DayBreaks for 8/19/19 – Who Signed Me Up for This?

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DayBreaks for 08/19/19: Who Signed Me Up for This?

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

A woman named Linda is a teacher in Texas and she told the following story about one of her interactions with a first-grade student in her class on the first day of school.  “Accustomed to going home at noon in kindergarten, Ryan was getting his things ready to leave for home when he was actually supposed to be heading to lunch with the rest of the class.  I asked him what he was doing. “I’m going home,” he replied.  I tried to explain that now that he is in the first grade, he would have a longer school day. “You’ll go eat lunch now,” I said, “and then you’ll come back to the room and do some more work before you go home.” Ryan looked up at me in disbelief, hoping I was kidding.  Convinced of her seriousness, Ryan then put his hands on his hips and demanded, “Who on earth signed me up for this program?”

Haven’t you felt a little bit like Ryan at times?  We had a comfortable old life before coming to Christ.  By that I mean that we were on familiar ground, we didn’t feel very guilty because we may not have believed in such a thing as sin, we felt we were in control, and we may have even thought we were happy.  Then we became Christians and we find that life changed – not just in small, subtle ways, but in BIG ways.  The requirements are daunting—”Surely the Lord doesn’t expect me to forgive seventy times seven;” “Surely he doesn’t want me to turn the other cheek when someone hurts me;” “What does he mean, ‘take up my cross’?” “What’s this bit about I must be holy even as God is holy?  How can I possibly achieve that?!?!”

It isn’t long before you want to say, “Who on earth signed me up for this program?”  Stop and think about it.  In a way, no one signed you up.  In another way, your parents signed you up without your permission.  In order to get a proper perspective on this, though, I think we must reflect back on Ryan and his consternation for being signed up for a more rigorous schooling challenge.  Would it have really been to Ryan’s advantage to have remained in kindergarten the rest of his life, to have never gone on to higher demands and higher lessons learned?  Of course not. 

God could have said that when we came to Him, we could stay in kindergarten, as it were…and not have to grow or change or stop acting like little spoiled children.  Jesus never misled anyone about the cost of following him.  The cost is high: your own life put on your own cross.  Not literally (most likely) but your life is to be sacrificed to him.  Some may spend their entire Christian lives complaining to God about how hard the Walk is and how unfair it seems. 

Isn’t it about time we stopped complaining about what we signed up for and get on with living it out? 

PRAYER:  Lord, thank you that you have enrolled us in the school of the abundant life.  Help us not to complain about the lessons, but to accept them in faith knowing that they help us to grow into Your likeness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 8/6/10 – Pain Relief

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DayBreaks for 08/06/19: Pain Relief

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2019:

Job is such a fascinating study of faith under pressure.  He didn’t always shine brightly throughout the test and perhaps that is why reading his story is so instructive and educational for us today.  Once, in this country, the pressure was on those who had no faith.  They were considered the outcasts, pagan, headed for a horrible end unless they came to Christ.  Today, those tables have largely been turned in our country and it is people of faith who find increasing pressure to abandon faith and doctrine in favor of political correctness and “tolerance.” 

We know that faith is necessary if we are to please God (Heb. 11:6).  But faith discovers what it is really made of in times of trouble, not when everything is peachy.  No one needs faith when things are going well – but turn up the burners and it is quickly seen whether faith goes up in a flash of fire and smoke, or whether it just gets hotter and more powerful. 

It is easy to say that we “know God.”  We even use the phrase, “I have come to know Him” as a statement that we’ve become Christians.  Mike Mason puts a bit of a different spin on what faith really is when he wrote in The Gospel According to Job: “But as we progress in faith we go through times when we are less and less certain that we really know Him at all, and yet more certain than ever that He knows us.”  In Genesis, it was the Egyptian run-away (from Abraham and Sarah), Hagar, who made this incredible statement as she and her son sat dying in the desert: You are the God who sees me. (Gen. 16:13)

Hagar’s statement is perhaps really the essence of faith.  As Mason put it: “Real faith is not so much seeing God, as knowing that one is seen.  Only this kind of faith is resilient enough to embrace ‘trouble from God.’”

When one is hurting as Job was hurting, would it have done him much good to “see God”?  I suspect that it was of much more comfort to Job to know that God saw him in his own suffering, sitting among the dust and ashes, tormented by pain and grief.  It was that kind of faith that allowed Job to say Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?  (Job 2:20)

In pain, our greatest comfort often doesn’t come through morphine or vicodin, but through not being alone.

