DayBreaks for 7/24/17 – Enough, but not Enough

DayBreaks for 7/24/17: Enough…but Not Enough

I have never seen him, but today the preacher was talking about an insight by a comedian named Louis C.K. Apparently the comedian had gotten onto a plane to fly somewhere and the people next to him were complaining about the fact that they’d had a three-hour layover before the flight between the American coasts. Louis found himself a bit incredulous that the people could be complaining about that three-hour layover when in 4.5 hours they’d have traveled from Los Angeles to New York. He thought about how amazing it is that we can fly through the air like a bird, inside of a huge machine that is so heavy that it should never get off the ground, and that journey could be completed in about five hours – something that used to take between 4 to 6 months on a horse. And yet, they were grumbling about it. As Louis C.K. put it: It’s amazing, but it is never enough.

Have you ever grumbled about a layover or delay? Why is it that we grumble and complain so much? Perhaps it is because we, too, have forgotten the wonder of the situation in which we find ourselves.

Ephesians 2:1 says, Once you were dead because of your disobedience and many sins. (NLT) It’s important to get the reality of that verse firmly rooted into our minds – both conscious and unconscious. Paul says you were dead…not that you were sick, were injured, or even that you were dying, but that you WERE dead. It was a fait accompli. It wasn’t a potential possibility, it was accomplished fact.

But he goes on: Ephesians 2:4-5 (NLT) – But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)

The point was simple enough. We grumble and complain because we forget the wonder of the work of Christ on the cross and the grace that has been extended to us. The Israelites grumbled and complained when they took their eyes off the grace of God that pulled them out of Egyptian slavery.

Grumbling and complaining is never pretty. Grace is beautiful. As the preacher put it today: In the presence of grace, grumbling ceases.

PRAYER: God, let me live consciously in the constant presence of grace that I may never again be a grumbler. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 6/06/17 – Harmful Ingredients

DayBreaks for 6/06/17: Harmful Ingredients

Are you a label reader? As I’ve gotten older, I read food labels more closely. I do that because as our health conditions change, such matters become more important to my health. I won’t begin to say that I’m good at it, and at times, I don’t bother to read the labels partly because I may want to eat something regardless of what the label says!

One thing I have learned, though, is that food content lists always put the most important things in the list first and then they are listed in descending order of importance. That is how it should be! Think about it: if the things which had the most potential to do you harm were entered at the bottom of the list, would you ever get to that part of the label? I wouldn’t. We’ve become ever more concerned in modern times about what we put into our bodies – and that’s good, because our bodies, we are told, are the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Here’s where it gets intriguing: when we describe things that are of importance, don’t we all tend to put the most important things at the top of the list as we start writing or talking about them? I don’t know if that was the case when Jude wrote his brief letter or not, but in his letter, he includes a list of offenses that he described this way: “…certain people…who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” These were false teachers who led weak Christians astray. Then he starts to list what their offenses were: These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.

Did you notice what is at the top of Jude’s list? It’s not murderers, rapists, thieves or terrorists (yes, they had them in the first century, too). It’s grumblers and fault finders who are out for what they can get.

Does that describe you and me? We are a nation of critics – some people even make a living that way (movie critics, theater critics, fashion critics, music, art, books, restaurants, etc., etc.) I don’t make my living that way, but do I grumble and complain about traffic, prices, weather, the government, taxes, sports teams, how I’m being treated by someone, what I’m being paid? It’s still grumbling, isn’t it?

Why is grumbling ingredient #1 on Jude’s list? It is a sign of inner discontent. Complaining about something makes it public and infects others. In essence, my complaints and grumblings are an indictment against God’s character and goodness, saying He hasn’t treated me well, or fairly, and calling into question His sovereignty and providence. Remember why God punished the Israelites in the wilderness? It was because of their grumblings (1 Cor. 10.10). In Philippians we are told to do everything without complaining or arguing (Phil. 2:14-16), and in 1 Timothy 6:6, Paul goes on to encourage us that godliness with contentement is great gain.

How interesting that grumbling and complaining are at the top of the list, but when you see them as what they really are – indictments of God’s character – it makes sense.

How many times today have you grumbled and complained already? Too many – that’s my guess, but I’m guilty, too.  

PRAYER: God, I’m sorry for the many times I grumble and complain. Forgive my arrogance to call Your character, wisdom and sovereignty into question!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/16/17 – Drinking With No Complaining

DayBreaks for 5/16/17: Drinking With No Complaining

John 18:10-11 –Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

Jesus’ acceptance of the Father’s will for him should be a lesson to us.  He was equally Divine with God, not inferior in any way, yet he submitted himself to the Father’s will without question.  Jesus resolved to drink the cup that the Father had given him to drink – and he would drink it to the very dregs, even as he poured out the cup of his life’s blood to the bitter end. 

