DayBreaks for 10/05/17 – Rend Your Heart

DayBreaks for 10/05/17: Rend Your Heart

Joel 2:12-14 (NIV) – Even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.’  Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.  Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing — grain offerings and drink offerings for the LORD your God.”

One of the things that I find hardest to understand about God is how patient He is with us.  Seemingly countless times in the Old Testament, Israel, the people that He Himself chose to be His own special people, walked off and left Him behind.  And for every one of those times, He pleaded with them to return to Him.  For every time that I’ve chosen against God, He has pleaded with me to return.  Remember, this is the God who is so great that He that creates with words alone, pleading with His creation.  It defies comprehension. 

The passage above from Joel shows us what it is that the Lord wants from us at times like that.  Israel got to be very good at crying out to God for help – but less good at crying out to Him for forgiveness.  They would go through religious reformation many times – putting on a good outward show, but they seldom participated in true spiritual renewal, from the inside out. 

The ancient Jews had a habit of tearing their clothing when they were bereft or distraught.  It was a sign of the depth of their anguish or sorrow.  In the passage from Joel, God puts it about as clearly as it could be said: “Don’t tear your robes.  I want your heart to be torn.”  Why?  Because His own heart had been torn.  It’s not that God wanted them to suffer as much, or even in like fashion, as He was suffering, but because He wanted their actions to proceed from their hearts.  It’s easy to appear broken on the outside.  It’s also much more painful to have your heart torn – as God’s heart was when His people turn their backs on Him.  But outward change doesn’t penetrate to the heart and result in heart-change.  Heart-change, on the other hand, will become apparent in outward actions. 

God is wise enough to know when our outward actions are merely for show or when they’re for real.  We can fairly easily fool one another by how we act when we’re surrounded by Christians or when we’re in church.  We can never, ever, fool God.  Not even when I pray to him and tell Him I’m sorry for something when deep down inside, I know my heart is not in agreement with my lips. 

We need to learn to pray that our hearts are rent and torn by our sin – and return to Him, “for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.  Who knows?  He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing…”

PRAYER: Jesus, we are masters at deceiving ourselves and others.  Give us hearts that break over our sin and then the lips to confess it.  Remove pretense far from us and turn our hearts back to You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 9/29/17 – Stars and Fear

Multiwavelength Crab Nebula

DayBreaks for 9/29/17: Stars and Fear

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

I love the mountains.  I love the ocean.  I love the forests.  I love redwoods.  But there isn’t much of anything, not even the Pacific Ocean, that makes me gasp in wonder as much as staring up thoughtfully at the night sky.  The vastness, the coldness of space plays tricks with my frail human mind.  I can’t even begin to grasp it.  When I stand on the beach at the edge of the Pacific, I can touch it, I can feel it, I can taste and smell it in the air.  But I can’t do that with space.  As vast as the Pacific is, I can get some sense of its size by flying over it for hours on end.  Try that with the universe. 

It’s really strange – the stars don’t go away in the daytime, you know.  It’s just that because of the brightness of the sun, we can’t see them.  They’re still there – blazing away. Every second of the day and night the sun alone burns 700,000,000 tons of hydrogen and converts that into 695,000,000 tons of helium and 5,000,000 tons of energy in the form of gamma rays.  At the center of the sun the temperature is 15,600,000 degrees Kelvin.  That’ll cook a hot dog for you…really fast.

I could go on with facts and figures about the sun for a long, long time.  I never tire of the wonder of it all – the immensity.  And to think it all came into being by the words, “Let there be…”  Wow.

I could wander among the stars ceaselessly, mesmerized by the beauty of that part of God’s creation.  (In case you like to do that, too, you can go to this web site for incredible deep space pictures: http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/.) 

But space is dark, and space is hostile.  It is not a place for the timid or those concerned about security.  Not everyone is cut out to be an astronaut.  And stars are only seen by night.  

I can get frightened by sounds I hear in the dark house at night, or sounds that seem to be just outside the bedroom window.  Night time is a time to be scared, but it is also when the stars can be seen.  An American astronomer spoke these wonderful words: I have lived among the stars for too long to fear the night.  Oh, how I like that!  It makes me think of the Jesus’ words in Revelation 22:16 (NIV) – I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.

