DayBreaks for 4/02/18 – The King has One More Move

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DayBreaks for 4/02/18: The King has One More Move

A man was touring the Louvre with his friend who happened to be a chess grand master. They moved along the corridors and rooms admiring the many great paintings and works of art that were on display.

As they came to one particular painting of two people playing chess, titled “Checkmate”, the grand master paused and began looking in depth at the painting. It seemed that moment by moment he became more and more immersed in the work. His companion watched for a while, but eventually grew impatient and suggested that they move on to see more works of art, but the grand master wouldn’t budge. After quite some more time had passed, the grand master asked if he knew if the painter were still alive. His friend replied that he didn’t know. The grand master replied, “We must find the painter. They must either change the painting or change the title. You see, the king has one more move.”

And so it is that Easter 2018 is now truly past and we must move on. We quickly forget the wonder of the Resurrection, of the emotions of holy week, and get absorbed in our everyday lives. We will watch or listen to the news and hear stories that are discouraging, depressing, and yes, even terrifying. The joy of Easter Sunday yields quickly to the fears of Good Friday and the darkness of Saturday, and we start quickly to lose hope and joy.

I hope that this year, whenever you start to lose hope, to get discouraged, to be terrified, when joy begins to fade, that as you face the events of your day that you will remind yourself that the King has one more move. Nothing will stop Him from making that move for he is not just the King, but He is Almighty God and His will prevails. He rules the nations with a rod of iron.

When He makes what is truly the final move, the victorious last move, that “Easter” morning will never turn into another burdened Monday but it will last forever.

Remember: the King has one more move!

PRAYER: Jesus, we have rightly celebrated your glorious resurrection. Now we face Monday – a Monday like all the others where we will be challenged on every hand. We will be prone to disillusionment and even despair. We may even think the game is over and all is lost. Remind us, every day, every moment, that You have one more move! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

(For more on the Checkmate painting, see here.)

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

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DayBreaks for 4/01/18 – Easter Reminds Me…

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DayBreaks for 4/01/18: Easter Reminds Me…

I am always loathe to leave Easter in the rear view mirror. I think that maybe the new year should start on Easter rather than January 1 because of all the Easter speaks to me. I suspect that I am not the only one who needs Easter reminders.

I struggle with a mother who no longer recognizes me but says that I remind her of her son. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle with a body that is aging and clearly on the decline. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle to make sense of a world that seems to have lost all sense of balance, where people from one religion cut the heads off believers of another faith. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle to understand why people are abused and belittled and subjected to so much injustice. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle to understand why little children get cancer and die, tearing the hearts out of their parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle to understand why some people never seem to find someone who will love and cherish them as beings made in the very image of God. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle to understand why two people who promised to love each other until death parts them decide to forsake those vows. Easter reminds me that it wont’ be this way forever.

I struggle with not being able to see my father any more. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle to make sense of the brutality of war and the death wrought by natural disasters. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle when I think of those without enough food who die of starvation and disease. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle to be fully and completely freed from my guilt and sin and the effects of the fall in this world. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I rebel at the thought of saying goodbye to those that I love, to walk into the Lord’s presence but to leave them behind. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I long for all things to be made new and for the fallen to pass. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I cannot see His face, except through a thick curtain of faith. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

PRAYER: God, thank you that for all the struggles and trials and pains of this life, that it will not be this way forever because of the resurrection! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 3/31/18 – Saturday, the Glorious Silence

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DayBreaks for 3/30/18: Saturday – the Glorious Silence

From the Perimeter holy week devotion guide, by Caleb Click:

1 Corinthians 15:3-5 (ESV) – For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

“Buried.” In our Easter celebrations, the death and resurrection of Jesus receive most of our attention and with good reason. The heart and soul of the Christian faith rests on those realities. But here, in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul says that it was of first importance not only that Jesus died and rose, but that he was buried. Christians across the centuries have echoed those words of Paul in the Apostle’s Creet, saying with one voice, …he was crucified, died, and was buried. Sitting at the very center of it all is this reality often confessed but rarely considered: that Jesus’ body joined bullions before him in a tomb, that he entered the grave and for three days remained inside, closed off from the world of the living. But why? Why does this matter?

