure, suffering the things we suffer, identifying with us in our humanity.  Because he did that, we can trust him and that he understands!

PRAYER: Thank you for giving us proof that you believe in our worth, and that you understand what our lives are like when we struggle and hurt!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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