DayBreaks for 6/04/19 – In the Beginning

Image result for suffering of job

DayBreaks for 6/04/19: In the Beginning

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2009:

Do you know which book of the Bible is widely considered to be the oldest?  You might be tempted to think it is Genesis, because it deals with beginnings…and next to John chapter 1, it takes us back to the oldest events that ever took place in the time and space of this world.  But that doesn’t mean it was the first of the books which was written.  Moses wrote Genesis, and Moses lived somewhere in the vicinity of 1400 B.C. 

In answer to my earlier question, most scholars (I do not count myself as such, so I’ll take their word for it!) believe that the book of Job is the oldest book we have in Scripture.  No one really knows for sure how old the book is, or when or where Job lived, although guesses on all three accounts have been ventured.  But there is generally unanimous agreement – there is no older book in Scripture. 

What’s the big deal about that?  In and of itself, nothing.  But when one considers the subject matter of the book, it becomes rich with meaning.  In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason noted: “It is fascinating to think that as we open this text we may be faced with the earliest of all written accounts of a human being’s relationship with Yahweh, the one true God.”  I would hasten to add to Mason’s comment by noting that it is intriguing that it deals with pain and suffering the believer faces in his/her relationship with God. 

In the beginning (in the sense of being the oldest book in Scripture), we see a man of like passions unto us – and we can immediately identify with him.  He’s a man who works, has a family, a home, friends – and who faces struggles and disasters on a scale that perhaps (hopefully) none of us will ever experience.  We get to watch this ancient saint wrestle with his faith, his friend’s understandings of God and causation, and even with God Himself. 

Mason also noted: “Many reject Jesus, but no one rejects Job.  Rather, the world respects Job, and not with the grudging respect accorded Christ, but with a deep affinity untinged by reserve or fear.  In the eyes of the world Job is less a saint than a comrade in arms.”

I accept Jesus as the Lord, but I struggle to understand him.  It is, in some ways, difficult to identify closely with a sinless God in human skin.  But Job?  Now that’s another story…I can identify with him much more easily.

What should we make of all this?  For me, it says that I need to live my life as an open book, revealing myself not as a prince on a white horse, but as a battered and bruised human.  When I do that, I can point others to God because they will first of all be able to identify with me.  If we as Christians portray ourselves as “holier than thou” and better than others, will people identify with us?  No.  They will resent us.  This is perhaps the greatest danger of hypocrisy – that others won’t be able to identify with us, and through hearing about what Jesus has done to remove our sin and guilt (though we are still masters at sinning!), they won’t give us the time of day. 

So the earliest book deals with pain and suffering and relationship to God.  How fascinating that the newest book in Scripture (Revelation) deals with the removal of all that suffering – but with an even deeper relationship to God, all accomplished through the blood of Jesus!

Prayer: While we thank You for Jesus and what You have revealed of Yourself through Him, I also thank You for stories of sinners like me, who find even in the midst of the greatest struggles in life, that a relationship with You is not only possible, but is the only thing that survives in the end.  Help us be open books to those around us, that people may read of Jesus in our lives and deeds.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 5/01/18 – All Things in the Right Place

 

DayBreaks for 5/01/18: All Things in the Right Place

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2008:     

Image result for God questions Job

DayBreaks for 5/01/18: All Things in the Right Place

Job 38:4-7, 12-13 (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? Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it?

How do you like it when you get “put in your place?”  It’s not real pleasant, is it?  Job discovered what it was like when God started asking him questions that were impossible for Job to answer.  Job’s response was the right one, once he recovered from his shock: I put my hand over my mouth!

God put Job in his place with his questions.  That is as it should be…whenever God asks us questions, they are designed to remind us who and what we are, and to make us realize that we are not God.  We can’t do any of the things that God asked Job, and yet God does them day in and day out without even breaking a sweat.  No, we are not God and we need to be put in our place.

But, at the same time, it is important that we put God in his right place, too.  I like this bit of historical trivia that shows that Martin Luther grasped this perfectly: Philipp Melanchthon was a German theologian who lived as a contemporary of Martin Luther.  One day as the two of them spoke, Melanchthon said to Luther, “Today, you and I shall discuss the governance of the universe.”  Luther looked at Melanchthon and said, “No.  Today, you and I shall go fishing and leave the governance of the universe to God.” 

