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

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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.  ><}}}”>

 

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DayBreaks for 4/16/19 – Easter and Rejection

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DayBreaks for 4/16/19: Easter and Rejection

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2009:

Can you remember how it felt the first time you were rejected?  It may have been that you weren’t “wanted” on the team.  It may have been the first time you asked out that little red-headed, freckle faced girl and she turned up her nose at you and said (loudly!): “Eewwww!  I’d never go out with you!”  Rejection hurts.  Rejection hammers at the spirit and the heart and hope.  Rejection is a killer.

The woman was from Samaria.  She knew all about rejection.  She’d been married 5 times – and she’d heard the door slammed behind her 5 times as her husband of the moment threw her out and yelled at her, “And don’t come back!”  Even her friends had rejected her – after all, it could damage one’s reputation to hang out with such a woman who seemed not to have any scruples or moral fiber.  And so, when she went to the well, she went alone, carrying her water jar on her shoulder.  It was in the blazing heat of the day – so strong was her rejection by others that she didn’t dare go in the cool of the morning when other women would go – no, they wanted nothing to do with her, no matter if her heart cried out for someone, anyone, to care. 

Only on this day, there’s a man at the well.  She wonders if she will be safe.  Could he be violent?  A bandit, or even worse, a rapist waiting to fall upon a woman alone?  She proceeds, and when she gets there, this man looks at her and in a pleasant voice, asks for water, but she still was suspicious that he might have had something else in mind.  She was partly right – for he begins to ask her questions that plumbed the depth of her lonely, aching heart that had known so much rejection.  He even knew about her past…and yet he spoke to her with a tone of respect.  And then he offered her something that could quench the burning, not in her throat, but in her soul. 

As the questioning proceeded, she must have expected more rejection once she told him about her checkered past.  But she didn’t get criticism or any kind of lecture.  Jesus hadn’t come to the well seeking perfection, but honesty.  And finally, she said that she didn’t know where to go to find God, unaware He was talking with her that very moment.  Can you imagine the smile that crept across Jesus’ face and heart as he heard those words?  Here he was, in Samaria – and he’d found a hungry, thirsty heart for God.  And, it was not just any Samaritan, it was a woman.  And who would have thought that a 5-time “loser” in marriage would be so thirsty for God?  Jesus did.  This was perhaps the most outcast and rejected person in the area. 

And then a remarkable thing happened.  Jesus said to her, “I AM the Messiah.”  He could have gone to Rome and told that to Caesar and made Caesar bow down when he heard the words.  He could have gone to Herod and told him that He was the real King.  He could have gone to the religious leaders and told them the truth and opened their eyes and made believers out of them.  But he didn’t.  He revealed himself to the most rejected, broken, outcast person of all.

But what we often miss in this story is what happens next.  The woman got up, raced off and told others.  What is significant is what she left behind.  She left behind the water jar, to be sure – Scripture says so.  This water jar is a symbol of all the burden of shame, guilt and rejection she’d felt for year after year after long, lonely year.  She left it behind and ran into the town to talk to others – something she wouldn’t have dared do before coming to the well and meeting Jesus.  Why?  Because the very One who had the most right to reject her was the One that she discovered loved her the most.

Are you feeling rejected this Easter season?  Meet Jesus at the cross.  Let the one who was despised and rejected fill you with the Living Water.  The one who wouldn’t let this woman be alone in her rejection take you in his embrace and give you the love and welcome that you are so thirsty to find.  Let your rejection be healed by his welcome!

Prayer: Hallelujah, for Jesus is the friend of sinners, unafraid to meet us in our loneliness and rejection, the One who speaks words of life into the most shattered heart!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 4/15/19 – Easter and Disappointment

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DayBreaks for 4/15/19: Easter and Disappointment

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2009:

When was the last time you were disappointed? My guess is that you are disappointed in some things every day.  I know I am.  I think of the story of the disciples on the Emmaus road.  As they trudged along on their way, the disappointment drips from their lips like honey from the honeycomb.  But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. (Lk. 24:21, NASB)
But we were hoping…hopes are now dashed, broken into pieces like shattered glass.  Their disappointment was so deep that they couldn’t even recognize that the One of whom they were speaking was walking beside them.  As Max Lucado points out in He Still Moves Stones, “Disappointment will do that to you.  It will blind you to the very presence of God.  Discouragement turns our eyes inward.  God could be walking next to us, but despair clouds our vision.  Despair does something else…it hardens our hearts.  We get cynical.  We get calloused.  And when good news comes, we don’t want to accept it for fear of being disappointed again.” 

You may be disappointed right now about your job, your marriage, your children or yourself.  There are several things to note about the Emmaus’ disciples and their encounter with Jesus that might be instructive:

FIRST: they kept walking and they talked about their disappointments.  They didn’t try to hide them – in fact, it seems that their disappointment was so palpable that they couldn’t NOT talk about it.  But they knew what direction they were going and they kept moving.  They didn’t stop and stew in their disappointment.  They moved onward.

