DayBreaks for 12/15/17 – Getting the Question Right

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DayBreaks for 12/15/17: Getting the Question Right

From the DayBreaks archive, December 2007:

Do you know people who want to ask you a question, but they dance around the real issue?  They never just come right out and ask what they want to know!  And what is even more frustrating to me is when I ask a question and get an answer to a question I didn’t even ask!  Perhaps that’s why politics revolts me so.  It seems that you can’t get a straight answer out of nearly any politician these days.  Everything is carefully crafted to try to appease as many special interests as possible in the hopes of raising money and getting elected, and even worse, to mislead the public about the real effects of proposed legislation.  Rare is the politician who will answer a question straight-forwardly about their personal convictions about topics.  Instead, they’ll pontificate in politically correct ways until the questioner forgets what question they even asked!

Asking the right question is an art.  No one, of course, does it as well as God.  In his book, Hearing God, Dallas Willard reflects on the scene in the garden after Adam had sinned.  “When God came to Adam after he had sinned, he did not ask, ‘Adam, where is God?’, but ‘Adam, where are you?’  We must purposefully, humbly and intelligently cultivate the ability to listen and see what is happening in our own souls and to recognize therein the movements of God.”  (Hearing God, pg. 214)

God didn’t come to the garden to lay a guilt trip on Adam.  He came to begin the process of restoration.  The first step in that process is always an honest questioning of ourselves to ascertain where we are.  Adam may have been tempted to think that because of his sin that God would not return again to the garden, or if He did, Adam didn’t want to be found.  It’s understandable – I’ve felt those things myself many times.  But the question God asks is intended to get Adam into the soul-searching mode.  It also revealed to Adam that God had not left in disgust or rage.  God came back to the garden and was concerned about Adam and where he was.  It wasn’t a question about Adam’s physical location, but of his heart.

When you’re thinking that God isn’t around these days because of what you’ve done, go back and let God ask you the same question He asked Adam, “Where are YOU?”

PRAYER:  Thank You for not abandoning us in the garden or in the wilderness of our sinful lives.  Thank You for Your great concern for us.  Teach us to search our souls in accordance with Your Word!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 7/13/12 – The Day Jesus Met the Lawyer

DayBreaks for 7/13/16 – The Day Jesus Met the Lawyer

The parable of the Good Samaritan arises out of a discussion between Jesus and a Pharisee. Please understand that the Pharisees were more than just religious folk – they were the lawyers of their time, so here we see a religious lawyer asking Jesus a question on the nature of the law. Luke sets the stage this way: Behold a lawyer stood up to put him to the test.

Do you get it? It’s a trick question! I am sure it’s not the first time and won’t be the last time that a lawyer poses a trick question. It was the kind of question in which any kind of an answer would pose still further problems (such as the proverbial “Have you stopped kicking your dog yet?” question – there is no way to succeed with a question phrased in that way.) So, here’s the test question: Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life. Now right away we know that this man was a Pharisee, because the Pharisees believed in eternal life and the Sadducees did not. Jesus could tell that this man was an astute student of the law so he asked him: What is written? In other words, use your own mind to discern the essence of the law. Jesus, like a good discussion leader, throws the question right back in his lap.

The lawyer has a good answer. He said: You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart and soul and mind and strength and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. This was a direct quote from Deuteronomy 6. It was part of the Shema, a confession regularly made in Jewish worship. Jesus says: “Excellent. You are correct.” If he were a teacher I suppose he would have said: “You get A+.” Jesus is saying he has no issue with that answer. Do this and you shall live. You have not only penetrated to the essence of the law but you have worded it succinctly. 

The question had been asked and the answer given. You would think that the man would be pleased and go home. But lawyers are never happy. A lawyer’s responsibility is to define the limits of liability. “But he, desiring to justify himself, asked ‘Who is my neighbor.'” In other words, where does my responsibility stop? Who exactly am I responsible for?”

Therein is a clue to the heart of a Pharisee (including modern-day Christian Pharisee’s): we want to know how far we are required to go, how much (or more properly, how little) is required of us. It is an indicator of a heart that isn’t totally sold out to God or His will.

