DayBreaks for 2/16/18 – The Jewish Sabbath Secret

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DayBreaks for 2/16/18: The Jewish Sabbath Secret

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

Luke 23:50-54 (NIV) – Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God.  Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body.  Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid.  It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

It would be hard to find someone who doesn’t know at least something about the Jewish Sabbath.  Anyone who knows the Ten Commandments is familiar with the command to set one day aside to rest and be recreated.  Yet because of cultural differences between the ancient Jews and modern day people, we miss some key elements that we should not miss.

The passage above from Luke 23 tells us the reason that Jesus was taken down from the cross in such a rush – and in John, it also tells us that the approaching Sabbath was the reason the legs of the thieves were broken and Christ’s side was pierced.  The Jews didn’t want such things happening on the Sabbath – it would have been flat wrong to their way of thinking and belief. 

Bear in mind the time of day when Jesus died…it was in the late afternoon, shortly before 6 p.m.  Sabbath would begin promptly at 6:00 p.m. because the ancient Jews counted time from sundown onward.  Today, we use the convention that a new day starts just after midnight, but the Jews felt it started the evening before.  In reality, even though our clock tells us a new day starts at 12:01 a.m., for all intents and purposes, most of us think of the new day starting when the sun comes up.

Why is that important?  And what does it have to do with the meaning and purpose of Sabbath itself?  A lot, I think, and it has spiritual ramifications: we start the day out with getting ready to go to work, to begin our labors.  The Jews, on the other hand, started their day out with a time of feasting and giving thanks, and then with sleep.  What difference does that make?  I think it says a lot about who is in charge of our lives and our times.  The Jews began their day with a meal and thanksgiving to God, and then instead of working, they laid down to sleep through the night.  On the other hand, we start it out with a quick breakfast (often hurried without time for leisurely giving of thanks) and running off to work to control our destinies.

By worship and then sleeping, the Jews were acknowledging that this new day was from God, and that they could rest in that knowledge.  Sleep is a very real kind of self-relinquishment or self-abandonment.  When we’re sleeping, we’re helpless.  Someone could steal in and murder us or rob us and we’d be oblivious to it.  When we are sleeping, we relinquish all attempts at making money, controlling life, controlling others, being successful.  When we sleep, we are acknowledging our weakness – that we MUST rest.  But the God who watched over Israel (and over us) never sleeps nor slumbers.  And by sleeping first in the day, the Jews showed their trust in God for all that each day would bring.

I know that we aren’t going to be able to change the way the world views time these days, but in our hearts, maybe we’d be wise to recognize our laying down to sleep as the start of a new day – reminding ourselves that we can rest in, and because, of God who never takes His eyes off of us.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for new days and new beginnings, and for inviting us first and foremost to rest in you, knowing you are ever vigilant!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 2/06/18 – Sanctifying Time

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DayBreaks for 2/06/18: Sanctifying Time

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

In his book, The Rest of God, in which Mark Buchanan talks about Sabbath, he mentions the need for us to be engaged in “sanctifying time.”  It might seem strange when you think about it: after all, aren’t we sanctified?  If people are sanctified, how can you “sanctify time”?  And what would that mean?

The word “sanctify” in the Hebrew is the word that means “to betroth”.  Let that sink in for a second.  Betrothal – like Mary and Joseph.  Pledged to be married.  Committed to be married to that one person and no one else.  To be “set apart” for that one person that you love and who loves you.  Now, take that concept and apply it to time – especially “Sabbath time.”  Sabbath – rest – was a requirement.  It was up there with the other 9 commandments that formed the Decalogue.  None of us would dare to think too lightly of the commands “Thou shalt have no other gods before me”, or “Thou shalt not murder”, “Thou shalt not commit adultery”, “Thou shalt not steal,” etc.  Yet we tend to think that somehow this command of God to observe a time of rest is a minor command compared to the rest of the 10.  God sure doesn’t seem to think so. 

God instituted the idea of rest, of a period of time that we are to “set apart”, to betroth ourselves to if you will, because He created us from dust and He knows we are not able to keep going forever like He can without getting tired.  He knows how close we are at any given moment to returning to the dust from which we came – it is we who lack that awareness more often than not.  And because of that, God said: “Rest.” 

