DayBreaks for 08/13/12 – The Significance of Signs

DayBreaks for 08/13/12 – The Significance of Signs

Matthew 16:2-3 – “2 He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ 3 and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.

The common attribute of so many lives in the Bible is the ability to see signs.  The simple word ‘sign’ gives us the word ‘significance’ and that is the quest I speak of, the discerning of significance in daily experience.  Among the few expressions of exasperation we hear from our Lord are those in which he expresses regret at the inability of some to see signs of God’s activity in the things happening around them.

“…in journeying from Ur to Canaan Abraham knew himself as not merely moving from one context to another for his business enterprises.  He answered a call that had consequence and meaning.  For Noah the rising waters of his disintegrating world were not merely the result of ecological imbalance.  He was aware that he had been called toward a future made possible only if men and women acted faithfully in apocalypse.  To Jacob, as to many in the Bible, a dream was not merely a manifestation of overtiredness or hypertension.  It was a message from heaven to earth, an angel of warning or encouragement or affirmation.  For Moses a burning bush called for a turning aside.  Bushes burn almost routinely for us all, yet it is our capacity to see faces in the flames and voices in the fire that makes the moment more than routine and therefore pregnant with possibility.  For a fleeing people, survival in the mud flats and tidal reaches of a great river delta was more than a convenient environmental happenstance.  It became a never-to-be-forgotten sign of a destiny given them by God.  For Wise Men, a star was more than an item of astronomical data.  It became a sign of birth and change and a new age.  For Jesus, coins and sheep and fishes and weddings, seeds, a door, a tree, a widow, a conversation, a loaf of bread, a glass of wine, a candle, a presuming guest at a dinner party, a vial of ointment, even his own death; all were more than object, incident, event, experience.  All were made into signs and parables and insights so vivid that for two millennia they became the outriders of a kingdom, the symbols enabling us to express the inexpressible, lights that guide us in our fearful voyaging across the terrible crystal seas of mystery that, as John tells us, lie between our earthbound humanity and the throne of God.

“Thus scripture became for me a womb of endless signs, an admonition to seek their meanings for myself.  It was above all to me a finger pointing to the ordinary as a place of the divine dwelling, pointing to Bethlehem rather than to Rome or Athens, to a peasant girl rather than to a queen, to a child rather than an emperor.  One might add in passing that, for those who perceive, Bethlehem becomes both Rome and Athens, the peasant girl is revealed as queen, and the child becomes king.  The insignificant has assumed significance, the mundane become sign.”A Doorway in Time, Herbert O’Driscoll

In our frantic, scientific age, it is easy to miss the signs that God sets in front of us.  It is easy to explain things away on natural or scientific grounds.  And we seldom even take time to think about the things around us and how they may be attempts by God to communicate to us some message – whether through something as simple as the barking of a dog or as sublime as the birth of a baby.  The simple healing of human illness can be seen as a sign that God longs to heal us in all ways and can be taken as a guarantee of the fact that He is still involved and still cares about individuals as well as nations and galaxies.  It was with stories about the simple things of life that Jesus spun his timeless parables and told stories that still captivate the human imagination 2000 years later.

When was the last time you stopped to see beyond the surface to ascertain the deeper truth of God’s existence, His nature and His indwelling?  Slow down…take the time…and listen to His Spirit as He reveals truth to your inner person!

PRAYER: Lord, we are prone to seeking signs of Your Presence and Your will.  Let us never let the search for signs take the place of the search for Jesus, but see Him and You in the greatness that surrounds us at every moment.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 01/26/12 – The Missing Message

The forgotten, missing message...repentance.

About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple. 2 “Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?” Jesus asked. “Is that why they suffered? 3 Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God. 4 And what about the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? 5 No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too.” – Luke 13:1-5

A mother calling to her son shouted, “Johnny, tell your sister to get in the house out of the rain.” “I can’t mom,” came the reply. “And just why can’t you?” demanded his mother. “Because we are playing Noah’s Ark mom, and she’s one of the sinners.”

We seem to take a sinister delight in distinguishing between the horrible sinners outside of the ark and the saints on the inside.  There is a distinction to be made, if we consider the ark to be the family of the redeemed.  But we should never do so proudly, nor joyfully.  Why?  Because when we do that, we are horrifyingly blind to the fact that the saints inside the ark are still sinners.  Sinners saved by grace to be sure, but still, sinners. It didn’t take Noah very long after exiting the ark to prove the point.

