DayBreaks for 12/30/11 – When Danger Is Remote

DayBreaks for 12/30/11 – When Danger Is Remote

Read the signs...and beware!!!!

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 9 Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. – 1 Peter 5:8-9

Danger has a way of prompting us to be alert and take action, whether the danger is real, or just frighteningly potential.  Consider this story, told by Mickey Anders, in Keeping Watch:

“Folks back in Arkansas have always been fascinated by the New Madrid Fault, which runs along a line from Memphis up through southern Missouri. Back at the turn of the century, that area suffered one of the biggest earthquakes to ever hit North America. In fact, the Mississippi River ran upstream for several hours.

“In the fall of 1990, a scientist predicted that another major earthquake would occur in the New Madrid Fault on Tuesday, December 4. His prediction gathered a lot of attention in newscasts, public assemblies and private conversations. People stowed away precious possessions, stockpiled groceries and kerosene, and learned how to shut off their gas and water lines. Schools and businesses announced that they would be closed that week and several residents temporarily left the area. On December 2, 1990, the First Sunday in Advent and two days before the predicted quake, churches were packed. Many people stayed awake all night on December 3. But December 4, 1990, passed with no tremor. Then December passed, and the winter. Flashlight batteries drained. Extra food spoiled or was consumed. Fuel tanks sat empty once more. The earthquake is still predicted to happen one day. When a crisis seems imminent, we have no trouble keeping alert and awake. But when the threat of danger seems remote, our eyelids grow heavy and we sleep.”

Have you seen the “great enemy”, the devil, the roaring lion today?  Is he hot on your tail?  Oh, if it were only so simple!  The roaring lion can roar, but he can also be silent and stealthy, sneaking up on us in ways that lull us to sleepiness…and then when it is too late we realize he has us right where he wants us, between his jaws.

Where is the greatest danger in your life coming from right now?  Is it an attitude of lax morality?  A cavalier attitude toward the poor and needy?  From listening to the ideas of man instead of the promises of God?  God’s advice to us, through the pen of Peter, is simply this: Stay alert!  Watch out!

Don’t let your guard down or you may find yourself in the lion’s belly before you even knew you were in danger!

PRAYER: Father, don’t let our eyes grow dull and heavy because we think danger if far from us!  Let us not think we are strong and can stand, for it is surely at those moments that we are most likely to overtaken by our great enemy!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 12/29/11 – What Have You Done Today?

DayBreaks for 12/29/11 – What Have You Done Today?           

The ultimate price was paid...by God's Son

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; 7 for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the desert, 9 where your fathers tested and tried me, though they had seen what I did. 10 For forty years I was angry with that generation; I said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known my ways.” 11 So I declared on oath in my anger, “They shall never enter my rest.” – Psalm 95:6-11

During the Second World War there was a young boy in a small town who had to go to the drugstore for his mother. As he arrived at the drugstore, he saw a poster on the front window that made a great impression upon him. It was the picture of an American soldier dressed in full battle uniform lying flat on his face, dead in the sands of a South Pacific island. He was lying there with the ocean cradling his body, and at the bottom of the poster was this question: “What have you done for your country today that’s worth this soldier dying yesterday?”

Now I want you to look back at a date long before WW2.  Let your mind carry you to a hillside outside of Jerusalem.  This is Calvary.  Open the eyes of your heart and look upon a cross, see Jesus, the Savior, the Son of God, as he writhes in agony as he pays the price for your sins and the sins of the world.  Ask yourself the question: “What have you done for Christ today that’s worth what He gave for you on Calvary?”

Let me tell you now: not one of us can find anything you have done or will do, either this day or any other day, that was worth the sacrifice of the Son of God.  Yet, it happened, not because of something we’d done that put him in our debt, but simply because of who we are – His creation, made in His image.

PRAYER: How little we appreciate all that You accomplished in Your sacrifice on Calvary, how little we should You our appreciation and thanks!!  Let us not ever forget that scene on the Jerusalem hillside, and be people of appreciative action.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 12/28/11 – When Angel’s Wings Tremble

DayBreaks for 12/28/11 – When Angel’s Wings Tremble

20 Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! – Psalm 103:20

Angel simply means “messenger.”  They are, of course, messengers of God, dispatched with words from the Almighty.  When you stop to think of the messages that “angels” have delivered to mankind, some are joyous, some were words of doom, some of encouragement, and others that surely brought terror and dismay.

Have you ever been asked to deliver a message for someone that you’d rather not deliver at all?  I recall times when I’ve had to tell people that they no longer had a job, or that their son had been killed in a hunting accident.  Such messages I would rather not have to deliver ever again.  I don’t like to have to tell such things to people.  And I would suspect that there were times the angels didn’t want to have to deliver a message from God…but who were they to refuse?  (I am on thin ice there theologically – for all I know, the angels always delight in delivering God’s messages…but who knows?  They see to have emotions much like we do – so I suspect that they had thoughts and feelings about the words they were to deliver.)

