DayBreaks for 2/21/20 – The Other Side, Part 2

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DayBreaks for 2/21/20: The Other Side – Part 2

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2010:

In Mark 6, Jesus feeds the 5000 on the western, Jewish side of the Sea of Galilee.  They are in a remote place – no Burger King’s or McDonald’s in sight.  Not even stores with enough food to feed such a crowd are within miles and miles.  But the people don’t seem to mind – they’re listening to Jesus preach.  And he preaches all day.  At the end of the day, the disciples are moved with compassion on their Jewish friends and neighbors and they approach Jesus with the problem: what are we going to feed them?  Jesus, as you know, miraculously solves the problem.

Switch to Mark 8 and Jesus is back on “the other side” of the Sea of Galilee again – in pagan territory.  The last time he and his disciples had landed here, they had a welcoming committee of one: Legion.  But now it seems that the Man Formerly Known As Legion has been busy telling his story and a great crowd has gathered to welcome Jesus – to hear him and have their infirmities healed.  Jesus doesn’t disappoint them on either score.  He heals many, and he preaches.  And preach he does!  Day one and at the end of the day the crowd is still there – and the disciples say nothing.  Day two comes and goes and still the disciples have said nothing about the fact the crowd hasn’t been fed.  Day three is all that Jesus can bear – and at the end of the day, he tells the disciples (apparently seeing that they weren’t going to say or do anything about the crowd’s hunger) that he has compassion on them and wants them to feed the crowd. 

Do you see what happened here?  The disciples had plenty of compassion on those who were like them – on those who shared their religious and political positions, but not on the people from “the other side.”  Jesus, however, after watching his disciples fail this compassion test, shows them that he has compassion and that something must be done.  He’s setting the example for them for their eventual mission to the world – to take the gospel everywhere to every tribe, and people and language. 

But it moves me to wonder: who am I so prejudiced against that I don’t even feel compassion for them?  Who is the church so dead set against that we can’t be moved with mercy towards them?  Are we so judgmental that we condemn those with open, bleeding sores and diseases because we think they brought their problems on themselves with their wicked decisions?  Are we so blind that we can’t see this message in the contrasts of the feeding of the Jewish 5000 and the pagan 4000?  In the first case, 12 baskets of food were left over – the same number as the tribes of Israel.  Jesus was saying, “I’ve not forgotten my people.  I’ll take care of them and provide for them – in abundance.”  When he was done feeding the 4000, there were 7 baskets of food left over.  This wasn’t a co-incidence – it wasn’t 7 instead of 12 because Jesus had realized he’d overdone it the first time.  There were 7 baskets because there were 7 nation groups that lived in the Decapolis, in “the other side”…the very same nations that God had driven out of Palestine when Joshua took the land (Joshua 3:10; Acts 13:19).  What was Jesus saying with the leftover 7 baskets?  “I’ve not forgotten that these are my people, too.  I’ll take care of them and provide for them – in abundance.” 

On the cross, Jesus tore down all that separated “our side” from “the other side.”  They all now belong to Jesus, and it is time we started treating those on the “other side” as Jesus treated them!

PRAYER: Be merciful to us, Lord, and fill us with the heart of compassion that beat within your breast for all of mankind.  Forgive us our prejudices and our sinful tendency to think of our side and “our kind” as better than others!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 2/20/20 – The Other Side, Part 1

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DayBreaks for 2/20/20: The Other Side – Part 1

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2010:

After preaching in Galilee, Jesus told his disciples he wanted them all to go to the “other side”.  We read that as simply referring to the other side of the lake, and at one level, that is true.  But it was also a technical term that describes the area of the Decapolis – a heathen, pagan, non-God honoring region populated by the 7 tribes that God had driven out of Israel when the Hebrews took the Promised Land.  It would be like saying, “I’m going over to the Dark Side” in Star Wars terminology – to a place where evil and pride and badness rules, led by Darth Vader and the evil Emperor.  The disciples knew well what it meant. 

As they cross the lake, a storm comes up – a bad one.  What made it worse for the disciples is that the people of the Decapolis worshipped a pagan god that they believed ruled over the weather and the sea.  It’s a bad omen – to those who believe in such things.  Jesus, however, is fast asleep.  When awakened, he calms the storm and they land near Bethsaida in the Decapolis.  Their greeting party is huge, consisting of one man and an entire legion of demons that possess him.  Other than that, they were apparently alone. 

