DayBreaks for 12/20/17: Christmas Surprises

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DayBreaks for 12/20/17: Christmas Surprises

Who doesn’t enjoy opening presents on Christmas day? Let’s be honest: we all love it, don’t we? We wonder what’s inside that package, box or envelope. We love surprises!

Under a cultural-exchange program, rabbi Alan Abramsky and his family in Roanoke, Texas, were hosts to a rabbi from Russia at Christmas time. They decided to introduce him to a culinary treat that was probably not available in his country: they took him to their favorite Chinese restaurant.

Throughout the meal, the rabbi spoke excitedly about the wonders of North America in comparison to the bleak conditions in his homeland. When they had finished eating, the waiter brought the check and presented each of them with a small brass Christmas-tree ornament as a seasonal gift.

They all laughed when Abramsky’s father pointed out that the ornaments were stamped “Made in India.” But the laughter subsided when they saw that the rabbi was quietly crying. Concerned, Abramsky’s father asked the rabbi if he was offended because he’d been given a gift for a Christian holiday.

He smiled, shook his head and said, “Nyet. I was shedding tears of joy to be in a wonderful country in which a Buddhist gives a Jew a Christmas gift made by a Hindu!” A time of miracles. A time for stories.

From time to time we hear someone say, “Wouldn’t it be great if it could be Christmas all year long.” Surprise! That was God’s intent. That is why God invaded our planet and gave us the gift of God’s Son. There is only one thing that stands in the way of celebrating Christmas all year long: you and I. Let’s agree to not stand in the way of anyone celebrating Christmas all year long!

PRAYER:  Jesus, we don’t want to cause people not to celebrate Immanuel all year long, year after year, decade after decade. Let us never lost the sense of the miraculous that is so present in this season. Let us overflow each and every day out of lives that are filled with wonder. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.


DayBreaks for 11/23/17 – Thanksliving

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DayBreaks for 11/23/17: Thanksliving

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Thanksgiving.  My favorite holiday of the entire year.  The smells of Thanksgiving dinner that start early in the morning.  The anticipation of the arrival of family.  The joyful hugs of children and the encircling arms of my grandchildren around my neck.  Turkey, dressing, green-bean and mushroom casserole, potatoes, cranberry sauce, pies and whipped cream topping.  My mouth waters just to think of it!

And as much as I love those things about Thanksgiving, I’m sure that the real reason for Thanksgiving goes underappreciated year after year after year by most of us.  Not that we don’t take time to give God thanks on this day, but we don’t take much time to do that compared to what we spend cooking, or even eating, the feast that His hand has provided.  How much time do you spend eating or watching football on Thanksgiving day?  How much time do you spend giving thanks to God? 

I’m not saying that to make any of us feel guilty, it’s just an observation – and something I think we need to ponder.  As much as God desires to hear our “Thank You, Father”, I think that if it comes to just saying thanks then we’ve missed the point.  How can we practically demonstrate our thankfulness?  It’s been said that the art of thanksgiving is in thanksliving.  It is gratitude in action.  That being the case, here’s some ideas on how we can really demonstrate that we understand what we’ve received and that we are thankful for it:

It is thanking God for the gift of life by living it triumphantly.

It is thanking God for your talents and abilities by accepting them as obligations to be invested for the common good.

It is thanking God for all that men and women have done for you by doing things for others.

It is thanking God for happiness by striving to make others happy.

It is thanking God for beauty by helping to make the world more beautiful.

It is thanking God for inspiration by trying to be an inspiration to others.

It is thanking God for health and strength by the care and respect you show your body.

Rudyard Kipling at one time was so popular that his writings were getting ten shillings per word. A few college students, however, did not appreciate Kipling’s writings; they facetiously sent him a letter and enclosed ten shillings. It read, “Please, send us your best word.” They got back a letter from Kipling that said, “Thanks.”

What a great word: “Thanks!”  May we say, and live, it often not just on this one day a year, but constantly.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV) – In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

PRAYER:  There are not enough words in existence to give You due thanks, Father God.  But today we’ll try to give You appropriate thanks by not just saying it, but by trying to live lives that demonstrate our gratefulness!   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 10/26/17 – Ask Not for Whom the Cock Crows

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DayBreaks for 10/26/17: Ask Not for Whom the Cock Crows

John 18:25-27 (ESV) – Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.

I have often wondered why God put some of the things He did in Scripture. Like today’s text, for instance. There can be no doubt that Jesus and Peter were very close friends. There can be no doubt that they loved one another deeply. And yet, here we have it: Peter’s denial recorded in black and white for people to read and ponder.

If I had been the one determining what would be written, I would have left things like this, and David’s dalliance with Bathsheba, and Noah’s drunkenness out of the pages of holy writ. I would have wanted to save Peter, David, Noah and countless others the embarrassment of having their failures recorded and paraded in front of people for thousands of years. And you’d think that God would have wanted to save them the embarrassment, too. But it wasn’t up to me. And that’s a really good thing.

