DayBreaks for 3/17/20 – Berakah Praise

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DayBreaks for 3/17/20: Berakah Praise

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2010:

I recently preached a sermon on Jesus as the Master of Prayer.  We sometimes can start to think of Jesus as too much of a 20th century Gentile man.  He was anything but.  Jesus lived as a Jew, was born and raised as a Jew, educated as a Jew, knew their customs and traditions and practiced them up to a point.  And the Jews had certain beliefs about prayer that we find hints of in Jesus’ recorded prayers.

First: the Jews had a practice called Berakah.  Every devout Jew was expected to say 100 praises a day to God.  These praises had a very common form to start with before branching out into the rest of the prayer.  They went something like this: Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe…  After that beginning, they would start to offer specific praises, such as Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, for the harvest of grain that feeds our bodies or Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, for the dawning of this new day.  One hundred times a day such a praise was to be uttered.  When you consider that the typical person is only awake for about 16 hours a day, that comes to about 1 praise every 7 minutes.  I don’t know how successful the Jews were at keeping this practice, but it is a good one and one that we might do well to resurrect. 

If your prayer life is like mine, more of my prayers have to do with requests rather than blessing and praising God.  Recently, one of my littlest grand daughters wrote about why she loved Jesus and God and said it was partly because they gave her he “wishes”.  There’s honesty – and we’re all somewhat like that, aren’t we? While I know that God welcomes our requests, we are also told to give thanks in everything.  The Jews believed it was appropriate to do so because God was in charge of everything. 

I’ve launched an effort to try to offer berakah praises to God throughout the day.  It is interesting: I already find that at the end of the day, my spirits are brighter and I am more thankful for things than I otherwise might be.  Want to join me in this practice?  Let me know how it is going for you!

PRAYER: Tune our hearts and our lips to sing Your praises, O Lord our God, King of the Universe!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Link to video with facts, symptoms and prevention tips about coronavirus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AITtaAAAdYc

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 1/3/20 – All Thy Works Shall Praise Thee

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DayBreaks for 1/03/20: All Thy Works Shall Praise Thee

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

It may appear that humans are uniquely equipped to offer praise to God.  We know, of course, that angels praise him.  We know that part of the reason we were created was to bring Him glory and proclaim His greatness.  We may even acknowledge that living things praise Him – the bird crying in apparent joy as she soars in freedom above the created world, the dolphin that leaps deliriously as it tears through the water at breakneck speed and sings its strange chirping song.  Who is to say that they are not praising their Creator?

Inanimate things praise Him…the heavens declare His glory and the heavenly bodies day after day and night after night pour forth their speech and stun us into humbled silence at His power and evident majesty.  Who is to say that the sounds that radio telescopes pick up from the depths of the universe’s vast array are not some form of heavenly praise that we cannot understand or interpret? The Psalmist put it well in Psalm 145:10: All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord; and thy saints shall bless thee.

Things visible and things invisible declare His wisdom.  Consider again the atom.  Everything that exists in the physical realm is made up of atoms.  But did you realize that atoms are mostly empty space?  There are those who have spent their life studying the atomic and subatomic world of creation who hold that when two objects come together in the physical realm (like two billiard balls) they don’t really hit one another.  Instead, says Timothy Ferris, “..the negatively charged fields of the two balls repel each other…were it not for their electrical charges they could, like galaxies, pass right through each other unscathed.”  When you sit in a chair, did you know you aren’t actually sitting on the chair, but because of the power in the electrons of your body and clothing and the electrons in the chair that repel one another that you are actually levitating about the height of one angstrom (1 hundred millionth of a centimeter)?

Neutrons and protons make up the nucleus of an atom.  The nucleus is very, very tiny – only one millionth of one billionth of the full volume of the atom, but it is extremely dense, packed tight with tiny particles.  In fact, if an atom was expanded to fill the size of a large cathedral, the nucleus would be about the size of a fly, but that fly would be many thousands of times heavier than all the rest of the cathedral combined. 

All of this was designed by the hand of the Almighty.  It is invisible to us, but somehow, I suspect that if we could hear the “voice” of the atom, it, too, would be singing His praise. 

May your new year and your very life be filled with praise to Him and may you join your voice with that of the sun, moon and stars in exalting His name! How will you praise Him today?

PRAYER: How marvelous is Your creation, O Great God!  We are humbled before You and Your unsearchable wisdom!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 4/12/19 – The King is Dead, Long Live the King!

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DayBreaks for 4/12/19: The King is Dead – Long Live the King!

