DayBreaks for 07/31/12 – God the Shepherd

DayBreaks for 07/3112 – God the Shepherd

The Lord is my shepherd…” (Ps. 23:1a)

I have often thought about the metaphors that scripture uses to describe God.  There are many!  God is simply too large to be contained in one single metaphor or analogy.  In Traveling Light, Max Lucado takes a look at the 23rd Psalm and he (as usual) had some interesting insights.

When I have thought about the concept of the shepherd, my mind (as is humanly selfish) is often drawn to what that analogy means about ME.  I spent my first 8 years or so on a farm with sheep and other animals, and I can tell you that being described as a sheep is not flattering.  Sheep are stubborn.  Sheep are stupid.  Sheep are fearful.  Sheep are prone to wander off.  Sheep, to put it delicately…stink.  And their wool doesn’t lend itself to cleanliness.  Sheep aren’t much good for anything except eating, shearing, being eaten or sleeping.  Sheep need someone to lead them.  Not a bad description of us as humans, right?

But Max turned the concept around and instead of focusing on what the sheep metaphor means about us he probed on what it means about the Shepherd.  Listen to his thoughts about this analogy: “Couldn’t David have thought of a better metaphor?  Surely he could have.  After all, he outran Saul and outgunned Goliath.  Why didn’t he choose something other than sheep?

“How about: ‘The Lord is my commander-in-chief, and I am his warrior.’  There.  We like that better.  A warrior gets a uniform and a weapon, maybe even a medal.

“Or, ‘The Lord is my inspiration, and I am his singer.’  We are in God’s choir; what a flattering assignment.

“Or, ‘The Lord is my king, and I am his ambassador.’  Who wouldn’t like to be a spokesman for God?

“Everyone stops when the ambassador speaks.  Everyone listens when God’s minstrel sings.  Everyone applauds when God’s warrior passes.

“But who notices when God’s sheep show up?  Who notices when the sheep sing or speak or act?  Only one person notices.   The Shepherd.  And that is precisely David’s point.”

I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to make too much of scripture focus on ME (the sheep) when I should be focusing on what it is saying about GOD (the Shepherd).  God, the Shepherd, is the one who notices.  No one else does.  But He is enough!!!

PRAYER: Let us be content to be Your sheep and to keep the focus on You, our Shepherd.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 07/30/12 – When Your Hut Burns Down

DayBreaks for 07/30/12 – When Your Hut Burns Down

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions.

But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened; everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger. “God, how could you do this to me!” he cried. Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. “How did you know I was here?” asked the weary man of his rescuers. “We saw your smoke signal,” they replied.

It is easy to get discouraged when things are going bad. But we shouldn’t lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering. Remember, next time your little hut is burning to the ground – it just may be a smoke signal that summons the grace of God. For all he negative things we have to say to ourselves, God has a positive answer for it.  (Source unknown)

Psalm 88:15 – 89:2 show us the range of human emotions we experience: “15 From my youth I have been afflicted and close to death; I have suffered your terrors and am in despair.  16 Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me.  17 All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me.  18 You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend.

I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.  2 I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself.

PRAYER: Hear us when we cry to You in our terrors and despair!  Be not far from us and reassure us of Your unending love and goodness!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 07/27/12 – That Is What I Want

DayBreaks for 07/27/12 – That Is What I Want

Dwight L. Moody told this story: “A lady in Wales told me this story: An English friend of hers, a. mother, had a child that was sick. At first they considered there was no danger, until one day the doctor came in and said that the symptoms were very unfavourable. He took the mother out of the room, and told her that the child could not live. The news came like a thunderbolt. After the doctor had gone, the mother went into the room where the child lay and began to talk to the child, and tried to divert its mind.

“Darling, do you know you will soon hear the music of heaven? You will hear a sweeter song than you have ever heard on earth. You will hear them sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. You are very fond of music. Won’t it be sweet, darling?”

“And the little tired, sick child turned its head away, and said, “O mamma, I am so tired and so sick, that I think it would make me worse to hear all that music.”

