DayBreaks for 12/31/18 – How Closely He Listens

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DayBreaks for 12/31/18: How Closely He Listens

The brick wall. The deafening silence. The times when it seems our prayers ascend to nothingness and no one. We’ve all felt it. It isn’t a comfortable feeling for those who are believers, who proclaim that there is a God in heaven who is good and caring and notices us.

David marveled that the One who created the vast heavens (and David had no idea how vast they are – and to this day no one really knows for sure) was mindful of him. It is a bit difficult to believe when staring up into space while laying out under a canopy of stars on a dark night. How could He possibly even know I’m here, let alone care for me and know my every word before it’s spoken, my very thoughts before I think them?  And not just me – but everyone!?!?!?!?  Can God really be listening to me, hearing me when I mutter my hopes, dreams, pain and requests skyward?

Psalm 6:8 gives us the assurance we need, but we have to pay close attention. Here’s what David said: Psalm 6:6-8 (ESV) – I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes. Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping.

What is it that God hears? The sound of weeping. Not of shrieking, wailing. When David just said he drenches his couch with his weeping he is using “weeping” in the sense of tears, not loud wailing. So David is saying that God is hearing the sound of his tears.

What sound does a falling tear make when it escapes the eye and moves down the face? It’s inaudible – but David says that God hears it. He is listening so closely to us that he can hear the sound of a tear escaping our eye. If we have ever doubted that God is a God of compassion, we need never question that fact.
If he hears your tears, he also knows your heartache. And as David concludes Psalm 6, he tells those who oppress him that they should start running now because God has heard his pleas and accepted his prayer – in short, God is moved to action on behalf of the one whose tears fall silently. He hears you.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for not just noticing us, but for listening so closely you can hear the silent tears that escape from the eyes of your children. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 12/28/18 – The Power of Hope

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DayBreaks for 12/28/18: The Power of Hope

From the DayBreaks archive, December 2008: A school system in a large city decided to start a program to help hospitalized kids stay caught up in their studies. One day, a teacher who worked with the program was called to the school and given the assignment to help a young hospitalized boy stay caught up with his adverbs and nouns. The teacher arrived at the hospital and was shocked to learn the boy had been horribly burned and was in great pain. She managed to say, “I’ve been sent by your school to help you with nouns and adverbs.” She then delivered her lesson and left, feeling as if she’d accomplished very little. When she came back the next day, a nurse approached her in the hallway and asked, “What did you do to that boy?” The teacher felt she must have done something wrong and started to apologize. “Oh, no!” said the nurse, “you don’t know what I mean! We’ve been worried about that little boy, but ever since yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He’s fighting back, responding to treatment. It’s as though he’s decided to live.” Two weeks later the boy explained that he had completely given up hope until the teacher arrived. Everything changed when he came to a simple realization, which he expressed this way: “They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, would they?”

Galen’s Thoughts: Hope is so important. Perhaps you know someone right now who is struggling, ready to give up on life, on a marriage, on their kids. Maybe it is someone who has been fighting a battle with drugs, alcohol or cancer. What message of hope can you give them today? Perhaps all they need is a reassurance that you care – that God cares – for them and about them. Who do you need to call or talk to today so that you can share hope?

On the other hand, maybe you are the one who needs hope. Perhaps you feel like your life is hopeless and you’re ready to give up. You may have even been thinking about taking your own life. Try to understand what the boy came to realize: the teacher wouldn’t have come to him if the school and doctors thought he was hopeless and was just going to die. In the same way, the Teacher has come to you! God doesn’t send His Son/Spirit to us if we’re just destined to die! No, God has great plans for you and great things in store for you. Maybe you won’t see them on this site of eternity – but that doesn’t make them any less real or any less marvelous. And it certainly doesn’t make them less worth waiting for. Hope – it comes from knowing there are better things to come. For us Christians, hope should beat strong in our hearts!