PRAYER:  Thank You, Father, that You’ve shown us the truth about ourselves, and revealed your greatness and glory to us.  Today, may we trust all things into Your infinitely capable hands!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/4/17 – Pig Parties

DayBreaks for 5/04/17: Pig Parties

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

From “News of the Weird”, UPI, 5/1/98: When farmers leave for the day, pigs start to party, said agricultural researches in Reading, England, interviewed by the London Daily Telegraph in April.  According to Nick Bird of the Farmex firm, the pigs eat, drink and roughhouse until about midnight before retiring for the evening, at least in buildings that are well lighted.  Farmex now wants to know whether this has any effect on the supply of bacon.

Do you remember that old saying about “When the cat’s away, the mice will play”?  Apparently it is not only true of cats and mice, but of farmers and pigs, too! 

I am also aware of the fact that this happens in the world of business.  I know.  I’ve been there and been guilty of it myself.  When the boss is gone, sometimes we don’t give our best effort – or at least not as intense of an effort as when the boss is there.  For some of you reading this today – your boss is out of the office.  How are you doing with your work today?  Are you slacking off – even just a little bit?  If so, do you think that is what God wants you to do?  It comes down to the question of who you believe you really work for, doesn’t it?  Are you working for Mr. or Ms. Smith, or even your family? Or are you working for God and displaying your thankfulness to Him for the job He has given you?

There are biblical parallels to this story.  The parable of the talents was about using what we’ve been given and being faithful with it.  You’ve been given a job, just like the servants were given talents.  The ones that took what they’d been given and worked hard with it while the master was gone were praised and trusted with more.  The servant who didn’t do that had even what he was given taken away from him. 

Another parallel with a different meaning is the wickedness that the Lord said would precede his return.  Matthew 24:37-39 relays to us the words of our Lord: As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark;     and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  You see, the Master has been gone for a long time now and the “party” has continued for a long time.  The terrible tragedy of the picture Jesus relates to us is that just as those who were lost in the flood waters had no idea it was coming, so those who “party” while the Master is away will be totally caught off guard by his return. 

How are you spending your time at work?  How are you spending your life?  To be right with God, we need to do both as if He were present all the time for one simple reason: He is.

PRAYER: Lord, many of us will be tempted this day to goof off when we think no one is watching us.  Help us to be the kind of people who don’t even think about trying to get away with less than a 100% effort in all we do that is right.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 9/13/16 – Suffering, Control and Faith

 

DayBreaks for 9/13/16 – Suffering, Control…and Faith

From our worship bulletin 9/11/16:

Most mornings, I read a bit from The Gospel According to Job, a book I discovered a number of years ago and it’s been a tremendous help, as I have wrestled with questions about pain and suffering (Galen’s note: I concur, this is a great book!)  Job, of course, is the book of the Old Testament which tells the story of a man who experiences suffering and the journey he’s on to make sense of it. So, as I was reading this morning, the author, Mike Mason, says this: Whatever our theology might be, in any tragedy there is just something in our finite minds, that gravitates immediately toward the theory of human causes. If human beings bear direct responsibility for everything bad that happens to them, then the plain corollary of these theses is that we also have the power to affect our own good. Such a thoroughly watertight system of cause and effect, Job correctly sees, leaves no room for dependent faith, no room for the gospel.

Now, of course we have to bear responsibility for our actions, and yes, some of our “suffering” is the result of our sin. However, belief that every bad thing that happens to us is a product of our personal sin is just not in the bible. Still, you will find people who teach that it all comes back to us. A friend of mine lost a child to sudden infant death, and at that time he and his wife were involved in a church (or a cult) which believed one’s suffering was always the result of their sin. So, his child died, and it was believed he and/or his wife had some un-confessed sin in their life. When my friend shared this with me, I was incredulous. I asked him how he dealt with this accusation. He said they first left the church. Good! Second, he said he figure out something. If the people (particularly the leaders) in that church could blame the death  of his child on the sin of the parents, then that meant other parents could avoid a similar tragedy by “obeying” God. Of course, if it wasn’t their sin that caused the child’s death (which it wasn’t) then those parents had to face the reality that something like this could happen to them.

