DayBreaks for 2/16/18 – The Jewish Sabbath Secret

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DayBreaks for 2/16/18: The Jewish Sabbath Secret

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

Luke 23:50-54 (NIV) – Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God.  Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body.  Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid.  It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

It would be hard to find someone who doesn’t know at least something about the Jewish Sabbath.  Anyone who knows the Ten Commandments is familiar with the command to set one day aside to rest and be recreated.  Yet because of cultural differences between the ancient Jews and modern day people, we miss some key elements that we should not miss.

The passage above from Luke 23 tells us the reason that Jesus was taken down from the cross in such a rush – and in John, it also tells us that the approaching Sabbath was the reason the legs of the thieves were broken and Christ’s side was pierced.  The Jews didn’t want such things happening on the Sabbath – it would have been flat wrong to their way of thinking and belief. 

Bear in mind the time of day when Jesus died…it was in the late afternoon, shortly before 6 p.m.  Sabbath would begin promptly at 6:00 p.m. because the ancient Jews counted time from sundown onward.  Today, we use the convention that a new day starts just after midnight, but the Jews felt it started the evening before.  In reality, even though our clock tells us a new day starts at 12:01 a.m., for all intents and purposes, most of us think of the new day starting when the sun comes up.

Why is that important?  And what does it have to do with the meaning and purpose of Sabbath itself?  A lot, I think, and it has spiritual ramifications: we start the day out with getting ready to go to work, to begin our labors.  The Jews, on the other hand, started their day out with a time of feasting and giving thanks, and then with sleep.  What difference does that make?  I think it says a lot about who is in charge of our lives and our times.  The Jews began their day with a meal and thanksgiving to God, and then instead of working, they laid down to sleep through the night.  On the other hand, we start it out with a quick breakfast (often hurried without time for leisurely giving of thanks) and running off to work to control our destinies.

By worship and then sleeping, the Jews were acknowledging that this new day was from God, and that they could rest in that knowledge.  Sleep is a very real kind of self-relinquishment or self-abandonment.  When we’re sleeping, we’re helpless.  Someone could steal in and murder us or rob us and we’d be oblivious to it.  When we are sleeping, we relinquish all attempts at making money, controlling life, controlling others, being successful.  When we sleep, we are acknowledging our weakness – that we MUST rest.  But the God who watched over Israel (and over us) never sleeps nor slumbers.  And by sleeping first in the day, the Jews showed their trust in God for all that each day would bring.

I know that we aren’t going to be able to change the way the world views time these days, but in our hearts, maybe we’d be wise to recognize our laying down to sleep as the start of a new day – reminding ourselves that we can rest in, and because, of God who never takes His eyes off of us.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for new days and new beginnings, and for inviting us first and foremost to rest in you, knowing you are ever vigilant!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 2/06/18 – Sanctifying Time

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DayBreaks for 2/06/18: Sanctifying Time

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

In his book, The Rest of God, in which Mark Buchanan talks about Sabbath, he mentions the need for us to be engaged in “sanctifying time.”  It might seem strange when you think about it: after all, aren’t we sanctified?  If people are sanctified, how can you “sanctify time”?  And what would that mean?

The word “sanctify” in the Hebrew is the word that means “to betroth”.  Let that sink in for a second.  Betrothal – like Mary and Joseph.  Pledged to be married.  Committed to be married to that one person and no one else.  To be “set apart” for that one person that you love and who loves you.  Now, take that concept and apply it to time – especially “Sabbath time.”  Sabbath – rest – was a requirement.  It was up there with the other 9 commandments that formed the Decalogue.  None of us would dare to think too lightly of the commands “Thou shalt have no other gods before me”, or “Thou shalt not murder”, “Thou shalt not commit adultery”, “Thou shalt not steal,” etc.  Yet we tend to think that somehow this command of God to observe a time of rest is a minor command compared to the rest of the 10.  God sure doesn’t seem to think so. 

God instituted the idea of rest, of a period of time that we are to “set apart”, to betroth ourselves to if you will, because He created us from dust and He knows we are not able to keep going forever like He can without getting tired.  He knows how close we are at any given moment to returning to the dust from which we came – it is we who lack that awareness more often than not.  And because of that, God said: “Rest.” 

