DayBreaks for 7/22/19 – He Knows Us Only Too Well

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DayBreaks for 07/22/19: He Knows Us Only Too Well

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

Does God know our hearts and tendencies, or what!?!?!  This past Sunday I spoke on the topic of weariness…we are bone tired, mentally worn out, emotionally drained and spiritually weary.  All because we have neglected to trust Him and have tried to take things into our own hands in order to provide for our needs and future. 

While God only needed 5 words in the 10 Commandments to condemn murder and 5 more to condemn adultery, He needed only 4 words to condemn stealing, but his finger must have worn out when it came to the command (not suggestion!) to rest.  Here’s what God had to say on that subject: Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. Exodus 20:8-11 (KJV)

Here is the testimony to how well God knows our hearts.  He could have stopped after the first 8 words above: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”  But He knew if He stopped there, we’d begin to rationalize: “OK, I won’t work, I’ll stop and honor God that way.  But I’ll have my son do the work.”  God says, “No, not your son, either.”  “My daughter then.”  “No, not your daughter.”  “Well, I’ll hire someone to run the store or shop in our absence.”  God says, “No, no servants will work that day.”  And just in case the debate were to continue, we aren’t to make animals work, nor strangers and aliens who are under our control or in our land. 

Yet we do.  Why?  Because we are afraid that if we don’t work, if we aren’t making sales calls, if we aren’t studying for the upcoming exam – that our world will crash down around us in failure.  And that’s where the last verse comes into play: God reminds us that He worked for six days making all that is, and that He then paused to “rest”…and you know what? When He did, the universe didn’t stop running…and if the universe didn’t stop when God took a rest, how dare we think that we’re more important than He is and that the world we live in will collapse if we rest!  This is the height of presumption!

Get some rest.  If you’re too tired to do God’s work, or if you have no time left to give to the Lord’s kingdom, you are simply too tired, period.

PRAYER: Forgive us for thinking that we and our actions are indispensable.  Forgive us for thinking we can’t trust You when you have promised to meet ALL our needs!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/19/19 – If God Could Do That

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DayBreaks for 07/19/19: If God Could Do That

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

What do you find amazing?  I find the speed of space flight amazing.  I find the power to hit a baseball 550 feet amazing.  I find the things people do because of love amazing.  I find some of the stupid things people do amazing.  There are lots of things that are amazing in the universe – the distances of space, the life at the bottom of the ocean.  We all like to be amazed whether by speed, power, size or the sleight of hand of a master magician.

I find it interesting that 31 times in the gospels, it describes how the people were amazed at the things that Jesus did or said.  Simply put: Jesus was amazing!  Many times their amazement was related to his miracles, and rightly so.  They should have been amazed!

But we live in a day and age that has an explanation for everything.  In this time of immediate communication and rapid travel, we seem to have lost the sense of amazement. 

I fear that perhaps we have lost our sense of amazement with God, too.  We need to try to put ourselves in the place of those standing around the blind man from John 9 – a man born blind.  We need to see him as his sight returns and he sees the world for the first time.  Put yourself in the place of the mourners surrounding the funeral bier of the son of the widow of Nain (Lk. 7:11-16).  Do you see the joy of the mother as her son sits up?  Can you hear her shriek of amazement and utter joy?  Can you see the faces of the people after they see the young man sit up and as they turn to look back at Jesus?  Can you see the crowd gathered at the tomb of Lazarus from John 11?  Can you see them shrink back when the smelly tomb is opened from fear of the stench and can you see them move forward again in amazement as they behold the wrapped form of Lazarus as he glides forward to the entry to the tomb?  Amazing!

Why does the bible tell us so many things that are amazing?  Because we need so desperately to know we have an amazing God.  You see, when your God can create by speaking, when He can command the water to become blood or the earth to open up and swallow the wicked, when He can heal the blind, the deaf and the dumb, and when He can give life to dead cells and dead bodies, we begin to say, “If God could do that…then He can deal with what I’m facing.”  “If God could heal the sick…He can heal my broken heart, body and soul.”  “If God could give sight to the blind…He can give me a vision for my life.”  “If God could give new life to the dead…He can give me a fresh start, too!”

