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.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 8/12/19 – The Power at Work Within You

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DayBreaks for 08/12/19: The Power at Work Within You

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2019:

I have recently been reading a fascinating book titled, A Short History of Nearly Everything, by author Bill Bryson.  It is not a Christian book…but it is nonetheless an incredible read about the history of things like astronomy, physics, chemistry, geophysics, well…in short, nearly everything.  The anecdotes about great women and men of science and history and the exceedingly rich information about some of the sciences and discoveries truly intriguing. 

One of the chapters is titled, “Einstein’s Universe” and it describes as you might imagine, the universe as Einstein understood it – and the physics behind it.  (I’m not a physicist at all, but I can’t put this book down!!!!)  We all know that there is tremendous energy stored in the atom.  We know this from the power of nuclear weapons.  It doesn’t take a lot of fissile material to make a really big bang.  But you may have never thought of that in terms of what makes up your own body – which, as you know, is also made up of atoms. 

Did you realize that, if you are an average sized adult, inside of your body you carry no less than 7 x 1018 joules of potential energy.  Now before you scurry off to find out what a joule is, just know that it’s a measurement of a unit of electrical energy equal to the work done when a current of one ampere is passed through a resistance of one ohm for one second, or: a unit of energy equal to the work done when a force of one newton acts through a distance of one meter.

That clears it up, right?  Good!  Well, don’t worry about it because you don’t have to understand it to get the point of this stuff about joules.  Here’s why: the potential energy stored up in the atoms of your body is enough to explode with the force of 30 very large hydrogen bombs (if only we knew how to liberate it).  Sort of gives new meaning to the saying about someone “blowing up”! 

The truth is that everything that exists has that kind of power stored up in it.  We just aren’t any good at releasing that kind of energy.  Even the uranium bomb – the most energetic thing that mankind has yet produced – releases less than 1 percent of the energy it could release if only we were smarter at how to release it.  But that 1% is incredibly powerful. 

As amazing as all of that is, it’s nothing.  Not really.  Consider this passage from Ephesians 3:20 (NLT): Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.

What would happen if we yielded completely and totally to the power of the Spirit that works inside of us?  What percentage of spiritual energy do you think you currently release and tap in to?  Is it less than 1% as in the case of the uranium bomb?  My guess is that as regular old ordinary humans, we tap into far less than 1/1000th of 1% of the power of the Spirit.  Think of what a different world it would be if we figured out how to really let the Spirit loose to work in and through us!!!! 

PRAYER:  How effectively we quench Your Holy Spirit, Lord!  We long to live more powerful spiritual lives, to have more victory and less failure.  Teach us how to turn Your Spirit loose inside of us for the sake of the kingdom and the lost!  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 8/05/19 – God and Circumstances

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DayBreaks for 08/05/19: God and Circumstances

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2019:

I can’t help but think of Joseph when I think of circumstances.  It wasn’t his fault his father favored him.  It wasn’t his fault his father made him a special coat.  It wasn’t his fault God sent him the dreams that seemed to be the icing on the cake as far as his brothers’ hatred of him was concerned.  It wasn’t his fault he was thrown into the pit.  It wasn’t his fault the Midianite traders came and bought him.  It wasn’t his fault he got bounced out of Potiphar’s house.  It wasn’t his fault he was in jail and overlooked and forgotten.  It wasn’t his fault the plagues descended on Egypt.  None of those things were his fault, but they were all part of the circumstances of his life.

I know plenty of people who get frustrated with the circumstances in which they find themselves, and from time to time, I am among their number.  And like many of my Christian friends who find themselves in unpleasant circumstances, I will pray and ask God to change the situation.  You know what?  As far as I can tell (and my perception is as limited as yours), God seldom seems to change those circumstances.  Need some money to pay bills?  Pray about it…and see if a check shows up in the mail.  My experience has been that it seldom happens.  Need a change in health?  Pray about it.  It may or may not come to pass.  Praying for someone to continue living instead of dying?  If we all prayed about that until we were blue in the face, eventually that person will die – no matter how hard we might have prayed in the intervening time period. 