Frederick Buechner reflected on one such message when he wrote these words: “She struck the angel Gabriel as hardly old enough to have a child at all, let alone this child, but he’d been entrusted with a message to give her, and he gave it. He told her what the child was to be named, and who he was to be, and something about the mystery that was to come upon her. “You mustn’t be afraid, Mary,” he said. And as he said it, he only hoped she wouldn’t notice that beneath the great, golden wings he himself was trembling with fear to think that the whole future of creation hung now on the answer of a girl.”

God has certainly given us humans tremendous opportunity and responsibility, hasn’t He?  To the human girl, Mary, He gave this message.  As a human, I’d wonder if God really knew what He was doing if God had entrusted that message to me to deliver to a virgin teen in Palestine…but Gabriel, I feel certain, understood that God knew perfectly well what He was doing.  Later, Jesus would give an even greater challenge to all His followers when He said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel…baptizing….teaching….”  I wonder, were there angels in heaven that wondered at the wisdom of a plan to reach the entire world with the message of grace and salvation through Jesus by placing that message in the mouth of humans?  Did they wonder if God had some “backup” plan in case we humans failed (as we are so prone to do and as the angels had repeatedly observed on countless occasions)?

God has wrought great things countless times through the weak and unlikely.  He wants to do it with you, too.  And He can, if you will only say “Yes!”

PRAYER: God, when we need hope, let us remember the words of the Alpha and the Omega, who makes EVERYTHING new and stirs hope in our hearts!!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 12/27/11 – A Vision From Dachau

DayBreaks for 12/27/11 – A Vision From Dachau           

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” 5 And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” 6 And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. 7 All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children. – Revelation 21:3-7

How I LOVE this passage!  I love it because Jesus is making us a promise…and He says we can “Write it down!”…and He proceeds right away to proclaim “It is finished!” to remind us that there will be no debate, no further discussion, no negotiation…it is a DONE DEAL!  The world needs this kind of good news each and every day.

Museums can be found in some of the strangest places.  Some museums are intended to show us artifacts and collections of art, sculpture and other human achievements.  Sadly, there are other kinds of human achievement, dark ones, that are memorialized in museums because what happened at those places is so dark and evil that we must never forget those things lest they happen again.

On the wall of the museum in the concentration camp at Dachau is a large, powerful photograph of a mother and her little girl standing in the line heading in to a gas chamber. The child, walking in front of her mom, has no clue where she’s going or what is happening.  The mother, who walks behind her little girl, does know, but is totally powerless to stop the tragedy that is coming. In her helplessness she performs the only act of love left to her – she places her hands over the child’s eyes so she will at least not see the horror to come. To this day, when people come into the museum they do not pass by this photo hurriedly. They stop, they pause. They almost feel the pain. As someone said, “…deep inside I think that they are all saying: “O God, don’t let that be all that there is.”

God’s hears those prayers and it is in just such situations of hopelessness and helplessness that his almighty power is born anew and seen afresh. It is in such places that God brings his treasure to us to restore hope to our heart and life to the dying.  Part of the way He does that is to enroll us in the process of distributing His hope, to tell those marching to destruction that “This is not all that there is.  There is hope.  There is deliverance.  There is life, and Life indeed.”

PRAYER: God, when we need hope, let us remember the words of the Alpha and the Omega, who makes EVERYTHING new and stirs hope in our hearts!!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 12/26/11 – Christmas Confusion

DayBreaks for 12/26/11 – Christmas Confusion   

We are so easily confused...

I suppose it is only normal that any time you move to a new place it takes a while to get familiar with your surroundings.  It can be confusing, especially in a place like this, where the roads are not straight, but twist and turn through the wooded hills and then they change their names whenever they go across another major thoroughfare!  THAT is confusing!  Which way is east or west, north or south?  All the old familiar landmarks are gone!

On Sunday, we went to church at a large church.  It was a gray, drizzly, rainy day and it was raining when we got to the building.  It was raining when we came outside.  But, much to my chagrin and with a major blow to my male pride, we got lost in the parking lot trying to find our car!  (That gives you some idea of how large this church is….that’s something that never would have happened at the church where I served in Cloverdale!!!)  Eventually, however, my male sense of direction took over again and we found our way to the car before we drowned.  See what I mean about getting confused in a new place?

I wonder what it was like for the infant Jesus when he awoke, removed from his eternal heavenly glory, on a manger surrounded by animals, animal droppings and animal breath?  If babies think about such things at all, it had to be a huge confusion factor for him!  (Of course, none of us know what Jesus thought at that time, or if his thoughts were any different at that moment than those of any human baby, so I’m just musing here.)

As confusing as it may have been for him, he came to give us the light to banish the darkness that confused humanity from the dawn of human history.  As it turns out, it wasn’t the one born in the manger who was confused – it was us.

