DayBreaks for 12/31/18 – How Closely He Listens

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DayBreaks for 12/31/18: How Closely He Listens

The brick wall. The deafening silence. The times when it seems our prayers ascend to nothingness and no one. We’ve all felt it. It isn’t a comfortable feeling for those who are believers, who proclaim that there is a God in heaven who is good and caring and notices us.

David marveled that the One who created the vast heavens (and David had no idea how vast they are – and to this day no one really knows for sure) was mindful of him. It is a bit difficult to believe when staring up into space while laying out under a canopy of stars on a dark night. How could He possibly even know I’m here, let alone care for me and know my every word before it’s spoken, my very thoughts before I think them?  And not just me – but everyone!?!?!?!?  Can God really be listening to me, hearing me when I mutter my hopes, dreams, pain and requests skyward?

Psalm 6:8 gives us the assurance we need, but we have to pay close attention. Here’s what David said: Psalm 6:6-8 (ESV) – I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes. Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping.

What is it that God hears? The sound of weeping. Not of shrieking, wailing. When David just said he drenches his couch with his weeping he is using “weeping” in the sense of tears, not loud wailing. So David is saying that God is hearing the sound of his tears.

What sound does a falling tear make when it escapes the eye and moves down the face? It’s inaudible – but David says that God hears it. He is listening so closely to us that he can hear the sound of a tear escaping our eye. If we have ever doubted that God is a God of compassion, we need never question that fact.
If he hears your tears, he also knows your heartache. And as David concludes Psalm 6, he tells those who oppress him that they should start running now because God has heard his pleas and accepted his prayer – in short, God is moved to action on behalf of the one whose tears fall silently. He hears you.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for not just noticing us, but for listening so closely you can hear the silent tears that escape from the eyes of your children. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 12/10/18 – More than Enough

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DayBreaks for 12/10/18: More Than Enough

From the DayBreaks Archive, 12/8/98:

Long ago, a poor woman from the slums of London was invited to go with a group of people for a vacation at the ocean. She had never seen the ocean before and when she saw it, she started crying. Those around her thought it strange that she would cry after such an enjoyable holiday had been provided for her. Finally, one of them asked her why she was crying. Pointing to the ocean, she answered, “This is the only thing I have ever seen that there was enough of!”

How would you describe the ocean to someone who has never seen it? Many years ago now, my cousin from Iowa brought his family to California for vacation. We took them to the beach and their kids saw the ocean for the first time. Their daughter innocently turned to her dad and asked if we could drive to the other side! Obviously, she just didn’t have a concept of how much of the ocean there was!

Sometimes I feel I may be on the verge of exhausting God’s love and mercy towards me. It usually happens when some old sin problem pops up in my life once again, grabs me by the throat and pulls me down. Afterwards, I feel miserable, used, helpless and hopeless all at the same time. And it is at those moments when I need to see and feel the magnitude of God’s love the most. Perhaps that is why I love the words to the old hymn, “O The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus” that goes like this:

“O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast unmeasured, boundless, free!

Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me,

Underneath me, all around me, Is the current of His love;

Leading onward, heading homeward, to my glorious rest above.

“O the deep, deep love of Jesus, Love of ev’ry love the best;

‘Tis an ocean vast of blessing, ‘Tis a haven sweet of rest,

Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus, ‘Tis a Heav’n of Heav’ns to me;

And it lifts me up to glory, For it lifts me Lord to Thee.”

Micah 7:18-19 says, Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

Can there be anything dearer or more precious to the Christian than the love of Christ? There is more than enough of it to go around – no matter what you’ve done, where you’ve been or how long you were there. God never suffers from a power shortage or a love shortage. And that fact is music to my soul!!!

Prayer: There is no God like You, Lord, we plead for your compassion!  In Jesus’ name,.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 12/07/18 – Bones of the Past

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DayBreaks for 12/07/18: Bones of the Past

From the DayBreaks Archive, 12/8/98:

A few years ago, a large group of Vietnam veterans met in New York to commemorate the Vietnam War and its effect on their lives. Many were still suffering emotional wounds from that conflict. A Vietnamese Buddhist monk came to the gathering and told a moving story. During the war, a young Vietnamese woman was killed, leaving behind her husband and young son. The husband, needing to provide for himself and the boy, traveled far and wide looking for odd jobs. Often he left the child with neighbors. After one long trip looking for work, the man returned to find his village demolished and his neighbors gone. Searching through the rubble, he found some small bones scattered around. He was sure that these were the remains of his son. He wrapped the bones in cloth and carried them with him everywhere he went. Many years passed, and one night the old man heard knocking on his door. He called out, “Who’s there?” “It is your son! My kidnappers set me free and I have spent many years trying to find you!” The old man yelled, “You are a fake and a cruel man. My son is dead. Leave me alone!” He would not open the door. The pounding continued for a while, but then it stopped. The young man gave up and left.

