DayBreaks for 3/5/19 – Ready Every Day

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DayBreaks for 3/05/19: Ready Every Day

From the DayBreaks archive February 2009:

Robby Robins was an Air Force pilot during the first Iraq war. After his 300th mission, he was surprised to be given permission to immediately pull his crew together and fly his plane home. They flew across the ocean to Massachusetts and then had a long drive to western Pennsylvania. They drove all night, and when his buddies dropped him off at his driveway just after sun-up, there was a big banner across the garage—”Welcome Home Dad!”

How did they know? No one had called, and the crew themselves hadn’t expected to leave so quickly. Robins relates, “When I walked into the house, the kids, about half dressed for school, screamed, ‘Daddy!’ Susan came running down the hall—she looked terrific—hair fixed, make-up on, and a crisp yellow dress. ‘How did you know?’ I asked.

‘I didn’t,’ she answered through tears of joy. ‘Once we knew the war was over, we knew you’d be home one of these days. We knew you’d try to surprise us, so we were ready every day.'”

In Matthew 25 is the parable of the wise and foolish virgins who were invited to the wedding feast.  The wise virgins had enough oil to keep their lamps burning and were ready and waiting when the bridegroom showed up at the feast.  The foolish virgins had not exercised the foresight to prepare themselves so they were not ready when the bridegroom arrived. 

We need to be ready every day for a variety of things:

FIRST: we need to be ready for the arrival of the bridegroom.  It could be today that Jesus gets the word from the Father: “It’s time.  Go back and bring My children home!”  If that day is today, there is absolutely nothing that will stop it from taking place.  No one knows the day, except the Father.  Hence the need to always be ready!

SECOND: we need to be ready to die.  Jesus may or may not come today…and we may or may not live to see tomorrow.  It sounds trite to say it, but it is true.  Just recently in our town, a 19 year old boy from a nearby town came here for the yearly Citrus Fair.  He was hit by a car and killed.  I know he wasn’t expecting it, I can only hope and pray that he was ready.

THIRD: there are opportunities that only come up once in a while and we need to be ready to grasp the opportunities to show the love of Jesus each day even as he demonstrates his love to us daily.  Make it a point, right now, to love someone today in a practical way.  You might not have the chance again tomorrow.

Prayer: Help us to be watchful, Lord, and ready, for Your return, for our own death, and for the chances that come our way to love others in Your name!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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

 

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DayBreaks for 1/28/19 – Neon Promises

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DayBreaks for 01/28/2019: Neon Promises

Have you ever really noticed how many neon signs there are in your town? Have you paid attention to what they claim and what they try to sell you?

I recently was listening to an old rock song by Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band called Fire Inside. It contains these lyrics:

There’s a hard moon risin’ on the streets tonight

There’s a reckless feeling in your heart as you head out tonight,

Through the concrete canyons to the midtown light

Where the latest neon promises are burning bright…

I had never paid close attention to the lyrics before, but for some reason, the concept of neon promises struck a chord in my thoughts and spurred this DayBreaks. If you’ve been to any big (and sometimes small cities), you’ve probably seen neon signs promoting things like these: “All you can eat! $5.95!”  “Girls! Girls! Girls!” “Paradise!” “Fresh pies!” “B-B-Q!” “Cocktails and Dreams!” “Beer on tap – happy hour – $1!”

Satan is no idiot. He knows how attracted we are to beautiful, shiny, colorful and bright things. And he knows how those things draw us with promises of dreams about to be realized, hopes fulfilled, pleasures and freedom to do as your heart pleases without consequence or regret.

But, in reality, all they are is empty neon promises. They shine bright for a while but they are empty, filled with nothing more than the hot gasses contained in glowing glass tubes.

I thought about how the promises of God offer things so different than neon promises: “I will never leave you or forsake you.”  “I will remember your sins no more.” “I have come that you may have life and life overflowing.” “Come to me and I will give you rest.”

Does the different between those promises strike you as much as it does me? God’s promises relate to the deepest desires of my heart and soul rather than simply the desires of the flesh. Even if you eat all the food you want for $5.95, you’ll be hungry again tomorrow, but Jesus gives us the bread that makes it so that our souls will never again hunger.

I’ve had enough of neon promises that can’t fulfill. I hope you have, too, and that we will all recognize them for what they are: just tubes filled with glowing gas.

PRAYER: Father, than you for your promises which are real, deep and eternal. Keep us from falling prey to the neon promises of this world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 12/25/18 – What Would I Have Seen?

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DayBreaks for 12/25/18: What Would I Have Seen?

