DayBreaks for 6/29/20 – The Old Made New

DayBreaks for 6/29/20: The Old Made New

Today I celebrate by birthday. Do you remember how much you looked forward to birthdays when you were a wee kid? Somehow, as I’ve passed through decades of life a lot of that excitement has worn off and I wonder how many birthdays I have left in this old body of mine.

While walking the dog yesterday morning, I was listening to Zach Williams song, Face to Face, and these words struck me: There’s a day, coming soon Where the old will be made new And Heaven’s glory shines like the morning Before our eyes. I’ve often contemplated the promise that all things will be made new, but more often than not I think about a new heaven and new earth: new mountains without erosion, new galaxies without supernovas, new oceans filled with undying life, new skies without pollution…in short, I tend to think of “things” that are old (for the mountains and canyons of this earth are far older than I) being made new in their pristine wonder and majesty. And I look forward to seeing all those things when they are made new again.  

But as I walked, it struck me that part of what is old is me… and part of the old that will be made new is me. I have known that intellectually for a long, long time, but it really hit me this time as I’m celebrating my 68th trip around the sun.

I recall when I could run like the wind and never get winded. I could leap like a frog and touch the rim of a basketball hoop even though I’ve never exceeded 5’8.5” in height. I had boundless energy and strength. Those days are gone. My bones, muscles and sinews are old and creaky. As I watch my grandchildren run and laugh and leap, I’d love to be able to run and play with them in those ways without fear of my heart seizing up on me or a brittle old bone snapping in two! Alas, it will not happen again in this world and for the most part I can only watch and enjoy watching them delight in their youthful bodies.

But I will run again. I will leap again. I will never age, for part of the old that will be made new is “me”. God has already been working on making my heart, the inner me, new again-but the day will come when the outer me will be made new again. That’s something to look forward to. I long to run and not grow weary or fear brokenness.

In his mercy, when I see Jesus face to face, God will make all that is old, frail, fleeting, flawed, degraded and broken down full of life, vigor, strength and power – and better than it has ever been. What a glorious day that will be!

PRAYER: I praise you, God, that you have the power to make the old new and perfect. Help us not fear that doorway that leads to such healing, but to look forward to the change you will bring to fruition in us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/16/20 – The Best Day Ever

See the source image

DayBreaks for 6/16/20: The Best Day Ever

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2010:

What is the best memory you have of the best day you ever spent on this earth?  I don’t know if I can identify just one day that was my best, but I can recall some indescribable days: the days when each of our kids arrived, the days when our grandchildren arrived, the day of our wedding, the day I became a disciple of Christ (but since I did that at a fairly young age, it didn’t seem as momentous to me then as it does even today.)  You can probably think of others, but most of us would probably put family-related activities in the list of “best days ever.” 

In a sermon I preached a week ago, I mused briefly about the best day in the life of the apostles.  Of course, we don’t know and they’re not here to allow us to ask them, but don’t you suspect that if you asked any of the 11 (not counting Judas) what was the best, most exciting day they ever spent, that they might reflect back to a Sunday morning in Jerusalem after a very dark, deadly weekend?  Could there have been anything more exciting than His resurrection?  I think not.

But what about for Jesus?  Was His resurrection as exciting to him as it was to the disciples?  I doubt it – he knew it was going to happen, but to them it was a total, mind-blowing shock!  I don’t know what Jesus’ best day may have been.  At best we can only surmise.  But I like what Phillip Yancey had to say: he thinks the best day ever for Jesus was the day of his ascension back to the Father.  When you stop to think about it, doesn’t that make a lot of sense?  He’d set aside the glory he had with God before the foundation of the world to come here.  In his ascension, he was taking that glory back up again.  When he came, he knew he’d get sick, be weak physically, be limited in His power, be beaten, spit on and die in a most ignoble and painful way.  With the ascension, that was all over with.  As Yancey wrote, “He, the Creator, who had descended so far and give up so much, was now heading home.  Like a soldier returning across the ocean from a long and bloody war.  Like an astronaut shedding his spacesuit to gulp in the familiar atmosphere of earth.  Home at last.”

