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.  ><}}}”>

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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 01/02/19 – Commitment

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DayBreaks for 01/02/2019: Commitment

From the DayBreaks archive, January 2009:

Commitment.  How committed are you? “Well,” you might say, “that depends on what you’re asking about.” Fair enough. How committed are you to your marriage? How committed are you to your children? How committed are you to your church and faithful, every-day and every-week service? How committed are you to your job and to being a light for Christ in the world? How committed are you to Jesus?

What is commitment? We think of it as “stick-to-itiveness”. Or we think of it in terms of dedication to a purpose or determination to reach a goal. Those aren’t bad, but there’s another aspect of commitment that really shows whether or not we are “committed”. It came in a devotion from Bob Gass Ministries. Here’s what he had to say: “If I could pick one word to describe commitment, I’d pick the word – alone. Daniel dined and prayed alone. Elijah sacrificed and witnessed alone. Jeremiah prophesied and wept alone. Paul said, “…all men forsook me…” (2 Tim. 4:16).

“The place of commitment is the place where God intervenes on your behalf. When the three Hebrew children of God made the commitment, God brought them out of the fiery furnace without even the smell of smoke. King Nebuchadnezzar was so impressed that he said, ‘…there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.’ (Dan. 3:29) That’s what the world is waiting for, somebody who’ll put everything on the line, get into the fiery furnace and let the world see God’s power.”

Commitment….alone. Perhaps that is the true measure of our commitment, don’t you think? Am I willing to stand for God all alone? Am I willing to stand alone for my marriage? Am I willing to stand alone for God in a workplace that is overwhelmed with darkness and that is openly hostile to Christ? The Hebrew children had God, and each other. What if they’d been alone?

I see in this concept the power of fellowship, but also the demand for commitment even if we, like Daniel, have to stand alone. It’s easy to say we’re committed when we sit in a pew on Sunday morning, but the real test of our commitment comes outside the walls of the church building when we are alone in the world.

Let me ask again: How committed are you to your marriage? How committed are you to your children? How committed are you to your church and faithful, every-day and every-week service? How committed are you to your job and to being a light for Christ in the world? How committed are you to Jesus? What you do when you are alone will tell you the answer to these questions – and reveal the depth of your true commitment!

Prayer: Teach us the kind of commitment that you have shown to us, Lord, even as you endured the loneliness of this world, this life, and the cross.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 01/01/2019: Live the Power

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Generators inside Hoover Dam. See the tiny human to the lower right. 

DayBreaks for 01/01/2019: Live the Power

From the DayBreaks archive, December 2008:

I am fascinated by power – not political or positional power, but energy. I’ve never been to Niagara Falls but only seen it from flying overhead. I’ve been told by those who’ve been there that the power of the water rushing over the falls is awesome. Hoover Dam houses 17 generators that are over 70 feet tall weighing over 2000 tons each. It takes about three years to assemble each generator. The moving part of each generator weighs over 800 tons and spins 3 times per second (180 times a minute!) Together, they generate over 2000 megawatts of energy (unless my math is wrong, that’s 2 billion watts). Pretty heady stuff. But it’s nothing compared to what’s being built just over the hill from us at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. It’s call the National Ignition Facility (NIF) and will be by far the most powerful laser in the world. Actually, it will be composed of 192 lasers when completed. Get this: the NIF will be able to generate 500 TRILLION watts of energy, a figure that is 100 times the total US generating capacity as of today. But there’s a tiny catch…that level of power will only be sustainable for 4 billionths of a second.

Here’s a story about another kind of power: “Christian Herter was the governor of Massachusetts, running for a second term in office. After a busy morning kissing babies and chasing votes, he arrived at a church BBQ in his honor. Late in the afternoon, he was famished. Moving down the serving line, he held out his plate to the woman serving chicken. She put a piece on his plate and turned to the next person. “Excuse me,” Governor Herter said, “do you mind if I have another piece of chicken?” “Sorry,” the woman told him. “I’m supposed to give one piece of chicken to each person.” “But I’m starved,” the governor said. “Sorry,” the woman said again. “Only one per customer.” Governor Herter, a modest/unassuming man, decide that this time he’d throw his weight around a little. “Do you know who I am?” he said. “I’m the governor of this state.” “Do you know who I am?” the woman said. “I’m the lady in charge of the chicken. Move along, mister.”

