DayBreaks for 01/02/19 – Commitment

Image result for alone

DayBreaks for 01/02/2019: Commitment

From the DayBreaks archive, January 2009:

Commitment.  How committed are you? “Well,” you might say, “that depends on what you’re asking about.” Fair enough. How committed are you to your marriage? How committed are you to your children? How committed are you to your church and faithful, every-day and every-week service? How committed are you to your job and to being a light for Christ in the world? How committed are you to Jesus?

What is commitment? We think of it as “stick-to-itiveness”. Or we think of it in terms of dedication to a purpose or determination to reach a goal. Those aren’t bad, but there’s another aspect of commitment that really shows whether or not we are “committed”. It came in a devotion from Bob Gass Ministries. Here’s what he had to say: “If I could pick one word to describe commitment, I’d pick the word – alone. Daniel dined and prayed alone. Elijah sacrificed and witnessed alone. Jeremiah prophesied and wept alone. Paul said, “…all men forsook me…” (2 Tim. 4:16).

“The place of commitment is the place where God intervenes on your behalf. When the three Hebrew children of God made the commitment, God brought them out of the fiery furnace without even the smell of smoke. King Nebuchadnezzar was so impressed that he said, ‘…there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.’ (Dan. 3:29) That’s what the world is waiting for, somebody who’ll put everything on the line, get into the fiery furnace and let the world see God’s power.”

Commitment….alone. Perhaps that is the true measure of our commitment, don’t you think? Am I willing to stand for God all alone? Am I willing to stand alone for my marriage? Am I willing to stand alone for God in a workplace that is overwhelmed with darkness and that is openly hostile to Christ? The Hebrew children had God, and each other. What if they’d been alone?

I see in this concept the power of fellowship, but also the demand for commitment even if we, like Daniel, have to stand alone. It’s easy to say we’re committed when we sit in a pew on Sunday morning, but the real test of our commitment comes outside the walls of the church building when we are alone in the world.

Let me ask again: How committed are you to your marriage? How committed are you to your children? How committed are you to your church and faithful, every-day and every-week service? How committed are you to your job and to being a light for Christ in the world? How committed are you to Jesus? What you do when you are alone will tell you the answer to these questions – and reveal the depth of your true commitment!

Prayer: Teach us the kind of commitment that you have shown to us, Lord, even as you endured the loneliness of this world, this life, and the cross.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

Advertisements

DayBreaks for 12/31/18 – How Closely He Listens

Image result for falling tears

DayBreaks for 12/31/18: How Closely He Listens

The brick wall. The deafening silence. The times when it seems our prayers ascend to nothingness and no one. We’ve all felt it. It isn’t a comfortable feeling for those who are believers, who proclaim that there is a God in heaven who is good and caring and notices us.

David marveled that the One who created the vast heavens (and David had no idea how vast they are – and to this day no one really knows for sure) was mindful of him. It is a bit difficult to believe when staring up into space while laying out under a canopy of stars on a dark night. How could He possibly even know I’m here, let alone care for me and know my every word before it’s spoken, my very thoughts before I think them?  And not just me – but everyone!?!?!?!?  Can God really be listening to me, hearing me when I mutter my hopes, dreams, pain and requests skyward?

Psalm 6:8 gives us the assurance we need, but we have to pay close attention. Here’s what David said: Psalm 6:6-8 (ESV) – I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes. Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping.

What is it that God hears? The sound of weeping. Not of shrieking, wailing. When David just said he drenches his couch with his weeping he is using “weeping” in the sense of tears, not loud wailing. So David is saying that God is hearing the sound of his tears.

What sound does a falling tear make when it escapes the eye and moves down the face? It’s inaudible – but David says that God hears it. He is listening so closely to us that he can hear the sound of a tear escaping our eye. If we have ever doubted that God is a God of compassion, we need never question that fact.
If he hears your tears, he also knows your heartache. And as David concludes Psalm 6, he tells those who oppress him that they should start running now because God has heard his pleas and accepted his prayer – in short, God is moved to action on behalf of the one whose tears fall silently. He hears you.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for not just noticing us, but for listening so closely you can hear the silent tears that escape from the eyes of your children. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/27/18 – An Everyday Mystery