This poor man had been cast out by his people because of his possession.  Jesus heals the man and sends the evil spirits into a swine of 2000 pigs who commit mass suicide by running over a cliff into the water.  (By the say, the pig was part of their pagan worship, too!)  When the townsfolk hear about these going’s on, they ask Jesus and his disciples to get back in the boat they came in on and go back to the “other side” (isn’t it interesting how both sides think the “other side” is whatever side they’re not on?)  When Jesus humbly turns to get back into the boat, the Man Formerly Known As Legion begs to follow Jesus as his disciple.  To my knowledge, this is the only time in Scripture where Jesus tells someone, “No.”  Always, it’s been Jesus extending the invitation: “Come!  Follow me!”, but not now.  Though the man begs, Jesus stands steadfast: No.  You must go tell your story to your people.  Go. 

A couple of chapters later (Mark 8), Jesus returns again with his disciples to “the other side.”  Only this time, a great crowd is present.  Why?  Apparently because one man, formerly possessed, went and told his people what Jesus had done for him and what mercy he had received from the Christ.  All because, it appears, of one man telling his story. 

Couldn’t Jesus have been more effective if he’d stayed and preached after casting Legion out?  I don’t know.  All I know is that Jesus, filled with Divine wisdom, knew it wasn’t the best way.  The people of the Decapolis wouldn’t have been ready to hear Jesus if not for the story of Legion.  They knew this man and even though they’d thrust him out of their communities – he was still “one of us” to these Decapolis dwellers.  He didn’t make them suspicious.  Jesus and his disciples may have had the opposite result.

So, we see the power of telling the story of what Jesus has done for us and of the mercy we found at his outstretched hand. 

Who is on “the other side” from you?  Who is it that you alone, of all God’s many peoples, may be able to reach for Jesus? 

Wouldn’t it be great if when Jesus arrives on the shores of Planet Earth this next time he is greeted by you and by a great crowd to whom you’ve told your story and they’ve become his followers, too?

PRAYER: Help us to not think in terms of “our side” or the “other side”, but to focus on telling the story of the love of Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 2/18/20 – Finding Family

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DayBreaks for 2/18/20: Finding Family

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2010:

For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. – Romans 8:29-30

“They worked together every day at the furniture delivery company and didn’t know. Gary would lift one end of the couch and Randy the other. People said they looked alike, but they chalked that up to coincidence.

“Randy had been researching his family history. He was an adopted son, and a new law in Maine allowed him to finally see his birth certificate. He learned that both his parents had died but that they had another son, born June 10, 1974. Then, on a furniture delivery run, it happened again. A customer commented on how much Randy looked like Gary. Randy started nonchalantly asking Gary some more personal questions—like when his birthday is. “As soon as he said his birthday, I knew,” Randy said later. Gary is his brother.

“Here they had grown up in neighboring towns and attended rival schools—only a year apart in age—and never known about each other. It was a shock to both of them. “Phenomenal,” said Gary. “I still can’t wrap my head around it.” A co-worker, Greg Berry, said, “There’s nothing like family, especially when you don’t have one. Now they’ve got it.”

“But that’s not all. After their story appeared in the local paper, “a teary-eyed woman showed up at the brothers’ workplace clutching a birth certificate.” She was their half-sister, born five or six years before the two men to the same mother. “After all these years,” she said in an interview with a reporter, “here I am 41, and now I finally found my brothers.” – Bangor Daily News

What a wonderful picture of what the church is to be!  Veritable strangers come together inside a building – perhaps they know someone and perhaps they are all total strangers to one another.  But if they stay for any period of time, they find that they are really brothers and sisters – that those who are part of this particular family of God all have a striking family resemblance as well as a deep bond that can’t be explained in mere human terms.  Those who are alone and lonely can find (in a church that beats with the heartbeat of the Master), the family they never knew they had.

As believers, we all have a responsibility and privilege of bearing the image of our Lord.  Let’s make sure that we keep His image clean and pure and that we welcome those who are seeking a place where they belong.  

