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 6/7/17 – The Cold Season of Life

DayBreaks for 6/07/17: The Cold Season of Life

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2007:

It may seem strange, now as the rays of the late-spring sun pour themselves willy-nilly through the window and dance on the floor to be writing about a cold season of life, or of “the winter of our discontent.”  But, ideas, like guests, sometimes come when they choose, and who can tell where and when the Spirit will move with an idea or thought or a challenge?  So, without fear of being called crazy, I write today to share some thoughts about the cold season of life, as inspired by Jamie Langston Turner, from Winter Birds, posted in Christianity Today, 5/30/07:

“I am in the cold season of life, and the words that come to mind as I rise in the morning are these: “Now, is the winter of our discontent.” I borrow them from William Faulkner, a fellow Mississippian, who lifted them from Shakespeare, who put them into the mouth of the Duke of Gloucester, also known as Richard III. Though I am hardly the villain Richard III was, I am no saint. Though I have not murdered, I have used words to maim and destroy. Though I repudiate the notion of conscience, as did Richard, I do not rest easy at night. Often when I wake in the morning, it is after few hours of troubled sleep. I cannot sleep long for fear that I will let go of living. Rather a winter of discontent than no winter at all.”

Galen’s Thoughts:

In fairness, I don’t yet think that I’m in the cold season of life.  I do find the mornings a bit more chilly than it seems they were just a year or two ago.  Can anyone say, “Circulation?”  Part of the challenge is that, in the final analysis, we never know when we are in the cold season of life.  Many are struck down in the springtime, when the flower and bloom of life should just be appearing.  Yet, little did they know, they were in the cold season of life.  Still, I must agree with the writer, that it is better to have a winter of discontent than none for a variety of reasons:

FIRST: if we are in the advanced years, we have had the blessing of a life – whether good or bad.  And how intriguing it is that even those who have lived what we might think are the most difficult and hard lives are often the most grateful.  They’ve learned that life isn’t about what you have, but about Who you know and what you’ve invested your life in that matters.  So it was that in the cold season of his life, the apostle Paul could say, “I am ready to be offered up…”. 

SECOND: memories.  There are good things to remember in looking back.  Memory was important to Israel – even the memory of the captivity and Exodus, the memories of the exile, were important because they resolved to learn from those things.  It is instructive to note that after the Exile, the Jews never again involved themselves in idolatry.  Even in the cold season of life we can look back and remember the warmer, sun-filled days that quickened our breath and heartbeat, and give thanks to the One who gave us such simple joys.

Yet, I must protest the woman’s statement about not being a saint.  Who among us saints is really a saint?  We’ve not earned the title, after all.  We have maimed and destroyed in our own ways, time and time again.  And we do not rest easy for it.  Yet if we are to accept God as God and His Word as the Truth that sets us free, believer – you are a saint.  No less than 62 times in the NT is the term applied to Christians.  Never because of our outstanding performance, but because God through Christ has made us holy and righteous.  Believe it?

PRAYER: Thank you for the days of our lives, the moments and instances, like snapshots, that live on in our memories!  May our longing vision to see you grow stronger as the days grow colder.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 08/01/12 – Where Discontent Goes to Die

DayBreaks for 08/01/12 – Where Discontent Goes to Die

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”  (Ps. 23:1)

Come with me to the world’s most oppressive prison.  Just ask the inmates; they will tell you.  They are overworked and underfed…No prison is so populated, no prison so oppressive, and what’s more, no prison is so permanent.  Most inmates never leave.  They never get released…The name of the prison?  You’ll see it over the entrance.  Rainbowed over the gate are four cast-iron letters that spell out its name:  W-A-N-T.

