DayBreaks for 4/18/19 – The Torch, the Old Man and the Hands of a King

Image result for torch

DayBreaks for 4/18/19: The Old Man, the Torch and the Hands of the King

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2009:

So He said to him, “Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds. The birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away. It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces.  (Gen. 15:9-11, 17) 

Nearly 2000 years passed from the time God met with Abram (as noted above) and made His covenant.  Covenants were sealed in those days by this display of gore and blood.  Covenants were serious business.  Cutting a heifer, goat and ram into two pieces would not have been pretty, clean work.  Effort was required, blood was spilled.  The participants would be covered in blood.  But that was only the beginning.  As verse 17 shows, passing between the cut-up animals was part of the deal, too.  It was what we would think of as the signature on a contract – it was what made it binding.  It was a way of saying, “If I don’t keep my end of this bargain, you can cut me up and do to me the same thing we’ve done to these animals.”

But on the night God made this covenant with Abram, only the flaming torch passed between the pieces.  Only God walked that pathway – not Abram.  God knew full well that Abram could not keep a covenant any more than we’ve kept our covenant to obey God.  So God took the full responsibility for the covenant upon Himself, freeing us.

Switch scenes to Good Friday: “And when human hands fastened the divine hands to a cross with spikes, it wasn’t the soldiers who held the hands of Jesus steady.  It was God who held them steady.  For those wounded hands were the same invisible hands that had carried the firepot and the torch two thousand years earlier.  They were the same hands that had brought light into Abraham’s thick and dreadful darkness.  They had come to do it again.” – Max Lucado, Six Hours One Friday
God kept His word.  Except this time, the bloody carcass wasn’t a heifer, goat or ram.  It was His own.

Prayer: Great covenant-keeping God, we prostrate ourselves before your greatness and glory, in awe of your love.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

Advertisements

DayBreaks for 3/29/19 – Winners and Losers

Image result for winners and losers

DayBreaks for 3/29/19: Winners and Losers

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2009:

Remember “Rocky”? Rocky had a tough time of it in every one of those movies. He would take a terrific beating in the ring, only to struggle to his feet by sheer will power and come back to win the fight. Fanciful stuff, but sometimes it does happen, and when it does the whole world stands and applauds! Remember the “miracle” Mets? Remember the U.S. hockey team when they defeated the Soviets in the Olympics? The women’s hockey team in the last Olympics? How about Dan Jansen who finally won a gold medal in speed skating after falling in each of the previous two Olympics?

How many times have you been knocked down by struggles, heartbreak and sin in your life? In my life, it has been too many times to count. Consider these words from Bob Gass, who wrote in Word for Today on February 24, 1999: Winners are just losers who got tired of losing; they decided to get up one more time than they were knocked down. The Bible is full of their stories. The prodigal came back from a pigsty (Lk. 15). Joseph came back from prison (Gen. 41). Peter came back from a shameful denial (Mk. 16:7). And by God’s grace, you can come back, too. Listen to Psalm 37:23-24: “If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.”

There were others, too: David came back from adultery and murder, Abraham from lying and deceit; Elijah from fear and cowardice. It’s a long and distinguished list – and they are God’s saints, men and women of faith who were very human, too.

As we face the sin and struggles in our life, we must decide whether we’ll settle for being a loser or if we will fight on to be a winner. The loser finally throws up their hands and says, “I’ll never be good enough. I’ll never beat this sin. I’ll never measure up, so I guess I just as well give up.” That’s dangerous. No matter what you’ve done (remember David sin, the prodigal son and Peter with his denial – have you done anything worse??), you can get back up through the grace of God and stand once again.

You see, God loves the underdog, too. He cheers us on, but even more important, He assures us, through the inspired words of Paul, the victory if we don’t grow weary and give up: Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Gal 6:9) The harvest, my friends, is victory! Victory in such a way that sin will never touch us again, never even tempt us. God Himself will put the crown of victory on your head!

So, what’ll it be? Keep getting up! You may stumble, but God will pick you up. Look to Him for your victory and trust Him to be as good as His Word!

Prayer: Lord, we know that the victory must come from You and You alone.  Help us to persevere in the face of great odds and the bruisings of life that we may receive and participate in Your victory!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 2/6/19 – The Pathway to Rain

Image result for rainstorm

DayBreaks for 2/06/2019: The Pathway to Rain

From the DayBreaks archive, 2009:

Jeremiah 14:1-11 (NLT) – This message came to Jeremiah from the LORD, explaining why he was holding back the rain: “Judah wilts; her businesses have ground to a halt. All the people sit on the ground in mourning, and a great cry rises from Jerusalem. The nobles send servants to get water, but all the wells are dry. The servants return with empty pitchers, confused and desperate, covering their heads in grief. The ground is parched and cracked for lack of rain. The farmers are afraid; they, too, cover their heads. The deer abandons her newborn fawn because there is no grass. The wild donkeys stand on the bare hills panting like thirsty jackals. They strain their eyes looking for grass to eat, but there is none to be found.”  The people say, “LORD, our wickedness has caught up with us. We have sinned against you. So please, help us for the sake of your own reputation.  O Hope of Israel, our Savior in times of trouble! Why are you like a stranger to us? Why are you like someone passing through the land, stopping only for the night?  Are you also confused? Are you helpless to save us? You are right here among us, LORD. We are known as your people. Please don’t abandon us now!” So the LORD replies to his people, “You love to wander far from me and do not follow in my paths. Now I will no longer accept you as my people. I will remember all your wickedness and will punish you for your sins.”  Then the LORD said to me, “Do not pray for these people anymore.”

