DayBreaks for 2/28/19 – An Unspoken Thanks

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DayBreaks for 2/28/19: An Unspoken Thanks

From the DayBreaks archive February 2009:

I’ve been struck recently by the amount of ingratitude in my life.  I don’t think that I’m alone, but I don’t wish to project my shortcomings on to any of you.  All the hype on the news about how awful things are have created in many of us a sense of “Yep, it’s terrible.  Things are worse than they’ve ever been and I see no hope that things will be better.”  And, we tend to be so down-in-the-mouth and dispirited that we ignore an entire panoply of blessings each day.

In his book, The Holy Wild, Mark Buchanan was musing on the faithfulness of God.  It’s a topic that we don’t often ponder, for good reason: faithfulness is about as boring as a 1978 Buick that just keeps on running and refuses to just quit.  Someone who has an old car might see someone driving a new, shiny, sporty vehicle.  The owner of the flashy car may say to the old Buick owner, “Why are you still driving that thing?  You were driving that when we last saw each other 10 years ago!” to which the Buick owner replies, “Yeah, but it’s faithful.”  In other words, it keeps on working.  Or, to put a slightly different spin on it, “Yeah, it’s as boring as all get out, but it just keeps working.” 

You see, faithfulness is boring.  We come to expect faithfulness after a while because something (a person, car, pet, etc.) is always there, always does what it is supposed to do.  We presume faithfulness and are shocked when it doesn’t happen.

The same is true with God.  We know in our heads that God has promised to be faithful – and we believe it – at least at some level.  But that’s dangerous because it means we take Him and what He does for granted.  In Buchanan’s book, he ponders the wonder of leaves.  Leaves when they are dry are very fragile, yet just the other day, I was sitting in a restaurant with my wife and sister and her kids, and it was windy and raining outside, but I looked outside and saw a dried leaf clinging to a branch.  Leaves can even cling to trees through a hurricane or tornado.  But when they’re dry, they are so very fragile.  Leaves give us shelter from the blazing summer sun, they provide food for animals and people, they drink down the poison of carbon dioxide and give us back life-giving oxygen in exchange.  Each spring, leaves appear on trees all over the world by the trillions or quadrillions (who knows how many leaves God creates each spring?!??!)  And my guess is that not one time in your life, have you ever had to ask God to put leaves on trees in the spring.  And I’d also be willing to bet that not once have you stopped to give Him thanks for those leaves that give you life.  I haven’t. 

Leaves and their ilk are signs, reminders if you will, of God’s faithfulness.  When something in your life gets you down and discourages you, when you are tempted to feel that God has failed and let you down, stop and ponder a leaf or two – and remember that they are reminders of God’s faithfulness – even when we fail to give Him thanks for such simple things. 

Hebrews 12:28 (NASB) – Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe…  We have received citizenship in a kingdom which we don’t deserve.  We have much, even this very moment, that calls out to us to give Him thanksgiving.

Prayer: Father, thank You for making leaves!  Thank You for making us!  Thank You for all good things!  In Jesus’ name, Amen  

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

 

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DayBreaks for 11/05/15 – An Ungrateful Heart

DayBreaks for 11/04/15: An Ungrateful Heart

From the DayBreaks archive, 11/03/05:

From Bizarre News, 9/28/05: “Randall Dale Adams was convicted of murder in 1977.  Ten years later, filmmaker Errol Morris made a film about the Adams case and as he did, he became convinced that Adams was innocent.  The movie, The Thin Blue Line, presented the case for Adam’s innocence so effectively that he was released from prison.  Morris’s reward?  When Adams got out of jail, he sued the filmmaker for $60,000 for using his story.”

You would think that a convicted murderer would be grateful for a reprieve from prison.  I don’t know if Mr. Adams was condemned to the electric chair or just to life in prison, but he certainly didn’t show any gratitude toward the man who made the movie that convinced the legal system that Mr. Adams was innocent.  I would like to think that if I’d been in Mr. Adams place, I’d have given profuse thanks to Mr. Morris.

But would I really?  After all, you and I are all convicted – found guilty of sin by the Highest Court in existence.  There are no plea bargains to be made, no one else that we can “surrender up” as a bigger sinner to get us off the hook.  No, we’re guilty.  Plain and simple.  And our own offense carried the penalty of death – eternal death, called the “second death” in Scripture.  Not a very comfortable position to be in.  Yet, while we were imprisoned by sin awaiting the execution that was scheduled for us, someone took an interest in our story.  There was a huge difference, though.  Jesus knew that we weren’t innocent.  But still, as our Advocate, he took our seemingly hopeless case to the Father and offered himself in our stead. 

What is shocking is that the Father agreed to such an arrangement.  Of course, He and Christ were of one mind on the matter, so that made it somewhat easier, I’m sure.  So, the way our story ends is with us being released not only from prison, but from the sentence we had earned, to be giving something we could have never hoped for. 

So, the time comes to ask the question: how’s my heart when I consider this true-life story?  Is my heart grateful, or like Mr. Adams, do I snipe and complain at my Deliverer – accusing him of false motives, or of making bad choices for my life regarding my career, my finances, my marriage or children or parents – even my church?  If we can come to grips with what he did for us, we should realize that we have no right to complain against him.  Yet it seems to be a human pattern – after their delivery, Israel, too, carped at God.  I pray that we’ll not repeat that mistake!

TODAY’S PRAYER: Father, forgive us for our selfishness and for our critical spirit towards You.  You’ve given us not just this life, but the life to come – freely.  Help us to never criticize you or be ungrateful toward You again.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 12/12/12 – Turning Thankless

DayBreaks for 12/12/12 – Turning Thankless

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1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

News of the Weird recently told about a devoted Catholic named David Jimenez.  It seems that Jimenez, a 45 year old from Newburgh, NY, was praying regularly to a large crucifix outside the Church of St. Patrick after becoming convinced it was responsible for eradicating his wife’s ovarian cancer. Jimenz requested, and got permission from the church authorities to dress up the structure as he believed its power deserved.  So far, so good.

Then, while cleaning the crucifix in May 2010, the 600-lb. object came loose and fell on Jimenez’s leg, which subsequently had to be amputated.  Nearly overnight, the crucifix, in Jimenez’ mind at least, went from being an object of worship to grounds for a lawsuit that will go to trial in January 2013.  [WCBS-TV (New York), 10-26-2012] [Associated Press via Newsday, 11-7-2012]

I confess that I am quick to judge upon hearing stories like this.  I wonder how someone could go so quickly from being thankful and worshipful to being vindictive and angry.  We have a tremendous capacity to move from thankfulness to ungracious hostility.  Israel did it as soon as they left the slave whips behind in Egypt.  I’ve done it more quickly than that.

We’ve just come through the Thanksgiving holiday.  Hopefully, you felt and expressed your appreciation and thanks that day to Almighty God.  But here’s the question: how have you been doing since then?  Has the joyful thanksgiving continued, or has it turned into bitterness as you face the celebration of the birth of His Son and you see all the things you wish you could have or could give to someone you love – but you can’t do it?

I hope that as we move deeper and deeper into this season of joy, that our joy will turn into thanksgiving for what we DO have, and not into bitterness for our situation or for what we don’t have.

PRAYER: Let our hearts and spirits continually pour out songs of thanksgiving in all things, for You are good!!!!  In Your name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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