A heartbreaking story. Here was a man who obviously loved his son deeply. Yet he was too afraid to give up the bones that he’d carried for years. He never found the happiness that was knocking at his door because he was so determined to hold onto the bones of the past rather than live in the joy of the present.

Are you holding onto the bones of your past so much that you are denying yourself the joy that Jesus intends for you to have today? If so, you need to let the bones go. They are only bones and they are relics from the past that need to be discarded so you can answer the knocking at the door of your heart. Perhaps they were very precious to you – like the bones of his son to this old man in the story. I understand. God understands. But they are from the past and we must not live there or we will miss the blessings and opportunities that God has designed for today. Isaiah 43:18 contains God’s instructions for us in this matter: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.”

“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 3:13-14

God gives us the choice: live with the bones of the past, or live in the here-and-now with the Lord of the past, present and future.

Prayer: Lord, let me find and know your joy today!  Help me forget the former things as I anticipate what is to come!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 12/05/18 – The God Who Does

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DayBreaks for 12/05/18: The God Who Does

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

What is man that Thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that Thou visitest him? –  (Ps. 8:4, KJV)

David was neither the first, nor the last, who asked the question of God (my paraphrase here): “Why would you pay attention to us?  Why would you waste a precious moment of your time on creatures like us?”  All it takes for me to be lost in the wonder of David’s question is to lay on the deck at night gazing up into the seemingly inexhaustible reaches of space and I find it hard to believe that God even knows I exist.  Have you ever had the same feeling?  Sure, I know what his word says and I believe it – well, most of the time at any rate.  there are moments when it is hard to grasp.

There are those who, regardless of what the Bible says, believe that God takes no notice of us.  Some believe that because they’ve asked him for something and never heard from him in a way that they expected.  Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote, “Earth’s crammed with Heaven, and every common bush afire with God; but only he who sees takes off his shoes.”  There is wisdom in these words: for those who are tempted to think that God would not communicate with measly humans are not likely to hear from Him at all.  They are not able to hear His voice.  That shouldn’t surprise us: think about how often we fail to hear the voices of human who are speaking to us.  It may be a crowded room, or just that we’re distracted by something else at the moment.  Each of us is bombarded with radio and television signals 24 hours a day – those signals are passing through our physical bodies constantly, and yet we can’t even hear them at all.  A receiver that is properly tuned to those frequencies has no problem picking up those signals and “hearing” them at all. 

We are like those receivers, and God is like the “broadcaster.”  We are constantly being showered with His messages – and like the radio and TV waves, they pass through us unnoticed because we are not attuned properly to hear His voice.  We have been attuned to science to observe nature and think of molecules, chemicals, physical laws, and matter/energy, but not to pick up the signals of God’s voice that are being broadcast by nature 24 hours a day (“The heavens announce the glory of God” – Ps. 19).  Nor do we hear the special communication directed by God to each of us as individuals. 

As Dallas Willard put it in Hearing God, “Some of Jesus’ deepest teachings are about hearing.  He taught in parables so those who did not really want to hear the truth could avoid it.  He realized that not everyone has ears for the straightforward purpose of hearing but that some use their ears to sift out only what they want to hear, leaving the rest aside.  One of his most repeated sayings was, “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”  But he also urged his hearers to make a great effort to hear, assuring them that what they received would be proportional to their desire and effort (Mk. 4:23-24).”

Yes, we are tiny specks in the universe.  Just as only those who see take off their shoes at the burning bush, only those who unplug their ears can hear, for God does communicate with His creation – even tiny specks of humanity in a vast universe.

PRAYER: Give us eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts eager to obey.  Thank you for your Word to us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 12/04/18 – The Secret to a Wise Heart

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DayBreaks for 12/04/18: The Secret to a Wise Heart

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

We don’t like to think about death at all, let alone our own death.  We’d like to just ignore it until it happens.  We are more than content to live under a grand illusion that we have an unlimited number of days to live.  And so we drift aimlessly from day to day, moment to moment, never considering death.

Moses had an interesting prayer that he offered up in Psalm 90:12 (NIV) –Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  There are two key things in this brief passage that we should note:

FIRST: we have to be taught to number our days correctly.  We can’t figure it out on our own – or at least, we won’t figure it out ourselves.  We are too happily living out our delusion about limitless days, trying as hard as we can to be oblivious to our impending demise.  I don’t know if mankind ever really knew how to number his days correctly.  I doubt that we were created with that sense of limited days because when Adam and Eve were created, they weren’t created to die.  That’s something that came about after the fall.  It was only after death entered onto the stage that it became necessary to learn, to be taught, that we have a finite number of days allotted to us and that we don’t know how many days we have.

