DayBreaks for 12/12/19 – Immanuel in Confinement

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DayBreaks for 12/12/19: Immanuel in Confinement

Condensed from Today’s Christian, 2006:

“Locked behind the razor-wire fences of a Florida prison is no place to spend a holiday. I’d spent 15 Christmases under these less-than-festive conditions, but this year my situation looked even bleaker. I was stuck in confinement—a prison inside a prison where the supposed troublemakers are sent. In reality, anyone can find himself in the hole by irritating the wrong person.

“Because I was going to be locked in a cell 24 hours a day through Christmas, I figured nothing memorable could happen. Beyond a five-minute shower three times weekly, there wasn’t much to look forward to.

“In a way, that Christmas was like the first Christmas 2,000 years ago. Most people went about their lives paying bills, cooking dinner, traveling to and fro. A few shepherds working the late-night shift got a spectacular celestial show from some angels who proclaimed, Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace and good will to men! (Luke 2:14). And some wise men, eastern Magi, had begun their journey to Jerusalem looking for someone called “The King of the Jews.” But for the rest of the world, it was just another day. No holiday music, no discount sales, no trees with lights.

“Christmas night in confinement, alone in my cell, I read in my Bible about Paul and Silas, who were also inside a prison. Despite their miserable predicament, they were praying and singing hymns to God while the other prisoners listened.

“The lights went out and I stared at the ceiling from my bunk, wondering if I could praise God in the midst of my circumstances. I could hear a mouse nibbling on some crackers I left out for him. Then suddenly I heard a voice come out of the vent above the toilet. It was Andrew in the next cell. “Merry Christmas, Roy,” he said.

“Merry Christmas, Andrew,” I replied.

“Do you know any Christmas songs?” Andrew asked.

“Yeah, I know a few.”

“I’ll sing one if you’ll sing one,” he said.

“What should we sing?”

“Joy to the World.” And he sang every verse. I sang the chorus with him. Then it was my turn and I chose “Silent Night.” Then he sang “O Come All Ye Faithful,” and I answered with “Feliz Navidad.”

“I have another song,” Andrew said, and sang “O Holy Night.” Silence filled the quad as everyone listened. It was a moment I’ll never forget. It not only reminded me of Paul and Silas, but it made me realize every day is Christmas when God has arrived. It wasn’t just another day, and I wasn’t alone. Emmanuel was in confinement with me, in my cell, blessing me.

Galen’s Thoughts: We often hear of people finding Christ in prison.  Some of the conversions are, no doubt, real and some may be merely machinations intended to curry some form of favor from the powers that be.  There is no doubt in my mind, however, that Christ can indeed be found behind prison walls, in hospital wards and every other place that humans can be found.  Christ goes to places of confinement to bless others. 

It was when He was in the flesh that He himself was in confinement…in a body that He Himself made.  He was captive in flesh and bone…for the same reason that He can be found in prison cells…so that He can bring blessing to us in our human confinement.

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for enduring confinement in human flesh to bring us the blessing of eternity.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 3/27/18 – The Prison and the Prisoner

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DayBreaks for 3/26/18: The Prison and the Prisoner

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2008:

Thomas Costain wrote a book called The Three Edwards, and in it he tells about an historical event from the 14th century.  Two brothers, Raynald and Edward, were bitter enemies.  Edward mounted war against Raynald, captured him and imprisoned him in Nieuwkerk Castle. 

But this was no ordinary prison.  The room was relatively comfortable and there was no lock on the door – no bolt, padlock or crossbeam.  Raynald, though a prisoner, was free to come or go at will.  In fact, it was better than that: Edward promised Raynald full restoration of all rights and titles on a single condition: that Raynald walk out of his cell.

There was only one problem: Raynald couldn’t walk out of his cell.  The door was smaller than a typical door…and Raynald was enormously fat.  He was so fat that he could not, no matter how much he squeezed and heaved and pushed, get himself through the doorway to his cell. 

