DayBreaks for 12/18/18 – The Priest’s Sacrifice #1

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DayBreaks for 12/18/18: The Priest’s Sacrifice, #1

Continuing with the theme of Sacrifice for this week preceding Christmas, I’m sharing some thoughts from the message at church this past Sunday.

While Christians do not make sacrifices for sin (we believe that Jesus’ blood was the all-sufficient sacrifice for all time for all persons), that doesn’t mean we are exempt from making sacrifice. As pointed out yesterday, we are as believers, priests and priestesses. And what is the role of a priest? It was to do at least three things:

  1. To represent God to man;
  2. To represent man to God;
  3. To offer sacrifices.

So, what sacrifices are we to make as believers today? First let me suggest this one: we are to offer our lives as living sacrifices pleasing to God, which, by the way, is only reasonable. (Romans 12:1)

The privilege we have been given by the indwelling of the Spirit is that we have obtained moral ability. When we were dead in our sin, we had no other option. But being made alive, we now have the choice, the ability, to sacrifice the life of the flesh for a life lived in the Spirit, to choose obedience instead of to sin. Do we do it perfectly? Far from it. So if that is our privilege, what is our responsibility? To surrender our nature to be controlled by the Spirit.

Each day this week, let me ask you as priests and priestesses, what will you do this week to offer your life as a living sacrifice? You have the ability to choose obedience. What will you surrender? When?

Think today Jesus’ example of offering himself as a sacrifice – giving his life as a living sacrifice (that started with the incarnation and culminates in a resurrected eternal life in glory where his scars are still visible). How does his sacrifice as our great High Priest inform our understanding of our roles as priests and priestesses?

PRAYER: Father, as long as we dwell in the flesh, we will struggle to surrender our lives as offerings to you. Let us choose what is pleasing to you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 12/17/18 – When the Sacrifice Began

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DayBreaks for 12/17/18: When the Sacrifice Began

If I were to start talking about sacrifice and how it related to the Jewish people, you’d probably garner up images of animal sacrifice in connection with the temple. Makes perfect sense.

If I were to ask you about sacrifice and how it relates to Christianity, my guess is that your instantaneous thought would turn to Calvary followed in short order by Easter, and that would not be wrong. As Christians, we do not believe that any more sacrifice for sin is needed because the New Testament makes it very clear that the blood of Jesus was the atonement for all sin – something the blood of bulls and goats could never do.

But as we enter this last week before Christmas arrives, I want to think about sacrifice. I believe that the sacrifice of Jesus began way before the crucifixion.

If we listen closely to these verses from Philippians 2:5-8 (NLT2) – You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

I believe this passage indicates that the sacrifice of Jesus began when he gave up his divine privileges. Think of it: eternal glory, never knowing pain or sickness, the temporary surrender of the adoration of the angels and four living creatures, the halls of glory were all surrendered for a manger and the brokenness of taking on human form.

We like to talk about how there is no longer need for sacrifice, and if we are speaking of sin, that’s true. We Christians are freed from the OT laws and rules that required sacrifice. But are we free from the need to make sacrifices? No, not at all.

In our teaching this past Sunday, our lead teacher talked about four sacrifices that we must offer. During the rest of this week, I’ll talk about one each day and figure out what they mean to us today and during this holiday season. But for today, look at this passage from 1 Peter 2:9 (ESV) – But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Question: what does it mean to you as a believer that you are a priest or priestess?

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for your sacrifice to accept the humiliation of human flesh and leave eternal glory behind. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 12/11/18 – Life in the Blood

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DayBreaks for 12/11/18: Life in the Blood

From the DayBreaks Archive, 12/8/98:

In Leviticus 17:11 and Deut. 12:23, the Israelites were told not to eat the blood of animals because “the blood is the life”. I’m sure that the Israelites didn’t understand exactly what God was getting at, especially as it relates to the life that we receive through the blood of Christ. Indeed, as this excerpt from C.S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair shows, His blood is our life! Aslan, the Christ-figure in the story, is talking to some children as they stand beside a stream that contains the body of the dead King (the human ruler of Narnia).

“Son of Adam,” said Aslan, “Go into that thicket and pluck the thorn that you will find there, and bring it to me.”

Eustace obeyed. The thorn was a foot long and sharp as a rapier.

“Drive it into my paw, son of Adam,” said Aslan, holding up his right forepaw and spreading out the great pads towards Eustace.

“Must I?” said Eustace.

“Yes,” said Aslan.

“Then Eustace set his teeth and drove the thorn into the Lion’s pad. And there came out a great drop of blood, redder than all redness that you have ever seen or imagined. And it splashed into the stream over the dead body of the King. At the same moment the doleful music stopped. And the dead King began to be changed…His eyes opened, and his lips both laughed, and suddenly he leaped up and stood before them.”

