DayBreaks for 9/30/16 – Jesus’ Definition of Blessing

DayBreaks for 9/30/16 – Jesus’ Definition of Blessing                 

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

First of all, let me say, “I’m guilty.” “Guilty of what?” you might ask.  Well, I’m guilty of saying to folks from time to time: “Blessings to you,” or “God bless you,” or “May God shed his blessings on you.”  No, those aren’t bad things to say, but sometimes I feel as if they’re rather hollow – just a phrase that we repeat mechanically without any depth of soul to it.  For example, when someone sneezes and we say, “God bless you!”, we really don’t mean that in the way those words should be spoken and understood. 

When you say “Bless you” to someone, or ask for God’s blessings, what are you thinking of?  Most of the time we equate blessing from God with having “things”: good health, a home, working cars, hot water, food on the table and clothes in the closet, a decent bank account and a 401k that we hope will see us through our retirement years.  Are those things bad?  No, not necessarily.  But what Americans would consider blessings from God and what the third word Christian would consider blessing are two radically different things.

From PreachingToday.com, Brian Larson, 9/18/06, made an excellent point that I’d never really thought about or considered.  Let me share it with you: “Jesus made a number of general statements about what kind of people are blessed, but how often did he tell someone directly that he or she was blessed? I searched my memory and then did another search with BibleWorks (far more reliable) and came up with only two occasions. Once Jesus told Peter he was blessed, and elsewhere he told the group of his disciples they were blessed, and on both occasions their blessedness consisted in God giving them the ability to understand the truth: He turned to his disciples and said privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it‘” (Luke 10:23-24; for Peter see Matthew 16:17).

“With Jesus now in glory, this blessedness applies in large measure now to those who have the Word of God and understand it. I don’t take this for granted. Sometimes I pray, Thank you, Lord, that I was given the Bible. Thank you for giving me understanding into its meaning. Thank you for those who have taught me the Scriptures. Thank you for illumining my mind through the Holy Spirit so that I know and believe your Word. Thank you for giving me a love of your Word.

This is truly a different twist on understanding what constitutes blessedness from Jesus’ point of view.  But it makes sense, doesn’t it?  What is the greater blessing: to have a house and full refrigerator, or new car and boat, or to see and understand the truth that all these things are passing away and that there are much more important matters that demand our attention?  Ah – there is the true blessedness, to see this world as transitory and not to get too much in love with it.

PRAYER: I fear, Lord, that my vision of blessedness needs to be re-aligned.  Thank you for the Light of the World who was also the truth, the way and the life, that shows us what is true and right and real.  Help us to live like those who have seen the light and to live in it so we can be freed from the things this world uses to tempt us.  Please continue to give us more light as we walk this pathway with you.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/29/16 – The Trail We Leave Behind

DayBreaks for 9/29/16 – The Trail We Leave Behind                   

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

SLIDELL, Louisiana – “When two people saw an unattended Krispy Kreme delivery truck, they saw their chance and stole the vehicle. Little did they know that they were leaving behind a 15-mile trail of doughnuts.

“A Krispy Kreme employee had been making a routine delivery to a convenience store when Rose Houk, 31, and her partner stole the truck. Police were notified that there was a dangerous driver on the road who was losing his doughnuts, but the truck was abandoned when the thieves spotted the cops on their trail. Houk was captured, but her partner in crime was able to flee the scene.  

“According to Houk, they had been smoking crack cocaine prior to the incident, reported police spokesman Rob Callahan.  ‘I don’t know if it was a need for transportation or if they just had the munchies,” continued the officer. “Without any clear destination in mind, our bet is on the munchies.’” 

It’s rather hard to imagine a 15-mile trail of doughnuts.  If I were cruel, I’d say something about how all the police in town must have been in on the case, but I won’t.  I can’t for the life of me understand why someone would want to steal a vehicle in the first place, nor why if you wanted a vehicle for transportation, you’d steal a doughnut truck instead of something that goes faster and runs more cheaply!

Regardless, I read this story and thought about the trail that our lives leave behind us.  If you are living life well, you are leaving a sweet trail for others to follow.  But we can also be like the snail that leaves a trail behind it, too. 

What kind of legacy are you leaving?  Would you be happy to have someone follow your trail – both to the future and to the past?  If not, what must you do to change the kind of trail you are leaving behind?

