DayBreaks for 5/24/17 – The Shout of Victory!

DayBreaks for 5/24/17: The Shout of Victory

John 19:30 (NIV) – When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

The final words of Jesus from the cross have often been misconstrued.  Some movies have pictured Christ, with uplifted eyes, croaking out softly, resignedly, “It is finished” and then bowing his head and dying.  I don’t believe that is an accurate picture at all, and here’s why: when we compare the four gospels we find a very interesting thing. The other three do not tell us that Jesus said, “It is finished.” But what they do tell us that he died with a great shout upon his lips.  John doesn’t speak of a great shout, but instead tells us that Jesus’ very last words were, “It is finished.”  We can safely conclude that the great shout and the words “It is finished,” are one and the same thing.  In Greek, “It is finished” is one word — tetelestai — and that’s what Jesus shouted.  It was no meek or resignedly defeated word that he spoke.  He didn’t say, “It is finished,” in weary defeat; he shouted it out just like a person shouts for joy because the victory is won!  He seemed to be broken on the Cross, but he was NOT!  He was victorious on the cross!
Just in case you think I might be wrong, there’s another strong clue that makes this concept even more certain.  John says that Jesus bowed his head and gave up his spirit. The word that John uses is the word that was often used to describe someone setting their head back upon a pillow and entering into rest.  For Jesus the strife was over and the battle was won; and even on the Cross he knew the joy of victory and the well-deserved rest of one who has completed his task and can lean back, content and at peace.

What a wonderful picture – not of a quiet, broken Jesus on the cross, but of one who knows that it is finished, that it has been finished well, that it will never have to be repeated again.  The price for my sin has ALL been paid!

Do you believe that? That everything that it took for you to be saved and forgiven is finished? That there’s nothing more that you can add to make it more sure? That there’s nothing more that God needs to do for it to be true? That you, too, can rest your head knowing that it is all finished? Maybe the next time we get discouraged in our walk and relationship with Jesus, we would do well to shout out, “It is finished!”

PRAYER:  Will we ever really grasp the victory that was won on Your cross, Lord?  We hang our heads in shame that you had to pay such a price for us, yet we lift our eyes to you in gratitude and wonder for your love.  May we echo your words, “It is finished!” regarding our sinfulness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 5/23/17 – The Face of Everyman

DayBreaks for 5/23/17: The Face of Everyman

John 19:33-37 (NIV) But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.  Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.  The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.  These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.”

And so the soldiers and the on-lookers witnessed the piercing of Jesus with the spear.  It is true that they did not break Jesus’ legs.  The Passover lamb from the OT had to be perfect – without any flaw.  In the preparation of the lamb for the sacrifice, the lamb was not to be mutilated any more than was absolutely necessary for the sacrifice.  It was offered to God and was to be protected from any unnecessary mutilation.  Of course, that was a foreshadowing of Christ – and the ancient passages that had been prophecies about the sacrifice of the Messiah included one that said not a bone of his would be broken.  What’s the point?  Simply this: we must remember that God in heaven, the eternal Father and lover of His only begotten Son, could apparently tolerate only so much…he would not permit his Son to be unnecessarily mutilated – nothing more than was necessary.  We might argue and think that Christ was horribly mutilated by the scourging, the beating, by bearing his cross from the city to the hill of Calvary, by the nails and crown of thorns, and by the spear in his side.  In fact, the great prophet Isaiah had written in Isaiah 52:14 (NLT) – “Many were amazed when they saw him—beaten and bloodied, so disfigured one would scarcely know he was a person.” 

This, too, was a prophecy about the suffering the Messiah would endure.  So how can we look at this passage from Isaiah which says Jesus was so badly mauled in his suffering and crucifixion that he was hardly recognizable as a man and how can we reconcile that with the words that say that the lamb was not to be mutilated any more than was absolutely necessary?  There’s only one way that I can think of, and it horrifies me: ALL that Jesus suffered on the cross and leading up to it was ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY.  It wasn’t necessary because Jesus deserved it – but because we deserved it.  It wasn’t his own beating that he endured – Isaiah chapter 53 makes it clear that it was our punishment he bore: Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.  Every lash of the whip, every blow of the fist, every moment of pain, every fall of the hammer – every last one of them were absolutely necessary, for God would permit no more.  A couple more thoughts on this passage:

  1. Why was it necessary that Christ should be so beaten and disfigured that he was barely recognizable as a human being? I’m not sure, I can only speculate. But in his death, if he had been recognizable as himself, with his own distinct features still clearly visible, his face would not be that of every man…he would still be someone distinct.  But by having his features nearly wiped off his face, he bore the image of degraded, disfigured Everyman.
  2. The soldiers and lookie-loo’s saw Jesus, the one they had pierced, but we, too shall see him – and when we do, we shall realize that we, too, pierced him. We pierced him on the cross by the sin of our hatred and rebellion to God, we pierce his heart of love every day when we sin against the love of God and His will. And the day will come when we, too, shall lift up our eyes and see the One we pierced.  What we see in return will depend on what we’ve done with Jesus in this life – if we’ve confessed our sinfulness and asked His forgiveness – letting him be the Lord of our life, or on the other hand, if we proudly refuse to bow the knee and ask his forgiveness, we will not be happy to see him.

May I always be reminded that my eyes, too, shall look upon the one that they, and I, have pierced, and that he looks upon me.

PRAYER: Forgive us, Jesus.  We know not what we do.  Thank you for such love, grace and mercy!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 5/19/17 – The Truth About Dead People

DayBreaks for 5/19/17: The Truth About Dead People

Colossians 2:13 (NLT) – You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.

No matter how many sermons you might hear, no matter how many books about God’s grace that you might have read or may read in the future, we keep coming back to a concept that we have to be “good” in order to get into heaven.

Every time we fall into our “sin trap” – that sin that plagues you year after year – we begin to despair and think that surely, we’ve exhausted the grace of God and benefits of Christ’s blood. I understand that way of thinking perhaps better than most because I was raised thinking that if you committed a sin and didn’t get a chance to ask for forgiveness before you were struck by lightning and killed, then you probably wouldn’t go to heaven. Guilt was huge in my early years of faith.

I invite you, though, to look at the passage today. Read it carefully. Let it sink in. See if you really grasp what it is saying.

Here’s the key: we all have read how we were dead in our sins. That’s not hard for any person of faith to understand. But think about the implications of that statement. Here’s the question: how much can a dead person do? Uh, nothing, right? We could do nothing to make ourselves “alive”…it was an act of God that made us alive with Christ because he forgave not some, but ALL our sins. Past, present, future. Period.

Dead people can do nothing. We are TOTALLY dependent on God for our “life” – for our salvation. Isn’t it great to know that it isn’t dependent on us and how “good” we are!

But can we trust Him? If we can’t trust this Father, who can we trust? And remember Jesus statement that he will not lose even a single one that the Father has given him (made alive) (John 18:9) and that no one can snatch people out of the Father’s hand – not even me.

PRAYER: Thank you for these great assurances, and for the power of Your Word to hold us firm and safe. Thank you for making us alive in Christ! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 5/18/17 – Courageous Faith

DayBreaks for 5/18/17: Courageous Faith

John 12:42-43 (ESV) – Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

Who doesn’t love glory? Who doesn’t love to receive praise and recognition and, yes, honor? On our birthdays we pretend to not care that we’re the center of attention, but we are inwardly pleased to be recognized as having achieved yet another milestone (especially as we get older and the milestones become more significant!) But this is entirely different. Though many leaders of the Jews believed in Jesus (how could they not given all he’d done and how he taught?), they didn’t confess him.

When I read today’s passage, my heart and mind instantly jump into judgement mode: “Shame on them! What cowards!” And to make it worse, I then jump almost instantly to boastful mode, “I wouldn’t have done that! I’d have boldly proclaimed my belief in Jesus – no matter the cost!” But would I really?

We don’t know who these “authorities” were who believed, though we might surmise Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were among them. But there were others, for John says there were “many” who believed in Jesus. To be a Jewish authority, you HAD to be part of the synagogue, part of the heart and soul of the nation’s faith and religion. To proclaim faith in Jesus would have been religious, social, political and even economic suicide to these men – and those who depended on them. When I think of it in that light and think about my own insecurities about my livelihood and finances, I find myself less than certain that I would have stood up to be counted as a follower of Christ.

It is lessons like this that put my weak faith into perspective. In spite of how I might try to honor my own faith by thinking how great or strong it is, if I insert myself into the shoes of those “many” authorities, I realize how weak my faith may truly be. Are you ready to take a stand for your faith in Jesus if it means the loss of your job, your reputation, your income – perhaps even your ability to ever find and hold work again? That’s what was at stake for these men. That doesn’t mean that they made the right choice – but this lesson in human frailty is sobering to me.

