DayBreaks for 11/15/19 – Hidden Blessings

Image result for hidden blessings

DayBreaks for 11/15/19: Hidden Blessings

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

Franklin and Phileda Nelson went to Burma as missionaries in the 1940s. They served there eight and a half years before the government closed the country to further missionary work. They returned to the United States where Franklin served several churches in various pastoral roles.

While in Burma they worked among remote tribes, and Franklin found his sense of gratitude for God’s providence rekindled. When reflecting on his missions work, he said: “In the Burmese hill country, the only way to get to remote villages was by “shank mare.” (That’s walking, in case you’ve never heard the phrase.) It was not at all uncommon for me to walk twenty miles a day in the dry season. When I got back to the States and worked as a pastor and church leader, I rarely walked a mile a day; the telephone and car made walking unnecessary.

“In Burma, if one of us got sick, the nearest hospital was ten days away. In the States, medical care is minutes away. In Burma, we’d go months without bread. Once we asked our daughter Karen to say grace before a meal, and she said, “Why do I have to pray for my daily bread when I don’t ever get any?” I have often coveted that experience for our youngest daughter who never had to wonder where her food came from. It’s hard to have that sense of helplessness and humility so vital to prayer when you sit down to your daily bread and don’t even think about how you got it.   

“I don’t in any way blame people here for not knowing what God can do. We’re victims of our prosperity. But I sometimes wish we had a few more hard times so people could experience firsthand how wonderful it is to be totally dependent on God.

Those last six words haunt me.  I know that I should trust God completely.  I know intellectually that I am totally dependent on God.  But I don’t live as if it’s true. The very statement “…how wonderful it is to be totally dependent on God” – how does that make you feel? 

Our feelings, of course, change nothing in regard to the veracity of the statement.  We are – like it or not – totally dependent on Him.  TOTALLY.  Might we not be far better off if we just simply acknowledge that and live in that knowledge constantly?  Our strivings would cease, our worry lines would diminish, and we would find some of the blessings that Franklin and Phileda found in their hardships – a greater trust in Him in all things.

PRAYER: Help us to not thank you only for the good, but to search for the hidden blessings in suffering and hardship.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/13/19 – Incarnational Revelation

Image result for incarnation

DayBreaks for 11/13/19: Incarnational Revelation

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

There has never been a better “asker” of questions than Jesus!  And there has never been a more important question than when he asked, But what about you?  Who do you say I am? Matthew 16:15 (NIV)  Upon the answer to that question hangs our eternity!

Jesus said He came so that we might see the Father, or to put it in another way, to know what God is like.  In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason posed a series of questions that are related to the incarnational experiences of Jesus that reveal to us who He is.

“If God alone ‘treads on the waves of the sea’ (Job 9:8), what must we conclude from the fact that Jesus did the same?

“If God is ‘the Maker of the Bear and Orion and Pleiades’ (vs. 9), what could be more fitting than that a brand-new star should be created to announce the birth of His Son?

“If God ‘performs wonders that cannot be fathomed’ and ‘miracles that cannot be numbered’ (vs. 10), then of course this description also fits the ministry of Jesus.

“If it is true of God that ‘when he goes by, I cannot perceive him’ (vs. 11), then it follows that Jesus too would have the power to make himself invisible in a crowd (as He does, for example, in John 8:59).

“If no one can say to God, ‘What are you doing?’ (vs. 12), then in the life of Jesus, too, it would come to pass that ‘no one dared ask him any more questions.’  (Mk. 12:34)

“If ‘God does not restrain his anger’ (vs. 13), then Jesus too might be expected to show anger.

“Finally, if ‘the cohorts of Rahab [the powers of darkness] cower at [God’s] feet’ (vs. 13b), then for Jesus, too, it would happen that ‘whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out.’  (Mk. 3:11)

“What wonderful irony there is in seeing Job set out to describe the immortal and invisible God, and in the process paint a stunningly accurate portrait of the earthly Jesus!  Or was it the other way around?  That is, did Jesus Christ, having been born into this world, set out deliberately to spend His life painting a visible and tangible portrait of His unseen Father as described in the Old Testament?”

Jesus claimed to be God.  He did things only God can do.  He deserves not just our love, but our obedience as Almighty God.

