DayBreaks for 08/31/12 – Infused by God

DayBreaks for 08/31/12 – Infused by God

(NOTE: Galen will be traveling for the next week and will have very limited access to email to respond to comments/questions.  Thanks for your understanding!)

Jeremiah 18:5-6 – “5 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 6 “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.

Yesterday’s DayBreaks had to do with the illustration of God as the potter and we as his clay.  The second point I got out of a recent talk I heard had to do with the inability of the clay to do or be anything other than what it is without the potter’s handling of it.

We like to think that we know what is best for ourselves and even others – especially those we love.  We think “if only this, or that”, we would be happy.  The plain truth is that without God enabling us we couldn’t even continue living, much less order our own lives to make us happy.

A lump of clay can’t do anything with itself and simply remains a lump of clay.  But when a potter handles the clay, he infuses his ideas, skill and knowledge into it and out of what is in the potter, comes what is created.  It is the same with God and us.  When he “molds us and makes us after his will” he infuses his Spirit into us, making us into what fulfills the potential he knows we have that He himself put into us.  More than that, through his Spirit, he makes us more Christ-like.  He fills that “God-shaped hole” in us with himself and we become what he has had in mind for us to be throughout eternity.

Is that why people who have refused God won’t be with him in eternity?  Is it that lumps of clay without the spirit of their Maker in them have nothing eternal to live on with?  I don’t know, but it is worth remembering these things when what we are going through seems too hard to bear.

I am eager to find out what God intends me to be throughout eternity.  And I’m eager to see how much more wonderful my loved ones and friends will be when I see what God has fashioned them to be!

PRAYER:  I yield, Lord.  I’ve fought you most of my life and I still do, day by day.  I know I shall fight you again, but what I really want is to be what You intend for me to be in eternity.  Until that day, hold me!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 08/30/12 – Finished Products In Eternity

DayBreaks for 08/30/12 – Finished Products In Eternity

(NOTE: Galen will be traveling for the next week and will have very limited access to email to respond to comments/questions.  Thanks for your understanding!)

Romans 9:19-21 – “19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?'”   21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?

Most of us have heard of or read the various scriptures that use the illustration of God being the Potter and we being the clay.  The points usually made have to do with God, who is our Creator and Maker, having the absolute right to “mold us and make us” according to his wishes.  The point is also usually made that we, as the created ones, have no right to challenge how he chooses to do this molding.

There are may possible applications to the “potter and clay” illustration but a couple I hadn’t thought of before were touched on recently in a talk I heard.

The fact that God as the creator of everything is the original artist.   He created beauty in the world around us and that is what he intends for us.  As a priceless violin that would deteriorate without being played, we would deteriorate without our Master’s hand on us.  A Stradivarius that is played by an expert forcefully and skillfully actually improves the violin’s quality and ability to make beautiful music.  We know that God uses us and shapes us quite forcefully at times for our own good and for the beauty of his purposes.  But did you ever think that God is making us more beautiful?  Anything created out of clay by an artist is more beautiful than the lump he started with, but can you imagine the beauty of all the people you see around you looking so ordinary and mundane on the outside when they are revealed as finished products in eternity?

PRAYER:  Lord, I often feel anything BUT beautiful.  I know and hate my sin!  Yet, hoping against hope, believing against my feelings, I believe You are making me beautiful, someone who can abide Your Presence and glory, and that some day, I shall be at home with You, a finished lump of clay made beautiful by Your work in me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 08/29/12 – No Boundaries

DayBreaks for 08/29/12 – No Boundaries

(NOTE: Galen will be traveling for the next week and will have very limited access to email to respond to comments/questions.  Thanks for your understanding!)

Lazarus has died; Jesus goes to his house, and Lazarus’ sisters speak with him.  “If you had been here, my brother would not have died,” Mary said (John 11:32).  Mary has learned so much, and she shows great faith.  She affirms that Jesus Christ holds power over who is sick and who is healthy, over who is diseased and who is made whole.  She has seen Jesus heal before, and she knows that he could have healed her brother.  But she weeps, for her brother is dead and Jesus has come too late.

