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There is a natural rhythm to life as expressed in Ecclesiastes 3, “a season for every activity under the heavens (verse 1, NIV).” As you read verses 2-8, it’s hard not to feel the emotion that Solomon describes in so many of these life events — the sorrow and the joy. We can readily identify with so many of the seasons of life that are expressed in these verses, but we don’t always understand the purpose behind them.

In the verses that follow 2-8, Solomon provides a clue for the reason for the rhythm of joy and sorrow we feel in life. In verse 9 he related to our frustration at times in trying to understand what we gain from our toil, the burden to find purpose. It is that desire to seek meaning that should point us toward God. We cannot “fathom what God has done from beginning to end,” but we can begin to see “how he has made everything beautiful in its time (11).” To “find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God (13).”

It is a gift from God to be able to see how he makes everything beautiful in its time. We can feel the joy of new birth and smile holding a new born baby, but the sorrow of death is hard to understand (2). We can feel the pride of constructing a new home, but feel sad when we watch our grandparents’ home torn down to make way for the new (3). We can smile at a keepsake given us, but cry when we must sort through and throw away sentimental things we have accumulated through life (6). Without God we cannot understand these rhythms in life, but with God we are able to trust he has a purpose for everything under the sun.

Solomon told us in verses 3:12-13: “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.” May we receive this gift from God and accept his purposes, the rhythms of the seasons of our life.

© 2019 CGThelen

Lord today help me to see myself as you see me. Help me to know you as you know me. Help me to see myself as created in your image.

May we see others we encounter this week as you see them. May we help others to know you dear God as you know them. May we help others see themselves as created in God’s image.

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:27 (NIV)

© 2019 CGThelen

The sun rises in the east. I feel the first rays of light warm my face, touching me with a golden glow. Your presence dear God awakens my soul. In this moment, I feel your Spirit envelope me. Joy fills me as I consider the love and grace you have lavished on me. The memories of the past, the pain from long ago, is covered with the knowledge that you were there. Despite what others did, you brought me to this point. Despite the tears from ancient streams of sorrow, you are here before me. Your loving arms embrace me. Praise God that you never abandoned me even when I felt like you did. Praise God that you are my shield, that you have given me these years of life. Praise God that you don’t consider me broken and useless, but you raise me up as a servant worthy of your call. All praise to you dear God for your grace, for sending your son Jesus to save us from our sins. Praise God that we can be your children, heirs to your kingdom. All praise to you dear God.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” -Philemon 4:4-7 (NIV)

© 2019 CGThelen

When I attended college there were many buildings on campus that bore the names of people from generations before me. I had no idea who these people were and why they were important enough to have their name on a building. To me the name was just a reference to the building. Unless there was a plaque on the building about the person, no one would know them or their accomplishments.

I thought of this as I recently sat at a dedication ceremony where someone I knew was having a building named after him to recognize his accomplishments in the city. This was the third person I knew who would now have their name emblazoned on a building. To me, the building would always be associated with the person I knew, but to coming generations the name would be just a building to them.

Solomon reminded us of this in Ecclesiastes 1. “Meaningless, meaningless” he wrote in verse 2 about the result of all we do on this earth. “What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun (verse 3, NIV)?” Like the people I know who had buildings named after them, ultimately their accomplishments will be forgotten and eventually the building that bore their name will be torn down to make way for the new. “Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever (4).”

Solomon cautions us not to ignore the eternal in our work here on earth. It is the only thing that will truly last forever. All our accomplishments in this world, as great as they may seem, are meaningless unless they help build up the Kingdom of God. “No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them (11).”

The only thing that matters in the end is if our name is in the book of life. “The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels (Revelation 3:5).” We may have our name on an earthly building, but it won’t matter if our name is not in the book of life. “Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15).”

© 2019 CGThelen

You can’t change the past, but you can influence the future. Be in this moment, don’t linger in what is gone, but learn from it. Don’t miss what is in front of you this minute worrying about a future yet to come. This moment, this very minute close your eyes and rest in the presence of God. As you breath in, feel the Spirit of God giving you breath, giving you life. Rest in Him. Give him praise this morning. Enter his presence with gratitude for his son Jesus. Praise Him that we are forgiven. We are free from sin and death. Eternal life is ours in Christ Jesus. All praise to God who created us, who shaped us for a purpose. This moment we praise you dear God. You are worthy of our praise.

