DayBreaks for 7/12/19 – The Miracle on a Stick

Image result for snake on a pole

DayBreaks for 07/12/19: The Miracle on a Stick

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived. – Numbers 21:4-9 (NIV)

I was recently reading Athol Dickson’s The Gospel According to Moses when I discovered new insights into the passage from Numbers 21, above.  Let me share them with you:

FIRST: Remember Israel’s recent history.  They’d been freed from Egypt, only to find themselves apparently left alone as Moses had been up on the mountain for so long the people felt that he was most certainly dead.  Of course, he wasn’t, but they had no way of knowing that.  And so they asked Aaron to make a golden calf so that they could worship it and perhaps receive some help and direction from the “god”.  While this might seem very strange for us, remember that they’d been in Egyptian slavery for 400 years and had become intimately acquainted with the religious worship of Egyptian gods, which included various bulls, frogs, falcons and other animals.  So they clearly thought this golden god could help them.  The result of that episode was that thousands of Israelites died because they’d formed and worshipped a golden calf.  Now, however, they are in trouble again…whining and angering Moses and God.  So, God sent snakes among them and many died and were dying.  God tells Moses, incredulously, to make an image of bronze and put it up where everyone could see it and that if they look at it they will live!  Do you see the irony?  The last time they’d formed an image to worship it, many died as a result.  Now, God says to make an image and it will result in their being saved!  This must have been a real test of obedience for the Israelites: “Hey, Shlomoe, remember what happened the LAST time we made an image of an animal?  Do you think Moses heard God correctly about this bronze serpent thing?”  It required obedience even when the thing commanded not only made no sense, but when there was precedent point 180 degrees the opposite direction!

SECOND: Athol Dickson did a word study on the verses about the bronze serpent, and he made an amazing discovery.  The Hebrew word, nes, which is translated as the “pole” upon which the bronze serpent is mounted, is not a simple word to translate.  In other passages, the word is translated as “example” or “banner.”  In Isaiah 33:23, it is translated “sail”, but another word entirely is used to describe the mast or pole on which the sail is hung.  In fact, nowhere else in Scripture is the word nes translated as “pole” – it is always translated as the object that is lifted up on the pole.  Only here, is the bronze serpent mounted on the “pole” (nes).  So, to use the way the word is normally translated, we’d find a symbol (the bronze serpent) hung upon an example (the nes, or pole).  It seems God deliberately chose this word to hint that it really wasn’t the serpent that was to give them deliverance, but the One behind the serpent.  But, that’s not the most amazing thing.  The most amazing thing is that the word nes has yet another meaning: “miracle.”  The story of the bronze serpent is both an example and a miracle, pointing to the real miracle: the miracle of a God dying on another pole in Roman occupied Jerusalem.  It is as if God is saying, “When the people look upon what hangs on the pole – the miracle – they will be saved.”  Jesus was that miracle.  It was a miracle that a God could die at all.  It was a miracle that our sins could be taken away.  It was a miracle that God would do such a thing for nothing more than a collection of atoms and chemicals known as a human being.  Yet He did all those things.

When you look upon the miracle on the pole, you shall be saved!

PRAYER: Open our eyes to the miracle that is Jesus hanging on a pole for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

Advertisements

DayBreaks for 7/10/19 – Awake During Open Heart Surgery

Image result for open heart surgery scar

DayBreaks for 07/10/19: Awake During Open Heart Surgery

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

How much pain can one person carry?  I honestly don’t know the answer to that question.  I know that I’ve had very little pain in my life compared to millions and probably billions of other humans who have lived on this blue marble.  I can hardly imagine anyone, though, who perhaps bore so much pain as the ancient hero, Job.  His suffering was emotional, financial, mental, physical and spiritual.  I don’t know anyone else who has lost as much as Job did (especially his children!)  The pain of losing just one child would be unbearable…but try to imagine losing all 10 at once.  And for a time, Job, we are told, said and did nothing amiss.  Then, he finally seems to break.  But it wasn’t the loss of the flocks, herds, buildings.  It had nothing to do with his financial empire.  He didn’t even rail against God when his children died.  I’m sure that wasn’t because he didn’t love them – he surely cared a great deal about them.  No, Job seemed to “lose” it when he felt God has slipped away and left him alone.  It was then that Job began to struggle.  It was then that Job came face to face with a darker side of his nature than he’d probably realized existed. 

