DayBreaks for 6/25/19 – What He Doesn’t Require

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DayBreaks for 06/25/09: What He Doesn’t Require

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2009:

A friend of mine was teaching a class on John the Baptist. He had some good thoughts that can related to our everyday life and ministries…and by the way, you DO have an everyday ministry whether you are on full-time church staff or not, so don’t think that this doesn’t apply to you!

John the Baptist was an interesting character…living in the wilderness, eating locusts and honey, dressed in what today wouldn’t pass for clothes for a homeless person. He probably didn’t smell too good and probably looked like a wild man – I picture him as being wild looking with crazy hair and beard (I could be wrong!) I picture him yelling out his message in order to prepare hearts for the coming of the Promised One – no subtle gospel messages from John’s lips!

So what are the points? Well, Jesus said that no man born of woman was greater than John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11). But let’s stop and think about John for a moment. What did he do? He went about the business of being what God called him to be. The road-maker. The path-preparer. Not once in his entire life did John perform a miracle!

What is it that makes for greatness? It isn’t miracles. Miracles are not the measure of greatness, nor is the number of miracles or magnitude of miracles a sign of greatness that impresses Jesus. What impresses God is a life that is lived in accordance with its purpose – like John’s. That is fulfilling the command to be a living sacrifice.

Sometimes in your ministry (whether it is full-time church work or a ministry in the secular world), you can feel like a failure because you couldn’t pull off that “miracle” and reach that lost person for Christ, or keep that couple from divorcing, or turn that teen from self-destruction. You are not a failure because you couldn’t do a miracle. Miracles are God’s business…not yours or mine. And don’t let anyone put pressure on you to be a “miracle worker”. Sometimes we expect our church leaders to do heroic and seemingly miraculous things with their own families, with the local body and in the community. They should reach everyone for Christ, visit all the sick, and live perfect lives as role models. But that isn’t fair…and it isn’t God’s demand for anyone.

Don’t get discouraged in your work for God. God doesn’t require you to do miracles. He just asks for your faithfulness. Are you giving it to Him?

Prayer: May our hope and trust lie in You and not in anything we can do.  Help us to be faithful as our reasonable sacrifice to You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

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DayBreaks for 10/30/18 – On Account of Me

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DayBreaks for 10/30/18: On Account of Me

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2008:

Yesterday, I shared from Matthew 11:4-6 where Matthew recorded the story of John the Baptist’s moments of doubt.  He’d dispatched followers to find out if Jesus was the one that they had been expecting, or if they should be on the lookout for someone else.  Jesus invited them to stay long enough to see and hear for themselves the great things that Jesus was doing – evidence of a Divine power that no human alone could exercise.

But at the end of the time the followers were with Jesus, he commissioned them to return to John with this kind of report from Mt. 11:4-6: Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.  Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.

Did you get that last little bit?  “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”  What did Jesus mean?  Why would anyone fall away after witnessing the great miracles Jesus was doing – giving sight, making legs strong, fixing eardrums, curing diseases and even raising the dead?  It would seem that those things would have exactly the opposite effect: they would keep one from falling away. 

Not so, apparently.  Remember the context: John’s in prison, awaiting his beheading for antagonizing King Herod by telling him he was an adulterer.  John had done great things for Jesus, publicly proclaiming at the Jordan: Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!  He had prepared the way for Jesus excellently.  Jesus had said no man ever born of woman was greater than John.  That’s very high praise.  But here’s John, stinking up the dungeon, and after all that John had done for Jesus, would it be too much to think that when Jesus got word of John’s plight, that he’d come to see John at the very least, or perhaps even to get him out of prison?  And so John had waited.  Jesus didn’t show up.  He didn’t write to John.  He didn’t send messages to him via his own disciples to encourage John to stay strong.  No, none of that.  Jesus was off preaching far away from the dungeon in which John found himself.  And it makes John wonder: “Was I wrong about this guy?  Why is he out there doing great things for others but not for me?  I’m his cousin, for Pete’s sake, and I spent my life preparing Israel for Jesus’ ministry!

Could Jesus have been saying: “Blessed are you, John, if you don’t fall away for what you perceive I have failed to do for you.”  Did John want a deliverance?  I think so – he was human.  But he didn’t get it, not even in what appears to be his hour of greatest need.  And Jesus simply says, “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” 

Perhaps you are in a dungeon of your own, or someone else’s making right now, and your doubts have surfaced and bit into your faith a bit.  You wonder why Jesus hasn’t come to help you, or that person you love that you’ve been praying for.  And you wonder, “Is this Christianity real or not?”  Take courage from the words of Jesus that preceded this difficult statement: look at what Jesus has done, and is doing.  Can anyone other than the Son of God do those things?  No.  God’s favor rested on Jesus.  Like John, we at times must be reminded of the great things Jesus does, but also remember that we are blessed if we don’t fall away on account of Jesus – and what he has not done for us in this world. 

