DayBreaks for 7/31/19 – How Much More

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DayBreaks for 07/31/19: How Much More

Matthew 7:11 (ESV) – If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

In context, this lesson deals with a neighbor who comes banging on the door in the middle of the night asking for food. Jesus moves on to show us the heart of an earthly father by saying that no father would give a serpent or stone instead of bread or a fish to his child and then he draws the contrast with three key words: How much more…to introduce us to the heart of the heavenly Father.

Is Jesus saying that we will always have a belly full of food in this passage? I think not. We automatically equate the “good gifts” here to the food that was mentioned in the verses preceding verse 11. And while food is a good gift, I think Jesus had something far greater in mind.

Think about your prayers and how much of them is consumed with asking for food, shelter, protection, health and other things related to our life here on this planet. I know that far too much of my prayers are concerned with such things.

So, what are the good things, the greater things, we should be asking for with even greater urgency?

How about: forgiveness, mercy, grace, greater love, justice, freeing of the Spirit to empower our lives, salvation for our families and friends. Things with eternal weightiness.

It’s not that Jesus thinks we don’t need food and clothing. The same phrase, “How much more…” is used in the Sermon on the Mount to describe how God provides for the lilies of the field and birds of the air then says if God does that for such things, won’t He much more provide them for us?

We often ask for the comparatively minor things when we should be majoring in the greater with our prayer requests. He wants so much more for us – the greater things – and he will certainly give them if we but ask.

PRAYER: Jesus, help us focus on the greater things. Thank you for your great faithfulness and generosity in all things great and small! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/30/19 – Vanished From Sight

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DayBreaks for 07/30/19: Vanished from Sight

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

A recent story from the Associated Press told a fascinating story about hoarding which holds Christian implications.  “Jesus warned against piling up money on earth, because money comes and goes. A sad reminder of the vulnerability of money came with the June 2009 news story of an elderly woman in Israel who had hidden her life savings of one million dollars in her bed mattress. Every night she slept on one million in American dollars and Israeli shekels. She must have felt very secure with her fortune literally inches away, holding her up each night—especially since 2008 and 2009 had been disastrous years for banks and financial institutions as the world economy suffered its worst recession in decades. What’s more, she had had a bad experience with a bank and had lost trust in them. Whom could she trust? No one! In fact, she did not tell even her own daughter where all that fortune was hidden.”

And that was the wealthy woman’s big mistake. One day her daughter decided that the mother needed a new mattress. Who knows, maybe she sat on the bed, and it felt a bit lumpy—one of those ten thousand dollar lumps perhaps—and she thought, “What a cheap bed this is!” She decided to replace the mattress. She wanted to present the new mattress as a surprise gift, so the new mattress was delivered without her mother’s knowledge, and the old, lumpy mattress went into the garbage.

How pleased the daughter must have felt as she watched the delivery men put the new mattress in place and haul the old mattress out to the truck. Imagine the smile on her face when she brought her mother into the bedroom and presented her surprise gift. Somehow her elderly mother did not put two and two together right away. After a night of sleep on her new mattress, however, she woke up and suddenly realized what had happened to her life savings. She literally screamed.

A video news report of this story showed the daughter walking through a garbage dump hunting for the lost mattress. News reports showed workers combing through the trash as bulldozers moved piles of garbage attempting to uncover the lost treasure.

Truly there is no sure way to safeguard our worldly treasures – and they will all be taken from us at one point or another by life or death. 

PRAYER: Help us to truly believe that the only things in life that are worth pursuing are the eternal ones.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

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

DayBreaks for 7/29/19 – Just Try to Imagine It

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DayBreaks for 07/29/19: Just Try to Imagine It

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

A 2009 movie, New in Town, tells the story of Lucy Hill (Renee Zellweger), a high-powered consultant who loves her Miami lifestyle, who is sent to New Ulm, Minnesota, to oversee a restructuring at a blue-collar manufacturing facility.  Eventually, she’s ordered to shut down the plant, putting the entire community out of work.  At that point, Lucy is forced to reconsider her goals and priorities.  When she arrived in New Ulm, a small, freezing city with one red light and a population of 13,595—a city where people “drag Jesus into regular conversation”—Lucy is met by her new executive assistant, Blanche Gunderson (Siobhan Fallon, who is a real-life Christian).  In this scene Blanche asks Lucy one personal question after another, culminating in a question concerning Jesus.