And so what is the purpose for the resting?  There are numerous things, but for now, we are to “set apart, betroth” a certain period of time to rest…and worship.  What did Israel do on the Sabbath?  They celebrated God, His blessings, His greatness…they worshipped Him for all He was worth.  That’s why such a strong word as “betrothal” is used to paint the picture of Sabbath…we are to be betrothed to those kinds of things as we rest.  Does that mean we have to go to church when we’re resting?  Absolutely not (even though from time to time during one of my sermons I’ll catch people ‘resting’ in their chairs)!  You can worship God at your desk at work, laying in the hammock, lounging by the pool, sitting in the shade with some lemonade and a good book – you can worship and reflect on Him anywhere. 

The problem with our leisure (what we think of as our day of rest) is that they’re not very leisurely at all.  We run into them pell-mell and without reservation – and we wind up more tired than when we started.  But the worst thing about it is that we usually leave God entirely out of our thinking at those times.  We’ve left the Holy out of our day of rest.

When is the last time you betrothed yourself to a time of rest and reflection on the One who has given you each day of your life and filled it with wondrous things?  We need that kind of rest!

PRAYER: Father, that you that you know our frailties and our deepest needs, including our need to rest in You.  Help us to sanctify time spent with You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/05/18 – The One Who Eats His Children

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Saturn (Chronos) Devouring His Son – Goya. 1819-1823.

DayBreaks for 2/05/18: The One Who Eats His Children

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2008:

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV) – There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…

John 2:4 (NLT) – How does that concern you and me?” Jesus asked. “My time has not yet come.

Matthew 26:18 (NLT) – As you go into the city,” he told them, “you will see a certain man. Tell him, `The Teacher says, My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.’

Time.  We often speak of it as being our most precious commodity, and although we describe it that way, we don’t often live like we believe it.

The Greek language was so incredibly rich and powerful.  Where we basically have one word for time in English, there were at least two words in the Greek that were commonly used for time.  They believed that time had two faces: one that was good and one that was evil.  Each had a name.  The word chronos (from which we get chronometer, chronicle, chronograph, etc.) was the name of a lesser Greek god, but he wasn’t a good and kindly god.  No, he was ravenous and mean.  He was pictured as a cannibal that was always eating and was never filled or satisfied.  Goya and Peter Paul Rubens both painted pictures of Chronos, wild-eyed, consuming his own children.  This is time that is bound by the clock, that runs on a tight schedule, that is a point in time as a second, minute, hour, day, week or month.  And those who are driven by time pressures are the children that Chronos devours, insatiably, unendingly.  And they’re in agony as he chews away at their flesh and sinews.  Someone shared with me today the idea that not only were living things and the physical things of the universe subjected to tyranny with the fall, but that perhaps time itself was corrupted in some way – turned into Chronos from what had been kairos in the garden.

The other Greek word for time was kairos.  This is not time as we think of it.  In fact, the Greeks would have thought of it this way: instead of asking “What time (chronos) is it?”, they would have asked “What is this time (kairos) for?”  Kairos is time that is unhurried, laden with great potential and possibilities.  It is time that is redeemed by some beautiful, glowing and uplifting purpose.  It is the kind of time that Jesus used when he said, “My time has come.”  In essence, Jesus was proclaiming: “This is the long expected and hoped for time, the very purpose for which I have come is about to be fulfilled.”  Unlike the children of Chronos, the children of kairos seek possibilities, opportunities, wonder in the moment in which their lives are enveloped.

God lets us choose the kind of time we will follow.  We can be driven and consumed by the incessant ticking of the clock on the wall, or we can live in the present moment as the gift of God that it is and search out all the meaning and purpose we can find, for there will never be a shortage of purpose in the lives of believers.

