DayBreaks for 2/21/18 – An Imitation of the Master

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DayBreaks for 2/21/18: An Imitation of the Master

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

So, how do you plan to spend your day today?  Did you create a “laundry list” of things that you need to get done or should do?  How’s it going so far?  Has the list gotten smaller or bigger as the day progressed?  How much time do you spend planning out your next day? 

It seems that no matter what I do or how meticulously I might try to plan things, it never seems to quite work out like I’d planned.  Perhaps that’s what the writer of Proverbs had in mind when he wrote in Proverbs 19:21 (NLT) – You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.  I think I’ve got my day all figured out, but NOT!  I often look at the things that come along in the course of a day as being unwelcome events…after all, I’ve got a plan and if I can just run it like clockwork, it’s the best thing, right?  Not really.  Why should I think that my well-laid plans are the best thing for me to do each day, or the best way to do them, or even that they’re the most important things to do on any given day? 

We need to learn to welcome interruptions.  Mark Buchanan says that the devil seeks to distract, but God seeks to interrupt, and how quickly we fall prey to Satan’s distractions but how we equally quickly grow oblivious to God’s interruptions.  Satan wants us to become distracted from God and godly things, but God wants to interrupt our schedules and plans with things which are more important.  Who am I to say that the interruption by the person in the next cubicle is not a portion of a God-directed plan for something greater than the accomplishment of my little plans?  Isn’t that perhaps what the writer of the Proverb was saying?

Jesus’ life was dominated by purpose – he came to offer his life as a ransom.  Reading the gospels, especially John, one gets the sense that Jesus entire life was spent moving towards Jerusalem and the cross.  And indeed, it was always his purpose.  But along the way, many things happened to him that we would consider interruptions.  It isn’t clear that Jesus kept anything like a detailed itinerary of his daily schedule.  In fact, his daily life seemed to be lived by interruption: a woman who touches his clothes and is healed, a dead son begin wept over by his mother, a dinner at a taxpayer’s house, a wedding feast in Cana, a leader of Roman soldiers who entreats him for a healing, little children who wanted to be held, storms on the sea, fishing with his buddies, questions from the scribes and Pharisees – and the list goes on virtually endlessly.  He always found time for telling stories, for people along the route to the cross who hadn’t scheduled a moment of his time. 

So what was Jesus’ secret and what dictated Jesus’ schedule?  How did he number his days aright?  Perhaps Jesus came the closest to answering that himself in Mt. 11:1-11, when he said, The wind blows wherever it pleases.  You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.  So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”  Jesus listened and watched the Spirit – and did what the Spirit directed.

Peter, after saying Jesus is the Lord of all, describes how Jesus spent his days: God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and…he went around doing good.  (Acts 10:36, 38) 

There you have it: the sum of Jesus’ earthly vocation is that he wandered and he blessed.  Jesus was a vagabond physician, the original doctor without borders.  His purpose was crystal clear – but his methods appear to be random.  Henri Nouwen observed something like this about his own life: “My whole life I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted until I discovered the interruptions were my work.”

PRAYER: May we discern Your interruptions, Lord, and may we go with You to do what You want us to do together.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

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DayBreaks for 2/14/18 – Mosquitoes and Spiritual Sensitivity

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DayBreaks for 2/14/18: Mosquitos and Spiritual Sensitivity

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

Mark 4:9 (KJV) – And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

A man by the name of Doug Newton shared this which I picked up from Preaching Today.  I thought it made an excellent illustration of the problem we sometimes have in hearing God:

Have you heard about the cell phone ringtone that junior high and high school kids are using to keep teachers from discovering that they are using their cell phones in school?  The pitch of this ringtone, called the “mosquito tone,” is too high for people over 25 to hear.  So the kids can still send and receive text messages during class without the teacher knowing, unless their teacher is younger than 25!

The mosquito tone was first developed in Great Britain to irritate teenagers who were loitering around convenience stores and keeping customers away by their loud and obnoxious behavior.  Some kid simply figured out how to use that sound as his cell phone’s ringtone and—voilà—kids are downloading it by the millions.

