DayBreaks for 09/25/12 – The Size of God

DayBreaks for 09/25/12 – The Size of God

If you were to ask the typical kid who grew up in a church and believed in God: “How big is God?”, I doubt that you’d get anyone to respond that “God is tiny” or “Small.”  It seems that we conceive of God as being big – or to borrow a word from one of my sons, “ridonkulously” big!

J. B. Phillips wrote Your God Is too Small years ago, he was focused more on whether or not we believe our God is up to big tasks.  His point was that far too many of us seem to think that our problems and the challenges we have in life dwarf God’s capability, but that God is capable of far more than we would “think or ask.”

That’s not what I’m talking about.  Here’s what prompted my posing this idea about the size of God: the other night I was in the back yard gazing up at the visible universe.  As I sat there looking a tiny pinpricks of light, I wondered how are away the source of those lights were and how old the light waves were than we reaching my eyes.  Were they years, decades, centuries, millennia or more old?  Had they left their point of origin long before that?  And, were some of the pinpricks of light stars or were they entire galaxies?  And that got me thinking about how big God is.

I don’t believe you can prove God’s size from Scripture.  There are verses that would make us think that He is humongous:

“But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! – I Kings 8:27

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? – Isa. 40:12

Are these verses just speaking hyperbolically, or are they precise when they say that even the heavens aren’t large enough to contain God, and that He can measure the breadth of the heavens in his hand (singular)?  I honestly don’t know.  But this I do know: as I looked at the stars and space, I could not in any way picture God as being the same size as humans.  I believe He must be immense.  Of course, He doesn’t have to be, but somehow, I find comfort in thinking that God is THAT BIG and that Satan is just a normal size bully-kid on the block who will have to give an answer to my Father one day.

I don’t know how big God is in His natural spiritual state.  But this I do know: He is as big as He needs to be, or a small and tender as a carpenter holding little children on His lap.  And I am comforted by both thoughts!

PRAYER: How delightful, God, to ponder Your greatness and power and tenderness!  Thank You for being bigger than all our problems and challenges combined as well as being small enough to inhabit a human body to show us not just Your power, but Your love!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 09/24/12 – Getting Bigger

DayBreaks for 09/24/12 – Getting Bigger

What is your Mt. Everest spiritually speaking?  By asking that question, I’m really asking you what is your biggest challenge to reaching the pinnacle of God’s design and desire for you personally?  Is it a hidden, secret sin that fills you with shame and guilt (or which you know should fill you with shame and guilt, but you’ve done it so long and so often that it no longer causes you to feel anything)?  Is it pride?  Is it a love of money or security?  Is it a relationship that you know isn’t good or healthy, but you can’t bring yourself to leave that relationship behind?

After every failure (at least in the beginning) we beg God for forgiveness and pledge to Him that “I’ll never do that again!”  (If I had a nickel for every time I’ve said that…!)  And then we, by our own will-power, set out to not sin that way again…and it lasts for maybe a couple of days or a week or two at most.  Then that temptation, that Mt. Everest, is right there outside the door again, knocking at our minds, prying at our hearts, tugging at our desires.

George Mallory was the famed mountain climber who may have been the first person ever to get to the top of Mount Everest.  In the early 1920’s, he led a number of attempts to scale the mountain, eventually being killed in the 3rd attempt in 1924.  Before that last and fatal attempt, Mallory said, “I can’t see myself coming down defeated.”

Mallory was an extraordinary climber, and nothing would force him to give up.  His body was found in 1999, well preserved by the snow and ice, 27,000 feet up on the mountain, just 2000 feet from the peak.  Give up he did not.  His body was found face down on a rocky slope, head toward the summit.  His arms were extended high over his head.  His toes were pointed into the mountain; his fingers dug into the loose rock, refusing to let go even as he drew his last breath.  A short length of cotton rope – broken – was looped around his waist.

