DayBreaks for 2/14/18 – Mosquitoes and Spiritual Sensitivity

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DayBreaks for 2/14/18: Mosquitos and Spiritual Sensitivity

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

Mark 4:9 (KJV) – And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

A man by the name of Doug Newton shared this which I picked up from Preaching Today.  I thought it made an excellent illustration of the problem we sometimes have in hearing God:

Have you heard about the cell phone ringtone that junior high and high school kids are using to keep teachers from discovering that they are using their cell phones in school?  The pitch of this ringtone, called the “mosquito tone,” is too high for people over 25 to hear.  So the kids can still send and receive text messages during class without the teacher knowing, unless their teacher is younger than 25!

The mosquito tone was first developed in Great Britain to irritate teenagers who were loitering around convenience stores and keeping customers away by their loud and obnoxious behavior.  Some kid simply figured out how to use that sound as his cell phone’s ringtone and—voilà—kids are downloading it by the millions.

How does the mosquito tone go undetected by adults older than 25?  Inside our ears we have tiny microscopic hairs that move with the impulses of incoming sound waves, and those hair movements send electrical signals to our brain.  As we age, those hairs get worn down, actually damaged, so our hearing becomes less sensitive.  We first lose the ability to detect the sounds of high frequencies.  People over 25 can’t hear sounds above 16 kilohertz. (The highest note on a piano is 4 Khz; the mosquito tone is 17 Khz.)

Here’s the point: This situation serves as an analogy to help us understand the common difficulty of detecting communication from God.  According to Scripture, the reality of God can be perceived in the wonders of creation, and all people—including nonbelievers—can detect this information.  But if they fail to respond, they gradually lose the ability to sense God altogether…they lose “spiritual ear hair” so to speak.

The same principle holds true even for Christians.  Just as unbelievers can lose their ability to perceive God in the macro-messages of nature if they don’t respond appropriately to what they detect, believers can lose their sensitivity to God if we don’t respond appropriately to his specific promptings.

John 8:43 (NIV) – Why is my language not clear to you?  Because you are unable to hear what I say.

PRAYER: Almighty God, open our ears to hear, our eyes to see, and our hearts to obey!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 2/13/18 – The Message of the Folded Napkin

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DayBreaks for 2/13/18: The Message of the Folded Napkin

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

A DayBreaks reader sent this to me and it’s well worth passing on (I’m sorry, I don’t know who originally wrote this):

“Why did Jesus fold the linen burial cloth after His resurrection?
“The Gospel of John (20:7) tells us that the napkin, which was placed over the face of Jesus, was not just thrown aside like the grave clothes.  The Bible takes an entire verse to tell us that the napkin was neatly folded, and was placed at the head of that stony coffin:

Early Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and I don’t know where they have put him!” Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb to see. The other disciple outran Peter and got there first. He stooped and looked in and saw the linen cloth lying there, but he didn’t go in. Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus head was folded up and lying to the side.
I have come to believe that any detail that God has chosen to include in scripture has significance if we can only see it.  So, why did John make note of the napkin that was folded neatly by the burial clothes?  Is it really significant?  Yes!
“In order to understand the significance of the folded napkin, you have to understand a little bit about Hebrew tradition of that day. The folded napkin had to do with the Master and Servant, and every Jewish boy knew this tradition. When the servant set the dinner table for the master, he made sure that it was exactly the way the master wanted it.  The table was furnished perfectly, and then the servant would wait, just out of sight, until the master had finished eating. The servant would not dare touch that table, until the master was finished. Now if the master was done eating, he would rise from the table, wipe his fingers, his mouth, and clean his beard, and would wad up that napkin and toss it onto the table. The servant would then know to clear the table. For in those days, the wadded napkin meant, “I’m done”. But if the master got up from the table, and folded his napkin, and laid it beside his plate, the servant would not dare touch the table, because the folded napkin meant, “I’m coming back!”