He goes on to reflect on Jesus’ prayer at the Last Supper, and suggests it gives us insights into his point of view: “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.  And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” 

“Before the world began!  Like an old man reminiscing – no, like an ageless God reminiscing – Jesus, who sat in a stuffy room in Jerusalem, was letting his mind wander back to a time before the Milky way and Andromeda.  On an earthly night dark with fear and menace, Jesus was making preparations to return home, to assume the glory he had set aside.”

I’m so glad He went home and took up His glory again!!!!  I LONG to see Him in that glory!  I can scarce believe He left it behind to find ME – the one lost sheep who had gone astray!  I am dumbfounded by the wonder of it all!

I wonder if when his feet left the ground, if a sigh of relief could be heard…

PRAYER: Oh, Jesus!  No words have ever been invented to describe how thankful we are for what You did for us!  Long live King Jesus!!!!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 6/02/20 – An Interesting Twist on the Ascension

The Ascension of Jesus Bible Story Study Guide

DayBreaks for 6/02/20: An Interesting Thought on the Ascension

We have just recently come through the time of year where we celebrate the resurrection – and rightly so! – for it is our guarantee that Jesus was who he claimed to be and will raise us up in due time.

Aside from the shocking appearances between his resurrection and Pentecost we find another event in Jesus’ life that we often speed past in our journey to get back to work or to care for the kids. That event is the ascension.

In the sermon this past Sunday, the preacher made an excellent point that I’d neither considered nor heard before. He noted that when Jesus ascended, he took a part of earth to heaven with him. How? Well, it appears from the passage in Revelation that Jesus still bears the scars of the crucifixion on his heavenly body. In taking a bit of earth to heaven it is a reminder to God of us earthly creatures and a foreshadowing of the great in-gathering of other earthly beings that will some day take place.

But with Pentecost being this past Sunday, it is worth noting that what happened on Pentecost was a bit of heaven (the Spirit) being brought to earth – to remind us of the heavenly truths and to remind us that God has not forgotten or abandoned us.

A part of the earthly is permanently in the heavenlies and a part of the heavenlies is permanently here on earth. This is the start of the great reuniting that God has been working toward for millennia. With all that is going on in the world let us pray the words that Jesus taught us: Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…

PRAYER: Almighty God, let your Spirit flood throughout the world until your will is done here, in my heart and in this earthly world, as it is in heaven. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/04/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #25 – The Last Tear

Haiku – Flow & Tear | radhikasreflection

DayBreaks for 5/04/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #25 – The Last Tear

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. Today’s musical pairing: a simple version of “Give Me Jesus” by Sara Watkins. All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. – Psalm 56:8 (NLT)

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. – Revelation 21:4 (NIV)

Meditation 25. 3,305,595 confirmed cases, 235,861 deaths globally.

The Bible ends with an ecstatic vision. A new heaven and a new earth—and a new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband (Rev. 21:2). A voice cries out from the throne of heaven and declares, Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Rev 21:3–4).

The heavenly proclamation includes an allusion to Isaiah 25:8: The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces.

It easy to forget how astonishing this is. The Jews had come to recognize that God is far greater than any other god people had ever imagined. They did not worship many gods and spirits. They worshipped a single God who created all things simply by speaking them into being. And yet that God, a God of transcendent power and ineffable majesty, also cares about the most minute sorrows of his people.

I live in a high and holy place, God says in Isaiah 57:15, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit. We may be tempted to dismiss it as a poetic sentiment. We shouldn’t. There is nothing more true than this. The immensity of the love of God is in the intimacy of his care. No sorrow is so small it escapes his attention. The God of the universe, the same God who set the span of the cosmos and rules over all time and space, gathers our tears in a bottle. For each of us. Our sufferings are remembered in God. Even the sorrows we never disclose to any person on the planet reside in him eternally…(Click here to read the rest of this devotion.)

PRAYER: There will come a day when the last tear is shed. Then, O Lord, we will live among you forever. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Christianity Today’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CTMagazine

 

DayBreaks for 4/29/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #24 – The Last Enemy

An Unearthly Child — The last enemy that shall be destroyed is Death…

DayBreaks for 4/29/20: The Hallway Through the Sea, #24 – The Last Enemy

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. For today’s musical pairing, “Song for Athene” by Sir John Tavener. All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. … The last enemy to be destroyed is death. – 1 Corinthians 15:20–22, 26

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will all be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:51–54

Meditation 24. 3,094,829 confirmed cases, 215,461 deaths globally.

