DayBreaks for 1/18/19 – The Braggart

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DayBreaks for 01/18/2019: The Braggart

From the DayBreaks archive, January 2009:

I recently took a “fun” quiz that was forwarded around on the Internet, and one of the questions was to name a characteristic that you hate.  I have to admit that I struggled with that one.  I don’t enjoy being around complainers (fortunately, there are very few of those in my life!) or those who are always trying to impress someone with their talk or wisdom.  Maybe that’s because I can get easily confused and I’m not smart enough to follow their big words.  People who are always talking “big talk” to impress are generally very insecure people, and they remind me of this rather humorous story:

A man was driving through the countryside when suddenly his car stalled.  He got out to see what was wrong, and as he bent over the motor, he heard a voice say, ‘That trip to Japan was wonderful last spring.’  He looked around but saw no one.  All he could see was an old horse standing in the meadow.  The horse looked straight at him and said, ‘Yes, that trip was almost as good as the one to Paris and Rome the year before.’

Well, the man became almost hysterical with excitement.  He ran to the farmhouse at the edge of the meadow, pounded on the door, took out his billfold and said, ‘I want to buy that horse at any price.’  Calmly, the farmer replied, ‘Oh, you mustn’t pay too much attention to that horse.  He hasn’t been to half the places he talks about.’

Why is it that we have such a strong tendency to promote ourselves and talk about ourselves in ways that are intended to do nothing but try to impress others?  I think James 3:13-16 gives us some really good clues: If you are wise and understand God’s ways, live a life of steady goodness so that only good deeds will pour forth. And if you don’t brag about the good you do, then you will be truly wise! But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your hearts, don’t brag about being wise. That is the worst kind of lie. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and motivated by the Devil. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and every kind of evil.

Bottom line: we either are bragging about the good things we do (and why would we do that? – to get the praise of humans!), OR we are jealous and full of selfish ambition and so we brag about what we’ve done and how good we are – the “worst kind of lie” as James put it.  Such things are not motivated by God or by trying to bring Him glory, but by the Devil!

How much better off we’d be if no one was trying to impress others!!!!  Let us be content to be what and who God created us to be.  When we live that way, we bring Him glory!

PRAYER: Father, may we trust in You to honor those who are genuine in Your time and may we not pursue the praise of other humans.  Help us to be content to be what You have made us to be!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 1/17/19 – There Is No Other Stream

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DayBreaks for 01/17/2019: There Is No Other Stream

There’s a story in The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis about a girl named Jill Pole, and Aslan, the great Christ-figure lion in the story.  Jill has grown thirsty in the forest, and she hears the sound of the stream in the distance.  Her thirst drives her to find the stream so she can drink.  She knows that a great lion is afoot, so she’s cautious.  Finally, she sees the stream, but is terrified by what she sees.  Her thirst is like a fire, but sitting by the stream of water is Aslan, the huge lion, very much alive, though sitting very still.  She waits until she’s nearly crazed from thirst, hoping he’ll go away, but he doesn’t budge.

Suddenly, he spoke: “If you are thirsty, you may drink.”  Jill is startled and holds back.  “Are you not thirsty?, said the Lion.

“I am dying of thirst,” said Jill.

“Then drink,” said the lion.

“May I..could I..would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill.  The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl.  And just as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.  The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her near frantic.

“Will you promise not to – do anything to me, if I come?”

“I make no promise,” said the Lion.  Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.

“Do you eat girls?” she said.

“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion.  It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry.  It just said it.

“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.

“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.

“Oh, dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer.  “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”

“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.”

I’ve been thirsty before – what I considered (at the time) as desperately thirsty, although I’m sure it was nothing compared to what some have endured.  I like this story from The Silver Chair because it describes the decision that we must all make: the God of Scripture is a wild, untamed God who has crushed empires literally overnight.  He is a God who does as He pleases, for the reasons that suit His purposes, for His glory – and not for ours.  He is a God who makes no excuses (and because He is God and Sovereign) and who needs no excuses to be made for Him or offered up for Him.  He simply is God – God Almighty and no one can thwart Him in anything He decides to do.  He is alternately terrifying and the tender One who holds little children on His lap and blesses them.  He is everywhere at all times and at times disturbingly silent and seemingly absent.  He is a God who is not content to have just created – but a God who chooses to insert Himself into His creation when and if it pleases Him – but who at other times is maddeningly distant.

