DayBreaks for 1/13/16 – The Implications of “Seek First”

DayBreaks for 1/13/16: The Implications of “Seek First”

Galen is back but recovering from jet lag! New DayBreaks to resume shortly!

Matt 6:33 (NIV) – But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Is your life just filled with all kinds of distractions?  I try hard to not have my life be that way, but I’m not sure I’m very successful at keeping my life simple.  Some things are certainly more important than others.  What do you think is the most important thing in your life?  If you’re a husband, you may think that it is providing for your family.  That’s a God-given responsibility, so it is important.  If you’re a wife, you may think it is loving and caring for your family – another important, God-given duty.  If your mind happens to be thinking about business when you are reading this – it might be how to save your struggling company, or how to make wise business decisions so you can grow the business.  If you’re a student, it might be passing the next chemistry exam, graduating from high school or college.  There are plenty of things to distract us.

No one less than Jesus tells us what our first priority should be: seeking first God’s kingdom and righteousness.  That’s it.  That’s #1 – and it’s not even a close competition.  There isn’t anything else that we need or ought to pursue.  Why?  Because there’s nothing else that’s anywhere nearly as important, nor is there anything we will lack if we DO pursue His kingdom first and only in our hearts. 

So, what does it really look like, this business of seeking first HIS kingdom and righteousness?  Soren Kierkegaard mused on that topic and came up with this really profound way of looking at it.  He said, should a person get a suitable job in order to exert a virtuous influence?  His answer: no, we must seek first God’s kingdom.  Then, he asked, should we give away all our money to feed the poor?  Again comes the answer: no, we must first seek God’s kingdom.  So, should we go out and preach this truth to the world that people are to seek first God’s kingdom?  No, we are first to seek the kingdom of God.  Kierkegaard concluded: “Then in a certain sense it is nothing I shall do.  Yes, certainly, in a certain sense it is nothing, become nothing before God, learn to keep silent; in this silence is the beginning, which is, first to seek God’s Kingdom.”

Here’s the key: focusing on the kingdom of God will produce an inner reality as His kingdom is formed within our hearts and souls.  Nothing else can be first and foremost.  It can’t even be the desire to get out of the rat race so we can go pursue the kingdom – it must be the kingdom itself. 

Want to simplify your life?  Focus on one thing: the kingdom of God!

TODAY’S PRAYER: Father, our lives are so fractured and divided – and so are our loyalties.  We are so busy that we barely think of Your kingdom, let alone take time to seek it or find it!  Please teach us how to simplify.  Teach us how to trust in You to “add” all those other things to us that we need after we seek You first.  But Lord, please don’t add those things to us first – only add them once we’ve truly given Your kingdom first place.  Help us to each as individuals understand that that means specifically for ME today.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

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DayBreaks for 10/30/15 – Be Careful What You Wish For

DayBreaks for 10/30/15: Be Careful What You Wish For

Wednesday night at choir practice, one of the sopranos shared a story of good fortune. Just that day her mother-in-law won $1,000,000 playing the lottery! What made it all the more touching is that the woman who won the lottery had raised four or five boys by herself after she was left alone. She struggled and scraped her entire life to raise and provide for her children. Isn’t God good?

Such things have probably prompted us all to thing: “Wouldn’t it be great if I won a million dollars?!” I was at one time both happy to hear of this woman’s good fortune, but at the same time was thinking, “Why couldn’t it have been me” (aside from the small detail that I don’t play the lottery)?  I also found myself being envious of the lady who shared the story: she and her husband have the potential of a nice inheritance some day. Envy is easy to come by – if we are envying people for the wrong things.

Well, maybe it wouldn’t be so great. Not everyone has the same idea of a great time. One person’s wish may be another’s nightmare. Take, for example, the story of three men who were sailing together in the Pacific Ocean. Their vessel was wrecked and they found themselves on an island. They had plenty of food, but their existence was in every way different from what their lives had been in the past. The men were walking by the seashore one day after they had been there for some months and found an ancient lantern. One man picked it up. As he began to rub it and clean it, a genie popped out and said, “Well, since you have been good enough to release me, I will give each of you one wish.”

The first man said, “Oh, that’s perfectly marvelous. I’m a cattleman from Wyoming and I wish I were back on my ranch.” Poof! He was back on his ranch.

The second man said, “Well, I’m a stockbroker from New York, and I wish that I were back in Manhattan.” Poof! He was back in Manhattan with his papers, his telephones, his clients and his computers.

The third fellow was somewhat more relaxed about life and actually had rather enjoyed life there on the island. He said, “Well, I am quite happy here. I just wish my two friends were back.” Poof! Poof! Everybody’s idea of a “great time” isn’t the same!

