DayBreaks for 12/25/18 – What Would I Have Seen?

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DayBreaks for 12/25/18: What Would I Have Seen?

I wonder what I would have heard had I been there that night. It is a question that annually haunts me. Would I have heard the choirs of angels singing or simply the sounds of barnyard animals shifting around? Would I have seen the star in the sky that night or simply two poor and very frightened kids? Would I have understood the hushed silence of the divine presence, or simply the chill of a cold east wind. Would I have understood the message of Emmanuel, God with us, or would the cosmic implications of that evening have passed me by?

I am convinced that had two people been there that night in Bethlehem it is quite possible that they could have heard and seen two entirely different scenes. I believe this because all of life is this way. God never presents himself in revelation in a manner in which we are forced to believe. We are always left with an option, for that is God’s way. Thus, one person can say “It’s a miracle, while another says “It’s coincidence.”

Certainly very few people in Palestine saw and heard and understood what took place that night. The choirs of angels singing were drowned out by the haggling and trading going on in the Jerusalem bazaar. There was a bright star in the sky but the only ones apparently to pay any attention to it were pagan astrologers from the East. If anyone did see Mary and Joseph on that most fateful night, they were too preoccupied with their own problems to offer any assistance.

In one of the All in the Family episodes that aired some years ago Edith and Archie are attending Edith’s high school class reunion. Edith encounters an old classmate by the name of Buck who, unlike his earlier days. had now become excessively obese. Edith and Buck have a delightful conversation about old times and the things that they did together, but remarkably Edith doesn’t seem to notice how extremely heavy Buck has become. Later, when Edith and Archie and talking, she says in her whiny voices “Archie, ain’t Buck a beautiful person.” Archie looks at her with a disgusted expression and says: “You’re a pip, Edith. You know that. You and I look at the same guy and you see a beautiful person and I see a blimp. Edith gets a puzzled expression on her face and says something unknowingly profound, “Yeah, ain’t it too bad.”

Would I have seen and recognized the eternity shattering events in Bethlehem for what they were, or would I have let it passed unnoticed? I hope that today, you see the babe in the manger in a new light, a heavenly light that shines like none other and that you take time to worship the Incarnate One.

Merry CHRISTmas to you all!

PRAYER: Jesus, we fall silent in wonder at the events surrounding your birth. Be born in us anew this day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/24/18 – Searching for Hope

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DayBreaks for 12/24/18: Searching for Hope

(NOTE: This was written by a dear friend of mine, Janine Boyer, earlier in December. Used by permission.)

Our trip to Israel had already exceeded my expectations and then I saw them. “Look! Look! Those are real sheep and a real shepherd,” I said to Dave from inside our bus. As we passed the hills of Bethlehem, they were just like I had pictured in my mind, a mixture of grass and rocks, steep for those cute little sheep and windy for a donkey to have to travel. Tomorrow I would get to visit the place where Jesus Christ was born.

But in a matter of a day, the scene changed. There was some unrest in Bethlehem overnight, and it wasn’t safe to visit. I was so disappointed. I had been looking forward to this part of the trip and experiencing what it must have felt like for Mary and Joseph over 2,000 years ago.

Things didn’t work out as I had expected; and almost a year later, I can still feel that disappointment. But as I thought about that, I also thought about how Mary and Joseph must have felt. Because of the census being taken, they had to leave behind everything that was familiar to them and start over in a new place. What did it feel like when they finally arrived in Bethlehem, desperately looking for a place to stay, only to be turned away?

I imagine Mary was not only searching for a place to deliver her baby, but also desperately searching for relief from that pain, searching for rest and searching for help. Who of us cannot relate to those feelings in one way or another? Our lives can change in a moment, often times leaving us feeling desperate and disappointed. But if we stop there, we miss the blessings of the unexpected.

Mary and Joseph continued searching for a place to stay. What did they find? A stable. Straw would become the blanket upon which Jesus Christ would be born. Not soft and comfy like the blankets on our beds, but itchy and scratchy for this tiny baby. Maybe that’s not what they were looking for, but that is what they found.

Often times what we are looking for is different than what we find too. Life’s circumstances can change the way we feel. But we can’t stop there. We desperately need to keep searching for God in the midst of all we feel. While Joseph and Mary searched, they never lost hope. As a result, what did they find? They found God turned that stable into a place of glory, a place that was lit up by a star in the sky, a place where people who were desperately searching, would find hope and peace. A place for all of us.

