DayBreaks for 12/04/18 – The Secret to a Wise Heart

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DayBreaks for 12/04/18: The Secret to a Wise Heart

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

We don’t like to think about death at all, let alone our own death.  We’d like to just ignore it until it happens.  We are more than content to live under a grand illusion that we have an unlimited number of days to live.  And so we drift aimlessly from day to day, moment to moment, never considering death.

Moses had an interesting prayer that he offered up in Psalm 90:12 (NIV) –Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  There are two key things in this brief passage that we should note:

FIRST: we have to be taught to number our days correctly.  We can’t figure it out on our own – or at least, we won’t figure it out ourselves.  We are too happily living out our delusion about limitless days, trying as hard as we can to be oblivious to our impending demise.  I don’t know if mankind ever really knew how to number his days correctly.  I doubt that we were created with that sense of limited days because when Adam and Eve were created, they weren’t created to die.  That’s something that came about after the fall.  It was only after death entered onto the stage that it became necessary to learn, to be taught, that we have a finite number of days allotted to us and that we don’t know how many days we have.

SECOND: we can’t have a heart of wisdom until we learn to number our days.  Why?  Because we can’t live wisely until we learn to number our days.  Considering our mortality leads us to view each day of life differently, to cherish it and appreciate it in ways we can’t even imagine if we don’t consider our finiteness.  We can’t live rightly until we know we will die rightly.  And we must contemplate death if we are to live rightly.

Towards that end, as I shared with our congregation last week, I’ve added something to my daily prayer that seems to be helping me to do a much better job of numbering my days and living accordingly.  It’s very simple, and I’d encourage you to add something similar to your morning prayer: “Lord, if this is to be my last day, may I live it in Jesus with great joy and wonder.”

Prayer: We need hearts that are wise, Lord, hearts that consider our deaths so that we can live more appropriately in each moment of the time we have been given.  Teach us, Lord, to number our days.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 11/29/18 – But I am Watching

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DayBreaks for 11/29/18: But I Am Watching

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

I love to preach the good news!  I love to preach about freedom, healing – I love to talk about joy and meaning, purpose and love.  Those are all biblical themes.  But a preacher can’t just talk about the good, fuzzy-feeling things.  It is necessary to also preach about judgment, sin, punishment, righteousness, holiness, perseverance.  It’s easy to get in a rut and only talk about the good stuff.

The Word, however, has a way of pulling us up short and reminding us that there is not only a loving God who is eager and quick to forgive, but that this God is ever vigilant, watching all things.  This past week in my quite time, I ran across a passage that reminded me that God watches, that He sees…that He doesn’t miss a single thing.  Hosea 7:1-2 (NLT) – I wanted to heal Israel, but its sins were far too great. Samaria is filled with liars, thieves, and bandits! Its people don’t realize I am watching them. Their sinful deeds are all around them; I see them all!

I was grateful for this reminder, and you should be, too.  It is a warning, and maybe you don’t need warnings any more, but I still do and I suspect that you do, too.  It is good to be reminded that God wants to heal.  It is also good to remember that He sees us and our sinful deeds – he sees “them all!”   

It is important to remember that God not only watches and sees what we are doing, but what we aren’t doing, too.  We can sin both ways.

Today I will make choices about what I say, what I do, what I don’t say and what I don’t do.  So will you.  Remember this: God is watching.

Prayer: May we live in a constant acknowledgement this day that You are watching, and You see all.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/20/18 – With Natural Affection

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DayBreaks for 11/20/18: With Natural Affection

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

I heard the most disturbing thing on the radio today while I was driving in the car.  I almost stopped to weep when I hear it.  But first, let me give you a little background.

You may recall that in the past few years, several states have passed legislation that allows parents to bring a newborn to a hospital where the unwanted child can be left – no questions asked.  The intent, I’m sure, was good: that if the parent is unable or unwilling to care for the infant, at least it will have proper care, nutrition and a chance to be adopted and raised in a loving home.  I understand that – to some degree.  In some cases, the law was written that the child must be dropped off within 72 hours or so of being born. 

But, apparently, some of those laws were apparently written in such a way that it just says that parents can drop off their child at the hospital.  What I heard today was a report from some Nebraska, which has started having parents drop off children up through their late teens.  In some cases, they reported that the children could be heard saying to their mother, “Please, mom.  I promise to be good.  I won’t be any trouble.”  Can you imagine?  Can you even begin to imagine what it would do to a child to have your mom or dad or both drop you off at a hospital just because they don’t want you any more?  My heart breaks…

So, before our very eyes, we have seen these words come to pass, from 2 Timothy 3:1-4 (KJV): This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God…”

Doesn’t the actions of those who would abandon their children fit the description of “without natural affection”?  Doesn’t it sound like these are “lovers of their own selves” who are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God”?  (Again, I am not interested here in having a political or cultural discussion about why in some cases it may be better for the baby.)  I can’t help but wonder if some of these parents are abandoning their children just so the parents don’t have the hassle of raising a teen. 

