DayBreaks for 5/21/18 – Before and Now

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DayBreaks for 5/21/18: Before and Now

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:

Through some recent reading, I’ve been led to contemplate the importance of the human concept of our origins.  I know the Biblical concept: man was made in the very image of God.  We come from Him, we are to live for Him, and we will some day return to Him – and at that time we’ll all have to give an answer for how we lived in this world (Heb. 9:27). 

It’s quite a different story if you reject the idea of creation and of the existence of a Divine Being.  Without believing in a Divinely ordained destiny for all of creation (including mankind), you are left to believe that everything is the product of chance and mathematical probabilities.  It means that you were born for no reason other than a chance meeting of reproductive materials.  It means that your life has no teleos – no goal toward which it is moving.  It means that when you die, it’s done, period, over and out. 

Jeremiah, at one point in his life, had an encounter with God that reveals the fallacy of such thinking.  In Jeremiah 1:4-5 (NIV), he wrote these words: The word of the LORD came to me, saying,  ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’”

God told Jeremiah wonderful things: “I knew you before you were even formed in the womb.  I didn’t just know that you were going to be, but I knew YOU.”  How could it be that God knew Jeremiah even before he was conceived?  It can only be that God had plans for a particular person (Jeremiah), and that God quite literally knew him.  That was the “before” in Jeremiah’s life.  And it was through understanding that he had a “before”, and a call for the present (he was consecrated) and that there was a purpose for his life (he was given as a prophet to the nations), that Jeremiah found meaning.  It is the “before” that gives the “now” meaning.

God didn’t just know Jeremiah before he was born.  He knew all of us.  David says that God knew every day that was appointed for him to live before he was born, that every thought he’d ever have and word he’d speak was known before he literally had a single thought.  In Ephesians, the great apostle Paul says that God chose us before the foundation of the world. 

What does all this mean for you and I?  It means that there is a definite purpose for our lives and that we are not to think our lives are meaningless, directionless and without value.  It means we don’t have to scurry around trying to find, or even to create, some kind of answers to life.  Instead, we can go to God to discover the reason and truth of our existence.   

Is it any wonder that there is so much despair among those who don’t know Christ?

PRAYER: Fill us, Lord, with the confidence that comes from knowing our before and how that shapes our now and directs our future.  Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

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DayBreaks for 5/15/18 – Things Remembered

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DayBreaks for 5/15/18: Things Remembered

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008

The smell of a basement, or an in-ground pump house.  The scent of an orange grove snaking its way through the refreshing breeze.  Sights.  Sounds.  The feel of humidity on the skin. 

I used to live in Florida a long time ago.  I’ve lived there twice in fact.  Once when I was just a young boy in the 4th grade, and again after graduating from high school when I went to Florida to attend college.  This past week, I spent time in central Florida, sight-seeing and enjoying what there was to be explored.  I saw things I’d never seen before, which I always find fascinating, and I learned things that I’d not known before, which is exhilarating. 

One thing that I didn’t expect was the flood of sensations that reminded me of living there years before.  There is a certain feel to the air in Florida that is missing in California.  Early in the morning, there’s a smell of damp, humid air that we don’t get to experience in the west. 

As I reflected on that, and other reports from my senses, I began to ponder the phenomenon of memory.  I thought of my children and grandchildren and thought about how they would remember me.  I thought of the friends from church we had here a long time ago who “adopted” us young Californian kids who were so far away from home.  Some of those friends how rest in the arms of the Lord, though some linger here still.

In 50 years, will anyone remember me at all?  Will the name of Galen Dalrymple be long forgotten?  Who will speak my name, and why? 

I know, however, that He will not forget me nor my name.   When I rest from the labors of this life, I will be remembered by the One who made me, Who kept me, Who led me through this world and safely to the next.  And, I concluded, that is enough.  It is more than enough that He will know me and once again call me by name. 

Psalms 106:3-4 (KJV) – Remember me, O LORD, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation.

PRAYER: Dear Father, I am so grateful that you have never forgotten me and that you will always remember me and hold me near to your heart.  May I never forget you.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 5/01/18 – All Things in the Right Place

 

DayBreaks for 5/01/18: All Things in the Right Place

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:     

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DayBreaks for 5/01/18: All Things in the Right Place

Job 38:4-7, 12-13 (NIV) – Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone–while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it?

How do you like it when you get “put in your place?”  It’s not real pleasant, is it?  Job discovered what it was like when God started asking him questions that were impossible for Job to answer.  Job’s response was the right one, once he recovered from his shock: I put my hand over my mouth!

God put Job in his place with his questions.  That is as it should be…whenever God asks us questions, they are designed to remind us who and what we are, and to make us realize that we are not God.  We can’t do any of the things that God asked Job, and yet God does them day in and day out without even breaking a sweat.  No, we are not God and we need to be put in our place.

