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.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 5/14/18 – Robbed of Joy

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DayBreaks for 5/14/18: Robbed of Joy

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008

There was once a man who had lived a long time.  Someone once asked him what it was that had robbed the most joy from his life.  The old man never hesitated, but answered simply, “Things that never happened!”

How much of my life have I spent worrying about things that might happen but which never did?  I can become frozen with fear and not let my children play in the front yard.  I can refuse to leave my house for fear of being in a traffic accident on my way to work.  I can never shake someone’s hand or hug someone or give anyone a kiss for fear of disease.  I can stop drinking water or eating food because it might be poisoned!  We all would tend to say that doing those things would be silly, yet we worry about many things.  Jesus knew someone like that and her name was Martha: “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Lk. 10:41-42).  What had Mary chosen? Jesus!

Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow because tomorrow will take care of itself.  We need to be focused on where we are right now in this day that God has made (Matt. 6:34).   The apostle Paul also counsels us to: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7).  Paul doesn’t say that we shouldn’t care about things – just that we not be anxious about them.  How do we do that?  We take everything to God as a request – and then we leave it there, with Him.  The result: His peace will guard and protect our hearts and minds.

Here’s three keys to happiness that you may find helpful in your walk with Him today (and tomorrow!!!):

Fret not – for He loves you, John 15:9: As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love”  He loves you now and forever!

Faint not – for He holds you, Psalm 139:10: …even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  No one can snatch you from his hand!

Fear not – for He keeps you, Psalm 121:5: The LORD watches over you– the LORD is your shade at your right hand…  He will not slumber nor sleep, but always watch over you!

Don’t let things that you only imagine in your mind rob you of your joy in Christ!  It is that very joy that may draw your neighbors to Him through you!

PRAYER: Fill our minds with the joys of your promises and the certainty of your goodness so we don’t worry about things we shouldn’t. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/20/16 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me, #39

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Casper, at about 1

DayBreaks for 4/20/16 – Lessons My Dog Taught Me, #39

From the DayBreaks archive, 4/20/2006:

Philippians 4:6 (NIV) – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

We have been absolutely deluged with rain this year.  Cloverdale averages about 37 inches of rain a year.  So far, we’ve had over 60 inches of rain…and more is in the forecast.  I don’t think that I’ve ever lived anywhere during my life where there’s been so much precipitation in a single year.  Everyone in town is rather depressed by the gray skies and “liquid sunshine”, and on those rare days recently when the sun has actually managed to get out of bed in the morning and shine a bit, everyone’s spirits shoot right up.

Even our dogs have had their downs.  Our oldest dog, Rainy, is a mostly yellow lab and as a water dog, you’d think she’d not really care about the rainfall, and to some extent, she doesn’t.  But I think that even she’s getting tired of it.  Casper, just a bit over a year old, doesn’t have enough experience to know whether this has been normal or not, but he LOVES the sunshine.  In fact, as I write, the clouds have temporarily broken and it’s streaming through the window and he’s laying on the floor, snoring, in the sunshine. 

The last time we had sunshine, Casper stood (on the bed!) staring out the window at the sun, the leaves, the trees and grass.  There were reflections and leaves that looked like different colors than he’s been seeing, and he clearly wasn’t used to it.  He was really stirred up!  But Rainy, being older and more mature, came into the same room, hopped up on the bed, sighed heavily and lay down to sleep. 

Casper was a perfect example of someone who didn’t know how to let his anxiety go.  I don’t know, but when we are all stressed out, if we look as funny to God as Casper did to us, God must spend a lot of time laughing about our franticness.  We spend far too much of our lives staring and chasing reflections, worrying about what’s happening and how it’s going to turn out.  (I know that there are momentous things in life that are very legitimate challenges to us and which will naturally upset us, but Paul was pretty clear about it: Don’t be anxious about ANYTHING, but in EVERYTHING…present your requests to God.

It’s hard to do when it affects our loved ones, but it is worth the effort to trust God.  We need to remember that He sees things much differently than we do, but He IS trustworthy…in EVERYTHING. 