What will happen if we come to the river to drink?  This God is frightening – just ask Jill Pole.  But there is no other stream – there is no fountain of youth and there is no other fountain of Life than that which flowed from the veins and mercy of Christ.  Come to the stream – drink – be refreshed and know that He remains God – and you are not He.

John 4:10 (NIV)Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.

John 4:13-14 (NIV)Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

PRAYER: You are high and lifted up, Lord God Almighty.  We tremble in fear of Your great power and come timidly before You where we are encouraged by Your welcome and invitation to drink – and find not death, but Life!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/16/19 – When the Wine Runs Out

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DayBreaks for 01/16/2019: When the Wine Runs Out

The world famous Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway was a person who went for it all. A newspaper reporter, ambulance driver during WWII, involved in the Spanish Civil War, friend to bullfighters as well as authors–he did it all. And, when he did it he did it to the fullest. In a manner of speaking he enjoyed the wine of life. But there came a day when the wine of joy ran out.

Carlos Baker records it in his biography of Hemingway in this way: Sunday morning dawned bright and cloudless. Ernest awoke early as always. He put on the red “Emperor’s robe” and padded softly down the padded stairway. The early sunlight lay in pools on the living room floor. He had noticed that the guns were locked up in the basement, but the keys, as he well knew, were on the window ledge above the kitchen sink. He tiptoed down the basement stairs and unlocked the storage room. It smelled as dank as a grave. He chose a double barreled shotgun with a tight choke. He had used it for years to shoot pigeon’s. He took some shells from one of the boxes in the storage room, closed and locked the door, and climbed the basement stairs. If he saw the bright day outside, it did not deter him. He crossed the living room to the front foyer, a shrine-like entryway five feet by seven feet, with oak-paneled walls and a floor of linoleum tile. He slipped in two shells, lowered the gun butt carefully to the floor, leaned forward, pressed the twin barrels against his forehead just about the eyebrows and tripped both triggers.

What are you going to do when the wine runs out? Hemingway turned to the easy way out, but it was the way out to what? He turned to a gun to deal with his pain. I would rather turn to Jesus and godly friends to help me through the pain. I hope you will, too.

Prayer: Father, in your children’s pain, let us feel your presence and love as never before and give us the wisdom and strength to run to your arms! Help us remember that the pain is only fleeting and that joy comes again in the eternal morning. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/10/19 – The First Miracle

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DayBreaks for 01/10/2019: The First Miracle

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2009:

One of the craziest questions that is asked (at least on television shows or movies about beauty pageants – at least in “Miss Congeliality”) relates to what the individual would do if they could have the power to change anything – but only one thing – in the world.  The right answer, according to that movie, is to say, “World peace.”  Not bad.  Not bad at all.  But what about you?  What would you do if you had the power to change any one thing in the entire world?  You might say, “Cure cancer”, “Eliminate heart disease”, “End poverty”, “Make sure no one goes to bed hungry” or any of a number of things.  And who among us wouldn’t love to have the power to be able to do something like that?

Well, Jesus did have the power.  He still does.  And so it is all the more interesting that when it came time for his first miracle, it had nothing to do with erasing wars, poverty, or disease.  It had to do with helping someone who had run out of wine at a wedding feast. 

I don’t for one minute think that Jesus chose a “low-level” nearly invisible miracle as his first one because he wasn’t sure he could pull it off – he wasn’t just “testing the water” (pun intended!) to see if he had power left over from before the Incarnation.  He chose this time and place, and this specific miracle rather than anything else that had global impact.  Why?

There are the obvious social things: it was expected that wine would be plentiful – not to encourage drunkenness, but because to the Jews, wine was a sign of joy – and what is more joyful than a long-awaited wedding?  It is true that those present would go away and tell others about what Jesus did, but wouldn’t it have been more newsworthy and would have been on more front pages if he’d started out with raising the dead?  The resurrection of Lazarus was pretty flashy, after all, and certainly got the attention of a lot of people! 

I think this was the first miracle because again, God was trying to say, “I care about you and what you care about.”  Jesus’ friend (assuming he knew the host, which he almost certainly did) was at risk of embarrassment (heavens, no!).  It wasn’t like his friend was about to die of embarrassment or be cut off from his family forever because of this faux pas.  It seems a relatively minor thing.  But to Jesus it wasn’t.  It was enough to make Jesus exert Divine power on behalf of his friend.

Jesus cares.  He really does.  He showed it by turning water into wine as his first miracle instead of ensuring world peace.  The latter would have been just as easy for him as the first.  His choice for miracle number one was very telling.  What does it tell you about your situation right now?

