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 9/12/19 – How Quickly We Forget

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DayBreaks for 9/12/19: How Quickly We Forget

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

The long, hot summer of Cloverdale is nearly over!  I’m so glad.  I hate it when it is hot.  The summers here are long…the heat can get really bad.  And after a few months of summertime, I tend to forget how much I appreciate the cool of fall and even the “cold” of winter (although it doesn’t get all that cold here!)  And, wouldn’t you know it, after a few months of the “cold” I forget what it feels like to be warm and I start to long for the warm, lazy springtime.  Such a fickle creature I am.

We don’t seem to have much capacity for remember things very well.  Sure, I remember my multiplication tables just fine, thank you.  But I often either forget or take for granted the love of my wife or children, the smell of the forest floor after a light rain or the roar of the ocean.  If I stop and think about those things hard enough, I can remember them to some degree…but never quite like the real thing.

We are getting older and perhaps that’s partially why our “rememberers” don’t work so well any more.  There may, however, be other factors that have conditioned us to be forgetful.  In Crazy Love, Francis Chan wrote: “We are programmed to focus on what we don’t have, bombarded multiple times throughout the day with what we need to buy that will make us feel happier or sexier or more at peace.  This dissatisfaction transfers over to our thinking about God.  We forget that we already have everything we need in Him.”

Are either you, or someone you know, disillusioned with God?  Do you feel that if He just gave you a bit more of “this or that” you’d find it easier to love Him or believe in Him or accept His will for your life?  Is it possible that our frustrations with God have been inadvertently influenced by marketers who labor at the business of making us feel discontent with what we DO have?

Chan’s conclusion: “Because we don’t often think about the reality of who God is, we quickly forget that He is worthy to be worshipped and loved.”  And that is true whether we never receive another single thing from God in our entire lives.

Let us take to heart the words of the fisherman from 2 Peter 1:3: His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  We’ve got it all.  Don’t let frustrations and lack in other areas of your life ever be confused or cause you to think that God has shortchanged you about anything!

PRAYER: God, keep us from ever thinking that You have shortchanged us in any area of our lives!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/09/19 – Handmade in Heaven

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DayBreaks for 9/09/19: Handmade in Heaven

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

You’ve read the labels before: “Handmade in Italy.”  “Made by hand in Ireland.”  “Handmade in China.”  Do all three of those statements give you the same feeling?  For many years, “handmade in China” would not stir one to think all that highly of the product, unless it was some special type of pottery or other work of art.  For a long time, “Made in Japan” and “Made in China” had reputations of suggesting poor quality.  To some extent, that has change in more recent times, but problems with toxic paints on toys and other manufacturing issues have once again made us skeptical of things made in places such as China.

On the other hand, “Handmade in Italy” probably would cause one to think that the product is worth something extra.  There is a higher reputation for things made in Italy (for example) versus China.  And the “handmade” part of the label leads one to suspect that an artisan made that particular product. 

What would be the most priceless artifact in history?  It might be hard to say, but I’d venture a guess that if there were a table or chair or some article made out of wood that could be verified as being handmade by Jesus that it would be the most priceless treasure ever found.  Bids would become astronomical!  Alas, no such artifact has ever been found. 

That is not to say, however, that we have nothing that was handmade by Jesus.  We do – plenty of things that were handmade by Him.  The sun, moon, stars, the oceans, mountains, animals…all were made by Him (John 1:3).  Truly, we live in a world of wonders! 

But the very best news is what John 1:3 implies: it means that you are handmade by Jesus!  Scripture speaks about this in many places, including Job 10:10-11 and Psalm 139 (my favorite Psalm).  Now what does THAT say about you?  You are priceless…far more so than a table formed under the blows and gouging planes that Jesus once held in His hands.  Jesus never died for a table or chair, though they’d be priceless today if they could be located.  But He did die for you. 

You are “Handmade by the Lord” and infinitely more precious than anything else in this world!

PRAYER: Thank You for forming us and shaping us by Your precious hands!  May we be worthy representatives of Your handiwork and bring glory to our Maker!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/13/19 – Forever Freed

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DayBreaks for 5/13/19: Forever Freed

John 8:36 (ESV) – So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

“Freedom!” It echoed from the lips of William Wallace and countless men and women throughout history. Freedom is precious – and it is something that the oppressed long for. Countless lives have been lost in pursuit of freedom.

In the context of today’s verse, the Jews claimed that they had never been the slaves of any man. That, technically, is not true. They were enslaved many times throughout their history, but their fierce determination to be free led them to stretch the truth in their statement to Jesus.  

It wasn’t so much slavery to other persons that Jesus was talking about. He was talking about something much more difficult. He was talking about enslavement to sin. But as William Barclay put it, we often say or think, “Surely I can do what I like with my own life.” He goes on: “But the point is that the man who sins does not do what he likes; he does what sin likes. A man can let a habit get such a grip of him that he cannot break it. He can allow a pleasure to master him so completely that he cannot do without it. He can let some self-indulgence so dominate him that he is powerless to break away from it. He can get into such a state that in the end, as Seneca said, he hates and loves his sins at one and the same time. So far from doing what he likes, the sinner has lost the power to do what he likes. He is a slave to the habits, the self-indulgences, the wrong pleasures which have mastered him. This is precisely Jesus’ point. No man who sins can ever be said to be free.”

What does slavery to sin mean? It means we’re enslaved to it’s power to overrule our own best intention to be obedient. It means we’re trapped in a cesspool of shame, guilt, embarrassment and regret.

As we often hear, “Freedom is not free”, meaning that there is always a price that is paid for freedom, and freedom from sin is no exception to that rule.