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2009:

Isaiah 6 describes a visit of Isaiah to the temple in the year that King Uzziah died.  Uzziah had been king for 52 years – a good one, too.  He’d done wonderful things, and he had been able to hold the mighty Assyrian army, under the command of Tiglath-Pileser at bay on more than one occasion.  But now, now the king is dead. 

We don’t know why Isaiah went to the temple when he did, but perhaps it was because the young man was seeking some reassurance.  The king was dead, now who would protect Judah?  Who would keep them safe, if anyone could, from Assyria?  I don’t doubt that Isaiah had some of these thoughts running through his head as he entered the temple to pray – seeking some peace in the maelstrom with Uzziah’s death.

In two places in Scripture there are retellings of visions that holy men had of our great God.  One is found in Isaiah 6, and the other in Revelation, where John had a vision of God enthroned in glory above.  There are similarities and differences between their two visions that are instructive.  Isaiah’s vision took place first – by a span of about 800 years.  Isaiah describes seeing seraphs around the throne with their 6 wings, covering their eyes, constantly singing (all day and all night forever and ever!), “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord!”  In John’s vision, 800 years later, are seraphim are still singing their never-ending song about God’s holiness, never tiring of giving Him glory.  But while there are many similarities, there are also two things that are radically different:

800 years before, only the angels were singing.  Heaven’s music was performed by a very select and elite company – a chamber choir of angels in God’s throne room.  But now, with John’s vision, that all has changed.  No longer is it just the angels who sing, but all living things in heaven and on earth join into the song! It is no longer an aria reserved for just a few chosen angelic tongues, but it has become the praise song of all creation.

Secondly – and this difference is more noteworthy and important than the first one – in Isaiah’s vision the seraphim around God’s throne use two of their wings to cover their eyes.  Even though these angels around the throne of God must be and are holy because otherwise they would not be permitted into His presence to offer their worship, they could not behold the perfection of God’s holiness.  They must cover their eyes, for His holiness is too much even for these heavenly beings to look upon.  BUT: in John’s vision, the creatures who surround the throne are “covered with eyes, in front and in back.”  Each has six wings still, but now they are covered with eyes all around, even under the wings, according to John.  They are ALL eyes.  They cannot help but to look full upon the Lord who is high and lifted up.

Why the change?  What happened in those 800 years?  John, the beloved disciple, answered the question in his apocalypse: Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne. This is the Lamb that John the Baptist had spoken of when he shouted: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

The difference is simple, but profound.  While once man – even a man as upright as Isaiah – couldn’t look upon the Lord and even the heavenly host dared not look upon God, now, because of Jesus, the Lamb of God who has taken away the world’s sin, everyone and anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord, can look.  All of us men and women of unclean lips, because of Jesus, can now look directly upon all that was once forbidden even to angels to see. 

And that alone, is the reason that not just the angels sing around the throne after Jesus, but that all creation – even the souls of the mighty prophets who at one time dared not join in that song – can join in and sing: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.

Prayer: You are Holy, Lord, and we join our song to that of the living creatures to say without ceasing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord!”  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 12/19/18 – The Priest’s Sacrifice, #2

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DayBreaks for 12/19/18: The Priest’s Sacrifice, #2

Continuing with the theme of Sacrifice for this week preceding Christmas, I’m sharing some thoughts from the message at church this past Sunday. Though this is often a time when we receive gifts, it is also a time for sacrifices.

Not only are we as priests/priestesses supposed to present our bodies as living sacrifices (see 12/18/18 DayBreaks), we are instructed in Hebrews 13:15 (ESV) – Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

As priests and priestesses, we have a true privilege: access to God. Not everyone can call Him “Father” in the fullest sense of that word. Yes, he is the Creator of all and in that sense the one who we might call father, but only believers have been adopted into his family, giving us confidence that we can boldly come to his throne of grace in any time of need – or just because we want to cuddle up on his lap to rest.

Along with every privilege, though, comes responsibility. Because we have access to him, our responsibility is to give his praise and our adoration because of that access!

It started at the incarnation as the angels gave worship and praises rang through the night sky as the shepherds looked and listened wondering at what they beheld. The magi worshipped the child in the manger.

Question: what special praise will you give him this week? Try to find a new reason to give him praise, a new way to express his greatness and goodness to you as you acknowledge his name. Don’t rely on tired, old prayer phrases: struggle a bit in your prayer to adore him in a new and living way today!