SECOND: it took Jesus to turn their disappointment into rejoicing and celebration.  He did that by coming to them…not once they’d already started to celebrate, but when there were at their point of deepest pain.  It was then that they needed him the most, perhaps.  On the one hand, they were blaming God for not doing what they thought He should have done or for not doing what they thought He was doing.  Many of our unfulfilled expectations we blame on God, but remember: they may just be our own expectations, created out of our own imagination and we project them onto God as His responsibility to fulfill.  They surely thought they knew what Jesus was supposed to do – and felt he’d tricked them all.  So, who else but Jesus could turn the situation around? 

THIRD: Jesus began to heal their disappointment by telling them a story: the story of God’s faithfulness and activity throughout history.  Why?  To show them that God was still in control.  Nothing is finished until God says it is finished – surely, Jesus wasn’t finished even though they thought he was.  Those who are disappointed need to remember that God is still in control.  And what can be bad about that?

If you are walking a disappointment-filled road today, keep walking and talking with Jesus about your disappointment.  He will meet you in your pain.  Let the Word remind you that God is still in charge – not just of world events, but of your life and destiny.  And that’s not a bad thing to remember!

Prayer: In our disappointments, Lord Jesus, let us not just listen for your voice, but look for your face as  you walk next to us, reminding us that you know, you understand, and you have it all under control!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 4/3/19 – A Lesson in Gravity

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DayBreaks for 4/03/19: A Lesson in Gravity

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2009:

I recently had the great blessing of spending the day with my best friend in his classroom and talking with some of the students about design and creation and how it is an evidence for the existence of God.  He teaches conceptual physics at a Christian school in California.  I have a confession to make here, though: I never took a physics class in my life!  Never really wanted to, either. But I must say, I found it very interesting.  And I even managed to learn some things along the way.

As I sat there thinking about people like Hawking, Einstein and Newton, I began to think about gravity and what a fascinating thing it is.  It’s invisible, yet there is no doubt about its “attraction.”  Just a day or two before, our newest granddaughter (who is 5-1/2 months old), managed to roll off her folks bed and discovered gravity for the first time.  (She was fine – but scared – so her mom and dad calmed her with a banana dessert!)  The little girl found the pull of gravity irresistible, just as all of us have been bound by it for all of our lives.  After all, there’s that old saying, that “What goes up, must come down.”  Because Sophia had gone up on the bed, gravity wasn’t going to make an exception in her case and let her rise up further in the air or even to float at bed-top level.  No, she had to come down, and come down she did.

It is true that what goes up, must come down.  Baseballs, footballs, golf balls, jets, rockets (assuming they don’t achieve escape velocity)…all will come tumbling down.  Some flights of fancy may last longer than others, but they’ll still all come back down to earth again.

There has only been one exception.  Our Lord Jesus Christ left heaven – he came down as the Word says.  In a very literal way, he fell into the tomb…but in His case, what comes down MUST go up!  Nothing could contain Jesus in the tomb. Gravity couldn’t hold him like it does all other dead bodies.  He “rose” from the dead!  And because He came down and suffered death, God “raised Him up” – exalted him over all powers and authorities in heaven and on earth.  That’s God’s way!

There will, of course, come a day when we too shall no longer be bound by gravity and we will rise…never to fall back again.  Won’t that be a great day?

As Easter comes nearer, remember that in God’s way of seeing things, “What goes down, must come up!”  Humble yourself before the Lord, that in due time, He may exalt you!

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.  James 4:10 (KJV)

Prayer: Lord, we long for the day when You shall lift us up from the dust of this earth and we shall be forever free!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 4/01/18 – Easter Reminds Me…

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DayBreaks for 4/01/18: Easter Reminds Me…

I am always loathe to leave Easter in the rear view mirror. I think that maybe the new year should start on Easter rather than January 1 because of all the Easter speaks to me. I suspect that I am not the only one who needs Easter reminders.

I struggle with a mother who no longer recognizes me but says that I remind her of her son. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle with a body that is aging and clearly on the decline. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle to make sense of a world that seems to have lost all sense of balance, where people from one religion cut the heads off believers of another faith. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle to understand why people are abused and belittled and subjected to so much injustice. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle to understand why little children get cancer and die, tearing the hearts out of their parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle to understand why some people never seem to find someone who will love and cherish them as beings made in the very image of God. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle to understand why two people who promised to love each other until death parts them decide to forsake those vows. Easter reminds me that it wont’ be this way forever.

I struggle with not being able to see my father any more. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle to make sense of the brutality of war and the death wrought by natural disasters. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle when I think of those without enough food who die of starvation and disease. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I struggle to be fully and completely freed from my guilt and sin and the effects of the fall in this world. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I rebel at the thought of saying goodbye to those that I love, to walk into the Lord’s presence but to leave them behind. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I long for all things to be made new and for the fallen to pass. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

I cannot see His face, except through a thick curtain of faith. Easter reminds me that it won’t be this way forever.

