DayBreaks for 4/04/19 – The Hidden Victory

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DayBreaks for 4/04/19: The Hidden Victory

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2009:

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. – Colossians 2:15 (NIV)

God has always had a strange way of winning.  Sometimes His victories are more spectacular than you can imagine: the great flood as a judgment on sin, crossing the Red Sea and the Jordan, the victory at Jericho, the shepherd boy with the slingshot, Gideon’s brave 300, Samson’s bringing down the roof.  All of these things must have been very spectacular to witness.  How I do hope God has instant replay in heaven so we can see them!

Sometimes, however, God’s victories don’t look so much like victory as like defeat.  In 1939, a young pastor, Helmut Thielicke, took his first pastorate in a church in Germany.  Thielicke was young and full of vigor, and he arrived with full confidence in Jesus’ words, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”  Thielicke told himself that Hitler was just a paper tiger, soon to be consumed by his own arrogance and greed and pomposity. 

After Thielicke arrived, he called for a Bible study.  A whopping three people showed up – two ladies who were so old that they looked like they were made of brittle parchment that could be destroyed by a tiny gust of wind, and an equally old man who had played the church organ, but who was now so old that his hands hardly worked at all.  They sat in a small group inside the church, studying the Word, while all the time they could hear the sounds of the jackboots of Hitler’s Youth Corps hammering on the streets as they marched and drilled. 

Thielicke’s confidence shattered.  Hadn’t Jesus said “ALL authority?”  What about the raging authority that Hitler wielded like a club against his opposition? 

In time, Thielicke came to understand what I hope most of us eventually come to realize: either Jesus’ words had a meaning far deeper than we have yet to grasp, or else his words were a blatant exaggeration…perhaps nothing more than the boastful bleatings of madman.  Was Jesus just a Lamb masquerading as a Lion for the sake of His disciples?

Hitler is gone – fallen in shame and disgrace.  Jesus is still on the throne.  When the last king or queen, the last President, the last dictator and prime minister has passed into the pages of history, Jesus will go on, reigning and ruling in majesty and glory such that the world has never seen.  When the last enemy, Death, has been obliterated forever, Jesus will go on.  When tears are forever banned, Jesus will rule.  When ten trillion years have passed in eternity, the celebration of His reign will only be beginning and it will never stop. 

You see, the Lion is the Lamb, and the Lamb is the Lion.  In any case, the victory that was hidden in the death on the cross will sway all of eternity.

Prayer: Hallelujah, Lord Jesus, for You reign now in glory above and You welcome us to the great celebration of victory!  May we proclaim the victory of the Lion Lamb throughout all our days on earth and in heaven above!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

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DayBreaks for 04/30/15 – Choosing Hiddenness

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DayBreaks for 4/30/15: Choosing Hiddenness

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

John 3:18-21 – There is no judgment awaiting those who trust him. But those who do not trust him have already been judged for not believing in the only Son of God.  19 Their judgment is based on this fact: The light from heaven came into the world, but they loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.  20 They hate the light because they want to sin in the darkness. They stay away from the light for fear their sins will be exposed and they will be punished.  21 But those who do what is right come to the light gladly, so everyone can see that they are doing what God wants.

In his book, God Is Closer Than You Think, John Ortberg relayed a story told by Dallas Willard about a little two-and-one-half year old girl named Larissa who discovered how to make mud pies in her back yard (in typical childhood fashion, she called it “warm chocolate.”)  Her grandmother was with her, but had been reading and didn’t notice that the little girl was literally covered in mud.  After cleaning up the mess, grandma instructed the little girl to made no more warm chocolate.  She even turned her chair around so that she could keep an eye on the little one.  It didn’t matter to the little girl, who simply said: “Don’t look at me, Nana.  Okay?”  Ortberg continued: “Nana (being a little codependent) of course agreed.  Larissa continued to manufacture warm chocolate.  Three times she said, as she continued her work, ‘Don’t look at me, Nana.  Okay?”  Willard writes, “Thus the tender soul of a little child shows us how necessary it is to us that we be unobserved in our wrong.”  Any time we chose to do wrong or to withhold doing right, we choose hiddenness as well.  It may be that out of all the prayers that are ever spoken, the most common one – the quietest one, the one that we least acknowledge making – is simply this: Don’t look at me, God.”

John says that this tendency to wish, even ask, that God not look at us is a sure indication that we are involved in sin.  Isn’t it silly how we try to convince ourselves that we can hide what we do from His eyes?  Yet we all do it, have done it, and will almost certainly do it again. 

It is quite a different story when we do what is right.  When we do something good, we’re all hoping that God is watching and that He hasn’t missed a moment of the good things we’ve been doing.  We want Him to see us then.  Just as we tried to hide from our folks when we were misbehaving as small children, we continue to repeat the pattern. 

It’s a tragic thing when we ask God to not look at us.  But there is one thing that is even worse.  It was experienced by Samson, one of the judges of Israel.  He had great opportunity and blessing by God, but his impulses got the better of him over and over again, and he broke the vows he’d made to God.  Near the end of Samson’s life is a terrifying statement: “But he did not know that the Lord had left him.”  Here’s what’s so frightening: the Lord had been with Samson on many occasions, but Samson had gotten so far away from God by pretending that God couldn’t see him, that the time came when Samson didn’t recognize that God had indeed left him.

What is your modus operandi?  So you spend more time hiding from the light of God, or running to the light so that your works, words and attitudes can be seen?

PRAYER: Give us confidence in Your character so we will never fear running to the Light! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 12/26/14 – We Can Barely Endure Candle Light

DayBreaks for 12/26/14 – We Can Barely Endure Candle Light

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From the DayBreaks archive, 2004: 

The great scientist, Sir Isaac Newton, once did something that was very dangerous and foolish.  As an experiment, he started at the image of the reflected sun in a mirror.  The rays, as you might imagine, burned his retinas and he suffered temporary blindness as a result of the experiment.  Even after hiding for 3 days behind closed shutters, the bright spot still wouldn’t fade from his vision.  “I used all means to divert my imagination from the sun but if I thought upon him I presently saw his picture though I was in the dark.”  He was lucky that he wasn’t blinded for life. 

But, as Philip Yancey notes in Disappointment With God, There is a parable in Isaac Newton’s experiment, and it helps illustrate what the Israelites ultimately learned from the wilderness wanderings.  They had attempted to live with the Lord of the Universe visibly present in their midst; but, in the end, out of all the thousands who had so gladly fled Egypt, only two survived God’s Presence.  If you can barely endure candlelight, how can you gaze at the sun? 

The prophet well described our dilemma so long ago in Isaiah 33:14a (NIV) –“The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: “Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire?  How many times have we each longed for some special manifestation of God’s Presence?  Or even just that we could “feel” His Presence in those dark and lonely hours?  I think that every human being has had those feelings at some time or another, no matter how godly the woman or man.  Yet, we are all sinners in Zion and we may do well to learn from Israel.  I doubt that we could stand the Presence of God in all His glorious brightness.  As Yancey suggests, Is it possible that we should be grateful for God’s hiddenness, rather than disappointed? 

The next time you are disappointed that God’s Presence seems to be in hiding, remember Isaiah’s words, His greatness and our utter frailty.  Perhaps the verse in Isaiah gives us the best explanation of why it was necessary for Jesus to become human to live among us – we couldn’t have withstood the brightness of the unveiled presence of God Almighty! 

PRAYER: For your mercies we thank you, for a glimpse of you in glory, we long…and for now, we thank you for your veiled Presence! In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

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