PRAYER: Jesus, let our praises rise to you not only from our lips, but from true hearts! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/19/17 – The King Has Spoken

DayBreaks for 7/19/17: The King Has Spoken

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2007:

Daniel 3:28-29 (NIV) – Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.

Nebuchadnezzar is such an interesting character.  He is the prototype of the ancient Middle Eastern despot.  One moment, he’s trying to kill God’s servants for their defiance of his order, and the next, he’s praising their God and honoring them for their steadfastness!  Perhaps we can learn something from this man:

FIRST: we are fickle.  Depending on what happens to us and around us, we can quickly shift from rebellion to praise.  Nebuchadnezzar didn’t have to give praise to God – he didn’t know Him (although he may have known about Him) at all at this point (and arguably never did truly know Yahweh.) 

SECOND: the king changed his tune because of amazement at seeing the hand of God at work.  Why aren’t we so filled with wonder and awe when we see His hand at work?  It seems that we really don’t see it – if it turned a pagan king into a God-praiser, why do His people struggle so much to find praise in their lips and hearts more often?

THIRD: good old King Neb (that’s much easier to type than his full name!) did, in the end of this passage at least, get it right: “no other god can save in this way.”  Has any other god ever been able to deliver His adherents from a fiery furnace?  No.  And it is interesting how God delivered them – He joined them in the fire and was their shield and protector.  It shouldn’t surprise us that He did this – God has always been about delivering His children from famine, flood or fire – whether it was the fire of a furnace or hellfire.  And in all cases, He does it by coming to join us and to keep us from even the hint of smoke!

Although Neb knew about God after this experience, he still didn’t get it.  God is a deliverer – a Saver.  Neb wanted to cut up and burn down the houses of those who spoke against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  If that’s how God was, there certainly wouldn’t be any overpopulation in this world, would there?  But, glory hallelujah!, that’s not how God is!We might be tempted to listen to worldly kings as they ruminate about life and power.  Whatever we do, let’s be sure and hear the Voice that spoke the world into existence, and to do His will!

PRAYER: Jesus, make us bold in the confidence of Your power and especially in Your power to save.  Turn us into those who praise You at all times!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/29/17: Big Things With Small, Still Voices

DayBreaks for 5/29/17: Big Things With Small, Still Voices

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

Job 38:4-7 (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?

Psalms 19:1-2 (NIV) – The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.

From The Scrivener blog by Doug Dalrymple, 4/20/07:

“Quite literally, as it turns out – the sun is singing: snagging orchestra seats for this solar symphony would be fruitless, however, as the frequency of the sound waves is below the human hearing threshold. While humans can make out sounds between 20 and 20,000 hertz, the solar sound waves are on the order of milli-hertz—a thousandth of a hertz.”

We know that whales sing and birds sing, and well, even some of us humans try to sing with varying degrees of success.  Dogs bark, cats meow, rivers roar and even the heavenly objects, so Scripture says, “sang together and all the angels shouted for joy.” 

When did all this happen?  We might be tempted to think that it happened before the fall of Satan and the realization of evil in the created universe.  After all, wouldn’t it make sense that God’s glorious creation would praise him?  Should we be so arrogant to think that only humans and angels can do so?  It may be true that they sang for joy at the creation and before the fall, for we’re also told through the word that the entire creation now groans and travails in pain, awaiting deliverance that will some day surely come!

But in the meantime, if we’re quiet enough for long enough, you’ll still hear singing.  You’ll hear it with your ears as the animals, wind and sea sing, you’ll hear it with your heart as you look up at the starry canvas on a warm summer night.  And, for those who have ears to hear, we can hear it in the sub-human range of the song of the sun and other stars that sang in the very beginning. 

It’s interesting that something as huge as the sun has such a small voice.  We’d expect it to be huge – a mighty roar as the gasses combust and the flares soar.  But it is a sound too low for us to even hear!  And, as I think about it, perhaps that’s how it really should be anyway.  The voice of God on the mountain was so mighty that people feared Him and fled.  But that’s not his only voice: he also spoke in a whisper to Samuel as a young boy, and in my own personal favorite – he spoke to Elijah in a “still small voice”, that literally translated is something like the sound of falling snow.  As Doug put it: “There’s just something marvelous about big, big things with still, small voices.”

When we were little, our dads were big, but when they pulled us close in their powerful arms and we heard the song, “I love you!” come pouring from their lips, it was marvelous.  And now, with my earthly father gone some 20 years, I’m enthralled when I hear God’s voice, through Jesus, saying, “I love you, son.  I’m so proud of you.  I’ll never let you down!  You’re safe here with Me.”

