DayBreaks for 4/04/19 – The Hidden Victory

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DayBreaks for 4/04/19: The Hidden Victory

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2009:

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. – Colossians 2:15 (NIV)

God has always had a strange way of winning.  Sometimes His victories are more spectacular than you can imagine: the great flood as a judgment on sin, crossing the Red Sea and the Jordan, the victory at Jericho, the shepherd boy with the slingshot, Gideon’s brave 300, Samson’s bringing down the roof.  All of these things must have been very spectacular to witness.  How I do hope God has instant replay in heaven so we can see them!

Sometimes, however, God’s victories don’t look so much like victory as like defeat.  In 1939, a young pastor, Helmut Thielicke, took his first pastorate in a church in Germany.  Thielicke was young and full of vigor, and he arrived with full confidence in Jesus’ words, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”  Thielicke told himself that Hitler was just a paper tiger, soon to be consumed by his own arrogance and greed and pomposity. 

After Thielicke arrived, he called for a Bible study.  A whopping three people showed up – two ladies who were so old that they looked like they were made of brittle parchment that could be destroyed by a tiny gust of wind, and an equally old man who had played the church organ, but who was now so old that his hands hardly worked at all.  They sat in a small group inside the church, studying the Word, while all the time they could hear the sounds of the jackboots of Hitler’s Youth Corps hammering on the streets as they marched and drilled. 

Thielicke’s confidence shattered.  Hadn’t Jesus said “ALL authority?”  What about the raging authority that Hitler wielded like a club against his opposition? 

In time, Thielicke came to understand what I hope most of us eventually come to realize: either Jesus’ words had a meaning far deeper than we have yet to grasp, or else his words were a blatant exaggeration…perhaps nothing more than the boastful bleatings of madman.  Was Jesus just a Lamb masquerading as a Lion for the sake of His disciples?

Hitler is gone – fallen in shame and disgrace.  Jesus is still on the throne.  When the last king or queen, the last President, the last dictator and prime minister has passed into the pages of history, Jesus will go on, reigning and ruling in majesty and glory such that the world has never seen.  When the last enemy, Death, has been obliterated forever, Jesus will go on.  When tears are forever banned, Jesus will rule.  When ten trillion years have passed in eternity, the celebration of His reign will only be beginning and it will never stop. 

You see, the Lion is the Lamb, and the Lamb is the Lion.  In any case, the victory that was hidden in the death on the cross will sway all of eternity.

Prayer: Hallelujah, Lord Jesus, for You reign now in glory above and You welcome us to the great celebration of victory!  May we proclaim the victory of the Lion Lamb throughout all our days on earth and in heaven above!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

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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.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 2/11/19 – I AM #1: The Way

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DayBreaks for 2/11/2019: I AM #1: The Way

John 14:3-6 (ESV) – And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me…”

One can’t blame Thomas. Jesus had just said he was going away without saying where he was going. Bless his heart, Thomas wanted to find Jesus again once he’d gone away, so what Thomas was really asking was, “How will we find you? What path to what place must we follow?”

Jesus’ reply wasn’t what Thomas expected, I’m sure. Where was Jesus going? To death, to the tomb…and then ultimately back to pre-incarnation glory. If we want to find Jesus again after his going away, not only is he the destination, but also the way to get there.

What is a “way”? A path – like a path through the jungle or dense forest. Without pathways through such places we’d get lost and die. The irony here is that not only is Jesus the destination, and the path, but as long as we stay on the path we will not be lost for in addition to being the path, he has promised to never leave us – he walks the path with us.

Stay on the path with him and you will  find him…walking beside you all the way.

PRAYER: Lord, in our search for meaning and happiness and fulfillment we take so many detours off the path to the left and right, thinking “This time it’ll work!”, only to find that the only pathway to that which we hunger for is you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/21/18 – An Other-worldly King

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DayBreaks for 11/21/18: An Other-worldly King

Perhaps you have heard this story. It’s a great story: Many years ago, when Hitler’s forces occupied Denmark, the order came that all Jews in Denmark were to identify themselves by wearing armbands with yellow stars of David. The Danes had seen the extermination of Jews in other countries and guessed that this was the first step in that process in their countries. The King did not defy the orders. He had every Jew wear the star and he himself wore the Star of David. He told his people that he expected every loyal Dane to do the same. The King said, “We are all Danes. One Danish person is the same as the next.” He wore his yellow star when going into Copenhagen every day in order to encourage his people. The King of Denmark identified with his people, even to the point of putting his own life on the line.

