DayBreaks for 3/20/19 – Listen Slowly

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DayBreaks for 3/20/19: Listen Slowly

Matthew 17:5 (CSBBible) – While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased. Listen to him!”

Writer Charles Swindoll once found himself with too many commitments in too few days. He got nervous and tense about it. He was snapping at his wife and children, choking down his food at mealtimes, and feeling irritated every time there was an unexpected interruption in his day. He recalls in his book, Stress Fractures, that before long, things around their home started reflecting the pattern of his hurry-up life style. He said the situation was becoming unbearable. Then it happened.

After supper one evening his younger daughter, Colleen wanted to tell him something important that had happened to her at school that day. She began hurriedly, “Daddy, I wanna tell you somethin’ and I’ll tell you really fast.”

Suddenly realizing her frustration, Swindoll answered, “Honey, you can tell me — and you don’t have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly.” He has never forgotten her answer: “Then listen slowly.”

Can’t you hear God’s voice in a new light, saying to Peter, James, and John: “This is my Son, listen to him! Slow down. Don’t be so quick to move things your way, to shape the world as you see it Peter. Don’t be so quick to climb the corporate ladder, to join the rat pack and be number one John. Don’t try to beat your colleagues to the first position James. Slow down. My Son is trying to show you another way, another world, another kingdom. If you will listen slowly.”

Let’s resolve speak less quickly and be slower listeners to Jesus!

PRAYER: Jesus, help us to talk less and listen to you more slowly!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 3/13/19 – It’s the Truth

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DayBreaks for 3/13/19: It’s the Truth

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2009:

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”  – Matthew 9:9-13 (NIV)

I recently received an email from a believer in which this person was a bit despairing about their Christ-walk.  On the one hand, I find that encouraging.  It says that the Spirit is still speaking to them – and that they are listening.  It is important that we listen to the Spirit and His take on our walk.  But, I have found in my own experience that the enemy can also attempt to convince me that because I’m not walking as close to Christ as I should and because that’s been true of nearly all my life, that I should just give up now and stop trying.  After all, if I stop trying, I’ll stop feeling guilty, right?  I’ll lose my shame, right?  No…those things are emotions that are planted deep within us.  We would just be in denial.

Then, I was thinking about this passage in Matthew.  I love what Jesus says, For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.  Who, after all, would there have been for Jesus to call if he’d come to call the righteous?  No one!  His expectation for is that this: we are sinners.  We will be sinners until the day we die.  We will always be sinners as long as we breathe the atmosphere of this world.  He knows it, he expects it and isn’t shocked by it.  If you are a sinner, Jesus came to call you…and He calls you still, day in and day out through the loving voice of the Spirit.  The Spirit will never encourage you to give up your faith walk.  Only the enemy will do that.  The Spirit will point out to you and to me our need for greater righteousness, but He is a comforter, a friend, who encourages us to walk forward into greater holiness and obedience. 

So, if you’re feeling down about your sinfulness and poor Christian walk, determine if you’re hearing from the enemy who wants to defeat you in your walk with Christ because you are a sinner, or the Spirit who wants to encourage you in your walk with Christ even though you are a sinner.  There’s a world of difference…and that’s the truth.

Prayer:  What a comfort it is to know, Lord, that you know we’re sinners and you came for us and you come to us over and over through your Spirit to encourage us and lead us into greater obedience, love and holiness.  Give us the wisdom to discern the voice of the Spirit and to distinguish it from the voice of Satan!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 12/31/18 – How Closely He Listens

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DayBreaks for 12/31/18: How Closely He Listens

The brick wall. The deafening silence. The times when it seems our prayers ascend to nothingness and no one. We’ve all felt it. It isn’t a comfortable feeling for those who are believers, who proclaim that there is a God in heaven who is good and caring and notices us.

David marveled that the One who created the vast heavens (and David had no idea how vast they are – and to this day no one really knows for sure) was mindful of him. It is a bit difficult to believe when staring up into space while laying out under a canopy of stars on a dark night. How could He possibly even know I’m here, let alone care for me and know my every word before it’s spoken, my very thoughts before I think them?  And not just me – but everyone!?!?!?!?  Can God really be listening to me, hearing me when I mutter my hopes, dreams, pain and requests skyward?

Psalm 6:8 gives us the assurance we need, but we have to pay close attention. Here’s what David said: Psalm 6:6-8 (ESV) – I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes. Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping.

What is it that God hears? The sound of weeping. Not of shrieking, wailing. When David just said he drenches his couch with his weeping he is using “weeping” in the sense of tears, not loud wailing. So David is saying that God is hearing the sound of his tears.