How does the mosquito tone go undetected by adults older than 25?  Inside our ears we have tiny microscopic hairs that move with the impulses of incoming sound waves, and those hair movements send electrical signals to our brain.  As we age, those hairs get worn down, actually damaged, so our hearing becomes less sensitive.  We first lose the ability to detect the sounds of high frequencies.  People over 25 can’t hear sounds above 16 kilohertz. (The highest note on a piano is 4 Khz; the mosquito tone is 17 Khz.)

Here’s the point: This situation serves as an analogy to help us understand the common difficulty of detecting communication from God.  According to Scripture, the reality of God can be perceived in the wonders of creation, and all people—including nonbelievers—can detect this information.  But if they fail to respond, they gradually lose the ability to sense God altogether…they lose “spiritual ear hair” so to speak.

The same principle holds true even for Christians.  Just as unbelievers can lose their ability to perceive God in the macro-messages of nature if they don’t respond appropriately to what they detect, believers can lose their sensitivity to God if we don’t respond appropriately to his specific promptings.

John 8:43 (NIV) – Why is my language not clear to you?  Because you are unable to hear what I say.

PRAYER: Almighty God, open our ears to hear, our eyes to see, and our hearts to obey!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 2/13/18 – The Message of the Folded Napkin

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DayBreaks for 2/13/18: The Message of the Folded Napkin

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

A DayBreaks reader sent this to me and it’s well worth passing on (I’m sorry, I don’t know who originally wrote this):

“Why did Jesus fold the linen burial cloth after His resurrection?
“The Gospel of John (20:7) tells us that the napkin, which was placed over the face of Jesus, was not just thrown aside like the grave clothes.  The Bible takes an entire verse to tell us that the napkin was neatly folded, and was placed at the head of that stony coffin:

Early Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and I don’t know where they have put him!” Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb to see. The other disciple outran Peter and got there first. He stooped and looked in and saw the linen cloth lying there, but he didn’t go in. Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus head was folded up and lying to the side.
I have come to believe that any detail that God has chosen to include in scripture has significance if we can only see it.  So, why did John make note of the napkin that was folded neatly by the burial clothes?  Is it really significant?  Yes!
“In order to understand the significance of the folded napkin, you have to understand a little bit about Hebrew tradition of that day. The folded napkin had to do with the Master and Servant, and every Jewish boy knew this tradition. When the servant set the dinner table for the master, he made sure that it was exactly the way the master wanted it.  The table was furnished perfectly, and then the servant would wait, just out of sight, until the master had finished eating. The servant would not dare touch that table, until the master was finished. Now if the master was done eating, he would rise from the table, wipe his fingers, his mouth, and clean his beard, and would wad up that napkin and toss it onto the table. The servant would then know to clear the table. For in those days, the wadded napkin meant, “I’m done”. But if the master got up from the table, and folded his napkin, and laid it beside his plate, the servant would not dare touch the table, because the folded napkin meant, “I’m coming back!”

I also think it is significant where Jesus left the napkin.  He could have folded his napkin at the Last Supper and laid it neatly on the table.  We don’t know that he did that or not and Scripture certainly doesn’t mention it.  But Jesus leaves the folded napkin at the edge of a grave as if to tell us that he’s coming back to the place of the dead once more and that when he does, he’ll do the same thing that he’d done with Lazarus just a few chapters earlier in John. 

It’s one thing to say you’ll come back to a dinner table to eat – but another thing entirely to say you’ll come back to the place of death and bring life with you!  If your life is “dead” right now, think about the folded napkin and rejoice in the silent message it brings!

PRAYER: Almighty Lord Jesus, ruler of all things, thank you for the simple message of the folded napkin and the hope that it brings us as we live out our days on earth!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 2/12/18 – The Spirit and the Wind

DayBreaks for 2/12/18: The Spirit and the Wind

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

John 3:8 (NIV) – The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

Without a doubt, the aspect of the Trinity that we know the least about would be the Spirit.  Even His name, “Spirit”, seems strange and mysterious to us compared to Father or Son.  We long to lay our eyes upon the Father and upon the Son, but how often have you heard anyone say, “I can’t wait until I see the Spirit!”