I wonder what I would have heard had I been there that night. It is a question that annually haunts me. Would I have heard the choirs of angels singing or simply the sounds of barnyard animals shifting around? Would I have seen the star in the sky that night or simply two poor and very frightened kids? Would I have understood the hushed silence of the divine presence, or simply the chill of a cold east wind. Would I have understood the message of Emmanuel, God with us, or would the cosmic implications of that evening have passed me by?

I am convinced that had two people been there that night in Bethlehem it is quite possible that they could have heard and seen two entirely different scenes. I believe this because all of life is this way. God never presents himself in revelation in a manner in which we are forced to believe. We are always left with an option, for that is God’s way. Thus, one person can say “It’s a miracle, while another says “It’s coincidence.”

Certainly very few people in Palestine saw and heard and understood what took place that night. The choirs of angels singing were drowned out by the haggling and trading going on in the Jerusalem bazaar. There was a bright star in the sky but the only ones apparently to pay any attention to it were pagan astrologers from the East. If anyone did see Mary and Joseph on that most fateful night, they were too preoccupied with their own problems to offer any assistance.

In one of the All in the Family episodes that aired some years ago Edith and Archie are attending Edith’s high school class reunion. Edith encounters an old classmate by the name of Buck who, unlike his earlier days. had now become excessively obese. Edith and Buck have a delightful conversation about old times and the things that they did together, but remarkably Edith doesn’t seem to notice how extremely heavy Buck has become. Later, when Edith and Archie and talking, she says in her whiny voices “Archie, ain’t Buck a beautiful person.” Archie looks at her with a disgusted expression and says: “You’re a pip, Edith. You know that. You and I look at the same guy and you see a beautiful person and I see a blimp. Edith gets a puzzled expression on her face and says something unknowingly profound, “Yeah, ain’t it too bad.”

Would I have seen and recognized the eternity shattering events in Bethlehem for what they were, or would I have let it passed unnoticed? I hope that today, you see the babe in the manger in a new light, a heavenly light that shines like none other and that you take time to worship the Incarnate One.

Merry CHRISTmas to you all!

PRAYER: Jesus, we fall silent in wonder at the events surrounding your birth. Be born in us anew this day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/14/18 – Aiming Past Life

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DayBreaks for 12/14/18: Aiming Past Life

From the DayBreaks Archive, 12/9/98:

Okay, let’s see how many of you have tried this: have you ever put a board (even just one – and maybe a thin one at that) between two bricks and tried to break the board with your hand?  I’ve tried it – on more than one occasion.  I’ve seen it done in person (in fact, my oldest granddaughter can do it!) – but not just with one board, but with many boards, with cement blocks or blocks of solid ice.  I can only say that if you tried it, I hope you were more successful than I.  And I hope you didn’t hurt yourself, either!

It isn’t just big, hulking guys who do this kind of stuff.  I’ve seen little folk do it – men and women.  So the key to the ability to smash stuff like that with your bare hands can’t be based on brute strength. 

There are actually two things that are necessary, according to those who bust stuff with their bare hands, if one is to break boards, ice or cement blocks with nothing more than the edge of a hand.  Here they are: 1) focused concentration, and 2) aiming at a point just beyond the board.  In other words, it is important to not get distracted by things around you as you focus on hitting a point in your mind that is just beyond the visible board.  Of course, the “point” you aim at isn’t visible because the board blocks it from view, so that’s where the focus also comes into play.

Life is often somewhat like that board.  It’s hard and unyielding.  We bump up against it over and over and bruises are usually the result.  Life doesn’t bend, as a general rule.  If we are to break through the frustration of living in this world, we must be focused, and we must aim at something beyond this life – something that is just on the other side of what is visible.  And then we must drive with all our force to that “something” that is just beyond our sight. 

For Christians, we take note of what the Word says in 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV) – So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  What is seen is like the board – it’s not really the goal – the goals is unseen, just on the “other side”.  And again, Hebrews 12:2 (NIV) instructs us: Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  We are to focus all our energy, our vision, on Jesus.  And where is he?  Seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  He’s in the realm of the unseen, and he awaits us just beyond what is visible.

Another way to think of this is that death is the board – a door, if you will – that prevents us from seeing what is not unseen.  But it will not always be so.  And what will we see when we break through?  Jesus.

