DayBreaks for 11/30/12 – Lessons Learned From the Cheap Seats

DayBreaks for 11/30/12 – Lessons Learned From the Cheap Seats

Luke 5:27-32 (NLT)Later, as Jesus left the town, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him.  28 So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.  29 Later, Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor. Many of Levi’s fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them.  30 But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?”   31 Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.  32 I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”

Levi’s (known better to us as the apostle Matthew) tax collector booth was sitting by the side of the road on the way out of town, sort of like a lemonade stand, but also very different.  It was like a dentist office in many ways – not the kind of place that anyone wants to go to or to visit.

In many ways, Levi (though he was undoubtedly wealthy from cheating people out of their money as was the practice of tax collectors in his time), was like a modern day beggar.  Most people would pass right by him – not wanting to pretend that they saw him – especially if they owed him money.

I confess that there are times when I see a beggar at a stoplight or driveway entering a shopping center and pretend not to see them – I will turn and look the other way.  It’s not because I owe them money, but because I’m too selfish and don’t want to give them money.  I will also often judge them in my heart – thinking that if they weren’t so lazy they’d get a job and not be begging any more.  I’ve been learning that in today’s economy that isn’t necessarily true.  The numbers of homeless and hungry have skyrocketed since the recession.  But still I don’t owe them money in a literal sense.  But there is something I do owe them: love.  Romans 13:8 (ESV) Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.  Flunked that test, didn’t I?

When I ignore them, pretend not to notice or see them, I am no different than those who passed by the man who had been beaten by the thieves and left beside the road.  Several passed him by before the good Samaritan came and helped.  As much as I’d like to think otherwise in my heart, I’m far too much like those who passed him by.

Jesus not only noticed Levi, but he went and talked to him.  What would the reaction be today of those who witnessed a pastor going to talk to a prostitute(s)?  One would like to think that they would think the best – that he was going to try to help them, not for some other darker purpose.

What was the result of Levi being noticed by Jesus?  He hosts a dinner in Jesus’ honor and invites his friends and they got to meet the Son of God. Levi becomes Matthew, the apostle.  The world was changed simply because Jesus noticed….

Jesus’ words to the religious leaders must have stung: “I have come to call not those who think they are righteous…”  Jesus wasn’t saying that they were righteous, in fact, he was saying precisely the opposite.  We are often deluded by our estimation of ourselves.  This passage shows it clearly!!!!

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

PRAYER: How easily we exalt ourselves and how quickly we judge others!  How selfish we can be!  How can You love creatures such as us?  Thank You that You DO love us in spite of all our selfishness, judgementalism and pride!  Forgive us, dear, compassionate Lord!  Have mercy on me, a sinner! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 11/29/12 – Being Willing

DayBreaks for 11/29/12 – Being Willing

A leprous hand

Luke 5:12-13 (NLT) –  In one of the villages, Jesus met a man with an advanced case of leprosy. When the man saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground, begging to be healed. “Lord,” he said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”   13 Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared.

Leprosy was, and is, a horrible disease.  There was and is no cure for it.  While the term leprosy was applied to numerous skin diseases, none of them were pleasant, not only because of the disease itself, but because of how the leper was treated.  People under the Jewish system were not allowed to be in contact with those who were leprous.  It was a sentence of isolation, and even though this man lived in the village, he would have been unable to touch others, or be touched.  He could speak to them, see them as they went about their daily lives: hugging, shaking hands, putting an arm around one another’s shoulder, working together, playing, but he could not participate in any of those things.  He was cut off from human contact of any physical sort.

The man’s faith had held strong, though.  He’d not given up hope, especially when Jesus came to the village.  He begged for healing, issuing a bold statement of faith.  But, he put a curious qualifier on it: if you are willing.  It makes sense, doesn’t it?  After all, how can we know the mind of Christ?  How can we know his will in all circumstances?  Have we ever prayed for something that we thought was his will, only to find out that it wasn’t his will at all because he didn’t grant that request?  I have done so many, many times!