John didn’t get his miracle of deliverance.  But he got his answer, and it was enough to see him through faithfully into eternity.  You may not get your miracle of deliverance from disease, divorce, economic ruin, a job loss or anything else.  But you don’t need it: “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”

PRAYER: I fear, sometimes Lord, that we believe we should have special treatment in this world and that we shouldn’t be subject to the same kinds of disasters that strike others.  At times of our struggle, help us to remember that those who never saw you or touched you after your resurrection and still believe are even more blessed than those who did touch you and see you with their own eyes.  Help us to never fall away on account of something You do, or don’t do, for us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/29/18 – He’s the One

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DayBreaks for 10/29/18: He’s the One

It’s dark.  The air stings the lungs and is filled with the smells of unwashed bodies, human waste, wet straw.  The scrabbling sounds of rats in the darkness interrupts one’s ability to sleep.  There is little water and what food there is is not even fit for the rats.  The chains chafe on the wrists and ankles, digging into the flesh, creating bloody wounds that draw even more rats.  And John sits there, in the dungeon of King Herod, after a remarkable career serving the Messiah.  But John is alone now, the Messiah is no where to be seen.  John hears that the Lord is in Galilee (the backwater part of Israel), preaching to the rabble there.

The hours wear slowly and seem more like days than mere hours.  For how long John sat there, we don’t know…but we do know this: at some point, the soaring courage and fearlessness in this man began to flag, and so he commissioned some of his followers to go to Jesus with a simple question: “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” 

John’s followers go and find Jesus.  We don’t know how long they stayed, but they apparently stayed a while, based on Jesus’ response to their question from Mt. 11:4-6: Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.  Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.

The disciples of John had apparently stayed long enough not just to hear Jesus’ answer, but to hear and see for themselves then to go back to John with their report.  “John, you should have been there!  We saw blind people see for the first time in their lives!  We saw cripples dance and leap!  Leprosy went away and skin was made pink and whole by just a word from Jesus!  The deaf hear the sound of their children’s voices!  But John, there was a little dead girl – and Jesus just told her to ‘Get up, little one!’, and she did, John, she did!  We wouldn’t have believed it if we’d not seen it with our own eyes, John.  And you should have seen her parents – their joy was so incredible – they were speechless and could only fall and hold Jesus’ feet and weep tears of joy and say, ‘Thank you, Jesus!  Thank you, Lord!’ over and over and over again!  And the words, John…you’re a great preacher, but no one ever spoke like Jesus does!”

John had his answer.  Jesus is the One.  He still is today.

PRAYER: Jesus, we believe that You are the Holy One, the One and only sent from the Father above.  In the times of our doubting, remind us of this eternal truth!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/8/16 – Taking the Joy Out of Christmas?

DayBreaks for 12/08/16: Taking the Joy Out of Christmas?

John the Baptist was born just shortly before Jesus, so I’m sure that he never preached a Christmas sermon in his life. But he did do a lot of preaching. His preaching wasn’t the warm, fuzzy, feel-good gospel. In fact, John couldn’t have had a very good grasp on the gospel itself until Jesus began to proclaim it – no one could have. Glimmers at best, flashes of what was coming, I’m sure, but not really any fine detail. And John’s message was one of repenting. His role was to prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah, much like preachers try to do at Christmas time nowadays.

If John felt that the best way to prepare people for the arrival of the Messiah was to talk about repentance, perhaps we should learn that we, too, should prepare for Christmas by repenting. Repenting in the Biblical sense is more than having a change of heart or a feeling of regret. It is more than a New Year’s Eve resolution. Repentance is a turning away and a turning back. A turning away from sin and a turning back to God.

Not quite a year ago, I stood in Bethlehem shortly after Christams and we saw what is known as Shepherd’s Field. Some time ago, bishop Joe Pennel of the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church, attended a Christmas worship service at Shepherd’s Field. As he heard the songs of the season, he thought to himself and later wrote: I did not look to God and say: See how virtuous I am. I did not utter: God, pat me on the back for all of the good things I have done. I did not pretend by saying: God, look at all of my accomplishments, aren’t you proud of me? Indeed, I found myself asking God to forgive me of my sins. That is how it works. The more we turn away from Christ the more enslaved we become to the power of sin. The more we turn to Christ, the more free we become from the bondage of sin. Turning toward Christ enables us to repent.

Someone once said half jokingly: If we are not careful, John the Baptist can take all of the fun out of Christmas. On the contrary, I think that it is John’s message that puts the joy into Christmas. For it is his message that calls us not to the way that Christmas is, but that the way Christmas ought to be. Christmas ought to be free from guilt and self-absorption. For that to occur there must be repentance. And then we are open to the good news that follows!

PRAYER: Jesus, as we draw near to the celebration of your birth, may we repent so that we are prepared to receive the joyous, good news that You bring to earth! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple.  All rights reserved.