DayBreaks for 9/08/17 – God’s Glory

DayBreaks for 9/08/17: God’s Glory

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

I love to read the passages of Scripture that describe God’s glory and greatness!  I think we all like to read about those aspects of our God.  They are all at once awe-inspiring, comforting, intimidating, exhilarating and terrifying.  There is something within most of us that loves adventure – and life with God is certainly that!

But when we talk about the glory of God, what do you think about?  Do you recall the story of Moses after he came down from the mountain and found the Israelites worshipping the golden calf?  He was upset and angry…and seemingly he got depressed.  So, what did he do?  He talked to God and he made what seems to be a very strange request given the circumstances.  He said, “Show me Your glory, I pray.”  It’s not too surprising that Moses would ask, in the middle of his depression and discouragement, to see God’s glory.  It makes perfect sense, actually. 

But what, I wonder, did Moses expect to see?  He’d already seen the burning bush and the miracles in Egypt.  Did he expect to see a display of lightning and thunder such as the world had never seen?  Did he expect to feel the earth shake under his feet, to see the mountains smoking, to see shooting stars even in the middle of the desert daylight?  Did he expect to hear mighty noises?  I don’t know.  But I don’t think that Moses got what He expected.

Amazingly, God agrees to Moses’ request, however, notice carefully what God said: “I will cause My goodness to pass before you.”  Do you see it?  God agreed to show Moses His glory…and He proceeds to show him His goodness.  What is God’s glory?  It is His unlimited goodness.  The most glorious thing about God is that He is so good!  This sheds new meaning on John’s words in the first chapter of his gospel.  Describing how Christ came to earth in the incarnation, John wrote: “And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of God.”  What did humans see when they saw Jesus?  They saw his goodness – his love, compassion, healing, mercy, grace – all GOOD things, all God things.  They didn’t see Christ in his heavenly glory – no man could and live – but they saw his goodness, and that is God’s glory!

No, I don’t think Moses got what he expected to see when he asked to see God’s glory.  But I don’t think we was disappointed.  He got so much more than he’d expected – and he learned something valuable about God in the process.

PRAYER: Thank You, God, for Your ceaseless goodness.  May we reflect your glory, your goodness, this day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 1/17/17 – The Body of Truth is Bleeding

DayBreaks for 1/17/17 – The Body of Truth is Bleeding

We like to think of the stories of Jesus when he welcomed the little children, where he forgave the woman taken in adultery, where he speaks of the lilies of the field and birds of the air while reminding us that we don’t need to worry, for he is on our side.  Those are not only good stories, but they are true and reveal to us a lot about the nature of God that was fully contained in Jesus.  But those are not the only stories of Jesus in the Scripture.  And some of the other stories are less comforting and far more disturbing.

The cleansing of the temple (John 2:13-22) is an excellent case in point.  We don’t see “Jesus, meek and mild” in that story.  We see an enraged Savior.  He’s not acted impulsively – he took the time to “fashion” a whip – before tearing through the tables and corridors of the temple, tossing around the tables and undoubtedly the “earnings” of those who were selling things in the temple of God for exorbitant prices. 

We don’t like to contemplate that image of Jesus, do we?  How many people have you ever known who said that the cleansing of the temple is their favorite Bible story?  I know of no one who loves that story for its own sake. 

Jesus was a passionate man, and is a passionate God.  He loves goodness – and is passionate about it.  He hates evil and anything associated with it.  Perhaps more than anything else, he loves truth and hates falsehood.  Jesus loved the truth so much that he said, “I am the truth.”  How important does Jesus think the truth is?  It is as important as Jesus himself, for he is truth!

In The Importance of Being Foolish, Brennan Manning wrote: “In our society, where money, power and pleasure are the name of the game, the body of truth is bleeding from a thousand wounds.”  Jesus is bleeding from a thousand wounds, for he has been misrepresented (perhaps unintentionally) by those who would claim to show others what Jesus is like.  They portray only the soft, tender, gentle Jesus, but not the Jesus who is incensed by injustice, by unholy lives, by dilution and twisting of the clear truth of Scripture. 

How do we go about trying to be discerning about truth?  Again, I think Manning had something worth considering: “The first step in the pursuit of truth is not the moral resolution to avoid the habit of petty lying – however unattractive a character disfigurement that may be.   It is not the decision to stop deceiving others.  It is the decision to stop deceiving ourselves.”  We need to have the same passion for truth that Jesus held in his heart.  If we don’t, we are not true disciples and are only deceiving ourselves.

PRAYER:  God, open our eyes to truth and to our own self-deceptions.  Help us to love truth and hate deceitfulness and dishonesty.  Give us the discernment to recognize truth when we read it, see it or hear it – and to recognize falsehood in all its forms as the tool of evil.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  All Rights Reserved.

DayBreaks for 7/17/15 – Wait for ALL the Evidence

DayBreaks for 7/17/15: Wait for All the Evidence

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2005:

High profile trials catch our attention.  O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson, Scott Peterson, Robert Blake…the list could go on for a long, long time.  What I find fascinating is that we all form our opinions of the guilt or innocence of these people based on what we’ve heard or what someone told us, without having access to the evidence that’s shown in a court room.  As a general rule, I think we often make up our minds on their probable guilt or innocence before the trial even begins!  While we could debate whether the legal system is very effective and accurate, those folks had their problems, and I’m sure that they wanted all the evidence to be weighed before the jury finally decided their fate.

