DayBreaks for 10/09/20 – What About the 99?

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(Prompted by a conversation with a friend of mine – Valerie – thank you!)

Luke 15:3-5 (NLT2) – So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders.

I think we all love this story because at some point in our faith walk it describes every single one of us – we were all the sheep that was lost. We should rejoice in this story because it gives us insight into how precious a single lamb is to the Lord. It is good to know we are precious to someone and even more so as that someone is God Almighty.

But what of the 99? The story is set in the wilderness where the sheepfold would be at best a pile of rocks on nearly four sides. The shepherd brought the sheep into the fold at night and then lay down across the opening – becoming the gate to the sheepfold so that none of the sheep could wander without his knowledge.

I’d always assumed the rest of the sheep – the 99 – were in the sheepfold when the shepherd goes looking for the lost one. But the story doesn’t say that. It just says they are in the wilderness.

Now we might assume they were in the sheepfold and that another shepherd kept an eye on them, but the story doesn’t say that, either. So, did the shepherd just walk off and leave the 99 to the ravenous predations of the wolves or lions? I don’t think so – especially since the shepherd is Jesus!

While this story doesn’t say it, I think something much more amazing was to take place given this passage: John 10:27 (NLT2) – My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

Do you see it? The sheep wouldn’t have stayed behind. They would have followed the shepherd in his desperate and love-fueled search for the one that was lost. And isn’t that what we are all supposed to do – join the Good Shepherd in the pursuit of the lost ones?

When all the lost ones have been found, he will carry us all safely to our eternal destiny.

He won’t ever leave us stranded and alone and we should never stay behind when the Shepherd is on the move!

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for this reminder of how precious and special people are to you. Help my heart learn more of the rhythm of yours! In Jesus’ name, Amen.Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/08/19 – The Sheepdogs of Jesus

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DayBreaks for 11/08/19: The Sheepdogs of Jesus

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

Everyone is familiar with the various images of Jesus in scripture as the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd is good not only because of what He does for the sheep, but because of who He is in His being.  Much has been written about the sheep and the Shepherd and rightly so, and of course, Psalm 23 is the most well-known passage describing the Lord as our Shepherd.

Max Lucado, in one of his books, was looking at Psalm 23:6 which says, Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever when he suggested that “goodness and mercy” are the names of God’s sheepdogs.  While on the surface it may seem to be a flippant comment, a bit more reflection is perhaps appropriate.  We’ve become so familiar with the words of this Psalm that it’s easy to miss what it is really trying to say to us.  Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is out in front leading us as a good shepherd must do.  But if he’s out leading, who’s watching the flock as it stretches out behind Him?  “Goodness and Mercy.”

It is goodness (not ours, but His) and mercy (certainly not ours, but His) that follows behind us making sure that none of us fall by the wayside or get so far behind that we can no longer see the Shepherd.  And we need both sheepdogs: we need His goodness for we have none of our own and we need His mercy because we are sinful.  These things, David said, would follow him for all the days of his life.  We might be tempted to think, “Sure, but I’m no David.  I’m not anything like David.”  That may be true but remember that David at times didn’t act like much of a saint, either.  Goodness and mercy didn’t follow David because he had earned it, but because that is the nature of how God deals with His flock…leading them with His Presence, following along behind them with His goodness and mercy.   

PRAYER: Jesus, thank You for leading us.  Thank You for pursuing us with Your goodness and mercy.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/31/19 – He Knows the Shepherd

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DayBreaks for 10/31/19: He Knows the Shepherd

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2009:

I have been preaching a series on the 23rd Psalm.  I’ve come to appreciate much about this song of David that I never had seen or apprehended before.  Not only did David know about the life of a shepherd, he knew the Shepherd about whom he was singing.

There is a story told about a famous actor who at a gathering was asked to recite something for those gathered there.  The actor was somewhat taken aback about what to recite when an old preacher who was in attendance suggested the actor recite the 23rd Psalm.  The actor did a great job in his oration and when he was finished, received a long round of applause.  Then the actor turned to the old preacher and suggested that he, too, should recite the Psalm.  The old man, in a weak voice that quivered as he spoke, recited the same words the actor had just quoted.  When the old preacher was done, no one clapped.  It was quiet…except for the sound of sobs as those in the audience subtly began to wipe tears from their eyes.  The actor rose once more to his feet and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I communicated with your ears and your eyes. I know the words. But my old friend here communicated with your hearts. He knows the Shepherd.”

