DayBreaks for 5/29/17: Big Things With Small, Still Voices

DayBreaks for 5/29/17: Big Things With Small, Still Voices

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

Job 38:4-7 (NIV) – Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?  On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone–while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

Psalms 19:1-2 (NIV) – 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.

From The Scrivener blog by Doug Dalrymple, 4/20/07:

“Quite literally, as it turns out – the sun is singing: snagging orchestra seats for this solar symphony would be fruitless, however, as the frequency of the sound waves is below the human hearing threshold. While humans can make out sounds between 20 and 20,000 hertz, the solar sound waves are on the order of milli-hertz—a thousandth of a hertz.”

We know that whales sing and birds sing, and well, even some of us humans try to sing with varying degrees of success.  Dogs bark, cats meow, rivers roar and even the heavenly objects, so Scripture says, “sang together and all the angels shouted for joy.” 

When did all this happen?  We might be tempted to think that it happened before the fall of Satan and the realization of evil in the created universe.  After all, wouldn’t it make sense that God’s glorious creation would praise him?  Should we be so arrogant to think that only humans and angels can do so?  It may be true that they sang for joy at the creation and before the fall, for we’re also told through the word that the entire creation now groans and travails in pain, awaiting deliverance that will some day surely come!

But in the meantime, if we’re quiet enough for long enough, you’ll still hear singing.  You’ll hear it with your ears as the animals, wind and sea sing, you’ll hear it with your heart as you look up at the starry canvas on a warm summer night.  And, for those who have ears to hear, we can hear it in the sub-human range of the song of the sun and other stars that sang in the very beginning. 

It’s interesting that something as huge as the sun has such a small voice.  We’d expect it to be huge – a mighty roar as the gasses combust and the flares soar.  But it is a sound too low for us to even hear!  And, as I think about it, perhaps that’s how it really should be anyway.  The voice of God on the mountain was so mighty that people feared Him and fled.  But that’s not his only voice: he also spoke in a whisper to Samuel as a young boy, and in my own personal favorite – he spoke to Elijah in a “still small voice”, that literally translated is something like the sound of falling snow.  As Doug put it: “There’s just something marvelous about big, big things with still, small voices.”

When we were little, our dads were big, but when they pulled us close in their powerful arms and we heard the song, “I love you!” come pouring from their lips, it was marvelous.  And now, with my earthly father gone some 20 years, I’m enthralled when I hear God’s voice, through Jesus, saying, “I love you, son.  I’m so proud of you.  I’ll never let you down!  You’re safe here with Me.”

Big Things with small voices, indeed!

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for the music of the spheres and for the song of love that You sing to us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 5/18/17 – Courageous Faith

DayBreaks for 5/18/17: Courageous Faith

John 12:42-43 (ESV) – Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

Who doesn’t love glory? Who doesn’t love to receive praise and recognition and, yes, honor? On our birthdays we pretend to not care that we’re the center of attention, but we are inwardly pleased to be recognized as having achieved yet another milestone (especially as we get older and the milestones become more significant!) But this is entirely different. Though many leaders of the Jews believed in Jesus (how could they not given all he’d done and how he taught?), they didn’t confess him.

When I read today’s passage, my heart and mind instantly jump into judgement mode: “Shame on them! What cowards!” And to make it worse, I then jump almost instantly to boastful mode, “I wouldn’t have done that! I’d have boldly proclaimed my belief in Jesus – no matter the cost!” But would I really?

We don’t know who these “authorities” were who believed, though we might surmise Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were among them. But there were others, for John says there were “many” who believed in Jesus. To be a Jewish authority, you HAD to be part of the synagogue, part of the heart and soul of the nation’s faith and religion. To proclaim faith in Jesus would have been religious, social, political and even economic suicide to these men – and those who depended on them. When I think of it in that light and think about my own insecurities about my livelihood and finances, I find myself less than certain that I would have stood up to be counted as a follower of Christ.

