DayBreaks for 2/05/16 – How Big is God?

DayBreaks for 2/05/16: How Big is God?

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2006:

I’m sure that people have wondered since the very beginning of time: how big is God?  Of course, the question isn’t limited to just God, but pretty much to all things heavenly.  In some of the Jewish apocryphal writings (Enoch), the writer was talking about angels and suggested that the rainbow that is pictured over the head of angels is Jewish thought was reputed to be 500 years journey above the head of the angel.  But then, on the other hand, others debate endlessly (and foolishly) about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin!

Quite frankly, I don’t really care about how big angels are.  I’m not depending on any “mere” angel to save me or deliver me.  That’s God’s job!  And that’s why it matters how big He is, I suppose.  We, poor excuses for spiritual beings that we are, tend to equate power with size.  We think that the bigger someone is, the more powerful they are and are therefore either more able to protect and deliver us, or to hurt us.  That’s because we are used to bigger people or animals being stronger than smaller ones.  And so, I suppose, most of us have a picture of God in our head that has Him being pretty big and strong looking.

Well, I’m happy to say that I think I’ve settled once and for all the question of “How big is God?” and I’m ready to share it with you! 

How big is God?  He’s big enough to calm a child’s fears.  He’s big enough to deal with an adolescent’s confusion.  He’s big enough to hold an adult’s hand as they face the heartbreak of rebellious children, a relationship that is broken, or a life that is coming to an end.  In short (no pun intended!), God is as big as He needs to be in order to everything He said He would ever do.  And that’s plenty big enough to meet every one of our needs, to shelter and protect us and to safely carry us home!

TODAY’S PRAYER:  Thank you, God, for being up to the job of taking care of our physical bodies in this world, of protecting us from the power of sin and death, and for being able to get us safely back to Your home.  When we are tempted to feel that life is caving in on us, help us to remember how great You are!  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 2/04/16 – What Are You Wearing?

DayBreaks for 2/04/16: What Are You Wearing?

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2006:

Happy feet.  That’s a term that could describe the kind of feet that dance and skip – feet that have to move because they are too full of joy and happiness to stand still!

In Psalm 30:11-12, David wrote: You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.  You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever!

There are four key thoughts in this passage:

FIRST: As David puts it in past tense, “You HAVE turned my mourning into joyful dancing.”  That this is in the past tense is significant: it isn’t some blissful state in the future that David anticipates, but a present reality in his life.  It wasn’t something that he had to wait for until after he was dead – it was a blessing that he was enjoying as he went through this life.

SECOND: not only did God wipe away the tears of David’s mourning, he took David’s sackcloth away.  Sackcloth was the clothing of mourning, and the fact that God has taken it away and clothed David with joy is a beautiful picture.  The clothes of mourning don’t belong to David any longer – they can’t be found in his closet any longer – they’ve been replaced with the garments of joy!

THIRD: there was a purpose that God took away the sackcloth and gave David happy feet – it was so David would no longer be held captive by the silent suffering of mourning, but so that he could sing praises to God and give Him glory!  Notice who David said he would sing the praises to: “to You”, not to hundreds or thousands of people.  It is God that should hear our praises of His greatness.  We sometimes think that God heals our hurts and pains just because He wants us to feel better.  And while that may be true, there is always a bigger and greater purpose to God’s actions than just relieving us – it is to bring glory to Himself. 

FOURTH: when we begin to praise God regularly, it leads us to thankfulness – a thankfulness that is never-ending. 

Joy has a need to be expressed.  How is it being expressed in my life?  Am I clothed with joy or with sullenness and despair?  And when I am clothed with joy, do I take time to think of Him and thank Him?

Let’s try to visualize ourselves clothed in joy – the joy of the Lord – and to praise him.  I shouldn’t do it to see what kind of reaction it draws from those around me, or to have an impact on them (although that may happen), but I should do it simply to be praising Him.

TODAY’S PRAYER:  We have been blessed, Lord, with every spiritual blessing in You.  We have everything we need in this life in order to live lives of joy and happiness.  We have your blessings here on earth, we have an eternal home secured for us in the heavens, you have set us free from fear of death and the guilt of sin.  Father, clothe us in Your joy!  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 2/03/16 – Something to Count On

DayBreaks for 2/03/16: Something to Count On

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2006:

Ps. 33:4 – For the word of the LORD holds true, and everything he does is worthy of our trust. (NLT)

In a world of great and vast uncertainty, what would you give for something that you can always count on?  Many have put their trust in precious gems or metals, only to find them decline in value or to be stolen.  The stock market crashes of the depression years showed the futility of the words of stock brokers – and “paper money” that was only worth something at certain times.  It was just recently that the anniversary of the Challenger disaster was observed.  There were 7 people who put their faith in NASA and in a very large and complicated piece of machinery – only to find that their confidence was misplaced because of nothing more sinister than cold temperatures that damaged the seal on the booster rocket. 

