DayBreaks for 3/8/19 – The Heart of the Scandal

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DayBreaks for 3/08/19: The Heart of the Scandal

From the DayBreaks archive March 2009:

Why was Jesus such a stumbling block to the Jews?  Why is he such a hurdle for modern man to overcome and welcome?  There probably are as many excuses (and perhaps reasons) as there are folks who refuse to accept him – then, or now.  I can think of several reasons:

FIRST: no one wants to be told they have to die to themselves.  After all, haven’t we been raised with the encouragement to “follow your own heart”?  And doesn’t that seem like good advice?  “Be true to yourself.”  But….this is not biblical advice AT ALL!  The heart is “desperately wicked”, Scripture says.  Why follow it?  If anything, we need to lead our hearts to the cross over and over and there kneel down in the dirt realizing that our most righteous acts smell like dirty, rotten, filthy socks or underwear (“rags” as Scripture puts it.)  To follow our hearts will get us in trouble every time.  Jesus said we need to die to ourselves – we don’t want to do that.

SECOND: Jesus says our focus should be on things above – and our concern should be for the coming and completion of the kingdom of God.  Again, this takes the focus off of us.

THIRD: while we aren’t saved by obedience, Jesus made it clear that God cares about holiness.  Sadly, too many of us care more about our own “fun” – which usually means we are doing things which may be unholy that are momentarily fun but which are unholy and deadly in the long run.

FOURTH: here’s the point I really want to make about why Jesus is hard for many to accept.  Do you recall the 1996 song by Joan Osborne titled, “What If God Were One of Us?”  There were those who found the song sacrilegious, and I can understand that.  But that is the very same reason that so many rejected Jesus in his life – including friends and family members – they felt he was sacrilegious when he claimed to be God – “like one of us.”  Phillip Yancey said, “By any measure Jesus led a tragic life: rumors of illegitimacy, taunts of insanity from his family, rejection by most who heard him, betrayal by friends, the savage turn of a mob against him, a series of justice-mocking trials, execution in a form reserved for slaves and violent criminals.  A pitiful story, to be sure, and that is the heart of the scandal: we do not expect to pity God.”

That the Messiah would suffer and die was never in the Jewish psyche.  The Messiah, they thought, would never do those things.  They couldn’t live with a Messiah who would suffer and die – so they killed him to be sure.  And we can’t live without such a Savior. 

Prayer: Who would have believed our report, that the Son of God should suffer and die for sinners!  Father God, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit – thank you for this wonder and mystery of your love for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

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DayBreaks for 3/01/19 – Unwanted

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DayBreaks for 3/01/19: Unwanted

From the DayBreaks archive February 2009:

John 1:10-11 (KJV) – He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

How, I wonder, could Jesus come to his own, God’s chosen people Israel, and they not know or recognize him?  They had been prepared by God Himself throughout thousands of years for the Messiah.  They expected him to come – but tragically, they didn’t see him as anything except a carpenter from Nazareth, a child born out of wedlock, trained in a trade by Joseph.

A widow had children who left her one by one to go to the “new country” (as she called it.)  As they made their tearful farewells, she heard each of them promise her that they’d save money and that they would send for her “very soon.”  Time passed; the children married and had children of their own, but no mention ever came in a letter suggesting they were ready to send for their aging mother.  She deeply longed to see them, but thinking they lacked the means to bring her to the “new country”, she scrimped and saved up enough money to afford on her own to pay them a surprise visit.  She anticipated a joyful reunion with her children and she longed to see them and to meet her grandchildren. Upon arriving her reception was the reverse of what she had hoped and longed for.  Her children had indeed prospered, but seemed annoyed at the surprise visit, and they belittled her old-fashioned clothing and way of speaking.  They had no room for her in their hearts.  The disappointed woman returned home and took up residence in a home for the elderly, where she proved to be a blessing to all about her, pouring out the vast flood of love that her own children had rejected.  She wasn’t bitter.  “It seems to me that I knew what our Lord suffered,” she told a friend, “when He came to His own dear people and they gave Him the cold shoulder.  Just think!  He came unto His own and His own received Him not!  I can understand how that wounded His loving heart.”

