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.

Advertisements

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 4/16/17 – Easter Sunday

DayBreaks for 4/16/17: Easter Sunday

From the Holy Week devotional guide from our church:

“Running. We run for a lot of reasons…for health and exercise, for sport and leisure, for a race or competition of some kind…but sometimes we run because we’re compelled to do so. Perhaps a dog in the neighborhood starts chasing you, suddenly running isn’t so much a choice, but an instinct. Or maybe you’re a parent and you’ve experienced the feeling of instinctively running to the aid of a hurt child. In moments like those you don’t stop and consider, ‘Should I run or walk?’ You simply run. You run out of concern, you run out of fear, or perhaps more descriptively, you run out of desperation.

“This was the kind of running Mary Magdalene and the disciples were doing on that glorious Sunday morning; although, at first it wasn’t glorious to them. There was confusion. Can you imagine the questions going through their heads as they ran? ‘Did they take his body? Is this some sort of cruel trick? Could it be that he actually resurrected from the dead?’

“Spiritually speaking, we run to a lot of things, for a lot of reasons. We run to  human relationships to give us the love and security that we can ultimately only get from Christ. We run to entertainment and electronic devices to give us the rest and escape that only Christ can give as our true rest and refuge. We run to money and our job performance to give us a reputation and comfort that will never be enough.

“We’re all runners. But are we running to Jesus, the very one for whom we were created…the very one by whom we are saved?

“Most often we won’t run to Him until we recognize our ongoing desperate need for Him. We run out of desperation to Him as we recognize that He doesn’t just give truthful answers, He is truth. We run out of desperation to Him as we realize that He doesn’t just point the way, He is the Way. We run out of desperation to Him as we realize that He doesn’t just give life, He is life (Jn. 14:6)

“He is life because He defeated death. Our wildest dreams have indeed come true! Run to Him!” – Jeff Norris, director of young adults and families, Perimeter church

PRAYER: Jesus, you are the way, the truth and the life. Give me strength to run to You and to forsake the other things I run to instead of you; the things that will never love me like you do. 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.

DayBreaks for 11/18/16 – A Point of Faith

DayBreaks for 11/18/16: A Point of Faith

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2006:

John 11:21-27 (NLT) Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.  But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”  Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”  “Yes,” Martha said, “when everyone else rises, on resurrection day.”
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again.  They are given eternal life for believing in me and will never perish. Do you believe this, Martha?”

 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.

I have read and re-read and preached and taught on this passage many times, but I never got it until now.  For years, I read this and thought that Martha was expressing great faith – faith that Jesus would raise Lazarus right then and there if he only asked God to do so.  But after Jesus makes the statement, “Your brother will rise again,” Martha makes it clear that she expects no such thing – at least not until the day of the resurrection.  Her faith was sufficient to believe he would rise then, but not before. 

Bear in mind that she was in grief from losing her brother.  Jesus deals with her very patiently, very gently, but he sees that Martha needs to re-focus.  The problem Martha was having was that she was trusting in the resurrection at some point in the unknown future.  Her faith was in the resurrection, so Jesus redirects her faith with the words: “I am the resurrection and the life.” 

Standing right before Jesus, Martha had missed him entirely.  She’s seen him many times, heard his voice, spent countless hours in his presence with her sister and brother and others.  But she’d never seen him as the resurrection and the life before.  Jesus wanted to help her understand that her faith needed to be in HIM, not in some event in some unknown future.  What she wanted was to be found not around Jesus, but IN Him, for he is the resurrection and the life.  Jesus won’t bring the resurrection with him when he returns, for He IS the resurrection.

Where is your faith?  What is your faith in?  Is it in the positive-thinking world of pop-psychology, in self-help books, in prayer, in Christian fellowship, or in the resurrection?  It doesn’t matter, if your answer isn’t simply “Jesus”, your faith if misplaced.   

PRAYER: Lord, help us to find the Resurrection and the Life, both now and forever, and to place all our faith in Him!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple.  All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 11/17/16 – Lazarus and the Second Time Around

DayBreaks for 11/17/16: Lazarus – and the Second Time Around

From the DayBreaks archive, November 2006:

John 11:43 (NLT) – Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!”  And Lazarus came out, bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”

I deeply love this story.  I would give anything to have been there to see this happen.  But alas, I was born about 2000 years too late.  Lazarus had been dead for 4 days – that time period is significant.  There were at least some of the ancient Jews who believed that once a person died, the spirit would loiter around the body for as long as 3 days, waiting to see if it could re-enter the body.  But on the fourth day, because of the lack of preservatives such as we have today, the decomposition would have so distorted the face of the body that the spirit would no longer recognize the body and it would depart, never to return.  And the body would lay in the tomb, bound in the graveclothes (interestingly enough, these wrappings and clothes were called the “traveling dress” by the Jews), awaiting the day of resurrection.