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for the time of our lives!  Thank you that we can not be driven and devoured by time, but that we can relish it and trust You in the middle of the turning seasons to give our moments beauty and meaning.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/03/17 – A Few Hours Before Sunset

DayBreaks for 11/03/17: A Few Hours Before Sunset

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:

Time fascinates, yet haunts me.  I am far too driven by time as a general rule.  If I have any paranoia or obsession, it is that I can’t stand to be late for anything.  Not even one second.  My wife, bless her heart, has had to put up with this now for 37 years.  And I must admit, it has at times been a source of conflict between us because she does NOT share my obsession about timeliness.  A couple of years ago, I bought a watch that automatically resets the time every night based on a signal that is transmitted via satellite from the atomic clock in Colorado.  After all, time is important, right?

Some things make time more than important, they make it priceless.  Moments come and go and can be remembered, but never recovered nor fully relived.  They are gone – period. 

We like to celebrate moments.  After all, that’s what birthdays and anniversaries are all about.  People do it, nations do it, and even holidays such as Christmas are celebrations of the moment when Jesus was born.

Seldom, methinks, do we give time the respect that it deserves, even though we (and something like 47 other nations around the world) observe Daylight Savings Time in an effort to preserve time – at least the daylight hours. 

It is good that we celebrate moments – the Jews certainly celebrated lots of things that took place in the matrix of time and space.  God even directed them to do so, therefore it can’t be a bad thing.  But what of all those other moments that we don’t celebrate?  How do we fill them?  Don’t they have equal value to the bright, shining moments that highlight our days?  It is really those moments that pass by uncelebrated and forgotten that form the bulk of our time on this earth.  And it is those uncelebrated moments that we need to convert, to save, to redeem.  I was struck by the words of Amy Carmichael, who noted: We will have eternity to celebrate the victories, but only a few hours before sunset to win them.

Only a few hours to win the victories, but eternity to celebrate.  Very wise.  Let’s focus our efforts on redeeming the time of our lives as fully as we possibly can.  Then, in the Presence of the Lamb, we’ll be able to celebrate not only His victory, but the victories He allowed us to win for His kingdom.

Colossians 4:5 (KJV) – Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.

PRAYER: Lord, help us to have the wisdom to live not in the light of the sun, but in the Light of the Eternal Son.  Thank you for inviting us to redeem the times in which we live.  Help us to win victories for You before the sun sets.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 8/17/17 – Falling Stars and Fleeting Days

DayBreaks for 8/17/17: Falling Stars and Fleeting Days

Note from Galen: Sorry for all the DayBreaks repeats these past few months. I happen to be in a very busy season of life right now. Oh, yeah, yesterday was my anniversary, so I took the day off from DayBreaks! I appreciate your understanding!

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2007:

On Sunday evening, 8/12, some friends and my wife and I sat out on our deck and watched about 2 hours worth of the Perseid meteor shower.  I’d read about it before, so I was familiar with what it was.  Basically, for those who may not know, it’s when the earth passes through the tail of a comet (Swift-Tuttle) that originates in the Perseus constellation.  The effect of passing through this comet’s “tail” has been observed for over 2000 years, and if you missed it, don’t worry: it happens every summer and peaks at about August 12 each year.  Some of the effects we observed were rather insignificant – faint streaks of light that happened so quickly that you didn’t dare blink or you’d miss them entirely – but others were very bright and left a long, glowing streak across the sky as the particles flamed out in the atmosphere.

There is a song by Fernando Ortega in which he contemplates God’s protection and Presence with us.  In that song, one line goes as follows: “My days are passing by like falling stars that blaze across the night sky and then they are gone…”  The Perseids gave me new perspective on exactly what that means.  And I paused in my heart to take stock of my life.  Life truly does fly by like blazing “falling stars”, does it not?  Scripture talks about it as a mist that appears for a short time and then vanishes…I think Fernando’s take on it is more apt and seemingly (at least to me) much more realistic.  Blink, and you miss it.  Blink, and it is gone, over, done.

I don’t know how long the Lord will permit me to abide on the face of the earth.  I’m 55 years old now (65 as of 2017).  From the actuarial tables, I’ve got maybe 10 years left.  10 years.  The first 20 went by so quickly, and the years from 20 to 40 even faster.  Let’s not even discuss my perspective on how fast I got from 40 to 65.  It’s frightening to contemplate.  And if I’m lucky and blessed, I may see another 15-20 years, but with the history of cardiac problems in my family, the odds are probably against that happening, but God knows. 

