DayBreaks for 5/21/19 – It’s OK to be Human

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DayBreaks for 5/21/19: It’s OK to be Human

God, have mercy on me, a sinner! – (Lk. 18:13)

The tax collector who offers this simple prayer to Jesus knew who and what he was.  He was a sinner – pure and simple, with no other claim to make.  When you get right down to it, his is perhaps one of the most honest and truthful claims ever made by a human being.  The best part is that he had enough wisdom to turn to the only One who could help him out of his misery.

The book of Job is the story of one human being struggling with the concept of God and His nature.  It is a man trying to make sense out of life and all that has happened to him, to try to understand the answer to the toughest question we humans ask: “Why?”

While there is much we can learn from Job, one of the most valuable lessons we can learn is that it is okay to be human.  God doesn’t berate Job for all the questions.  He doesn’t accuse him for not having enough faith.  God didn’t get angry at the psalmists or prophets for their cries of frustration, doubt and anger, either. That must mean that given God’s mercy, it’s okay to be human.  While He longs for us to recover what we lost through our sinfulness, He understands that we are mere vessels of clay, prone to crack and break.  God didn’t create us all-powerful, He didn’t create us to be capable of perfection by our own strength of effort.  He created us just the way He wanted to create us – and He doesn’t blame us for being human.

Perhaps His most extravagant mercy is to allow us to be human.  It doesn’t present a problem for God.  He can deal with all of our human failings.  And in His great mercy, He does!

Prayer: We take comfort in Your extravagant mercy, Lord!  Thank You for overcoming our human failings through the perfection of Your son, Jesus.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 5/01/19 – Connecting to a Disconnected God

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DayBreaks for 5/01/19: Connecting to a Disconnected God

From the DayBreaks archive: April 2009

In March of this year, Reuters carried a story about a Dutch artist by the name of Johan van der Dong who decided God needed a telephone number and so he got Him one – a cell phone, in fact -to show that God was “available anywhere and anytime.”

“In earlier times you would go to a church to say a prayer,” Dong said in an interview, “and now [this is an] opportunity to just make a phone call and say your prayer in a modern way.”

What was the response?  It seems a lot of people appreciated what van der Dong did for them with the so-called “divine hotline.”  In just one week, over 1,000 people had called the cell number and left God a message.

On one hand, it’s pretty intriguing and exciting to know that over 1,000 people got the number in just one week and wanted to connect to God.  However, I can’t help but wonder how the people felt once they made the “connection.”  You see, when they called the number van der Dong set up for God, this is what they heard on the other side of the line: “This is the voice of God. I am not able to speak to you at the moment, but please leave a message.”  Now, I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t exactly give me a warm and fuzzy concept of a God who is supposed to be “available anywhere and anytime.”  Van der Dong plans on keeping the cell phone number active for only six months.

So, what has van der Dong accomplished?  Not much.  It was mostly a gimmick, perhaps even a mockery.  All he did was connect people to an altogether disconnected God.  He is not connecting people to the real God.  God doesn’t need a phone line (cell or land-line), He doesn’t have an answering machine because He’s too busy managing supernova’s somewhere in deep space, and He is never, ever disconnected from the prayers of His people. 

When you pray, what is your attitude?  Do you really understand the power to whom you are speaking?  Do you comprehend that prayer is not something to be thrown off casually like a flippant, off-hand string of comments and requests, but rather a connection with the only True and Living God?  God is not to be trifled with, but He longs for communication from the heart, and He will never be too busy to put you on hold.

Prayer: What a privilege and blessing it is to be able to talk directly to You, most glorious and exalted God and Father!  May we approach Your throne in humility, but boldly, in confidence that we have Your ear and attention at any time of the day or night for as long as we shall live!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/27/19 – The Great Value of Faith

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DayBreaks for 2/27/19: The Great Value of Faith

From the DayBreaks archive February 2009:

Yes, you know the verse about “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.”  So, faith is non-negotiable, if we are to please God.  But God, why?  Why does faith sometimes have to be so hard? 

In Daniel 10 is one of the most fascinating stories in Scripture.  Daniel was in prayer – and had been for some time – when Daniel becomes perplexed by why his prayer, offered in faith to the Living God, wasn’t answered already.  Since Daniel was a faithful servant of the Most High, the Lord sent an angel to Daniel to grant him a peek behind the curtain of the spiritual world.  For three weeks, in the unseen world that we can only “see” by faith, the angels says he tried to come and deliver the answer to Daniel’s prayer, but he was resisted by the “prince of the Persian kingdom.”  The angel by himself, so it reads, was not able to overcome that resistance, and had to wait for reinforcements from a heavenly power named Michael, the great archangel of God’s army. 

