DayBreaks for 8/26/19 – North Star People

 

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DayBreaks for 08/26/19: North Star People

NOTE: Galen is on vacation for the next couple weeks and may not respond to any comments until he returns on 9/9/19.

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. – DANIEL 12:3

Due north in the sky is where you can find the star, Polaris.  Perhaps you know it by its more common name: the North Star.  For thousands of years now, when sailors or even astronauts are in need of directions or when they are lost, the first thing they do (assuming they don’t have GPS!) is to look for the North Star.  Once they’ve found it, it is possible for them to figure out where they are and how to get back on track. 

Surprisingly, the North Star (Polaris) is not the brightest object in the sky – in fact, it’s rather dim.  It’s slightly green (so I’m told).  Because it is at the tip of the very northern axis in the celestial view from earth, it doesn’t shift position throughout the night – it doesn’t move – it stays put.  It isn’t easy to find, but anyone can learn to find it.  A typical response by those who are shown where it is for the first time is to remark, rather surprisedly, “Huh.  I always thought it would be brighter than that.”

The point is this: we can be like the North Star to other people.  Shocking?  Perhaps, but here’s what Paul had to say about it in Philippians 2:14-16: Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.  (NIV)  There are several things worth noting about this verse:

FIRST: it is children of God that shine like stars in the universe – not just the “greats” like Peter, Paul, Mary, Esther and their ilk.  Every child of God can and should be shining like the northern star.

SECOND: it is in the dark world, a “crooked and depraved generation” that we are to shine.  We’re not supposed to wait until all is bright and airy – after all, can you see the stars when the sun is shining in its power?  Of course not!  It takes darkness for the stars (other than our sun) to be seen.  The day will come when we won’t shine – because the Son will be all the illumination that is needed when he appears.  But since the passage says we shine in a depraved generation – this verse isn’t talking about when we get to heaven or in eternity.  It is talking about shining NOW.

THIRD: how is it that we shine?  By the way we “hold out the word of life.”  That’s how we shine.  We hold out the Word of life by believing it, holding it out like we would a lantern or brilliant spotlight.  We hold it out so that others can grasp it.  We hold it out so that others can see by it and distinguish between the unfruitful works of darkness and the Light of the World that has come so that no one need stumble and fall again.

FOURTH: we can be like the north star in that we never change position.  We continually hold out the word of life…no matter what is going on in our lives.  Circumstances won’t change us…we should be stationary, steadfast.  As the words to the old song, O Thou Fount of Every Blessing put is, “Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it, mount of Thy redeeming love!”  Fixed. Solid. Immovable.  The rest of the world may spin off into frenzied oblivion – the children of God won’t.

Right now, you are faced with a decision about how you’ll live this day.  You may be at work, college, high school – some other school – it matters not.  Wherever you are, if you are His child, you can shine like the north star and hold out the Word of Life to those all around you this day.  The question is: will you do it?

PRAYER:  Let us shine to this depraved generation, Lord!  Let us take the Word of Life into our hearts and hands and minds and hold it out to a world dying in the darkness.  Fix us as a star in the sky for all to see Your glory!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 7/12/19 – The Miracle on a Stick

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DayBreaks for 07/12/19: The Miracle on a Stick

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived. – Numbers 21:4-9 (NIV)

I was recently reading Athol Dickson’s The Gospel According to Moses when I discovered new insights into the passage from Numbers 21, above.  Let me share them with you:

FIRST: Remember Israel’s recent history.  They’d been freed from Egypt, only to find themselves apparently left alone as Moses had been up on the mountain for so long the people felt that he was most certainly dead.  Of course, he wasn’t, but they had no way of knowing that.  And so they asked Aaron to make a golden calf so that they could worship it and perhaps receive some help and direction from the “god”.  While this might seem very strange for us, remember that they’d been in Egyptian slavery for 400 years and had become intimately acquainted with the religious worship of Egyptian gods, which included various bulls, frogs, falcons and other animals.  So they clearly thought this golden god could help them.  The result of that episode was that thousands of Israelites died because they’d formed and worshipped a golden calf.  Now, however, they are in trouble again…whining and angering Moses and God.  So, God sent snakes among them and many died and were dying.  God tells Moses, incredulously, to make an image of bronze and put it up where everyone could see it and that if they look at it they will live!  Do you see the irony?  The last time they’d formed an image to worship it, many died as a result.  Now, God says to make an image and it will result in their being saved!  This must have been a real test of obedience for the Israelites: “Hey, Shlomoe, remember what happened the LAST time we made an image of an animal?  Do you think Moses heard God correctly about this bronze serpent thing?”  It required obedience even when the thing commanded not only made no sense, but when there was precedent point 180 degrees the opposite direction!

