DayBreaks for 8/29/19 – Binding Arbitration

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DayBreaks for 08/29/19: Binding Arbitration

NOTE: Galen is on vacation for the next couple weeks and may not respond to any comments until he returns on 9/9/19.

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

Arbitration is typically a tool of last resort.  For example, it is used by sports teams when they can’t come to terms with a player.  In many health insurance plans, part of the agreement when you sign up is that you’ll agree to binding arbitration instead of resorting to a lawsuit in case of a claim against the doctor, hospital or insurer.  The idea: to find someone who is a neutral party without any vested interest one way or the other, and to avoid costs as much as possible (lawyer’s fees, court fees, etc.) 

The idea of arbitration goes way back.  A mediator is the same as an arbitrator, except the parties have agreed to be bound by the decision of the mediator.  How far back into the shadows of history does arbitration go?  No one knows for sure, but Job (probably the oldest book in the bible – it is believed by many that Job predated Abraham by some period of time) refers to one in job 9:33-34: If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that His terror would frighten me no more.  In these words of Job, spoken in the midst of great physical, emotional and spiritual suffering, is a plea for someone who could “lay his hand upon us both”.  What a bold request from this ancient saint!  Who could have conceived of someone being able to lay a hand on God Almighty!  Yet that is just what Job calls for.  

In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason points out what Job was really inviting: someone called Immanuel.  He muses that “From our point of view we may tend to presume that because this mediator, Jesus Christ, is Himself God, He must be biased in God’s favor.  But this is surprisingly not the case.  For Christ is not only God but man, and so He is just as much on man’s side as on God’s.  Indeed the cross is the great evidence of the fact that He is essentially on no side at all, for He did not come to take sides but to make peace.  God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him’ (Jn. 3:17)

Jesus is precisely the arbitrator that Job called for.  And as is the case in any arbitration, it is what this Arbitrator decides about our case before God that counts.  Fortunately, we don’t have to wait until we stand before God in judgment to know how the Arbitrator will rule.  The Word clearly tells us that of those that God has given Him, not one will be lost…and that those who he does not know will depart into eternal torment.  We can know where we stand.  Do you?

PRAYER: Thank You, Jesus, for placing yourself between us and God, for putting your hand on both of us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 8/28/19 – Like Being Buried Alive

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DayBreaks for 08/28/19: Like Being Buried Alive

NOTE: Galen is on vacation for the next couple weeks and may not respond to any comments until he returns on 9/9/19.

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

Of all my nightmares, perhaps none is as terrifying to me as being buried alive.  That, and falling from a great height are the stuff of sleeplessness for me.  I suspect that many are those who share my fears on both scores.  You could just as easily take the verse that says, “It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the Living God” and shorten them for me to this: “It is a terrible thing to fall!”  Heights, and being buried alive, give me the heebie-jeebies!

I found Mike Mason’s insight in The Gospel According to Job very interesting as he described being a Christian this way: “The lot of God’s children on this earth is something like being buried alive.  First we are raised with Christ and made into entirely new creatures, pure and blameless, washed and redeemed and lifted up to Heaven.  All of this happens by faith – which is to say, not in some imaginary way, but in a way more gloriously real than this present world can bear to behold.  Yet no sooner has this spiritual transaction taken place, no sooner have we been veritably seated with Christ in the heavenly realms, than immediately we are sent down to earth again , just as Jesus was, and entrusted with a mission: As the Father sent me, so I am sending you (Jn. 20:21).  The moment we are born again we are sent right back into the world of sin and death.  In fact, we are set back down into exactly the same circumstances in which we found ourselves before we were saved, and there we are told to take up the work of the Son of God in that situation, however painful it might be.  And this is a lot we are to accept with increasing graciousness.”

Many find the Christian life a disappointment.  Yes, at the moment of conversion, there is a freeing of the soul from the chains of the grave and death.  Yes, there is joy at that moment.  But if the motive for becoming a Christian is to simply escape the tough things of this world, well, we’ll be sadly mistaken.  After becoming a Christian, for however many years we sojourn here as God’s kids, it is like being buried alive.  We know that somewhere “out there” is light, fresh air, beauty – but in the meantime we may only be able to see darkness and the air is foul and filled with a stench that comes from a rotting humanity still embroiled in sin.  And all the while, the devil sits and grins.  He grins when we despair that this Christian life doesn’t bring immediate and lasting release from struggles – and that we get discouraged. 