Living in the Presence of that Star will be the most awesome of all.  Here, we see through a glass darkly, but then, oh praise God, then – we shall see face to face!  And there is no reason to fear the night, for there will be no more night…just the brightest Star of all, shining in glory eternally!

PRAYER:  Lord, you tell us that our lives are like a vapor that is here one moment and gone the next.  You have filled our lives with people – some we enjoy, others we don’t – and with moments to make a difference for eternity.  What a privilege you have given to us!  May we use life wisely before the vapor that is our days is gone.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 9/11/17 – As Though It Were Not Serious

DayBreaks for 9/11/17: As Though It Were Not Serious

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

You know how it is when you receive bad news about someone you love.  It may have come as the result of some tests they were having run – is there a tumor or not?  If so, is it malignant?  Or, someone has been in an accident and you hear their voice through the phone, “I’ve been in a crash – and I’ve got some injuries – but nothing serious.”  Until you get that last little bit of information “It’s nothing serious,” you’re on pins and needles.  Until the lab report comes back clear, you contemplate the possible cessation of your life.  Those words, “It’s nothing serious,” can be some of the most comforting words we’ll hear. 

Sometimes, though, those words can be deceptive.  Consider the diagnosis that comes back and says all will be well, only to later discover that the diagnosis was wrong, that the test results were incorrect.  “It’s no big deal,” is another way of saying about the same thing.  Nothing to worry about…but while it may not be a big deal to that person, someone else who was affected by it may think it is a huge deal.

We have different ways of seeing things, and I understand that.  I suppose it is inevitable.  But it disturbs me deeply when Christians are divided on things that Scripture clearly calls sin.  We’ve heard the culture decrying religious thought and beliefs for so long that we’ve bought into a brain-washed mindset.  Somehow, in our arrogance, we’ve bought the lie that just because the laws of our land (or any other) say that something is legal that it means it must be okay and that it can’t therefore possibly be sin.  Even when the Bible is point-blank on the subject! 

We would do well to remember that God says judgment will begin not with the heathen, but with those of His own house (1 Peter 4:17).  When His own people have become indistinguishable with unbelievers there is great cause for fear.  When His own people cannot tell right from wrong, it is totally incorrect to say, “It’s not serious, it’s no big deal.”  Listen to these words, spoken by God, to His great prophet Jeremiah: (6:14-15) – They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.  Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them,” says the LORD.  In context, God is talking to His own people, addressing them about what is about to happen because they have minimized the Word of the God and its authority.  Why was God so angry at his people?  We get a pretty good clue in verse 10: To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the LORD is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it.

It seems that the people of the Lord had chosen not to listen to God’s Word any longer.  Why?  Because they found it offensive.  What was offensive about it?  They didn’t like what it said – it called sin, sin – it pointed out their evil and the evil in the cultures that surrounded them.  And they didn’t like it because they loved the culture more than they loved the Word of the Lord.

How I fear for modern American Christians who can’t see the truth when it’s printed on the pages of the Bibles right in front of them.  And that includes me.

It is serious.

PRAYER: Father, we are so blinded by our human desires and selfishness that we don’t love Your Word and honor its truth.  We close our ears because your word offends us with it’s demands for holiness and righteousness and for turning away from the sins we love so much.  Help us once more to find pleasure in Your Word, to love truth more than convenience and even more than our own lives.  Pour Your Spirit of revelation out upon us that we can have our eyes opened and ears unclogged once more to perceive and practice truth.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/08/17 – God’s Glory

DayBreaks for 9/08/17: God’s Glory

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

I love to read the passages of Scripture that describe God’s glory and greatness!  I think we all like to read about those aspects of our God.  They are all at once awe-inspiring, comforting, intimidating, exhilarating and terrifying.  There is something within most of us that loves adventure – and life with God is certainly that!

But when we talk about the glory of God, what do you think about?  Do you recall the story of Moses after he came down from the mountain and found the Israelites worshipping the golden calf?  He was upset and angry…and seemingly he got depressed.  So, what did he do?  He talked to God and he made what seems to be a very strange request given the circumstances.  He said, “Show me Your glory, I pray.”  It’s not too surprising that Moses would ask, in the middle of his depression and discouragement, to see God’s glory.  It makes perfect sense, actually. 