The next time you are faced with a struggle or a situation that you can’t handle, remind yourself of the great stories of the bible and say to yourself “If God could do that, He can certainly handle this!”  Then give it to Him in faith…and get ready to be amazed!

PRAYER: You are amazing, great God!  By Your words you formed the world and the universe and all that is within it.  May your image be formed in us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/18/19 – Two Thieves, Two Destinies

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DayBreaks for 07/18/19: Two Thieves – Two Destinies

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

Luke 23:39-43: One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence?  We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’  Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.’

In The Jesus I Never Knew, Philip Yancey suggests, quite appropriately, that the two thieves represent the choice of all humanity – the decision about what to do with the person on the center cross.  The first thief picked up the taunts of the religious leaders, suggesting that Jesus should save himself, but his heart betrayed him – for he meant it only in jest.  In his mind, here was a “messiah” who couldn’t even save himself, let alone the people or a thief on a cross.  He saw a powerless messiah.  The other thief had better vision, and not seeking delivery from his painful death, simply asked to be remembered in Jesus’ kingdom.

There are several lessons here:

FIRST: Many have made the same mistake as the first thief, who saw a powerless God, a powerless Christ, and have rejected him as a result.  Who needs a messiah who is crucified, spit upon and beaten and who doesn’t retaliate?  Such a messiah would appear to be a spineless wimp unworthy of the label of “man”, let alone “God”.  Gods are supposed to be powerful!  The problem is that when some look at Christ’s apparent powerlessness on the cross, they see God’s impotence instead of proof of His love.

SECOND: It doesn’t take much to find God’s favor.  The second thief never said, “I believe you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  He didn’t live a good life.  Quite the contrary, but he alone of everyone in scripture called Jesus “king” in a non-mocking way.  He saw something in the quiet carpenter from Nazareth that made him believe there was a coming kingdom – and it was something he wanted.  God doesn’t ask much from you or me – just belief in His Son, and the plea from a heart that is dying to be granted mercy.

THIRD: There are benefits to being close to death and suffering.  They sharpen our focus like nothing else so we can see what really matters.  It is a tragedy that we seem to have to reach the end of the rope of life before we realize we need something else to hang on to.

The Romans, fed on stories of the power of Jupiter, saw nothing to admire in the crumpled form on the center cross.  The Jews, reminiscing about the deeds of God to lead them out of Egypt, saw nothing to admire, either.  But a sinner saw it all – and today is in paradise as a result. 

Two thieves – two crosses – two different destinies.  What do you see and what will you do with the man on the center cross?

PRAYER: Help us to understand, Father, that we make many choices each day about what we will do with the man on the center cross.  Help us to make the decisions that honor Him – the decisions that obedient disciples would make for His glory!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/17/19 – On Bumper Stickers and Belief

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DayBreaks for 07/17/19: On Bumper Stickers and Belief

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

Bumper stickers have always held a certain fascination for me.  Whenever the car in front of me has a bumper sticker plastered on it, I try to get close enough to read it.  Most bumper stickers are relatively innocuous, some are outright offensive, and a few speak truth and a few others are humorous.  For many, it seems that bumper stickers contain the sum of all wisdom.

There is one bumper sticker, though, that I’m sure you’ve probably seen, and it goes like this: “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.”  I know that the intent of this bumper sticker is to be a Christian witness and a statement that accepts the authority of God to speak and proclaim truth.  So, those are the good things about this particular bumper sticker and I am sure the intent of those who have this sticker on their car are good and heart-felt.  I applaud them for their desire to witness.

I have a problem, however, with that bumper sticker.  The form it takes is that of A+B=C (God said it + I believe it = that settles the issue).  Here’s my beef about it: I would much rather that the bumper sticker simply says, “God said it, that settles it.”  Here’s my point: whether I believe what God says or not has nothing to do with whether what God said is the final word on the issue.  My belief does not make something so.  What makes something so is simply whether or not God has said it is true, that it is so.  And THAT settles the issue.

There are great debates that rage in Christian circles today about many issues that some term “cultural” rather than religious or theological.  There are many movements in the church as a whole today that tend to minimize or discard certain things that God has weighed in on.  In many cases, they do so because they say that the number of times that God said something are few and far between – as if that is sufficient evidence that God doesn’t care much about the topic or he would have said more about it.

