DayBreaks for 3/21/18 – Without a Doubt

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DayBreaks for 3/21/18: Without a Doubt

From the DayBreaks archive, 2008:

How strange are the mysteries of God!  To paraphrase: “If you want to find your life, you must lose it.”  Or, “He that is the greatest shall be the least among you.”  “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”  Certainly, perhaps the greatest understatement in the history of the universe was when God declared, My ways are not your ways, nor my thought like your thoughts.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so are my thoughts above your thoughts. 

It seems strange that in dying, death was defeated.  Christ took death in both of his arms and pulled it into his mortal body, and in doing so, defeated it.  Through the resurrection, death and its power were forever broken and we need not fear the moment of our physical death for one second longer.  This is the peace that Christ has bought us: that we have been reconciled to God the Father through Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection.  All that previously stood between us has been removed, torn down, ripped asunder like the veil in the temple. 

“He died, but he vanquished death; in himself, he put an end to what we feared; he took it upon himself, and he vanquished it; as a mighty hunter, he captured and slew the lion.  Where is death?  Seek it in Christ, for it exists no longer; but it did exist, and now it is dead.  O life, O death of death!  Be of good heart; it will die in us also.  What has taken place in our head will take place in his members; death will die in us also.  But when?  At the end of the world, at the resurrection of the dead in which we believe and concerning which we do not doubt.” – Augustine, Sermon 233

It is one thing to stand at the gravesite and hope for resurrection.  It is another, as Augustine put it, to “believe and concerning which we have no doubt.”  It is through a life of close fellowship with God that such confidence comes.  The resurrection was the first fruit of Christ’s victory – a victory that he is eager to share with each of his children!

PRAYER: Lord, it is difficult for us to believe and accept that death holds no power as we see people dying all around us.  May we, as we celebrate Christ’s victory over death, clearly understand that it is our victory, too.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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DayBreaks for 4/15/15 – The Invulnerable City

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DayBreaks for 4/15/15: The Invulnerable City

From the DayBreaks archive, 2005:

Sometimes it is hard to realize that nothing in this world lasts forever.  It extends all the way from nations, to love, to corporations, and even to our pets, whose mortality we don’t like to contemplate.  One of the mightiest nations in the ancient world was ancient Rome.  Their nation survived for nearly 1000 years from the time it was supposedly founded by the brothers Romulus and Remus on the banks of the Tiber, until it fell in 410 A.D.  One young man who had lived and reveled in the streets of Rome throughout his younger years became one of the greatest theologians in church history.  His name was Augustine, and after being told that the city of Rome had been sacked, he said, “All earthly cities are vulnerable.  Men build them and men destroy them.  At the same time there is the City of God which men did not build and cannot destroy and which is everlasting.” 

Catastrophes are, well, catastrophic.  The fall of Rome was not only inconceivable to those who felt secure in the city and nation, but when it happened, it had to be one of the most terrifying experiences they ever lived through.  Their security was gone.  The enemy was not only at the gates, but had burst through.  What would become of the inhabitants?  As the old saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” but it turned out to be shocking how quickly it could fall.

The kingdom of God – or the City of God as Augustine referred to it – wasn’t built in a day, either.  It is still being built.  It was established and founded by the Lord Jesus Christ who was God with us, who proclaimed “The Kingdom of God is at hand.”  We can forget, if we’re not careful, that we aren’t just Americans, or Canadians, or South Africans.  We are living stones in the kingdom of God that is here, now, living and powerful. 

Every nation that has ever been built up has been torn down.  And that’s the way it will be until the end of time.  At that point, after trampling all enemies and kings and nations under his feet, the Kingdom of God will begin in fullness and glory and timeless perfection.  There will be no generals or politicians who make strategic mistakes that will doom God’s kingdom.  You see, Augustine had it right: men cannot destroy that which God has decreed to be everlasting.  As frightening as this world gets sometimes, as terrified and insecure as we may sometimes feel, we need to be reminded that we aren’t citizens of this world in the ultimate sense, nor of a given nation or race.  We are destined for eternity and for an everlasting, invulnerable city.

Daniel 7:13-14 (NLT) – As my vision continued that night, I saw someone who looked like a man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence.  He was given authority, honor, and royal power over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed.

PRAYER: Lord, we look forward to the city not made with hands, in which righteousness dwells forever!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 8/28/14 – It Is Not I

DayBreaks for 8/28/14 – It Is Not I

Galatians 2:20 (NLT) My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

It is said that St. Augustine was accosted one day on the street by a former mistress sometime after he had become a Christian. When he saw her he turned and walked the other way. Surprised, the woman called out, “Augustine, it is I”. Augustine as he kept going the other way, answered her, “Yes, but it is not I.”

It is an amusing story in a way, I suppose, yet also sobering – one that comes close to making the same point the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer made when he wrote “When Christ calls a man to follow him, he calls him to die.”

I don’t like the idea of dying.  Our flesh and fleshly spirit fight against it.  Yet we are all called to die if we choose to live, to lose our life in order to find it, to take up our cross and follow him.  And where does that following of Christ lead us?  Paul put it well in the passage above: My old self has been crucified with Christ.

We might be tempted to take up the cross and follow Jesus, much like Simon the Cyrene who was compelled to carry Jesus’ cross.  But when it comes to the place of crucifixion, we’re happy to let Jesus get up on the cross rather than being nailed to it ourselves.  Paul shows us what carrying the cross really means: it means being crucified with Him, not skipping out on the nails and dying that must take place.

Augustine got to the core of it, too.  I’m still struggling to get there.

PRAYER: I know, Jesus, that the invitation to take up the cross and follow you is that it is my own cross that I’m to bear and that the journey will lead to the death of my fleshly nature so that I can take on Your nature.  Still it is hard, Lord!  Help!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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