DayBreaks for 03/20/17 – Little Things Add Up

DayBreaks for 3/20/17: Little Things Add Up

NOTE: Galen is traveling this week. This week’s DayBreaks will be from the May 2007 archives.

Long ago in the days of the Roman empire, a general by the name of Quintus Sertorius was in charge of the Roman army in the area around Spain.  It was a vast territory with which he was entrusted.  Being a Roman, he wasn’t acquainted with the term nor experience of defeat.  But general Sertorius had a problem: in spite of a huge area to account for, his army was mostly made up of undisciplined conscripts.  How was he supposed to teach them the discipline necessary to become a strong, forceful army?

He had an idea.  He called for two of his soldiers: one was the most physically dominating warrior in the army – a mountain of a man with skills and strength to match.  The other man was the puniest, weakest of the conscripts.  After the two men came forward, he had two animals brought out.  One was a scrawny, weak looking pony.  The other was a powerful and intimidating war horse. 

Sertorius ordered that the little pony be put in front of the great warrior, and the mighty war horse in front of the weak man.  He then told them that they had the same job to perform: pull out the horse’s tail.  But there was one difference: the mighty warrior was to grasp the horse’s tail and pull it out all at once, while the weak man was to take it one hair at a time and pull out one hair each time until the tail was gone.

You can guess who was successful.  Here’s the point: it takes lots of little things to add up, but it is through the discipline of knowing that small things add up to big achievements and victories that something gets achieved.  Seldom, if ever, are great things accomplished by one person and their giftedness.  At some point their strength either runs out or it is not great enough.  That’s why God gives us the church – a band of brothers and sisters – each uniquely gifted, but whom alone cannot achieve much of anything.  Together, however, it is a different story. 

Think about the apostles.  Individually they weren’t much to brag about – fishermen, tax collectors, with some others thrown in – and none of them were experienced preachers or teachers.  And yet, we’re told that they turned the world upside down.  They didn’t do it alone.  They had the Spirit, but they had their Barnabas’, Silas’, Timothy’s, Luke’s, and literally thousands of unnamed and unknown (to us) people who helped them.  But even then, people were won one at a time.  It started in a town in Palestine, but overwhelmed the world. 

It’s true, of course, with sin, too.  Little things add up.  One lie turns into another and soon an entire life is ruined.  One illicit affair and a lifetime of love and family is destroyed.  One dishonest business deal and a lifetime’s work, or a company, can come crashing down. 

Beware of the small things that seem powerless to harm you or to bring you down.  And honor the small contributions that others, and you, can make for the cause of Christ.  Little things do add up.

Numbers 16:9 – (NLT) Does it seem a small thing to you that the God of Israel has chosen you from among all the people of Israel to be near him as you serve in the LORD’s Tabernacle and to stand before the people to minister to them?

PRAYER: Father, may we be wise enough to know that we are not powerful enough to do great things on our own, for no one can do great things apart from you.  Help us to appreciate the giftedness of others, according to your great pleasure and wisdom.  And keep us from thinking that the little faults in our life don’t add up to great evil.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 8/13/15 – Wonder of Wonders

DayBreaks for 8/13/15: Wonder of Wonders 

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

Having just returned from vacation this past Sunday evening, I’ve been getting back into the “swing” of things.  One thing that I did while on vacation was to try to make it a point to have an on-going, continual chat with God.  No, I don’t mean praying in the traditional sense or formal sense, I mean just plain old talking to Him inside my head.  I’ve got to tell you, it was great.  (Some of you may be thinking, “Okay…Galen has finally lost it and gone off the deep end.”  Let me assure you that I never felt saner in my entire life!)  It was one of the best ongoing experiences of God’s Presence and Indwelling that I’ve had.  (It almost seems heretical to think about the fact that the Spirit really does indwell someone with all my faults, but it’s biblical!)  The responses that I received back from God through my conversations with Him were stunning.  How do I know it was His voice, and not mine that I was listening to?  Well, for one, the responses I heard (in my head – there was no externally audible voice) were in keeping with God’s character as described in the Bible, in agreement with the teaching of the Word, and many of the “answers” He gave me were not even on my radar screen – I’d not even thought about such things, and they often were things I wouldn’t have made up to tell myself in a million-jillion years.  It was a wonderful few days of encountering Him!