It all boils down to an issue of authority.  Not many Christians would argue that God doesn’t have authority – that would be a foolhardy argument to press in any circumstance.  But there are those who don’t accept the authority of Scripture…that if it says anything at all, it means what says, whether it’s mentioned once to ten thousand times.  If we are accepting of God’s authority, whether we believe what He says is right or not, if God said it, that settles it.  Period, over and out.
PRAYER: Let us bow our knees before you willingly, Lord, in full recognition of Your total and complete authority in all things!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 7/16/19 – Knowing and Unknowing

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DayBreaks for 07/16/19: Knowing and Unknowing

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

I love the series of questions God asks Job at the end of that marvelous book!  I can’t do any better job of answering them than Job did, but I love the questions!  I have grown to love the mystery of God, and the revelation of Him at the same time.  Do I know God?  Yes.  Do I know God?  No.  Somehow, both answers are correct.  Can I explain God?  Yes – it is part of my job.  But can I really explain God?  No – it is part of my limited human nature that makes me unable to do so. 

We live in a world where people like to make us believe they are experts.  I have no doubt that some people are far more expert than me at many things…but when compared to what God knows about their subjects, are they really experts?  No!  We are all novices before the mystery that is He. 

But we like experts, don’t we?  After all, we tend to trust what they say and accept their advice if we’re wise.  When your doctor tells you that you need surgery, you do it because you trust her expert judgment versus your own.  When your financial advisor gives you advice, you tend to accept it because they’ve studied the markets and financial instruments for years.  Mechanics, lawyers, teachers, professors – all have credibility as experts because of what they have learned.  But all are novices before God Himself.

Jesus was the expert on God.  Jesus didn’t just spend 12 years in school studying God – He was God, He was in the beginning with God – for eternity past He studied God and was God.  If there ever was an expert on God, it was God Himself, made flesh and dwelling among us. 

There are many who doubt God’s existence.  There are even “experts” who say boldly that there is no God – and they are certain of it.  Perhaps Rabbi David Stern put it best when he said, “We must be careful not to blur the distinction between the indiscernible and the nonexistent.”  Just because you or someone you know can’t discern with the 5 senses that God exists (although I think you could argue that!), we mustn’t rush to conclude that He doesn’t exist. 

At best our knowing will retain much unknowing.  But I’m OK with that.  Because what I do know has made me confident of what God is like.  I can’t wait to get to heaven so that some of the unknowing is removed as eons of eternity roll slowly by!

PRAYER: There are so many things we want to know about You!  Help us not to lose sight of what Jesus has shown us as we search for more knowing!  May we live in peace with the Mystery that is You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/15/19 – Where Discontent Goes to Die

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DayBreaks for 07/15/19: Where Discontent Goes to Die

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. – Ps. 23:1

This past Sunday I spoke about the Prison of Want.  You know Paul’s words about how he had learned in any and every situation to be content with what he had?  I’m not nearly as far along as Paul, and I doubt that many are.  Discontentment with the way things are is behind nearly every human sin.  It leads people to commit adultery, to steal, to kill, to lie to try to avoid a bad situation, to cheat to get a better score…you get the idea.  Being discontent with what they could and couldn’t do was huge in the garden temptation. 

But discontent is not inevitable, nor are we doomed to live in that prison of wanting.  David learned that, as had Paul, there is a pasture where discontent goes to die.  It is in knowing the Lord who is the Shepherd.

There are two major Biblical truths about stuff that we need to remember to help us avoid becoming discontent:

FIRST: our stuff, and even the stuff you want, is not really “our” stuff.  It is belongs to another owner – it is God’s.  If we have it, it is only because He has lent it to us as stewards of that portion of His possessions – we don’t have title to it (so much for “title insurance”!) – we are just using it.  As Max Lucado pointed out, ask any undertaker or coroner how much of their earthly bling that people take with them when they die and the answer is always the same: “None of it.”  Job mused how we are naked when we come from our mother’s womb, and we are naked when we leave this earth…not one single stitch of our finest clothing will travel with us.  This truth should redefine how we view our stuff – and teach us to hold it more loosely and not to cherish it unduly.