Martha has also spoken with Jesus, earlier and alone.  Like her sister, she says “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  Martha shows faith in this, but her faith is greater still.  She continues, “But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him” (11:22).

Mary knew that Jesus had the power to make the sick well.  She had seen it.  What she did not know, and what her sister believes, is that Jesus also has the power to make the dead live.  I believe there are two lessons that we can draw from this story:

FIRST: Our God specializes in the impossible.  We do not worship the God of rational possibility; we worship the God for whom ALL things are possible, who created the physical world and all of its laws, and may work through or beyond those laws to do whatever He pleases.  Like Abraham, we worship the God “who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist” (Romans 4:17).  Therefore, we “hope against hope” (v.18).  We put aside all of our petty notions of what is possible or conceivable, and we trust that all things are possible for God.

SECOND: It is NEVER too late for God.  Don’t put time limits on He who holds time and everything in it in the palm of His hand.  If ever there was a hard-and-fast time limit, Mary had found it.  Her brother was dead.  What can possibly be more irreversible than death?  The clock was counting down, Jesus didn’t come…Lazarus was breathing his last breaths, Jesus didn’t come…his pulse was losing strength, Jesus didn’t come…his eyes glazed over and he was gone, Jesus never came, and it was over.  The tragedy, in Mary’s mind, was that Jesus came too late to save her brother.  But Mary underestimated God, who has power over life and death, who brought space and time into being and who infinitely transcends His creation.  There is no such thing as a boundary for God.  There is no horizon of impossibility for our Lord.  It is never too late for God to transform the situation in ways that we cannot imagine or comprehend.

What do you need to hope for, beyond all reasonable hope?  What desire of your heart has come and gone, such that you think it is “too late,” even for God?  What God has promised, no matter how impossible it may appear, He will be faithful to provide.

PRAYER:  Jesus, as I fight my way through life and the struggles of each hour, I often despair and think that things are horrible and that they will never end well.  Help me remember you are the Lord of the Impossible, a God with no boundaries to what You can do!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 08/28/12 – Emotional Idolatry

DayBreaks for 08/28/12 – Emotional Idolatry

 

(NOTE: Galen will be traveling for the next week and will have very limited access to email to respond to comments/questions.  Thanks for your understanding!)

At a recent conference of evangelical Chinese churches I served as a small-group leader for 17 year-old youths.  Although they came from various geographical and socio-economic backgrounds, attended churches that differed from each other in many respects, and possessed vibrantly different characters and personalities, they were all united by one thing.  Each of these youths confessed that, after many years of attending this annual gathering, they were no longer “getting anything out of” the worship services.  Each of them was frightened by this fact, and suspected that he was in the process of losing his faith.

When I questioned what they expected to “get out of” the worship services, it became clear that what they had once experienced, and what they were now seeking to re-experience, was a powerful emotional response to the service.  In years past, they had raised their arms in unison with hundreds of their peers, they had sung, danced and wept in a collective ecstatic experience of joy, passion and love.  Now, even though they were surrounded by the same peers, singing the same songs, and going through the same motions, they did not experience the emotional response they once had.  It struck me that I had heard this concern before, from people in all walks of life: I don’t worship with the same passion I once did.  Such Christians strive in vain to reproduce the experience they once had, to recapture the euphoria of love they had found in the worship of their youth.

Certainly, emotions form an exceedingly important dimension of human experience.  God created us as emotional creatures, and He uses those emotions in sacred ways.  As emotions change, however, so will the emotional dimension of our faiths.  Just like all good things, emotions become idols when they are elevated to a place of importance they were never meant to occupy.  They become obstacles to our growth when we are unwilling to be carried into new and deeper ways of relating to God.