Galen’s Thoughts: What a marvelous picture of the gospel story! The “son of Adam” (humanity) at one and the same time is the very one who pierces the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and the one who needs His sacrifice (the dead king). It is only through the shedding of blood that sin is removed (Heb. 9:22).

Slowly, surely…as we have been drawn into contact with the blood of Christ, our lives begin to change. What was dead in us (our God-image) comes to life and what was alive in us (our sin-nature) dies!

Who would have thought on the night that he was born, that it would come to this kind of a shedding of blood? Only Jesus and the Father understood that what began that night in the stable would end on a blood-stained cross and that he’d be pierced by the very ones He had come to save.

Does it matter to you that He was pierced for your iniquities? Does it matter enough to keep you from piercing Him again tomorrow?

PRAYER: As we draw nearer to the celebration of your birth, may we not forget the reason for your coming to our rescue, Lord Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 12/22/17 – The Man Who Loved Mary

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DayBreaks for 12/22/17: The Man Who Loved Mary

Matthew 1:19 (ESV) – And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.

He is the forgotten man – the man in the shadows. The man who takes a backseat at every Christmas season and yet he is there quietly supporting his beloved, Mary. He is never mentioned by Paul in any of his writings, and the earliest gospel, Mark, does not mention him either. Some look to Joseph as the patron saint of workers as he was a laborer. Some translate his work as “carpenter”, but the term means laborer or craftsman meaning he could have been a carpenter, stone mason, metal worker or some other artisan. He was last mentioned in Scripture in Luke when Jesus was twelve. Had he been present at the crucifixion, he would have been responsible for the body of Jesus, but that job fell to Joseph of Arimathea. Most believe that he died long before the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.

This morning, as I read the verse above from Matthew 1, I was struck in a new way as I read about Joseph. When I’d read it before, I tended to just skim over it, but for some reason, not today. Joseph was a just man – a “good” man, if any can be called that. I tried to imagine the feelings that must have welled up inside him when he heard that Mary was with child. I would imagine that there was some anger initially, yielding to disappointment and heartbreaking pain as he had to have assumed she’d been with someone else (at least until his visit from the angel informed him otherwise). Do you know how that must have felt? Can you imagine it?

But the scripture goes on to say that he was unwilling to put her to shame. Why? There can only be one reason that I can think of: he loved Mary. Deeply, passionately and without reservation – he loved her.

And then comes the visit from the angel and his soul is flooded with relief – at least partially. The relief in knowing she’d not slept with someone else had to be palpable, but yet there was a lingering problem – a problem that would only grow for nine months: Mary was pregnant and it could not be hidden. So when Joseph accepted the words of the angel at face value, he was also accepting the fact that he, too, would be the object of scorn and ridicule, that he would be suspected of having defiled Mary prior to the wedding. So why did he willingly accept it? I believe there are two reasons: 1) he was a just man – a good man who didn’t want to bring shame to Mary and have her bear it all by herself; 2) he loved her with all his heart.

Christmas is a season that is all about love. We speak often of God’s love for us in sending Jesus. We see the beaming face of Mary, alight with the glow of the star and oil lamps as she cradles her newborn Son and we can see the love in her eyes at the miracle she holds. And there, in the background where he has been content to be for two thousand years, stands Joseph, a just man who loved Mary.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for the example of love of this man of the shadows, Joseph. May we love so selflessly! In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/20/17: Christmas Surprises

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DayBreaks for 12/20/17: Christmas Surprises

Who doesn’t enjoy opening presents on Christmas day? Let’s be honest: we all love it, don’t we? We wonder what’s inside that package, box or envelope. We love surprises!

Under a cultural-exchange program, rabbi Alan Abramsky and his family in Roanoke, Texas, were hosts to a rabbi from Russia at Christmas time. They decided to introduce him to a culinary treat that was probably not available in his country: they took him to their favorite Chinese restaurant.

Throughout the meal, the rabbi spoke excitedly about the wonders of North America in comparison to the bleak conditions in his homeland. When they had finished eating, the waiter brought the check and presented each of them with a small brass Christmas-tree ornament as a seasonal gift.

They all laughed when Abramsky’s father pointed out that the ornaments were stamped “Made in India.” But the laughter subsided when they saw that the rabbi was quietly crying. Concerned, Abramsky’s father asked the rabbi if he was offended because he’d been given a gift for a Christian holiday.

He smiled, shook his head and said, “Nyet. I was shedding tears of joy to be in a wonderful country in which a Buddhist gives a Jew a Christmas gift made by a Hindu!” A time of miracles. A time for stories.

From time to time we hear someone say, “Wouldn’t it be great if it could be Christmas all year long.” Surprise! That was God’s intent. That is why God invaded our planet and gave us the gift of God’s Son. There is only one thing that stands in the way of celebrating Christmas all year long: you and I. Let’s agree to not stand in the way of anyone celebrating Christmas all year long!