“Are you a scrapper?” Blanche asks. When Lucy is confused, Blanche clarified: “Do you keep a scrapbook?”

It is soon clear that Blanche is quite the scrap booker. She actually has a “mini” scrapbook in her purse, filled with pictures of Winston Churchill—her now-dead dog who was a “bit of a drooler.”

“Are you married?” Blanche asks. “Do you have children?”

“No,” Lucy answers, though visibly uncomfortable because of Blanche’s line of questioning.

“Not to worry,” Blanche insists. “You’re still young. You still have time—I suppose.” After a brief pause, Blanche continues: “Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?”

Lucy, eyes bulging, replies, “Isn’t that what you’ve been doing?”

Unfazed, Blanche tenderly asks, “Have you found Jesus?”

“Well, I didn’t know he was missing,” Lucy replies with a laugh.

Blanche drops her head. Noticing she has hurt Blanche with her response, Lucy says, “It was just a joke.”

“Normally we don’t joke about Jesus around here,” Blanche replies. “But I can see how you could think that was sort of funny.” Then, with a look of concern, Blanche ponders out loud, “Imagine Jesus gone missing. Imagine.” – New in Town (Lionsgate Pictures, 2009)

Have you ever tried to imagine if Jesus had gone AWOL?  If, on the way from heaven to earth he’d decided to take a detour to somewhere else in order to avoid his mission?  Or, if on his way to Jerusalem for that last fateful visit, he’d headed north and disappeared into Gaul instead?  Or, if his body had gone missing and there were no after-death appearances to prove the resurrection?  Not a pretty picture, is it?

Has Jesus gone missing from your life and conversation with co-workers, family, friends, neighbors?  If so, bring him back today!

PRAYER:  What a wonderful Savior You are, Jesus!  Thank You for being part of our lives.  May we invite You into every relationship and conversation we have!  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

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

DayBreaks for 7/26/19 – The Great Contagion

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DayBreaks for 07/26/19: The Great Contagion

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

The Black Death plague ravaged Europe between 1348 and 1351.  It is believed to have traveled to Europe via rats aboard ships that came from Asia.  In three short years, 30-60% of Europe’s population died from the plague.  It is estimated that the plague killed nearly a quarter of all persons in the world died during that time (~100 million deaths).  The bubonic plague had a mortality rate of thirty to seventy-five percent and symptoms including fever of 101–105°, headaches, painful aching joints, nausea and vomiting, and a general feeling of malaise.  Of those who contracted the bubonic plague form of the disease, 4 out of 5 died within eight days.

The world hasn’t seen a plague like that since.  Let’s pray it never does.  But we do have avian flu, swine flu, regular old flu, and other diseases that could be equally deadly if they were not contained…and if not for modern interventions. 

These and other contagions are serious business and can spread rapidly.  But Scripture has something today about contagion of the spiritual kind that we should think seriously about.  Consider Deuteronomy 29:22-27 (NIV): Your children who follow you in later generations and foreigners who come from distant lands will see the calamities that have fallen on the land and the diseases with which the LORD has afflicted it. The whole land will be a burning waste of salt and sulfur–nothing planted, nothing sprouting, no vegetation growing on it. It will be like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in fierce anger.  All the nations will ask: “Why has the LORD done this to this land? Why this fierce, burning anger?” And the answer will be: “It is because this people abandoned the covenant of the LORD, the God of their fathers, the covenant he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt. They went off and worshiped other gods and bowed down to them, gods they did not know, gods he had not given them. Therefore the LORD’s anger burned against this land, so that he brought on it all the curses written in this book.

