DayBreaks for 4/16/19 – Easter and Rejection

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DayBreaks for 4/16/19: Easter and Rejection

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2009:

Can you remember how it felt the first time you were rejected?  It may have been that you weren’t “wanted” on the team.  It may have been the first time you asked out that little red-headed, freckle faced girl and she turned up her nose at you and said (loudly!): “Eewwww!  I’d never go out with you!”  Rejection hurts.  Rejection hammers at the spirit and the heart and hope.  Rejection is a killer.

The woman was from Samaria.  She knew all about rejection.  She’d been married 5 times – and she’d heard the door slammed behind her 5 times as her husband of the moment threw her out and yelled at her, “And don’t come back!”  Even her friends had rejected her – after all, it could damage one’s reputation to hang out with such a woman who seemed not to have any scruples or moral fiber.  And so, when she went to the well, she went alone, carrying her water jar on her shoulder.  It was in the blazing heat of the day – so strong was her rejection by others that she didn’t dare go in the cool of the morning when other women would go – no, they wanted nothing to do with her, no matter if her heart cried out for someone, anyone, to care. 

Only on this day, there’s a man at the well.  She wonders if she will be safe.  Could he be violent?  A bandit, or even worse, a rapist waiting to fall upon a woman alone?  She proceeds, and when she gets there, this man looks at her and in a pleasant voice, asks for water, but she still was suspicious that he might have had something else in mind.  She was partly right – for he begins to ask her questions that plumbed the depth of her lonely, aching heart that had known so much rejection.  He even knew about her past…and yet he spoke to her with a tone of respect.  And then he offered her something that could quench the burning, not in her throat, but in her soul. 

As the questioning proceeded, she must have expected more rejection once she told him about her checkered past.  But she didn’t get criticism or any kind of lecture.  Jesus hadn’t come to the well seeking perfection, but honesty.  And finally, she said that she didn’t know where to go to find God, unaware He was talking with her that very moment.  Can you imagine the smile that crept across Jesus’ face and heart as he heard those words?  Here he was, in Samaria – and he’d found a hungry, thirsty heart for God.  And, it was not just any Samaritan, it was a woman.  And who would have thought that a 5-time “loser” in marriage would be so thirsty for God?  Jesus did.  This was perhaps the most outcast and rejected person in the area. 

And then a remarkable thing happened.  Jesus said to her, “I AM the Messiah.”  He could have gone to Rome and told that to Caesar and made Caesar bow down when he heard the words.  He could have gone to Herod and told him that He was the real King.  He could have gone to the religious leaders and told them the truth and opened their eyes and made believers out of them.  But he didn’t.  He revealed himself to the most rejected, broken, outcast person of all.

But what we often miss in this story is what happens next.  The woman got up, raced off and told others.  What is significant is what she left behind.  She left behind the water jar, to be sure – Scripture says so.  This water jar is a symbol of all the burden of shame, guilt and rejection she’d felt for year after year after long, lonely year.  She left it behind and ran into the town to talk to others – something she wouldn’t have dared do before coming to the well and meeting Jesus.  Why?  Because the very One who had the most right to reject her was the One that she discovered loved her the most.

Are you feeling rejected this Easter season?  Meet Jesus at the cross.  Let the one who was despised and rejected fill you with the Living Water.  The one who wouldn’t let this woman be alone in her rejection take you in his embrace and give you the love and welcome that you are so thirsty to find.  Let your rejection be healed by his welcome!

Prayer: Hallelujah, for Jesus is the friend of sinners, unafraid to meet us in our loneliness and rejection, the One who speaks words of life into the most shattered heart!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 4/25/18 – The Surprising Proclamation

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DayBreaks for 4/25/18: The Surprising Proclamation

John 4:25-26 (NIV) – The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”  Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.

The verses above are taken from the story of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well in Samaria.  It’s a fascinating story for a variety of reasons.  Jesus, a man, initiating a conversation with a woman.  It wasn’t supposed to happen that way – not in that age.  Jesus, a Jew, speaking to a Samaritan.  It wasn’t supposed to happen – Jews and Samaritans were supposed to hate one another.  Jesus was a rabbi, a very holy man – and this woman was, well, less than virtuous.  She had gone from one relationship to another, and was now living with a man to whom she wasn’t married.  No self-respecting rabbi would strike up such a conversation.

But Jesus wasn’t into self-respect, he was into love and sharing that love with anyone who needed it – and certainly, it would appear that this woman had perhaps mistaken many things for love in the past. 

The most amazing thing, however, about this story, was Jesus’ announcement that he was the Messiah.  As far as we know, this is the very first time that Jesus identified himself this blatantly.  He hadn’t made this kind of proclamation to even his disciples, so why this woman?

I believe he announced himself to this woman precisely because she was the kind of person who needed to know that the Messiah had come.  This woman probably had lost most of her hope for her life.  Her track record this far had not been stellar.  With the first relationship, she probably had hoped that “my life is set and I’m on track for happiness.”  But her heart had been broken.  Then came a succession of more men – and with each one, more heartbreak had come and a bit of hope had died as each relationship died.  Perhaps she wondered, deep in her heart, if there would be any hope for her at all.