I also think it is significant where Jesus left the napkin.  He could have folded his napkin at the Last Supper and laid it neatly on the table.  We don’t know that he did that or not and Scripture certainly doesn’t mention it.  But Jesus leaves the folded napkin at the edge of a grave as if to tell us that he’s coming back to the place of the dead once more and that when he does, he’ll do the same thing that he’d done with Lazarus just a few chapters earlier in John. 

It’s one thing to say you’ll come back to a dinner table to eat – but another thing entirely to say you’ll come back to the place of death and bring life with you!  If your life is “dead” right now, think about the folded napkin and rejoice in the silent message it brings!

PRAYER: Almighty Lord Jesus, ruler of all things, thank you for the simple message of the folded napkin and the hope that it brings us as we live out our days on earth!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/09/18 – The Promise of a Father

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DayBreaks for 2/09/18: The Promise of a Father

Sometimes just re-reading a verse opens a new universe of thought. In my quiet time, I’m trying to not force any issue or hear a specific message, I’m just trying to hear what Jesus was saying – and beyond that, to the meaning of what he was saying.

Just Thursday morning as I was reading in John 14, I ran across this verse: I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. – John 14:18 (ESV)

Wow. Did you catch the import of that verse? Let me share with you that my dad passed on to glory a bit over 20 years ago. I suppose that one could say that as far as an earthly father is concerned, I am now an orphan – and how I wish that were not so! It’s not that I think my dad wanted to leave me, but he did. His heart would not allow him to live here indefinitely and it finally gave out. But his absence, my “orphanhood” if you will, it is the reality of my daily life. My dad was amazing – not sinless, but a man of extraordinary character and integrity. But, he’s no longer here. It is an uncomfortable thing to feel like an orphan. Jesus says that I am not an orphan.

Some are orphans because of the death of parents, others are orphans because they were unwanted – their parents abandoned them. That must be even more painful than being an orphan by death. I cannot imagine how it must feel to be “unwanted” as a human.

Jesus wants us to know that being unwanted will never be the case with us, either. We will not be orphans in either sense, for he will come to us.

One simple verse…but Jesus wants us to really “get” this. We are not orphans. We will never be orphans. We have a Father who loves us and will never abandon us. Now – with that thought in mind, go have a great weekend!

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for being our forever Father, for this promise that we will never be orphans in this universe! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/07/18 – Meditative Growling

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DayBreaks for 2/07/18: Meditative Growling

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

Psalms 1:1-3 (KJV)Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Isaiah 31:4 (KJV) – For thus hath the LORD spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall the LORD of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof.

Meditation.  It’s a term that many Christians have come to fear and to run away from.  We associate it with images of saffron-robed figures sitting in a far-away temple, chanting while billows of incense laden clouds rise in the background.  Because New Age and others have made such use of the term “meditation”, we seem to avoid it like the plague as Christians.  And that’s too bad because it is a biblical term describing a spiritual practice in which we should be engaged!

In the verses above, in English there are two words that relate to this topic.  In the first passage, it’s translated “meditate”.  In the Isaiah passage, it’s “roaring”, or as the NIV puts it, “growls”.  In Hebrew, the word in both places is identical: hagah.  Interesting, yes?

What’s the implication?  Our meditation should be like the lion that growls or roars over its prey.  What makes a lion roar over its prey?  I’ll grant you that I don’t know what lions really think, but here’s some thoughts:

FIRST: the lion has captured the prey but is in turn captivated by it.  It is enamored with it – the lion may not have eaten for days, and it has finally got something that can satiate its hunger and give it peace.  The Word of God is that way!

SECOND: the lion is so captivated by his prey that even though others come and try to scare it away by yelling, the lion ignores them.  It stays focused on what is right in front of it, on what it has found, and it refuses to let it go in spite of distractions or hostility.  As believers, this describes how our meditation should be – it is something that we should let no one take from us in spite of how much noise they might make!