Throughout the centuries, people have believed things to be true which were later proven false: the earth is flat, the solar system revolves around the earth, the earth rides on the back of a giant tortoise, the concept of spontaneous generation of life from rotting meat – these are all just a few examples.  Sadly, many have put their complete trust in the words of their beloved as they stood at the altar and made their wedding vows: “I will keep myself to you and you alone, for as long as we both shall live,” only to find that those words weren’t true, either. 

The Psalmist is clear: if you are looking for something that will always hold true, look to the Word of the Lord.  But just because something is true doesn’t mean that it is good that it’s true.  But with God, “everything He does is worthy of our trust.”  What does that mean?  It means His word is true, and that what he does can be counted on as being right, good, wholesome for us as individuals, i.e., “worthy of our trust”.  This is, indeed, good news!  By contrast, there is nothing else in the universe that will hold true except the Word of the Lord.  In an ever-changing world where we even hear about comets far off in space that may be targeting our little blue planet, the one thing we can ALWAYS count on it His Word!

We are far too prone to trust our own understanding – listening, if you will, to our own “words of wisdom”, formulating our plans and then trusting in those plans and our ingenuity to make it all come to pass as planned.  Instead of racking our brains to try to figure things out, we’d be far better served to search the Word for the principles and truths that will always yield sweet fruit when followed faithfully.

TODAY’S PRAYER:  It is hard for us prideful beings to admit that we don’t have it all figured out, Lord.  We think we’re so smart and yet we put our faith in the wrong things over and over again.  We confess to you our foolishness and ask you to help us to remember that only You are absolutely trustworthy – in all Your actions, promises and words.  May we look to Your Word for the only sure answers to this life and the next!  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 2/02/16 – A Burden too Heavy to Bear

DayBreaks for 2/02/16: A Burden too Heavy to Bear

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2006:

Ps. 38:3-8 NLT – Because of your anger, my whole body is sick; my health is broken because of my sins. 4 My guilt overwhelms me — it is a burden too heavy to bear. 5 My wounds fester and stink because of my foolish sins. 6 I am bent over and racked with pain.  My days are filled with grief.  7 A raging fever burns within me, and my health is broken.  8 I am exhausted and completely crushed.  My groans come from an anguished heart.

When was the last time that I felt this sick about my sin?   I don’t think that David was particularly speaking about physical bodily illness, but his emotional and spiritual state were so severely affected by his sinfulness that it may well have caused him physical problems.  He says “My whole body is sick…”, indicating that it had affected him in all aspects of his being.  How could David in one Psalm and at one moment be so confident of his forgiveness and freedom from guilt, and yet be so abjectly broken as he is here?  Could it be that he had been harboring a secret sin in his heart, his “besetting” sin that was haunting him and he was feeling defeated? 

Why don’t I feel so badly about my sins?  Have I gone overboard in thinking about and emphasizing His grace?  And how can you overemphasize the magnitude of His grace towards us which is beyond our ability to grasp?  Yet, I do have some sense of what David was feeling.  I’ve felt hopelessly overcome with sin, so fully tainted that I can’t imagine that God would even want to look at me – let alone forgive me.  When that happens, I must remember that those are lies from Satan.  God does want to love me, to look at me, to hold me and forgive.  Thank God for His forgiving heart!  But, I think from the tone of this psalm, there is value in feeling our brokenness…it led David to confession and to seek the Lord’s forgiveness.  Perhaps sometimes just grief isn’t enough…we need to be driven to utter despair before we turn to Him!

We shouldn’t run or try to hide from feelings of deep brokenness and sinfulness.  They are therapeutic.  They are for our good – to remind us that we need to get right with God once again and to turn from our evilness.  And when we do, and we take His yoke back up again, we find that it is much easier to carry than the burden that is to heavy to bear.

