DayBreaks for 2/2/17: Should I Pray to be Delivered from this Hour?

DayBreaks for 2/02/17: Should I Pray to be Delivered from this Hour?

John 12:27-28 (NLT) – Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! Father, bring glory to your name…”

Wow. Just WOW! To place this verse in context, Jesus is in Jerusalem for the Passover. He has just foretold his coming death. He has also just said that his disciples must be where he is. Where would he be? He would soon be in the garden, on trial, on the cross and in the tomb. This is a sobering reminder that if our Master didn’t escape a troubled heart or a troubled life, we should not expect to, either. As David Platt said recently, we tend to think as believers we are guaranteed a safe life. We are not. In fact, if anything, we are guaranteed a troubled life if we are to inhabit all the spaces Jesus did not only physically, but also if we journey with him spiritually and emotionally – and he want to some very foreboding places in his heart.

It is interesting that Jesus shares his thoughts out loud here. Should he pray to be saved from this hour?, he asks. In matter of fact, he did make that very request some mere days or hours later in the garden. Yet, in spite of his deeply troubled heart, even here he resolves himself with the knowledge that God had a purpose for his coming, for this very hour. He came not to be delivered, but to deliver, not to be spared, but to spare others.

How do I view my own life in that regard? Do I have even an inkling of the call God has put upon my life? How often do I pray to be delivered from “this hour” when in fact, it may be that my struggle, even my death, may be the thing that will bring the most glory to the Father. My first inclination is to pray for my own preservation rather than to see my “hour” as an opportunity for his glory.

Jesus refused to pray for deliverance. Maybe I should pray less for deliverance and be more concerned about how God can use my situation and my obedience in that dark hour for His glory.

PRAYER: Lord, I am very self-centered and as I read this verse, it becomes clearer to me. Thank you for the power of your word to show us not just your love and goodness, but our weaknesses and failures, too. Use those hard times and difficult hours in our lives to bring you glory. May we be more like our Master and seek your glory and your purposes above all else! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/7/16 – Bad Reception

DayBreaks for 12/07/16: Bad Reception

I’m sure that you’ve had some version of this discussion if you have, or ever have had, a cell phone:

“I have full signal, it must be you.”

“No, it must be you, I haven’t moved and I have 5 bars.”

How often have you received a call back from the person you thought you were talking to and with great frustration you ask, “At what point did I lose you?”

Or maybe it goes more like this:

“Do you have reception? How many bars to you have?”, or:

“Can you hear me now?”

What do all these things have in common? They’re people talking about the quality of reception (or lack thereof) that they have on their cell phones. Why? Because bad reception causes interruption to communication. Sometimes we even get so frustrated with dropped calls that we stop trying any more.

Those things are all understandable when we talk about cell phones, but what about our spiritual reception? What causes a “bad signal” or blocks the exchange of information in our communication efforts with God? You may not want to take the blame, but chances are, it’s YOU! You can be sure that God always wants to hear from you, so He’s not going to be the one who creates the static on the line.

There’s another factor that enters into this equation, though, and it is this: for there to truly be communication, not only must there be someone who is communicating something, but there must also be someone who is listening. And that, I’m convinced, is where a great deal of our problem with prayer comes into play. We’re too busy talking, or thinking about other things, to hear the “still, small voice” of God.

Perhaps you are frustrated with your prayer life…feeling that you just “aren’t getting through”, that you’ve got a bad connection. Please, don’t let what you perceive as a “dropped call” stop you from reaching out. Keep “dialing”, but be sure that you’re also ready to listen for His voice at all the other times of your life, too…not just when you reach out to Him. It seems to me that there are as many instances in the Bible when God spoke to people when they weren’t praying as times when He responded directly to a prayer request. If we’re not listening, we won’t hear Him under any circumstances.

PRAYER: Teach us the sound of Your voice, let us recognize when You speak and listen closely to what You are saying. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple.  All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 8/3/16: If I Should Die…

DayBreaks for 8/03/16 – If I Should Die…

Many of you are familiar with the childhood prayer “Now I lay me down to sleep, ” but I was little surprised to learn that it is a shortened version of an Old English prayer, which goes like this:

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,

bless the bed that I lie on.

