DayBreaks for 3/09/17 – Because You Have Met Me

DayBreaks for 3/09/17: Because You Have Met Me

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2007:

Exodus 4:4-5 (NIV) – Then the LORD said to him, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand.  “This,” said the LORD, “is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers–the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob–has appeared to you.

The nerve of some Biblical people amazes me.  Moses, while we’re told that he was the meekest man, was very bold at times with God.  His first known encounter with God in the wilderness at the burning bush shows how stubborn we as humans can be.  All of a sudden, out of the blue, Moses is drawn to the bush and told that God wants to send him on a mission to lead Israel out of 400 years of captivity and slavery in Egypt.  God speaks of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph – and the promises He made to them and how He intends now, in the time of Moses, to fulfill those great promises.  And what does Moses do?  He hems, haws, and otherwise tries to avoid the mission.  He gives God lots of excuses (not reasons) why he’s not the right person.  Moses would learn that it didn’t pay to argue with God.  But he hasn’t learned it yet.  And so he worries that Israel will not believe that God wants to relieve them of their slavery, and he asks God for signs to give to the people that will convince them.

And so, finally God makes the statement to Moses that’s found in Exodus 4:5, after having Moses’ staff turn into a serpent: This is so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob – has appeared to you.

I’d missed this for nearly 55 years now.  It wasn’t the serpent that would convince people that Moses had been sent by God.  It was really nothing more than God telling Moses that the people will know that He sent Moses because Moses has met God.  (God has appeared to him.) 

Each day as I wander through the streets of town, go into buildings or stores, pull up to the gas pump, buy a Dr. Pepper – I wonder if people can tell that I have met God?  What kind of evidence is there that I’ve met Him – and He has met with me?  And it’s not just that I’ve met Him – He lives within me in a way I don’t know if He did with Moses!  The evidence of having met the Maker is radical and life-changing.  From this encounter onward, for as long as he lived, Moses was a changed man.  He still had moments of weakness and doubt, but the people would follow him because he knew the Lord’s name…another way of saying, he knew God. 

Having met God doesn’t make us perfect, but if it hasn’t changed us – RADICALLY changed us – perhaps we’ve never met him like Moses did in the wilderness.  We don’t have to have a burning bush in our life to meet Him.  Yet, He is all around us, and in us.  We need to learn to do what Moses finally did: stop arguing and fighting with Him and let Him have His way in us, to use us for His glorious purposes (which will, by the way, work to our benefit!) and to let others know we have met God and been sent by Him.

PRAYER: Sometimes, Father, much to our great embarrassment, we hide the fact that we have met You.  We are too fearful, weak-kneed and stubborn to bear witness for you.  May we truly meet You even now, may we be radically changed by that encounter, so that wherever we go, people will know you exist and that by our changed lives, they will know we have met the Living God.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 3/2/17 – Visiting With Isaiah, #4

DayBreaks for 3/02/17: Visiting With Isaiah, #4

Isaiah 6:5-7 (ESV) – And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

These verses take place right after the vision of the One who is seated on the throne. It isn’t surprising that Isaiah had this reaction given his description of the Throne Dweller. But as if often the case, if we forget the context of a passage, we miss nuggets that are priceless.

If you were to go back and read Isaiah chapter 5, you’ll hear woe after woe after woe pronounced by Isaiah to his listeners. He was dishing it out with seeming relish.

But now things have changed. He has not just heard the voice of the Lord but has been in the Presence itself. In spite of all the woes that he’d dished out, perhaps Isaiah needed to understand his own place and his own righteousness (which was no righteousness at all compared to that of the Lord) before he would be a fit servant and messenger for God.

When Doug Fell shared this passage, he described an incident with his young son who at the time was still using a pacifier (they call pacifiers “dummies” in South Africa). His son had come to his dad all excited. His dummy was still in his mouth but he told his dad how excited he was. When Doug asked him why he was so excited, he was informed that it was because his son and dropped his dummy but had washed it before putting it back in his mouth. Doug was rather pleased that his son had taken that initiative. Doug asked him where he had washed it and his son eagerly led his father into the bathroom. Doug was a bit perplexed because he knew his young son couldn’t have reached the sink. His worse fears were realized when his young son led him to the toilet bowl, pointed and said, “In there!”, then proceeded to take the dummy out of his mouth, swish it around in the toilet bowl and pop it back into his mouth before his dad could stop him.

