DayBreaks for 07/01/11 – The Son of Man Must Suffer

DayBreaks for 07/01/11 – The Son of Man Must Suffer

NOTE: Galen is on Sabbatical until 7/11.  Until he returns, DayBreaks will be publishing prior devotions (that is, if Galen has access to the Internet!)  Thanks for your understanding!

The Son of Man came to serve..and suffer...and save

Luke 9:22 – “And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Why was it so hard for people to accept Jesus in his day?  Why is it so hard today?  Perhaps the clue is in this verse.  We need to look closely at what this verse said about Jesus.  It was necessary for him to suffer many things and be rejected.  As Jurgen Moltmann put it in The Crucified God: “To suffer and be rejected are not identical.  Suffering can be celebrated and admired.  It can arouse compassion.  But to be rejected takes away the dignity from suffering and makes it dishonorable suffering.  To suffer and be rejected signify the cross.”

It is fairly easy for people to be drawn to those who suffer for a good cause.  Consider Mother Theresa as an example – she suffered in many ways through self-denial and was perhaps one of the most admired women of the 20th century.  I have never in my life heard anyone say anything negative about Mother Theresa and her single-minded devotion to serving humanity.  But how would we have felt about her if she was also rejected by virtually everyone except for a small band of 12 followers (who ran and hid when she died)?

Persecution is all about rejection.  And Jesus warned us that we would be persecuted – clearly implying that his followers would be rejected.  After all, if we are to walk in His footsteps and he was rejected – can we expect any less?  In fact, wouldn’t you think that it would be a sign of a disciple?

How eager are you to earn the acceptance of those around you?  Are you so eager for their acceptance that you hide your allegiance to Christ to avoid their rejection?

The Son of man was rejected because it was necessary in order to maintain his holiness.  If we are to be His followers, we must be ready to accept rejection as well.

Copyright 2001 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 06/30/11 – The Parable of the Crazy Farmer

DayBreaks for 06/30/11 – The Parable of the Crazy Farmer

NOTE: Galen is on Sabbatical until 7/11.  Until he returns, DayBreaks will be publishing prior devotions (that is, if Galen has access to the Internet!)  Thanks for your understanding!

The Parable of the Crazy Farmer

Matt. 20:1-15 – “1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.  3 “About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.  “He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. 6 About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’  7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.  “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’  8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’  9 “The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12’These men who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’  13 “But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?‘”

Know this: given the time of the year (harvest), the fact that these men were still not working at the 11th hour would imply that they were lazy and shiftless and not very interested in work.  But one thing is sure about farming and harvest time: when you need workers, you need them NOW.  I doubt that they ran off to the fields after being hired.  Sauntering would be a better picture, and they worked a very short time (one hour).  Even today we resent those who don’t work very hard but who get a full paycheck.  Can you imagine their amazement when they were paid the same amount as those who had been there all day?  (It wasn’t the “short-timers” who complained – it was the men who had been working all day!)  I am not an entrepreneuer.  But this much I know about business: you won’t be in business long if you do such crazy things.

This parable, or one very much like it, was told by other rabbis during the time of Jesus.  But in their version, what was praised and stressed was the diligence of those hired during the 11th hour – how hard they worked.  But Jesus doesn’t mention it.  Instead, in his version of this story, the emphasis is on the generosity of the farmer.

Listen to what Brennan Manning had to say about this: “Two thousand years later the Christian community is still scandalized by divine generosity.  In one of his plays, Jean Anouilh portrays the Last Judgment as he imagines it: the just are densely clustered at the gate of heaven eager to march in, sure of their reserved seats, and bursting with impatience.  Suddenly a rumor starts spreading.  They look at one another in disbelief.  ‘Look, He’s going to forgive those others, too.’  They gasp and sputter: ‘After all the trouble I went through, I just can’t believe it.’  Exasperated, they work themselves into a fury and start cursing God.  And at that very instant, they are damned.  That was the final judgment, you see.  They judged themselves…Love appeared and they refused to acknowledge it.  ‘We don’t approve of a heaven that’s open to every Tom, Dick and Harry.  We spurn this God who lets everyone off.  We can’t love a God who loves so foolishly.’”

Don’t get me wrong – I know that Jesus is the only way to God, and that only those who turn to Jesus in faith and trust will be in heaven.  But can’t you see how this scenario could happen?  Have you never thought about your years of service and faithfulness and how you have “earned” a place in heaven?  (Of course, that’s not how it works!)  Think of it: after all you’ve given up, how fair is it of God to save someone like the thief on the cross who with virtually his last breath acknowledged Christ?  Would there not be some resentment?

For one, I am very glad that God loves so foolishly, that He is the crazy farmer in the story who chooses to lavish his riches on us.  You see, the men who worked one hour didn’t deserve what they got – but they benefited from God’s gratuitous generosity and they got it anyway.  And that’s the only way that any of us will get to heaven.

