DayBreaks for 12/21/18 – The Priest’s Sacrifice, #4

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DayBreaks for 12/21/18: The Priest’s Sacrifice, #4

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

Our fourth, and final, sacrifice as Christian priests and priestesses is found in Philippians 4:18 (ESV) – I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.

Paul says that the gifts which were sent to him from the church at Philippi weren’t just gifts, but sacrifices that pleased God.

The privilege we have as believers is that God supplies all our needs. Every good and perfect gift starts with him for our enjoyment, yes, but also to pass through our fingers into the hands of others in need.

The responsibility of such a privilege is that we are empowered by his generosity to meet kingdom needs and human need.

I was struck by the fact that the first gifts given to Jesus at his birth by the magi didn’t really come from the magi, but from the Father who provided it for the magi to bring to the stable. Yet, I believe that the myrrh and frankincense (and gold) the magi were sacrifices that were fragrant offerings that pleased the Father immensely as he stared down at the son in the manger – and also into the hearts of the magi.

God gave the most perfect gift of all time, the most urgently needed gift, in the person of Jesus. If you have the means at all this season, you’ll give gifts to family and friends. Question: what will you give to those who may be your enemies? After all, isn’t that what God did for us with the child in the manger?

PRAYER: Let us give freely, not only to those who are friends and family, but to our enemies and strangers as well. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 1/19/18: The Testimony of Dirk Willems

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DayBreaks for 1/19/18: The Testimony of Dirk Willems

From They Were Strangers blog, by my friend, Ryan McElvey, January 18, 2018:

He heard a loud CRACK, and seconds later the first cry for HELP echoed across the frozen water. Now, a choice had to be made: continue running for his own safety, or run back across the ice of Hondegat pond?

The year was 1569 and Dirk was being held for “rebelling” against the authority of the Dutch government by rejecting his own infant baptism and becoming re-baptized. He was locked in a residential palace prison which was surrounded by a moat and under guard. Dirk had been in prison so long that he had lost weight. He kept tightening his belt, but if a verdict wasn’t reached soon, he would eventually face a death of starvation.

As time wore on in captivity he began planning his escape by taking cloth rags and secretly knotting them together into a rope. Eventually he was able to make his rope long enough to suspend from the window of his prison onto the moat below. Dirk waited until a day when the moat was frozen, and then he lowered himself out of the window and onto its glassy surface. He shuffled across the icy moat away from the palace as quickly and quietly as he could.

But before he was even out of sight of the palace he heard a shout of alarm from the bulwarks. His escape had been discovered. Looking back he soon saw one of the guards running after him. Dirk continued to run, but he felt like his legs couldn’t move fast enough, and he realized that the meager food rations and sedentary life in prison had taken its toll on his body. With the guard gaining on him Dirk set out across the ice of Hondegat pond, hoping to gain some distance by shuffling over its slippery surface.

Then he heard a loud CRACK, and seconds later the first cry for HELP echoed across the frozen water. Now, he was faced with a choice: continue running for his own safety, or run back across the ice of Hondegat pond?

Had the Lord delivered Dirk from his enemy? Had Dirk now gained his freedom because the Lord had allowed the guard to fall through the ice to his death?

-Or-

Was the Lord giving Dirk the chance to love his enemy in radical obedience by going back to save him?

Dirk knew what he had to do. He turned around and went back. There in the icy hole his pursuer was bobbing in the water, crying out and desperately grasping at the air. In full Christ-like imitation Dirk laid down on the ice, stretched out his arms, reaching out to save his enemy.

But upon saving his enemy’s life, Dirk was immediately taken back into custody and held prisoner in a church tower, from which there was no way escape. Only four days after his recapture Dirk Willems was given the death sentence to be burned at the stake. The story goes that the wind was blowing that day, and because he wasn’t inhaling the smoke, it prolonged his death. His screams were heard from a great distance, but unlike the screams of the guard on Hondegat pond, no one came to Dirk’s rescue.