In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason wrote: “Being a believer in God necessarily implies grappling with the dark side of one’s nature.  Many of us, however, seem to be so afraid of our dark side that far from dealing with it realistically, we repress and deny it.  If we do so chronically, we need to ask ourselves whether we really believe in the healing power of Christ’s forgiveness and in His victory over our evil natures.  Perhaps we have never frankly come to grips with the fact that we ourselves are evil.  If we have not, then we are ill prepared for those times when believing in god is like being away during open heart surgery. For our Creator is not yet finished with us; He is still creating us, still making us, just as He has been all along from the beginning of the universe.   But for the short span of our life here on earth we have the strange privilege of actually being wide awake as He continues to fashion us, to watch wide-eyed as His very own fingers work within our hearts…the only anesthetic is trust…trust is not a passive, soporific thing.  When there is stabbing pain, trust cries out.  It is only mistrust, fear and suspicion that keep silent.”

Your life has had some level of pain.  I am frequently asked “Why?  Why is there so much pain involved with being a Christian?  You’d think that a loving God would do everything possible to spare His children pain!”  There is a certain rationale to that argument.  But I think it misses the point that Mike Mason makes: God is doing open heart surgery on us – our hearts MUST be changed if we are to live forever.  If they are not changed, we will die of our fatal condition.  No one does open heart surgery just for practice or for the fun of it.  It is only done when it is necessary to save or extend a life.  We are awake during the process.  

If God doesn’t do His surgery on our heart, we will most certainly die.  There will be pain.  But would any father not allow the pain in order to spare the life of the child?  Certainly, a good father would agree to have the child operated on so that the child could live.  The pain is part of the process of healing and being made well. 

What makes the surgery on our hearts bearable at all?  Trust.  Trust that God is reliable and doing what is not only good for us, but necessary for us if we are to live with Him in His home.  Belief that God knows precisely what is needed in your heart and mine – and that He will complete the work that is necessary.

PRAYER: Though this surgery is painful, Lord, we open our hearts to You and invite you to do what is necessary to make us fit to be Your children and to live in Your Presence throughout all eternity.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/4/19 – The Bottom Line on Salvation

Image result for salvation

DayBreaks for 7/4/19: The Bottom Line on Salvation

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

There have been many discussions and disagreements throughout church history about salvation.  I’ve even argued with myself about it from time to time throughout my life.  There is just something about us humans that likes to make things tougher than they really are.  I don’t know why that is so, but perhaps it is because we all want to be able to take some amount of credit for a positive outcome.  We like to appear heroic to ourselves and to others, and that means we must make some sort of superhuman effort to achieve something.  Think about it: who’s more heroic in your eyes – someone who has climbed Everest or someone who has hiked up a 3,000-foot peak?  Is the astronaut more heroic than the pilot of a Piper Cub?  Why?  Because they’ve worked long and hard and done something that seemingly no one else (or few others) have achieved. 

And so when it comes to salvation, we want to be at least a bit heroic – or we want to feel that way.  So, we make it harder than it is. 

A DayBreaks reader recently sent me the quote below from Kirk Cameron, the actor who is now doing lots of Christian work and who is a believer.  Here’s what Kirk had to say: “I used to be confused about how I was “saved”.  Was I saved by a belief I mustered up within my own heart, or was I saved by something God did in the purpose of His own heart?  Spurgeon shed more light on this crucial subject of who does the saving, when he said, “…even our repentance needs to be repented of.”  The point is that no earthly faith, repentance, good works, or belief that I have ever mustered from what exists in my own natural heart has ever saved me.  The Bible is clear: my faith doesn’t save me, Jesus does (Ephesians 2:8-9).  A believer’s faith in Jesus is a gift from God.  My faith is the connecting channel through which God saved me by His own love and grace.  So if you ever wonder if “your faith has saved you,” you may find this question helpful: “Is my trust in my own ability to hold on to Jesus, or is my trust in Jesus’ ability to hold on to me?”  If you have received that humble, repentant faith that causes you to love God and trust in Jesus and Lord and Savior, then I would be very confident in echoing Jesus’ words, “Your faith has saved you.” –  Kirk Cameron

To all who say, “I hope I have enough faith so I can be saved,” I think we must reply, “Rubbish.  It isn’t your faith that saves you – it is Jesus that saves you.  Now, do you have faith in that?”