PRAYER:  Lord, the events of this life often seem so frightening.  We, like Martha, are worried about many things.  We carry burdens that we weren’t intended to carry, worrying over things that we cannot control, afraid to trust you fully for fear that you may not do what we want.  Help us to learn that what we want is often not what is truly best.  Help us to trust fully in You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 7/23/15 – One Thing God Never Does

DayBreaks for 7/23/15: One Thing God Never Does

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2005:

I’ll admit it. I worry about some things.  By the grace of God alone, I don’t worry about nearly as much as I used to.  God’s shown me (for the most part) how silly my worrying is.  But I still worry from time to time when the pile of bills seems to keep getting larger while the bank account keeps getting lower, or about a nagging or persistent pain somewhere in my aging body.  If I really want to wrap myself about the axle with worry, I can do it in a heartbeat when I stop to think of all the can go wrong in my kids lives or in the lives of my grandchildren.  Oh, yeah…I can worry just fine, thank you.  About such things I can worry a LOT!

The great apostle Paul urges us in 2 Cor. 10:5-6 with these words: We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  Now that’s a big challenge, isn’t it?  My guess is that we all sin a lot more in our thought lives than we do in our actual deeds or words.  We know that the things we do and say are visible or audible, so we tend to “behave” ourselves when it comes to the things other can see.  But our thought lives are a whole other matter.  You can be sitting in the middle of a worship service and be sinning your heart out with thoughts of anger, bitterness, lust, hatred, jealousy or any of a dozen other sinful thought and attitude patterns. 

Yet Paul says that we are to take EVERY thought captive for the purpose of making our minds and thoughts obedient to Jesus.  If you haven’t had a challenge in your life for a while, try this one on for size!  While writing in God Is Closer Than You Think, John Ortberg observed: “Every thought is either enabling or strengthening you to be able to cope with reality to live a kingdom kind of life, or robbing you of that life.  Every thought is – at least to a small extent – God-breathed or God-avoidant; leading to death or leading toward life.” 

But, he continues: “…there are other thoughts that are not likely to be God-speaking.  For instance, nowhere in the Bible does it say, ‘And then God worried.’  So I can be quite confident that thoughts that move me toward a paralyzed anxiety are not from God.”

Have you thought about that?  God never worries – NEVER!  He doesn’t have to worry.  He has the power to make everything work out.  He has the ability to see all factors, consider all options, and always knows the right answer and how things will work out.  I don’t, but my God does.  Worry is one kind of thought that we need to take captive in obedience to Christ.  If we worry like non-believers, we don’t have much of a witness – or, at the very least, it would be hard for anyone to distinguish us from an unbeliever.  God isn’t worrying about the future.  Neither should we!

Copyright by 2005 Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

PRAYER: Let us hear Your voice clearly and resolve to only follow You and those who are true to the Word of Life! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 3/06/15 – A Lesson in Pressure

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DayBreaks for 3/06/15: A Lesson in Pressure    

 

NOTE: This week DayBreaks are from the archive as Galen is out of the country.  He will respond to messages after he returns. 

Sent in by a DayBreaks reader (thanks, Bridget!):  If you were to climb into a submarine you might think that, as long as it held watertight, you could glide on down to the bottom of the ocean. Sadly, if you tried to do this you’d soon discover how mistaken you are. Submarines can only go so deep before the pressure of the water crushes them like an empty soft drink can crumpled by your hand. Indeed, a number of years ago submarine called the Thresher went down too deep. The water pressure rose to the point that the submarines heavy steel bulkheads were crushed.  The sub was torn apart, leaving pieces of debris scattered across the ocean floor for searchers to find.

If you want to go down really deep you need a specially designed research vessel shielded by heavy armor. Now imagine you jumped into one of these heavily clad research vessels and headed down to the ocean depths. Guess what you’d find? Fish. Fish! Fish with skin just millimeters thick.

How is it that fish with just a thin skin covering can survive the pressure of such great depths, where a submarine with thick steel plates cannot? 

The answer is quite simple: fish have equal and opposite pressure inside them. Submarines do not.

When confronting the pressures of sin some Christians try to become like a submarine, shielding themselves from the outside world, strapping themselves into a narrow space where they are safe from external pressures. They make rules which are designed to reinforce them against temptation. But unfortunately, the deeper into life we go the more inadequate this approach will be. The external pressure will just become too great.

