DayBreaks for 10/17/19 – Stubborn Persistence

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DayBreaks for 10/17/19: Stubborn Persistence

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2009:

Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  – Lk. 18:39

Have you ever given much thought to how often Jesus must have faced situations like the one in the verse above?  Everywhere he went, he was surrounded by the sick, the infirm, the possessed…constantly pressing in on all sides.  With grace beyond human comprehension, he ministered patiently, healing crowds that would give him no respite from the constant press and attention and demands. 

In Luke 18, we see Jesus’ disciples trying to get this infirm man to cease and desist with his yelling in his attempt to get Jesus’ attention.  As Michael Card put it: “Jesus should not have had time for such people. The blind man’s stubborn insistence to keep on crying out to Jesus is what makes me love him so much. I believe it’s why Jesus seems to have been delighted by him as well. He sits there forsaken, in his own dark world, crying out for a gift he knows he does not deserve. He cries out for mercy. His cry is the perfect prayer, because it is the simplest request for what is most critical. It asks from God what is most essential. It is a plaintive cry for a piece of God’s own heart.” – from Joy in the Journey Through the Year, 2007

We are to be persistent in prayer, in our crying out to Jesus.  I fear that we lack a great deal, especially here in America, of the “stuff” that makes for persistence.  If we try something a few times and don’t get the result we had hoped for, we are more tempted to quit than to redouble our efforts and keep plugging away.  We speak about “beating our head against the wall” as if it were a bad thing.  It’s not.  It’s also called persistence.  Remember the story about the man who had unexpected company arrive in the middle of the night, and how the homeowner went next door and beat on the door until the neighbor finally gave him bread and sent him back home to feed his unexpected guests?  Jesus says that’s a model for us to emulate in our prayer life. 

You may have prayed 5 times, 10 times, 20 times or more for something you desperately wanted.  Is that persistence?  Or is persistence praying until you receive it?  Of course, our prayers must be tempered by the knowledge that He knows what is good and best and we don’t – but I fear that we often give up WAY too soon.  If we prayed for 70 years for the same thing – especially for something like the salvation of a friend or family member – is that too long?  Not when we consider eternity. 

We must not give up praying for our lost friends and family.  We must learn to be stubbornly persistent in our prayers – and you can start today!

PRAYER: Lord, we will not give up praying for our lost friends and family.  May we persevere and not give in to the discouragement that Satan wants us to feel!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 10/16/19 – Fear and Inactivity

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DayBreaks for 10/16/19: Fear and Inactivity

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2009:

A soldier in one of the regular batteries of the army of the Confederacy had displayed conspicuous bravery in a dozen engagements while serving with his gun as a cannoneer.  When it came to the battle known as Chickamauga, he was assigned duty as a driver only, so instead of participating in the excitement of loading and firing, the soldier had nothing to do but sit quietly on his horse, and watch the havoc created around him by the enemy’s shot.  He soon became possessed by a terror which completely permeated him and after the battle he implored his commanding officer to send him back to his gun.  His courage leaked away when he had nothing to do.

I find it to be the case in my own life that I often sit and think too much about something rather than taking some positive action that I believe might be warranted.  The longer I sit and ponder the situation and all the different things that could happen, I can get bound up in fear and uncertainty to the point that I do nothing at all. 

In the case of the Confederate soldier, it was when he had nothing to do but sit and watch that he was overwhelmed by fear.  It is amazing – surely standing by the cannon and being actively involved in firing the mighty weapon at the enemy was much more dangerous than sitting on a horse in the background, watching all that was happening.  When we are engaged in some mighty and noble endeavor, we don’t have time to notice all the explosions and mayhem around us because of the cause we are trying to advance.

When it comes to serving Christ, many are too afraid – paralyzed into inaction – seeming to think that the result of whatever service they are called upon to render depends on them and their ability and wisdom. 

The best place to be is in the thick of the battle, right beside the Lord (and make no mistake – he is in the hottest point of the battle all the time!)  It is to those who remain on the periphery that he may say, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”  He knows those that fight at his side – he knows them well and will give them a crown of life not because of their works, but because of the fact that they call Him “Lord” – and then they prove it by how they follow Him.

PRAYER: Thank you for inviting us to fight at your side for the souls of men and women!  Let us not sit idly bound by fear, but to follow you boldly into the fray!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/14/19 – The Dangers of Compartmentalization

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DayBreaks for 10/14/19: The Dangers of Compartmentalization

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2009:

Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.” – Mark 6:45-52 (NIV)

As I’ve been working my way through Mark in my daily “quiet time”, I’ve been struck over and over again by phrases I’d not thought about before.  One is in this text.  Jesus had just walked on the water and gotten into the boat with his terrified followers.  It’s the last sentence in the verses above the puzzled me: “They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.”  Just prior to this, Jesus had fed a multitude and involved the disciples in that miracle.  But it says that they were amazed (apparently at Jesus being able to walk across the water to reach them) because they’d not understood what had happened with the miracles of the loaves.  What does one have to do with the other?

