DayBreaks for 3/23/17 – I Have Revealed You

DayBreaks for 3/23/17: I Have Revealed You

NOTE: Galen is traveling this week. This week’s DayBreaks will be from the May 2007 archives.

John 17:6 (NIV) – I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.

“I have revealed You.” 

For millennia, people have looked up at the sky and observed the world around them and pondered what God (or the gods) were like.  At times, from external appearances, God didn’t seem to be too friendly.  Billions of unanswered questions were flung skyward, and yet God couldn’t be seen or known or understood.  Droughts, fires, storms, earthquakes, volcanoes, diseases, death suggested that perhaps God wasn’t too good, too friendly, nor was it a good idea to get too close to Him.  And who can blame them for coming to such conclusions?  Let’s be honest here: life is tough.  It’s hard.  Even today, when a Katrina or a tsunami strike, one of the first questions out of the mouths of people is: “Why did God do this?  Either he must not be a good God, or he must not be strong enough and powerful enough to prevent such things.”  Their doubts lead some to the conclusion that God is vengeful, angry with all of mankind, or that maybe at some point, like Nietzsche, they concluded in their own reasoning that God kicked the bucket at some time and that’s why these things happen. 

Honestly, these are tough questions.  What I think we should understand from the text is that Jesus came partly to correct our many wrong conceptions about God and to answer some of our questions about Him.  Notice, I didn’t say he came to answer all our questions, because God is infinite – and quite frankly, our human minds can’t any more capture all that there is to know about God than a paper cup could hold the entire contents of the Pacific Ocean.  But He showed us God…and He showed us enough of God to show us that God isn’t like what we thought He was like at all. 

What did Jesus reveal about God to us?  His nature.  We see God by seeing Jesus.  What did Jesus do when he was confronted with suffering?  NOT ONCE is it recorded that he refused to allow suffering to move him in his heart and soul – he didn’t scold those who were suffering or say that they lacked sufficient faith to be healed, he didn’t say “You’re suffering because you’re a horribly sinful person” or “Because God’s mad at you.”  In fact, when asked whose fault it was someone was handicapped, or who was to blame for a tower at Siloam falling and killing people, Jesus said it was the work of the enemy – not God.  And then Jesus proceeded to show his disciples, and us, what God is like and how He feels about such things: he healed, removing the suffering.  In every case where Jesus was personally asked for healing, he healed!  That is God’s nature – to heal all that is broken – in His time.  Did Jesus heal everyone who was sick while he was on earth?  No, he did not.  Why?  Again – that’s a topic for another time, and it’s an answer we can only speculate about – but what Scripture does make clear about God is that he will fix it all eventually, when the time is right.  And then no one will be complaining any more, or suffering.  “I have revealed you” is wonderful news.

The question that haunts me, though, isn’t about Jesus and his revealing of God.  No, it’s much more personal.  Has my life revealed Him, or obscured Him?  What does my life say about Who God is and what He is like?

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for revealing the Father to us.  Thank you for showing us that God is a GOOD God, a trustworthy God who is eternally interested in our good.  Help us, as week and sinful as we are, to emulate Jesus and reveal God to those who witness our lives each day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 3/08/17 – Moses’ Journey to the Promised Land

View from Mt. Nebo.

DayBreaks for 3/08/17: Moses’ Journey to the Promised Land

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2007:

In Exodus 33, as Israel comes near the end of their wilderness wanderings, Moses grows concerned about whether or not the Presence of the Lord will go with them.  He even tells God that he doesn’t want Him to let them move forward even a foot without the assurance of God being with them.  God gives Moses assurances – more than one – but Moses still seems to be beset with doubts.  And so he asks to see God.  Amazingly, God agrees.

On the surface, this story could be about any one of us who struggles with doubts about God’s Presence at times in our lives.  Some moments His Presence is so palpable that no one possessed of a sound mind would doubt it.  But then there are those other moments, aren’t there?  Moments when He no longer seems present, and we may even start to wonder if He ever was at all, or if it was all just a mind-trick we played on ourselves.  Let’s be honest.  Sometimes it is a struggle to believe at such times.