We are in the middle of a drought right now here in California.  How foolish if we think that the Lord no longer holds back the rain for the same reason He withheld it in the past!  Yes, he sends rain on the just and unjust, but He is also equally able to withhold it at any time He chooses. 

But what I found especially intriguing about this passage was in verses 7-9 where the people plead with the Lord to help them.  It is a wonderful sounding plea, also reflecting some of our own doubts and confusion about why God acts as He does.  I know there have been plenty of times when I was confused by what God was doing or not doing, when it seemed He was a stranger or powerless to do anything (that, by the way, is a horrible assumption – just because He doesn’t act certainly doesn’t mean He’s powerless to do so!)  Pay careful attention to the reason the people approach the Lord: they say that their wickedness has caught up with them and that they’ve sinned, but they beg for His help for the “sake of Your own reputation.”  They never ask for forgiveness – they only get as far as a confession, which is short and not very convincing.  They never get past the confession to asking for forgiveness and they show no inclination towards repentance.  Instead, it is as if they are trying to convince God that it’s in His own best interest to just forgive them and send them rain.   

How many times have I tried to appeal to God’s self-interest thinking I could manipulate Him into a certain desired behavior?  I’m not even sure that God can have “self-interest”!  My repentance had better be real.  True repentance moves the heart of God but fake repentance, even when there are lots of fine sounding words, never does.  And if God’s mercies don’t rain down upon us, we will all die of the drought.

PRAYER: Father, we say things hoping we can get You to “fall” for them as if You were another human from whom we can hide the truth.  Lord, we have sinned against you.  We ask you for forgiveness.  We desire to repent from the evil we do and to experience once again the refreshing mercies that fall from Your throne of grace.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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

Image result for tragic

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 01/02/19 – Commitment

Image result for alone

DayBreaks for 01/02/2019: Commitment

From the DayBreaks archive, January 2009:

Commitment.  How committed are you? “Well,” you might say, “that depends on what you’re asking about.” Fair enough. How committed are you to your marriage? How committed are you to your children? How committed are you to your church and faithful, every-day and every-week service? How committed are you to your job and to being a light for Christ in the world? How committed are you to Jesus?

What is commitment? We think of it as “stick-to-itiveness”. Or we think of it in terms of dedication to a purpose or determination to reach a goal. Those aren’t bad, but there’s another aspect of commitment that really shows whether or not we are “committed”. It came in a devotion from Bob Gass Ministries. Here’s what he had to say: “If I could pick one word to describe commitment, I’d pick the word – alone. Daniel dined and prayed alone. Elijah sacrificed and witnessed alone. Jeremiah prophesied and wept alone. Paul said, “…all men forsook me…” (2 Tim. 4:16).

“The place of commitment is the place where God intervenes on your behalf. When the three Hebrew children of God made the commitment, God brought them out of the fiery furnace without even the smell of smoke. King Nebuchadnezzar was so impressed that he said, ‘…there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.’ (Dan. 3:29) That’s what the world is waiting for, somebody who’ll put everything on the line, get into the fiery furnace and let the world see God’s power.”

Commitment….alone. Perhaps that is the true measure of our commitment, don’t you think? Am I willing to stand for God all alone? Am I willing to stand alone for my marriage? Am I willing to stand alone for God in a workplace that is overwhelmed with darkness and that is openly hostile to Christ? The Hebrew children had God, and each other. What if they’d been alone?

I see in this concept the power of fellowship, but also the demand for commitment even if we, like Daniel, have to stand alone. It’s easy to say we’re committed when we sit in a pew on Sunday morning, but the real test of our commitment comes outside the walls of the church building when we are alone in the world.

Let me ask again: How committed are you to your marriage? How committed are you to your children? How committed are you to your church and faithful, every-day and every-week service? How committed are you to your job and to being a light for Christ in the world? How committed are you to Jesus? What you do when you are alone will tell you the answer to these questions – and reveal the depth of your true commitment!

Prayer: Teach us the kind of commitment that you have shown to us, Lord, even as you endured the loneliness of this world, this life, and the cross.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/18/18 – The Priest’s Sacrifice #1

Image result for sacrifice

DayBreaks for 12/18/18: The Priest’s Sacrifice, #1

Continuing with the theme of Sacrifice for this week preceding Christmas, I’m sharing some thoughts from the message at church this past Sunday.