When those who had set up camp for Mallory further down the mountain returned to England a banquet was held for them.  A huge picture of Mt. Everest stood behind the banquet table, it is said that the leader of the group stood to be applauded, and with tears streaming down his face, turned and looked at the picture.  “I speak to you, Mt. Everest, in the name of all brave men living and those yet unborn,” he said.  “Mt. Everest, you defeated us once; you defeated us twice; you defeated us three times.  But Mt. Everest we shall someday defeat you, because you can’t get any bigger but we can.”

Even the greatest struggles, the greatest obstacles to a life of faith, can be overcome through the Spirit’s power.  The problem we have is that we give up too easily.  We need to never give up – to keep digging our fingers into the rock, face upward, to never stop striving for the pinnacle.

In 1953 two climbers, Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzig Norgay, reached the top of Mt. Everest and their names are written in history.  Someday, by the sheer grace of God, we shall reach the summit and our name will be found in the Book of Life.

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. – Phil. 3:14

PRAYER: Lord, help me keep my face toward You as I look for that high calling and struggle to live up to it!  Don’t let us give in to defeat and despair, for the victory is Yours and You have chosen to share it with us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 09/20/12 – The Few, the Brave, the Courageous

DayBreaks for 09/19/12 – The Few, the Brave, the Courageous

Joshua 1:9 – I command you — be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Let’s face it: life isn’t for the weak of heart.  Life is a challenge – far more difficult and hard than we could ever imagine.

We start out as children and life is like a game.  Then, we get a bit older and we find out that we can’t win every game, and that along with the game, come certain expectations and responsibilities.

We become young adults and find someone to love and marry – and for a while, we enjoy this thing called a “honeymoon” period of our relationship where all is peachy, but then we start to discover aspects of this person we married that we don’t care for very much.  And as the pressures of job, children and money mount, we become more disillusioned with this thing called life.

As young and middle-aged adults, we have probably settled into a relatively calm routine…and then we awaken one day to find that the routine is really a rut – a rut we don’t feel we can get out of and the walls start closing in and we feel desperately trapped.  The result: mid-life crises.

As age begins to descend upon us and our health starts to fail, we can get discouraged as we look back at our lives and wonder, “What if?”  We may often ask ourselves the very disturbing question: “Did I misunderstand what God wanted me to do?”  And we realize we don’t have time left to go back and undo what we may have misunderstood, to undertake what we might have been able to do when we were younger.

Life isn’t for the weak of heart.  It takes courage.

“Whatever you do, you need courage.  Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong.  There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right.  To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs.  Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

You will face choices today that will take courage because life is like that.  Let the strength of the Lord be your strength, let his courage fill your spirit and may you make the right choices.

PRAYER: Life frightens us at nearly every corner, Lord.  We can’t see past the shadows and often, even though we know what we should do, we lack the courage it takes to win the victory.  Give us your courage today!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 09/19/12 – In Due Time

DayBreaks for 09/19/12 – In Due Time

NOTE: sorry about no post on Tuesday.  Our Internet was down most of Monday and part of Tuesday, but it’s obviously fixed now!!!

I Peter 5:6 – So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time he will honor you.

On a plaque marking Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace near Hodgenville, KY, is recorded this scrap of conversation:

“Any new down ‘t the village, Ezry?”  “Well, Squire McLain’s gone t’ Washington t’ see Madison swore in, and ol’ Spellman tells me this Bonaparte fella has captured most o’ Spain.”

“What’s new out here,  neighbor?”  “Nuthin’, nuthin’ a’tall, ‘cept fer a new baby born t’ Tom Lincoln’s.  Nothin’ ever happens out here.”

Sometimes, it seems as if no one ever notices the good things you try to do – let alone the effort that went into doing those things.  You may not ever receive even a “Thank you!” for your troubles.  Certainly no one sees it when you bite your tongue and keep from saying hurtful things or harsh words.  At such moments, we may be tempted to wonder if anyone will ever notice.  You have done “the right thing” but not even God seems to be all that excited about it because one trouble after another comes down on your shoulders.  It doesn’t seem fair (and it isn’t fair).  It doesn’t seem right, either.

