I was tired. Fatigue overtook my body. All I wanted was to lay on my mat in my home and hide under my blanket. Life was overtaking me. I was tired; tired of it all.

Yet my friend encouraged me to go. “You have to see this man. He is like no one I’ve ever seen.”

“Whatever,” I told him. “I don’t need to see another freak in the desert who thinks he’s a Messiah.” I told him I’ve seen these guys come and go, reminded him that John the Baptizer character is in prison now. But my friend tugged at me and told me it would at least be good for me to get out, to at least listen to this Jesus.

So there I stood and wouldn’t you know it, some of that John the Baptist character’s followers were there quizzing this Jesus. They wanted to know if he was “the one” or if they should look for someone else. Jesus told them, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

Okay, so I heard about this guy healing people, but I couldn’t quite grasp raising people from the dead. That seemed to be a stretch. I watched those followers of that John the Baptist leave. Perhaps they felt the same as I did, not really buying that whole thing about raising the dead. I looked at my friend and tugged on his cloak. “Let’s go.” But he pointed toward this Jesus. I turned to look at him and he was now talking to all of us gathered there. “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind?”

He continued to speak, about John the Baptist; about the Kingdom of Heaven being raided. “And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. Whoever has ears, let them hear,” I heard him say. His words swirled in my head as he continued to speak of woe to different towns. My heart was heavy. Woe described my life. Sorrow filled my days. I just wanted to go home and hide under my blanket.

I was about to turn to my friend and tell him I was leaving when Jesus said something that caught my attention: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” I looked at him and it felt like his eyes were piercing me. He continued as if he was speaking directly to my weary heart: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

#WednesdayWalk Through the Bible — an exploration of what unknown people might have seen or felt when they witnessed the events in the Bible. This post is from the perspective of someone who heard Jesus speak, based on Matthew 11 (NIV).

© 2019 CGThelen

If people had to describe you, what would they say about you? In Daniel 6:3, Daniel “distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities (NIV).” Because of Daniel’s character, the king planned to promote him over his coworkers. This made his coworkers jealous so they look for something bad to say about him in order to get him demoted. But that wasn’t easy.

Verse 6:4 tells us that “the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.” Daniel was someone you could trust to do what was right. It’s also interesting they note he was not negligent.

God calls us to be faithful to him, to do what is right in his eyes. But he also calls us to not be negligent in our earthly duties; to responsibly manage what we have been given; to exemplify quality work in all we do. Like Daniel, our conduct in the workplace should not hinder people from seeing God.

It is ironic that Daniel’s jealous coworkers try to discredit him by using his loyalty to God. Daniel 6:5 tells us: “Finally these men said, ‘We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.’” May it also be true of us — that we will be of such strong character in our earthly duties that they are left with attacking our faith. May God grant us strength to endure such attacks.

© 2019 CGThelen

What is the proper attitude when we approach God in prayer with petitions? At times it is difficult to discern if our requests are simply our own desires or if they reflect God’s desires. If we pursue a heart for God, our petitions to God should also be a desire for God’s will in our life and the lives of those around us.

Yet when I see people I love and care about scoff at you dear Lord, my heart aches. They discredit your name and worship the false gods of our age. I pray for a transformation of their heart, but nothing happens. I pray they will embrace a life for Christ, yet they continue in their ways. At times it seems God that you do not care that they profane your name.

In Daniel 9, I find that Daniel shares this feeling. He wants the destroyed temple in Jerusalem to be restored if only to bring glory to you God. He prayed, “Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name (verse 18, NIV).” In the same verse he then prayed, “We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.”

Help me dear God to reflect on the motivation of my prayers. I truly am not righteous. It is only because of your mercy dear God that I have been saved. Help me not to pray for a quick fix for the people I love and care about, but help me to pray for your mercy dear God. Help me to pray that they will experience your mercy; understand your grace; acknowledge they are not righteous, but only saved by your grace dear God.

“Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.” Daniel 9:19 (NIV)

© 2019 CGThelen

I stick my toe in the water. It feels cold to the touch There is a nudge on my back. “Go in, the water’s fine,” I hear from behind me. I place both feet in the water. I want to return to shore, but I take another step, then another, slowly wading into deeper water. My body becomes more acclimated to the water. I am now waist deep and a wave crashes over me. I lose my balance in the sand below, but manage to stay standing. Soon wave after wave pounds me, but I choose to stay in the water. Determined now to press on, I move into deeper water. Soon I plunge into the water, totally immersed. I feel the water surround me. For this moment the waves are gone. I rise to the surface. Waves are still present, but I am now thoroughly soaked with living water.

“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’” – Revelation 7:17 (NIV)

© 2019 CGThelen

The wind on my face

Cold and harsh

Clear November sky

Autumn arrives in force

The sun is warm

Until shadowed by clouds

Dry leaves scurry

Across cold cement

Barren trees take shape

Few leaves remain

Clinging to distant memories

Of a green summer

That has since passed

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.” – Daniel 2:20-21 (NIV)

© 2019 CGThelen

The dampness in the cave chilled me to the bone. I pulled the blanket tighter around me. I looked at the faces of our haggard group of 50 survivors of this reign of terror. In the dim light of the lanterns I could see the fatigue on their faces. Yet there was an unmistakable joy within them, a joy that could only come from the Lord.