We should not fall prey to an emotion-idolatry that presents these powerful emotional experiences as the point and purpose of the Christian life.  These youth I spoke with, and many others like them, had come to believe that their emotional experiences ARE faith–that they are what a relationship with God is all about.  When they lost those experiences, they came to the logical conclusion that they had lost their faith.  This is all too common.  As a result of the over-emotionalization of worship in some circles, the inside of the church is full of individuals trying to manufacture emotional worship experiences in order to assure themselves they still have faith.  At the same time, outside the church, we find individuals who ceased attending church because they ceased having their emotional experience in worship, and thus concluded their earlier “faith” had been a sham.

When first one falls in love, he is swept up in feelings of intense joy and passion.  Later in the relationship, however, the love undergoes a transformation from something that is exciting and dynamic to something that is deep and consistent.  We lose the excitement and thrill of newfound love (and may well mourn its absence), but we gain so much in its place: an intimate knowledge of each other, a commitment to faithfulness in every moment, a strong love that abides through all the years and changes.

God is not satisfied with our infatuation.  He does not want us to love Him for the feelings He gives us.  Jesus says in John 17:3 that “This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God.”  Our faith cannot be fashioned atop the shifting sands of emotional experience; instead, it must rest upon that which is eternal: the character and love of God itself.  I challenge you to refuse to remain stuck in a state of infatuation with God; press on, press deeper, into a relationship of intimacy and trust with the One who created you.

PRAYER:  Lord, we love the excitement and joy we sometimes feel in worship!  Thank you for those moments that lift us and encourage us to run after you!  But help us to remember that eternal life is not feeling excited about you, but is found in knowing you.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 08/27/12 – If God Knows

DayBreaks for 08/27/12 – If God Knows

 

(NOTE: Galen will be traveling for the next week and will have very limited access to email to respond to comments/questions.  Thanks for your understanding!)

Colossians 3:23 – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…”

Sometimes I think it would be much easier to actually work for the Lord, not for men.  And just as I begin to think that, there’s a part of me that shouts: “Galen!  You DO actually work for the Lord!”  You see, it is He who will judge our work habits as well as our honesty, faithfulness and service.

A. J. Cronin wrote about a district nurse that he had known when he was engaged in his medical practice.  For over 20 years, alone, she plied her healing skills to all within a 10-mile radius.  “I marveled,’ he says, “at her patience, her fortitude and her cheerfulness.  She was never too tired at night to rise for an urgent call.  Her salary was most inadequate, and late one night, after a particularly strenuous day, I ventured to protest to her, ‘Nurse, why don’t you make them pay you more?  God knows you are worth it.

If God knows I’m worth it,” she answered, “that’s all that matters to me.”  She was working, not for men, but for God.  And when we work for God, prestige will be the last thing that enters into our mind, for we will know that even our best is not good enough for him.”  (Wm. Barclay, The Gospel of Luke, The Daily Bible Study Series)

What a wonderful attitude this nurse demonstrated!  We all like recognition – we all seek it and to varying degrees, feast on it.  But this industrious woman seems to have found the secret of the recognition that really matters.  Think about it: if God were to praise you, could anyone else’s praise mean more to you?

It is hard to work as unto the Lord, for it appears that he has little say in our merit increase or compensation level, right?  Wrong!  He has everything to do with it!  He rewards the faithful (1 Sam 26:23) – “The LORD rewards every man for his righteousness and faithfulness.”  You see, it is only the review that God fills out that ultimately and finally matters.  It may not mean more money in this world, but He has promised to reward those who are righteous and faithful!

What will his review of your work habit and commitment say?

PRAYER: Lord, some day are very hard to remain tuned in to the fact that we are working for you.  The first work day of the week, in particular, can be very hard to approach with thankfulness, joy and energy.  Let us see you in our boss and seek to please you with our work offering this day!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 08/24/12 – I Shall Arise

DayBreaks for 08/24/12 – I Shall Arise

One of my greatest fears is falling from a great height.  I am terrified of high places.  One of the most disturbing things I’ve seen in my life was the photos of men and women who were trapped in the World Trade Center who apparently leaped out of the building to their deaths to avoid being burned by the fires raging inside.  In one particular instance, a man and woman jumped together – hand in hand – to their certain death.  I can’t imagine ever being able to do that – but then again, I wasn’t there and don’t know the agony they endured inside the building.  I hope and pray that I’ll never fall from a height of more than about 3 inches.

