DayBreaks for 4/14/17 – He Was Never More Immanuel

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DayBreaks for 4/14/17: He Was Never More Immanuel

As we participated in a Maundy Thursday service last night, I was struck once again with the pathos of this week. Talk about a roller coaster of emotions!

But even more, as I thought about the entire life of Jesus, I couldn’t help but be drawn to contemplate his experience. The Eternal One from glory, becoming a human babe, laid in a manger and helpless. The very one who spoke the universe into existence couldn’t utter a single word – just a noisy cry. Yet even in that stage of his life, he was Immanuel – God with us. We just couldn’t recognize him.

As he grew he was like any precocious kid, I imagine, never sinning, but I can imagine he was as full of mischief as any other boy of his age. Yet even in that stage of his life, he was Immanuel – God with us. We just couldn’t recognize him.

As he began his ministry, people began to notice that there was something about him that was different: the way he taught was unlike anything they’d ever heard before. The way he healed, the way he loved even the most outcast of people. And they began to wonder if this was Immanuel – God with us. But there were only a few who recognized him.

And then comes Holy Week. From raucous cheers and disciples high with hope that this would be the time when he took the throne of David and overthrew the crushing Roman rule, to feasts with friends, eating food and drinking like any man. And they hoped this was Immanuel – God with us. At least for a few days.

Then comes good Friday. They no longer wanted Immanuel, and when they saw him arrested, beaten within inches of his very life, marched to Calvary where the nails would pierce his hands and feet – he didn’t look at all like Immanuel.

I think, however, that there was never a time where he was MORE Immanuel than on Good Friday. Everyone can identify with a jovial, joke cracking, eating and drinking human – that’s easy. Jesus apparently loved feasts and a good meal and a little wine. He loved parties. And he identified with us in that sort of joy. But the ultimate identification with mankind was when he died like one of us. He didn’t look at all like Immanuel then, but can there be any disagreement that it was when he drew his last breath that he most fully was Immanuel – identifying himself with us in the event we all fear the most?

The lifeless body hung on the cross for some time, bruised, bloodied, exposed and so very much alone. Yet even in death, perhaps more so than ever, he was Immanuel. No one recognized him as Immanuel, not then. But it didn’t change the facts of the matter one iota. The proof would be forthcoming.

As much as we speak and sing of Immanuel at his birth, it was at his death that he was most like us, that he was unlike every before, Immanuel, experiencing even that sting so that he could identify with all we must deal with on this mortal coil. Glory be to God for his great love.

PRAYER: Oh, Jesus! My heart breaks for what you experienced on this day – for me and those I love and those I don’t even know. I’m so sorry. Thank you for this ultimate identification of Immanuel. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/12/17 – The Widow’s Offering

DayBreaks for 4/12/17: The Widow’s Offering

From the Holy Week devotional guide from our church:

“On the surface, I don’t believe it can be any clearer what’s being said here. It’s important to give, to tithe, and to sacrifice. However, I want you to look deeper and be inspired by something that motivates me, and I hope I will encourage you as well.

“Let’s look at her FOCUS! Here is a woman living an uphill battle. She is a woman in a time where so little value was placed on her gender and potential. Most women were not allowed to leave their homes, nor were they allowed to speak in public. Simply put, most women held the same status as a slave. This woman was a widow, which meant what love and relationship she once had in her life was now gone. She suffered the pain of a loved one’s death and the loss of a secure future. In a sense, this widow had nothing going for her and little to live for. In every direction, her life was about pain. Who among us cannot relate to the pain this widow experienced?

“However, reading the story of this widow’s actions is inspirational. While reading this passage, I visualized this timid, humble, and respectful woman approaching the offering box. She was focused on one thing…God! She wasn’t focused on the fact she was broke, probably jobless, and didn’t have any excess money to give. Frankly, one could easily assume she might want to hold onto her last few coins to give herself some sense of security for the next day or two? No, not her! Even though she had experienced the death of her husband and loss of companionship and security, her pain was great, but her focus was not on her story. It was on Him!