“Well,” the mother said, “you will soon see Jesus. You will see the seraphim and cherubim, and the streets all paved with gold”; and she went on picturing heaven as it is described in Revelation.

“The little tired child again turned its head away, and said. “O mamma, I am so tired, that I think it would make me worse to see all those beautiful things!”

“At last the mother took the child up in her arms, and pressed her to her loving heart. And the little sick one whispered – “O mamma, that is what I want. If Jesus will only take me in His arms and let me rest!”

Come unto me all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28

PRAYER: Hold us, Lord, for we are weary and tired and weak.  We are sick with sin, feverish in our delusions, and we need you to hold us and give us that rest!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 07/26/12 – You Are Unable

DayBreaks for 07/26/12 – You Are Unable

One of His ambassadors…

 “You teach,” said the Emperor Trajan to Rabbi Joshua, “that your God is everywhere, and boast that He resides among your nation; I should like to see Him.”

“God’s presence is indeed everywhere,” replied Joshua, “but He cannot be seen. No mortal eye can behold His glory.”

The Emperor insisted. “Well,” said Joshua “suppose we try to look first at one of His ambassadors.” The Emperor consented.

The Rabbi took him into the open air at noonday and bade him look at the sun in its blazing splendor. “I cannot,” said Trajan. “The light dazzles me.”

“You are unable,” said Joshua, “to endure the light of one of His creatures, and can you expect to behold the resplendent glory of the Creator? Would not the brightness of His glory annihilate you?”

This same thought is expressed in the Bible in 1 Timothy 6:16, Who only hath immortality, dwelling in light unapproachable; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power eternal.

We often sing songs about seeing Jesus and the bliss that will be.  I don’t doubt for a second that it will be the greatest moment of our lives.  He will be glorious.  We will be amazed.  We will be dazzled.  It is what we have waited for for so long!

If someone, though, were to say to a skeptic or doubter, “Suppose we try to look first at one of His ambassadors,” would what would the skeptic think if they brought him/her to see me?  Are we not his ambassadors, too?  We may not be luminous as the sun in its glory, but we are to represent Him.  How are we doing?

PRAYER: Let our lives be a testimony to your greatness, your glory, your majesty – to all who wish to see You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 07/24/12 – What We Should Study

DayBreaks for 07/24/12 – What We Should Study

It never fails: after a tragedy like the shooting in Aurora or the horrible shooting a year ago in Norway where Anders Behring Breivik killed 69 people, there is talk of studying those who perpetrate such atrocities with the hope being that we can identify the type of person and signs of stress that lead someone to do such a thing and thereby prevent such future tragedies in the future.  I understand that.  There is a certain sensibility to it.  Again today, let me turn to John Ortberg for a different twist on that idea.

“One thing is clear: Jesus pairs deliverance from the evil one with “Lead us not into temptation.” The primary path of deliverance involves loving and knowing God.

“The human heart will ultimately be governed by a power greater than the human heart.”

“In the old days when money used to grow on trees (or at least get printed on paper that came from trees), people who were experts at spotting counterfeit bills didn’t spend their time studying counterfeit bills; they spent their time studying the real thing so closely that the imposter became obvious. The evil one is called an “angel of light” because of the ease with which we will rationalize giving in to temptation. Our safety lies, not primarily in knowing the enemy better, but in knowing our Father better.” – Ortberg, Fighting the Good Fight, Leadership Journal, Spring 2012

The better we know God the easier it will be to detect counterfeit gods.  They will leap out to our attention as clearly as we can distinguish day from night.  Perhaps the lack of study of God’s Word, which along with the life of the Son most clearly reveals to us what God is like, is why so many are led off track by pretenders to the throne of the Almighty.

Isaiah 43:10 (NLT) – “But you are my witnesses, O Israel!” says the LORD. “You are my servant. You have been chosen to know me, believe in me, and understand that I alone am God. There is no other God— there never has been, and there never will be.”

