DayBreaks for 1/17/18 – God’s Face Streaked with Tears

Image result for God weeping

DayBreaks for 1/17/18: God’s Face Streaked with Tears

From the DayBreaks archive, January 2008:

This past week, our small town suffered a great loss.  A young girl, Courtney, was struck down at the tender age of 16 by Ewing’s sarcoma – a rare form of cancer.  She’d become somewhat of a “celebrity” (in a good sense) in our town for her valiant struggle for the past two years.  Her death has hit our town hard and made us all again aware of the presence of the last enemy that will someday be destroyed.

Perhaps my favorite chapter of the entire Bible is John chapter 11 – the story of the raising of Lazarus.  The emotion of the chapter is intense, the message precious. 

First of all, we need to realize that God is a Spirit.  Spirits don’t have eyes, arms, legs, backs or beards.  Spirits are, well…spirits.  Since I’ve never seen one, I can’t tell you what a spirit looks like, but they don’t have bodies per se.  And that complicated things for God.

When God wanted us to know what He was like, He couldn’t just come down in His Spirit and show us.  (I don’t even know if spirits are visible!)  And that’s why the incarnation was so critical.  For us to see God, we had to see something in the form of flesh and blood.  And that takes us to the story of Lazarus.

The shortest verse in the bible – you know it and can quote it – “Jesus wept.”  Perhaps that’s the shortest verse in Scripture because God knew that for the most part, we’re not very good at memorizing Scripture.  But I think it’s the shortest verse in Scripture for a different reason: God knew how important it would be to us so He made it a simple verse that we could remember.

As Jesus stood at the grave of his friend, Lazarus, John says that Jesus was “deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”  Unlike some political candidates or actors, the tears on Jesus’ face were real, just like ours.  They were no act.  They tasted salty, just like ours.  John saw those tears himself.  Think about that.  When Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus, for what may have been the first and only time, humanity saw tears run down the face of God.  And it made such an impression on John that he kept it hidden in his heart until he wrote his gospel and shared it with us.

We needed to know that God weeps with us as we stand at the gravesite.  We need to know that He remembers what it felt like to see death take a loved one in its cold, clammy hands.  We need to know that God, with tears running down his face over what has become of His creation, steps forward at moments like that and says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” And we certainly need to know that as Jesus stands before the resting place of the dead – the most impenetrable fortress of all – he speaks: “Take away the stone.  Lazarus, come forth!” 

It says that those last words were spoken with a loud voice.  Jesus didn’t whisper into the darkness of the tomb, wondering if he could pull this off.  If he hadn’t been sure of his power to do what he was doing, he might have whispered the words where no one could hear – just in case it didn’t work out.  But he didn’t.  He shouted it out so that everyone would know that he held power over the fortress of death.

And as life returned to Lazarus, I feel sure that the tears disappeared from the face of God, to be replaced with smiles and laughter and eyes that sparkled with delight as his friend came forth from the tomb. 

When you weep – remember, God’s face has been streaked with tears.  He knows.  He understands. 

PRAYER: Oh, God, I’m so glad that You have tasted tears.  It is beyond precious that You chose to weep in front of us so that we would know Your love for us.  When we weep, remind us that You still know, You still feel, You still care.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 5/26/17 – A Proof of the Truth of Love

DayBreaks for 5/26/17: A Proof of the Truth of Love

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:

Tears.  Sorrow.  Grief.  Three words that we hope don’t come anywhere near us, for when they do they are always unwelcome visitors.  Would that life were always full of joy, happiness and laughter!  That is, after all, how God intended for life to be, and how it will someday again be for those who love Him! 

In the meantime, we are awaiting that revealing and dawning.  And as the ocean is full of water, so our lives are full of tears.  It doesn’t take much for me to cry.  I am sometimes embarrassed by my readiness to cry, wishing that I were more stoic, that perhaps things didn’t affect me as much.  Those are usually times when I am in a public situation, sometimes in the pulpit, or at the beside of a person in great pain and facing death. 

What can you say to someone who is crushed, broken hearted by loss or some great sorrow?  I know I struggle to find words.  They do, too.  They may be crying, and yet they still seem to be able to say, “I’m sorry for crying.”  I usually am quick to assure them that tears are not bad.  Jesus cried.  And I tell them that tears are a part of the language of love, for if we did not love, we would not weep with loss.