This lady had power and authority because she knew who she was and what she was supposed to do. Have you ever thought about what the world would be like if we Christians ever really understood WHO and WHAT we are in Christ?! If we ever grasp the truth of our sonship/daughtership – look out world! In Titus 2:15 Paul encourages Titus to teach, encourage and rebuke with all authority and not to let anyone despise us. We need to be courageous and take a stand and refuse to be despised! Then, 2 Tim. 1:7 says God’s Spirit doesn’t make cowards out of us. The Spirit gives us power, love and self-control. Do you live like you believe that?

When Satan comes through life’s serving line and wants things from us – let’s agree to tell him to “move along, mister!” We don’t have to take (or give) anything to him! Live in the power of the Spirit in 2019!

PRAYER: Father, may we come to appreciate and realize who we are, and what we are becoming, in Christ!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/31/18 – How Closely He Listens

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DayBreaks for 12/31/18: How Closely He Listens

The brick wall. The deafening silence. The times when it seems our prayers ascend to nothingness and no one. We’ve all felt it. It isn’t a comfortable feeling for those who are believers, who proclaim that there is a God in heaven who is good and caring and notices us.

David marveled that the One who created the vast heavens (and David had no idea how vast they are – and to this day no one really knows for sure) was mindful of him. It is a bit difficult to believe when staring up into space while laying out under a canopy of stars on a dark night. How could He possibly even know I’m here, let alone care for me and know my every word before it’s spoken, my very thoughts before I think them?  And not just me – but everyone!?!?!?!?  Can God really be listening to me, hearing me when I mutter my hopes, dreams, pain and requests skyward?

Psalm 6:8 gives us the assurance we need, but we have to pay close attention. Here’s what David said: Psalm 6:6-8 (ESV) – I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes. Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping.

What is it that God hears? The sound of weeping. Not of shrieking, wailing. When David just said he drenches his couch with his weeping he is using “weeping” in the sense of tears, not loud wailing. So David is saying that God is hearing the sound of his tears.

What sound does a falling tear make when it escapes the eye and moves down the face? It’s inaudible – but David says that God hears it. He is listening so closely to us that he can hear the sound of a tear escaping our eye. If we have ever doubted that God is a God of compassion, we need never question that fact.
If he hears your tears, he also knows your heartache. And as David concludes Psalm 6, he tells those who oppress him that they should start running now because God has heard his pleas and accepted his prayer – in short, God is moved to action on behalf of the one whose tears fall silently. He hears you.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for not just noticing us, but for listening so closely you can hear the silent tears that escape from the eyes of your children. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 12/26/18: Not Like the World Gives

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From my friend, Barney Cargile, Barney’s Bullets:

Christmas Day, 1863. America’s poet laureate, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, found himself in a deep state of depression. America was embroiled in the Civil War, the bloodiest conflict in our history. A devout abolitionist, his heart was broken by the terrible war. But even worse, his personal grief was overwhelming.  A month earlier, his oldest son was critically wounded in battle. Two years prior, his wife Fannie burned to death right in front of him, when her clothes caught fire. Longfellow was severely injured in an effort to extinguish her, and carried severe scars for the rest of his days. 

Looking out his window in Cambridge, Mass, in intense despair, he ruminated on the angel’s words to the shepherds in Luke 2:14, “Peace on earth, good will to men”. He scoffed, “There is no peace on earth. These tragic events mock God’s promise of peace.”  

But then, a Christmas miracle occurred. In an instant, everything changed, and Longfellow penned these words: 

I heard the bells on Christmas Day. 

