DayBreaks for 2/28/19 – An Unspoken Thanks

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DayBreaks for 2/28/19: An Unspoken Thanks

From the DayBreaks archive February 2009:

I’ve been struck recently by the amount of ingratitude in my life.  I don’t think that I’m alone, but I don’t wish to project my shortcomings on to any of you.  All the hype on the news about how awful things are have created in many of us a sense of “Yep, it’s terrible.  Things are worse than they’ve ever been and I see no hope that things will be better.”  And, we tend to be so down-in-the-mouth and dispirited that we ignore an entire panoply of blessings each day.

In his book, The Holy Wild, Mark Buchanan was musing on the faithfulness of God.  It’s a topic that we don’t often ponder, for good reason: faithfulness is about as boring as a 1978 Buick that just keeps on running and refuses to just quit.  Someone who has an old car might see someone driving a new, shiny, sporty vehicle.  The owner of the flashy car may say to the old Buick owner, “Why are you still driving that thing?  You were driving that when we last saw each other 10 years ago!” to which the Buick owner replies, “Yeah, but it’s faithful.”  In other words, it keeps on working.  Or, to put a slightly different spin on it, “Yeah, it’s as boring as all get out, but it just keeps working.” 

You see, faithfulness is boring.  We come to expect faithfulness after a while because something (a person, car, pet, etc.) is always there, always does what it is supposed to do.  We presume faithfulness and are shocked when it doesn’t happen.

The same is true with God.  We know in our heads that God has promised to be faithful – and we believe it – at least at some level.  But that’s dangerous because it means we take Him and what He does for granted.  In Buchanan’s book, he ponders the wonder of leaves.  Leaves when they are dry are very fragile, yet just the other day, I was sitting in a restaurant with my wife and sister and her kids, and it was windy and raining outside, but I looked outside and saw a dried leaf clinging to a branch.  Leaves can even cling to trees through a hurricane or tornado.  But when they’re dry, they are so very fragile.  Leaves give us shelter from the blazing summer sun, they provide food for animals and people, they drink down the poison of carbon dioxide and give us back life-giving oxygen in exchange.  Each spring, leaves appear on trees all over the world by the trillions or quadrillions (who knows how many leaves God creates each spring?!??!)  And my guess is that not one time in your life, have you ever had to ask God to put leaves on trees in the spring.  And I’d also be willing to bet that not once have you stopped to give Him thanks for those leaves that give you life.  I haven’t. 

Leaves and their ilk are signs, reminders if you will, of God’s faithfulness.  When something in your life gets you down and discourages you, when you are tempted to feel that God has failed and let you down, stop and ponder a leaf or two – and remember that they are reminders of God’s faithfulness – even when we fail to give Him thanks for such simple things. 

Hebrews 12:28 (NASB) – Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe…  We have received citizenship in a kingdom which we don’t deserve.  We have much, even this very moment, that calls out to us to give Him thanksgiving.

Prayer: Father, thank You for making leaves!  Thank You for making us!  Thank You for all good things!  In Jesus’ name, Amen  

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

 

DayBreaks for 2/27/19 – The Great Value of Faith

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DayBreaks for 2/27/19: The Great Value of Faith

From the DayBreaks archive February 2009:

Yes, you know the verse about “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.”  So, faith is non-negotiable, if we are to please God.  But God, why?  Why does faith sometimes have to be so hard? 

In Daniel 10 is one of the most fascinating stories in Scripture.  Daniel was in prayer – and had been for some time – when Daniel becomes perplexed by why his prayer, offered in faith to the Living God, wasn’t answered already.  Since Daniel was a faithful servant of the Most High, the Lord sent an angel to Daniel to grant him a peek behind the curtain of the spiritual world.  For three weeks, in the unseen world that we can only “see” by faith, the angels says he tried to come and deliver the answer to Daniel’s prayer, but he was resisted by the “prince of the Persian kingdom.”  The angel by himself, so it reads, was not able to overcome that resistance, and had to wait for reinforcements from a heavenly power named Michael, the great archangel of God’s army. 