But this mystery doesn’t stop there. It sweeps us up with it. Romans 6:4 says: We were buried with him by baptism into his death.  Colossians 2:12 announces that we who are in Christ have been buried with him in baptism.  In the gospel story, Saturday’s mourning has as much importance to us as Friday evening’s despair and Sunday morning’s joy. Again, the question: why?

I think the answer is this: burial is a goodbye. It’s recognition that the life of the one we loved is gone and what remains in their place is only silence That the words they once spoke live on only in our recollection. That their touch exists only in memory. That the person with all their vitality and power is gone. Saturday morning is the disciples’ coming to terms with a Jesus they think is no more.

And here is why that matters, why it’s such gloriously good news. Jesus wasn’t simply a man who died; he was the spotless lamb upon whom our sins were laid (John 1:29). The disciples mourned on Saturday, but they didn’t realize that it wasn’t Jesus who was no more; it was our sin. It was everything we once were. When he rose Sunday morning and left the tomb, our sins stayed inside. Buried. Silenced. A memory and recollection stripped of its power. We don’t continue in sin because we were buried with Jesus and, while we have been raised, the old man still lies buried in that tomb, never to leave again (Romans 6). We don’t fall captive to the lie of thi world that our hope is in our performance, because the body of flesh was cut away and cast into a tomb from which it will never escape, and we now stand in the resurrection life of Jesus Christ (Colossians 3).

TODAY’S PRAYER: Father, we recognize that the burial of Jesus was a goodbye. A goodbye to our sin and its condemnation. To the person we were before Christ. To the life we once lived and the power the flesh once had over us. Thank you that the glorious good news of a silence does not leave us in pain as the disciples first thought, but one that truly makes us free. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 3/30/18 – Our Passover Lamb

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DayBreaks for 3/30/18: Our Passover Lamb

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

1 Cor. 5:7b – …For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

There is a saying, “All good things must come to an end.”  Actually, that’s a lie.  Not all good things must come to an end.  Paul tells us that faith, hope and love abide.  The Word of God abides forever.  God is forever.  And for Christians, heaven will be forever.  But I would have to suspect that on Good Friday so long ago, Jesus took great comfort in knowing that all bad things must come to an end, and in fact, as far as His earthly suffering was concerned, Good Friday marked the end.  Anyone who watches The Passion of the Christ must believe that the crucifixion itself, as horrible as it was, must have been welcomed as the end of the road – Jesus knew it would soon be over.

What happened to Jesus?  Was He murdered?  Was He killed?  Was He executed? Was He (as Texans might say), ‘lynched’?  While lots of words might have been chosen, I wonder how many on Good Friday would have said that He had been “sacrificed”?  Probably not many, except perhaps the Three-in-One.

In A Violent Grace, by Michael Card, Mike was musing on the events of Good Friday when he posited this insight: “It was one thing for pastors today to speak of Christ being a substitutionary sacrifice and a propitiation for our sins.  It was another for a priest in Jesus’ day to lay hold of a soft white lamb and slit its throat…For Jesus, it began the night he was born.  The first to come and kneel at His manger were shepherds.  He arrived in the season when lambs were being born – that’s why the shepherds were in the field all night.  The worshiping shepherds saw a baby boy a sweetly sleeping, but they never expected that the lamb who was born that night as a baby was the Lamb of God.  Thirty years later, John the Baptist was standing up to his waist in the Jordan when he saw Jesus approaching.  ‘Look!’ he exclaimed, ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’  With those words ringing through the air, Jesus began three years of public ministry…I wonder if one of the last sounds to reach Jesus’ ears during the final hours on the cross was the bleating of lambs.

One thing is for sure: the final sounds Jesus heard on the cross were not comforting.  He did not hear the voices of the crowd shouting “Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”  He did not hear his followers weeping for him, nor did he hear his apostles words of comfort as he hung suspended between heaven and earth, for they’d all (save one) cowardly run away.  And so, perhaps, with the Passover being observed in the city just across the valley, perhaps the sound of lambs was indeed the last sounds he heard. 

