DayBreaks for 12/9/19 – When I Survey the Heavens

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DayBreaks for 12/09/19: When I Survey the Heavens

Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up [God’s] dominion over the earth?” – Job 38:31-33 (NIV)

I suspect that we don’t contemplate the greatness of God nearly enough.  Of course, it is difficult to do so.  When we think of great things, we might think of an aircraft carrier, Mount Everest, the immense Pacific Ocean and the like.  We tend to think of greatness many times in relation to size.  The bigger it is, the greater it seems to be.  And, since none of us really have seen God, we don’t know how big He is.  He may be the same size as a human, smaller, bigger, or big enough that He fills all space.  He probably can change sizes if it suits His purpose.  But God isn’t impressed with size, is He?

Well, no, He’s not.  He’s not impressed with size or the amount of skill a human has or the size of someone’s bank account. He does, however, seem to want us to be impressed with His greatness (as we should be anyway!)  The problem is this: since no one can see Him and live, how can He demonstrate His greatness to us in ways we can even begin to comprehend?  Of course, there’s what happened in the Incarnation and the life of Jesus that tells us about God’s character (mercy, love, grace, forgiveness, humility, etc.).  Those are things that we must be impressed by if nothing else.  But He also points us to the heavens – to something visible – that we can literally see and then we can stand back in awe. 

Bill Bryson did a great job in his book, A Short History of Nearly Everything, to begin to help us grasp the size of one part of God’s creation: space.  Let’s let him educate is for the purposes of understanding God’s greatness as witnessed by this one part of His creation:

The universe that we know and talk about (which by the way is probably not all there is since we can’t see the end of the universe, is 1 million million million million (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) miles across.  According to at least one astronomer, the size of the meta-universe (the superset of the universe we can presently see and know) most likely isn’t written with “10 zeroes, not even with a hundred, but with millions.” 

Those numbers are so large that we can’t even begin to embrace their meaning.  So, let’s settle down to just our solar system.  Our solar system is most likely the liveliest thing for trillions of miles, but all the visible stuff in our solar system (sun, planets, moons, asteroids, comets, etc.) fills less than 1 trillionth of the space available in the solar system.  Remember those maps of the solar system you saw in school?  I hate to tell you this, but they’re all wrong – exceedingly wrong.  But in order to be able to show them so we could learn the names of the 9 planets (I know, Pluto is not considered a planet anymore, but I’m old school!), they put them all on one piece of paper.  If you were to draw the diagram of the solar system to scale with earth at the size of a pea, the planet Jupiter would be over 1000 feet away from earth and little cold Pluto would be 1.5 miles from earth (and about the size of a bacterium so you wouldn’t be able to see it at all).  Our nearest star, Proxima Centauri, would be nearly 10,000 miles away.  Even if everything was shrunk down so that Jupiter was as small as the period at the end of this sentence and Pluto was no bigger than a molecule, Pluto would still be 35 feet away. 

 

Proxima Centauri is 100,000,000 times farther from earth than the moon.  To make the trip by modern spaceship would require 25,000 years, and once you got there, you’d still be in the middle of nowhere.  It has been estimated that the average distance between stars that are visible is 20 million, million miles.  Anyone up for a hike?

Is it any wonder that when God wanted Job to understand His greatness He referred Job to the heavens: The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. – Psalms 19:1-5 (NIV)

In this season of wonder regarding the Incarnation of Jesus, let’s not lose sight of this aspect of wonder, too!

PRAYER: May we ponder Your greatness and give You alone the praise of our hearts!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/18/19 – Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

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DayBreaks for 11/18/19: Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

I have long been fascinated by the miracle of creation.  We can’t wrap our minds about how God called things into existence from things that didn’t exist (Romans 4:17), but we believe by faith that He did exactly that.  It is easy in the hustle and bustle of our daily existence to lose sight of the wonder of the creation.  As a means to remedy that failing on our part, I hope to do a series (not every day) of messages on various aspects of the creation that will hopefully lead us to give glory to the Maker of heaven and earth. 

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:15-16, NLT)

We can see parts of God’s creation – and then there are parts that our eyes can’t see.  We can’t see the spirit world with the angels and demons, God and the Spirit or the four living creatures – at least not from an earthly vantage point.  No telescope has ever been made that can reveal that invisible domain to us.  Paul offers such things (thrones, kingdoms, rulers and authorities) as part, but not all, of the elements of the “unseen world.”  There is another aspect of the unseen world that we don’t often consider: the minutely small things He has formed. 

