DayBreaks for 11/15/19 – Hidden Blessings

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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 8/21/19: Herein Is Love

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DayBreaks for 08/21/19: Herein Is Love

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

Have you ever stopped to ponder the variety of ways in which God chooses to show us His love for us?  I am highly confident that the ways and means He uses to show us His love are innumerable and as infinite as the stars of the sky or the sand of the seashore.  Yet, sometimes we still wonder if He really, honestly, truly loves us. 

Flowers can speak to us of how He longs to whisper to us.  Mountain vistas that He created were made to sweep us off our feet.  The vastness of the universe on a cold, clear night speaks to us not only of His greatness, but of our importance to Him that caused the Psalmist to wonder aloud how amazing it was that He should care about and “visit” us.  The touch of a lover’s hand upon the skin excites us as does the gentleness of the breeze borne of the Spirit.  In all these things, and so many more, He speaks love to us.

Donald McDonald, in Behold Your God (1995), perhaps captured the thing that most ultimately is the proof of His love.  He said, “In the last analysis, God expresses His love for us not by putting another to suffer in our place, but by Himself taking our place.  He meets the whole cost of our forgiveness in Himself, exacting it of Himself.  He demands the ransom.  He provides the ransom.  He becomes the ransom.  Herein is love.

That God provided someone to suffer in our place is not the greatest measure of His love for us.  God could have commanded the archangel Michael to come to earth and die on a cross.  We don’t know for sure, but we must all assume that Michael, along with the balance of the heavenly host, are all without sin.  Could they not have been the sacrifice?  Why not?  Why didn’t God send one of them to suffer in our place?  To my very limited way of thinking, I have to believe that He didn’t do that because it wouldn’t speak to us of His love for us if He’d sent someone else, and secondly that it is not in keeping with His nature to not love to the “Nth” degree in a personal way. 

If a father is watching a drowning child struggle in the middle of a lake, would the loving thing be for the father to ask someone else to go an die in an effort to save the child, or to go himself?  Which would be love?  It’s obvious, isn’t it. 

God’s love isn’t shown just by Him having sent someone to die for us, but in coming to do it Himself.

Today, live with the thought that He loves you far more than you will ever know or imagine!

PRAYER:  For Your great love that is higher than the stars, deeper than the sea, and wider than eternity…Hallelujah!!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/01/19 – So Much for Experts

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DayBreaks for 08/01/19: So Much for Experts

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2019:

I love it when “experts” are shown to be wrong.  It happens a lot, you know.  It was delightful when fishermen off Japan pulled onto the deck of their boat a fish species that the so-called experts said had been extinct for millions of years.  How cool is that???!!!!  I hope I don’t make anyone mad with this next statement (and I hope I’m wrong about this!), but I feel a certain delight and smugness if the experts who have so much faith in the power of the dollar and economy who are predicting that the “recession” will be over within X months are proven to be wrong.  I don’t want people to suffer (though sometimes suffering is designed and put into place by God to teach us extremely valuable lessons in which case we should not seek to avoid it!), but I am just so sick and tired of experts spewing out one opinion after another – often on 180 degree opposite sides of the same question!  It drives me crazy!

I long ago concluded that I don’t know anything except that I don’t know very much.  And quite frankly, that’s how experts are, too.  In many cases, those who claim to be experts have no greater qualification than the ordinary Jane or Joe.  I believe that good old common sense is many times of far greater value than book learnin’. 

An interesting story from CNN: “For eight years, Jessica Terry, a teenager in Seattle, suffered from crippling stomach pain. When she wasn’t doubled over from the cramping, she was often laid low by vomiting, diarrhea, and a high fever. And for those eight years, no doctor could figure out what was wrong with her. So Jessica decided to solve the mystery herself—and she did just that while in her Advanced Placement high school science class at Eastside Catholic School. Though her pathologist had said her intestinal tissue looked normal, Jessica found that wasn’t the case. While looking under a microscope at slides of the same tissue, she discovered an area of inflammation, called a granuloma, which often indicates Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disorder that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract. When Jessica spotted the inflamed area, she called over her teacher, Ms. Welch, who had been teaching a Biomedical Problems class at Eastside for 17 years. Ms. Welch agreed that it looked like a clear sign of Crohn’s, so she emailed a picture of the tissue to Jessica’s pathologist. Just like that, the eight-year mystery was solved.”

This story shows that you don’t always need an expert to tell you what’s wrong.  The same is true with sin in our lives, too.  Your marriage just doesn’t seem right.  Have you looked hard in the mirror?  Your relationship with your co-workers is bitter and rancorous.  Have you listened to your own language?  Your attitude toward someone is far from kind and filled with anger.  Have you searched your own heart to determine the cause of your attitude? 

I think that more often than not, we know what’s wrong in our relationships – certainly we can know what’s wrong with ME.  Yet we often don’t take the time and spend the energy to ascertain the truth about ourselves because if we did, we would be faced with the need to change.  We are resistant to change, and we often feel that we may not be able to change – so we’d rather put all the blame on someone else and let them be not only the scapegoat but also the target for our outbursts. 