But, now I’m back.  Here’s the disappointing thing: life is once again busy with things to be done, people to talk with, classes and sermons to be prepared – and I find my time with Him getting squeezed.  I’m not surprised by it, I just long to have that kind of intimacy with Him back again.  I know also, that it isn’t His fault, but mine.  The good news is that He’s there all the time, and I don’t have to go sit in a quiet little closet to be able to talk with Him about things.  I just have to do it.

One day while we were on vacation, we planned to drive up to the area of Lake Tahoe that is called Emerald Bay and Inspiration Point.  If you’ve seen it, you know why it’s called Inspiration Point.  God was inspired when He made that place.  I knew when I woke up that I’d seem some beautiful scenery that day, thinking about mountains and the sky and the lake (all pretty big things) and so I asked God what He wanted to show me that day, what it was that He wanted me to see.  I was surprised by the answer: “I want you to see Me today in small things.”  Now that would have never occurred to me, and I was stunned.  So, as my wife and I set out to explore, I looked for signs of God in the small things.  Things like baby pine cones nestled in a protective pocket of pine needles on a branch.  Small flowers.  A single grasshopper that was sitting on the ground but who seemed to have no fear of us at all (I couldn’t help but wonder if God was wanting me to see just that one grasshopper that day so He made it sit still!).  At one point, we stopped by a stream to eat lunch and a wild blue jay joined us.  I started wondering about the odds of that particular blue jay being there at that very moment so that we’d see him, and I thought that it was perhaps the work of God again.  And then, contemplating the odds of that bird being at that exact spot at the exact time we were there, I felt overwhelmed by this chance meeting. 

But soon my mind was led to another thought, even more amazing than being there with that particular bird: in all the universe, God brought me to meet His Son in such a way that I could respond to His love and salvation.  The encounter of the Son of God with a mere human in all the vastness of creation is certainly against the odds, but that’s how God chooses to do His work.  He calls us – we can’t find Him without Him leaving us “bread crumb trails” and an invitation.  Whatever the odds, I’m so very thankful for a God who walked one day through the universe and found me – one of the smallest of all things – and decided to make His home with me.  Blessed be His name!

Ps. 39:5 – You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you.  Each man’s life is but a breath.

PRAYER: Thank You for meeting with us in the big and the small, in the ordinary and the extraordinary. Increase our longing for communion with You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 11/18/11 – He Knows When the Piccolo Plays

DayBreaks for 11/18/11 – He Knows When the Piccolo Plays

Little things matter...to the Maestro

It is like a tiny mustard seed that a man planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds make nests in its branches. – Luke 13:19

Sir Michael Costa, the celebrated conductor, was holding a rehearsal. As the mighty chorus rang out, accompanied by scores of instruments, the piccolo (like a pint-sized flute)  player – thinking perhaps that his contribution would not be missed amid so much music, stopped playing. Suddenly, Costa stopped and yelled, “Where is the piccolo?”  The sound of that one small instrument was necessary to the harmony, and the Master Conductor missed it when it dropped out.

The point?  To the Conductor there are no insignificant instruments in an orchestra. Sometimes the smallest and seemingly least important one can make the greatest contribution and even if it doesn’t seem to make that big a difference to the audience at large, THE CONDUCTOR KNOWS IT right away!

In the Church the players and the instruments are diverse—different sizes, different shapes, different notes, different roles to play. But like the piccolo player in Sir Michael’s orchestra, we often in our own judgment decide that our contribution is not significant, couldn’t possibly make a difference and won’t be missed. So we quit “playing.”  We stop doing what we’ve been given to do. We drop out. But the Conductor immediately notices. From our perspective, our contribution may be small, but from His, it is crucial.

Do you think of yourself as a piccolo player?  You may be.  For whatever reason (pain, exhaustion, insecurity, criticism, laziness, misbehavior, etc.), you dropped out and stopped.  You may be convinced that what you have to offer isn’t worth a hill of beans compared to others.  It does matter.  The Master Conductor notices you!

The mustard seed planter was much like the piccolo player – what he had was small, but he used it and it grew into something great and beautiful.

PRAYER: May our lives make beautiful music for You, Lord Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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