DayBreaks for 9/21/17 – I Wonder About Lazarus

DayBreaks for 9/21/17: I Wonder About Lazarus

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

ABID JAN, Ivory Coast (08/26, Reuter’s): “A 2-year old girl was recovered alive three days after she was buried in a village cemetery.  Grave diggers in the area heard the young girl and immediately uncovered her grave.  Minata Lafissa was taken back to her parents in the village of Yakasse-Feyasse.  Lafissa was originally pronounced dead from a mystery illness.”

What a terrifying experience this must have been for little Minata!  One of my greatest fears (I’m claustrophobic – afraid of being closed in), is that I would be buried alive.  I can’t hardly stand to crawl underneath a car to change oil!  Can you imagine what it would be like to be sick, fall asleep, and wake up some time later in a closed, sealed coffin – buried alive!?!?!  It is the stuff of the worst horror movies and nightmares.

How do you feel about death? 

John 11.43-44: When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

There was a difference between Lazarus and Minata: unlike Minata, he was really and truly dead, it was done, over, finished.   He, like Minata, had been in the grave for days.  Only he was dead for all that time – not awake and screaming.  Then, all of a sudden, he hears an irresistible Voice – he opens his eyes and sees he is in a tomb.  Somehow (the verse isn’t real clear on how it exactly happened) his body moves forth out of the tomb (he couldn’t probably walk wrapped up as he was – it appears that he perhaps was “levitated” out of the tomb, but who knows?)  His eyes begin to see light through the wrappings around his face.  The first face he sees is probably his friend Jesus, or the faces of his sisters, Mary and Martha, as their trembling hands remove the wrappings.  They’ve all been crying, but for different reasons.  Mary and Martha are crying out of incredible joy for having their brother back.  Jesus has been crying because of the ravages of sin on mankind that brought death to his friend. 

How do you think Lazarus felt?  I wonder if he was happy to be back, or if he’d rather of stayed where he was.  (Probably a silly thing to wonder – if he was with God!)  How would I have felt?  If I’d already gone through the anxiousness of death itself, of the painful good-byes to loved ones, of drawing the last breath with a shudder – I think I wouldn’t be too keen on repeating the experience all over again.  I wonder what he saw while he was dead.  We simply aren’t told, because it really isn’t important.  I’d have liked to see him, talk with him, to have known him after this happened.

But, at the same time, if I’d been Lazarus, I would be amazed.  I would be standing before Jesus, knowing that some incredible power, His incredible power, had made me alive again after I’d been dead.  Here’s the amazing thing: I have been where Lazarus was!  If you’re a believer in Christ, you’ve been there, too:  Col 2.13: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins… 

How does it feel?  I have been brought back to life by God’s amazing power.  And I am sustained by His great power.  And even though I will die physically, I will not die spiritually – I will live forever with Him.   Let me tell you in case you haven’t experienced this resurrection of the spirit – it feels great!!!!

What Jesus did for Lazarus, what He’s done for me, He can and will do for you – if you believe in Him.  He wants to raise you to a new life.  He wants to raise your friends and family to the same life, too.  When you look at your fellow-believers this weekend at church, remember – you’re looking at a person who has been raised from the dead by the power of Jesus Christ!

PRAYER: Father, thank You for life, for stirring and breathing life into our dead souls.  Help us to celebrate and rejoice in the new life You have given us!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2007 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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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 8/8/17: What Are You Building?

DayBreaks for 8/08/17: What Are You Building?

From the DayBreaks archive, 8/8/2007:

In the San Jose area of California stands an impressive house, but it has a strange history.  It’s called the Winchester Mystery House.  It was home to the widow of the inventor of the Winchester rifle, and after he and their only child died, Mrs. Winchester seems to have gone crazy.  At the very least, she became obsessed with the occult.  As a result, she began a huge building project that would last 38 years – and then it only stopped because she died.  Based on statements and things she wrote, she apparently came to believe that as long as she kept building on the house, that she would not die. 

