DayBreaks for 3/30/18 – Our Passover Lamb

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DayBreaks for 3/30/18: Our Passover Lamb

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

1 Cor. 5:7b – …For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

There is a saying, “All good things must come to an end.”  Actually, that’s a lie.  Not all good things must come to an end.  Paul tells us that faith, hope and love abide.  The Word of God abides forever.  God is forever.  And for Christians, heaven will be forever.  But I would have to suspect that on Good Friday so long ago, Jesus took great comfort in knowing that all bad things must come to an end, and in fact, as far as His earthly suffering was concerned, Good Friday marked the end.  Anyone who watches The Passion of the Christ must believe that the crucifixion itself, as horrible as it was, must have been welcomed as the end of the road – Jesus knew it would soon be over.

What happened to Jesus?  Was He murdered?  Was He killed?  Was He executed? Was He (as Texans might say), ‘lynched’?  While lots of words might have been chosen, I wonder how many on Good Friday would have said that He had been “sacrificed”?  Probably not many, except perhaps the Three-in-One.

In A Violent Grace, by Michael Card, Mike was musing on the events of Good Friday when he posited this insight: “It was one thing for pastors today to speak of Christ being a substitutionary sacrifice and a propitiation for our sins.  It was another for a priest in Jesus’ day to lay hold of a soft white lamb and slit its throat…For Jesus, it began the night he was born.  The first to come and kneel at His manger were shepherds.  He arrived in the season when lambs were being born – that’s why the shepherds were in the field all night.  The worshiping shepherds saw a baby boy a sweetly sleeping, but they never expected that the lamb who was born that night as a baby was the Lamb of God.  Thirty years later, John the Baptist was standing up to his waist in the Jordan when he saw Jesus approaching.  ‘Look!’ he exclaimed, ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’  With those words ringing through the air, Jesus began three years of public ministry…I wonder if one of the last sounds to reach Jesus’ ears during the final hours on the cross was the bleating of lambs.

One thing is for sure: the final sounds Jesus heard on the cross were not comforting.  He did not hear the voices of the crowd shouting “Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”  He did not hear his followers weeping for him, nor did he hear his apostles words of comfort as he hung suspended between heaven and earth, for they’d all (save one) cowardly run away.  And so, perhaps, with the Passover being observed in the city just across the valley, perhaps the sound of lambs was indeed the last sounds he heard. 

I hope that we will hear the sounds of the Lamb that was sacrificed.  And that we won’t just hear it, but we will take it to heart.  It was my fault that Jesus was on the cross – and it was yours.  The next time He needs us, I hope He will hear us.  He is our Passover Lamb and because of Him, the death angel has passed us over and we live in a new life.

May your Resurrection celebration be a special one.  Listen for the Lamb!

PRAYER: Great Lamb of God, have mercy on us sinners! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 3/28/18 – One Moment in History

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DayBreaks for 3/28/18: One Moment in History

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2007:

Pretend for a moment that you were in possession of a time machine. If you could pick one moment out of all recorded history to go back and see, what would you choose? In a newspaper recently, journalists had voted on the greatest story of the 20th century. According to one paper I saw, they chose the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima as the biggest story of the century. It certainly is worthy of strong consideration. I remember the stunned silence (even outdoors!!) on the day that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon and the first moonwalk took place. It was as if nothing, not even the wind, dared to move that afternoon.

Still, all things considered, I think that I’d probably pick the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the event I’d most like to observe. You see, no human eyes were witness to it, so no one knows what it looked like. There was no one to watch as God came back to life, except God Himself.

I don’t think that I would want to see the crucifixion. It would be too painful to watch knowing that it was my fault that it was happening. We want to get past the ugliness, horror and bloodiness of Calvary in our rush to get to the Resurrection Morning, don’t we? But we can’t afford to do that. If we do, we will miss the most amazing lesson in all of human history: that the God of heaven, who hates sin with all His heart, loves His creation even more than He hates sin and proved it on the cross. That, if anything, is the lesson of Calvary. It is a lesson we need to be reminded of every time we get the chance.

Don’t rush past Calvary on your way to sunrise services. Stop and look long and hard at the price that was paid for your sin and for mine. It wasn’t cheap – God’s grace is anything but cheap. The price wasn’t paid on Resurrection morning, but on the Friday before. That is where the atoning was done, that is where the blood of the Lamb was spilled and when it was sprinkled on the altar. The Resurrection was merely the joyous cosmic shout of God proclaiming the victory that was won on the Friday before!

The cross – good Friday – is where we need to stop and ponder our lives – and the God who could possibly love us so much.

