DayBreaks for 2/16/17 – Rats in the Cellar and Slaps on the Cheek

DayBreaks for 2/16/17: Rats in the Cellar and Slaps on the Cheek

Matthew 5:39 (ESV) – But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

This text from Matthew leads one to ponder the words of C.S. Lewis, Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is. If there are rats in a cellar, you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats; it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way, the suddenness of the provocation does not make me ill-tempered; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am.

Think about the reaction that Christ calls us to have if someone strikes us on the cheek. What kind of a person would that make us? To turn the other cheek and refuse to react with similar anger or malice shows the world we are Christian. After all, if someone walked up to you in the next 5 minutes without warning or provocation and slapped you hard across the cheek, what would your reaction be?

So if what we do when we are taken off guard is the best evidence of what sort of person we are, let us pray our reactions show that we are good Christians!

PRAYER: Lord, it is not natural for us to turn the other cheek when we’ve been smitten physically, verbally or emotionally. It is at moments like that when we most need your Spirit to dominate our response. Spirit, take up residence in us so that we might be like Jesus! In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen 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 06/26/13 – Jesus and the “But-First” Syndrome

DayBreaks for 06/26/13 – Jesus and the “But-First” Syndrome

charles-barsotti-but-first-a-distraction-new-yorker-cartoonLuke 9:59-60 (MSG) – Jesus said to another, “Follow me.” He said, “Certainly, but first excuse me for a couple of days, please. I have to make arrangements for my father’s funeral.”  Jesus refused. “First things first. Your business is life, not death. And life is urgent: Announce God’s kingdom!”

“Jesus doesn’t want fans. He wants followers. Jesus wants people who will do more than simply sit in a pew and clap and cheer. He wants people who will take up a cross daily, the cross of service and love.

“Some of you may know the story of Rich Stearns. When Rich Stearns was a young man and new Christian, he got engaged. His fiancée like many young brides wanted to register for china at the local department store. But he said to her, ”As long as there are children starving in the world, we will not own china, crystal, or silver.”

“What a wonderful statement of discipleship. His answer reminds me of that first man in our lesson who said, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

“However, as Rich entered the corporate world and started climbing the ladder, he found he had a really good head for business. Twenty years later he was the CEO of Lennox–ironically, the top producer of luxury tableware–fine china–in the country.

“One day Rich received a phone call from an organization called World Vision, asking if he would consider getting involved with them. So Rich went to Rakai, Uganda, an area considered ground zero for the AIDS pandemic. In that village he sat in a thatched hut with a thirteen-year-old boy with the same first name as his–Richard. A pile of stones outside the door of the hut marked where they had buried Richard’s father, who had died of AIDS. Another pile of stones marked where they buried his mother, who also died of AIDS. That kind of thing happens every day in Africa.

“Rich talked for a while with young Richard–now the head of the household trying to raise his two younger brothers–and asked him at one point, “Do you have a Bible?”

“Yes, the boy said, and he went into the other room and brought back the one book in their house.   “Are you able to read it?” Rich asked, and at that the boy’s face lit up. “I love to read the gospel of John because it says Jesus loves children,” the boy said.

“And suddenly Rich Stearns knew what he had to do. He needed to follow Jesus full-time. He left his job and his house and his title. Today he’s working for God.

“Rich Stearns is the kind of man Christ is looking for. Christ is not looking for people who’ll get excited for a few moments on Sunday morning and then forget all about their good intentions. He’s not looking for people who are suffering from the “But-first” syndrome and who are continually making excuses about why now is not a good time for them to make a commitment. Jesus is looking for followers–people who will wake up each day with a determination to live as Christ would have them live. Can he count on you?” 

PRAYER:  Let us not make excuses, Lord, and when we do, turn our hearts to instant obedience so we follow without hesitation!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 10/27/11 – It’s What’s Inside

DayBreaks for 10/27/11 – It’s What’s Inside

When the pressure is on...

At church once, one of my Christian brothers shared a devotion that I thought was very profound in all of its implications.  His thoughts were inspired by Wayne Dwyer, a motivational speaker.  The gist of the message was as follows:

If you take an orange and squeeze it, what happens?  You get orange juice!  It never has resulted in anything other than orange juice.  No one has ever squeezed an orange and had tomato juice come out.  Neither does lemonade come out – only orange juice?  Why?  Because it is an orange and orange juice is what is inside.

It doesn’t matter whether you squeeze the orange with your hands, place it under a board and jump up and down on it, or even if you have an elephant stand on it.  Whatever is on the outside exerting the force doesn’t change what is inside the orange.  It only works to cause what is inside to come out.  The pressure exerted on the outside of the orange is what causes what is inside to be produced and revealed.

This is, of course, a parable of life itself, and we as Christians, are like the orange.  Life presses in on us, squeezing hard.  And whatever it is that is inside of us is what will come out when the pressure gets strong enough.

The question, of course, that we must ask ourselves, is what comes out when life presses in on you?  When someone cuts you off in traffic, when someone cuts in front of you in a line at the store, when you hit your thumb with the hammer, when you witness someone being ridiculed for taking a stand for righteousness, when you see injustice – what comes out?  When you find yourself without a job, when your health is stricken, when a loved one dies, when debts pile up – what comes out?  Do words of praise, seasoned with grace, flow from your lips?  Or do bitter words, swear words, ungrateful phrases pour forth?

It depends on what is inside.  If your life has been filled, truly filled, with the love and grace of God, the things that come forth will be words and actions that bring glory and praise to Him.  On the other hand, if something else comes out, it is an indicator that what is on the inside still needs work.

Prov. 23:7 – “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…

Luke 6:43 – “For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

PRAYER: Jesus, we complain about being squeezed, but help us understand that the squeezing only reveals what is contained on the inside – and we need to know the truth about ourselves!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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