DayBreaks for 8/26/16 – The God Who Weeps

DayBreaks for 8/26/16 – The God Who Weeps

Jesus wept. – John 11:35

This is probably the first verse that most of us ever memorized. Why? Because it was short and easy. But short and easy can make it more likely that we’ll miss the incredible power of God’s word to tell us something important in just 9 letters combined into two words.

I have often wondered why Jesus wept. I’ve heard many different interpretations, but the most common are that 1) he was moved by the grief of his friends; 2) he was grieving himself over the loss of Lazarus; 3) he was agonizing over the effects of the fall on humanity – and death was included as part of that fall. I don’t know for sure why he wept, but I rather doubt it was the second one – after all, Jesus knew perfectly well what he was going to do in Bethany that day. But whatever we do, we shouldn’t let our not knowing why Jesus wept distract us from the fact that he did weep.

The shortest verse in the Bible is probably also one of the most poignant and important verses of all time. Some ancients believed that the gods lacked emotions. Their reasoning was that if the gods had emotions then they could be swayed by people and events and that they would no longer be gods. So, they held that the gods must be stoic and untouched emotionally from human affairs. Jesus destroys that notion. Jesus shows us a God who weeps. This is important for at least two reasons: 1) it gives me hope that my prayers can move God, just as God was moved by the requests of Moses and David and many others throughout history; 2) it comforts me to know that Jesus understands heartbreak caused by living in the human condition. It makes me able to go to him and know he “gets it”. And it gives me hope that when I weep, he weeps with me, even as he wept with his friends in that cemetery in Bethany.

You may need someone to weep with you, to share your sorrow and grief. Jesus is that Person you need. He is “the man of sorrows”, “acquainted with grief.” Scripture doesn’t tell us those things just to be telling us facts about Jesus, but to know he sympathizes with us to the point of sitting beside us and crying himself.

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, thank you for inspiring John to record that Jesus wept. May all who weep today find comfort in His Presence beside them! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 8/25/16 – Lazarus’ Unexpected Experience

DayBreaks for 8/25/16 – Lazarus’ Unexpected Experience

In spite of all the “near death experiences” and stories about what happens after you die, we really just don’t know. There are those who say that at least some of these experiences are real…and then there are those who say they are nothing more than the dying embers of the brain firing on whatever cylinders are left. As Christians, we believe in life after death. I know, I certainly do. But do I know precisely what happens when one dies? I’m not talking about the physical process of dying – I think I understand that fairly well. I’m referring to the question of will we be conscious or not?

There are clues scatted around the bible that might cause us to believe we’ll be conscious (like the story of Lazarus and the rich man, etc.), but there are others that tend to imply that we won’t be conscious. I don’t know. I rather suspect we will be conscious, but that’s all beside the point.

In the story of Lazarus’ resurrection in John 11, I would be willing to bet that when Lazarus drew his last breath that he didn’t expect his next experience to be hearing Jesus’ voice call him back to life. But because we have that story in Scripture, I can also know that if I am unconscious after I die that the next voice I may hear will be the voice of Jesus calling me out of my grave, too, or his face greeting me on “the other side”.

Sort of puts a bit more excitement and anticipation into the concept of dying as I see it!  

PRAYER: Jesus, while we don’t know what it will be like to die, it is tremendously comforting to know that your face or your voice will be our next conscious experience! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 8/24/16 – The Power of Outward Appearance

DayBreaks for 8/24/16 – The Power of Outward Appearance

We live in a world that is obsessed with outward appearance. You can see it without even trying at the gym where I work out. People sweating and straining to make their bodies look better (I like to think that I’m just there so I’ll be healthier, but I know in my heart that I, too, am vain about my appearance!) Advertisements for botox injections for just $8 per unit (whatever that means!!!) I noticed a new ad the other day for something that will take away a double-chin…for a fee.

As I was having some time in the Word this past week, I was struck by a passage from John 10:22-24 (ESV) – At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

I love how John puts it so matter-of-factly…Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. He could have said “Peter was walking in the temple” and it would have been just as nonchalant.

Get it: John is say that God walked along the colonnade of Solomon in winter in the temple. It wasn’t just a man who was walking through the temple that day – God was walking there! He had a physical presence that could be seen but his glory was masked by the tent of human skin and bone. Yet make no mistake about it – it was God who walked in their midst…the very God who had parted the sea, kept a boat afloat in the greatest storm the world has ever seen, who slew giants, who dispatched an angel to slay thousands of Assyrians. This was the very God who had healed the sick, given sight to the blind, raised the dead, and yet the question remained in their hearts, Are you the Christ?

The power of outward appearance is immense…for good or bad. The physical presence hid the glory of God as Jesus walked through that colonnade that day. And that raises a terribly vexing question in my mind: How often does my outward appearance hide His glory from others? I’m not really talking about my physical appearance, but my actions and words that people see expressed through my physical appearance. My doubts and fears hid his presence in me. My insecurities mask my true identity in Christ as a child of God. My lack of faith, my explicit sin, my lack of compassion certainly hides the glory of God that is meant to be so visible in all His children.

