DayBreaks for 1/29/16 – What the Incarnation Meant to God

DayBreaks for 1/28/16: He Is Thinking of Me Right Now

From the DayBreaks archive, January 2006:

I know, I know, Christmas is over.  But, there’s only 332 shopping days left until it comes again!  We talk about the Incarnation a lot at Christmas time – and we should.  The incarnation was crucial for us – it was the answer to the ageless question of each generation of people since the beginning of time: “What is God like?”  Jesus’ response to the disciples request to show them the Father was essentially this: “Do you see me?  Then you’ve seen God.  If you know what I’m like, you’ll know what God is like, for I am the exact image of the Father.”

So, were it not for the Incarnation, we would still be asking the question that the disciples, and billions of others throughout the history of the world, have asked.  So we find meaning in the Incarnation.

But what of God?  Did the Incarnation have meaning to Him in some way that we might have missed?  I believe so.  In Where is God When It Hurts?, Philip Yancey suggested: “…the Incarnation had meaning for God as well as for us.  Human history revolves around not our experience of God, but His experience of us.  On one level, of course, God understood physical pain, for he designed the marvelous nervous system that warns against harm.  But had he, a Spirit, ever felt physical pain?  Not until the Incarnation…In thirty-three years on earth, Jesus learned about hardship and rejection and betrayal.  And he learned too about pain: what it feels like to have an accuser leave the red imprint of his fingers on your face, to have a whip studded with metal lash across your back, to have a crude iron spike pounded through muscle, tendon, and bone.  On earth, the Son of God learned all that.”

There are other Scriptures that suggest that Jesus learned things while he was here, living through the human experience.  He learned obedience by the things he suffered.  He learned the nauseating sense of fear that can make us all sweat – even if we never sweat drops of blood from the intensity as He did.  When the Spirit of Christ took on flesh, there must have been many things that God felt for the first time.  He bore it all, without sin, not because it was pleasant for Him, but because it was necessary for him to make him into our perfect high priest, able to sympathize with all our human condition.

TODAY’S PRAYER:  Lord, when we hurt it is such a blessing to be able to speak to someone who has felt what we feel, who has endured what we must suffer.  Thank You, for being willing to take on such humiliation, and such pain, so that You would understand us.  Thank You for letting us see Your heart in Jesus on the cross.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

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DayBreaks for 1/28/16 – He Is Thinking Of Me Right Now

DayBreaks for 1/28/16: He Is Thinking of Me Right Now

From the DayBreaks archive, January 2006:

Ps 40:17 NLT – As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord is thinking about me right now.  You are my helper and my savior.  Do not delay, O my God.

The ancients really didn’t think much of their gods.  They believed that the gods weren’t very favorably disposed towards humans.  They believed that the gods made people largely to dig ditches and to irrigate the fields so that the gods didn’t have to do that kind of work themselves.  In that sense, they felt they were slaves to the gods, oppressed by them.  And the gods rarely, if ever, gave much thought to humanity after they been relieved of the menial tasks of farming and growing food. 

What a contrast to the God of Israel!  But we need to understand the context: David was the king!  As far as the masses of humanity were concerned, he was neither poor nor needy.  Most Israelites could look at the lights aglow in his palace and think how rich David was, how blessed!  He surely didn’t have to go to bed hungry each night nor wonder where his next meal would come from – but they did.  But even the great king was forced to recognize how needy he was before God. 

The implication of the Lord thinking about him even as he wrote those words was twofold:

FIRST: God was not ignorant of David’s plight and certainly wasn’t blind to David’s existence.  How sad it would be if God was impressed by human position and wealth!  But He isn’t – in fact, over and over Scripture extols God for His concern for the poor, destitute, oppressed and betrayed.  And that just about describes us all, doesn’t it? 

SECOND: the fact that God was thinking about him gave David the confidence to ask a favor of God “Do not delay, O my God.”  There would have been no sense in asking a favor of a god who couldn’t hear you, or who didn’t think about you at all, except as a slave to till the soil of his planet.   What a blessing to know that there is never even a moment when He (the Lord Himself – not some underling vassal or angel) isn’t thinking of me!!!!