The simple truth is that some events and even the daily decisions we make to do what Christ would have us to do, may not seem to amount to much.  It could be a birthday (as in Hodgenville, KY or in the ancient city of Bethlehem), it may be a spiritual rebirth…these things may not make much of an earthly splash at all.  They seem insignificant even now, let alone in the light of eternity.  But those things have lasting importance…and God Himself will see to it that you will be honored for it!

PRAYER: Our frustrations sometimes boil over, Lord, and we get discouraged and down-spirited by trying to do what is right…but it seemingly passes unnoticed.  Help us to rest in the calm assurance that anything done for you will not escape your attention.  But at the same time, help us not to do things just to receive honor from you, but rather to bring honor TO you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 09/17/12 – The 40 Martyrs of San Sebaste

DayBreaks for 09/17/12 – The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste

The Forty Martyrs of San Sebaste

I found this and thought I’d share it without further comment:

“St. Basil was a great man of God, one of the greatest of the Church Fathers. One of his noble orations is dedicated to the memory of forty martyrs of Sebaste who were ordered by the officers of Licinius, in the year a.d. 320, to offer sacrifices to heathen idols. These were soldiers who had proven to be excellent in every respect. But Licinius the emperor issued a decree that they must renounce Christ or else their lives would be in danger. Those who refused to give up Christ were submitted to indescribable brutalities and tortures.

“The torturers were called forth. The first was ready and the sword was sharpened. . . . Then some of the persecuted Christians fled, others succumbed, others wavered, and some before even being submitted to the tortures, were afraid because of their threatenings. Some, when facing the tortures, became faint. Others entered the battle, but were not able to persevere to the end in suffering the pains, and in the middle of the martyrdom they renounced Christ.

“However, the invincible and gallant soldiers of Christ proceeded visibly to the middle, at the time when the judge was showing the decree of the king and was asking them to submit to it. Without being afraid of anything which they saw, nor losing their heads as a result of the threatenings, they confessed that they were Christians.

“These Christians soldiers were offered money and honors in order to induce them to join the ranks of the heathen. To earthly honors they would not yield. Then came threats of indescribable tortures. What an answer these Christian soldiers gave: ‘Do you have blessings of equal value to those you endeavor to deprive us of, to give us? We hate your gift because it will mean our loss. We do not accept honor which is the mother of dishonesty. You offer us money which remains here, glory which fades away. . . . We have despised the whole world. Those things which we see in the world do not have for us the value of the heavenly things which we hope and long for. . . . We are afraid of only one punishment, the punishment of hell. We are here ready to be tortured . . . for you to twist our bodies and to burn them.’

“The judge was infuriated by the courage of these brave Christians, and so he devised a slow and most painful way of putting them to death. It was very cold. He waited for the night when the wind was violent and the air freezing. He ordered these soldiers to be thrown naked on a frozen lake in the center of the town to die from freezing. There is no more atrocious and painful death than that. These Christian soldiers did not have to be forced to take off their clothes. They took them off themselves and marched on to the frozen lake. As each went, he said, ‘We are not merely putting off our clothes, but we are putting off “the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts” ‘ (Eph. 4:22). All together they shouted, ‘The winter is bitter, but heaven is sweet; the freezing painful, but sweet the rest. Let us persevere a little longer and we shall be warmed in the bosom of the Patriarch [meaning Christ]. Let us exchange all of eternity for the pains of one night. Let the leg be burned so that it may ever dance with the angels. . . . How many soldiers have died in battle remaining faithful to a mortal king, and we, for the sake of remaining faithful to the true king, shall we not sacrifice this life? . . . We are going to die anyway; let us die so that we may live.’ Their prayer was unanimous and ascended with one voice, ‘Forty have we entered this ordeal, may all forty of us receive the crown of martyrdom. Oh, Despot, grant that not one of our number may yield. . . . You honored this number because you fasted forty days.’