When God has asked you for something such as obedience to His word and commands, do you in your mind and heart start a lawyerly discussion with God to press the issue to know how far you really have to go in obedience? If so, that may be an indicator that you’d be a good lawyer…and a Pharisee.

We are all pharisaical from time to time, but if we find ourselves asking these kind of defining questions instead of simply saying, “Yes, Lord and Master!” we may be much bigger Pharisees than we want to believe.

PRAYER: Jesus, I know there are parts of my life where I want to get away with doing as little as I can in response to your leading. Help me be more fully sold out to you and less of a Pharisee! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/02/15 – Guessing at the Answers

DayBreaks for 10/02/15 – Guessing at the Answers

I LOVE to speculate.  Probably to a fault.  I love to contemplate the mysteries of God, how He works, what He knows and how He thinks.  I want to know the “Why?” behind things.  I know that too much speculation is empty and useless.  I can accept that there are things that God has not told us because He didn’t want us to know, didn’t need us to know, or which, well, we’re just too dumb to be able to understand.  I don’t know if it’ll be that way in heaven, but I feel rather certain that even there we won’t be able to begin to fathom the depth of the Father’s mind.  But that only makes it all the more intriguing for me, because I love to learn, and I’m a slow enough learner that He’ll have to repeat things to me many, many times!

There are many times that people ask me questions about why God does this-or-that, and I’ve got to admit that I often don’t know.  Why did God permit something to happen instead of prevent it?  I can’t answer that question.  Nobody that I know can answer it satisfactorily.  Sometimes I speculate about why, but that’s probably not a good thing to do.  In our desire to help someone find their balance again, we grasp for answers.

Sometimes, we think that as Christians we are expected to have all the answers to anyone’s questions, and that we’re supposed to answer them in a certain way.  Consider this cute story: “A little boy went to Sunday school, where he knew the sort of answers you’re supposed to give to questions.  The teacher asked, ‘What is brown, furry, has a long tail, and stores up nuts for winter?’

“Well,” the boy muttered, “I guess the answer is Jesus, but it sure sounds like a squirrel to me.”

Here’s the bad news: the bad news is that we are often like that kid, knowing the right answer, but not confident enough to say it.  We are suspicious that there’s something we’re overlooking, or something that we’re missing and we’re afraid we’ll look like a fool if we say what we believe.  And so we don’t say anything, letting opportunities pass us by.  And while we may be suspicious of the question – that there’s some ulterior motive for the question or that it’s a trick of some kind, Jesus doesn’t play games with us.  There are not trick questions with God, for far too much is at stake.

Here’s the good news: whenever we are in doubt, the answer IS Jesus!  Whenever someone is in pain, confusion, dealing with an addiction or relationship problem – the answer is Jesus and His Word.  With Jesus, you just can’t go wrong! 

PRAYER: Lord, when we need answers, or even when we merely seek them, forgive our impertinence and help us to know that You are the answer to all of life’s questions, even though we may not understand! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2015 Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 02/21/12 – Nonsense Questions

DayBreaks for 02/21/12 – Nonsense Questions

From the DayBreaks archive, dated 2/22/2002:

When we lose a loved one, when things all around us begin to collapse and crumble and we can no longer see the horizon of the pit into which we’ve fallen, we are prone to ask God questions.  We aren’t alone.  Check out Job – he had PLENTY of questions for God – and got not a single answer for all his questioning.  While God did finally speak to Job, He didn’t answer the questions.  Were Job’s questions an affront to God?  I don’t think so.  God’s first actions are to undertake a firm and strong defense of “my servant, Job”.  I think it is more likely that Job, like we, asked God so many questions that were unanswerable.  Does it seem impossible that we could pose a question to God that He couldn’t answer?  Consider:

Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think.  All nonsense questions are unanswerable.  How many hours are there in a mile?  Is yellow square or round?  Probably half the questions we ask – half our great theological and metaphysical problems – are like that.”

