DayBreaks for 4/18/19 – The Torch, the Old Man and the Hands of a King

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DayBreaks for 4/18/19: The Old Man, the Torch and the Hands of the King

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2009:

So He said to him, “Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds. The birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away. It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces.  (Gen. 15:9-11, 17) 

Nearly 2000 years passed from the time God met with Abram (as noted above) and made His covenant.  Covenants were sealed in those days by this display of gore and blood.  Covenants were serious business.  Cutting a heifer, goat and ram into two pieces would not have been pretty, clean work.  Effort was required, blood was spilled.  The participants would be covered in blood.  But that was only the beginning.  As verse 17 shows, passing between the cut-up animals was part of the deal, too.  It was what we would think of as the signature on a contract – it was what made it binding.  It was a way of saying, “If I don’t keep my end of this bargain, you can cut me up and do to me the same thing we’ve done to these animals.”

But on the night God made this covenant with Abram, only the flaming torch passed between the pieces.  Only God walked that pathway – not Abram.  God knew full well that Abram could not keep a covenant any more than we’ve kept our covenant to obey God.  So God took the full responsibility for the covenant upon Himself, freeing us.

Switch scenes to Good Friday: “And when human hands fastened the divine hands to a cross with spikes, it wasn’t the soldiers who held the hands of Jesus steady.  It was God who held them steady.  For those wounded hands were the same invisible hands that had carried the firepot and the torch two thousand years earlier.  They were the same hands that had brought light into Abraham’s thick and dreadful darkness.  They had come to do it again.” – Max Lucado, Six Hours One Friday
God kept His word.  Except this time, the bloody carcass wasn’t a heifer, goat or ram.  It was His own.

Prayer: Great covenant-keeping God, we prostrate ourselves before your greatness and glory, in awe of your love.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

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DayBreaks for 4/17/19 – Easter and Fatigue

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DayBreaks for 4/17/19: Easter and Fatigue

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2009:

Crash and burn.  That’s what most of us do each night.  We crash, memories and thoughts burning about the calamities of the day.  But we’re so tired that we can’t maintain the frantic mental pace for long…and we mercifully find sleep’s embrace – but only for a short time.  Before you know it, it’s morning and the cycle starts all over again. 

What is it that haunts us?  We spend our numbered days running from meeting to meeting, airport to airport, hither, thither and yon doing our jobs or errands.  Often it’s at a job that we hate.  But deep down, I think Max Lucado was right, when he suggested that what really haunts us is the question: “Is it worth it?  When I get what I want, will it be worth the price I paid?”  Good question.  Perhaps the answer has more to do with whether what we want is worthy of so much wanting.

In Six Hours One Friday, Max told a story about a San Antonio lawyer: “Successful, well-paid,  new wife, remodeled house.  But apparently it wasn’t enough.  One day, he came home, took a gun out of his vault, climbed into a sleeping bag, and took his life.  His note to his bride read, ‘It’s not that I don’t love you.  It’s just that I’m tired and I want to rest.’”  Tiredness.  Fatigued to the extreme.  If that doesn’t describe most people I know, I don’t know what does.

It’s that mountain of weariness that makes the Words of Christ so compelling and inviting: Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  So, what was there about Jesus that makes us think we can believe he can do anything about our fatigue?  After all, he is a penniless rabbi – he can’t provide an economic stimulus (i.e, “bailout”) to the nation.  He doesn’t have the ear of the President or the NATO leaders.  He holds no diploma and has never written any best-selling self-help books on how to prioritize and get control of your life.  But that doesn’t matter – he looks weary people straight in the face and says, Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

The tiredest thing about us isn’t our bodies, as tired as they may be.  It’s our souls that are threadbare and worn.  It was the weariness of the attorney’s soul that led him to pull that trigger – not just bodily tiredness. 

Those who accepted the invitation to “Come unto me” found that when they brought him their weary souls they found something wonderful in return. They found a Lord who loved them.  A Lord who knew all about their everyday challenges and struggles.  A Lord who understood their frustrations with wanting but not finding satisfaction in the getting.  A Lord that they could call Savior, because he did for their souls what no night’s sleep could ever accomplish. 