In Jesus’ time, the self-righteous Pharisees (indeed the self-righteous saints all through history), felt that the message of repentance did not apply to them – it was only necessary for those sinners outside the ark. In many modern American churches, repentance is considered a valid topic if you’re preaching at the mission or on skid row, but not in the gathering of the saints.  Billy Graham has said, “I have been shocked to find that the theme proclaimed so emphatically by the prophets and apostles is scarcely mentioned by contemporary preachers.”

When is the last time you repented?  I’m not talking about asking for forgiveness…I’m talking about really repenting, to have a change of heart and decision, to set aside the dalliances of the sinful nature so that you can pursue God with a full heart?

PRAYER: Forgive our haughty pride that has declared ourselves to be better than those on the “outside”!  Remind us of our sinfulness, lead us to true repentance.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 12/28/11 – When Angel’s Wings Tremble

DayBreaks for 12/28/11 – When Angel’s Wings Tremble

20 Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! – Psalm 103:20

Angel simply means “messenger.”  They are, of course, messengers of God, dispatched with words from the Almighty.  When you stop to think of the messages that “angels” have delivered to mankind, some are joyous, some were words of doom, some of encouragement, and others that surely brought terror and dismay.

Have you ever been asked to deliver a message for someone that you’d rather not deliver at all?  I recall times when I’ve had to tell people that they no longer had a job, or that their son had been killed in a hunting accident.  Such messages I would rather not have to deliver ever again.  I don’t like to have to tell such things to people.  And I would suspect that there were times the angels didn’t want to have to deliver a message from God…but who were they to refuse?  (I am on thin ice there theologically – for all I know, the angels always delight in delivering God’s messages…but who knows?  They see to have emotions much like we do – so I suspect that they had thoughts and feelings about the words they were to deliver.)

Frederick Buechner reflected on one such message when he wrote these words: “She struck the angel Gabriel as hardly old enough to have a child at all, let alone this child, but he’d been entrusted with a message to give her, and he gave it. He told her what the child was to be named, and who he was to be, and something about the mystery that was to come upon her. “You mustn’t be afraid, Mary,” he said. And as he said it, he only hoped she wouldn’t notice that beneath the great, golden wings he himself was trembling with fear to think that the whole future of creation hung now on the answer of a girl.”

God has certainly given us humans tremendous opportunity and responsibility, hasn’t He?  To the human girl, Mary, He gave this message.  As a human, I’d wonder if God really knew what He was doing if God had entrusted that message to me to deliver to a virgin teen in Palestine…but Gabriel, I feel certain, understood that God knew perfectly well what He was doing.  Later, Jesus would give an even greater challenge to all His followers when He said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel…baptizing….teaching….”  I wonder, were there angels in heaven that wondered at the wisdom of a plan to reach the entire world with the message of grace and salvation through Jesus by placing that message in the mouth of humans?  Did they wonder if God had some “backup” plan in case we humans failed (as we are so prone to do and as the angels had repeatedly observed on countless occasions)?

God has wrought great things countless times through the weak and unlikely.  He wants to do it with you, too.  And He can, if you will only say “Yes!”

PRAYER: God, when we need hope, let us remember the words of the Alpha and the Omega, who makes EVERYTHING new and stirs hope in our hearts!!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 04/25/11 – The Mistaken Message of Christianity

DayBreaks for 04/25/11 – The Mistaken Message of Christianity

The message needs to be clear...

Suppose for just a second that someone came up to you and asked you to explain in a single sentence what the message of Christianity is, what it’s all about.  What would you say?  There would probably be many who might say it is something along these lines: “God loves you and died to save you,” or “God loves me.”  Would those be right answers?

Yes and no.  If one had asked how God feels about you or others, they would be correct.  But are they really the main message of the Christian faith?

In his book, Radical, David Platt suggests that these are not the main point of Christianity at all.  And I think his point is well taken.  What’s wrong with those statements?  They focus on ME.  “God loves ME” or “God loves YOU”…taking the focus off of the real subject matter, Jesus!  Platt goes on to suggest that the typical answer that is given is an incomplete painting of the portrait of Christianity.  The main message should better be stated “God loves me so that I can make His glory, ways, His salvation known among the nations.”

Christianity has never really been about us.  It has always been about Jesus – the God made flesh, the God-man, the Redeemer and Savior of all who trust in Him.  To make myself or any other human the main point is idolatry.

Max Lucado wrote a book not too long ago and titled it, It’s Not About Me.  I suspect that he would strongly agree with David Platt.

Maybe you need to rethink your answer to someone who asks you what Christianity is about. It’s not about me – it’s about the world coming to know the only Truth that can set them free!

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. – Mark 16:15-16

PRAYER: Help us to represent You clearly and fairly to the world that they may know Your greatness!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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