This is why we need to be like the fish, to develop positive pressure inside ourselves. Rather than simply resisting the outward pressure of temptation we need to combat it by building up positive spiritual pressure within, replacing the values the world would impose with the Spirit developed character of Christ.  – Adapted from the Internet, Author Unknown

Is your life being properly balanced?  If you seem to be losing the fight to external pressures, fill the inner sanctum of your soul with the presence of the Spirit and the Word He delivered.

Copyright by 2005 Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

PRAYER: Fill us with Your Spirit so we can withstand the pressures of this world and go deeper with You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 11/24/11 – Virtue in Anxious Times

DayBreaks for 11/24/11 – Virtue in Anxious Times

It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones. ­- Psalm 127:2

What anxious people we are!  We are worried about our health.  We worry about our futures.  We worry about our pasts.  We worry in the present.  We worry about circumstances.  We worry about what may happen and we worry about what may not happen.  We, like Martha, are “anxious about many things.”  And that’s not how God wants us to live!  Why?  Because all our worrying can’t control any of those things…and therefore, as the Psalmist said, it is “useless.”

Most of us are touched by the suffering of the world and would like to do something to help.  But the core message of anxiety is that we cannot afford to share or get involved because we can never have enough. Put more strongly, in a culture permeated by anxiety and fear, the very things we have traditionally called sins or vices (hoarding, greed and suspicion) seemingly have become wise and prudent virtues.  We have allowed fear, rather than trust and love, to govern our lives. But such fear is a form of idolatry because it suggests we are giving more attention to our own security than we are giving to God.  Scott Bader-Saye warns, “the ethic of security produces a skewed moral vision. It suggests that suspicion, preemption, and accumulation are virtues insofar as they help us feel safe. But when seen from a Christian perspective, such ‘virtues’ fail to be true virtues, since they do not orient us to the true good—love of God and neighbor. In fact, they turn us away from the true good, tempting us to love safety more than we love God.”

God’s virtues have not changed.  He loves forgiveness, mercy, justice, righteousness, generosity.  Those things have not changed because He never changes.  Let’s not let the world re-define virtue for us!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

PRAYER: It is so easy for us to be subtly influence by the world and the way it thinks, Lord.  Help us be grounded and rooted in your Word so we know what you care about and have a basis for living life that doesn’t ever change.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 06/16/11 – Living in the Valley of Elah

DayBreaks for 06/16/11 – Living in the Valley of Elah

NOTE: Galen is on Sabbatical until 7/11.  Until he returns, DayBreaks will be publishing prior devotions (that is, if Galen has access to the Internet!)  Thanks for your understanding!

The Valley of Elah, Israel

1 Samuel 17:2-11 – “2 Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. 3 The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.  4 A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall. 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; 6 on his legs he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. 7 His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him.  8 Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.

The confrontation described in these verses took place several thousand years ago, yet the story of David and Goliath continues to capture the imagination of people – young and old – to this day.  I wish I could have watched the confrontation (notice I said “WATCH”).  I labor under no delusions that I would have done what David did – I am ashamed to say that I’m not that courageous, nor do I have the faith of the young shepherd boy.  His faith still inspires me.

I have never been to the valley of Elah.  I’ve never been to the Promised Land.  Perhaps some day I’ll go there and see the valley where this amazing biblical event took place.  But in another sense, we have all been there, in fact, we’ve all lived in that very valley.  You see, the Valley of Elah can stand for any place in any age where God’s people and His enemies square off against one another.  It was in the Valley of Elah that the giant, seemingly so great and mighty and invincible, bellowed out his words: “This day I defy the ranks of Israel!

Isn’t our land full of giants who defy the ranks of God’s chosen?  The battle lines have been drawn, the forces are arrayed one against the other.  At the very sight of God’s people, the taunting and challenge begin.

It is sad, isn’t it?  Verse 11 tells us that all it took were words to terrify and dismay not only the Israelites, but their king as well.  It didn’t take any demonstration of power or superior warfare techniques.  All it required was for a challenge to be issued and the people of God shrank back in fear.

The Valley of Elah is alive and well today.  The questions remain and need to be answered in every generation: where are the people of God?  What will they do when they find themselves in the Valley of Elah?  “If we tremble in the face of Satan, it is never because Satan has grown large, but because our God has grown small.

It only took one young shepherd boy to step out in faith to turn the tide of a battle.  Perhaps now it is your turn – and mine.

Copyright 2001 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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