That night, Doug said, when he was tucking his son into his bed, his little boy asked for a goodnight kiss. Doug confessed to a peck on the forehead that night rather than on the lips.
I am a man of unclean lips. We are all people of unclean lips, are we not? It is a symbol of our impurity, of the filth that clings to us on this mortal coil and it should be enough to revolt us. But not God.

God touches the lips of Isaiah with a coal from the altar – from the place of sacrifice. It is a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Christ that would cleans not only our unclean lips, but all of our iniquities.

Note one more thing: it is not Isaiah who takes the initiative to be made clean. Isaiah cannot get the coal for himself. It is God who takes the initiative to cleanse Isaiah’s uncleanness.

Why does God do such a thing, not just for Isaiah but for you and me, too? Isaiah 43:25 tells us the answer: I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.

God gives us forgiveness not just for our own sake, and indeed, He is under no obligation whatsoever to do so. He does it for his own sake. What can God possibly gain to benefit from our forgiveness? Several things, but certainly it must include these:

FIRST: God’s reputation is at stake. Remember the confrontation between Satan and God in Job? What kind of a God would He be if He created us, knowing we would fall and be great sinners, and not do anything to redeem us? He would be a hateful God, a God who delighted in seeing His creation tortured in eternal flames if He left us hopeless for eternity. But His reputation is at stake and all his claims to be a loving, compassionate, merciful God of forgiveness and grace would be proven to be lies if He just left us as fallen creatures. Praise God He didn’t do that! And praise God that he acts for his own sake as well as ours!

SECOND: God is a God who longs for fellowship and relationship with His creation and creatures. He could not have relationship with us if he were to leave us as unclean people. He is too holy for sin to exist in His presence, so the only way he could have relationship with us was to do something about our uncleanness – so He did do something about it – for His own sake and His own delight so we could fellowship forever as holy, clean beings!

PRAYER: Thank you for acting for your own sake and for letting us reap the benefits of your actions! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 11/21/16 – The Miracle of the Cross

DayBreaks for 11/21/16: The Miracle of the Cross

The Archbishop of Paris once stood in the pulpit of Notre Dame Cathedral. He was there to preach a sermon, and his sermon was built around a single story. Thirty years earlier, he told, there were three young tourists who had come into this very cathedral. All of the young men were rough, rude, and cynical persons, who thought that all religion was a racket. Two of these men dared a third to go into the confessional box and make a made-up confession to the priest. The two bet that the third young man did not have the nerve to do as they dared.

The third young man went into the confessional box and tried to fool the priest. But the priest knew that what the young man was saying was a lie. There was a tone of arrogance in the young man’s voice – which could not go without notice. After hearing the confession, the priest told the young man his penance. The priest said, “Very well, my son. Every confession requires a penance, and this is yours. I ask you to go into the chapel, stand before the crucifix, look into the face of the crucified Christ and say, ‘All this you did for me, and I don’t give a damn!’ “

The young man staggered out of the confessional to his friends, bragging that he had done as they dared. The other two young men insisted that he finish the performance by doing the penance. This young man made his way into the chapel, stood before the crucifix, looked up into the face of Christ and began, “All this you did for me and I … I … I don’t … I don’t give a ….” At this point in the story, the archbishop leaned over the pulpit and said, “That young man was this man who stands before you to preach.”

That’s the miracle of the cross. When we begin to understand the love on the cross, we want to change our relationship with God. We cannot remain the same.

PRAYER: God, may the miracle of the cross speak to us and change us forever!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

Daybreaks for 3/21/16 – The Jealous, Zealous God

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DayBreaks for 3/21/16 – A Jealous, Zealous God

Deut. 4:24 – For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God…

I grew up being taught that some emotions are not good ones. It is wrong to be envious, it is wrong to be hateful…and it was wrong to be jealous. And so it is that this verse always troubled me from my earliest days. If jealous was wrong, how could God be jealous and yet be perfect? There must be some kind of righteous jealousy, right?