One other thing makes it easier to seek the praise of men rather than God. The praise of this world is immediately accessible as long as I do what the world wants me to do and think. God’s praise is primarily held in reserve for the day I stand before His throne. But His approval is the only approval that will endure and that will matter on that day. He won’t give me approval for following the ways of the society and world, but He will give me approval for even my weak faith in Jesus – and that will make all the difference.  

PRAYER: How we need greater, fearless faith, Jesus! Give us bold hearts and the vision necessary to see that it is only the praise of the Father than matters – and then to live courageous faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 5/17/17 – The Immanent or the Greater

Image result for fiery furnace

DayBreaks for 5/17/17: The Immanent or the Greater

Thanks to some writing by Mark Labberton, I’ve been fascinated again with the childhood story of Shadrach, Mescheh and Abednego.  I shared some insights in a DayBreaks before, but here’s one a friend had that I think is worth sharing.

I wrote before about how these young men had to discern the real danger when confronted with the choice of worshipping the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had built.  They had to decide for themselves if the greatest danger was in bowing down and worshipping the idol or in not worshipping the real and living God. 

As Hebrews, these three had been well versed in the 10 commandments, and I’m sure, could easily recite them by heart.  So, for them to truly be tempted to worship an idol, well, it probably wasn’t really a temptation for them at all.  Saving their lives might have been a temptation, but they certainly knew it was wrong to worship an idol.  But, here’s the thing: they believed that worshipping anything other than Yahweh was a greater risk and danger than worshipping the idol, however sometimes the immediate or immanent danger seems greater than the far off danger.  Even though they knew what was right and wrong, and they knew in their hearts that failure to be true to Yahweh was the greater danger, the heat from the fire was pressing against their skin, making itself felt RIGHT NOW, and the danger from not worshipping Yahweh probably seemed a long way off.

We are often tempted to compromise for a couple of reasons: we want immediate pleasure rather than delayed gratification, or we want to avoid the immediacy of pain and suffering.  The latter is just as dangerous as the first – and both can be deadly.

Is there some immediate suffering that you can foresee in your life that you’ve been wrestling with and trying to avoid by some compromise?  Are you thinking that you can set the record straight with God at some later point?  That’s very dangerous reasoning.  Remember the words of the writer to the Hebrews: (Hebrews 10:31, NLT) It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

PRAYER: In our foolishness, Lord, we often forget that it may be better to suffer now than to fall into Your hands later.  Give us courage and open our eyes to understand that just because one kind of suffering may be more immediate, that it doesn’t mean it is the greatest suffering we could encounter.  Let us have no other gods before You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 5/12/17 – The World’s Deadliest Illusion

DayBreaks for 5/12/17: The World’s Deadliest Illusion

John 19:10 (NIV) Do you refuse to speak to me? Pilate said. Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?

I’ve got to admit that I’m fascinated by the great illusionists.  To this day, I don’t understand how David Copperfield could make an airplane, the statue of Liberty, or even a nickel disappear like he does!  Fascinating. 

The greatest illusion of life may be the fact that we think we have power, that we put ourselves in a position of judging God.  Of course, there is some truth to this idea that we have power – God has given us the right to choose, but we must not mistake that for having power.  Our choosing is a God-given right and he gives us the power in our hearts and minds to choose many things.  One of those things we can choose to believe is truth – or we can believe lies.  Pilate found himself in a situation where he truly thought he had jurisdiction over Jesus, that he, Pilate, was in charge of the unfolding events and that he would determine the outcome.  He claims to have the power to either free Jesus or kill him.

Think about that a moment: recall how that when Jesus was being tempted to cast himself off a high place so Satan would yield to him, even Satan noted that Jesus had the power to summon angels to come and catch him so he wouldn’t even hit his foot against a stone.  Do you think for one moment that Jesus, as he stood before Pilate, could not have called a million angels to come and obliterate Pilate, the angry mobs, the hypocritical religionists, and the entire Roman army and empire?  In the OT, all it took was a single angel to kill 185,000 Assyrians!  If an angel is that powerful, how much more powerful is the One who created them?!!! 

Pilate had no idea what he was saying because he’d bought the lie of having power over Jesus, and by extension, over God.  We are not so very different.  We think that through our prayers we can manipulate God into doing what we want him to do – and we may even think that He’s obligated to give us what we pray for – but he’s not.  We think that we can lift a passage out of context and make it an absolutely binding promise on God – forgetting that God sets conditions (some of which we know and some of which we don’t), that involves our obedience, or our faith, or our motives.  James says we can ask but not receive because we’re asking for something driven by our own greed and selfishness – not so we can use if for God’s purposes.  So we can’t just take Jesus’ statement that we can ask for anything and that God is under our power to have to give it – we tend to forget the conditions: if you ask in my name, for the things that Jesus wants, that he approves of for us.