I think they truly didn’t know if he was the Messiah or not, in spite of all he’d done. I’d like to think that if they did know he was the Messiah that surely they would not have killed him, would they? Maybe they would. They were so focused on what they believed was good for themselves that they didn’t really care. And maybe I am more like than I want to admit.

PRAYER: Jesus, would I recognize you if I saw you walking in the mall today? Would I believe if you looked just like me? Help me to learn from this – that my outward appearance and actions often hide your glory and make it impossible for others to see you in me. Forgive me! Let me look more like your true nature! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 8/23/16 – How Do You Define Peace?

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DayBreaks for 8/23/16 – How Do You Define Peace?

The Olympics are over. They are to be a peaceful celebration…a chance to act towards one another in a more civilized way. But, what is peace? How much peace do you have in your life? Do we even know what peace is all about?

“Peace” comes from the Latin, pax. To the Romans, it meant a stoppage of hostilities between the conqueror and the vanquished, with the conqueror dictating terms to the defeated. Pax, even in Rome, was temporary because it depended on who was in a position fo strength. One day it might be one group, the next day someone else.

The Hebrew word for peace, shalom, mean much, much more. It has a rich meaning: wholeness, completeness, soundness, health, safety and prosperity. It carries the idea not or transitoriness, but of permanence.

To Christian, shalom is the state of those who are assured of their present and future salvation in Christ. It gives contentment to those who have it – no matter their earthly lot or circumstance.

Note these differences between pax and shalom:

One person can dictate peace (pax); shalom is a mutual agreement.

Pax is temporary; shalom is a permanent covenant.

Pax is the absence of commotion; shalom the presence of serenity and wholeness.

I think that this is true: sometimes we are more than ready to just settle for détente. And when we aim so low, we miss what is best.

Don’t settle for anything less than shalom – not with relatives, friends, neighbors, employers…but most of all, not with God.

Where do we find shalom? Isaiah 9 tells us Jesus is the Prince of Peace…and of the greatness of his governance and peace there will be no end!

How is his peace different? Isaiah 53 tells us that ..the punishment that brought us SHALOM was on him and by his wounds we are healed.

It seems a bit strange to say this, perhaps, but without war there can be no shalom. Isaiah says to: the punishment that brought peace was laid on him. The full war came raging down on Jesus as the spiritual weapons of mass destruction pummeled Him…because of our sin. The war of God on sin was waged on the cross of Christ. Justice was served. War over!

Shalom came on that day by mutual agreement of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is what we have been freely given. If you want shalom, you can find it in the Prince of Peace. It will enable you to fear nothing from God – and to be content with your earthly lot – whatever that lot may be.

PRAYER: Prince of Peace, fill us with your shalom! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 8/22/16 – Misunderstanding Life – and the Father

 

DayBreaks for 8/22/16 – Misunderstanding Life – and the Father

There is no greater example of the gospel than that found in Luke 15 where Jesus tells three stories: the lost sheep, the lost coin…and the “prodigal son” story (and that’s a huge misnomer!) So, my dear, dear friend…this is a story for you…

Luke 15:17-20 (ESV) – But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

Our lead teacher (Randy) has been doing a series on this chapter and it has been so rich! Sunday, he spoke about this son – this younger, prideful, rebellious son and about his return home. There were some key points that I wanted to share from his message because they blessed me and I think they’ll bless you, too.

FIRST: this young, headstrong and inconsiderate man thought that in license there would be freedom. He wanted to cast off the restraints of living in the presence of the father, thinking that if he could only go and do what he wanted, to be in charge and control of his own life, that he could find happiness. But, as Randy noted, “License always ends in bondage.” We think that the lack of restraints is what will not only bring us joy, but bring us freedom. It won’t. It ends in bondage. License doesn’t set you free – the Truth is what sets us free!

SECOND: the son totally misunderstood the father. He is hoping against hope to be welcome to serve as a hired hand in the father’s house and business. That’s all he could aspire to, all he could imagine after what he’d done to his father. But this just shows how badly he misunderstood the father. There is no way that the father would take his son back as a hired hand! No! This son was treated to the father’s very own rob, to shoes for his feet, a ring for his hand…but far more than that, what was the greatest gift of the father was his embrace and kiss. Fathers don’t embrace and kiss hired hands…but they do their sons and daughters. This son had no idea how much he was loved by the father until the embrace and kiss took place!

THIRD: perhaps most importantly – and I hope you don’t miss this one – the embrace and kiss are NOT given to the son because he came home.  They are given because he was a son…a child so deeply loved by the father that no other response from the father was even possible! The embrace and kiss had to be given because the father couldn’t not constrain his love.

In order to come home, we have to believe in the love of the father. The young man believed – or rather hoped – that there was some compassion in the heart of his dad.  He just didn’t know the love that was in the father’s heart.

And so it is with you and me. We won’t come home (not to a physical or metaphysical place) but into the relationship of the Father’s person, unless we begin to believe He loves us. And when we make the first step, oh sweet joy! – the Father runs to us, encircles us with His almighty arms, and gives us a “welcome home” kiss!