PRAYER:  How grateful we are today, Lord, that you see each of us exactly where we are, with the pain and suffering that we all experience from time to time.  Thank you for your promises that we will never find ourselves alone as long as heaven endures!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/05/19 – God and Circumstances

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DayBreaks for 08/05/19: God and Circumstances

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2019:

I can’t help but think of Joseph when I think of circumstances.  It wasn’t his fault his father favored him.  It wasn’t his fault his father made him a special coat.  It wasn’t his fault God sent him the dreams that seemed to be the icing on the cake as far as his brothers’ hatred of him was concerned.  It wasn’t his fault he was thrown into the pit.  It wasn’t his fault the Midianite traders came and bought him.  It wasn’t his fault he got bounced out of Potiphar’s house.  It wasn’t his fault he was in jail and overlooked and forgotten.  It wasn’t his fault the plagues descended on Egypt.  None of those things were his fault, but they were all part of the circumstances of his life.

I know plenty of people who get frustrated with the circumstances in which they find themselves, and from time to time, I am among their number.  And like many of my Christian friends who find themselves in unpleasant circumstances, I will pray and ask God to change the situation.  You know what?  As far as I can tell (and my perception is as limited as yours), God seldom seems to change those circumstances.  Need some money to pay bills?  Pray about it…and see if a check shows up in the mail.  My experience has been that it seldom happens.  Need a change in health?  Pray about it.  It may or may not come to pass.  Praying for someone to continue living instead of dying?  If we all prayed about that until we were blue in the face, eventually that person will die – no matter how hard we might have prayed in the intervening time period. 

I am reminded of another who prayed for a change of circumstances.  He knelt down in a garden and pleaded with God to change the circumstances in which he found himself.  And, either God didn’t answer, or the Bible doesn’t record it.  Or, perhaps, there is a third option: God did answer with a “No” and Jesus was prepared to accept that answer. 

I fear that all too often I’m not prepared to accept God’s “no” to my request to change circumstances.  The result in Joseph’s life was the saving of the promised people – the very preservation of their lives through the famine.  It was also to build character in Joseph’s life.  Moses was no different – he often complained to God about the circumstances in which he found himself along with the rest of Israel.  He grew as a result. 

Why should we be prepared to accept God’s “no” when we request a change in circumstances in our lives?  Because God has a plan.  He always has a purpose.  We seldom see it – not even in hindsight – but if we are to trust God with our souls should we not also trust Him with what He is doing in our earthly lives? 

I am not denying the power of prayer – not for one bit.  Just wrestling with the all-too-frequent “no’s” and why they come.  There is a purpose.  Was there a purpose in God’s denying His own Son’s request from the dirt of Gethsemane?  Most certainly!  And there is a purpose for the times God refuses to change my circumstances, too.  If God didn’t change Jesus’ circumstances, He may choose in His divine wisdom not to change mine, either.  Better I should learn my lessons quickly!

Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.  – Philippians 1:12-14 (NASB)

PRAYER:  I’m sorry, Lord, for the times I have grown frustrated and angry with You for not changing my circumstances.  Please, use the circumstances in my life to make me more like Jesus so that the gospel can move forward and progress.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/26/19 – Unfulfilled Expectations

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DayBreaks for 06/26/09: Unfulfilled Expectations

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2009:

The boy was 10 years old. He was known as Phineas. His grandfather, in his will, had left him an island – Ivy Island. Phineas had never seen the island, but dreamt of it often. He pictured how he’d build a house, raise cattle and grow prosperous. But he’d never seen it. All that was about to change. After several requests and years of asking, his father finally agreed to take him to see the island. The father, young boy and a hired hand climbed into the wagon and slowly made their way toward the coast of Connecticut. Finally, as they crested a hill, the father told Phineas that if he ran to the tree line and looked toward the sea, that he’d see his island. The young boy leaped down from the wagon, ran though the trees and caught his first glimpse of Ivy Island – the place of his dreams. However, what he saw wasn’t what he expected. Instead of a beautiful, green island surrounded by the beautiful blue sea, he saw 5 acres of swampy marshland.

Phineas grew bitter and it affected the rest of his life. In fact, later on, Phineas (who was to become known as P.T.), coined the phrase, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” You know him as P.T. Barnum, the circus huckster who lured people with promises of freaks and absurdities.