Yes, we are tired when we go to bed, and often we are reluctant to rise in the morning.  If we take Jesus’ invitation and come to him for rest for our souls, each day and morning is laden with possibilities of a day spent in the presence of the Living God, an adventure of the highest order.  Do you need refreshing?  Do you need rest?  Maybe you’re so tired because you have spent so much energy trying to run and live your own life that you forgot that Jesus wants to live His life through you.  Let him.  You’ll be eager to rise!

Prayer: We are weary and tired, Lord, and we come to You for rest.  Let us lay down the futility of trying to find meaning and purpose in getting and having.  Pour Your Spirit of renewal and power into our lives that we will find the rest that can only be found in You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 4/16/19 – Easter and Rejection

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DayBreaks for 4/16/19: Easter and Rejection

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2009:

Can you remember how it felt the first time you were rejected?  It may have been that you weren’t “wanted” on the team.  It may have been the first time you asked out that little red-headed, freckle faced girl and she turned up her nose at you and said (loudly!): “Eewwww!  I’d never go out with you!”  Rejection hurts.  Rejection hammers at the spirit and the heart and hope.  Rejection is a killer.

The woman was from Samaria.  She knew all about rejection.  She’d been married 5 times – and she’d heard the door slammed behind her 5 times as her husband of the moment threw her out and yelled at her, “And don’t come back!”  Even her friends had rejected her – after all, it could damage one’s reputation to hang out with such a woman who seemed not to have any scruples or moral fiber.  And so, when she went to the well, she went alone, carrying her water jar on her shoulder.  It was in the blazing heat of the day – so strong was her rejection by others that she didn’t dare go in the cool of the morning when other women would go – no, they wanted nothing to do with her, no matter if her heart cried out for someone, anyone, to care. 

Only on this day, there’s a man at the well.  She wonders if she will be safe.  Could he be violent?  A bandit, or even worse, a rapist waiting to fall upon a woman alone?  She proceeds, and when she gets there, this man looks at her and in a pleasant voice, asks for water, but she still was suspicious that he might have had something else in mind.  She was partly right – for he begins to ask her questions that plumbed the depth of her lonely, aching heart that had known so much rejection.  He even knew about her past…and yet he spoke to her with a tone of respect.  And then he offered her something that could quench the burning, not in her throat, but in her soul. 

As the questioning proceeded, she must have expected more rejection once she told him about her checkered past.  But she didn’t get criticism or any kind of lecture.  Jesus hadn’t come to the well seeking perfection, but honesty.  And finally, she said that she didn’t know where to go to find God, unaware He was talking with her that very moment.  Can you imagine the smile that crept across Jesus’ face and heart as he heard those words?  Here he was, in Samaria – and he’d found a hungry, thirsty heart for God.  And, it was not just any Samaritan, it was a woman.  And who would have thought that a 5-time “loser” in marriage would be so thirsty for God?  Jesus did.  This was perhaps the most outcast and rejected person in the area. 

And then a remarkable thing happened.  Jesus said to her, “I AM the Messiah.”  He could have gone to Rome and told that to Caesar and made Caesar bow down when he heard the words.  He could have gone to Herod and told him that He was the real King.  He could have gone to the religious leaders and told them the truth and opened their eyes and made believers out of them.  But he didn’t.  He revealed himself to the most rejected, broken, outcast person of all.

But what we often miss in this story is what happens next.  The woman got up, raced off and told others.  What is significant is what she left behind.  She left behind the water jar, to be sure – Scripture says so.  This water jar is a symbol of all the burden of shame, guilt and rejection she’d felt for year after year after long, lonely year.  She left it behind and ran into the town to talk to others – something she wouldn’t have dared do before coming to the well and meeting Jesus.  Why?  Because the very One who had the most right to reject her was the One that she discovered loved her the most.

Are you feeling rejected this Easter season?  Meet Jesus at the cross.  Let the one who was despised and rejected fill you with the Living Water.  The one who wouldn’t let this woman be alone in her rejection take you in his embrace and give you the love and welcome that you are so thirsty to find.  Let your rejection be healed by his welcome!