PRAYER: Father, help us pause often this week to ponder with all the wonder, amazement and humility that human hearts can hold what you did for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/19/18: The Testimony of Dirk Willems

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DayBreaks for 1/19/18: The Testimony of Dirk Willems

From They Were Strangers blog, by my friend, Ryan McElvey, January 18, 2018:

He heard a loud CRACK, and seconds later the first cry for HELP echoed across the frozen water. Now, a choice had to be made: continue running for his own safety, or run back across the ice of Hondegat pond?

The year was 1569 and Dirk was being held for “rebelling” against the authority of the Dutch government by rejecting his own infant baptism and becoming re-baptized. He was locked in a residential palace prison which was surrounded by a moat and under guard. Dirk had been in prison so long that he had lost weight. He kept tightening his belt, but if a verdict wasn’t reached soon, he would eventually face a death of starvation.

As time wore on in captivity he began planning his escape by taking cloth rags and secretly knotting them together into a rope. Eventually he was able to make his rope long enough to suspend from the window of his prison onto the moat below. Dirk waited until a day when the moat was frozen, and then he lowered himself out of the window and onto its glassy surface. He shuffled across the icy moat away from the palace as quickly and quietly as he could.

But before he was even out of sight of the palace he heard a shout of alarm from the bulwarks. His escape had been discovered. Looking back he soon saw one of the guards running after him. Dirk continued to run, but he felt like his legs couldn’t move fast enough, and he realized that the meager food rations and sedentary life in prison had taken its toll on his body. With the guard gaining on him Dirk set out across the ice of Hondegat pond, hoping to gain some distance by shuffling over its slippery surface.

Then he heard a loud CRACK, and seconds later the first cry for HELP echoed across the frozen water. Now, he was faced with a choice: continue running for his own safety, or run back across the ice of Hondegat pond?

Had the Lord delivered Dirk from his enemy? Had Dirk now gained his freedom because the Lord had allowed the guard to fall through the ice to his death?

-Or-

Was the Lord giving Dirk the chance to love his enemy in radical obedience by going back to save him?

Dirk knew what he had to do. He turned around and went back. There in the icy hole his pursuer was bobbing in the water, crying out and desperately grasping at the air. In full Christ-like imitation Dirk laid down on the ice, stretched out his arms, reaching out to save his enemy.

But upon saving his enemy’s life, Dirk was immediately taken back into custody and held prisoner in a church tower, from which there was no way escape. Only four days after his recapture Dirk Willems was given the death sentence to be burned at the stake. The story goes that the wind was blowing that day, and because he wasn’t inhaling the smoke, it prolonged his death. His screams were heard from a great distance, but unlike the screams of the guard on Hondegat pond, no one came to Dirk’s rescue.

  1. . .  it seems so long ago, and yet the story echoes across history and we can still hear the cries from the broken ice. Do I love my enemy, or do I see his misfortune as “God’s judgement” on him and as an excuse to leave him behind?

Obviously, loving my enemy doesn’t always have the drama that Dirk Willems experienced, but is my spirit the same as his? What about the co-worker who takes advantage of me? The business that didn’t give me the product or service I paid for? The driver who cut me off? The backstabbing brother in Christ? Do I love in all these situations? Doing good in return for his bad, blessing in return for his curse, praying for those who mistreat me, giving freely to those who take from me?

Why did Dirk Willems go back and save his enemy, only to die for his act of mercy? And why should I love those who do me wrong?

Jesus tells me to love my enemies, because Jesus loves His enemies, even enough to die for them. . . to die for me. To Jesus, I am the guard struggling in Hondegat pond, and He reaches out to save me, only to die Himself.

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps. . . When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly.”     (1 Peter 2:21, 23)

PRAYER: Jesus, even though you commanded us to love our enemies, we find it often too much of a challenge to even love our friends as you have loved us. Give us hearts that love as yours does – even for our enemies, that we might be willing to die for them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/15/18 – It Is Finished..It Is Just Beginning

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DayBreaks for 1/15/18: It Is Finished…It Is Just Beginning

John 19:30 (ESV) – When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
I honestly don’t know if there are three more poignant words than those three that fell from the lips of Jesus with his dying breath. “It is finished!” Matthew and Mark record that Jesus cried out in a loud voice but don’t tell us what he said. Luke says that Jesus cried out loudly, Father, into your hands I commit my spirit…and then died. I’m not disturbed by this “disconnect” at all and I could see Jesus having said those final two statements in any order.

While I won’t for a second presume to know what was in the mind of Jesus at that moment, I will venture a guess. We know from his evening in the garden that he was dreading the crucifixion that loomed just ahead. He didn’t want to have to go through it, but we are told that he “joyfully” endured the cross and its torments for us. It is possible that Jesus was referring to the suffering (which none of us can imagine) that he had endured for hours suspended between sky and ground. Who could blame him if that’s what was on his mind? That being said, I think that was the least of the reasons for his shout from the cross.