But, at the same time, it is important that we put God in his right place, too.  I like this bit of historical trivia that shows that Martin Luther grasped this perfectly: Philipp Melanchthon was a German theologian who lived as a contemporary of Martin Luther.  One day as the two of them spoke, Melanchthon said to Luther, “Today, you and I shall discuss the governance of the universe.”  Luther looked at Melanchthon and said, “No.  Today, you and I shall go fishing and leave the governance of the universe to God.” 

PRAYER:  Thank You, Father, that You’ve shown us the truth about ourselves, and revealed your greatness and glory to us.  Today, may we trust all things into Your infinitely capable hands!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 4/26/18 – Why Sin Vanished from Our Vocabulary

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DayBreaks for 4/26/18: Why Sin Vanished from Our Vocabulary

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2008:     

When is the last time that you heard the word “sin” actually spoken outside of a church – other than in a sneering derisive way?  I don’t know if I can honestly recall.  In fact, one wonders if perhaps the word is spoken very often inside churches these days.  Why is that?  No less than 50 years ago, the word could be heard at least every once in a while from politicians, businessmen, teachers, professors and certainly in churches.  Why no more?

It has to do with the shift in our thinking from the realm of spiritual things being relegated to nothing more than personal belief without anything to recommend it to a serious thinker or scholar as being more than just superstition.  When the Bible as God’s special revelation was thrown out, and when the real historical Jesus was made into a farce by the “Historical Jesus movement”, and when universities began teaching that anything the wasn’t scientifically provable should be thrown on the dust heap as so much gibberish, then there was to sin anymore, no mark that we would be missing.  Because, you see, God can’t be scientifically proven, therefore He must not exist. 

So, if you ask most people in our culture what, if anything, they think of sin, Don Everts in The Smell of Sin suggests it would be like asking them what they think of unicorns.  (In fact, I suspect that some might give more credence to the existence of unicorns – perhaps even if only in the past – than they do to the existence of God, although there’s far more evidence for the latter!)  Still, most people know that unicorns are a myth.  As Everts says, “So the debate is: is it a cute myth or a silly myth or a destructive one?  Sin really has joined the ranks of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny in our culture: something that you once believed in as a child but have since grown out of…So, what does sin smell like to most of our neighbors?  Nothing.  Air.”

Has sin vanished from your vocabulary?  Have you relegated it to something other than what it is?  Have you developed cute names for it (“goof-up”, “mistake”, “slip of the tongue”, “mis-step”, “an oops”)?  God calls it sin.  And He reminds us very clearly: (Ezekiel 18:4, NIV) – For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son–both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die.

PRAYER:  Father, keep us from believing fairy tales and give us the wisdom to believe You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 4/20/18 – Coloring Outside the Lines

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DayBreaks for 4/20/18: Coloring Outside the Lines 

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2008:

My granddaughter, Kailani, is now 5, and she’s very good with crayons and colored pens.  One of her favorite things to do when I get to her place is to invite me to sit down and color with her.  We’ll use the same coloring book – she’ll take one page and I’ll take the facing page.  She is VERY particular about staying inside the lines.  Maybe that’s why she wants us working on the same pages – that way she can keep an eye on my coloring to see if she approves!!!!

I, too, still love to color.  I always have.  I don’t do it except when I’m with my grandkids.  Strange.  But I recall the outlines of shapes and people, and the joy of deciding what colors to use and turning a blasé page into a genuine work of art (well, maybe just a colored page!)  It bothers Kailani if I color outside the lines, and it bothers teachers, and it bothers me, too.  The creator of the work intended for people to color INSIDE the lines, not outside.  If all you do is color outside, the beauty is not revealed in its fullest. 

Now-a-days, some “experts” are saying that it is harmful to a child’s development to tell them to stay inside the lines.  They say that the child shouldn’t be restricted from someone else’s view of reality, and that if they want to color outside the lines, well, that’s just fine. 

I’m not so sure.  It seems to me that coloring outside the lines is dangerous…and can have serious, even deadly, implications in other areas of life.  Stop and think of “coloring outside the lines” as a metaphor for life, rules and restrictions.  Especially God’s boundaries.

God himself sets lines and boundaries.  He did it in creation by telling the sea that it could only go so far and no further: Should you not fear me?, declares the Lord.  Should you not tremble in my presence?  I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross.  The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail; they may roar, but they cannot cross it. – (Jer. 5:22)

The barriers (lines, if you will) that God set forth are not intended to limit our self-expression, but to direct it towards things that result in life and a deeper relationship with God Himself.  To think we know better than our Creator and decide it is okay to operate outside the boundaries that He wisely and kindly gave us, is confusing self-expression with self-indulgence.  It is to place ourselves in judgment on the Judge of all the earth.

Psalm 16:6: The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.

PRAYER:  Thank You, Father, for setting boundaries for our well-being and protection.  Teach us to live within the wise lines You have drawn for us as our Creator.  May the pattern of our lives lived on this earth be a thing of beauty to You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 4/19/18 – Habakkuk’s Circumstances – Deja Vu

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DayBreaks for 4/19/18: Habakkuk’s Circumstances (Déjà vu)     

I will refer you to Habakkuk 1.2-4 as a background for this DayBreaks.