PRAYER: May we be true brothers and sisters – far beyond any physical ties – that those outside will see in Your church the family they desperately long for!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 1/27/20 – The Truly Great Emancipator

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DayBreaks for 1/27/20: The Truly Great Emancipator

There is a story, true or not, about Abraham Lincoln and a time he went to a slave market. There he noticed a lovely, young African American woman being auctioned to the highest bidder. He bid on her and won. He could see the fiery anger in the young woman’s eyes and could imagine what she was thinking. Another white man who will buy me, use me, and then discard me.

As Lincoln walked off with is “property”, he turned to the woman and said, “You’re free.”

“Yeah. What does that mean?” she replied.

“It means that you’re free.”

“Does that mean I can say whatever I want to say?”

“Yes,” replied Lincoln, smiling, “it means you can say whatever you want to say.”

“Does it mean,” she asked incredulously, “that I can be whatever I want to be?”

“Yes, you can be whatever you want to be.”

“Does it mean,” the young woman said hesitantly, “that I can go wherever I want to go?”

“Yes, it means you are free and can go wherever you want to go.”

“Then,” said the young woman with tears welling up in her eyes, “I think I shall go with you.”

This is a story of what God has done for us – and what the Christian faith is all about. We’ve been bought with a price. We have a new master, one who, once he paid the price, set us free. Who wouldn’t want to go with such a master?

PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, that when you set us free, we are free indeed forevermore!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 1/16/20 – Can’t Touch This

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DayBreaks for 1/16/20: Can’t Touch This

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

Chrysostom, the ancient Church Father, was a beautiful example of true Christian courage. When he stood before the Roman Emperor, he was threatened with banishment if he still remained a Christian. Chrysostom replied, “You cannot, for the world is my Father’s house; you cannot banish me.”

“But I will slay you,” said the Emperor.

“No, but you cannot,” said the noble champion of the faith again, “for my life is hid with Christ in God.”

“I will take away thy treasures.” “No, but you cannot,” was the retort; “in the first place, I have nothing you know anything about. My treasure is in heaven, and my heart is there.”

“But I will drive you away from man, and you shall have no friend left.” “No, and that you cannot,” once more said the faithful witness, “for I have a Friend in heaven from whom you shall not separate me. I defy you; there is nothing you can do to hurt me.”

How does an ordinary human get such courage?  It surely doesn’t come from our human nature.  It comes from the Spirit of boldness that we have as part of the indwelling of the Spirit…the very Spirit that was in Christ Jesus.  There has never been a braver, more courageous and fearless man than Jesus. 

What we have is secured, not by the power of Rome or the United States, it is not kept by a refrigerator or a preservative additive, it is kept by the power of the Almighty God.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. – ESV, 1 Peter 1:3-5

PRAYER: Give us courage to live in the power of Your Spirit and to be fearless like Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 12/06/19 – Which One is Crazy?

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DayBreaks for 12/06/19: Which One is Crazy?

There are plenty of people in this world who think that Christians are a bunch of crazies who should be put into a looney bin.  I can understand that point of view, actually.  There is plenty in the Good Book that seems crazy when you stop to think about it.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t true – in fact, it is actually an indicator of the truth of the story.  No one would have made up these kind of crazy things: people past childbearing holding their toddlers on their knees, a big boat that saved the human race, young boys felling giants with one projectile, people receiving sight, a virgin birth, the dead being raised.  It’s pretty wild stuff, and I for one can totally understand how unbelievers think we may be nice people by and large, but that we’re not playing with a full deck.

Surprisingly, some Christians think other Christians are crazy, too.  This is usually a label that one believer gives to another when the recipient of the label takes the Word at face value and tries with all their power to live out what they believe to be true.  One might call it fanaticism, another craziness.  Either way, it’s sad that we should ever think someone is crazy for trying to live out the Word as they feel led to do by the Spirit.