As you probably know, the word for Spirit in Greek is pneuma.  It’s translated as breath, wind, spirit.  In John 3:8, it is the word that Jesus uses when speaking of the Holy Spirit.  That just makes it all the more mysterious, don’t you think?  You cannot see the wind itself, but you can see its effects.  So it is with the Spirit.  Jesus says the wind blows where it decides to go, and so does the Spirit.  The wind can be gentle or powerful, so it is with the Spirit.  It is interesting to me, that in Genesis 1:2, the Spirit of God is introduced, and as the KJV puts it, “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” – just like the wind that moves over land and sea. 

I have been focusing a lot lately in my life on trying to see and perceive God more clearly though the things that He has created.  Sometimes my eyes are covered and I struggle to see Him in things, but at others, I wonder if I sometimes go a bit too far with my perceptions.  We live in a time when we have a scientific explanation for everything, where even the human genome has been fully mapped, where earthquakes are no longer believed to be an act of God (or the gods to the pagans), where eclipses are understood to be naturally occurring celestial events rather than a sign of displeasure from on high.  Solomon said that “to everything there is a season” but modern man in all our supposed wisdom, says “To everything there is an explanation.”  Something great has been lost, I fear.  Mystery has been subsumed by the mundane and de-mystified.

Here’s my point: what if, just for sake of conjecture, we were to think of the breeze, the wind as being the Spirit passing by instead of being caused by competing areas of high and low pressure in the atmosphere?  After all, the wind and Spirit are used interchangeably in some Biblical texts.  Maybe it isn’t just the movement of air molecules that brushes your face when you step outside today – maybe it’s the breath of the Spirit, or the caress of His hand as the Spirit moves around you. 

Would that not be a better way for us who are believers to think of the wind?  While I’m not possessed of enough wisdom and insight to know whether or not it is true, Scripture says that the Lord will never leave us – and where the Lord is, the Spirit is.  And if we were to start to think of the wind as the Spirit every time we sense the breeze, if we let it draw our thoughts to God would we not be better off than explaining it away as just the difference in atmospheric pressure?

PRAYER: Sometimes, Lord, we listen too much to science and not nearly enough to Your Spirit, that we confess is mysterious indeed to us.  Teach us through the things that You’ve created, capture our imaginations and hearts anew with the awe and wonder we once knew as little children, and direct our thoughts toward You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 2/09/18 – The Promise of a Father

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DayBreaks for 2/09/18: The Promise of a Father

Sometimes just re-reading a verse opens a new universe of thought. In my quiet time, I’m trying to not force any issue or hear a specific message, I’m just trying to hear what Jesus was saying – and beyond that, to the meaning of what he was saying.

Just Thursday morning as I was reading in John 14, I ran across this verse: I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. – John 14:18 (ESV)

Wow. Did you catch the import of that verse? Let me share with you that my dad passed on to glory a bit over 20 years ago. I suppose that one could say that as far as an earthly father is concerned, I am now an orphan – and how I wish that were not so! It’s not that I think my dad wanted to leave me, but he did. His heart would not allow him to live here indefinitely and it finally gave out. But his absence, my “orphanhood” if you will, it is the reality of my daily life. My dad was amazing – not sinless, but a man of extraordinary character and integrity. But, he’s no longer here. It is an uncomfortable thing to feel like an orphan. Jesus says that I am not an orphan.

Some are orphans because of the death of parents, others are orphans because they were unwanted – their parents abandoned them. That must be even more painful than being an orphan by death. I cannot imagine how it must feel to be “unwanted” as a human.

Jesus wants us to know that being unwanted will never be the case with us, either. We will not be orphans in either sense, for he will come to us.

One simple verse…but Jesus wants us to really “get” this. We are not orphans. We will never be orphans. We have a Father who loves us and will never abandon us. Now – with that thought in mind, go have a great weekend!

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for being our forever Father, for this promise that we will never be orphans in this universe! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 2/01/18 – A Lamp, Not a Searchlight

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DayBreaks for 2/01/18: A Lamp, Not a Searchlight

From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:

Psalm 119.105: Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Have you ever gone backpacking?  I have rather poor eyesight without my contact lenses, and at night when we are backpacking and I take my lenses out, I want to be sure that I don’t have to do any walking around or I can’t see a thing!  It can be awkward to be tripping and stumbling over unseen roots and rocks (not to mention it doesn’t impress my friends with my sheer athletic gracefulness)!!!