I find myself constantly asking myself the question: do I really know the Shepherd, or do I just think I do?  Do I really know Him, or do I just amass facts about Him?  If I knew Him better, would my witness for Him be more powerful – as were the words of the old preacher in the story?  I must admit that I don’t always like the answers to those questions.  I am convinced that if we really knew the Shepherd as did David or the old preacher man, our testimony and sharing of Him would be more powerful because He would be more powerfully present within us. 

Have you asked yourself lately if you really know the Shepherd or not?  We will never know in full about Him for He is infinite.  But at the same time, we can never know Him too much!

PRAYER: May we come to truly know You, the only One who has the words of life!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/22/19 – The Message of the Anointing Oil, #2

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DayBreaks for 10/22/19: The Message of the Oil of Anointing, #2

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2009:

Oil has always been used in medicinal ways, and when David spoke of the Good Shepherd anointing his head with oil, he had several images in mind.  In fact, in Psalm 23, he combined these images into one comprehensive picture.  Here’s the second lesson we can learn about oil, anointing and the Shepherd of our souls:

Part of the job of the shepherd was to prepare the pasture in the high country for the arrival of the sheep during the season of the year when the grass in the lower country was parched and dry.  Preparing that pasture included clearing it of harmful rocks, brush and thorns.  It involved clearing enough of an area so that any predators could be seen before they got too close to the flock.  It meant making sure there was enough water (still waters – sheep won’t drink readily from rapidly flowing water) and grass (green pastures).  The pasture was generally a relatively flat area – a table land (preparing the table).  It also meant another thing: looking for the holes of poisonous asps that lived in the high country. 

The asp lived in a hole in the ground.  They would attack the sheep by popping up out of their hole in the ground and biting them on the nose.  If the snake was a poisonous one, death could obviously result.  If it was non-poisonous, the bite could get infected and lead to serious, if not fatal, conditions in the sheep that was bitten.  In order to help prevent the asps from claiming the lives of sheep, the shepherd would take oil and pour it around the hole of the asp…and then to anoint the sheep’s head and especially their nose with the slippery oil so that if the asp was still able to get out of their hole in the ground, their attempted bite would strike the oil-slicked nose or head of the sheep and glance off. 

In such a way, the shepherd protected the flock from enemies…and he had prepared the table land in the presence of those very enemies.  God has done the same for us through Christ.  Certainly, we can hear echoes of the communion table that the Lord has prepared – and as Max Lucado noted, it was at the Passover feast where Christ had prepared the table that he also sent the enemy (Judas) out without letting him participate in the prepared table. 

God protects us in ways we will never know or understand.  The sheep don’t understand the anointing with oil – they don’t understand how its viscosity and slipperiness works.  They don’t have degrees in chemistry.  All they can do is lower their heads before the Shepherd and let him anoint them and trust that he knows what he’s doing.  We need to do the same!

PRAYER: We are so grateful that you have prepared a table for us in the midst of our enemies, and that you have given the Spirit to anoint and fill us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/21/19 – Understanding the Oil of Anointing, #1

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DayBreaks for 10/21/19: Understanding of the Oil of Anointing, #1

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2009:

I don’t care for mosquitoes, but they don’t bother me as much as many others because mosquitoes don’t seem to like me too much.  Black flies in the woods of Maine were another story – they seemed to love my blood and they bit me a lot!!!!  It’s not fun to be hounded and buzzed by insects all the time.

In Israel there is an insect called the nose fly.  These flies have a fondness for nostrils (hence the name) and especially the nostrils of sheep.  The poor, gentle animals in a pasture can be driven nearly crazy, and according to some shepherds, the sheep can even kill themselves trying to get rid of a nose fly.  The nose flies lay their eggs in the warm, moist nasal passages of the sheep.  In not too long of a time, the eggs hatch into larvae that crawl around in the nasal passages of the sheep.  The sheep toss their heads, rub their faces, noses and heads against rocks, trees, posts – anything they can find, in an attempt to allay the incessant itching caused by the larvae.  Sometimes the sheep will run so hard that they will kill themselves, or wound themselves with the result being an infection that might also kill them.

Now that you know this, perhaps it sheds more light for you on the latter part of Psalm 23:5: You anoint my head with oil.  If you don’t see the connection, let me share it with you.  Part of the job of the shepherd in Israel to was help protect his flock from nose flies.  In order to do that, he would apply an oil-based liquid to the nose and head of the sheep.  This liquid had a smell to it that served as a deterrent or repellant to the nose fly, preventing the nose fly from wanting to lay its eggs in the nasal passages of any sheep who had been fortunate enough to have had its head anointed with oil. 

