DayBreaks for 2/26/16 – A Not-so-Stupid Question

DayBreaks for 2/26/16: A Not-so-Stupid Question

Mark 10.46-52 captures the story of the healing of the blind man, Bartimaeus.  Bartimaeus, as I’ll call him, (not to be confused with Bartimaeus Simpson!!!) cried out for Jesus to have pity on him.  Notice what happened when he and Jesus wound up face to face:  Jesus asked him a seemingly stupid question, “What do you want me to do for you?”

An outsider would say, “Well, Jesus, isn’t it obvious?   I mean, here’s a blind man, he can’t see!  What do you think he wants you to do for him, give him a new pair of shoes?!?!”  Ahhh – but there was more behind Jesus’ question than the obvious, I think. 

By asking the question, Jesus made Bartimaeus stop and think.  What did he really want from this “Son of David”?  He could have asked him for anything: a home, a chariot, to win the Jericho lottery that week, for a beautiful wife or loving children.  But he didn’t.  He wanted to see!  But Jesus question is still important for another reason: Bartimaeus needed to consider the implications of having sight.  It’s like Jesus was asking, “Are you really ready for the responsibilities of being able to see?  Have you thought it through?”  All of his life, Bartimaeus had been a beggar.  He’d never had to work, and while the wages of begging probably weren’t all that great, now he’d have to learn a skill, a trade.  He couldn’t beg anymore.  Being able to see is a wonderful gift, but it also carries with it the responsibility of seeing reality and reacting to it appropriately.

Several points:

  1. Jesus wants us to ask him for what we really want – and he wants us to carefully consider what we ask for and the price of getting what we want;
  2. Jesus, by coming into the world, has cleared up our vision, and because we have “seen” Him, we have seen the Father (John 14.9). Now we have no excuse for our blindness or remaining ignorant of the evils and wrongs done in this world and along with being able to see comes the responsibility to act as those who can see.

Have you cried out to the Lord to ask for something?  Jesus response to you is the same as that to Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?”.  It is a wonderful thing to follow Someone who cares enough to ask that kind of question and powerful enough to give us whatever we ask for.  But he’s not a cosmic vending machine who exists just to grant our requests.  He gives us things to use for His purposes, He has given us sight to see the truth, and He expects us to live changed lives as a result of being able to see the difference between right and wrong, truth and falsehood, light and darkness.

Just as the promise of Isaiah 35.5 came true for Bartimaeus, “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened…”, Jesus won’t refuse you, either.  Carefully consider what you ask for and also ask for the wisdom to use your sightedness correctly.

TODAY’S PRAYER:  Father, open our eyes to see your glory.  May we see your will for us clearly and may we live it faithfully.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

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DayBreaks for 2/01/16 – Praying in Deepest Darkness

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Photo, Galen C. Dalrymple, 2013.

DayBreaks for 2/01/16: Praying in Deepest Darkness

I have always been tormented by the prayers of Jesus in Gethsemane. To think of the very Son of God in such anguish – brought about by things he didn’t deserve – and to know that he did it for me is unfathomable.

In the sermon on Sunday, the preacher was talking about prayer and he made reference to this prayer. Many times in prayer, we are formal and stiff in our language, as if we think that sounding proper and saying all the right things in the most pious and holy language we can must will somehow curry us favor with the Almighty. How foolish we are to think that.

The disciples once asked Jesus to teach them to pray, and he did. It was a prayer that is all of 13 seconds long. Jesus was no a pious windbag. He knew how to pray better than any of us. He didn’t use fancy words, but words that could easily fall from the tongues of a young child. “Our Father…”

And so we find this man of prayer prostrate in the garden, stretched out upon the ground, in the deepest pit of agony that any human has ever experienced. I know that others throughout history have died equally painful deaths on a cross and some perhaps even more painful. But the pain that most ripped Jesus’ that night was, I believe, already starting to settle on him: the pain of separation from God as he took on our sin. The darkness of all of history’s evil was falling on his soul. He was alone, and he was terrified.

So how did Jesus pray at that point? Did he summon up the highest theological language that he could (and he was the foremost theologian of all time – for he knew himself!)?