Prayer:  Blessed be Your name, o Mighty God, for all Your goodness and care for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/09/18 – A Morsel or a Feast?

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DayBreaks for 01/09/2019: A Morsel or a Feast?

From the DayBreaks Archive, 01/05/09:

“If I can only touch his robe,” she thought to herself.  The poor woman had been bleeding for years.  No one had been able to alleviate her suffering.  There was one more hope, one more chance – and she knew she had to take it.  The Rabbi was coming to town and he was the talk of the village.  The things he’d done elsewhere were incredible – or at least the stories of them were!  He’d healed the lame, given sight to the blind – even those blind since birth!  There were even stories about him raising the dead.  It was worth a chance – it was the last option she could think of.

But the crowds were so large – and she was so embarrassed by her condition.  How could she ever talk to him?  And then it dawned on her, “Maybe I don’t need to talk to him.  Maybe he doesn’t need to touch me.  Maybe it’ll be enough if I can just touch his robe.”  And so, casting caution to the wind and subjugating her fears, she pressed into the crowd.  It was hard to see where he was through the many bodies, but suddenly, there he was – right in front of her.  Did she dare reach out to touch him?  Others were.  He was being bumped and jostled.  But did she have the courage? 

Finally, she stretched out her arm and barely touched the hem of his robe.  And immediately, he stopped and turned, and she was in the spotlight – the very last thing she ever wanted.  “Who touched me?” he asked.  “It was me,” she stammered, eyes wanting to turn down to the ground in shame, but somehow she couldn’t tear her eyes away from his.  But she was healed.

In this miracle, recorded in Mark chapter 5, there are several things worth grasping:

FIRST: the part of the woman in what happened was miniscule.  She just reached out.  What she did isn’t as important as the fact that she did something.  She wasn’t content, in her need and misery, to just sit and hope Jesus would bump into her.  She was tired of being sick and wanted to be healed – now, today.  We are often far to content to remain in our sickness.  After a while, it becomes a part of our identity – and some even seem to revel in their misery and telling others how miserable their life is.  None of that for this woman.  There should be none of it for us, either!  Her healing started when she reached out to Jesus.  It’s the same with us.

The next two lessons are unique to this story in the Bible.  It’s not recorded that they happened anywhere else, but Mark took the time to point them out for us, and I’m glad he did:

SECOND: Jesus healed the woman before he even knew it.  I suppose this could be debated – being God, he certainly knew she was there, but his statement, “I felt power go out from me” is only made here and not in any other case of healing.  There wasn’t any fancy light show, trumpets blaring, or public pronouncements of “Watch this, folks…just watch what I’m going to do for this woman.”  It just happened before Jesus could even apparently think about it.  As Max Lucado put it, it seems as if the Father short-circuited Jesus for a moment – the Divine Christ was a step ahead of the human Christ.  No hoopla.  Just healing.  This tells me that God/Jesus are eager to heal…perhaps just waiting for us to reach out and make some effort, as did this woman.

THIRD: when Jesus addresses this woman, he calls her “Daughter.”  He never says that to anyone anywhere else – not to Mary Magdalene, not to Mary or Martha, not to anyone that we know of.  If you were that woman – full of fear and trepidation, singled out in front of the entire crowd who has grown silent, listening to the interchange – how do you think it would have made you feel to hear him tenderly call you, “Daughter” and not “Woman…” or “You…”?

Tolstoy wrote of a time he met a beggar on the street.  Tolstoy reached into his pocket to give the man some money, but found there was nothing there.  Tolstoy said, “I’m sorry, brother, but I have nothing to give you.”  The beggar’s face lit up and he said, “You have given me more than I asked for – you have called me brother.”

To the loved, to the desperate, to the lonely and love-starved, a single word is not just a morsel, but a feast!

Prayer:  Almighty Creator, Loving Father – thank you for wanting to heal us.  Give us the courage to reach out.  Help us hear your Son’s voice as he calls us “son” or “daughter”.  May we rest in Your everlasting goodness!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/08/19 – The Power of a Timid Prayer

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DayBreaks for 01/08/2019: The Power of a Timid Prayer

From the DayBreaks Archive, 01/05/09:

It was 1992 and Derek Redmond, a 26-year old Briton, was running in the race he was favored to win in the Barcelona Olympics: the 400 meters.  He’d already passed the early qualifying rounds and was running in the semi-finals.  About half-way through the race, he collapsed onto the track, with agonizing pain in his right leg.  His hamstring was torn – his Olympic dream was gone.

