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

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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.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 11/12/19 – On a River that Winds on Forever

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DayBreaks for 11/12/19: On a River that Winds on Forever

This past weekend I buried my mother’s ashes next to my father in a rural cemetery in Iowa near where they both were born. As we drove to Iowa and as I lowered the container of her ashes into the dark, cold ground, I couldn’t help but think about life.

My first thought was how 90 years of life were, at least in some fashion, reduced to a box of ashes. I realize that’s not the entire picture – not by a long shot – but the mortal remains of my mother were reduced to a box 9”x10”x5”. When I die my ashes will occupy a similar space. But life is much more than the dust from which we were formed.

One of my favorite songs at the moment is Ends of the Earth, by Lord Huron. It contains a line near the end that struck me as I drove across Illinois into the state of my birth that goes like this: “I’m on a river than winds on forever.”

The day will come when my mortal life reaches its conclusion. But just as with my mother and father, that will not be the end of ME. We think of death as being the cessation of life. If we limit our thinking to the life as we have experienced it since our birth we are not seeing life clearly. From the moment of my conception I have been on a river that winds on forever. The river won’t stop flowing when my body dies. I will not be dead. I will be truly alive for the first time. From the time I was conceived my cells started to die as well as replicate and multiply. But when this river that now carries me toward eternity flows onward and actually deposits me on that eternal shore, for the first time in my existence there will no longer be cells that mutate or die. There will be life..and only life that will wind on for the numberless eons of eternity.

Jesus claimed to be the Living Water. He is that River that carries me onward, nudging me day by day to that eternal shore.

PRAYER: For the gift of an unending life I am grateful, Lord. Let me learn to live well here so that I can live well forever. Thank You for this amazing journey! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 11/07/19 – The Tragedy of Life

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DayBreaks for 11/07/19: The Tragedy of Life

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:

What are your plans for the rest of your life?  Are you planning for and looking for a “day” to arrive when you will do this, or that, or stop doing something (like work) so that you can “really live”?  We are all, to some extent, awaiting something to change so that we can feel freer or can retire only to do what we want to do and not what we have to do.  So, we make plans…

Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil. – James 4:13-16 (NLT)

Is there anything wrong with making some plans?  No, there’s not.  There are plenty of scriptures that teach us that very lesson by encouraging us to even look at creatures as simple as the ant who stores up for the rainy season.  So, I don’t think that’s what James had in mind when he wrote his epistle.  What is wrong is that we take God out of the entire scheme of things and forget about what He may want, or what He may do.  That’s always the key message I’ve taken away from this passage.  In a way, it’s like making myself into God and deluding myself into thinking that because I planned something, that it will inevitably happen because of who I am. 

But perhaps there’s another message for us in this passage that I’ve missed.  Remember the old saying about “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today”?  Our plans tend to involve the future.  We put things off that are unpleasant (tasks we don’t like) or that are delightful (like taking the time to enjoy something God has given us – like our present level of health.)  We put off so many things! 

But is not part of the argument from James that we don’t know if tomorrow will come?  Therefore, we should live life today – not always looking to the future.  If we don’t, we’ll be deaf and blind to what God has already placed immediately before us, we will fail to appreciate enough the blessings of today if we are so focused on how we will enjoy things in the future (even eternal life!) 

Richard L. Evans said: “The tragedy of life is not that it ends too soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.”  We are told that we “have eternal life” (1 John 5:13, among others).  Why aren’t we living like it? 

PRAYER: Lord, may we find the glory in each day and the blessing in each moment rather than being consumed by bitterness, despair and longing for the future.  Open our eyes to allow us to live in eternal life this day and every day hereafter.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 9/20/19 – Alaska Lessons #4 – Life

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Tree in Denali National Park, September 2019. Photo by Galen Dalrymple. 

DayBreaks for 9/20/19: Alaska Lessons #4 – Life

I sat on the porch of our cabin in Denali National Park one afternoon in silence and listened to the rustling of the leaves. Fall was coming to Denali, or maybe more correctly, winter was just around the corner. In the one week we’d been there, the fall colors had changed dramatically and the trees that surrounded our cabin shed copious amounts of leaves. As I sat there, listening, I watched them fall quietly to the ground. Winter comes quickly to the tundra – and in human life.

The story of life is portrayed in seeds and by deciduous trees that sprout leaves each spring, bearing them gloriously throughout the summer, yet surrender them to the inevitable in the fall. During winter, they appear dead.

I am well into the fall, perhaps early winter, of my life. I can look back across the years and recount memories of faces and places that are incredibly dear to me. I have lived a wonderful life!

But I know that the season of my life is well along. Many of the leaves of my life have spent themselves and fallen due to the inexorable march of time.

That’s not bad. In fact, it’s a good thing. We spend so much time fighting the inevitable but I think we should embrace it. You see, even as the leaves fall from the tree in fall and the tree, though just slumbering, appears dead in winter, the kernel of life is still harbored within, to be awakened by the gentle warmth of the sun when the right time has come.

For me, the time will come when I, too, appear to be dead, lifeless. But just as the tree “comes back to life” with the sun warms the earth, I will also come back to life when the Son shines his brightest.

All seasons of life should be cherished for the wonder that they are, the treasures they hold, and the promise that lies hidden within.

1 Corinthians 15:20-23 (NKJV) – But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for each season of life, including this season I am presently in. Let me welcome the winter because I know that after the sleep, life will erupt immortal! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 2/22/19 – I AM #8: The Bread of Life

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DayBreaks for 2/22/2019: I AM #8: The Bread of Life

John 6:35 (CSBBible) – I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in me will ever be thirsty again.

Bread (symbolically representative of food to the people of Jesus’ day) is that which is necessary for life to go on. But elsewhere Jesus tells us in John 17:3 that to know God and Jesus is life with a twist – it is eternal. So, there is existence inherent in life – but there is much more. There is relationship with the Creator. When Jesus claimed to be the bread of life, it is true that the very food we eat this gives us existence comes from his provision, but there is more to the life that comes from this “bread” than just existing. That hardly qualifies to be life. Stones exist – but they don’t have life.

So it is with the bread of life. We can either just exist by not knowing God, or we can take in the bread of heaven that came down from above and in doing so, we have a new life that is primarily defined by knowing God and Christ Jesus whom he sent. Without Jesus there is existence, but no relationship. With Jesus, we have both. It is that relationship that on the last day when all shall end that will keep us secure and safe.

We need daily bread. Sure, we can survive for a while without it, but not indefinitely. How long has it been since you have taken in the bread of life and really devoured it? Why would you rob yourself of the life it gives?

“Take and eat.”

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for providing the bread that not only feeds our mouths but our hearts and souls. Fill us so we are never hungry again! 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.  ><}}}”>