Consider molecules and atoms.  Every cubic centimeter contains approximately 45 billion billion molecules (give or take a few, but who’s counting?)  There are that many molecules in every cubic centimeter you see around you.   How many cubic centimeters are there in the world?  When you figure that out, let me know.  Then, consider how many cubic centimeters there are in the solar system – then expand your thinking to the Milky Way and then to the rest of space (the Milky Way consists of perhaps as many as 450 billion stars and is one of perhaps 150 billion galaxies).  Gets mind numbing rather rapidly, right?

But that’s just molecules.  Let’s get atomic.  Molecules are formed by various atoms bonding together.  How big is an atom?  You could line up 500,000 atoms side by side behind a width of a single human hair.  Consider a millimeter – 1/1000ths of a meter, about the length of this – if you printed it on paper.  Cut that up into 1000 equal widths and you have one micron.  Microorganisms (living beings like paramecia and amoeba) are about 2 microns wide (.002 millimeters)  If you wanted to see a paramecium with your naked eye, you’d have to enlarge the drop until it was 40 feet across.  If you wanted to see a single atom in that same drop, you’d have to make the drop 15 miles across.  Each atom is 1/10,000,000 of a millimeter, or to put it in other terms, equivalent to a single page of flat paper compared to the height of the Empire State Building. 

And you are made up of 7 billion billion billion atoms, 7 x 1027 (or 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms which is just a scientific way of saying, “A whole bunch!”)  That’s if you weigh precisely 154.323584 pounds.  If you weigh more, well, you’ve got even more atoms.  If you weigh less, don’t feel cheated.  You’ve still got enough.  Each blood cell in your body contains approximately 1,240,000,000 molecules of oxygen.  Without which – by the way – you’d cease to exist.  Now get this: we are in utter amazement at the scope of the universe (I’ll talk about that in the future), but you have FAR more atoms in your body than there are stars in the entire universe! 

What does all this mean?  It means we can give a shout of praise out to the Creator for we are “fearfully and wonderfully made!”  (Ps. 139:14)

PRAYER: Lord, when I consider the works of Your hands, what is man that You are mindful of him, that You should care for him?  We, though we are just dust, give You praise for the wonders You have wrought!  In Jesus’ name, Amen

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

DayBreaks for 2/4/19 – Two Generations Closer

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DayBreaks for 2/04/2019: Two Generations Closer

From the DayBreaks archive, 2009:

Bowing before the “god of open-mindedness,” this generation has been slow to admit that what we believe determines how we act. PBS film critic and columnist Michael Medved recently shared this anecdote out of his Jewish heritage:

“A few years ago, the illustrious Rabbi Jacob Kamenetzky made a trip to Israel accompanied by his teenage grandson. Ironically, these two deeply religious people had been seated in the airplane next to a prominent Israeli socialist leader and outspoken atheist, who had spent his whole life fighting against Orthodox values.

“After the plane reached its cruising altitude, the cynical atheist traveler couldn’t help noticing the way the teenage boy attended to the needs of his aged, bearded grandfather. He got up to get the old man a glass of water, helped him remove his shoes and put on some slippers, and otherwise demonstrated that the rabbi’s comfort represented his primary concern.

“At one point, as the boy got up for yet another errand on behalf of the old man, the skeptical stranger could contain himself no longer. ‘Tell me something,’ he asked the rabbi. ‘Why does your grandson treat you like some kind of a king? I have a grandson, too, but he wouldn’t give me the time of day.’

“‘It’s very simple,’ the old man replied. ‘My grandson and I both believe in a God who rules the universe and created all things, including the first man. That means that in the boy’s eyes, I’m two generations closer to the hand of God Himself. But in the eyes of your grandson, you’re just two generations closer to a monkey.’ “

Medved told this story as if it were true. I can’t vouch for that. But it certainly reflects truth. A person’s theology (what they think about God) determines what they think, and therefore what they do, about everything else. It should not surprise us that the behavior of people who don’t believe in God is so often ungodly. Could it be that to make our streets safe again, we need to be building more churches instead of more jails? – Richard A. Steele and Evelyn Stoner, comp., Bible Illustrations – Heartwarming Bible Illustrations, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1998), p 76-77.

Galen’s Thoughts: Some Christians think that it’s okay to believe in evolution, that there’s no harm in it.  I would agree with micro-evolution – we do change over time, but not from one species to another.  We’ve gotten taller in the past 100 years, we live longer than we did 100 years ago.  And those and other changes are even more pronounced the farther back in history that you go.  But amoeba to multi-celled organism to fish to reptile to monkey to man?  No, not now, not in 10 trillion years!  God said, “Let them bring forth after their own kind” – and that somewhat puts a limit on what any creature can do reproductively. 

The way the orthodox Jewish son treated his grandfather was related to his beliefs about life, God, creation – and the value of people.  If there is no God, or if we are not made in God’s image, there is no reason to spare a human life any more frequently than to spare the life of an ant.  In fact, both would be of equal value – nothing – if we’re just products of time and chance. 