PRAYER: God, let us know the True You, and never be taken advantage of by the appeals of those who claim You throne, but who are headed for destruction.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 07/23/12 – Where Evil Calls Home

DayBreaks for 07/23/12 – Where Evil Calls Home

This past week we witnessed via television and the media, the horror of another mass killing, this one in Aurora, CO.  Let me first say that we all should be praying for the victims and the people involved with this tragedy.  It is senseless, it is numbing, it is evil.  We may search forever in our human “wisdom” and never understand this tragedy.  As a way of thinking differently about it, perhaps, let me share this story from John Ortberg:

“Because we live in a largely therapeutic culture, evil is a slowly disappearing concept. But every once in a while we are shaken by a holocaust, a genocide, or the destruction of a World Trade Center, and we remember why we need that word. The Bible reminds us that we battle “evil in the heavenly places.”

Psychiatrist Scott Peck wrote of meeting with a depressed 15-year-old named Bobby, who was increasingly troubled after his 16-year-old brother killed himself with a .22 rifle.

“Peck tried to probe Bobby’s mind, but got nowhere. Searching for ways to establish a bond, he asked what Bobby had received from his parents for Christmas. “A gun,” Bobby said. Peck was stunned.

“What kind?”

“A .22.”

“More stunned. “How did it make you feel, getting the same kind of gun your brother killed himself with?”

“It wasn’t the same kind of gun.” Peck felt better.

“It was the same gun.”

“Bobby had been given, as a Christmas present, by his parents, the gun his brother used to kill himself.

When Peck met with the parents, what was most striking was their deliberate refusal to acknowledge any wrongdoing on their part. They would not tolerate any concern for their son, or any attempt to look at moral reality.

“Two decades later and after his conversion to Christianity, Peck wrote about this encounter: “One thing has changed in twenty years. I now know Bobby’s parents were evil. I did not know it then. I felt their evil but had no vocabulary for it. My supervisors were not able to help me name what I was facing. The name did not exist in our professional vocabulary. As scientists rather than priests, we were not supposed to think in such terms.”

“Interestingly enough, although Peck often worked with convicted prisoners, he rarely found evil there. Evil, he finally decided, is not primarily indicated simply by sinful acts. Rather, it is the refusal to tolerate one’s sense of sinfulness: “The central defect of evil is not the sin but the refusal to acknowledge it.” This definition is reflective of Jesus’ far greater severity in dealing with religious leaders than with prostitutes and tax collectors.” – John Ortberg, Fighting the Good Fight, Leadership Journal, Spring 2012

PRAYER: For the victims of evil in this world, Lord, we pray.  We lift up their families to You for comfort which we are totally unable to give.  Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 07/20/12 – It Makes a Difference

DayBreaks for 07/20/12 – It Makes a Difference

It makes a difference…

Ephesians 6:12 (NLT) – For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

There is a story that is told about a U.S. Army officer regarding his pupils during two different eras of teaching at the artillery training school at Fort Sill, Oklahoma (Home of the Field Artillery). In 1958-60 the attitude was so lax that the instructors had a problem getting the men to stay awake to hear the lectures. During the 1965-67 classes, however, the men, hearing the same basic lectures, were alert and took copious notes. What made the difference in the class of 65? They knew that in less than six weeks they would be facing the enemy in Vietnam.

If we were to apply this to the Christian, it would go something like this: If you really believed that tomorrow you would be wrestling with the Devil himself, how would you spend today?   How would your worship be different?  How would your devotional life be different?  How about your prayer life?

How did you worship this past Sunday?  This week have you kept your quiet time with Him daily because you knew that every day when you woke that you would be facing all the wiles of the evil one?

Maybe our problem is simple: we don’t really believe we are in a battle.  We may think it’s a nice little analogy that is meant to manipulate us into awareness and action, but we don’t really believe there is an enemy that is just waiting to tear us to shreds like an angry grizzly mother defending her cubs.  Satan is that real, and more.

How will we prepare for the battle today?  If we believe Ephesian 6:12, we’ll be deadly serious and pay attention to the Manual and the Teacher!

PRAYER: Create in us the sense of seriousness that is appropriate for the real battle in which we are engaged!!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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