While Christians do not make sacrifices for sin (we believe that Jesus’ blood was the all-sufficient sacrifice for all time for all persons), that doesn’t mean we are exempt from making sacrifice. As pointed out yesterday, we are as believers, priests and priestesses. And what is the role of a priest? It was to do at least three things:

  1. To represent God to man;
  2. To represent man to God;
  3. To offer sacrifices.

So, what sacrifices are we to make as believers today? First let me suggest this one: we are to offer our lives as living sacrifices pleasing to God, which, by the way, is only reasonable. (Romans 12:1)

The privilege we have been given by the indwelling of the Spirit is that we have obtained moral ability. When we were dead in our sin, we had no other option. But being made alive, we now have the choice, the ability, to sacrifice the life of the flesh for a life lived in the Spirit, to choose obedience instead of to sin. Do we do it perfectly? Far from it. So if that is our privilege, what is our responsibility? To surrender our nature to be controlled by the Spirit.

Each day this week, let me ask you as priests and priestesses, what will you do this week to offer your life as a living sacrifice? You have the ability to choose obedience. What will you surrender? When?

Think today Jesus’ example of offering himself as a sacrifice – giving his life as a living sacrifice (that started with the incarnation and culminates in a resurrected eternal life in glory where his scars are still visible). How does his sacrifice as our great High Priest inform our understanding of our roles as priests and priestesses?

PRAYER: Father, as long as we dwell in the flesh, we will struggle to surrender our lives as offerings to you. Let us choose what is pleasing to you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/06/18 – God and the GPS

Image result for GPS

DayBreaks for 12/06/18: God and the GPS

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

From a sermon (“Choices”) by John Ortberg:

“I can’t live Jesus’ life and Jesus knows that, but he says: You can ask me to come and live my life in you.

“I’ll give you a picture of this. Nancy and I were in a part of the country we had never been before. We were going to be driving on obscure back roads, so we got a rental car, and the guy at the counter said to me, ‘Along with this car, if you want, you can also get a GPS system.’ Have you ever used a GPS system? You plug it in and punch in your destination. A woman’s voice will tell you how to get wherever it is you are going. Well, when the guy at the counter asked if I wanted one, my immediate response was, ‘No. That is going to cost something. I don’t need that. I can find where I’m going without that.’ Anybody want to guess what my wife weighed in with? ‘Get the GPS.’ So, we got the GPS.

“Here’s the deal: You can get the box. You can have the lady in the car, but that doesn’t mean you trust her. If you trust her, what do you do? You do what she says. You go where she tells you to go. She says, ‘Turn left,’ you turn left. If she says, ‘Turn left,’ and in your heart you think, ‘But I want to turn right,’  and then you remember, ‘There is a way that seemeth right unto man, but the end thereof is death.’ Okay?

“To follow Jesus means I will do what he says. I will mess up a lot. I’m going to need his power. I know that, but I form the intention. I say to him, ‘God, with your help, as best I can, I will do what you say. I will give you my life, my time, my obedience.’

“Here is the thing: If that is not your settled intent, then it is best to be honest about it. If that is not your settled intent, then whatever else you might be, you are not a follower of Jesus. An admirer, maybe. But he is looking for followers. He is looking for somebody who will say, ‘All right, God.’

“There is something else you need to know about him—something that is also true when dealing with a GPS system. At one point when we were driving in this car, I was quite sure the lady was wrong. She said to go left, and I didn’t go left. I went right, because I knew she was wrong. Then as an interesting response, she said, ‘Recalculating route. When safe to do so, execute a U-turn.’ I knew she was wrong, so I unplugged her. That’s the beauty of that little box. You can unplug her.

“I got lost as a goose. My wife enjoyed that immensely.

“So we plugged that lady back in, and you know what she said? ‘I told you so, you little idiot.’ She said, ‘You think I’m going to help you now? You rejected me. You just find your way home by yourself.’ No—she didn’t say that. She said, ‘Recalculating route. When safe to do so, execute a U-turn.’

“Now see, that’s grace. As soon as you’re ready to listen, as soon as you’re ready to surrender, God will say, ‘Here is the way home. Execute a U-turn.’ That’s repentance. ‘I’ll bring you home.’ That is grace. That’s Jesus. He is the only one with authoritative wisdom about how to live. He is the only one who brings about the possibility of forgiveness for your sin and mine. He is the only one to give any kind of realistic hope of conquering death, of life beyond the grave.

“Why would you not give your full devotion to Jesus? He does not present himself as a good, spiritual teacher to be admired from a distance. He presents himself as Master, as Lord, as the one to be followed and served and obeyed and worshiped. There is no other way. He is it.”

PRAYER: For grace and mercy we thank You, Almighty and Eternal God.  Thank You for giving us direction.  Give us the wisdom to follow it faithfully!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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