Big Things with small voices, indeed!

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for the music of the spheres and for the song of love that You sing to us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 5/25/17 – The Loudest Noise Ever

DayBreaks for 5/25/17: The Loudest Noise Ever

Yesterday I wrote about Jesus’ triumphant cry from the cross, “It is finished!” Today I want to think about sound again, but in a bit different vein.

I love trivia and interesting facts. I even post tidbits of information on my photography blog. So, when I was recently musing about the loudest sound ever recorded, I “googled” it. Here are one item that many claim is the loudest noise ever on earth:

On August 27, 1883, the earth made a noise unlike anything since. On that date, on the island of Krakatoa, a volcano erupted violently. It threw rock and ash 17 miles into the atmosphere (reported by a geologist who witnessed the eruption), created a tsunami 100 feet high, and the noise was heard audibly over a mass equivalent to 1/13th of the entire world. Another way to put it is this: it was heard by people 3000 miles away! A British ship captain who was 40 miles from the volcano when it blew reported that the noise was so loud that over half of his crew had their eardrums ruptured by the volume of the sound. He wrote, “My last thoughts are with my dear wife. I am convinced that the Day of Judgment has come.” No wonder he felt that way – the sound is believed to have been equivalent to 100,000 hydrogen bombs exploding simultaneously.

As if that wasn’t enough, there comes a point at which a loud sound no longer travels “through” air – it literally “pushes” the air ahead of it. Such sound is not measured in decibel levels (though the decibel level 100 miles from the eruption registered 172 – 85 decibels can cause hearing loss and the pain threshold is around 120 decibels), but in pressure waves. The pressure wave from the eruption circled the world four times in each direction. For the next five days after the eruption, the pressure around the world spiked every 34 hours like clockwork as the pressure waves circled the earth over and over. Each city actually experienced as many as seven spikes because the sound came from both directions. The pressure wave was so great that even the waves as far away as San Francisco grew as a result – and then subsided as each spike passed. It was so great that it became known as the “great air-wave”. (If you want to get a sense for what a small pressure wave is like, watch this – just bear in mind that this is miniscule compared to Krakatoa’s eruption – and the boat was only 2.7 miles from the volcano in the video.)

As I was listening to the song, O Praise the Name (Anastasis) from Hillsong (link here), I was struck by a couple lines that described the resurrection of Jesus thusly:

Then on the third at break of dawn
The Son of heaven rose again
O trampled death where is your sting?
The angels roar for Christ the King
.

It dawned on me that though the loudest noise ever recorded on earth may have been Krakatoa, the loudest noise in the universe must surely have been the roar the angels made when they realized that Christ had arisen! What a contrast it must have been to the stunned silence when they witnessed God’s Son die! Is it any wonder that they roared when he came back to life with the defeat of death firmly in his grasp?

I doubt that they’ve stopped roaring yet.

PRAYER: Father, how I long to hear the roar of praise for Jesus pouring from the mouths of the angels, and to join my own praise to that sound that will swell and grow forever and ever! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 5/18/17 – Courageous Faith

DayBreaks for 5/18/17: Courageous Faith

John 12:42-43 (ESV) – Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

Who doesn’t love glory? Who doesn’t love to receive praise and recognition and, yes, honor? On our birthdays we pretend to not care that we’re the center of attention, but we are inwardly pleased to be recognized as having achieved yet another milestone (especially as we get older and the milestones become more significant!) But this is entirely different. Though many leaders of the Jews believed in Jesus (how could they not given all he’d done and how he taught?), they didn’t confess him.

When I read today’s passage, my heart and mind instantly jump into judgement mode: “Shame on them! What cowards!” And to make it worse, I then jump almost instantly to boastful mode, “I wouldn’t have done that! I’d have boldly proclaimed my belief in Jesus – no matter the cost!” But would I really?

We don’t know who these “authorities” were who believed, though we might surmise Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were among them. But there were others, for John says there were “many” who believed in Jesus. To be a Jewish authority, you HAD to be part of the synagogue, part of the heart and soul of the nation’s faith and religion. To proclaim faith in Jesus would have been religious, social, political and even economic suicide to these men – and those who depended on them. When I think of it in that light and think about my own insecurities about my livelihood and finances, I find myself less than certain that I would have stood up to be counted as a follower of Christ.