It is lessons like this that put my weak faith into perspective. In spite of how I might try to honor my own faith by thinking how great or strong it is, if I insert myself into the shoes of those “many” authorities, I realize how weak my faith may truly be. Are you ready to take a stand for your faith in Jesus if it means the loss of your job, your reputation, your income – perhaps even your ability to ever find and hold work again? That’s what was at stake for these men. That doesn’t mean that they made the right choice – but this lesson in human frailty is sobering to me.

One other thing makes it easier to seek the praise of men rather than God. The praise of this world is immediately accessible as long as I do what the world wants me to do and think. God’s praise is primarily held in reserve for the day I stand before His throne. But His approval is the only approval that will endure and that will matter on that day. He won’t give me approval for following the ways of the society and world, but He will give me approval for even my weak faith in Jesus – and that will make all the difference.  

PRAYER: How we need greater, fearless faith, Jesus! Give us bold hearts and the vision necessary to see that it is only the praise of the Father than matters – and then to live courageous faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 4/24/17 – Fearing the Stink We Miss the Glory

DayBreaks for 4/24/17: Fearing the Stink We Miss the Glory

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

One of my very favorite stories from the bible is the story of the raising of Lazarus in John 11.  It has all the elements a great story should have: drama, passion, a villain, a hero and a happily-ever-after.  What’s not to like about this story?

Yet, you recall how it goes: Jesus has been out of town, and his good friend falls sick.  Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ sisters, send someone to Jesus so he can come and heal Lazarus of his illness.  The messenger reaches Jesus, but he intentionally delays his return.  By the time Jesus gets back to Bethany, Lazarus has been dead and in the tomb for 4 days.  The sisters aren’t too happy with Jesus for not coming sooner, but Jesus leads them out to the tomb.  In John 11:39, the sisters, after Jesus asks for the stone to be rolled away, complain: Lord, already there is a stink because he has been dead four days. 

Jesus responds: Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God. 

It will stink.  “Over and over again we are stopped by the repulsion of the stink, even when Jesus is offering God’s glory.  To live lives of faithful worship, to cultivate God’s imagination for justice, to trust Jesus Christ to do a work of liberation and transformation means there will be times when our noses will be filled with the stench of human need and evil.  But far more profoundly, we will also have glimpses of the glory of God that can set the captives free.”  – Mark Labberton, The Dangerous Act of Worship

How would you have felt if you were one of those who was asked to move the stone? Would you have drawn back in repulsion and said your back hurt so you couldn’t help move it? If the stone hadn’t been moved, would Jesus have raised Lazarus?  I don’t know.  I suspect he might have.  But I don’t know that.  But wouldn’t it have been a shame if the stone hadn’t been moved and God’s glory had been blocked by a human fear of smell?

How often have I been afraid to go somewhere with Jesus because I was more concerned about the “stink” than about the glory of God? 

PRAYER: Take away our fear of the scent of sin and death so we can see Your glory, for it is in the darkest and most foul places that Your greatest miracles are wrought.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/27/18 – Visiting With Isaiah, #1

DayBreaks for 2/27/17: Visiting With Isaiah, #1

Isaiah 6:1 (ESV) – In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.

On Sunday, we had a guest speaker as it was our church’s global outreach Sunday. His name was Doug Fell and he was from South Africa. His message was awesome as he opened the passage from Isaiah 6:1-8 to our understanding. It was also very convicting. So, for this week, I think I’ll share with you from this amazing passage that relays the incredible story of Isaiah’s vision.

King Uzziah started out to be a good king. Sadly, he didn’t finish his reign as a good king. To some degree, King Uzziah is incidental to this story, though it sets the timeframe for Isaiah’s vision for us. He became king, as co-regent with his father, when he was just 16 years of age and he ruled for 52 years. Toward the end of his life he was struck by leprosy and he died around 740-739 BC.

Even in Israel, kings died – whether they had been good or bad kings made no difference. Every earthly ruler whether they were kings, premiers, presidents, emperors or we called by some other honorific at one time or another found themselves in the grave.

But the one that Isaiah sees in his vision is different in many, many ways – about as different as darkness is from light. When Isaiah sees the king in his vision, he doesn’t even call him by the name king, but by the term, the Lord.

