DayBreaks for 5/07/18 – Drowning Rats and Hope

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DayBreaks for 5/07/18: Drowning Rats and Hope

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:     

I don’t have to tell you that life can get pretty hard.  If you are more than 24 hours old, you’ve probably discovered that fact for yourself (and come to think of it, getting into this world isn’t so easy, either)!  It is difficult, at times, to hold onto hope.  But it is very important that we do so!  Think about this example from Today In the Word, May 1990: “A number of years ago researchers performed an experiment to see the effect hope has on those undergoing hardship. Two sets of laboratory rats were placed in separate tubs of water. The researchers left one set in the water and found that within an hour they had all drowned. The other rats were periodically lifted out of the water and then returned. When that happened, the second set of rats swam for over 24 hours. Why? Not because they were given a rest, but because they suddenly had hope!  Those animals somehow hoped that if they could stay afloat just a little longer, someone would reach down and rescue them.”

It is sometimes easier to hope than others.  But as G. K. Chesterton put it: “Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all…As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.”  I think he makes a good point.  If we were the rats in the tank in the experiment and could see a way to get ourselves out of the tank, then what would we be relying on?  Ourselves.  And then it isn’t hope, is it? 

Of course, we aren’t rats in a tank.  We are of much greater value.  We weren’t put here by some crazed scientist for the purposes of experimentation.  God isn’t performing laboratory experiments on us.  We need to remember that it was our sin that put us in the tank – not some all-powerful cosmic scientist to watch creatures struggle to see what they would do!  We alone are responsible for the fact that we are drowning.  God alone is responsible for the fact that there is a way out of the tank.  God has spent thousands of years rescuing us from the cesspool of our sin and shame and He is still about the business of rescuing broken and drowning people today. 

Romans 5:5-6 reminds us: 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.  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. You see, God didn’t just build a ramp out of the tank, He got in the tank with us and has lifted us out. 

When you despair of ever seeing or feeling the joy of a sunrise again, look around you.  You will see the Son of God at your side.  He will not fail you.  He will not let you down.  You may have to reach the point where the situation is “hopeless” before you turn to Him so you can learn what hope really is. 

We all need to remember that “hopeless” is a human term – it doesn’t exist in God’s dictionary.

PRAYER: Thank you that you not only didn’t leave us hopeless, but gave us the greatest reason for hope ever! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 4/09/18 – Two Goats on a Bridge

DayBreaks for 4/09/18: Two Goats on a Bridge

Perhaps you saw the story on the news or read about it online. Last week there were two goats (apparently pals who escaped from a nearby yard) who went out for an adventure. They wound up on a girder underneath the bridge, about 200 feet out from one end of the structure and they got “stuck”. They couldn’t continue walking ahead because of an obstacle that blocked their path, and while one of the goats managed to turn around to go back, his partner either couldn’t do so or lacked the courage to try, blocking the pathway of the courageous goat. And so there they were, 100 feet in the air, 200 feet from the end of the bridge. A call went out to attempt to rescue the goats and some bridge maintenance crew arrived with a cherry-picker to reach down under the roadway to rescue the critters. The good news is that both goats were successfully rescued, but there are lessons here for us.

FIRST: the goats were only looking for an adventure, not trouble. We are often looking for adventure, excitement in our lives, and we don’t give much though to where we’re headed and the possible complications and trouble we could get into. What may seem like an innocent indulgence can become life and eternity threatening.

SECOND: The goats couldn’t go forward or backward, they couldn’t retrace their steps to get out of trouble. We get ourselves into many a predicament where we cannot go back and undo what it was that got us into trouble. Relationship and friendships can be destroyed forever because of a dalliance.

THIRD: we were much like the goats on the bridge. They desperately needed rescue. They’d been there for hours without any hope of escape. They needed some outside agency to not just care about them, but to rescue them. I liked what one of the rescuers said when he reached out and grabbed one of the goats to pull them into the basket of the cherry-picker: “There was no way,” he says, “I was letting go of that goat.” God isn’t about to let go of us, either. I, for one, find that very encouraging!

2 Peter 3:3 (KJV) – Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts…

PRAYER: Lord, in our foolishness we often go astray and are stranded. We are grateful that you not only are concerned for us, but came to our rescue. Give us wisdom to understand the danger we often get ourselves into. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/12/18 – The Reaper’s Approach

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DayBreaks for 1/12/18: The Reaper’s Approach

From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:

From Bizarre News, 1/3/08:

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Doctors at a Providence, R.I., nursing home say a cat that keeps the patients company seems to be able to predict their deaths.  Staff at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center said the 2-year-old feline, named Oscar, will go into the room of a patient whose end is near, curl up next to them and purr, WebMD reported Thursday.  David Dosa, who submitted an essay on the cat to The New England Journal of Medicine — which published the paper Thursday — said the vigilant cat has been present for the deaths of more than 25 residents and often serves as a fill-in for family members who cannot be present at their loved one’s bedside. 

“As people would pass, the question (among staff) was always, ‘Was Oscar at the bedside?'” Dosa said.  “And the answer was invariably ‘yes.’  This is an end-stage dementia unit.  Deaths are common.” 