  1. . .  it seems so long ago, and yet the story echoes across history and we can still hear the cries from the broken ice. Do I love my enemy, or do I see his misfortune as “God’s judgement” on him and as an excuse to leave him behind?

Obviously, loving my enemy doesn’t always have the drama that Dirk Willems experienced, but is my spirit the same as his? What about the co-worker who takes advantage of me? The business that didn’t give me the product or service I paid for? The driver who cut me off? The backstabbing brother in Christ? Do I love in all these situations? Doing good in return for his bad, blessing in return for his curse, praying for those who mistreat me, giving freely to those who take from me?

Why did Dirk Willems go back and save his enemy, only to die for his act of mercy? And why should I love those who do me wrong?

Jesus tells me to love my enemies, because Jesus loves His enemies, even enough to die for them. . . to die for me. To Jesus, I am the guard struggling in Hondegat pond, and He reaches out to save me, only to die Himself.

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps. . . When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly.”     (1 Peter 2:21, 23)

PRAYER: Jesus, even though you commanded us to love our enemies, we find it often too much of a challenge to even love our friends as you have loved us. Give us hearts that love as yours does – even for our enemies, that we might be willing to die for them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 10/16/17 – Forgiving Enemies Is Easy

DayBreaks for 10/16/17: Forgiving Enemies Is Easy

One of the things I like best about the New Testament is that it is so practical. It must have been the fact that Jesus had human beings called disciples always with him that forced him to speak in such everyday terms about everyday problems. Sometimes Christians disagree in the congregation of believers. Sometimes they quarrel. Sometimes they hold grudges against each other. The Scripture for today says that we must never tolerate any situation in which there is a breach of personal relationship between us and another member of the Christian community.

In the eighteenth chapter of Matthew, Jesus admits that disciples are going to have conflicts; but they are to resolve them.

It is very true today that the behavior of us church members on this very issue makes Christianity to the outside world either repulsive or attractive.

It isn’t a matter that Christians are perfect and will not have conflicts. There will always be quarrels, differences of opinion on how and who, disappointments with preachers and councils, hurt feelings, bent pride, loss of face, and lots of mistakes. It’s the idea that Christians can resolve these conflicts as no other fellowship can, that Jesus puts before us today.

Comus, a Duke of Florence, had a saying that indicated the limitations of his religion: “You shall read that we are commanded to forgive our enemies, but you never read that we are commanded to forgive our friends.” Isn’t that interesting? I think that sometimes it is harder to forgive our friends than it is our enemies because we expect better treatment from our friends to start with. Enemies we expect to take advantage and betray us, but not our friends. So it is doubly hard to forgive them – including our brothers and sisters in Christ.

We hear a lot from the pulpit talking about how Christians are admonished by Jesus Christ to love their enemies and to pray for their enemies. When in actuality, right there in the pew side by side are Christians who hold grudges, hang on to petty hurts, refuse to forgive and love each other within the fellowship. And when they do this, church and Christianity and the whole practice of religion for them is not the joyful experience it ought to be. They miss a large dimension of belonging to God’s family.

Have you forgiven your friends, your brothers and sisters? I don’t believe that the excuse, “You never said we had to forgive our friends!” will hold water, do you?

PRAYER: Jesus, help us to have the heart that you have shown for all mankind, and be quick and ready to forgive – enemies and friends alike, so we can be like you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 6/24/16 – You Must be Kidding!

DayBreaks for 6/24/16 – You Must be Kidding

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2006:

Jesus said many things during his Incarnation that were provocative and considered scandalous by those who were nearby.  He told stories about the hated Samaritans in which they were the heroes and the Jews were the bad guys.  He forgave sins – a prerogative reserved only for God Himself.  He healed on the day of rest – showing us that God’s compassion doesn’t take days off – and created a scandal.  His teaching about marriage and divorce, hate, lust – all stirred anger, bitterness and resentment.

But perhaps no words of Jesus were more scandalous, nor more hard for us to keep, than these words from Luke 6:35-36 (NLT): Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. 36You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.