The Lord is in a position of kingship: he is seated on a throne, but not just any throne, one that is high and lifted up. The image is that of a King that isn’t ordinary in any sense of the word, but of an extremely exalted King. It isn’t Uzziah who sits on this throne, for he has just died. There is only one throne in the vision and only one who is worthy and glorious enough to be seated upon it. 

Note the description of the King: not only is he seated on a lofty throne, the train of his robe filled the temple. Pause for a moment and reflect on a coronation ceremony that you may have seen on television, or in photographs. As the royal personage makes their way through the cathedral or inauguration location, they are dressed in their finest royal accoutrements. They have huge “trains” that follow them as a symbol of their importance and honor. The train may drag on the ground or be lifted by lesser humans as a sign of respect, glory and the  magnificence of the person being crowned – as if the one being inaugurated is too lofty to be soiled by the dirt on the floor. But, when all is considered, the train is fairly small compared to the building.

Not so with the king in Isaiah’s vision: his train fills the entire temple. What does that mean? It means that this king’s glory and honor and magnificence is without limit. It is overwhelming. It means that there is no room for glorifying anyone or anything else. THIS King is unlike any other king who has ever been royalty. He is different in honor and glory by magnitudes of scale.

How would you react to this King if it had been you instead of Isaiah who saw it? Stay tuned for Isaiah’s reaction in the next few days, but for now, simply dwell on the most magnificent scene of honor you have ever seen and multiply it by infinity and perhaps you’ll get a sense for the King of Isaiah’s vision. The vision changed Isaiah – the question is will it change us?

PRAYER: God of heaven and earth – how often we neglect to ponder your magnificence and the honor that is due to your name! How seldom we get a glimpse of your glory because we are too busy frantically running to and fro with our own affairs. Bring us up short and help us get even the slightest vision of you in all your magnificence, and may it change us forever! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/14/17 – And It Is Awesome

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Hidden Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana. By Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/14/17: And It Is Awesome

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007:

Where is your favorite place in the world?  What is the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen?  I’ve not traveled that much outside of the United States, but my favorite place is Glacier National Park at the very northwest corner of Montana at the Canadian border.  If you have never been there, you’ve really missed out.  There is a road that winds through the center of the park, starting at the park entrance on the south, and traversing up through the park, over the pass, and down through the southeastern border of the park.  The road is fairly flat for the first few miles, winding along the side of Lake McDonald.  As you drive along, you are struck by the vistas of mountains behind the far end of the lake, and eventually pass along a mountain stream that is gorgeous.  But after a while, you start heading upward through lots of turns and curves, and with every passing moment, a different vista appears to take your breath away.  Just when you think it can’t get any more awe-inspiring…it does.  Finally, at the top of the pass is a visitors center where you can park and even hike up over a ridge to the left of center to Hidden Lake.  And that’s even more beautiful than what you’ve seen so far.  There is a 16-mile stretch of the road that has been called the most beautiful roadway in the world.  Whether that’s true or not, I couldn’t say, but it is the most spectacular and impressive scenery my eyes have beheld.   

We have beautiful sunsets behind the hills to our west.  I love to see the colors of the clouds as the sun dips into the unseen Pacific Ocean – about 20 miles due west of our home.  I love the colors of the vineyards below us in the fall as the leaves turn flaming reds, yellows and oranges.  And perhaps there’s nothing as beautiful to me as the faces of my grandchildren, hand crafted by God.

I know, I know.  As beautiful as the mountains, the ocean, the leaves, the sky are…they are all marred and flawed because they are a part of a fallen world, defaced by our rebellion against our Creator.  What would these things look like if they were still perfect, in an unfallen state?  I can’t imagine.

Yet, when you consider it, God is the only unfallen, perfect, non-flawed thing in the entire Universe.  We get teeny, tiny glimpses of His glory in all the things we see in this world that captivate and capture us with their beauty and awesomeness.  Of course, the place where we see the true glory of God is in the cross and resurrection of Christ.  Jesus himself said that the time of his glory had come on the night before his crucifixion.  As Christians, all of us should be able to echo the words of Bernard of Clairvaux: “I have seen a fraction of God’s glory, and it is awesome.”

