DayBreaks for 12/26/19 – Twice Wrapped, Twice Freed

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DayBreaks for 12/26/19: Twice Wrapped, Twice Freed

It was during the night that the Savior was born. In the darkness. How ironic that the Light chose to be kindled in the dark, but also how meaningful!

There are those today who have set up elaborate and expensive arrays searching for life in the universe. It is a hot topic among astronomers and astrophysicists to name a few. Many movies have been made speculating on whether or not the life that might be out there is friendly or if it will be hostile toward humanity. As a Christian, though, I have to say that we already know there is intelligent life out there in the universe– and we know what that Life is like. It is not filled with hate – but it is filled with love. We know that because of the event we celebrated yesterday – the birth of a baby, wrapped in “swaddling clothes” who came to bring Light and Life, to seek and save the lost. We saw that life, that love, because we have seen Jesus.

Now, however, Christmas is over. The baby in swaddling clothes will be packed up and stowed away for another year. But if Christmas means anything, it is in how it points forward to the next great “holy day” of the Christian calendar, Easter Sunday.

We don’t know when Christ was actually born, but we do know much more certainty about when he died. Again, the irony strikes me: at his birth he was wrapped tightly in strips of linen cloth (that’s what swaddling clothes were in the first century) and when he died, he was once again wrapped tightly in linen strips even as he was at his birth.

As with the birth, so with the death: he quickly left the swaddling clothes behind and he likewise burst forth from the second set of wrappings in great glory.

The end of Christmas starts the great story rumbling forward and points to the coming celebration of his death, burial and the defeat of death for us.

As we leave Christmas behind, let us begin even now to look forward to our next great celebration.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we have celebrated your birth but we cannot stay at the manger. Even as the swaddling clothes held you only temporarily, we look toward the grave wrappings that could not bind you any more than death could, in total awe and wonder for your finished work on our behalf. Help us start now to prepare for the rest of your story. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/25/19 – A Reason for the Incarnation

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DayBreaks for 12/25/19: A Reason for the Incarnation

Why did Jesus take on flesh?  Philip Yancey, in Finding God in Unexpected Places, pondered that question and came up with various possibilities.  Certainly, he came to show us what God is like.  He also came to show us what a man “fully alive” was meant to be.  He came to seek and save the lost.  He came not to be served, but to serve.  He came to give himself as a ransom for many through his selfless sacrifice.

God loves matter – the mountains, the trees, the animals, the heavenly orbs, the beauty of a diamond, the rings of Saturn – all made by His hand for His own pleasure.  Creating gives God pleasure.

The creation’s sin, however, created a separation or gulf between God and man.  All the great characters of the Bible struggled with this separation and cried out in terms like these: “God, you don’t know what it’s like living down here!” Job, eloquent as ever, put it more bluntly: “Do you have eyes of flesh?  Do you see as a mortal sees?”

All these Biblical characters had a point – and God recognized the truth of that point by visiting Planet Earth Himself.  The author of Hebrews puts it in absolutely stunning terms when he said that Jesus’ life on earth was a time when he “learned obedience,” “was made perfect,” and became a “sympathetic” high priest. 

How does one learn sympathy?  There is only one way and it is evident in the Greek roots of the word used for sympathy: sym and pathos, meaning “to feel or suffer with.”

Of the many reasons for the Incarnation (Yancey concluded): “…surely one was to answer Job’s accusation.  Do you have eyes of flesh?  Yes, indeed.”

Merry CHRISTmas to you all!

PRAYER: Teach us to have spiritual vision as well as physical vision.  You who came to have human eyes, please give us eyes like yours that we may see what you see, think like you think, and be conformed to your image.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/24/19 – The Lamb Victorious

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DayBreaks for 12/24/19: The Lamb Victorious

“Christmas, the celebration of the first Coming of the Lamb, looks back to the humble stable and the simple shepherds. The setting is a dark, fallen world. He has come to expose through His weakness the impotence of what the world calls power. He has come to show us that it is we who are upside-down.

“In that sense, Christmas is a preparation for the celebration that will be the Second Coming, of the Lamb triumphant. The contrast between the settings of the two comings could not be more extreme. Instead of a silent stable and a bunch of motley shepherds, there will be a resplendent multitude whose praise can only be described as a “roar”.

“Oh Lamb of God, innocent, helpless
One, born in a stable, held in
shepherds’ arms, sleeping in the hay.
You are the Lamb, our Lamb, meek,
gentle, and spotless Victim.

“Yet you are the Lamb victorious!
You have conquered sin and death.
You have overcome the evil one.
The throne is yours. The glory yours.
We look up to see the lion and yet it is
still You that we see, both reigning
and slain. And you bid us follow.

“This Christmas, make us mindful of what
Your first coming means.
Clear our vision so that we might
look ahead and upward to your
Second Coming, a faithful Bride,
longing for the feast.