Lest we think all of the above came about because of massive sin, all we have to do is go back a couple of verses to verses 19-20 to see the cause: When such a person hears the words of this oath, he invokes a blessing on himself and therefore thinks, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way.” This will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry.”  Do you get it?  It starts with “such a person”, a single individual, who persists in going his own way.  And what is his own way?  Following his own wisdom and desires and wants rather than God’s.  In short, sin.  But did you catch the consequence?  “This will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry.”  The contagion spread from one man determined to do his will instead of God’s, and it spreads to other people like a contagion…but even one person, it appears, is enough that the contagion will even affect the dirt and soil.  In The Gospel According to Moses, Athol Dickson put it in these words: “The corruption beginning as a hidden thought in one man’s mind is so contagious it ends with a curse not just on humanity but even upon the soil and plants!  Suddenly it seems the Torah is treating sin not as a mere choice, but as a disease, a highly contagious, full-blown plague upon the earth.”

He continues: “I am reminded of the Torah’s teaching that simply touching holy things such as Mt. Sinai, the tabernacle altar, or the offerings presented at the tabernacle altar could cause a person to become holy.  The Torah says physical contact with a specific piece of real estate, a portable piece of furniture, or a slaughtered animal could make a person holy under the right circumstances.  There is no stronger argument for the contagious nature of spiritual conditions.  Unfortunately, I believe the Torah also strongly implies that this spiritual contagion flows both ways.  For example: Anything that an unclean person touches becomes unclean, and anyone who touches it becomes unclean till evening. (Num. 19:22) 

Not one of us would voluntarily touch Yersinia pestis (the infectious agent of bubonic plague).  Yet daily, we touch and handle sin, playing with it as if it were a toy rather than a destructive contagion that brings plague everywhere.  If only we had eyes to see how deadly it is…

PRAYER: Jesus, we need to have a deeper understanding of the deadly contagion that is the sin in our lives.  Help us understand its effect not just on ourselves, but on others that we love, and upon You as seen through the cross.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

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

DayBreaks for 7/25/19 – The View from the Far Country

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DayBreaks for 07/25/19: The View from a Far Country

For nearly six decades I have lived far away from the land where I was born: Iowa. Most of my sojourn has been spent in California which is very, very different from the plains of the mid-west. Recently, however, we have moved to Illinois and were in Iowa for a few days and it made me think about the far country and home.

No matter how long one has been gone, there’s always something endearing about returning “home”. My parents are no longer there, nor any of my aunts and uncles. Some of my cousins remain, but they have scattered, too. Still, it was sweet for me to be “home” again for a while.

Several thoughts:

FIRST: there is a built-in peacefulness for most of us about “home”. It is where we can relax, be ourselves. It is familiar. The far distant country, while it may have its appeals, isn’t the same. We often pretend to be something or someone we aren’t to impress in the far country. At home we know and are known intimately – and loved and accepted.

SECOND: for most, home holds precious memories. My mind is full of images of growing up on the farm and the carefree years of early childhood spent there. I long for that kind of peace and delight once more. Some day I shall have it.

THIRD: we are all in a far country whether we know it or not. And we are all on a journey “home”. The longer we have been gone from home, the sweeter the sound of “Welcome home!” becomes. I will see the face of my Father and my father, mother and a sister I never met, as well as other relatives and beloved friends.

FOURTH: as long as I am in the far country, my Father still expects me to act like His child. I may-and do-fail often, but even more than my earthly father still loved me when I let him down, so much more does my heavenly Father, and His welcome will be the sweetest of them all.

PRAYER: Thank you for our homes, both in this world and the world to come. Help me act like your child no matter when I am. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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

DayBreaks for 7/24/19 – What Martha Needed to Learn

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DayBreaks for 07/24/19: What Martha Needed to Learn

Luke 10:38-42 (CSBBible) – While they were traveling, he entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who also sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.” The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Poor Martha. She was doing what she could to serve her honored guest. She was working hard to serve him. But she missed the point, much like me.

What was the one thing that was necessary? In the final analysis it wasn’t serving Jesus. It was letting Jesus serve her needs. It is why Jesus said he came (Mt. 10:45).

It is easy to understand Martha’s position. Who wouldn’t want to serve God if he showed up at your doorstep? The point is that Jesus came there not to be served, but to serve them.

A teacher serves by teaching his students. Jesus was serving by teaching – and Mary understood that was what she needed, in fact, it is what we all need.

Are you so busy serving Jesus that you’re not letting him serve you through his Spirit, his Word, his family and worship? Let’s take a lesson from Martha and let Jesus serve us.

