DayBreaks for 3/22/19 – Even the Darkness Dazzles

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DayBreaks for 3/22/19: Even the Darkness Dazzles

In order to be God made man and to lead our exodus from this world to the next, Jesus had to die like we do: alone, with no particular glory. Otherwise he would have been an anomaly instead of a messiah, and it would have been hard for us to see what he had in common with the rest of us.

As it was, he died very much like those who died on either side of him, one of them begging to be saved from what was coming, the other asking to be remembered when Jesus got where he was going. Jesus could not do anything for the one who wanted to be spared, but he did a great favor for the other. He told him that the darkness was a dazzling one, with paradise in it for both of them.

Perhaps it was the transfiguration that helped remind Jesus of this dazzling world beyond: when light burst through all his seams and showed those gathered what he was made of. It was as if he experienced a flash-back of his pre-incarnation glory. If we had been allowed to intrude on that moment, it would have been because someone thought we might need a dose of glory too, to get us through the night. Some people are lucky enough to witness it for themselves, although like Peter, James and John, very few of them will talk about it later.

What the rest of us have are stories like the transfiguration and the crucifixion, and the chance to decide for ourselves whether we will believe what they tell us. It is a lot to believe: that God’s lit-up life includes death, that there is no way around it but only through, that even the that death darkness can dazzle.

1 John 1:5 (CSBBible) – This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in him.

PRAYER: Thank you that there is no darkness in, or for, you and therefore the death darkness for your children dazzles with your glory! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

 

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DayBreaks for 3/5/19 – Ready Every Day

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DayBreaks for 3/05/19: Ready Every Day

From the DayBreaks archive February 2009:

Robby Robins was an Air Force pilot during the first Iraq war. After his 300th mission, he was surprised to be given permission to immediately pull his crew together and fly his plane home. They flew across the ocean to Massachusetts and then had a long drive to western Pennsylvania. They drove all night, and when his buddies dropped him off at his driveway just after sun-up, there was a big banner across the garage—”Welcome Home Dad!”

How did they know? No one had called, and the crew themselves hadn’t expected to leave so quickly. Robins relates, “When I walked into the house, the kids, about half dressed for school, screamed, ‘Daddy!’ Susan came running down the hall—she looked terrific—hair fixed, make-up on, and a crisp yellow dress. ‘How did you know?’ I asked.

‘I didn’t,’ she answered through tears of joy. ‘Once we knew the war was over, we knew you’d be home one of these days. We knew you’d try to surprise us, so we were ready every day.'”

In Matthew 25 is the parable of the wise and foolish virgins who were invited to the wedding feast.  The wise virgins had enough oil to keep their lamps burning and were ready and waiting when the bridegroom showed up at the feast.  The foolish virgins had not exercised the foresight to prepare themselves so they were not ready when the bridegroom arrived. 

We need to be ready every day for a variety of things:

FIRST: we need to be ready for the arrival of the bridegroom.  It could be today that Jesus gets the word from the Father: “It’s time.  Go back and bring My children home!”  If that day is today, there is absolutely nothing that will stop it from taking place.  No one knows the day, except the Father.  Hence the need to always be ready!

SECOND: we need to be ready to die.  Jesus may or may not come today…and we may or may not live to see tomorrow.  It sounds trite to say it, but it is true.  Just recently in our town, a 19 year old boy from a nearby town came here for the yearly Citrus Fair.  He was hit by a car and killed.  I know he wasn’t expecting it, I can only hope and pray that he was ready.

THIRD: there are opportunities that only come up once in a while and we need to be ready to grasp the opportunities to show the love of Jesus each day even as he demonstrates his love to us daily.  Make it a point, right now, to love someone today in a practical way.  You might not have the chance again tomorrow.

Prayer: Help us to be watchful, Lord, and ready, for Your return, for our own death, and for the chances that come our way to love others in Your name!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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

 

DayBreaks for 2/13/19 – I AM #3: The Life

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DayBreaks for 2/12/2019: I AM #3: The Life

John 14:6 (ESV) – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me…”

In the early 1900’s, one doctor determined the weight of the human soul by weighing people just before they died and just after they died. He concluded the body of a person who has just died weighs 21 grams less than when they were alive – that was because the soul had left the body, therefore the soul must weigh 21 grams! (Lots of issues with his work!!!)   

Jesus claimed to be “the life”. He says that he came that we may have “life abundant”. Those two things suggest to me that he came to give us “life” by giving us himself, by abiding in us, not merely to give  us some quantitative number of years or a specific set of biological functions.

We believe life originates from God/Jesus. Jesus created everything that exists and therefore it stands to reason he created life. Only life can give rise to other life, only life can procreate. We are his children partly because he gave us life.