For 38 years, sixteen carpenters worked full time on the house.  At its largest expanse (it has since been partly destroyed by fire), the house contained 2000 doors and 160,000 windows (that’s more windows than are in the Empire State Building.)  Two front doors were installed at an incredible price of $3000 (a huge sum of money in those days), and yet those doors were only used 1 time – by the workmen who installed them.  Throughout the building are secret passageways, stairways that lead only to the ceiling and no further, doors that open into solid brick walls.  All of this was designed for one purpose: to confuse death.  To prevent death from finding her. 

It didn’t work.  Construction was still going on when death found and overtook her.  “Death wasn’t confused at all.  Death has a wonderful sense of direction.” (Ortberg, Love Beyond Reason

Why are we such a busy people?  No one has ever moved faster than we do, yet it seems that we accomplish less and less.  But why are we so busy?  Perhaps because we’ve made poor choices and we have to work two jobs to make ends meet.  Or, maybe it’s deeper than that.  Maybe we scurry about so in order that we don’t have to think about death, maybe at some subliminal level we (like Mrs. Winchester) believe that as long as we stay busy, we’ll keep on living.  We may fear that the moment we stop, we’ll collapse and die, or that we’ll have time for thoughts about death and dying will enter our heads and we try to prevent that by staying busy.

Ortberg continues: “…don’t forget one thing.  Don’t forget that the truck will come one day and take it all away.  Don’t forget that one day Death will come.  It will not be confused.  It will know just where to look.”

Wouldn’t we all be a lot wiser to give more thought to our demise and the condition of our lives and souls at that point in time? 

Ecclesiastes 7:1-2 (NIV) A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth. It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.

Every day you are building something.  The question is, will what you are building last beyond the rim of this world?  

PRAYER: Father, we struggle to find contentment, thinking we can find it in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways.  Teach us to be content with what we have in this world, but to never be content in how much we have of You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 5/19/17 – The Truth About Dead People

DayBreaks for 5/19/17: The Truth About Dead People

Colossians 2:13 (NLT) – You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.

No matter how many sermons you might hear, no matter how many books about God’s grace that you might have read or may read in the future, we keep coming back to a concept that we have to be “good” in order to get into heaven.

Every time we fall into our “sin trap” – that sin that plagues you year after year – we begin to despair and think that surely, we’ve exhausted the grace of God and benefits of Christ’s blood. I understand that way of thinking perhaps better than most because I was raised thinking that if you committed a sin and didn’t get a chance to ask for forgiveness before you were struck by lightning and killed, then you probably wouldn’t go to heaven. Guilt was huge in my early years of faith.

I invite you, though, to look at the passage today. Read it carefully. Let it sink in. See if you really grasp what it is saying.

Here’s the key: we all have read how we were dead in our sins. That’s not hard for any person of faith to understand. But think about the implications of that statement. Here’s the question: how much can a dead person do? Uh, nothing, right? We could do nothing to make ourselves “alive”…it was an act of God that made us alive with Christ because he forgave not some, but ALL our sins. Past, present, future. Period.

Dead people can do nothing. We are TOTALLY dependent on God for our “life” – for our salvation. Isn’t it great to know that it isn’t dependent on us and how “good” we are!

But can we trust Him? If we can’t trust this Father, who can we trust? And remember Jesus statement that he will not lose even a single one that the Father has given him (made alive) (John 18:9) and that no one can snatch people out of the Father’s hand – not even me.

PRAYER: Thank you for these great assurances, and for the power of Your Word to hold us firm and safe. Thank you for making us alive in Christ! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 4/28/17 – Why Christ HAD To Rise

DayBreaks for 4/28/17: Why Christ HAD to Rise

Note: Galen is traveling this week.

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

Easter is over, but Christ is still risen!  It seems that many forget in the hustle of everyday life that such an earth-shattering event really did take place.  Maybe saying it was earth-shattering is a bit strong – many alive on the face of the earth at the time never heard about it in their lifetimes – they just didn’t have that opportunity.  And being such scientifically minded moderns as we are, we find it a bit hard to believe that something that happened so long ago in the days of yore when science was, well, rather unscientific, we may be a bit skeptical about the resurrection. 