I don’t know, but I suspect that this man, though he begged for healing, was willing to accept Jesus’ mind-set and decision on this matter.  He was already a leper…what did he have to lose by asking, except perhaps a little pride if his request was denied (but he probably had little if any pride left anyway).

But the best news is Jesus’ response: I AM WILLING.  What that tells us about Jesus is wonderful: 1) He hears us; 2) He is moved by our begging (the parable about the woman who kept imploring the judge for a boon); 3) He is willing to heal and make us whole; 4) He not only is willing (who among us wouldn’t heal the suffering if we only had the power), but He has the power to heal!

I’m sure the leper was thrilled by Jesus’ three words.  I would have been.  I wonder if I would have been as accepting if Jesus said “no” to my request.  It’s hard to accept a “no” for something we really want.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

PRAYER: Father, many have been the times when I’ve prayed for something and instead of asking for it if it is your will, I am trying to instruct you what to do.  I’m sorry for my pride.  Please help me be willing to graciously accept your will!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 11/28/12 – To Be Unknown By God

From the DayBreaks Archive:

Matthew 25:1-12 – “1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. 6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ 7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ 9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. 11 “Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’ 12 “But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’

In his book, Abba’s Child, Brennan Manning describes the “impostor” – the false you and I that lives inside each one of us.  Sometimes, the impostor lives more on the outside than the inside.  The impostor is the phony us – how we talk and act differently in church or a crowd of Christians than when we are alone in the dark of our own minds or the dark of night.  The impostor is the one who always pretends to be something he or she isn’t – whether it be self-assurance, a false projection of happiness or joy, of reverence, of caring.

In the story of the 10 virgins and the bridegroom, it is worth noting that these virgins were apparently invited to the feast.  It’s not like they just showed up at the wedding feast on their own accord.  So they must have been known by the bridegroom.  Yet, the bridegroom says rather pointedly, “I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.”  What can that possibly mean?  I think it means that the behavior that he saw modeled by the foolish virgins revealed who and what they really were.  Rather than being wise, loving and devoted to sharing the joy of the wedding banquet, they were shown to not really care that much about the entire event or the persons involved.  Haven’t we all said to someone that we know, after being really deeply disappointed or shocked by something that they’ve done: “I don’t think I really know you anymore.  You’re not yourself.”  Ah – we all have a false self hiding and revealing himself!

Thomas Merton wrote: “Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person, a false self.  This is the man I want myself to be but who cannot exist, because God does not know anything about him.  And to be unknown of God is altogether too much privacy.  My false and private self is the one who wants to exist outside the reach of God’s will and God’s love – outside of reality and outside of life.  And such a self cannot help but be an illusion.  We are not very good at recognizing illusions, least of all the ones we cherish about ourselves – the ones we were born with and which feed the roots of sin.  For most people in the world, there is no greater subjective reality than this false self of theirs, which cannot exist.”  Manning explains: “Merton’s notion of sin focuses not primarily on individual sinful acts, but on a fundamental option for a life of pretense.  ‘There can only be two basic loves’, wrote Augustine, ‘the love of God unto the forgetfulness of self, or the love of self unto the forgetfulness and denial of God.’

We can hardly stand to be genuine.  God can’t stand it when we aren’t.   

Copyright 2002 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 11/27/12 – Be Careful Little Mouth

DayBreaks for 11/27/12 – Be Careful Little Mouth What You Say

James 3:10-12 (NLT)- And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water?  12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.