PRAYER: We pray that You will sharpen our focus and help us to remember that we are not to aim at things in this life that would distract us from what is presently unseen.  Strengthen us to look beyond this life to see the Risen Son seated in glory, awaiting our arrival!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/10/18 – More than Enough

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DayBreaks for 12/10/18: More Than Enough

From the DayBreaks Archive, 12/8/98:

Long ago, a poor woman from the slums of London was invited to go with a group of people for a vacation at the ocean. She had never seen the ocean before and when she saw it, she started crying. Those around her thought it strange that she would cry after such an enjoyable holiday had been provided for her. Finally, one of them asked her why she was crying. Pointing to the ocean, she answered, “This is the only thing I have ever seen that there was enough of!”

How would you describe the ocean to someone who has never seen it? Many years ago now, my cousin from Iowa brought his family to California for vacation. We took them to the beach and their kids saw the ocean for the first time. Their daughter innocently turned to her dad and asked if we could drive to the other side! Obviously, she just didn’t have a concept of how much of the ocean there was!

Sometimes I feel I may be on the verge of exhausting God’s love and mercy towards me. It usually happens when some old sin problem pops up in my life once again, grabs me by the throat and pulls me down. Afterwards, I feel miserable, used, helpless and hopeless all at the same time. And it is at those moments when I need to see and feel the magnitude of God’s love the most. Perhaps that is why I love the words to the old hymn, “O The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus” that goes like this:

“O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast unmeasured, boundless, free!

Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me,

Underneath me, all around me, Is the current of His love;

Leading onward, heading homeward, to my glorious rest above.

“O the deep, deep love of Jesus, Love of ev’ry love the best;

‘Tis an ocean vast of blessing, ‘Tis a haven sweet of rest,

Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus, ‘Tis a Heav’n of Heav’ns to me;

And it lifts me up to glory, For it lifts me Lord to Thee.”

Micah 7:18-19 says, Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

Can there be anything dearer or more precious to the Christian than the love of Christ? There is more than enough of it to go around – no matter what you’ve done, where you’ve been or how long you were there. God never suffers from a power shortage or a love shortage. And that fact is music to my soul!!!

Prayer: There is no God like You, Lord, we plead for your compassion!  In Jesus’ name,.

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

DayBreaks for 12/05/18 – The God Who Does

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DayBreaks for 12/05/18: The God Who Does

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

What is man that Thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that Thou visitest him? –  (Ps. 8:4, KJV)

David was neither the first, nor the last, who asked the question of God (my paraphrase here): “Why would you pay attention to us?  Why would you waste a precious moment of your time on creatures like us?”  All it takes for me to be lost in the wonder of David’s question is to lay on the deck at night gazing up into the seemingly inexhaustible reaches of space and I find it hard to believe that God even knows I exist.  Have you ever had the same feeling?  Sure, I know what his word says and I believe it – well, most of the time at any rate.  there are moments when it is hard to grasp.

There are those who, regardless of what the Bible says, believe that God takes no notice of us.  Some believe that because they’ve asked him for something and never heard from him in a way that they expected.  Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote, “Earth’s crammed with Heaven, and every common bush afire with God; but only he who sees takes off his shoes.”  There is wisdom in these words: for those who are tempted to think that God would not communicate with measly humans are not likely to hear from Him at all.  They are not able to hear His voice.  That shouldn’t surprise us: think about how often we fail to hear the voices of human who are speaking to us.  It may be a crowded room, or just that we’re distracted by something else at the moment.  Each of us is bombarded with radio and television signals 24 hours a day – those signals are passing through our physical bodies constantly, and yet we can’t even hear them at all.  A receiver that is properly tuned to those frequencies has no problem picking up those signals and “hearing” them at all. 

We are like those receivers, and God is like the “broadcaster.”  We are constantly being showered with His messages – and like the radio and TV waves, they pass through us unnoticed because we are not attuned properly to hear His voice.  We have been attuned to science to observe nature and think of molecules, chemicals, physical laws, and matter/energy, but not to pick up the signals of God’s voice that are being broadcast by nature 24 hours a day (“The heavens announce the glory of God” – Ps. 19).  Nor do we hear the special communication directed by God to each of us as individuals. 

As Dallas Willard put it in Hearing God, “Some of Jesus’ deepest teachings are about hearing.  He taught in parables so those who did not really want to hear the truth could avoid it.  He realized that not everyone has ears for the straightforward purpose of hearing but that some use their ears to sift out only what they want to hear, leaving the rest aside.  One of his most repeated sayings was, “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”  But he also urged his hearers to make a great effort to hear, assuring them that what they received would be proportional to their desire and effort (Mk. 4:23-24).”

Yes, we are tiny specks in the universe.  Just as only those who see take off their shoes at the burning bush, only those who unplug their ears can hear, for God does communicate with His creation – even tiny specks of humanity in a vast universe.

PRAYER: Give us eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts eager to obey.  Thank you for your Word to us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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