DayBreaks for 11/08/19 – The Sheepdogs of Jesus

Image result for sheepdogs

DayBreaks for 11/08/19: The Sheepdogs of Jesus

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

Everyone is familiar with the various images of Jesus in scripture as the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd is good not only because of what He does for the sheep, but because of who He is in His being.  Much has been written about the sheep and the Shepherd and rightly so, and of course, Psalm 23 is the most well-known passage describing the Lord as our Shepherd.

Max Lucado, in one of his books, was looking at Psalm 23:6 which says, Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever when he suggested that “goodness and mercy” are the names of God’s sheepdogs.  While on the surface it may seem to be a flippant comment, a bit more reflection is perhaps appropriate.  We’ve become so familiar with the words of this Psalm that it’s easy to miss what it is really trying to say to us.  Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is out in front leading us as a good shepherd must do.  But if he’s out leading, who’s watching the flock as it stretches out behind Him?  “Goodness and Mercy.”

It is goodness (not ours, but His) and mercy (certainly not ours, but His) that follows behind us making sure that none of us fall by the wayside or get so far behind that we can no longer see the Shepherd.  And we need both sheepdogs: we need His goodness for we have none of our own and we need His mercy because we are sinful.  These things, David said, would follow him for all the days of his life.  We might be tempted to think, “Sure, but I’m no David.  I’m not anything like David.”  That may be true but remember that David at times didn’t act like much of a saint, either.  Goodness and mercy didn’t follow David because he had earned it, but because that is the nature of how God deals with His flock…leading them with His Presence, following along behind them with His goodness and mercy.   

PRAYER: Jesus, thank You for leading us.  Thank You for pursuing us with Your goodness and mercy.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/23/19 – The Message of the Oil of Anointing, #3

Image result for anointing sheep's head with oil

DayBreaks for 10/23/19: The Message of the Oil of Anointing, #3

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2009:

Sheep tend to be very docile creatures.  Most of the time, they are very content to just eat grass, sleep, drink clean water and lay down to rest.  There is a reason that people don’t hook sheep up to wagons to pull them, nor to a plow to create furrows for farming.  Sheep don’t run and jump over hurdles like a horse.  No one keeps sheep as “guard sheep” – the very idea is laughable.  Sheep aren’t very good for much except for wool, living lawn mowers, or if you are so inclined, lamb chops. 

There is an exception to the docile nature of sheep, however.  That is the when mating season rolls around and the rams get rambunctious as they compete for the attention and affections of some of the ewes.  Almost inevitably, if there is more than one ram in the vicinity, the rams will square off and with a sharp crack that fills the air, plunge head-long into one another, smashing their horns together until one or the other gives us and relinquishes his interest in the ewe in question. 

As you might imagine, it is relatively easy for the rams to become injured in those contests of masculinity.  It is possible for a ram to suffer a very severe injury or to even die.  In rare cases, sometimes the rams horns will become locked, and if the sheep are out in a pasture where they are not tended, the rams can die of starvation before they can get unhooked from one another.

This is another use for the oil of anointing – the shepherd uses the oil to try to prevent injuries to the rams.  He coats their heads and massive horns with slippery oil so that when the rams butt heads, their horns slip off their opponent harmlessly.  The result: the rams live to try again.

It’s easy for us to butt heads with others over silly things.  Very seldom do our disputes with other people come about because of big, significant things, but they typically start out from smaller confrontations or slights: we weren’t invited to someone’s home while others were, we weren’t recognized for some small thing we did.  Women may be hurt that their spouses didn’t recognize and comment positively on a new hair style or dress.  Men get hurt that their work isn’t noticed by the boss or because they’re not thanked for taking out the garbage at home.  We have a choice then: we can butt heads, or we can let the smaller and less significant things just slide off before we, or an “opponent,” get hurt.

How do you respond when you suffer what you perceive to be a slight of some kind?  Do you attack?  Do you let the Shepherd’s oil keep you from injury?

PRAYER: Keep us from hurting others or ourselves because of slights and minor hurts!  Give us the grace to be gracious!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/22/19 – The Message of the Anointing Oil, #2

Image result for anointing with oil

DayBreaks for 10/22/19: The Message of the Oil of Anointing, #2

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2009:

Oil has always been used in medicinal ways, and when David spoke of the Good Shepherd anointing his head with oil, he had several images in mind.  In fact, in Psalm 23, he combined these images into one comprehensive picture.  Here’s the second lesson we can learn about oil, anointing and the Shepherd of our souls:

Part of the job of the shepherd was to prepare the pasture in the high country for the arrival of the sheep during the season of the year when the grass in the lower country was parched and dry.  Preparing that pasture included clearing it of harmful rocks, brush and thorns.  It involved clearing enough of an area so that any predators could be seen before they got too close to the flock.  It meant making sure there was enough water (still waters – sheep won’t drink readily from rapidly flowing water) and grass (green pastures).  The pasture was generally a relatively flat area – a table land (preparing the table).  It also meant another thing: looking for the holes of poisonous asps that lived in the high country. 