I must confess that I am not sure, but here’s on possibility: the miracle of the feeding of the multitude (among other things) demonstrated Jesus mastery and Lordship over physical things.  But the disciples didn’t really get that, or so it appears.  When he walked on water, they were amazed.  I would have been amazed, too, especially if I’d not seen Jesus feed the throngs with so little!  But having seen that, one would think that it would have been easy to accept that He is lord over all things. 

One thing that bugs me is how we compartmentalize our faith and conceptions of Jesus.  It’s one thing to believe that Jesus is the Lord of spiritual things.  It’s fairly easy for us to concede that territory to Him, isn’t it?  I mean, we’ve not seen spirits, we’ve not touched a spirit, we don’t know what they look like or what the demons look like.  We believe Jesus has and knows what is in the spiritual realm.  But we seem to think that we are masters of the physical, non-metaphysical realm, that we are the lords and ladies over physical things. 

So, we relegate Jesus to the spiritual world but do our best to cut him off from Lordship over the physical world.  He will have none of it.  He is the Lord of all, spiritual and physical.  Our attempts to put him into a compartment are futile.  We may attempt it in many ways for many reasons: we don’t want him interfering in our physical existence or telling us what we can or can’t do with our bodies, we don’t want to have to give an account for what we do so we pretend that what we do in our daily walk has nothing to do with our spiritual life.  That’s a very dangerous heresy – but also a very old one.  Long ago, there were those who argued that what we did in the body had no bearing on the soul and vice versa.  It became nothing more or nothing less than a green light the indulgence of the passions of the flesh, thinking that physical acts committed in the physical world don’t affect the cleanliness of the soul. 

And so, I ask myself: how have I bought into this heresy?  What things to I indulge that soil the garment of righteousness that God has provided for me in Christ?  In what areas of my life am I blocking the Savior’s access?  From what areas do I un-invite Him, thinking foolishly that it won’t affect my walk with Christ?  These questions deserve thought and answers.  What are your answers?

PRAYER: I fear that our minds too easily accept Jesus’ authority in spiritual things but deny his right to all of us, Lord.  Help us to see and understand that what we do in the flesh affects our souls and our closeness to You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/11/19 – Lessons from Legion

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DayBreaks for 10/11/19: Lessons from Legion

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2009:

They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!” Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.

In my opinion, this is one of the more intriguing miracles that Jesus performed.  I have often pictured this encounter taking place in broad daylight, but a close reading of the text would indicate that it was probably not the case.  Jesus and his disciples had left the other side of the Sea of Galilee late in the evening, encountered a storm, and had finally made it to the other shore.  Chances are it was dark – the time when ancients believed demons were especially active.  They also believed demons frequented dirty, filthy places – graveyards, especially.  It seems as if they had just reached shore when this man, who was so strong because of his possession, that he could break metal chains, comes charging out of the graveyard to confront Jesus. 

I won’t go into the details of the story except to make several observations.  It is interesting how the man switches back and forth between singular expressions of speech and plural.  This clearly was a seriously possessed man – and a very confused one, too.  It is interesting that the demons were fearful that Jesus would torture them.  This probably refers to him sending them back to the pit of hell.  What a contrast to the rather comical view of hell that is often presented by many today that would have us believe that the demons shriek with laughter in hell over the plight of the damned.  Such is not the case – it is a place of torture, not just for the condemned, but for the demons, too.  They want no part of it.  How foolish of those who reject God because they think that they’ll be happier with their friends in hell – picturing it as an eternal beer-bust party!

But here’s what really has me thinking about this passage: having stood in the place where this transpired, I’d never tried before to put myself in the place of the possessed man.  No, I am not possessed by demons that cause me to break chains or wander unclothed, yelling and cutting myself with rocks.  But, are we not all possessed at some level by demons that haunt us – be they ghosts of past failings or the present specters of temptation?  I know within myself rage temptations that would want to have nothing to do with Jesus.  And sometimes, I feel as if I’m losing the battle – as this poor man must have felt from time to time.  I need to understand that it isn’t just those foaming at the mouth or who are derelict that need what Jesus has to offer – I, too, am in desperate need.

Here’s what really scares me and bothers me: just as this man didn’t want his demons sent too far away, I have to ask, “Do I want my temptations sent so far away that I can’t recall them and invite them back into my heart when I want them?”  I fear that I can’t always answer in the affirmative to that question.  There is a part of me that longs for that very thing – and another part that longs for the status quo, temptations and all.  And that dichotomy haunt me.