And so Moses doubted God’s presence, but he also knew that he wanted God’s Presence more than anything – even more than going to the Promised Land without Him.  Moses asked to see God’s glory, but instead, God showed Him His goodness. 

Sometime later, Moses trekked up the mountain called Nebo.  He didn’t make the journey alone.  He sat on the mountain top with the very God who had shown him His Presence once before.  God showed him all the land “from Gilead as far as Dan.”  And I suspect that it was a marvelous spectacle.  But somehow, I think it really didn’t matter that much to Moses.  As Moses sat there on top of the mountain in the sunshine and viewed the Promised Land with God, Moses was already in the Promised Land that he’d longed for – he was in God’s Presence.  And as Moses lay down upon the top of that mountain and died, at that moment, he needed and wanted nothing else.

You can’t go to the promised land with God.  And as long as you are with God, you are in the promised land.

Genesis 15:1 – After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram.  I am your shield, your very great reward.”

PRAYER: As much as we long for heaven, Lord, may we never mistake the place for the Inhabitant.  May we find in You our peace when we live, and when we lay down to die. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 3/3/17 – Visiting With Isaiah, #5

DayBreaks for 3/02/17: Visiting With Isaiah, #5

Isaiah 6:8 (ESV) – And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”

Now, I think, we get to the crux of this passage. Isaiah has had an incredible vision. He has realized his own uncleanness after pronouncing woes on everyone else. He has been cleansed by a coal from the altar of offering. And now, God asks two questions: Whom shall I send? And Who will go for us?

I think these are two different questions. One is who God will choose to send in His infinite wisdom? The second is more about who will be willing to go on God’s behalf. In between the two questions lies a vast crevasse called human will and obedience.

If I had been Isaiah, I would have much preferred to stay in the incredible worship scene around the throne, watching the seraphim, hearing the praises of God ringing throughout the ethereal sphere. I would have preferred to stay in that relatively safe, secure, lovely place. I would have preferred to say, “Hey, how about sending Joe? He’d be great for your mission!” My guess is that you would have been a lot like me.

But that’s not what Isaiah said. Here I am! Send me! His encounter with this God who had cleansed him led him to such gratitude that he was willing to do anything that this great God would ask.

I would have done as Moses did, offering excuses right and left: I’m too weak, I’ve got too many flaws, I am too broken, I’m not smart enough or gifted in the right areas. But that misses a key point: God wired us to be weak and broken. God could have created us without the capacity for sin, but He didn’t. He knew the character of Isaiah, that he was a sinner just like me. But God wanted a partner and Isaiah said yes even before he knew where God wanted to send him! Here I am! Send me. I can almost picture Isaiah jumping up and down like Shrek did in the first Shrek movie, yelling, “Pick me! Pick me!”, waving his arms trying to get God’s attention.

Isaiah would be embarking for a mission for God: a mission to turn the hearts of the people back to God so they could be spared destruction. And, Isaiah would fail in that mission – at least as far as we’d describe failure. The people would not turn, they would not repent and God would send them into slavery.

Here’s a point to consider: God wasn’t calling Isaiah to be successful. Did God think Isaiah’s ministry was a failure and was God angry with Isaiah for the lack of results? No. I don’t believe so. God knew when he called Isaiah that Isaiah would “fail”. But He called him anyway. And Isaiah went, not knowing that God knew he would “fail”. Why? Obedience is why. An encounter with the cleansing of God has a way to cause us to obey out of gratitude.

I wonder, would Isaiah have said “Yes” if he’d known he would “fail”? I don’t like to fail. I know you don’t, either. When God calls us, though, he isn’t calling us to be successful, or even to fruitfulness (Isaiah wasn’t very fruitful) – He is calling us to faithfulness.

So, here we are, at the end of our visit with Isaiah, and we are confronted with questions:

Is my response to God’s call predicated on my own sense of whether or not I’m capable or likely to be successful? Or will I be like Isaiah and say “Yes” even before I know where God may send me – trusting in Him to take this shattered, broken vessel and do something for His own name’s sake?