I found it interesting that my oldest son, Doug, was reflecting on this the other day in his blog, when he wrote: “Perhaps sorrow like this can be a kind of gift, too.  It is at least proof of the truth of love, and hope is never far from love.” (Doug Dalrymple, 5/10/07, The Scrivener)

The sorrow that produces weeping is a gift, for it reveals what is in our hearts, and if nothing else, surely it must be proof of the truth of a love that may have even gone unexpressed in happier times. 

Let your tears flow when you need to cry.  They are part of God’s heart, too.

PRAYER:  Lord, may we join in the weeping that comes from your heart for this broken and bloody world of darkness and loss.  May we weep unashamedly because of the love that you put into our hearts for You and those around us.  And may we also weep for our brokenness.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 8/26/16 – The God Who Weeps

DayBreaks for 8/26/16 – The God Who Weeps

Jesus wept. – John 11:35

This is probably the first verse that most of us ever memorized. Why? Because it was short and easy. But short and easy can make it more likely that we’ll miss the incredible power of God’s word to tell us something important in just 9 letters combined into two words.

I have often wondered why Jesus wept. I’ve heard many different interpretations, but the most common are that 1) he was moved by the grief of his friends; 2) he was grieving himself over the loss of Lazarus; 3) he was agonizing over the effects of the fall on humanity – and death was included as part of that fall. I don’t know for sure why he wept, but I rather doubt it was the second one – after all, Jesus knew perfectly well what he was going to do in Bethany that day. But whatever we do, we shouldn’t let our not knowing why Jesus wept distract us from the fact that he did weep.

The shortest verse in the Bible is probably also one of the most poignant and important verses of all time. Some ancients believed that the gods lacked emotions. Their reasoning was that if the gods had emotions then they could be swayed by people and events and that they would no longer be gods. So, they held that the gods must be stoic and untouched emotionally from human affairs. Jesus destroys that notion. Jesus shows us a God who weeps. This is important for at least two reasons: 1) it gives me hope that my prayers can move God, just as God was moved by the requests of Moses and David and many others throughout history; 2) it comforts me to know that Jesus understands heartbreak caused by living in the human condition. It makes me able to go to him and know he “gets it”. And it gives me hope that when I weep, he weeps with me, even as he wept with his friends in that cemetery in Bethany.

You may need someone to weep with you, to share your sorrow and grief. Jesus is that Person you need. He is “the man of sorrows”, “acquainted with grief.” Scripture doesn’t tell us those things just to be telling us facts about Jesus, but to know he sympathizes with us to the point of sitting beside us and crying himself.

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, thank you for inspiring John to record that Jesus wept. May all who weep today find comfort in His Presence beside them! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

DayBreaks for 2/10/16 – The Tears He Wants

DayBreaks for 2/10/16: The Tears He Wants

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2006:

Luke 23:26-27 (NLT) – As they led Jesus away, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country just then, was forced to follow Jesus and carry his cross. Great crowds trailed along behind, including many grief-stricken women.

Some of the other translations say that the women who followed him as Jesus made his way through the streets of Jerusalem “mourned and lamented him.”  That means they were crying – and probably not a soft, barely audible sniffling and groaning.  Lamenting was loud.  It was accompanied by tears and shrieks and cries and the person gave vent to all that was in their hearts and the pain that was contained there. 

In the case of Jesus, the women weren’t weeping for themselves.  They were weeping for Jesus.  We would probably look at that scene and heartily approve of their tears and weeping.  We likely would have said it was only right that they should weep and lament Jesus.  What was happening was a travesty of justice.  What had happened – his beatings, the mockery, the scourging, the betrayals – had turned this lonely figure who stumbled down the streets into a bloody mess – and it had to be tremendously difficult for anyone who had known and loved him to witness what was happening.

But in the next verse, Jesus tells the women not to weep for him.  He says that their weeping is on target – but the cause was wrong.  He encourages them to weep for themselves – for they live in a world that is full of horror, all brought about by sin.  And so it is that Sigmund Brouwer wrote: It is easy to weep when we see Jesus with the cross.  But those are tears he does not want.  He wants us to cry for our sins.  He wants us to ask forgiveness. 

Point made.