How do we respond to the cup that the Father has given us to drink?  We can fight against it, telling Him that he’s asking too much of us, that it’s not fair, that there must be a better way, but in the end drink it through the filter of faith. We can not drink it at all and live our life in rebellion, filling our mouths and bellies with the drink of our own choosing or we can drink it as Jesus did – realizing that it is our sworn duty to obey the One who is the Lord over our very life, who could, if He so chose, un-make us at any moment. 

What is the cup that the Father has given you?  A difficult job, a difficult relationship, difficult children, a parent with Alzheimer’s, a failed career, the lack of a job, a physical problem or handicap, emotional troubles?  Why does God put such things in our lives?  He put the cup in Christ’s life not for his own sake, but for ours.  We think it’s all about us, but very, very little of it is about us and what we want.  It’s about God and about others.  Loving God means more than feeling good about Him – Jesus said several times in John that loving him will result in obedience to him.  It can’t be said any more clearly than Jesus has said it.  Sometimes that obedience will lead to a cross, sometimes to an empty tomb, eventually to an eternal home with our Lord.  And loving others as we love ourselves (let’s face it, even though we may at times be frustrated by our weaknesses and failings, we’re pretty fond of ourselves or we wouldn’t still be here) often involves drinking a cup that we’d rather not drink – for we don’t like everyone, we don’t love everyone and we would rather let them alone.  But that isn’t the cup that God passes to us – he puts people and situations in our lives sometimes for our benefit, sometimes for the benefit of others  – but more often than not, those things are to enable us to learn and grow with little or no visible benefit to ourselves.

I need to identify the cup that God has put in front of me – and to realize that it may vary from day to day – but that the overarching cup that He has asked us to take is to pour ourselves out for others, even as Christ was preparing to pour Himself out for us.

PRAYER: This day, Lord, let me drink the cup you’ve given me without complaining – just for once.  Let me realize that if there is struggle that has come into my life, that it is not without Your knowledge, and not without Your decree that should come to me.  Help us to learn this day from the struggles we have and to trust in You even more by the time this night rolls around.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 07/04/11 – Discontentment’s Foothold

DayBreaks for 07/04/11 – Discontentment’s Foothold

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!

Discontent

Luke 3:14 – “And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.

Philippians 4:11 – “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

1 Timothy 6:8 – “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

Discontentment.  Now there’s a common spiritual and physical ailment!  There isn’t anyone I know who hasn’t expressed discontentment with something.  I have certainly demonstrated discontentment with a lot of things.  Most recently, I was not happy with my watch.  Silly, isn’t it?  But it’s true.  And so what did I do?  I got another one.  Prudent?  No.  It was motivated with discontentment.

Watches are one thing – but there are many other things we can be discontent with.  In the verse from Luke, the soldiers weren’t content with their wages.  Sound like anyone you know or anyone you look at in the mirror from time to time?  Our “wish list” according to Paul’s letter to Timothy should extend no further than food and raiment.  Learning to be content isn’t easy and I don’t claim to master it.

But how does discontentment get a start in our lives?  I again thought that Andree Seu, writing for WORLD magazine in their May 26, 2001 issue had some good insights.  She was describing how she was dealing with her widowhood after 2 years when she wrote: “Who knows when or how discontentment gains a foothold, or crosses the line, that little thought that would be god?  Like the fist-sized cloud of Elijah atop Mt. Carmel, just turn around and it’s swallowed up the sky.  Yesterday you had contentment.  Today…

“Did the sentries at the door of my heart sleep when Nan and I talked that time, and the pot was stirred, and the smallest whisper said to my soul, ‘You will have nothing good ever again’?  Was there something artificial, something forced, in my equanimity after all.  (You can always gain peace with denial, but it will pop out all over the place.)”

Remember the story of Elijah on Mt. Carmel?  Once something small gains a foothold in our life, it grows until it blocks out the sunshine, and the discontentment in our hearts begins to rain on our parade of contentment.  It doesn’t take much to get discontentment rolling – sometimes something as simple and seemingly harmless as a few words from a friend that suggests something that raises the spectre of discontentedness in our heart.

We may labor hard at denying our discontent, but as she notes, if we are in denial about our real state of contentedness, it will become apparent.  Just as June is “busting out all over”, so it is with discontentment unless we learn the lesson that Paul did: be content in all circumstances.

Copyright 2001 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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