DayBreaks for 2/16/17 – Rats in the Cellar and Slaps on the Cheek

DayBreaks for 2/16/17: Rats in the Cellar and Slaps on the Cheek

Matthew 5:39 (ESV) – But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

This text from Matthew leads one to ponder the words of C.S. Lewis, Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is. If there are rats in a cellar, you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats; it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way, the suddenness of the provocation does not make me ill-tempered; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am.

Think about the reaction that Christ calls us to have if someone strikes us on the cheek. What kind of a person would that make us? To turn the other cheek and refuse to react with similar anger or malice shows the world we are Christian. After all, if someone walked up to you in the next 5 minutes without warning or provocation and slapped you hard across the cheek, what would your reaction be?

So if what we do when we are taken off guard is the best evidence of what sort of person we are, let us pray our reactions show that we are good Christians!

PRAYER: Lord, it is not natural for us to turn the other cheek when we’ve been smitten physically, verbally or emotionally. It is at moments like that when we most need your Spirit to dominate our response. Spirit, take up residence in us so that we might be like Jesus! In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

Advertisements

DayBreaks for 11/12/15 – Wildflowers for God

DayBreaks for 11/12/15: Wildflowers for God

Ruele Howe tells about growing up with his parents in the country. When he was 15 years old, the house caught on fire. They escaped with only the clothes on their backs. There were no close neighbors to help so he and his father walked to a distant village to get supplies. As they returned they saw something that stayed with Ruele Howe all those years after. Beside the charred remains of what had been their house, his mother had laid out lunch on a log. She had placed a tin can filled with wildflowers on the log. It was a symbol of hope in the midst of tragedy.

This is the Christian faith, isn’t it? She didn’t try to cover up the disaster with flowers, but in the midst of that gloomy scene she had placed a symbol of hope.

There is a story in the New Testament about a very poor widow who visited the temple one day and put her two coins into the collection. The point of this story isn’t that we should give (which we should), but rather that we should have faith – a faith that finds expression in what we do and how we live our life. Do you think that after this woman demonstrated her faith in God to provide for her needs that she went home, lay down and starved to death? No, me neither.

These two coins that the widow placed in the temple treasury were her wildflowers. This was her symbol, her way of saying I know God will provide.

What ways are you demonstrating your faith in God? Is it more than a conversation topic to you – are you living it? Am I?

TODAY’S PRAYER: Jesus, I want to be a person who lives by faith. I don’t know what went through the widow’s mind or heart, but I know that I want to have greater faith! It frightens me to say that, God, but I know You are a good Father. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 11/12/15 – What Impresses You?

DayBreaks for 11/12/15: What Impresses You?

(Sorry, friends!  I’ve been traveling!  Will try to get back on a regular schedule!)

Tourists. As Mark 13 opens, the disciples are like tourists, gawking at the more striking features of “the big city” that they were visiting for the high and holy festival of Passover. If there had been cameras in those days, you can almost picture the disciples mugging for the camera in front of the magnificent opulence of the Temple. Little bands of tourists wearing bright orange hats would be milling through the plazas and colonnades of the Temple as tour guides with bullhorns shouted forth impressive statistics. “Some of these foundation stones weigh 5 tons and were brought into the city through the massive efforts of thousands of masons and slaves.”

Appreciative “Ooohs” and “Ahhhs” would follow each stunning stat.

It was, all in all, a heady atmosphere. You couldn’t help but look up to see the towering heights. When I’ve been in places like Chicago and New York City, I know full well that standing on a sidewalk and staring up at the towering heights of the Sears Tower or the Empire State Building is the surest way possible to have me be easily identified as a tourist. But I can’t help it! I don’t want to look like some hick from the outback who is bowled over by skyscrapers, but they are just so impressive. They simply dwarf you! And so I steal as many heavenward glances as I can.

The disciples were like that. They don’t want to look like simple fishermen from Galilee and the like, but let’s face it: you just don’t see stonework like this back on the farm. Their enthusiasm is so great that they cannot resist pulling Jesus into the action. Their master seems oddly unmoved by the ramparts and architectural heights of Jerusalem. He is the only one NOT craning his neck and mugging for the camera. So the disciples try to bring him around. “Teacher! Lookee here – isn’t this one massive hunk of limestone!? Isn’t the craftsmanship on these carvings impressive? Can you imagine what it must have taken to raise up such a high edifice!?”

But Jesus meets their breathless enthusiasm with a shrug of his shoulders. “Yes, I see them. But you know what? Even the biggest of these stones will soon fall and be thrown down. One day, there won’t be a single building to look at here.”