Romans 14:19 (KJV) – Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

PRAYER:  Give us wisdom, God, to make wise choices that you can be proud of and in which we will not be ashamed.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/28/16 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me, #37

DayBreaks for 9/28/16 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me, #37           

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

Lesson: let the Master scratch your itch.

You’ve heard of obsessive/compulsive disorder, I’m sure.  We call it OCD – the type of behavior that just can’t “let go” of something.  Well, I’m not a dog psychologist, but I think Casper may have OCD.

There are two things he does that make me think this.  First, any time he sees a reflection (from the face of a watch, or off a computer screen or any shiny object), laser pointer or even a flashlight (lit or not!), he is obsessed with it!  He “locks on” to it with every ounce of energy and attention in his taut body and he won’t stop chasing it until it goes away fully.  Even then he looks for it for several more minutes.  It’s bizarre.

But there’s another thing that he’s obsessive about: he LOVES to have his belly scratched.  It doesn’t matter if it’s day or night or something in-between, he wants you to scratch his belly!  He lets you know about it, too, because he’ll come over to where you are sitting or laying or standing, and he’ll raise up one of his paws and “paw” your arm until you get the idea.  So, you scratch his belly until you think your arm will fall off, your fingers have gone into permanent cramp-mode, and you stop.  But what does he think of this?  He doesn’t care if your arm does fall off – he’ll start pawing you again until you start rubbing his tummy again!  He has no shame.

I couldn’t help but think that God wants us to desire His contact as badly as Casper wants mine.  And I should want that touch from Him as desperately as Casper wants my touch.  How good and pleasant it is to lie down in green pastures, to drink the cool waters, to enjoy the table full of blessings that the Lord’s presence provides!  Can there be anything better than that?

Sometimes we just need to slow down and let God scratch our belly so we are filled with delight.  And as Scripture says, His arm never loses strength or grows weary! 

PRAYER:  Thank you, Father, for the ways you bless and comfort us each day.  May we be obsessed with Your Presence and may we take time to revel in Your touch.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/27/16 – Sleeping on the Job

DayBreaks for 9/27/16 – Sleeping on the Job                 

Can I make a confession, hoping that you’ll not judge me for this one? Ready? Here it is: I sometimes have a hard time staying awake when I’m praying. I don’t have that problem often when I’m sitting or standing, but when I’m laying in bed at night before going to sleep, I will sometimes drift off to sleep. And that makes me feel guilty and ashamed! Why in the world can’t I stay awake? And at those moments, I suspect God must be peeved with me.

Then I remind myself of a couple things:

FIRST: I’m in good company. The disciples, in the garden, were supposed to watch and pray. They probably did, but you know the story: they fell asleep not just once that night, but multiple times. So, I am in the same class of folk as Peter, James and John, plus about 8 other ones (I’m assuming Judas came along later with the soldiers.)

SECOND: when I think more about the character of the Father and remember that I’m His little child, I suspect that God isn’t so peeved with me after all. Why? Well, simple really: do you remember what it was like for your little ones to fall asleep when you were carrying them or when you would lay down and talk with them? Were you peeved with them for falling asleep? Did you ever slap them in frustration and yell at them for going to sleep? Of course not! Why? Because you loved them so much and understood their need for sleep and their frailty/weakness. It wasn’t something you got angry about – it was precious. How I loved to carry our little ones at times like that!

I’m convinced that if we, as very flawed humans, find it precious that our little ones fall asleep and if we can be as understanding of it as we are – how much more does God find it precious if we drift off? He knows it isn’t a sign of disrespect. It is a sign of our humanness and how small and weak we are. And He understands that.

From now on, if I fall asleep “on the job” of prayer, I’m not going to feel badly about it. God understands! And He may well turn to one of His angels and just whisper, “Isn’t he precious! Look how tired he is!” – and then He’ll kiss me goodnight.

PRAYER: Thank You for being such a wonderful, loving and understanding Father who knows my weaknesses and understands them! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/26/16 – Can You Believe It?

 

DayBreaks for 9/26/16 – Can You Believe It?     

There are verses in the bible that are not all that exciting. For example, you can find a lot of them in Numbers! But then there are verses that blow us away…or at least, they should. Here’s one such passage:

Romans 8:30-31 (NLT) – And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?