So, what am I to make of all this?  I suppose there are several things that come to my mind:

FIRST: I wonder what it will actually be like to die.  It struck me with new force that it’s an experience we can’t really prepare ourselves for – we just don’t know how it feels until we go through it.  Last night as I contemplated this, I wished I could ask my father what it’s like – since he’s been there and is now at home with our Lord.  I will NOT escape that experience, no matter how much I might wish to, or how good I’ve been.  I can only say that I hope it will be like falling asleep and waking up to see the Lord’s face smiling at me. 

SECOND: I ponder all the things that I’ve wanted to do in life, but that I’ve not yet done.  Places I’d like to see.  Friends I’d like to see “one more time.”  Problems and temptations that I’d like to “overcome” before I say my final farewell to earth and fly to meet Him.  Some of those things are unimportant – such as the places I’d like to see.  But what haunts me is the thought: “As I lay on my death bed, what will be my biggest regret?”  If I could answer that question and then manipulate human history and events, then I’d put that question to rest.  But, alas, I cannot manipulate life, and I don’t know until I reach the moment of death what will be my biggest regret at that moment in time.  But, methinks it’s worth thinking about. 

THIRD: I can see the holes in my character, and their size is humbling.  I see many of the faults in my obedience and love for God and others.  Those are humbling, too.  So what’s a man or woman to do who stops long enough to take stock of life and a future of unknown and uncertain duration?  I don’t know about you, but I take great comfort in these words of Scripture from Paul’s pen in Philippians 1:3-6 (NIV) – I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  I’m glad that Paul didn’t say that he himself would have to complete what God had started.  How much better that the one who began that work in us (God Himself!) will see to its completion in ME…and in you!  Although it is beyond my ken and comprehension, I have God’s word on it.  And if that’s not good enough to launch out into eternity, then what is?

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for falling stars and the sweet days of life that flee from east to west in the twinkle of an eye.  Life is sweet, Lord, and it is precious.  May we remember what a great gift this is that You’ve given us.  Thank You for Your Faithful Word and Promise to bring us to spotless perfection in Christ Jesus.  You are amazing.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/15/17 – It Takes a While

DayBreaks for 8/15/17: It Takes a While

From the DayBreaks archive, August 2007:

God certainly has different ways than we do.  We all like to do things in the easiest, most simple way possible.  We aren’t given to wanting to work harder or longer than we absolutely have to.  And so, we take shortcuts and labor hard to find the quickest way to get somewhere. 

When we go on vacation and have a specific destination in mind, I tend to be pedal to the metal until we get there.  I’ll look at the map and find the shortest and most direct route to get where we’re going.  In fact, I not only look at the mileage, but the amount of time each route will take.  I really want to get there!  I’m often not much for appreciating the journey itself.  Just this past summer (2006), my wife and I drove to Iowa for a family reunion.  No dilly-dallying around.  We high-tailed it as fast as we could.  We didn’t have a lot of time, nor a lot of money, to lolly-gag on our way.  “Interstate 80, here we come” – all the way from California to Iowa. 

God, it is clear, has other ways of “traveling”.  Take Israel, for instance, as they came out of Egypt.  The most direct route would have taken Israel northeast along a path that curved around the southeast corner of the Mediterranean Sea.  The distance would have been a mere 200 miles or so.  Even with a group as large as the nation of Israel, such a trek could have been managed in 2-3 weeks at most. 

But God had a “better idea.”  I can’t imagine how Israel felt on the first morning when the pillar of cloud headed not to the northeast, but to the southeast.  The Bible even tells us why this happened.  It wasn’t because God had a bad sense of direction.  It was because God knew that along the route would be strong armies that Israel would have to fight.  And God knew that if they encountered such difficulty, things could be really bad.  Here’s what the Word says: (Exodus 13:17-18 (NIV) – When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter.  For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”  So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle.

