DayBreaks for 9/16/19 – Two Appropriate Thoughts

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DayBreaks for 9/16/19: Two Appropriate Thoughts

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

My wife and I live outside of the glare of city lights, about 5 miles from the closest town.  We feel very blessed with the peace and quiet of this place.  On occasion on warm summer nights, I go out onto the deck and just stare up at the skies.  You can see far more stars here than in town.  It is possible to see the milky scatter that is called the Milky Way as it stretches across the sky. 

Just the other night as I lay there gazing up, I was struck by several thoughts.  I am always totally amazed at the vast distances involved in the universe.  I thought about the deep, absolute cold of outer space.  I thought about the huge amounts of nothingness that presents itself through the absence of any sign of light.  And, I thought about the incredible fact that some of the “stars” I perceived as a single point of light are really extremely distant galaxies that are composed of billions (some say as many as 350,000,000,000) of stars.  What appears tiny may indeed be exceedingly massive. 

I also always find myself repeating David’s question as I stare into this vastness: What is man that Thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that Thou visitest him?  And I ask myself: Why, God, do You think of and take notice of ME? 

God, of course, didn’t have to make the universe so vast.  In fact, He didn’t have to make it large at all.  He could have been content with just creating a nice little cozy solar system for us to live in.  That would have been impressive enough!  We don’t even understand all that happens on our planet, let alone in our solar system.  They mysteries and wonder are deep, indeed. 

Once again, Francis Chan found himself wondering about the same thing.  “Why would God create more than 350,000,000,000 galaxies (and this is a conservative estimate) that generations of people never saw or even knew existed?  Do you think maybe it was to make us say, ‘Wow, God is unfathomably big?  Or perhaps God wanted us to see these pictures so that our response would be, ‘Who do I think I am?’”

The Bible tells us that God is unfathomably big and powerful.  And it amazingly tells us that He does in fact notice and care about us as individuals, that we matter GREATLY to Him – each and every one of us.  Perhaps, as Chan suggests, the most important feeling that the universe should stir in us is to put us in our place when we are thinking too highly of ourselves. 

Space should make us feel small, for we are infinitesimally small in comparison to the universe.  Our God holds all that exists in the palm of His hand.  We need to be reminded of that when we’re too puffed up and feeling hoity-toity.  If the universe makes us feel small, when we compare ourselves (our wisdom, goodness, knowledge, capabilities, etc.) to God, may we all be led to view the skies with wonder and ask, “Who do I think I am?”

PRAYER: For the wonder of your creation, we thank you.  For the way you feel about us and love us, we adore you.  When we start to get too big for our shoes, keep us humble before You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 9/10/19 – Cheer, Happy Faces and Honesty

Happy and sad at the same time?

DayBreaks for 9/10/19: Cheer, Happy Faces and Honesty

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

I have spent some time lately with some very discouraged and unhappy people.  Let’s be honest: if we look at this world for very long at all, there is much to get discouraged about!  Disease and death, disappointment, rejection, mistakes in judgment, financial challenges, relationship difficulties…you know the score.  Life is tough.

In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason said: “In short, Scripture never suggests (unlike many churchgoers) that the wearing of a cheerful countenance is a good tonic for the world.  On the contrary, in Ecclesiastes we read, Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart (7:3).  How is it we have bought the lie that a Christian’s face is only publicly presentable when the corners of the mouth are pushed up?  The Apostle James actually exhorts us to …grieve, mourn and wail.  Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom’ (4:9). As the poet Emily Dickinson put it in her trenchant style, ‘I like the look of Agony, because I know it’s true.’

“Undoubtedly Scripture exhorts us to ‘Rejoice in the Lord’ and to ‘Be of good cheer.’  Yet nowhere are we commanded to ‘put on a happy face.’”

We are encouraged to rejoice because we know our names are written in heaven.  We are not to delight in the suffering per se, but in what the suffering is building into our character, knowing that the Lord has a perfect plan for us that will result in wholeness some day.  In the meantime, false cheerfulness may lead to charges of hypocrisy.  Job and David knew what it was to hurt and to weep and wail as a result.  But they also knew that they couldn’t stay with their focus on themselves and their troubles indefinitely or the burden would have become crushing.  They eventually lifted their eyes upwards to receive the help they needed in the time of their greatest pain. 

God doesn’t deny you the right to be honest about your feelings.  Quite the opposite!  He wants you to be honest with yourself and with him and others about them.  It is only then that He can begin to shape us into the image of the Suffering Servant who offers His joy to the entire world.     