Please pay special attention to the last sentence and the first five words: If God is for us…  Paul isn’t really asking the question or posing a hypothetical. He is stating a fact based on the truth of the preceding verse where he declares what God has done for us through Jesus…and he’s calling those verses in context to witness to the fact that God IS for us…the “If” is only there to be juxtaposed against the last six word: ..who can ever be against us?

But here’s the question: do you believe God is for YOU? Can you believe that He is NOT against you? Far too many, even Christians, think of God as sitting upon the circle of heaven looking down at us with a cosmic flyswatter just waiting for us to make the slightest mistake so He can squash us like a fly. And then they picture God laughing over whatever remains of us. Or, they see Him as furiously angry with them – eager to destroy as the scent of souls in hell fill is nostrils.

But that is 180 degrees opposite of what Paul has proven. If God is against us, would He have given His Son to die in agony for us? Would God has put Himself through the torture of watching His only begotten Son writing in agony if God was not for us? No way! 

What does it mean that God is for you? It means several things:

FIRST: God is not your enemy. Not once you have come home to him.

SECOND: God is not working against you nor wishing/causing bad things to happen to you. He works FOR you…so powerfully that even the bad things that do happen He is working out for your good.

THIRD: God will not let any enemy stand against you successfully. Not even the ruler of hell.

Perhaps you’re feeling like God can’t possibly be for you…a horrible sinner full of evil acts and even more full of evil thoughts and inclinations. But He is for you. And because of that, you’ve got the best Friend in the universe and He is absolutely crazy about you!

If you struggle to believe this good news, repeat to yourself over and over, day after day, until you come to believe it: God is FOR me!

PRAYER: We struggle to believe You could possibly be for us, God, because we do see our sin and frequent failures. Give us the faith to believe these inspired words from Your Spirit and let us rejoice in the this incredible truth! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/23/16 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me, #36

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DayBreaks for 9/23/16 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me, #36      

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2006:

Lesson: never pretend to be something you’re not.

Casper is my white boxer.  He’s eagerly awaiting his second birthday (in December), hoping that he’ll get a new chew toy of some kind.  He has rather figured out that I have a soft spot the size of Alaska in my heart for him, so when he gives me hints about what he wants for birthdays or Christmas, he’s got a good idea that he’ll get them!

He is still full of puppy.  A rather large and rambunctious puppy at that.  There are times when we (especially my wife!) wonder if he’ll ever grow up.

There are times when he tries to act like a docile, innocent creature, but his eyes and tail always wind up giving him away.  He may be able to act like there’s no mischief in his body for a while, but his eyes give him away quickly, the tail starts to move from side to side, and the real Casper comes out to play once again.  I can’t imagine how hard it must be for him to “sit” or lay down and control his energy.  It looks like a Herculean effort!

God looks at us and sees us as we are, not as we are pretending to be before Him.  Just as Casper knows there are times when I wish he’d just lay down and be quiet, I know there are times God wants me to just follow Him and behave myself.  So, I’ll sometimes pretend to be paying attention to Him (because I know He wants me to!), when deep inside I’m really struggling to restrain myself.  I sometimes wonder who it is that I’m really trying to fool: God, others, or myself.  I wind up, ultimately, not fooling any of them, for my old sin nature sneaks back out and rather than resting in God, I’m jumping and leaping all over creation, getting in trouble again.

When Casper breaks out of his innocent-little-puppy mode, it can be disastrous both for him and anyone in close proximity.  The same is true of us as humans.  We are dangerous and the havoc we wreak can be very hurtful, even deadly.  While the stingray that took the life of Steve Irwin looked docile, it wasn’t harmless, and it cost Irwin his life. 

May we all beware of things that are not what they seem, and of hypocrisy in our own lives.

PRAYER:  Jesus, you know better than anyone the danger of people putting on a show and pretending to be something that they aren’t.  The religious leaders of your day were experts at it, but sadly, so are many of us.  Help us to set aside our attempts to appear holy and righteous so that we might truly BE holy and righteous.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/22/16 – Only If We Despair

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DayBreaks for 9/22/16 – Only If We Despair      

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/19/2006:

Copyright © 2006 Christianity Today. September 2006, Vol. 50, No. 9, Page 118

“But it is important for Christians not to confuse the existence of bad news with our reaction to the bad news—and here it is useful to look at The Screwtape Letters.