What is my role in what God is doing among the nations? Can I say no? Yes, I can. And in doing so I will miss all that God intends for me to be and do, and most of all, I’d be missing out on a great adventure of relationship with Him.

What is your role in what God is doing in the world? Do you care about people coming to Jesus? God cares about it far more than any human could ever care about it. But he wants to send us. He waits to hear our response to the same questions he asked in Isaiah 6:8.

Do we think it would be too great of a sacrifice for us to make to leave our comforts behind to risk it all with God? David Livingstone had this to say (may not be word for word, but close enough that you’ll get the point): If an earthly commission by an earthly king is thought to be an honor, how can a commission by the Heavenly King be thought a sacrifice?

PRAYER: Search my heart, God. Let me not think of any call from You as a sacrifice, but as the greatest honor in the world. Let me not worry about my abilities or the likelihood of success, but simply of obedience. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 3/2/17 – Visiting With Isaiah, #4

DayBreaks for 3/02/17: Visiting With Isaiah, #4

Isaiah 6:5-7 (ESV) – And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

These verses take place right after the vision of the One who is seated on the throne. It isn’t surprising that Isaiah had this reaction given his description of the Throne Dweller. But as if often the case, if we forget the context of a passage, we miss nuggets that are priceless.

If you were to go back and read Isaiah chapter 5, you’ll hear woe after woe after woe pronounced by Isaiah to his listeners. He was dishing it out with seeming relish.

But now things have changed. He has not just heard the voice of the Lord but has been in the Presence itself. In spite of all the woes that he’d dished out, perhaps Isaiah needed to understand his own place and his own righteousness (which was no righteousness at all compared to that of the Lord) before he would be a fit servant and messenger for God.

When Doug Fell shared this passage, he described an incident with his young son who at the time was still using a pacifier (they call pacifiers “dummies” in South Africa). His son had come to his dad all excited. His dummy was still in his mouth but he told his dad how excited he was. When Doug asked him why he was so excited, he was informed that it was because his son and dropped his dummy but had washed it before putting it back in his mouth. Doug was rather pleased that his son had taken that initiative. Doug asked him where he had washed it and his son eagerly led his father into the bathroom. Doug was a bit perplexed because he knew his young son couldn’t have reached the sink. His worse fears were realized when his young son led him to the toilet bowl, pointed and said, “In there!”, then proceeded to take the dummy out of his mouth, swish it around in the toilet bowl and pop it back into his mouth before his dad could stop him.

That night, Doug said, when he was tucking his son into his bed, his little boy asked for a goodnight kiss. Doug confessed to a peck on the forehead that night rather than on the lips.
I am a man of unclean lips. We are all people of unclean lips, are we not? It is a symbol of our impurity, of the filth that clings to us on this mortal coil and it should be enough to revolt us. But not God.

God touches the lips of Isaiah with a coal from the altar – from the place of sacrifice. It is a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Christ that would cleans not only our unclean lips, but all of our iniquities.

Note one more thing: it is not Isaiah who takes the initiative to be made clean. Isaiah cannot get the coal for himself. It is God who takes the initiative to cleanse Isaiah’s uncleanness.

Why does God do such a thing, not just for Isaiah but for you and me, too? Isaiah 43:25 tells us the answer: I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.

God gives us forgiveness not just for our own sake, and indeed, He is under no obligation whatsoever to do so. He does it for his own sake. What can God possibly gain to benefit from our forgiveness? Several things, but certainly it must include these:

FIRST: God’s reputation is at stake. Remember the confrontation between Satan and God in Job? What kind of a God would He be if He created us, knowing we would fall and be great sinners, and not do anything to redeem us? He would be a hateful God, a God who delighted in seeing His creation tortured in eternal flames if He left us hopeless for eternity. But His reputation is at stake and all his claims to be a loving, compassionate, merciful God of forgiveness and grace would be proven to be lies if He just left us as fallen creatures. Praise God He didn’t do that! And praise God that he acts for his own sake as well as ours!