“The widow’s story is like a movie. I’m sure we all have movies that inspire us, motivate us to new heights, and even bring us to tears as we relate to the hero’s ability to overcome obstacles. This widow’s story is a biblical picture of an overcomer with an attitude that says, ‘I will not quit.’ As hard as her life was, she was prepared to put her confidence in God’s faithfulness. It all goes back to her FOCUS, her ability to trust, to see what is most important It is awe-inspirit as she surrenders her life’s struggles to the loving arms of the Father!

“Easter is a time of reflection, sadness, joy and great celebration. It is a time to FOCUS. Focus on our personal struggles and pain but also on the finished work of Christ. Though we cannot make sin disappear in our lifetime, as the movie of our life is played, we can experience what it is like to live as overcomers because of what Jesus has done! This widow gave us an example to follow. She was a humble servant, a dedicated giver, and most importantly a lover of the Mighty God!

“Where is our FOCUS? Jesus looks beyond the outward appearance and sees directly into the heart. Are we preoccupied with our struggles or are we living in the reality that Christ has overcome those struggles? As we focus on the finished work of Christ, our story will look remarkably like the widow’s story.” – Brent Weber, director of Kidsquest and Impact Arts Academy, Perimeter church

PRAYER: Lord, when we consider that You were obedient, even unto death, it seems a reasonable service of worship for us to present ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable. Lord, only You can give us a heart that is willing to live sacrificially! In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/10/17 – The Danger of Easter

DayBreaks for 4/10/17: The Danger of Easter

From the Holy Week devotional guide from our church:

“Every year at Easter, Christians from all around the world gather to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus. We flood our churches, fill our pews, crowd our auditoriums, cram into our cathedrals, all to hear again the story of one who suffered, died and was raised for the sake of sinners. We come to be moved, to have our hearts softened. To be reminded of the cost of our sins and the hope of Christ’s resurrection.

“Yet, it is here, during the very event where it seems the gospel if most highlighted, that the gospel is in the most danger. Because amid all the hubbub and pageantry, there is this risk: that we would be affected by the spectacle, filled with compassion for the suffering of an innocent one and guilt that we were its cause, but left blind to the most vital piece of all. That what we commemorate is not just the bare historical death of Jesus nor even His resurrection. No. It’s the revelation of the very heart of God for sinners. That this sacrifice was no cold act of duty, but the glorious expression of a compassionate Savior, a Savior whose every step toward the cross flowed out of love for us.

“The great peril is that Easter would come and go and we would not realize that it was for us. That, as Romans 4:26 says, He was delivered up to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification. That Jesus’ willingness to die in our place arose not out of rote submission to the Father, but out of a burning desire to save you and me. Here is the hope of sinners. It is that, as Thomas Goodwin once commented, ‘Christ’s heart was a full in [this pursuit of our forgiveness], as the sinner’s heart to desire it.’ Every breath He expended was in the service of our salvation and pursued out of love for us.

“Our aim with this devotional is not to rehearse mere historical facts. It is not to work up our emotions, though we would love to engage our affections. Instead, our aim is…that each of us would be able to say with full confidence what Paul did in Galatians 2:20: I love by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. That it was for our trespasses that He was delivered up and it was for our justification that He was raised and it was His joy (Romans 4:25; Hebrews 12:2). – Caleb Click, young adults pastor, Perimeter church

PRAYER: Lord, as we enter this week of preparation, help us to set aside the distraction that so quickly take our heart and mind away from You. As we celebrate the finished work of Christ remind us, during this time, that He was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/15/17 – How Far Would He Go?

DayBreaks for 2/15/17: How Far Will He Go?

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007:

John 13:2-5 (NIV) – The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

It was the night of Passover – the holiest night of all for the Jews.  In a small room, Jesus met with his disciples, knowing that later that night he would be betrayed by Judas and his horrific ordeal would begin.  If I were in those circumstances, I’d be doing anything but sitting down to share a meal with friends.  I’d be trying to run, to hide, to find some way out – but not Jesus.  There was work to be done, and he was committed to seeing it through, but first, there were important things to pass along to his disciples.

And so it is that Jesus washes the feet of his disciples.  No one else rose to do the job that belonged to the lowest slave/servant.  So Jesus, as always, does what no one else wanted to do.