The writing is taken from the devotional book The Promise, © 1991 by Michael Card. All Rights Reserved

PRAYER: Lamb of God, we await Your return!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 12/23/19 – Jesus’ Priorities

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DayBreaks for 12/23/19: Jesus’ Priorities

On 12/19/19, Craig Keener wrote on the theology blog of Christianity Today about two events, closely linked in the text of Mark and in purpose, in the life of Jesus. The first, the healing of the woman with the issue of blood and the second, the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead. He made the following observations:

“So far as we can tell from Mark, Jesus has not yet raised anyone else from the dead. Jesus thus demands from Jairus greater faith, and he accordingly continues with Jesus to the house. Faith does not mean that Jairus will not join others’ astonishment when his daughter is raised (5:42).

“Jesus had physical contact with ritual impurity when healing a leper (1:41) and the bleeding woman. But whereas such contacts rendered one impure until evening, touching a corpse rendered one impure for a week (Num. 19:11–13). Jesus, however, embraces us in our need, which takes priority over ritual purity (Mark 7:1–23) and even the Sabbath (2:23–3:6). He takes the dead girl by the hand and raises her up (5:41).”

As we enter the week where we celebrate Jesus’ birth, let’s remember that he didn’t come so we could sing nice carols, decorate trees and houses and exchange presents with one another. He came to take on our uncleanness and raise us up to wholeness and purity.

As we celebrate our rituals, let’s remember that He was willing to become unclean to make us “well”. Meeting our need was more important to him than any ritual. It should be that way for us as well.

PRAYER: Jesus, there simply aren’t words that express our amazement that you were born to take on our sin and raise us up. We are forever thankful for your birth, your life, your death and resurrection. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/20/19 – The Rescue Mission for Creation

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DayBreaks for 12/20/19: The Rescue Mission for Creation

If you look for just a few minutes every day, you can find a story of an incredible rescue taking place somewhere in this country or world, perhaps, if you community is large enough, even in your own neighborhood.  Firemen, highway patrolmen, soldiers, officers of the peace, teachers and parents (sometimes even kids or dogs) carry out amazing rescues and we applaud them and give them the honor that they deserve.  Rightly so.

This week, Christmas is upon us.  We often retell the story to ourselves and our little ones about the birth of Jesus.  It is a sweet, charming story, full of farm animals, night skies twinkling with stars, angels singing to shepherds who were out on the hillside at night with their animals.  Don’t forget the magi who came to see and worship this king being held in the arms of his virgin mother, Mary.  In all the sweetness of the story we can easily forget what led up to this moment in time: the fall in the garden, years of sin and wickedness culminating in the flood, renewed evil immediately after the flood, a people chosen to be God’s own special people, prophets, judges, miracles, kings and always…more failure and sin.  In the midst of the wonder it is easy to push such thoughts aside and try to ignore them.  It is understandable, I guess.

But we must not forget these forerunners to the Nativity story because it was all of those things which were the precursors and the factors that made this visitation from Immanuel necessary.  Timothy Keller wrote: “Christianity alone among the world religions claims that God became uniquely and fully human in Jesus Christ and therefore knows firsthand despair, rejection, loneliness, poverty, bereavement, torture, and imprisonment.”  Yes, those things are true…and more.  Here is the kicker, the driving factor behind God’s decision to come and visit this planet in such a personal and human way: “Jesus came on a rescue mission for creation.  He had to pay for our sins so that someday he can end evil and suffering without ending us.

Wow.  I’d never thought about it in those words before, but the more I’ve contemplated them, the more I believe they are dead on target.  If our sins hadn’t been paid for he would have had no choice but to end us when he ended evil and suffering in the world.  He would not have been righteous and holy if he’d ended evil and let us survive – for we are evil when we are left to our own devices.  All the evil we have within us had to be answered for, or we would have had to be “ended” when he did destroy evil. 

This week as you focus on His birth, I hope that you’ll contemplate yet again, this statement: “He had to pay for our sins so that someday he can end evil and suffering without ending us.”  This was the reason for the baby coming to the manger and for the Godman walking to the cross where he died.

PRAYER: Thank You for the greatest rescue ever conducted, Jesus!  Thank You that You found a way to pay for all of my evil that didn’t include ending me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/19/19 – The God of Frailty

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DayBreaks for 12/19/19: The God of Frailty

In a short devotional for Christmas, writer Paul Williams reflects on why he still remembers one particular Christmas pageant from 1981. It all starts with a strep-stricken son. He writes:

“The dull eyes tipped me off before he could open his mouth. Jonathan had strep throat. It seemed the children in our family picked up strep two or three times a year, and someone always had it during the holidays.

“Jonathan had been excited about the nursery school Christmas play for a couple of weeks. He would be Joseph. Mary would be played by a Jewish girl from down the block. Yes, her parents had given permission for her to be in the Christmas pageant.