And so what is the purpose for the resting?  There are numerous things, but for now, we are to “set apart, betroth” a certain period of time to rest…and worship.  What did Israel do on the Sabbath?  They celebrated God, His blessings, His greatness…they worshipped Him for all He was worth.  That’s why such a strong word as “betrothal” is used to paint the picture of Sabbath…we are to be betrothed to those kinds of things as we rest.  Does that mean we have to go to church when we’re resting?  Absolutely not (even though from time to time during one of my sermons I’ll catch people ‘resting’ in their chairs)!  You can worship God at your desk at work, laying in the hammock, lounging by the pool, sitting in the shade with some lemonade and a good book – you can worship and reflect on Him anywhere. 

The problem with our leisure (what we think of as our day of rest) is that they’re not very leisurely at all.  We run into them pell-mell and without reservation – and we wind up more tired than when we started.  But the worst thing about it is that we usually leave God entirely out of our thinking at those times.  We’ve left the Holy out of our day of rest.

When is the last time you betrothed yourself to a time of rest and reflection on the One who has given you each day of your life and filled it with wondrous things?  We need that kind of rest!

PRAYER: Father, that you that you know our frailties and our deepest needs, including our need to rest in You.  Help us to sanctify time spent with You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/05/18 – The One Who Eats His Children

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Saturn (Chronos) Devouring His Son – Goya. 1819-1823.

DayBreaks for 2/05/18: The One Who Eats His Children

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV) – There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…

John 2:4 (NLT) – How does that concern you and me?” Jesus asked. “My time has not yet come.

Matthew 26:18 (NLT) – As you go into the city,” he told them, “you will see a certain man. Tell him, `The Teacher says, My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.’

Time.  We often speak of it as being our most precious commodity, and although we describe it that way, we don’t often live like we believe it.

The Greek language was so incredibly rich and powerful.  Where we basically have one word for time in English, there were at least two words in the Greek that were commonly used for time.  They believed that time had two faces: one that was good and one that was evil.  Each had a name.  The word chronos (from which we get chronometer, chronicle, chronograph, etc.) was the name of a lesser Greek god, but he wasn’t a good and kindly god.  No, he was ravenous and mean.  He was pictured as a cannibal that was always eating and was never filled or satisfied.  Goya and Peter Paul Rubens both painted pictures of Chronos, wild-eyed, consuming his own children.  This is time that is bound by the clock, that runs on a tight schedule, that is a point in time as a second, minute, hour, day, week or month.  And those who are driven by time pressures are the children that Chronos devours, insatiably, unendingly.  And they’re in agony as he chews away at their flesh and sinews.  Someone shared with me today the idea that not only were living things and the physical things of the universe subjected to tyranny with the fall, but that perhaps time itself was corrupted in some way – turned into Chronos from what had been kairos in the garden.

The other Greek word for time was kairos.  This is not time as we think of it.  In fact, the Greeks would have thought of it this way: instead of asking “What time (chronos) is it?”, they would have asked “What is this time (kairos) for?”  Kairos is time that is unhurried, laden with great potential and possibilities.  It is time that is redeemed by some beautiful, glowing and uplifting purpose.  It is the kind of time that Jesus used when he said, “My time has come.”  In essence, Jesus was proclaiming: “This is the long expected and hoped for time, the very purpose for which I have come is about to be fulfilled.”  Unlike the children of Chronos, the children of kairos seek possibilities, opportunities, wonder in the moment in which their lives are enveloped.

God lets us choose the kind of time we will follow.  We can be driven and consumed by the incessant ticking of the clock on the wall, or we can live in the present moment as the gift of God that it is and search out all the meaning and purpose we can find, for there will never be a shortage of purpose in the lives of believers.

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for the time of our lives!  Thank you that we can not be driven and devoured by time, but that we can relish it and trust You in the middle of the turning seasons to give our moments beauty and meaning.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/02/18 – The Hands of a Father, #1

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DayBreaks for 2/02/18: The Hands of a Father, #1

From the DayBreaks archives, 1/28/98: (this DayBreaks was written one week after my father died in 1998)

I remember as a child laying in the church pew (I was really young, OK?) and my dad would be resting his arm on the back of the pew with his fingers dangling down towards me.  I’d play with his fingers and hands while the preacher did his thing.  I remember thinking how powerful and strong my dad’s hands were.  He was a farmer then, so you know that they were broad, calloused and hardened from difficult work.