Rom. 5:5: And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, for the hope that keeps us moving ahead.  For those who are in despair and feeling hopeless as they face this near year, renew their hope through Your indwelling Spirit!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 12/27/18 – An Everyday Mystery

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DayBreaks for 12/27/18: An Everyday Mystery

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

Choosing.  How difficult it is, and yet how often we do it!  How many decisions have you made already today?  You decided whether or not to get up when the alarm went off, or to hit snooze a time or two.  You decided what you would wear.  You decided what you would eat, or if you would eat, for breakfast.  You decided (whether you thought about it or not) on the route you’d drive to work, school or wherever you were going.  You decided where to park, how fast you’d drive, whether or not to pass or honk at someone who irritated you.  You decided what you’d listen to on the radio.  You decided what to read in the paper.  You decided if you’d take your lunch or buy it.  Chances are you’ve already made thousands of little decisions (many unconscious) already today – and your day is just getting started.

Someone has said that practice is what makes perfect.  We know, of course, that there’s a smidgen of truth in that sentiment – with practice we DO get better (hopefully!)  But we don’t get perfect through practice regardless of the old saying.  The only way we ever get perfect is by God changing us in eternity into Christ’s likeness.  We can make progress until then – but perfection?  No, definitely not.

But if we are to get better with practice, have you ever stopped to think about why it is that we so seldom choose what is best?  It’s nothing new to the 21st century, of course.  It’s been going on since the beginning of time, and humanistic thinking aside, we aren’t getting better at it throughout the millennia.  Adam and Eve were given an entire garden by God and told that they could eat of any tree in the garden – except one.  And which one did they choose?  The ONE.  Jonah had the choice of going to Ninevah or the other direction – so he high-tailed it away from Ninevah.  Saul/Paul could choose to persecute Christians or to let them be.  Judas could have not betrayed Jesus, be he did.  Perhaps you could have chosen to remain faithful to your spouse but you chose unfaithfulness instead.  Drugs, alcohol, greed, thievery, murder, lying – all spring from the well of choice.  See what I mean when I say we’re not getting better at it? 

I’m convinced that we don’t know how to choose wisely sometimes.  How can we possibly know in every circumstance what is the very best thing to do?  If you know the answer, please tell me!  Sure, I know we can pray and God can give us direction, but we still have to choose to go His way and not our own, or He may not give us an answer when we are seeking it. 

So what are we to do?  Maybe all we can hope for in those cases where we’re not sure what is best is to choose what is better.  Mary and Martha were hosting Jesus in their home, and Martha was all a-flutter with her busyness and serving until she got so ticked off at her sister that she even (by implication at least) berates Jesus and Mary – Mary for not helping, Jesus for not telling Mary to help Martha.  Jesus, ever gentle and wise, simply gives Mary a bit of praise: Mary has chosen what is better.  (Lk. 10:42) Notice what Jesus didn’t say: he didn’t say Mary had chosen what was best, but just better. 

What would have been best in that situation?  The Lord only knows, but he didn’t scold Mary for not choosing what was best but encouraged her in her choosing of what was simply “better”.  Maybe that’s why, in all our ways, we should acknowledge Him and let him direct our paths until we reach that which is best.

PRAYER: I’m so grateful, Lord, that you understand our limitations and don’t expect perfection from us.  Forgive us for our foolish choices and help us choose that which is better!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

 

DayBreaks for 12/26/18: Not Like the World Gives

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From my friend, Barney Cargile, Barney’s Bullets:

Christmas Day, 1863. America’s poet laureate, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, found himself in a deep state of depression. America was embroiled in the Civil War, the bloodiest conflict in our history. A devout abolitionist, his heart was broken by the terrible war. But even worse, his personal grief was overwhelming.  A month earlier, his oldest son was critically wounded in battle. Two years prior, his wife Fannie burned to death right in front of him, when her clothes caught fire. Longfellow was severely injured in an effort to extinguish her, and carried severe scars for the rest of his days. 