IRS agents, investigating tax-fraud suspect Rashia Wilson, 26, turned up “thousands” of identification numbers in a September home search in Tampa. Wilson had already laid down a challenge in May, when she wrote on Facebook: “I’m Rashia, the queen of IRS tax fraud. [I’m] a millionaire for the record. So if you think that indicting me will be easy, it won’t. I promise you. I won’t do no time, dumb [expletive unpublished].” The search also turned up a handgun, and since Wilson is a convicted felon (with 40 arrests), she was jailed, and denied bail in part because of the Facebook post.  [Tampa Bay Times, 9-22-2012]

If you are like me, you grew up going to Sunday school and learning Sunday school songs.  I remember one (vaguely) that featured various of the senses and other activities intended to encourage us to proper behavior as to how we use those senses.  It went something like this: “Oh, be careful little eyes what you see.  Oh be careful little eyes, what you see!  For the Father up above, is looking down in love, so be careful little eyes what you see!”  It then proceeded to move through other activities: hearing, touch, speech, etc.

It seems that Rashia Wilson never learned the part about being careful what you say.  I think she also had a problem in that she seems to have a very high opinion of herself and how “smart” she is.

James chapter 3 is full of wise counsel for us on how we use our tongue/speech.  He describes it as an unruly evil.  Just listen to the speech around you today and during the last election cycle.

James says the tongue is like a bridle in a horse’s mouth, or the rudder on a great ship.  Just a little bit of pressure one way or another and an entire trajectory changes – for good or evil.

He also says it’s like a spark that can ignite an entire forest.  Fires destroy.   Fires kill.  There’s a strong warning here in this illustration.

Speech probably gets more people into trouble than just about anything.  Don’t let your tongue get out of control today.  Put a throttle on it.  When tempted to say something angry in response, something snide and insulting, or something rude – stop.  Take a breath.  Think of the firestorm you may ignite.  And then use the tongue to bless, not curse.

Oh, and one more thought.  James says that no one can tame the tongue.  So don’t think that this message doesn’t apply to all of us – including you!

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

PRAYER: Spirit, reveal to us the one thing that You want us to know right now about who we are, what we do, what we need to change…and give us the passion to want that for ourselves as much as You want it for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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DayBreaks for 11/26/12 – Just One Thing

DayBreaks for 11/26/12 – Just One Thing

Mark 10:21 (NLT)21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Luke 10:41-42 (NLT)41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Psalm 27:4 (NLT)4 The one thing I ask of the LORD— the thing I seek most— is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the LORD’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.

These three verses all have one thing in common.  They talk about the importance of “one thing”.  With the rich young man, it was one thing that was standing between himself and the Lord he professed to love and want to serve.  In the second case, Martha was worried about many things, but Jesus tells her that there is just one thing that deserves our concern.  In the last case, David speaks of the one thing he desired – and I think it was the one thing that Martha and the young man both wanted deep inside.

Let your mind consider this question: if Jesus were to speak to you directly, what one thing would he point out to you that is lacking in your life?  Would it be money?  No – echo his words to Martha and the rich man.  Would it be more time?  No – we have all been given all the time we need – it’s just a question of how we use what we’ve been given.

I suspect that the one thing for all of us would have to do with our relationship with him.  We may need more passion for the things of the Lord.  And that, my friends, includes all of us!

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

PRAYER: Spirit, reveal to us the one thing that You want us to know right now about who we are, what we do, what we need to change…and give us the passion to want that for ourselves as much as You want it for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 11/23/12 – Two Types of Tests

DayBreaks for 11/23/12 – Two Kinds of Tests

From the DayBreaks Archive, dated 11/22/02:

Mark 10:24 – “The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!

James 5:1 “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you.

Generally speaking, there are 2 kinds of tests in life: adversity and prosperity.  Of the two, the latter’s the more difficult.  When adversity strikes, things get simple: survival is the goal.  It is a test on maintaining the basics of food, clothing and shelter.  But when prosperity comes, watch out!  Things get complicated.  All kinds of subtle temptations arrive, pleading for satisfaction.  It is then that integrity is put to the test.”  – Chuck Swindoll

I think Swindoll makes an excellent point.  I’m not about to say that adversity is easier to endure than prosperity, but I don’t think that’s what Swindoll is saying.  I think he’s saying that adversity gives you a very clear perspective on the things that are really necessary, which are critically important.  It’s easy to understand the simple statements of Jesus: “You are either with me or against me.”  There are fewer distractions to pull our attention away from fundamental things when adversity is our lot.  Prosperity makes distractions multiply!