Prayer: Hallelujah, for Jesus is the friend of sinners, unafraid to meet us in our loneliness and rejection, the One who speaks words of life into the most shattered heart!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 4/15/19 – Easter and Disappointment

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DayBreaks for 4/15/19: Easter and Disappointment

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2009:

When was the last time you were disappointed? My guess is that you are disappointed in some things every day.  I know I am.  I think of the story of the disciples on the Emmaus road.  As they trudged along on their way, the disappointment drips from their lips like honey from the honeycomb.  But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. (Lk. 24:21, NASB)
But we were hoping…hopes are now dashed, broken into pieces like shattered glass.  Their disappointment was so deep that they couldn’t even recognize that the One of whom they were speaking was walking beside them.  As Max Lucado points out in He Still Moves Stones, “Disappointment will do that to you.  It will blind you to the very presence of God.  Discouragement turns our eyes inward.  God could be walking next to us, but despair clouds our vision.  Despair does something else…it hardens our hearts.  We get cynical.  We get calloused.  And when good news comes, we don’t want to accept it for fear of being disappointed again.” 

You may be disappointed right now about your job, your marriage, your children or yourself.  There are several things to note about the Emmaus’ disciples and their encounter with Jesus that might be instructive:

FIRST: they kept walking and they talked about their disappointments.  They didn’t try to hide them – in fact, it seems that their disappointment was so palpable that they couldn’t NOT talk about it.  But they knew what direction they were going and they kept moving.  They didn’t stop and stew in their disappointment.  They moved onward.

SECOND: it took Jesus to turn their disappointment into rejoicing and celebration.  He did that by coming to them…not once they’d already started to celebrate, but when there were at their point of deepest pain.  It was then that they needed him the most, perhaps.  On the one hand, they were blaming God for not doing what they thought He should have done or for not doing what they thought He was doing.  Many of our unfulfilled expectations we blame on God, but remember: they may just be our own expectations, created out of our own imagination and we project them onto God as His responsibility to fulfill.  They surely thought they knew what Jesus was supposed to do – and felt he’d tricked them all.  So, who else but Jesus could turn the situation around? 

THIRD: Jesus began to heal their disappointment by telling them a story: the story of God’s faithfulness and activity throughout history.  Why?  To show them that God was still in control.  Nothing is finished until God says it is finished – surely, Jesus wasn’t finished even though they thought he was.  Those who are disappointed need to remember that God is still in control.  And what can be bad about that?

If you are walking a disappointment-filled road today, keep walking and talking with Jesus about your disappointment.  He will meet you in your pain.  Let the Word remind you that God is still in charge – not just of world events, but of your life and destiny.  And that’s not a bad thing to remember!

Prayer: In our disappointments, Lord Jesus, let us not just listen for your voice, but look for your face as  you walk next to us, reminding us that you know, you understand, and you have it all under control!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 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 4/11/19 – Who Will Show Us Better Times?

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DayBreaks for 4/11/19: Who Will Show Us Better Times?

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2009:

I remember one morning shortly after the 2008 presidential election, I was listening to the radio in the garage as I was exercising.  There were people on the radio who were so excited about what Barack Obama would do for them.  Now, I’ll grant you that this isn’t a reflection on Barack Obama, but just on a few people (probably the most radical ones they could find) who were among his adoring band of adherents.  I could scarcely believe my ears when I heard this one lady say “Now I won’t have to make my house or car payments any more.”  What was she thinking?  She was thinking that the new President was somehow going to make everything better overnight and that she’d no longer have to meet her obligations – the government would take care of it all for her for the rest of her life.   When I heard her statement, I about fell off the elliptical machine!

On the day I wrote this email, the news was reporting that for the first time, they are now forecasting a global recession.  (As if we weren’t already in one!)  And, the news about GM isn’t good: they plan to shut down for 9 weeks this summer in order “to save money” – but did you know that GM is obligated to make up the difference between what the employees would normally be paid and what they will get on temporary disability?  It’s not clear how much money it will save them, but that’s not the point, either.  The jobless rate continues to climb.  The announcer on the radio also pointed out that home prices in the bay area have fallen another 12.5% from this time last year, and that the market is still stagnant and the prospects for it picking up soon aren’t good.

So, is it any wonder that some will fantasize about how someone (read “government”) will fix all our problems for us?  Let’s face it: we all would like things to be better, for the economy to be good again, for much of the discomfort and hardship to be over and gone and for the “good times” to roll.  That’s what’s so intriguing about this passage from the NLT, found in Psalm 4:6-8: “Many people will say, ‘Who will show us better times?’  Let Your face smile on us, Lord.  You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.  In peace I will lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.”