If we had power in any way, shape or form over God, He would no longer be God – we would be.  If in any way at any time, humans can force God to do something, God is no longer all-powerful, he would cease to be El Shaddai, The Lord God Almighty. 

The end result of our belief that we have power over Jesus is seen by our rebellion to God’s ways.  If we believe we are in control of our lives, that we have only ourselves to answer to, we will choose inevitably what we believe is in our own best interests.  And because we cannot see the future events before they unfold, we’re at best guessing blindly as to what will be in our best interests in the long run.  Only one who knows the consequence of every decision, the intricacies of every human interaction with absolute clarity, can know what will work out for the best for us in the long run. 

Because Pilate truly believed he had power over Christ, he made the decision to crucify him, not knowing that he was doing exactly what God had planned to have happen from eternity past.  God’s plan will not be thwarted by puny humans who have a god-complex about themselves. 

This calls for deep introspection – not by ourselves, but by the Spirit.  We can’t trust ourselves to be honest or to see the truth.  I need to take some quiet time aside and ask the Spirit to search my heart and show me where I seem to think that I’m God and that He is not.  And then I need to ask God to forgive me, humble me, change me so that instead of being like Pilate, I’m like Jesus, who constantly submitted himself to the will and power of the Father.

PRAYER: God, keep us from the foolishness of thinking that we have any control or power over you.  Help us to remember we are the clay – not the Potter, we are just sheep and You are the Shepherd.  Help us to yield our desire for control to the control of Your Spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 5/03/17 – The Problem with Forgiveness

DayBreaks for 5/03/17: The Problem With Forgiveness

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

You remember the well-known passage that talks about forgiveness and how Peter (bless his heart) came to the Lord (after probably being hurt by someone) with the question recorded in Matthew 18:21-22 – Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?  Jesus answered, I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. 

We struggle with forgiveness, don’t we?   Who among us hasn’t wanted to ask the same question as Peter?  “But God, you just don’t understand that Ed has hurt me so many times!  I just can’t forgive him again!”  After some time and repeated hurtings, there is just something inside of us that says, “Enough!  No more!  I’m not going to forgive you any more!”  From a human standpoint, it does seem that there should be some limit.  But God’s ways are not designed from a human standpoint. 

Why do we have so much trouble forgiving?  Because we’ve been hurt.  We feel used and abused.  We feel like we’ve been stomped on – again.  Our heart – our emotions – are involved.  And here is the truth that hurts – we want to hurt back.  That’s why we don’t want to have to go on forgiving forever.  We want the person who hurt us to hurt in return so they’ll know what it feels like.  And we want to sit and watch with glee when they “get theirs”!  I wish I could say that it was something noble like wanting justice (which may be the case sometimes), but I’m afraid that more often than not we just want to see the other person suffer like they’ve made us suffer.

Jesus’ response is stunning.  Essentially he tells Peter, “Stop counting.  You just keep on forgiving.  Never hold grudges.”  The rabbis (based on a pattern seen in Amos 1:3, 6, 9, etc.) held that forgiveness should be extended 3 times for a given sin but not a fourth time, so Peter may have felt he was being generous by doubling what was considered acceptable.  Jesus then told a parable about a servant being forgiven a huge debt and then he went out and tortured those who owed him a little.  The point is clear: how can we, who have been forgiven so much, be so quick and anxious and brutal to those who have wronged us and need our forgiveness?

The key is in Matthew 18:35 where Jesus says: This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother FROM YOUR HEART.  The problem we have is that we forgive with our heads, but not our hearts.  Our emotions get the better of us.  We submit with the mind, but not with the heart.  We are quick to appreciate intellectually what God has done for us, but we aren’t so good at translating that into what we should do for others.

The American Indians had a practice of “counting coup” on their enemies.  It involved hitting them after they’d captured or killed one of them.  It showed superiority and proclaimed “victory”.  Are you counting coup by not forgiving?  Is your spirit too prideful to act towards others like God, through Christ, has acted towards you?  I’m sure Peter was stunned and humbled by Christ’s words.  I pray that we will be, too.

PRAYER:  Lord, we have so many things that we need to forgive and move on with life!  Help us to forgive FROM THE HEART, not from our heads.  Thank you that you have forgiven us so completely and so generously.  Make us like you in our forgiveness!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.