“And now that I come to think of it, there’s no practical problem before me at all.  I know the two great commandments, and I’d better get on with them.  Indeed, H’s (Lewis’ wife) death has ended the practical problem.  While she was alive I could, in practice, have put her before God; that is, could have done what she wanted instead of what He wanted; if there’d been a conflict.  What’s left is not a problem about anything I could do.  It’s all about weights of feelings and motives and that sort of thing.  It’s a problem I’m setting myself.  I don’t believe God set it me at all.”  – C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

I think Lewis is right.  If our questions make sense to us, that may be a good sign that they probably are unsensible to God.  We simply don’t know enough to be able to frame our questions.  We don’t know enough of the details of any situation, the options, the impact of the things we ask about.  But God understands why we ask – and He even asks us to ask, even if we don’t understand that our questions are unanswerable as asked.

In the last paragraph, I think Lewis has captured the real meaning and danger of loving someone more than God.  The risk is that we are more prone to do what they want us to do than what God wants us to do.  And that is the nature of temptation, isn’t it?

PRAYER: Lord, I wonder how many times I have put others, and myself, ahead of You?  It is hard, Lord, to put someone first whom we have never seen.  Keep us from the worship of things and people in this world that might distract us from our true calling.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks has always been free, but if you wish to help Galen raise his support for his work with iam2.org (an organization committed to helping bring food, clean water and protection to children wherever they are in the US or overseas) please mail checks made payable to “iam2 Partners, Inc.” to this address: 3678 Creekstone Drive, Norcross, GA 30092, or go to http://www.iam2.org to donate (one time, or recurring).  Thank you!

To subscribe to DayBreaks, use this link: https://daybreaksdevotions.wordpress.com and click on the Subscribe button at the right of the page.  If you wish to unsubscribe, you also click on the Subscribe button at and select the Unsubscribe drop-down.

DayBreaks for 02/20/12 – You Don’t Understand

DayBreaks for 02/20/12 – You Don’t Understand

From the DayBreaks archive, dated 2/20/2002:

Matthew 10:37-38 – “37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

As C. S. Lewis grieved for his wife (whom he refers to as “H” in A Grief Observed), he eventually came to write of a great conundrum: “Am I, for instance, just sidling back to God because I know that if there’s any road to H., it runs through Him?  But then of course I know perfectly well that He can’t be used as a road.  If you’re approaching Him not as the goal, but as a road, not as the end, but as a means, you’re not really approaching Him at all.  That’s what was wrong with all those popular pictures of happy reunions ‘on the further shore;’ not the simple-minded and very earthly images, but the fact that they make an End of what we can get only as a by-product of the true End.

“Lord, are these your real terms?  Can I meet H. again only if I learn to love you so much that I don’t care whether I meet her or not?  Consider, Lord, how it looks to us.  What would anyone think of me if I said to the boys, ‘No toffee now.  But when you’ve grown up and don’t really want toffee you shall have as much of it as you choose?’

“If I knew that to be eternally divided from H. and eternally forgotten by her would add a greater joy and splendor to her being, of course I’d say, ‘Fire ahead.’  Just as if, on earth, I could have cured her cancer by never seeing her again, I’d have arranged never to see her again.  I’d have had to.  Any decent person would.  But that’s quite different.  That’s not the situation I’m in.

“When I lay these questions before God I get no answer.  But a rather special sort of ‘No answer.’  It is not the locked door.  It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze.  As though He shook His head not in refusal but waiving the question.  Like, ‘Peace, child; you don’t understand.’”

What is the price we pay to be reunited some day with our loved ones?  It is simply this: to love God and serve Him above all else.  Is that such a great price to pay?  Lewis’ point is well made, however – we must be genuine in our love for God for He won’t settle for us to just to use Him as a highway for the purpose of our reuniting with family and friends.  He must be the First and Foremost – the reunion with loved ones comes as a by-product of the greater blessing – coming to know Him.

There are times we have all experienced when we have asked God questions and received the ‘no answer’ that Lewis spoke of.  When that happens, we shouldn’t be surprised, or think the door to the Throne has been locked and we have been barred.  Rather, God must sometimes be puzzled at what to say to us.  How can the Infinite One explain His actions and purposes to us in a way we could understand?  In the midst of all this confusion, He wants us to have the peace that comes only from trusting Him with everything!