You see, I think it gets back to us having the control and not God. With that theology comes the mistaken belief that somehow we have the ability to ward off all suffering. Now, do I wish I had the power to do that? Absolutely! (Galen’s note: when I’m asked what super power I would have if I could, I inevitably reply with the power to take away suffering.) But that is not the way of the Lord. Would I like to have answers to every question I pose to God? Yes, but in the end, if all suffering is a result of my choices, the maybe it isn’t about my faith but more about finding a way to gain control. Perhaps, if we get control, we can eliminate any walk of faith. Mason goes on to say: Job knows he can neither reason his way out of it (though he may realize how irrational his negative thoughts are), nor pray his way out (thought he continues to pray automatically), nor run away (though he may be sorely tempted to try), nor do anything whatsoever to ameliorate his circumstances. He knows he is powerless to help himself, and so it is up to God to help him. To adopt such a stance under conditions of trauma is the highest kind of faith.

PRAYER: Father, we don’t want trauma, suffering or pain. But when it comes our way, may we seek You and Your help! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 5/14/15 – The Laughter of the Universe

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DayBreaks for 5/14/15: The Laughter of the Universe

Luke 6:21 – Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

Job 38:4-7 –“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?

Laughter.  How I love laughter!  I can think of nothing more melodious to my ears that the sound of my grandchildren laughing!  My heart takes wings when I hear it!  To be unabashedly joyful is something that is hard for adults to do.  Perhaps it is because we’ve seen too much, or done too much, that we have lost that ability.  We’re the worse for it, of that I am sure.

While I don’t agree with his vision of the afterworld entirely, in The Divine Comedy, Dante depicts a gradual ascent from the pit through the purgatorio to the gates of heaven.  Early on in the book, he’d proven himself to be a true master at the expression and description of his journey and the things he saw.  But it is interesting, that as he finally approaches the full Presence of God, words and visual images begin to fail this master composer.  So, he switches to another key entirely for the remainder of his epic.  As he draws ever closer to the highest celestial sphere, he can only describe what he heard as a sound that he’d never heard before.  Pausing, he listens.  “Me sembiana un riso del unimverso,” he wrote.  In English, it means that it sounded “like the laughter of the universe.”

Dr. Harvey Cox, telling this story of Dante in When Jesus Came to Harvard, wrote: “The whole universe laughing?  The solar system, the Milky Way, the hundred billion galaxies that surround our earthly protons, all bent over in convulsions of hilarity?  A laughter that somehow catches up an entire history of sobs and cries of pain?  The last laugh of the God of life after so many deaths and defeats?  Was it too much to hope for?  Maybe so, but why hope for anything less?”

What will heaven be?  No human eye that has ever seen it has found the way to describe it.  Paul said that there wasn’t a language for it – that it would be even unlawful for us to try to describe it.  John, in Revelation, used outlandish signs and symbols.  What will heaven actually be like?  I really don’t know. But, perhaps as much as it will be a place of unending worship of the Eternal God, it will be a place that will shake with laughter – laughter at the joy of family in the very best sense of the word, in the very best of times, knowing that the party will never end!  And the new heavens and the new earth, confined to groaning in travail in the present creation, will be freed – and join in the laughter of all things being set right. 

I long to hear the laughter of the universe set free.  I long to hear the laughter of the redeemed when they take full possession of the Promised Land.  I long to hear the laughter of the Lamb at the wedding feast.  I long to see the Father’s face contorted with joy…over all of His children come home.

PRAYER: God, we long to hear the laughter of Your joy when the new heavens and earth have begun! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 10/25/12 – A World Turned Upside Down

DayBreaks for 10/25/12 – The World Turned Upside Down

7 After the LORD had finished speaking to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “I am angry with you and your two friends, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has. 8 So take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer on your behalf. I will not treat you as you deserve, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has.” – Job 42:7-8 (NLT)

By the time we reach the end of Job we’ve heard lots of posturing and grandstanding (not too unlike religious or political debates these days).  In fact, we’ve heard enough of it that we struggle to make sense of it, to stop our heads from spinning in 360 degree circles.