This passage has caused me endless trouble and distress.  Why, for example, did God wait 3 weeks to dispatch Michael to defeat the source of resistance?  Surely, God knew this was going on and would happen.  Why didn’t God just send Michael to start with?  And what does it mean that the first angel couldn’t overcome the resistance by himself?  Could the angel not have asked Got to remove it, or to give him/her the strength to defeat the resistance?  Such questions are not necessarily confidence builders for me.

Elsewhere, the Bible talks about prayer and uses the term “wrestle” to describe that activity.  It brings to mind, of course, the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel.  Perhaps prayer is much more like real, physical wrestling than we’ll ever know.  In our prayers, we are at war with principalities and powers that are in the unseen world.  Wrestling is hard work.  How much wrestling am I doing in my prayer life? 

Another thought: do angels have to learn faith and trust, too?  What was the lesson for the angel in all this, if any?  Is it possible that even angels are on a faith-journey, side by side with us, just unseen?

I don’t know, nor do I have to know.  But as Phillip Yancey put it, “I doubt Daniel ever prayed casually again.”  Nor should we!

Prayer: Father, may we be willing to engage the enemy in prayer, to call down Your power to bring victory, to release oppression and to pour forth holiness on this earth!  Give us the strength to fight for the souls of the lost, knowing that there are unseen enemies waging war with us.  Give us the wisdom to not fight in our own strength, but only in Yours!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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

DayBreaks for 1/08/19 – The Power of a Timid Prayer

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DayBreaks for 01/08/2019: The Power of a Timid Prayer

From the DayBreaks Archive, 01/05/09:

It was 1992 and Derek Redmond, a 26-year old Briton, was running in the race he was favored to win in the Barcelona Olympics: the 400 meters.  He’d already passed the early qualifying rounds and was running in the semi-finals.  About half-way through the race, he collapsed onto the track, with agonizing pain in his right leg.  His hamstring was torn – his Olympic dream was gone.

As the medical personnel drew near, he raised himself to his feet, and with agony on his face, began hopping toward the finish line, about 200 meters away.  He later said that it was “animal instinct” that made him do it.  His coaches came running to him, but he pushed them away…and kept hopping in a crazy attempt to cross the finish line. 

By the time he got to the stretch, a large man with a t-shirt that said, “Have you hugged your child today?” and a hat that advised, “Just Do It!” had pushed his way through the crowd and somehow managed to get down onto the track.   It was Jim Redmond, Derek’s dad. 

As the tears of pain and disappointment flowed down Derek’s face, his dad said to him, “You don’t have to do this.” 

“Yes, I do,” Derek responded. 

“Well, then, we’re going to finish this together.”  And so Jim wrapped Derek’s arm around his shoulder and helped him hop and hobble toward the finish line.  By that time, security reached the two, and as Derek buried his face in his dad’s shoulder, they stayed in Derek’s lane all the way across the finish line.  The crowd was on their feet, first cheering, then weeping openly as the father and son finished the race together. 

In analyzing this story, Max Lucado pointed out: “What made the father do it?  What made the father leave the stands to meet his son on the track?  Was it the strength of his child?  No, it was the pain of his child.  His son was hurt and fighting to complete the race.  So the father came to help him finish.

“God does the same.  Our prayers may be awkward.  Our attempts may be feeble.  But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.

In the Biblical story, the father who intercedes for his dying son simply says, “I believe.  Help my unbelief.”  In that instance, the disciples had failed to cast out the demons that plagued the son, and the father was now trying Jesus to see if he could help.  “IF you can help…” was even how the father put it.  Jesus diagnosed the situation and said that this kind of demon only comes out through prayer.  Notice: in the entire encounter, the only prayer offered was that of the doubting father: “I believe, help my unbelief.”  Jesus didn’t stop and pray.  Yet the demons left.  It was at best a very timid prayer, but an honest one of agony and desperation. 

Never underestimate the power of your prayers – even when you are uncertain.  The Father responds to the pain of his children!