Looking out his window in Cambridge, Mass, in intense despair, he ruminated on the angel’s words to the shepherds in Luke 2:14, “Peace on earth, good will to men”. He scoffed, “There is no peace on earth. These tragic events mock God’s promise of peace.”  

But then, a Christmas miracle occurred. In an instant, everything changed, and Longfellow penned these words: 

I heard the bells on Christmas Day. 

Their old familiar carols play. 

And wild and sweet, the words repeat 

of peace on earth, good-will to men! 

Through the church bells, God reminded Longfellow of the big picture; the TRUE peace that the baby in the manger brings to earth. God is not dead, nor does he sleep. He hasn’t abandoned us. The Prince of Peace still triumphs, even in the midst of war and personal tragedy, bringing peace that passes understanding: peace with God.  

Face it, if Jesus came to rid the world of war and suffering, he did a pretty lousy job! But what if…he brought something greater? What if, he did more than anyone ever dared imagine? What if he delivered a unique kind of peace, a peace so great, it transcends external circumstances? That’s the peace that inspired Longfellow to compose this cherished Christmas poem. Jesus promised, “The peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives.” (John 14:27)

Our world and lives today abound with conflict and turmoil. Like Longfellow, we have a choice: cave in to despair, or embrace the peace Jesus offers. Longfellow “heard the bells on Christmas day” and his life was changed forever.

I know it’s the day after Christmas, but one more thing about the peace that Jesus gives: it is a lasting peace and it can fill your heart for the rest of your life. Embrace it!

PRAYER: Lord, we are nearly at the new year and we pray that we will know your special peace throughout the year no matter the circumstances. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 12/25/18 – What Would I Have Seen?

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DayBreaks for 12/25/18: What Would I Have Seen?

I wonder what I would have heard had I been there that night. It is a question that annually haunts me. Would I have heard the choirs of angels singing or simply the sounds of barnyard animals shifting around? Would I have seen the star in the sky that night or simply two poor and very frightened kids? Would I have understood the hushed silence of the divine presence, or simply the chill of a cold east wind. Would I have understood the message of Emmanuel, God with us, or would the cosmic implications of that evening have passed me by?

I am convinced that had two people been there that night in Bethlehem it is quite possible that they could have heard and seen two entirely different scenes. I believe this because all of life is this way. God never presents himself in revelation in a manner in which we are forced to believe. We are always left with an option, for that is God’s way. Thus, one person can say “It’s a miracle, while another says “It’s coincidence.”

Certainly very few people in Palestine saw and heard and understood what took place that night. The choirs of angels singing were drowned out by the haggling and trading going on in the Jerusalem bazaar. There was a bright star in the sky but the only ones apparently to pay any attention to it were pagan astrologers from the East. If anyone did see Mary and Joseph on that most fateful night, they were too preoccupied with their own problems to offer any assistance.

In one of the All in the Family episodes that aired some years ago Edith and Archie are attending Edith’s high school class reunion. Edith encounters an old classmate by the name of Buck who, unlike his earlier days. had now become excessively obese. Edith and Buck have a delightful conversation about old times and the things that they did together, but remarkably Edith doesn’t seem to notice how extremely heavy Buck has become. Later, when Edith and Archie and talking, she says in her whiny voices “Archie, ain’t Buck a beautiful person.” Archie looks at her with a disgusted expression and says: “You’re a pip, Edith. You know that. You and I look at the same guy and you see a beautiful person and I see a blimp. Edith gets a puzzled expression on her face and says something unknowingly profound, “Yeah, ain’t it too bad.”

Would I have seen and recognized the eternity shattering events in Bethlehem for what they were, or would I have let it passed unnoticed? I hope that today, you see the babe in the manger in a new light, a heavenly light that shines like none other and that you take time to worship the Incarnate One.

Merry CHRISTmas to you all!

PRAYER: Jesus, we fall silent in wonder at the events surrounding your birth. Be born in us anew this day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 12/24/18 – Searching for Hope

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DayBreaks for 12/24/18: Searching for Hope

(NOTE: This was written by a dear friend of mine, Janine Boyer, earlier in December. Used by permission.)