I’m not able to choose the circumstances in life where God has placed me to do His work.  That’s His prerogative as God to choose those things for me.  But I can and do have a responsibility for how I react to those circumstances.  Yes, remaining in this world is a bit like being buried alive – but I don’t have to worry.  The day is coming when all who are in the grave will hear His voice…and His children will rise.  And the being buried alive will be over – and it will have seemed as nothing compared to even the first nanosecond spent in His literal Presence!

PRAYER:  Give us the grace to pass the years of our wandering with grace as we endure a temporary world with temporary troubles!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/24/19 – Misplaced Expectations

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DayBreaks for 08/23/19: Misplaced Expectations

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

We all have expectations.  We have expectations of others, we have expectations of our pets, of our employers, of our employees, of our spouses, children, friends, government…we even have expectations of ourselves.  If only having expectations meant that they would be lived up to and realized!!!!  But alas, such is not the reality of the world in which we live.  I so often fail to live up to my expectations for myself…why should I be so insistent that others should live up to the expectations I have of them? 

God sees us much better than we see ourselves.  He sees us with perfect clarity.  I know that often He sees things in me that he doesn’t care for.  I would like to delight His heart at all times, though I know I don’t.

In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason contemplates the expectations we have of ourselves as Christians.  Though we may often find others have failed to live up to our expectations, the inevitable conclusion that Christians must reach is that we fail miserably to live up to the holy and righteous demands of God.  And that can cause us massive turmoil and anxiety – because we KNOW, plain and simple, that we just don’t cut it.  As a result, many re-double their efforts to “be good” and to “make God happy with me.”  Isn’t that just another way of trusting in our own perfection (or as close to perfection as we can get)? 

Mason insightfully wrote: “God’s delight is not in a life lived in undeviating virtue, but rather in seeing the most twisted and chaotic life turned in humble expectation towards Him.  The truly righteous person, it turns out, is the one who places no expectations upon himself.  From God he expects everything, but from himself he expects nothing, because he knows he is but dust.” 

Are you discouraged in your Christian walk because you just can’t seem to “get it right” no matter how hard you try?  Do you get down on yourself because of that?  Does it lead you to work all the harder?  Guilt will never be a kind task-master, nor will it ever be a wonderful motivator.  Love is a much better motivator, but even our love won’t be perfect – but the good news is that our love doesn’t have to be perfect, because His love is! 

A truly humble, righteous person doesn’t have expectations of themselves other than that they will get it wrong – over and over again – and that God will get it right.  If our expectations are based on my getting better, on my slow but steady improvement, my expectations are in the wrong place.  May my expectations, like my hope, rest in His goodness alone! 

And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. – Romans 5:5 (NLT)

PRAYER:  What a relief it is that You are a good God, One who will never disappoint us nor let us down!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 8/20/19 – Perfect Perfection

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DayBreaks for 08/20/19: Perfect Perfection

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

Perfection, in particular human perfection, is one of the rarest things on earth – if it exists at all.  The sports world shows how rare and short lived that perfection is.   For example, during the week of July 20, 2009, Chicago White Sox ace Mark Buerhle, pitched a no-hitter, but not just a no-hitter – he’d thrown a perfect game!  And that win moved the White Sox moved into a tie for first place.

In case you don’t know the distinction, there’s a big difference between a no-hitter and a perfect game.  In a no-hitter, it means no batter gets a hit against you, but you can walk batters, hit batters with a pitch, and your team can make errors on the field, and it still counts as a no-hitter.   In fact, you can even lose a no-hitter through some of those means.  Still it’s hard to pitch a no-hitter:  out of 2,430 regular season Major League baseball games played every year only a few no-hitters are pitched. As of July 2009, there have been a total of only 281 no-hitters thrown in the history of baseball. Most pitchers will never throw a no-hitter in their entire career.  The greatest pitchers in baseball may pitch two or three no-hitters in their career, with a few having thrown 4.