But what, I wonder, did Moses expect to see?  He’d already seen the burning bush and the miracles in Egypt.  Did he expect to see a display of lightning and thunder such as the world had never seen?  Did he expect to feel the earth shake under his feet, to see the mountains smoking, to see shooting stars even in the middle of the desert daylight?  Did he expect to hear mighty noises?  I don’t know.  But I don’t think that Moses got what He expected.

Amazingly, God agrees to Moses’ request, however, notice carefully what God said: “I will cause My goodness to pass before you.”  Do you see it?  God agreed to show Moses His glory…and He proceeds to show him His goodness.  What is God’s glory?  It is His unlimited goodness.  The most glorious thing about God is that He is so good!  This sheds new meaning on John’s words in the first chapter of his gospel.  Describing how Christ came to earth in the incarnation, John wrote: “And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of God.”  What did humans see when they saw Jesus?  They saw his goodness – his love, compassion, healing, mercy, grace – all GOOD things, all God things.  They didn’t see Christ in his heavenly glory – no man could and live – but they saw his goodness, and that is God’s glory!

No, I don’t think Moses got what he expected to see when he asked to see God’s glory.  But I don’t think we was disappointed.  He got so much more than he’d expected – and he learned something valuable about God in the process.

PRAYER: Thank You, God, for Your ceaseless goodness.  May we reflect your glory, your goodness, this day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/5/17- Hungry for the Light

DayBreaks for 9/05/17: Hunger for the Light

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

It was just Tuesday, 8/28, that I once more found myself surrounded by redwoods.  It was a week of much needed and appreciated vacation for my better 99.937% and I, and on that day we drove into the redwoods and got out of the car, wandering off from the road to stand surrounded by giants.  It is a humbling thing to stand among monstrous, ancient giants, you know. 

I’ve written of my love for redwood groves before and I’m fairly certain that you’ll hear about them again at some point in time, but this time I noticed something that I’d not really seen before.  I stood near the base of several behemoths and looked upward towards the top of the trees.  Now, bear in mind that I say “towards the top of the trees” for a reason – you can’t really see the tops.  These trees are the height of a 20-30 story building (and those are still relatively babies as redwoods go.)  As you stand at the base of the tree and look upward, there are no branches for a good 75-100 feet.  And even then, branches are few and far between.  (I feel strange calling them branches, because if they fell, they’d be the size of most trees!)  The branches congregate, in a glorious company of celebration, toward the top of the tree.

I understand why it is so – down on the floor of the woods there is not much sunlight to warm a seed to the point of germination.  And there is certainly not enough light to carry on the photosynthetic process that such a large tree needs.  And so, in His wisdom, God put the branches of such trees on top. 

As I looked upward, two things struck me:

FIRST: in its desperate rush to reach the light, the redwood shoots straight up, not bothering to grow lots of branches or to get distracted from its journey and purpose of getting to the light.  It’s as if it just can’t wait to reach the sunshine.  How true that should be of the Christian’s life!  We should be focused on getting to the Light, for in the Light is the life of men.  We shouldn’t let ourselves get diffused and too spread out – it would only distract us from growing up into the Light.  And there is no time to waste.

SECOND: when you stand at the base of the tree, you see no movement at all.  But when you look up towards the underside of the branches towards the top of the tree, you see the huge monolith swaying to and fro with the subtle nudgings of the wind.  The roots, however, are unshaken.  It doesn’t take much to move the top of a redwood, but to move the bottom, where the roots are?  Forget it.  A good root system is vital – for trees and for humans.  May we be like the tree planted by the water of Psalm 1, firmly rooted and reaching as fast and as hard as we can for the Light!

Psalms 1:1-6 (NLT) – But they delight in doing everything the LORD wants; day and night they think about his law.  They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season without fail. Their leaves never wither, and in all they do, they prosper.  But this is not true of the wicked. They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind.  They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly.  For the LORD watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.