Our trip to Israel had already exceeded my expectations and then I saw them. “Look! Look! Those are real sheep and a real shepherd,” I said to Dave from inside our bus. As we passed the hills of Bethlehem, they were just like I had pictured in my mind, a mixture of grass and rocks, steep for those cute little sheep and windy for a donkey to have to travel. Tomorrow I would get to visit the place where Jesus Christ was born.

But in a matter of a day, the scene changed. There was some unrest in Bethlehem overnight, and it wasn’t safe to visit. I was so disappointed. I had been looking forward to this part of the trip and experiencing what it must have felt like for Mary and Joseph over 2,000 years ago.

Things didn’t work out as I had expected; and almost a year later, I can still feel that disappointment. But as I thought about that, I also thought about how Mary and Joseph must have felt. Because of the census being taken, they had to leave behind everything that was familiar to them and start over in a new place. What did it feel like when they finally arrived in Bethlehem, desperately looking for a place to stay, only to be turned away?

I imagine Mary was not only searching for a place to deliver her baby, but also desperately searching for relief from that pain, searching for rest and searching for help. Who of us cannot relate to those feelings in one way or another? Our lives can change in a moment, often times leaving us feeling desperate and disappointed. But if we stop there, we miss the blessings of the unexpected.

Mary and Joseph continued searching for a place to stay. What did they find? A stable. Straw would become the blanket upon which Jesus Christ would be born. Not soft and comfy like the blankets on our beds, but itchy and scratchy for this tiny baby. Maybe that’s not what they were looking for, but that is what they found.

Often times what we are looking for is different than what we find too. Life’s circumstances can change the way we feel. But we can’t stop there. We desperately need to keep searching for God in the midst of all we feel. While Joseph and Mary searched, they never lost hope. As a result, what did they find? They found God turned that stable into a place of glory, a place that was lit up by a star in the sky, a place where people who were desperately searching, would find hope and peace. A place for all of us.

I don’t know what you are feeling this Christmas season. I don’t know your life events. But God does. That tiny little baby, God’s Son, felt everything we feel. “For unto us a child is born to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for giving us a place to come and find hope and peace. Give us the courage to choose to make room for you no matter how we feel today, whether we be full of joy or full of sorrow. Help us to feel the amazing wonder of Your Son and His birth, His life and even His death. Help us to be like Mary and take the stable that was offered to her and turn it into a place where YOU, King of all Kings, would be born. In Your Hopeful name we pray, Amen.

DayBreaks for 12/21/18 – The Priest’s Sacrifice, #4

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DayBreaks for 12/21/18: The Priest’s Sacrifice, #4

Finishing off the theme of Sacrifice for this week preceding Christmas, I’m sharing some thoughts from the message at church this past Sunday.

Our fourth, and final, sacrifice as Christian priests and priestesses is found in Philippians 4:18 (ESV) – I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.

Paul says that the gifts which were sent to him from the church at Philippi weren’t just gifts, but sacrifices that pleased God.

The privilege we have as believers is that God supplies all our needs. Every good and perfect gift starts with him for our enjoyment, yes, but also to pass through our fingers into the hands of others in need.

The responsibility of such a privilege is that we are empowered by his generosity to meet kingdom needs and human need.

I was struck by the fact that the first gifts given to Jesus at his birth by the magi didn’t really come from the magi, but from the Father who provided it for the magi to bring to the stable. Yet, I believe that the myrrh and frankincense (and gold) the magi were sacrifices that were fragrant offerings that pleased the Father immensely as he stared down at the son in the manger – and also into the hearts of the magi.

God gave the most perfect gift of all time, the most urgently needed gift, in the person of Jesus. If you have the means at all this season, you’ll give gifts to family and friends. Question: what will you give to those who may be your enemies? After all, isn’t that what God did for us with the child in the manger?

PRAYER: Let us give freely, not only to those who are friends and family, but to our enemies and strangers as well. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>