“C. S. Lewis’s famous novel was conceived and written during World War II, when so much looked bad. One of the most striking moments in the story arrives when the inexperienced junior devil, Wormwood, chortles over the horrors of war. Screwtape sternly admonishes his nephew not “to forget the main point in your immediate enjoyment of human suffering.” In war, says the senior devil, people die. But hell gains nothing from mere human misery and death, he warns. It is the state in which people die that matters.

“Lewis is not suggesting that we celebrate our suffering or that we stand blind to the suffering of others. His point, rather, is that Christians should not mistakenly think that bad news here on earth means Satan is winning. Men have done terrible things to each other ever since Eden. The horrors of war—like the other pains and scars of life—pose a challenge to faith. Lewis suggests that what truly matters is how we meet that challenge: the battle, that is, in the spiritual realm.

“As the writer of Hebrews said to discouraged believers, “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the Cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Heb. 12:1-3).

“Lewis’s vision of Satan is far more useful and scary than Hollywood’s. The film industry loves making movies about hell. In these high-budget visions of the underworld, demons usually emerge to do bad things to people, causing death and destruction here on earth. The hero either slays them or works some mystic incantation that sends them back, after which life on earth returns to what it was before. The demons are just like other Hollywood bad guys: terrorists, serial killers, the ruthless rich out to rule the world. In these visions, the bad thing about Satan is that he wants to do bad things to us here and now.

“C. S. Lewis’s marvelous imagination, by contrast, should remind us that this vision is dangerously wrong. The terrible tragedies that befall the world work to Satan’s benefit only if we despair. Suffering, as Screwtape reminds his nephew, often strengthens faith. Better to keep people alive, he says, long enough for faith to be worn away. The death of a believer is the last thing the Devil wants.”

Galen’s Thoughts: Sometimes I’m tempted to think that Satan loves misery and death.  I’m not sure that’s right.  After all, I rather doubt that Satan licks his chops when he contemplates his own fate in eternal hell.  So Lewis’ point is a good one: he only relishes death of humans when they die without Christ.  He’d much rather that we as believers stay alive long enough to give him more time to beat us up, to wear down our resolve and surrender to the suffering of this world, blaming it on God with the result being that we reject Him.  I don’t know about you, but I, for one, don’t want to give Satan that satisfaction.  How much better that we spend our time, not in thinking that the suffering is what matters, but that the souls of men and women are what truly is important.

PRAYER:  We are a depressed and discouraged society.  The enemy even attacks us from within the sheepfold, Lord!  But help us stay focused on the ultimate realities with which we are faced.  Help us to realize that our despair plays into Satan’s hands.  May we find comfort and assurance and sustenance beside You in green pastures beside the still waters.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

DayBreaks for 9/20/16 – In a Besieged City

DayBreaks for 9/20/16 – In a Besieged City

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/19/2006:

As I write this, I’m sitting in a hospital waiting word on a procedure that is being done on a brother from our church.  I took the last 30-45 minutes to read some Newsweek articles about the war on terror and how it has morphed through the past 10 years.  Some of it is enough to curl your hair and make you run to a bomb shelter with windows taped shut with duct tape to help prevent chemical agents from entering. 

It is a strange, yet interesting, time and place in which we live.  The rule of law, no – make that the rule of decency – seems to have been left in a toy box somewhere or discarded like a once-favored toy that is too old fashioned to still occupy us.  The degree of hatred and bitterness in the world is beyond comprehension.  The Deceiver has done his job well, it seems.  We are tempted to become despairing, discouraged and lose our hope as a result.

We would be wrong, however, if we think that our age is the only age which has confronted atrocity and attack.  C. S. Lewis preached at the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin at Oxford on October 22, 1939. Less than two months earlier, Hitler had invaded Poland. Britain was about to face the horrible Nazi onslaught. This is what Lewis told the assembled students:

“It may seem odd for us to carry on classes, to go about our academic routine in the midst of a great war. What is the use of beginning when there is so little chance of finishing? How can we study Latin, geography, algebra in a time like this? Aren’t we just fiddling while Rome burns?

“This impending war has taught us some important things. Life is short. The world is fragile. All of us are vulnerable, but we are here because this is our calling. Our lives are rooted not only in time, but also in eternity, and the life of learning, humbly offered to God, is its own reward. It is one of the appointed approaches to the divine reality and the divine beauty, which we shall hereafter enjoy in heaven and which we are called to display even now amidst the brokenness all around us.”