A perfect game is a much more difficult.  The pitcher not only must prevent all 27 hitters from getting a hit, he also cannot allow a single walk, he can’t hit any batters, and his team must not commit any errors!  Despite the thousands of Major League baseball games played every year and the tens of thousands of games that have been played over the history of baseball since the major leagues began in 1871, Mark Buerhle’s perfect game was only the 18th ever pitched.

But Buerhle didn’t stop there.  In his next start, he was again perfect for the first five and two thirds innings, setting the record for consecutive batters retired over a several-game stretch—45 batters up and down—but then, as it inevitably had to, human limitation took hold.  In the sixth inning, with two outs, Buerhle walked a batter.  Some hits followed.  He got out of that inning, but in the seventh he gave up more hits and was pulled from the game.  He had given up five runs on five hits, and the White Sox lost the game 5 to 3.  For the six games after his perfect game, the White Sox lost five of six games and fell several games behind the Tigers. 

Among human beings, if perfection is possible, it is only temporary.  Most of us may not achieve perfection at all in any sense in our human endeavors.  Have you ever loved perfectly?  Drew the perfect picture?  Developed and executed perfectly the perfect plan?  Parented perfectly?  Been a perfect child, sibling or friend?  Me neither.  Perfection just isn’t a human trait.  In fact, one could argue that a perfect game isn’t really perfect unless the pitcher never throws any balls out of the strike zone, etc.  But we like to pretend that we do things perfectly once in a while.  Perhaps it makes us feel better.  Or perhaps it is a deadly delusion.

Is perfection possible?  Yes, it is.  And if you are a Christian, believe it or not, you’ve been made perfect, not only for a temporary period of time, but eternally: Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Hebrews 10:13-14) 

You have been made perfect if you are in Christ.  Forever.

Now, go and celebrate THAT!

PRAYER:  Lord, it is hard to grasp and to feel that we are in any way, shape or form, perfect.  Sin besets us so frequently and causes us to despair.  We praise Your Name for the sacrifice that has made us already perfect in Your most holy eyes!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/13/19 – The Great Substitutions

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DayBreaks for 08/13/19: The Great Substitutions

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2019:

When I was in junior high, high school, and college, I loved to play sports.  I wasn’t always first string, but whether I was or not, everyone has to take a bit of break now and then and sit to rest.  So, the coach would either send me in as a substitute, or he’d pull the substitute he’d sent in for me so I could go back into the game.  I always hated it when I was pulled out to rest.  I wanted to keep playing!  But the concept of substituting one player for another is based on very solid realities.  In the major leagues, some players are better at defense than others, and toward the end of a close game if their team is leading and the score is close, they might be sent in as a substitute for a player who is not quite as good with a glove.  In basketball, some players can’t shoot free throws and when it comes to crunch time, the coach may pull them out and put in players who can shoot free throws, or three-pointers if the team is behind and has to catch up. 

Of course, the Christian faith is all about substitution: Christ paying the price for the sinner, His death rather than our own.  The righteous dying for the unrighteous.  Pretty fundamental to the entire enterprise of God’s plan.

There is, however, more substitution going on that we are wont to admit.  Consider this perspective from John Stott in his excellent book, The Cross of Christ: “The concept of substitution may be said, then, to lie at the heart of both sin and salvation.  For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man.  Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be.  Man claims prerogatives which belong to God alone; God accepts penalties which belong to man alone.”

Sin surely is us humans putting ourselves in God’s place, rising up in rebellion, overthrowing the reign and rule of God (or trying to) in order to decree what is right and acceptable based on our desires and wishes.  We don’t often think about that form of substitution, but it is putting our wills in the forefront rather than His will.  It is what Adam did in the garden and we’ve been constantly at it ever since. 

We want to accept the substitution that God made for us.  We just don’t want to have to admit the substitution we have made to displace Him from the throne.