I am so grateful that our Father is not the kind of parent who will abandon us – even in our most rebellious times.  I think that, giving our sinfulness, it may be “unnatural affection” that He loves us – but it is Divine affection, the love of a Creator for His creation.  And God can’t help but love us, in spite of hating what we sometimes do.  He just loves us.  It is His natural affection for us caused him to say, in Hebrews 13:5b (NLT) – …For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never forsake you.

Prayer: Thank You, Father, that You are far better than us.  Give us the kind of love for our children that You have for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/19/18 – Of Flowers and Birds

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DayBreaks for 11/19/18: On Flowers and Birds

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

Perhaps life wasn’t all that different in Jesus’ day.  Of course, I know that then they didn’t have planes, trains and automobiles, nor x-rays or space shuttles or many of the things which are part of the modern world.  But those things aren’t life and they shouldn’t be confused with it.  Life is about getting up and facing each day and doing the best you can – and about all the millions of things that happen each day emotionally, spiritually and physically.  That’s what I mean when I say I don’t think life was that different in Jesus’ day. 

There’s been a world (literally) of worry lately.  Global economic collapse, wars, famines, diseases, natural disasters, fires, people fretting over the future because of the recent election – yep, there’s plenty of worry.  Many of my friends and congregants are retirees who had their retirement funds socked away in stocks and bonds, IRA’s and 401K’s.  Now, the retirement that they’d longed for and hoped for is either gone or mostly gone.  It’s enough to make anyone worry about the future.

It seems that there was plenty of worry to go around in Jesus’ day, too.   And believe it or not, they worried about the same things we do.  Just listen to these words from the sermon on the mount (Mt. 6:25-33, NIV):  Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

You see?  They were worried about life, drink, food, clothing – the stuff of everyday life for all of humanity since the beginning of time.  Jesus’ prescription is simple, but not what you might expect.  He doesn’t say, “You should have put your money in temple bonds and stocks.  Take what you’ve got left and move it into temple securities.”  Instead, he says: “Go spend some time looking at and thinking about birds and flowers.  See what that tells you about God and life.”  He tells us that we don’t need to worry (it’s more like a command, “So do not worry…”) because the pagans run after the “stuff” that daily life demands….and our FATHER knows that we need those things, too.  And being the kind of Father that He is, He won’t fail us.  But there is a requirement: seeking His kingdom and righteousness first – and then all those other things will be given to us.

Are you fearful of a job loss/termination?  Wondering if you’ll ever be able to recover your funds in time to retire as you’d hoped?  Worried if your house will ever be worth more on it again than you currently owe?  Are you worrying about ANYTHING?

If so, stop.  If you can, go outside right now and look at some flowers or birds (if you live in the frozen tundra somewhere, look at the trees instead of flowers!)  Look good, look hard, and look long.  All of those plants and birds are sustained by the Father’s hand.  And you are of much greater worth, and are far more precious to Him, than all the trees of the field.

PRAYER: Teach us how to stop worrying, Lord.  Help us to trust our Father for all things needed for real life and true life, and keep us from confusing “stuff” such as possessions and retirement accounts for life itself.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/15/18 – Talking to Caterpillars

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DayBreaks for 11/15/18: Talking to Caterpillars

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

There are plenty of days when I am deeply frustrated by my walk with God.  Why?  Because sometimes, at least in some areas of my life, I just don’t seem to be making any progress, or if I am, it’s negligible.  I can’t see it.  I believe that I should be “better” than I am by now.  And I know that I’m not alone.  As a minister, I hear that from many people.  They, too, get discouraged and from time to time are so deeply depressed about their lack of spiritual progress that they talk about giving up.

I recently ran across an illustration that really helped me in this regard.  Suppose for a moment that you found a caterpillar.  Not all caterpillars, by the way, are fuzzy and cute, so let’s just assume that this caterpillar has been crawling around on its belly, blind and slimy.  Perhaps, being a higher life form, you might take compassion on this poor caterpillar and begin speaking to it: “Hi, there.  I can see that you’re having troubles.  You know, I want to tell you something: you won’t always be a caterpillar.  You won’t always crawl on your belly in the dirt or be blind and slimy.  There will come a time when you will wrap yourself inside of a tight, snug cocoon.  You’ll be there for a while, but then you’ll pop out of the cocoon and you’ll be able to see.  You’ll be filled with beautiful colors and you’ll have wings attached to your back and you’ll dance on the air!  Won’t that be great!?”

The caterpillar, of course, probably can’t understand a word you’re saying. But if it could, do you think it would believe you?  It’s blind: it’s never been able to see a butterfly or to even imagine such a thing.  It would probably laugh out loud at your words of encouragement and think you were nuts.  But you know it is true, even if the caterpillar doesn’t.

