DayBreaks for 3/17/20 – Berakah Praise

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DayBreaks for 3/17/20: Berakah Praise

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2010:

I recently preached a sermon on Jesus as the Master of Prayer.  We sometimes can start to think of Jesus as too much of a 20th century Gentile man.  He was anything but.  Jesus lived as a Jew, was born and raised as a Jew, educated as a Jew, knew their customs and traditions and practiced them up to a point.  And the Jews had certain beliefs about prayer that we find hints of in Jesus’ recorded prayers.

First: the Jews had a practice called Berakah.  Every devout Jew was expected to say 100 praises a day to God.  These praises had a very common form to start with before branching out into the rest of the prayer.  They went something like this: Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe…  After that beginning, they would start to offer specific praises, such as Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, for the harvest of grain that feeds our bodies or Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, for the dawning of this new day.  One hundred times a day such a praise was to be uttered.  When you consider that the typical person is only awake for about 16 hours a day, that comes to about 1 praise every 7 minutes.  I don’t know how successful the Jews were at keeping this practice, but it is a good one and one that we might do well to resurrect. 

If your prayer life is like mine, more of my prayers have to do with requests rather than blessing and praising God.  Recently, one of my littlest grand daughters wrote about why she loved Jesus and God and said it was partly because they gave her he “wishes”.  There’s honesty – and we’re all somewhat like that, aren’t we? While I know that God welcomes our requests, we are also told to give thanks in everything.  The Jews believed it was appropriate to do so because God was in charge of everything. 

I’ve launched an effort to try to offer berakah praises to God throughout the day.  It is interesting: I already find that at the end of the day, my spirits are brighter and I am more thankful for things than I otherwise might be.  Want to join me in this practice?  Let me know how it is going for you!

PRAYER: Tune our hearts and our lips to sing Your praises, O Lord our God, King of the Universe!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Link to video with facts, symptoms and prevention tips about coronavirus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AITtaAAAdYc

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 3/13/20 – WHAT is Jesus to You?

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DayBreaks for 3/13/20: What is Jesus to You?

The title of this DayBreaks may seem strange. More often than not we would ask, “Who is Jesus?” In fact, Jesus asked his disciples who people were saying he was, and then he asked who they thought he was and Peter gave his outstanding confession of Jesus as the Son of God.

While it is vitally important to understand who Jesus is, it is also instructive to consider what  he is. The answer may vary from person to person depending on where Jesus has met them in their lives and in their need, but I love the way that Zach Williams puts it in his song, Chain Breaker. Here’s what he has to say in the chorus of the song:

“If you’ve got pain
He’s a pain taker
If you feel lost
He’s a way maker
If you need freedom or saving
He’s a prison-shaking Savior
If you’ve got chains
He’s a chain breaker.”

As with most of us, we scurry about life taking things for granted and we don’t think often enough about what others have done for us. What is Jesus to you? Take a moment now to think about what Jesus is to you and what he has done for you. Has he met you in your pain? Has he found you when you were wandering in a world of sin and despair and led you out? What has he freed your from? Once you’ve thought about it, pause for a while and give him the thanks and praise he deserves for all he’s done for you.

Link to Chain Breaker on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TtqFg4dzyI

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for the pain in my life you’ve taken, the shame and guilt you’ve lifted and how you found me when I was lost. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Link to YouTube video with coronavirus (COVID-19) facts, symptoms and prevention tips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AITtaAAAdYc

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 3/12/20 – A Harder God to Believe In

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DayBreaks for 3/12/20: A Harder God to Believe In

I don’t know who said this, but I found it resonated with my own spirit:

“What I am displeased with is my own living of life.  I feel an acute sense that I ought to have done better with the circumstances I was given.  This is one of the reasons why it cut me so deeply when people suggested that suffering is God’s discipline — because I find it so very, very easy to believe in a God who is profoundly disappointed in me. 