When I am depressed, I need to remember that the Lord is thinking of me that very moment.  When I am desperate, I need to remember that the Lord is thinking of me.  When I am being tempted to sin, and even when I am in the midst of sin, I must remember that the Lord is thinking of me even then.  Perhaps, if I can, through the power of the Spirit, remember that He’s thinking of me when I’m sinning, or being tempted to surrender to Satan and the flesh, I would have a double-check in my heart that would help to keep me from falling and sinning against the Lord.

As you go through your day today and experience laughter, discomfort, fear, joy, anger, temptation, love and hate – remember, the Lord is thinking of you – right then!

TODAY’S PRAYER: Father, what a blessing it is to know that You are thinking of us – not just at moments during the day, but at all moments during the day!  What relief that should bring us, and what encouragement to persevere in the face of temptation!  Help us to think more often of You, dear Lord, even as You think of us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 1/27/16 – Carry Them Forever

DayBreaks for 1/27/16: Carry Them Forever

From the DayBreaks archive, January 2006:

Scripture: Ps 28:9 – Save your people!  Bless Israel, your special possession!  Lead them like a shepherd, and carry them forever in your arms.

I love the imagery of being carried forever in the arms of someone as loving, kind and strong as the Lord.  It reminds me of when I was very small and my own dad would carry me, or of how I felt when I carried my own little ones in my arms.  No one was going to take them from me against my will – I would fight fiercely for them or die for them if necessary. 

But now that I’m grown up, I internally sustain the notion that I’m not supposed to be carried any more, that I’m supposed to be a “big boy” and walk on my own two feet.  How foolish!  How much better off we’d be if we allowed Jesus to carry us!!!  And that’s the image the Psalmist presents to us. 

I realize that I need to become more humble in all aspects of my life.  I must surrender my human pride that causes me to think that I can wrestle with life’s problems all by myself.  How foolish to think that I have the strength that is necessary!  I must get over the thinking that says I’m smart and intelligent enough to figure out the answers on my own.  And as a man, I must get over the “gender barrier” about being held in the arms of another male – even one was powerful and strong as the Lion of the tribe of Judah.  In many more things I need to ask His guidance and wisdom before making decisions that may seem right to me, for I fear and know that far too many of the decisions I make on my own are wrong and misguided. 

Lord, pick me up!  I’m ready! 

TODAY’S PRAYER:  We thank you, Lord Jesus, for Your leadership.  We thank you that when we get too tired, or too confused, or when we’re hurting too badly to walk on our own, that you take us in Your arms and you carry us to places of rest and safety.  Let us not lean to our own understanding or trust in our own strength, for we shall surely fail if we do so.  Help us instead to run to You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 1/26/16 – Hitting the Wall

DayBreaks for 1/26/16: Hitting the Wall

From our Sunday worship bulletin:

“It has happened in my life. Maybe it has happened in yours. I have had relationships in which I have had a struggle. I have had relationships that are hard. It does not matter if it was “me” or “them” in terms of the cause of the struggle or the “hardness”. I can say that because we are human, “struggle” can happen in a variety of ways. But if I am honest, it has mostly been me. And sometimes when struggle has come, by me or them, I have “hit a wall” and think I cannot go on. I want to walk away. Ugh.

“So, I need help. The reminder of “help” recently arrived when my good friend (name omitted for privacy) sent this to me from Mike Mason’s book, Practicing the Presence of People:

“Marathon runners speak of ‘hitting the wall.’ Often encountered around the twenty mile mark, the wall is a phase of excruciating pain during which the runner feels sorely tempted to give up. By pushing through the wall, runners learn to expand their pain threshold and so overcome all obstacles. They choose their pain in the form of running, but the effect of making hard choices in this discipline carries over into other areas. ‘Everything I know about life,’ observed one marathoner, ‘I learned at the wall.’ Sooner or later every human relationship comes to the wall. To choose the pain of involvement with others, rather than merely enduring it, is empowering. To choose the difficult people in one’s life is the beginning of love.”

“As I reflected on the quote, I realized that deep down, I really do want to love. That is the goal. In order to do that, I need to choose the pain of involvement with others and that is a good thing. Note that Mason says the pain of involvement, rather than enduring. Enduring people is like détente. It is like tolerance. It smells like indifference. On the other hand the pain of involvement, through the gospel, is empowering. Bringing the gospel to bear with people at the wall is where we learn to love.

