FRIENDS AT THANKSGIVING

A number of years ago, my daughter answered the telephone and took a message for me when I returned home from work. It was from a childhood friend, who found me and reconnected after several decades. We picked up our conversation as if we had been together all along. We subsequently have visited together several times and have laughed and shared experiences. What a joy to have such a friend.

More recently, we were shopping this past week and I heard my name called, only to see a young lady who had worked with me many years previously when she was just starting out on her work career. She has gone on to have a very successful career and I am very proud of what she has done.

As we were speaking, she thanked me for the training that she had received from my partner and me, asserting that her career reflected the work ethic that she received during her time with us at the office. I began thinking of those who I have worked with through the years, and of those who I have taught and ministered to in church and other organizations.

Am I a good teacher for others to learn of my Lord?

Can others say that they saw Christ in me as I lived my life before them even if it is not specifically “church” activities?

Do I give thanks for the people with whom I have worked, for those who encouraged me and taught me, and then for those to whom I passed on those lessons as they too were struggling?

Paul said this in Philippians 4:9:

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Friendship is a beautiful gift. We are admonished to cherish it and to let it grow. Sometimes circumstances will bring distance between friends, but the relationship still is special and of importance to us. Feed friendship just as you feed your body. And then give encouragement and comfort, show constancy and kindness even in pressurized situations.

Live your life so that you, like Paul, can encourage others to practice what you have taught them. Then, give thanks for their life and witness.

Perhaps, as you go through the store, you may be surprised when someone taps your arm and bears testimony as to your influence on their life. Give thanks then too!

Happy Thanksgiving — may gratitude grace your life daily as you seek to show other, even your friends, the love or our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Father, may I live my life, every day, so that those who are watching me will see You, will see commitment to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and will see evidence of Your love and care in all my actions and in my conversation. And, may I always give thanks to You for the people you place in my world. Enable me to love them as you have loved me. I ask this in Jesus’ Name.

GOD IS LOVE

We know that God has many attributes, some of which are singly those of God and we cannot begin to compare ourselves with Him.  Others, however, are called “communicable attributes” and these are characteristics that God has granted to us.  Attributes of omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, for example, are attributes that belong to God alone.  Even the most arrogant of people cannot assert that they can be in all places at once!

Other attributes, though, have been given to human beings, albeit in a watered down version of the pure attributes of God.  For example, love is an attribute of God and it is an attribute that He has communicated to us. 

God’s love, called agape love, is self-sacrificing.  it is love which thinks only of the object being loved, without any strings attached, without any consideration of love being returned in kind, without any anticipation of that love being returned.  it is pure love for the one who is loved. 

Because we live in a fallen world and we are sinful creatures, the love that we give to others is much more selfish and self-centered.  We love others but there is always at least a little bit of “what’s in it for me” associated with our loving actions.  At a minimum, we expect to be thanked for the kindness that we are exhibiting.

Recently, a friend sent me this video showing the mutual bliss that God’s created beings show when love is extended to them.   I expect that there are those who would argue that animals don’t feel love, they are just humoring the humans who feed them.  Or, I expect there are those who would argue that God did not give animals emotions at all.  I respectfully disagree!

I am not a veterinarian, and I am not an animal psychologist.  I am merely a woman who has had dogs in her life for almost its entirety.  The joy, comfort and pleasure that my dogs have given, and continue to give, to me is wonderful.  And, we love the pets in our home, taking joy in seeing them playing and interacting with each other and with us.

Oh, that we would exhibit God’s love to each other.  Scripture says: 

… but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God.  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life.

Romans 5:8-10

God loved us when we were His enemies, because we are sinners who disobey His commands continually.  Sinners who take His blessings for granted, without gratitude or recognition.  Sinners who flaunt our achievements as if we did them on our own, rather than realizing that God is the One who enables us to do everything! 

Yet, despite our sinful nature, God loves us and sent His Son to be our Savior, Redeemer.  That is the love we should exhibit to others.  Because He loved us, we should so love others.

Father, forgive me when I have been self-centered and have not loved others as You have loved me.  Open my eyes, my mind and my heart so that I can love as You love, through the power of the Holy Spirit, I pray. 