This passage has caused me endless trouble and distress.  Why, for example, did God wait 3 weeks to dispatch Michael to defeat the source of resistance?  Surely, God knew this was going on and would happen.  Why didn’t God just send Michael to start with?  And what does it mean that the first angel couldn’t overcome the resistance by himself?  Could the angel not have asked Got to remove it, or to give him/her the strength to defeat the resistance?  Such questions are not necessarily confidence builders for me.

Elsewhere, the Bible talks about prayer and uses the term “wrestle” to describe that activity.  It brings to mind, of course, the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel.  Perhaps prayer is much more like real, physical wrestling than we’ll ever know.  In our prayers, we are at war with principalities and powers that are in the unseen world.  Wrestling is hard work.  How much wrestling am I doing in my prayer life? 

Another thought: do angels have to learn faith and trust, too?  What was the lesson for the angel in all this, if any?  Is it possible that even angels are on a faith-journey, side by side with us, just unseen?

I don’t know, nor do I have to know.  But as Phillip Yancey put it, “I doubt Daniel ever prayed casually again.”  Nor should we!

Prayer: Father, may we be willing to engage the enemy in prayer, to call down Your power to bring victory, to release oppression and to pour forth holiness on this earth!  Give us the strength to fight for the souls of the lost, knowing that there are unseen enemies waging war with us.  Give us the wisdom to not fight in our own strength, but only in Yours!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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

DayBreaks for 2/26/19: Getting Comfortable With the Mystery

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DayBreaks for 2/26/2019: Getting Comfortable With the Mystery

From the DayBreaks archive February 2009:

We, my friends, are dwarfed by God.  Not just in terms of power and intellect, but in every way possible.  We are as a mote of dust drifting through an endless universe compared to God.  I don’t understand Him.  I cannot.  Yet He understands me perfectly well.  I cannot put my arms around Him, yet He holds me in the palm of His hand.  I dare not tell Him what to do, yet He has every right to direct my pathway.  I can’t contain Him or put Him in a box, and He has the ability to make me disappear totally, forever. 

Why did God send Jesus?  Why did He create a universe where every self-conscious creature that would ever live would be fallen creatures?  Why did He not choose another way to save the fallen creatures?  Why does it matter so much to Him what creatures as small and insignificant as we are do?  Why did He need to create free will?  Why could God not be content with beings who would obey Him without question and save the universe all this pain?  Why do little children die?  Why do the wicked prosper?  Why does God test our faith when He already knows what we’ll do in every second of our existence?  Why do we have to die instead of just be carried off into the hereafter?  Why is there a Trinity of Three-In-One?  Why couldn’t Jesus, if He was necessary at all, not have just died a righteous and perfectly holy man – in his sleep instead of on a rough cross?  Why is faith so important to God?  Why didn’t God come every 20 years or so and make Himself visible so more would believe?  Ah, the mysteries are great…

The late Dr. Clarence Edward Macartney, while a theological student, visited the home of a skeptic. The skeptic’s argument was as follows: “If a man tells me that he has a horse which can trot a mile in three minutes, I tell him to bring out the horse and prove it. If you tell me that there is a God, I ask you to produce God and prove His existence.” Macartney replied, “No Christian claims to know God, nor would want to know Him in that way. By that kind of searching we cannot know the Almighty to perfection. The Christian believer does not say, ‘I know God,’ or ‘I see God,’ or ‘I think there is a God,’ but ‘I believe in God.'”

We must face the reality that we will not now, not likely ever, solve all the mysteries.  Even the simplest of the mysteries can only be solved by God if He chooses to reveal the answers.  Many people struggle with uncertainty and with the apparent dilemmas of faith.  Is the God of the NT the same as the God of the OT, and if so, why does the God of the NT seem so tame by comparison?