I also like the grandfather’s perspective: “I’m two generations closer to the hand of God Himself…”  I’m two generations closer to the direct creative effort of God when He made man than my grandchildren are.  But by the grace of Jesus, we can be equally as close to going to His home!

Prayer: Lord, guard our hearts against human foolishness and let us treasure all that is the work of Your hands, but especially those made in Your image!    In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/04/18 – The Creation Groans

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DayBreaks for 9/04/18: The Creation Groans

From the DayBreaks Archive, September 2008:

About 10 days ago, at 3:11 a.m. in the morning, I was awakened by the sound of a tree splitting and falling somewhere near our property.  We’ve had a tree come down on one of our outbuildings once before – and I must say, it is impressive what a tree can do when it falls on a structure.  And, living on a hillside as we do, there are trees up above our home and others that surround it.  At 3:11 a.m. it was far too dark to know where the tree fell – even though I got up to make sure that it hadn’t fallen on a car or part of the house.  I couldn’t see where the tree was, but when I stuck my head out the patio door, I could smell the scent of dust in the air and knew it couldn’t have been too far away.

But what struck me was the awful, cracking, splitting and sighing of the wood under strain as it gave way and fell, pulled by gravity.  It was as if the tree had fought as long and hard as it could, only to finally give up the struggle.  The groaning made me recall the passage from Romans that describes the “entire creation” groaning and moaning as a result of the fall, longing for relief.  And, after returning to bed, I lay there thinking that perhaps the sound of breaking tree branches is part of this groaning. 

There is a verse that struck me as I thought about the time when the creation will be completely released from its suffering.  It’s found in 2 Peter 3:10 (NIV) and it says, But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

I’d never pondered before what the cause of the roar would be, but I have a couple of thoughts.  It could be the roar of the Lion of the tribe of Judah which will resound throughout the vanishing universe.  Or, it could be a roar let out by the creation itself as it is finally released from the frustration in which it has been held for these innumerable years.  After all, if the stones could have cried out in adoration of the King during his entry into Jerusalem, why not think that it will cry out in relief when it is set free?  Behold, I make ALL THINGS new is the promise.  The Psalmist spoke of the language of the stars that fills creation with speech.  Won’t it be something when we hear them set free to sing their song of praise to the Creator?

PRAYER: We join our hearts and prayers in longing and anticipation of the great moment when all will be set free from the bondage that has come upon the universe because of sin and evil.  May we prepare ourselves to join in the great shout of deliverance that will take place when we lift our eyes to the sky and see our Redeemer!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 8/2/18 – For the Love off the World

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DayBreaks for 8/02/18: For the Love of the World

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2008:

Can I tell you something?  In many ways, I love this world.  What do I mean?  I don’t mean that I love the “world” in the sense of fallen behaviors, sin, diseases, disasters and the like.  I am sick and tired of such things. So please understand that when I say that I love the world, I mean that I’m fascinated by the beauty of creation: the starry canopy above, the roaring power of the ocean, the sheer majesty of mountains, the gurgling of the brook, the touch of the wind.  There are so many places I’d like to see: the pyramids (this has been a life-long dream that may or may not ever come true), the African wildlife, the grandeur of Alaska and the Himalayas.  I’d love to watch kangaroos hopping around in Australia, to see the fjords of Sweden and Norway, to watch the cold waters of the North Sea crash against the coastline of Scotland.  I’d love to visit Machu Piccu in Peru and see the part of New Zealand where Lord of the Rings was filmed.  I would like to see the Great Wall – and I’d like to see Antarctica up close and personal.  Will I ever see all those places?  I’m sure I won’t – and in fact, I’m fairly resigned to not seeing very many, if any, of them at all. 

I love the world.  It is my Father’s world, after all.  He made it – and may I say, He did a pretty spectacular job of it. 

Why do we love this world so much?  As was true of so many things, I think C. S. Lewis was right on top of it when he wrote at the end of the Chronicles of Narnia: It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling.  He stamped his right fore-hoof on the ground and neighed, and then cried: ‘I have come home at last!  This is my real country!  I belong here.  This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now.  The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this.

There is it: …the old Narnia…sometimes looked a little like this.  The very finest things and places in this world enchant us so because they remind us of our real home…the real Narnia, where Aslan/Christ lives and rules and where sin has not touched even the tiniest blade of grass – nor will it ever do so.  My love of the things I’ve listed above is a reassurance to me that I will love what is in the Heavenly Kingdom that is still ahead of me. 

Can’t you hear the siren call in your soul to such places?  Let that pull you forward, out of the muck and mire of this world and lead us to be heavenly-minded children of the Great King.