As for how the cat knows when a patient is near death, experts say there are a number of possibilities ranging from sense of smell to mimicking the behavior of  

humans who care for the dying patients. 

Isn’t it interesting how animals have such perceptive abilities?  Animals have been known to recognize an impending earthquake before they happen.  During the massive tsunami a few years ago that took so many lives in the Indian Ocean area, animals took off for higher ground in advance of any waves appearing.  Dogs (at least some of them) have the ability to sense an epileptic seizure before it strikes, and have even been trained to alert their masters before it happens. Others have been known to be able to smell cancers in humans and have been used as a diagnostic aid.  

But what struck me about this story was that the cat could sense approaching death.  Death is pictured in art as a tattered, black robed man with a scythe (the “grim reaper”) who approaches his victims.  We will probably never know how Oscar the cat could sense the approach of death, but it appears that this cat at least has the ability to detect its approach.

Without being morbid, I was led to wonder what we would do if we could sense the approaching death of others?  Would we, like Oscar the cat, draw near to them, or would we tend to shy away from them, not knowing how to act or what to say – as is sadly the tendency of many people when someone is clearly terminally ill?  What would we say to them?  If they were unbelievers, would we speak of the love of Jesus?  And if we’d do it then, why would we not do it while they’re still healthy and well and can have the blessed privilege of living for Christ in the here and now? 

I also wonder what we’d do if we could sense our own imminent death?  Is there anyone who wouldn’t want to know that death was drawing closer so that they could mend fences, speak those words of love and affection once again to a spouse, children and grandchildren?  Here’s the kicker: intellectually we know that death is approaching with every tick of the clock.  As Francis Schaeffer so aptly put it: “How then shall we live?”

Job 12:10 (NIV) –In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.

PRAYER: Lord, give us compassion for the sick and the dying, and help us to never lose sight of our own mortality.  Our hope rests in You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 1/10/18 – God Help the Fish

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Image courtesy from iStock photo.

DayBreaks for 1/10/18: God Help the Fish

When you think of it, we all like fairy tale stories in one form or another. We like stories of frogs becoming princes, of ugly ducklings that become beautiful swans and the down-and-out who rise above adversity yet remain kind, compassionate and humble.

Sam Houston was the first president of the Republic of Texas. It’s said he was a rather nasty fellow with a checkered past.  Later in life Houston made a commitment to Christ and was baptized in a river. The preacher said to him, “Sam, your sins are washed away.”  Houston replied, “God help the fish.”

We see similar stories throughout the Bible as ordinary people, often very poor and outcast, who come to a special relationship with God or Jesus. The woman at the well, the woman taken in adultery, Saul of Tarsus, Zacchaeus and others are all examples. We are uplifted by their stories.

Yet, each and every believer in Jesus is like the pauper who becomes a prince or princess. We have to go through a process much like Sam Houston did – of being convicted of our estate (it must become clear to see!) – before God dresses us in the finest of robes, puts shoes on us, gives us his ring and reinstates us to a place in His own house.

How do you see yourself? You may not feel like the prince or princess just yet, but once your sins have been washed away, you are no longer what you previously were. You are a child of the King and you are growing to look more and more like him with each passing day, week, month and year. The day will come when you will stand beside him in glory, look in the mirror and see both his and your reflection, and will be amazed at how alike you are!

Hang tough! Persevere! Trust Him! He will finish the work he has started!

PRAYER: God, I know my own sin is enough to kill all the fish in the sea, yet you promise me you have washed me clean and that I am your child. Help us all to being to grasp that simple, yet profound, truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 1/04/18 – Spiders, Flies and the Crowd

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DayBreaks for 1/04/18: Spiders, Flies and the Crowd

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

Ephesians 5:5-6 (NIV) For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a man is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.

Job 15:31 (NIV) – Let him not deceive himself by trusting what is worthless, for he will get nothing in return.

We are easily deceived.  There are probably many reasons for it, but I think the main reason we are deceived is because we want to believe something strongly enough that we allow ourselves to be convinced it is true.  And as Job points out, we don’t necessarily have to be deceived by others – we’re plenty good at deceiving ourselves.  We deceive ourselves into thinking that we’re better than we really are, that we are smarter, more holy, more righteous than someone else and therefore God must like us better.  We deceive ourselves into thinking that we’ve accomplished whatever we’ve managed to accomplish by our own wisdom, smarts and talent – forgetting the Source of the talent.

But what really bothers me these days is how easily the people of God get deceived by the world and the smooth-talking salesmen of perversity.  Evil is made to sound good, and good to sound evil and even hateful.  The world has gotten very good at telling its story – I fear it is much more skilled at telling its story than we are at telling the story of what God has done. 

Once a spider built a beautiful web in an old house.  He kept it clean and shiny so that flies would patronize it.  The minute he got a “customer” he could clean up on it so the other flies would not get suspicious.  Then one day this fairly intelligent fly came buzzing by the clean spider web.  Old man spider called out, “Come in and sit.”  But the fairly intelligent fly said, “No, sir.  I don’t see other flies in your house, and I am not going in alone!”  But presently he saw on the floor below a large crowd of flies dancing around on a piece of brown paper.  He was delighted!  He was not afraid if lots of flies were doing it.  So he came in for a landing.  Just before he landed, a bee zoomed by, saying, “Don’t land there, stupid!  That’s flypaper!”  But the fairly intelligent fly shouted back, “Don’t’ be silly.  Those flies are dancing.  There’s a big crowd there.  Everybody’s doing it.  That many flies can’t be wrong!”