“It seems utterly natural to believe in the Disappointed God, because I myself am disappointed.  He must be even more disappointed, I think, because his standards are so much higher than mine.  How could he not be disappointed?  That makes complete sense to me.

“It’s the other God, the God who does not experience that kind of disappointment, the God who sees me the way that Prodigal Son’s father saw him — that is the harder God for me to believe in.  It takes work for me to believe in that God.” 

It takes me no effort whatsoever to believe in a God who is very thoroughly disappointed in me.  I am now a minister of the gospel, but it took me nearly 25 years to get to this point – 25 years of secular work.  Yes, I was serving in the church all that time, but not in what I believe I was called to do.  And even though I can see how, in His wisdom, He has used all the things I did and learned in the secular work world to be a better pastor (though I still have much to learn!), I can believe He might have been frustrated with me for not going into the ministry right away (as I considered doing.) 

And, even if I concede to myself that I was still serving God and perhaps even doing what I was supposed to be doing for those 25 years, I can still look at my life and think, “Galen – you really should be further along than you are in your faith walk with Jesus.  Your faith is still shaky.  You still struggle with some of the same old sins that have plagued you for years.  You quench the Spirit from time to time – far too often, actually.  You are not generous.  You can be envious.  You could be a much better husband than you are and a better pastor to the flock, too.”  Those thoughts come easily.  And I’m sure that similar thoughts come easily to you in your own situation.

What a change took place in my life when I learned that God was running towards me to embrace me and weep at my feeble attempts to come to Him!  Do I believe that that God is real – that He is the God I’ve sought to serve all these years?  Yes…but it is harder.  It is harder to accept grace than to live with the whip of the lash.  I feel I deserve the lash, but instead of the lash on my back, I feel the Father’s arm as He puts on the robe of righteousness that Christ wore around His shoulders.  I feel His tears against my cheek – not tears of sadness or despair, but tears of exultant joy.  He takes pleasure in me…and that’s a hard God to believe in.

PRAYER: How desperately we need reminders that You run to us, not from us, and that You rejoice in us through Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 3/02/20 – A Different Attitude

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DayBreaks for 3/2/20: A Different Attitude

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2010:

I am not lucky when it comes to contests.  I am told (mostly by my wife and also my good friend, Ken) that I am a pretty competitive individual.  I don’t see it, but I guess that they do.  I’m not sure if that’s good or bad but I’m certain it could be either – or both – depending on what it is that I might be competitive about!  I don’t like to lose.  And sometimes, if I don’t think that I’ve really got a reasonable chance of success, I won’t even compete because I dislike losing that much. 

How we feel about winning and losing probably says a lot more about us than we want to admit.  I know those who lose and then they sulk about it for days or weeks.  And that’s especially true, it seems, the closer they came to victory.  Consider running the 100-meter dash in the Olympics.  Such an event draws the fastest men and women in the world – people who literally can run like the wind.  In such a short race, with such a high caliber of competitors, the difference between winning and losing is often measured in hundredths of a second – faster than the blink of an eye. 

Can you imagine what it would be like to have trained for year after year after year – perhaps a decade or more – only to lose the Olympic 100-meter dash by .01 second?  It would be crushing.

A fascinating study done by Professor Vicki Medvec reveals the relative importance of subjective attitudes over and above objective circumstances. In her study, she studied Olympic medalists and discovered that bronze medalists were quantifiably happier than silver medalists. Here’s why: Silver medalists tended to focus on how close they came to winning gold, so they weren’t satisfied with silver; bronze medalists tended to focus on how close they came to not winning a medal at all, so they were just happy to be on the medal stand. 

Again, in the case of an Olympic race, the difference between 2nd place and 3rd place (silver or bronze medal) may be only .01 second (or less).  I find it very telling that the third place finishers didn’t feel worse, and in fact felt better, than the second place competitors. 