SECOND: as we stand before God, God isn’t the least bit impressed with how much money you’ve amassed, how large your house is, how fancy your car is or how wonderful your home theater system may be.  Those things don’t impress Him at all – partly because they’re all His already and not yours – and partly because all those kind of things will be burned up in the twinkling of an eye.  But your soul will remain.  It will stand before the Almighty God and all the money you had in the world won’t be enough to bribe God into cutting you a break because you’d rejected Him in life. 

Two quick questions to help you determine if you are in the prison of discontent, the prison of want:

  1. Are you happier when you have more, or are you equally happy when you have less?
  2. If you were to answer the question: “I will be happy when ____________”, how would you fill in the blank? And then ask a follow-up question: if that thing never happens or if you never possess that item, if your ship never comes in, can you be happy?

For David (and Paul, too, I’m convinced) the key to contentment was coming to the realization that the things which he had in Christ/God were of far greater value than anything that he did or didn’t have in this world.  What a great perspective to have!

Discontent dies in the pastures of the Lord. Let us learn to live there!

PRAYER: Lead us, Shepherd of our souls, to the pasture where our discontent can finally die!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/12/19 – The Miracle on a Stick

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DayBreaks for 07/12/19: The Miracle on a Stick

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived. – Numbers 21:4-9 (NIV)

I was recently reading Athol Dickson’s The Gospel According to Moses when I discovered new insights into the passage from Numbers 21, above.  Let me share them with you:

FIRST: Remember Israel’s recent history.  They’d been freed from Egypt, only to find themselves apparently left alone as Moses had been up on the mountain for so long the people felt that he was most certainly dead.  Of course, he wasn’t, but they had no way of knowing that.  And so they asked Aaron to make a golden calf so that they could worship it and perhaps receive some help and direction from the “god”.  While this might seem very strange for us, remember that they’d been in Egyptian slavery for 400 years and had become intimately acquainted with the religious worship of Egyptian gods, which included various bulls, frogs, falcons and other animals.  So they clearly thought this golden god could help them.  The result of that episode was that thousands of Israelites died because they’d formed and worshipped a golden calf.  Now, however, they are in trouble again…whining and angering Moses and God.  So, God sent snakes among them and many died and were dying.  God tells Moses, incredulously, to make an image of bronze and put it up where everyone could see it and that if they look at it they will live!  Do you see the irony?  The last time they’d formed an image to worship it, many died as a result.  Now, God says to make an image and it will result in their being saved!  This must have been a real test of obedience for the Israelites: “Hey, Shlomoe, remember what happened the LAST time we made an image of an animal?  Do you think Moses heard God correctly about this bronze serpent thing?”  It required obedience even when the thing commanded not only made no sense, but when there was precedent point 180 degrees the opposite direction!

SECOND: Athol Dickson did a word study on the verses about the bronze serpent, and he made an amazing discovery.  The Hebrew word, nes, which is translated as the “pole” upon which the bronze serpent is mounted, is not a simple word to translate.  In other passages, the word is translated as “example” or “banner.”  In Isaiah 33:23, it is translated “sail”, but another word entirely is used to describe the mast or pole on which the sail is hung.  In fact, nowhere else in Scripture is the word nes translated as “pole” – it is always translated as the object that is lifted up on the pole.  Only here, is the bronze serpent mounted on the “pole” (nes).  So, to use the way the word is normally translated, we’d find a symbol (the bronze serpent) hung upon an example (the nes, or pole).  It seems God deliberately chose this word to hint that it really wasn’t the serpent that was to give them deliverance, but the One behind the serpent.  But, that’s not the most amazing thing.  The most amazing thing is that the word nes has yet another meaning: “miracle.”  The story of the bronze serpent is both an example and a miracle, pointing to the real miracle: the miracle of a God dying on another pole in Roman occupied Jerusalem.  It is as if God is saying, “When the people look upon what hangs on the pole – the miracle – they will be saved.”  Jesus was that miracle.  It was a miracle that a God could die at all.  It was a miracle that our sins could be taken away.  It was a miracle that God would do such a thing for nothing more than a collection of atoms and chemicals known as a human being.  Yet He did all those things.

When you look upon the miracle on the pole, you shall be saved!

PRAYER: Open our eyes to the miracle that is Jesus hanging on a pole for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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