DayBreaks for 2/20/20 – The Other Side, Part 1

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DayBreaks for 2/20/20: The Other Side – Part 1

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2010:

After preaching in Galilee, Jesus told his disciples he wanted them all to go to the “other side”.  We read that as simply referring to the other side of the lake, and at one level, that is true.  But it was also a technical term that describes the area of the Decapolis – a heathen, pagan, non-God honoring region populated by the 7 tribes that God had driven out of Israel when the Hebrews took the Promised Land.  It would be like saying, “I’m going over to the Dark Side” in Star Wars terminology – to a place where evil and pride and badness rules, led by Darth Vader and the evil Emperor.  The disciples knew well what it meant. 

As they cross the lake, a storm comes up – a bad one.  What made it worse for the disciples is that the people of the Decapolis worshipped a pagan god that they believed ruled over the weather and the sea.  It’s a bad omen – to those who believe in such things.  Jesus, however, is fast asleep.  When awakened, he calms the storm and they land near Bethsaida in the Decapolis.  Their greeting party is huge, consisting of one man and an entire legion of demons that possess him.  Other than that, they were apparently alone. 

This poor man had been cast out by his people because of his possession.  Jesus heals the man and sends the evil spirits into a swine of 2000 pigs who commit mass suicide by running over a cliff into the water.  (By the say, the pig was part of their pagan worship, too!)  When the townsfolk hear about these going’s on, they ask Jesus and his disciples to get back in the boat they came in on and go back to the “other side” (isn’t it interesting how both sides think the “other side” is whatever side they’re not on?)  When Jesus humbly turns to get back into the boat, the Man Formerly Known As Legion begs to follow Jesus as his disciple.  To my knowledge, this is the only time in Scripture where Jesus tells someone, “No.”  Always, it’s been Jesus extending the invitation: “Come!  Follow me!”, but not now.  Though the man begs, Jesus stands steadfast: No.  You must go tell your story to your people.  Go. 

A couple of chapters later (Mark 8), Jesus returns again with his disciples to “the other side.”  Only this time, a great crowd is present.  Why?  Apparently because one man, formerly possessed, went and told his people what Jesus had done for him and what mercy he had received from the Christ.  All because, it appears, of one man telling his story. 

Couldn’t Jesus have been more effective if he’d stayed and preached after casting Legion out?  I don’t know.  All I know is that Jesus, filled with Divine wisdom, knew it wasn’t the best way.  The people of the Decapolis wouldn’t have been ready to hear Jesus if not for the story of Legion.  They knew this man and even though they’d thrust him out of their communities – he was still “one of us” to these Decapolis dwellers.  He didn’t make them suspicious.  Jesus and his disciples may have had the opposite result.

So, we see the power of telling the story of what Jesus has done for us and of the mercy we found at his outstretched hand. 

Who is on “the other side” from you?  Who is it that you alone, of all God’s many peoples, may be able to reach for Jesus? 

Wouldn’t it be great if when Jesus arrives on the shores of Planet Earth this next time he is greeted by you and by a great crowd to whom you’ve told your story and they’ve become his followers, too?

PRAYER: Help us to not think in terms of “our side” or the “other side”, but to focus on telling the story of the love of Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 10/11/19 – Lessons from Legion

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DayBreaks for 10/11/19: Lessons from Legion

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2009:

They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!” Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.

In my opinion, this is one of the more intriguing miracles that Jesus performed.  I have often pictured this encounter taking place in broad daylight, but a close reading of the text would indicate that it was probably not the case.  Jesus and his disciples had left the other side of the Sea of Galilee late in the evening, encountered a storm, and had finally made it to the other shore.  Chances are it was dark – the time when ancients believed demons were especially active.  They also believed demons frequented dirty, filthy places – graveyards, especially.  It seems as if they had just reached shore when this man, who was so strong because of his possession, that he could break metal chains, comes charging out of the graveyard to confront Jesus. 

