DayBreaks for 5/12/17 – The World’s Deadliest Illusion

DayBreaks for 5/12/17: The World’s Deadliest Illusion

John 19:10 (NIV) Do you refuse to speak to me? Pilate said. Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?

I’ve got to admit that I’m fascinated by the great illusionists.  To this day, I don’t understand how David Copperfield could make an airplane, the statue of Liberty, or even a nickel disappear like he does!  Fascinating. 

The greatest illusion of life may be the fact that we think we have power, that we put ourselves in a position of judging God.  Of course, there is some truth to this idea that we have power – God has given us the right to choose, but we must not mistake that for having power.  Our choosing is a God-given right and he gives us the power in our hearts and minds to choose many things.  One of those things we can choose to believe is truth – or we can believe lies.  Pilate found himself in a situation where he truly thought he had jurisdiction over Jesus, that he, Pilate, was in charge of the unfolding events and that he would determine the outcome.  He claims to have the power to either free Jesus or kill him.

Think about that a moment: recall how that when Jesus was being tempted to cast himself off a high place so Satan would yield to him, even Satan noted that Jesus had the power to summon angels to come and catch him so he wouldn’t even hit his foot against a stone.  Do you think for one moment that Jesus, as he stood before Pilate, could not have called a million angels to come and obliterate Pilate, the angry mobs, the hypocritical religionists, and the entire Roman army and empire?  In the OT, all it took was a single angel to kill 185,000 Assyrians!  If an angel is that powerful, how much more powerful is the One who created them?!!! 

Pilate had no idea what he was saying because he’d bought the lie of having power over Jesus, and by extension, over God.  We are not so very different.  We think that through our prayers we can manipulate God into doing what we want him to do – and we may even think that He’s obligated to give us what we pray for – but he’s not.  We think that we can lift a passage out of context and make it an absolutely binding promise on God – forgetting that God sets conditions (some of which we know and some of which we don’t), that involves our obedience, or our faith, or our motives.  James says we can ask but not receive because we’re asking for something driven by our own greed and selfishness – not so we can use if for God’s purposes.  So we can’t just take Jesus’ statement that we can ask for anything and that God is under our power to have to give it – we tend to forget the conditions: if you ask in my name, for the things that Jesus wants, that he approves of for us.

If we had power in any way, shape or form over God, He would no longer be God – we would be.  If in any way at any time, humans can force God to do something, God is no longer all-powerful, he would cease to be El Shaddai, The Lord God Almighty. 

The end result of our belief that we have power over Jesus is seen by our rebellion to God’s ways.  If we believe we are in control of our lives, that we have only ourselves to answer to, we will choose inevitably what we believe is in our own best interests.  And because we cannot see the future events before they unfold, we’re at best guessing blindly as to what will be in our best interests in the long run.  Only one who knows the consequence of every decision, the intricacies of every human interaction with absolute clarity, can know what will work out for the best for us in the long run. 

Because Pilate truly believed he had power over Christ, he made the decision to crucify him, not knowing that he was doing exactly what God had planned to have happen from eternity past.  God’s plan will not be thwarted by puny humans who have a god-complex about themselves. 

This calls for deep introspection – not by ourselves, but by the Spirit.  We can’t trust ourselves to be honest or to see the truth.  I need to take some quiet time aside and ask the Spirit to search my heart and show me where I seem to think that I’m God and that He is not.  And then I need to ask God to forgive me, humble me, change me so that instead of being like Pilate, I’m like Jesus, who constantly submitted himself to the will and power of the Father.

PRAYER: God, keep us from the foolishness of thinking that we have any control or power over you.  Help us to remember we are the clay – not the Potter, we are just sheep and You are the Shepherd.  Help us to yield our desire for control to the control of Your Spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 11/9/16 – God Is Well Today

DayBreaks for 11/09/06: God Is Well Today

Do you have days when you just don’t feel quite right? Maybe you woke up this morning and looked at the election results and felt sick to your stomach. Sometimes, you may not feel good because you didn’t sleep well during the night, or you’ve got a low-grade fever and are slightly discombobulated, maybe a bit on the dizzy side.  If I don’t eat on a fairly regular schedule, I can get feeling weak rather quickly.  And while I know (intellectually at least) that I am not God and that God is not one of us, there have been times when I was at least tempted to think that perhaps God just wasn’t quite with it, either.  After all, if I’m made in His image, and I can have bad days, why can’t He?

Well, there’s a good reason why He can’t have a bad day.  It’s just simply not possible for God to have a bad day.  Let me quote again from Louie Giglio’s book, I Am Not But I Know I Am: “God is doing well today, thank you.  He has no dilemmas.  No quandaries.  No counselors.  No shortages.  No rivals.  No fears.  No cracks.  No worries.  He is self-existent, self-contained, self-perpetuated, self-powered, and self-aware.  In other words, He’s God and He knows it. 