PRAYER: Forgive our frantic rushings-about and let us receive the fulness of what you came to give to us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/23/19 – In Green Pastures

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DayBreaks for 07/23/19: In Green Pastures

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

Psalm 23:2 – He makes me lie down in green pastures.

Such a simple statement.  So hard to do.  And there is much behind this simple statement from the quill of King David, who knew exactly what he was saying because of his own shepherding experiences.

In the area where David lived and tended sheep, green pastures don’t just appear normally or naturally.  It is a hot, dry, desert area.  The only way that green pastures exist in such a place is because the shepherd has labored to create a green pasture.  The shepherd would tear out the rocks that might harm the sheep, he would clear away the brush and burn it.  He would dig deep into the earth to create a well and would use the water to irrigate the plot of ground where he planted grass seed.  Finally, when a pasture had been created, he would bring the sheep there to find rest. 

Here’s what David could have said, “He makes me to lie down in His finished work.”  In Christ, that takes on an entirely new meaning.  He is the Great Shepherd who leads all of God’s flock into His finished work.  It is a special place where we find rest from our sin, guilt, shame, fear.  It is made possible only by His completed work on the cross.

Are you finding your rest in the finished work of the Shepherd, or are you still struggling to do the work yourself?

PRAYER: We can never repay You, our Shepherd, for all that You have done for us!  May we rest completely in what Jesus has accomplished and provided for us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/22/19 – He Knows Us Only Too Well

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DayBreaks for 07/22/19: He Knows Us Only Too Well

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

Does God know our hearts and tendencies, or what!?!?!  This past Sunday I spoke on the topic of weariness…we are bone tired, mentally worn out, emotionally drained and spiritually weary.  All because we have neglected to trust Him and have tried to take things into our own hands in order to provide for our needs and future. 

While God only needed 5 words in the 10 Commandments to condemn murder and 5 more to condemn adultery, He needed only 4 words to condemn stealing, but his finger must have worn out when it came to the command (not suggestion!) to rest.  Here’s what God had to say on that subject: Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. Exodus 20:8-11 (KJV)

Here is the testimony to how well God knows our hearts.  He could have stopped after the first 8 words above: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”  But He knew if He stopped there, we’d begin to rationalize: “OK, I won’t work, I’ll stop and honor God that way.  But I’ll have my son do the work.”  God says, “No, not your son, either.”  “My daughter then.”  “No, not your daughter.”  “Well, I’ll hire someone to run the store or shop in our absence.”  God says, “No, no servants will work that day.”  And just in case the debate were to continue, we aren’t to make animals work, nor strangers and aliens who are under our control or in our land. 

Yet we do.  Why?  Because we are afraid that if we don’t work, if we aren’t making sales calls, if we aren’t studying for the upcoming exam – that our world will crash down around us in failure.  And that’s where the last verse comes into play: God reminds us that He worked for six days making all that is, and that He then paused to “rest”…and you know what? When He did, the universe didn’t stop running…and if the universe didn’t stop when God took a rest, how dare we think that we’re more important than He is and that the world we live in will collapse if we rest!  This is the height of presumption!

Get some rest.  If you’re too tired to do God’s work, or if you have no time left to give to the Lord’s kingdom, you are simply too tired, period.

PRAYER: Forgive us for thinking that we and our actions are indispensable.  Forgive us for thinking we can’t trust You when you have promised to meet ALL our needs!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/19/19 – If God Could Do That

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DayBreaks for 07/19/19: If God Could Do That

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

What do you find amazing?  I find the speed of space flight amazing.  I find the power to hit a baseball 550 feet amazing.  I find the things people do because of love amazing.  I find some of the stupid things people do amazing.  There are lots of things that are amazing in the universe – the distances of space, the life at the bottom of the ocean.  We all like to be amazed whether by speed, power, size or the sleight of hand of a master magician.

I find it interesting that 31 times in the gospels, it describes how the people were amazed at the things that Jesus did or said.  Simply put: Jesus was amazing!  Many times their amazement was related to his miracles, and rightly so.  They should have been amazed!