PRAYER: Let us be honest with our pain and hopeful in our upward glances!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/04/19 – Not Even Like Ours

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DayBreaks for 9/04/19: Not Even Like Ours

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:

How God must laugh at us at times!  The sheer arrogance of mankind to think that we know what God is thinking, why He’s thinking the way He is, why He does the things He does and why He doesn’t do other things…and of course, the supreme arrogance is to think that we know better than God because we obviously understand the situation SO MUCH BETTER than God could!  Ha!  If it weren’t so deadly, it would be worth laughing about.

One of my favorite passages (it keeps me humble!) is found in Isaiah 55:8-9, where we read: My thoughts are not like your thoughts.  Your ways are not like my ways.  Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

In his little devotional book, For the Tough Times, Max Lucado makes the point well: “Make special note of the world like.  God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are they even like ours.  We aren’t even in the same neighborhood.  We’re thinking, “Preserve the body”; He’s thinking, “Save the soul.”  We dream of a pay raise.  He dreams of raising the dead.  We avoid pain and seek peace.  God uses pain to bring peace.  “I’m going to live before I die,” we resolve.  “Die so you can live,” He instructs.  We love what rusts.  He loves what endures.  We rejoice at our successes.  He rejoices at our confessions.  We show our children the Nike basketball star with the million-dollar smile and say, ‘Be like Mike.’  God points to the crucified carpenter with bloody lips and a torn side and says, ‘Be like Christ.’”

The next time you presume to tell someone what God is thinking or why He’s doing something, stop and remember Isaiah 55:8-9.  It may just keep you from saying something very, very foolish.

PRAYER: Lord, keep our lips from spewing falsehoods or speaking foolishness in Your name or about You.  May we only proclaim Your words when it is clearly from the Word!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/02/19 – Not Even Like Ours

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DayBreaks for 9/02/19: Not Even Like Ours

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:

How God must laugh at us at times!  The sheer arrogance of mankind to think that we know what God is thinking, why He’s thinking the way He is, why He does the things He does and why He doesn’t do other things…and of course, the supreme arrogance is to think that we know better than God because we obviously understand the situation SO MUCH BETTER than God could!  Ha!  If it weren’t so deadly, it would be worth laughing about.

One of my favorite passages (it keeps me humble!) is found in Isaiah 55:8-9, where we read: My thoughts are not like your thoughts.  Your ways are not like my ways.  Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

In his little devotional book, For the Tough Times, Max Lucado makes the point well: “Make special note of the world like.  God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are they even like ours.  We aren’t even in the same neighborhood.  We’re thinking, “Preserve the body”; He’s thinking, “Save the soul.”  We dream of a pay raise.  He dreams of raising the dead.  We avoid pain and seek peace.  God uses pain to bring peace.  “I’m going to live before I die,” we resolve.  “Die so you can live,” He instructs.  We love what rusts.  He loves what endures.  We rejoice at our successes.  He rejoices at our confessions.  We show our children the Nike basketball star with the million-dollar smile and say, ‘Be like Mike.’  God points to the crucified carpenter with bloody lips and a torn side and says, ‘Be like Christ.’”

The next time you presume to tell someone what God is thinking or why He’s doing something, stop and remember Isaiah 55:8-9.  It may just keep you from saying something very, very foolish.

PRAYER: Lord, keep our lips from spewing falsehoods or speaking foolishness in Your name or about You.  May we only proclaim Your words when it is clearly from the Word!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/30/19 – When the Good Falls Apart

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DayBreaks for 08/30/19: When the Good Falls Apart

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:

The other day in a Bible study that I was teaching, I was marveling about Enoch.  Yep, Enoch…the fellow who gets approximately 3 verses in Scripture.  You know him as one of the two men who never “died” – God took him without his death because, as Genesis puts it, “Enoch walked with God.”  What struck me about Enoch is that God didn’t choose to tell us stories about how Enoch lived out his faith.  There are no great deeds of recorded faith in action such as we see over and over with the patriarchs, or with Isaiah, Daniel or David.  I’m not sure what we should make of that, but if you look at the names of those who were contemporary with Enoch, it’s pretty easy to see that he lived in very wicked times…leading up to the great flood.  And we know that the world was getting more filled with evil as the flood approached.  Still, Enoch managed to live with God.  And maybe the reason we’re not told of great exploits of faith is because he just lived a faithful life, persevering in the midst of a rising tide of evil, walking with God in the midst of a wicked and evil generation.