Do you long to be free from your guilt, shame and regret? You don’t need to be if you are a child of the King. If the Son has set you free, Jesus himself says that you are truly free. No need to carry those things on your shoulders for one more moment. Trust his promise. He who set you free and paid the price for that freedom is honored when you trust that he is as good as his word.

Prayer: For the freedom you purchased for us, Jesus, we humbly thank you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/7/19 – It Doesn’t Work That Way

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DayBreaks for 5/07/19: It Doesn’t Work That Way

From the DayBreaks archive: May 2009

It never fails.  It seems that no matter how often I talk with people (even Christians!), I will almost invariably hear some comment about how the person hopes they have enough faith to be allowed into heaven, or that they’ll have done enough good things that God will overlook the bad things they’ve done and the scales of “justice” will tip in their favor on judgment day. 

Why is it that people struggle so much with the concept of grace?  Perhaps it’s because deep down inside, it’s something that we seldom experience in this world from other human beings.  We are much more familiar with “justice” (i.e., getting what we deserve) and judgment from other humans.  And, let’s be honest about it, we often get worse than what we deserve (injustice) from other people, too. 

Thank God that He is not like us!  Thank God that He not only created but embodies mercy (not giving us what we really deserve) and grace (giving us the good things that we certainly don’t deserve)! 

Here’s a great explanation of why it doesn’t work the way a bank account does (i.e., where if you deposit more than you withdraw, you’re OK).  David Rich, in 7 Biblical Truths You Won’t Hear in Church (2006, pg. 37) explained it this way: “Picking, choosing, and deciding which sins are trivial and which are the biggies is a completely human tendency. A young man once told me, “It’s like a heavenly bank account. As long as I make more deposits than withdrawals, I’m in good shape.”

“I shared the biblical reality with him: the very first time he made a withdrawal, the account was emptied and closed forever. He thought that was a bit harsh. But I explained that I didn’t make the rules; God did. And I shared this truth with him not to depress him, but to make him aware and appreciative of God’s mercy.

“If you’re a believer, your account has been closed, and a new one opened in Christ’s name. You’re wealthy, but you can’t make another deposit or withdrawal. As Christians we just get the benefits of this new account, living off the interest—or, to put it another way, living off the blessing granted us by the blood of Jesus.”

Makes sense, doesn’t it?  Praise God for grace!

Prayer: We seem reluctant to admit that we can’t do anything to earn Your grace, but we are thankful for it more than words can ever say!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/19/18 – The Priest’s Sacrifice, #2

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DayBreaks for 12/19/18: The Priest’s Sacrifice, #2

Continuing with the theme of Sacrifice for this week preceding Christmas, I’m sharing some thoughts from the message at church this past Sunday. Though this is often a time when we receive gifts, it is also a time for sacrifices.

Not only are we as priests/priestesses supposed to present our bodies as living sacrifices (see 12/18/18 DayBreaks), we are instructed in Hebrews 13:15 (ESV) – Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

As priests and priestesses, we have a true privilege: access to God. Not everyone can call Him “Father” in the fullest sense of that word. Yes, he is the Creator of all and in that sense the one who we might call father, but only believers have been adopted into his family, giving us confidence that we can boldly come to his throne of grace in any time of need – or just because we want to cuddle up on his lap to rest.

Along with every privilege, though, comes responsibility. Because we have access to him, our responsibility is to give his praise and our adoration because of that access!

It started at the incarnation as the angels gave worship and praises rang through the night sky as the shepherds looked and listened wondering at what they beheld. The magi worshipped the child in the manger.

Question: what special praise will you give him this week? Try to find a new reason to give him praise, a new way to express his greatness and goodness to you as you acknowledge his name. Don’t rely on tired, old prayer phrases: struggle a bit in your prayer to adore him in a new and living way today!

PRAYER: Jesus, let our praises rise to you not only from our lips, but from true hearts! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/22/18 – Habakkuk & Thanksgiving

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DayBreaks for 11/22/18: Habakkuk and Thanksgiving

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

This will be the kind of Thanksgiving this year that perhaps our country hasn’t seen since 9/11/01.  You can probably recall what your state of mind was like then.  If you were like most people, there was fear about the future, uncertainty about life and what could be expected in the coming years.  This year is no different – but for mostly different reasons.  This year, we’re faced with home foreclosures, businesses disappearing and jobs vaporizing, incomes and careers being threatened.  There is a great deal of uncertainty in our communities, our nation and around the world.  It might be wise to remember what Time magazine reported on at Thanksgiving time, 2001. 

In the cover story of Time Magazine’s Thanksgiving edition, Nancy Gibbs said Americans would reflect on what had been taken away and what could be salvaged as we sat down to our Thanksgiving meals. She said, “This is the kind of holiday we need right now, an intrinsically complicated one that comes at the end of a bitter harvest and yet finds something sweet to celebrate.”

That year, a Time/CNN poll suggested 75% of Americans said they would be more appreciative that year (2001) than previous Thanksgivings. Many planned to use the time around the table to rebuild relationships damaged by disagreements and disappointment. Others expected to use the holiday to reflect on the goodness of a God they previously doubted. The context of that Thanksgiving (and this one!) may be sorrow and fear, yet it can be marked by renewed hope and greater resolve.

In many ways, America’s thanksgiving reflects the words of the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk. Though he lived in perilous times, and feared the future, the prophet thanked God. He realized true thanksgiving finds its roots in the God of Heaven rather than His many gifts. Habakkuk wrote: Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Hab. 3:17-18, NIV)  — www.time.com/time/covers We Gather Together—Thanksgiving in the Post 9-11 World. November 12, 2001.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, my friends!

Prayer: This day may we be deeply thankful for Who You Are, Who You Always Will Be, and What You Have Always Been!  May we be thankful for Your good gifts, but mostly may we be thankful because You are our God.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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