DayBreaks for 11/02/12 – Is It Better?

DayBreaks for 11/02/12 – Is It Better?

It is better to be godly and have little than to be evil and rich. 17 For the strength of the wicked will be shattered, but the LORD takes care of the godly. – Psalm 37:16-17 (NLT)

So many things that Scripture says seem crazy.  Consider all the beatitudes proclaimed by none other than Jesus himself in the Sermon on the Mount.  I would imagine that the bulk of those who heard him that day simultaneously thought he was a great orator, but perhaps a bit touched in the head.  Who ever felt blessed for all the kinds of suffering and mourning he describes?

It is when things are tough that Christianity seems to make the least sense.  Those are the times, as they say, that “try men’s souls.”  They leave us gasping for air, doubting His goodness, feeling alone and despairing.  I know.  I’ve felt those things, too.

So what are we to make of statements like that from Psalm 37?  Do we really believe it is better to be godly and have little?  (And bear in mind that we can’t fool God – virtually every American Christian is rich compared to the billions of others in the world, i.e., can any of us American Christians really say we have “little”?)

In what ways is it better?  The passage suggests that godliness and having “little” tend to go hand in hand, as does the opposite – being evil and being rich are likewise coupled.  We know how money makes us act – we never have enough of it.  It becomes an insatiable, burning desire/need in our soul.  It creates insecurities in us fearing we don’t have enough, or that we could lose it and be destitute.  We like to forget that we are called to follow Jesus and he was a homeless man.

Verse 17 says that the strength of the wicked will be shattered.  Humm.  Guess we have to take that one on faith, don’t we?  We cannot see the end of the scenario other than reading a Book that claims to describe how it will turn out.  We must accept that by faith, it will happen as described, or we chose not to believe it and to chase after all the money, pleasure, power and debauchery we can lay hands on.

God puts before us stark choices.  He makes incredible statements like that in Psalm 37 and forces us into a corner where we must choose, we must decide, we can’t take a neutral position.

Ultimately, we are all left to debate the question: is it really better to be godly with little or rich with much?  We are well advised to weigh the decision thoughtfully, carefully, and not to decide impetuously.  Many times in human history things are not as they have appeared to be on the surface.   God certainly seems to delight in hiding truth from our everyday perception.

I pray we all choose wisely.

PRAYER: Lord, we are so tempted to believe our eyes rather than Your Word.  Help us to ponder carefully what You say, and to believe even when it seems counter-intuitive to do so.  You are a mysterious God.  Give us the faith to follow and hold fast to You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 05/23/11 – How We Treat Jesus

DayBreaks for 05/23/11 – How We Treat Jesus

How would you treat Jesus?

What would you do if you opened the door to your house after hearing a gentle knock, only to find Jesus standing there?  What would you say?  How would you treat him?  What would you fix him for dinner?  What would you do for him if he asked?

In her blog, A Holy Experience, blogger Ann Voskamp recently posed the question, “How do we really treat Jesus?”  I’m fairly certain that if you’re reading this blog, you are thinking that you’d treat Him with the utmost respect…that you would do for him anything you could.  Right?

Really?

Voskamp included a line she read in a Frank Peretti book that started her chain of thought: “The depth of a person’s character is not measured by his or her physical strength, but by the depth of his or her nobility.”  She continues: “How do we treat those who are weaker?  We look in to each other’s eyes.  How do we treat those who are weaker? And then I read it out loud, the words of Jesus: The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ Mt. 25:40

… and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”  Acts 9:4

“I peer into faces and I whisper it, the wonder, trembling truth of it: How we treat the weaker is our treating of Jesus.  Not like we treat Jesus.  Not similarly. But how we treat the weak IS our treating Jesus.

“When you gave a cup of water to one of these little ones, so you gave it to Me.  We can worship Christ in our sanctuaries and we can pray to God on our knees, but how we treat — or neglect – the person next door, the poor, every human being, this is how we truly speak to Christ and this is how we really treat Jesus.”

How do you treat the homeless beggar on the street?  Would you treat Jesus that way?  How do you treat the brothers and sisters in your church that you just don’t really care for all that much?  Would you treat Jesus that way?  How, husbands, do you treat your wives, who are weaker physically?  Would you treat Jesus that way?

It is a sobering thought: how we treat those who are weaker IS how we are treating Jesus.

PRAYER: Forgive us for not recognizing you in the disturbing disguise of the weakest and poorest among us.  Forgive us for how we’ve treated you, LORD JESUS!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 03/22/11 – What God Will Never Say

DayBreaks for 03/22/11 – What God Will Never Say

I’ve been very challenged in my thinking and discipleship lately.  God has been revealing blind spots in my life as a Christian – in particular, as an American Christian.  One blind spot in particular that He’s really been working on in my life is my attitude toward the poor.

Americans don’t like to see suffering, especially suffering of little children who have not had adequate food or water and who are dying as a result.  When those images show up on our TV screens, we quickly get up to go to the fridge, or change the channel, or find some other way to divert our eyes from the very harsh and hard realities that exist in this world.  We don’t want to see that kind of suffering.  It makes us uncomfortable – and that’s a very good thing.  We need to be made uncomfortable, especially as Americans who own so much and spend so much of our income on cushy luxuries.  I don’t yet know specifically what it is that God wants me to do with what He’s been showing me.

Israel, long ago, observed feast days, multitudes of tithes of money, crops, wine, etc., they observed temple rituals and cleansings.  They memorized the Torah and recounted the great deeds of YHWH for generation after generation.  They thought that all those things would make them acceptable – even pleasing to God.  After all, God had commanded those observances.  But in the writings of the great prophet Isaiah, God filled them in on the truth about what mattered to Him: Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? 8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. – Is.  58:6-8

God cares about the poor, the starving, the naked, the homeless.  He hears their cries.  He wonders if we hear them, and if we will respond to them.

While I don’t know what God wants me to do specifically about this blind spot in my life, I am sure of this as an American Christian: the day won’t ever come when I stand before God and hear Him say to me, “I wish you’d kept more of what I gave you for yourself.”

 

Give...and it shall be given unto you...

PRAYER: God, I confess my blindness and hard-heartedness towards the plight of the poor.  Forgive me for my selfishness, and set me free from the tyranny of possessions and money.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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

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