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The world rages on. Disputes arise, kindling flames. Yet in this moment, in your sanctuary I hear only silence. “Peace be with you,” Jesus tells me.

I am unsettled, anxious about this day. I thirst for calm waters. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you,” Jesus reminds me.

I feel surrounded by those hostile to you God. They clasp their ears so they cannot hear your truth. I am discouraged, tired; my efforts seem futile. “Peace be with you,” Jesus repeats.

Praise God for his calming voice. Praise God for his peace, the peace that surpasses all understanding. Praise God for his reassurance, that we can call him Father. Praise God for his grace, his loving touch that calms and soothes. Praise God that we can approach him with our fears and worries, that he listens. Praise God that he patiently guides us on his path and purpose. All praise to God who is our rock, our fortress, our constant in a world of shifting sand.

Peace scripture: Luke 24:36, John 14:27 & John 20:26 (NIV).

© 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

I remember as a kid I used to genuflect in the aisle before sitting in a pew after I first entered the church. It was something my parents instructed me to do so I didn’t question it. Only when I was older did I ask my parents why we genuflected before we sat down. Their response was that we did it out of respect for the altar. At the time their answer satisfied my young mind.

It wasn’t until many years later, as an adult, that I learned the symbolism of genuflecting as you enter church to worship God. The downward movement to one knee and bowing your head while genuflecting represents dying to self, while the returning upward movement to your feet represents rising in Christ. Learning the purpose of genuflecting changed the whole meaning of the tradition for me. It became a beautiful reminder to prepare for worship by dying to self and focusing on new life in Christ; an act of praise to God for what Jesus did for us.

My experience genuflecting as a kid made me wonder how many other church traditions we practice without really understanding their purpose. Do we just go through the motions because that’s what we do every Sunday or are there things we do just to appease human preferences? In Isaiah 29:13 the prophet Isaiah warns Israel, “The Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.’”

This verse convicted me to be more intentional in understanding the reason for church traditions and how they bring glory to God. Equally important is that we take time to explain the purpose behind our traditions to those who are new to the church. Just as we grow in our faith in Christ Jesus, may we also grow in how we worship our Lord and Savior. May our time of worship continue to point us toward new life in Jesus Christ, giving honor, praise and thanksgiving to God.

Darkness covers the land, but in the east light emerges. Soon brilliant hues of orange and red light up the sky. The darkness gives way to the light. Soon all that was hidden by the night is illuminated by the morning sun.

Praise God that he has given his son Jesus to us to dispel the darkness. Thank you God that your light reveals what was once hidden, that you reveal our sin and provide a way to redemption. Praise God that you gave us your Spirit to help us discern good from evil, to help us see the path you have given us to follow.

Thank you God that you have provided a community who follow Christ Jesus, a community to help one another grow in our faith in you. Praise God for your grace and love, that we can be called children of God.

“Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?” – 2 Samuel 7:18

“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” – Romans 8:14

© 2019 CGThelen

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” – Jeremiah 29:11-12

Lord Jesus at times I feel like I am in exile in a foreign land. Yet you oh Lord know the plans for my life. You know me intimately. Help me, dear Lord, to listen to you, to call out to you for direction. May I rely on your wisdom and the wisdom of the faithful you place in my life, not the counsel of worldly wisdom. Lord fill me with your strength. May your Spirit fill me to overflowing; fill me with a desire to serve you where you send me. May your desires be my desires. May my hope be in your future. All praise to you Lord Jesus for your obedience, for what you did for us. All praise to God who we humbly serve.

© 2019 CGThelen

As much as we desire to stay at the feet of Jesus and worship him, sometimes he asks us to not remain there. As much as we enjoy the fellowship of other Christians, God calls us to go beyond the walls of the church. As much as we relish sharing with other believers the great things God has done in our life, he calls to share this good news with others outside of the church.

Such was the case in Luke 8:26-38. In this passage Jesus demonstrated God’s power over demons in a dramatic way. They had just arrived in the region of the Gerasenes across the lake from Galilee, when “he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town (verse 27, NIV).” The man immediately fell at Jesus’ feet and acknowledged him as the son of God.