I am reminded of another who prayed for a change of circumstances.  He knelt down in a garden and pleaded with God to change the circumstances in which he found himself.  And, either God didn’t answer, or the Bible doesn’t record it.  Or, perhaps, there is a third option: God did answer with a “No” and Jesus was prepared to accept that answer. 

I fear that all too often I’m not prepared to accept God’s “no” to my request to change circumstances.  The result in Joseph’s life was the saving of the promised people – the very preservation of their lives through the famine.  It was also to build character in Joseph’s life.  Moses was no different – he often complained to God about the circumstances in which he found himself along with the rest of Israel.  He grew as a result. 

Why should we be prepared to accept God’s “no” when we request a change in circumstances in our lives?  Because God has a plan.  He always has a purpose.  We seldom see it – not even in hindsight – but if we are to trust God with our souls should we not also trust Him with what He is doing in our earthly lives? 

I am not denying the power of prayer – not for one bit.  Just wrestling with the all-too-frequent “no’s” and why they come.  There is a purpose.  Was there a purpose in God’s denying His own Son’s request from the dirt of Gethsemane?  Most certainly!  And there is a purpose for the times God refuses to change my circumstances, too.  If God didn’t change Jesus’ circumstances, He may choose in His divine wisdom not to change mine, either.  Better I should learn my lessons quickly!

Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.  – Philippians 1:12-14 (NASB)

PRAYER:  I’m sorry, Lord, for the times I have grown frustrated and angry with You for not changing my circumstances.  Please, use the circumstances in my life to make me more like Jesus so that the gospel can move forward and progress.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 8/02/19 – Toleration of Pests

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DayBreaks for 08/02/19: Toleration of Pests

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2019:

Pests—bugs and rodents—even the thought of them makes our skin crawl.  It’s a fact that pests find their way into everyone’s home at one time or another. The question is, do we hate them enough to do what it takes to get rid of them?  One survey says that the answer to that question depends on what sort of pest it is.  Researchers have found that people will dish out their hard-earned money for an exterminator (meaning they are really serious about getting results) when the following pests are in their home:

Twenty-four percent of adults will pay an exterminator to kill spiders.

Roughly the same number, 27 percent, will pay to annihilate ants.

With the next pest the percentage jumps to just over half, as 56 percent will pay to banish bedbugs.

The same percentage, 56 percent, will pay to get rid of rodents. (That’s mice and rats.  And some people keep these things as pets!!!)

Fifty-eight percent will pay to kill cockroaches.  (Only 58%?!?!?!?  What’s wrong with the other 42%!!!!!!) 

And then there’s a big jump in the number when we talk about termites.  Eighty-seven percent of adults—that’s 9 out of 10—will pay to terminate termites.

How telling it is that with the exception for termites, almost half of adults will live with some very unpleasant pests rather than pay a professional to get rid of the bugs and rodents.  This survey also showed that many people are willing to endure a certain kind of pest, but not others.  (Data from Anne R. Carey and Keith Simmons, “Calling the Exterminators: Critters that bug us most,” USA Today Snapshots (May 22-25), 1A; based on survey of 1,253 adults by Global Strategy Group for Orkin)

Spiritually, things aren’t much different.  Many people are willing to live—or feel they have to live—with spiritual ants, spiritual spiders, spiritual bedbugs, spiritual cockroaches, spiritual mice, spiritual rats, or spiritual termites. Some sins we tolerate in ourselves; others we won’t.  What I may tolerate you may not, but what you tolerate I won’t.  We have grown comfortable with our own pests and have learned to co-exist with them. 

That, however, is not what God wants us to do.  For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live…  Romans 8:13 (NIV)

Have you grown too comfortable with the pests in your spiritual house?  Let’s stop resisting the Spirit who wants to exterminate those pests and cooperate with Him!

PRAYER:  May Your Spirit have His full and complete work in us to eliminate the misdeeds of our bodies.  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.  ><}}}”>