Copyright 2001 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 06/29/11 – To Feel the Power

DayBreaks for 06/29/11 – To Feel the Power

NOTE: Galen is on Sabbatical until 7/11.  Until he returns, DayBreaks will be publishing prior devotions (that is, if Galen has access to the Internet!)  Thanks for your understanding!

To feel the power...

Last summer, down on Lake Isabella, located in the high desert an hour east of Bakersfield, California, some folks who were new to boating were having a problem.  No matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t get their brand new 22-foot Bayliner to perform.  It was very sluggish in almost every maneuver, no matter how much power was applied.  After about an hour of trying to make it go, they putted over to a nearby marina, thinking someone there could tell them what was wrong.  A thorough topside check revealed everything in perfect working order.  The engine ran fine, the out drive went up and down, the prop was the correct size and pitch.  So, one of the marina guys jumped in the water to check underneath.  He came up choking on water, he was laughing so hard.  Under the boat, still strapped securely in place, was the trailer.”

I think that to some degree, we all like to feel power – the surge of a powerful engine in a car or boat, the thrust of the jet engines as they begin their gulping of air.

We long to feel power in our own spiritual lives as well.  The power comes from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  Try as we might, sometimes we just don’t seem to feel the power.  It seems that we just can’t seem to make any forward motion, or it is much slower and harder going than we thought it would be.

If there is something that we can learn from the boaters, it is that some things must behind in order to feel the intended power.  In our lives there are many things that weigh us down, that cause us to move slowly and sluggishly.  Do you want to feel the power of the Spirit in your life?  Take stock of what you are hauling around with you.  Bear in mind that it may be “below the waterline” and invisible to others.  My guess is that you know EXACTLY what it is that you need to detach from your life.  Now is the time to cast it aside and feel the power!

Hebrews 12:1 – “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us…”  You can’t run when you are weighed down.

Copyright 2001 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 06/28/11 – Avoiding Our Crucifixion

DayBreaks for 06/28/11 – Avoiding Our Crucifixion

NOTE: Galen is on Sabbatical until 7/11.  Until he returns, DayBreaks will be publishing prior devotions (that is, if Galen has access to the Internet!)  Thanks for your understanding!

Crucifixion, by Van Dyk

Matthew 26:39 – “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.

From Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane, it is clear that he wished for another way out – another way for man to be redeemed that would be less costly to him in personal terms.  Yet, he knew it wasn’t possible – there was no other way, and as a result, he laid down his own life, willingly and joyfully.  Even Jesus, as the son of David in his humanity, rebelled at the thought of the crucifixion.  Perhaps it is that very fact that makes his statement in Luke 9:23 so amazing: “Then he said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’

Jesus’ invitation is clear.  If we want to follow him, the price must be our lives.  Having been in a similar situation himself, facing a crucifixion, he hoped for another way out.  But there was no other way out for him, or for us.

I’m sure that Jesus didn’t make his statement in Luke 9:23 lightly.  Of course, at the time he spoke those words, he’d not yet faced his own crisis.  His crisis, I’m sure, was felt as deeply as we feel any of ours.  In many ways, his was much worse because he was beginning to feel the burden of the sin of the world in Gethsemane, the separation for God.  I can barely carry the weight of my own sin.

Satan has always been the patron “saint” of unholy self-interest.  He knows that, just as Jesus shrank back from the idea of the crucifixion, that we shrink back from the words of Jesus that tell us we share his destiny.  As Calvin Miller put it, “We sin when we try to picnic in Gethsemane.  Every time we refuse the cup of our own crucifixion, we serve the enemy of him whom we say we love.

Let’s stop trying to picnic in Gethsemane.  We’ve got a cross to bear.  It is the price of following Jesus.

Copyright 2001 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 06/27/11 – Changing Time Zones

DayBreaks for 06/27/11 – Changing Time Zones

NOTE: Galen is on Sabbatical until 7/11.  Until he returns, DayBreaks will be publishing prior devotions (that is, if Galen has access to the Internet!)  Thanks for your understanding!

Chronos and Kairos - Time Defined

Do you remember the old song by Jim Croce titled “Time in a Bottle”?  The lyrics described things he would do if he could control or bottle time.  Ever since Adam walked the earth, I would imagine that humans have been aware of the passing of time.  At some point in our lives, we become keenly aware of it and how it moves inexorably ahead.

Mythologically, Chronos (time) was the name of a short Greek god whose legs were muscular and whose heels were winged.  He moved fast.  He was bald and slick at the back of his head, but had lots of hair in the front.  The implication was that if you could grab him as he came toward you, you could take hold of him and make him respond to your wish.  But if you waited till he was past you, it was too late, for he was smooth-headed in the back and could not be grabbed once he had passed.

As I can testify, time moves rapidly!  I remember when one of my cousins, Denny, was 21 years old.  I thought he was soooo old.  In only a very few more years, my youngest will be 21.  Where has the time gone?  I remember when I was younger.  I had energy, I loved to get out and play sports, I could run forever and not get tired.  It seems like only yesterday.  But something happened between yesterday and today.  Now I’d rather watch sports than play them.  Now I can get a bit winded walking up a really long flight of stairs.  Sure, some exercise would help, but the youthful desire to go out and run and play has gone somewhere and I’ve not been able to find it.

