DayBreaks for 3/8/19 – The Heart of the Scandal

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DayBreaks for 3/08/19: The Heart of the Scandal

From the DayBreaks archive March 2009:

Why was Jesus such a stumbling block to the Jews?  Why is he such a hurdle for modern man to overcome and welcome?  There probably are as many excuses (and perhaps reasons) as there are folks who refuse to accept him – then, or now.  I can think of several reasons:

FIRST: no one wants to be told they have to die to themselves.  After all, haven’t we been raised with the encouragement to “follow your own heart”?  And doesn’t that seem like good advice?  “Be true to yourself.”  But….this is not biblical advice AT ALL!  The heart is “desperately wicked”, Scripture says.  Why follow it?  If anything, we need to lead our hearts to the cross over and over and there kneel down in the dirt realizing that our most righteous acts smell like dirty, rotten, filthy socks or underwear (“rags” as Scripture puts it.)  To follow our hearts will get us in trouble every time.  Jesus said we need to die to ourselves – we don’t want to do that.

SECOND: Jesus says our focus should be on things above – and our concern should be for the coming and completion of the kingdom of God.  Again, this takes the focus off of us.

THIRD: while we aren’t saved by obedience, Jesus made it clear that God cares about holiness.  Sadly, too many of us care more about our own “fun” – which usually means we are doing things which may be unholy that are momentarily fun but which are unholy and deadly in the long run.

FOURTH: here’s the point I really want to make about why Jesus is hard for many to accept.  Do you recall the 1996 song by Joan Osborne titled, “What If God Were One of Us?”  There were those who found the song sacrilegious, and I can understand that.  But that is the very same reason that so many rejected Jesus in his life – including friends and family members – they felt he was sacrilegious when he claimed to be God – “like one of us.”  Phillip Yancey said, “By any measure Jesus led a tragic life: rumors of illegitimacy, taunts of insanity from his family, rejection by most who heard him, betrayal by friends, the savage turn of a mob against him, a series of justice-mocking trials, execution in a form reserved for slaves and violent criminals.  A pitiful story, to be sure, and that is the heart of the scandal: we do not expect to pity God.”

That the Messiah would suffer and die was never in the Jewish psyche.  The Messiah, they thought, would never do those things.  They couldn’t live with a Messiah who would suffer and die – so they killed him to be sure.  And we can’t live without such a Savior. 

Prayer: Who would have believed our report, that the Son of God should suffer and die for sinners!  Father God, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit – thank you for this wonder and mystery of your love for us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

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DayBreaks for 10/13/16 – An Open Scandal in Heaven

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DayBreaks for 10/13/16 – An Open Scandal in Heaven

From the DayBreaks archive, 2006:

Genesis 4:8-11 (NIV) – Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.  Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.  Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.

We read this story about Cain and Abel and can easily miss some important things.  First of all, it reads as if it all happens instantaneously, but the fact of the matter is that we don’t know how much time passed between the time Cain killed his brother until God confronted Cain about his actions.  It may have been minutes, hours, days or weeks.  We simply don’t know, and all things considered, it’s not that important – except in this regard: for the period of time that passed (no matter how long or short it may have been), Cain probably thought he’d gotten away with something.  He harbored in his heart the secret vision of killing his brother, of his brother’s blood spilling out onto the ground.  He must have considered what he would tell his mother and father the next time he saw them and they asked where his brother was.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he avoided his parents as long as possible.  It’s a terrible thing to harbor dark secrets in our hearts about the things we have done, wondering, tormented by the fear of discovery, all while hoping that no one will ever find out.

For however long of time that passed, Cain labored under the delusion that his sin was secret, but based on this text, as Chuck Swindoll put it, Cain learned that “A secret sin on earth is open scandal in heaven.”  Rather shocking and frightening when you hear it put that way, isn’t it?  The thoughts that I’ve had today that were angry, bitter, unforgiving, lustful or envious – they cry out to the throne of heaven as clearly and loudly as the blood of Abel.  And they are an open scandal in heaven.  The words I’ve spoken, the bad things I’ve done – they, too, are scandals on the front page of heaven’s newspaper. 

We call it a scandal when a congressman or public figure has their sins and faults splattered across the airwaves and printed on the front page.  Your sins are just as well known to God – even more clearly known, in fact.  And so are mine.

But if you go back and read the rest of the story about Cain and Abel, as Chuck Swindoll put it: “Even after the worst crime ever committed up to that time, the Lord demonstrated grace…God asked the murderous Cain a rhetorical question to convict him of his sin.  But Cain refused to repent.  What will we do?  It’s one thing to repent once your sins find you out, but we need to remember that God always sees our scandalous behavior.  In His grace, He gives us a chance to repent.  May we be wise enough to accept His grace!

PRAYER:  God, help us to remember that our lives are like an open book before you and that nothing we do is really a secret.  May the knowledge that you know, you see, and you are hurt by our sin help us to repent and return to you every time we go astray.  Thank you for your abundant grace and forgiveness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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