It’s a wonderful story with a powerful point. The only problem is it isn’t true. It’s an urban legend. It’s been around for a long time and told thousands of times over. And now with the internet we are getting a lot of these legendary stories retold. Too bad! What an image for a king, identifying with his people.

“Are you the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked. “Is that your idea,” Jesus said to him, “or did others talk to you about me?” That’s how these legends get started. Other people talking about what other people have said. Jesus was essentially crucified on gossip and rumor. An urban legend had developed around his ministry that he was going to lead a revolt against Rome.

In his conversation with Pilate, Jesus finally does imply that he is a king. “My kingdom,” he explains, “is not of this world.” Not of this world. That’s what it takes. That’s what it takes to find a King who identifies with his people. A King of heaven, a King of kings from some place other than this world.

Prayer: Thank You, Jesus, for being a King who can identify with the common man and with our common struggles. Let that thought bring us comfort this day!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/19/18 – Of Flowers and Birds

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DayBreaks for 11/19/18: On Flowers and Birds

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

Perhaps life wasn’t all that different in Jesus’ day.  Of course, I know that then they didn’t have planes, trains and automobiles, nor x-rays or space shuttles or many of the things which are part of the modern world.  But those things aren’t life and they shouldn’t be confused with it.  Life is about getting up and facing each day and doing the best you can – and about all the millions of things that happen each day emotionally, spiritually and physically.  That’s what I mean when I say I don’t think life was that different in Jesus’ day. 

There’s been a world (literally) of worry lately.  Global economic collapse, wars, famines, diseases, natural disasters, fires, people fretting over the future because of the recent election – yep, there’s plenty of worry.  Many of my friends and congregants are retirees who had their retirement funds socked away in stocks and bonds, IRA’s and 401K’s.  Now, the retirement that they’d longed for and hoped for is either gone or mostly gone.  It’s enough to make anyone worry about the future.

It seems that there was plenty of worry to go around in Jesus’ day, too.   And believe it or not, they worried about the same things we do.  Just listen to these words from the sermon on the mount (Mt. 6:25-33, NIV):  Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

You see?  They were worried about life, drink, food, clothing – the stuff of everyday life for all of humanity since the beginning of time.  Jesus’ prescription is simple, but not what you might expect.  He doesn’t say, “You should have put your money in temple bonds and stocks.  Take what you’ve got left and move it into temple securities.”  Instead, he says: “Go spend some time looking at and thinking about birds and flowers.  See what that tells you about God and life.”  He tells us that we don’t need to worry (it’s more like a command, “So do not worry…”) because the pagans run after the “stuff” that daily life demands….and our FATHER knows that we need those things, too.  And being the kind of Father that He is, He won’t fail us.  But there is a requirement: seeking His kingdom and righteousness first – and then all those other things will be given to us.

Are you fearful of a job loss/termination?  Wondering if you’ll ever be able to recover your funds in time to retire as you’d hoped?  Worried if your house will ever be worth more on it again than you currently owe?  Are you worrying about ANYTHING?

If so, stop.  If you can, go outside right now and look at some flowers or birds (if you live in the frozen tundra somewhere, look at the trees instead of flowers!)  Look good, look hard, and look long.  All of those plants and birds are sustained by the Father’s hand.  And you are of much greater worth, and are far more precious to Him, than all the trees of the field.

PRAYER: Teach us how to stop worrying, Lord.  Help us to trust our Father for all things needed for real life and true life, and keep us from confusing “stuff” such as possessions and retirement accounts for life itself.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/14/18 – Is There No Hope?

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DayBreaks for 11/14/18: Is There No Hope?

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father but by me.”  For many, those are the most offensive words ever spoken.  While many of those who accuse Christians of being closed-minded wouldn’t say it to Jesus’ face there is no hesitation to say it to the face of one of His followers.

So much is riding on whether or not we believe what Jesus said.  If you don’t believe it, you might argue that, just as “all roads lead to Rome”, so “Many paths lead to God.”  One might argue that as long as you are sincere that’s all that matters.  Some say that there is no God, or if there is, that everything that exists is not just made by him, but a part of him – and therefore we as people are no more special than a dolphin, whale, spotted owl or snail darter.  On the other hand, if we accept what Jesus said, it leaves no room for argument. 