PRAYER: God, thank you that for all the struggles and trials and pains of this life, that it will not be this way forever because of the resurrection! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/31/18 – Saturday, the Glorious Silence

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DayBreaks for 3/30/18: Saturday – the Glorious Silence

From the Perimeter holy week devotion guide, by Caleb Click:

1 Corinthians 15:3-5 (ESV) – For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

“Buried.” In our Easter celebrations, the death and resurrection of Jesus receive most of our attention and with good reason. The heart and soul of the Christian faith rests on those realities. But here, in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul says that it was of first importance not only that Jesus died and rose, but that he was buried. Christians across the centuries have echoed those words of Paul in the Apostle’s Creet, saying with one voice, …he was crucified, died, and was buried. Sitting at the very center of it all is this reality often confessed but rarely considered: that Jesus’ body joined bullions before him in a tomb, that he entered the grave and for three days remained inside, closed off from the world of the living. But why? Why does this matter?

But this mystery doesn’t stop there. It sweeps us up with it. Romans 6:4 says: We were buried with him by baptism into his death.  Colossians 2:12 announces that we who are in Christ have been buried with him in baptism.  In the gospel story, Saturday’s mourning has as much importance to us as Friday evening’s despair and Sunday morning’s joy. Again, the question: why?

I think the answer is this: burial is a goodbye. It’s recognition that the life of the one we loved is gone and what remains in their place is only silence That the words they once spoke live on only in our recollection. That their touch exists only in memory. That the person with all their vitality and power is gone. Saturday morning is the disciples’ coming to terms with a Jesus they think is no more.

And here is why that matters, why it’s such gloriously good news. Jesus wasn’t simply a man who died; he was the spotless lamb upon whom our sins were laid (John 1:29). The disciples mourned on Saturday, but they didn’t realize that it wasn’t Jesus who was no more; it was our sin. It was everything we once were. When he rose Sunday morning and left the tomb, our sins stayed inside. Buried. Silenced. A memory and recollection stripped of its power. We don’t continue in sin because we were buried with Jesus and, while we have been raised, the old man still lies buried in that tomb, never to leave again (Romans 6). We don’t fall captive to the lie of thi world that our hope is in our performance, because the body of flesh was cut away and cast into a tomb from which it will never escape, and we now stand in the resurrection life of Jesus Christ (Colossians 3).

TODAY’S PRAYER: Father, we recognize that the burial of Jesus was a goodbye. A goodbye to our sin and its condemnation. To the person we were before Christ. To the life we once lived and the power the flesh once had over us. Thank you that the glorious good news of a silence does not leave us in pain as the disciples first thought, but one that truly makes us free. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/30/18 – Our Passover Lamb

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DayBreaks for 3/30/18: Our Passover Lamb

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

1 Cor. 5:7b – …For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

There is a saying, “All good things must come to an end.”  Actually, that’s a lie.  Not all good things must come to an end.  Paul tells us that faith, hope and love abide.  The Word of God abides forever.  God is forever.  And for Christians, heaven will be forever.  But I would have to suspect that on Good Friday so long ago, Jesus took great comfort in knowing that all bad things must come to an end, and in fact, as far as His earthly suffering was concerned, Good Friday marked the end.  Anyone who watches The Passion of the Christ must believe that the crucifixion itself, as horrible as it was, must have been welcomed as the end of the road – Jesus knew it would soon be over.

What happened to Jesus?  Was He murdered?  Was He killed?  Was He executed? Was He (as Texans might say), ‘lynched’?  While lots of words might have been chosen, I wonder how many on Good Friday would have said that He had been “sacrificed”?  Probably not many, except perhaps the Three-in-One.

In A Violent Grace, by Michael Card, Mike was musing on the events of Good Friday when he posited this insight: “It was one thing for pastors today to speak of Christ being a substitutionary sacrifice and a propitiation for our sins.  It was another for a priest in Jesus’ day to lay hold of a soft white lamb and slit its throat…For Jesus, it began the night he was born.  The first to come and kneel at His manger were shepherds.  He arrived in the season when lambs were being born – that’s why the shepherds were in the field all night.  The worshiping shepherds saw a baby boy a sweetly sleeping, but they never expected that the lamb who was born that night as a baby was the Lamb of God.  Thirty years later, John the Baptist was standing up to his waist in the Jordan when he saw Jesus approaching.  ‘Look!’ he exclaimed, ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’  With those words ringing through the air, Jesus began three years of public ministry…I wonder if one of the last sounds to reach Jesus’ ears during the final hours on the cross was the bleating of lambs.

One thing is for sure: the final sounds Jesus heard on the cross were not comforting.  He did not hear the voices of the crowd shouting “Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”  He did not hear his followers weeping for him, nor did he hear his apostles words of comfort as he hung suspended between heaven and earth, for they’d all (save one) cowardly run away.  And so, perhaps, with the Passover being observed in the city just across the valley, perhaps the sound of lambs was indeed the last sounds he heard. 

I hope that we will hear the sounds of the Lamb that was sacrificed.  And that we won’t just hear it, but we will take it to heart.  It was my fault that Jesus was on the cross – and it was yours.  The next time He needs us, I hope He will hear us.  He is our Passover Lamb and because of Him, the death angel has passed us over and we live in a new life.

May your Resurrection celebration be a special one.  Listen for the Lamb!

PRAYER: Great Lamb of God, have mercy on us sinners! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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