So is it true? How many Americans (perhaps you are among them) sitting around wishing, “Now wouldn’t it be great …if I won the lottery…if I had my dream house…if I was famous….”

As Christians…as the people of God…what if instead of wishing for money or fame or success or more “things,” we could just as earnestly wish with all our hearts and souls and minds and strength that we could love the Lord our God and love our neighbor as ourselves? There is no greater treasure than to know Him, yet we act as if everything else is of greater value because we spend so much time pursuing those other things and so little time getting to know Him!

Genesis 15:1 (KJV) – After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.

TODAY’S PRAYER: You are the treasure we should seek, Lord. Help us to not seek after worldly joy, but after that which will delight us for all eternity! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 07/12/11 – Like the Leaves of Autumn

DayBreaks for 07/12/12 – Like the Leaves of Autumn

Every year since 2004 Time magazine has each year recognized 100 people as the most influential in the world. As heady a thing as it would be to find your name on such a list, the recognition also highlights the fragility of life and power in this world.

In May 2008 Time recognized journalist Tim Russert as one of the 100 most influential people for the power he wielded over politics on the program Meet the Press. In June of 2008 the respected and beloved Russert suffered a heart attack at age 58 and died.  How long has it been now since you’re heard about him?  Can you even remember?

Also named among the most powerful in the world were the three candidates still in the race for president: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain. One month later, Hillary Clinton ended her campaign, and before the year was out McCain lost in the national election.  You sure don’t hear as much about him anymore, do you?

Follow the others on the top 100 list and you can depend on it: their influence will pass, some in fading glory like the leaves of autumn, others overnight like a towering tree felled by a lumberjack.

Even for the most tenacious, life and power are brief.  As we sang in worship this past Sunday, “Who are we compared to you?”  The answer was well documented by the Psalmist long ago: Psalm 39:4-5 (NLT) – “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is. 5 You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.”

Our time is limited, my friends.  We will soon vanish.  Will they way you have spent your time here truly reflect what you say you believe to be important?  Will it resonate with the deepest longing of your heart and soul?  If you think the answer may be “No”, even in just some areas of your life, now is the time to make adjustments.

PRAYER: Lord, we invite you to search our hearts, to show us where we need to change our lives to live in harmony with what you tell us is important and not to waste away our years chasing fleeting shadow figures that would cause us to pursue frivolous diversions!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 09/20/11 – What Mattered

DayBreaks for 09/20/11 – What Mattered

It's what matters...

Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age. – Matthew 28:20

Skye Jethani relates a story about a series of meetings he held for college-aged students. The range of topics was wide: doctrine, hell, dating—but each conversation had the same three rules: be honest, be gracious, and be present. On one night the students wanted to discuss habitual sins. Although they struggled with a variety of sinful behaviors, they all agreed on one thing: God was extremely disappointed with them. One student said, “My parents were students at a Christian college in the early ’90s when a revival broke out …. They were on fire for God. And here I am consumed by sin day after day.” Often through tears, many other students shared similar stories about how they believed God must be disappointed with them.

After listening to their stories, Jethani asked, “How many of you were raised in a Christian home?” They all raised their hands. “How many of you grew up in a Bible-centered church?” All hands stayed up. Shaking his head in disbelief, Jethani said, “You’ve all spent eighteen or twenty years in the church. You’ve been taught the Bible from the time you could crawl, and you attend Christian colleges, but not one of you gave the right answer. Not one of you said that in the midst of your sin God still loves you.”

Jethani concluded: “I did not blame the students for their failure. Somewhere in their spiritual formation they were taught, either explicitly or implicitly, that what mattered was not God’s love for them, but how much they could accomplish for him.”  –  Skye Jethani, With (Thomas H. Nelson, 2011), pp. 80-82

Jesus’ promise in Matthew 28 was not made to perfect people – far from it.  There would be many failures in the coming years for those who watched him ascend into heaven.  We essentially have the same promise: I will never leave you or forsake you.  We seem to forget that God is WITH us.  That is the very meaning of the Incarnation, is it not?  But just knowing God is WITH us is not necessarily comforting (witness how people reacted when in God’s presence, and what if He were with us but was AGAINST us in His presence?)  But the good news is this: God is with us, but He is also FOR us (Rom. 8:31), and that makes the world of difference!

If we can only get our hearts and minds around those two amazing statements, “God is WITH us” and “God is FOR us”, what else do we need to know?

PRAYER: Glory to you, Lord, for these two great promises and statements that buoy our faith and give us certain hope!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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