As the medical personnel drew near, he raised himself to his feet, and with agony on his face, began hopping toward the finish line, about 200 meters away.  He later said that it was “animal instinct” that made him do it.  His coaches came running to him, but he pushed them away…and kept hopping in a crazy attempt to cross the finish line. 

By the time he got to the stretch, a large man with a t-shirt that said, “Have you hugged your child today?” and a hat that advised, “Just Do It!” had pushed his way through the crowd and somehow managed to get down onto the track.   It was Jim Redmond, Derek’s dad. 

As the tears of pain and disappointment flowed down Derek’s face, his dad said to him, “You don’t have to do this.” 

“Yes, I do,” Derek responded. 

“Well, then, we’re going to finish this together.”  And so Jim wrapped Derek’s arm around his shoulder and helped him hop and hobble toward the finish line.  By that time, security reached the two, and as Derek buried his face in his dad’s shoulder, they stayed in Derek’s lane all the way across the finish line.  The crowd was on their feet, first cheering, then weeping openly as the father and son finished the race together. 

In analyzing this story, Max Lucado pointed out: “What made the father do it?  What made the father leave the stands to meet his son on the track?  Was it the strength of his child?  No, it was the pain of his child.  His son was hurt and fighting to complete the race.  So the father came to help him finish.

“God does the same.  Our prayers may be awkward.  Our attempts may be feeble.  But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.

In the Biblical story, the father who intercedes for his dying son simply says, “I believe.  Help my unbelief.”  In that instance, the disciples had failed to cast out the demons that plagued the son, and the father was now trying Jesus to see if he could help.  “IF you can help…” was even how the father put it.  Jesus diagnosed the situation and said that this kind of demon only comes out through prayer.  Notice: in the entire encounter, the only prayer offered was that of the doubting father: “I believe, help my unbelief.”  Jesus didn’t stop and pray.  Yet the demons left.  It was at best a very timid prayer, but an honest one of agony and desperation. 

Never underestimate the power of your prayers – even when you are uncertain.  The Father responds to the pain of his children!

Prayer:  Jesus, thank you for joining us in the race of our life.  Thank you for hearing even our most doubting and timid prayers.  Thank you, Father, for responding to the pain of your children.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/07/19 – I Created YOU

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DayBreaks for 01/07/2019: I Created You

From the DayBreaks Archive, 01/05/09:

This past Christmas was not an easy one for many people for a variety of reasons.  Many have recently lost jobs, others fear a pink slip in the near future.  Some have had diagnoses that take one’s breath away and leave them trembling and numb with fear.  Some spent the holidays for the first time in decades without a beloved spouse, parent, child or sibling.  There are many causes of pain and hurt in this world.  And we often get angry at God and wonder, “Why don’t You do something about all this, God?”

In his book, Holy Wild, Mark Buchanan relates a story in a letter that he got from a missionary couple he knew in Brazil.  When I read this the first time, I wept: “Driving through the Christmas traffic, fighting the drizzling rain, I chanced on a four-year-old little girl.  She was wet and cold and shaking.  Her clothes were ragged, her hair was matted, and her nose was running.  She walked between the cars at the stoplight, washing headlights because she was too short to was windshields.  A few gave her coins, others honked at her to get away from their vehicles.

“As I drove away only some fifty cents poorer, I raged at God for the injustice in the world that allowed the situation.  ‘God, how could you stand by, helpless?’  Later that evening, God came to me softly with that still small voice and responded not in kind to my rage, but with tenderness, ‘I have done something.  I created you.

We will all likely face a world of hurt and pain this year.  It has been so from the beginning – with some periods of time being more painful than others.  I’m not a prophet like Isaiah, but I think this year will be a very painful year for humanity.  Rather than rage at God in bitterness and anger, let’s remember that He created us for a purpose – for good works in Christ.  May we be about our Father’s business in the midst of a sea of hurt.

1 John 3:11-14 (NIV) – This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. Qe know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.

Prayer:  Father, we are fearful as we enter this new year.  We are fearful for the pain our loved ones may face, for the pain that we may face personally.  It is so easy for us to become paralyzed by our fear and pain and to be so afraid that if we give something away to those who are needy, that we may have a shortage ourselves later.  Help us to remember that we were created not to be selfish, but to love one another – not just in heart, but in deed as well.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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