We humans are easily amused and impressed. What impresses you? I’m convinced that God isn’t one bit impressed with our great skyscrapers, warships, rockets, art, music or anything else that we’ve come up with since the beginning of time.

What does impress Him? When we act in faith: When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to the crowd that was following him, he said, “I tell you, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!” – Luke 7:9

TODAY’S PRAYER: Father, how I would love to be able to delight your heart with even my small faith! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 10/19/15 – Others

DayBreaks for 10/19/05: Others  

It won’t be long now and once again we will begin to see people in uniforms in shopping malls ringing bells collecting donations for the poor. They will be are doing the work of the Salvation Army.

In 1878, when the Salvation Army was really beginning to make its mark, men and women from all over the world began to enlist. A man who had once dreamed of becoming a bishop in another denomination crossed the Atlantic from America to England to enlist in the Salvation Army instead. His name was Samuel Brengle. Brengle left a fine pastorate to join William Booth’s Army. At first General Booth accepted his services reluctantly and grudgingly. Booth said to Brengle, “You’ve been your own boss too long.” So in order to instill humility in Brengle, he made him work by cleaning the boots of other trainees.

Discouraged, Brengle said to himself, “Have I followed my own fancy across the Atlantic in order to black boots?” Then, as in a vision, he saw Jesus bending over the feet of rough, uneducated fishermen. “Lord,” he whispered, “you washed their feet; I will black their shoes.”

Samuel Brengle went on to establish the Salvation Army in America. At the time of his death, the Salvation Army was thriving in both the United States and in Canada. Just before his death Brengle sent out a short memo to all of his top leaders. This memo had one single word written on it: “Others.”

We can have many motives for the things we do. Jesus had one: that others might have life. What are the motives that drive you?

PRAYER: Father, let us put others ahead of our own selfish interests and motives! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2015 Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/12/15 – Walking In God’s Shoes

DayBreaks for 10/10/05: Putting On God’s Shoes

It’s quiet on the street.  Deadly quiet.  I can’t help but wonder if this is what hell looks like – without the screams. 

“Ghost town.”  That phrase seems to fit, at least partially.  One of the best preserved ghost towns of the old west is Bodie, California, where the wind blows the sandy dust up and down the street that once was witness to gunfights and drunken brawls between the silver miners who labored there.  I’ve been there several times and it’s sort of like this, but there’s a couple major distinctions.  Bodie is far cleaner and Bodie doesn’t have the stink that is everywhere on this street. 

I don’t know the name of the street we’re on because the street signs are gone, either blown or washed away.  The houses tell me this was once a beautiful neighborhood – most of them are, or I should say, were brick.  But as we walk this street there are no children holding mock gunfights or wrestling on the yard with their best friends.  There are no children here – praise God for that. 

A pastor recently told a story worth repeating, about children drawing pictures of God and of Jesus.  Their pictures of God showed him with white hair, a white beard, a smiling face and a flowing white robe.  Their pictures of Jesus showed him with white hair, a white beard, a smiling face and a flowing white robe, too.  But there was a difference.  They drew sandals on the feet of Jesus.  I don’t know what the children were thinking when they drew their pictures, but it seemed to be indicating that Jesus gave feet to God so that we could see Him, hear Him, touch Him.  And that made their pictures different.

We like to visit places where famous people have walked or slept or where great things have happened.  “Abraham Lincoln slept here.”  “George Washington crossed the Delaware here in 1776.”  Shiloh.  Manassas.  Bull Run.  Fredricksburg.  Gettysburg.  The beaches of Normandy.  Dealey Plaza in Dallas, TX.  Ford’s Theater in Washington DC.  There is something about being where history altering things have happened that changes you inside. 

Last week as our relief team walked through one of the neighborhoods in Chalmette, Louisiana in St. Bernard’s Parish, we wept.  Our hearts fell out of us and it seemed as if our insides melted.  Some stopped in their tracks and wept in the middle of the street – but that was OK because there were no cars anywhere except ours. 

When I put on my shoes that morning, I didn’t really think too much about where I’d be walking that day.  Even as we walked the streets, I didn’t realize the truth and reality of what was happening.  It was only on Sunday (yesterday) that I knew.  The streets of the neighborhood may have looked abandoned, but I know now that before we had visited those streets of destruction, God has walked those streets…and wept.  And when we were walking there, we were walking on Holy Ground because God had been (and still was!) there.  At the time, all I could see or apprehend was desolation.  How blind I was.  How blind we are as we walk the streets, campuses, hospital corridors each day.  The reality is that no matter where we go or when we go there, God has walked there, and is walking there even now.  Holy Ground is everywhere, for God has been there since the beginning of time.