I would imagine that as God lights into Job about how foolish Job was in his thoughts about God, Elihu and his two friends were rubbing their hands in glee, thinking they had been vindicated in their own thinking.  But suddenly God stops questioning Job, who quickly acknowledges how wrong his ideas about God had been – or more accurately how wrong he was to think he had this God all figured out – and takes on the three so-called “friends” of Job who’d come to comfort him.  The hand wringing comes to an abrupt halt and you can almost see the three friends trying to shrink back into the background and disappear.

What has really happened here?  God has turned the world upside down.  Though many today may claim to not believe in God, they still wring their hands in delight when something bad happens to a “godly” person…and start shouting comments much like Job’s friends: “You must be an awful person.  Look at what’s happening to you!  If you were good it wouldn’t have happened…and if God were loving, He wouldn’t have done this to you.  So either you’re bad, God is not loving, or both!”  And they sit smugly hoping to see lightning strike again.

God has let them rage, just as He let Job wax eloquent, but in the end, He pulls them all up short and puts them on notice.  But what’s shocking here is a foreshadowing of the Christ Himself (and what should characterize those who are true followers).  The very one who has been reviled (Job) is now to be God’s representative to accept their sacrifices and to pray for them.  It is a picture of Christ, reviled during his trial and crucifixion, who is it that prays for the persecutors?  Jesus.

What is your reaction to those who offer you insults and charge you with evil (or stupidity) for believing that God is good?  Do you secretly long to see fire from heaven singe their heads and make their clothes catch fire and smolder?  Or, are you praying for them that they might be forgiven?

I suspect we all need for God to turn our hearts around on this one.  Jesus turned his world upside down.  Now it’s our turn.

PRAYER: God, I know that I am not always charitable to those who attack me.  I often want to see pain inflicted on them, but I know that I shouldn’t.  Help me to pray with genuine heart and clean motives for Your love to reach them.  We invite You to turn our world, and hearts, upside down and inside out.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 03/21/11 – You Will Call, I Will Answer

DayBreaks for 03/21/11 – You Will Call, I Will Answer

I wish you would hide me in the grave and forget me there until your anger has passed. But mark your calendar to think of me again! 14 Can the dead live again? If so, this would give me hope through all my years of struggle, and I would eagerly await the release of death. 15 You would call and I would answer, and you would yearn for me, your handiwork. – Job 14:13-15

 

Listening for the call..

Job certainly had a way with words – a way formed in the crucible of suffering and wrestling with his understanding of God.  He was plagued by many of the questions that still plague us today.  He wrestled with the “Why?” questions, and he wrestled to find meaning and purpose in all that was happening to him.  And, he wrestled with the concept of life after death.

 

Though Job asks if the dead can live again (he was far from possessing the certainty one can possess in the aftermath of the resurrection), he was a wise man, claiming that if it were possible for the dead to live again, it would give him hope “through all my years of struggle” and even that he could “eagerly await the release of death.”  Some may criticize Job for that statement – but who among us can claim to have the same unwelcome acquaintance with torment that was equal to that of Job?  I shall not criticize him for I am unworthy to challenge a man who lived through what he did.  I don’t have to have suffered as much as he did to understand that feeling that at times leads one to eagerly await the “release of death.”  Who, over the age of 40 or so, hasn’t at times felt that?  I’m not talking about being suicidal, but simply longing for an end to the “years of struggle.”

But it is verse 15 that really is the most shocking.  When God does call us to return to Him, we will answer.  We will not refuse.  We will not be able to refuse the power of the One who spoke stars into the sky and commands the sun to march across the sky.  Why will He call us?  That’s the shocking part: because He years for ME…for YOU…because we are His handiwork.

Perhaps you’ve not given much thought to the yearnings of God.  Why does a God who has everything and who can create anything His heart desires long for us?  Astounding, isn’t it?  Yet God does yearn for you.  Oh, that we should yearn as much for Him!

PRAYER: God, we scarce can believe that You even pay attention to us, let alone yearn for us!  May we hear Your call not just when it comes our time to die, but when it comes time to serve You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2011, Galen C. Dalrymple  ><}}}”>

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