Are you away from “home”, thinking that maybe if you’re super lucky, that the Father might let you inhabit the darkest corner of heaven as a sweeper of the golden street? Forget it! You will be welcomed as a beloved child – and the greatest celebration of all eternity will begin – and never end!

PRAYER: Oh, Father, Father, Father! Your love is so overwhelming! Help us believe that You love us like this – even more than this – and that we are welcome in the home of Your embrace forever! In the name of Christ Jesus, our Lord, Amen. 

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

 

DayBreaks for 8/19/16 – The Figure in the Darkness

DayBreaks for 8/19/16 – The Figure in the Darkness

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2006:

From “Our Daily Bread”, October 1: “The early American Indians had a unique practice of training young braves. On the night of a boy’s thirteenth birthday, after learning hunting, scouting and fishing skills, he was put to one final test. He was placed in a dense forest to spend the entire night alone. Until then, he had never been away from the security of the family and the tribe. But on this night, he was blindfolded and taken several miles away. When he took off the blindfold, he was in the middle of a thick woods and he was terrified! Every time a twig snapped, he visualized a wild animal ready to pounce. After what seemed like an eternity, dawn broke and the first rays of sunlight entered the interior of the forest. Looking around, the boy saw flowers, trees, and the outline of the path. Then, to his utter astonishment, he beheld the figure of a man standing just a few feet away, armed with a bow and arrow. It was his father. He had been there all night long.”

Galen’s Thoughts: When was the last time you were afraid? As we get older, we aren’t as afraid of the dark as when we were younger. (But let’s admit it – OK? Aren’t you more easily frightened in the dark – still?!?! I am!) But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have fears. Your greatest fears may now be about your bills, your health, your children or grandchildren or your future. But you have fears. You know yours – I know mine. Sometimes it seems that every time you turn around, you hear a “branch snap” and it seems that your worst nightmare is about to come true.

We are, like the young boy in the story, away from the security of the family and tribe. Our citizenship is not in this world – it is in heaven and we are only passing through (Phil. 3:20). We won’t be home until we get to Heaven. So, in the meantime, we have to endure what I believe Thomas Merton referred to as “the long night of the soul”. The night is filled with sounds that alarm and frighten us – and yes, if we are honest – there are times we are very afraid. We sometimes wonder if we’ll make it.

And then the light dawns and we see we weren’t alone at all. For in the darkness is a figure who was keeping watch over us all during the “long dark night of the soul”, armed and ever vigilant to protect and deliver us in case of any danger. And it is our Father. And our fears vanish with the rays of the Son.

The darkness WILL end someday, and with dawning will come the realization that although at times we thought and felt we were alone, that we NEVER were alone – not even for a second. And then, our Father will take us home.

PRAYER:  Father, thank You for watching over us not only during the dark night but at every moment of the day and night for as long as we live.  What a comfort it is to know that you are always with us, that we are never lost from Your sight and never outside of Your protection.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 8/18/16 – Titanic Story, #1

DayBreaks for 8/18/16 – Titanic Story, #1

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2006:

This is from a letter to the editor of August ’97 Focus on the Family recounting a story about the sinking of Titanic and a man by the name of John Harper:

“…John Harper, who was on the Titanic and traveling to Chicago to become the pastor at Moody Memorial church.  In the icy water, Harper won his last convert just before he drowned – a young Scotsman who survived.  He later told how Harper called out – while clinging to a floating spar – “Are ye saved, mon?” and quoted Acts 16.31 just in time.”

Galen’s thoughts:

I wonder how I would have spent my last few minutes before dying in the icy water of the north Atlantic.  I might have had my mind occupied with my wife and children, parents or other family and friends.  I might have cried and been pleading with God to save me from drowning.  I don’t know if I would have been focused on trying to share my faith with someone else, but when you think of it, what better time could there possibly be to share your faith when those around you are on the verge of dying?

Isn’t that the sad part?  Because it is true that people all around us are dying and they are dying in their sins.  We, through the grace and goodness of God and for no other reason, have the life raft that they all need.  We just don’t see them as drowning, dying people.  We see them as laughing, shopping, working, studying, ordinary every day people who are just going casually about their business.  But without the saving blood of Jesus Christ, they are adrift in the cold waters that will take their life for all eternity. 

Part of the problem is that they, themselves, don’t realize that they are dying.  They think that they are just fine. That they are “unsinkable” and that all is well.  How sad and tragic! 

I’m reminded by a gospel hymn that was written long ago (I don’t remember the name of the composer) as he was aboard a ship that was sinking because the lighthouse wasn’t working.  The words go as follows, and they serve as a challenge to each one of us:  “Let the lower lights be burning, send a gleam across the wave, some poor fainting, struggling seaman, you may rescue, you may save.” 

We are the lighthouse.  We are to be set upon a hill so that the light can’t be hidden.  Let your light shine and rescue those who are dying.  Is your light shining bold and brightly?  This may be the last day you will have to reach a certain person, to touch them with the love of the Lord.   Throw out the lifeline to someone today!

PRAYER:  Give us Your sense of urgency for those who are lost and dying.  Give us boldness to speak words of truth. Your Words are truth and they are life.  May we never forgive that.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.