2 Peter 3:13 (NASB) – But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

PRAYER:  Thank you, mighty God, for giving us a creation filled with such delights!  Thank you for the echoes of eternity you have placed in our hearts that call us home to you!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 7/24/18 – The Original Truth

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DayBreaks for 7/24/18: The Original Truth

NOTE: Galen is on vacation this week and may be unable to respond to emails. 

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2008:

Our assumptions and preconceptions are powerful things.  They can keep us from seeing truth that is right in front of our eyes because we try to interpret what we see in self-fulfilling ways so that it matches what we expect to see. 

From the time we were born and became aware of good versus evil, we’ve known we possessed not just the ability to do bad things, but that we’ve actually done them.  And somewhere, deep down inside, most of us know we still have even deeper capabilities for evil inside us than we’ve been guilty of committing.  We view ourselves as sinners, and justifiably so.  And we label ourselves “sinners” – at least if we’re Christians we do.  We should.  We are.

But we can easily get the wrong perspective on what we really were meant to be.  When God created Adam and Eve, He pronounced them “very good”.  How long did Adam and Eve wander through the garden with God, in direct personal relationship?  How long did it take Adam to name the animals even before Eve arrived on the scene?  I would imagine that took some period of time, wouldn’t you?  How long was it after Adam’s creation that God made Eve?  I don’t know…but this much is clear from a close reading of the creation account: there was some period of time that took place before the Fall.  And that is very significant!

Why?  It means that we were not created sinners.  We were not created in the image of a sinner, or in the image of Satan, the father of lies.  We were created in the image of God.  That is the most significant truth about us – not that we are sinners.  We were created in HIS image, His image of perfection, and for some glorious period of time in Eden, mankind was sinless and must have reveled in the glory of a sinless being created in the image of his Creator. 

You see, what we now are is not what we were meant to be.  We were created to be more, to be better, than we are.  And some day we will once again be more than we are, when Jesus completes his work of making “all things new.”  We will be restored to what we were meant to be – we will once more be sinless and freed from the effects of the fall, and the deepest truth about us will once again be the most visible truth about us: we are made in His image!

PRAYER:  God, thank You for the glory You created us to be and experience.  May we not become so discouraged by our sin that we believe the greatest truth about is us our sinfulness rather than that we bear Your image.  We long to be all You meant for us to be.  Thank You for the promise that all that was lost will be regained through Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 5/21/18 – Before and Now

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DayBreaks for 5/21/18: Before and Now

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:

Through some recent reading, I’ve been led to contemplate the importance of the human concept of our origins.  I know the Biblical concept: man was made in the very image of God.  We come from Him, we are to live for Him, and we will some day return to Him – and at that time we’ll all have to give an answer for how we lived in this world (Heb. 9:27). 

It’s quite a different story if you reject the idea of creation and of the existence of a Divine Being.  Without believing in a Divinely ordained destiny for all of creation (including mankind), you are left to believe that everything is the product of chance and mathematical probabilities.  It means that you were born for no reason other than a chance meeting of reproductive materials.  It means that your life has no teleos – no goal toward which it is moving.  It means that when you die, it’s done, period, over and out. 

Jeremiah, at one point in his life, had an encounter with God that reveals the fallacy of such thinking.  In Jeremiah 1:4-5 (NIV), he wrote these words: The word of the LORD came to me, saying,  ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’”

God told Jeremiah wonderful things: “I knew you before you were even formed in the womb.  I didn’t just know that you were going to be, but I knew YOU.”  How could it be that God knew Jeremiah even before he was conceived?  It can only be that God had plans for a particular person (Jeremiah), and that God quite literally knew him.  That was the “before” in Jeremiah’s life.  And it was through understanding that he had a “before”, and a call for the present (he was consecrated) and that there was a purpose for his life (he was given as a prophet to the nations), that Jeremiah found meaning.  It is the “before” that gives the “now” meaning.

God didn’t just know Jeremiah before he was born.  He knew all of us.  David says that God knew every day that was appointed for him to live before he was born, that every thought he’d ever have and word he’d speak was known before he literally had a single thought.  In Ephesians, the great apostle Paul says that God chose us before the foundation of the world. 

What does all this mean for you and I?  It means that there is a definite purpose for our lives and that we are not to think our lives are meaningless, directionless and without value.  It means we don’t have to scurry around trying to find, or even to create, some kind of answers to life.  Instead, we can go to God to discover the reason and truth of our existence.   

Is it any wonder that there is so much despair among those who don’t know Christ?

PRAYER: Fill us, Lord, with the confidence that comes from knowing our before and how that shapes our now and directs our future.  Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.