DayBreaks for 8/25/20 – Barabbas and Humanity

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We only encounter Barabbas in the story of the crucifixion – other than that he’s an enigma. From what little is said about him (Mark 15:7, Luke 23:19) it appears he was a robber and also a murderer – perhaps in an insurrection as he was being put to death by the Romans. He was not a good man if there be such a thing.

Yet, one morning, perhaps on the very day he was to be executed, the jailer shows up keys in hand and unlocks his cell and says, “You’re free to go.” I would imagine Barabbas was shocked. There certainly doesn’t seem to have been any “Why? I am about to get what I deserve. Thanks, but no thanks!”

I think there’s a valuable contrast here between Barabbas and the rest of us humans. He is a representative of a prisoner who was freed because someone else took his place.

How did Barabbas deal with his unexpected, but welcome, freedom? We don’t know. We don’t know if he changed his ways or not. What we do know is that he accepted the words of the jailer and skedaddled out of the prison complex. Someone has given him a get out of jail free card and he grabbed it with a tight fist and took off. He accepted the gift.

That’s where the contrast comes into play. We, too, were offered a gift of life and pardon but we spend our time trying to earn it or to pay for it through some self-denial or other heroic action rather than just saying, “Thank you!” and grabbing it like the lifeline it is.

I like what Max Lucado said, “…one of the hardest things to do is to be saved by grace. There’s something in us that reacts to God’s free gift. We have some weird compulsion to create laws, systems, and regulations that will make us “worthy” of our gift.

“Why do we do that? The only reason I can figure is pride. To accept grace means to accept it’s necessity, and most folks don’t like to do that. To accept grace also means that one realizes his despair, and most people aren’t too keen on doing that either.”No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, Max Lucado.

I don’t know about you (well, that’s not true – I DO know about you because you’re human like me) but I need that same Get Out of Jail Free card and I will grab it with both hands. I never thought I’d say this, but I want to be like Barabbas in that regard. I’ve tried the rules and systems and self-recrimination and found that they just don’t work. They drove me in desperation to the doctrine of grace and it set me free.

Be like Barabbas – accept the gift – and you’ll have freedom!

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for standing in for us and giving  us a way out of our desperation and death. Thank you for your grace that gives us a freedom most precious! In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/28/20 – The Flight to Imprisonment

Advocates Say Timing Is Right For Independent Oversight Of Texas ...

DayBreaks for 5/28/20: The Flight to Imprisonment

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2010:

The Associated Press recently had a story about an incident in Cleveland, Ohio.  A man driving a car broke a traffic law and the police set off in pursuit to give him a ticket.  Instead of pulling over, the man did his best to escape (never a smart idea when the police are after you!)  After a chase through several communities that reaching speeds of over 90 miles per hour, he realized he wasn’t having success outrunning the police, so he decided to abandon his car and take his chances on foot.  He took off running, with officers again running after him.  The man found himself confronted with a large fence, which he scaled and came down on the other side, thinking that perhaps now he’d be safe from the pursuing officers.  Imagine his dismay when he looked around and realized that the fence he’d scaled was the outer fence of the state women’s prison!  He was arrested.

I love stories like this because I like a good laugh.  But most stories have a moral to them if we look, and this one contains a deeper spiritual truth if we take a few moments to think about it.  It is often the knowledge of our own wrongdoing that makes us prone to run and this is never more true than when we sense that someone is authority is about to find out about what we’ve done, whether it is police, the boss, the pastor, teachers, etc.  And so we take flight.  We think we can flee the thing we’ve done, that we can escape the consequences, but often times it is our efforts to gain freedom and escape that leads to the very imprisonment and loss of freedom that we try to find.  Our imprisonment may not be literal, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true imprisonment.  It may be the prison of guilt, of consequences that must be suffered, of self-exile.

That is probably not the worst thing about the imprisonment, however.  For those who have a Christian understanding, the worst tragedy and greater sadness about our running is that the authority that is over us desires to forgive and restore – not to enslave us. 

If we are to run when pursued by God, let us run to Him, not from Him!