PRAYER: Lord, we are full of foolish questions and notions, even confused about what it is that our hearts really long for.  Though we don’t understand Your workings and ways, let trust take root and may we pursue You above any earthly or any eternal diversion.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks has always been free, but if you wish to help Galen raise his support for his work with iam2.org (an organization committed to helping bring food, clean water and protection to children wherever they are in the US or overseas) please mail checks made payable to “iam2 Partners, Inc.” to this address: 3678 Creekstone Drive, Norcross, GA 30092, or go to http://www.iam2.org to donate (one time, or recurring).  Thank you!

To subscribe to DayBreaks, use this link: https://daybreaksdevotions.wordpress.com and click on the Subscribe button at the right of the page.  If you wish to unsubscribe, you also click on the Subscribe button at and select the Unsubscribe drop-down.

 

DayBreaks for 02/02/12 – The Two Big Questions

DayBreaks for 02/02/12 – The Two Big Questions

29 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Messiah.” – Mark 8:29

In his great book, Radical, David Platt recounts the story of Jesus who had just fed thousands, and who now was confronted with the crowds again.  Rather than feeding them all over, he gave them hard words about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, which resulted in the response one might expect: most people left and didn’t return.  From a human standpoint, it is enough to make one wonder if Jesus really knew what he was doing or not.

Isn’t it the dream of every pastor to preach in front of thousands of people, to share the beautiful Word of God clearly, plainly, with conviction borne of the Spirit and empowered by Him?  I can tell you from personal experience: that was always my desire.  I would love to be able to preach to the entire world.  When our small church in northern California didn’t grow like I’d hoped, I had to do some severe soul-searching that continues to this day.  Jesus had thousands he preached to…but then it was whittled down to the point that by the time he left the earth, perhaps there was 120 who were still committed to him (which, I guess, was better than just the 12 who were still with him at the end of that “hard saying!”

Why did that happen?  And why did I want a big church?  I wanted a big church partly because it is the measure of success between pastors.  “How large is your congregation?” was always one of the first questions, one that I was somewhat embarrassed to answer.  (Yes, we were in the 2nd least churched county in the US, but still….)

David Platt realized that his ambitions and ego were tied up in the American culture of bigger and better building, bigger budgets, bigger crowds…and then he realized that Jesus didn’t give a plugged nickel about those measures.  So Platt found himself confronted with two fundamental questions, questions which I think relate to why the crowds left Jesus.  1) Am I going to believe Jesus?  2) Am I going to obey Jesus?  It’s not enough to just answer the first one in the affirmative.  We must answer both questions with a “yes”!

When Jesus said what he did, the crowds perhaps thought he’d flipped out.  They weren’t sure whether belief in Jesus was rational any longer.  But who said it is supposed to be rational?  If we can think it ALL the way through to a logical, rational certainty, where is the room for faith?  So I think that many decided that they could not believe in what he said after the bit about eating his flesh and drinking his blood.  I would imagine that many took him literally…and who wants to be a cannibal?  Not me!

And so, they never got to the second question because they flunked the first question.  But, am I any better?  Really?  When I fail to trust him, to believe in His wisdom instead of my own, to believe in His power instead of my own, I’ve made a decision not to believe in Him.  Now here’s a painful thought: if I am struggling to obey him (the 2nd question), it is evidence that I haven’t answered the first big question with a heartfelt, committed “yes”, either.

Are you walking away from an encounter with Jesus because of something hard that he’s asking you to believe about Him?  Don’t.  Take a chance.  Step up in faith, and say, even (and perhaps especially) when you are tempted to pull back, “I believe that You are the Messiah, the chosen One of God!”

PRAYER: Open our hearts to the truth about our level of belief in You, Jesus.  Let our faith be genuine, not a comfortable one made for the masses.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks has always been free, and I do hope to keep it that way, but if you wish to help Galen raise his support for his work with iam2.org (an organization committed to helping bring food, clean water and protection to children wherever they are in the US or overseas, please mail checks made payable to “iam2 Partners Inc.” to this address: 3678 Creekstone Drive, Norcross, GA 30092, or go to http://www.iam2.org to donate (one time, or recurring).  Thank you!

To subscribe to DayBreaks, use this link: https://daybreaksdevotions.wordpress.com and click on the Subscribe button at the right of the page.  If you wish to unsubscribe, you also click on the Subscribe button at and select the Unsubscribe drop-down.