Paul Copan, a philosophy professor at Palm Beach Atlantic University sought to explain it, likening us to a dog who drinks water out of a toilet bowl and concluding, “It doesn’t get any better than this!” So, we humans go on drinking water out of toilet bowls and grossly concluding it is great, yet God has so much more He wants for us. And it grieves His heart of love to watch us choose so foolishly to drink toilet bowl water rather than the Living Water He provides. It makes Him jealous in the finest, most loving way.

Copan writes: A wife who doesn’t get jealous and angry when another woman is flirting with her husband isn’t really committed to the marriage relationship. Outrage, pain, anguish – these are the appropriate responses to such deep violation. God isn’t some abstract entity or impersonal principle…We should be amazed that the Creator of the universe would so deeply connect Himself to human beings that he would open Himself to sorrow and anguish in the face of human rejection and betrayal.

In Scripture, the words jealous and zealous are basicially interchangeable – it’s the same Hebrew word. We equate zealous with intense enthusiasm – and that is why God is so possessive of us – He is filled with a consuming fire of love for us.

You may have experienced love – the way your passion was like a fire for the one you loved and how your thoughts – waking and sleeping – were consumed with those feelings. That is only a faint shadow of the way love controls the heart of God – love for YOU. So when we talk of God’s jealousy, it is more of a stars of the universe all bound together.

Your God is jealous – He wants your love and wholehearted commitment so much that He acted on His love for us by fighting for us each step of the way and refuses to let go.

PRAYER: I am grateful that you are jealous for me. I pray that you will make me as zealous for the closest possible relationship even as you want that with me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 11/13/15 – The Progression of His Love

DayBreaks for 11/13/15: The Progression of His Love

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

The way that we love, and learn to love, is fascinating.  As little children, we love the person who can meet our needs – whether its for food or for a diaper change.  We’re rather self-centered at that stage.  (Sadly, some folks never learn how to leave that self-centered stage behind to grow into more mature love.)  It really isn’t until we perhaps fall in love for the umpteenth time that we learn that love isn’t about us, but about someone else.  It’s about being there for them, being there with them, in spite of who they are or what they can offer to us.  Even then, during the early years of that kind of love, we may be too focused on things like appearances.  As time passes, the beauty that needs to draw us the most is the beauty that grows inside of our loved one – for it is by far more beautiful than any physical beauty.  And then our love enters into another stage – perhaps the closest that we’ll get to the agape love of God.  We may be tempted to wish that we could just jump to that mature stage of love immediately and bask in its warmth, but we can’t because we have to learn how to love and how to be loved by someone else.  It takes time and a growing understanding of what love is.

Perhaps that’s why the Bible lays out the story of God’s love for us in a very intriguing way.  It starts with rather impersonal terms of relationship or likeness, and as the story of God’s interaction with mankind develops, the terms become more and more intimate and compelling.  This was pointed out in the book Captivating, by John and Stasi Eldredge, pg. 114: “…Scripture uses a number of metaphors to describe our relationship with God.  We are portrayed as clay, and He is the Potter.  We are sheep, and He the Shepherd.  Every metaphor is beautiful and speaks to the various seasons of our spiritual lives and to the various aspects of God’s heart toward us.  But have you noticed they ascend in a stunning way?  From the Potter and his clay to a shepherd and his sheep, there is a marked difference in intimacy, in the way they relate.  It gets even better.  From master and servant to father and child, there is a wonderful progression into greater intimacy.  It grows more beautiful and rich when he calls us his friends.  But what is most breathtaking is when God says he is our Lover (our Bridegroom, our Fiance), and we his bride.  That is the pinnacle, the goal of our redemption (used in the last chapter of the Bible, when Christ returns for his bride) and the most intimate and romantic of all.

Here’s the bottom line on this, I think: we shouldn’t assume that God has been learning how to love us throughout human history, and that only by the time we reach the end of time itself will He love us maturely.  God doesn’t need to grow in anything.  It is we who must do the growing.  It is our love and understanding of it that is imperfect and immature and childish.  We learn from God’s dealings with His people more about Him, just as we learn more about our best friends as we go through life with them.  We couldn’t possibly understand God’s metaphors of love and relationship for us if not for the inspired record of His dealing with us.  And we couldn’t understand His dealings with us except for His Son and His sacrifice.  The final proof of His love for us that will usher us into that final relationship will be revealed when the Groom comes to collect His bride – just as the groom would come to collect his bride in the ancient Middle East.  He will keep His word and His promise that He’s given us.  He will prove His love yet once again when He comes back to get us and take us home.