Last week as I sat by my father’s deathbed and I held his hand in mine, the situation had changed.  Once upon a time, it was my dad’s hand that enveloped mine.  Times when I was afraid, times when he was afraid for me (that I’d run into the road or something like that), times when he was trying to keep me from falling.  And certainly times just when he wanted to hold my hand or I wanted to hold his.

They say that at some point in our lives that the child becomes the parent and the parent becomes the child.  I guess that is what happened to my dad and I last week.  No longer could he hold my hand, now it was my hand that surrounded his and it was I who was trying to provide the comfort and assurance that I could. Yet for as much as my heart yearned to keep him from slipping off into eternity, I was powerless to stop it. And for his sake, I’m grateful that even as my hand had to let go of his, I know our Father had taken his hand to lead him home.

As I sat by his bedside holding his motionless hand, I thought about how many times the Father has held my hand and I’ve taken it for granted.  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.   Daniel 5.23b: But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways.

I couldn’t begin to tell you how many times my dad held my tiny, weak hand in his.  I wonder how many times God has held my hand and I’ve been so insensitive that I didn’t even recognize it.  But there are even worse things than not recognizing His hand.  I have a choice to withdraw my hand from His (indeed, isn’t that exactly what we do every time we sin?).  I also have a choice to not take the hand that is offered to me (the way of escape from temptation is to take His hand and walk with Him through the test).

If I had the chance for my dad to hold my hand again, I’d grab it in a heartbeat.  I hope and pray that I’ll be as eager to let God hold my hand on this journey through life.  And I pray that I’ll never again be so insensitive to the Father’s hand upon my life.  My prayer for you is the same.

PRAYER: Lord, how desperately we need Your hand to hold ours!  We tremble in fear at the roaring of the world when we think we are alone.  May Your Almighty hand reassure us that we are never alone and we are never to fear with our Father at our side.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/23/18 – Dust and Clay Pots

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DayBreaks for 1/23/18: Dust and Clay Pots

Genesis 3:19 (NIV) – By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.

2 Corinthians 4:7 (NIV) – But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

It didn’t take God very long after the fall of man in the garden of Eden to reset our perspectives.  Do you remember how Satan had tempted Eve?  He told her that if she ate the fruit that “you will be like God.”  That’s the second lie that Satan told.  The first one was spoken in the same breath when he told Eve: “You shall not surely die.”  Both of those things are God-like, aren’t they?  To not die and to be eternal is God-like, and knowledge is God-like.  And Eve fell for it. 

What was God going to do with this situation?  It seems that one of the first things God had to do was to correct their thinking, in no uncertain terms, about whether or not they were like God.  And He did it partly by telling them in verse 19: “…for dust you are and to dust you will return.”  In other words, “You SHALL surely die.”  God has spoken – and suddenly Adam and Eve fall mute.

The apostle Paul was a bit more tactful, or at least a bit more generous, when he referred to us as clay pots, but the point is the same.  We’re hard and brittle and easily broken and shattered and we turn back into the clay/dust.  It’s vital for us to remember: “God made us from dust.  We’re never too far from our origins.”

As a result, we should live each day as if we will die before the day is out.  That means we should love while we have a chance, we should forgive when time is still with us to do so, we should embrace the wonder and beauty and miracle of life before it is gone.  We’re all familiar with the old saying to “Live each day as if it were your last.”  Wouldn’t we be better served to live each day as Jesus lived the last day in his life?  I have a hunch that if we did, that last day would be far better than we could come up with on our own.

PRAYER:  May this day be precious to us and a day we live for You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/10/18 – God Help the Fish

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Image courtesy from iStock photo.

DayBreaks for 1/10/18: God Help the Fish

When you think of it, we all like fairy tale stories in one form or another. We like stories of frogs becoming princes, of ugly ducklings that become beautiful swans and the down-and-out who rise above adversity yet remain kind, compassionate and humble.