I won’t go into the details of the story except to make several observations.  It is interesting how the man switches back and forth between singular expressions of speech and plural.  This clearly was a seriously possessed man – and a very confused one, too.  It is interesting that the demons were fearful that Jesus would torture them.  This probably refers to him sending them back to the pit of hell.  What a contrast to the rather comical view of hell that is often presented by many today that would have us believe that the demons shriek with laughter in hell over the plight of the damned.  Such is not the case – it is a place of torture, not just for the condemned, but for the demons, too.  They want no part of it.  How foolish of those who reject God because they think that they’ll be happier with their friends in hell – picturing it as an eternal beer-bust party!

But here’s what really has me thinking about this passage: having stood in the place where this transpired, I’d never tried before to put myself in the place of the possessed man.  No, I am not possessed by demons that cause me to break chains or wander unclothed, yelling and cutting myself with rocks.  But, are we not all possessed at some level by demons that haunt us – be they ghosts of past failings or the present specters of temptation?  I know within myself rage temptations that would want to have nothing to do with Jesus.  And sometimes, I feel as if I’m losing the battle – as this poor man must have felt from time to time.  I need to understand that it isn’t just those foaming at the mouth or who are derelict that need what Jesus has to offer – I, too, am in desperate need.

Here’s what really scares me and bothers me: just as this man didn’t want his demons sent too far away, I have to ask, “Do I want my temptations sent so far away that I can’t recall them and invite them back into my heart when I want them?”  I fear that I can’t always answer in the affirmative to that question.  There is a part of me that longs for that very thing – and another part that longs for the status quo, temptations and all.  And that dichotomy haunt me.

The good news is that the demoniac, once his demons were gone, sat quietly and “in his right mind” at the feet of Jesus.  When I am in my right mind, I will do the same.

PRAYER: Free us, Lord, from the demons of temptation that haunt and pursue us, and for our love of sin that causes us to hold tightly to our temptations when we should be casting them away.  Have mercy on us and clothe us in our right minds that we might sit at Your feet!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/15/16 – Don’t Surrender to Hopelessness

DayBreaks for 6/15/16 – Don’t Surrender to Hopelessness

Tragically, this past weekend we were witness to a horrific slaughter in the city of Orlando, FL. This wasn’t the first time such an attack took place, nor is it likely, sadly, to be the last. It isn’t encouraging, is it?

In a way it reminds me of the story found in the gospel of Mark 5:8-10: For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!” Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”  “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.

Try for just a moment to put yourself in the place of the Gerasene demoniac (the man with all the demons inside him). How many demons had hold of this man? We don’t know for sure, but the name, Legion, was based on the size of a Roman legion which was 6000 persons strong. We are not told how long this man had suffered. We don’t know all that he suffered, except that day and night he cried out and cut himself with stones. Luke tells us that the man ran around naked and that he didn’t live in a house…but in the tombs (which would be horrible as there was no embalming and the sights and smells would be terrible). His plight was truly horrendous – talk about a horrible life – this man was the living definition of someone with a hopeless life! At least, that is, until Jesus appeared.

So what does the story of the Gerasene demoniac have to say to us today, if anything? I think it has a lot to say to us! To the person or church which battles the demons of social evil, the message is there is hope in Jesus. To individuals for whom there is an everyday battle ongoing with the demon of depression, the message is there is hope in Jesus. To those who battle the demon of fear, the message is there is hope in Jesus. Those who fight the demon of addiction, the message is there is hope in Jesus. And to those who have so many battles going on against so many demons that their name is LEGION, the message is there is hope in Jesus.

If your life seems hopeless and horrible to you, let Jesus give you hope. He cast a legion of demons out of this man – He can make you, and our world, well again, too.

PRAYER: Jesus, we need your power and hope turned loose in our lives and our world today! Come in your great power bringing hope and healing! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/28/15 – Jesus, Demons and God’s Design for Us

DayBreaks for 01/28/15 – Jesus, Demons and God’s Design for Us

In Mark 5, Jesus encounters Legion – and the man that was possessed by Legion.  Interestingly, that man with the unclean spirit (or at least Legion!) understood who Jesus was better than anyone else Jesus had encountered in the gospel up until that point in time. This poor man was on the very margins of society and perhaps even beyond the margins of sanity, but make no mistake – he knows exactly who Jesus is. Even the disciples don’t figure it out until Mark 8, when Peter says, “You are the messiah, the one sent by God.” This man of unclean spirit is way ahead of everyone, and he wants to know, in essence, “What are you going to do with people like me? Are you going to destroy us?”