Jesus commanded the demons to come out of this man, but they begged Jesus to not torture them. Instead they asked Jesus to let them go into pigs grazing on a nearby hillside. Jesus gave them permission and the demons entered the pigs. Immediately the pigs ran down the hill into a lake and drowned.

News of this event spread quickly and soon people from town and the countryside came and saw the once demon-possessed man seated calmly at Jesus’ feet, “dressed and in his right mind (verse 35).” When the people heard what had happened, they were filled with fear. They asked Jesus to leave because they were afraid of him. They had just seen the power of God to overcome demons. Jesus left, but he also left behind a powerful example of God’s truth.

The formerly demon-possessed man begged to go with Jesus, but Jesus told him, “‘Return home and tell how much God has done for you.’ So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him (verse 39).”

Imagine this man sharing his story in his home town. People who knew the man when he was demon-possessed could not deny he had changed; could not deny Jesus had changed his life. God calls us to do the same.

We are so grateful for what Jesus has done in our life that we want to remain at this feet and worship him — to remain with the community of believers and worship him. But Jesus calls us to share what he has done for us, to spread the good news to others we know outside the church; to those who knew us before Jesus entered our life and can now see the change in our life.

© 2019 CGThelen

“Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” (Nehemiah 8:6, NIV)

Praise you, oh God. Praise your holy name. Praise your good works. Thank you for the love and grace you pour upon us. May we be attentive to your will for our life. May our life bring you praise. May the works of our hands bring your truth to others. May our lips bring your truth to those in need of salvation. You are worthy of all praise. We bow before you as your humble servant dear Lord. May our actions this day exalt you.

© 2019 CGThelen

Sweat poured down his face as I watched the man pedal the stationary bike as if his life depended on it. His shirt was soaked with sweat and his breathing heavy as the muscles on his legs propelled him nowhere. No matter how hard or how fast he pedaled, he remained stationary, in exactly the same place as when he mounted the bicycle.

While staying physically fit has its benefits, it cannot help us to live forever. Eventually our bodies will break down as we age. Spiritual fitness, however, does have eternal value. Paul frames this concept in 1 Timothy 4:7-10 where he instructed Timothy to, “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come (verse 7-8, NIV).”

This made me think about the man on the stationary bicycle. What if I put that same amount of effort into living a godly life? I picture myself going to the “Godliness” gym each morning and doing the heavy lifting of reading God’s word that is weighty with spiritual wisdom. On the treadmill, God stops the chaotic running, the striving, and tells me to stand still and know that he is God. On the track, He instructs me to run the race laid out before me; to stay in my lane and run with endurance. Sweat pours down my face, my shirt is soaked yet I feel my spiritual muscles strengthen. My breathing becomes less labored. I feel eternally fit.

It’s important that we stay healthy and physically fit so we take care of the body God has given us to serve him. But Paul reminds us of the importance of godliness, that spiritual training has value both now and in eternity. He told Timothy that they “labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe (verse 10).” And don’t forget that membership in the “Godliness” gym has already been paid by Jesus. So accept the gift of salvation that Jesus offers to you and start your godliness workout today. You’ll be forever grateful.

© 2019 CGThelen

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 10:10, NIV)

Show us your way, Lord. Teach us this day the path to follow. Fill us with your wisdom. Let us fear you and not people. Give us understanding of your holiness dear God. Help us to pursue your righteousness this day. Reveal to us the false truths that abound in this world. Fill us with a knowledge of your truth. May we be filled with the joy of the Lord today, a joy that surpasses all understanding. You are the one true God. All praise and glory to you.

The alarm pulls me out of a deep sleep. I drag myself out of bed. I am disoriented as I slowly awaken. My brain starts to engage, as the day’s schedule slowly comes into view. I hesitate, seating myself down before I am overwhelmed by another packed day; before God is crowded out of my day; before I leave Jesus at home. Psalm 143:8 emerges from my thoughts. I whisper the passage to myself as I close my eyes:

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life (NIV).”

© 2019 CGThelen

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