I believe that God put those things into Scripture to encourage us in our humanity. Let me explain: there hasn’t been any human who has ever endeavored to live the Christian life who hasn’t found themselves despairing over their own failures in ethical, moral and all other ways. Imagine how difficult and discouraging it would be if all we had were stories off the great triumphs: the saving of humanity in the ark, the victory over the giant Goliath, Peter’s great ministry and brave martyrdom. And if we were only to have those stories and compared ourselves to them, we’d be devastated. So, God in His great wisdom, knew we needed to hear of the failures of the great men and women of faith so we wouldn’t be discouraged.

And here’s another thing: Scripture shows us that God deeply loved all those flawed characters, and that gives me hope, too, that He can love a sinner like me.

We shouldn’t gloat over the fact that we’ve not done like Peter did, for we have all denied and betrayed the One who would die for us. We should never ask for whom the cock crows, for it crows for each of us!

PRAYER: Thank you for the stories of Scripture – good and bad – and showing us that even our failures can’t overcome your plan for us nor your love for us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 8/31/17 – The Sinner’s Feast

DayBreaks for 8/31/17: The Sinner’s Feast

From the DayBreaks archive, 8/2007:

One of my favorite pictures of Scripture is the feast scene that gets brief mention in Revelation, and in a few other books of the NT.  Let’s face it: we love to eat, don’t we?  And we love to have a great time, right?  What can be more exciting and fun than a festive dinner with all the trimmings, all your best friends gathered round, laughter, music…and you don’t have to either pay for it or clean up the mess afterwards?  In about 2 months, our daughter will be getting married – and I look forward to the dinner after the wedding.  What a joy it will be!!!

We might think of the feasts described in heaven as the Christian’s feast…a feast that will be designed, catered (and served, according to Scripture!) by Christ Himself.  I am sure that there never has been, nor will there ever be, any celebration greater than that of the marriage supper of the Lamb of God with His bride, the church.  By God’s grace, I look forward to being there to enjoy it!  No, it wouldn’t be wrong to think of that home-coming/marriage feast as the Christian’s feast.  But there’s another feast that perhaps more properly is the Christian feast – in his sermon “The Sinner’s Feast,” Lee Eclov describes what should be the celebrative side of Communion in the context of worship:

“This table is different. This table of the Lord isn’t where sinners find Christ but where sinners celebrate being found …

“Maybe some morning, instead of solemnly passing these trays, we should dance for joy.  Maybe we should sing every born-again song we know.  Maybe we should tell our “homecoming” stories and laugh like people who no longer fear death.  Maybe we should ask if anyone wants seconds and hold our little cups high to toast lost sisters found and dead brothers alive.”

Have you ever laughed like you didn’t fear death?  I don’t know that I have.  But I should.  Every Sunday at the Lord’s table, I should.  After all, I’m one of those dead brothers who have been found alive.

PRAYER: Hallelujah, Lord God!  What kind of God are You that can take dead men and women and bring us to life again?  May we laugh in Your very Presence as those who no longer fear death because of what Jesus has done!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/18/17 – Bronzing Your Flip Flops

DayBreaks for 8/18/17: Bronzing Your Flip Flops

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2007:

The Associated Press ran a story recently about a Virginia woman says she’s still alive because of 2 things: her faith and her flip-flops.  It seems that Marie Drackert was watching the weather on television in her York County home July 29th of this year when a bolt of lightning came down her chimney and shot out through her fireplace. The lightning fried appliances and sent a jolt of electricity through her body.

Ms. Drackert says that it was the rubber in her flip-flops that kept her grounded and her faith kept her going, even though the impact from the lightning strike was so strong that she believed a plane had crashed into the roof of her home. 

The lightning blew out Drackert’s washer and dryer, television, telephone, stereo, microwave oven, toaster, coffee pot and a brand-new air conditioning unit. Parts of her home’s floor and walls were also damaged.  After ravaging her home, the bolt shot out and damaged the homes of two neighbors as well. 

Drackert says she’s thinking about getting the flip-flops bronzed. 

I don’t know this lady and I’m not making judgments about her faith, but I found the story interesting.  I’m not sure what she meant when she said her faith “kept her going”, but instead of getting the flip-flops bronzed and instead of crediting them for saving her life, maybe a bit of praise and thanksgiving are in order.  After all, does she really think it was the flip-flops that saved her life, of the grace of the good Lord?  It could have just been the press that didn’t mention the name of Jesus in the article (that’s a very real possibility!), but when things like this (and things bigger and smaller) happen to us as believers, the more credit that we give to the Lord, the better.  The world needs to see the power of the Almighty God and to understand that nature is not God, and God is not nature.  There’s a reason He’s called “supernatural”.  He is far above nature – and can control it at will.