“After an eternity of being God, he shows no signs of wear and tear.  He has no needs.  His accounts are in the black.  He’s the owner, not to mention Creator, of all the world’s wealth and treasure…He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and all the hills the cows are standing on…God does whatever He wants.  His purposes are a sure thing.  There’s no stopping Him.  No containing Him.  No refuting Him.  No cutting Him off at the pass.  No short-circuiting His agenda.”

When I get up in the morning, I always plan to have a good day.  But 64 years of experience tells me that somewhere on the trajectory of my day’s activities, I will have dilemmas.  I will have fears about whether or not I’m doing the right thing, or making the right decisions.  I will worry about it each time I have to spend money – especially for unexpected, unbudgeted things. 

And after a hard week that may have been filled with special challenges, I do show signs of wear and tear.  Let there be no doubt of that.  I have needs.  I own nothing, although I delude myself into thinking that certain things belong to me.  There will be things that can throw my best plans right down the tubes.  But none of that ever, EVER happens to God.  He’s so far above those things that are all related to human weaknesses. 

But here’s the good news: He understands human weaknesses for two very important reasons:

FIRST: He created us.  Just like the engineer who designed a portion of a nuclear submarine knows what that component’s purpose is and what it’s made of with all it’s limitations, God knows ME.  He knows humanity.  So He knows and understands our human weaknesses.

SECOND: He lived on this tiny ball in the middle of space as one of us so He’d understand perfectly – so that we’d KNOW He understands.  He just asks us to trust that He has none of our limitations and so won’t be derailed in the slightest, and to trust that in all things, He works to our advantage!

If you looked at the election results and thought God goofed up, know this – He didn’t. He knows perfectly well what He’s doing, and even moreso, why He’s doing it. He’s not obligated to share that information with us. We are obligated to trust that His eye is still on the ball and He hits grand slams with every swing. He never strikes out. The election turned out the way He planned it to. He rules over the affairs of men and always will. History is in His hand, not in the hand of an earthly ruler.

So, take comfort. God is doing just great today, thank you very much! He never has an “off” day!

Psalm 66:7 (NLT) – For by his great power he rules forever. He watches every movement of the nations; let no rebel rise in defiance.  

PRAYER: Lord, no matter how we are feeling today, help us to remember that You are alive and well, flourishing and as strong as You were on the very first day of eternity.  Thank you that You’ve given us such wonderful proofs of Your understanding of us.  May we be comforted this day in knowing YOU are well and doing everything perfectly!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/13/16 – Who’s Gonna Drive?

DayBreaks for 5/13/16 – Who’s Gonna Drive?

NOTE: Galen will be out of the office and traveling next week. 

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2006:

NEW YORK (Bizarre News, 5/2006) – “A retired teacher who visited the graves of her loved ones every day was struck and killed by her own car while visiting a New York cemetery. Evanglistia Vartholomeou, 76, emigrated to the United States from Greece in 1965 and regularly visited the graves of her brother, sister, mother and a nephew, who died of cancer at the age of 3 in 1979.  Niece Katherine Vartholomeou told the New York Post her aunt spent her life caring for family and apparently left her car in drive at Maple Grove Cemetery in Kew Gardens by mistake.”

I remember when I was taking driver’s education so very, very long ago (yes, we had to take driver’s ed in order to get a license to ride a horse – NOT!)  There was a device that was intended to measure how quickly you could respond to a light changing from green to yellow.  I was, speaking modestly, pretty fast!  I always have felt that I’m a pretty good driver.  I know that I have some bad habits that I’ve allowed to creep into my driving over the past few years that I should correct, but by the grace of God, I’ve never had a serious accident at all.  I pray that will continue to be the case.

Sometimes, when I’m going somewhere with someone, we’ll have a bit of a debate about who’s going to drive.  If it is someone that I’ve not ridden with before and I don’t know what their driving is like, I’m more likely to say “I’ll drive!” or trust the directions to Waze or Google Maps.  Rightly or wrongly, I trust my own driving.

But when it comes to going somewhere in a city that I’ve never been before, I’m more than ready to cede control of the car to someone who’s been there and knows the way.  I trust that they’ll get me there or I wouldn’t get in the car with them. 

In the case of Ms. Vartholomeou, she forgot a couple key things.  She forgot to put her car in park and she failed to put on the parking brake.  The car thought she was in control still and it just did what cars will do under those circumstances – it went with the flow of gravity. 

As we travel through life, going from one destination to another, we need to get out from behind the wheel and let Jesus take control.  Consider the advantages: he’s been there, he knows where it is safe and where it is dangerous, he never takes wrong turns and he definitely won’t run over us. 