Peter, bless his heart, is humiliated when he realizes what Jesus is doing.  He realizes that this is grossly out of place, improper and that someone else (perhaps himself?) should be the one doing the washing.  Why?  Because Peter knew that Jesus was the Holy One.  Peter’s problem is that he felt that Jesus didn’t know how to act – that Jesus was doing something inappropriate and needed to be stopped.  To wash someone’s feet, you have to kneel before them, and kneeling is a symbol of the act of worship.  Throughout all the long ages of the Jewish people, it was the worshipper who kneels before the Worshipped One, but here, now, in the upper room…Peter knows it has been reversed – and in his opinion, it was wrong. 

Peter’s problem, you see, is that he thought Jesus was “acting.”  He wasn’t.  He was totally and completely sincere.  Luke 12:37 describes perhaps the most shocking scene in Scripture when it describes the feast of the Lamb in heaven: It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.

How would you have felt if you had been one of the disciples and had Jesus wash your feet?  I cannot imagine that I would have reacted any differently than Peter did – I would have wanted to stop Jesus from washing my feet.  But if I understand the passage in Luke, the day will come when Jesus will have us sit at the table and HE WILL SERVE US.  I want to cry with Peter: “Never, Lord!” 

How far Jesus was willing to go to redeem us?!?! He was willing to go as far as necessary!

PRAYER: I am humbled, Lord, that You should serve any of us – yet that is exactly what you did while here.  It is incomprehensible to think that You should wash our feet, yet you have done so – washing us not with water, but with the blood of Christ.  May we learn to serve one another in the sincere imitation of Jesus.  Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/01/17 – Structured in Blood

DayBreaks for 2/01/17: Structured in Blood

I Peter 4:8 – Love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.

What is the very essence of the Christian faith?  One could argue, convincingly, that it is the cross of Christ: his incarnation, sinless life, sacrificial death, and subsequent resurrection.  Surely those are weighty things of great import that deserve our full and undivided attention.  God forgive us if we neglect them!  But I don’t believe that those things are the core of the Christian faith.  Those things are effects of the core cause.  The core cause, the fundamental element, behind all those things was the love of God for people – people like you and I, who get our lives all messed up and stained with sin, who spit in the face of His Son, lash him with scourges, and nail him to wood that he created for this very purpose.  It was the love of God (John 3:16) that started the whole thing.  Christianity is not a religion of hatred or judgment or anger – it is the purest love song ever sung.

The core cause, the fundamental element, behind all those things was the love of God for people – people like you and I, who get our lives all messed up and stained with sin, who spit in the face of His Son, lash him with scourges, and nail him to wood that he created for this very purpose.  It was the love of God (John 3:16) that started the whole thing.  Christianity is not a religion of hatred or judgment or anger – it is the purest love song ever sung.

In his book, The Importance of Being Foolish: Learning to Think Like Jesus, Brennan Manning wrote: “The axis of the Christian moral revolution is love (Jesus called it the sign by which the disciple would be recognized).  The danger lurks in our subtle attempts to minimize, rationalize, and justify our moderation in this regard.  Turning the other cheek, walking the extra mile, offering no resistance to injury, being reconciled with one another, and forgiving seventy times seven times are not arbitrary whims of the Savior.  He did NOT preface the Sermon on the Mount with, ‘It would be nice if..’  His “new” commandment structures the new covenant in his blood.” 

Love.  When you think about it, what enabled Christ to turn the other cheek?  Love.  What enables mere humans to do the same?  Love.  Why would anyone willingly walk an extra mile out of their way carrying the burden of others if not for love?  Why would someone not respond to injury by fighting back?  Because there is something greater at stake than a battle over some event or circumstance – there is a battle for the souls of mankind, prompted by love.  What could cause reconciliation where there as been hurt?  Only love.  What enables someone to forgive their spouse or child 70 times 7?  Surely, it is only love. 

That’s why Jesus didn’t say it would be nice if we did those things, but left them optional.  They are most definitely NOT optional for His children.  For it is those very things that characterize the Father, and His children must be like Him.  How important were those things?  He wrote them in his blood.

We can also look at the flip side: what causes one not to turn the other cheek, walk the extra distance, hit back when hurt, refuse to be reconciled, refuse to forgive (as God through Christ has forgiven us)?  One thing, and one thing only: a lack of God’s love in us and through us.  Harboring smoldering resentments, sucking on the sour grape of bitterness, withholding full and complete forgiveness say as much about us as does the love that might cause us to do the opposite, and they reveal what is most cherished in our hearts – self-love, or God’s love. 