I find that I often flip-flop between acts of faith and praise and acts of cowardice and discontent.  I pray to have those kind of flip-flops removed.  They don’t deserve to be bronzed.

PRAYER: Jesus, please remove the flip-flops from my life that I can be a more consistent witness for You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/9/17 – ‘Tis Foolishness

DayBreaks for 8/09/17: ‘Tis Foolishness

From the DayBreaks archive, 8/7/2007:

I’ve been thinking about contentment lately.  Mind you, I’m not content with my thinking on the topic!  But I’m trying to learn to be more content in my station in life in various venues, but especially in the area of possessions.  It seems that much of what we struggle with in this world as far as contentment goes has to do with things – stuff – possessions. 

I recall when our kids were little.  They’d hear about a new toy in a Happy Meal, or a new video game, or some new action hero figure, and they would ask for it.  Sometimes I gave it to them, sometimes not.  My decision certainly wasn’t all based on “need” – they really didn’t need any of it.  Sometimes I withheld the gift solely to help them learn lessons related to happiness and contentment.  Sometimes, if they really wanted something, they’d say words to this effect: “If you get it for me, I promise I won’t ever ask for another thing, ever!!!!”  Yeah, right.

Of course, none of us adults would be so silly as to think that a change in circumstances or possessions would bring lasting contentment, would we?  Maybe not.  Someone once said that the only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.  There’s more truth to that than I want to admit.  In Love Beyond Reason, John Ortberg observes: “All day long we are bombarded with messages that seek to persuade us of two things:

  1. That we are (or ought to be) discontented, and
  2. That contentment is only one step (or change or purchase) away.”

These two things are at the heart of all marketing.  They try to make us believe that the only thing that stands between us and the girl or guy of our dreams is our toothpaste (as if all our other problems were already fixed!) – and that if we buy a certain brand of toothpaste, we’ll get that girl or guy and live “happily ever after.”  We may have jobs that we’re competent at and that we love, but the promise and allure of “more money” makes us discontent and leads us to jump ship into a position that will mean we sacrifice family time or values.  That one new car may seem like a siren calling your name – and if you had it, you just know you’d be forever happy. 

It’s all a pack of lies.  I don’t know how else to put it.  Doesn’t even your own experience and life tell you that such marketing drivel is not true?  The pursuit of such things, indeed of happiness in this world, is trivial pursuit.  The pursuit of the Kingdom of God bears everlasting dividends, and the promise of happiness and joy that is not made by marketers who have something to gain, but by God, who can’t gain a single thing from us.  How much better for us to seek first His Kingdom and Righteousness…and in due time, all that He has will be ours!

1 Timothy 6:6-10 (NIV) But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.  People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

PRAYER: Father, we struggle to find contentment, thinking we can find it in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways.  Teach us to be content with what we have in this world, but to never be content in how much we have of You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/02/17 – Longing to be Just A Little Bit Better

DayBreaks for 6/02/17: Longing to be Just a Little Bit Better

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

Have you ever had your dreams shattered?  Have you wondered where God was when life became too much to bear?  Have you ever thought that if you had more in life you would get more out of life?

In his book, Shattered Dreams, Larry Crabb wrote: “Satan’s masterpiece is not the prostitute or the skid-row bum. It is the self-sufficient person who has made life comfortable, who is adjusting well to the world and truly likes living here, a person who dreams of no better place to live, who longs only to be a little better—and a little better off—than he already is.”

When it comes to spiritual matters, we are destitute before God.  People who possess true joy are quick to admit and accept that they are dependent on God, not on their own wisdom, knowledge, looks, talent or strength.  Those with true joy yearn for a better relationship with Him in both the good and hard times – and they have found that joy to be rooted in the relationship itself, not in fulfilling worldly dreams. 

When we think it all depends on us, we’re miserable because if we fail, we’re responsible for our failure.  If we don’t get what we want, we think it must have been because we just didn’t try hard enough, and so we commit ourselves to trying even harder the next time.  It’s a treadmill of disappointment, resolve, determination, effort and more disappointment.  We just simply aren’t big enough to manage life alone.

Maybe you’re one of those people who is self-sufficient, self-confident to a fault.  You look back at the track record of your life and achievements (good or bad) and are pretty comfortable with and in your own skin.  It’s one thing to love being alive, but another thing entirely to like living here in this broken world.  Don’t you still have dreams of a better place?  Instead of just wanting to be a little bit better (and better off, as Crabb noted), wouldn’t you rather be born again to a new and living hope that will never perish?  You know that this world will someday end – and chances are that your life will end long before this world does.  What are you investing for eternity?

Matt. 5:3 KJV – Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

PRAYER: Time and life are so short and out of our control, Lord.  Thank you that you are in control at all times and in all ways.  May your kingdom come quickly!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>