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 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.

DayBreaks for 4/14/17 – He Was Never More Immanuel

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DayBreaks for 4/14/17: He Was Never More Immanuel

As we participated in a Maundy Thursday service last night, I was struck once again with the pathos of this week. Talk about a roller coaster of emotions!

But even more, as I thought about the entire life of Jesus, I couldn’t help but be drawn to contemplate his experience. The Eternal One from glory, becoming a human babe, laid in a manger and helpless. The very one who spoke the universe into existence couldn’t utter a single word – just a noisy cry. Yet even in that stage of his life, he was Immanuel – God with us. We just couldn’t recognize him.

As he grew he was like any precocious kid, I imagine, never sinning, but I can imagine he was as full of mischief as any other boy of his age. Yet even in that stage of his life, he was Immanuel – God with us. We just couldn’t recognize him.

As he began his ministry, people began to notice that there was something about him that was different: the way he taught was unlike anything they’d ever heard before. The way he healed, the way he loved even the most outcast of people. And they began to wonder if this was Immanuel – God with us. But there were only a few who recognized him.

And then comes Holy Week. From raucous cheers and disciples high with hope that this would be the time when he took the throne of David and overthrew the crushing Roman rule, to feasts with friends, eating food and drinking like any man. And they hoped this was Immanuel – God with us. At least for a few days.

Then comes good Friday. They no longer wanted Immanuel, and when they saw him arrested, beaten within inches of his very life, marched to Calvary where the nails would pierce his hands and feet – he didn’t look at all like Immanuel.

I think, however, that there was never a time where he was MORE Immanuel than on Good Friday. Everyone can identify with a jovial, joke cracking, eating and drinking human – that’s easy. Jesus apparently loved feasts and a good meal and a little wine. He loved parties. And he identified with us in that sort of joy. But the ultimate identification with mankind was when he died like one of us. He didn’t look at all like Immanuel then, but can there be any disagreement that it was when he drew his last breath that he most fully was Immanuel – identifying himself with us in the event we all fear the most?

The lifeless body hung on the cross for some time, bruised, bloodied, exposed and so very much alone. Yet even in death, perhaps more so than ever, he was Immanuel. No one recognized him as Immanuel, not then. But it didn’t change the facts of the matter one iota. The proof would be forthcoming.

As much as we speak and sing of Immanuel at his birth, it was at his death that he was most like us, that he was unlike every before, Immanuel, experiencing even that sting so that he could identify with all we must deal with on this mortal coil. Glory be to God for his great love.

PRAYER: Oh, Jesus! My heart breaks for what you experienced on this day – for me and those I love and those I don’t even know. I’m so sorry. Thank you for this ultimate identification of Immanuel. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/14/17 – Ho-Hum, It’s Easter Week

DayBreaks for 4/14/17: Ho-Hum, It’s Easter Week

From the Holy Week devotional guide from our church:

“On occasion, I will record a sporting event of a team I’m cheering for. If they win the contest, then I can watch and enjoy, even when it seems the other team is winning or making ground. I can relax because I know the outcome. Now, I must say that as much as I like being able to relax while I watch it, it’s just not as exhilarating when my team wins.

“For me, Easter can sometimes be like that. I know the outcome of what happens, but honestly it can be sort of ho-hum. At times, there’s not much joy or exhilaration for me, even though it certainly is the most important day of the year for Christians. I believe I lack an appreciation of what it took to get there.

“At that time when our Lord was crucified, the disciples didn’t know what would happen a few days later. They had been told but maybe they were in such shock or it didn’t register. That day was a horrific day for our Lord and it was certainly quite difficult for His disciples. It truly was a dark day. Then, Sunday came. Can you imagine the joy; even the exhilaration when they saw their Lord had risen? Just think of the emotional swing they must have gone through.

“For us, our exhilaration may not necessarily come from knowing Jesus rose from the dead, but may come from knowing why He rose from the dead. Our exhilaration may come from knowing that day (we remember it as Good Friday) is when our Lord suffered and died for our sins, and ironically our exhilaration eventually starts from seeing our darkness, as those who are no different than those who mocked Him, spat upon Him, and rejected Him as King. Our darkness is our sin and our penalty He takes upon himself, by dying on the cross. John Stott, pastor and theologian, said ‘Until you see the cross as that which is done by you, you will never appreciate that it is done for you.’ Yes, it is our pride, our greed, our lust, our anger, our hate and our many other sins that put Him there.

“On this Good Friday, ask God to help you see what you did to put our Lord on the cross and then thank Him. He paid the penalty you deserved. Reflect on it. Meditate on it.

“My prayer for you and me is that this Sunday will truly not be so ho-hum. May there be joy! May there be exhilaration! There can be. He died for you!” – Bob Carter, staff chaplain, Perimeter church

PRAYER: Lord, I acknowledge that I am responsible for Your death on the cross. Lord, I accept that your death on the cross was for me. Thank you for paying a penalty I could never pay. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.