Suppose for a second that you go to see your doctor, and the doctor, after poking and prodding and a series of tests, comes back and tells you, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but you have a rare and terminal illness.”  After recovering your bearings, you ask, “Is there no hope?”  “Well, there is one thing – and without it, it’s as good as over.  But, this one thing would heal you completely.  But it is certain that without this, you will not survive.”

As Mark Buchanan points out in Things Unseen,  you wouldn’t say something like: “Well, doc.  It’s been great to see you again.  I appreciate your opinion, but my favorite team is playing on TV in 15 minutes and I’ve got to get home to watch it.  See you again next year.”  You also wouldn’t be likely to say: “Doctor, I resent very much that you’re imposing your opinion on me.  You’re entitled to your opinion, but I am entitled to mine.  I think I’m just fine the way I am and that there’s nothing wrong with me.”

What would you do?  You’d sit there and listen and learn all that you could.  You’d go home, get on the internet, find resources and more information to learn even more.  And then you’d decide to take the doctor’s advice and do the one thing that will save you.

People refuse to take the advice of the Great Physician, the only One who has seen both time and eternity, heaven and earth, paradise and hell.  Why?  Because we think we’re smarter than Jesus.  Do you think the same thing about your doctor, or lawyer?  You might, and in some cases, you might be right.  But no one has ever been smarter than the Son of God. 

He’s diagnosed you.  He’s given you the treatment that will work.  What will you do with it?

Prayer: Father, thank You for showing us our desperate condition and for diagnosing our fatal illness.  Thank You for the cure, accepting You Son Jesus and His finished work on the cross.  Humble us to accept the cure.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/26/17 – The Reality of Now

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DayBreaks for 9/26/18The Reality of Now       

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

John 17:3: Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

Lk. 17:20-21: The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.

If you are like most of us, we think of heaven as being “out there” somewhere in the future.  The place of heaven isn’t so much of a topic for thought as is the time when we shall arrive there.  We can easily trust that heaven will not only meet, but infinitely surpass our wildest imaginings.  And perhaps that’s why, when life caves in, we long and hunger for it to come soon.  I think such things are only normal and natural.

But God has a way of not operating in normal or “natural” ways.  And the things that the inspired writers of Scripture captured for us deserve more attention.  Jesus, in his own words, says that eternal life is “that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”  Isn’t that interesting?  Heaven is not a particularly a place (although there is such a place), but what makes heaven heavenly is the knowing of God and Jesus which we will experience.  And, by the way, it is available, and present, now…not just out there in the future.

The Luke passage is even more stunning: it won’t be something we see coming, this kingdom of God, but it is within us.  A kingdom is the place where a king rules, where he lives.  We might think of the kingdom of God as being heaven (and that’s not incorrect) but the fact is that God’s rule is everywhere…and His Presence is, believe it or not, within us.  That means that His kingdom is also within us…now. 

As Mark Buchanan said in Things Unseen: “There is something about heaven that we must grasp, because if we don’t, we’ll miss everything else.  We’ll read the music but never sing, study the choreography but never dance.  It’s this: heaven starts now.

“Eternity is not primarily a measure of time – chronological time stretched to infinity.  It is not first and foremost a place.  Eternity is primarily a quality of relationship.  It is first and foremost a presence; to know God and Jesus Christ.

Perhaps the one claim Christianity makes that is the most offensive to the world and presents the greatest stumbling block is that there is only one why to God…and that way is belief in Jesus (not in Mohammed, Buddha, or any other person).  All a Christian has to do is say, “Christianity, Jesus Christ, is the only way to God,” and you’ll instantly be branded as a closed-minded, bigoted person.  But when you understand that eternal life is to know Jesus (as Jesus said in John 17), it makes perfect sense.  If eternal life is to know him, if you don’t know him – there cannot be eternal life.  Heaven is intimate knowledge, not of something, but of Someone – the only true God and Jesus Christ, the one He sent.

PRAYER: Almighty Lord, we long to know you better, to experience in greater measure and purity the eternal life that only comes from knowing You.  Keep us from the pride in our hearts and minds that might tell us that we already know you, guard us so that we don’t stop seeking to learn to know you better each passing day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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