Before I lay me down to sleep,

I give my soul to Christ to keep.

 

Four corners to my bed,

four angels there aspread,

two to foot, and two to head,

and two to carry me when I’m dead.

 

I go by sea, I go by land,

the Lord made me by his right hand.

If any danger comes to me,

Sweet Jesus Christ, deliver me.

 

He’s the branch, and I’m the flower,

pray God send me a happy hour.

And if I die before I wake,

I pray that Christ my soul will take.

 The prayer has an important refrain, that Christ is the keeper, the caretaker of our soul. And, when we slip into the unconsciousness of the night I suppose, on a daily bases, we are never nearer death. It was out of this fear of sleep that this prayer was written. At night, when we are vulnerable, we want someone watching over us. During the daytime when we are afraid, we want someone watching over us. When we come to die, we want someone watching over us.

The wonderful news: Someone is!

PRAYER:  Thank you for never sleeping or taking your eyes off us for even a single moment. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

 

DayBreaks for 7/21/16 – Get Your Toes in the Water!

DayBreaks for 7/21/16 – Get Your Toes in the Water

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2006:

Exodus 14 recounts an amazing moment in the history of God’s people.  Get the picture clearly in your mind: Moses, an itinerant shepherd for the past 40 years, has gone to Egypt and told the most powerful man in the world, Pharaoh (by the way – many think that the pharaoh of the exodus whom God humbled was none other than Ramses II, the greatest and most powerful pharaoh of all time), to let his fellow Hebrews go.  After a test of wills between God and pharaoh, Ramses gives in and the people leave.  The children of Israel head east, being led by God in that direction. In the distance Moses starts to see a shimmering that looks like water, but initially he probably wasn’t sure whether it was water or a mirage.  But, with each step it starts to look more and more like water.  Soon – he’s sure.  And it isn’t a little puddle, either.  We’re talking serious waves here!

About the same time, Moses starts to hear the sounds of warriors, chariots and hooves behind him, and the angry shouts of the Egyptian soldiers out to take revenge on the Israelites for the deaths of their firstborn sons.  The Israelites start to cry out to Moses, “What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?…It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”  They were catching a vision, too – a vision of their bones bleached dry in the desert sands by the Red Sea.

Moses tries to calm their fears in verses 13-14 by telling the people to “stand firm” and that they “need only to be still”.  Verse 15, however, is where I want to focus: Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.  I can almost hear Moses: “Well, OK, Lord, but in case you haven’t noticed, we have a bit of a problem here.  You see, we can’t move forward.  There’s a huge body of water here.”  God’s answer: “Get your feet wet!”

What’s the point?  Moses told the people to be still and wait.  He apparently cried out to God in prayer and was going to sit around, wait and watch what God was going to do.  That wasn’t what God wanted.  God doesn’t work that way. His response to Moses was: “What are you sitting around and waiting for?  Move on!”  In his book, For Those Who Can’t Believe, Harold Schulweis made the observation: “Faith…(in God) is necessary but not sufficient for authentic prayer.  Covenantal prayer calls forth the faith to go forward.” 

Are you stuck between the proverbial rock and the hard place?  Are you at a standstill in your walk with Him?  Have you been praying and then sitting back to see what God was going to do, instead of praying and moving forward? God will act – but not until you move forward in faith that He will act.  The seas were parted, but the children of Israel still had to move forward in faith through the towering piles of water. 

God has heard your prayers – now He is watching to see if you’re going to move!