“That is what Jesus did and does. He came to make relationship with us through excruciating pain. He came by choice. Would you take an inventory today and highlight relationships that you have that are a struggle? Then would you decide to go on a journey to the wall? As you do, ask yourself, ‘Do I want to love?’ and commit, by His power to do so.

By the power of the Holy Spirit, see what God will do. I believe He can and will do a great work because He went through the pain of involvement for the sake of relationship with you.

TODAY’S PRAYER: Help us to bear the pain of involvement, even with those we don’t like, we don’t think will respond with kindness, who might even seek our harm…because You went to the wall for relationship with us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 1/22/16: Holy Land Lessons – The Courage to Seek Forgiveness

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Photo, “Fishing Boat”, Sea of Galilee, Israel. Camera pointer: Galen C. Dalrymple

DayBreaks for 1/22/16: Holy Land Lessons: The Courage to Seek Forgiveness

John 21:4-7 (NLT) – At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied. Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore.

The boat in today’s picture is indicative of what has happened on the Sea of Galilee. It is a modern day fishing boat we encountered on our way across the lake. People have fished on the sea of Galilee literally for millennia. Perhaps the most famous fisherman of them all, however, was Simon Peter. Not long before what is recorded in the passage above, Peter had denied knowing Jesus not once, not twice – but three times in one night. Then he went out and wept bitterly when the realization of his betrayal and cowardice hit him full force.

Michael Card wrote a song titled Stranger on the Shore that includes these lyrics:

In the early morning mist
They saw a Stranger on the sea shore
He some how seemed familiar
Asking what the night had brought
With taught anticipation then
They listen to His order
And pulling in the net
Found more than they had ever caught
The one He loved first recognized
The stranger there was Jesus
And he alone remembered
This had happened once before
The one who had denied Him
Who had once walked on the water
Jumped in and swam to Him
To be confronted on the shore
It is interesting that John was the first to recognize Jesus (perhaps because he probably had the youngest eyes of those in the boat), but Peter was the one who jumped into the water in order to reach the figure standing on the beach.

Why did Peter do this? I think it was because he wanted to see the expression on the face of Jesus in order to know what Jesus was thinking about Peter. As far as we know, Peter had never been able to be alone with Jesus or to seek forgiveness.

Peter may have been a coward on the night of the betrayal, but he was no coward on this day. It takes courage to seek out forgiveness. Most of us hate confrontation with those we have wronged and go to great lengths to avoid it. But Peter couldn’t. He was being eaten alive from the inside and needed to know that the Master he’d loved and followed would forgive him, and would, in fact, still love him. It takes humility – something else that was at times foreign to Peter who’d bragged he’d never betray Jesus, that he would die with him before such a thing happened.

So, Peter, dripping wet, stands on the sea shore, desperately seeking forgiveness in the eyes of the Master. And he found what he sought – and far more.

Is there someone you need to seek out, to ask for forgiveness? It takes courage. But Peter was set free on that beach from the demons that had haunted him since that night in Jerusalem. What he saw in the eyes and heard in the voice of Jesus changed all that.

Perhaps you need to see and hear that from Jesus, too. Seek him out, confess what you’ve done and your betrayal, and ask his forgiveness. It’ll set you free, just as it did Peter.

TODAY’S PRAYER: We need courage to be honest with ourselves, to humble our hearts, and to seek the face of those we have wronged, Lord. Will you give us that courage so we can be freed from our prison of shame and guilt? Thank you, Lord! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 1/21/16: Holy Land Lessons – The Dangerous Desire for Ease

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Photo from the area of Dan of the worship complex. The metal stand in the center represents the believed location and size of the altar (significantly taller than a man). Photo by Galen Dalrymple, Golan Heights in Israel, January, 2016.

DayBreaks for 1/21/16: Holy Land Lessons: The Dangerous Desire for Ease

When the children of Israel entered the Promised Land, each tribe was assigned a certain “inheritance” in the land where they were to live. The tribe of Dan was assigned a territory along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, land held by the Phoenicians.

As it turns out, the Danites had a very difficult time with the Phoenicians. They proved to be a very touch adversary, and over time, the people of Dan grew tired of the difficulties they encountered in battling the Phoenicians and moved to a different part of the country where life would be easier.

