DayBreaks for 9/30/19 – Pain and Joy

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DayBreaks for 9/30/19: Pain and Joy

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

How would you feel if someone that you couldn’t see showed up to your door one day and offered you a deal like this one: “Hi!  I’m here to offer you a deal.  I know that you are concerned for your children.  Every loving parent is and you are clearly a loving parent.  Here’s the deal I’ve got for you: I will guarantee you generations of descendants.  I will make sure that they have a place to live.  I will see to it that they are taken care of and loved forever.  But, in order to have me do those things for you, your descendants will have to go through a few minor things, in particular, they’ll have to wait 400 years to get their land and in the meantime, they’ll be slaves to the most powerful nation on earth. How’s that sound? Do we have a deal?”

Chances are, you’d slam the door quickly and tell the visitor to “take a hike.”  And you’d have plenty of company. 

The scenario, of course, is not just a made-up story.  It really happened to a man by the name of Abraham and it is recorded in Genesis 15:13-14.  What is amazing is that Abraham essentially said, “Sure!  Sounds like a deal to me!”

We could always marvel about this grand old man of the faith.  He earned that nickname the hard way – by being tested and purified by the fire many times in his life.  I doubt than many, if any, living today would want to go through the same kind of testing to earn a similar nickname to “father of the faithful.”  But that’s not really the point that I’m after today. 

I’m sure that it was great for Abraham to hear that his children and their descendants would be cared for and loved by God.  But I’m also sure that it was very painful for him to hear about the 400 years of servitude that would precede their taking possession of the land of promise.  And so, at one and the same time, Abraham’s descendants because both his greatest joy…and his greatest pain.

If you look back at your life, isn’t that how it’s worked for you?  That the sources of your greatest joys become the sources also of your greatest pains, and that the things that have caused you the most pain often bring the greatest joys?  As Dr. Gerald Schroeder wrote in The Science of God, “If we mistake pleasure to be the avoidance of pain, we may miss some of the greatest pleasures in life, such as reaching the peak of a mountain or rearing children.  Ask parents the source of their greatest pleasure, and then ask them the source of their greatest pain.  It’s their kids every time.”

For all the complaining and moaning we often do about the pain in our lives, maybe we’re just too short-sighted to reflect back on the pain later and see how God has turned it into joy. 

PRAYER: Thank you for the many ways you teach us and for the fact that even our greatest pain can be turned into life’s greatest joy through your power!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/24/16 – Another Ram in the Thicket

DayBreaks for 10/24/16 – Another Ram in the Thicket

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2006:

The story of Abraham and Isaac has always intrigued and fascinated (and horrified) me.  There are obvious lessons to be learned from the story: the faith of Abraham, the obedience of Abraham, the trust of Isaac (even when it became apparent that he was the “sacrifice”), the importance of trusting God.  I’m not sure if Abraham or Isaac was the most relieved when the angel stopped Abraham’s hand and they saw the ram caught by its horns in the thicket.  And I have searched the haunted halls of my heart asking myself if I could have ever done what Abraham did – and I’m driven to my knees in humility by the answer.

But, perhaps instead of taking the extreme case of sacrificing a child, we need to look at other things that are much more close to home.  As Chuck Swindoll put it in Fascinating Lives of Forgotten People: “What it is that you are gripping so tightly?  A possession?  Your vocation?  A dream?  A consuming relationship?  The Lord may be in the process of taking it from you.  He’ll gently tug on it at first, giving you the opportunity to release your grip.  If you resist, He’ll eventually have to pry your fingers away…My advice?  Voluntarily release it.  Trust the Lord to provide.  He has another ram in the thicket.  You can’t see it right now, but He has it waiting.  Only after you have placed your sacrifice on the altar will you be ready to receive God’s provision.”

We all grip tightly to things in our world and in our lives.  I seriously doubt that God is asking any of us right now to sacrifice a child.  But I don’t doubt for a moment that He’s asking each of us to let go of something that has become a god in our life.  What do I mean?  Anything that we put our confidence and trust in is an idol, a god, if you will.  And we all have confidence in something in this world that pulls us away from trusting Him entirely and completely.  Do you know what those things are in your life?  I think that they’re probably the things that we fear happening the most: losing jobs, a stock market crash, losing our health, losing a friend that may not be a positive influence. 

What are you afraid of the most?  Is it possible that right now God is trying to teach you to surrender that to Him, trusting Him completely for all that you need today, tomorrow and forever?  As Chuck said, “He has another ram in the thicket.”  Do you believe that?

PRAYER:  Thank you, God, for all that You have entrusted to us.  Help us to recognize that You are the source of all good things and that we have been given all we have to benefit others.  May we hold our possessions with very loose hands.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

 

 

DayBreaks for 07/29/13 – Salt, Negotiation and Our Nation

DayBreaks for 07/29/13 – Salt, Negotiation and Our Nation        

Abraham-Friend-of-God2Genesis 18:32 (NLT)  Finally, Abraham said, “Lord, please don’t be angry with me if I speak one more time. Suppose only ten are found there?” And the LORD replied, “Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.”