The asp lived in a hole in the ground.  They would attack the sheep by popping up out of their hole in the ground and biting them on the nose.  If the snake was a poisonous one, death could obviously result.  If it was non-poisonous, the bite could get infected and lead to serious, if not fatal, conditions in the sheep that was bitten.  In order to help prevent the asps from claiming the lives of sheep, the shepherd would take oil and pour it around the hole of the asp…and then to anoint the sheep’s head and especially their nose with the slippery oil so that if the asp was still able to get out of their hole in the ground, their attempted bite would strike the oil-slicked nose or head of the sheep and glance off. 

In such a way, the shepherd protected the flock from enemies…and he had prepared the table land in the presence of those very enemies.  God has done the same for us through Christ.  Certainly, we can hear echoes of the communion table that the Lord has prepared – and as Max Lucado noted, it was at the Passover feast where Christ had prepared the table that he also sent the enemy (Judas) out without letting him participate in the prepared table. 

God protects us in ways we will never know or understand.  The sheep don’t understand the anointing with oil – they don’t understand how its viscosity and slipperiness works.  They don’t have degrees in chemistry.  All they can do is lower their heads before the Shepherd and let him anoint them and trust that he knows what he’s doing.  We need to do the same!

PRAYER: We are so grateful that you have prepared a table for us in the midst of our enemies, and that you have given the Spirit to anoint and fill us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/25/19 – Snakebit

Image result for biting snake

DayBreaks for 9/25/19: Snakebit

My son, Tim, recently wrote a brief article in the October 2019 edition of Christianity Today about a story in the book of Numbers. You may recall that the Israelites were in the wilderness when, in apparent desperation, they grumble about God. “Fiery” serpents show up and start biting them and many died. Moses intercedes and God instructs him to fashion a bronze serpent and put it up on a pole so that …if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live (Num 21:9, ESV).

It only takes five verses to cover the tale. As strange as the story is, Jesus alludes to it in John 3:14, saying that he would also be lifted up and that anyone who looked to him would find life everlasting.

But here’s what caught my attention in Tim’s article: “One of my favorite aspects of the Numbers story is what it requires

of the afflicted. If a snake bites your foot, the natural reaction is to look down. We are all tempted to fixate on our troubles and our fears. In order to look for God, in order to be healed, we have to lift our eyes and see God’s provision.”

We are often afflicted, are we not? And when we do, we hang our heads, downcast and we can’t seem to think of anything else but how we’ve been wounded. If the Israelites hung their heads in despair, they would die. They were forced to lift their eyes heavenward if they wanted to survive.

Nothing has changed since then. If we want to survive, we must still look upward. It’s a natural reaction to look at your foot if you’ve been bitten by a snake, it is intuitively unnatural to look upward. God knows our tendencies and that we will fixate on the wrong thing if we aren’t careful.

Struggling? Have you been snake-bit? Look up to see Jesus and find life!

PRAYER: Jesus, let us lift our eyes to you when we need help and when we have been ‘snake-bit’ to find deliverance!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/16/19 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me…about Snakes

DSC06520DayBreaks for 08/16/19: Lessons My Dog Taught Me – About Snakes

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

(Written on August 10, 2009) – Well, what a day it has been.  Actually, what a 24 hours it has been.  Starting last night at about 9:30 p.m., Casper (our white boxer) discovered a rattlesnake about 6 feet up the hill behind our house.  At first I didn’t know what it was when I heard it – it sounded more like an electrical buzzing than the rattlesnakes you hear on TV.  Casper was jumping against a retaining wall at the edge of our patio that hold the hill in abeyance, and I eventually saw why: a rattler, about 2 feet long, that started slithering up the hillside toward some brush.  I immediately brought him back inside and blocked off the dog door so neither Casper nor Rainie (our other dog) could get outside and get bitten.  I then launched a frantic search for the ammunition for either the .22 or the shotgun. 

By the time I found the ammunition, the snake had crawled up under some brush, but I could still hear it, even though I couldn’t see it very well (it was dark, my eyes aren’t the best anymore, and the brush concealed most of it except for its tail.)  Since it was late, I used the .22 and not the shotgun.  I didn’t want to alarm the neighbors.  I thought I hit the snake…but perhaps it just jumped a couple of times.  Then it disappeared.  Laurel (my wife) was concerned about it, but I assured her that the snake wouldn’t come back during the night to bother the dogs.  As it turns out, I was wrong. 

We all passed a fairly sleepless night and every time the dogs got up to go outside, I listened…but heard nothing.  Nothing, that is, until about 5:30 a.m. when Casper went outside and I heard the very distinct sound that I’d heard the night before.  I raced out to the patio door, but before I got there, I heard Casper yelp.  As soon as it hit the door, I looked out and there was Casper, by then about 10 feet from the rattler that had curled up next to some flower pots on the deck.  I got him inside, but the snake was laying on concrete so I couldn’t shoot it with the rifle or shotgun for fear of ricochet.  I shut the dog door again to keep Casper and Rainie both inside, and that’s when I saw Casper bleeding from the nose.  He’d been bitten.  We hurried him to the emergency vet where they began anti-venom and we drove home, leaving him behind. 