I don’t know what you are feeling this Christmas season. I don’t know your life events. But God does. That tiny little baby, God’s Son, felt everything we feel. “For unto us a child is born to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for giving us a place to come and find hope and peace. Give us the courage to choose to make room for you no matter how we feel today, whether we be full of joy or full of sorrow. Help us to feel the amazing wonder of Your Son and His birth, His life and even His death. Help us to be like Mary and take the stable that was offered to her and turn it into a place where YOU, King of all Kings, would be born. In Your Hopeful name we pray, Amen.

DayBreaks for 12/21/18 – The Priest’s Sacrifice, #4

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DayBreaks for 12/21/18: The Priest’s Sacrifice, #4

Finishing off the theme of Sacrifice for this week preceding Christmas, I’m sharing some thoughts from the message at church this past Sunday.

Our fourth, and final, sacrifice as Christian priests and priestesses is found in Philippians 4:18 (ESV) – I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.

Paul says that the gifts which were sent to him from the church at Philippi weren’t just gifts, but sacrifices that pleased God.

The privilege we have as believers is that God supplies all our needs. Every good and perfect gift starts with him for our enjoyment, yes, but also to pass through our fingers into the hands of others in need.

The responsibility of such a privilege is that we are empowered by his generosity to meet kingdom needs and human need.

I was struck by the fact that the first gifts given to Jesus at his birth by the magi didn’t really come from the magi, but from the Father who provided it for the magi to bring to the stable. Yet, I believe that the myrrh and frankincense (and gold) the magi were sacrifices that were fragrant offerings that pleased the Father immensely as he stared down at the son in the manger – and also into the hearts of the magi.

God gave the most perfect gift of all time, the most urgently needed gift, in the person of Jesus. If you have the means at all this season, you’ll give gifts to family and friends. Question: what will you give to those who may be your enemies? After all, isn’t that what God did for us with the child in the manger?

PRAYER: Let us give freely, not only to those who are friends and family, but to our enemies and strangers as well. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/20/18 – The Priest’s Sacrifice, #3

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DayBreaks for 12/20/18: The Priest’s Sacrifice, #3

Continuing with the theme of Sacrifice for this week preceding Christmas, I’m sharing some thoughts from the message at church this past Sunday. Though this is often a time when we receive gifts, it is also a time for sacrifices.

The third sacrifice that we are called upon as Christian priests and priestesses is this: Hebrews 13:16 (ESV) – Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

It may be stretching a bit, but I think that this refers not only to the stuff we have (like money, clothes, etc.), but also to the exercise of our spiritual gifts. You have at least one gift given to you from the Spirit. Whatever your gifts are, they are a privilege given only to believers. It’s not for your enjoyment (though usually people do find joy when exercising their gift), but for kingdom work. You may have multiple spiritual gifts. The point is this: we are expected to use them all for those in need. It pleases God.

Why is it a sacrifice? Because your fleshly inclination will be not to exercise it for others – or maybe not at all. Again, as with any sacrifice, surrender is required.

Our responsibility, then, is to discover, exercise and develop your spiritual gift and then to use it to do good.

Questions: what are your spiritual gifts and how can you use your giftedness this holiday season to be a blessing? What are some good things you can do to share what you have, be it money, clothes, food, time or words?

PRAYER: Jesus, let us not neglect to do good during this season because we’re too wrapped up in tinsel, wrappings and boxes, or even by friends and family. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/17/18 – When the Sacrifice Began

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DayBreaks for 12/17/18: When the Sacrifice Began

If I were to start talking about sacrifice and how it related to the Jewish people, you’d probably garner up images of animal sacrifice in connection with the temple. Makes perfect sense.

If I were to ask you about sacrifice and how it relates to Christianity, my guess is that your instantaneous thought would turn to Calvary followed in short order by Easter, and that would not be wrong. As Christians, we do not believe that any more sacrifice for sin is needed because the New Testament makes it very clear that the blood of Jesus was the atonement for all sin – something the blood of bulls and goats could never do.

But as we enter this last week before Christmas arrives, I want to think about sacrifice. I believe that the sacrifice of Jesus began way before the crucifixion.