SECOND: God is a God who longs for fellowship and relationship with His creation and creatures. He could not have relationship with us if he were to leave us as unclean people. He is too holy for sin to exist in His presence, so the only way he could have relationship with us was to do something about our uncleanness – so He did do something about it – for His own sake and His own delight so we could fellowship forever as holy, clean beings!

PRAYER: Thank you for acting for your own sake and for letting us reap the benefits of your actions! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 3/01/17 – Visiting With Isaiah, #3

DayBreaks for 3/01/17: Visiting With Isaiah, #3

Isaiah 6:4 (ESV) – And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.

Have you ever lived in a place where lightning storms are commonplace? I have. I rather enjoy the thunder and lightning as long as I can stay inside and be awed by the light show and the sounds.

I recall sitting in an open doorway in the African bush and listening to the peals of thunder that shook the building and the incredible noise rolled through the heavens and along the ground across the vastness of the African plains. I pictured it rolling all the way home to America.

I often sit now in our home in Georgia and listen to the thunder. I don’t mind it one bit, but it scares our dog nearly to death each and every time we have such a storm.

In the passage in Isaiah, it isn’t totally clear to me who it is that is him who called. I tend to believe it is the voice of the One seated on the throne that is calling to Isaiah (God’s voice is often described that way in scripture), but it could be the voice of the seraphim. If it is the latter, imagine what the voice of the One on the throne must be like if even the mighty seraphim sound like peals of thunder! But I think it was the voice of the One on the throne that Isaiah is referring to.

This one seated on the throne is not like the wizard of Oz who has to pretend to be powerful and use fakery to appear great. This One is powerful. This One is the very definition of power. The dwelling of this One is filled with smoke. We shouldn’t think of it as the eye-stinging smoke from a fire, but of incense offered up in worship.

In the Old Testament, the Presence of God Almighty was often shrouded in smoke or thick clouds for a reason. To look upon Him would have been enough to have killed any mortal for the vision would be more than we could bear. So in Isaiah’s vision, he hears the voice from the house filled with smoke, so even the One seated on the throne is hidden from his view.

Try this one on for size: 1 John 3:2 (ESV) – Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

What Isaiah saw shielded by smoke will become perfectly, crystal clear to us. We won’t see Him hidden behind a smokescreen. We shall see Him JUST as He is – face to face with the Almighty, not as strangers, but as sons and daughters whom He deeply loves ad whom He has been waiting to welcome home!

PRAYER: I cannot imagine seeing You face to face, Lord, yet I believe that I shall, and that on that day, I will not be ashamed (Rom. 10:11)! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/28/17 – Visiting With Isaiah, #2

DayBreaks for 2/28/17: Visiting With Isaiah, #2

Isaiah 6:2-3 (ESV) – Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”

The seraphim are interesting creatures and they certainly caught Isaiah’s attention, but not because of their unearthly appearance (which sounds quite amazing!), but because of what they were doing.

It appears that they perhaps circle over the top of the throne as they fly, but even these incredible creatures shield their eyes from the glory of the one seated on the throne, and they cover their feet – often thought of as being a very lowly and humble part of the body – because of the worthiness of the Being on the throne.

But the most amazing thing about these beings is what they say to one another: Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!

Stop and think about that for a moment. If you were standing (or hovering) over the throne of God, what might you be saying? Perhaps you’d say, Loving, loving, loving is the Lord or hosts, or perhaps Gracious, gracious, gracious or Magnificent, magnificent, magnificent. I could imagine saying all sorts of things, can’t you?

Not these creatures. The thing that so dominated their thinking and their speaking wasn’t the love of the one on the throne, or his grace, mercy, compassion or anything other than His holiness.

What is holiness? What does the word holy mean? It means different, other, set apart (especially for some purpose), special in some great way. What these amazing seraphim are captivated by is how unlike anything else this Lord is! This is intended to let us know that this is a One of a kind God, One who is not like us nor even like the seraphim themselves. He is completely Other.

So, what’s so special about that? Think about his holiness, his total otherness and then think about the Incarnation. This incredible one who is seated on the throne in Isaiah’s vision who is so Other is the one who made himself like us, removing his Otherness and taking on our Sameness – even sameness to the point of dying like King Uzziah did, and dying as we shall.