No, he didn’t even address God as YHWH, or Elohim. He didn’t string together lofty, wonderful adjective-lace terms such as Almighty God, Ancient of Days, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob or God of our fathers. No, this was a child, this was a son, and he called out to not YHWH, but Daddy! In his anguish, this was a child begging, pleading with his daddy, to let this darkness pass, to let it be over, to let the Light once more be Light.

That is a lesson of prayer we need to learn. That is how we are to pray.

Maybe right now you are desperate for relief, for deliverance from some torment. Maybe you are so ashamed you feel you can’t go to God. Maybe you are afraid you will be rejected in your darkness of soul. Let Jesus teach you to pray, “Abba, daddy!! If it be possible, let this cup pass from me!”

TODAY’S PRAYER:  Jesus, when I think of the agony of your soul in the garden I am crushed and so ashamed for my sin that added to your darkness and suffering. In my own darkness and shame, I cry out to you, “Daddy, have mercy on my soul and forgive me!”  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 1/7/16 – You Have Granted His Request

DayBreaks for 1/7/16: You Have Granted His Request

Galen is out of the country. While he is gone, you will be receiving DayBreaks from the DayBreaks archive from January, 2006.

Ps 21:4-7 (NLT) – He asked you to preserve his life, and you have granted his request.  The days of his life stretch on forever.  Your victory brings him great honor, and you have clothed him with splendor and majesty.  You have endowed him with eternal blessings.  You have given him the joy of being in your presence.  For the king trusts in the LORD.  The unfailing love of the Most High will keep him from stumbling.

Christmas is over, the presents (the ones that aren’t broken or eaten already!) have found their place on the shelves or in the closets and toy boxes of the little ones.  Hopefully, if there was something you really wanted, someone was able to give it to you.  If so, did you enjoy it as much as you thought you would?  Is the luster beginning to fade from the gift already? 

In Psalm 21, David is talking to God about how God has dealt with him (the king.)  There are several things that are very noteworthy in this passage:

FIRST: the king asked for God to preserve his life – and he was not given what he requested – but much, much more.  Rather than just preserving his life in the there-and-then, God has caused the days of his life to “stretch on forever.”  While David was probably seeking deliverance from some particular adversary, God gave him a life without end! 

SECOND: David found that the joy in his life came not from the things that God gave to him, but from being in God’s presence.  We so often get confused thinking that gifts, presents, things – if you please, give us joy, but David found that real joy came not from presents but from the Presence.

THIRD: – unfailing love is so important – when all else fails us, if we know we are loved, we can still find peace and rest and we know that ultimately, all is well.  Love is the most important thing, and nothing is better than knowing – even in the middle of all my sin and failures and foolishness – that God’s love us “unfailing” and that it will keep us from the ultimate fall.

We often think we know what we want and what will make us happy.  It would appear from this passage that we don’t ask God for enough, for whatever we can think of to request, He’s anticipated it long in advance and has something far better and greater for us.  We may pray for length of days, but He gives us forever and ever.  We want Joy and God gives us Jesus’ own Presence – and that is far better than any joy we could have anticipated!  And, when all else fails, His love and Presence persist and we can say with great confidence: “It is well with my soul.”

TODAY’S PRAYER: Lord, we pray so foolishly sometimes, praying for things that we want or have tried to convince ourselves that we need, as if we could dictate to You what is best.  Help us to have big faith and to look to You to make those things – and even more – become reality.  Help us to realize that we are like little children who really don’t know what is best for us and that we need to trust in You to actually do what is right for us in Your great wisdom.  All glory to You now and forever!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 12/28/15 – In HIS Name, Not Mine

DayBreaks for 12/28/15: In His Name, Not Mine

“In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

That’s how Christians have ended their prayers for nearly two thousand years now.

Shakespeare once asked the question: “What’s in a name?”

Christmas is over, but my guess is that during Christmas you heard and/or read the name of Jesus many, many times. I think that’s a good thing. The name of Jesus isn’t a magical talisman, but it is important. Why? Because there is power in His name!