SECOND: Athol Dickson did a word study on the verses about the bronze serpent, and he made an amazing discovery.  The Hebrew word, nes, which is translated as the “pole” upon which the bronze serpent is mounted, is not a simple word to translate.  In other passages, the word is translated as “example” or “banner.”  In Isaiah 33:23, it is translated “sail”, but another word entirely is used to describe the mast or pole on which the sail is hung.  In fact, nowhere else in Scripture is the word nes translated as “pole” – it is always translated as the object that is lifted up on the pole.  Only here, is the bronze serpent mounted on the “pole” (nes).  So, to use the way the word is normally translated, we’d find a symbol (the bronze serpent) hung upon an example (the nes, or pole).  It seems God deliberately chose this word to hint that it really wasn’t the serpent that was to give them deliverance, but the One behind the serpent.  But, that’s not the most amazing thing.  The most amazing thing is that the word nes has yet another meaning: “miracle.”  The story of the bronze serpent is both an example and a miracle, pointing to the real miracle: the miracle of a God dying on another pole in Roman occupied Jerusalem.  It is as if God is saying, “When the people look upon what hangs on the pole – the miracle – they will be saved.”  Jesus was that miracle.  It was a miracle that a God could die at all.  It was a miracle that our sins could be taken away.  It was a miracle that God would do such a thing for nothing more than a collection of atoms and chemicals known as a human being.  Yet He did all those things.

When you look upon the miracle on the pole, you shall be saved!

PRAYER: Open our eyes to the miracle that is Jesus hanging on a pole for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/28/18 – God’s Bizarre Carpentry Shop

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DayBreaks for 11/28/18: God’s Bizarre Carpentry Shop

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

Romans 8:28 (NASB) – And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

My daughter can do macramé – you know, that weird bit about cutting and folding a sheet of paper so that it resembles a swan or some other animal.  I have to admit, while she’s in the process of taking the piece of paper and beginning to fold it, I can’t start to imagine what in the world she’s making.  As she folds away in a meticulous fashion, I remain confused.  It isn’t until the end of the process that I can see what she was making, but I couldn’t begin to replicate what she’s done.

In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul had this to say (chapter 4:16-17, NIV): Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

Our first reaction to verse 17 is to think that Paul has totally lost his marbles.  “Light and momentary troubles”?  Are you kidding me?  Try telling that to the mother of a special needs child who requires 24-hour care, day in and day out.  Try telling it to the young man in the wilds of the hills in Afghanistan, or to his wife who struggles to raise 3 kids without his presence.  Try telling it to the person who has once more been diagnosed with cancer – after having beaten it once.  “Light and momentary,” you say?  Harumph. 

But Paul nonetheless claims it is so.  How can he say that?  Well, he says that, in God’s bizarre carpentry shop, that it is those very troubles that are achieving for us an eternal glory that outweighs those very trouble.  The word for achieving in the Greek means, “to make possible”, “to bring to pass.”  Paul says, that somehow (and this is way beyond me!), that our troubles from this earth will make possible our eternal glory.  I think it works like this: what is earthly must be torn down and removed so what is heavenly can start to be built.  It’s like tearing up a bad street to create a new paved one – until the old is torn out and removed, the new can’t be put in place.  And the troubles we have in this world are designed to encourage us to let go of this world and its attractions so that new, eternally glorious things can be put in their place. 

Oh, and one more thing.  Paul says the troubles are “light”, from the Greek, elaphros, which means “easy to bear.”  They are easy to bear only when we keep our perspective.  What is here is light (not of much weight) and temporary (of short duration).  What we await is an eternal glory that “outweighs” them (the glory is HEAVY, but not a burden) – and eternal.  Here’s Paul’s point: not all the troubles of this world are of greater weight nor longer duration than the glory of heaven.  That’s a perspective worth keeping!