PRAYER: Father, we need so much to truly learn to let your love come alive in us and to forgive and truly experience Your love within so that we can then love others in the same way.  For all who wear Your name, but who haven’t experienced the true love that defines Your very nature, open our eyes and hearts to love as You do.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/27/17 – The Ends of the Earth Have Seen His Salvation

DayBreaks for 1/27/17: The Ends of the Earth Have Seen His Salvation

Psalm 98:3 (TNIV) – He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of God.

We, like all of humanity before us, have tried our best to make God in our image, and when we read certain passages of Scripture, we can misconstrue them with great ease.  For example, when we read the first 3 words of Psalm 98:3 (TNIV), we would be tempted to think that the implication is that for a while, God forgot his love and faithfulness to the house of Israel.  Such is not the case.  God doesn’t forget anything.  When Scripture says that God forgives and forgets our sin, never to remember them against us again – it means that God will never bring them up against us again.  He still knows our sin – past, present and future.  He wouldn’t be Infinite if he were truly forgetful – even of things like sin.  And, with each lash of the whip, with each blow of the hammer upon the nails, our sins were embedded into the back, hands and feet of Christ.  It appears, based on Revelation 5:6, that even in heaven, the scars caused by our sins are visible upon the Lamb.  We talk about not being able to take things with us when we die, but Christ apparently took these “souvenirs” of his time on earth to heaven with him, perhaps to remind us throughout all eternity of the love that drove him to the cross.

But, what’s important in the passage above isn’t that God forgot our sins, but that he never forgets his love and faithfulness to his people.  How far does it extend?  To the ends of the earth.  What does that mean?  I think it may mean two things:

FIRST: physically, the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, has reached to all the ends of the earth.  North, south, east, west – all four points of the compass have heard of the glory of God, if by nothing other than the glory of the creation (Romans 1).  From the beginning, there has been a moral sense in mankind wherever he is found. 

SECOND: I can’t help but wonder if this verse isn’t speaking with the certainty of completed prophecy: God has decreed that at the time of the “ends of the earth” when the dead will rise and the great judgment scene takes place, the earth (mankind) will see the salvation of God for his beloved children.  All the wicked and hateful angels and people from all ages will stand in the judgment and see the salvation of God poured out upon those who through faith have accepted Christ, trusting in God for their deliverance.  What a scene that will be!  And we will all live to see it!

PRAYER:  Lord, we long for the day when You vindicate Your righteous ones, made perfect through the Lamb!  And our prayer, Lord, is that before that great and terrible day arrives, that whose who are lost at this moment will turn to Jesus in faith.  And on that day, may we be numbered with the faithful and fully see Your great salvation!!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 1/03/17 – Moving Into the Ward

DayBreaks for 1/03/17: Moving Into the Ward

Dr. John Rosen, a psychiatrist in New York City, is well known for his work with catatonic schizophrenics. Normally doctors remain separate and aloof from their patients. Dr. Rosen moves into the ward with them. He places his bed among their beds. He lives the life they must live. Day-to-day, he shares it. He loves them. If they don’t talk, he doesn’t talk either. It is as if he understands what is happening. His being there, being with them, communicates something that they haven’t experienced in years – somebody understands.

But then he does something else. He puts his arms around them and hugs them. He holds these unattractive, unlovable, sometimes incontinent persons, and loves them back into life. Often, the first words they speak are simply, “Thank you.”

Christmas is now over, yet this is what the Christ did for us at Christmas. He moved into the ward with us. He placed his bed among our beds. Those who were there, those who saw him, touched him and were in turn touched by him and restored to life. The first word they had to say was “thank you.” And Christmas is one time when we say “Thank you” to him.

But now that Christmas is over, the questions before us are these:

  1. Will I continue to be thankful throughout this new year, and:
  2. Will I emulate Christ and “move into the ward” for others if called to do so by the Lord?

PRAYER: Lord, only you know what this year will hold, but I pray that we will be thankful all year regardless of what it holds for us, and that we will be willing to live and look like you and move into the ward so we can better love those who need to know love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen Dalrymple.