I’ve wondered many times how Lazarus felt about being called back from the dead.  Did he have any say in the matter?  If so, it’s hard to imagine that he’d want to come back.  Would you?  I wouldn’t.  Regardless, even though it had been 4 days, Lazarus was back.  What a thrilling moment that must have been for his family and the bystanders!

But what has struck me more recently wasn’t the scene of this resurrection, but the contemplation of the next time that Lazarus lay upon his death bed.  It would not be unfamiliar territory to Lazarus – he’d been on a death bed before.  But I would imagine that this time, Lazarus’ attitude and thoughts about death would have been much different.  It was no longer a mystery – he’d experienced it.  And he knew that death was no kind of barrier at all to Jesus.  Lazarus personally knew what the voice of Jesus that would call him out the tomb on the resurrection day would sound like, and he knew he’d hear it and he’d once again (but for the last time!) rise again from his burial.  Do you think for a single moment that Lazarus had ANY fear as he lay on his mat, dying the second time? 

We will all lie on our death bed at some point.  Scripture is clear, from John 5, that the day will come when ALL who are in the grave will hear the voice of Jesus commanding (not asking!) them to come forth from the tomb.  And we’d better have our “traveling dress” ready when that time comes, for there will be no delay. 

Because Jesus raised a little girl, a widow’s son, his friend Lazarus, and ultimately himself, he’s given us plenty of reason to trust that He is who He claimed to be: I am the resurrection and life.  Those who believe in me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again. (Jn. 11:25)

PRAYER: Jesus, may we keep our traveling dress pure and clean so that when our spirits hear your command, we will rejoice and have no fear.  May we rest, both in life and in death, in peace that only comes because of You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple.  All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 11/01/16 – When He Comes Again

DayBreaks for 11/01/16 – When He Comes Again

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2006:

NOTE: Galen is taking a short vacation.

Where will you be?  What will you be doing?  Have you ever wondered what you’ll see and hear and how you’ll feel when the LORD comes to receive His own?  I have.  I’ve thought about it many times – even worried about it when I was young.  I was afraid he’d come at some time when I’d be away from my mom and dad and sister, and I’d be on my own – lost in the vast horde of humanity that will rise when summoned to the great judgment throne of God.  I look back at those fears now and know that they were childish and silly.  But the coming of Christ will be neither childish nor silly.  It will be spectacular.  It will be indescribable.  It will be, quite honestly, the culminating moment of all history.  I like, however, the way Max Lucado tried to make it real for us.  It stirred my heart, and I hope it stirs yours:


“You are in your car driving home. Thoughts wander to
the game you want to see or meal you want to eat, when suddenly a sound unlike any you’ve ever heard fills the air.  The sound is high above you.  A trumpet?  A choir?  A choir of trumpets?  You don’t know, but you want to know.

“So you pull over, get out of your car, and look up.  As you do, you see you aren’t the only curious one. The roadside has become a parking lot.  Car doors are open, and people are staring at the sky.  Shoppers are racing out of the grocery store.  The Little League baseball game across the street has come to a halt.  Players and parents are searching the clouds. And what they see, and what you see, has never before been seen.

“As if the sky were a curtain, the drapes of the atmosphere part. A brilliant light spills onto the earth. There are no shadows. None.  From whence came the light begins to tumble a river of color spiking crystals of every hue ever seen and a million more never seen. Riding on the flow is an endless fleet of angels. They pass through the curtains one myriad at a time, until they occupy every square inch of the sky.

“North.
South.
East.
West.

“Thousands of silvery wings rise and fall in unison, and over the sound of the trumpets, you can hear the cherubim and seraphim chanting, Holy, Holy, Holy.  The final flank of angels is followed by twenty-four silver-bearded elders and a multitude of souls who join the angels in worship.

“Presently the movement stops and the trumpets are silent, leaving only the triumphant triplet: Holy, Holy, Holy.  Between each word is a pause.  With each word, a profound reverence.  You hear your voice join in the chorus. You don’t know why you say the words, but you know you must.

“Suddenly, the heavens are quiet.  All is quiet.  The angels turn, you turn, the entire world turns and there He is. 

 “Jesus.

“Through waves of light you see the silhouetted figure of Christ the King.  He is atop a great stallion, and the stallion is atop a billowing cloud.  He opens his mouth, and you are surrounded by his declaration: “I am the Alpha and the Omega!” 


“The angels bow their heads.
“The elders remove their crowns.
“And before you is a Figure so consuming that you know, instantly you know:  Nothing else matters. 

“Forget stock markets and school reports.  Sales meetings and football games.  Nothing is newsworthy.  All that mattered, matters no more….for Christ has come.” – Max Lucado 

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (NIV) For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage each other with these words.

PRAYER:  Father, when we are prone to despair and be discouraged, help us to remember that the “day of the Lord” will, indeed, come, and that when it does, there will be nothing at all that matters except Jesus.  May we be eagerly ready!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.