“The great must always be a mystery to the little,” continues Parker. “The arch must always be a mystery to the column; God must always be a mystery to His creatures. If I could understand all, I should be all. Only the whole can comprehend the whole. Only God can understand God.”

Hear G. K. Chesterton on this subject: “Christianity got over the difficulty of combining furious opposites, by keeping them both, and keeping them both furious.”  Phillip Yancey observed, “Most heresies come from espousing one opposite at the extreme of the other.”  God is all in all.  We can’t subdivide Him nor put Him under an electron microscope to dissect Him.  We must accept all that He is, even though we don’t know what all that means.

Prayer: I must confess, Lord, that sometimes mystery makes me uncomfortable and I long for more certainty and clarity.  I don’t know why faith is so important to You, why having creatures trust in You matters so much to You.  I don’t understand Your actions and I often can’t see the benefit of Your ways.  Teach me, though, to trust in what I cannot see or comprehend completely.  Help me to live peacefully with Your great mystery!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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

 

DayBreaks for 2/25/19 – I AM #9: Living Water

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DayBreaks for 2/25/2019: I AM #9: The Living Water

John 7:37-38 (ESV) – On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

While Jesus doesn’t explicitly use the “I AM” phrase here, his claim is equally strong: he is the source of living water. What was living water? It was moving water – safe to sustain life – as opposed to stagnant water such as that in the Dead Sea.

Jesus makes this statement during the feast of tabernacles which the people referred to as “the season of our gladness,” for it marked the completion of the harvest. Josephus called it “the holiest and the greatest festival among the Jews”. It wasn’t just for the rich; it was for everyone – the rich, the poor, the stranger, the widow and servants – all were to share in the universal joy.
During this festival, a priest took a golden pitcher which held about two pints of water and went down to the Pool of Siloam where it was filled. He carried it back through the Water Gate while the people recited Isa 12:3: With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. The water was taken to the Temple altar and poured out as an offering to God. As that was taking place, the Hallel—that is, Ps 113-118—was sung to the accompaniment of flutes by the Levite choir. When they came to the words, “O give thanks to the Lord” and again to the words, “O work now then salvation”, and finally to the closing words, “O give thanks to the Lord”, the worshippers shouted and waved their palms towards the altar. The whole ceremony was a vivid thanksgiving for God’s good gift of water, an acted prayer for rain, and a memory of the water which sprang from the rock when they travelled through the wilderness. On the last day the ceremony was doubly impressive for they marched seven times round the altar in memory of the sevenfold circuit round the walls of Jericho, whereby the wails fell down and the city was taken.

Against this background and perhaps at that very moment, Jesus’ voice rang out: If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink.” It is as if Jesus said: “You are thanking and glorifying God for the water which quenches the thirst of your bodies. Come to me if you want water which will quench the thirst of your soul.” He was using that dramatic moment to turn men’s thoughts to the thirst for God and the eternal things.

The concept behind “living water” is water that is moving, flowing. Such water is safe to drink as opposed to stagnant water such as was found in the Dead Sea. It would be cooler and more refreshing – it was the kind of water that could sustain life.

Jesus’ claim is that he is able to provide us with the refreshing, safe water we long for and more – that we will become channels for that water to flow out to others. But like the Dead Sea, we can’t be channels of blessing unless we stop just taking in water – we must let it flow through us as the water from the Jordan flows through the sea of Galilee. Let it flow through you today!

PRAYER: Lord, our spirits are thirsty until we drink deeply of you! Let us let your water flow through us to the parched spiritual desert in which we live. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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

DayBreaks for 2/22/19 – I AM #8: The Bread of Life

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DayBreaks for 2/22/2019: I AM #8: The Bread of Life

John 6:35 (CSBBible) – I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in me will ever be thirsty again.

Bread (symbolically representative of food to the people of Jesus’ day) is that which is necessary for life to go on. But elsewhere Jesus tells us in John 17:3 that to know God and Jesus is life with a twist – it is eternal. So, there is existence inherent in life – but there is much more. There is relationship with the Creator. When Jesus claimed to be the bread of life, it is true that the very food we eat this gives us existence comes from his provision, but there is more to the life that comes from this “bread” than just existing. That hardly qualifies to be life. Stones exist – but they don’t have life.