To echo the words of Isaiah in Isaiah 53:1a: Who has believed our report? Who would believe such a thing could ever happen, that the One whose glory fills the temple, leaving room for no other being to be glorified, would do such a thing?

One more note here: the seraphim are proclaiming his holiness not because of anything He has done, but simply because of who and what He is.

Ready for today’s challenge? Try this one on for size from 1 Peter 1:16 – we are told by God himself that we are to be holy, even as he is holy! Is that some kind of mean, sadistic joke? How can such a thing be? It can only be because He became like us, gave himself for us and even more – gives us His own holiness, the very same holiness that the seraphim talk about without ceasing – through the blood of Jesus.

Isaiah 61:10 (ESV) – I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

PRAYER: Lord, we can scarce believe that you have clothed us with your own righteousness and given us the holiness of Jesus that we may one day stand, unashamed in your holy presence! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/27/18 – Visiting With Isaiah, #1

DayBreaks for 2/27/17: Visiting With Isaiah, #1

Isaiah 6:1 (ESV) – In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.

On Sunday, we had a guest speaker as it was our church’s global outreach Sunday. His name was Doug Fell and he was from South Africa. His message was awesome as he opened the passage from Isaiah 6:1-8 to our understanding. It was also very convicting. So, for this week, I think I’ll share with you from this amazing passage that relays the incredible story of Isaiah’s vision.

King Uzziah started out to be a good king. Sadly, he didn’t finish his reign as a good king. To some degree, King Uzziah is incidental to this story, though it sets the timeframe for Isaiah’s vision for us. He became king, as co-regent with his father, when he was just 16 years of age and he ruled for 52 years. Toward the end of his life he was struck by leprosy and he died around 740-739 BC.

Even in Israel, kings died – whether they had been good or bad kings made no difference. Every earthly ruler whether they were kings, premiers, presidents, emperors or we called by some other honorific at one time or another found themselves in the grave.

But the one that Isaiah sees in his vision is different in many, many ways – about as different as darkness is from light. When Isaiah sees the king in his vision, he doesn’t even call him by the name king, but by the term, the Lord.

The Lord is in a position of kingship: he is seated on a throne, but not just any throne, one that is high and lifted up. The image is that of a King that isn’t ordinary in any sense of the word, but of an extremely exalted King. It isn’t Uzziah who sits on this throne, for he has just died. There is only one throne in the vision and only one who is worthy and glorious enough to be seated upon it. 

Note the description of the King: not only is he seated on a lofty throne, the train of his robe filled the temple. Pause for a moment and reflect on a coronation ceremony that you may have seen on television, or in photographs. As the royal personage makes their way through the cathedral or inauguration location, they are dressed in their finest royal accoutrements. They have huge “trains” that follow them as a symbol of their importance and honor. The train may drag on the ground or be lifted by lesser humans as a sign of respect, glory and the  magnificence of the person being crowned – as if the one being inaugurated is too lofty to be soiled by the dirt on the floor. But, when all is considered, the train is fairly small compared to the building.

Not so with the king in Isaiah’s vision: his train fills the entire temple. What does that mean? It means that this king’s glory and honor and magnificence is without limit. It is overwhelming. It means that there is no room for glorifying anyone or anything else. THIS King is unlike any other king who has ever been royalty. He is different in honor and glory by magnitudes of scale.

How would you react to this King if it had been you instead of Isaiah who saw it? Stay tuned for Isaiah’s reaction in the next few days, but for now, simply dwell on the most magnificent scene of honor you have ever seen and multiply it by infinity and perhaps you’ll get a sense for the King of Isaiah’s vision. The vision changed Isaiah – the question is will it change us?

PRAYER: God of heaven and earth – how often we neglect to ponder your magnificence and the honor that is due to your name! How seldom we get a glimpse of your glory because we are too busy frantically running to and fro with our own affairs. Bring us up short and help us get even the slightest vision of you in all your magnificence, and may it change us forever! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.