TODAY’S PRAYER:  Lord, help us to weep first and foremost for our sin, the sin that caused You to walk beneath the weight of the beam and to stumble and fall on your way to Calvary.  Help us to seek your forgiveness, for that is what we need the most!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, all rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 7/13/15 – Weep No More!

DayBreaks for 7/13/15: Weep No More

Winners.  Losers.  Victors.  Vanquished.

No one likes to lose.  Athletes hate it with a passion.  Business persons, do too.  When armies lose, nations tumble and lives are lost.  When the famous stop being famous, when the “beautiful people” are older and no longer “beautiful”, they feel lost and adrift as that which gave them “value” is now gone.

When the Jews were taken captive by the Babylonians, they must have felt like losers.  Daniel 1:2 describes it like this: And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god. – Daniel 1:2 (ESV)

Judah, the more “faithful” of the two kingdoms, held to the strong illusion that they were true to God.  They felt He would protect them.  Yet they honored him with their lips but their hearts were far from Him.  Even the glorious house of God that had been built by Solomon was razed to the ground, the temple objects taken from the temple and put into the temples of a false God.  Do you suppose they felt like losers?  I think they did.

There have been plenty of things lately that may make the church feel like all is lost.  That God has abandoned us.  That the fight just as well be over because the outcome is so clear and obvious.  And we may well feel like losers.

Don’t.  Check this out: And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” – Revelation 5:5 (ESV)

You see, it isn’t over until it is over.  Jesus WILL have the final word..the FINAL word.  And that Word will bring victory for the church.

Things may look dismal.  I get it!  They start to look more and more hopeless – especially in the past couple of years.  But the victory will be gained.  Rather than weeping over the present state of affairs, take heart, Christian!  Weep no more, but join in with great expectation because you are on the winning side!

PRAYER: Jesus, things haven’t gone well in the past few years on this planet, but you already know that.  I pray you will keep us from discouragement or surrender! Help us remember that rather than weeping over the state of affairs, that you call us to join you in the present work and the great victory celebration to come!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 06/24/13 – Neither Dancing Nor Weeping

DayBreaks for 06/24/13 – Neither Dancing Nor Weeping

dancingweepingLuke 7:31-35 (MSG) – “How can I account for the people of this generation?  They’re like spoiled children complaining to their parents, ‘We wanted to skip rope and you were always too tired; we wanted to talk but you were always too busy.’  John the Baptizer came fasting and you called him crazy.   The Son of Man came feasting and you called him a lush.  Opinion polls don’t count for much, do they? The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”

What a bold man Jesus was!  For some reason, this passage had skipped my attention until one morning’s quite time in Ghana.  Jesus wasn’t afraid to let his frustrations show, though I’m sure that we don’t know even a tenth of his frustration with mortals. 

In context, some of John’s followers had just come to ask if Jesus was the Messiah, or if they should go away and look for someone else.  No wonder Jesus was frustrated!  John himself has testified to Jesus, and now even John was having doubts.  These two emissaries asked their question and then observed for two or three hours while Jesus healed and wrought wonders.  He then instructed them to go and tell John what they’d seen, then reinforces the greatness of John.  Next, however, he lights into the fickleness of humanity.

I think that the problem many in Jesus’ day had with Jesus is the same problem many have today: the people of that generation didn’t get what they expected from Jesus.  In short, they blamed Jesus for not dancing to their tune, for not fitting in with what they wanted the Messiah to be.  They only wanted to sing and dance, not do anything that required repentance or effort to move toward holiness.  They wanted entertainment and not spiritual reformation or anything hard. 

This is the story of the American church and Americans today.  We want show and glitz, not the hard words such as John and Jesus spoke.  The Word is a two-edged sword and it cuts, causing us to bleed if we have a soft heart that can be cut.

The children in Jesus’ illustration complained that they didn’t sing (something that would have been done at a wedding) nor mourn (a funeral activity).  John’s message was like the dirge and they refused to listen to him.  Jesus was accused of revelry (drinking and feasting at weddings) and they rejected him. 

We really don’t want what we often ask for, and when and if we do get it, we reject it and say we want something else.  The last thing we want is conviction and the bad news (we are sinners destined for hell) that must of necessity precede the good news that sets us free. 

PRAYER: The truth is hard for us to hear and we don’t like it when You back us into a corner and force us to confront the truth about what we are.  Strip away our pre-conceived notions of what you are like and what you should do…and simply accept You for what You truly are!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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