PRAYER: Father, we thank You for the Spirit that convicts us of our sin and which helps to keep us honest.  Remind us that it is Your desire to seek and save, not to judge and destroy.  May we have the presence of mind and Spirit that we will run to you and find forgiveness when we sin.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/25/20 – The Baggage of Life

16 secrets only baggage handlers know | loveexploring.com

DayBreaks for 5/25/20: The Baggage of Life

Then Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. He brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its clans, and the clan of the Matrites was taken by lot; and Saul the son of Kish was taken by lot. But when they sought him, he could not be found. So they inquired again of the LORD, “Is there a man still to come?” and the LORD said, “Behold, he has hidden himself among the baggage.” 1 Samuel 10:20-22

What a fascinating passage!  Saul has been chosen to be king over Israel.  Yet, when the time comes to receive his kingship, where is he?  Hiding “among the baggage.”  Hiding in the “stuff” that was around him!  It’s easy to hide in “stuff”, isn’t it?  It might be hiding in the noise of a busy place, hiding among our possessions, even hiding in a crowd at church so that we don’t have to stand up and be counted and take a step of faith.  Saul shrank from it, and I know I’ve pulled back many times when I needed to take a stronger stand. 

The baggage that burdens us can also be guilt, shame, anger, fear or any of a number of emotions.  They can become crippling at times.   And our baggage can keep us from becoming what God wants us to be and prevent us from doing what he wants us to do.

Jesus invited us to take off the burdens that bow our backs and to exchange them for his yoke – a light yoke.  Jesus hasn’t come to give you guilt, despair, shame or fear.  He came to take all those things – and many more – off your shoulders.  He bore all of them on His shoulders for you.  Will you lay them down at his cross and walk away without your baggage?             

PRAYER: Thank you for lifting our burdens off our backs, Lord, and for inviting us to be free from the things that would haunt us ceaselessly!  Once we lay our burdens down at your feet, give us enough faith that we can walk away and leave them behind us forever.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/05/20: The Meek Helper of God

2010 Haiti earthquake | Effects, Damage, Map, & Facts | Britannica

DayBreaks for 5/05/20: The Meek Helper of God

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2010, but very appropriate for this time in our lives and history.

Death has been a frequent visitor in the island nation of Haiti since January 12, 2010.  For the few short moments that the earth shook, and in the days immediately following, nearly 230,000 died.  Nearly everyone I met there had lost a family member or friend in the earthquake.  Because of the poverty of the nation, death has knocked frequently on the door for  every generation.  Death is viewed as our enemy – the Word describes it as the final enemy which will be defeated by the great Lord at the end of time. 

The power of God is perhaps nowhere better demonstrated than in how God can use even this enemy for his purposes.  Thomas Brooks was an English Puritan preacher and author in the 1600’s. Though he’s best known for his many books and theological treatises, we have several of his sermons in print, some of which are funeral sermons. In one funeral sermon, Brooks reminds his listeners that for the believer, death not only ceases to be our conqueror; death actually becomes God’s meek helper. He wrote: “Death is another Moses: it delivers believers out of bondage, and from making bricks in Egypt.” He continued:

“Remember this—death does that in a moment, which no graces, no duties, nor any ordinances could do for a man all his lifetime! Death frees a [person] from those diseases, corruptions, temptations … that no duties, nor graces, nor ordinances could do …. Every prayer then [when we die] shall have its answer; all hungering and thirsting shall be filled and satisfied; every sigh, groan, and tear that has fallen from the saints’ eyes shall then be recompensed. That is not death but life, which joins the dying man to Christ!”

Even the most powerful, and final, of our enemies, can be made to kneel before the Lord Almighty.  

PRAYER: God, thank you that we can trust You even in the moments of our death!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2010, 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 3/18/20 – The Courage to Choose Freedom

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DayBreaks for 3/18/20: The Courage to Choose Freedom

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2010:

An Arab chief tells a story of a spy who was captured and then sentenced to death by a general in the Persian army. This general had the strange custom of giving condemned criminals a choice between the firing squad and the big, black door. As the moment for execution drew near, the spy was brought to the Persian general, who asked the question, “What will it be: the firing squad or the big, black door?”

The spy hesitated for a long time. It was a difficult decision. He chose the firing squad.

Moments later shots rang out confirming his execution. The general turned to his aide and said, “They always prefer the known way to the unknown. It is characteristic of people to be afraid of the undefined. Yet, we gave him a choice.”

The aide said, “What lies beyond the big door?”

“Freedom,” replied the general. “I’ve known only a few brave enough to take it.”  

It is much easier to remain enslaved than to be free.  One might think it would be the opposite – that anyone in their right mind would choose freedom over slavery.  But when we are enslaved, we don’t have to make choices, we don’t have to make decisions – we are told what to do and we have no choice but to do it. 

