DayBreaks for 5/6/21 – The Wilderness Blessing

If you ever get the chance to visit Israel I encourage you to do so. You cannot turn around there without bumping into Biblical history. Place after place holds fascination for the Christian and those inclined to love the Bible stories. You can find meaning and illumination in even the most desolate places there.

One of my favorite activities in Israel took place one day when our tour group was taken out into the Judean wilderness and dumped out of our bus. Our instructions were simple: go off somewhere alone (but stay within view of where the bus will drop you off) and be alone with God in the quiet.

I was not expecting the blessing that I encountered in that period of time that I sat atop a barren hill in the dry wilderness where Jesus was tempted and many other biblical stories took place.

What was it that made it so special? Partly it was the quietness. On occasion a birdsong could be heard, or a sheep bleating somewhere far, far away. But human sound was missing. You were alone with yourself and God.

Many times Jesus went off into the wilderness. One would wonder why: there’s no water, no trees from which to pick fruit, no company or protection from the elements or animals that might be there. So why? Why the wilderness?

I don’t recall who said this, but I think this is the key: “In the emptiness of the wilderness there is only one God.”

We don’t spend enough time in the wilderness these days. We are city dwellers rushing to and fro in non-stop motion. In the wilderness there is no place to go. And so we can unwind and tune our ear to the voice of God in the hot breeze.

Being in the wilderness, whether literally or figuratively as we struggle with life, is intended to help us hear God and spend time with him.

Perhaps you are surrounded by barren wilderness right now. Stop your movement. Sit in silence. Keep pulling your mind back from whatever is concerning you and keep asking God to speak to you right now. And don’t give up. Keep at it until you hear him – but listen closely because he often speaks to us in the nearly inaudible whisper he used with Elijah. Pay attention. If your mind drifts, refocus. God will be there and he wants to speak to you.

PRAYER: Lord, slow us down and take us to the wilderness where there is only one God so that we may hear from him. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/5/21 – The Mob and the Boy

I don’t know why, but the feeding of the 5000 is the one “regular” miracle that is mentioned in all four gospels. That means that there must be great significance to it and many lessons we can learn from it. But today I want to focus on just one.

Who fed the 5000? Jesus did. There can be no denying that. No one else could have done what he did.

I used to pastor a church. I, like just about every other pastor I know, dreamed of a growing, vibrant church that would be bursting at the seams. I desired to feed a large flock with the Word each Sunday when I occupied the pulpit. But that wasn’t God’s dream for that church. It was a constant struggle after the first few years. Frustrations mounted, doubts crept in and I found myself second-guessing everything I thought or did. The church started small and stayed small. I was devastated.

Maybe that’s why I take great comfort in a thought I heard just yesterday. It was simply this: Jesus doesn’t ask me to feed the 5000.  He only asks me to bring my fish and loaves and leave the rest to him.

Jesus isn’t asking you to feed the 5000 either. He knows better than I what I can and can’t do. He knows my limitations. What he asks of all of us is to bring to him whatever we have and hand it over to him while we watch in amazement.

Jesus knows I can’t feed the 5000. He knows what I have to give and what you have to give. Will we part with it and put it into his hands?

PRAYER: Jesus, forgive us our ambitions of greatness and teach us to loosen our grasp on our possessions, skills, abilities and hearts to we can hand them to you and let you make miraculous things happen for your kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/4/21 – Choose Your Color

1James 1:2-4 (NLT) – Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Have things gone your way so far this week?  Has everything at work turned to gold the moment you got involved?  Has your relationship with everyone been totally and completely full of joy and blessing this week?  Have your kids been perfectly behaved and respectful so far?  Have you been able to successfully fend off every temptation that has arisen since Sunday?

I didn’t think so. 

The real question that I want to ask, though, isn’t those listed above.  It’s this: how have you responded to those challenges that have managed to worm their way into your week? 

Many years ago the great preacher Harry Emerson Fosdick told of a teenage girl stricken with polio. As he visited with her, she told him about a conversation she’d had with one of her friends, who told her, “Affliction does so color life.” To which this courageous young girl agreed but said that she would choose which color. At her young age she had already discovered one of life’s great secrets: It’s not what happens to you that matters as much as what happens in you. For faith in God does not so much shield us from danger and death as it gives us the power to overcome it.  – Lee Griess, Taking the Risk out of Dying, CSS Publishing Company

While I do care about what has happened to you, what happens in you is far more important.