I tend to think that there was something much more significant in his heart that led to those words, It is finished! I suspect it was more about the following:

FIRST: rather than focusing on the pain, I think he was focused on the reason behind the pain – the price for sin needed to be paid and now it had been paid in full. The sacrifice was finished. The separation of God from man was no longer inevitable.

SECOND: the rule of death that had held sway from the death of the very first human was finished. The stench of eternal death was swept away with the dying breath of Jesus as he cried out.

THIRD: the power of Satan to claim human souls was finished – at least for those who would accept the One who made the sacrifice. Satan could no longer demand the souls of every human being.

FOURTH: the power of a law that could condemn and convict us of sin but which could never be kept or save was shattered and washed away by the blood he’d shed establishing a new covenant.

FINALLY: the ordeal of the incarnation was finished for all practical purposes. There seems to be something quite different about Jesus in his resurrection body. The humiliation of God becoming man was finished. We have no record of Jesus ever being tempted again after his resurrection as he was in his pre-cruficixion days. He seems to have begun to take back some of the glory of his pre-incarnate state with the blinding light of the resurrection morning, the ability to appear and disappear at will, and to ascend into the clouds.

I suppose it is a combination of the above that led to Jesus’ cry. And while that was finished, something new as beginning: the ability for humans to be sinless in God’s eyes, the ability for humans to be reunited with God. While all those things ended with Jesus’ words, for humanity it was just the beginning. We have been given a new chance, a new hope, and new life – and new we must begin to live like citizens of the Light and not of darkness any longer.

How are you doing with that?

PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, for finishing what you came to do. Help us to live up to the new beginning you died to give us! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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

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 4/6/17: Join the Winners???

DayBreaks for 4/6/17: Join the Winners???

What does a Christ-like mind look like as we live in the world? We can see it clearly in the great saints and martyrs, such as Mother Teresa or Albert Schweitzer. I’m drawn as well to the idea William Placher suggests in his book Narratives of a Vulnerable God as he uses an illustration from the world of basketball. Professor Placher writes, “In basketball the players who are always asking, ‘How am I doing? Am I getting my share of the shots?’ Those are the ones who never reach their full potential. It is the players who lose themselves who find themselves. And it’s that kind of self-forgetfulness that makes the best players.” And isn’t that the case with all of us in whatever we do?

I read about one of the fastest growing churches in the world, with branches in 32 countries already. It is called the Winners Church, and according to its leaders, it lives by a motto that comes from America’s religious culture. Here’s the motto: “Be happy. Be successful. Join the winners.” People flock to that kind of church.

But it all depends, doesn’t it, on how we define winning? I wonder what kind of church you would have if your motto were “Whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant.” Or about this one for a motto, “Those who want to save their lives will lose them and those who lose their lives for my sake, will find them.” Or one more, “Take up your cross and follow Him to Calvary!”

Those were Jesus’ mottos. I’m not sure he’d recognize the mottos of some churches today.

What is the “motto” of your life? What are you striving for? When you take your last breath, will it have been worth it or merely chasing after wind?

PRAYER: Jesus, your calling and mottos are hard. They are hard to hear and much harder to accept and live out. Give us the kind of hearts that realize that we only win in and through you and that whatever else we pursue other than that saving relationship with you is foolishness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 3/16/17 – The Power of Going the Second Mile

DayBreaks for 3/16/17: The Power of Going the Second Mile

Matthew 5:38-41 (ESV)“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.

Shortly after the battles ended the American Revolution, but before the peace had been negotiated, George Washington was with his troops in Newburgh, New York. But they began to grow very restless because they hadn’t been paid. Washington had begged the Continental Congress to do what they said they would do and pay the soldiers, but they refused.

Well, some of the officers began to organize a rebellion. They talked about marching on Philadelphia, which was at that time the seat of the reigning national government, and overthrowing that government and letting the army rule the nation.

With the fate of America in the balance, George Washington made a surprise appearance before these officers. After praising them for their service and thanking them for their sacrifice, he pulled from his pocket a copy of a speech that he wished to read. But then he fumbled with a paper and finally reached for a set of reading glasses-glasses those men had never seen him wear before. Washington made this simple statement: “I have already grown gray in the service of my country, and now I am going blind.”

Historian Richard Norton Smith wrote: “Instantly rebellion melted into tears. It was a galvanizing moment, and the rebellion…” and the rebellion was put down because they had seen before them a second miler.

Becoming a Christian is one thing; being a Christian is another one. Every chance you get for the glory of Jesus, for the goodness of others, and because of the grace of God, go the second mile.

PRAYER: Lord, we often resent even being asked go to one mile. Give us hearts that are willing to go not just that mile, but more, for Your glory and the benefit of others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.