As Michael Card put it The Lost Language of Lament: “This is one of Jesus’ most unbelievable and scandalous statements about His Father. Nothing like it had ever been spoken before. The Father is merciful to the ungrateful and the wicked, Jesus says. With these words He opens a door to an understanding of God which He would perfectly demonstrate on the cross. Jesus would die for the ungrateful and the wicked so the Father could show them mercy.”

It seems to us that being kind to our enemies should be enough.  Jesus says, “No.  You must LOVE them.”  One of the greatest qualities about love is that it is forgiving, compassionate, dare we say, merciful?  There have been many times when I wondered why it was that God wanted me to be kind to someone who had hurt me, to love them.  It always seemed as if it did no good.  Sure, I’d cling to the verse about doing good towards them and in doing so, I’d be heaping piles of burning coals on their head (Romans 12:20)!  (Ah, now that’s the kind of motivation that usually moves us – causing pain to someone who has hurt us!!!!)  But other than that, why, Lord?  Why should I love and do good to them other than to cause them guilt, shame and hopefully, remorse?  I think Michael may be on to something: it’s because when we love them and do good to them that we are most easily recognizable as children of the Most High.  And as always, God doesn’t ever ask us to do something that He hasn’t already done – God demonstrated His own love and compassion on the cross through the death of Christ for one reason: so the Father could show them mercy.

God wants us to love our enemies so that God is modeled to them and so that He can show mercy to them.  As always, it’s not about us and what we can or can’t do, it’s about God and what He wants to do through us. 

PRAYER: God, we are not very noble creatures and we are not driven by very noble motives.  The words and commands of Jesus sometimes are shocking to us and we can’t understand how you could ask such things of us.  Help us to realize that it is your heart of love and mercy that brought us to repentance and which longs for all to come to salvation.  Help us to love our enemies so that You can show them Your mercy.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/26/14 – Showing My Enemies

DayBreaks for 9/26/14 – Showing My Enemies

Psalm 23:5 (NKJV) – You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.

When I think of enemies right now, my mind is filled with pictures of ISIL/ISIS followers, a bloody knife in one hand and the head of someone they just beheaded in the other.  It’s an ugly picture, but it is a picture that many are facing right now as ISIS forces have surrounded towns and villages, attacking, looting, raping and killing – all in the name of a god they claim to serve.

And if I can be honest here, the images and videos of the beheadings seem to at least have awakened the sleeping sensitivities of the world against such barbarism.  At least for the time being.  And it makes us cry out for retribution, for some way to show the enemy is wrong.

The Psalmist had many enemies – and many times they were seeking to kill him.  As he wrote what we call verse 5 in the 23rd Psalm, I wonder if he had them in mind – and if he penned this verse as a way of claiming vindication.

Who appears to have the power in northern Iraq and portions of Syria?  It’s ISIS, right? People are running, understandably, for their lives.  But the families who have had members raped and killed and beaten want their faithfulness to God to be shown to be worth something.  And so, enter verse 5.

It will be God Himself and no other, who prepares the table, inviting us as His honored guests, to sit at a feast He has set for us.  The enemies will be there, but they are not invited to sit, to partake.  And because it is God and not some helpless villager in the midst of some desert, the enemy will be absolutely, totally and forever powerless.  They will be on the outside.  God is showing our enemies who really is in the right and who is favored.

Here David is showing that he will be vindicated by God.  But that’s not all: “Vengeance is Mine, I SHALL repay..” is the rest of the bargain that God has forged with us.  As surely as God will spread the table with the choicest of fare, He will as surely exact vengeance for every cut of the knife, every woman violated, every home destroyed and every life injured.

God has a plan for us – a wonderful, marvelous plan!  He also has a plan for His enemies.

PRAYER: Lord, keep us from pride or gloating over the fate of Your enemies.  Help us to pray for Your Spirit of the love of Jesus to sweep like a Mighty Wind through the hearts of those who are so evil and violent that they may, by the same sheer grace that will save us, turn from their evil and sit at the table!  Thank You for the table and festive celebration that awaits us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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