What a great passage!  People all over are seeking for someone to “show us better times”, even if it means mortgaging our grandchildren’s future.  Isn’t that a bit selfish on our part?  I’d rather deal with the hard times myself than pass it off on my grandkids.  But the answer to the question is implied in the second line: “Let Your face smile on us, Lord.”  You can’t expect the President, Congress, the United Nations, the European Union/Common Market, the burgeoning economies of India or China to show us better times. 

As Christians, we need to take it to heart that we already have better times given to us by the Lord.  He has given us greater joy than those who have riches.  And at night, we can sleep deeply, drinking in the truth of the knowledge that the Lord, and only the Lord, can and will keep us safe and bring us better times – in the next life, if not in this one.

Prayer: Lord, forgive our frantic worrying about the good times.  Help us to hold firmly to the truth that you have ALREADY given us greater joy than anything that money or bumper crops could possibly afford!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 4/10/19 – Loaded with Toxic Assets

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DayBreaks for 4/10/19: Loaded with Toxic Assets

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2009:

I am not an economist – nor do I want to be.  Frankly, studying money and economies has always seemed like a huge waste of time given the fact that it’s all going to be burned up in the end and no one can take any worldly assets to the next world. 

Still, economic crises bring new economic terms and phrases into the headlines and our awareness, not the least of which is this one: toxic assets. While I don’t really understand it all too well, my take is that toxic assets are largely responsible for the trouble that banks are facing right now.  These toxic assets are loans, and it works like this: People owe the banks money.  Normally, banks like this.  Theywant people to owe them money and pay them interest because that’s how banks make a profit. But with the economy in its present condition, especially with the mortgage foreclosure crisis, many of the loans which should have been “assets” to the bank have actually become liabilities because the houses that secured the loans are now worth less than the amount of the loan itself.  So, a home that was purchased for $250,000 may now only be worth $150,000 – meaning that the bank has essentially lost $100,000 on the deal (not counting the interest they’d have made if the economy had held strong.)  So, instead of having several hundred thousands of dollars out of the loan in interest, the bank takes back the property after they’ve loaned out $250,000 – but the property is only worth $150,000 if they were to sell it!  This is a toxic asset, as I understand it.

And I know this much about accounting: when an asset hurts the bottom line of the financial statement, it is no longer an asset, but a liability – a loss or debt. And loss and debt are toxic to business.

I think we can make a spiritual application here: assets are not just a banking phenomenon.  There can be toxic spiritual assets, too. Anything we think is helpful to us in a spiritual way as individuals, but that actually is hurting us spiritually is a toxic asset.

The New Testament writers gave us lists of sins of the flesh.  We may think we aren’t doing the things listed, but in our modern world new and easier ways to sin have become very common.  The advent of computers and the Internet made lust much more easy (and seemingly more “innocent”), illegal drugs are everywhere, obesity is epidemic – these are all toxic assets.  People engage in these and other pleasures because they think that somehow, they will benefit us, not hurt us.  But the opposite is true.

Nearly anything can be a toxic asset, including homes, cars, IRA’s, 401K’s, boats, partying, etc., when they take over your life and push God into the shadows. Even something as seemingly innocent as a job can be a toxic asset. Money, education, family and friends, physical beauty – all these things can be great assets up unto the point where one allows them to take God’s place in their life, and start to live for them or trust in them.  Then, they have become toxic assets. 

Does this sound a lot like idolatry?  It is.  But most of us think we aren’t idolaters.  We have an image in our mind of a statue of some kind when we speak of idols.  That’s just what Satan wants us to think about when we think of idolatry.  He knows most of us aren’t going to fall for that one.  But an idol is nothing more or less than a toxic asset, and toxic assets are spiritual things that we think will help us but which are really just idols.

Banks are trying desperately to shed their financial toxic assets.  We would do well to work even harder at getting the toxic assets out of our own lives.

Prayer: Jesus, help us learn that not all that appears to be beneficial or which promises us pleasure or escape is good.  Give us new hearts and minds to understand how toxic our sin and dalliances are to our spirits.  Renew a clean heart within us, free from toxic things, a heart that longs for that which is pure and holy.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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