What does this say about us?  Perhaps it is a lesson in thankfulness and grace: none of us can run the race that Jesus ran – He is the hand’s down winner and no one is even close to Him in terms of holiness.  I suspect that the Pharisees, to the extent that they allowed the truth of their sin to come to the surface, beat themselves up incessantly about their sin, thinking things like, “I was sooooo close to being as holy as God wants me to be!”  Balderdash.  Not one of us can say that. 

I don’t know about you, but when the heavenly dawn breaks for me, I will be thrilled to be on the victory stand and look up at the One who won the race not only for me, but for everyone who puts their trust in Him.  I know I will have no right to be there…I would be more than content to be the stable boy for Jesus’ great white war horse for eternity.  But God won’t permit that.  He has made us His beloved children, He will give us the crown of life, and we will be so eternally thankful that we won’t worry, as did the disciples on the night that Jesus was betrayed, about who is “the greatest.”  It will be perfectly clear Who the Greatest will be!

PRAYER: Help us to have attitudes of thankfulness for what you have done for us, for our destiny and for the joy that awaits us and not to be envious or jealous of those who we might be tempted to look up to in this life.  Let us lift our eyes to see only Jesus and to praise Him for all eternity!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 1/31/20 – Standing Before God

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DayBreaks for 1/31/20: Standing Before God

My faith roots come from a very legalistic background. A common question posed to keep us in fear regarding salvation was, “If you sin and are run over by a truck and killed before you can ask for forgiveness, will you be saved?” The answer they wanted to hear was “No” because it was only fear that could keep us young people in line. We were taught (and this part is true) that God was always watching and we might be able to fool people but never God – and that some day the books would be balanced and we’d find ourselves in the most serious trouble imaginable. And so we cried and literally shook with fear for our sinfulness. 

But flip that argument around: are we any better if God is kind, but also safe and controllable? I think not. If God were kind, safe and controllable we have an entirely different problem: he wouldn’t be God at all.

You see, small gods do small things – because that’s all they can do. I like how Steve Brown put it in A Scandalous Freedom: “If you have never stood before God and felt afraid, then probably you have never stood before God. (Heb. 10:31) You have stood before an idol of your own making. Worse, your life will remain silly and superficial because you worship a silly and superficial God.”

At the same time, Jesus says his yoke is easy and his burden is light. How can he say that? Because as Aquinas said, the cross didn’t secure the love of God, but the love of God secured the cross. All who believe have been adopted. Not only have we been reconciled to that great and mighty and totally holy God by Christ’s sacrifice, but something else happened: we received Jesus’ righteousness – and not just a part of it, but all of it…ALL the goodness of Christ was credited to your account and mine.

What is the practical application of this wondrous truth? Here it is: if you are a Christian, it means that God will never be angry with you again. He has turned his wrath away from you because he credited ALL of Christ’s righteousness to your account. And here it is in a nutshell: how can God be angry at perfection?

It is a truth too good to be true – but it is true. Find freedom because Christ died to give it to you!

PRAYER: God, I can hardly believe you see me as holy and righteous as Christ because you’ve given me his righteousness as my inheritance as your child! No words can ever express enough gratitude for what you’ve done! Thank you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 1/3/20 – All Thy Works Shall Praise Thee

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DayBreaks for 1/03/20: All Thy Works Shall Praise Thee

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

It may appear that humans are uniquely equipped to offer praise to God.  We know, of course, that angels praise him.  We know that part of the reason we were created was to bring Him glory and proclaim His greatness.  We may even acknowledge that living things praise Him – the bird crying in apparent joy as she soars in freedom above the created world, the dolphin that leaps deliriously as it tears through the water at breakneck speed and sings its strange chirping song.  Who is to say that they are not praising their Creator?

Inanimate things praise Him…the heavens declare His glory and the heavenly bodies day after day and night after night pour forth their speech and stun us into humbled silence at His power and evident majesty.  Who is to say that the sounds that radio telescopes pick up from the depths of the universe’s vast array are not some form of heavenly praise that we cannot understand or interpret? The Psalmist put it well in Psalm 145:10: All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord; and thy saints shall bless thee.