There is something about bitterness that is ugly. Scripture talks about bitterness in this way from Heb 12:15: See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

Brain tumors are sometimes very difficult to remove because they grow “roots” that intertwine with the brain stem and other parts of the brain. These roots are very difficult, if not impossible, to extract. Bitterness has the same potential to get into our heads and grow into all the little, dark places where it settles in and makes itself at home.

When it seems like life lets you down, we can become bitter. The promise of a raise wasn’t kept, the recognition that was earned wasn’t delivered, the marriage that was supposed to last forever doesn’t. These are facts of life. They do happen and they happen in some way or form to everyone.

What do you do about it? First, in the Hebrews passage, part of the solution seems to be to not overlook God’s grace – rather than meditating on the wrong has been done to us, focus on how much we have received from God that we had no right to expect. Second, realize you can’t stay in a protective shell – you have to move on. You could choose to shelter your heart if your love has been betrayed, but what a horrible life that would be! Love again – take the risk. Let Jesus bring you healing. Don’t give bitterness a place to grow in your heart. It was meant to hold God’s love, not bitterness.

PRAYER: Give us hearts that hold no bitterness.  Give us eyes to see that we deserve nothing from You.  Give us hope in Your eternal love for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/11/19 -The King is Listening

DayBreaks for 6/11/19: The King is Listening

In a far country lived a band of minstrels who traveled from town to town presenting music to make a living. They had not been doing well. Times were hard; there was little money for common folk to come to hear the minstrels, even though their fee was small. Attendance had been falling off, so one evening the group met to discuss their plight. ‘I see no reason for opening tonight,’ one said. ‘To make things even worse than they may have been, it is starting to snow. Who will venture out on a night like this?’ ‘I agree,’ another disheartened singer said. ‘Last night we performed for just a handful. Fewer will come tonight. Why not give back their meager fees and cancel the concert? No one can expect us to go on when just a few are in the audience.’ ‘How can anyone do his best for so few?’ a third inquired. Then he turned to another sitting beside him. ‘What do you think?’ The man appealed to was older than the others. He looked straight at his troupe. ‘I know you are discouraged. I am, too. But we have a responsibility to those who might come. We will go on. And we will do the best job of which we are capable. It is not the fault of those who come that others do not. They should not be punished with less than the best we can give.’ Heartened by his words, the minstrels went ahead with their show. They never performed better. When the show was over and the small audience gone, the old man called his troupe to him. In his hand was a note, handed to him by one of the audience just before the doors closed behind him. ‘Listen to this, my friends!’ Something electrifying in his tone of voice made them turn to him in anticipation. Slowly the old man read: ‘Thank you for a beautiful performance.’ It was signed very simply–‘Your King.’

Your King hears every song and cry of your heart – he never misses a word.

PRAYER: Thank you for how closely you pay attention to us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/08/19 – Settling for Lesser Things

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DayBreaks for 5/08/19: Settling for Lesser Things

From the DayBreaks archive: May 2009

We have all at one time or another had to “settle” for less than we wanted or hoped for. As a child, it may have been settling for a cookie instead of a full-blown banana split.  As a teenager, it might be something like settling for an iPod Nano instead of a full-blown iPod.  As an adult, perhaps you’ve had to settle for a two bedroom apartment instead of a 10 bedroom, 5 bath, 3 car garage home with a pool and built in bowling alley. We all have had to settle for lesser things. 

And even though we’re had to do it many times, it doesn’t mean we like it.  We still have the desire for more and bigger and better.  But we seldom get all that we’d really like to have. 

Consider this story, told by Skye Jethani in his book, The Divine Commodity, (copyright 2009, pg. 113), about a trip he took to India with his father. While walking the streets of New Delhi, a little boy approached them. He was “skinny as a rail, and naked but for tattered blue shorts. His legs were stiff and contorted, like a wire hanger twisted upon itself.” Because of his condition, the little boy could only waddle along on his calloused knees. He made his way toward Skye and his father and cried out, “One rupee, please! One rupee!” Skye describes what happened when his father eventually responded to the boy’s persistent begging:

“What do you want?” [my father asked].

“One rupee, sir,” the boy said while motioning his hand to his mouth and bowing his head in deference. My father laughed.