Take five minutes and take an honest, Holy-Spirit directed look into your heart.  What do you see?  Write it down.  Pick one of the things and determine that starting right away, you’ll seek the healing that the Great Physician can give.  He’s already given you the diagnosis and He wants to bring the healing.  Will you let Him?

PRAYER:  Remind us, Lord, of how futile our thinking is and that we know nothing except what you’ve told us in your word.  May we open our hearts to you and admit the truth about ourselves, accepting your diagnosis so we can receive your healing.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/17/19 – On Bumper Stickers and Belief

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DayBreaks for 07/17/19: On Bumper Stickers and Belief

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

Bumper stickers have always held a certain fascination for me.  Whenever the car in front of me has a bumper sticker plastered on it, I try to get close enough to read it.  Most bumper stickers are relatively innocuous, some are outright offensive, and a few speak truth and a few others are humorous.  For many, it seems that bumper stickers contain the sum of all wisdom.

There is one bumper sticker, though, that I’m sure you’ve probably seen, and it goes like this: “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.”  I know that the intent of this bumper sticker is to be a Christian witness and a statement that accepts the authority of God to speak and proclaim truth.  So, those are the good things about this particular bumper sticker and I am sure the intent of those who have this sticker on their car are good and heart-felt.  I applaud them for their desire to witness.

I have a problem, however, with that bumper sticker.  The form it takes is that of A+B=C (God said it + I believe it = that settles the issue).  Here’s my beef about it: I would much rather that the bumper sticker simply says, “God said it, that settles it.”  Here’s my point: whether I believe what God says or not has nothing to do with whether what God said is the final word on the issue.  My belief does not make something so.  What makes something so is simply whether or not God has said it is true, that it is so.  And THAT settles the issue.

There are great debates that rage in Christian circles today about many issues that some term “cultural” rather than religious or theological.  There are many movements in the church as a whole today that tend to minimize or discard certain things that God has weighed in on.  In many cases, they do so because they say that the number of times that God said something are few and far between – as if that is sufficient evidence that God doesn’t care much about the topic or he would have said more about it.

It all boils down to an issue of authority.  Not many Christians would argue that God doesn’t have authority – that would be a foolhardy argument to press in any circumstance.  But there are those who don’t accept the authority of Scripture…that if it says anything at all, it means what says, whether it’s mentioned once to ten thousand times.  If we are accepting of God’s authority, whether we believe what He says is right or not, if God said it, that settles it.  Period, over and out.
PRAYER: Let us bow our knees before you willingly, Lord, in full recognition of Your total and complete authority in all things!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 7/15/19 – Where Discontent Goes to Die

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DayBreaks for 07/15/19: Where Discontent Goes to Die

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. – Ps. 23:1

This past Sunday I spoke about the Prison of Want.  You know Paul’s words about how he had learned in any and every situation to be content with what he had?  I’m not nearly as far along as Paul, and I doubt that many are.  Discontentment with the way things are is behind nearly every human sin.  It leads people to commit adultery, to steal, to kill, to lie to try to avoid a bad situation, to cheat to get a better score…you get the idea.  Being discontent with what they could and couldn’t do was huge in the garden temptation. 

But discontent is not inevitable, nor are we doomed to live in that prison of wanting.  David learned that, as had Paul, there is a pasture where discontent goes to die.  It is in knowing the Lord who is the Shepherd.

There are two major Biblical truths about stuff that we need to remember to help us avoid becoming discontent:

FIRST: our stuff, and even the stuff you want, is not really “our” stuff.  It is belongs to another owner – it is God’s.  If we have it, it is only because He has lent it to us as stewards of that portion of His possessions – we don’t have title to it (so much for “title insurance”!) – we are just using it.  As Max Lucado pointed out, ask any undertaker or coroner how much of their earthly bling that people take with them when they die and the answer is always the same: “None of it.”  Job mused how we are naked when we come from our mother’s womb, and we are naked when we leave this earth…not one single stitch of our finest clothing will travel with us.  This truth should redefine how we view our stuff – and teach us to hold it more loosely and not to cherish it unduly.

SECOND: as we stand before God, God isn’t the least bit impressed with how much money you’ve amassed, how large your house is, how fancy your car is or how wonderful your home theater system may be.  Those things don’t impress Him at all – partly because they’re all His already and not yours – and partly because all those kind of things will be burned up in the twinkling of an eye.  But your soul will remain.  It will stand before the Almighty God and all the money you had in the world won’t be enough to bribe God into cutting you a break because you’d rejected Him in life. 

Two quick questions to help you determine if you are in the prison of discontent, the prison of want:

  1. Are you happier when you have more, or are you equally happy when you have less?
  2. If you were to answer the question: “I will be happy when ____________”, how would you fill in the blank? And then ask a follow-up question: if that thing never happens or if you never possess that item, if your ship never comes in, can you be happy?

For David (and Paul, too, I’m convinced) the key to contentment was coming to the realization that the things which he had in Christ/God were of far greater value than anything that he did or didn’t have in this world.  What a great perspective to have!

Discontent dies in the pastures of the Lord. Let us learn to live there!