Image result for choosing

DayBreaks for 12/27/18: An Everyday Mystery

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

Choosing.  How difficult it is, and yet how often we do it!  How many decisions have you made already today?  You decided whether or not to get up when the alarm went off, or to hit snooze a time or two.  You decided what you would wear.  You decided what you would eat, or if you would eat, for breakfast.  You decided (whether you thought about it or not) on the route you’d drive to work, school or wherever you were going.  You decided where to park, how fast you’d drive, whether or not to pass or honk at someone who irritated you.  You decided what you’d listen to on the radio.  You decided what to read in the paper.  You decided if you’d take your lunch or buy it.  Chances are you’ve already made thousands of little decisions (many unconscious) already today – and your day is just getting started.

Someone has said that practice is what makes perfect.  We know, of course, that there’s a smidgen of truth in that sentiment – with practice we DO get better (hopefully!)  But we don’t get perfect through practice regardless of the old saying.  The only way we ever get perfect is by God changing us in eternity into Christ’s likeness.  We can make progress until then – but perfection?  No, definitely not.

But if we are to get better with practice, have you ever stopped to think about why it is that we so seldom choose what is best?  It’s nothing new to the 21st century, of course.  It’s been going on since the beginning of time, and humanistic thinking aside, we aren’t getting better at it throughout the millennia.  Adam and Eve were given an entire garden by God and told that they could eat of any tree in the garden – except one.  And which one did they choose?  The ONE.  Jonah had the choice of going to Ninevah or the other direction – so he high-tailed it away from Ninevah.  Saul/Paul could choose to persecute Christians or to let them be.  Judas could have not betrayed Jesus, be he did.  Perhaps you could have chosen to remain faithful to your spouse but you chose unfaithfulness instead.  Drugs, alcohol, greed, thievery, murder, lying – all spring from the well of choice.  See what I mean when I say we’re not getting better at it? 

I’m convinced that we don’t know how to choose wisely sometimes.  How can we possibly know in every circumstance what is the very best thing to do?  If you know the answer, please tell me!  Sure, I know we can pray and God can give us direction, but we still have to choose to go His way and not our own, or He may not give us an answer when we are seeking it. 

So what are we to do?  Maybe all we can hope for in those cases where we’re not sure what is best is to choose what is better.  Mary and Martha were hosting Jesus in their home, and Martha was all a-flutter with her busyness and serving until she got so ticked off at her sister that she even (by implication at least) berates Jesus and Mary – Mary for not helping, Jesus for not telling Mary to help Martha.  Jesus, ever gentle and wise, simply gives Mary a bit of praise: Mary has chosen what is better.  (Lk. 10:42) Notice what Jesus didn’t say: he didn’t say Mary had chosen what was best, but just better. 

What would have been best in that situation?  The Lord only knows, but he didn’t scold Mary for not choosing what was best but encouraged her in her choosing of what was simply “better”.  Maybe that’s why, in all our ways, we should acknowledge Him and let him direct our paths until we reach that which is best.

PRAYER: I’m so grateful, Lord, that you understand our limitations and don’t expect perfection from us.  Forgive us for our foolish choices and help us choose that which is better!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 12/26/18: Not Like the World Gives

image.png

From my friend, Barney Cargile, Barney’s Bullets:

Christmas Day, 1863. America’s poet laureate, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, found himself in a deep state of depression. America was embroiled in the Civil War, the bloodiest conflict in our history. A devout abolitionist, his heart was broken by the terrible war. But even worse, his personal grief was overwhelming.  A month earlier, his oldest son was critically wounded in battle. Two years prior, his wife Fannie burned to death right in front of him, when her clothes caught fire. Longfellow was severely injured in an effort to extinguish her, and carried severe scars for the rest of his days. 

Looking out his window in Cambridge, Mass, in intense despair, he ruminated on the angel’s words to the shepherds in Luke 2:14, “Peace on earth, good will to men”. He scoffed, “There is no peace on earth. These tragic events mock God’s promise of peace.”  

But then, a Christmas miracle occurred. In an instant, everything changed, and Longfellow penned these words: 

I heard the bells on Christmas Day. 

Their old familiar carols play. 

And wild and sweet, the words repeat 

of peace on earth, good-will to men! 