I hope that this Christmas has clarified some of the confusion that may have remained in your heart and in mine.  Let the Light continue to illuminate your heart and mind and inform you walk this coming year.  Don’t let it stop now that Christmas is over.

PRAYER: Light our pathway throughout this coming year, and always, to remove the confusion and fears from our hearts!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 12/23/11 – What King Herod’s Know in Their Soul

DayBreaks for 12/23/11 – What Herod’s Know In Their Soul    

King Herod the Great

Every year at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, there is displayed, beneath the great Christmas tree, a beautiful eighteenth century Neapolitan nativity scene. In many ways it is a very familiar scene. The usual characters are all there: shepherds roused from sleep by the voices of angels; the exotic wise men from the East seeking, as Auden once put it, “how to be human now”; Joseph; Mary; the babe — all are there, each figure an artistic marvel of wood, clay, and paint. There is, however, something surprising about this scene, something unexpected here, easily missed by the causal observer. What is strange here is that the stable, and the shepherds, and the cradle are set, not in the expected small town of Bethlehem, but among the ruins of mighty Roman columns. The fragile manger is surrounded by broken and decaying columns. The artists knew the meaning of this event: The gospel, the birth of God’s new age, was also the death of the old world.

Herods know in their souls what we perhaps have passed over too lightly: God’s presence in the world means finally the end of their own power. They seek not to preserve the birth of God’s new age, but to crush it. For Herod, the gospel is news too bad to be endured, for Mary, Joseph, and all the other characters it is news too good to miss. – Adapted from Thomas G. Long, Something Is About To Happen

I don’t know about you, but I’m not just skeptical, but a bit fearful of politicians and power-brokers who talk about the “new world” that they are vowing to bring to us.  I’m hugely skeptical.  To me, it sounds like someone trying to convince me that I will like the things they want to do, so sit down, open your mouth, and take your medicine!

Sometimes, however, the old must pass away so a better new can come.  Herod knew it – and he knew it meant the end of him and his despotic rule.  There was a new King coming to town and Herod wanted nothing to do with it, or with Him.  So he tried to introduce his own new world – one of killed babies and crying mothers, a voice of weeping and wailing.

In the midst of all that, there was another baby wailing.  He would have sounded to human ears like any other human infant who was hungry or dirty or who simply wanted to be held.  But to God it was a voice unlike any other, for a new world, a new age, had dawned with the birth of the little one in the stable.

Maybe this year you’ve held off on giving all you are to Jesus.  Maybe you’ve held back because you were skeptical of his claims to give you life and life more abundant.  Maybe you simply thought it all sounded too good to be true.  Maybe you’re wrong about all those things…and you may be like Herod, trying to squash the Baby Jesus before he can make any demands of you.  Herod lost.  Herod was wrong.  This year, don’t be wrong about your decision of what to do with Jesus.  Decide now that He will be as welcome in your heart as he is in the courts of heaven above.  Welcome the baby Jesus and the grown Christ, risen in glory!

Merry CHRISTmas, everyone!

PRAYER: Be born in us anew this day and may our hearts be glad to welcome you in!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 12/22/11 – Consider the Impossible

DayBreaks for 12/22/11 – Consider the Impossible

God loves a "Mission Impossible"!!!!

This was from Dwight Gunter, and was worth sharing:

The story about the birth of Christ is a story about impossibilities. Consider the impossibilities Mary faced: she is a virgin and pregnant—impossible!  No way!  Won’t happen, can’t happen!  Joseph has to follow through on the marriage after he discovers Mary is pregnant. Impossible – it would ruin him for life! Mary must avoid being stoned to death when the neighbors hear the news. Impossible in a small Jewish town where scandal spread like wildfire and legalism ruled!

Consider the impossibility Elizabeth faced. Well past childbearing age, yet God says she is going to conceive and bear a child. This impossible news left old Zechariah speechless. Impossible! No way! Won’t happen!

Christmas is a story of biblical impossibilities. We think there are things that are impossible in our world and in our individual lives, don’t we?  What would you label “impossible”? Peace in the world – Jews and Iranians and Hamas sitting at a table loving one another?  Impossible! No way! Won’t happen!  How about the chances of Christian values returning to our nation and schools, or of morality becoming the norm? Impossible! What are the chances your church could change the surrounding community and making the world different and better? Impossible! Restoring relationships, healing past hurts in our lives. A relative or friend entering a relationship with Christ. Breaking an addiction and overcoming past hurts and disappointments? Impossible!

We find ourselves with the same troubled mind as Mary, wondering over the impossible (v. 29). We even ask the same question Mary asked, “How will this be?” (v. 34). To us it seems impossible! No way! Won’t happen! The real question for people today is “How can the impossible become possible?”

What appears impossible to you – something that breaks your heart and fills you with sadness?  Pray, for what God has done before in making the impossible possible, He still can do today.

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26

PRAYER: Let us believe in the impossible God who makes all things possible!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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