You see, it wasn’t that Israel didn’t have weapons to do battle – it explicitly says they left Egypt “armed for battle.”  So the problem wasn’t armaments, it was a heart problem.  For 400 years, Israel had been slaves.  They thought of themselves as slaves – a subordinate, powerless, third rate people with a God that had been on vacation for 4 centuries.  Sure, some of them remembered the stories of how God had dealt with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, but they had not had personal experience of God at work.  At least, not that they could see. 

So, the point is that Israel didn’t know God and had no reason (as far as they were concerned) to trust Him if they encountered an enemy.  They needed to learn to follow and believe in Him and His goodness.  And that takes time.  As someone once said, “It took one night to get Israel out of Egypt, but it took 40 years to get Egypt out of Israel.” 

I sometimes get frustrated with the rate at which I make spiritual progress.  I know others who feel the same way.  I hear it often: “I feel I should be a better Christian by now,” or “I feel like I should not still be struggling with this issue.”  I hear it all the time.  But the point is that God is as patient with us as He was with Israel, and that He will choose the route to the Promised Land that ensures us that when we get there, we’ll have learned to trust Him. 

It takes a long time to get Egypt (earth) out of our focus and onto God as all that we need.  How are you doing?

PRAYER: Father, thank you for choosing the right pathway for each one of our lives as we traverse this world.  Thank you for leading us out of slavery, through the desert, and into a place of learning and trusting in you.  Help us to learn our lessons well, Lord.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/23/17 – As Jesus Was Walking

DayBreaks for 6/23/17: As Jesus Was Walking

From the DayBreaks archive, 2007

John 9:1 – As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth.

And so begins the story of the healing of the blind beggar in the gospel of John.  It’s a rather innocuous beginning, but it is also profound.  Jesus was out walking.  We don’t know where he was going, but he wasn’t in the temple.  It doesn’t appear that he was on his way to some ministry our counseling appointment.  We simply don’t know where he was going.  But one thing is clear: he wasn’t punched in on the ministry time clock. 

Time clocks rule our lives in many ways.  We have certain times when we are supposed to be at work and when we are to leave work, when we’re supposed to be in class at school.  Even our vacations are often dominated by glances at the clock and the sobering awareness of the passing of time – of vacation freedom coming to an end.  We are ruled by time. 

If there is one thing that can be said about Jesus, it is this: he wasn’t very mindful of the clock.  Even though he wasn’t “punched in”, as he traveled to wherever it was that he was going, he saw a man who had been blind, beside the path, begging.  The key word is “saw.”  Jesus stopped and engaged the man in his hour of need.  No one else seemed to pay any attention to this man: he’d probably been a daily sight at the same location for years.  And after that much time passes and if you see that same person every day for year after year, you tend to lose sight of him eventually, he becomes invisible.  And that’s what this man was to apparently everyone that day except for Jesus.  Jesus, on his own time, saw him. 

This man was used to being ignored, to being treated as if he were invisible.  What did it mean to him that day that Jesus saw him and healed him?  It meant that, perhaps for the very first time in his life, he knew that God saw him.  In fact, God had seen every quivering of the man’s chin as he began to cry in his frustration and degradation.  God has seen every person that the man had not seen who had chosen to cross to the far side of the roadway to avoid having to come face to face with this needy may.  But God didn’t pass him by, God came to him that day and saw him, and he saw God. 

And it all happened “as Jesus was walking.”  Today, we’ll take lots of steps – you may even have a watch or phone that will count them for you – we’ll go lots of places and we will almost certainly see lots of people.  But will we “see” them as did?  And even if we see them as we go along our way, will we take time to give them encouragement, a blessing of some kind – spiritual, emotional or physical?  There is to be no time that God’s love and mercy through His children is not in full employ.  As you go on your way today, make it your goal to see people with Jesus’ eyes and to let Him minister to them through your hands and feet.

PRAYER: Lord, we’ve got lots of things on our minds today, many things to do and many places to go.  Open our eyes to see people today as Jesus sees them…we ask You to see them through our physical vision and then to move our physical hands and feet to act as Jesus would in each instance.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>