Through the church bells, God reminded Longfellow of the big picture; the TRUE peace that the baby in the manger brings to earth. God is not dead, nor does he sleep. He hasn’t abandoned us. The Prince of Peace still triumphs, even in the midst of war and personal tragedy, bringing peace that passes understanding: peace with God.  

Face it, if Jesus came to rid the world of war and suffering, he did a pretty lousy job! But what if…he brought something greater? What if, he did more than anyone ever dared imagine? What if he delivered a unique kind of peace, a peace so great, it transcends external circumstances? That’s the peace that inspired Longfellow to compose this cherished Christmas poem. Jesus promised, “The peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives.” (John 14:27)

Our world and lives today abound with conflict and turmoil. Like Longfellow, we have a choice: cave in to despair, or embrace the peace Jesus offers. Longfellow “heard the bells on Christmas day” and his life was changed forever.

I know it’s the day after Christmas, but one more thing about the peace that Jesus gives: it is a lasting peace and it can fill your heart for the rest of your life. Embrace it!

PRAYER: Lord, we are nearly at the new year and we pray that we will know your special peace throughout the year no matter the circumstances. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 12/07/18 – Bones of the Past

Image result for old bones

DayBreaks for 12/07/18: Bones of the Past

From the DayBreaks Archive, 12/8/98:

A few years ago, a large group of Vietnam veterans met in New York to commemorate the Vietnam War and its effect on their lives. Many were still suffering emotional wounds from that conflict. A Vietnamese Buddhist monk came to the gathering and told a moving story. During the war, a young Vietnamese woman was killed, leaving behind her husband and young son. The husband, needing to provide for himself and the boy, traveled far and wide looking for odd jobs. Often he left the child with neighbors. After one long trip looking for work, the man returned to find his village demolished and his neighbors gone. Searching through the rubble, he found some small bones scattered around. He was sure that these were the remains of his son. He wrapped the bones in cloth and carried them with him everywhere he went. Many years passed, and one night the old man heard knocking on his door. He called out, “Who’s there?” “It is your son! My kidnappers set me free and I have spent many years trying to find you!” The old man yelled, “You are a fake and a cruel man. My son is dead. Leave me alone!” He would not open the door. The pounding continued for a while, but then it stopped. The young man gave up and left.

A heartbreaking story. Here was a man who obviously loved his son deeply. Yet he was too afraid to give up the bones that he’d carried for years. He never found the happiness that was knocking at his door because he was so determined to hold onto the bones of the past rather than live in the joy of the present.

Are you holding onto the bones of your past so much that you are denying yourself the joy that Jesus intends for you to have today? If so, you need to let the bones go. They are only bones and they are relics from the past that need to be discarded so you can answer the knocking at the door of your heart. Perhaps they were very precious to you – like the bones of his son to this old man in the story. I understand. God understands. But they are from the past and we must not live there or we will miss the blessings and opportunities that God has designed for today. Isaiah 43:18 contains God’s instructions for us in this matter: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.”

“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 3:13-14

God gives us the choice: live with the bones of the past, or live in the here-and-now with the Lord of the past, present and future.

Prayer: Lord, let me find and know your joy today!  Help me forget the former things as I anticipate what is to come!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/06/18 – God and the GPS

Image result for GPS

DayBreaks for 12/06/18: God and the GPS

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

From a sermon (“Choices”) by John Ortberg:

“I can’t live Jesus’ life and Jesus knows that, but he says: You can ask me to come and live my life in you.

“I’ll give you a picture of this. Nancy and I were in a part of the country we had never been before. We were going to be driving on obscure back roads, so we got a rental car, and the guy at the counter said to me, ‘Along with this car, if you want, you can also get a GPS system.’ Have you ever used a GPS system? You plug it in and punch in your destination. A woman’s voice will tell you how to get wherever it is you are going. Well, when the guy at the counter asked if I wanted one, my immediate response was, ‘No. That is going to cost something. I don’t need that. I can find where I’m going without that.’ Anybody want to guess what my wife weighed in with? ‘Get the GPS.’ So, we got the GPS.

“Here’s the deal: You can get the box. You can have the lady in the car, but that doesn’t mean you trust her. If you trust her, what do you do? You do what she says. You go where she tells you to go. She says, ‘Turn left,’ you turn left. If she says, ‘Turn left,’ and in your heart you think, ‘But I want to turn right,’  and then you remember, ‘There is a way that seemeth right unto man, but the end thereof is death.’ Okay?