I hope that we will hear the sounds of the Lamb that was sacrificed.  And that we won’t just hear it, but we will take it to heart.  It was my fault that Jesus was on the cross – and it was yours.  The next time He needs us, I hope He will hear us.  He is our Passover Lamb and because of Him, the death angel has passed us over and we live in a new life.

May your Resurrection celebration be a special one.  Listen for the Lamb!

PRAYER: Great Lamb of God, have mercy on us sinners! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 3/29/18 – The Time Has Come

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DayBreaks for 3/29/18: The Time Has Come

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2007:

John 17:1 – After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.

“The time has come.” 

These words should haunt us, coming as they do from Jesus’ lips.  John, and the other gospels writers have taken us on an amazing journey of discovery of the Son of God.  His power has wowed us.  His love has stunned and surprised us.  His tenderness has given us hope.  And now, can’t you hear the weariness, and yes, apprehension, in his voice? 

How we view the arrival of something depends on what we anticipate that “something” will be like: good or bad, blessing or trouble, peace or distress.  I hate it when the appointment comes when I’m supposed to go to the dentist.  I’ve taken others to the hospital for major surgery, and the dread is palpable as we travel in the car.  We hate the moment when we are due to pile into the car for a trip to the funeral parlor for a service for a loved one who has died.  On the other hand, we rejoice when the time has come to leave for the airport to pick up your spouse or children or grandchildren whom you haven’t seen for a long time, or to go away for a much needed and long anticipated 3-day fishing retreat away from the noise and troubles of the world.  In either case, the anticipation can be excruciating. 

Either the sadness and dread can drive us into the ground, or the joy we anticipate gives us the butterflies in our stomachs that makes it hard to keep our feet on the ground when we walk.  In many cases, we don’t know what to expect – and the anticipation, the unknowingness involved – makes us nervous and anxious, hopeful yet not too hopeful lest we should be disappointed.  “The time has come.”  With Jesus, it wasn’t a question of anticipation for he knew fully what to expect.  He created the nervous system that would report the details of the crown of thorns, scourging and nails to his brain.  He had known all his life why he’d come to this earth.  Every event of his life had led to this tipping point, this fulcrum.  And when the time comes, what does Jesus do?  He prays.  How did he feel about this “time” which had come?  We see mixed emotions:

FIRST: In the garden we see his human side, trembling and fearful of the great anguish and suffering that lay ahead, begging with the father that this cup, and this time, could pass.  And who can blame him?  Think of your own most terrifying and dark moment – didn’t you cry out for it to pass?  Didn’t you cry out for God to take it away?  Jesus was as human as we are.  He had all the same feelings as we do.  His nerves fired pain impulses just every bit as exquisitely and perfectly as those of any other human being.  He made no exceptions for himself when it came to being able to identify with us in our humanity, he permitted himself no indulgences or luxuries to bypass human suffering.

SECOND: In Hebrews 12:2, and here, we see something about how the Divine side of Jesus dealt with this time.  He was God – every bit as much God as he was human.  As God, he could see the future outcome of events and happenings, and he could foresee the joy at the end of this “time” which had come.  And that joy he beheld was your face and my face.  It was being able to see us eternally before the throne of God in heaven in His Presence, and knowing that it was because of this “time which has come” that was to make it possible.  That joy, of seeing his brothers and sisters redeemed from the pit of hell and cleansed from the stench of sin, that gave Christ the power to move into this time which has come, and pray, “Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You.”

“The time has come”…what does that mean for you and I?  It means the time has come for us to be done with our past lives of sin and rebellion, to put our faithlessness and infidelity to God in the past.  The time has come for us to walk by faith, not by sight.  The time has come for us to take up our cross and follow him.  The time has come for the church to rise up in the power of the Spirit and speak truth into the world once again.  And ultimately, the time will come for us to face our own death and destiny.  Jesus had prepared himself along the way for the moment when his time would come.  Have you?