Sam Houston was the first president of the Republic of Texas. It’s said he was a rather nasty fellow with a checkered past.  Later in life Houston made a commitment to Christ and was baptized in a river. The preacher said to him, “Sam, your sins are washed away.”  Houston replied, “God help the fish.”

We see similar stories throughout the Bible as ordinary people, often very poor and outcast, who come to a special relationship with God or Jesus. The woman at the well, the woman taken in adultery, Saul of Tarsus, Zacchaeus and others are all examples. We are uplifted by their stories.

Yet, each and every believer in Jesus is like the pauper who becomes a prince or princess. We have to go through a process much like Sam Houston did – of being convicted of our estate (it must become clear to see!) – before God dresses us in the finest of robes, puts shoes on us, gives us his ring and reinstates us to a place in His own house.

How do you see yourself? You may not feel like the prince or princess just yet, but once your sins have been washed away, you are no longer what you previously were. You are a child of the King and you are growing to look more and more like him with each passing day, week, month and year. The day will come when you will stand beside him in glory, look in the mirror and see both his and your reflection, and will be amazed at how alike you are!

Hang tough! Persevere! Trust Him! He will finish the work he has started!

PRAYER: God, I know my own sin is enough to kill all the fish in the sea, yet you promise me you have washed me clean and that I am your child. Help us all to being to grasp that simple, yet profound, truth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 11/20/17 – In Due Time

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DayBreaks for 11/20/17: In Due Time

NOTE: Galen is traveling…again.

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

“Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly, somewhere over the rainbow, why then, oh why, can’t I?”  Every heart carries dreams and hopes and ambitions.  I’ve always wanted to be able to fly (without being in an airplane.)  I know other people who have dreamed of sailing the south Pacific or climbing some of the earth’s tallest mountains.  Others dream of being a police officer, astronaut, explorer, singer, dancer or actor.  Hopes and dreams are an essential part of life. 

In Discipleship Journal, Carole Mayhall tells of a woman who went to a diet center to lose weight.  The director took her to a full-length mirror.  On it he outlined a figure and told her, “This is what I want you to be like at the end of the program.”  Days of intense dieting and exercise followed, and every week the woman would stand in front of the mirror, discouraged because her bulging outline didn’t fit the director’s ideal.  But she kept at it, and finally one day she conformed to the longed-for image.  – Daily Bread, August 8, 1990

For a long time, as a child, I wanted to be either a brain surgeon or astronaut.  When I started off to college, I was torn between pursuing a career in medicine or in ministry.  For over 25 years, I did neither, although I took classes that could have led in both directions.  The thrill of holding someone’s physical life in my hands during surgery was intoxicating.  The adventure and wonder of flying through space to the moon caught my imagination. 

What we dream of and long for help to shape what we actually become.  That’s partly why Scripture says “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”  (Phil. 4:8)  We’re also told that we are what we think about in our hearts.  We’re told what our vision should be: to lock our eyes on to Christ and to become like him.  Pretty heady stuff, when you think about that one!

The absence of dreams (a vision and focus for life) can be equally serious: we can wind up just drifting along and one day we bump into shore and we are something that we never wanted to be, stuck somewhere in a place we never wanted to be.  God wants more for us, for you, than that. 

I have been out of high school now for a staggering 47 years (as of 2017).  Even if I’d pursued a career in medicine, I would have been out of college for 35 years or so.  Are there days when I still wish that I was a neurosurgeon or astronaut?  Yeah, there are.  But they’re a lot less frequent now.  Here’s what I want to be when I grow up: I want to be Christ-like.  It is hard to imagine that such a thing is possible, but Peter says it is in 2 Peter 1.  2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV) says: And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Like the woman in front of the mirror who saw the shape of what she wanted to be gradually became the shape she actually was, let us all fix our eyes on the perfect Image, the exact Image, of God.  And in due time, if we don’t grow weary, we will take on that Image to His everlasting glory.

PRAYER:  Jesus, it’s hard to believe that we could come to look like You.  Help us to keep looking at You and to You, our perfect example.  May we regain what we were meant to be that we have lost through sin.  Help us to be patient with ourselves, even as You patiently shape us.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.