Here’s the scenario: Habakkuk, a prophet in Judea, looks around himself and sees that the “righteous” (in whose number he includes himself) are surrounded by the wicked. He sees so-called justice that is really injustice. He sees iniquity. He sees destruction and violence running rampant. Strife and contention are everywhere and the law seems paralyzed. As bad as that is, what really is bothering Habakkuk is that he has been crying out to the Lord for help – and not seeing any help coming to his rescue.

This is going to get a bit sensitive here because I’m going to delve into politics. Bear with me, please. Habakkuk mixed the two – righteousness and justice. As much as some would like to totally separate the two, we can’t. Why is it wrong to steal from someone, both morally and ethically? Because it results in injustice to the person who had things taken. Justice is both a moral and political issue methinks.

And here’s where it’s gonna get touchy: there are many in America today who are feeling a lot like Habakkuk. They are right – there is much to despair over because of what they see happening (or not happening). They can’t understand why God has let some things happen and why he hasn’t come down with an iron rod and set things straight. And as a result, they cry out – but not maybe so much to God as to their friends on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and via email.

I think that Habakkuk had a far better approach to venting his frustration. Isn’t it better to cry out to God when we are despairing? We may not like the answer (or non-answer) we get from God, but it is HIS answer, so it is bound to be better than that which we get from our friends. Our dilemma is whether or not we believe his answers and ways are good or not. He is the God who raises up rulers and tears them down – not for our satisfaction, but for his immutable reasons. 

Indeed, God may yet come down with a rod of iron to fix what is wrong in this world (we know he will eventually, but he can fix things in the meantime, too, if in his infinite wisdom he knows that it is the right thing to do). There IS much injustice. There IS much violence, strife and contention. Those things need to be fixed – and they will.

But rather than crying out to everyone else around us, maybe like Habakkuk we should be crying out to God. Oh, and one more thing: maybe we need to be on our knees a whole lot more on behalf of our president, congresspersons, governors, magistrates, etc. than we have been. I wonder how often those who have railed the most against the political and moral state of affairs in our country are taking the command from Paul that we are to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2.2 – and bear in mind the leader Paul told people to pray for at that time as an utterly unjust, evil tyrant named Nero.) What, I wonder, would happen if Christians in the country and around the world truly started to pray for their leaders like we should? Not pray that they be smitten, but pray for their well-being, for righteousness to find a place to rule in their hearts, to seek God’s answers, to find salvation and God’s ways rather than the guidance of human advisors. Remember that prayer is offering our desires to God, but always with the attitude of “nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.” Might God just hear from heaven and heal our land?

PRAYER: Convict us of the need to pray for all of our leaders far more than we feel the need to criticize them, Lord! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 4/16/18 – Can’t You See?

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DayBreaks for 4/16/18: Can’t You See?       

From the Perimeter worship bulletin (this forms an introduction to a series of sermons and DayBreaks from the book of Habakkuk that I’ll share in the coming weeks):

“Can’t you see, oh can’t you see, what that woman, she been doing’ to me? Can’t you see, can’t you see, what that woman, Lord, been doing’ to me?” – lyric from the Marshall Tucker band

It was a question the Marshall Tucker band asked in the 1970’s. Waylon Jennings asked the same question. More recently, the Zac Brown band asked it. The writer is upset because his woman left him, and did not say goodbye. He is at the point of despair. He is “…gonna take a freight train, or find a hole to craw in” because he has no relief. He is asking why the Lord can’t see his misery, or that he’s been “done wrong.”

Have you ever felt that way or asked the question, “Can’t you see, God?” I have asked the Lord that on numerous occasions. It seems funny as I write it, that I would actually ask the omniscient God if he can see. The gentle but firm reality is that he can see. I am the one who cannot see. He may not be telling me what he does see. Be assured that he sees. Sometimes in our frustration at life’s situations, we want to be all knowing and all seeing. Something has not been granted to us, and so we ask, “Can’t you see?” Underneath that question we add a corollary, “Won’t you deal with what I see?”

There is a problem with doing that. Because we don’t fully see, we may not know how to tell him the right thing to do. A word picture may help. Sit with your back to a window, then try to recall everything that is outside the window. You may be a few things correct, but birds are flying, leaves are falling, and the sun is rising. Things change and often they are in your blind spot, where you cannot notice them. God sees all, all of the time. One pastor put it this way, “We may have a point of view, but God has view!”

So, this week…we wonder if you can praise the Lord for having view, resting in the fact that he has it, he sees it, and he knows just want needs to be done. Yes, he knows “what that woman (or man) been doin’ to you”, so there is no need to take a freight train!

PRAYER: God, sometimes we think we see and understand better than you do. Keep us from this foolish way of thinking and help us learn to trust you and your vision above our own! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.