Prayer: Lord, we don’t understand how You do it, but we thank you that our earthly troubles make possible our eternal glory.  The next time we are distress and in deep trouble, may we remember Paul’s perspective, and lean hard into eternal things!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/30/18 – On Account of Me

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DayBreaks for 10/30/18: On Account of Me

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2008:

Yesterday, I shared from Matthew 11:4-6 where Matthew recorded the story of John the Baptist’s moments of doubt.  He’d dispatched followers to find out if Jesus was the one that they had been expecting, or if they should be on the lookout for someone else.  Jesus invited them to stay long enough to see and hear for themselves the great things that Jesus was doing – evidence of a Divine power that no human alone could exercise.

But at the end of the time the followers were with Jesus, he commissioned them to return to John with this kind of report from Mt. 11:4-6: Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.  Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.

Did you get that last little bit?  “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”  What did Jesus mean?  Why would anyone fall away after witnessing the great miracles Jesus was doing – giving sight, making legs strong, fixing eardrums, curing diseases and even raising the dead?  It would seem that those things would have exactly the opposite effect: they would keep one from falling away. 

Not so, apparently.  Remember the context: John’s in prison, awaiting his beheading for antagonizing King Herod by telling him he was an adulterer.  John had done great things for Jesus, publicly proclaiming at the Jordan: Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!  He had prepared the way for Jesus excellently.  Jesus had said no man ever born of woman was greater than John.  That’s very high praise.  But here’s John, stinking up the dungeon, and after all that John had done for Jesus, would it be too much to think that when Jesus got word of John’s plight, that he’d come to see John at the very least, or perhaps even to get him out of prison?  And so John had waited.  Jesus didn’t show up.  He didn’t write to John.  He didn’t send messages to him via his own disciples to encourage John to stay strong.  No, none of that.  Jesus was off preaching far away from the dungeon in which John found himself.  And it makes John wonder: “Was I wrong about this guy?  Why is he out there doing great things for others but not for me?  I’m his cousin, for Pete’s sake, and I spent my life preparing Israel for Jesus’ ministry!

Could Jesus have been saying: “Blessed are you, John, if you don’t fall away for what you perceive I have failed to do for you.”  Did John want a deliverance?  I think so – he was human.  But he didn’t get it, not even in what appears to be his hour of greatest need.  And Jesus simply says, “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” 

Perhaps you are in a dungeon of your own, or someone else’s making right now, and your doubts have surfaced and bit into your faith a bit.  You wonder why Jesus hasn’t come to help you, or that person you love that you’ve been praying for.  And you wonder, “Is this Christianity real or not?”  Take courage from the words of Jesus that preceded this difficult statement: look at what Jesus has done, and is doing.  Can anyone other than the Son of God do those things?  No.  God’s favor rested on Jesus.  Like John, we at times must be reminded of the great things Jesus does, but also remember that we are blessed if we don’t fall away on account of Jesus – and what he has not done for us in this world. 

John didn’t get his miracle of deliverance.  But he got his answer, and it was enough to see him through faithfully into eternity.  You may not get your miracle of deliverance from disease, divorce, economic ruin, a job loss or anything else.  But you don’t need it: “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”

PRAYER: I fear, sometimes Lord, that we believe we should have special treatment in this world and that we shouldn’t be subject to the same kinds of disasters that strike others.  At times of our struggle, help us to remember that those who never saw you or touched you after your resurrection and still believe are even more blessed than those who did touch you and see you with their own eyes.  Help us to never fall away on account of something You do, or don’t do, for us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/17/17 – Win the War, Lose the Victory

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DayBreaks for 11/17/17: Win the War, Lose the Victory

NOTE: Galen is traveling…again.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

There are 79 countries around the world that have a problem with unexploded landmines.  Over 110 million unexploded landmines lie buried in these countries.  There are estimated to be 37 million unexploded mines in Africa, Angola alone has 10 million, with 70,000 amputee children.  A landmine can remain deadly for up to 50 years. 