But, there were problems with this. Dan was supposed to take the land they’d been assigned…but they failed. That wasn’t the biggest problem, though. The place that they moved may have been easier in terms of not having to fight to possess the land, but they moved right into the valley that was the heart of Baal worship. The physical struggle was less, but the spiritual battle was more difficult!

We often may complain about how difficult things are in our lives and we may seek relief from the struggles and difficulties. We actively seek out ease thinking that it is better for us and we envision how great life will be when things get easier.

There are many problems that come from a life of ease:

FIRST: when things are easy, we take things for granted and stop giving thanks or praying.

SECOND: ease causes muscles (physical and spiritual) to grow weak and flabby.

THIRD: when things are going our way, we tend to get prideful and give ourselves the credit for how we worked hard to get to that point of success and forget that it is God that gives success.

FOURTH: throughout Scripture, it was the poor who struggle who are more attuned to spiritual things because they realize that their hope lies not in a life of ease in this world, but of blessedness in the world to come.

I like ease. I’d rather sit in my La-Z-Boy than go to the gym. I’d rather not struggle. But I also realize it isn’t necessarily good for my heart – either physically or spiritually. There is growth in the struggle and it drives us to our knees in recognition of our need for God’s intervention. The people of Dan didn’t grasp that apparently. They became reviled among Israel because of their actions.

Don’t seek a life of ease. Be content with the life God has given you and the circumstances in which you find yourself. The struggle will make you stronger if  you let it.

Luke 12:19-21 (KJV) – And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

TODAY’S PRAYER: Help us not to seek a life of ease, but of service and faithfulness! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 1/20/16: Holy Land Lessons – Would I Have Missed Him?

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View from atop Mt. Arbel in Galilee. Photo by Galen C. Dalrymple, 2016.

DayBreaks for 1/20/16: Holy Land Lessons: Would I Have Missed Him?

On our second full day in Israel, we got up and the group went to the top of Mt. Arbel, a peak that is toward the southwestern end of the Sea of Galilee. It affords one with a great view of the lake and the area where Jesus spent most of his ministry years. On a clear day, it must be a spectacular view…our view there was hindered by the weather conditions. Still, I could easily make out the shoreline of the lake, the village of Magdala (home of Mary Magdalene) and further north the other villages where Jesus’ ministry took place.

As I sat high above the lake and villages below, I tried to picture what it would have been like to have seen Jesus from that vantage point as he walked along the edge of the Sea of Galilee. It came to me in a flash – I could have perhaps made out a human form from that height and with less certainty identified the gender, but I wouldn’t be able to tell who it was – even if it was the Son of God Himself. He would not have appeared as a 1000 foot tall Super-Being, but as a normal sized man. Even if I’d been on the shoreline with him, he would have appeared normal. He would not have had a glowing halo encircling his head as it so often does in art. His voice would not have sounded markedly different than mine. I suspect that when he stilled the waters of the Sea of Galilee that his voice wasn’t that of thunder, but a normal-sounding voice.

That’s when I realized how easy it would have been to be right there in his Presence on the shore of the sea and not recognize him for who, and what, he was/is.

That got me thinking about how it is perhaps even easier today, about 2000 years later, to miss him when he makes appearances in my life.

Why did Jesus come in such a normal form? It would have been easy for him to come in some super-sized, unmistakable manner. But he didn’t. And he doesn’t come to us that way today, either. I don’t know why – other than that he highly values faith, not certainty.

Would I have been among the masses who didn’t recognize him for who he was when he walked that shoreline and journeyed from village to village? Likely so. How many times have I not recognized him and his engagement in my life? Plenty. If we aren’t looking with expectation, we won’t find or recognize him.

What does that say to me? I need to expect to see him. He’s still active, you know, acting in this world in untold millions of interactions each day. Maybe there is more to this verse than we realize: John 14:17 (MSG) This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you.

Those with the indwelling Spirit will see him. Those without the Spirit cannot.

Proverbs 20:12 (NLT) – Ears to hear and eyes to see— both are gifts from the LORD.

TODAY’S PRAYER: Thank you for the Spirit who gives us eyes to see and ears to hear. Improve our vision – and our hearing – so we can recognize your work in our this world and then join you in it! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.