PRAYER: For Jesus’ resolve in the hour of his trial, Father, we are eternally grateful.  For strength for our own time which has come, we beseech Thee.  For the courage to speak truth into the world and the lives of those around us, we plead.  For Your mercies, which are new every morning, we give You praise.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 3/28/18 – One Moment in History

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DayBreaks for 3/28/18: One Moment in History

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2007:

Pretend for a moment that you were in possession of a time machine. If you could pick one moment out of all recorded history to go back and see, what would you choose? In a newspaper recently, journalists had voted on the greatest story of the 20th century. According to one paper I saw, they chose the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima as the biggest story of the century. It certainly is worthy of strong consideration. I remember the stunned silence (even outdoors!!) on the day that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon and the first moonwalk took place. It was as if nothing, not even the wind, dared to move that afternoon.

Still, all things considered, I think that I’d probably pick the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the event I’d most like to observe. You see, no human eyes were witness to it, so no one knows what it looked like. There was no one to watch as God came back to life, except God Himself.

I don’t think that I would want to see the crucifixion. It would be too painful to watch knowing that it was my fault that it was happening. We want to get past the ugliness, horror and bloodiness of Calvary in our rush to get to the Resurrection Morning, don’t we? But we can’t afford to do that. If we do, we will miss the most amazing lesson in all of human history: that the God of heaven, who hates sin with all His heart, loves His creation even more than He hates sin and proved it on the cross. That, if anything, is the lesson of Calvary. It is a lesson we need to be reminded of every time we get the chance.

Don’t rush past Calvary on your way to sunrise services. Stop and look long and hard at the price that was paid for your sin and for mine. It wasn’t cheap – God’s grace is anything but cheap. The price wasn’t paid on Resurrection morning, but on the Friday before. That is where the atoning was done, that is where the blood of the Lamb was spilled and when it was sprinkled on the altar. The Resurrection was merely the joyous cosmic shout of God proclaiming the victory that was won on the Friday before!

The cross – good Friday – is where we need to stop and ponder our lives – and the God who could possibly love us so much.

PRAYER: Father, help us pause often this week to ponder with all the wonder, amazement and humility that human hearts can hold what you did for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 3/26/18 – The Proclamation

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DayBreaks for 3/26/18: The Proclamation

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2008:

SARPOURENX, France – A mayor in southwest France has threatened residents of his village of Sarpourenx with severe punishment if they die because there’s no room in the cemetery. Mayor Gerard Lalanne posted an ordinance in the council offices advising the village’s 260 residents that “all persons not having a plot in the cemetery and wishing to be buried in Sarpourenx are forbidden from dying in the parish.” It added, “Offenders will be severely punished,” Homes Worldwide said. The 70-year-old mayor, who is hoping to be re-elected in local elections, told journalists, “It may be a laughing matter for some, but not for me.”  

Easter is coming but will soon be over and I shall miss it once it’s gone.  Of course, there’s no reason we can’t revel in the joyful proclamation “He is not here, he is risen!” all year long – and indeed, we should.  It is at the very heart of the Christian message, for if Christ is not risen from the dead, we’d have no greater hope or joy than any other religion whose founder lies moldering in the grave. 

I would imagine that mayor Lalanne issued his proclamation rather tongue-in-cheek.  I just don’t think that one can legislate the prevention of death.  Try as one might, you will never be able to keep cemeteries from filling up.  The human march toward death is certain and inexorable.  The bell tolls for we. 

Jesus would take a different approach than Mayor Lalanne.  Jesus is a realist – we will all die, and after that face judgment.  But rather than filling up cemeteries, Jesus is all about emptying them out through the resurrection.  And we need never fear another thing: there is no message such as “There’s no room at the inn,” or “Heaven is full…no vacancy.”  If Easter is about anything, it is about room – room at the foot of the cross, room in an empty tomb, room in cemeteries where the dead are raised and room in heaven for “whosoever will” that desires to come home to the Father. 

PRAYER: Lord, we believe that the day will come when all who are in the grave will hear your voice and every grave will open and surrender to You.  May we never lose hope, may we invite all we know to come home!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.