It is lessons like this that put my weak faith into perspective. In spite of how I might try to honor my own faith by thinking how great or strong it is, if I insert myself into the shoes of those “many” authorities, I realize how weak my faith may truly be. Are you ready to take a stand for your faith in Jesus if it means the loss of your job, your reputation, your income – perhaps even your ability to ever find and hold work again? That’s what was at stake for these men. That doesn’t mean that they made the right choice – but this lesson in human frailty is sobering to me.

One other thing makes it easier to seek the praise of men rather than God. The praise of this world is immediately accessible as long as I do what the world wants me to do and think. God’s praise is primarily held in reserve for the day I stand before His throne. But His approval is the only approval that will endure and that will matter on that day. He won’t give me approval for following the ways of the society and world, but He will give me approval for even my weak faith in Jesus – and that will make all the difference.  

PRAYER: How we need greater, fearless faith, Jesus! Give us bold hearts and the vision necessary to see that it is only the praise of the Father than matters – and then to live courageous faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 2/1/16: Holy Land Lessons – The Stones Will Cry Out

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Interior of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, Israel. Galen C. Dalrymple, 2016.

Luke 19:39-40 (KJV) – And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

It was what we call the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. The crowds were cheering the man from Galilee. No doubt many were thinking that this was the time when Rome would be overthrown and the Jewish people would once again be freed from the oppression of the great empire. One thing that galled the people was that the temple which had been constructed by Herod was overshadowed on one side by the fortress Antonia, from which Roman soldiers could peer down into the temple grounds to keep a close eye on those worshiping there. 

But on this day, there was cheering. The ruling clique of religious leaders in Jerusalem were very distressed about all the noise and clamor. The Romans didn’t like boisterous crowds (except in the Coliseum and at their own revels) and would often react with great and swift violence to quell any possible disturbance. That is probably at least part of the reason the religious rulers were disturbed by the noise. 

I believe they were also disturbed because Jesus was getting so much attention. The masses of people in Israel despised their own religious leaders with good reason, for they were corrupt and in cahoots with Rome whenever it suited their purposes. 

But none of that is the point. The point is that Jesus’ statement about the stones along the road crying out gives me pause to think. I, like most people, like it when people sing my praises. In such a situation we don’t mind being the center of attention. Jesus, as the incarnate Son of God, had created those stones that were along the side of the road. It seems that Jesus is suggesting that even the inanimate things of creation know their Creator and will give him praise.

And that gives me reason to ponder my own attitude of praise toward Jesus. Do I find myself so compelled by wonder and love and appreciation that I give him the praise He is due? In today’s photo that I took inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, it seems as if the stones of that building are reaching skyward to sing glory to His name. While I was there, did I? Barely. And that shames me, for He certainly is worthy of my shouts of praise!

PRAYER: Jesus, You deserve every bit of praise that my poor soul can lift to You. Let my entire life be a song of praise, an offering of love and devotion, to You for what You have done for us all! Forgive my silence. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 7/01/14 – Life is More

DayBreaks for 7/02/14 – Life Is More

How do you do it each day?  How to you find the strength?  How do you get yourself up and return to that same place where you felt so beaten and bruised and assaulted just yesterday?  It’s hard.  Life is hard.  Yet deep inside we all have this feeling that there must be more to life than just this…this drudgery and endless cycles of boring repetition.  Thankfully, there is another option… 

Early one morning some years ago, Robert Raines got into his car and started driving through the mountains. There was no one on the road at that time as the mountains were quietly beginning a new day. The beautiful colors of autumn were splashed all over the trees. It was a magnificent and glorious sight as the early morning sun glistened upon the wonders of the mountains and the valleys below. 

And then it happened… Robert Raines saw one of the most beautiful things he had ever witnessed in his life. 

Right there at the very edge of that great mountain peak and facing the gorgeous valley below… was a young man in his early twenties with a trumpet pressed to his lips. And, do you know what he was playing? With his lungs expanded fully and releasing all of the energy in his soul, he was playing the Doxology on his trumpet! 

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow

Praise Him all creatures here below

Praise Him above ye heavenly host

Praise, Father, Son and Holy Ghost!” 

The point is clear: With all the stresses and problems in this life, still the truth is:

– We have so many doxologies to sing,

– So much to be grateful for,

– So many blessings to count. 

The point is: Life is more than a grueling endurance test. Life is more than a survival game. Life is more than a coping competition. 

So, you see… it’s not enough to just escape the stress. It’s not enough to just endure the stress. Thank God… there is another option… 

I pray that you find that option for your life today, tomorrow and every day…

PRAYER: Praise God from Whom all blessings flow…and thank You for this day to sing our doxology to You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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