PRAYER:  Jesus, we don’t want to cause people not to celebrate Immanuel all year long, year after year, decade after decade. Let us never lost the sense of the miraculous that is so present in this season. Let us overflow each and every day out of lives that are filled with wonder. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/19/17 – The Three Gifts

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DayBreaks for 12/19/17: The Three Gifts

Matthew 2:11 (ESV) – And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

Have you ever really thought about the three gifts (there may have been more, but those three are specifically mentioned)?

It is worth noting that these were not gifts like socks or a tie or a box of candy. They were “treasures” – treasures that belonged to those who brought them. That gives us an indication that these visitors from the east were wealthy personages. And unlike the socks you may get for Christmas this year, their gifts were treasures – valuable and costly.

The first one mentioned is gold. Gold was considered an appropriate gift for a king. Why did they bring gold? Because they knew that the one being born was a king – they’d told Herod as much. (And with Herod being as crazy and deranged as he was, that had to set him off on his desire to kill the newborns!) They brought a gift suitable for a king.

What about the frankincense? Frankincense was used in the temple worship as part of the incense that was burned that filled the place with a fragrant, pleasing smell. As the incense wafted upward, it represented the prayers of the people as they ascended as a gift for God. So, frankincense was thought to be a gift that was suitable for a god/God. Little do I think the magi really grasped this part of Immanuel.

That leaves us with the myrrh. Myrrh was used for various things, including the anointing of the bodies of those who died. While this gift foreshadowed the anointing of Jesus’ body after his crucifixion, there is perhaps an even more poignant point that we would do well to consider. Myrrh was also somewhat of a pain killer, an antiesthetic, if you please. Do you remember what the soldiers offered Jesus while he was on the cross? Vinegar mixed with “gall”…but what is that “gall”? Literally, it is myrrh. It wouldn’t kill much pain, but would take a tiny bit of the edge off and the Romans probably did it more in jest than out of compassion.

So, here’s the kicker: myrrh was gifted to Jesus at his birth, and it was used during his anointing for burial. But when he was on the cross, what did Jesus do when offered something to dull his pain? He refused it. Why? I don’t really know, but on Sunday, the preacher posited that it was because Jesus wanted to take the full brunt of the pain that was due to us so there would be none left for us to have to bear. He drank the “cup” that the Father gave him, but not the “cup” that the soldiers offered that could have made his suffering less.

This is an indicator of how much Jesus wanted to bear our pain, the pain we should have had to bear for our own sins. If that doesn’t make us appreciate him even more, perhaps nothing will.

PRAYER: Jesus, I am awestruck that you were willing to go to the cross and take the full agony of the pain due to me for my sin and failures. Make us all grateful this Christmas for your enormous gift and sacrifice! In Your name we pray, Amen.  

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/18/17 – Daniel…and Christmas

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DayBreaks for 12/18/17: Daniel…and Christmas

Matthew 2:1-2 (ESV) = Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.

We don’t really know who the wise men were. We don’t even know how many there were other than they were “men”, plural. The tradition of three wise men comes from the fact that three gifts are mentioned: gold, frankincense and myrrh. We don’t even know for sure where they came from, but most believe they came either from the area of ancient Babylon (modern Iraq) or Persia (modern Iran). Regardless, it was a long journey of about 1000 miles taken on foot and perhaps camel (the mode of transport for the wealthy). The words for “wise men” in Latin is magi, short for magician, sorcerer, astrologer, one who could supposedly divine events and the future by looking at the stars. They may have been of a priestly class who served the palace of their home land. We simply don’t know. But we do know they made a very, very long journey because they saw a star – and they followed it.

It could be that they were just curious at the appearance of this new star, but how many would undertake such a time consuming, arduous and dangerous journey just because of seeing a light in the sky? So why, we are left to wonder, did they do so?

We perhaps have a clue in the story of Daniel, the prophet of God who was taken into exile and who rose to greatness in the service of the Babylonian king. When Daniel interpreted the dream of the king, the king promoted him: Daniel 2:47-48 (ESV) – The king answered and said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.” Then the king gave Daniel high honors and many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon.

Do you see it? Daniel was the head over the “wise men” of Babylon. He was their leader and most likely their instructor. Could it be that while serving in the palace of Babylon, he told the other “wise men” of the prophecies of a coming deliverer, a king, born to rule mankind and that such a birth would be heralded by a star, or that the baby would be born in a land to their west? And those wise men passed along that knowledge for 500 years until the time of Christ’s birth?

We don’t know. It is very possible, I think, but maybe that’s just because I want to believe it is true.

It caused me to wonder: if the life of the man Daniel played a role in these pagan people coming to Jesus could have such an effect over 5 centuries, what will the impact of my life be on those I interact with?

What impact are you having this Christmas on the lives of those who also need to come and worship the King?

PRAYER: God, your ways are unsearchable, yet You always accomplish your purposes. I pray, Lord, that our lives will shine the way to Jesus this Christmas, so that those near and far may come to worship Him! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.