THIRD: when the lion is consuming the prey (as we should consume the word in meditation), everything about the lion is caught up in the process.  It uses its tongue, teeth, stomach, intestines, it tastes, savoring what it devours.  In short, as Eugene Peterson put it, the lion is lost in what it is doing.  Not lost in a bad sense, but a good sense.  It should be that way with Christian meditation.  Haven’t you experienced times when the Word transported you away from everyday life and lifted you up higher than you thought you’d ever be?

It’s time that we take back meditation as a Christian discipline – let us growl over the Word and let nothing distract us from that time!!!!

PRAYER: Lord, in our busy lives we seem to have lost the time to meditate and we are the poorer for it.  Let us hunger for time alone with you and not settle for anything less!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/06/18 – Sanctifying Time

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DayBreaks for 2/06/18: Sanctifying Time

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

In his book, The Rest of God, in which Mark Buchanan talks about Sabbath, he mentions the need for us to be engaged in “sanctifying time.”  It might seem strange when you think about it: after all, aren’t we sanctified?  If people are sanctified, how can you “sanctify time”?  And what would that mean?

The word “sanctify” in the Hebrew is the word that means “to betroth”.  Let that sink in for a second.  Betrothal – like Mary and Joseph.  Pledged to be married.  Committed to be married to that one person and no one else.  To be “set apart” for that one person that you love and who loves you.  Now, take that concept and apply it to time – especially “Sabbath time.”  Sabbath – rest – was a requirement.  It was up there with the other 9 commandments that formed the Decalogue.  None of us would dare to think too lightly of the commands “Thou shalt have no other gods before me”, or “Thou shalt not murder”, “Thou shalt not commit adultery”, “Thou shalt not steal,” etc.  Yet we tend to think that somehow this command of God to observe a time of rest is a minor command compared to the rest of the 10.  God sure doesn’t seem to think so. 

God instituted the idea of rest, of a period of time that we are to “set apart”, to betroth ourselves to if you will, because He created us from dust and He knows we are not able to keep going forever like He can without getting tired.  He knows how close we are at any given moment to returning to the dust from which we came – it is we who lack that awareness more often than not.  And because of that, God said: “Rest.” 

And so what is the purpose for the resting?  There are numerous things, but for now, we are to “set apart, betroth” a certain period of time to rest…and worship.  What did Israel do on the Sabbath?  They celebrated God, His blessings, His greatness…they worshipped Him for all He was worth.  That’s why such a strong word as “betrothal” is used to paint the picture of Sabbath…we are to be betrothed to those kinds of things as we rest.  Does that mean we have to go to church when we’re resting?  Absolutely not (even though from time to time during one of my sermons I’ll catch people ‘resting’ in their chairs)!  You can worship God at your desk at work, laying in the hammock, lounging by the pool, sitting in the shade with some lemonade and a good book – you can worship and reflect on Him anywhere. 

The problem with our leisure (what we think of as our day of rest) is that they’re not very leisurely at all.  We run into them pell-mell and without reservation – and we wind up more tired than when we started.  But the worst thing about it is that we usually leave God entirely out of our thinking at those times.  We’ve left the Holy out of our day of rest.

When is the last time you betrothed yourself to a time of rest and reflection on the One who has given you each day of your life and filled it with wondrous things?  We need that kind of rest!

PRAYER: Father, that you that you know our frailties and our deepest needs, including our need to rest in You.  Help us to sanctify time spent with You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/30/18 – Gambling at the Cross

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DayBreaks for 1/30/18: Gambling at the Cross

From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:

John 19.23-24: When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.  “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, “They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” So this is what the soldiers did.

