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People are searching today for meaning in their life. The question is if they can find Jesus. When people visit your church do they say, “The Lord is there.” When people visit your home do they say, “The Lord is there.” When people spend time with you do they say, “The Lord is there.”

In the last few chapters of Ezekiel (40-48), the Lord gives a vision to Ezekiel showing the temple in intricate detail including measurements. Verse 43:4 tells us, “The glory of the Lord entered the temple through the gate facing east. Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple.” The last verse of the book (48:35) says, “The distance all around will be 18,000 cubits (about six miles). ‘And the name of the city from that time on will be: the Lord is there.’”

As followers of Jesus Christ, the Spirit of God dwells within us. Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:21-22: “In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Yet do people outside the church recognize the Lord is present in us and our community of believers?

Paul wrote in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” The fruit of the Spirit of God dwelling within us is the external sign of our faith in Christ Jesus. It is the evidence that Christ is alive within us and the body of believers in Jesus. It is what prompts those outside faith in Christ to remark, “The Lord is there.”

© 2019 CGThelen

The sun set and the darkness moved in, but God’s promises stand. I look to the east and see the first light of dawn. Darkness recedes at the presence of morning. Help me to stand on your promises today dear God. Let me not fall prey to the false promises of this world. Give me discernment to see through the facades of beliefs that are empty inside; people who are whitewashed tombs. May I be at peace knowing Jesus; knowing he sacrificed his life to give me eternal life; knowing he freed me from the chains of my sin. Let me this day rest in you dear Lord — rest in knowing my future is secure in you.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)

© 2019 CGThelen

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It is hard for us to comprehend what the earth was like before God created light. In his book Riding Rockets, Space Shuttle astronaut Mike Mullane described how from space, the earth is “framed in a pre-Genesis black.” He goes on to explain: “There is no blackness on Earth to compare… not the blackest night, the blackest cave, or the abysmal depths of any sea.” Since I never made it into space, the blackest cave was the closest experience I had to seeing pre-Genesis black.

When I was a kid, my mom and dad took us on a tour inside a deep cave at Mammoth Caves National Park in Kentucky. Deep in the bowels of the earth, the park ranger stopped us in an expansive part of the cave with a large vaulted ceiling. With a few minutes warning, he had the lights turned off so we could experience total darkness. Instantly we were thrown into the formless and empty darkness of Genesis 1:2.

When the lights went out, it was impossible to see anything. I had no way of knowing what was next to me or around me. There was no form, no definition to the space where I stood. Suddenly a light appeared. The ranger struck a single match and immediately the entire area and everyone in it came into view. It was astounding how that single match suddenly separated us from the darkness.

In Genesis 1:3-4 God says. “Let there be light.” Like that single act of striking a match, his command separated the light from the darkness. He brought form and shape to the world. It is the same light we can bring to this dark world. In the darkness of life, Christ is light that pierces the darkness, separating the darkness from the light. Even when we are in the midst of the deepest darkness of life, we can trust the light of Christ to bring form and shape to the void of a seemingly hopeless situation.

Throwback Thursday — This post originally published January 24, 2017.

© 2017 CGThelen

Help us this day dear Lord to do your will; to do what is pleasing to you; to bring honor to you dear Lord. May we rely on you to equip us this day, to fill us with your purpose, to seek your ways. Help us to be a light for you and your Kingdom dear God.

“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen (Hebrews 13:20-21, NIV).”

© 2019 CGThelen

As the sun rises this morning I think of how you dear Lord have ordered everything on this earth. From the atom to the universe there is order in your creation. I praise you for the beauty of your creation; the vibrant colors, the smells and the feeling of sand between our toes. All the earth sings of your praises.

I think of the day when sun and moon will be no more and your glory will fill the day. Darkness will no longer be present. Your very presence will envelope us. We will see what we know by faith. May your Spirit dear God fill us this day. We praise you Lord for your creation, for creating us, for giving us the path to eternal life through your son Jesus. All praise to you our living and gracious God.

The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end. – Isaiah 60:19-20 (NIV)

© 2019 CGThelen

Editor’s note: This post originally published March 31, 2018.