PRAYER:  Father, we want to be spectators too often in the church and in matters of faith.  We want to watch You do spectacular things, but only when our neck isn’t on the line or we don’t have anything at risk.  We want to see You move first.  Help us to know that once we’ve committed our way to You in prayer, since You’ve promised to hear and answer, to discern Your voice and then move forward into the waters of deep faith.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 6/8/16 – Boldly Presumptuous

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DayBreaks for 6/08/16 – Boldly Presumptuous

From our worship bulletin this past Sunday:

“My dog is boldly presumptuous. She presumes that everyone who comes to our home is there to see her. Whether you’re a friend, solicitor or a delivery or repair person, if you come to our house and ring the doorbell, she’ll run to greet you with yelps and howls, and when we open the door, she’ll rush out and jump up on you. If you visit often, she gets even more excited. She may even bring a toy in her mouth because she’ll assume you want to play with her. Once you’re safely inside and things have calmed down a bit, she’ll sit at your feet expectantly looking up at you, waiting for you to pet or scratch her. If you don’t get the hint, she’ll start nudging your arm with her nose or even scratching at you with her paws in an effort to remind you of the real reason you came to our house in the first place, to see her! If you sit on our den sofa, she’ll jump up next to you. She’s truly bold and presumptuous!

“If you look up “presumptuous” or its root word “presume” in the dictionary, you’ll find definitions like, “expect or assume especially with confidence”; “suppose to be true without proof”; “go beyond what is right or proper”; “over-stepping the due bounds”; or “taking liberties”. You’ll find synonyms like audacity, brashness, chutzpah, immodesty, gall, nerviness, overfamiliarity and temerity, and you’ll find an example sentence like this one: “It’s a little presumptuous of you to assume I’m your new best friend just because I invited you along.”

“The apostle John was boldly presumptuous. He called himself, “the disciple Jesus loved” six times in his own gospel account. John only says that about himself, not about any of the rest of the twelve. He’s boldly proclaiming that he’s “Jesus’ BFF” (best friend forever), his favorite disciple.  That’s a pretty presumptuous statement on  his part since nowhere in scripture do we have a record of Jesus saying that to John. In fact, the Pharisees correctly said of Jesus, “You are impartial and don’t play favorites” (Mt. 22:16).  Just because Jesus spent some extra time alone with Peter, James and John and gave them some special attention, John presumed he was Jesus’ favorite.

“I once read a story about a toddler who was boldly presumptuous. One day, he was walking with his mother through the White House. Suddenly, he broke away from her as toddlers often do, and he ran as fast as his little legs would carry him right past the Secret Service agents and into the Oval Office where he interrupted an important meeting. He then proceeded to run right over and jump up on the President’s lap! The little boy just presumed he’d be welcomed by one of the most important people in the world. He was confident of that because he was the President’s son, John (John-John) Kennedy, Jr.

“The Bible says we can “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).  Just like little John-John, we can rush into the throne room of the most important One in the universe; we can interrupt Him and ask for whatever we need, and we can do this because we’re His children. You are one of God’s favorites because of what Jesus did on your behalf. As His children, we can be confident He loves us and wants to help us, protect us, and do what’s best for us.”

PRAYER: Thak You, King of the universe, for boldly welcoming us with open arms to Your throne room!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 2/26/16 – A Not-so-Stupid Question

DayBreaks for 2/26/16: A Not-so-Stupid Question

Mark 10.46-52 captures the story of the healing of the blind man, Bartimaeus.  Bartimaeus, as I’ll call him, (not to be confused with Bartimaeus Simpson!!!) cried out for Jesus to have pity on him.  Notice what happened when he and Jesus wound up face to face:  Jesus asked him a seemingly stupid question, “What do you want me to do for you?”

An outsider would say, “Well, Jesus, isn’t it obvious?   I mean, here’s a blind man, he can’t see!  What do you think he wants you to do for him, give him a new pair of shoes?!?!”  Ahhh – but there was more behind Jesus’ question than the obvious, I think. 