PRAYER: Lord, this week and even every hour pose challenges to us.  Let us respond to the disappointments and frustrations in life in a way that is honest, but which brings you glory.  Help us choose the “color” that will characterize our life!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/3/21 – The Danger of Proximity

1 Samuel 3:7 (CSBBible) – Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, because the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

This passage comes from the story of Samuel hearing a voice in the night and thinking it was the high priest, Eli, who was calling him, but it was the Lord instead. There are many strange things in the context of this verse. Here’s some of them:

FIRST: Samuel was in the temple when this account takes place. It wasn’t in some house nearby, but in the very temple where the Presence dwelt. Yet something was amiss.  

SECOND: Even though Samuel was in the temple, it clearly says that Samuel did not yet know the Lord. How curious! We would think that because he served in the temple and especially since he served the high priest, that surely he would know the Lord, but apparently he didn’t. The lesson should be clear to us: just being in the presence of God or spending our life in service doesn’t guarantee us one single thing. We could spend a night in a chicken coop but that wouldn’t make us a chicken. We can spend a lifetime in the church and not be a Christian who knows the Lord. The last part of the verse tells us why.

THIRD: The word of the Lord hadn’t been revealed to Samuel. Surely, he had heard it many, many times as he served in the temple. This verse shows us that just hearing it isn’t enough. It has to be “revealed” to us. One could reasonably argue that it is the Word (with a capital) that must be revealed to us for us to really know God. Jesus said as much, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.” Sadly, even in the case of those who saw the incarnate Word, many still didn’t know God.

What are we to make of this: it is a heart check for us all. Do you really know the Lord? If you don’t know the w/Word, you can’t.

PRAYER: Father, we desire to truly know you. Never let us be comfortable with just knowing about you, but let us know you as we know our best friend. Don’t let us be deceived by proximity to you but make us hungry to have a deep, rich relationship with you so we can recognize your voice. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 4/30/21 – The Sacredness of Avodah

We even have names for it: the Monday blues. We talk about “hump day” as being Wednesday – the day that marks the half-way point in the drudgery of our daily work lives. Many are stuck in jobs that they despise, but feel trapped because they’ve grown addicted to the level of income, or fear of their inability to find other work. And it’s a problem.

Work. It’s even a four-letter word.

We think work was part of the curse in the garden, but it wasn’t. Work was given to Adam and Eve prior to the fall – their job was to work and take care of the garden, so work predates the fall and it existed when they were in perfect harmony with God.

Ann Voskamp shared something about work in her post from 4/29/21 that I’d not heard before. Drink this in:

Regardless of what Wall Street touts: Work isn’t about creating fleeting wealth. Work is about faithful worship.

“This is not trite cliche, this is truest reality:

 “The Lord God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). The Hebrew word for work is avodah — the same word found in the Ten Commandments, “Six days you shall work….” (Exodus 34:21), and the exact same word we read in the exodus: “When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain” (Exodus 3:12). The word that is translated as “worship” — in Hebrew, that is the same word as work, avodah.

“Avodah. Work is worship.

“Six days you will avodah-work, because the six days of your work is your avodah-worship.

“Work isn’t to build up a reasonable (or unreasonable) amount of equity — it’s to be our reasonable act of worship.

“Nearly four hundred years ago, a humble sage peeling potatoes as an act of worship, Brother Lawrence, said, “Our sanctification does not depend as much on changing our activities as it does on doing them for God, rather than ourselves.”

“Work isn’t what we do to get ourselves ahead, it is what we do to give ourselves to God.”

Our problem, you see, isn’t our work, but our attitude toward it. Start thinking about your work – whatever it is – as worship and the giving of yourself to God. See if that doesn’t change your work from the “Monday blues” to a much more glorious “Good morning, God…I’m here to worship you in this place today!”

PRAYER: Father, we have so corrupted our view of work because we forget that it is actually part of presenting ourselves to you as a living sacrifice of worship. For all those struggling with their heart-attitudes about their work, please help them start to workship you today!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 4/29/21 – The One Who Calls the Shots

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2012:

Matthew 26:1-5 (NLT) –  When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, “As you know, Passover begins in two days, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” At that same time the leading priests and elders were meeting at the residence of Caiaphas, the high priest, plotting how to capture Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the Passover celebration,” they agreed, “or the people may riot.”