There are worse things than falling physically.  We can fall spiritually as well.  And that is something that we’ve all done.  “Not me!” you say?  Yes, you.  Every time we sin it is a spiritual fall.  And every time we sin and fall, Satan erupts in laughter and celebrates our fall.  His greatest hope is that we’ll fall and not be able to get back up.

The wonderful news that Scripture has to share with us is that even though we may someday fall and physically not be able to get back up, that spiritually our prospects are much more certain: “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy; when I fall, I shall arise.”  (Micah 7:8)

Let Satan have his little moments of rejoicing when I fall.  I don’t care because I will arise, by the grace and kindness of the very God that died for me to save me.  And you shall arise, too.  God Himself will stoop down to lift you back up.  He knows our frailty and our penchant for going the wrong way.  He loves us regardless.  He loves us with a love that will never stop.  And, if He gave Jesus’ life up for us, what possible reason could we have to think that He won’t give us everything else that is good?  (Romans 8:31-32 – “31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”)

Stumbling a bit right now?  Don’t despair.  Make Micah 7:8 your theme song for the next month, the next year, the next decade.  You will arise!!!!

Psalm 51:8 – “Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.

PRAYER: Raise us up, Lord, both today and in eternity, to sing Your great praise!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

To subscribe to DayBreaks, use this link: https://daybreaksdevotions.wordpress.com and click on the Subscribe button at the right of the page.  If you wish to unsubscribe, at the bottom of each email you receive about DayBreaks, you should find an “Unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the email.

DayBreaks for 08/23/12 – The State of My Soul

DayBreaks for 08/23/12 – The State of My Soul

Psalm 131:1-2a – “1 A song of ascents. Of David.  My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.  2 But I have stilled and quieted my soul…”.

Is there a man or woman reading this that doesn’t, at least from time to time, feel stressed?  Sometimes, my life and work are pretty stressful.  No, I’m not making life and death decisions each day like a military commander, the president or a heart surgeon.  But that doesn’t mean that my life and my job don’t have stress!  It is just a different kind of stress – and boy! – have I had a bunch of it lately!!!!  But my guess is that you have had a lot of stress in your life – perhaps the kind of stress that would make mine look paltry by comparison.

But, when we are in the middle of a stressful situation, it can feel overwhelming.  The mysteries and puzzles of life can be overpowering and perplexing.  I rather enjoy a good debate from time to time – and I love to speculate about things.  I need sometimes to be brought crashing back to earth – to be able to say as David did, “I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.”  But that wasn’t enough for David…he went on: “But I have stilled and quieted my soul…”.

Ah!  There’s the rub!  When is it that I become stressed out?  It’s when I think that I have to solve the world’s problems (or even just my own or someone else’s!) instead of trusting God to direct my steps, to solve the problems that only He can truly solve.  There are a great many matters in life that are “great matters”, or “things too wonderful for me”.  I need to still and quiet my soul…to be quiet enough to hear the whisper in the wind that is God speaking to me (I Kings 19:12).  I need to still and quiet my soul so that my racing, rushing heartbeat doesn’t mask the Spirit that is trying to get through to me with a message to trust God and let go of all the things that trouble and plague me.

We don’t want to have to admit when something in too great of a matter for us to deal with.  It’s humbling to have to admit that we can’t resolve some perplexing problem, some vexing issue.  It’s humbling to have to admit that we can’t do it all.  That’s OK.  Humility is a good thing for us to learn.  God is good – let us trust in that so that our souls can be stilled and quieted.

PRAYER: Lord, let all who are stressed this day find peace and rest in Your goodness!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

To subscribe to DayBreaks, use this link: https://daybreaksdevotions.wordpress.com and click on the Subscribe button at the right of the page.  If you wish to unsubscribe, at the bottom of each email you receive about DayBreaks, you should find an “Unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the email.