In the days preceding my grandfather’s death, he was wholly unresponsive. A heart attack and a belated resuscitation had left his brain without oxygen for an extended time. Though we were told he was no longer really there, we brought him home and the family kept watch by his bedside. The silence was leavened with hymns and prayers.

Death, for my grandfather, did not come like a violent plunge. It was more like his soul was water on the shore and it slowly receded into the sand. The beating of his heart, the pulsing of his blood, the rise and fall of his chest all grew gentler until they were almost imperceptible.

Then, in the last possible moment, his eyes opened. His arms rose off the bed and extended toward the ceiling, toward the skies, toward the heavens. Stunned, the family whispered encouragement. “It’s okay to go,” they said. His arms fell. And he was gone.

Mortality is much on our minds these days. Here in the United States, we have surpassed a million confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus. It began on the far side of the planet and has left a ruin of death and devastation wherever it has gone. More Americans have died from the disease than from the entire Vietnam War.

Grandfathers and grandmothers. Brothers and sisters. Parents and children and grandchildren. Friends and colleagues. Countless Americans are grieving their loss, and countless more are grieving overseas. How many will lose people they love before the virus is defeated?

When we lose a loved one, our souls strain against the veil. We come to the end of ourselves and our powers to see. We may wonder whether we will ever really see them again. How confident are we, really, that we will find one another again on the far side of the veil?

We do not, if we are honest with ourselves, really know what happens to the souls of the dead. Not, at least, in the same sense we know the names of our children or the number of rooms in our home. But that does not mean we cannot be confident. Trust can be stronger than knowledge when it is rooted in the being of God…(Click here to read the rest of this devotion.)

Link to Christianity Today’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CTMagazine

 

DayBreaks for 3/02/20 – A Different Attitude

Image result for olympic medals

DayBreaks for 3/2/20: A Different Attitude

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2010:

I am not lucky when it comes to contests.  I am told (mostly by my wife and also my good friend, Ken) that I am a pretty competitive individual.  I don’t see it, but I guess that they do.  I’m not sure if that’s good or bad but I’m certain it could be either – or both – depending on what it is that I might be competitive about!  I don’t like to lose.  And sometimes, if I don’t think that I’ve really got a reasonable chance of success, I won’t even compete because I dislike losing that much. 

How we feel about winning and losing probably says a lot more about us than we want to admit.  I know those who lose and then they sulk about it for days or weeks.  And that’s especially true, it seems, the closer they came to victory.  Consider running the 100-meter dash in the Olympics.  Such an event draws the fastest men and women in the world – people who literally can run like the wind.  In such a short race, with such a high caliber of competitors, the difference between winning and losing is often measured in hundredths of a second – faster than the blink of an eye. 

Can you imagine what it would be like to have trained for year after year after year – perhaps a decade or more – only to lose the Olympic 100-meter dash by .01 second?  It would be crushing.

A fascinating study done by Professor Vicki Medvec reveals the relative importance of subjective attitudes over and above objective circumstances. In her study, she studied Olympic medalists and discovered that bronze medalists were quantifiably happier than silver medalists. Here’s why: Silver medalists tended to focus on how close they came to winning gold, so they weren’t satisfied with silver; bronze medalists tended to focus on how close they came to not winning a medal at all, so they were just happy to be on the medal stand. 

Again, in the case of an Olympic race, the difference between 2nd place and 3rd place (silver or bronze medal) may be only .01 second (or less).  I find it very telling that the third place finishers didn’t feel worse, and in fact felt better, than the second place competitors. 

What does this say about us?  Perhaps it is a lesson in thankfulness and grace: none of us can run the race that Jesus ran – He is the hand’s down winner and no one is even close to Him in terms of holiness.  I suspect that the Pharisees, to the extent that they allowed the truth of their sin to come to the surface, beat themselves up incessantly about their sin, thinking things like, “I was sooooo close to being as holy as God wants me to be!”  Balderdash.  Not one of us can say that. 