We all have hardships, too.  It’s part of life that we just can’t ignore or wish away.  It just doesn’t work like that.  And sometimes, quite often, in fact, people blame God for the hard times.  Even Christians sometimes put the blame at His feet.  It’s hard to keep things in perspective when we’re hurting.  Consider Phillip Yancey’s comments from Rumors of Another World: “No one gets an exemption from hardship on planet Earth. How we receive it hinges on whether we believe in an alternate reality that transcends the one we know so well. The Bible never minimizes hardship or unfairness—witness books like Job, Psalms, and Lamentations. It simply asks us to withhold final judgment until all the evidence is in.

“Why would anyone choose to follow a God who promises more hardship, not less? I will let the apostle Paul answer that question. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal’ (2 Cor. 4:16-18).

“Paul had two pictures of himself. One image he could view in a mirror, and the insomnia, beatings, imprisonments, and deprivations must have left their mark in the gaunt and weary face that stared back at him from the crude Roman glass. The other image he could not see. Nevertheless he could sense his inward self being renewed and made more fit, tempered by hardship. Belief in another world cast hardship in such a different light that he could compile a list of his many personal calamities and call them ‘light and momentary troubles.’”

It isn’t easy to focus on things you can’t see, to bet your life – no, your eternity – on the fact that what we wait for is worth it, regardless of what we must deal with here on earth.  You may be struggling to hang on to the idea that God is good and that He wants only good for you.  You may be ready to sentence God to being fickle, unfair and perhaps even cruel.  Wait.  The evidence isn’t all in yet.  Someday, God will present the evidence that will show that He is totally good and loving.  Wait for that day.  Then you can see for yourself that He is good, always!

PRAYER: Lord, help us wait until we see your goodness with our own “eyes”, and we can also then see ourselves as you view us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 4/23/15 – Deeper Still

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DayBreaks for 4/23/15: Deeper Still

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2005:

Corrie ten Boom knew something about tragedy and suffering. She lived with a courageous faith. Upon emerging from a Nazi concentration camp she said, “There is no pit so deep that God isn’t deeper still.” She picked an apt analogy because pain and tragedy is a pit. For some, it appears bottomless. Many experience a falling, disorientation, a terror, as they grab for walls that are out of reach. They see only blackness, and hear only echoes of the life they used to know. And for many, they claim that God is not present. But Corrie ten Boom reminds us that even in the pits of tragedy, God is still there. He is present. Yes, pain is real. But God, indeed, is real, too. That’s where faith comes in.

On the wall of a concentration camp, a prisoner had carved these words:

I believe in the sun, even though it does not shine.
I believe in love, even when it isn’t shown.
I believe in God, even when he doesn’t speak.

As I write this DayBreaks, I’m in Florida at my sister’s home.  While the sun shines outside and the birds sing, it’s a bit darker inside.  Her husband died a week ago this past Sunday after a titanic struggle with pancreatic cancer.  She is a couple of years older than I, and she faces a future of raising 2 boys (currently 9 and 5) as a widowed mom.  It is a pit of tragedy?  Yes, it is – in human terms.  Her husband was a minister of the gospel and college professor.  But the human tragedy is still real and the pit is deep and the pain is deep.  And it will be for a long, long time.

But we also know that God is real.  He is the most Real reality that there is.  And though at times the sun doesn’t shine, and at times love seems to vanish, and though at times we may all cry out to God seeking answers to the universal question of “Why?”, even when He can’t be heard, He hears.  He cares.  He cries.  And He will heal.

Our faith in God must become deeper – and stronger – than our tragedy and despair.  If we allow our pain, tragedy or despair to be greater than God, we have made it our idol.  If we let it dominate our lives, fill our thoughts and minds – it has supplanted the place that only God is intended to fill.  By dwelling on those things instead of God, we are worshipping trouble rather than the One who will ultimately fix all things. 

May our faith in God’s goodness admit no boundaries, accept no limits, and grow until there is no room in our hearts for anything else.

Job 11:7-8 (NLT) – Can you solve the mysteries of God? Can you discover everything there is to know about the Almighty?  Such knowledge is higher than the heavens—but who are you? It is deeper than the underworld—what can you know in comparison to him?

PRAYER: When we are tempted to despair, remind us of Your goodness! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 9/15/14: A Dying Psalmist’s Final Message

DayBreaks for 9/15/14 – A Dying Psalmist’s Final Message

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Harp at the entry to the City of David archaeological site, Jerusalem. Galen C. Dalrymple, August 2014

I suspect that we have all imagined the end of our lives: what will it be like?  What will I feel?  What will I think?  Where will I be?  What will be my final words?  What will the legacy I leave behind be like?

We are probably less prone to think about the last days of the lives of others – especially those we have never met and who may have lived long before us.  What were the final days of Adam like as he looked back on his life?  Noah?  Abraham?  Moses?