Perhaps that’s why so many refuse to choose the freedom that Christ offers.  When we accept the invitation to freedom, we are accepting the responsibility to imitate and live like Jesus.  Do you have the courage necessary?  Once you choose freedom in Christ, however, you are truly free!  The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. – John 8:35-36

PRAYER: For the freedom to choose, we thank You!  For real freedom through Christ, we give you praise!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Link to video with facts, symptoms and prevention tips about coronavirus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AITtaAAAdYc

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 3/13/20 – WHAT is Jesus to You?

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DayBreaks for 3/13/20: What is Jesus to You?

The title of this DayBreaks may seem strange. More often than not we would ask, “Who is Jesus?” In fact, Jesus asked his disciples who people were saying he was, and then he asked who they thought he was and Peter gave his outstanding confession of Jesus as the Son of God.

While it is vitally important to understand who Jesus is, it is also instructive to consider what  he is. The answer may vary from person to person depending on where Jesus has met them in their lives and in their need, but I love the way that Zach Williams puts it in his song, Chain Breaker. Here’s what he has to say in the chorus of the song:

“If you’ve got pain
He’s a pain taker
If you feel lost
He’s a way maker
If you need freedom or saving
He’s a prison-shaking Savior
If you’ve got chains
He’s a chain breaker.”

As with most of us, we scurry about life taking things for granted and we don’t think often enough about what others have done for us. What is Jesus to you? Take a moment now to think about what Jesus is to you and what he has done for you. Has he met you in your pain? Has he found you when you were wandering in a world of sin and despair and led you out? What has he freed your from? Once you’ve thought about it, pause for a while and give him the thanks and praise he deserves for all he’s done for you.

Link to Chain Breaker on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TtqFg4dzyI

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for the pain in my life you’ve taken, the shame and guilt you’ve lifted and how you found me when I was lost. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Link to YouTube video with coronavirus (COVID-19) facts, symptoms and prevention tips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AITtaAAAdYc

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 2/07/20 – Why Don’t We Get Better

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DayBreaks for 2/07/20: Why Don’t We Get Better?

Romans 7:18 – For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right but not the ability to carry it out.

That’s the apostle Paul who said that. Quite a statement coming from him, don’t you think?

Why is it that year after year, decade after decade, most of us struggle with specific sins in our lives? We wrestle them, beg forgiveness and tell God that we’ll try harder to stop sinning in those ways. We weep over them. We may beat our selves as a way to discipline ourselves into obedience. Then, when we finally feel like we’ve achieved a measure of success, well, we blow it again.

I think Steve Brown in A Scandalous Freedom may be on to something when he wrote: “The greatest cause for our not getting better is our obsession with not getting better.” Here’s his reasoning:

“When Paul talks about the abolition of the law in the book of Romans, he gives us a powerful way to get better, because he knew that getting better wasn’t the point. Our relationship with God is the point, and that is the place where we ought to get obsessive. When I am obsessed with being better instead of being consumed with God’s love and grace, I become prideful if I can pull it off and self-centered if I can’t…Holiness hardly ever becomes a reality until we care more about Jesus than about holiness.”

Don’t get Steve wrong – holiness is important and God says we must be holy as he is holy – but where does that holiness come from? From being good? From defeating my sin? No, for we will never be that holy. It comes from receiving Jesus’ holiness as our own through God’s mercy and grace.

If we could become as obsessed about really knowing Jesus’ mercy and grace as we are about our sin problem we will have taken a huge step forward.

PRAYER: Jesus, help us to really know you and not just know about you, and in knowing you understand what it means that we are already clothed in your holiness as we stand before God. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 1/31/20 – Standing Before God

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DayBreaks for 1/31/20: Standing Before God

My faith roots come from a very legalistic background. A common question posed to keep us in fear regarding salvation was, “If you sin and are run over by a truck and killed before you can ask for forgiveness, will you be saved?” The answer they wanted to hear was “No” because it was only fear that could keep us young people in line. We were taught (and this part is true) that God was always watching and we might be able to fool people but never God – and that some day the books would be balanced and we’d find ourselves in the most serious trouble imaginable. And so we cried and literally shook with fear for our sinfulness. 

But flip that argument around: are we any better if God is kind, but also safe and controllable? I think not. If God were kind, safe and controllable we have an entirely different problem: he wouldn’t be God at all.