Jesus said: You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! John 14:13-14 (NLT)

Let me suggest two illustrations that talk about what it means to as for something in the name of Jesus:

  • A pastor once shared about how he’d had one of those weeks when he lacked spiritual discipline. He’d prayed very little, didn’t read his Bible, didn’t talk to anyone about Jesus. At the end of the week he prayed, “I know I don’t have any right to come before you.” He then was stricken with the powerful sense that God was replying, “Well son, let’ suppose you prayed and read your Bible hours a day, served and led many to me. Would you feel like praying then?” The pastor thought to himself: I sure would! Then God said, “Son, you’re praying in your own name. If you had done all those things and more, you would have no more right to come to me than you do right now. You come in the name of my Son, you don’t come in your own name.”

Do you feel that if this past week you’d been more devout or disciplined, you’d have a “right” to pray, give, serve, etc.? If that’s how you feel, that’s self-righteousness. And, on the other hand, if you haven’t prayed because you’ve not been as devout or disciplined as you wish you had been, that’s self-righteousness, too.  The reason in both cases is you’re depending on your own merit to approach God, rather than the merit of righteousness of Christ.

  • Aaron Shust was recently describing how things work at his concerts. If his children are there, his little son likes to come back stage to see his daddy. He explained it this way: if his son comes with his own name tag on, he will be prohibited from coming back stage. But if he comes with his daddy’s name tag that says “ALL ACCESS” on it, he is let right through. Why? The difference is explained by understanding in whose name he comes.

The same is true with praying in Jesus’ name. We have no right to access the throne room of God if we come in our own righteousness or in our own name, but when we come to the Father with the ALL ACCESS pass that bears Jesus’ name, we are more than welcome!

It bothers me when I hear Christians pray but they never in the entire prayer say that they are coming or asking in Jesus’ name. There is power in a name – just ask Shakespeare.

TODAY’S PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for giving us the access pass to the Father. Guard our hearts against self-righteousness that thinks we can either come on the basis of our own goodness, or that we are too unworthy to come, but think we could have been if we’d been more devoted. Thank you, Lord, In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 12/07/15 – The Weapons of Our Warfare

DayBreaks for 12/07/15: The Weapons of Our Warfare

Throughout the millennia, mankind has tried lots of things in order to try to spread their faith.  Sadly, tragically, even today there are religions that attempt to spread their influence and faith through the sword, the bullet, land mines and IED’s.  The blood runs through the streets of many cities around the world in the name of religious idealism.  As horrible as it seems, there are those who have waged warfare on their fellowman in the name of Christianity, too – witness the crusades and even the struggles between the Protestants and Catholics in Ireland.

We can watch the explosions and hear the stories on our television screens nearly every night.  And when we see such abuses in the name of faith, when we see the power that fear can have on millions of people, we may be tempted to think that there’s nothing we can do to change the world for the better.  In The Undoing of Death, Fleming Rutledge wrote in order to correct that mis-conception: “…it may be that you think there is no role for the small deed, the little contribution, the quiet gesture.  Never, never think that.  The big stuff has already been done by the Lord of heaven and earth.  He has already come with the heavy artillery.  Our part is mostly to be foot soldiers.  Just remember: the heavy artillery is not the weapons of the world.  The weapons of Christ are those of suffering love.

We sometimes forget that love is stronger than bullets, bombs, rhetoric and even fear.  And love is a weapon that we can all wield.

2 Cor. 10:2-5 – We are human, but we don’t wage war with human plans and methods.  We use God’s mighty weapons , not mere worldly weapons , to knock down the Devil’s strongholds.  With these weapons we break down every proud argument that keeps people from knowing God. With these weapons we conquer their rebellious ideas, and we teach them to obey Christ.

Copyright 2015 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

TODAY’S PRAYER: Lord, we are fearful creatures.  We feel intimidated by those who threaten us.  We sometimes feel that there is nothing we can do to change the spirit of hate that we see in the world because we forget that you are on our side, that you are our strength, that your wisdom is so much greater than that of the enemy.  Help us to not only share, but to fully experience the full power of your love.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

DayBreaks for 12/03/15 – Blind Spots

DayBreaks for 12/03/15: Blind Spots

Ps 19:12 (NLT) – How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?  Cleanse me from these hidden faults.