“With neck glands swollen and his voice a nasally whine, Jonathan begged to go to the festivities. Against our better judgment, we acquiesced. Bundling our son in his warmest coat, we drove the five short miles to the Central Islip Church of Christ. By the time all the parents had squeezed into the small auditorium, Jonathan was as white as the pillowcase he was wearing as a head covering. He looked fragile and diminutive.

“Cathy and I sat on the front row. Jonathan came down the aisle hand in hand with Mary, and the two sat down on the second step below the manger, recently retrieved from its usual home in the boiler room. Jonathan was looking paler still, all the light out of his big blue eyes. He looked at us and managed a weak smile.

“As soon as the play was over we hauled Jonathan off to the doctor’s office. Since our family doctor was a friend, we sneaked in and out in no time. Filled with penicillin, our son was feeling better the next morning. I do not remember much about the rest of that Christmas season, though I am sure it was utterly delightful, as all Christmas celebrations are.

“I have often pondered why that is my only remembrance of that Christmas, in December of 1981. Of all the memories of all our family Christmas experiences, what makes that one event stand out?

“I know the reason.

“Christmas is truly about frail vulnerability, freely chosen. With heart in throat God watched his infant Son cry and squirm in the cold manger, where there was no penicillin.

“I know how I felt watching my son with his head resting in those small hands, wanting to be brave, but weak and unsteady. I can only imagine what my heavenly Father thought, seeing his infant Son in the hands of a frightened young girl.”

PRAYER: Lord, may our spirits be tender to Your Spirit.  Thank You, Father, for entrusting Your Son into the hands of Your frail and flawed creatures.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/18/19 – Illuminated Cats and Despairing Prophets

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DayBreaks for 12/18/19: Illuminated Cats and Despairing Prophets

In his book Horns and Halos, Dr. J. Wallace Hamilton tells about one of the weirdest auction sales in history. It was in Washington, D.C., in 1926, where 150,000 patented models of old inventions were declared obsolete and placed on the auction block. Prospective buyers and on-lookers chuckled as item after item was put up for bid; such as a “bed-bug buster” or an “illuminated cat” that was designed to scare away mice. Then there was a device to prevent snoring. It consisted of a trumpet that reached from the mouth to the ear; and was designed to awaken the snorer and not the neighbors. The list was a long one, indeed!

This auction of old patent models was worth at least 150,000 laughs; but if looking a little deeper, those 150,000 old patent models also represent 150,000 broken dreams – a mountain of disappointments.
It may seem strange to talk about broken dreams and disappointment this close to Christmas. After all, this is the season to be jolly. But it’s not jolly for everybody, is it? For those who have lost loved ones this is the loneliest time of the year. And in a world that glorifies materialism, those who are struggling financially may find it to be most disappointing.
John the Baptist knew about disappointment. John is in prison, knowing his future isn’t looking too bright, and he’s looking for a sign – that the long-awaited Messiah has really arrived. That’s ironic, don’t you think? John the Baptist is the one who first proclaimed his coming, who baptized him, who witnessed the Spirit descend on him and heard the voice from heaven. But much has happened to John since we last saw him preaching and baptizing people in the wilderness, and now his heart is cast down.

You, too, may be cast down, but listen to the words of Jesus in response to John’s question: And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”  – Luke 7:22-23 (ESV)
Only by the power of the Incarnate one do such things happen. You may not be able to see an appealing future. You may feel you can’t take one more step. You may be diseased inside and out, deaf to words of encouragement, dead on your feet and surrounded by bad news. Jesus can deal with those and far more. Let us not be ashamed to own him this season.

PRAYER: Lord, for all who struggle this Christmas, let them find hope in the Incarnate One and his immense power and great compassion.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/17/19 – How Christmas Must have Felt

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DayBreaks for 12/17/19: How Christmas Must have Felt

From the DayBreaks archive, December 2009:

In one of my messages this Christmas season, I pondered what it must have been like for God to become human.  Jesus, as God, had been worshiped and adored throughout all of eternity past.  For ceaseless ages He was enthroned in fabulous and indescribable glory.  He spoke – and worlds came into being.  He had no limitations that weakened His power to do good.  Angels waited at His beck and call ready to do His most minute bidding. 

I’ve wondered how it felt when God in the flesh first stepped on a sharp stone and cried out in pain.  I’ve wondered how it felt when He felt that virus spreading through His body that would cause His nose to run and fever to spread prior to vomiting up the contents of His stomach?  It must have been strange for the God of creation to become like one of His creatures and take their frailty into His own being. 