“They don’t want much, mind you.  They want just one thing.  One new job.  One new car.  One new house.  One new spouse.  They don’t want much.  They just want one.” (Max Lucado, Traveling Light)

Max has pretty much hit it on the head.  We just want one thing, don’t we?  What I want is probably quite different than what you want.  And what you want is different than that for which your friend wishes.  And when I get that one thing – that very special thing that I’m wanting – am I happy?  Yes.  If truth be told, I am.  That is, until I find out that somewhere, someone has invented a better gizmo than I bought.  Or until the car no longer smells new, or until the new model year comes out and I like the looks of it even better.  Then I’m stuck.  And what I wanted is not as fun anymore – and it creates the beginnings of an ache in me to want again.  Max continued: “If your happiness comes from something you deposit, drive, drink or digest, then face it – you are in prison, the prison of want.  The good news is you have a visitor and your visitor has a message that can get you paroled…look across the table at the psalmist David.  He motions for you to lean forward.  ‘I have a secret to tell you,’ he whispers, ‘the secret of satisfaction.  The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want’ (Ps. 23:1).

“David has found the pasture where discontent goes to die…as if he is saying, ‘What I have in God is greater than what I don’t have in life.

“Let me remind you of two biblical truths:

YOUR STUFF ISN’T YOURS: Ask any coroner.  Ask any embalmer.  Ask any funeral home director.  ‘Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, he departs.  He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand.’  (Eccl. 5:15) 

IT’S NOT YOU.  Who you are has nothing to do with the clothes you wear or the car you drive.  Jesus said, ‘Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.’  (Lk. 12:15)

Are you a prisoner in this prison?  No?  That’s good, if that’s what you think.  But let me pose to you the two questions that will really put a clear vision in your mind, ones that Max posed in his book: “What is the one thing separating you from joy?  How do you fill in this blank: ‘I will be happy when ______________’?

Now, with your answer firmly in mind, answer this: if your ship never comes in, if your dream never comes true, if the situation never changes, could you be happy?  If not, then you are sleeping in the cold cell of discontent.  You are in prison.  And you need to know what you have in your Shepherd.”

It is interesting that David’s declaration of contentedness is not coupled with verses two or three of Psalm 23, but is the logical extension of the first phrase as if saying: “The Lord is my shepherd, therefore I shall not want.”  David’s lack of wanting had nothing to do with what he possessed, except for the shepherd himself.  If we have God, can anything else compare?

If we think that having something will make us happy, then we have a false god to whom we bow.

PRAYER: We are people of insatiable appetites, Lord.  Teach us to be content with “enough” and please kill our spirits of discontent!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 11/16/11 – If Only

DayBreaks for 11/16/11 – If Only

If only...

No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?” – Romans 9:20

Two of the saddest words that can be put together in the English language are these: “If only…”  You know the drill and how it goes: “If only I had reconciled with my father before it was too late,” “If only I had never tried cocaine,” “If only I hadn’t given up my dream…”  Who among us hasn’t said “If only” at one time or another?  I know I have.

True story: there was a thirty-eight-year-old scrubwoman who would go to the movies and sigh, “If only I had her looks.” If she heard a singer she’d moan, “If only I had her voice.”

One day someone gave her a copy of the book, The Magic of Believing. She stopped comparing herself with actresses and singers. She stopped crying about what she didn’t have and started concentrating on what she did have. She took inventory of herself and her abilities and remembered that in high school she had a reputation for being the funniest girl around. She decided that rather than concentrating on her liabilities, she’d turn them into assets.  When she was at the top of her career Phyllis Diller, the former scrubwoman, made over $1 million a year. She wasn’t good-looking and she had a scratchy voice, but she could make people laugh.

The writer of Romans reminds us that God has a purpose for how He made us, and that we are in no position to bemoan how He formed us.

Maybe you’re a bit frustrated or you’ve been looking around at others with envy, thinking about how gifted and talented they are – and comparing yourself to them and getting down on yourself.  Turn your focus to what God HAS given you…He has given us all abilities, talents and skills, and He wants you to use them for His glory!

PRAYER: Your wisdom is beyond our comprehension.  Forgive us for questioning your wisdom in how you formed and made us.  Give us the ability to rejoice in what you have given and done for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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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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