Perhaps the Jews failure wasn’t so much that they didn’t recognize Jesus, but that they had no room left in their hearts for this lover of their souls. 

I think we’d best not be too hard on the Jews, however.  How many times have I not found room in my heart for Him when He comes calling?  How many times have I been ashamed or afraid to let people know where I stand, and Who I stand with? 

Jesus loves us.  He came to be with us.  Will we send Him back home alone – and unwanted?

Prayer: Jesus, don’t give up on us!  Keep knocking at the doorway to our hearts.  Transform our hard hearts into hearts that rejoice to see You when You arrive!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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

 

DayBreaks for 1/28/19 – Neon Promises

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DayBreaks for 01/28/2019: Neon Promises

Have you ever really noticed how many neon signs there are in your town? Have you paid attention to what they claim and what they try to sell you?

I recently was listening to an old rock song by Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band called Fire Inside. It contains these lyrics:

There’s a hard moon risin’ on the streets tonight

There’s a reckless feeling in your heart as you head out tonight,

Through the concrete canyons to the midtown light

Where the latest neon promises are burning bright…

I had never paid close attention to the lyrics before, but for some reason, the concept of neon promises struck a chord in my thoughts and spurred this DayBreaks. If you’ve been to any big (and sometimes small cities), you’ve probably seen neon signs promoting things like these: “All you can eat! $5.95!”  “Girls! Girls! Girls!” “Paradise!” “Fresh pies!” “B-B-Q!” “Cocktails and Dreams!” “Beer on tap – happy hour – $1!”

Satan is no idiot. He knows how attracted we are to beautiful, shiny, colorful and bright things. And he knows how those things draw us with promises of dreams about to be realized, hopes fulfilled, pleasures and freedom to do as your heart pleases without consequence or regret.

But, in reality, all they are is empty neon promises. They shine bright for a while but they are empty, filled with nothing more than the hot gasses contained in glowing glass tubes.

I thought about how the promises of God offer things so different than neon promises: “I will never leave you or forsake you.”  “I will remember your sins no more.” “I have come that you may have life and life overflowing.” “Come to me and I will give you rest.”

Does the different between those promises strike you as much as it does me? God’s promises relate to the deepest desires of my heart and soul rather than simply the desires of the flesh. Even if you eat all the food you want for $5.95, you’ll be hungry again tomorrow, but Jesus gives us the bread that makes it so that our souls will never again hunger.

I’ve had enough of neon promises that can’t fulfill. I hope you have, too, and that we will all recognize them for what they are: just tubes filled with glowing gas.

PRAYER: Father, than you for your promises which are real, deep and eternal. Keep us from falling prey to the neon promises of this world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/21/19 – The Most Tragic Figure

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DayBreaks for 01/21/2019: The Most Tragic Figure

From the DayBreaks archive, January 2009:

If you were to pick the most tragic figure in all of Scripture, or in all of history, who would it be?  I suppose one could argue for a variety of persons:

ADAM: here is a man who walked and talked with God in the garden, and yet was overcome by sin.  If anyone had motivation to continue to walk uprightly because he had recognized so many blessings from his relationship with God, you’d think it would be Adam.  Yet, one whisper from the serpent and he and his wife fall!

CAIN: it didn’t take long for hatred, envy and jealousy to rise to the point that a man would kill his own brother.  Tragic, indeed.  And over something as foolish as whose sacrifice was most pleasing to God?!?!?!  Why kill your brother instead of taking up the matter directly with God?????

SAUL: this king had it all going for him: he was big, brawny, and popular with the people.  Maybe that’s why it all went to his head and he fell from the throne to madness, wallowing in self-pity and taking his own life.