This verse from Psalm 119 is trying to tell us that we don’t have to walk in the darkness.  But it is important to remember what a lamp was in the days the passage was written.  Typically, the lamp being described was a small earthenware bowl with an elongated snout on one end into which a wick was laid.  One end ran into the bowl and the other lay on the outer edge of the “snout” and was lit.  It could usually fit easily into the hand.  Travelers carried these lamps at night so that they could see the terrain where they were walking.

It’s worth noting that the Word is described as being a “lamp”, not a high-powered searchlight.  The lamp of olden days gave light to the feet, but couldn’t give light for a great distance.  That’s the way it is with God – He gives us just enough to see the next couple of steps but not the complete pathway.  Why?  I think it is because if we had a high powered searchlight, we wouldn’t need faith, for then we would be walking by sight and not by faith.  God wants us to learn to trust Him with a future that is unknown (to us). 

Are you trying to direct your own steps?  Sometimes we can try to hard to plan the future and we rob ourselves of the excitement and joy of being led step by step.  Our planning tends to remove God and dependence on Him from our minds.  We must approach all of life with the attitude noted in James 4.13-15: “So you should say, ‘If the Lord wants, we will live and do this or that.'”  How often in the course of planning your day, let alone your week, month, year or life, do you stop to take God’s sovereignty into account?

Living day by day, depending on Him alone, is a tremendous adventure.  Don’t try to find the searchlight – be content with the lamp and trust that He truly knows the path.

PRAYER: Give us the wisdom to seek Your light and the courage to walk in Your pathway!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 1/31/18 – Screaming in the Darkness

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DayBreaks for 1/31/18: Screaming in the Darkness

From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:

From Michael Card’s Immanuel: Reflections on the Life of Christ:  “When Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane, he was already bloody before anyone laid a hand on him.  He had been fighting a battle that would make certain the final outcome on Calvary.  Without Gethsemane, there would have been no Golgotha. The blood and water that flowed from his wounds on the cross were preceded by bloody sweat that poured from his pores as he suffered the agony of a death more painful than the physical death on the cross, the death of the will.”

“Gethsemane literally means “place of crushing,” a place where olives were crushed for their oil.  That name took on an infinitely deeper meaning when Jesus knelt down there to pray that night in the garden.  He was both a man and a child in Gethsemane.  Full of courage, it was a man who faced not an uncertain death, but one that was fully known to him.  Jesus looked the Father in the face with mature, though anguished, honesty and said, “If there is any way for this cup to pass, let it be so!”  The torment of the garden was the confrontation between the Son, whose perfect obedience came crashing down against the human desire to say, “My will be done!”  Jesus began to die in the garden.”

“Did Jesus want to go to the cross?  The garden of Gethsemane tells us, no.  Obedience is perfected not in doing something you want to do but in doing the last thing in the world you want to do.  That is why his sweat flowed with blood.  A man knelt in the garden, a man of unspeakable courage and obedience.  A Man of Sorrows…”

“Yet a child also knelt down there to pray.  We hear the tones of a child in Jesus’ plea, “Abba, anything is possible for you!”  Jesus’ words sound like a child’s cry to his father for help, not a theological statement about an all-powerful Universal Being.  (Every father is, at least for a little while, omnipotent to his children.)  He was a child, screaming in the darkness, as if he were having a nightmare, only this was not a dream.”

Galen’s thoughts: This is apparently the closest Jesus ever came to hanging it up and not going through with what God wanted from him.  Does it scare you to know how close he came?  It was only a few short letters and a twist of the words from “..not my will but thine…” to “…not thy will but mine…”.  We were that close.  If Jesus had refused to surrender his own will we would have been doomed.

The will dies hard, doesn’t it?  As you wrestle with your will and the role it plays in the sin in your life, find comfort in the fact that Jesus knows how hard it is for our own will to die within us.  He, the very Son of God, knew the struggle, too.  He can identify with me when I struggle to put the knife to the heart of my own will.  But he also shows me that it can be done.  The struggle is winnable. He proved it.

PRAYER: The struggle is great within us, Lord, to decide whether to follow you or follow our own ways.  Strengthen us in our obedience to be like our Lord.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.