What sound does a falling tear make when it escapes the eye and moves down the face? It’s inaudible – but David says that God hears it. He is listening so closely to us that he can hear the sound of a tear escaping our eye. If we have ever doubted that God is a God of compassion, we need never question that fact.
If he hears your tears, he also knows your heartache. And as David concludes Psalm 6, he tells those who oppress him that they should start running now because God has heard his pleas and accepted his prayer – in short, God is moved to action on behalf of the one whose tears fall silently. He hears you.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for not just noticing us, but for listening so closely you can hear the silent tears that escape from the eyes of your children. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/13/18 – The Diagnosis

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DayBreaks for 3/13/18: The Diagnosis

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

HAVERFORDWEST, England – A boy from Haverfordwest, England, can hear on one side for the first time in nine years after a cotton wool bud suddenly popped out of his ear. Jerome Bartens, 11, was diagnosed deaf in his right ear when he was two, causing him to struggle in school and strain to hear the TV and friends, Britain’s Daily Mail reported.  But when playing pool with his friends in a church hall Jerome felt a sudden pop. And out of his right ear came the tip of a cotton wool bud that had been wedged in for almost 10 years. “It was just incredible — his hearing returned to normal in an instant. He was cured as suddenly as he became deaf. I had always suspected Jerome had stuck something in his ear when he was little and that was causing the problem. But the doctors and hearing specialists said it was wax and he would probably grow out of it,” said Jerome’s father, Carsten Bartens. “I am amazed they didn’t spot something as obvious as a cotton wool bud.”  

Every now and then a story like this comes along and we are both fascinated and puzzled at the same time.  I’m very happy for this young boy!  It is one of those “feel good” stories that you hear about.  But I’m also puzzled that the boy could have had this problem for so long and all the specialists and doctors he’d been to had never discovered the problem. 

There are, as usual, lessons to be learned:

FIRST: don’t put your trust too much in the “learned and wise” in this world.  They are still just humans, fallible as can be.  They can be very persuasive, because we give them the benefit of the doubt because of their “knowledge”…and quite frankly, knowledge seems to equate to power in today’s world.  It always has been that way, I guess.  But our knowledge is limited.  We may pretend to know more than we really do so that we have more power, but that’s a dangerous game to play.

SECOND: there are lots of things that can cause deafness – and that’s true spiritually as well.  The Word is replete with comments on how we don’t hear God (usually meaning that we don’t seek to understand what He’s saying and then refusing to obey it if we do).  Biblically, hearing usually implies action as well.  A loud noise, a Q-tip, ear wax, various diseases – all can cause physical deafness.  There are many causes of spiritual deafness, too: pride, willful rebellion, illicit pleasures and passions that we don’t want to have to give up, anger, lack of a forgiving spirit – the list is almost as long as Psalm 119! 

Having the right diagnosis is important.  When it comes to your life and how you should live it, whose diagnosis are you putting your faith in?  A self-help book (even one bought at a Christian bookstore?)  The words of a friend?  The words of a pastor/minister/priest?  If you do, let me suggest you’re putting your diagnosis and treatment plan in the wrong place.  Put it in the revealed Word of God and His Spirit.  If the diagnosis anyone else gives you doesn’t match with those two things – reject it and keep seeking! 

Jesus stands at the door and knocks.  We won’t open if we can’t hear him. 

PRAYER: Our eyes and ears deceive us, Lord!  We want easy answers and seek diagnosis of our lives and condition in all the wrong places, putting trust in those who don’t deserve our trust.  Heal us, O Lord!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 2/14/18 – Mosquitoes and Spiritual Sensitivity

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DayBreaks for 2/14/18: Mosquitos and Spiritual Sensitivity

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

Mark 4:9 (KJV) – And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

A man by the name of Doug Newton shared this which I picked up from Preaching Today.  I thought it made an excellent illustration of the problem we sometimes have in hearing God:

Have you heard about the cell phone ringtone that junior high and high school kids are using to keep teachers from discovering that they are using their cell phones in school?  The pitch of this ringtone, called the “mosquito tone,” is too high for people over 25 to hear.  So the kids can still send and receive text messages during class without the teacher knowing, unless their teacher is younger than 25!

The mosquito tone was first developed in Great Britain to irritate teenagers who were loitering around convenience stores and keeping customers away by their loud and obnoxious behavior.  Some kid simply figured out how to use that sound as his cell phone’s ringtone and—voilà—kids are downloading it by the millions.

How does the mosquito tone go undetected by adults older than 25?  Inside our ears we have tiny microscopic hairs that move with the impulses of incoming sound waves, and those hair movements send electrical signals to our brain.  As we age, those hairs get worn down, actually damaged, so our hearing becomes less sensitive.  We first lose the ability to detect the sounds of high frequencies.  People over 25 can’t hear sounds above 16 kilohertz. (The highest note on a piano is 4 Khz; the mosquito tone is 17 Khz.)