“How about I give you five rupees?” he said. The boy’s submissive countenance suddenly became defiant. He retracted his hand and sneered at us. He thought my father was joking, having a laugh at his expense. After all, no one would willingly give up five rupees. The boy started shuffling away, mumbling curses under his breath.

“My father reached into his pocket. Hearing the coins jingle, the boy stopped and looked back over his shoulder. My father was holding out a five-rupee coin. He approached the stunned boy and placed the coin into his hand. The boy didn’t move or say a word. He just stared at the coin in his hand. We passed him and proceeded to cross the street.

“A moment later the shouting resumed, except this time the boy was yelling, “Thank you! Thank you, sir! Bless you!” He raced after us once again—but not for more money but to touch my father’s feet.

This, I imagine, is how our God sees us—as miserable creatures in desperate need of his help. But rather than asking for what we truly need, rather than desiring what he is able and willing to give, we settle for lesser things.”

Sometimes we need to learn to be content with lesser things, trusting that God in His wisdom knows what is best for us to have – and what is best for us not to have.  But we can fall into the trap of settling for too little when God wants so much for us: Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. (Ephesians 3:20, NLT) In context, Paul is talking about us being spiritual empowered.  What does that mean?  Let me put it this way: how easily do I give up when that old temptation comes a knockin’ on my door?  I’ve convinced myself that that old trickster the devil will never leave me alone, that I will never be free from that particular sin/temptation.  But God is able to give you and me power that we cannot even conceive of.  In fact, He’s already given us “all we need for life and godliness.”  He’s given us the power of the Spirit that hovered over the face of the deep and brought order out of chaos. 

If the Spirit could bring order out of the material chaos, how much more can He bring order out of the chaos of our lives…as long as we don’t settle for lesser things.

Prayer: God, teach us to be content with what You give us, but to never be content with our spiritual progress!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/03/19 – God’s Expectations

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DayBreaks for 5/03/19: God’s Expectations

From the DayBreaks archive: April 2009

Have you ever been the “victim” of someone else’s expectations of you?  Perhaps it was when you were a child: your mom or dad may have wanted you to be a doctor or lawyer when you grew up, but neither was of interest to you.  Or, perhaps you dad wanted you to be as great of a football player or basketball player as he was (or thinks he was!) in his hey-day.  Maybe your mother wanted you to be more beautiful than you were…and so she went to great lengths to get you interested in make-up and pretty things.  Parents, for the most part, really do want good things for their kids.  It’s just that often we don’t know what will really be good for them and what won’t.  But that does very little to temper our expectations. 

Maybe you are struggling with unrealistic expectations of yourself.  Some people hold themselves to impossibly high standards, while others don’t hold themselves to any standard of excellence at all.  Your employer may have unrealistic expectations of you in terms of how many hours you work, what you are expected to achieve. 

Expectations can be killers.

But hasn’t God said, Be holy, even as I am holy?  Now THERE’S a tough expectation to live up to!!!!  Be as holy as God?  Didn’t Jesus command, Be perfect…as your Heavenly father is perfect (Matt. 5:48)?  And didn’t the KJV, in describing Job, record that God Himself said that Job was “perfect”?  Talk about being set up for failure – this is looking like it could be the most colossal failure of all time!

Ah, here’s the release from the tension, and it’s found in Hebrews 10:14, where we are reassured that Christ…has made perfect forever those who are being sanctified.  Did you get that?  Christ “HAS MADE PERFECT FOREVER” those who are being sanctified.”  Past tense.  Done deal.  The perfection that God demands of us has been achieved – only not in us, but it was done by Christ himself!  God, being a good Father, knows we can’t live up to that expectation on our own, so He resolved the issue for us.  Note the second part of the verse, too: although we have been made (past tense) perfect, we are still “being sanctified.”  So, while our sanctification goes on, our perfection has been achieved.

Doesn’t this make some kind of sense: would God, being perfectly loving and knowing perfectly well what we are truly capable of (and what we aren’t), expect us to do the impossible?  As Mike Mason said in The Gospel According to Job: “Surely not – except by His grace.  And that is precisely the point: it is God’s grace, and nothing else, that declares a person perfect.  It is in God’s eyes that people achieve perfection, not in their own or in the world’s.  In our Heavenly Father’s garden, perfection is by faith and not by sight.”

Prayer: What a comfort it is to know that You know us perfectly well, and yet You have chosen to see us as perfect in Christ Jesus.  Thank You for understanding our inadequacies and for making provision for us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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