Here’s the point: I’m like that caterpillar, slimy, crawling on my belly and blind.  I have lived that way more often than not.  And it feels as if it will never end.  But God has told me otherwise, and He’s told you otherwise, too, if you are a disciple.  Listen to these passages:

2 Cor. 3:18: And we…are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory.

Phil. 3:20-21: Our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

1 John 3:2: Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.  But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him.

We ARE being transformed…Jesus WILL transform our lowly bodies…what we WILL BE has not yet been made know, but we know that…we SHALL BE like him. Like the caterpillar, for now we’re blind and can’t see it, but when we emerge from our cocoon, we will have eyes to see!

God has been telling us this for 2000 years or longer.  But we’re like the caterpillar who has trouble understanding what God is saying, and even greater trouble accepting it.  When I’m discouraged about my walk, I need to remind myself that I am like the caterpillar for the time being, but because Jesus has the “power that enables him to bring EVERYTHING under his control” that He will not fail to change me into his likeness so when I arrive at the throne of God, I “shall be like him.”  It’s almost too good to believe, isn’t it?  Who and what we will be is more than we can imagine!

PRAYER: Lord, this process seems so slow and I often fear that I will gum up the works and bring it all to a screeching halt.  Help me to remember that You are the one who turns caterpillars into beautiful butterflies, and that You’ve promised to do that for me, too.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/14/18 – Is There No Hope?

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DayBreaks for 11/14/18: Is There No Hope?

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father but by me.”  For many, those are the most offensive words ever spoken.  While many of those who accuse Christians of being closed-minded wouldn’t say it to Jesus’ face there is no hesitation to say it to the face of one of His followers.

So much is riding on whether or not we believe what Jesus said.  If you don’t believe it, you might argue that, just as “all roads lead to Rome”, so “Many paths lead to God.”  One might argue that as long as you are sincere that’s all that matters.  Some say that there is no God, or if there is, that everything that exists is not just made by him, but a part of him – and therefore we as people are no more special than a dolphin, whale, spotted owl or snail darter.  On the other hand, if we accept what Jesus said, it leaves no room for argument. 

Suppose for a second that you go to see your doctor, and the doctor, after poking and prodding and a series of tests, comes back and tells you, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but you have a rare and terminal illness.”  After recovering your bearings, you ask, “Is there no hope?”  “Well, there is one thing – and without it, it’s as good as over.  But, this one thing would heal you completely.  But it is certain that without this, you will not survive.”

As Mark Buchanan points out in Things Unseen,  you wouldn’t say something like: “Well, doc.  It’s been great to see you again.  I appreciate your opinion, but my favorite team is playing on TV in 15 minutes and I’ve got to get home to watch it.  See you again next year.”  You also wouldn’t be likely to say: “Doctor, I resent very much that you’re imposing your opinion on me.  You’re entitled to your opinion, but I am entitled to mine.  I think I’m just fine the way I am and that there’s nothing wrong with me.”

What would you do?  You’d sit there and listen and learn all that you could.  You’d go home, get on the internet, find resources and more information to learn even more.  And then you’d decide to take the doctor’s advice and do the one thing that will save you.

People refuse to take the advice of the Great Physician, the only One who has seen both time and eternity, heaven and earth, paradise and hell.  Why?  Because we think we’re smarter than Jesus.  Do you think the same thing about your doctor, or lawyer?  You might, and in some cases, you might be right.  But no one has ever been smarter than the Son of God. 

He’s diagnosed you.  He’s given you the treatment that will work.  What will you do with it?

Prayer: Father, thank You for showing us our desperate condition and for diagnosing our fatal illness.  Thank You for the cure, accepting You Son Jesus and His finished work on the cross.  Humble us to accept the cure.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/9/18 – They Barely Make a Noise

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DayBreaks for 11/09/18: They Barely Make a Noise

In the NT is the story of the widow who gave her two mites…a mere pittance, but it was all she had. That story has remained an enduring image throughout the ages. We play favorites. We treat those who give more as if they are the pillars on which the church is erected.

But consider for a moment another image. Jesus, sitting opposite the place where the offerings were put, is observing the people as they make their donations as they enter the temple. He is not alone. Seated with him are the leaders-the Sadducees. It is startling to think of Jesus sitting with those whom he had scorned for their hypocrisy. Remember that as they watch there is no paper money so all of the offerings make a terrible clatter as they roll down this long, horn shaped object and fall into the pool of coins. And here comes this little widow with two small coins worth nothing and she drops them in. They barely make a noise. You can almost see the Temple leaders as they roll their eyes and hope for better results with the next person who walks in the door. Jesus then calls his Disciples over and says, “This poor widow has put more in to the treasury than all the others.” To the Sadducees this woman is a waste of time but to Jesus she is the stuff by which Kingdoms are erected. Thus, at its heart, the story of the widow’s mite is a strong reminder to the kingdoms of this world and a reminder to us that God’s ways and thoughts are nothing like ours.

PRAYER: Lord, I want to be more like this woman and have her kind of faith. Give me eyes to see as you do and value what you value. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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