PRAYER:  We are deeply grateful, Lord Jesus, that you put yourself in our place.  We are less eager to admit the reason it was necessary was because of our attempt to substitute ourselves and our will for Your will and rule.  Have mercy on us sinners!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/09/19 – The Psalm of Darkness

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DayBreaks for 08/09/19: The Psalm of Darkness

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:

O LORD, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry. For my soul is full of trouble and my life draws near the grave. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like a man without strength. I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more, who are cut off from your care. You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. Your wrath lies heavily upon me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves. Selah You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them. I am confined and cannot escape; my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, O LORD, every day; I spread out my hands to you.  Do you show your wonders to the dead? Do those who are dead rise up and praise you? Selah Is your love declared in the grave, your faithfulness in Destruction? Are your wonders known in the place of darkness, or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?  But I cry to you for help, O LORD; in the morning my prayer comes before you. Why, O LORD, do you reject me and hide your face from me? From my youth I have been afflicted and close to death; I have suffered your terrors and am in despair. Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me. All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me. You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend. – Psalms 88:1-18 (NIV)

This may be the darkest passage in Scripture.  Before we write it off as being guilty of spiritual hyperbole, we need ask ourselves: “Haven’t I felt that way at one time or another?”  Aren’t there times in your past where you have cried out to God, feeling that you were in the “pit”, that you were “cut off” from His care and even His vision?  I don’t know anyone who hasn’t, at some point or another, suffered from those feelings. I think we need to accept this Psalm as being direct from an honest, anguished heart – a prayer with a sharp tip that is pointed upward to God.

Why would God choose to include such a passage in His Word?  It might discourage people from becoming believers, right?  Imagine if all believers all of a sudden were possessed by a dark spirit such as filled David’s heart.  Do you think anyone would find Christianity attractive?  It might even discourage some believers from continuing in their faith.  If David was a man after God’s own heart and he felt this way, what hope is there that my relationship with God would be a more fulfilling one, or one even as “good” as David’s when he’s expressing himself this way?

In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason offers one suggestion: “…there can be a strange comfort in the reading of this psalm in times of trouble.  It is good to be reminded that such a black outpouring really is Scriptural, that prayer need not be upbeat and optimistic.  The true believer does not always rise from his knees full of encouragement and fresh hope.  There are times when one may remain down in the dumps and yet still have prayed well.  For what God wants from us is not the observance of religious protocol, but just that we be real with Him.  What He wants is our hearts.

The effectiveness of our prayers and prayer life should never be judged by how it makes us feel, or how well we feel we prayed.  It should be judged by honesty.  God wants the real you and I – whether we are up or down, filled with hope or bitterly discouraged. 

PRAYER:  Lord, I know that at times I have prayed with the hidden motive of trying to manipulate You.  I know I have not always been honest in my talking with You.  Father, I want to give you my heart regardless of its condition, to be real and genuine with You and before You.  Help me to be real.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/31/19 – How Much More

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DayBreaks for 07/31/19: How Much More

Matthew 7:11 (ESV) – If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

In context, this lesson deals with a neighbor who comes banging on the door in the middle of the night asking for food. Jesus moves on to show us the heart of an earthly father by saying that no father would give a serpent or stone instead of bread or a fish to his child and then he draws the contrast with three key words: How much more…to introduce us to the heart of the heavenly Father.

Is Jesus saying that we will always have a belly full of food in this passage? I think not. We automatically equate the “good gifts” here to the food that was mentioned in the verses preceding verse 11. And while food is a good gift, I think Jesus had something far greater in mind.

Think about your prayers and how much of them is consumed with asking for food, shelter, protection, health and other things related to our life here on this planet. I know that far too much of my prayers are concerned with such things.

So, what are the good things, the greater things, we should be asking for with even greater urgency?

How about: forgiveness, mercy, grace, greater love, justice, freeing of the Spirit to empower our lives, salvation for our families and friends. Things with eternal weightiness.

It’s not that Jesus thinks we don’t need food and clothing. The same phrase, “How much more…” is used in the Sermon on the Mount to describe how God provides for the lilies of the field and birds of the air then says if God does that for such things, won’t He much more provide them for us?

We often ask for the comparatively minor things when we should be majoring in the greater with our prayer requests. He wants so much more for us – the greater things – and he will certainly give them if we but ask.

PRAYER: Jesus, help us focus on the greater things. Thank you for your great faithfulness and generosity in all things great and small! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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