SECOND: we can’t have a heart of wisdom until we learn to number our days.  Why?  Because we can’t live wisely until we learn to number our days.  Considering our mortality leads us to view each day of life differently, to cherish it and appreciate it in ways we can’t even imagine if we don’t consider our finiteness.  We can’t live rightly until we know we will die rightly.  And we must contemplate death if we are to live rightly.

Towards that end, as I shared with our congregation last week, I’ve added something to my daily prayer that seems to be helping me to do a much better job of numbering my days and living accordingly.  It’s very simple, and I’d encourage you to add something similar to your morning prayer: “Lord, if this is to be my last day, may I live it in Jesus with great joy and wonder.”

Prayer: We need hearts that are wise, Lord, hearts that consider our deaths so that we can live more appropriately in each moment of the time we have been given.  Teach us, Lord, to number our days.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/29/18 – But I am Watching

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DayBreaks for 11/29/18: But I Am Watching

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

I love to preach the good news!  I love to preach about freedom, healing – I love to talk about joy and meaning, purpose and love.  Those are all biblical themes.  But a preacher can’t just talk about the good, fuzzy-feeling things.  It is necessary to also preach about judgment, sin, punishment, righteousness, holiness, perseverance.  It’s easy to get in a rut and only talk about the good stuff.

The Word, however, has a way of pulling us up short and reminding us that there is not only a loving God who is eager and quick to forgive, but that this God is ever vigilant, watching all things.  This past week in my quite time, I ran across a passage that reminded me that God watches, that He sees…that He doesn’t miss a single thing.  Hosea 7:1-2 (NLT) – I wanted to heal Israel, but its sins were far too great. Samaria is filled with liars, thieves, and bandits! Its people don’t realize I am watching them. Their sinful deeds are all around them; I see them all!

I was grateful for this reminder, and you should be, too.  It is a warning, and maybe you don’t need warnings any more, but I still do and I suspect that you do, too.  It is good to be reminded that God wants to heal.  It is also good to remember that He sees us and our sinful deeds – he sees “them all!”   

It is important to remember that God not only watches and sees what we are doing, but what we aren’t doing, too.  We can sin both ways.

Today I will make choices about what I say, what I do, what I don’t say and what I don’t do.  So will you.  Remember this: God is watching.

Prayer: May we live in a constant acknowledgement this day that You are watching, and You see all.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/22/18 – Habakkuk & Thanksgiving

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DayBreaks for 11/22/18: Habakkuk and Thanksgiving

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

This will be the kind of Thanksgiving this year that perhaps our country hasn’t seen since 9/11/01.  You can probably recall what your state of mind was like then.  If you were like most people, there was fear about the future, uncertainty about life and what could be expected in the coming years.  This year is no different – but for mostly different reasons.  This year, we’re faced with home foreclosures, businesses disappearing and jobs vaporizing, incomes and careers being threatened.  There is a great deal of uncertainty in our communities, our nation and around the world.  It might be wise to remember what Time magazine reported on at Thanksgiving time, 2001. 

In the cover story of Time Magazine’s Thanksgiving edition, Nancy Gibbs said Americans would reflect on what had been taken away and what could be salvaged as we sat down to our Thanksgiving meals. She said, “This is the kind of holiday we need right now, an intrinsically complicated one that comes at the end of a bitter harvest and yet finds something sweet to celebrate.”

That year, a Time/CNN poll suggested 75% of Americans said they would be more appreciative that year (2001) than previous Thanksgivings. Many planned to use the time around the table to rebuild relationships damaged by disagreements and disappointment. Others expected to use the holiday to reflect on the goodness of a God they previously doubted. The context of that Thanksgiving (and this one!) may be sorrow and fear, yet it can be marked by renewed hope and greater resolve.

In many ways, America’s thanksgiving reflects the words of the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk. Though he lived in perilous times, and feared the future, the prophet thanked God. He realized true thanksgiving finds its roots in the God of Heaven rather than His many gifts. Habakkuk wrote: Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Hab. 3:17-18, NIV)  — www.time.com/time/covers We Gather Together—Thanksgiving in the Post 9-11 World. November 12, 2001.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, my friends!

Prayer: This day may we be deeply thankful for Who You Are, Who You Always Will Be, and What You Have Always Been!  May we be thankful for Your good gifts, but mostly may we be thankful because You are our God.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>