So, in order to walk free and reclaim all he’d lost, he only had to do one thing: lose weight.  That would have come easily to most prisoners that were fed bread and water.  But it didn’t come easily to Raynald.  Edward has disguised a great cruelty in his apparent act of generosity to Raynald.  Every day, Edward had Raynald serve the richest, sauciest foods, sweet and tasty, along with as much ale and wine that Raynald could drink.  Raynald ate and ate and grew larger and fatter.  He spent 10 years trapped in that unlocked cell, and was freed only after Edward’s death.  By that time, his health was so ruined that he died soon afterwards.

As I read this tragic story, I was struck by several truths:

FIRST: Satan takes us prisoner by capitalizing on our desires, weaknesses and tastes.  He doesn’t need to create those things in us, he just takes advantage of our appetites.  And then he sets out to do his best to see to it that we stay sated with the pleasures of sin.

SECOND: Raynald had a choice – he could only eat as much as was truly necessary, he could have exercised in his cell, and he could have walked through the cell door after losing enough weight.  But Raynald was too fond of his sweets and tasty delights – thereby becoming his own warden, held in a prison only by his own weaknesses.  The same is true for us – Satan can’t keep us in the prison.  It is our choice – to continue to smother ourselves and indulge in our passions and sin, or to leave the prison behind.

THIRD: We think that the things we long for in our human nature are what will make us happy – that if we have enough of something, then we will be free at long last, not realizing (or at least not admitting to ourselves) that we are only perpetuating our imprisonment.  Freedom awaits us outside the imprisonment of our desires.  What would you rather have: freedom or another piece of cheesecake?

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross. – Jesus

PRAYER: Father, our hearts and stomachs and eyes lie to us about what it is that we really want and what it is that is really good for us.  Give us the strength through Your Spirit that lives within us to deny ourselves for that which is far better and which will never fade away.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/08/14 – Prisons of the Heart

DayBreaks for 9/08/14 – Prisons of the Heart

 

John 8:36 (NLT) – So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.

“In England, police questioned a man about the assault of an 86-year-old woman; then he disappeared the next day. They never gave up their search for him, periodically popping into his home.  On one of those visits, eight years later, they caught him.  It seems he’d been hiding in a six foot by two foot hole under the floorboards of his living room. He hid so well, that even his children didn’t know he was there, out of fear they might mention it to friends.  For the first two years of his self-imposed imprisonment he never saw the light of day; then he began coming out occasionally. 

“How much easier would it have been, had he only surrendered at the beginning?  What a miserable existence for eight years; so close to what you love, but unable to enjoy it. That reminds me of so many folks who live in prisons of their own making: slaves to addictions, in bondage to sin, imprisoned by choices. It’s certainly not how God wants us to live!  In contrast, I think of visiting a young man in jail a few years ago.  He was facing life in prison, with all the stress and fear that would bring to anyone.  Then he shared this, “In jail, I found a freedom I’ve never known.  I’m actually more free now– in jail– than I was on the outside…because now I have Jesus.” – Barney Cargile, Barney’s Bullets, 9/4/14

We are constantly constructing prisons for ourselves through our actions.  As in the case of the man in the story, we often build them to “protect” ourselves from criticism, shame, fear of being caught or of being found out.

Some prisons have steel or iron bars on the outside to keep people in.  Surely, such prisons are difficult, but they are not as difficult as the ones we may carry inside as we go about our day by day activities.  It is easy to see a physical prison and know why someone cannot respond to an invitation, but it is impossible to see the spiritual and emotional prisons that people carry inside.  Because we can’t see them, we often judge people as being self-centered, disinterested, stuck-up or aloof….when in reality, they may be locked in a prison.

Jesus and God want us to live in freedom.  After all, Christ died to purchase that freedom for us!  Let him free you from the prison bars of your own heart!

PRAYER: Whatever prisons we carry with us that lock in our hearts and spirits, Lord, we invite you to tear through those bars and let us walk as free women and men in Your Kingdom!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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