And to this hurting, shame-filled, discouraged woman, the Messiah is revealed for the first time.  It was for women (and men) just like this one that Jesus had come.  And in revealing himself to her, hope and possibility were reborn.

Our sins burden us and crush us and destroy joy and hope.  Stop by the well and drink the Living Water that the Messiah gives and you will never thirst again.

PRAYER:  Lord, thank you for revealing yourself to sinners like us.  Renew our hope and open our eyes to what it means that the Messiah has come!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 6/14/16 – The REAL Lesson of the Good Samaritan

DayBreaks for 6/14/16 – The REAL Lesson of the Good Samaritan

Chances are that you know the story Jesus told about the Good Samaritan. It’s so well known that the term “good Samaritan” has found a place in our culture to describe anyone who does a good turn for someone in need who can’t possibly repay them for their kindness.

I don’t know about you, but for all my life I have read, heard and studied the story and I think I’ve missed the real point of the story every time. On Sunday, for the first time, I got a fresh new insight into this incredible story.

When I hear the story, I think about the priest and the Levite who passed by, I always try to figure out who I am in the story. And that means I’ve gotten it all wrong.

The road to Jericho, along which the story takes place, was known as “the path of blood” because it was so notorious as a dangerous, deadly route. And so it was that the victim ill-advisedly travelled this road and paid a price for it – nearly being killed.

The priest, who presumably had been to Jerusalem to be “cleansed”, was on his way to Jericho. If he had stopped to help the victim, he would have become unclean and would not have been able to conduct his services in Jericho. To the Jews, it made sense that this priest passed by the beaten man.

The Levite was more like a priest-in-training. He was not bound by the rule of cleanliness and would have been expected to stop to help the bloodied victim. But he didn’t.

And then comes the Samaritan. Samaritans were deeply hated by the Jews, half-breeds between Jews and pagans. Moved with compassion, he lifts up the beaten man, tends to his wounds, takes him to a place where he could be cared for, pays, and even offers to pay whatever else the landlord deemed fit. He was giving the landlord a “blank check” that he could cash at the Samaritan’s expense.

When I have considered this story in the past, I usually beat myself up as I try to figure out if I am the priest, or the Levite, or whether I ever act like the Samaritan. There is truth that I sometimes do something kind for others, but more often than not, I fail to act like the Samaritan and am more like one of the other two characters. But that’s not the point at all.

I believe that every parable is intended to teach us something about God/Jesus, and this is no exception. Who am I in this story? Who are you? We are not the priest nor Levite nor Good Samaritan. We are the one who has done something foolish and we are beaten and bloodied and dying. We are desperately in need of someone who will come to our rescue, who will pay the price on our behalf both now and for whatever debt we may rack up before He comes back again. You see, it is Jesus who is the Good Samaritan. He has paid for my care and if there’s more to pay (which there isn’t…because he’s promised to pay for it all), he will see to it that all that I need has been taken care of!

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for opening my eyes to the greater story in this parable. My heart sings in gratitude that you stooped to pick me up, bandaged my wounds, stopped my bleeding and that you will even come back for me to make sure all my “bill” has been paid! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/29/16 – Seeing As Jesus Sees

DayBreaks for 2/29/16: Seeing As Jesus Does

I would never presume to be able to tell you definitively what Jesus is thinking or seeing at any moment in time. Still, I think the New Testament gives us insights into how he sees and thinks.

John 4:35 (ESV) – Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.

When Jesus made this statement, he was sitting beside a well in the homeland of the Samaritans – the people who were considered by observant Jews to be impure, filthy, great sinners and people who were worse than dogs. Rather than walk through Samaria, they would go way out of their way to walk from Galilee to Jerusalem…and that’s saying something given the geography and the heat of Israel.

When Jesus makes this statement, he’d already spoken to the Samaritan woman while the disciples were gone seeking food. His disciples come back from their shopping and were taken aback by the fact he was talking to a woman – let alone a Samaritan woman. Jesus, knowing their hearts and thoughts, encourages them to improve their vision. Where they saw despised Samaritans, Jesus saw a field of humanity ready to be harvested for the Kingdom.

Are we ever guilty of the same lack of vision today? Before you answer too quickly, picture yourself in the Middle East and in front of you is a vast field of ISIS soldiers. What would you see? What would you think? Would you see enemies and be eager to call down God’s wrath, or would you see a field that needed harvesting…and even further, would you be willing to go to work to help harvest that field?

I fear that we (perhaps I should speak simply for myself) see the condition of the world around us and think that it is a problem. But would Jesus see it that way? Does Jesus see the state of the world as the problem? I think not: Luke 10:2 (NLT) – These were his instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.

Jesus doesn’t see the nature of the field being the problem. The problem is not the sinners…but the lack of believers willing to join in the harvest.

Why was the Samaritan woman so responsive to Jesus’ message? I suspect it was because she was so far gone into sin that caused her to respond. It is only those who realize their sinfulness and brokenness who will respond, and according to Jesus, there are many for who that is an accurate description. They are not to be hated or despised, but loved by Jesus’ followers…loved right into the Kingdom.

TODAY’S PRAYER: Jesus, teach us to see what you see.  Teach us to love as you love. Teach us to see the field as being white for harvest, and to pray for the Lord to send forth reapers – even us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.