Lewis was right, and I think he made a key observation.  Our lives are rooted in time, but as Christians (and even non-Christians), there is an eternity that awaits us.  What we do in this life, if offered to God with thanksgiving and reverence, is a blessing and carries certain rewards with it.  But we’re here – alive in this time of turmoil and terror – because it is our calling to be here now.  We are not here, at this moment, in the place you are in, by mistake or by some freak coincidence of timing.  You are where you are right NOW because it is God’s calling for your life to be alive now. 

Let’s not worry about if there’s a chance of finishing what we start.  Let’s commit ourselves to being faithful with each breath and let Him worry about the ending.

Psalm 31:21: Blessed be the Lord, for he showed his wonderful love to me when I was in a besieged city.

PRAYER:  We are in a besieged world, Lord, and you know that well.  It was besieged in your time, too, and help us draw comfort that you know what it is like to live in tumultuous times in topsy-turvy places.  Let us not lose sight of your wonderful love even while we are in the middle of the enemy’s attack.  Help us fulfill the calling you’ve given us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

 

 

DayBreaks for 9/19/16 – Inexpressible Joy

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DayBreaks for 9/19/16 – Inexpressible Joy

From our worship bulletin:

“I knew he was going to lose it. I was to officiate the wedding of the daughter of a close friend of mine. The night before the wedding we had the rehearsal in the chapel. What a great setting. The groomsmen and bridesmaids took their places on stage. We processed out and then practiced coming in to the music. As my friend walked his daughter down the aisle it hit him. He began to tear up as he approached the front of the chapel. We paused. It was a wonderful moment.

“Why did he cry? Well, he told me that they were not tears of sadness. He likes the guy his daughter married. He told me that they were tears of inexpressible joy. He went on to explain that sometimes words cannot express how we feel. Tears can. The thought of his daughter, the ride, marrying the man she loves, the bridegroom, brought him to tears of inexpressible joy.

“Now as Christians, there is something deeper that is happening in a marriage ceremony. It is a picture. We see it in the 21st chapter of Revelation, I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, ad he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.’

“Imagine the Father, seeing the bridegroom (His son Jesus) as the bride (the church) comes forward at the end of time for the consummation of all things. That will be a moment of inexpressible joy and that may well be why He will wipe every tear away.  It will be a joyous occasion.

“For now, we are called to look for a glimpse. We may see it in a daughter’s wedding. We may find it as someone we know comes to faith. We may experience it as our souls are healed through confession, repentance and forgiveness. It is just glimpse of glory and there is more to come. He is the God who gives inexpressible joy.”

PRAYER: God, we long to be part of the wedding of the Lamb and to experience Your eternal, inexpressible joy! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

 

DayBreaks for 9/16/16 – Glass, Mirrors and the Power of Silver

 

 

DayBreaks for 9/16/16 – Glass, Mirrors and the Power of Silver

An enormously rich man complained to a psychiatrist that despite his great wealth which enabled him to have whatever he wanted, he still felt miserable. The psychiatrist took the man to the window overlooking the street and asked, “What do you see?” The man replied, “I see men, women, and children.”

The psychiatrist then took the man to stand in front of mirror and asked, “Now what do you see?”

The man said, “I see only myself.”

The psychiatrist then said, “In the window there is a glass and in the mirror there is glass, and when you look through the glass of the window, you see others, but when you look into the glass of the mirror you see only yourself. The reason for this, “said the psychiatrist, “is that behind the glass in the mirror is a layer of silver. When silver is added, you cease to see others. You only see yourself.”

Whenever your devotion to money and material things causes you to be self-centered, you in essence deny God’s intention for your life. It is also a denial of the Christ, for Jesus came into the world so that we might be in union with God.

Jesus talked more about money than any other subject in the Scriptures. I always thought it was because it was too easy to make it our idol and to pursue it too strongly. The story of the rich man I relayed above gives me pause to reflect a bit more deeply about it. Perhaps the danger of silver (a metaphor in the story for money) is that it only allows us to see ourselves and not the needs of those around us.

PRAYER: God, I confess to you that all my life I’ve been far too concerned about money.  I confess I’ve not been a good steward.  I confess it is far too easy for me to see only myself and my wants and wishes rather than to see those all around me who could benefit from my generously (and hopefully wisely!) giving what you have already given to me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.