When we got inside, we were stunned to see that Rainie had also been bitten and her snout was swelling.  We took her to the vet in town for treatment.  As of this writing, both dogs are still at the vet’s, in stable condition and expected to recover…we’re still praying about that at this moment.

This episode taught me a couple of things:

FIRST: Even a little snake can be horrifying deadly.  This wasn’t a large rattler by any means, but it is the little ones that are the most deadly because they are easily frightened and they’ve not learned to control their venomous injections – so they shoot the venom with, dare I say, venom!  A small snake can give you a bigger, more deadly dose of venom than a larger one would.  I would suppose that when Eve saw Satan, the serpent, in the garden, she wasn’t too alarmed.  I doubt that he looked like a hulking, menacing anaconda with fangs dripping with poison.  He probably presented himself in a beautiful, innocent, small looking form – she certainly didn’t seem to be alarmed by his appearance.  A little bit of Satan’s influence in our lives can destroy or disfigure.  It is often the seemingly innocent flirtation with something sinful that explodes into a full-blown affair, a pattern of theft, hatred, prejudice, etc.  Once the poison is in, it’s very hard to get it out.  And it always leaves a mark and causes great pain and distress.

SECOND: When you see something deadly, you better take deadly action yourself rather than playing around with it in a non-lethal fashion.  I was so wrong to be more worried about the possible noise of the shotgun going off and disturbing the neighbors than I was about the potentially deadly snake that was virtually on the doorstep.  Satan is out to KILL you…don’t be fooled.  Don’t think that just because you might have sent him packing the last time that he’ll stay gone.  He’ll be back.  He’ll be ruthless and he’ll be deadly…if you don’t cut his head off when you have the chance.  Don’t mess around with deadly things like sin in your life.  Kill it…NOW…before it might kill something you love!!!!

It looks at this time like our dogs will survive, yet they are paying a price for my reticence to kill the snake when I had a chance.  Don’t let your family or soul pay for your reluctance to take definitive action against the things that entice you!

PRAYER:  We need to be much more alert and savvy to Satan and his whereabouts in our lives, Lord!  Help us to be able to see him and recognize his poison early and to take effective action by the application of Your Spirit.  Lord, kill the sin-lust that rages in our heart and keep us pure and holy in Your eyes.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/02/19 – Toleration of Pests

Image result for cockroaches

DayBreaks for 08/02/19: Toleration of Pests

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2019:

Pests—bugs and rodents—even the thought of them makes our skin crawl.  It’s a fact that pests find their way into everyone’s home at one time or another. The question is, do we hate them enough to do what it takes to get rid of them?  One survey says that the answer to that question depends on what sort of pest it is.  Researchers have found that people will dish out their hard-earned money for an exterminator (meaning they are really serious about getting results) when the following pests are in their home:

Twenty-four percent of adults will pay an exterminator to kill spiders.

Roughly the same number, 27 percent, will pay to annihilate ants.

With the next pest the percentage jumps to just over half, as 56 percent will pay to banish bedbugs.

The same percentage, 56 percent, will pay to get rid of rodents. (That’s mice and rats.  And some people keep these things as pets!!!)

Fifty-eight percent will pay to kill cockroaches.  (Only 58%?!?!?!?  What’s wrong with the other 42%!!!!!!) 

And then there’s a big jump in the number when we talk about termites.  Eighty-seven percent of adults—that’s 9 out of 10—will pay to terminate termites.

How telling it is that with the exception for termites, almost half of adults will live with some very unpleasant pests rather than pay a professional to get rid of the bugs and rodents.  This survey also showed that many people are willing to endure a certain kind of pest, but not others.  (Data from Anne R. Carey and Keith Simmons, “Calling the Exterminators: Critters that bug us most,” USA Today Snapshots (May 22-25), 1A; based on survey of 1,253 adults by Global Strategy Group for Orkin)

Spiritually, things aren’t much different.  Many people are willing to live—or feel they have to live—with spiritual ants, spiritual spiders, spiritual bedbugs, spiritual cockroaches, spiritual mice, spiritual rats, or spiritual termites. Some sins we tolerate in ourselves; others we won’t.  What I may tolerate you may not, but what you tolerate I won’t.  We have grown comfortable with our own pests and have learned to co-exist with them. 

That, however, is not what God wants us to do.  For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live…  Romans 8:13 (NIV)

Have you grown too comfortable with the pests in your spiritual house?  Let’s stop resisting the Spirit who wants to exterminate those pests and cooperate with Him!

PRAYER:  May Your Spirit have His full and complete work in us to eliminate the misdeeds of our bodies.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/23/19 – In Green Pastures

Image result for lie down in green pastures

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.  ><}}}”>