TODAY’S PRAYER:  Thank you for the reminder from the Psalmist of the value of brokenness.  Thank you for his tender heart.  Please create within us a heart that is vulnerable, a heart that can feel the burden of our sin that will turn us back to You in repentance and confession.  Help us to find healing for our brokenness in You alone, and not to seek it in the pathways of sin.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

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 2/1/16: Holy Land Lessons – The Stones Will Cry Out

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Interior of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, Israel. Galen C. Dalrymple, 2016.

Luke 19:39-40 (KJV) – And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

It was what we call the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. The crowds were cheering the man from Galilee. No doubt many were thinking that this was the time when Rome would be overthrown and the Jewish people would once again be freed from the oppression of the great empire. One thing that galled the people was that the temple which had been constructed by Herod was overshadowed on one side by the fortress Antonia, from which Roman soldiers could peer down into the temple grounds to keep a close eye on those worshiping there. 

But on this day, there was cheering. The ruling clique of religious leaders in Jerusalem were very distressed about all the noise and clamor. The Romans didn’t like boisterous crowds (except in the Coliseum and at their own revels) and would often react with great and swift violence to quell any possible disturbance. That is probably at least part of the reason the religious rulers were disturbed by the noise. 

I believe they were also disturbed because Jesus was getting so much attention. The masses of people in Israel despised their own religious leaders with good reason, for they were corrupt and in cahoots with Rome whenever it suited their purposes. 

But none of that is the point. The point is that Jesus’ statement about the stones along the road crying out gives me pause to think. I, like most people, like it when people sing my praises. In such a situation we don’t mind being the center of attention. Jesus, as the incarnate Son of God, had created those stones that were along the side of the road. It seems that Jesus is suggesting that even the inanimate things of creation know their Creator and will give him praise.

And that gives me reason to ponder my own attitude of praise toward Jesus. Do I find myself so compelled by wonder and love and appreciation that I give him the praise He is due? In today’s photo that I took inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, it seems as if the stones of that building are reaching skyward to sing glory to His name. While I was there, did I? Barely. And that shames me, for He certainly is worthy of my shouts of praise!

PRAYER: Jesus, You deserve every bit of praise that my poor soul can lift to You. Let my entire life be a song of praise, an offering of love and devotion, to You for what You have done for us all! Forgive my silence. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/29/16 – What the Incarnation Meant to God

DayBreaks for 1/28/16: He Is Thinking of Me Right Now

From the DayBreaks archive, January 2006:

I know, I know, Christmas is over.  But, there’s only 332 shopping days left until it comes again!  We talk about the Incarnation a lot at Christmas time – and we should.  The incarnation was crucial for us – it was the answer to the ageless question of each generation of people since the beginning of time: “What is God like?”  Jesus’ response to the disciples request to show them the Father was essentially this: “Do you see me?  Then you’ve seen God.  If you know what I’m like, you’ll know what God is like, for I am the exact image of the Father.”

So, were it not for the Incarnation, we would still be asking the question that the disciples, and billions of others throughout the history of the world, have asked.  So we find meaning in the Incarnation.

But what of God?  Did the Incarnation have meaning to Him in some way that we might have missed?  I believe so.  In Where is God When It Hurts?, Philip Yancey suggested: “…the Incarnation had meaning for God as well as for us.  Human history revolves around not our experience of God, but His experience of us.  On one level, of course, God understood physical pain, for he designed the marvelous nervous system that warns against harm.  But had he, a Spirit, ever felt physical pain?  Not until the Incarnation…In thirty-three years on earth, Jesus learned about hardship and rejection and betrayal.  And he learned too about pain: what it feels like to have an accuser leave the red imprint of his fingers on your face, to have a whip studded with metal lash across your back, to have a crude iron spike pounded through muscle, tendon, and bone.  On earth, the Son of God learned all that.”

There are other Scriptures that suggest that Jesus learned things while he was here, living through the human experience.  He learned obedience by the things he suffered.  He learned the nauseating sense of fear that can make us all sweat – even if we never sweat drops of blood from the intensity as He did.  When the Spirit of Christ took on flesh, there must have been many things that God felt for the first time.  He bore it all, without sin, not because it was pleasant for Him, but because it was necessary for him to make him into our perfect high priest, able to sympathize with all our human condition.

TODAY’S PRAYER:  Lord, when we hurt it is such a blessing to be able to speak to someone who has felt what we feel, who has endured what we must suffer.  Thank You, for being willing to take on such humiliation, and such pain, so that You would understand us.  Thank You for letting us see Your heart in Jesus on the cross.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.