PRAYER: For the awesome mystery of God made flesh and living among us, we give You our praise!  May we obey Jesus from the heart with the full understanding that He is God!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/12/19 – On a River that Winds on Forever

Image result for flowing river

DayBreaks for 11/12/19: On a River that Winds on Forever

This past weekend I buried my mother’s ashes next to my father in a rural cemetery in Iowa near where they both were born. As we drove to Iowa and as I lowered the container of her ashes into the dark, cold ground, I couldn’t help but think about life.

My first thought was how 90 years of life were, at least in some fashion, reduced to a box of ashes. I realize that’s not the entire picture – not by a long shot – but the mortal remains of my mother were reduced to a box 9”x10”x5”. When I die my ashes will occupy a similar space. But life is much more than the dust from which we were formed.

One of my favorite songs at the moment is Ends of the Earth, by Lord Huron. It contains a line near the end that struck me as I drove across Illinois into the state of my birth that goes like this: “I’m on a river than winds on forever.”

The day will come when my mortal life reaches its conclusion. But just as with my mother and father, that will not be the end of ME. We think of death as being the cessation of life. If we limit our thinking to the life as we have experienced it since our birth we are not seeing life clearly. From the moment of my conception I have been on a river that winds on forever. The river won’t stop flowing when my body dies. I will not be dead. I will be truly alive for the first time. From the time I was conceived my cells started to die as well as replicate and multiply. But when this river that now carries me toward eternity flows onward and actually deposits me on that eternal shore, for the first time in my existence there will no longer be cells that mutate or die. There will be life..and only life that will wind on for the numberless eons of eternity.

Jesus claimed to be the Living Water. He is that River that carries me onward, nudging me day by day to that eternal shore.

PRAYER: For the gift of an unending life I am grateful, Lord. Let me learn to live well here so that I can live well forever. Thank You for this amazing journey! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/06/19 – Come to Me or Die

Image result for ocean riptide

DayBreaks for 11/06/19: Come to Me or Die

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

John Ortberg told this story in one of his sermons: “My friend, Jimmy, and his son, Davey, were playing in the ocean down in Mexico, while his family—his wife, daughters, parents, and a cousin—were on the beach. Suddenly, a rogue riptide swept Davey out to the sea. Immediately Jimmy started to do whatever he could to help Davey get back to the shore, but he, too, was soon swept away in the tide. He knew that in a few minutes, both he and Davey would drown. He tried to scream, but his family couldn’t hear him.

“Jimmy’s a strong guy—an Olympic Decathlete—but he was powerless in this situation. As he was carried along by the water, he had a single, chilling thought: My wife and my daughters are going to have to have a double funeral.

“Meanwhile, his cousin, who understood something about the ocean, saw what was happening. He walked out into the water where he knew there was a sandbar. He had learned that if you try to fight a riptide, you will die. So, he walked to the sandbar, stood as close as he could get to Jimmy and Davey, and then he just lifted his hand up and said, “You come to me. You come to me.”  (To escape a riptide, rather than swimming directly toward the shore it is necessary to swim parallel to the beach until one is out of the riptide current. – GCD)

“If you try to go the way your gut tells you to go—the shortest distance into shore—you will die. If you think for yourself, you will die. God says, ‘If you come to me, you will live.’  That’s it—death or life.”

Galen’s Thoughts: in Mark’s gospel, I’ve been struck by the differences between those who belief and those who don’t.  We are seldom, if ever, given reasons for why people choose not to believe, but they certainly do choose to not believe.  In chapter 16, it twice says that Jesus’ own disciples didn’t believe the resurrection stories.  While that may seem incredulous to us, I think it makes perfect sense.  Which is harder to believe – that a person has risen from the dead or that they’ve been cured of some disease that may not even have been visible on the outside?  The resurrection has almost always been one of the greatest stumbling-blocks for unbelievers.  It’s not that people don’t want to believe in life after death – it’s just that no one that I know of who is alive today has seen a person walking and talking who was dead for 3 days. 

