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 1/07/19 – I Created YOU

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DayBreaks for 01/07/2019: I Created You

From the DayBreaks Archive, 01/05/09:

This past Christmas was not an easy one for many people for a variety of reasons.  Many have recently lost jobs, others fear a pink slip in the near future.  Some have had diagnoses that take one’s breath away and leave them trembling and numb with fear.  Some spent the holidays for the first time in decades without a beloved spouse, parent, child or sibling.  There are many causes of pain and hurt in this world.  And we often get angry at God and wonder, “Why don’t You do something about all this, God?”

In his book, Holy Wild, Mark Buchanan relates a story in a letter that he got from a missionary couple he knew in Brazil.  When I read this the first time, I wept: “Driving through the Christmas traffic, fighting the drizzling rain, I chanced on a four-year-old little girl.  She was wet and cold and shaking.  Her clothes were ragged, her hair was matted, and her nose was running.  She walked between the cars at the stoplight, washing headlights because she was too short to was windshields.  A few gave her coins, others honked at her to get away from their vehicles.

“As I drove away only some fifty cents poorer, I raged at God for the injustice in the world that allowed the situation.  ‘God, how could you stand by, helpless?’  Later that evening, God came to me softly with that still small voice and responded not in kind to my rage, but with tenderness, ‘I have done something.  I created you.

We will all likely face a world of hurt and pain this year.  It has been so from the beginning – with some periods of time being more painful than others.  I’m not a prophet like Isaiah, but I think this year will be a very painful year for humanity.  Rather than rage at God in bitterness and anger, let’s remember that He created us for a purpose – for good works in Christ.  May we be about our Father’s business in the midst of a sea of hurt.

1 John 3:11-14 (NIV) – This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. Qe know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.

Prayer:  Father, we are fearful as we enter this new year.  We are fearful for the pain our loved ones may face, for the pain that we may face personally.  It is so easy for us to become paralyzed by our fear and pain and to be so afraid that if we give something away to those who are needy, that we may have a shortage ourselves later.  Help us to remember that we were created not to be selfish, but to love one another – not just in heart, but in deed as well.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/20/18 – With Natural Affection

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DayBreaks for 11/20/18: With Natural Affection

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

I heard the most disturbing thing on the radio today while I was driving in the car.  I almost stopped to weep when I hear it.  But first, let me give you a little background.

You may recall that in the past few years, several states have passed legislation that allows parents to bring a newborn to a hospital where the unwanted child can be left – no questions asked.  The intent, I’m sure, was good: that if the parent is unable or unwilling to care for the infant, at least it will have proper care, nutrition and a chance to be adopted and raised in a loving home.  I understand that – to some degree.  In some cases, the law was written that the child must be dropped off within 72 hours or so of being born. 

But, apparently, some of those laws were apparently written in such a way that it just says that parents can drop off their child at the hospital.  What I heard today was a report from some Nebraska, which has started having parents drop off children up through their late teens.  In some cases, they reported that the children could be heard saying to their mother, “Please, mom.  I promise to be good.  I won’t be any trouble.”  Can you imagine?  Can you even begin to imagine what it would do to a child to have your mom or dad or both drop you off at a hospital just because they don’t want you any more?  My heart breaks…

So, before our very eyes, we have seen these words come to pass, from 2 Timothy 3:1-4 (KJV): This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God…”

Doesn’t the actions of those who would abandon their children fit the description of “without natural affection”?  Doesn’t it sound like these are “lovers of their own selves” who are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God”?  (Again, I am not interested here in having a political or cultural discussion about why in some cases it may be better for the baby.)  I can’t help but wonder if some of these parents are abandoning their children just so the parents don’t have the hassle of raising a teen. 

I am so grateful that our Father is not the kind of parent who will abandon us – even in our most rebellious times.  I think that, giving our sinfulness, it may be “unnatural affection” that He loves us – but it is Divine affection, the love of a Creator for His creation.  And God can’t help but love us, in spite of hating what we sometimes do.  He just loves us.  It is His natural affection for us caused him to say, in Hebrews 13:5b (NLT) – …For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never forsake you.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, that You are far better than us.  Give us the kind of love for our children that You have for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/08/18 – The Stone Elephant

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DayBreaks for 11/08/18: The Stone Elephant

There is a story about a man who had a huge boulder in his front yard. He grew weary of this big, unattractive stone in the center of his lawn, so he decided to take advantage of it and turn it into an object of art. He went to work on it with hammer and chisel, and chipped away at the huge boulder until it became a beautiful stone elephant. When he finished, it was gorgeous, breath-taking.