Sometimes the bible is full of such irony!  Obviously, Jesus was very soon to be crucified.  The chief priests and scribes were behind the plotting to kill Jesus.  It had been on their mind for some time and they were scheming in secret as to how they could eliminate him.  As badly as they wanted him dead, they concluded that this was not the time, not during Passover, because it could lead to riots, and if there was one thing that the Romans would not tolerate, it was riotous rebellion. 

What is so ironic about this statement is that they believed they were in control of the times and events that were unfolding.  They were resolved to kill him, but not now.  I wonder when they did plan to kill him?  How long would they have waited after Passover?  We don’t know. 

But what is interesting in this passage is the very clear testimony as to who was in charge.  While Jesus’ enemies thought they were in charge, in control, it was God who was calling the shots.  And, as God has foreordained, the Lamb was killed on the Passover.  It was decreed by God and foreshadowed by the original Passover…that the blood of the Lamb was to be spilled on that day.

We all make plans.  We all struggle if we feel we don’t have a plan and fear that we are losing control.  You may feel like life has it in for you, that you can’t get a break.  You  may feel that your boss or co-workers are taking advantage of you.  While it may seem almost impossible to believe, Scripture says that God has a plan for your life and He will see it through.  It isn’t your boss, neighbor, co-worker, your spouse, or even you who is in charge of your life.  God is.  And in spite of our efforts to control the times and events of our lives, God’s plan for you will not be derailed.

PRAYER: Lord, it is often hard for us to believe that Your plan for us is really the best or even that it is good!  Often, Your plan seems confusing and painful.  Let us trust in Your character, and Your promise, that Your plan for us to for good and to give us life and a future!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 4/28/21 – The Worst Things Are Not the Last Things

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2012:

Winston Churchill had planned his funeral, which took place in Saint Paul’s Cathedral. He included many of the great hymns of the church, and used the eloquent Anglican liturgy. At his direction, a bugler, positioned high in the dome of Saint Paul’s, intoned, after the benediction, the sound of Taps, the universal signal that says the day is over. But then came the most dramatic turn: As Churchill instructed, as soon as Taps was finished, another bugler, placed on the other side of the great dome, played the notes of Reveille – “It’s time to get up. It’s time to get up. It’s time to get up in the morning.” That was Churchill’s testimony that at the end of history, the last note will not be Taps; it will be Reveille. The worst things are never the last things.

It’s not yet the end of the week…and I don’t now about you, but to me it’s been a long week.  You may be worn out.  You may be despairing.  You may not see hope for the future.  I urge you: hang in there! Just remember: the worst things are never the last things, for we will “get up in the morning” of glory!

PRAYER: For the hope that never dies, for the expectation of the coming morning of glory, we rejoice and give you our praise!  In Jesus’ name, Amen. ><}}}”>

Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 4/27/21 – What We Have Going for Us

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2012:

John 20:26 (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. “Peace be with you,” he said.

I must say that “church” in the south is very much different than where we used to live in California.  We lived in the second least-churched county in the United States.  It was a county were people were into fine foods, dining, wine, leisure activities, etc.  Generally speaking, they weren’t into “church” or religion at all. 

Not so here in the South.  Here we find big churches on nearly every corner.  It is the exception to see a small church building.  There are many churches around us that are large enough that it requires a police presence on Sunday mornings in order to direct traffic so people can get in and out of the parking lots.  The large churches here appear to have it all. I’m not judging them in any way.

Other churches, however, appear to have absolutely nothing. Look for example, at the church we see immediately after the resurrection of Jesus.  It is a small handful of disciples, hunkered down in an locked-door room. It is not a pretty picture.  Jesus, prior to his death, tried to prepare them to be a fellowship of faith, of profound love with the doors open and the welcome mat always out, but that’s not how we see them on Easter morning.  They were to be the people who would head out boldly into the world to bear fruit, people full of the Holy Spirit performing even greater works than Jesus himself (John 14:12).  But that’s not how they were on resurrection morning.  We find the early church cowering in fear, hoping nobody will find out where they are. We are seeing the church at its worst – afraid, discouraged and on the defensive.  If this group of Christians were to place a church ad in the paper, what could it say? “The friendly church where all are welcome”? No, not unless you think locked doors are a sign of hospitality. “The church with a warm heart and a bold mission”? I doubt it.  It’s more like the church with sweaty palms and a timid spirit.