You see, small gods do small things – because that’s all they can do. I like how Steve Brown put it in A Scandalous Freedom: “If you have never stood before God and felt afraid, then probably you have never stood before God. (Heb. 10:31) You have stood before an idol of your own making. Worse, your life will remain silly and superficial because you worship a silly and superficial God.”

At the same time, Jesus says his yoke is easy and his burden is light. How can he say that? Because as Aquinas said, the cross didn’t secure the love of God, but the love of God secured the cross. All who believe have been adopted. Not only have we been reconciled to that great and mighty and totally holy God by Christ’s sacrifice, but something else happened: we received Jesus’ righteousness – and not just a part of it, but all of it…ALL the goodness of Christ was credited to your account and mine.

What is the practical application of this wondrous truth? Here it is: if you are a Christian, it means that God will never be angry with you again. He has turned his wrath away from you because he credited ALL of Christ’s righteousness to your account. And here it is in a nutshell: how can God be angry at perfection?

It is a truth too good to be true – but it is true. Find freedom because Christ died to give it to you!

PRAYER: God, I can hardly believe you see me as holy and righteous as Christ because you’ve given me his righteousness as my inheritance as your child! No words can ever express enough gratitude for what you’ve done! Thank you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 1/29/20 – Veterinarians and Taxidermists

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DayBreaks for 1/29/20: Veterinarians and Taxidermists

It was during the 2000 Democratic convention that someone commented that there wasn’t much difference between the views of Joe Lieberman and George W. Bush. When he heard that, Lieberman said, “That’s like saying there is no difference between a taxidermist and a veterinarian, because in both cases you get your dog back.”

This DayBreaks isn’t about politics, but about Christians, non-Christians and freedom. There are some Christians who bring light, salt and hope to the dark world while the light of other “Christians” doesn’t shine into the darkness. It is a very, very sad and tragic commentary that the world can’t tell the difference between Christians and non-Christians. The blame for that doesn’t fall on the non-Christian, but squarely on the shoulders of Christians.

Why has our light faded? Perhaps because we’ve taken our freedom in Christ to mean we can do anything we want without repercussions. We think that’s what freedom means – being able to do anything my heart desires. If that’s what we think Christian freedom is then we’re sadly mistaken. As Steve Brown points out in A Scandalous Freedom, the real freedom Christ died to give us compared to the freedom that many Christians experience is like the difference between the vet and the taxidermist: with both you get your dog back but one collects dust while the other jumps, slobbers and barks!

There is something about freedom that scares the church and as a result many continue in bondage and that’s a real shame because Jesus went to so much trouble to really set us free.

The freedom we have been given isn’t to do anything I want without fearing consequences, it’s about being freed from the eternal consequences of my sin and from the fear of death, but even more, it’s about being free to say “no” to the things that would make it hard for my light to shine, to say “yes” to doing God’s will, not my own. If ever there was a free person, it was Jesus – and even he prayed for the Father’s will, not his own.

Are you still enslaved? You may have gotten your “dog” (life) back, but are you just gathering dust?

PRAYER: Lord, awaken us to the fact that we have misused our freedom and misunderstood it. Help us be living beings full of the joy of being freed from our own will and freed to do yours. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 1/27/20 – The Truly Great Emancipator

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DayBreaks for 1/27/20: The Truly Great Emancipator

There is a story, true or not, about Abraham Lincoln and a time he went to a slave market. There he noticed a lovely, young African American woman being auctioned to the highest bidder. He bid on her and won. He could see the fiery anger in the young woman’s eyes and could imagine what she was thinking. Another white man who will buy me, use me, and then discard me.

As Lincoln walked off with is “property”, he turned to the woman and said, “You’re free.”

“Yeah. What does that mean?” she replied.

“It means that you’re free.”

“Does that mean I can say whatever I want to say?”

“Yes,” replied Lincoln, smiling, “it means you can say whatever you want to say.”

“Does it mean,” she asked incredulously, “that I can be whatever I want to be?”

“Yes, you can be whatever you want to be.”

“Does it mean,” the young woman said hesitantly, “that I can go wherever I want to go?”

“Yes, it means you are free and can go wherever you want to go.”

“Then,” said the young woman with tears welling up in her eyes, “I think I shall go with you.”

This is a story of what God has done for us – and what the Christian faith is all about. We’ve been bought with a price. We have a new master, one who, once he paid the price, set us free. Who wouldn’t want to go with such a master?

PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, that when you set us free, we are free indeed forevermore!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>