I don’t know about you, but when the heavenly dawn breaks for me, I will be thrilled to be on the victory stand and look up at the One who won the race not only for me, but for everyone who puts their trust in Him.  I know I will have no right to be there…I would be more than content to be the stable boy for Jesus’ great white war horse for eternity.  But God won’t permit that.  He has made us His beloved children, He will give us the crown of life, and we will be so eternally thankful that we won’t worry, as did the disciples on the night that Jesus was betrayed, about who is “the greatest.”  It will be perfectly clear Who the Greatest will be!

PRAYER: Help us to have attitudes of thankfulness for what you have done for us, for our destiny and for the joy that awaits us and not to be envious or jealous of those who we might be tempted to look up to in this life.  Let us lift our eyes to see only Jesus and to praise Him for all eternity!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 2/27/20 – An Unending Honeymoon

Image result for honeymoon

DayBreaks for 2/27/20: An Unending Honeymoon

From the DayBreaks archive, February 2010:

If you are married, think back to your honeymoon.  I would certainly hope that it was a time of great joy for you and your beloved.  Honeymoon’s are supposed to be that way – a time when you can simply focus on one another and the delight that fills the heart and put away all other concerns.  It’s great while it lasts, isn’t it?

In his book The Pleasures of God, John Piper shares why God’s love is superior to any love we will find here on earth:

“Sometimes we joke and say about marriage, “The honeymoon is over.” But that’s because we are finite. We can’t sustain a honeymoon level of intensity and affection. We can’t foresee the irritations that come with long-term familiarity. We can’t stay as fit and handsome as we were then. We can’t come up with enough new things to keep the relationship that fresh. But God says his joy over his people is like a bridegroom over a bride. He is talking about honeymoon intensity and honeymoon pleasures and honeymoon energy and excitement and enthusiasm and enjoyment. He is trying to get into our hearts what he means when he says he rejoices over us with all his heart.

“And add to this, that with God the honeymoon never ends. He is infinite in power and wisdom and creativity and love. And so he has no trouble sustaining a honeymoon level of intensity; he can foresee all the future quirks of our personality and has decided he will keep what’s good for us and change what isn’t; he will always be as handsome as he ever was, and will see to it that we get more and more beautiful forever; and he infinitely creative to think of new things to do together so that there will be no boredom for the next trillion ages of millenniums.” – John Piper, The Pleasures of God (Multnomah, 2000), p. 188

I wish I could be on a honeymoon with my bride forever and never have to worry again about the cost of eyeglasses or dental work or mortgage payments or the rising price of everything else.  I wish I could be creative enough to find new ways to express my delight in her each and every moment for as long as I live.  Alas, as she’ll tell you, I’m not that creative.  But God is.  The honeymoon love of God for us will never end nor will we ever tire of it, for our love for Him will be perfected, too.

Long ago when I first married my wife, I couldn’t conceive of a love that would get more and more beautiful as time passed.  Now, from the perspective of a few years, I can understand that such a thing can be true.  But I still can’t conceive of a love that gets “more and more beautiful forever” – yet that is precisely what we will find in Him!

PRAYER: How we long to fully experience your creative, unending, exciting, joyful, beautiful love forever!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 1/17/20 – The Great Depression

Image result for pandora avatar

DayBreaks for 1/17/20: The Great Depression

From the DayBreaks Archive, January 2010:

There’s a movie out that you really should see if you haven’t already.  It’s James Cameron’s Avatar.  If you can, you REALLY should see it in 3D (there’s both a 3D version of it and a 2D version.)  I can virtually guarantee you that you’ve never seen anything like it in terms of movie-making.  It is literally breath-taking in scope, achievement and visual effects.  You feel as if you are in the jungle on Pandora (the name of their planet). 

It is a movie that also, if one has an eye for it, packs lots of messages and evokes many responses.  Here’s one that I don’t think anyone really anticipated: 

From the Huffington Post, Tuesday, January 12, 2010: Avatar-Induced Depression

“The beautiful alien planet Pandora depicted in James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ is so captivating that some audience members are becoming depressed and even suicidal when they fail to find meaning in real life after the film is over.

