DayBreaks for 12/18/18 – The Priest’s Sacrifice #1

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DayBreaks for 12/18/18: The Priest’s Sacrifice, #1

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

While Christians do not make sacrifices for sin (we believe that Jesus’ blood was the all-sufficient sacrifice for all time for all persons), that doesn’t mean we are exempt from making sacrifice. As pointed out yesterday, we are as believers, priests and priestesses. And what is the role of a priest? It was to do at least three things:

  1. To represent God to man;
  2. To represent man to God;
  3. To offer sacrifices.

So, what sacrifices are we to make as believers today? First let me suggest this one: we are to offer our lives as living sacrifices pleasing to God, which, by the way, is only reasonable. (Romans 12:1)

The privilege we have been given by the indwelling of the Spirit is that we have obtained moral ability. When we were dead in our sin, we had no other option. But being made alive, we now have the choice, the ability, to sacrifice the life of the flesh for a life lived in the Spirit, to choose obedience instead of to sin. Do we do it perfectly? Far from it. So if that is our privilege, what is our responsibility? To surrender our nature to be controlled by the Spirit.

Each day this week, let me ask you as priests and priestesses, what will you do this week to offer your life as a living sacrifice? You have the ability to choose obedience. What will you surrender? When?

Think today Jesus’ example of offering himself as a sacrifice – giving his life as a living sacrifice (that started with the incarnation and culminates in a resurrected eternal life in glory where his scars are still visible). How does his sacrifice as our great High Priest inform our understanding of our roles as priests and priestesses?

PRAYER: Father, as long as we dwell in the flesh, we will struggle to surrender our lives as offerings to you. Let us choose what is pleasing to you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 9/12/17 – Take This Poor Indian, Too!

DayBreaks for 9/12/17: Take This Poor Indian, Too

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

When you go to the grocery store (or sporting goods store!) the next time, if you buy something, you have to give something in exchange to get it.  It may be currency that you hand over, it may be a debit or credit card – but one way or another, in order to get what you want, you have to give up something.  It is at that moment that you make a decision about the value of what you want.  Is it worth $10?  $20?  Are you willing to part with the price that is demanded to get what you want? 

We’re used to having to pay for things.  In fact, most of us who are Baby Boomers grew up really struggling to receive anything as a gift.  There’s a pride in us that blocks our being able to be gracious recipients of anything that we haven’t had to pay for.  We often talk about having to “swallow our pride” in order to take a handout.  Sad, but true, I fear. 

And so it is that when it comes to Christianity, perhaps this is the biggest stumbling block of all.  We want to pay for our salvation.  We just can’t get it through our heads that we can’t do that.  That salvation has to come to us as a gift, freely given, to be freely received. 

An incident is related of a missionary who came into contact with a proud and powerful Indian chief.  The chief, trembling under conviction of his sin, approached the missionary and offered his belt of wampum as atonement.  “No!” said the missionary, “Christ cannot accept a sacrifice like that.”  The Indian departed, but soon returned offering his valuable rifle and the most beautiful skins he had taken in hunting.  “No!” was the reply, “Christ cannot accept those either.”  Again the Indian went away, only to return with a conscience more troubled than ever.  This time he offered his wigwam, together with his wife and child—everything for peace and pardon.  “No,” was the reply even to this, “Christ cannot accept such a sacrifice.”  At this the chief seemed utterly oppressed; but suddenly he somehow sensed the deficiency, for, lifting up tearful eyes, he cried out, “Here, Lord, take this poor Indian too!”

The chief in the story had to weigh values and what he was willing to part with.  He began with a simple wampum belt, escalated to a rifle and skins, only to be rebuffed.  At the next encounter, the chief thought he was giving all he had – his home, wife and child – truly a costly thing.  But even that wasn’t enough.  What God wanted was the man himself.  And when the chief finally understood that all God wanted was “him”, salvation came to that man. 

We’re often willing to part with things that aren’t all that important to us.  Thank goodness God didn’t feel that way.