PRAYER: Almighty One, may we stretch hungrily for the Light and put roots down deep into the good soil that is the Word.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/30/17: Cotton Candy & Sin

DayBreaks for 8/30/17: Cotton Candy & Sin

From the DayBreaks archive, 8/2007:

I love cotton candy.  I can’t say that I remember the very first time that I tasted it, but I have loved it ever since I was a tadpole.  Every year in our town, there is a fair.  We’re not the county seat or anything, but there is a fair each February.  (Yes, I know, February is a crazy time to have a fair – it is almost guaranteed to rain every day of the fair, and yet kids are out there riding the rides, getting drenched, etc.)  Do you know what I do?  I will go to the fair and pay the price of admission just in order to get a bag of cotton candy!  I like the pink kind – for some reason, the blue or green stuff just doesn’t seem right.

I have noticed something strange about cotton candy, and it’s a bit distressing, actually.  You get a whole big bunch of the stuff either on a paper handle, or in a plastic bag.  And while it is rather messy the way it attaches itself to your fingers after a few bites, the distressing thing about it is how quickly it disappears, and how little is really there.  I mean, here’s this big old bag full of delicious looking pink stuff, and when you bite into it, well…there’s just not much there.  When you think about it, you are paying mostly for air.  Even if you rip a big chunk of it off and squish it into your mouth, it’s like it immediately disappears into nothingness. 

Lots of show…not much substance.  Isn’t that just like sin?  It looks so good, it promises so much, we think it will quell the rumbling of our desires – but when you actually bite into it, it leaves you dissatisfied…and wanting more, in a strange way.  It never really fulfills you.  Why?  Because it is not true food, it is not the Bread of Life.  It is the bread of death, and how can that be satisfying?  Our very natures rebel against the end-game of death, so why do we consume so much that only contributes to our spiritual death?  Foolish, isn’t it?  It’s rather like paying for air and then wondering why we are still hungry.

John 17:17 – Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Isaiah 55:2 (NIV) – Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.

PRAYER:  Feed us with your truth, Father.  Let us eat and be satisfied with the food that is everlasting.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/22/17 – The Sun, Moon and Stars

DayBreaks for 8/22/17: The Sun, Moon and Stars

Psalm 19:1-6 –  The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night shweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

Amos 8:9 – And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord GOD, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day:

Well, it’s over. I hope you lived somewhere that you could get a good look at the eclipse today. Where we lived, the eclipse wasn’t total, but 99.33% total. And let me say, it was amazing!

The temperature must have dropped at least 5 degrees if not more. The light became eerie in shade. I likely shall not see such a spectacle again, but I thank God that I was able to see it today. We had solar glasses and to watch the moon slide in front of the sun over an extended period of time was truly spellbinding.

As I watched the eclipse, my mind was drawn to several thoughts:

FIRST: I was struck at how perfectly the disk of the moon covered the disk of the sun. And yet, there are about 92.71 million miles between them. But God arranged it so perfectly that one would think they were the same size. We need to remember that things aren’t always what they seem…especially when something is God’s doing.

SECOND: I was struck by the fact that the moon was invisible…that is, you couldn’t see it if you looked up toward the sun because the light of the sun so totally overwhelmed the moon. Still, it was amazing to watch a black hole eat up the sun, the sun to virtually disappear, only to have it be born again. And I thought of how the Light of the Son so totally overwhelms anything else that pretends to be light.

THIRD: It is amazing, even at 99.33% totality, how much light remains. You’d think that the sky would be darkened 99.33%, but it isn’t. There is so much light streaming down that it wasn’t pitch black – not even close. I need to remember that when I start to think about the extent of the darkness in the world and how all pervasive it seems. The darkness still hasn’t overcome the Light…it’s no contest, an unfair competition.

FOURTH: I was struck with the thought that God did this for us – for our wonder and amazement. After all, no one else but humans in the entire universe could see it. God didn’t need to see it. We did. I thought about the massive distances at work, the size of the sun and moon, of the fact that they MOVE, that they seem to hang upon nothing. How can that be? Because it is God and his voice that set them in place, that calls them forth to run in their courses, and even more impressive, can cause the sun to stop still in its tracks if he chooses to do so.

Psalm 8:3-4 (ESV) – When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?

PRAYER: Oh, God, how humbled I was by the show you put on in the sky today! Thank you for the reminder of how great and awesome your works are, but even how much greater you are than what you have created! Thank you for the delight of what we witnessed and the wonder it caused in so many. I pray it may turn hearts to seek the creator of such wonders! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>