“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being (Genesis 2:7, NIV).”

© 2019 CGThelen

When I was in college many years ago, in the days before video streaming and on-demand television, my roommate in the dorm religiously watched his favorite television shows each week. He was so devoted to his television that he structured his weekly schedule around the weekly broadcast schedule of each episode.

His behavior might seem a bit strange in our digital era, but things were different back then in the world of broadcast TV. At that time, if you missed the show that week, you may have to wait months to see it when the network aired it again. If you didn’t catch a rerun of your favorite show, you would be at the mercy of the network to show it again sometime.

So my roommate planned accordingly by scheduling classes around the weekly broadcast schedule. One night when I asked him if he wanted to join me for dinner in the cafeteria, he told me no because the “Rockford Files” was on in a few minutes. I began to learn his weekly routine and when I was likely to find him in our dorm room in a trance, staring at the TV screen.

When I think about his devotion to those old shows, it makes me consider what I give priority to and how it shapes my day. At times I wonder if I have the same regimen for my devotion to God. Does my life revolve around Jesus and the Word of God, or do I give other things priority over God? My roommate demonstrated to me his devotion to his television by how he planned his life. May others see our devotion to God in how we plan our life.

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” – Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV)

© 2019 CGThelen

Praise you Lord for the new life of spring; the brown turns to green grass, the barren limbs of trees now trimmed with budding leaves. Praise you Lord that the cold snow of winter now falls as warm rain, creating the fresh aroma of spring. Thank you Jesus that you bring new life to us, filling our brown and gray life with the brilliant hues of your Spirit. Praise you God that the spring rains of living water wash over us, quenching our dry and parched soul. Thank you God for your creation, for creating us.

For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. – 2 Corinthians 2:15 (NIV)

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. – John 7:38

© 2019 CGThelen

Years ago we were at a conference with other Christians and during the break we struck up a conversation with a couple we had never met before. They soon learned that my spouse and I were in the middle of moving and our new home would not be available for a few weeks. “This may sound strange,” the older gentleman said. “I know we just met, but why don’t you stay with us. I feel like we’re family.” We reassured him that we had a place to stay nearby with family, but thanked him for his generous offer.

Even though this happened years ago, I have often thought about it when I consider who is my family. In Luke 8:19-21 Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but the crowds prevent them from getting close to him. Someone informs him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you (verse 20, NIV).” To which Jesus replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice (verse 21).”

We are born with an earthly family yet as Christians we are children of God our father. Romans 8:14-15 tells us, “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” We are adopted into the family of God so we can cry, “Abba, Father.” Only those who believe in Jesus and follow him will be part of the family of God. It pains me to think some in my earthly family are not part of God’s family because of their disbelief.

Praise God, however, that he is patient, “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).” Even though we are sinners, he welcomes those who believe in Jesus into the family of God. In John 11:25 Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” There is hope for my unbelieving family members, I just need to continue to pray and reach out to them.

© 2019 CGThelen

This moment is all I know. The future is uncertain. I make plans for the day as if I know they will come to fruition, yet the unexpected awaits to thwart my plans. In the emergency room this week I lay on the bed thinking how this wasn’t in my plans for the day. It wasn’t serious, but it could’ve been if I had waited. It reminded me that God is in control, not me.

This morning I give praise dear God that you gently remind us to trust you. I praise you for your love and grace, for your hand upon us. Increase our faith in you and our awareness of the path you lay before us. With each step of faith may we give you praise that you continue to pursue us. Thank you Father God that you consider us worthy to be called your children.

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matt. 6:31-34.

© 2019 CGThelen

The material wrapped around me, clinging tighter with each twist. I felt restrained by the world, restricted to my old self. But praise God that he gave me Christ Jesus, that he saw fit to save me. The old cloth of death has been removed and left in the tomb. I have been raised into a new life in Christ. My sin no longer weighs me down; no longer conceals me in the tomb.

I praise you Lord Jesus that you rolled back the stone, that you set us free with your death and resurrection. Thank you for bearing the burden of our sin so we can have eternal life. Praise God for his love and grace, that he sacrificed his son for us. Praise God for the blessing of Easter morning — for the empty tomb where the burial cloths of death were left behind. Praise God that we too can leave behind the burial cloth of certain death and have new life in Christ Jesus.

“Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen.” – John 20:6-7 (NIV)

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” – Romans 6:4

© 2019 CGThelen

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