How did Christmas day feel to God? I know that we can’t recall what it was like to be new-borns, but try to imagine for just a moment becoming a baby again: giving up language and the ability to communicate in anything but cries, to give up muscle coordination and to be unable to do anything to help oneself, to surrender for a period of time the ability to eat solid food and even to control your bladder. God as a newborn took on all those things.  A more appropriate analogy, though, might not be for us to once again become a baby, but to imagine ourselves becoming sea slugs – something vastly of lower position than what we have always known and something we have never been.  This is more like what God did when He became one of us.

Gone were the vast choirs of angels and the heavenly music disappeared only to be replaced by mooing, belching cows, roosters crowing and donkeys braying.  Gone was the throne and the glory that had once surrounded Him only to be replaced by swaddling clothes and straw.  Words were gone – the Word that spoke everything into creation was exchanged for cries of hunger and discomfort.  No one remained to do His bidding except for his mother and father who were lost in the wonder of it all as they alone knew Who this was Who was held in their arms and hearts. 

How does this make YOU feel this Christmas – to know what God endured for you?  

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. – Philippians 2:5-11 (NIV)

PRAYER: For Your humiliation to become like us, we are thankful and we worship Your Holy Name!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/13/19 – Two Impossibilities

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DayBreaks for 12/13/19: Two Impossibilities

When we stop to consider the workings of God throughout history, we are challenged over and over to try to grasp the actions of a God who not only isn’t fazed by “impossible” things, but who specializes in making the impossible possible.  How can one simply speak and things come into existence?  It is a mystery to me.  How can One take the dust of the earth and form a being that is as complex as a human – and then give that dust and clay life?  The questions could go on and on: how can barren wombs and the womb of a virgin give birth?  How can a blind man receive sight by just a word?  How can one escape a den full of ravenous lions without a scratch, or the flames of a furnace without even a hint of smoke?  How can a fisherman walk on water?  How can a few fish and loaves feed over 5000 with more left over than when the entire undertaking started?  How?  Because God’s hand was in each and every one of those things.

Some folks work desperately hard to keep God out of their lives and out of their world.  They cry “separation of church and state” in an effort to eliminate any conversation about God.  They must deliberately choose to believe that which is truly unbelievable: that all that exists in its nearly infinite complexity and beauty “just happened.”  (Where’s the logic in that?) 

I liked this when I read it: “Despite our efforts to keep him out, God intrudes. The life of Jesus is bracketed by two impossibilities: a virgin’s womb and an empty tomb. Jesus entered our world through a door marked “No Entrance” and left through a door marked “No Exit.

It was at Christmas that the wooden manger held the baby that came from the virgin’s womb – and there could be “no entrance” that way as we all know.  All of us, that is, except God, Who wasn’t fazed by the complexities of that at all.  And it was a wooden cross that put Him in a tomb in death – a door marked “No Exit”.  Again, to God it was no more than a mere technicality – and the “No Exit” sign over the tombs of all was removed once and for all. 

Don’t ever think that it is impossible for God to enter the hearts of even those who are most closed to Him.  He came into the world in an “impossible” way and He can come into hearts in miraculous ways, too.  And He has certainly shown that the “No Exit” that hangs over the tomb is nothing more than a wet paper tiger that He tore to shreds at his resurrection. 

Pray for Him to make entrance to hearts that are sealed off against Him and draw comfort that He opened the way through his life, death and resurrection, to eternal glory.

PRAYER: We thank You that there is nothing too hard for You – whether it is to come into the world in an impossible way, or to give life to the dead!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/11/19 – Bad Advertising

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DayBreaks for 12/11/19: Bad Advertising

There is something about advertising that I both love and hate.  I hate getting all the ads in the mail and through email.  At the same time, I love it when advertising and wording goes wrong.  To wit:

The town hall is closed until opening.  It will remain closed after being opened.  Open tomorrow.

Smarts is the most exclusive disco in town.  Everyone welcome.

In a safari park: Elephants please stay in your car.

Outside a photographer’s studio: Have the kids shot for Dad from $24.95.

At railroad station: Beware!  To touch these wires is instant death.  Anyone found doing so will be prosecuted.

In department store: Bargain basement upstairs.

In office building: Toilet out of order.  Please use floor below.

In Cape Cod: Caution – Water on Road during rain.

In PA: Auction used Sunday – New and Used Food

Next to a red traffic light: This light never turns green.

At a McDonald’s: Parking for drive-thru service only.

In MA: Entrance Only – Do Not Enter

We are in the most heavily advertised part of the year in the most advertisement-ridden culture on the planet.  Businesses are desperate for more money and they’ve upped their advertising in order to try to convince us that they have what we not only want, but what we NEED. 

Let’s not forget what’s needful, not just during this season, but always: And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. – Luke 10:41-42 (KJV) What was it Mary had chosen that was “that good part”?  To rest in Jesus’ presence. 

Go thou and do likewise…

PRAYER: Set our hearts on the one needful thing, Lord.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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