We don’t really know in may cases, though we have a hint with some of the ancient Bible characters.  We have some of Moses’ final words in his charge to Israel – and the same is true with his successor, Joshua.  We know Jesus’ last words.  Whether or not you realize it, we have something close to that with the Psalmist, David.

As he sat down his harp and quill for the last time, as he contemplated his life in the rear-view mirror, what might he have been thinking?  I would imagine his mind swept back over the decades to the early days in the field with the flocks and with battle with wild animals he killed while defending the sheep.  Certainly, he would have thought of the famous encounter with Goliath…the first person he killed and a great victory by any measure.  He may would have perhaps relived the pursuit by Saul, the first stirrings of love for his first wife.  And, then, things would have changed. 

His mind would have replayed the infidelity with Bathsheba, the murder of Uriah, the death of the son, the rape of his daughter by her brother, the rebellion of Absalom as he tried to wrest the throne from his father.  David would have considered the suffering and deaths of thousands that God visited upon Israel for David trusting in the might of the army instead of God. 

So, what would David’s final Psalm have to say?  Psalm 145 is believed to be the last of the psalms that were written by the shepherd-singer-warrior-king.  Does David bemoan his mistakes?  Does he confess to God his wrong-doings and plead for mercy? 

No.  Assuming that David wrote this very near the end of his long life, he doesn’t have time for that.  As he senses the coming inevitability, there is only time for what is most important and the words begin to flow from his pen: Psalm 145:1-3 (NLT) I will exalt you, my God and King, and praise your name forever and ever. I will praise you every day; yes, I will praise you forever. Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness.

The scarred and weary king has only one thing on his mind: the greatness of God.  And he should know.  David doesn’t seem to have a shred of a doubt about God and about what would happen to his own soul, in spite of his failure and sin.  Why?  Because he knew this God – a God of greatness, a God full of compassion and mercy (read on in the psalm to see these things).

I can only hope and pray that I, when my time comes, will be able to look back at my life and see it in its full sweep and know that, in spite of my failings, God will not fail me when I draw my last breath.  I only hope and pray that I will know Him well enough that I will rest easy in His promises to be faithful, in His love for me, and the truth of His forgiveness.  As with David, it won’t be because I deserve it, but because of one thing and one things only: He is good!

PRAYER: God, how great and wonderful You are!  May our final hours be filled with Your praise and let us proclaim Your goodness and greatness with our final breath!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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DayBreaks for 03/01/13 – Unless I Believed

DayBreaks for 03/01/13 – Unless I Believed                      

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Ps.27:13-14 – I would have despaired unless I believed I would see the goodness of The Lord in the land of the living. Wait for The Lord, Be strong and let your heart take courage Yes, wait for The Lord.

It has been a very hectic week…and it’s not over yet.  Maybe your week has been that way, too.  I’ve had two appointments with doctors this week, but that’s not what’s made it so hectic. 

My 85-year old mother has had dementia for some time.  About 10 days ago, she went into the hospital for relatively routine surgery to repair a hernia.  The surgery went fine – but something seems to have snapped in her mind.  She’s been incredibly delusional, paranoid, out of touch with reality – and even combative.  She, of course, doesn’t realize she’s doing those things or being that way.  We are told that with each passing day that the chances of her snapping back to the pre-surgery mental capacity dwindles.  This may be the new normal.  As I carry my mother’s power of attorney for medical care, my last few days have been swamped with phone calls from the hospital (that wants desperately and urgently to discharge her) and trying to arrange a suitable discharge plan in a place that can meet her physical and mental needs.  It’s become something akin to a marathon…but we’re being pushed at a sprinter’s pace by the hospital.  Just moments ago the latest plan fell apart.

Someone asked me today if I thought we’d ever get out of having so many crises.  My honest answer: probably, at least I hope so.  I could certainly echo the words of the Psalmist. 

It isn’t just when there are crises, though.  It’s ordinary life.  How many times would I/could I have despaired if I didn’t believe – if I didn’t truly think that before this life is over that we’ll once again see and experience the goodness of the Lord.  I know we’ll see and experience it in the “land of the dead” – that is the great Christian hope!  But it’s harder at times to believe we’ll see and experience it again in the land of the living.  All the travails of the past year, my two surgeries, a new ministry, raising support for that ministry – and now my mother’s failing health situation.  It sometimes just seems to pile up on us, doesn’t it?

And yet…we must confess that we will see His goodness even today – no matter what happens to us, we’ll see it if we slow down enough to think about it and look for it.  We’ll see it in the crispness of a new day He made, of the song of the birds (which I so much enjoyed today!), the sighing of the breeze, the wag of a dog’s tail, the gentle touch of my wife’s hand on mine, the voice of a friend.  Life – and joy – can get away from us unless we take the time to look for “the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”.  It’s all around us.  Let’s not forget that!

PRAYER: Jesus, I wonder how you made it through your 30+ years here on earth after living all of eternity past in heaven’s delight.  It must have been very trying.  I am comforted by knowing you understand and that even this day we can see your goodness and that we will also see it in the world to come!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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