Copyright 2005 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

TODAY’S PRAYER: Lord, we have so much to learn about love.  As your bride, may we prepare ourselves – not with outward adornment, but through learning how to love so that we may give you the glory that you deserve.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 9/11/15 – A Secret Name

DayBreaks for 9/11/15: A Secret Name

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

Rev. 2:17 (NLT) – Anyone who is willing to hear should listen to the Spirit and understand what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Everyone who is victorious will eat of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.

It seems too good to be true, but God wishes to have a relationship with each one of us. All our lives, we meet people and we’re drawn to some right away, hoping to become friends, to have a good relationship. Sometimes they may feel the same way, but sometimes they may not be interested in having a friendship with us. And it’s disappointing when that happens. As a result, we can withdraw from future encounters for fear of being marginalized again.

In Revelation 2 we see a wonderful picture. The victorious will dine on the manna that is hidden in heaven. You know what the manna was in the OT – the food that came down from heaven for the Israelites. Now, it says, that the manna is hidden away in heaven. That manna is the Living Bread, the bread that was broken and which gives us life. As wonderful as that is, we will be given a new name by Christ, a name that no one, except God and us, will know. 

What’s the point of having a name that no one knows? No one could call you by it! But I think at least part of what God is trying to tell us is that he wants to have a relationship with us that is unique – different from His relationship with anyone else. C. S. Lewis wrote about this when he suggested: “What shall we take this secrecy to mean? Surely, that each of the redeemed shall forever know and praise some on aspect of the Divine beauty better than any other creature can. Why else were individuals created, but that God, loving all infinitely, should love each differently…If all experienced God in the same way and returned Him an identical worship, the song of the Church triumphant would have no symphony, it would be like an orchestra in which all the instruments played the same note.”

Have you ever wished to be the best in the world at something? How about being the best in heaven, for all eternity, at praising and reflecting some aspect of God’s Divine nature and glory? I don’t know if C.S. Lewis is right about that idea or not, but certainly God has an individual relationship with each of us that is unique and there’s no reason to think that it will stop being unique when we get to heaven.

PRAYER: Lord, I am eager to know my new name and to have a relationship with you that is unbounded by time and untinged by my sin! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple. To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.

DayBreaks for 6/30/15 – God and the Kitchen Guy

DayBreaks for 6/30/15: God and the Kitchen Guy

Today’s DayBreaks is from the 2005 DayBreaks archive:

From John Ortberg’s God Is Closer Than You Think: “…a man named Nicholas Herman in the food service industry had had stints in the military and in transportation, and now he was a short-order cook and bottle-washer.  But he became deeply dissatisfied with his life; he worried chronically about himself, even whether or not he was saved.

“One day Nick was looking at a tree, and the same truth struck him that struck the psalmist so long ago: the secret of the life of a tree is that it remains rooted in something other and deeper than itself.  He decided to make his life an experiment in what he called a ‘habitual, silent, secret conversation of the soul with God.’

“He is known today by the new name given to him by his friends: brother Lawrence.  He remained obscure throughout his life.  He never got voted pope.  He never got close to becoming the CEO of his organization.  He stayed in the kitchen.  But the people around him found that rivers of living water flowed out of him that made them want to know God the way he did.  ‘The good brother found God everywhere,’ one of them wrote, ‘as much while he was repairing shoes as while he was praying with the community.’  After Lawrence died, his friends put together a book of his letters and conversations.  It is called Practicing the Presence of God and is thought, apart from the Bible, to be the most widely read book of the last four centuries.  This monastic short-order cook has probably out-sold novelists John Grisham and Tom Clancy and J.K. Rowling put together.”

How great is our hunger and longing for God?  How often do you find yourself being aware of His Presence?  You can find Him wherever you are today – in the kitchen, in the workplace, in the classroom, in the nursery and on the highway.  Know this: wherever you are, He will find you.  Will you find Him?  Do you want to?

Copyright by 2005 Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

To email Galen, click here: E-mail Galen.