Jesus (and God) seem perfectly willing to leave it up to us to choose whether or not to believe for our own reasons.  On the one hand, a centurion watches him die (probably the first time he’d seen or heard Jesus) and concludes he was the son of God.  On the other, the disciples who’d seen him and heard him many times, didn’t reach that conclusion for some time.  Jesus was taunted on the cross to “come down” and show everyone that he was who he claimed to be.  He didn’t do it – not because He couldn’t have – but because He shouldn’t have.  Belief must come to us as individuals as the conviction of the heart. If it had been me or any other human being that I’ve ever met who had been taunted as Jesus was, I’d have come down and proved my point – so strong is our desire for affirmation.  Jesus wouldn’t have any part of that – no forcing of faith. 

God is so gentle with us.  We’d break otherwise.  So we must come to Jesus because we hear his call, as Jimmy heard the call of his friend on the beach: “Come to me.  Come to me and live.”  We can’t force faith any more than we can swim against a riptide.  It is a work of God’s Spirit. 

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for sending someone to stand on the shore of this earth and call to us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened…come to me, and find rest for your souls!”  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/05/19 – Job and His Complaint

Image result for courtroom

DayBreaks for 11/05/19: Job and His Complaint

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

If you have been accused (especially wrongly) of something, you want to face your accusers and try to clear your name, don’t you?  This is one of the key rights we have as individuals in America.  It’s not a new idea that came up only when America was founded, it’s been around for years and years.  Witness Job’s complaint from eons past: Job 9:32 – God is not a man like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court.

Job’s friends had accused him of great and terrible sin.  To their way of thinking, there could be no other explanation for why Job was in such a pickle.  In spite of all that they’d known of Job and observed in his life, they now were convinced that he’d been secretly involved in massive deception and sin.  Who wouldn’t want to face such accusers?  But Job realizes that for them to really know the truth, God would have to be called to the witness stand.  They certainly weren’t going to take Job’s word for it – not when they suspected him of being such a sinner to start with.  (How quickly the good opinion others may have of us can deteriorate if they suspect we’re sinning!) 

So it is that Job issues his complaint about God.  If God were a human like Job (or you or me), we might be able to compel Him to come to the court so we could confront him and clear our name.  Sadly, it is a case we would lose but for the blood of Jesus – and Job knew nothing about Jesus or his future sacrifice. 

Let us not miss the irony that is so heavy in Job’s statement: what Job was longing for became reality when Jesus (God) became a man like me and was put in the court dock.  As Mike Mason wrote, “…in Jesus Christ the Almighty God has become ‘a man like me,’ and moreover a man who by standing before Pontius Pilate and the Sanhedrin has confronted every one of us in court – and yet not, as we may have expected, in His rightful capacity as Judge, but rather as the accused, the prisoner in the dock.  Through this reversal of roles He meant to show us that it is mankind who first condemned God, not the other way around, and that only by faith in Jesus can this condemnation be lifted so that we can be set free.

We “condemned” God first in the garden when mankind decided pleasure was to be preferred over obedience and we’ve been “condemning” God ever since through every act of rebellion that suggests other things are to be preferred over His will. 

So, millennia later, Job’s statement about God was resolved by Jesus’ incarnation.  Humanity put Jesus on trial then to determine if He was who He said He was.  Many concluded he was not who He claimed to be.  But others had the vision to recognize, as did the centurion who watched him die, that “Surely this man was the Son of God!” 

Here’s what may be a scary thought: as a believer, Jesus is on display through your life and actions and words.  What do people see and conclude about Him because of you?

PRAYER: Thank you for becoming a “man” like us so that we could see, hear, touch and thank you that you have made it possible for us to ask you questions through prayer!  Thank you that we do not stand in the court with you as our accuser, but as our friend, defender and Judge!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/30/19 – What Will It Be?

Image result for skunk and flower

DayBreaks for 10/30/19: What Will It Be?

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2009:

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Eph. 5:1-2, NIV)

To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? (2 Cor. 2:16, NLT)

Did you take a shower or bath this morning or last night?  Why?  If you really get down to it, most of us shower not so much for purely hygienic reasons, but because we don’t want to…well…smell!  No one wants to walk around stinking.  I’ve been in a closed car with passengers who were from the street or who were homeless and I must say, at times the smell was nearly unbearable – especially in the colder time of the year when the windows couldn’t be put down.  It’s not pleasant!  A little sweat if you’ve been playing basketball or some other sport is one thing, but the odor of a human body that hasn’t been washed perhaps for a few weeks can be overpowering. 