PRAYER:  Almighty God, how our hearts long to see You more clearly!  Lift the scales from our eyes that prevent us from seeing Your glory all around us – not just in the mountains, trees and skies, but in the people You have created in Your image.  And may we be better reflections of Your glory to this physical realm.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/2/17: Should I Pray to be Delivered from this Hour?

DayBreaks for 2/02/17: Should I Pray to be Delivered from this Hour?

John 12:27-28 (NLT) – Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! Father, bring glory to your name…”

Wow. Just WOW! To place this verse in context, Jesus is in Jerusalem for the Passover. He has just foretold his coming death. He has also just said that his disciples must be where he is. Where would he be? He would soon be in the garden, on trial, on the cross and in the tomb. This is a sobering reminder that if our Master didn’t escape a troubled heart or a troubled life, we should not expect to, either. As David Platt said recently, we tend to think as believers we are guaranteed a safe life. We are not. In fact, if anything, we are guaranteed a troubled life if we are to inhabit all the spaces Jesus did not only physically, but also if we journey with him spiritually and emotionally – and he want to some very foreboding places in his heart.

It is interesting that Jesus shares his thoughts out loud here. Should he pray to be saved from this hour?, he asks. In matter of fact, he did make that very request some mere days or hours later in the garden. Yet, in spite of his deeply troubled heart, even here he resolves himself with the knowledge that God had a purpose for his coming, for this very hour. He came not to be delivered, but to deliver, not to be spared, but to spare others.

How do I view my own life in that regard? Do I have even an inkling of the call God has put upon my life? How often do I pray to be delivered from “this hour” when in fact, it may be that my struggle, even my death, may be the thing that will bring the most glory to the Father. My first inclination is to pray for my own preservation rather than to see my “hour” as an opportunity for his glory.

Jesus refused to pray for deliverance. Maybe I should pray less for deliverance and be more concerned about how God can use my situation and my obedience in that dark hour for His glory.

PRAYER: Lord, I am very self-centered and as I read this verse, it becomes clearer to me. Thank you for the power of your word to show us not just your love and goodness, but our weaknesses and failures, too. Use those hard times and difficult hours in our lives to bring you glory. May we be more like our Master and seek your glory and your purposes above all else! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 5/02/16 – Just a Glimpse

DayBreaks for 5/02/16 – Just a Glimpse

From the DayBreaks archives, May 2006:

Exodus 33:18 (NIV) – Then Moses said, ‘Now show me your glory.’

If you had one thing that you could ask God for, what would it be?  I’m not sure what I would ask for.  It’s like the ago old question about what you’d do if you found a bottle on a beach with a genie in it and had 3 wishes.  But of course, God is not a genie – He’s something much, much greater and more powerful and important.  He’s not someone to be trifled or toyed with. 

Moses, I’m sure, asked God for many things during the 40 years that he led Israel, but there was one time that he asked God for something very personal.  He asked for God to show him His glory – in short, to see Him.  And incredibly, God granted his request.

Here’s what I find interesting about this.  There have been times when I’ve gone to see a professional sports team play – usually with one of my sports “heroes”.  Once I’ve seen them, I want to see them again…to watch them play as often as I can.  Moses, however, never asks to see God again after this one time.  I don’t think for a moment that it was because Moses was disappointed in what he saw – quite the contrary.  I think that probably Moses just plain didn’t feel the need to see Him again – one glimpse was enough. 

And so it shall be for us.  One glimpse of God in glory – ALL of His glory – will be enough to last an eternity!  But there’s even better news – we won’t only get one glimpse of God in glory – we will be forever in His Presence, to constantly and permanently behold His glory.  Can you picture it?  

PRAYER:  Holy God, how amazing it is to us to even contemplate getting to see You just once!  But to think of beholding your great glory for all eternity takes our breath away.  Even thinking about the moment of beholding the Lamb who died for us is enough to make us fall to our knees and thank You for Your great love and mercy!  Thank You for filling us with Your joy!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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