A neighbor asked, “How did you ever carve such a marvelous likeness of an elephant?”

The man answered, “I just chipped away everything that didn’t look like an elephant!”

We have just come through another bitter election cycle in which everyone was slinging mud, patience was pushed to the breaking point, words were said that hurt and wounded. There is a lot of bitterness and anger in our country right now, no matter who your candidate was. It’s heartbreaking.

If you have anything in your life right now that doesn’t look like love, then, with the help of God, chip it away! If you have anything in your life that doesn’t look like compassion or mercy or empathy, then, with the help of God, chip it away! If you have hatred or prejudice or vengeance or envy in your heart, for God’s sake (literally!). for the other person’s sake, and for your sake, get rid of it! Let God chip everything out of your life that doesn’t look like tenderheartedness.

PRAYER: Create hearts in us that are so filled with love that we let go of grudges and the pain and frustration that we may feel – especially toward others with whom we disagree. Remind us that no matter the outcome of the election or anything else, you are still on the throne and in charge of it all. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/06/18 – The Platinum Rule

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DayBreaks for 11/06/18: The Platinum Rule

From the DayBreaks archive, 10/15/98:

Marketing is a funny business. Great ideas come rarely, and even then, they must quickly be improved on or you risk losing market share. Remember when credit cards came out? Originally they were simply called VISA or MasterCard. But it wasn’t long and they became Silver VISA or Gold MasterCard. Now, gold isn’t good enough – it is Platinum VISA, etc.. What’ll be next – titanium? Unobtainium? I don’t know, but I do know that it’ll be something.

Do you remember the Golden Rule? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We all heard that from our folks, didn’t we? And in fact, Jesus referred to the Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12. It isn’t a new idea – it’s an old one, and in spite of all the things our parents told us about it, it really isn’t a good idea. Now you might be saying, “What! Who are you to tell me that my folks were wrong! I’ve even told my kids the golden rule!” That’s OK. Let me explain why I think it may not be such a good rule.

Who is the golden rule focused on? On what I want – how I want to be treated? Yes! The focus is on me and how I want to be dealt with, putting our own interests as the motivation for how we treat others. That’s kind of selfish, don’t you think?

As Vital Ministry magazine, September/October 1998 suggested, we need to move from the Golden Rule to the Platinum Rule. Jesus gave us this rule himself. Permit me to paraphrase the meaning behind Jesus’ words in John 13:34-35: Do unto one another as I have done unto you. Do you see the difference? “I” – my own desires on how I want to be treated – are entirely removed from the picture, and in it’s place comes the motivation of love and appreciation for what Christ has done for me that empowers me to treat others the way Christ treated me! Another way to put it: “Treat others as Christ has treated you.”

God certainly treats me better than I treat Him. He treats me far better than I treat my fellowman. And He wants me to treat others, to love others, the way that He has loved me. Not so I can be treated that way in return – but because He has already treated me that way!

Forget the Golden Rule. Let’s teach our kids (and ourselves) the Platinum Rule and then we can really get on with fulfilling the Great Commission and loving the world with God’s love!

PRAYER: Lord, fill us with love that is outward focused, not inward. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/01/18 – Wouldn’t It Be Great!?!?!

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DayBreaks for 11/01/18: Wouldn’t It Be Great?

Here in America, the Mega-Millions lottery hit something like $1.6 billion before someone hit the “jackpot”. Thousands of tickets were being sold per minute as the thought of striking it rich in the lottery reached epidemic proportions. Many were thinking to themselves, “Would it be great if I won the lottery?!?!?” We probably would think, “Yeah, that would be really great!”

Well, maybe it wouldn’t be so great. Not everyone has the same idea of a great time. One person’s wish may be another’s nightmare. Take, for example, the story of three men who were sailing together in the Pacific Ocean. Their vessel was wrecked and they found themselves on an island. They had plenty of food, but their existence was in every way different from what their lives had been in the past. The men were walking by the seashore one day after they had been there for some months and found an ancient lantern. One man picked it up. As he began to rub it and clean it, a genie popped out and said, “Well, since you have been good enough to release me, I will give each of you one wish.”

The first man said, “Oh, that’s perfectly marvelous. I’m a cattleman from Wyoming and I wish I were back on my ranch.” Poof! He was back on his ranch.

The second man said, “Well, I’m a stockbroker from New York, and I wish that I were back in Manhattan.” Poof! He was back in Manhattan with his papers, his telephones, his clients and his computers.

