DayBreaks for 11/15/19 – Hidden Blessings

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DayBreaks for 11/15/19: Hidden Blessings

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

Franklin and Phileda Nelson went to Burma as missionaries in the 1940s. They served there eight and a half years before the government closed the country to further missionary work. They returned to the United States where Franklin served several churches in various pastoral roles.

While in Burma they worked among remote tribes, and Franklin found his sense of gratitude for God’s providence rekindled. When reflecting on his missions work, he said: “In the Burmese hill country, the only way to get to remote villages was by “shank mare.” (That’s walking, in case you’ve never heard the phrase.) It was not at all uncommon for me to walk twenty miles a day in the dry season. When I got back to the States and worked as a pastor and church leader, I rarely walked a mile a day; the telephone and car made walking unnecessary.

“In Burma, if one of us got sick, the nearest hospital was ten days away. In the States, medical care is minutes away. In Burma, we’d go months without bread. Once we asked our daughter Karen to say grace before a meal, and she said, “Why do I have to pray for my daily bread when I don’t ever get any?” I have often coveted that experience for our youngest daughter who never had to wonder where her food came from. It’s hard to have that sense of helplessness and humility so vital to prayer when you sit down to your daily bread and don’t even think about how you got it.   

“I don’t in any way blame people here for not knowing what God can do. We’re victims of our prosperity. But I sometimes wish we had a few more hard times so people could experience firsthand how wonderful it is to be totally dependent on God.

Those last six words haunt me.  I know that I should trust God completely.  I know intellectually that I am totally dependent on God.  But I don’t live as if it’s true. The very statement “…how wonderful it is to be totally dependent on God” – how does that make you feel? 

Our feelings, of course, change nothing in regard to the veracity of the statement.  We are – like it or not – totally dependent on Him.  TOTALLY.  Might we not be far better off if we just simply acknowledge that and live in that knowledge constantly?  Our strivings would cease, our worry lines would diminish, and we would find some of the blessings that Franklin and Phileda found in their hardships – a greater trust in Him in all things.

PRAYER: Help us to not thank you only for the good, but to search for the hidden blessings in suffering and hardship.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/11/19 – A Day in the Vineyard

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DayBreaks for 11/11/19: A Day in the Vineyard

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. When he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the market place; and to those he said, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ And so they went. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did the same thing. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day long?’ “They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last group to the first.’ When those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius. When those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they grumbled at the landowner, saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.’ But he answered and said to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’” – Matthew 20:1-15 (NASB)

The world has been going through tough times economically.  Certainly it has affect you or someone you love.  Jobs are hard to find.  People are taking jobs that they otherwise would not have even applied for, let alone considered.  I know people who would be thrilled to find a job at minimum wage right now.  They would jump at the chance to earn any money.  I’m sure you know people in that situation, too.

The story of the laborers in the vineyard has always been an interesting story to me.  We have a sense of fairness that is built in us by God.  As we consider this story, it is a good exercise for us to put ourselves in the place of those hired first and who worked all day for a denarius (the wages for an entire day’s labor).  We would be glad for the work, right?  We would feel a denarius was fair wages – so there’s no complaint there.  But if we came to the end of that day and learned that people who’d been hired at the end of the day for just one hour got the same pay – wouldn’t you be a bit upset?  Then, let’s place ourselves in the situation of the last-minute hires: we’d be happy for the work and pay and extremely surprised by the unexpected generosity when we received the wages for a full day.  We wouldn’t appreciate the argument put forth by the full day workers – we might be afraid that they’d convince the vineyard owner that he was, indeed, being foolish and not thinking clearly. 

The story is intended to make us appreciate grace – the grace that God has shown to us.  It may be informative for us to hear the rabbinic version of the story.  In the version told by rabbis of the time, the late workers worked so hard that they accomplished in one hour what took the other people a full day to accomplish – and they were rewarded for their extra-hard work.  This, however, is not part of the biblical story.  Jesus says absolutely nothing about how hard either the full-day workers or one-hour workers worked.  That’s not the point.  Jesus’ emphasis is on the generosity of the employer (God in the parable), who lavishes His rewards on both the long-time workers and the newcomers.  As Philip Yancey put it: “No one gets cheated and everyone gets rewarded, far beyond what they deserve.”