But we live in a day and age that has an explanation for everything.  In this time of immediate communication and rapid travel, we seem to have lost the sense of amazement. 

I fear that perhaps we have lost our sense of amazement with God, too.  We need to try to put ourselves in the place of those standing around the blind man from John 9 – a man born blind.  We need to see him as his sight returns and he sees the world for the first time.  Put yourself in the place of the mourners surrounding the funeral bier of the son of the widow of Nain (Lk. 7:11-16).  Do you see the joy of the mother as her son sits up?  Can you hear her shriek of amazement and utter joy?  Can you see the faces of the people after they see the young man sit up and as they turn to look back at Jesus?  Can you see the crowd gathered at the tomb of Lazarus from John 11?  Can you see them shrink back when the smelly tomb is opened from fear of the stench and can you see them move forward again in amazement as they behold the wrapped form of Lazarus as he glides forward to the entry to the tomb?  Amazing!

Why does the bible tell us so many things that are amazing?  Because we need so desperately to know we have an amazing God.  You see, when your God can create by speaking, when He can command the water to become blood or the earth to open up and swallow the wicked, when He can heal the blind, the deaf and the dumb, and when He can give life to dead cells and dead bodies, we begin to say, “If God could do that…then He can deal with what I’m facing.”  “If God could heal the sick…He can heal my broken heart, body and soul.”  “If God could give sight to the blind…He can give me a vision for my life.”  “If God could give new life to the dead…He can give me a fresh start, too!”

The next time you are faced with a struggle or a situation that you can’t handle, remind yourself of the great stories of the bible and say to yourself “If God could do that, He can certainly handle this!”  Then give it to Him in faith…and get ready to be amazed!

PRAYER: You are amazing, great God!  By Your words you formed the world and the universe and all that is within it.  May your image be formed in us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/18/19 – Two Thieves, Two Destinies

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DayBreaks for 07/18/19: Two Thieves – Two Destinies

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

Luke 23:39-43: One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence?  We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’  Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.’

In The Jesus I Never Knew, Philip Yancey suggests, quite appropriately, that the two thieves represent the choice of all humanity – the decision about what to do with the person on the center cross.  The first thief picked up the taunts of the religious leaders, suggesting that Jesus should save himself, but his heart betrayed him – for he meant it only in jest.  In his mind, here was a “messiah” who couldn’t even save himself, let alone the people or a thief on a cross.  He saw a powerless messiah.  The other thief had better vision, and not seeking delivery from his painful death, simply asked to be remembered in Jesus’ kingdom.

There are several lessons here:

FIRST: Many have made the same mistake as the first thief, who saw a powerless God, a powerless Christ, and have rejected him as a result.  Who needs a messiah who is crucified, spit upon and beaten and who doesn’t retaliate?  Such a messiah would appear to be a spineless wimp unworthy of the label of “man”, let alone “God”.  Gods are supposed to be powerful!  The problem is that when some look at Christ’s apparent powerlessness on the cross, they see God’s impotence instead of proof of His love.

SECOND: It doesn’t take much to find God’s favor.  The second thief never said, “I believe you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  He didn’t live a good life.  Quite the contrary, but he alone of everyone in scripture called Jesus “king” in a non-mocking way.  He saw something in the quiet carpenter from Nazareth that made him believe there was a coming kingdom – and it was something he wanted.  God doesn’t ask much from you or me – just belief in His Son, and the plea from a heart that is dying to be granted mercy.

THIRD: There are benefits to being close to death and suffering.  They sharpen our focus like nothing else so we can see what really matters.  It is a tragedy that we seem to have to reach the end of the rope of life before we realize we need something else to hang on to.

The Romans, fed on stories of the power of Jupiter, saw nothing to admire in the crumpled form on the center cross.  The Jews, reminiscing about the deeds of God to lead them out of Egypt, saw nothing to admire, either.  But a sinner saw it all – and today is in paradise as a result. 

Two thieves – two crosses – two different destinies.  What do you see and what will you do with the man on the center cross?

PRAYER: Help us to understand, Father, that we make many choices each day about what we will do with the man on the center cross.  Help us to make the decisions that honor Him – the decisions that obedient disciples would make for His glory!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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