WATCH LIVE STREAM SERVICES - 10:00AM Sunday Worship, & Past Services

All Things Beautiful - by Annie Lyday

Website NewsFeedImage

"God makes all things beautiful in his time" Ecclesiastes 3:11

King Solomon, the Bible states, was the wisest king on Earth. He wrote in Ecclesiastes that all man's work (or toil) is meaningless (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3). But God sent us Jesus and through Jesus and His word He is redeeming our lives and is making us into a royal priesthood, making us another home, so there is hope even in our toil. There is even hope amidst death itself.

God has equipped us in our toils through the Holy Spirit and His word. Hebrews 13:20-21 tells us, "Now may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever amen." The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is in us, equipping us and working in us to make us pleasing in his sight, that we might glorify him. And in these toils, he makes all things beautiful. Here are some of those "beautiful things" on which to meditate:

He makes our labor beautiful - As individuals, we may have different work or roles; however, God is at work in all of them. We are to work; for some it is outside the home and for some it is inside the home. There is also service within the church, building up the body of Christ, or evangelism and missions, expanding that body. For many of us this work includes parenting, through character building, training and discipling our children, and homeschooling for some of us. This is our "toil", as Ecclesiastes put it. 

We are to create value and order in this world we've been given to subdue and to steward. The toil that Solomon might call meaningless is instead filled with meaning when done in an attitude of worship to God and in submission to His commands. Work to provide for ourselves and our families is a duty God calls us to that both implements and reflects the providence of God (2 Thessalonians 3:11-12, 1 Timothy 5:8). In fact, Paul notes in Ephesians that work done as worship has a Heavenly reward (Ephesians 6:5-8). He repeatedly calls us to work, specifically so that we can share with others, helping them in times of urgent need (Titus 3:14, Ephesians 4:28) Whether that's fixing an engine, organizing information, leading others, building something, preparing food, protecting people, or any number of other things, there is beauty in serving others and honoring God in our work.

We are to make disciples, Matthew 28:19 tells us to, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.". We are called beautiful when we share the good news, Isaiah 52:7 says, "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness". We get to participate in bringing the message of peace to the world around us and beyond, and God is with us in this task.

We are to train our children, Proverbs 22:6 states, "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.".  Are task is to be faithful to our calling as parents in teaching them about God through His word, Deuteronomy. 6 says, "You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise."  

We work in all this, but God is in control of the harvest, he causes the growth. 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 Paul shares, "What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants, nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building.". We all have different gifts and parts we play in serving the body or bringing others to Christ, but we can rest in God the Father that His will shall be done and is the one that will bring about the harvest in His time. So don't give up! And "let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap. If we do not give up", (Galatians 6:9). Keep working, keep fighting as we lift our eyes to the Father.

We can be joyful and do good and take pleasure in our labor and the fruit that comes from it. Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 states, "I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil--this is God's gift to man." Our gift from God is our toil and we can be encouraged that He does not leave us alone in this work as it tells us in, Philippians 2:12b-13 " work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure". We are not alone, God is working in us!

Working, parenting, discipling, evangelism, helping our spouses, and service, all these are empowered by God who ultimately gives growth. That is beautiful.

He makes our relationships beautiful - fatherhood, motherhood, husband/wife, daughter/son, sister/brothers....

We are moved to love and to selflessness because He first loved us and is our example through His sacrifice. In Philippians 2:3-4 we see that we are to, " Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others". We are to prefer one another, to love one another. However, if you look to the next verses you will see that Christ is our example and our motivation. It reads, "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.". We see here that the holy and perfect God humbly emptied himself for us, even to the point of death on a cross. We are motivated to consider others because Christ considered us as He took our place. His work on the cross enabled us to love others and forgive them because He first loved and forgave us, (1 John 4:19); we love because He first loved us.

He enables us to love, to give grace and forgiveness and imitate Him in our relationships. This is beautiful.

He makes our trials beautiful.

Jesus himself tells us that we will experience trials (John 16:33), "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, I have overcome the world.". We will have trials, but even amidst trials we will have peace. That is something only His children have, not the world. 

We also know that He works all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28-30). That comforts and encourages me to know that our trials and sorrows are not in vain, but that God is using them for my good and His glory. There is no surprise for Him as He works all things according to His will (Ephesians 1:11). Trials have purpose, they conform us to His image, they ready us for our future glory where He has prepared a place for us.

In Romans 5:1-5 Paul shares that our character is shaped through trials and we have hope in them, and we can even rejoice in them, "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.". Even though it is often painful, He is using our trials to refine us, 1 Peter 1:6-7 states, "In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith-- more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire- may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.". We know that we are his when we are unshaken in our trials, we can stand firm in him. And with each trial we learn to lean in a little sooner and a little closer to the Father, and to not hold so tightly to the perishing things of this world.

I wouldn't say that I would have wished any of the trials in my life, but I am thankful that God has used them to make me more like him. One of those ways is in learning how to comfort others. 

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 states, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too." What king shares in his people's sufferings? What king comforts his people? Our King! King Jesus!

Jesus even understands and can sympathize with us, in Hebrews 4:14-16 the author writes, "Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.". We can hold fast to our faith and approach our High King and High Priest and find a place of grace to help us.

People who don't melt during fiery trials but are refined, made stronger and purer than before because of the glorious grace and strong preserving hand of their Redeemer? That is beautiful.

He makes us beautiful through sanctification.

He makes us into a new creation and we now can put off the old self; 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." I am dead to sin and have the ability to say yes to Jesus and his ways, to live for him.

We can be transformed, " by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12). And we can even add to our faith, 2 Peter 1:5-8 says, "For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." We can grow in Christ and become like Him by adding to our faith these beautiful virtues, but we can never add to our salvation, which was finished at the cross.

Sanctification also prepares us for our future home, we are just passing through. Like Abraham and Moses who didn't reach their destinations, Hebrews 11:13 says, "These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had the opportunity to return, But as it is they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city." God also is not ashamed to be called our God if we put our faith in him, and we too are waiting for our future home, our true home.

Self-righteous, filthy rebels transformed into virtuous new creations, increasingly bearing the fruit of the Spirit and displaying the glory of their Savior King? That is beautiful.

Lastly, He makes death beautiful because He takes away the sting and we are brought into glory with Him.

Recently we as a church have walked through a tragic loss, and many have recently lost loved ones, but we have not done this alone and we have not done this without hope. 1 Thess 4:13-14 states, "But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep." For Christians, death is not our end; this is not goodbye.

Someday in our future home we will be glorified, we will be robed in righteousness and adorned with jewels. Isaiah 61:10 says, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." Those that have fallen asleep and for those of us looking towards that day, we will have no more tears, no more pain or struggle with sin, but robed in righteousness. We will be presented to Him holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5).

In triumph He has taken away the sting of death! 

"Death is swallowed up in victory. 'O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." (Corinthians 15:54-58).

God transforming the ultimate tragedy, the greatest tangible sign of the corruption of sin, into a glorious transition to our exalted eternal state, into the ultimate restoration of what we were each created to be. That is beautiful!