When you put your shoes on this morning, chances are that you never thought that you’d walk on Holy Ground this day.  Open your eyes a little bit more and perhaps you’ll see His footprint, perhaps you’ll hear His sobs as He cries over the devastation of His creation and of the shattered lives of men and women overtaken in sin.  And perhaps, hopefully, you’ll join Him in His weeping.  And also perhaps, you’ll think about it in the morning when you again put on your shoes that you are the only Jesus many will see…you are putting on God’s shoes and making Him visible.  What an awe-inducing responsibility we have been given.  May we wear the shoes and reflect the image well this day.

Eph. 6:15 – For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that you will be fully prepared.

PRAYER: Father, we can never fill Your shoes, but let us walk and live in imitation of You to a broken world. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Copyright by 2015 Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/07/15 – The Tale of Two Paintings

DayBreaks for 10/07/05: The Tale of Two Paintings

A preacher once shared this story: “Over forty years ago, I heard a man describe two paintings he said he had at his home. I have never forgotten them even though I never saw them. One was of the figure in Jesus’ story of the rich man whose crops produced so abundantly that he decided to pull down his barns and build bigger ones, and he said to his soul, “Soul, eat, drink, and have a great time, for tomorrow you die.” The caption under this painting said: “The Failure that Looked Like Success.” The other painting, the companion painting, was of Jesus dying on the cross, the crown of thorns on his head, his chin drooping against his chest, the crude nails in his hands, and all his friends off somewhere in hiding. The caption under this picture said: “The Success that Looked Like Failure.”

There isn’t a single one of us who wouldn’t like to be successful and fulfilled as persons. That is something that our culture, for better or worse, instills within us. But when we listen to Jesus, we realize that success and fulfillment don’t really come the way we often expect them to. They aren’t the direct result of anything we can do to attain them. Instead, they’re a gift from God and they simply happen when we are doing the right things with our lives. In God’s eyes it is a whole lot better to be a success that looks like failure than a failure that looks like success.

What is your definition of success for your life? Does it have anything to do with God and His will for you, or is it all about things you want to accumulate or achieve without giving thought to His plan for you? What do you believe God thinks of your success goals?

Mark 8:36 (KJV) – For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  

PRAYER: God, Our culture sends us such powerful messages and creates in us a hunger for success that may really look like failure in your eyes. Teach us to long for the success that looks like failure so we may be imitators of Jesus! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2015 Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/30/15 – Struggling With God’s Reliability

DayBreaks for 9/30/15: Struggling with God’s Reliability

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

From 2020 Vision, by Bill and Amy Stearns: “Why do we often worry about whether God will come through for us?  Why can’t we spend the ‘last’ 75 years of our lives in solid confidence of His working in our lives and feel deeply satisfied with life?  Perhaps because somehow we’ve gotten the idea that God is supposed to respond to our pleas, to what we feel are our needs.  And often He doesn’t.  We become disappointed with Him and – perhaps without ever hinting at such blasphemy – feel that He’s unreliable.  The prophet Jeremiah felt exactly that way in his life of troubles; he complained to God, Will you indeed be to me like a deceptive stream with water that is unreliable? (Jer. 15:18)  The KJV of that passage puts it about as forcefully as a translator would dare when speaking to God: Wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail?

“Many people who reject God, even when raised in a Christian environment, can point back to a specific event that convinced them that God – if God exists at all – is unreliable.  They’ve prayed that God would save the life of a loved one, and the person dies.  They experience a horrible personal trauma and God doesn’t rescue them; therefore they feel that God doesn’t care.  Even some Christians live the life of a practical atheist.  They know He exists and has saved the, but they frankly don’t trust Him because He has ‘let them down.’

“But maybe it’s time for us to get scriptural in our expectations of God’s reliability.  He won’t always do what we think He should do.  But He will always do exactly what He says He will do.  And on this we can base a whole new life of confident assurance, of encouraging hope.  God will do what He set out to do, and as we align with that, we have steadfastness and sureness like an anchor of the soul – even through tough times of doubt and tragedy.” 

Do you get the critical point here?  God won’t always do what we think He should, but He will always keep His word.  So when we think that God has promised to heal and He doesn’t, we must have misunderstood or misapplied that promise.  We must understand that God never fails to do what He said He would.  There is no force in the universe that is strong enough to make Him break His promise.  Let us pray for wisdom to better understand what God has said He will do – and not to put our expectations on Him as if we were the potter and He were the clay!

PRAYER: God, we need to be filled with understanding and to be reassured that You are absolutely, totally reliable and trustworthy. We know in our head that You are, but in our fear we sometimes doubt. Increase our trust! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.