PRAYER: For the wonder of salvation this day, we praise You!  For the blessings of the past, we praise You!  For the eternity that awaits because of Your faithfulness, we praise You, o Great God!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/02/19 – Earning Trust

Image result for operating on yourself

DayBreaks for 07/02/19: Earning Trust

(NOTE: sorry about no DayBreaks yesterday, our internet was down!)

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

The year was 1921, the city was New York.  Dr. Evan Kane is performing a routine appendectomy.  He’s done this over 4000 times in his 37-year medical career, so it’s old hat to him.  But there are two things that this time are different, that make this a special operation. 

First, Dr. Kane was concerned about the dangers of general anesthesia and he is doing this surgery using local anesthesia.  It wasn’t easy finding a volunteer to go through this surgery because no one knew for sure how well local anesthesia would work in such a surgery.  Many of Dr. Kane’s associates agreed with the dangers of general anesthesia, but volunteers were hard to come by.  Finally, Dr. Kane found a volunteer willing to undergo the experiment.  He’d looked long and hard for a volunteer before he got one. 

As it turns out, the surgery was successful.  The patient experienced only mild discomfort and was released two days later. 

Thanks to the courage of the brave volunteer, local anesthesia was shown to be an effective treatment option that in many cases is highly preferable to general anesthesia.

The second special thing about this surgery is that the volunteer was Dr. Kane himself.  Yep – he operated on his own appendix under just local anesthesia.  Why did he do this?  First, of all, he was convinced of what he believed and was willing to “put his money where his mouth was.”  Secondly, he couldn’t persuade anyone else to try it, so he became a patient in order to convince other patients that they could trust him as the doctor.

This is the core of the gospel and our great hope.  Christ became one of us, enduring the things we endure, suffering the things we suffer, identifying with us in our humanity.  Because he did that, we can trust him and that he understands!

PRAYER: Thank you for giving us proof that you believe in our worth, and that you understand what our lives are like when we struggle and hurt!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/03/19 – Blameless and Guiltless

Image result for blameless

DayBreaks for 6/03/19: Blameless and Guiltless

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2009:

Psalm 32:2 – Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him.

Can you imagine what it would feel like to have never committed a sin?  I can’t, either.  But, I can imagine that it would feel quite different from anything we’ve experienced before.  I’ve never flown by my own power before so I can’t imagine the freedom that an eagle feels, but I would have to think that it might be something like the exhilaration of being sinless and having no memory of anything from the past that wasn’t pleasing or honoring to God. 

That being said, it is important that we consider a Scriptural perspective on sin and the believer.  In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason noted that there is a difference between blamelessness and guiltlessness: “…blameless is not quite the same as being guiltless.  Objectively these two conditions are identical, but they are attained through different routes.  If someone is guiltless, it simply means that he has done nothing wrong.  If he is accused of wrong, then  he is accused falsely and that is all there is to it.  But if someone is blameless it means something far more mysterious: it means that no matter how horrible his offenses may have been, all the charges against him has been dropped.  Absolutely no blame attaches to him, because the very one he offended has exonerated him.”

I was pondering just today the dilemma of righteousness.  Goodness knows that I am a sinner!!!!  Yet God says that He has given me the “robe of righteousness” that is Christ’s righteousness.  Many are the times that I don’t feel righteous.  Many are the times that I don’t feel blameless, and deservedly so.  The challenge for me, and possibly for you, is to believe and accept with a full heart that when God draped the robe of Jesus’ righteousness over my shoulders and over yours, that when God sees me, He sees me as blameless, guiltless and righteous. 

I sometimes tend to think of degrees of blamelessness or righteousness.  What folly!  One is either blameless and righteous, or one is not.  There is no middle ground, no gray area.  The only way one can be blameless and righteous is for one to have no guilt – none at all.  When God looks at me or you, He isn’t seeing us in our efforts at being righteous.  He is seeing us as totally blameless and righteous – for He sees us in Christ, totally forgiven – so much so that no guilt or blame can attach itself to us. 

Hard to believe and accept isn’t it?  Doubt it?  Check out Jude 24, which assures us in his wonderful doxology, that it is the Lord who is “able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious Presence without fault.”  Glory be to God!