So it is with the bread of life. We can either just exist by not knowing God, or we can take in the bread of heaven that came down from above and in doing so, we have a new life that is primarily defined by knowing God and Christ Jesus whom he sent. Without Jesus there is existence, but no relationship. With Jesus, we have both. It is that relationship that on the last day when all shall end that will keep us secure and safe.

We need daily bread. Sure, we can survive for a while without it, but not indefinitely. How long has it been since you have taken in the bread of life and really devoured it? Why would you rob yourself of the life it gives?

“Take and eat.”

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for providing the bread that not only feeds our mouths but our hearts and souls. Fill us so we are never hungry again! In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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

 

DayBreaks for 2/21/19 – I AM #7: The Resurrection

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DayBreaks for 2/21/2019: I AM #7: The Resurrection

John 11:25 (CSBBible) – Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live.

We often think about powerful people or things. At least I do. There is a saying that “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” That was never less true than in the case of Jesus.

As the mourners were gathered around Jesus as he stood outside of Lazarus’ tomb that day, they weren’t just in the presence of a craftsman’s son from Nazareth – they were in the presence of the greatest power the world ever has or will see. They were in the presence not of the one who would bring the resurrection, but of the One who IS the resurrection. The mourners gathered at the tomb never expecting to see Lazarus again for he was dead – certifiably dead as he’d been in the tomb long enough that, according to Jewish thought, the spirit would have left because the corpse was no longer identifiable. Yet standing shoulder to shoulder with them was the power of life over death, the power to turn corrupted flesh into vibrant, pink tissue, the power to restart a heart.

The Jews had a very troubled history by the first century: defeat, captivity, slavery, oppression and no or very little vindication, yet they had an unshakeable conviction that they were the people of God and given His character, they reasoned that there must be world beyond where all would be made right and the dead would live again in peace.

This raising of Lazarus is a foreshadow, but a poor one, of what our resurrection will be. Lazarus was going to die again. Our resurrection (and his second one!) will be into immortality.

I don’t know about you, but I need that kind of power in my life not just for the future, but for the now as well. I need the power of one who can transform my sinful self into something new and living. And the one who can do that is not just standing shoulder to shoulder with me at a graveside, but he lives within. All I need do is to hear his voice and “come forth”.

PRAYER: Lord, let us live in your resurrected power not just for eternity, but in the now as well! In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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

 

DayBreaks for 2/20/19 – I AM #6: The Door

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DayBreaks for 2/20/2019: I AM #6: The Door

John 10:9 (CSBBible) – I am the gate. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture.

To understand this I AM statement, we need to understand shepherds and sheep. Earlier in chapter 10, Jesus referred to a gatekeeper. Near most villages there was a communal sheepfold that had a gate that could be locked and only the owner of that sheepfold had the key. But that’s not what Jesus is describing here.

Once out on the hillsides, there was no sheepfold like that. Instead, sheep would be herded into an enclosure most likely made of piled up rocks with a gap in the rocks at one place where a “door” was. But the door wasn’t made of wood – it was the shepherd who would lay down across the opening to prevent critters from entering or the sheep from leaving. None could cross without the awareness of the shepherd. Jesus claims that he is that shepherd, stretched out across the opening. He doesn’t rely on some sort of physical barrier to guarantee the safety of the sheep – any movement of the sheep in or out is only done with his knowledge and agreement.

But there’s another thing to note here: he says that the sheep can come in and go out. That would mean something very specific in the Hebrew language. To be able to have the ability to come in and go out indicated a life absolutely safe and at peace. That is the kind of life we have with Jesus as our gatekeeper. He watches over us, guides our steps, and seeks us out if we get lost.

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for the life of peace we can have with you as our gatekeeper! In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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