Are you still trying to navigate your own way through life?  Stop.  Put your life in park, put on the brake, get out of the driver’s seat and let Jesus take you where he wants you to go.

PRAYER:  We have tried for years, God, to make our own way and we’ve paid a huge price for it.  Help us to humble ourselves enough to admit that we are lost, that we cannot navigate our way through life without You.  We ask you to take full control of our past, present and future direction to lead us safely home.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

 

DayBreaks for 12/10/15 – If He Weren’t in Control

DayBreaks for 12/10/15: If He Weren’t In Control

Have you ever thought about what it would be like if God were not in control?  Try to picture what the day might be like:

  1. The sun wouldn’t come up in the morning nor shed its light;
  2. There wouldn’t be any food on your table, for He causes the ground to produce food and the rain that makes it grow;
  3. There wouldn’t be any air for you to breathe;
  4. When you tried to get water out of your faucet, you wouldn’t get anything usable, because in Christ, all things hold together, including the atoms of hydrogen and oxygen that must be held together to form water;
  5. The planets and moon may or may not move at the right times or in the right orbits;
  6. The people you meet would all be dead (of course, you would, too!), for without the right balance of sun, food, water, atmospheric gases, life would come to an end, period.

The list could go on and on and on ad nauseum.  But I think you get the idea.  Underneath this stark reality, however, is the simple truth that we’re NOT in control of our lives and environments.  We don’t begin to understand or appreciate the extent of God’s control over all things.  We get mad when there are things that we believe should happen that don’t happen, or things that do happen that we think shouldn’t happen.  And we get exasperated with God, thinking He’s not in control.  How foolish of us!

There are more things that God controls in any given instant of time than we will ever conceive of in our entire lifetimes.  When will we learn to trust Him?  Not only does He control all things, He makes them work for good (Rom. 8:28).  It is only our insolence and arrogance that leads us to suggest that God doesn’t know what he’s doing.

TODAY’S PRAYER: God, please forgive us for our insolence and forgive us for our ignorance of Your ways and Your working.  Help us to trust in Your goodness as well as Your wisdom to determine what is in our best interest.  Thank you, Father, that You have our best interest in Your heart!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005.

Copyright 2015 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 6/10/14 – Taking Matters Into Our Own Hands

DayBreaks for 6/10/14 – Taking Matters Into Our Own Hands

NOTE: This week’s DayBreaks are from the archives of June, 2004.

King Saul was a complicated man.  He could at one moment be brave, the next cowardly.  He could at times do great things for God and then in the next instant, fail miserably.  He was given to bad choices, and he made one the night before he died.

Saul was a warrior – he had fought in many battles and killed many of his enemies.  Once again, his army was in a standoff with the great enemy of Israel – the Philistines.  Things didn’t look good at all and Saul, we are told, was so overcome with fear that his “heart trembled greatly”.  To give him credit, he went to God, seeking direction and assurance – but God didn’t answer him.  He sought direction from the Urim (mysterious stones used in Israel to give direction – very little is known about the Urim and the Thummim) and from the prophets, but to no avail.  It appears that God had cut off the communication lines with Saul.  That’s when Saul made his big mistake.

As his frustration and desperation grew, his lack of judgment grew as well.  Saul felt that he needed to know what lay ahead and how to fight against the Philistines.  Since he was desperate, he did what was forbidden: he turned to the occult for direction.  Saul figured that if God wouldn’t speak to him, he’d find someone that could give him some direction.  Bad choice.  The reason that Saul had been unable to hear from God was because he was in rebellion to God and he’d not repented of his wrongdoing and asked forgiveness.  So, rather than fix what was wrong between himself and God, he took matters into his own hands.

There seem to me to be several lessons here:

FIRST: when we seek God and He doesn’t answer, we should not get angry and frustrated with Him.  We should look at our life and examine what and where we may have been walking in rebellion to God, confess it and let His forgiveness heal us so we can be restored to fellowship and communication with Him.

SECOND: whenever we take matters into our own hands we are on very shaky ground.  Yet we’re so prone to do this because we get impatient.  We think we need and deserve an answer from God right away, and if He won’t give it to us, we won’t wait for Him – we’ll ask someone else.  It may be another Christian, a non-Christian, it might be that we seek an answer in a book rather than the Bible, or you may even turn to astrology and the occult.  Very, very dangerous.

If you feel estranged from God and if it seems that He isn’t responding to your entreaties, see if confession and repentance are called for.  They always reopen the door of communication with God.

Copyright by 2014 Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

PRAYER: Lord, teach us not to try to take matters into our hands that belong to You!  In Your name, Amen.

Copyright 2014 by Galen C. Dalrymple

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DayBreaks for 01/04/12 – Life’s What If’s

DayBreaks for 01/04/12 – Life’s What If’s

The what if questions of life are endless...and dangerous...