As we talked about Enoch, some in the class started reflecting on how wicked the world is that we live in – and the talk almost became despairing.  (It seems to do that often with older folks – and this was a class for seniors.  Perhaps it is easier as we age to look back at a time in our lives many years ago and think that it was better when in fact it may not have really been all that different, I don’t know.)  Some said that they thought it took greater faith to do things similar to Abraham (leaving the only home you’ve known for a far, unknown and strange land, being willing to sacrifice a son, etc.) than to walk faithfully every day.  I tend to think that they are wrong about that.  It seems that as humans, we have an uncanny knack to be able to rise to heights when the situation calls for it (not always, of course!).  It may take greater faith in the long run to walk faithfully day after day…for 365 years in Enoch’s case…than to put one great display of faith together for a passing moment. 

Regardless, Psalm 11:3-4 says, When all that is good falls apart, what can good people do?  The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD sits on His throne in heaven.  David asks the question that so many of us have asked at some time or another in our lives: when all that is good and decent and holy seems to be falling apart, what are we to do?  You’ll notice that David didn’t then launch into a list of “Do A, B and C to turn things around.”  Instead, he answers the question with a declarative statement: God is in His temple, enthroned on high.  What does that have to do with his question?  Simply this: God’s rule isn’t affected by the storms of our lives and our problems don’t perplex Him in the slightest.  That’s not to say He doesn’t care about them, but He knows perfectly well what to do when the good falls apart.  He is still on the throne, issuing decrees to His servants and angels.  While this world and all that is in it may go down the tubes, God’s rule won’t.  Human wreckage doesn’t discourage Him.  In fact, a quick look at the life of someone like Joseph shows us that God specialized in turning disaster into triumph. 

If you are considering how bad the world is, let me try to re-direct your thinking and your vision upward – to the throne room of God, where He still, and always will, sit in Majesty!

PRAYER: We get fearful as we see the tidal waves of evil beating upon our culture, upon the church, upon our own lives, Lord.  Help us to redirect our vision when times are tough and to remember that you remain on the throne now and forever!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/26/19 – North Star People

 

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DayBreaks for 08/26/19: North Star People

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:

Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. – DANIEL 12:3

Due north in the sky is where you can find the star, Polaris.  Perhaps you know it by its more common name: the North Star.  For thousands of years now, when sailors or even astronauts are in need of directions or when they are lost, the first thing they do (assuming they don’t have GPS!) is to look for the North Star.  Once they’ve found it, it is possible for them to figure out where they are and how to get back on track. 

Surprisingly, the North Star (Polaris) is not the brightest object in the sky – in fact, it’s rather dim.  It’s slightly green (so I’m told).  Because it is at the tip of the very northern axis in the celestial view from earth, it doesn’t shift position throughout the night – it doesn’t move – it stays put.  It isn’t easy to find, but anyone can learn to find it.  A typical response by those who are shown where it is for the first time is to remark, rather surprisedly, “Huh.  I always thought it would be brighter than that.”

The point is this: we can be like the North Star to other people.  Shocking?  Perhaps, but here’s what Paul had to say about it in Philippians 2:14-16: Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.  (NIV)  There are several things worth noting about this verse:

FIRST: it is children of God that shine like stars in the universe – not just the “greats” like Peter, Paul, Mary, Esther and their ilk.  Every child of God can and should be shining like the northern star.

SECOND: it is in the dark world, a “crooked and depraved generation” that we are to shine.  We’re not supposed to wait until all is bright and airy – after all, can you see the stars when the sun is shining in its power?  Of course not!  It takes darkness for the stars (other than our sun) to be seen.  The day will come when we won’t shine – because the Son will be all the illumination that is needed when he appears.  But since the passage says we shine in a depraved generation – this verse isn’t talking about when we get to heaven or in eternity.  It is talking about shining NOW.

THIRD: how is it that we shine?  By the way we “hold out the word of life.”  That’s how we shine.  We hold out the Word of life by believing it, holding it out like we would a lantern or brilliant spotlight.  We hold it out so that others can grasp it.  We hold it out so that others can see by it and distinguish between the unfruitful works of darkness and the Light of the World that has come so that no one need stumble and fall again.

FOURTH: we can be like the north star in that we never change position.  We continually hold out the word of life…no matter what is going on in our lives.  Circumstances won’t change us…we should be stationary, steadfast.  As the words to the old song, O Thou Fount of Every Blessing put is, “Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it, mount of Thy redeeming love!”  Fixed. Solid. Immovable.  The rest of the world may spin off into frenzied oblivion – the children of God won’t.

Right now, you are faced with a decision about how you’ll live this day.  You may be at work, college, high school – some other school – it matters not.  Wherever you are, if you are His child, you can shine like the north star and hold out the Word of Life to those all around you this day.  The question is: will you do it?

PRAYER:  Let us shine to this depraved generation, Lord!  Let us take the Word of Life into our hearts and hands and minds and hold it out to a world dying in the darkness.  Fix us as a star in the sky for all to see Your glory!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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