Rhythms to Begin Again (Again)

As is my custom, I found myself starting a new Bible reading plan on the morning of January 1st. I was beginning again at the beginning of the Bible in Genesis 1.

I’ve been here before.

I was fighting against the familiarity of these words. I was battling distraction. I felt discouraged that I hadn’t really finished the last Bible reading plan I started the year before.

So why was I beginning a new one?

Anyway, I prayed for the Holy Spirit to help me slow down and to read this majestic narrative with fresh eyes of faith.

In the next moments time seemed to slow down as I felt the rush in my soul hushed by my Creator’s holy presence. As I prayerfully read and meditated on Genesis 1 on January 1 a set of words seemed to leap off the page and grab my attention and began stirring my affections. Even though I’ve read this first chapter of Scripture perhaps hundreds of times, seven verbs attributed to God were highlighted for me. Following the pattern of the days of creation, these seven actions of God began to form a series of rhythms that the Lord was inviting me to cultivate this new year.

As we walk through these seven actions, remember that they are not a list of “to-do’s” for us to accomplish, but a series of habits to foster in order to more fully experience and express the abundant life God designed for us to live.


The opening line of the most popular book of all time declares, “In the beginning, God created…” It’s so easy to breeze over this, but it’s worthwhile to stop and meditate on the fact that the first attribute of God that is revealed in the Bible is that He is the Creator.

This word for Creator is used only in reference to God as an exclusive attribute of the Almighty. Theologians use the Latin phrase ex nihilo, meaning “out of nothing creation” to describe this praiseworthy characteristic of our creator. In other words, God did not use pre-existent matter to form the heavens and the earth; He created everything from nothing. As John 1:3 would later declare with even deeper clarity, “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.”

Yet as you journey through the creation narrative, a peculiar and consistent theme emerges as to how God creates. He follows a pattern of forming and filling. The first three days God creates the heavens and the earth, which was “without form and void” (Genesis 1:2), and separates light and darkness, and earth from water. Then God spends the following three days filling the forms by creating the sun, moon, and stars to fill the sky, swarms of living creatures to fill the seas, and vegetation, animals, and of course His masterpiece of humanity to fill the earth.

So how does this pertain to you and me in cultivating rhythms of renewal? Well, we can invite God to create new forms to be filled in our lives, our families, and communities. A form could simply be a daily time set aside to practice a spiritual discipline to seek after the Lord. It could be setting aside one evening a week for family devotions and discussion, or maybe even committing to a daily or weekly prayer walk in your neighborhood. Whatever form is created, you can trust God to fill it.


The next action of God is one that has always produced a deep awe and curiosity for me. Of all the ways God could have chosen to create, He landed on speaking. While a multitude of devotionals could be written about this, it is vital to at least observe that we have a communicating Creator. God’s words hold creative power and the words He spoke brought everything into being from nothing.

This particular verb is repeated in Genesis 1 no fewer than ten times as each occurrence launches each new phase in God’s creation plan. The same majestic voice that spoke our world and universe into being also communicates with you and me.

The same majestic voice that spoke our world and universe into being also communicates with you and me.

I believe one invitation here is to cultivate a new rhythm of hearing God’s voice afresh amidst the noise and clutter of our world. One practice that has been uniquely impactful for me lately has been to listen to God’s word. I even find myself, when reading the Scriptures, reading them aloud to engage more senses and to help keep me focused on the words that are truly “spirit and life” (John 6:63). Consider the list of resources given at the end as a way to increase your intake of scriptural soul food.


We move now from God speaking to God seeing. Another refrain we see at the end of each day of creation is that “God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:4,10,12, 18, 21, 25, 31). Even though God’s beautiful world has been tainted and marred by sin, we would do well to begin a new rhythm of seeing the way God sees. This does not mean we turn a blind eye to brokenness or suppress sin, but rather to still behold the beauty that God graciously preserves every day.

What would it look like to end each day by prayerfully acknowledging the good that you observed and experienced? If you can see the way God sees, then there will always be something of which you can worshipfully declare, “It is good!” In what ways have you seen God’s goodness today, this week, or this month? Don’t hold it in; prayerfully announce it so that your soul can be encouraged and you can give glory to God, who is able to work good from all things according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

If you can see the way God sees, then there will always be something of which you can worshipfully declare, “It is good!”

GOD CALLED         

It makes sense that the one who creates something holds the authority to assign its name, identity, and value. This is exactly what we see God doing in Genesis 1. After forming, separating, and assigning each aspect of His creation, God calls, or names, what it is.

However, it’s incredible that this action is something God doesn’t complete for all of creation, but instead desired to share with His image bearers. In the retelling of the creation narrative in Genesis 2, God gives Adam the authority to name “every living creature” (Genesis 2:19). This action plays a crucial role in God’s command to “have dominion” (Genesis 1:28) over every living thing. To have dominion here means to lead, direct, manage, or steward something according to an assigned purpose.

To call or name what is around us according to God’s purpose and design is one way we can confer dignity, value, identity, and worth. In other words, this action holds the invitation to call out in others God’s created purpose and heart for them.