With prosperity, everything demands a bit of our attention.  Not only do you think about food (‘Should I have steak or lobster tonight?”), and shelter (“Do you think we need a bigger house?”), but you can worry about stocks, bonds, but retirement (a thought that probably never occurs to those who are truly needy), whether or not the knocking sound in your car is a sign of trouble, etc.  See what I mean?  The things in life that have true value and which deserve our attention have to compete with a myriad of other things.  Not only do “subtle temptations” come to us, but they cloud our sense of values.

Those people I know who have traveled abroad and met Christians in very poor countries have been impressed with the dedication and commitment of those who have virtually nothing.  I suppose there are several reasons for that, not the least of which is they have nothing else in which to put their trust and hope.  And those brothers and sisters feel blessed – and they pray for those of us in the United States with all that we have – because they feel we are the ones at a greater risk for not having focus on the things of Jesus.

Have your possessions and prosperity gotten the best of you?  Do they get too much of your attention to acquire them and then maintain them?  Divest!  Get rid of some of your “stuff” and center of Jesus!

Copyright 2002 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

PRAYER: Lord, just yesterday we feasted on plenty and gave You thanks for Your blessings!  Guard our hearts from the diseases that affluence offers and keep us of single mind and heart!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

To subscribe to DayBreaks, use this link: https://daybreaksdevotions.wordpress.com and click on the Subscribe button at the right of the page.  If you wish to unsubscribe, at the bottom of each email you receive about DayBreaks, you should find an “Unsubscribe” ink at the bottom of the email.

Want to help the poor children of the world?  Here’s a couple links to projects at I Am 2 Partners, Inc.:

To help feed and protect the 37 orphans at Bright Future Children’s Home in Migori, Kenya, click here: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=RKR8ZNZX4UVPA

To help put in a purified water system for the Good Shepherd Pediatric Hospital in Kigali, Rwanda, click here: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=B7U2JA5QSYCRC

Thanks!

 

 

DayBreaks for 11/22/12 – George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

DayBreaks for 11/22/12 – George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

I have, in previous years, shared Lincoln’s proclamation of Thanksgiving, but you may not know that George Washington also issued a similar proclamation.  I include it today as a way to stimulate your thinking about things we are grateful for, and things we need to pray for.  It is presented below, with certain elements which I thought especially significant, in italic.

May you have a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving.

“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor–and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their Joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

“Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be–That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions–to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us–and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.”

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

PRAYER: Father, forgive us for our ingratitude and for thinking we have earned the things we have by our own merit.  Forgive our hubris and rebellions and inattentiveness.  We thank you for all your blessings, but most of all for mercy, grace and Jesus who made those possible for us to enjoy this day.  Bless our loved ones wherever they  may be this day, and leads us all safely Home!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

To subscribe to DayBreaks, use this link: https://daybreaksdevotions.wordpress.com and click on the Subscribe button at the right of the page.  If you wish to unsubscribe, at the bottom of each email you receive about DayBreaks, you should find an “Unsubscribe” ink at the bottom of the email.

On this Thanksgiving, would you help the poor children of the world?  Here’s a couple links to projects at I Am 2 Partners, Inc. that are changing the lives of children.  By using these links, you can make a tax-deductible donation to join us in this worthy expression of Thanksgiving:

To help feed and protect the 37 orphans at Bright Future Children’s Home in Migori, Kenya, click here: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=RKR8ZNZX4UVPA

To help put in a purified water system for the Good Shepherd Pediatric Hospital in Kigali, Rwanda, click here: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=B7U2JA5QSYCRC

Thanks!