I stood and walked to our supplies. Even though we were holed up like rodents in this cave, we had food and water. Like our ancestors in the desert, we were given sustenance by the Lord’s faithful servant, Obadiah. Despite Jezebel’s rampage to kill us off, the Lord’s prophets, we remained alive. We remained faithful to our Lord.

At first I thought it was a trick when King Ahab’s administrator Obadiah gathered us together. I was certain we would be executed like the others. But I was shocked when he secretly whisked us away to this cave. The Lord had truly heard our cries for help. I had no idea Obadiah was a follower of the one true God. In the midst of such evil in the kingdom, God spared us. For what purpose I do not know, but here we sit waiting on the Lord.

In the quiet of this cave, we continue to meditate on your truths dear Lord. Give us the strength to overcome these evil days. No matter what happens, we trust you dear God. I pray you encourage your servant Elijah who we hope is still out there. Fill him with courage to stand against those who reject your ways.

#WednesdayWalk Through the Bible — an exploration of what unknown people might have seen or felt when they witnessed the events in the Bible. This post is from the perspective of one of the 100 prophets Obadiah hid from Jezebel in a cave based on 1 Kings 18:1-15 (NIV).

© 2019 CGThelen

In the last verse of Daniel 4, there is a line that grabs my attention: “And those who walk in pride he is able to humble (4:37, NIV).” What is it about pride that tempts us to inflate our ego and take credit for accomplishments that belong to God? Why must we be humbled before we learn to give God credit for all we have in this life?

In Daniel Chapter 4, King Nebuchadnezzar is humbled after he surveyed his kingdom and said: “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty (29).” Some time after making this remark, God humbled the king by driving him away from people where he lived and placed him with animals where he ate grass like an ox (31). Only after the king “praised the Most High”and “glorified him who lives forever (34)” were his “honor and splendor (36)” returned.

God desires us to acknowledge him, to praise him for all we have. It is our pride that often draws us away from crediting God for our accomplishments. We long for praise from other people even for things we do in the church. But John wrote in John 12:42-43 that many leaders “would not openly acknowledge their faith” because “they loved human praise more than praise from God.” The antidote to pride is to publicly acknowledge that God is the source of our accomplishments, for everything we have in this life.

© 2019 CGThelen

This morning dear God I echo Job’s words: “Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power (Job 21:7, NIV)?” At times I feel helpless to influence this world for you. At times it feels as if those who reject you are winning. My efforts seem futile. They refuse to hear about your love and grace, about your son Jesus. Sometimes I repeat Elijah’s words, “I have had enough, Lord (1 Kings 19:4).” Yet I hold on to your words Lord: “He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son (Revelation 21:7, NASB).” Help me dear Lord to overcome. Help me to hold onto your truths. May I rest in your strength, your love and grace.

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” – Daniel 7:13-14 (NIV)

© 2019 CGThelen

The leaves fall, removing the splendor from the trees. Branches once adorned with colorful garments admired by all are now left stark and bare. Colors once worn with pride now litter the ground, soon to decay. Help us Lord to contain our pride, to not wrap ourselves in self worship. Let us not retreat from publicly praising you for all we have. This morning we humble ourselves before you and acknowledge your greatness. May we approach this week seeking what we can accomplish for you dear God and not ourselves.

“Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done.” – Daniel 4:34-35 (NIV)

© 2019 CGThelen

#ThrowbackThursday — This post originally published June 7, 2017.

I laid on a bed in the emergency room as the doctor asked me multiple questions about my condition. I answered each question as best as I could, hoping it would help her find what ailed me.

“Does it hurt here?” She finally asked as she pressed the area where I was experiencing discomfort in my abdomen.

“Yes,” I replied as the pressure from her hand made the pain worse.

She paused with a brief look of concern, yet a look that expressed knowledge of what was going on inside of me. The doctor’s patient dialogue with me helped identify what was wrong inside my body. She now had an idea of the potential source of the pain that prompted me to go to the hospital. A subsequent CAT scan enabled a look inside of me that confirmed her suspicions.

Later, after we left the hospital, I thought about how much faith I put in the doctor. I knew something was not right inside of me and I turned to the doctor in the hospital to figure out what was ailing me and to find the right remedy. She gave me a prescription to fight the infection and further instructions to help me get well.

It made me contemplate why I don’t always have the same faith in God or even my church to help me with my struggles in life. Usually the barrier is that I refuse to dialogue with people in my church or even God about the emotional pain deep inside of me. No one can help us if we don’t first open up about the hurt we feel inside. We must be open to prayerfully seeking God for help; open to dialoguing with him. Then we must trust that his instruction is for our own good.

There are many instances in the gospels where people pursued Jesus for healing. In Luke 8:43-48 a woman reaches out to touch Jesus for healing. In Mark 2:1-12 men lower a paralyzed man from the roof in an effort to reach Jesus for healing. Then there is the blind man in Mark 10:46-52.

In this passage the blind man hears that Jesus is walking by and he cries out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus then asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replies, “Rabbi, I want to see.” Verse 52 tells us that Jesus responds, “Go, your faith has healed you.” The man then received his sight.

What if the blind man had not reached out to Christ or not told him what he wanted Jesus to do? It is the dialogue with God that is important; our faith in God to come to us with the right approach to what ails us inside. As Jesus said in John 14:14, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

© 2017 CGThelen

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