DayBreaks for 1/30/18 – Gambling at the Cross

Image result for soldiers at the crucifixion

DayBreaks for 1/30/18: Gambling at the Cross

From the DayBreaks archives, January 2008:

John 19.23-24: When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.  “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, “They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” So this is what the soldiers did.

Out of all the people who bore guilt at Jesus’ death, the soldiers were probably the most innocent of all.  The religious leaders had put Christ on the cross through their insistence and hatred.  Pilate put him there because he was a coward and was more afraid of Tiberius than of a God he didn’t know or couldn’t see.  We all were party to the event because of our sin.  But as far as the soldiers were concerned, they were just doing their job.  The Romans assigned a quaternion (4) of soldiers to carry out executions.   The Jew typically wore 5 articles of clothing: sandals, a turban, a belt (girdle), an inner garment and an outer coat.  The execution squad was customarily given possession of the clothes and personal effects of the man being crucified.  In Jesus’ case it was no different.  Four soldiers – five pieces of clothing.  When they got to the last piece, rather than tear it into four pieces (which might have been handy only as a dust rag for their wives), they decided to throw dice (cast lots) to see who would get the fifth article.

There, at the foot of the cross, are four soldiers gambling away the time while the Son of God dies mere feet away from where they were.  They were oblivious to what was happening.  Perhaps nothing in the entire bible show clearly shows the indifference of the world to Christ as this.  Jesus is dying in agony and the soldiers are playing games.  As if what was happening didn’t matter. 

As William Barclay put it: “The tragedy is not the hostility of the world to Christ – the tragedy is the world’s indifference which treats the love of God as if it did not matter.”  Indeed, though the world may be hostile to Christianity, it is indifferent to God’s love.  The world seeks to find love in the arms of some man or woman, in the philosophy of being kinder and gentler, in the lyrics of a song.  Do you want to know where to find love?  You can find it in the nails that are in Jesus’ feet and hands.  You can find it in the crown of thorns.  You can find it in the spear-pierced side. 

How are you treating and responding to God’s love?  Through our sin, we are like the soldiers gambling at the foot of the cross.  Every time we sin we are showing God that Jesus’ sacrifice doesn’t mean anything to us. 

I suppose the world will go on gambling at the foot of the cross as long as the world exists.  I hope that you and I don’t join them.  Don’t let the words of Lamentations 1.12 be said of us: Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?

PRAYER: At the cross may we see and begin to grasp Your unfailing love for us and not be found guilty of being indifferent to what happened there for us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 02/29/12 – Ghost Soldiers

DayBreaks for 02/29/12 – Ghost Soldiers

Ghost Soldiers

From the DayBreaks Archive, dated 1/16/2002:

I have recently completed one of the most compelling and remarkable books that I’ve ever read.  The title of the book is Ghost Soldiers and it was written by Hampton Sides.  This amazing book tells the true story of an incredible rescue mission that was launched in the Philippines during WW2.  You may have heard about the Bataan death march that took place during World War Two.  This was a brutal forced march of American, Philippine and other prisoners of war by the Imperial Japanese army.  Hundreds died during this forced march, and those who survived were brutalized, beaten, diseased, starved, tortured and forced to live under the most incredibly demeaning circumstances in prisoner of war camps.  This amazing story (I would highly recommend it, but it isn’t for the squeamish) was one I’d never heard before, but one which deserves to be told over and over again – and never forgotten.

This story highlights the most noble side of human nature – and the most degrading.  It is hard to believe that humans could rise to such heights of self-sacrifice, honor and integrity – in many cases giving up their lives for fellow-prisoners or for people they’d never met before.  I am in total awe of the prisoners and rescuers.  At the same time, it also reveals the depths to which human nature can sink when deprived of any knowledge of God.

Sadly, I think that far too often the church reflects both sides of humanity, too.  Some of the most noble and honorable acts in human history have taken place in the church because of the love of one Christian to another.   Sadly, some of the most inhumane acts have been perpetrated in the church and by the church – supposedly in the name of God.

Matthew 7:3-5 – “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

I know that we are also told to speak the truth in love, and also that we are to restore those taken in by sin: (Gal 6:1-2) “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”  While Paul may be warning us about falling into the same sin as the one who is being restored, I don’t think that’s what he had in mind.  I think he was warning us about becoming too puffed up, too proud of our own righteousness (which we have none of – our only righteousness is HIS righteousness!) and as a result fall because of our prideful, haughty attitudes.

Sometimes when a brother or sister has been around a long time and has a long track record of sinning, repenting, being restored, then repeating the pattern over again, we become jaded and skeptical of repentance.  We start to judge the heart of the person as if we can really see it, we determine if the person really feels sorry for their sin or not, and if they have really repented or not.  That’s dangerous ground.  Peter asked Jesus how many times he had to forgive someone who sinned against him.  Jesus’ response didn’t delve into reading the person’s heart, weighing the risk if the person hadn’t really repented, etc.  No, he put it this way in Matthew 18:21-35: “21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.  23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.  26 “The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.  28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.  29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’  30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.  32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.  35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.

Perhaps the most difficult thing here is the last 3 words: “…from your heart…”.  What does Jesus mean?  With ALL our heart.  Without reservations.  Without hesitation.  The same way God forgives us.  Can you imagine, even for a second, that God sits and debates about whether or not to grant you the forgiveness you ask for?  (And He already KNOWS if you’ll fall into that sin again!!!)

Perhaps some day we’ll learn to extend even a portion of the grace to others that God has extended to us.

PRAYER: May we extend grace to others as much as we desperately want Your grace to be extended to us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 12/29/11 – What Have You Done Today?

DayBreaks for 12/29/11 – What Have You Done Today?           

The ultimate price was paid...by God's Son

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; 7 for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the desert, 9 where your fathers tested and tried me, though they had seen what I did. 10 For forty years I was angry with that generation; I said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known my ways.” 11 So I declared on oath in my anger, “They shall never enter my rest.” – Psalm 95:6-11

During the Second World War there was a young boy in a small town who had to go to the drugstore for his mother. As he arrived at the drugstore, he saw a poster on the front window that made a great impression upon him. It was the picture of an American soldier dressed in full battle uniform lying flat on his face, dead in the sands of a South Pacific island. He was lying there with the ocean cradling his body, and at the bottom of the poster was this question: “What have you done for your country today that’s worth this soldier dying yesterday?”

Now I want you to look back at a date long before WW2.  Let your mind carry you to a hillside outside of Jerusalem.  This is Calvary.  Open the eyes of your heart and look upon a cross, see Jesus, the Savior, the Son of God, as he writhes in agony as he pays the price for your sins and the sins of the world.  Ask yourself the question: “What have you done for Christ today that’s worth what He gave for you on Calvary?”

Let me tell you now: not one of us can find anything you have done or will do, either this day or any other day, that was worth the sacrifice of the Son of God.  Yet, it happened, not because of something we’d done that put him in our debt, but simply because of who we are – His creation, made in His image.

PRAYER: How little we appreciate all that You accomplished in Your sacrifice on Calvary, how little we should You our appreciation and thanks!!  Let us not ever forget that scene on the Jerusalem hillside, and be people of appreciative action.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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