“Be silent and come out of him!” Jesus commands. And then the man convulses and cries out loudly and the unclean spirit leaves him. I’ve had some interesting discussions about spirits with other Christians, and while I may not fully understand what an unclean spirit is, it is clear that Jesus believed in them – and I am impressed with Jesus’ power over them! Mark’s gospel still hasn’t told us a thing about what Jesus taught, but he has showed us that Jesus had a power over things that people label as unclean.

I believe Mark is making this point: that God’s will and purpose as present in Jesus is engaging and fighting against all the purposes of evil that exist among humanity. This battle is not fought just at the highest levels of government or industry, but right in the middle of common folk like us. The battle of good versus evil, right versus wrong, life versus death even happens amidst the people who are gathered for worship.

Christ came to shatter all the domineering designs and forces that shackle people to lower standards for life than God intends for us. Christ has come to free us not just from real demons like Legion, but also from demons like prejudice and pride, greed and guile.

Christ is among us, whenever we gather in church, to demonstrate a power among us. If we devote ourselves to anything less than a divinely directed destiny, we have missed the goal of faith.

PRAYER: Help us to see, understand and grasp by faith all that You intend for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

NOTE: Galen is a missionary with Medical Ambassadors International (MAI) and must raise his own support.  DayBreaks is free – but if you wish to help support his mission work, you may donate (one-time or recurring) by going to this link, then scroll down until you see SUPPORT MISSIONARIES section.  Below that header, on the left, scroll and then find and click on “Galen Dalrymple” and you’ll be taken to where you can make your donation.  If you prefer to donate via check, you may do so by writing your check payable to Medical Ambassadors International and put S090 in the “memo” field. Mail the check to Medical Ambassadors International, P.O. Box 1302, Salida, CA 95368.  MAI is a 501.c.3 organizations so all donations are tax deductible and Medical Ambassadors takes NO administrative fees of any kind out of your donations! Your support would be deeply appreciated!

DayBreaks for 06/19/13 – Rooting Out Evil

DayBreaks for 06/19/13 – Rooting Out Evil

Jesus_Casts_Out_a_Legion_of_Demons_ezrMatthew 8:30-32 (KJV) – And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.  And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.

It is interesting that in the English language the word evil is “live” spelled backwards. Truthfully, evil always destroys. Life is diminished if not obliterated where the demons rule. The death of the pigs recorded in Mark shows that. And, in the Ancient Near East, the sea represented one of the forces of chaos that people feared the most, especially among the Israelites. So it’s a double-threat: first there is death but to compound the matter there is death by drowning in the sea, thus increasing the sense of chaos and evil in this story.

The sad spectacle of those hapless pigs rushing headlong into the sea should serve to remind us that the expelling of evil from our world always involves sacrifice. Whatever His reasons, God does not simply wave a magic wand to eliminate evil. Rooting out evil takes time, takes effort, and takes above all sacrifice. This should hardly people who live their lives in the shadow of a cross.

One final point, however: Jesus was chased away by the townsfolk but the healed man remained and according to verse 39, he kept on talking about what Jesus had done. Something about his witness reminds us that this is also our role: lots of people in this world try to chase Jesus away. Our task is to hang around and just keep talking, just keep witnessing to Jesus’ work, and just keep hoping and praying that at the end of the day, that witness will bring people back to the very Jesus they once chased away. “Return home and tell how much God has done for you,” Jesus told this man.

He tells the rest of us the exact same thing.

PRAYER:  If we had our choice, Father, we would have You wave a magic wand and eliminate all evil now.  We’d rather not have to think about the sacrifice part of what it means to rid our corner of the world of evil.  And we’d rather not have to evangelize.  Change our hearts, give us courage to live engaged in the battle daily.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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