“Writes Jo Piazza for CNN: On the fan forum site “Avatar Forums,” a topic thread entitled “Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible,” has received more than 1,000 posts from people experiencing depression and fans trying to help them cope. The topic became so popular last month that forum administrator Philippe Baghdassarian had to create a second thread so people could continue to post their confused feelings about the movie.

“Here are just a few of the ways people are coping on Avatar Forums:

“I just watched avatar a few weeks ago and I’m feeling depressed and sad. It’s like I want to reach out and be in Pandora. I’d do anything to be in Pandora. I’ve tried so hard to dream about me being on Pandora but it hasn’t worked.”
“Ever since I went to see ‘Avatar’ I have been depressed. Watching the wonderful world of Pandora and all the Na’vi made me want to be one of them. I can’t stop thinking about all the things that happened in the film and all of the tears and shivers I got from it. I even contemplate suicide thinking that if I do it I will be rebirthed in a world similar to Pandora and the everything is the same as in ‘Avatar.'”
“Because, at this point, there isn’t pretty much anything else that can be done. Until the release of DVD/BluRay. But even that won’t take away all of the depression. Because you know you can never actually go to Pandora, as it exists only in our imagination… sigh… :(“

“Whether or not these posts are for real there is reason to believe the affliction is rooted in legitimate despair.”

Let me say first, that those I know who have gone to see the movie have not had these kinds of reactions.  Why?  Because the people I’ve talked to about the movie are Christians…and perhaps, just perhaps, we aren’t “depressed and sad” because we understand what the longing is that these folks are experiencing because we’ve found the answer: Jesus. 

As awesome as the world of Pandora is in the movie, it can’t hold a candle to heaven.  As Paul said (he and John are the only humans who’ve ever seen it as far as I know for sure!), it isn’t possible (nor permissible) to discuss what it is like.  I was driving to a meeting early one morning recently as the sun was rising over the eastern hills of the Alexander Valley where we live, and I was captivated by the beauty of that sunrise.  I started talking with God about what heaven would be like.  Are there colors there?  Revelation describes things with color…so there must be.  But are they the same colors?  Will they be different, vastly richer and more beautiful?  I have to believe so.  I can’t believe anything about heaven would be nearly as dull as things on this earth.

As the sun rose, I thought about God’s glory.  He can’t help but be glorious.  It’s not like he wakes up each morning thinking, “I think I’ll be glorious today.”  He can’t help it.  Wherever He goes, His glory arrives before Him like the rays of the sun arrive before the sun is fully up.  And His glory follows after Him as the rays of the sun still light the sky once the sun has set.  As that sunrise came, I realized that the glory of heaven will far outshine anything we can dream of, hope for, long for.  And we don’t need to despair, because our inheritance is being kept for us by God Himself.  Who do you think will be able to take it away from Him?  No one!

Don’t despair.  There’s a place far better than Pandora.  It’s called heaven.

PRAYER: Let Your glory shine on us and led us unto a life lived in the glory of Your eternal day!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 1/01/20 – Seeing the Invisible

Image result for invisible

DayBreaks for 1/01/20: Seeing the Invisible

From the DayBreaks Archive, 1/01/09:

Do you remember the story, The Invisible Man? I faintly remember seeing black and white TV movies or shows about it. I found the premise fascinating. For those of you who don’t remember it, a man had become invisible (I don’t remember how), and he wore clothes and bandages over his head to hide the fact that he was invisible. Of course, when he took the bandages off, there was a gap between his hat and his shirt collar! Most of us have probably wished at times that we could be invisible. It may have been when we were in trouble, or when we were feeling mischievous.

Have you ever seen anything that is invisible? I haven’t. But the Bible claims that it has happened. Listen to Hebrews 11:27-28 as it describes Moses: By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.  I’m sure that the writer to the Hebrews had Ex. 33:20-23 in mind when he wrote this, but I think there are several lessons here to be learned:

FIRST: Moses left Egypt on less than good terms. He wasn’t afraid of the pharaoh and his anger (according to this passage), but the thing that allowed Moses to continue on until he died was seeing things that were invisible. It gave him the power to persevere. Many times when my life is frantic and falling into disarray and I think I can’t bear another day, it is because I have only been looking at visible things and stopped seeing invisible Reality.