“To follow Jesus means I will do what he says. I will mess up a lot. I’m going to need his power. I know that, but I form the intention. I say to him, ‘God, with your help, as best I can, I will do what you say. I will give you my life, my time, my obedience.’

“Here is the thing: If that is not your settled intent, then it is best to be honest about it. If that is not your settled intent, then whatever else you might be, you are not a follower of Jesus. An admirer, maybe. But he is looking for followers. He is looking for somebody who will say, ‘All right, God.’

“There is something else you need to know about him—something that is also true when dealing with a GPS system. At one point when we were driving in this car, I was quite sure the lady was wrong. She said to go left, and I didn’t go left. I went right, because I knew she was wrong. Then as an interesting response, she said, ‘Recalculating route. When safe to do so, execute a U-turn.’ I knew she was wrong, so I unplugged her. That’s the beauty of that little box. You can unplug her.

“I got lost as a goose. My wife enjoyed that immensely.

“So we plugged that lady back in, and you know what she said? ‘I told you so, you little idiot.’ She said, ‘You think I’m going to help you now? You rejected me. You just find your way home by yourself.’ No—she didn’t say that. She said, ‘Recalculating route. When safe to do so, execute a U-turn.’

“Now see, that’s grace. As soon as you’re ready to listen, as soon as you’re ready to surrender, God will say, ‘Here is the way home. Execute a U-turn.’ That’s repentance. ‘I’ll bring you home.’ That is grace. That’s Jesus. He is the only one with authoritative wisdom about how to live. He is the only one who brings about the possibility of forgiveness for your sin and mine. He is the only one to give any kind of realistic hope of conquering death, of life beyond the grave.

“Why would you not give your full devotion to Jesus? He does not present himself as a good, spiritual teacher to be admired from a distance. He presents himself as Master, as Lord, as the one to be followed and served and obeyed and worshiped. There is no other way. He is it.”

PRAYER: For grace and mercy we thank You, Almighty and Eternal God.  Thank You for giving us direction.  Give us the wisdom to follow it faithfully!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/26/18 – Godtalk

DayBreaks for 11/26/18: God Talk

Image result for god talking

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

In his book, Living the Resurrection, the late Eugene Peterson told a story about his friend’s granddaughter, Charity.  It seems that Charity’s mom had gone to Chicago to visit Charity and Charity’s mom the week after Charity’s other grandmother had been there.  Now, Charity’s other grandmother is apparently a very spiritual, Christian woman, who loves to talk about God.  The morning after Charity’s second grandmother arrived, little Charity crawled into her grandma’s bed about 5:00 a.m. and said, “Grandmother, let’s not have any Godtalk, okay?  I believe God is everywhere.  Let’s just get on with life.”

At first blush, it appears that Charity is not (at 5 years of age!) all that interested in God, but I think that she might actually be wiser than it first appears.  Perhaps she is even blessed with an awareness that many older folk seem to lack: God is all over the place, and because of it, we can just get on with life and join Him in it wherever we are!

Besides that, there is the whole issue of “God-talk.”  Here’s some of Peterson’s reflections: ‘“Let’s get on with life,’ can serve as a kind of subtext for our pursuit of spiritual formation and how easily and frequently the spiritual gets disconnected from our actual daily lives, leaving us with empty Godtalk.  It’s not that the Godtalk is untrue, but when it is disconnected from the ordinary behavior and conversation that make up the fabric of our lives, the truth leaks out.”

What’s Peterson saying?  I think it’s just a fancy way of saying that we can talk about God all we want, but if our ordinary lives don’t reflect Him in the way we talk about Him, we won’t have any witness at all – the truth about us will leak out.  We CANNOT disconnect from God in our political, social, work, church, family, neighborhood.  If God is not part and parcel of everything in our lives, He will refuse to be a part of any of it. He wants the entire “us” – He wants to be in all parts of our lives and for us to submit all aspects of life to Him and His kingdom. 

PRAYER: May we invite you into every aspect of our day today, and all parts of our lives – and not just engage in Godtalk when it’s convenient.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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