Gideon is a fascinating character in the Old Testament.  As one of Israel’s judges (more is written about him in the book of Judges than any other character) he defeated 120,000 of the enemy with 300 men armed only with pitchers, ram’s horns for trumpets and lanterns.  Pretty heady stuff.  But he’s also known as the man who asked God for a fleece, even after he’d already been told by God what He was going to do and after God had already given him another sign.  In fact, Gideon had at least 4 signs from God before the battle began!  Still…his name is in the roll call of the great people of faith in Hebrews 11, and mine isn’t!

But what happened after the battle is what is often overlooked.  Gideon had started out fearful and humble.  God won a great victory over the enemies of Israel through Gideon.  And after the battle and its immediate aftermath, Gideon seems to have lost some perspective.  He acted in a very vindictive manner against the foreign kings and against the people of the tribe of Gad.  He told the people that he wouldn’t be king, but that the Lord would rule over them, but there’s no indication that he ever called the nation to repentance and worship of the one true God.  He started living as if he were a king…and in fact, he named one of his sons, Abimelech, which means “my father is king”.  He was wealthy and seems to have grown a bit lackadaisical.  Abimelech was one of 70 sons born to Gideon, and he wound up murdering his 69 brothers.

At the end of the battle, it appears that all will end well with Gideon, that he’s now a solid man with his head screwed on straight.  But there were landmines in his heart and in the things that surrounded him.  And clearly, judging by the results to his family, the dangers of war linger long after the last battle had taken place.  Heroes in battle are not always heroes in everyday life. 

Presbyterian pastor Andrew Bonar wisely said, “Let us be as watchful after the victory as before the battle.”  We have been given a great victory by the Lord our God – victory over death, over sin, over the old man and even victory over the enemy of our souls.  But, let’s not forget that there are plenty of landmines out there waiting for a wayward step.  We need to be watchful. 

No matter who you are, moral laxness will cause problems.  Just because you have won a single battle with temptation does not mean you will automatically win the next one.  We need to be constantly watchful against temptation.  Sometimes Satan’s strongest attacks come after a victory.

Psalms 60:12 (NIV) With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.

PRAYER: Lord, we are grateful for what You have done for us and through us.  Thank You for the victories – great and small, that we experience because of You.  Help us to watch our step and be ever alert, for even though the war is won, we don’t want to lose victories along the way.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/10/17 – Come, Sit With Me

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DayBreaks for 11/10/17: Come, Sit With Me

NOTE: Galen is traveling.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Today I’m just going to share this story told by Larry Crabb in his book, The Pressure’s Off (2002):

One Saturday afternoon, I decided I was a big boy and could use the bathroom without anyone’s help.  So I climbed the stairs, closed and locked the door behind me, and for the next few minutes felt very self-sufficient.

Then it was time to leave. I couldn’t unlock the door.  I tried with every ounce of my three-year-old strength, but I couldn’t do it.  I panicked. I felt again like a very little boy as the thought went through my head, “I might spend the rest of my life in this bathroom.”

My parents—and likely the neighbors—heard my desperate scream.

“Are you okay?” Mother shouted through the door she couldn’t open from the outside.  “Did you fall? Have you hit your head?”

“I can’t unlock the door!” I yelled.  “Get me out of here!”

I wasn’t aware of it right then, but Dad raced down the stairs, ran to the garage to find the ladder, hauled it off the hooks, and leaned it against the side of the house just beneath the bedroom window.  With adult strength, he pried it open, then climbed into my prison, walked past me, and with that same strength, turned the lock and opened the door.

“Thanks, Dad,” I said—and ran out to play.

That’s how I thought the Christian life was supposed to work.  When I get stuck in a tight place, I should do all I can to free myself.  When I can’t, I should pray.  Then God shows up. He hears my cry—”Get me out of here!  I want to play!”—and unlocks the door to the blessings I desire.

Sometimes he does.  But now, no longer three years old and approaching sixty, I’m realizing the Christian life doesn’t work that way.  And I wonder, are any of us content with God?  Do we even like him when he doesn’t open the door we most want opened—when a marriage doesn’t heal, when rebellious kids still rebel, when friends betray, when financial reverses threaten our comfortable way of life, when the prospect of terrorism looms, when health worsens despite much prayer, when loneliness intensifies and depression deepens, when ministries die?

God has climbed through the small window into my dark room.  But he doesn’t walk by me to turn the lock that I couldn’t budge.  Instead, he sits down on the bathroom floor and says, “Come sit with me!”  He seems to think that climbing into the room to be with me matters more than letting me out to play.