There is a story about a time that Dr. Lyman Beecher had received a letter which was critical of him, and when he was asked about why he didn’t reply to the letter, this is what he had to say: “One evening as I walked through a field toward my home, I encountered one of nature’s most undesirable of all creatures. I had several books in my hand which I began to throw at the creature. Unfortunately, the result of my actions was a horrible smell produced by that animal—a skunk. I determined that such an animal should be left alone.”

To a large extent, how we respond to situations determines whether or not we give off a life-giving perfume or the rotting smell of dead flesh.  There will always be unbelievers (those who are perishing, according to the 2 Cor. 2:16 passage above) who will find anything to do with us to be offensive (because we carry a message that they don’t want to accept).  We can’t compromise that message.  But how we deliver it can also either be sweet smelling, or downright repugnant.  Dr. Beecher understood that it was his actions that caused the skunk to release its powerful odor.  He could have ignored the creature, but his own actions were hostile and elicited the release of “skunk perfume.” 

If we choose to respond to attacks and criticism in a fleshly, non-Christian way, only evil will result.  Even if we respond in a Christian way, we may still be persecuted and the persecution may increase.  But at least if we respond as Jesus would have responded, we will present ourselves as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  And after all, isn’t He who we want to please? 

Let’s not be vindictive and small minded.  There are greater things at stake than just our own comfort.  Jesus took the nails – the least we can do is take some criticism in a God-honoring way.

PRAYER: Our nature, Lord, is to strike back any time that we are hurt, criticized or offended.  Let us learn to place all such things at your feet and trust you to deal with them in due time so that we may present ourselves to you as a fragrant offering!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/23/19 – The Message of the Oil of Anointing, #3

Image result for anointing sheep's head with oil

DayBreaks for 10/23/19: The Message of the Oil of Anointing, #3

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2009:

Sheep tend to be very docile creatures.  Most of the time, they are very content to just eat grass, sleep, drink clean water and lay down to rest.  There is a reason that people don’t hook sheep up to wagons to pull them, nor to a plow to create furrows for farming.  Sheep don’t run and jump over hurdles like a horse.  No one keeps sheep as “guard sheep” – the very idea is laughable.  Sheep aren’t very good for much except for wool, living lawn mowers, or if you are so inclined, lamb chops. 

There is an exception to the docile nature of sheep, however.  That is the when mating season rolls around and the rams get rambunctious as they compete for the attention and affections of some of the ewes.  Almost inevitably, if there is more than one ram in the vicinity, the rams will square off and with a sharp crack that fills the air, plunge head-long into one another, smashing their horns together until one or the other gives us and relinquishes his interest in the ewe in question. 

As you might imagine, it is relatively easy for the rams to become injured in those contests of masculinity.  It is possible for a ram to suffer a very severe injury or to even die.  In rare cases, sometimes the rams horns will become locked, and if the sheep are out in a pasture where they are not tended, the rams can die of starvation before they can get unhooked from one another.

This is another use for the oil of anointing – the shepherd uses the oil to try to prevent injuries to the rams.  He coats their heads and massive horns with slippery oil so that when the rams butt heads, their horns slip off their opponent harmlessly.  The result: the rams live to try again.

It’s easy for us to butt heads with others over silly things.  Very seldom do our disputes with other people come about because of big, significant things, but they typically start out from smaller confrontations or slights: we weren’t invited to someone’s home while others were, we weren’t recognized for some small thing we did.  Women may be hurt that their spouses didn’t recognize and comment positively on a new hair style or dress.  Men get hurt that their work isn’t noticed by the boss or because they’re not thanked for taking out the garbage at home.  We have a choice then: we can butt heads, or we can let the smaller and less significant things just slide off before we, or an “opponent,” get hurt.

How do you respond when you suffer what you perceive to be a slight of some kind?  Do you attack?  Do you let the Shepherd’s oil keep you from injury?

PRAYER: Keep us from hurting others or ourselves because of slights and minor hurts!  Give us the grace to be gracious!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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