Prayer: Words fail me, Lord, as I struggle to grasp this glorious truth of a life in Your Son Jesus’ righteousness!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/23/19 – Someone With Skin On

Image result for frightened child

DayBreaks for 5/23/19: Someone With Skin On

The story goes like this: There once was a little boy who was afraid and couldn’t sleep. He kept getting up and going to his parent’s room. Finally, they sent him back to his room saying, “You’ll be fine; God loves you, and He’s in there with you to protect you.” The little boy answered, “I know that, but right now, I need someone with skin on ‘em!”

Perhaps truer words have never been spoken by a young child. We all desperately need somebody to show us God’s love in the flesh. Victor Hugo who wrote, Les Miserables, once wrote that “The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved.”

When we’re afraid we need someone with skin on. I remember as a child when I would be frightened at night, my dad’s presence always comforted me.

When I feel rejected or am wounded, it helps to have someone with “skin on ‘em” to put their arms around me and let me know that they care and support me.

The truth behind this idea of needing someone with “skin on ‘em” is the incarnation. Jesus created us and he knew our tendencies to insecurity, fear, despair…and so he put on skin so that we’d know he understood. It is revealing how often the gospels talk about Jesus reaching out and touching someone.

We can also be the one with skin on who mimics the incarnation on behalf of others. By our actions, we can help calm a distressed friend, neighbor or relative by letting them know they are loved and that not only we, but God cares.

John 15:12 (CSBBible) – This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you.

Prayer: Let us imitate you in your incarnation so that we may be better able to help others!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/03/19 – God’s Expectations

Image result for god's expectations

DayBreaks for 5/03/19: God’s Expectations

From the DayBreaks archive: April 2009

Have you ever been the “victim” of someone else’s expectations of you?  Perhaps it was when you were a child: your mom or dad may have wanted you to be a doctor or lawyer when you grew up, but neither was of interest to you.  Or, perhaps you dad wanted you to be as great of a football player or basketball player as he was (or thinks he was!) in his hey-day.  Maybe your mother wanted you to be more beautiful than you were…and so she went to great lengths to get you interested in make-up and pretty things.  Parents, for the most part, really do want good things for their kids.  It’s just that often we don’t know what will really be good for them and what won’t.  But that does very little to temper our expectations. 

Maybe you are struggling with unrealistic expectations of yourself.  Some people hold themselves to impossibly high standards, while others don’t hold themselves to any standard of excellence at all.  Your employer may have unrealistic expectations of you in terms of how many hours you work, what you are expected to achieve. 

Expectations can be killers.

But hasn’t God said, Be holy, even as I am holy?  Now THERE’S a tough expectation to live up to!!!!  Be as holy as God?  Didn’t Jesus command, Be perfect…as your Heavenly father is perfect (Matt. 5:48)?  And didn’t the KJV, in describing Job, record that God Himself said that Job was “perfect”?  Talk about being set up for failure – this is looking like it could be the most colossal failure of all time!

Ah, here’s the release from the tension, and it’s found in Hebrews 10:14, where we are reassured that Christ…has made perfect forever those who are being sanctified.  Did you get that?  Christ “HAS MADE PERFECT FOREVER” those who are being sanctified.”  Past tense.  Done deal.  The perfection that God demands of us has been achieved – only not in us, but it was done by Christ himself!  God, being a good Father, knows we can’t live up to that expectation on our own, so He resolved the issue for us.  Note the second part of the verse, too: although we have been made (past tense) perfect, we are still “being sanctified.”  So, while our sanctification goes on, our perfection has been achieved.

Doesn’t this make some kind of sense: would God, being perfectly loving and knowing perfectly well what we are truly capable of (and what we aren’t), expect us to do the impossible?  As Mike Mason said in The Gospel According to Job: “Surely not – except by His grace.  And that is precisely the point: it is God’s grace, and nothing else, that declares a person perfect.  It is in God’s eyes that people achieve perfection, not in their own or in the world’s.  In our Heavenly Father’s garden, perfection is by faith and not by sight.”

Prayer: What a comfort it is to know that You know us perfectly well, and yet You have chosen to see us as perfect in Christ Jesus.  Thank You for understanding our inadequacies and for making provision for us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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