Here’s the point: This situation serves as an analogy to help us understand the common difficulty of detecting communication from God.  According to Scripture, the reality of God can be perceived in the wonders of creation, and all people—including nonbelievers—can detect this information.  But if they fail to respond, they gradually lose the ability to sense God altogether…they lose “spiritual ear hair” so to speak.

The same principle holds true even for Christians.  Just as unbelievers can lose their ability to perceive God in the macro-messages of nature if they don’t respond appropriately to what they detect, believers can lose their sensitivity to God if we don’t respond appropriately to his specific promptings.

John 8:43 (NIV) – Why is my language not clear to you?  Because you are unable to hear what I say.

PRAYER: Almighty God, open our ears to hear, our eyes to see, and our hearts to obey!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 2/08/18 – Trying to Get Our Attention

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DayBreaks for 2/08/18: Trying to Get Our Attention

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

Have you ever known someone (maybe it was you!) that felt that God was trying to whisper something to you in order to get your attention?  I’ve met quite a few people who have had that experience, and I’ve had it myself.  I’ve felt that God was trying to get my attention so he could tell me what it was that he wanted me to do.  And that’s not bad – we should have “ears to hear” and be sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit so we can discern when God is speaking to us and what it is that he wants us to do.

But perhaps we’re making too many assumptions when we say, “I think God is trying to tell me something – I believe there’s something He wants me to do.”  It is important that we consider another possibility: perhaps God is just trying to get our attention, period.  He may not have something that he wants us to do.  It may be that its been so long since we just sat quietly at his feet and reflected on Who and What He Is.  Certainly, if God wants something done, He can get it done – with or without our cooperation. 

I know that when my kids come home for a visit that I’m not interested in all the things that they can do for me while they’re here.  I don’t have a list of projects stuck on the refrigerator for each of them.  What I want when they come home is to be able to spend time with them, to share moments in time that will never come again, to reconnect and re-affirm.  I think more often than not, when we feel God is trying to get our attention, it’s not because He has something for us to do – it’s because he wants that connection with us, that closeness that is not there when we’re “gone”. 

Give him your attention today – and every day.  Even if it’s just for a few minutes.  It’ll change your entire day!

PRAYER: Mighty God, thank you that you so desperately desire our attention.  Help us to welcome yours!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 10/18/17 – Do You REALLY Want to Hear?

DayBreaks for 10/18/17: Do You REALLY Want to Hear?

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2007:

It was a burning question when I was in my teens and early twenties.  It is a burning question today.  It seems that Christians, rightly so, are interesting in understanding how to know God’s will and to hear His voice giving direction.  I imagine that it has been a question that has been asked by God’s people from immediately after the Garden of Eden onward, and it will continue to be asked until we literally hear His voice at the end of time.

It’s a question that gets asked in a lot of different ways: “How do I know what God wants me to do?”  “Why doesn’t God seem to speak to me?”  “Why hasn’t God given me any direction about this matter?”  Sometimes it comes more from Christians as a request to me (as a pastor) to tell someone what they should do!

I must admit that I don’t always know what to say.  I know God is more than capable of giving direction – and I believe He does it all the time.  I think the problem lies not with Him and His ability to communicate, but in our ability and willingness to hear.

If you’re trying to discern God’s will about something in particular right now, I’m going to venture out into a generality here that may or may not apply to your situation.  But I think that there is truth in what I’m going to say.

But, before I say it, let me make an observation.  Many times when I have people come to me asking for advice about what to do, I try my best to help them.  But here’s something that I’ve noticed many times: these people are often involved in some kind of questionable, or even sinful, activity – yet they are seeking the blessing of God’s guidance.  I try to share something from Scripture with them about what they may be doing.  More often than not, they don’t want to hear that, they just want an answer for what to do with the dilemma they are facing or the guilt they are feeling.

In Hearing God, Dallas Willard wrote: “Anyone who rejects the general counsels of Scripture is in fact planning not to be guided by God and cannot then rely on being able to be delivered from their difficulties by obtaining God’s input on particular occasions.”

Are you struggling to find God’s guidance?  Perhaps it is because you are rejecting the general counsel of Scripture.  I think Willard is right: when we reject Scripture, we’ve already declared our intention to God to not follow His guidance.  And that’s a very dangerous ground to walk on!

PRAYER:  Incline our hearts and ears to hear and obey Your word, Lord, even when it carries a message that we’d rather not hear!  Help us resolve to be open to Your guidance and correction so that we can hear Your voice in all things.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.