PRAYER: Help us not to be envious, Lord, of what You give others nor to compare it to what You have chosen to give us.  May we realize that we have no claim at all on Your goodness, nor any reason to expect goodness from You at all.  Let us understand a bit more fully the depth of the riches of Your grace that abounds toward us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/17/19 – Stubborn Persistence

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DayBreaks for 10/17/19: Stubborn Persistence

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2009:

Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  – Lk. 18:39

Have you ever given much thought to how often Jesus must have faced situations like the one in the verse above?  Everywhere he went, he was surrounded by the sick, the infirm, the possessed…constantly pressing in on all sides.  With grace beyond human comprehension, he ministered patiently, healing crowds that would give him no respite from the constant press and attention and demands. 

In Luke 18, we see Jesus’ disciples trying to get this infirm man to cease and desist with his yelling in his attempt to get Jesus’ attention.  As Michael Card put it: “Jesus should not have had time for such people. The blind man’s stubborn insistence to keep on crying out to Jesus is what makes me love him so much. I believe it’s why Jesus seems to have been delighted by him as well. He sits there forsaken, in his own dark world, crying out for a gift he knows he does not deserve. He cries out for mercy. His cry is the perfect prayer, because it is the simplest request for what is most critical. It asks from God what is most essential. It is a plaintive cry for a piece of God’s own heart.” – from Joy in the Journey Through the Year, 2007

We are to be persistent in prayer, in our crying out to Jesus.  I fear that we lack a great deal, especially here in America, of the “stuff” that makes for persistence.  If we try something a few times and don’t get the result we had hoped for, we are more tempted to quit than to redouble our efforts and keep plugging away.  We speak about “beating our head against the wall” as if it were a bad thing.  It’s not.  It’s also called persistence.  Remember the story about the man who had unexpected company arrive in the middle of the night, and how the homeowner went next door and beat on the door until the neighbor finally gave him bread and sent him back home to feed his unexpected guests?  Jesus says that’s a model for us to emulate in our prayer life. 

You may have prayed 5 times, 10 times, 20 times or more for something you desperately wanted.  Is that persistence?  Or is persistence praying until you receive it?  Of course, our prayers must be tempered by the knowledge that He knows what is good and best and we don’t – but I fear that we often give up WAY too soon.  If we prayed for 70 years for the same thing – especially for something like the salvation of a friend or family member – is that too long?  Not when we consider eternity. 

We must not give up praying for our lost friends and family.  We must learn to be stubbornly persistent in our prayers – and you can start today!

PRAYER: Lord, we will not give up praying for our lost friends and family.  May we persevere and not give in to the discouragement that Satan wants us to feel!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/10/19 – Praying When it Hurts

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DayBreaks for 10/10/19: Praying When it Hurts

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

How do you pray when you are hurting?  Maybe a better question would be, “How can you pray when you are hurting so badly that you can’t even think straight?”  Have you ever experienced so much hurt (regardless of the reason) that you just couldn’t find words to say?  I have.  And sometimes I didn’t make the effort to pray because it was just too hard.  Those were the moments when I had to trust the Spirit to make intercession.

The bible makes great claims for the power of prayer (Jn. 14:12-14 – I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

Do you believe it?  Really?  Was Jesus just being hyperbolic?  It is an incredible promise from Jesus’ own lips!  When you think about it – he had reason to be so positive and sure – wherever he went in life and saw people in pain, he did something about it.  Should we think that because he is no longer here on earth that he is now powerless to do anything about it?  No!  We know that prayer connects us with the One who can heal.  But it is the times when the “healing” doesn’t come that trouble us.  As Brother Lawrence wrote: “Even when miracles seem in very short supply, when emotional problems remain unresolved or a tumor does not shrink, prayer is never wasted…many times when the specific healings I’ve prayed for have not materialized, but the situation changed in other ways.  These, too, are answers to prayer.” 

Then, he made a good observation: “We have not matured as men and women of prayer because we have not put a fraction of the time, thought and effort into learning to pray which we readily invest in our work, our hobbies, our human relationships…  If we are retarded in prayer, then we ourselves suffer for it – but so does the world.  The world needs us to be prayer therapists.  Prayer is God’s appointed way by which we become channels of His healing power.”

 “Prayer is a key which unlocks the blessings of the day and locks up the dangers of the night.”  (Anon.)  If your day could use more blessing, if your night could use more peace, prayer is the key!

PRAYER: Forgive our lack of time in speaking and listening to You in prayer.  May our desire to be with you in prayer grow and increase constantly so we may come to know you and love you more each moment!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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.  ><}}}”>

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.  ><}}}”>