I don’t always see it that way.  “Get me out of here!” I scream.  “If you love me, unlock the door!”

Dear friend, the choice is ours.  Either we can keep asking him to give us what we think will make us happy—to escape our dark room and run to the playground of blessings—or we can accept his invitation to sit with him, for now, perhaps, in darkness, and to seize the opportunity to know him better and represent him well in this difficult world.

PRAYER: Lord, let us sit with You today and not run off into some other less beneficial and joyful activity.  May we find in You our greatest joy! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/18/17 – Living With an Intruder

DayBreaks for 9/18/17 – Living With an Intruder

Normally, I try to hold DayBreaks to a spiritual bent.  While today’s message is about spiritual things, it’s also about physical things.  Dick Peterson and his wife, Elizabeth, have been married for 37 years and they live in South Carolina.  They are fellow Christians, and today I’m sharing some of Dick’s writings.  For a number of years now, they have been living with an intruder: Elizabeth has MS.  This is just a part of the article, but I found it to be profound and thought-provoking.  It has certainly caused me to do some soul searching of my own.  I think that you may benefit from the part of it that I’m including.  You seldom find such gut-wrenching and soul-searching honesty. – Galen

“We both pray for healing.  With our families and our church, we agonize before God for a return to the day when Elizabeth can offer an open handshake instead of a permanently clenched fist, or take a flight of stairs without thought.

“But if we only grieve the loss, we miss the gain—that what this disease does to us may also be done for us.  Even as the MS steals abilities from Elizabeth’s life, a healing grows almost undetected inside.  When we talk about this, Elizabeth wonders aloud, “Did it really take this to teach me that my soul is more important to God than my body?”

“And I ask, “Is this what Jesus meant when he taught his disciples to serve?  When he washed their feet, did he look 2,000 years into the future and see me washing my wife’s clothes and helping her onto her shower seat to bathe?  Did it really take this to teach me compassion?”

“Could it be that God in his wisdom and love gives Elizabeth and me this disease to heal us from the inside out in ways he considers far more important than how efficiently nerve signals travel from her brain to her muscles?

“Whom do I love more?

“God’s healing can be sneaky.  We pray that Elizabeth will resume her old life; he wants her to assume a new life.  We long for change on the outside; he desires change on the inside.  We pray for what we want; he answers with what he knows we need.

“Is it wrong to want a whole, functioning body?  Not at all.  But though we focus naturally on the flesh, this disease compels Elizabeth and me to turn our minds to the Spirit.  The apostle Paul said, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6, NASB).  How unexpected is that?

“Truth be told, Elizabeth and I are still learning the realities of that revelation.  She tells me that when she had no choice but to submit to multiple sclerosis, she learned how to submit to her Lord.

“And he has made me question whom it is I love.

“When I pray for healing, is it for Elizabeth?  Or is it because her healing would make life so much easier for me?  I challenge, “Aren’t you the God who heals?  I love her and I want her well.”  But in the back of my mind I know I also want her healed for me.

“In response to my challenge, Jesus asks me as he asked Peter, “Do you love me more than these?”  I think, He wants me to love him more than my wife?  So I reply with Peter’s words, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.”

“Tend My lambs” (John 21:15), he tells me.

“I care for Elizabeth.  She’s his lamb.  Doesn’t that show I love him?

“But what is he really asking?  He’s asking if I love him more than these things I say I want, the things I’d have if this disease would just go away.  Now my answer’s not nearly as glib.  Can I actually love God more than my wife, but not more than these things I say I want?  They’re not bad things: a happy, healthy life together, a stroll on the beach without a wheelchair to become bogged down in the sand, getting to church on time because she can dress herself.

“The exposure shames me.  Do I love him more than these?” – Dick Peterson, Christianity Today/Marriage Partnership Magazine, 2007

PRAYER:  Father, I am humbled by this couple and the lessons you’ve been teaching them, and us through them.  These questions gnaw at my inner being.  I can’t answer them, and although I can’t find the answers in myself, Lord, You know…You alone know how I would react, and whether or not I love you “more than these.”  Hear our humble confession and help us to learn what love truly means and does.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.