By asking the question, Jesus made Bartimaeus stop and think.  What did he really want from this “Son of David”?  He could have asked him for anything: a home, a chariot, to win the Jericho lottery that week, for a beautiful wife or loving children.  But he didn’t.  He wanted to see!  But Jesus question is still important for another reason: Bartimaeus needed to consider the implications of having sight.  It’s like Jesus was asking, “Are you really ready for the responsibilities of being able to see?  Have you thought it through?”  All of his life, Bartimaeus had been a beggar.  He’d never had to work, and while the wages of begging probably weren’t all that great, now he’d have to learn a skill, a trade.  He couldn’t beg anymore.  Being able to see is a wonderful gift, but it also carries with it the responsibility of seeing reality and reacting to it appropriately.

Several points:

  1. Jesus wants us to ask him for what we really want – and he wants us to carefully consider what we ask for and the price of getting what we want;
  2. Jesus, by coming into the world, has cleared up our vision, and because we have “seen” Him, we have seen the Father (John 14.9). Now we have no excuse for our blindness or remaining ignorant of the evils and wrongs done in this world and along with being able to see comes the responsibility to act as those who can see.

Have you cried out to the Lord to ask for something?  Jesus response to you is the same as that to Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?”.  It is a wonderful thing to follow Someone who cares enough to ask that kind of question and powerful enough to give us whatever we ask for.  But he’s not a cosmic vending machine who exists just to grant our requests.  He gives us things to use for His purposes, He has given us sight to see the truth, and He expects us to live changed lives as a result of being able to see the difference between right and wrong, truth and falsehood, light and darkness.

Just as the promise of Isaiah 35.5 came true for Bartimaeus, “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened…”, Jesus won’t refuse you, either.  Carefully consider what you ask for and also ask for the wisdom to use your sightedness correctly.

TODAY’S PRAYER:  Father, open our eyes to see your glory.  May we see your will for us clearly and may we live it faithfully.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 2/01/16 – Praying in Deepest Darkness

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Photo, Galen C. Dalrymple, 2013.

DayBreaks for 2/01/16: Praying in Deepest Darkness

I have always been tormented by the prayers of Jesus in Gethsemane. To think of the very Son of God in such anguish – brought about by things he didn’t deserve – and to know that he did it for me is unfathomable.

In the sermon on Sunday, the preacher was talking about prayer and he made reference to this prayer. Many times in prayer, we are formal and stiff in our language, as if we think that sounding proper and saying all the right things in the most pious and holy language we can must will somehow curry us favor with the Almighty. How foolish we are to think that.

The disciples once asked Jesus to teach them to pray, and he did. It was a prayer that is all of 13 seconds long. Jesus was no a pious windbag. He knew how to pray better than any of us. He didn’t use fancy words, but words that could easily fall from the tongues of a young child. “Our Father…”

And so we find this man of prayer prostrate in the garden, stretched out upon the ground, in the deepest pit of agony that any human has ever experienced. I know that others throughout history have died equally painful deaths on a cross and some perhaps even more painful. But the pain that most ripped Jesus’ that night was, I believe, already starting to settle on him: the pain of separation from God as he took on our sin. The darkness of all of history’s evil was falling on his soul. He was alone, and he was terrified.

So how did Jesus pray at that point? Did he summon up the highest theological language that he could (and he was the foremost theologian of all time – for he knew himself!)?

No, he didn’t even address God as YHWH, or Elohim. He didn’t string together lofty, wonderful adjective-lace terms such as Almighty God, Ancient of Days, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob or God of our fathers. No, this was a child, this was a son, and he called out to not YHWH, but Daddy! In his anguish, this was a child begging, pleading with his daddy, to let this darkness pass, to let it be over, to let the Light once more be Light.

That is a lesson of prayer we need to learn. That is how we are to pray.

Maybe right now you are desperate for relief, for deliverance from some torment. Maybe you are so ashamed you feel you can’t go to God. Maybe you are afraid you will be rejected in your darkness of soul. Let Jesus teach you to pray, “Abba, daddy!! If it be possible, let this cup pass from me!”

TODAY’S PRAYER:  Jesus, when I think of the agony of your soul in the garden I am crushed and so ashamed for my sin that added to your darkness and suffering. In my own darkness and shame, I cry out to you, “Daddy, have mercy on my soul and forgive me!”  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.