David used this image to help us understand that God cares for us.  He helps to prevent us from being infested by harmful, hurtful and evil things.  Of course, the sheep does have a role to play in this entire scenario: the sheep must lower its head so the shepherd could tend to it.  We must humble ourselves before the Great Shepherd and let him have his work with us.  We must trust that his medicine for us is good and will benefit us. 

Maybe you have some “nose flies” inside your head right now.  Let the shepherd tend to you in ways that will bring you back to “sanity” and wellness!

PRAYER: We need you to tend to us, Lord, and to anoint us with your healing oil and the preventative power of your Spirit!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/23/19 – In Green Pastures

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DayBreaks for 07/23/19: In Green Pastures

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

Psalm 23:2 – He makes me lie down in green pastures.

Such a simple statement.  So hard to do.  And there is much behind this simple statement from the quill of King David, who knew exactly what he was saying because of his own shepherding experiences.

In the area where David lived and tended sheep, green pastures don’t just appear normally or naturally.  It is a hot, dry, desert area.  The only way that green pastures exist in such a place is because the shepherd has labored to create a green pasture.  The shepherd would tear out the rocks that might harm the sheep, he would clear away the brush and burn it.  He would dig deep into the earth to create a well and would use the water to irrigate the plot of ground where he planted grass seed.  Finally, when a pasture had been created, he would bring the sheep there to find rest. 

Here’s what David could have said, “He makes me to lie down in His finished work.”  In Christ, that takes on an entirely new meaning.  He is the Great Shepherd who leads all of God’s flock into His finished work.  It is a special place where we find rest from our sin, guilt, shame, fear.  It is made possible only by His completed work on the cross.

Are you finding your rest in the finished work of the Shepherd, or are you still struggling to do the work yourself?

PRAYER: We can never repay You, our Shepherd, for all that You have done for us!  May we rest completely in what Jesus has accomplished and provided for us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/20/19 – I AM #6: The Door

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DayBreaks for 2/20/2019: I AM #6: The Door

John 10:9 (CSBBible) – I am the gate. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture.

To understand this I AM statement, we need to understand shepherds and sheep. Earlier in chapter 10, Jesus referred to a gatekeeper. Near most villages there was a communal sheepfold that had a gate that could be locked and only the owner of that sheepfold had the key. But that’s not what Jesus is describing here.

Once out on the hillsides, there was no sheepfold like that. Instead, sheep would be herded into an enclosure most likely made of piled up rocks with a gap in the rocks at one place where a “door” was. But the door wasn’t made of wood – it was the shepherd who would lay down across the opening to prevent critters from entering or the sheep from leaving. None could cross without the awareness of the shepherd. Jesus claims that he is that shepherd, stretched out across the opening. He doesn’t rely on some sort of physical barrier to guarantee the safety of the sheep – any movement of the sheep in or out is only done with his knowledge and agreement.

But there’s another thing to note here: he says that the sheep can come in and go out. That would mean something very specific in the Hebrew language. To be able to have the ability to come in and go out indicated a life absolutely safe and at peace. That is the kind of life we have with Jesus as our gatekeeper. He watches over us, guides our steps, and seeks us out if we get lost.

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for the life of peace we can have with you as our gatekeeper! In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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

DayBreaks for 2/14/19 – I AM #3: The Good Shepherd

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DayBreaks for 2/14/2019: I AM #4: The Good Shepherd

John 10:11 (ESV) I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

We’ve all seen people who obviously work just because they want the money. Their attitude, effort and words make clear that they will do as little as they can to avoid being fired and they’re happy as long as their check shows up.

The Good Shepherd is quite the opposite. He’s no hireling. He is deeply invested in each lamb in his flock. He bought them and paid for them, perhaps watched each one being born and rejoiced to see them join “his family”. This is how the Good Shepherd feels about his sheep!

Being absolutely responsible for the welfare of the sheep, in ancient times, if anything happened to the sheep that were in his care, the shepherd was required to show proof that it was not his fault. In Amos, the shepherd was even required to bring a piece of a leg or an ear from the very mouth of the lion or wolf if necessary as proof of the reason for the loss.

The shepherd was sent out among the flock just as soon as he was old enough to go and the animals became his companions and yes, even friends.