Perhaps JUDAS is the most tragic figure in all of human history.  He certain is one of the most vilified – at least by believers – who shake and wag our heads at the heinous act he perpetrated. 

The, of course, there are the Atilla the Hun’s, Idi Amin’s, Joseph Stalin’s, Adolph Hitler’s, Genghis Khan’s…sadly, the list is rather long.  You may feel at times that your life has been the most tragic in all of history because it has been so difficult.  At times, we’re all prone to believing we’ve got it bad until we’re reminded of someone who truly is in dire straits. 

There is, of course, another totally different point of view.  While most of the people mentioned above were, well, not nice folks, perhaps the most tragic figure in history is God.  Every single human who has ever lived has wounded the heart of their loving Father.  And not just once, but over and over and over – countless times.  And we continue to do so, even knowingly many times.  And yet His love endures forever.

We need to stop thinking so much about the pain in our lives and consider more the pain in God’s existence.  We need to stop thinking about obedience so much as an act of submission to His will as a response to His heart of love.

Prayer: For all the pain You bore on the cross, and for all the pain we cause You now, we seek Your mercy and forgiveness.  Teach us to obey out of love for a heart that has always loved us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/16/19 – When the Wine Runs Out

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DayBreaks for 01/16/2019: When the Wine Runs Out

The world famous Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway was a person who went for it all. A newspaper reporter, ambulance driver during WWII, involved in the Spanish Civil War, friend to bullfighters as well as authors–he did it all. And, when he did it he did it to the fullest. In a manner of speaking he enjoyed the wine of life. But there came a day when the wine of joy ran out.

Carlos Baker records it in his biography of Hemingway in this way: Sunday morning dawned bright and cloudless. Ernest awoke early as always. He put on the red “Emperor’s robe” and padded softly down the padded stairway. The early sunlight lay in pools on the living room floor. He had noticed that the guns were locked up in the basement, but the keys, as he well knew, were on the window ledge above the kitchen sink. He tiptoed down the basement stairs and unlocked the storage room. It smelled as dank as a grave. He chose a double barreled shotgun with a tight choke. He had used it for years to shoot pigeon’s. He took some shells from one of the boxes in the storage room, closed and locked the door, and climbed the basement stairs. If he saw the bright day outside, it did not deter him. He crossed the living room to the front foyer, a shrine-like entryway five feet by seven feet, with oak-paneled walls and a floor of linoleum tile. He slipped in two shells, lowered the gun butt carefully to the floor, leaned forward, pressed the twin barrels against his forehead just about the eyebrows and tripped both triggers.

What are you going to do when the wine runs out? Hemingway turned to the easy way out, but it was the way out to what? He turned to a gun to deal with his pain. I would rather turn to Jesus and godly friends to help me through the pain. I hope you will, too.

Prayer: Father, in your children’s pain, let us feel your presence and love as never before and give us the wisdom and strength to run to your arms! Help us remember that the pain is only fleeting and that joy comes again in the eternal morning. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/14/19 – Maybe His Greatest Mercy

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DayBreaks for 01/14/2019: Maybe His Greatest Mercy

Mercy. It’s somewhat defined as not getting what you deserve, for example, when a judge is merciful from the bench instead of jailing a woman who stole a loaf of bread to feed her starving children. When thinking of mercy and the human condition, we are talking about God in his mercy not destroying us all because of our sin. That’s his mercy in action. So that is without a doubt his greatest mercy. But let’s take that mercy off the table for the purposes of our thinking for now. What would the next greatest mercy of God toward us be?

Every week at church there is a video of someone giving a testimony of their life. It is wonderful to hear the testimonies of what God has done in the lives of the men and women who share their stories. But this Sunday, the man who shared his story said something that really struck me so I wrote it down. He asked the question: “Could it be that His greatest mercy is that he never gives me what I think I want?”

