DayBreaks for 3/30/17 – Who Do You Really Want?

DayBreaks for 3/30/17: Who Do You Really Want?

John 18:3-4 So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”

Of course, Jesus knew the answer to the question he asked, but as he always seemed to do, the question was not to gain knowledge for himself, but to cause those who had come to arrest him to consider their actions and what they were doing.  They had the right answer: “Jesus of Nazareth.”  They wanted Jesus, all right, but not for the right reasons.  They didn’t want him as Lord or even as a rabbi.  They wanted him as a captive – a prisoner.

The question is very valid nearly 2000 years later, and it is still Jesus who asks it: “Who is it you want?”

Let’s not be too quick to chime in, as did the soldiers: “Jesus of Nazareth.”  That’s the obvious Christian answer, the expected response that upholds our status as believers.  But do we want Jesus as a captive who we would put in a box and call him forth to perform for us on demand?  Do we want a Jesus of Nazareth that is a construction of our own mind and wishes, or are we willing to accept the Jesus of Nazareth that calls us to carry our cross daily, to die to ourselves, to be poured out for others even as He was poured out? 

I fear that far too many of us, indeed all of us, have distorted visions of Jesus.  American culture has made him a warm, fuzzy creature, a best buddy.  And there is some truth to that, but American culture doesn’t want much, if anything, to do with the other part of Jesus: a Lord that confronts us with demands. 

Who is it that you want?  Why do you want him?  He refuses to be a magic genie or talisman that we can pull out when we want him.  We must surrender to him.  Are we really willing to do that?

PRAYER: Jesus, we often don’t really mean it completely when we say that we want you.  We want you as our Savior, but not necessarily as our Lord.  Help us to learn that your greatest blessings are reserved for those who obey you and submit themselves to you.  Give us submissive hearts that want you just because of who you are in all your fullness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

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DayBreaks for 7/08/14 – The Mystery of Sovereignty

DayBreaks for 7/08/14 – The Mystery of Sovereignty

Exodus 33:19 (NIV) And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

Romans 9:20-21 (NLT) No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?” When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into?

Lord, I do not understand.  Please understand that I’m not complaining here – far from it! – just humbled and mystified.  I am so grateful that You, the Sovereign God of the Universe, chose to spare the life of our son over the weekend.  But I know that there are others who lost loved ones over the weekend…and You didn’t spare them or extend grace and mercy to them (as we perceive it.)  I try wrestle with the “why’s” of it but all I can grasp is air. 

I know, deep inside, that our son was not one bit more deserving of Your mercy and grace than anyone else in the world.  Our son is a sinner – saved by grace – but a sinner nonetheless.  I also know this: that You love our son, but You don’t love him any more than you love everyone else in this world.  It wasn’t because of a special love toward him that You saved him and “took” others. Yet You spared him.  Oh, grateful heart toward our Almighty God!

For those You didn’t spare I have no explanation nor words that can salve their pain.  It is what it is: a mystery woven by Your infinite wisdom and plan, unintelligible to mortal creatures such as us.  Why did You spare a son of my flesh yet take home a young mother of two little girls, or the baby that was sleeping peacefully in her crib only to be cold and still in the morning?

It doesn’t seem fair to us and we are prone to complain and rail at You when You choose not to spare a life or cure a disease or refuse to send a child to those who long to cradle a little one.  Yet, who are we, mere humans, to argue with You?  Why should we expect to understand Your thoughts or Your ways when we are told that we cannot? 

It is hard being in the dark on such matters, Lord.  It forces us into a position of total and utter reliance on You, to trust that You do know what You are doing and that You have perfect reasons for every decision You render.  Help us to truly believe fully in Your goodness and Your plan that You tell us is for good and not for harm.

Thank You for reminders that we are but clay and that our bodies shall all return to the dust from which we came and our souls shall stand before You to give answer for the things we have done in this world.  Thank You for wake-up calls and reminders that You graciously shower on our way to remind us of our frailty and dependence on You for every single heartbeat.  Were it not for such things we might delude ourselves into thinking we are already immortal and invincible – and that is a very powerful and deadly delusion!

Thank You, for this undeserved measure of Your mercy, grace and love.

PRAYER: Thank You, Lord, for the fact that in You is light and there is no darkness at all, even when it seems contrary to our understanding! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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DayBreaks for 11/05/12 – ‘Twas the Day Before Election

DayBreaks for 11/05/12 – ‘Twas the Day Before Election

 

Well, folks.  This is about it.  I know that lots of people will be going to the polls tomorrow to vote.  I hope you go.  It is a privilege and blessing that not many in the world have.  We shouldn’t take it for granted.

Will you candidate win?  Will mine?  Only God knows – and that’s how it should be, because if anything is clear it is this: God rules in the affairs of men.  He raises up leaders and takes them down.  He raises up nations for His purposes and when they forget Him, He takes them down.  He even used more wicked nations to (Babylon, but especially Assyria) to punish Israel for their rejection of Him.

I read a couple of things lately that help me find a bit of peace of mind in this madness of American politics and elections.  First was this: that we shouldn’t be praying for a particular person to win this election because we may be praying against God’s purpose.  Undoubtedly there were many in ancient Israel praying for the destruction of Assyria even as God was raising them up to be an instrument in His hand.  God has not lost control or power.  No well oiled political machine will prevail against His will nor will it upset His plans.  Remember this: before the creation of this world God already had planned who would win this election.  The result was ancient history to Him before any of the candidates were born.  So, let us pray that God’s will be done – and trust that the outcome, whatever it is, is part of His good and holy plan, whether we understand it or not.

I also read something that has been going around on Facebook that goes something like this: “No matter who wins this election, Jesus will still be the King of Kings.”  What comfort that is!  No matter who wins this election or what they do in the next four years, they will not take Jesus’ place.  They will be, for the large part, unwitting vassals in his hand, like a chess piece doing the chess master’s will to bring about His ultimate purpose.

I certainly know who I hope wins.  You probably have strong feelings, too.  Let us not panic regardless of the outcome.  Let us not forget that our job as Christians and our calling as salt and light, will be unchanged on Wednesday morning.  Our mission hasn’t changed since Jesus gave it nearly 2000 years ago.  Of that much we can be certain.

PRAYER: Lord, there have been so many strong and powerful emotions this election season.  We have probably all said and done things that we should not have said, and almost certainly we have thought things we should not.  Forgive us for thinking we know best and for trying to shape Your will in this election to match our own wants and wishes.  Help us remember You know and see far more than we do, and that You have a perfect plan and will execute it perfectly.  May we trust in You, not the winner of this election!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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