One of the things that truly amazes me is how often I misplace something and can’t find it.  It happens in my office quite a bit (that probably says a lot about my organizational/messiness!)  Just today, I was looking for my Bible.  I often put it in a box with my papers for the coming Sunday (I use electronic versions of the bible when I’m home working on my computer.)  So, I looked in the box and couldn’t find it.  I looked around the room behind me and on the credenza.  No luck.  Then, I looked at my desk, where I’d just been sitting, and it was no more than 10 inches from my right elbow.  These things I often lose – they are easy to miss, but they’re there nearly all the time if I only knew where to look.

Charles Steinmetz was a genius electrical engineer that retired from General Electric.  After he’d been retired for a while, GE had a breakdown in a complex series of machines and their engineers couldn’t figure out what was wrong.  Steinmetz was asked to consult on the problem.  He arrived, walked around the machines for a few minutes, took a piece of chalk out of his pocket and made a cross mark on one particular piece of one particular machine.  When the engineers took the machine apart, they were amazed to find that where Steinmetz had put the mark was the exact location of the breakdown.  Steinmetz sent a bill for $10,000 to General Electric – an unheard of amount of money in that day and age.  They requested that he itemize the expenses, so he did: $1.00 for making one cross mark, $9999 for knowing where to put it. 

When I come to God in prayer, I often think I know what God will say to me – what things He’ll point out when I ask Him to “search my heart and see if there be any evil way in me”.  But then – surprise! – God points out exactly the place that I’d been blind to.  If we try to figure out our own sins, we will put the mark in the wrong place almost always.  Usually, when I’m confessing my sin to Him, I point out specific acts that were wrong.  But what He shows me is not just the act, but much more than that: my heart attitude or motivation that led to the sin in the first place.  And that, as they say, is priceless. 

David got it right when he said we can’t even detect all the sin in our hearts.  There’s too much of it and we’re too fond of it to be honest about it.  Confession must start with putting ourselves under the protection of God and asking him, through His Spirit, to put the cross mark on the right spot(s) in our lives.  Only He knows the truth.

Copyright 2005 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

TODAY’S PRAYER: Lord, we need your help.  Help us by showing us the truth about our hearts, reveal to us our blindness about our own sin and our motives.  We promise to confess the sin to you and ask forgiveness as You reveal to us our wickedness.  Thank You for Your concern that we should be holy for You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2005 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/19/15 – When Prayer “Doesn’t Work”

DayBreaks for 11/19/15: When Prayer “Doesn’t Work”

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

It happened just this past Sunday.  After church, one of the young ladies from our congregation sat down at the digital piano and tried to play something.  Nothing happened.  And so, she told someone, and an entire chain of events was set in motion.  Several people simultaneously began to try to figure out why the digital piano wasn’t working.  There is a skill to being a good troubleshooter and problem resolver.  You start with the most obvious things first and check on those to be sure that no assumptions have been made about what is working and what isn’t.  Such assumptions usually come back to haunt you later, so it pays to be meticulous!

Consider how it works when it’s your TV.  You turn it on and nothing happens.  So, what’s the first assumption?  The cord got disconnected.  You don’t jump to the conclusion that the TV signals are no longer present in the cable, through the satellite or in the air surrounding the TV.  You have faith that those things are still there and functioning. 

Sometimes, when we pray, it seems that our prayers “don’t work.”  So what do we do?  We stop.  Rather than believing that God is still there, we begin to complain that He’s lost His power or that He no longer cares.  Perhaps, instead of losing faith that God is there and that He does care, perhaps we should begin to search for the reason the prayer doesn’t seem to “work.”  It could be that there is sin hidden in our heart that we’re not confessed and repented of.  It could be that God wants us to learn more perseverance or patience in our prayers…and so He’s delaying His answer for a while.  Or, He may be trying to teach us something new about prayer itself.  The last thing that any of us would do when trying to fix a TV that’s on the blink would be to unplug it from the power.  Yet, that’s what we often do with our prayer life – if we’re not getting the result we think we should – we unplug from God.  And there’s one guaranteed result: if we’re unplugged from Him, prayer will never work.

1 Thess. 5:17-18 – Pray without ceasing.  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Copyright 2005 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

TODAY’S PRAYER: Lord, it is fairly easy for us down here to get discouraged with our praying. We are told to pray without ceasing, and sometimes we pray for years and it seems to do no good. So we get frustrated and start to doubt Your goodness. May we not lose sight of how good You truly are and how faithful You are to Your children! In Jesus’ name, Amen.