Time is like oil – it is not a renewable resource.  It is finite and inexorable.  It moves at the same rate for everyone.

On my travels, I frequently pass through various time zones.  Depending on how far I travel on a given day, it can be very hard to adjust to different time zones.  God wants us to change time zones.  On the one hand, we sometimes act as if we will have this earthly life forever.  We put off the things that we shouldn’t put off because we think there will always be time for them later.  On the other hand, God wants us to not live with our eyes focused on the clock, but on eternity, where clocks are meaningless.  When we do that, our perspective changes and we aren’t as likely to make short term decisions that mortgage our eternal futures.

We probably tend to be stuck in one time zone or another.  Are you stuck living for today?  Perhaps you need to change your time zone!

Colossians 4:5 – “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.

Copyright 2001 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 06/24/11 – The Sandman of Gethsemane

DayBreaks for 06/24/11 – The Sandman of Gethsemane

NOTE: Galen is on Sabbatical until 7/11.  Until he returns, DayBreaks will be publishing prior devotions (that is, if Galen has access to the Internet!)  Thanks for your understanding!

The Sandman of Gethsemane

I really don’t know where the concept of the sandman came from.  Every parent knows about the “sandman”, and quite often prays for the sandman to come and visit the kids on those nights when the children are full of energy!  The sandman is tasked with bringing sleep to the weary.

Sometimes the sandman is welcome – and then again, there are times when the sandman isn’t welcome – if you are sitting in church, at your desk in school or at work, or when driving a car.  At times like those, the “sandman” is not our friend – he is our enemy.  The “sandman” isn’t new in the 20th century.  Long ago, in a garden on a hillside, the disciples were struck by this untimely visitor as described in Matthew 26:40: “40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter.

Have you ever, with the best and most noble intentions, risen up early or stayed up late to spend time in the word or in prayer but fell asleep?  Or, perhaps at a very critical time in your life, when you really needed to talk with God and hear from Him, you start to pray…and pray…and pray…and fall asleep.

Satan is not only the father of lies, but he uses other stratagems to keep us from the things that will strengthen our souls, including weariness that brings either spiritual or physical sleep. 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6 reminds us that we are to be different: “5 You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.

I’m sure that when the disciples got to Gethsemane, they had no intention to fall asleep during Jesus’ hour of need.  But you see, they had no idea that Jesus was coming into his time of need.  And therein is the challenge.  Perhaps there is someone right now that really needs you and your support.  You may have the greatest of intentions – but when the time of need comes, be aware that Satan will do his best to get you to shut your eyes and miss the opportunity.  Don’t let him lull you to sleep in such a way that you forsake your obligations and miss your opportunities.

Copyright 2001 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 06/23/11 – Character

DayBreaks for 06/23/11 – Character

NOTE: Galen is on Sabbatical until 7/11.  Until he returns, DayBreaks will be publishing prior devotions (that is, if Galen has access to the Internet!)  Thanks for your understanding!

Character and Integrity

Character.  A simple three syllable word.  Easy to say, but hard to come by.  Character is so very important and so very hard to find these days.  I know some men and women who are characters (and let’s face it – most of them are Christians – after all, who should be more filled with the joy and exuberance of life than those who are saved?!?!).  Sadly, I know more characters than people with character.  Character is supposed to be one of the hallmarks of the Christian (Romans 5:3-4 – “3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.”)

Character and reputation are not the same.  Abraham Lincoln described it this way: “Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow.  The shadows is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”  Character is the real.  It isn’t a shadow, but rather it has substance.  You can’t touch a shadow, but you can touch the tree.  Character is solidity that comes from knowing what is true, what is real and remaining loyal to the right in spite of whatever else may be going on.  A man or woman who possesses character is like “a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.  Whatever he does prospers.”  (Psalm 1:3)

Integrity and character are closely linked.  You cannot be a person of character without possessing integrity.  I had heard part of a quote before from Chuck Swindoll’s about character that went something like this: “Character is what you are when no one is looking.”  Well, I found the exact words, and while that part of the quote was a great one, the exact quote is even better: “True integrity implies you do what is right when no one is looking or when everyone is compromising.

What do you do when no one is looking at you?  When no one sees or can see?  Does your integrity hold up?  As difficult as living that definition of integrity out in daily life is, it is the last part of the phrase that is perhaps even more challenging: doing what is right when everyone all around you is compromising.  You see, when you are alone, it is only you, Satan and Jesus doing warfare.  But when you are surrounded by those who are compromising, not only are you wrestling with Satan, but you are wrestling with peer pressure to compromise, too.

Character and integrity don’t care which way the wind is blowing.  They care about what is right.  The man or woman of character clings to right like a plant growing in the rocky crevasse – tenacious and unyielding.  Are you the real thing?  Sink your roots deep into God’s soil.  Resolve now to be a person of character from this day forward.

Copyright 2001 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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