One of the great joys of my life this past year was welcoming our third child into the world. My wife and I decided to not find out ahead of time if we were having a boy or a girl, but to instead joyfully await the surprise of God giving us another son or daughter. It was an immense honor, the moment our child was born, to call out, “It’s a girl!” Then, together with my wife, we gave our daughter her name, Corabelle (which means “beautiful maiden of noble strength”).

Ever since that day, I love to call each of our children by name and declare over them their God-given dignity, value, and identity. You and I can do the same with those around us.


There are only three occurrences of God blessing, or bestowing His divine favor, in the creation narrative. The first two have to do with being fruitful and multiplying and the third issues a rhythm of restoring rest. When God blesses all living creatures and then the pinnacle of His creation, humanity, He gives the ability to fill His creative form with His glory and image. In other words, God issues His blessing so that all of creation would reflect the beauty and goodness of its Creator.

God also blesses the last day to be a day of rest. We will look at this a little more in-depth in a moment, but suffice it to say that God’s design is for fruitfulness and multiplication to be born out of a place of rest rather than our frenetic human efforts.

God’s design is for fruitfulness and multiplication to be born out of a place of rest rather than our frenetic human efforts.

The rhythm here that you and I are invited into is to not only be recipients of God’s blessing, but also reproducers. The Lord said of Abraham later in Genesis 12:2, “…and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” God not only graciously desires to give to you, but also to give through you. So as you consider this new year, take stock of all the ways God has blessed you and prayerfully seek ways you can creatively bless others.


It says that on the seventh day God finished His wonderful and creative work. God always finishes what He starts. His plans and purposes will endure towards their fulfillment. The precise reason for this is because God is a God who is present with His creation. He personally oversaw and was involved in the whole process. Of all the unimaginable possible worlds God could have created, He created this one. He didn’t create everything He could have created, but chose to divinely design a specific choice according to His omnipotent wisdom.

This action is a reminder for us that as God begins and completes His work, we too have been given a purpose with work to finish. Yet how often do you and I go to bed at night carrying the anxiety that we did not complete our to-do list and feeling overwhelmed by all that is left to do? Could it be that we are operating off our own agendas rather than by God’s design?

Or is it just me?

We all have the same 24 hours each day, and while we will likely never have enough time to do all we might think needs to be done, we will always have enough time to do what God has given for us to finish.

We all have the same 24 hours each day, and while we will likely never have enough time to do all we might think needs to be done, we will always have enough time to do what God has given for us to finish.

When Jesus hung on Calvary’s cross, He uttered His last words: “It is finished” (John 19:30). Jesus didn’t do everything He could have done, but only what the Father gave Him to do. Yet like the creation narrative, God wasn’t done working. His creation was to be fruitful and multiply under His divine direction. After Jesus died and rose again and ascended into heaven, we were left with a mandate: to make and multiply disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). Each of our lives counts towards the completion of this great commission, one day at a time.

So when you and I lay our heads down to bed at night, may we have a rhythm of remembrance  that God will complete the work He has begun in us (Philippians 1:6), so that one day we can say, “I have finished the race” (2 Timothy 4:7).

Speaking of going to sleep, this leads us to our last action of God; perhaps the most important rhythm to cultivate.


It’s noteworthy to mention that God’s first day with His completed creation was a day of rest. Now, while it seems obvious to say that omnipotence doesn’t need to rest, it’s clear that God hardwired into creation a rhythm of rest because He wants all of His creation to operate from a place of relational dependence with Him.

In the Jewish mindset, each day began at sundown and thus began with a time of winding down to rest. The first day of the week was the Sabbath day of rest. Remember, this day was one of the three recipients of God’s blessing from the creation narrative: “So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation” (Genesis 2:3).

In our current hurry-inflicted and speed-addicted world, which wears busyness like a badge of honor, this action of God is a command for us to slow down and remember who is sovereign. Sabbath rest is a vital and urgent call to eliminate hurry and cultivate intimacy with our Creator.

Sabbath rest is a vital and urgent call to eliminate hurry and cultivate intimacy with our Creator.

Imagine what this next year would be like if you and I began to cultivate these life-giving rhythms that we find in the opening pages of Scripture? Remember, this was not a new list of tasks to accomplish, but habits to foster. What is one of these rhythms that you could begin again (again) with God this next week?

Copyright © 2022 Justin Jeppesen. All rights reserved.

Recommended Resources:

Praying Scripture: The Strategic Renewal app

Listening to Scripture: Dwell Bible app

Reading Scripture: Search any number of great plans on the YouVersion Bible app, or consider the following plan from the Gospel Coalition.

Justin most recently served as a pastor and professor at the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, MN. He led hundreds of young adults, along with other staff, in the rhythms of prayer and the ministry of the word. Before serving in his role at Northwestern, Justin spent 10 years in pastoral ministry at a local church, where he was first introduced to Strategic Renewal, and is a graduate of two coaching cohorts. Along with being a board member, he also serves on our speaking team. Justin and his wife of 12 years, Maddy, have three kids and live in St. Paul, where they get to experience all the wonderful seasons God has created!