SECOND: God wants us to see Him. In the ultimate sense, He wants us to look on His face as His child (Rev. 22:4) in heaven. But it wasn’t enough that we should see Him some day. There are some days that are so bad that we need to see Him NOW! And it is at those moments that God reveals Himself in quite unexpected ways. It may come in the form of a cool wind on a blistering hot day, it may come disguised as a kind person who gives a cup of cold water, it may come in the form of someone who has hurt us surprising us by apologizing for some mean words they said. And when we see those things, I hope we’ll see and recognize not just the physical, but the invisible Truth behind all love, kindness and forgiveness.

THIRD: God grants us glimpses of himself when we need it. But more often than not, He is cleverly disguised by human flesh. That’s how He came in the person of Jesus. That was how He revealed Himself through the prophets. And that is how He wants to reveal Himself to the world around you – by and through you: (Colossians 1:27) To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. You see, if Christ is in you, and you are in Him, God lives within you in a real and utterly unfathomable way. I can’t see it, I can’t explain it, but God lives inside of you and me. When people see us – will they be able to identify and see the Invisible?

PRAYER: Father, may we make You visible to all who see us that they may come to know Your goodness and glory and be saved!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 12/10/19 – A Message for the Grieving

Image result for grieving

DayBreaks for 12/10/19: A Message for the Grieving

Do you remember your first brush with death?  It might have been the death of a pet, or when you first saw road kill.  For some, the first touch of death is for a human who was loved but now gone.  It matters little what the first encounter was, for we will most certainly encounter death numerous times during our few years.  People have wondered since the dawn of creation about the dead – where are they, is there a place they go to, if so – what is it like?  Will we see them again?  For Christians, the questions are a bit more focused: do the dead in Christ go to be with him right away, or do they go to some kind of “holding tank” until the end?  Or, are they even conscious until the resurrection?

It appears that the Christians at Thessalonica had questions about such matters and the apostle Paul wrote partly to bring their questioning to an end.  Paul had several things to say that were instructive:

FIRST: We want you to be quite certain, brothers, about those who have died, to make sure that you do not grieve about them, like the other people who have no hope. (1 Thes. 4:13, JB)  As with any group of people, they’d seen loved ones die and be buried.  And they wanted to know more about their plight.  And, thankfully, God wanted them to know more about their status, so He had Paul pen these words.  There are some who will read this that will experience their first Christmas without a particular loved one. Let God speak to you through the words of Paul this year to give you comfort.  But Paul goes on:

SECOND: I want you to know what happens to a Christian when he dies so that when it happens, you will not be full of sorrow, as those who have no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and then came back to life again, we can also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with Him all the Christians who have died. (1 Thes. 4:13-14, TLB) What is God telling us in this passage?  That we will see our believing loved ones again.  This passage also hints at something another verse will make even more clear: where the dead believers go in the interim – that Jesus will bring them “with him” – so they must be where he is.

THIRD: For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.  If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.  Yet what shall I choose?  I do not know!  I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.”(Phil. 1:21-23, NIV)  Where does Paul say he would go if he departed this life?  “To be with Christ.” 

Just a day or two ago, I was exchanging email with a friend whose wife (both he and his wife are Christians) passed away this past summer, and I asked him how he was doing during this holiday season.  He replied to me, and I wrote back and simply said, “This year she’ll be celebrating Christmas with the One who was born in the stable.”  I believe that with all my heart – she is presently with the Lord, and when He comes back, she’ll come with Him – as will all our loved ones who have died in Christ.

I want to remind us all that the holidays are very difficult times for people who face them alone for the first time – for all who will have an empty chair at the family gathering this year.  Please – reach out to them and share this part of the good news with those who are in Christ – let God speak peace through you to encourage them as to the fate of their loved ones.

PRAYER: Thank You for Your great and exceedingly precious promises and reassurances to us, Lord!  Please give comfort to all those who have lost believing loved ones during this year and make us be instruments of Your grace and comfort.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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