Out of all the people who bore guilt at Jesus’ death, the soldiers were probably the most innocent of all.  The religious leaders had put Christ on the cross through their insistence and hatred.  Pilate put him there because he was a coward and was more afraid of Tiberius than of a God he didn’t know or couldn’t see.  We all were party to the event because of our sin.  But as far as the soldiers were concerned, they were just doing their job.  The Romans assigned a quaternion (4) of soldiers to carry out executions.   The Jew typically wore 5 articles of clothing: sandals, a turban, a belt (girdle), an inner garment and an outer coat.  The execution squad was customarily given possession of the clothes and personal effects of the man being crucified.  In Jesus’ case it was no different.  Four soldiers – five pieces of clothing.  When they got to the last piece, rather than tear it into four pieces (which might have been handy only as a dust rag for their wives), they decided to throw dice (cast lots) to see who would get the fifth article.

There, at the foot of the cross, are four soldiers gambling away the time while the Son of God dies mere feet away from where they were.  They were oblivious to what was happening.  Perhaps nothing in the entire bible show clearly shows the indifference of the world to Christ as this.  Jesus is dying in agony and the soldiers are playing games.  As if what was happening didn’t matter. 

As William Barclay put it: “The tragedy is not the hostility of the world to Christ – the tragedy is the world’s indifference which treats the love of God as if it did not matter.”  Indeed, though the world may be hostile to Christianity, it is indifferent to God’s love.  The world seeks to find love in the arms of some man or woman, in the philosophy of being kinder and gentler, in the lyrics of a song.  Do you want to know where to find love?  You can find it in the nails that are in Jesus’ feet and hands.  You can find it in the crown of thorns.  You can find it in the spear-pierced side. 

How are you treating and responding to God’s love?  Through our sin, we are like the soldiers gambling at the foot of the cross.  Every time we sin we are showing God that Jesus’ sacrifice doesn’t mean anything to us. 

I suppose the world will go on gambling at the foot of the cross as long as the world exists.  I hope that you and I don’t join them.  Don’t let the words of Lamentations 1.12 be said of us: Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?

PRAYER: At the cross may we see and begin to grasp Your unfailing love for us and not be found guilty of being indifferent to what happened there for us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/22/18 – When Salvation Comes to Your House

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DayBreaks for 1/22/18: When Salvation Comes to Your House

We often think of salvation as freedom – at least as being freed from something.  And that’s all well and good, and even accurate.  For those of us born in the United States, we’ve never experienced slavery.  The language of Scripture speaks of the delivery of Israel from Egyptian slavery as a salvation, freeing them from their oppressors.  It’s hard to argue with that, so I won’t even try.

If, however, all we think of when we think of salvation is freedom – the ability to stop being enslaved to someone or something, I think there’s something seriously wrong with our concept of salvation.  Take, for instance, the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus.  I won’t bother going through the story – let’s get to the point, and see something about what salvation really involves.

After Jesus spent some time with Zacchaeus (we’re not told much about their conversation at all), Zacchaeus breaks forth with an exclamation: Look, Lord!  Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.  (Lk. 19:8)  What prompted Zacchaeus to come to this conclusion and decision, we just don’t know.  We can only assume it was either something Jesus said, or just the experience of His holiness that moved Zacchaeus.  Regardless, he meets Jesus and changes his mind about things, but immediately he also changes his ways. 

But what is fascinating is Jesus’ proclamation at that point: Today salvation has come to this house.  Here’s what Mark Buchanan wrote about this incident, in The Rest of God: “When salvation comes to your house, first you think differently, then you act differently.  First, you shift the imagination with which you perceive this world, and then you enact gestures with which you honor it.”

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think that Jesus was saying that because Zacchaeus was taking actions that he was saved because of it.  I think Jesus was pointing out the motive behind the actions: Zacchaeus had been saved, and the evidence of his salvation was a change of both mind and action.

Have you been saved?  What changes in action has salvation wrought in you?

PRAYER:  May our minds be change and our hearts rekindled by the wonder of the salvation that has come to our house, and may we live lives full of the evidence of that salvation.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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