But as I thought about life in conjunction with the cessation of life – what we refer to as death – I became more and more convinced that Jesus doesn’t just give us “life” after we die. We who are his children have his very DNA (spiritually speaking) because he lives inside of us. We are begotten by him and that involves the passing along of DNA. It isn’t necessary for him to give us something new called “life” after we die because he lives in us and is already alive forevermore. Death can’t ultimately kill us because he lives within us, not because he’ll eventually give us life eternal. That which is made up of his DNA is already eternal. When we are resurrected, we will rise not because he reached into our graves and gave us something new, but because we have had life from the moment we became his and no one and nothing can take that away from us – not cancer, not heart disease, not murder, not sin and not the grave. So, in a sense, it won’t be us who rise, but Christ in us that pulls us upward out of the tomb or the depths of the sea. The grave couldn’t deny him 2000 years ago and it won’t deny him then. Nothing will prevent that eventuality from happening!

His life is our life: Galatians 2:20 (ESV) – I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

PRAYER: Let us yield our lives, dying to ourselves, so you may live in us more fully each day! In your name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/01/19 – No Pockets in a Shroud

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DayBreaks for 2/01/2019: No Pockets in a Shroud

From the DayBreaks archive, 2009:

Matthew 6:19-20: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

In his commentary on this passage, William Barclay has some interesting things to say.

FIRST: The Jews always connected treasure with character. It related to things like treasure versus morality/honor. The Jews had a saying, “…in the hour of a man’s departure, neither silver, nor gold, nor precious stones accompany him, but only his knowledge of the Law, and his good works.” We might want to argue a bit with some of that theology, but the basic point is accurate: when we leave this planet it’s not like moving from one house to another. We won’t be able to take anything of material value with us to our new home.

SECOND: It is important where we put our treasure, because if our hearts value the things of this world, we will have little or no interest in the world beyond this one. Once upon a time, Dr. Johnson, a Christian man, was being led through a noble and magnificent castle and its surrounding gardens. When he had completed the tour, he turned to his companions and said, “These are the things which make it difficult to die.” Can’t we all identify with that? Haven’t you seen a beautiful home, a beautiful plane, a beautiful boat, a beautiful tropical isle that enticed you even a little bit? That whispers in your ear, “Wouldn’t you really like to have me? Aren’t I beautiful?” And a part of us answers, “Boy, would I!” But we can’t let the things of this world cloud our judgment. The things here are temporary – not permanent. The permanent is what resides in eternity – either good or bad.

There is an old Spanish proverb that says it all very simply: “There are no pockets in a shroud.” If only we could remember that each day! Our focus would be clearer, our perspective heavenly and our hearts would be set on things of heaven instead of things on earth. We’d be more interested in things that are eternal rather than 401k plans, stock splits and a home backed up to the waterway or golf course.

Maybe you need to create a little sign and put it over your desk, in your car, or on your refrigerator or mirror at home with that Spanish proverb on it. I think I will. And when my heart feels the tug towards something of this world, I pray that the Spirit will remind me to look at the proverb and that He’ll re-adjust my mindset.

PRAYER: Give us clear hearts, clear eyes, and clear minds to discern the relative value of this world and all it would tempt us with, and the everlasting value of Your home!    In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 1/04/19 – The Passing of the Shadow

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DayBreaks for 01/04/2019: The Passing of the Shadow

From the DayBreaks Archive, 01/05/09 (modified):

Whew.  The holidays are now over.  It is a bittersweet feeling, isn’t it?  On the one hand, I love the excitement and joy of the holidays, and the chance to share that with family, loved ones and friends.  I love the Christmas carols and was surprised to find some of them playing in the malls this year. I love the bright lights and colors, and yes, the nuts and chews of Christmas from See’s Candies!

But it isn’t long and the holidays that have been so long awaited are over and done with.  The family has returned to their own homes and gone back to work, the Christmas decorations have been pulled down and boxed away for another year, the candy is gone (thank goodness!) and the Christmas carols and tree have been tucked away for 11 months.  And – I’m tired. 

As I was reflecting on this one day, I was watching our old dog, Rainie.  She’s 12 years old now and she’s clearly winding down.  She walks with a strange, stiff gait because of some arthritis in her hips, and if you look into her eyes, they are not dark and clear – they are milky and a bit subdued.  She is afraid, or in a bit too much discomfort, to hop up on the bed as easily as she used to.  Now, at night, when she comes back into the house, she will whimper and whine before even attempting her leap of faith up to the top of the mattress.  And she huffs and puffs a lot more than when she was younger.  It saddens me to see this happening before my very eyes and to be powerless in the face of the inexorable march of time.  And then I realize, I am on the same march, head down as I trudge the pathway before me.