The story of Abraham negotiating with God over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah has always been of great interest to me.  I hate negotiating anything.  I know that many places in the world it is expected when you go to buy food or wares.  In Ghana, you could get a much better price if you negotiate.  The same is true for India and Mexico.  It just isn’t that way in America for most things.  You do negotiate for a few things here, most notably cars (and I HATE that process!!!!)

It’s one thing to haggle over the price of a shirt or car with someone, but quite another thing entirely to haggle with God – repeatedly.  I mean, at what point have you pushed too far – and what would the consequences be?

So, this is interesting to me for that reason, but there are several other reasons, too:

FIRST: in verse 27, Abraham recognizes he is nothing more than dust and ashes, and there he is, arguing with the Almighty God.  Abraham is known as the father of the faithful, but he’s also the father of the slightly crazed in my opinion.

SECOND: the story shows us God’s great willingness to be patient with evil and to (dare I say) tolerate evil for a longer period of time for the sake of sparing the “righteous”.  It wouldn’t be right for God to destroy the righteous with the wicked…at least that’s the argument put forth here.  In a sense, Abraham is suggesting it would give God a black eye.  His reputation for fairness would be tarnished, and Abraham uses that as a negotiating chip.

THIRD (and this is the key one for purposes of this devotion): it doesn’t take much many righteous to spare a city…nor does it take many righteous for God to spare a nation.  But here’s the point: if God is to spare America, there must be people here who are living and acting righteously.  How many must there be before God destroys our nation?  I honestly have no clue.  But I know this: each day every believer must decide if we’ll be salt and light (and we must decide that many times during each day whenever we are faced with a moral/ethical situation) and then we must realize that the fate of our nation may well hang in the balance as we collectively make those decisions. 

Will we be that salt and light?  Or will we be tasteless and shadows?  May we also be the ones who intercede on behalf of our country!

PRAYER: Father, Your long-suffering and patience is incredible, but not without limits.  May we learn from this passage that how we act doesn’t just affect our relationship with you, but that the fate of our nation for our children and grandchildren may well hang in the balance based on our actions!  Give us courage, Lord, to be righteous!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 06/21/11 – Why Isaac Did It

DayBreaks for 06/21/11 – Why Isaac Did It

NOTE: Galen is on Sabbatical until 7/11.  Until he returns, DayBreaks will be publishing prior devotions (that is, if Galen has access to the Internet!)  Thanks for your understanding!

The Sacrifice of Isaac, by Domenichino

Genesis 22:6-10 – “6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”  “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.  “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”  8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.  9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.

As I’ve written before, this story stuns me.  It intimidates me and frightens me for many reasons.  But today is not the day I want to explore those aspects of this story again.  No, something else has caught my attention this time, and I’d like to share it with you.

First, notice a few things about Isaac.  They had finally reached the mountain where the sacrifice was to take place.  It was apparently a relatively barren mountain, for they had brought their own firewood.  Now it had to be carried to the top of the mountain for the sacrifice.  Did you notice who did the carrying?  It wasn’t Abraham – it was Isaac.  So Isaac was apparently old enough and strong enough to carry a load of firewood up the side of the mountain for the sacrifice.  Not an easy task – I’d have a hard enough time doing that myself, and I know that when my kids were small, there was no way they could have done such a thing.  So my conclusion is that Isaac couldn’t have been that young.

The old man and the young man make their way up the trail until they find the spot God had described to Abraham.  At that point, Isaac watched his father prepare the altar, then let himself be bound and laid on the altar.  While I don’t know for sure how old Isaac was, I’d be willing to bet that he could have easily overpowered old Abraham, or at the very least, he could have outran him down the mountainside to the donkey and servants left at the base of the mountain.  Had he described what Abraham was trying to do, they probably would have been supportive of Isaac’s escape!  But that didn’t happen.  Isaac let himself be bound and laid on the altar.  Why?  Because, as Chuck Swindol put it, Abraham had already taught Isaac how to crawl onto altars.

Think about it: Abram had crawled onto a few altars himself in his own lifetime.  He left his parents and homeland, wandered seemingly endlessly and aimlessly, awaited until he was very old to see his children born, etc.

There’s a lesson here for us fathers and mothers: we need to be teaching our children how to crawl onto altars – how to make sacrifices and be sacrificed.  They need to see us sacrificing ourselves and the things we want.  And we need to teach children to make sacrifices, too.  By the time that Abraham and Isaac got to the site of the sacrifice, Isaac had already learned about sacrifices from his father.

As a parent, are you indulging yourself and not teaching your children the value of sacrifice, especially self-sacrifice?  Are there areas where you need to sacrifice more of your own wants and wishes?  If your children don’t learn sacrifice from you, if they don’t learn that they can’t have it all whenever they want something, they will never learn it later in life and they will be the worse off for it.

Copyright 2001 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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