After Jesus died on the cross and was buried, before Jesus rose from the dead, the disciples were hiding out of fear they might meet the same fate. All they knew was that Jesus was gone. They had yet to experience his resurrection. This was a period of fear and doubt, the time between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

To live without salvation through Christ is to be caught between Good Friday and Easter morning. It is an eternal darkness without the hope offered by the resurrection of Christ. It is a place of constant night with only the fading light of a man-made lamp to illuminate the way. It is a state of hopelessness without any chance of salvation from sin. Yet because of God’s love for us we do not have to remain trapped between Good Friday and Easter.

Salvation is ours through faith in Christ. This Easter embrace the hope of the resurrection. Leave behind doubt and disbelief and run with Peter to see the strips of linen lying in the empty tomb (Luke 24:12). Share the joy of the women who saw the risen Lord and ran to tell the disciples (Matt. 28:8). 1 Peter 1:8-9 tells us, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls (NIV).”

My prayer is that the dawn of this Easter morning will dissipate the darkness of night with the radiant light of the risen Lord. May we express the joy of our salvation with the proclamation, “He has risen!”

© 2018 CGThelen

I sat on the floor with my back against the wall in the dark room. It seemed opposition surrounded me on all sides. I only wanted to share the joy I felt, the peace in Christ that I was so generously given. I did not anticipate such hatred of such good news. Who would turn away from eternal hope? It was discouraging to me.

I wasn’t sure how much longer I could hold on. “Stand firm.” His words echoed in my mind. “Hold fast to the teachings.” I knew I was called to this. I remembered the Spirit of God coming alive in my heart: my parched soul was quenched. It was humbling to think we could share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. I only wanted others to share in this glory.

“Hey,” my brother in Christ said as he entered the dark room illuminated by a lamp. “There you are.” He sat down next to me and placed the lamp on the floor between us. “What are you doing here? You look so worried.”

“I’m discouraged,” I replied. “It seems pointless to try to tell people about Jesus.”

I watched him smile as he pulled out the letter and opened it. “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself…,” he read. “… and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”

Paul’s words stirred my heart. I smiled and nodded.

“Remember where our strength, our encouragement comes from,” my brother in Christ reminded me.

#WednesdayWalk through the Bible. What unknown people experienced in the Bible, based on 2 Thessalonians 2:15-17.

© 2019 CGThelen

The day dawns

Fear rises from the east

Daylight emerges

Overtaking the darkness

The day is ahead

Yet I hesitate to enter it

Anxious thoughts

About a future yet to be

Sunlight spreads

Moving across the floor

Cold feet

Immovable as I grip the chair

Sunbeam advances

Warmth touches my toe

Distressed thoughts

Released as light moves along

Nervous body

Calmed as sunlight blankets me

Joyous praise

As the Lord Jesus takes my fear

New resolve

I rise and step into the day

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.”

2 Thessalonians 3:16

© 2019 CGThelen

I feel the light begin to wane

Darkness knocks at my door

An old acquaintance

Wanting to pay me a visit

.

The last time you were here

You crushed all my joy

Took away any laughter

Pulled the shades on the light

.

Tears well up inside of me

Hopelessness seeps in

My body aches with pain

As I struggle to move

.

A river of sorrow flows

From deep within my soul

Drowning out all emotion

Numbing my senses

.

With my last ounce of energy

I fight back against the dark

Press as hard as I can

To keep the light within me

.

I cry out to the Lord God

“Please give me the strength!”

I hear him gently whisper

“I am your strength.”

.

I feel God’s peace wash over me

Though I am encircled by dark

The light within glows bright

Emptiness filled with God’s joy

.

“The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.” – Psalm 116:5-8

© 2019 CGThelen

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Autumn leaves fall from trees

Like joy in life slipping away

.

Dry leaves sway, drifting down

Like sadness piling by my feet

.

Barren tree exposed to cold

Sorrowful emotions laid bare

.

Darkness of night moves on in

Nothing to see but despair

.

Flakes of snow tumbling down

Freezing cold numbs the mind

.

Pure white snow blankets it all

Frost-bit body feels the pain 

.

Morning light pierces the dark

Squinting eyes see some hope

.

Melting snow drips away

Warming light eases the pain

.

Buds appear on barren branch

Soul renewed by God’s own hand

.

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Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. – Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

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As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. – Isaiah 55:10-11

© 2018 CGThelen

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