The passing of the holidays and the winding down of life have parallels that can teach us.  We start out exuberant, full of excitement and energy.  We hurry here and there because the world is so big and there is so much to see and do and we don’t want to miss a moment of it.  But then, as with Christmas, the holiday is over before you are even fully aware that it has begun.  Old friends and family are no longer around.  We find ourselves more fearful of running around too far from home, and we also whimper and whine as we rise or recline on our bed.  Not to mention the eyesight. 

This is the way of all flesh.  This is what makes our God and His promises so precious – He does not grow old, tired, and weary.  He doesn’t get cataracts.  His bones don’t ache and generate the whimpers that accompany old age.  And He promises us that the day will come when we will be like Him in that regard.  We try to imagine a life without any sort of pains or sadness and we cannot grasp even the tiniest crumb of that reality.  But we do long for it.  The life we so longed to live when we were younger has been spent somehow, somewhere – like a shadow passing in the night, soundlessly and quickly, not even leaving footprints behind.  Hold on to the fact that the shadow is passing, but it isn’t passing from daylight to darkness, but instead the shadow is passing to daylight, from earth to heaven, from mortality to immortality, from death to life.  And there shall be no more weeping.

PRAYER:  Lord, life often feels like both a blessing and a burden.  Thank you for the promise that you will make our joys even greater than anything we have experienced in this lifetime, and that you will remove our sorrows eternally.  Thank you, that Jesus “is the life!”  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 12/04/18 – The Secret to a Wise Heart

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DayBreaks for 12/04/18: The Secret to a Wise Heart

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2008:

We don’t like to think about death at all, let alone our own death.  We’d like to just ignore it until it happens.  We are more than content to live under a grand illusion that we have an unlimited number of days to live.  And so we drift aimlessly from day to day, moment to moment, never considering death.

Moses had an interesting prayer that he offered up in Psalm 90:12 (NIV) –Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  There are two key things in this brief passage that we should note:

FIRST: we have to be taught to number our days correctly.  We can’t figure it out on our own – or at least, we won’t figure it out ourselves.  We are too happily living out our delusion about limitless days, trying as hard as we can to be oblivious to our impending demise.  I don’t know if mankind ever really knew how to number his days correctly.  I doubt that we were created with that sense of limited days because when Adam and Eve were created, they weren’t created to die.  That’s something that came about after the fall.  It was only after death entered onto the stage that it became necessary to learn, to be taught, that we have a finite number of days allotted to us and that we don’t know how many days we have.

SECOND: we can’t have a heart of wisdom until we learn to number our days.  Why?  Because we can’t live wisely until we learn to number our days.  Considering our mortality leads us to view each day of life differently, to cherish it and appreciate it in ways we can’t even imagine if we don’t consider our finiteness.  We can’t live rightly until we know we will die rightly.  And we must contemplate death if we are to live rightly.

Towards that end, as I shared with our congregation last week, I’ve added something to my daily prayer that seems to be helping me to do a much better job of numbering my days and living accordingly.  It’s very simple, and I’d encourage you to add something similar to your morning prayer: “Lord, if this is to be my last day, may I live it in Jesus with great joy and wonder.”

Prayer: We need hearts that are wise, Lord, hearts that consider our deaths so that we can live more appropriately in each moment of the time we have been given.  Teach us, Lord, to number our days.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 9/27/18 – Doorways Cut in Sod

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DayBreaks for 9/27/18Doorways Cut in Sod            

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

The day after I write this, I will be conducting a funeral service for a woman I never met.  By all accounts she was a wonderful woman and she achieved a great deal in her life.  All that I’ve spoken to about her tell me how wonderful she was.  But there is a question that haunts me: I do not know if she was a believer.  I have some reason to think she was, and some to think she wasn’t.  I just don’t know.  I never had the chance to talk with her.  And so, as I stand before the congregants at her memorial service tomorrow, I will face the great dilemma that Christian pastors face at such times: what can be said about such a life?

Another DayBreaks reader recently sent me an email requesting prayer and some guidance as someone in their family had just ended his life after being married only 5-1/2 weeks.  Grief is a heavy chain at such times and it must be worn and cannot be easily discarded.  “Lord, into Your hands, we commit his spirit.”

Death is the great leveler.  Young and old, weak and strong, lowly and mighty – all will dine at the Reaper’s table.  For some, the Reaper is aptly named “the Grim Reaper,”, but to others, there’s nothing grim about him.

I am so relieved when I learn that someone is a Christian and that they’ve gone home.  Consider these words from the pen of Calvin Miller:

“I once scorned ev’ry fearful thought of death,

When it was but the end of pulse and breath,

But now my eyes have seen that past the pain

There is a world that’s waiting to be claimed.

Earthmaker, Holy, let me now depart,

For living’s such a temporary art.

And dying is but getting dressed for God,

Our graves are merely doorways cut in sod.”

Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His saints. – Ps. 116:15

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, that our days need not be lived in fear of death and dying, and that for Your children there is no grim reaper, but a Father’s arms that await us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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