What is it that I want? Do I want his rule in my life or self-rule? That answer is pretty obvious isn’t it? We rebel against his rule and each “go our own way.” We want what we want, whether that is money, fame, a new spouse, prestige, pleasure, escape or just fun times. And we demonstrate that with our sinful choices.

What if God gave us all that we think we want? What would the effect be on our homes and families? If God gave us endless pleasure because that’s what we’re pursuing, would we even bother to seek him out and to long for a better world in which people live?  Why would we every think to pray, “Thy kingdom come, they will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”? Would we be so content that anything to do with heaven and righteousness would be wiped from our minds forever? And why would we even both to seek the purpose in our existence if everything I want is obtainable here? I don’t think I would.

And so God demonstrates his mercy to me by not giving me what I think I want. And I need him to change my heart to be happy and content with what He wants for me.

PRAYER: God, thank you for your mercy in not giving us what we think we want, or many times not giving us what we ask for! Change our hearts so that what you desire for us is our greatest desire. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/04/19 – The Passing of the Shadow

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DayBreaks for 01/04/2019: The Passing of the Shadow

From the DayBreaks Archive, 01/05/09 (modified):

Whew.  The holidays are now over.  It is a bittersweet feeling, isn’t it?  On the one hand, I love the excitement and joy of the holidays, and the chance to share that with family, loved ones and friends.  I love the Christmas carols and was surprised to find some of them playing in the malls this year. I love the bright lights and colors, and yes, the nuts and chews of Christmas from See’s Candies!

But it isn’t long and the holidays that have been so long awaited are over and done with.  The family has returned to their own homes and gone back to work, the Christmas decorations have been pulled down and boxed away for another year, the candy is gone (thank goodness!) and the Christmas carols and tree have been tucked away for 11 months.  And – I’m tired. 

As I was reflecting on this one day, I was watching our old dog, Rainie.  She’s 12 years old now and she’s clearly winding down.  She walks with a strange, stiff gait because of some arthritis in her hips, and if you look into her eyes, they are not dark and clear – they are milky and a bit subdued.  She is afraid, or in a bit too much discomfort, to hop up on the bed as easily as she used to.  Now, at night, when she comes back into the house, she will whimper and whine before even attempting her leap of faith up to the top of the mattress.  And she huffs and puffs a lot more than when she was younger.  It saddens me to see this happening before my very eyes and to be powerless in the face of the inexorable march of time.  And then I realize, I am on the same march, head down as I trudge the pathway before me.

The passing of the holidays and the winding down of life have parallels that can teach us.  We start out exuberant, full of excitement and energy.  We hurry here and there because the world is so big and there is so much to see and do and we don’t want to miss a moment of it.  But then, as with Christmas, the holiday is over before you are even fully aware that it has begun.  Old friends and family are no longer around.  We find ourselves more fearful of running around too far from home, and we also whimper and whine as we rise or recline on our bed.  Not to mention the eyesight. 

This is the way of all flesh.  This is what makes our God and His promises so precious – He does not grow old, tired, and weary.  He doesn’t get cataracts.  His bones don’t ache and generate the whimpers that accompany old age.  And He promises us that the day will come when we will be like Him in that regard.  We try to imagine a life without any sort of pains or sadness and we cannot grasp even the tiniest crumb of that reality.  But we do long for it.  The life we so longed to live when we were younger has been spent somehow, somewhere – like a shadow passing in the night, soundlessly and quickly, not even leaving footprints behind.  Hold on to the fact that the shadow is passing, but it isn’t passing from daylight to darkness, but instead the shadow is passing to daylight, from earth to heaven, from mortality to immortality, from death to life.  And there shall be no more weeping.

PRAYER:  Lord, life often feels like both a blessing and a burden.  Thank you for the promise that you will make our joys even greater than anything we have experienced in this lifetime, and that you will remove our sorrows eternally.  Thank you, that Jesus “is the life!”  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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