In John 20, it says (talking about the disciples after Jesus resurrection and before Jesus had appeared to them), They did not yet understand the Scriptures that Jesus had to rise from the dead.  I can hardly blame them, even though Jesus had told them numerous times, in very plain language, that he would rise from the dead on the third day. 

But this year, as I read that passage, I was struck by the simple word “had”.  It is a significant word – the writer could have said that they didn’t understand that Jesus would rise from the dead, but that’s not what he said.  John said Jesus “had” to rise from the dead.  And that got me thinking.  Why did Jesus have to rise?  Several reasons, I think:

FIRST: If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, it would mean that there was something (death) in the universe that is more powerful than God, which is impossible given the definition of God and His omnipotence.  If Jesus (God with us) could not raise himself from the dead, he couldn’t possibly have been God.  But if he could raise himself from the tomb, then surely He must be God!

SECOND: Life has, in spite of appearances, always been stronger than death.  Consider how it works with a grain of wheat: one grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, but that one grain of wheat gives life eventually to thousands of grains of wheat in subsequent generations.  Think of the great people of the past and what comes to mind?  Is it not their life, and not their death?  We speak of such people as “living on” in their deeds, words, thoughts.  And, who hasn’t seen a seed that has sprouted and grown through inches of asphalt, cement or even rock?  Why?  Because life is stronger than death, and Jesus was “the Way, the Truth, and the LIFE.”

FINALLY: I preach and teach about the cross a great deal.  I make no apologies for that.  But recently I have wondered if I’ve emphasize that too much and underemphasized the resurrection of Christ.  After all, the apostles went everywhere teaching and preaching the resurrection.  Many people were crucified during the time of Christ – but what made him unique was the resurrection!  What good would it have been if Jesus had lived a sinless life and if God had accepted Jesus’ sacrificial death for us, but Jesus hadn’t risen?  Paul is clear in Corinthians: if Christ isn’t risen, then there is and will be no resurrection for anyone.  Here’s the point: if Jesus perfect life ended with the grave, our sins could have been forgiven, but so what?  If he didn’t rise, we won’t rise.  We’d lie in the grave and become dust and remain dust – eternally.  And those are some of the key reasons Jesus had to rise from the dead.

Let me share the brilliant observation by theologian Jaroslav Pelikan: “If Christ is risen from the dead, then nothing else matters; if Christ is not risen from the dead, then nothing else matters.”  You see, it all depends on Christ and his resurrection.

PRAYER: I thank You, Father, for the little word “had” – that Jesus “had” to rise from the dead.  Thank You that He did rise, and that because he has risen, nothing else in this universe really matters.  The reality of His resurrection is the dominant fact of all the universe.  May we live as if we truly believe He is risen from the dead!.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 4/20/17 – Almost Home

DayBreaks for 4/20/17: Almost Home

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2007:

The little town of Franklin, TN, was the sight of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.  In the space of only 5 hours, 7000 men were killed and thousands of others wounded.  In that short amount of time, northern troops alone used up 100 wagon loads of ammunition.  Accounts written at the time described bodies being stacked six or seven deep for more than a mile along the Columbia Pike.  No one had ever seen anything like it.  The state of Tennessee didn’t have enough money to turn the entire area into a state park to commemorate the battle, but in the battleground stands the Carter house that now serves as a museum and memorial to this bloody battle. 

As terrible as the battle itself, there was one person who died on that day over 140 years ago that is arguably more tragic than the other 6999.  As the battle of Franklin raged, the Carters’ youngest son, Todd, was outside.  He was running for the shelter of home when he was struck down and died, virtually in the shadow of the house.  He was taken into the home dead.  Even today, more is probably written about that young boy who died in the battle than about any of the others who died. 

Several things about this story that struck me: 

First of all is the power of the death of the innocent.  It just doesn’t seem right when a young child is struck down because of the violence of adults.  Yet it happens.  And when the innocent die, people take notice.  An absolutely perfectly innocent person was struck down by our violence and sin.  And similar to Todd Carter, much has been written and said about him.  Jesus Christ, the innocent, was killed by us and for us.  He was almost home when he was “hit”, but he died willingly as a sacrifice – not running in terror. 