PRAYER: Lead us, Shepherd of our souls, to the pasture where our discontent can finally die!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/01/19 – Connecting to a Disconnected God

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DayBreaks for 5/01/19: Connecting to a Disconnected God

From the DayBreaks archive: April 2009

In March of this year, Reuters carried a story about a Dutch artist by the name of Johan van der Dong who decided God needed a telephone number and so he got Him one – a cell phone, in fact -to show that God was “available anywhere and anytime.”

“In earlier times you would go to a church to say a prayer,” Dong said in an interview, “and now [this is an] opportunity to just make a phone call and say your prayer in a modern way.”

What was the response?  It seems a lot of people appreciated what van der Dong did for them with the so-called “divine hotline.”  In just one week, over 1,000 people had called the cell number and left God a message.

On one hand, it’s pretty intriguing and exciting to know that over 1,000 people got the number in just one week and wanted to connect to God.  However, I can’t help but wonder how the people felt once they made the “connection.”  You see, when they called the number van der Dong set up for God, this is what they heard on the other side of the line: “This is the voice of God. I am not able to speak to you at the moment, but please leave a message.”  Now, I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t exactly give me a warm and fuzzy concept of a God who is supposed to be “available anywhere and anytime.”  Van der Dong plans on keeping the cell phone number active for only six months.

So, what has van der Dong accomplished?  Not much.  It was mostly a gimmick, perhaps even a mockery.  All he did was connect people to an altogether disconnected God.  He is not connecting people to the real God.  God doesn’t need a phone line (cell or land-line), He doesn’t have an answering machine because He’s too busy managing supernova’s somewhere in deep space, and He is never, ever disconnected from the prayers of His people. 

When you pray, what is your attitude?  Do you really understand the power to whom you are speaking?  Do you comprehend that prayer is not something to be thrown off casually like a flippant, off-hand string of comments and requests, but rather a connection with the only True and Living God?  God is not to be trifled with, but He longs for communication from the heart, and He will never be too busy to put you on hold.

Prayer: What a privilege and blessing it is to be able to talk directly to You, most glorious and exalted God and Father!  May we approach Your throne in humility, but boldly, in confidence that we have Your ear and attention at any time of the day or night for as long as we shall live!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/28/19 – An Unspoken Thanks

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DayBreaks for 2/28/19: An Unspoken Thanks

From the DayBreaks archive February 2009:

I’ve been struck recently by the amount of ingratitude in my life.  I don’t think that I’m alone, but I don’t wish to project my shortcomings on to any of you.  All the hype on the news about how awful things are have created in many of us a sense of “Yep, it’s terrible.  Things are worse than they’ve ever been and I see no hope that things will be better.”  And, we tend to be so down-in-the-mouth and dispirited that we ignore an entire panoply of blessings each day.

In his book, The Holy Wild, Mark Buchanan was musing on the faithfulness of God.  It’s a topic that we don’t often ponder, for good reason: faithfulness is about as boring as a 1978 Buick that just keeps on running and refuses to just quit.  Someone who has an old car might see someone driving a new, shiny, sporty vehicle.  The owner of the flashy car may say to the old Buick owner, “Why are you still driving that thing?  You were driving that when we last saw each other 10 years ago!” to which the Buick owner replies, “Yeah, but it’s faithful.”  In other words, it keeps on working.  Or, to put a slightly different spin on it, “Yeah, it’s as boring as all get out, but it just keeps working.” 

You see, faithfulness is boring.  We come to expect faithfulness after a while because something (a person, car, pet, etc.) is always there, always does what it is supposed to do.  We presume faithfulness and are shocked when it doesn’t happen.

The same is true with God.  We know in our heads that God has promised to be faithful – and we believe it – at least at some level.  But that’s dangerous because it means we take Him and what He does for granted.  In Buchanan’s book, he ponders the wonder of leaves.  Leaves when they are dry are very fragile, yet just the other day, I was sitting in a restaurant with my wife and sister and her kids, and it was windy and raining outside, but I looked outside and saw a dried leaf clinging to a branch.  Leaves can even cling to trees through a hurricane or tornado.  But when they’re dry, they are so very fragile.  Leaves give us shelter from the blazing summer sun, they provide food for animals and people, they drink down the poison of carbon dioxide and give us back life-giving oxygen in exchange.  Each spring, leaves appear on trees all over the world by the trillions or quadrillions (who knows how many leaves God creates each spring?!??!)  And my guess is that not one time in your life, have you ever had to ask God to put leaves on trees in the spring.  And I’d also be willing to bet that not once have you stopped to give Him thanks for those leaves that give you life.  I haven’t. 

Leaves and their ilk are signs, reminders if you will, of God’s faithfulness.  When something in your life gets you down and discourages you, when you are tempted to feel that God has failed and let you down, stop and ponder a leaf or two – and remember that they are reminders of God’s faithfulness – even when we fail to give Him thanks for such simple things. 

Hebrews 12:28 (NASB) – Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe…  We have received citizenship in a kingdom which we don’t deserve.  We have much, even this very moment, that calls out to us to give Him thanksgiving.

Prayer: Father, thank You for making leaves!  Thank You for making us!  Thank You for all good things!  In Jesus’ name, Amen  

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