Things visible and things invisible declare His wisdom.  Consider again the atom.  Everything that exists in the physical realm is made up of atoms.  But did you realize that atoms are mostly empty space?  There are those who have spent their life studying the atomic and subatomic world of creation who hold that when two objects come together in the physical realm (like two billiard balls) they don’t really hit one another.  Instead, says Timothy Ferris, “..the negatively charged fields of the two balls repel each other…were it not for their electrical charges they could, like galaxies, pass right through each other unscathed.”  When you sit in a chair, did you know you aren’t actually sitting on the chair, but because of the power in the electrons of your body and clothing and the electrons in the chair that repel one another that you are actually levitating about the height of one angstrom (1 hundred millionth of a centimeter)?

Neutrons and protons make up the nucleus of an atom.  The nucleus is very, very tiny – only one millionth of one billionth of the full volume of the atom, but it is extremely dense, packed tight with tiny particles.  In fact, if an atom was expanded to fill the size of a large cathedral, the nucleus would be about the size of a fly, but that fly would be many thousands of times heavier than all the rest of the cathedral combined. 

All of this was designed by the hand of the Almighty.  It is invisible to us, but somehow, I suspect that if we could hear the “voice” of the atom, it, too, would be singing His praise. 

May your new year and your very life be filled with praise to Him and may you join your voice with that of the sun, moon and stars in exalting His name! How will you praise Him today?

PRAYER: How marvelous is Your creation, O Great God!  We are humbled before You and Your unsearchable wisdom!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 1/01/20 – Seeing the Invisible

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DayBreaks for 1/01/20: Seeing the Invisible

From the DayBreaks Archive, 1/01/09:

Do you remember the story, The Invisible Man? I faintly remember seeing black and white TV movies or shows about it. I found the premise fascinating. For those of you who don’t remember it, a man had become invisible (I don’t remember how), and he wore clothes and bandages over his head to hide the fact that he was invisible. Of course, when he took the bandages off, there was a gap between his hat and his shirt collar! Most of us have probably wished at times that we could be invisible. It may have been when we were in trouble, or when we were feeling mischievous.

Have you ever seen anything that is invisible? I haven’t. But the Bible claims that it has happened. Listen to Hebrews 11:27-28 as it describes Moses: By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.  I’m sure that the writer to the Hebrews had Ex. 33:20-23 in mind when he wrote this, but I think there are several lessons here to be learned:

FIRST: Moses left Egypt on less than good terms. He wasn’t afraid of the pharaoh and his anger (according to this passage), but the thing that allowed Moses to continue on until he died was seeing things that were invisible. It gave him the power to persevere. Many times when my life is frantic and falling into disarray and I think I can’t bear another day, it is because I have only been looking at visible things and stopped seeing invisible Reality.

SECOND: God wants us to see Him. In the ultimate sense, He wants us to look on His face as His child (Rev. 22:4) in heaven. But it wasn’t enough that we should see Him some day. There are some days that are so bad that we need to see Him NOW! And it is at those moments that God reveals Himself in quite unexpected ways. It may come in the form of a cool wind on a blistering hot day, it may come disguised as a kind person who gives a cup of cold water, it may come in the form of someone who has hurt us surprising us by apologizing for some mean words they said. And when we see those things, I hope we’ll see and recognize not just the physical, but the invisible Truth behind all love, kindness and forgiveness.

THIRD: God grants us glimpses of himself when we need it. But more often than not, He is cleverly disguised by human flesh. That’s how He came in the person of Jesus. That was how He revealed Himself through the prophets. And that is how He wants to reveal Himself to the world around you – by and through you: (Colossians 1:27) To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. You see, if Christ is in you, and you are in Him, God lives within you in a real and utterly unfathomable way. I can’t see it, I can’t explain it, but God lives inside of you and me. When people see us – will they be able to identify and see the Invisible?

PRAYER: Father, may we make You visible to all who see us that they may come to know Your goodness and glory and be saved!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>