If we listen closely to these verses from Philippians 2:5-8 (NLT2) – You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

I believe this passage indicates that the sacrifice of Jesus began when he gave up his divine privileges. Think of it: eternal glory, never knowing pain or sickness, the temporary surrender of the adoration of the angels and four living creatures, the halls of glory were all surrendered for a manger and the brokenness of taking on human form.

We like to talk about how there is no longer need for sacrifice, and if we are speaking of sin, that’s true. We Christians are freed from the OT laws and rules that required sacrifice. But are we free from the need to make sacrifices? No, not at all.

In our teaching this past Sunday, our lead teacher talked about four sacrifices that we must offer. During the rest of this week, I’ll talk about one each day and figure out what they mean to us today and during this holiday season. But for today, look at this passage from 1 Peter 2:9 (ESV) – But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Question: what does it mean to you as a believer that you are a priest or priestess?

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for your sacrifice to accept the humiliation of human flesh and leave eternal glory behind. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/21/17 – A World of Impossibilities

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DayBreaks for 12/21/17: A World of Impossibilities

Matthew 1:18 (ESV) – Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.

This is a story of impossibilities. Consider the impossibilities Mary faced in this story: she is a virgin and pregnant – she is having a child while she is a virgin. Impossible! No way! Won’t happen! Joseph has to follow through on the marriage after he discovers Mary is pregnant. Impossible! Mary must avoid being stoned to death when the neighbors hear the news. Impossible!

Consider the impossibility Elizabeth faced. She was well past the childbearing age, and yet God says she is going to conceive and bear a child. This impossible news left old Zechariah speechless. Impossible! No way! Won’t happen!

This is a story of biblical impossibilities. We love to ponder them because we all long for some impossibilities in our own lives, don’t we? But, what are the impossibilities in our world? What would you label “impossible” in your life? Peace in our world. Impossible! No way! Won’t happen! Christian values returning to our nation, morality becoming the norm? Impossible! Our church reaching our surrounding community and making our world different? Impossible! Restoring relationships, healing past hurts in our lives. A relative or friend entering a relationship with Christ. Breaking an addiction and overcoming past hurts and disappointments? Impossible!

We find ourselves with the same troubled mind as Mary, wondering over the impossible. We even ask the same question Mary asked, How will this be? To us it seems impossible! No way! Won’t happen! The real question for people today is “How can the impossible become possible?”

Let me encourage you to take heart this season if you are facing what seem to be impossibilities. This season is a reminder that nothing – absolutely nothing – is truly impossible!

PRAYER: Father, we delight in knowing you are the Master of all that is impossible and that the word doesn’t even exist in your vocabulary. Help us to not lose hope even for the things that seem impossible, because if this season shows us anything, it is that there is no such thing when you are inclined to intervene. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/20/17: Christmas Surprises

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DayBreaks for 12/20/17: Christmas Surprises

Who doesn’t enjoy opening presents on Christmas day? Let’s be honest: we all love it, don’t we? We wonder what’s inside that package, box or envelope. We love surprises!

Under a cultural-exchange program, rabbi Alan Abramsky and his family in Roanoke, Texas, were hosts to a rabbi from Russia at Christmas time. They decided to introduce him to a culinary treat that was probably not available in his country: they took him to their favorite Chinese restaurant.

Throughout the meal, the rabbi spoke excitedly about the wonders of North America in comparison to the bleak conditions in his homeland. When they had finished eating, the waiter brought the check and presented each of them with a small brass Christmas-tree ornament as a seasonal gift.

They all laughed when Abramsky’s father pointed out that the ornaments were stamped “Made in India.” But the laughter subsided when they saw that the rabbi was quietly crying. Concerned, Abramsky’s father asked the rabbi if he was offended because he’d been given a gift for a Christian holiday.

He smiled, shook his head and said, “Nyet. I was shedding tears of joy to be in a wonderful country in which a Buddhist gives a Jew a Christmas gift made by a Hindu!” A time of miracles. A time for stories.

From time to time we hear someone say, “Wouldn’t it be great if it could be Christmas all year long.” Surprise! That was God’s intent. That is why God invaded our planet and gave us the gift of God’s Son. There is only one thing that stands in the way of celebrating Christmas all year long: you and I. Let’s agree to not stand in the way of anyone celebrating Christmas all year long!

PRAYER:  Jesus, we don’t want to cause people not to celebrate Immanuel all year long, year after year, decade after decade. Let us never lost the sense of the miraculous that is so present in this season. Let us overflow each and every day out of lives that are filled with wonder. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.