Prayer:  Jesus, thank you for joining us in the race of our life.  Thank you for hearing even our most doubting and timid prayers.  Thank you, Father, for responding to the pain of your children.  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 10/11/18 – Children, Our Teachers

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DayBreaks for 10/11/18: Children – Our Teachers

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2008:

Do you remember the Ark Linkletter show called, “Kids Say the Darnedest Things”? I guess others now have similar shows, but I’ve not seen them. Kids are amazing, aren’t they? They’ll just come right out and say things that we as adults wouldn’t dream of saying. For example, check out these quotes from letters to pastors:

“Dear Pastor, I know God loves everybody, but He never met my sister. Yours sincerely, Arnold, age 8, Nashville”

POINT: You probably have someone in your life that you just can’t bring yourself to love. You may even think that God couldn’t possibly love them, either. Here’s the catch: God HAS met them and guess what? He does love them. And He wants you to do the same!

“Dear Pastor, I would like to go to heaven someday because I know my brother won’t be there. Stephen, Age 8, Chicago” POINT: Whatever the situation between these two brothers, I know God doesn’t approve of it. He wants us to live together in love and harmony. I’m convinced God’s heart breaks because of our divisions and pettiness. Is there something that keeps you from living in peace with your brother/sister? Do you have a quarrelsome spirit? Get rid of it – and experience His joy in your life as you discover what your brother or sister is really like!

“Dear Pastor, Please pray for all airline pilots. I am flying to California tomorrow. Laurie, age 10, New York City”

POINT: Aren’t we all prone to praying in moments of crisis? We fear death – so we pray like crazy when we consider the possibilities. But God wants us to pray for teachers, students, bosses, employees, leaders, followers – for everyone. Take time today to lift up those who have been special in your life.

“Dear Pastor, Are there any devils on earth? I think there is one in my class. Carla, aged 10, Salina”

POINT: It is easy to see the “devil” in others, but God wants to remind me of my own failings and the fact that even though he can’t have me anymore, the devil is still trying, and sometimes I let him in a crack in the door. When I give in, I have opened the door to Satan and given him a piece of my life here on earth that should be only for God.

“Dear Pastor, I liked your sermon on Sunday. Especially when it was finished. Ralph, age 11, Akron”

POINT: Every one of us needs to learn when to shut up. And with that, I bid you adieu for today! Until tomorrow, I remain, His, and yours, Galen ><}}}”>  

PRAYER: Thank you, Father, for the delight we have in our children. May we bring that delight to your heart, too! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/13/18 – The Perfect Prayer

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DayBreaks for 9/13/18: The Perfect Prayer

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

From Michael Card’s From the Studio, 7/27/08

As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging.  When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening.  They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”  He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Luke 18:35-37

“Years ago I wrote lyrics to a song about the Lord’s Prayer.  The title was “The Perfect Prayer”.  It is perfect simply because Jesus himself spoke it.  But there is at least one other perfect prayer in the Gospels and we find it here.  “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 

“We must see this story from a first-century perspective.  Everyone would have believed that the man was blind because he had done something to deserve it.  Obviously he had sinned, and sinners do not deserve anything.  When we understand this, we begin to see that the disciples in the front of the crowd were perfectly justified in trying to shut the man up.”

We have all sat in churches and listened to long-winded prayers.  I sometimes believe that people believe they will be heard for their many words.  And there are times when many words may be appropriate and called for.  But I can’t help but wonder sometimes if they are praying from the heart so that God hears, or if they are praying so that others will hear their “skill” at praying and be amazed and think “How righteous So-and-so must be to be able to pray like that!” 

If you’ve ever prayed out loud, you know what the temptation is like to try to impress with the prayer.  Even those who refuse to pray out loud often refuse because they think (or say) that they can’t pray “well enough.”  What does that mean?  They don’t pray well enough for whom? 

Praying well enough was never an issue with Jesus.  Praying was.  It is true, the man was a sinner, and it is true that sinners deserve nothing – at least nothing good.  What we have earned by our sinning is death (Rom. 6:23) and nothing more. 

But the amazing thing about Jesus, about the good-news gospel, is that Jesus hears prayers of desperation from hearts that are genuine.  They don’t have to be fancy, they don’t have to be long.  Whenever we pray, we might be wise to limit our prayer to those seven little words, none longer than 5 letters long: “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

And remember: Jesus seems to delight in lavishing his attention on the undeserving – not those with fancy phrases.

PRAYER: Have mercy on us sinners, Lord Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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