Well, you know what happened.  He died on the spot.  Some of us want to be with the crowd so badly that we end up in a mess.  What does it profit a fly (or a person) if he escapes the web only to end up in the glue?

May you be wise to the ways of the world because you are wiser to the ways of God!

 

PRAYER:  Give us discerning hearts and minds, O Lord, so that we are not led astray by the voice of the masses or by false appearances.  May we heed the warnings that You have given us in Your Word and through Your Spirit.  Preserve and protect us, we pray!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 5/09/17 – The Believer’s Definitive Question

DayBreaks for 5/09/17: The Believer’s Definitive Question

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

So you struggle with being faithful. Join the crowd.  I don’t know a single person who doesn’t struggle with obedience, and even with their faith itself, from time to time.  It’s normal – and I think, at least to a certain extent – it is healthy to at least question faith once in a while to be certain that we don’t grow stale and complacent.  We need not fear the testing of faith.  There is greater danger in an untested faith when the time of trial comes.

There seems to be something about us humans that is a lot like a moth: we like to dance close to the flame.  In our case, it is the flame of temptation.  We seem to be drawn to certain things as individuals, and while it may vary from person to person, even as Christians we seem drawn to the flame.  The flame represents that which is familiar to us, something we’ve grown accustomed to and we find it to be predictable.  But, like the moth, we forget that the flame can burn us and kill us.  It’s a very dangerous place to be.

Still, many people show a tendency to get close to the flame of old temptations once again.  And not only do we have that tendency, we show an eagerness for it when we ask the question (when we clearly know the answer more often than not): “Would it be wrong for me to do this?” 

In his book, Grace Walk, Steve McVey suggests that the definitive question for the believer shouldn’t be whether or not we can do something, but instead, Am I abiding in Christ at this moment?  An unsaved person evaluates behavior on the basis of right and wrong, but the lifestyle of a Christian is to flow from the activity of Christ.  McVey’s point is that we have Christ in us and we are in him – so why would we even want to dance close to the flame?  Somehow, I can’t picture Christ walking around asking “Would it be wrong for me to do this?”, can you?  I think rather, he’d be focused on abiding in the Father’s love and not thinking about doing wrong, but about doing good. 

John 9:4 (NLT) – All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, because there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end.

PRAYER: Lord, we know that we are to abide in You, to let you live Your life through us.  It’s hard to give up our own life, even to One as powerful as Your Spirit.  Help us to have the mind of Jesus that is concerned about abiding in Your love and acting out of that love for the world.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 5/4/17 – Pig Parties

DayBreaks for 5/04/17: Pig Parties

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

From “News of the Weird”, UPI, 5/1/98: When farmers leave for the day, pigs start to party, said agricultural researches in Reading, England, interviewed by the London Daily Telegraph in April.  According to Nick Bird of the Farmex firm, the pigs eat, drink and roughhouse until about midnight before retiring for the evening, at least in buildings that are well lighted.  Farmex now wants to know whether this has any effect on the supply of bacon.

Do you remember that old saying about “When the cat’s away, the mice will play”?  Apparently it is not only true of cats and mice, but of farmers and pigs, too! 

I am also aware of the fact that this happens in the world of business.  I know.  I’ve been there and been guilty of it myself.  When the boss is gone, sometimes we don’t give our best effort – or at least not as intense of an effort as when the boss is there.  For some of you reading this today – your boss is out of the office.  How are you doing with your work today?  Are you slacking off – even just a little bit?  If so, do you think that is what God wants you to do?  It comes down to the question of who you believe you really work for, doesn’t it?  Are you working for Mr. or Ms. Smith, or even your family? Or are you working for God and displaying your thankfulness to Him for the job He has given you?

There are biblical parallels to this story.  The parable of the talents was about using what we’ve been given and being faithful with it.  You’ve been given a job, just like the servants were given talents.  The ones that took what they’d been given and worked hard with it while the master was gone were praised and trusted with more.  The servant who didn’t do that had even what he was given taken away from him. 

Another parallel with a different meaning is the wickedness that the Lord said would precede his return.  Matthew 24:37-39 relays to us the words of our Lord: As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark;     and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  You see, the Master has been gone for a long time now and the “party” has continued for a long time.  The terrible tragedy of the picture Jesus relates to us is that just as those who were lost in the flood waters had no idea it was coming, so those who “party” while the Master is away will be totally caught off guard by his return. 

How are you spending your time at work?  How are you spending your life?  To be right with God, we need to do both as if He were present all the time for one simple reason: He is.

PRAYER: Lord, many of us will be tempted this day to goof off when we think no one is watching us.  Help us to be the kind of people who don’t even think about trying to get away with less than a 100% effort in all we do that is right.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.