DayBreaks for 9/09/19 – Handmade in Heaven

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DayBreaks for 9/09/19: Handmade in Heaven

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

You’ve read the labels before: “Handmade in Italy.”  “Made by hand in Ireland.”  “Handmade in China.”  Do all three of those statements give you the same feeling?  For many years, “handmade in China” would not stir one to think all that highly of the product, unless it was some special type of pottery or other work of art.  For a long time, “Made in Japan” and “Made in China” had reputations of suggesting poor quality.  To some extent, that has change in more recent times, but problems with toxic paints on toys and other manufacturing issues have once again made us skeptical of things made in places such as China.

On the other hand, “Handmade in Italy” probably would cause one to think that the product is worth something extra.  There is a higher reputation for things made in Italy (for example) versus China.  And the “handmade” part of the label leads one to suspect that an artisan made that particular product. 

What would be the most priceless artifact in history?  It might be hard to say, but I’d venture a guess that if there were a table or chair or some article made out of wood that could be verified as being handmade by Jesus that it would be the most priceless treasure ever found.  Bids would become astronomical!  Alas, no such artifact has ever been found. 

That is not to say, however, that we have nothing that was handmade by Jesus.  We do – plenty of things that were handmade by Him.  The sun, moon, stars, the oceans, mountains, animals…all were made by Him (John 1:3).  Truly, we live in a world of wonders! 

But the very best news is what John 1:3 implies: it means that you are handmade by Jesus!  Scripture speaks about this in many places, including Job 10:10-11 and Psalm 139 (my favorite Psalm).  Now what does THAT say about you?  You are priceless…far more so than a table formed under the blows and gouging planes that Jesus once held in His hands.  Jesus never died for a table or chair, though they’d be priceless today if they could be located.  But He did die for you. 

You are “Handmade by the Lord” and infinitely more precious than anything else in this world!

PRAYER: Thank You for forming us and shaping us by Your precious hands!  May we be worthy representatives of Your handiwork and bring glory to our Maker!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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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 8/20/19 – 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 8/6/10 – Pain Relief

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DayBreaks for 08/06/19: Pain Relief

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2019:

Job is such a fascinating study of faith under pressure.  He didn’t always shine brightly throughout the test and perhaps that is why reading his story is so instructive and educational for us today.  Once, in this country, the pressure was on those who had no faith.  They were considered the outcasts, pagan, headed for a horrible end unless they came to Christ.  Today, those tables have largely been turned in our country and it is people of faith who find increasing pressure to abandon faith and doctrine in favor of political correctness and “tolerance.” 

We know that faith is necessary if we are to please God (Heb. 11:6).  But faith discovers what it is really made of in times of trouble, not when everything is peachy.  No one needs faith when things are going well – but turn up the burners and it is quickly seen whether faith goes up in a flash of fire and smoke, or whether it just gets hotter and more powerful. 

It is easy to say that we “know God.”  We even use the phrase, “I have come to know Him” as a statement that we’ve become Christians.  Mike Mason puts a bit of a different spin on what faith really is when he wrote in The Gospel According to Job: “But as we progress in faith we go through times when we are less and less certain that we really know Him at all, and yet more certain than ever that He knows us.”  In Genesis, it was the Egyptian run-away (from Abraham and Sarah), Hagar, who made this incredible statement as she and her son sat dying in the desert: You are the God who sees me. (Gen. 16:13)

Hagar’s statement is perhaps really the essence of faith.  As Mason put it: “Real faith is not so much seeing God, as knowing that one is seen.  Only this kind of faith is resilient enough to embrace ‘trouble from God.’”

When one is hurting as Job was hurting, would it have done him much good to “see God”?  I suspect that it was of much more comfort to Job to know that God saw him in his own suffering, sitting among the dust and ashes, tormented by pain and grief.  It was that kind of faith that allowed Job to say Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?  (Job 2:20)

In pain, our greatest comfort often doesn’t come through morphine or vicodin, but through not being alone.

PRAYER:  How grateful we are today, Lord, that you see each of us exactly where we are, with the pain and suffering that we all experience from time to time.  Thank you for your promises that we will never find ourselves alone as long as heaven endures!  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.  ><}}}”>