I don’t know about you, but I play the game of “What If” like a pro!  I am so prone to trying to figure out the future, to plot a course through all the eventualities in order to guarantee an outcome that I’m sure to be happy with.  What a fool I am!  Here’s a story about a little boy who was learning to play that game early:

Erma Bombeck told this story about a little boy named Donald who talked about education and the fears of going to school: “My name is Donald, and I don’t know anything. I have new underwear, a loose tooth, and didn’t sleep last night because I’m worried. What if a bell rings and a man yells, “Where do you belong?” and I don’t know? What if the trays in the cafeteria are too tall for me to reach? What if my loose tooth comes out when we have our heads down and are supposed to be quiet? Am I supposed to bleed quietly? What if I splash water on my name tag and my name disappears and no one knows who I am?”

Does Scripture have anything to say about playing “What If”?  I think so – sometimes in unexpected ways.  We are told not to take thought for tomorrow for a very logical reason: today has enough problems of its own, and who knows if we’ll be here tomorrow or not!  But our most common fears aren’t about whether or not we’ll be here tomorrow, but about what might happen.  We tend to assume we will be here.

There’s another passage that, when viewed in a certain way, is about the “what if’s” that we are more prone to worry over: Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:35-39

The list of “what if’s” includes trouble, calamity, persecution, hunger, being destitute, in danger, even threatened with violent death.  None of those “what if’s” can separate us from His love or cause us to get lost to His sight.  Demonic attack, fears for today, worries about tomorrow, not hell itself, says the writer, can separate us from His incredible, enduring, powerful, saving love!

PRAYER: Jesus, I sometimes get so scared about what will happen tomorrow, next week, next month.  Though I may be separated from a home, family members, from all the things I love and cherish – help me find comfort in Your abiding Presence and promise. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 12/08/11 – Giving Up Control, Trust #8

DayBreaks for 12/08/11 – Giving Up Control, Trust #9

How we love to control things!!!!

From the DayBreaks Archive, dated 11/19/2001:

Being in control.  Isn’t that something that we admire in ourselves and in others?  Most of us men grew up with the idea that a real man is in control of his emotions, if not his actions.  I was raised at a time when it was considered honorable for men to be able to not get teary-eyed (or even start to choke up) in public.  Certainly, any man who lost control of his actions was a weakling, and any man who hit a woman or child was considered a real jerk.  In business, we admire those who seem to be in control.  We admire those who, in times of great adversity, can remain in seeming control of the situation and rise above it.

But when it comes to spiritual things, we need to realize that “being in control” is not something we can do.  When you consider what Scripture teaches us about control, you begin to realize that there is little or nothing that we can control.  We can talk about going somewhere tomorrow to do business or have fun, but we can’t make it happen and we’re given this warning: (James 4:13-16) “13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”)

Do you see the point?  God is trying to get it into our thick heads that we can do nothing, not even go somewhere, unless HE wills it.  There isn’t a man or a woman alive who could do anything unless God is willing for them to do it.  But it is hard for us to get to the point that we’re at peace with that degree of control over our lives.  We believe that there is no one and nothing that knows what is better for us than we ourselves.  But we’re wrong!

Today I double up with laughter whenever I realize that I have started ‘managing’ my life once more – something we all do with astounding regularity.  The illusion of control is truly pathetic, but it is also hilarious.  Describing what I most need out of life, carefully calculating my next move, and generally allowing my autonomous self to run amuck inflates my sense of self-importance and reduces the God of my incredible journey to the role of spectator on the sidelines.  It is only the wisdom and perspective gleaned from an hour of silent prayer each morning that prevents me from running for CEO of the universe.  As Henri Nouwen once remarked, ‘One of the most arduous spiritual tasks is that of giving up control and allowing the Spirit of God to lead our lives.”  (Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust)

Until we realize that our ability to control our lives is merely an illusion, not real at all, we are doomed to be filled with self-importance.  We are doomed to the sin of pride in thinking that we are God and can control our environment.  We are doomed to be responsible for everything, and God is alleviated of all responsibility for what happens.  Is that how you really want it?  Not me.  I’ve realized now that I may have lots of opinions about what is good for me, but that I really don’t know what is best for me.  I’d have to be God in order to know such things because unless I know everything, unless I can understand and consider every possible factor (internal and external) and combination of factors, there would be no way that I can really know what is best.

Do you really think that you know better than God?  Do you really think that in ANYTHING you know better than God what is best for you?  Let the knowledge of God’s omniscience lead you to trust him more.  Every little bit of control you surrender to Him is a testimony to growing trust.  

PRAYER: We release our hold on the reins of our life, Father, and commit ourselves into Your hand!!!!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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