Here’s the big difference between the shepherd and the hireling: the shepherd served because of his love for the flock in his care while the hireling only wanted money. Jesus called us his friends and wasn’t just willing to lay down his life for the poor flock in his care, but actually did lay it down. And that’s why he’s not just a good shepherd, he is THE Good Shepherd.

PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, for shepherding us with love and rejoicing over each one of us! In your name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/11/18 – Preferring the 99

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DayBreaks for 4/11/18: Preferring the 99

Matthew 18:12-14 (NIV) – What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.

This is a painful passage for me. Sadly, while I think it should also be a challenging and painful passage for the church, I think in many cases we read it and fly right past it.

This passage gets to the very core of God’s heart. Who is it that owns the sheep in the passage? It is God, certainly. And while he has a sheep-fold full of sheep, he isn’t content with that. He knows there is still one out there that hasn’t come home with him, that is lost and in grave danger.

So what does he do? He goes out looking for it. There is no guarantee that he will be able to bring it home…for the passage says And if he finds it…. Some sheep don’t want to be found, and perhaps even more sadly, some perish before they are found.

Pay attention to the last sentence. He is not willing that ANY of these little ones should be lost. It’s not that he’s content if just a handful are lost…he’s not willing for even a single one to perish.

Which brings me to the painful part. Why does my heart not beat with the same passion for the lost sheep?

I fear that the church as a whole (I know there are many exceptions) prefers the ninety-nine. We prefer the comfort of the sheep-fold and seldom, if ever, venture out. We like to hang with other Christians (at least, I hope we do!) But if we lose sight of the heart of God from this passage, we may have missed God entirely. This is precisely why Jesus came: not to celebrate with the 99 but to “go out”. Does Jesus like it when Christians enjoy each other? Of course. But he will quickly leave us behind to find a single lost one.

When is the last time you brought someone to Christ – not just to church – but to saving knowledge of Christ? We should all have the urgency of Oskar Schindler who when the war was over, was heartbroken that he’d not done more, that he could have saved one more. Where is that passion in us?

Church, let us be challenged. Let us go out with the great Shepherd to find the lost so that not ANY should be lost!  

PRAYER: Jesus, I confess that it is far easier to sit in the pew than to leave the sheep-fold to find a lost lamb. I confess I have done far too much of the former and not nearly enough of the latter. Change us, give us your passion, fill us with your mission, let us hear your heartbeat clearly. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/22/15 – Who’s Voice Is It?

DayBreaks for 9/22/15: Whose Voice Is It?

Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice. – John 10:1-5

This is a rather terrifying passage for several reasons. First, there are those who will intentionally put forth great effort to steal the sheep. Satan, of course, does this. I’m not talking about merely taking people from one congregation to another, though that is often referred to among pastors as “sheep stealing.” What Jesus is describing is far more insidious. It is done with malicious intent or there would be no need to sneak over the wall into the sheep enclosure. We can’t forget that there are those who want the church to decline, and there is at least one who wants our souls to die for all eternity.

The scariest part, though, is that it makes me wonder how well I hear Jesus’ voice, and how well other “Christians” hear it today. What do we hear and who is saying it? Our Supreme Court has seemingly taken it upon themselves to be the arbiter of morality and to decide matters relation to life and death and marriage. We must never forget that the voice of the Supreme Court (even the majority of the judges) is not the same as the voice of God. Where God has spoken the Supreme Court has no authority over the Christian. It is one of those situations where we must, as did Peter, say “We must obey God rather than men.”

Everything we read in the mainstream press about trends in our culture, about what is good or bad, needs to be filtered against the voice of the Shepherd – and NO ONE else’s voice (including mine!)

Even though the majority of the US populace may be in favor of something, God’s Kingdom is not a democracy where right or wrong are determined by polls. We might do well to remind ourselves that when we look at the stories of God’s people in Scripture, more often than not, the majority of His people were always in the wrong and while there were a few righteous prophets who railed against the popular thinking for one reason and one reason only: they’d heard the Shepherd’s voice and understood that their highest calling was to do as He commanded.

It broke their hearts to see the condition of their land. It should break ours, too. But we should not despair. God was able to restore His people many, many times…and He can restore our nation, too…but not if the prophets amongst us stop listening to the voice of the Shepherd and stop calling us to repentance.

PRAYER: Jesus, we want to hear your voice when it whispers peace to us, but seldom do we want to hear it when what you say doesn’t please us or tickle our ears. Change us to welcome ALL your words! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.