The good news is that the demoniac, once his demons were gone, sat quietly and “in his right mind” at the feet of Jesus.  When I am in my right mind, I will do the same.

PRAYER: Free us, Lord, from the demons of temptation that haunt and pursue us, and for our love of sin that causes us to hold tightly to our temptations when we should be casting them away.  Have mercy on us and clothe us in our right minds that we might sit at Your feet!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/10/19 – Praying When it Hurts

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DayBreaks for 10/10/19: Praying When it Hurts

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

How do you pray when you are hurting?  Maybe a better question would be, “How can you pray when you are hurting so badly that you can’t even think straight?”  Have you ever experienced so much hurt (regardless of the reason) that you just couldn’t find words to say?  I have.  And sometimes I didn’t make the effort to pray because it was just too hard.  Those were the moments when I had to trust the Spirit to make intercession.

The bible makes great claims for the power of prayer (Jn. 14:12-14 – I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

Do you believe it?  Really?  Was Jesus just being hyperbolic?  It is an incredible promise from Jesus’ own lips!  When you think about it – he had reason to be so positive and sure – wherever he went in life and saw people in pain, he did something about it.  Should we think that because he is no longer here on earth that he is now powerless to do anything about it?  No!  We know that prayer connects us with the One who can heal.  But it is the times when the “healing” doesn’t come that trouble us.  As Brother Lawrence wrote: “Even when miracles seem in very short supply, when emotional problems remain unresolved or a tumor does not shrink, prayer is never wasted…many times when the specific healings I’ve prayed for have not materialized, but the situation changed in other ways.  These, too, are answers to prayer.” 

Then, he made a good observation: “We have not matured as men and women of prayer because we have not put a fraction of the time, thought and effort into learning to pray which we readily invest in our work, our hobbies, our human relationships…  If we are retarded in prayer, then we ourselves suffer for it – but so does the world.  The world needs us to be prayer therapists.  Prayer is God’s appointed way by which we become channels of His healing power.”

 “Prayer is a key which unlocks the blessings of the day and locks up the dangers of the night.”  (Anon.)  If your day could use more blessing, if your night could use more peace, prayer is the key!

PRAYER: Forgive our lack of time in speaking and listening to You in prayer.  May our desire to be with you in prayer grow and increase constantly so we may come to know you and love you more each moment!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/9/19 – The Biggest Liar

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DayBreaks for 10/09/19: The Biggest Liar

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

“A clergyman was walking down the street when he came upon a group of about a dozen boys, all of them between 10 and 12 years of age.  The group was surrounding a dog.  Concerned that the boys might be hurting the dog, he went over and asked, ‘What are you doing with that dog?’ 

“One of the boys replied, ‘This dog is just an old neighborhood stray.  We all want him, but only one of us can take him home.  So we’ve decided that whichever one of us can tell the biggest lie will get to keep the dog.’

“Of course, the pastor was taken aback.  ‘You boys shouldn’t be having a contest telling lies!’ he exclaimed.  He then launched into a 10-minute sermon against lying, beginning, ‘Don’t you boys know it’s a sin to lie?’ and ending with, ‘Why, when I was your age, I never told a lie.’

“There was dead silence for about a minute.  Just as the pastor was beginning to think that he’d gotten through to them, the smallest boy gave a deep sigh and said, ‘All right.  Give him the dog.'”

Galen’s Thoughts:

Perhaps one of the hardest things for Christians to do is to admit that we are sinners, yet that is one of the requirements for being a Christian – to be a sinner and to admit it!  It is as if we think that once we become Christians we are instantly supposed to stop sinning (of course, we should grow and mature and sin less and less, but we will always be sinners – just forgiven ones!) When we talk to each other, we talk in a Christian code that makes us look and sound good to each other. We are told that we are to confess our sins to one another (Jas. 5:16), yet we spend a lot more time talking about the good things we do for Christ than we do about our sinful thoughts, struggles and temptations.  After all, what would people think of me if I told them about what goes on inside MY head!!!????

1 John 1:8 says: If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  In the story above, the pastor claimed to be above lying, but that very statement made him a liar and won him the prized neighborhood mongrel.  I find in my own life that the very things I say I won’t do, or the things I thought would never be a temptation to me, are the things that catch me by surprise and I fall.  Maybe that is exactly the reason why – I think I’m strong in those areas and God is showing me how weak I really am.

Awareness of our weakness should make us run to God for the strength we need to overcome temptation rather than run from Him.  Let’s be more honest with each other and with God – the world may find our honesty about our struggles refreshing and change their attitude about us from being the kind of people that “pretend” to be holier-than-thou to being ordinary folks who are loved by an extraordinary God.

PRAYER: Help us to be honest enough to admit, not only to ourselves, but to others and especially to You, our sins and transgressions that we may encounter Your forgiveness and mercy.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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