Secondly, I thought about how close we can come sometimes to being “home free” only to fail to actually arrive there.  We can’t control the people and events around us.  We know our intent – to get home safely – but sometimes things interfere with our well-laid plans, and in the shadow of the rooftop we fall.   I am very thankful that God is the One who will get us home.  I rejoice that He recognizes that I can’t make it on my own, that I alone would surely be cut down by Satan’s bullets.  He is able to handle our eternal destinies (2 Tim. 1:12).  We need to finish the race well, 2 Tim. 4:7-8, and not die in the home stretch.

The saddest thing, though, is to hear about those who are almost on the porch of the house and ready to enter, but who Satan snatches at the last moment.  The story of Paul’s defense before Agrippa is heart-wrenching, from Acts 26:28-29a: Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”  Paul replied, “Short time or long– I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am….”  There is no evidence Agrippa “made it home”.  How tragic and sad.

There are those today who are almost home but who aren’t quite there yet.  What a tragedy if we let them languish so close to heaven’s door. 

PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for the innocent Christ who died for us.  Help us to understand that we don’t control the events that swirl around our lives, but that in You, we are safe forever.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 2/23/17 – Why the Gospel Makes No Sense

DayBreaks for 2/23/17: Why the Gospel Makes No Sense

1 Cor. 1:23 – (KJV) – But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness…

2 Cor. 2:15-16 (NLT) – Our lives are a fragrance presented by Christ to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those being saved and by those perishing. 16 To those who are perishing we are a fearful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?

If you listen to the hucksters on TV, the show that’s on Monday evenings called “Heroes” is a “smash hit.”  Interesting.  I’ll admit that I’ve seen it, and I do find it interesting – more for the characters than anything else (the story seems to drag on endlessly and I wonder if it will ever get to the climax of the story at all!)  The premise of the show is that there are various people in the world who have some sort of super power to do different kinds of things – and they are all needed to save the world.  The key seems to be a young blonde cheerleader who has the gift of being able to not be killed.  She has even “killed” herself several times to prove to someone else that she has the gift – she’s thrown herself off towers, intentionally crashed her car, etc., and while she should be dead, she instantly “cures” and is fine.  A bit far fetched?  You bet it is.

And that’s just why the gospel is so hard for some folks to believe.  It makes no sense.  The passages above in Paul’s letters to the Corinthians describe the extremely difficult task of the gospel: to Jews, the crucifixion of Jesus was a stumblingblock because only the most perverse criminal would be hanged on a tree and the Messiah would never die anyway.  To the Greeks, who were very logical thinkers that needed to understand the reason and logic behind something, to say that one other person’s death could remove all the sin of the entire world was ludicrous, foolish, if you will.

In the second passage, Paul says that our lives are a fragrance presented by Christ to God.  It’s not a fragrance we present – Christ presents it, reminding us of the incense that would be burned in the temple that rose to God to please Him, symbolizing prayer.  Our lives are to be a prayer to God, that Christ presents.  But, just as not everyone likes the smell of Chanel No. 5, not all like the scent we give off.  To those who are dying without Christ, we, well, how can I put this bluntly?  We smell like dead, decaying flesh – repulsive, the kind of smell that would make anyone turn away and throw up.  But those who are being drawn to God smell it as the sweetest, most precious perfume.  And then the stunning question: Who is up to such a task? 

Why doesn’t the gospel make sense?  I think Andy Crouch hit it on the head when he summarized it in one sentence: “There is no culture where the gospels horizons make sense – because it starts with the resurrection of a dead man.”  Why does Christianity smell like death?  That’s why…it starts with a dead man – much like the little cheerleader who dies and comes back, and who would believe it?  But somehow, some do…through the work and calling of the Spirit that transforms the smell of death into sweet perfume. 

It’s not our job to make the gospel smell like perfume.  It will smell like what it is to different people.  The catch is that we never know who will smell it as perfume and who will perceive it as a foul stench.  What if no one had told you about Christ crucified?

PRAYER:  Our minds seek to understand and reason things out, Lord, and sometimes in so doing, we wind up destroying ourselves and others.  Thank you that you have allowed us to smell the fragrance of life in Christ.  Help us to carry that scent to others, trusting in you to make it beautiful.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.