“In spite of this earnest prayer, one of their number did not persevere and gave in to the offers of the heathen persecutors. Great sorrow came upon the others because only thirty-nine remained in the arena of death. Their plea became even more vigorous to their Heavenly Father. Forty entered the ordeal and forty wanted to see the face of the Lord. The deserter came to the warm place prepared by the emperor’s executioners. But going from the extreme cold to the warm place, and plunging himself into warm water, he died instantly. The guard, a heathen who was watching all the developments and saw angels ministering to these saints of God, on hearing their prayers, decided to answer them. He took off his clothes and declared with a loud voice, ‘I am a Christian, too,’ and jumped naked on the frozen lake joining the thirty-nine to complete their number to forty. Thus their prayer was answered, forty entered the ordeal of martyrdom and forty saw the face of Jesus Christ. Now, whose memory was cursed and whose was blessed? We call the saints who persevered unto death blessed, indeed.”

PRAYER: May we be found faithful, Lord Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 09/13/12 – Seeking and Pursuing

DayBreaks for 09/13/12 – Seeking and Pursuing

Psalm 34:14 (NLT) – Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

The Constitution of the United States is a marvelous and wonderful document.  For centuries now, it has served as a definition of our rights, guaranteeing our freedoms.  It is under attack today, but there can be little disagreement that is must be regarded as one of the greatest documents in human history.

Back at the time the document was written, someone cursed Benjamin Franklin, charging that the Constitution of the United States was a farce. “Where is all the success that it guarantees us?” he sneered. Franklin, smiling, answered, “My friend, the Constitution guarantees only the right to the pursuit of happiness.”

Happiness is elusive.  There are many ideas about how it can be grasped.  It seems today that we live in a time when people feels the government or some other organization or person guarantees them happiness.  “If only I could be married to her”, or even “If only I could be married!”  Some think it is found in possessions or positions.  They may not realize it, but they believe that those things would guarantee them happiness.  They don’t get it.

There is a close connection between happiness and peace.  Happiness and peace are not bad things.  But we have to search for peace first…and then, as the Psalmist said, WORK to pursue and keep it.

There are few guarantees in this world…but one is that if we think someone other than Jesus can give us ultimate happiness, we are mistaken.

PRAYER: May we be counted among those who seek peace and pursue it!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 09/12/12 – The Fear of Risk

DayBreaks for 09/12/12 – The Fear of Risk

Henry Fairlie of the Washington Post, writing in the Tulsa World, states that the “fear of risk is killing the American Spirit.” He points out our over-reaction to Three Mile Island and the engine on one DC-10. He believes that the nation that won’t build a dam because of a small snail darter, or that will delay a carriage to the stars because it might fall like Skylab is in deep trouble. He asked, “Was the Mayflower seaworthy?” He contends that a group of Americans today would not have the heart to cross the Rockies as our ancestors did years ago. It would be too risky!

There is a lesson here for the church and for our individual lives. Many good works go wanting for fear of the risk involved. Some Christians will not share their faith because of the risk of ridicule. Others never give liberally because of fear of poverty. Elders refuse to exercise much-needed church discipline because of fear they will be criticized or that someone will leave the church.

No doubt but what the “fear of risk” has killed many good programs in the church.

There is no “fear of risk” for Christ. He knew that He came into the world to die for all. He asked his followers to deny themselves daily and take up their crosses and walk!

Faith doesn’t mean there is no fear associated with that step of faith.  It isn’t faith that casts out fear, it is perfect love that does that.  I am relatively certain that most all the martyrs had some fear as they took their stand for Christ.  But their knowledge of the love of Christ that would never surrender them gave them peace enough to take the risk of dying for Him.

What are you being asked or prompted to do to serve the King?  Are you letting fear freeze you and keep you from taking the risk?

PRAYER: How frightened we have become as your followers!  Help us to remember that when we are frightened, that You are bigger than our fears and Your kingdom is a greater cause than our own comfort!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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