PRAYER:  I fear, Lord, that I’m not very generous when it comes to giving up my own life and ways.  We’ve grown comfortable in our skins.  We’re willing to pay some price, but often we’re not willing to pay the full price to follow you.  I thank you that salvation cannot be earned, for our striving would become cause for pride.  Help us to open our hands to receive the gift of your life, and in gratitude to give you the gift of ours.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/25/15 – Living the Cross LIfe

DayBreaks for 11/25/15: Living the Cross Life

Mark 8:34 – If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.   

What picture comes to you mind when you think of carrying your cross and following Jesus?  I usually think of the pathway up the hill to Calvary.  My mind goes immediately to the concept of carrying my cross to a martyrdom.  It’s probably only natural that it should seem that way, since the cross was a sign of death – much like a gallows or a guillotine would be in our age. 

But we should also contemplate that Christ not only died a cross-death, but he lived a cross-life.  If the cross is considered as a symbol of sacrifice, Christ most surely lived a cross-life, a life of sacrifice from before He came to earth until He returned to heaven.  He came not to be served to but serve all humanity.  Perhaps never did he demonstrate the cross-life more than when he took the towel and basin to the feet of his disciples.  Do you think for a single moment that Jesus couldn’t have called down ten million angels to free him from the grips of the guards who arrested him and led him to trial?  But he didn’t.  Why?  Because he was as committed to living the cross-life as well as enduring the cross-death.

When you look at the passage in Mark closely, it’s clear that Jesus isn’t really talking about denying ourselves in martyrdom.  That could be part of it, of course, but the invitation is to “follow him.”  Dead people can’t follow – only living people can follow him.  What he calls us to is to live the cross-life as he did. 

How are you going to emulate the cross-life of Christ today?

Copyright 2005 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

TODAY’S PRAYER: Father, today many things are going to seek our attention.  Most of those things, Lord, will not help us focus on you.  Lord, while we pray for the faith to die for the testimony of Christ, give us the courage this day and every day to live for Him!   In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 10/21/11 – Why It Takes a Lifetime

DayBreaks for 10/21/11 – Why It Takes A Lifetime

There's a reason it requires a living sacrifice...

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Romans 12:1

In a recent interview that one of my sons had with Richard Foster (and which was posted on Patheos.com), the subject matter was developing the discipline necessary to live an abundant Christian life.  There isn’t a Christian that doesn’t want to have an “abundant life”, though there may be huge differences of opinion about what that means depending on whether you’re a proponent of the prosperity gospel or not!  I, for one, don’t think God cares nearly as much about our material prosperity as he does our spiritual prosperity – and that’s the kind of abundant life we should be seeking.  Yet, I fear that far too few of us are living with the kind of spiritual discipline to really grasp that abundant living.  Here’s what Foster had to say:

“You say it’s not hard — and yet people do find it difficult. Why would people find it hard to enter into contemplative prayer in the midst of the busyness of modern life?

“It’s difficult in the sense that we have to make ten thousand choices as we move along, a few hundred each day, probably. Do we say yes to the Good and the True and Beautiful? Do we say yes to what is life-giving and no to what is death-giving? There will always be those decisions.

“Consider that passage from Paul, “I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you submit your body as a living sacrifice.” But the problem with living sacrifices is that they’re always trying to crawl off the altar. That’s why they take a lifetime to be offered, and they have to be offered again and again. C.S. Lewis wrote that we make these decisions constantly, either moving us toward life or moving us toward death. And a lot of time we make conflicting decisions.”

Why does it take a lifetime to become mature in our faith?  Why can’t it happen overnight?  I suppose that on very rare occasions it may happen quickly, but usually it takes decades.  I think Foster nailed it when talking about living sacrifices and how “they take a lifetime to be offered, and they have to be offered again and again.”

We want it to be a one-time offering.  We don’t want to crawl back onto the altar of self-sacrifice and discipline over and over again.  But that is the price for mature Christianity and for victorious living in Christ!

PRAYER: Lord, rather than crawling onto the altar, we want to crawl off of it.  We want maturity without cost and pain.  Help us to realize that we can only grow in You as we die to ourselves…and as we stay on the altar as living, and dying, sacrifices to You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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