The third fellow was somewhat more relaxed about life and actually had rather enjoyed life there on the island. He said, “Well, I am quite happy here. I just wish my two friends were back.” Poof! Poof! You see, everybody’s idea of a “great time” isn’t the same!

So is it true? Are you perhaps sitting around wishing, “Now wouldn’t it be great …if I won the lottery…if I had my dream house…if I was famous….” As Christians, the people of God, what if instead of wishing for money or fame or success or more “things,” we could just as earnestly wish with all our hearts and souls and minds and strength that we could love the Lord our God and love our neighbor as ourselves?

PRAYER: Our ideas of what would be great for us are ill-formed at best, Lord. Let us trust in your wisdom, but more than anything, let us yearn to know you and love you and our neighbors above all else! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/23/18 – So Alike Yet So Different

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DayBreaks for 10/23/18: So Alike Yet So Different

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2008:

On 10/18 my wife and I flew back from Boston where we were visiting our youngest son (middle child) and his family – including our newest granddaughter, Sophia.  She was 3-1/2 weeks old when we got there and the amount she changed during the two weeks we were there is astonishing.  But, rest assured that during the entire time we were there she was the perfect addition to our family, and we now have another blessing from God to love and serve as grandparents.

While I was there, I couldn’t help but be struck by several things:

FIRST: It’s fascinating to see just a tiny bit of myself, my wife, our son and his wife, in the looks of Sophia.  Sure, she’ll change a lot as she grows and gets older, but she’s got her mother’s eyes and hair, our son’s (and grandmother’s) hairline, and arguably she has some aspects of my appearance, too (although most would argue she’s way to beautiful to have anything in common with her Pop-pop [that’s me]!)  As I thought about that, I thought about how in each of us there are glimpses of our Father.  Yes, they can be very hard to see and sometimes we may not be able to perceive them at all, but there is no way that we can avoid some of His characteristics.  They may only be seen when we’re at our very best (which still isn’t very good!), and it may be necessary to look long and deep to identify them, but they are there.  In the most distressed appearance you could imagine, Mother Theresa saw Jesus.  Who do you see?  Do you even try to see Jesus, or some semblance of the Father, in each person He’s created?  If we did, instead of just seeing things we don’t like, we might find this world a much more fascinating and beautiful place.  Some folks just need a bit of help to let those resemblances blossom and flourish.  Maybe we can help them.

SECOND: It’s easy to forget how tiny and small new babies are.  I was amazed at how tiny the little hands, fingers and toes were – how short the little arms are.  Compared to Sophia, I’m a huge monster.  She’s not a little baby – she was eight pounds something when she was born, and she’s been packin’ on the chub ever since – but she’s SO TINY!  And that made me think of how we must appear to God.  With a baby as small as Sophia is at present, it creates a desire inside of me to want to protect her, to hold her, to keep her safe from bumps, bruises and the hurts the world could inflict without even noticing.  As I looked at Sophia, I felt like a giant.  When God looks at us, He must be even more impressed with how tiny and fragile we are.  And yet, He picks us up and holds us ever so gently so as not to break us.  Anyone who can call a universe into existence simply through the power of a spoken word is so far beyond us in power and strength that we can’t begin for one second to wrap our little minds around His greatness and power.  And He’s put that power at our disposal so that when we are walking in harmony with Him, there’s no limit to what He can do through such tiny little babies as us.

THIRD: It’s easy to forget how helpless little babies are.  It’s not that Sophia doesn’t want to be able to feed and clothe herself.  I quite honestly don’t know if she does or not, but when she’s hungry and wants to eat and she can’t feed herself – she lets the world know.  But she just isn’t able to do that yet.  She is still trying to figure out what those things are that show up near her face every once in a while that have five little worm-like things on each one (her fists).  She can’t do a single thing for herself except cry.  Once again, God looks at us and sees people who are totally helpless, who are dependent on the Father for everything – whether they realize it or not.  Does Sophia know that she’s dependent on mom and dad?  No, she just knows when she needs changing or is hungry or when something hurts.  But the concept of dependence, I’m convinced, hasn’t yet developed in her mind.  Hopefully, someday she’ll come to recognize her dependence on the great and perfect Father.  The Father, meanwhile, sees us thrashing wildly around, helpless to do the things that must be done…and so He has undertaken to do those things for us.

Praise be to God, the Father of us all!

PRAYER: Your gentleness is overwhelming with us, Lord.  Thank you for your tender yet powerful hands that pick us up when we fall.  Thank you that you’ve done for us all the things we cannot do, and for remembering our frailty and smallness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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