Their old familiar carols play. 

And wild and sweet, the words repeat 

of peace on earth, good-will to men! 

Through the church bells, God reminded Longfellow of the big picture; the TRUE peace that the baby in the manger brings to earth. God is not dead, nor does he sleep. He hasn’t abandoned us. The Prince of Peace still triumphs, even in the midst of war and personal tragedy, bringing peace that passes understanding: peace with God.  

Face it, if Jesus came to rid the world of war and suffering, he did a pretty lousy job! But what if…he brought something greater? What if, he did more than anyone ever dared imagine? What if he delivered a unique kind of peace, a peace so great, it transcends external circumstances? That’s the peace that inspired Longfellow to compose this cherished Christmas poem. Jesus promised, “The peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives.” (John 14:27)

Our world and lives today abound with conflict and turmoil. Like Longfellow, we have a choice: cave in to despair, or embrace the peace Jesus offers. Longfellow “heard the bells on Christmas day” and his life was changed forever.

I know it’s the day after Christmas, but one more thing about the peace that Jesus gives: it is a lasting peace and it can fill your heart for the rest of your life. Embrace it!

PRAYER: Lord, we are nearly at the new year and we pray that we will know your special peace throughout the year no matter the circumstances. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 12/24/18 – Searching for Hope

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DayBreaks for 12/24/18: Searching for Hope

(NOTE: This was written by a dear friend of mine, Janine Boyer, earlier in December. Used by permission.)

Our trip to Israel had already exceeded my expectations and then I saw them. “Look! Look! Those are real sheep and a real shepherd,” I said to Dave from inside our bus. As we passed the hills of Bethlehem, they were just like I had pictured in my mind, a mixture of grass and rocks, steep for those cute little sheep and windy for a donkey to have to travel. Tomorrow I would get to visit the place where Jesus Christ was born.

But in a matter of a day, the scene changed. There was some unrest in Bethlehem overnight, and it wasn’t safe to visit. I was so disappointed. I had been looking forward to this part of the trip and experiencing what it must have felt like for Mary and Joseph over 2,000 years ago.

Things didn’t work out as I had expected; and almost a year later, I can still feel that disappointment. But as I thought about that, I also thought about how Mary and Joseph must have felt. Because of the census being taken, they had to leave behind everything that was familiar to them and start over in a new place. What did it feel like when they finally arrived in Bethlehem, desperately looking for a place to stay, only to be turned away?

I imagine Mary was not only searching for a place to deliver her baby, but also desperately searching for relief from that pain, searching for rest and searching for help. Who of us cannot relate to those feelings in one way or another? Our lives can change in a moment, often times leaving us feeling desperate and disappointed. But if we stop there, we miss the blessings of the unexpected.

Mary and Joseph continued searching for a place to stay. What did they find? A stable. Straw would become the blanket upon which Jesus Christ would be born. Not soft and comfy like the blankets on our beds, but itchy and scratchy for this tiny baby. Maybe that’s not what they were looking for, but that is what they found.

Often times what we are looking for is different than what we find too. Life’s circumstances can change the way we feel. But we can’t stop there. We desperately need to keep searching for God in the midst of all we feel. While Joseph and Mary searched, they never lost hope. As a result, what did they find? They found God turned that stable into a place of glory, a place that was lit up by a star in the sky, a place where people who were desperately searching, would find hope and peace. A place for all of us.

I don’t know what you are feeling this Christmas season. I don’t know your life events. But God does. That tiny little baby, God’s Son, felt everything we feel. “For unto us a child is born to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for giving us a place to come and find hope and peace. Give us the courage to choose to make room for you no matter how we feel today, whether we be full of joy or full of sorrow. Help us to feel the amazing wonder of Your Son and His birth, His life and even His death. Help us to be like Mary and take the stable that was offered to her and turn it into a place where YOU, King of all Kings, would be born. In Your Hopeful name we pray, Amen.