In Crazy Love, Francis Chan describes the dilemma when talking about how his family, led by their convictions, moved into a house half the size of their previous home so that they would have more money to give to the Lord’s work and more time as well.  The cynics said he was crazy.  Francis’ response to them was: “…in the context of eternity…am I the crazy one for selling my house?  Or are you for not giving more, serving more, being with your Creator more?  If one person ‘wastes’ away his day by spending hours connecting with God, and the other person believes he is too busy or has better things to do than worship the Creator and Sustainer, who is the crazy one?  If one person invests her or his resources in the poor – which according to Matthew 25, is giving to Jesus Himself – and the other extravagantly remodels a temporary dwelling that will not last beyond his few years left on this earth, who is the crazy one?

When people gladly sacrifice their time or comfort or home, it is obvious that they trust in the promises of God.  Why is it that the story of someone who has actually done what Jesus commands resonates deeply with us, but we then assume we could never do anything so radical or intense?  Or why do we call it radical when, to Jesus, it is simply the way it is?  The way it should be?

“Obsessed people are more concerned with obeying God than doing what is expected or fulfilling the status quo.  A person who is obsessed with Jesus will do things that don’t always make sense in terms of success or wealth on this earth.  As Martin Luther put it, ‘There are two days on my calendar: this day and that day.”  (Lk. 14:25-35; Mt. 7:13-23, 8:18-22; Rev. 3:1-6)

How crazy are you?

PRAYER: Lord, give us the faith to do crazy things in the eyes of the world, but which are truly reflections of trust in Your promises.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/29/19 – It Is for Us

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DayBreaks for 11/29/19: It Is for Us

A real woman named Joy teaches underprivileged children in an inner city church.  Her class is a lively group of 9-yr-olds who love life and aren’t in the least afraid of God.  But there is an exception – a timid, withdrawn girl named Barbara. 

Her difficult home life had left her afraid and insecure.  For the weeks that Joy was teaching the class, Barbara never said a word.  Not once.  The other kids sang, talked, giggled and laughed.  Not Barbara.  She was silent.  Always there, always listening, always speechless.

Then one day Joy taught a lesson about heaven.  Joy talked about seeing God and about eyes that would never fill with tears and lives that would never come to an end.  Barbara sat fascinated, never taking her eyes off Joy.  She listened hungrily, taking it all in.  Then she raised her hand, and in her tiny voice said, “Mrs. Joy?”  Joy almost fell over.  Barbara had never said anything.  “Yes, Barbara?”  Then little Barbara let it out: “Is heaven for girls like me?” 

Oh, I would have loved to see Jesus’ face when this little girl’s tiny question reached his ears!!!  This was like a desperate prayer that a good God somewhere in heaven would remember a forgotten soul somewhere on earth.  It was a hope that God’s grace would seep into the cracks of Barbara’s life and bathe her in the grace the church and her family had failed to give her.  It was a voice wondering if this God could take a life that no one else could use or seemed to want, and to use it as nobody else could.  It was a plea for God to do what He does best: to take the ordinary and dull and unspectacular and make it sparkle and shine and be supernaturally extraordinary and special.  It’s hoping that what God did when he parted the Red Sea would happen again, that God who used a stone to drop the giant Goliath, or that he who could turn the water into the finest wine could take little Barbara and see her safely to heaven.  Would the God who fed 5000 with a boy’s box lunch do something for her?  Would he take three spikes and a wooden beam and make them the hope of all humanity – including Barbara?  Would God take this rejected little girl and make her feel precious?  (Adapted from Max Lucado’s Cast of Characters)

The answer to those questions are all answered: “Yes!”  God would and did do something for this little girl who so desperately wanted God’s heaven.  “Yes!” God did take 3 nails and a wooden cross and instead of a monument to bloody and excruciating death make them into a symbol of life cleansed and set free.  “Yes!” God can take this little girl, and thousands like her – male and female alike – and whisper into their ear who very precious they are.

One more: “Yes!” No matter what your home life has been like, no matter how difficult your life experience may be – God answers, “Yes!  Heaven is a place for people JUST LIKE YOU!”

Won’t you accept the gift He offers you?  It’s free for the taking.

PRAYER: Thank You for making heaven a place for people like us – sinners all, redeemed ONLY by the blood of the Lamb!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

PRAYER: Jesus, we long to live surrounded eternally by your Light. Give us strength to persevere in this world that is often so dark. We give you thanks this day for the glorious future that you have guaranteed to us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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