John’s gospel shows us a church with nothing – no 1-, 3—or 5-year plan, no promise, no program, no flashy youth group, no preaching, nothing. In the final analysis, this scared band huddled in the corner of a room with a chair braced against the door had only one thing going for it: the risen Christ. And that seems to be the main point of the story. This is ultimately a story about how the risen Christ pushed open the bolted door of a church with nothing, how the risen Christ enters the fearful chambers of every church and fills the place with his own life – a life that changed everyone inside – and out. He still does that today both for churches and individuals. Open the door of your heart and let him in!

PRAYER: Appear to us, Lord, as to your church in those early days, stir us to boldness and action, and may we never settle for anything less or anything more than Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks 4/26/21 – A Thirsty World and Bad Storytellers

Image from Pixabay

See to it that no one misses the grace of God…Heb. 12:15

In Philip Yancey’s book, Vanishing Grace: Whatever Happened to the Good News?, he quotes from the novel The Second Coming by Walker Percy. One of the characters is talking about Christians and makes this observation: “I cannot be sure they don’t have the truth. But if they have the truth, why is it the case they are repellent precisely to the degree that they embrace and advertise the truth?…A mystery: If the good news is true, why is not one pleased to hear it?

To my mind this raises three possibilities:

FIRST: the hearer isn’t sincerely seeking and open to the truth, having already pre-judged and determined not to accept it. This is a viable possibility.

SECOND: what we call the “good news” isn’t really good news at all and Jesus was just being deceitful and sneaky by calling it good news. This doesn’t seem feasible given Jesus’ nature and ethic – the consensus highest of any human who ever lived and would be contrary to the very soul of his teaching.

THIRD: if we grant that the good news is precisely that, then the problem isn’t with the subject matter but with the person who is telling the story and how it is told. This, to me, seems by far the most likely case. We could betray the subject matter either because we aren’t demonstrably living it out and and it is obvious therefore that we don’t really believe what we are saying about Jesus being the Lord of our lives, OR because we are really, really lousy storytellers. Again, both of those could be true – and they can be true at the same time.

There are good tellers of stories and news and those who are horrible at it. Why are they bad at it? Because the subject matter isn’t important enough to have spent time to really learn to tell it properly. And isn’t that perhaps the greatest tragedy of all time? Here we have the greatest news – and it is GOOD news – in the history of the world and those we tell it to aren’t pleased to hear it. We don’t need to get fancy with it. We just need to let the story speak for itself instead of us getting in the way either by our lifestyle or how we tell the story. The story has its own power and doesn’t need us to embellish or dress it up.

If the church is struggling to make converts the fault must lie with humans and not with the story. Let’s do all we can to be sure we aren’t the problem any longer.

PRAYER: Help us, Lord, to get out of the way of the good news and to simply tell the story of your love, mercy and grace and how we can all experience that now and forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 4/22/21 – We Still Don’t Believe It

Romans 7:18-19 (NLT) – And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.

One of the most prevalent beliefs we humans have about ourselves is that we are really pretty good.  Sure, we may talk humbly about ourselves (especially when we are in the church or around other Christians), but our actions belie our words.  When we are left alone in our own minds and no one can see what we think, we tend to compare ourselves favorably with others, to think that we’re pretty decent people, that surely God must be proud of us. 

What we are struggling with is illustrated by a story about a professor of preaching who would take his students out every semester to the cemetery.  They would stand along the perimeter of the cemetery and the professor would ask his student to speak to the graves and call people to come forth.  Usually, the students would look at each other rather incredulously, maybe chuckle a bit, but the professor insisted, and so with obvious embarrassment, they would do as request.  They, of course, failed – miserably, every one of them.  It was after they’d failed and looked rather sheepish, that the professor reminded them of the core truth of the gospel: people, like those corpses in the cemetery, are spiritually dead…and that it is only the words of God Himself that can bring life to spiritually dead humans.

Paul said that his sinful nature, tied to his flesh, held “nothing good” alive in there.  We need to come to grips with the fact that we are NOT good people.  Our most righteous acts are like filthy rags.  There is not one of us who is good – for only God is good. 

Our failure to grasp our inherent sinfulness, our dead and rotting spirit, is one of the reasons people find it hard to accept grace – they feel they don’t really need it.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

PRAYER: Speak life into us, through Your Spirit put to death moment by moment our sinful natures that are contrary to the Spirit. Remind us of our great need for grace!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2021, Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>