Veterans’ Day 2019

Thank you to the many Veterans who have served our country so faithfully, defending our rights and providing security during turbulent times.  We have been privileged to have three veterans in our family:  both my husband’s father and my father served in World War II, and our son served 18 years in the U.S. Marine Corps seeing military action in a number of Middle East countries and working in various places where military assistance was required.  Indeed, my son often would say (with a smile) that he was providing the “blanket of security” under which I slept.   It is right that we should thank them for their service. 

Jon and Bird of Hope
Providing assistance in Haiti after devastating hurricane.

Thank you, too, to the spouses and families of the veterans who have been called to go into combat because they, too, pay a price.  I remember being on a Marine base when one of our grandchildren turned 4 and had a birthday party.  A mother came up to my husband, who was pushing a toddler on the swing, and she thanked him for playing with her daughter.  “You see, she is kinda sad today because Daddy left this morning and he won’t be back for many months.  Thanks for paying attention to her. It means a great deal.”

Thank you, too, to our God who has guided the men and women of our Armed Forces so that they can come back and be reunited with their families when their tour of duty is over.  For those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, I pray that God will continue to give comfort and aid to the spouses and children who have lost their parent, and to the families who have lost a son or daughter.   

May God bless our country and all those who protect her through military service.

Blessings – Missing Something — YES

The prior post on this site posed a question.  What was missing from the picture?  We had a wonderful campsite in a delightful place, but we were missing … the recreational vehicle, our home away from home, the RV!

As it happened, the air conditioning system had failed and the RV spent time in the repair shop, actually the entire day with a return the next day as well.

In other words, the reason we were in the super campsite was gone … all we could do in the campsite without the RV was sit on the chairs and wait.  No refrigerator for lunch, no snacks readily available. We could, of course, use the jeep to drive around the area, but we didn’t have the comforts of our home away from home available to us for a number of hours.

Great job in identifying the missing object!  Thanks to those who took the challenge and sent a comment.

BLESSINGS … MISSING SOMETHING?

We were in Grand Junction, Colorado for several days, and we had reservations at the KOA so we could park our RV.  Once settled at the campground, we would unhitch the Jeep and drive around the area.  It was great. 

Grand Junction Co campground without RV
Grand Junction, Colorado, Kampground of America

The site at the campground surprised us.  We had paid for a premium site, but this one was beyond the other campgrounds we had visited.  It was a premium site with table and 6 chairs, a big BBQ grill, a fire ring and park bench type seat on paving stones rather than gravel.  We enjoyed our first evening there by sitting at the table outside in a cool breeze, sipping coffee and just talking.  What a blessing this site was since it had been a long day of travel.

The picture above shows the premium site, but there is something missing — if you know what it is, identify the missing component in a comment!

In our Christian life, we enjoy so many blessings from our God and His Son, Christ Jesus, that we can’t even begin to count them.  They are myriad and they surround us each moment of each day.  The world sees some of these blessings as what we are due, but in reality, we are due nothing from God since our forefather Adam sinned and ruined man’s communion with his Creator.

The gift of a new day.  Of breath.  Of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch.  Of beauty in flowers, trees, sunshine, rainbows.  Of mountains, meandering rivers, canyons carved by water.  Of the beauty of a newborn baby, a toddler’s expression of amazement at learning new things, a child’s sense of accomplishment at school or sports.  Of strength to continue even when difficulties arise, of the strength that the presence of God brings to us throughout our days.

His blessings are not confined to the material world; rather, God’s preeminent blessing to His children is His Son, our Savior and Redeemer, who atoned for our sin with His death on the cross.  As a result of His life, death and resurrection, we have the assurance of eternal life with God and with our Lord, no matter what situation surrounds us here on earth.

Sometimes God provides a premium site for us to use, other days we may have a gravel site with no extra stuff.   Do we thank Him for both?

How often do we forget to thank Him for the blessings, while we are certain to run to Him when we are sick or when problems engulf us?  When we have enough money to do what we want, we take credit and think it is because of our hard work at our job or our savvy in investing.  (Think of the parable Jesus taught as recorded in Luke 12 about the rich man who had this world’s treasures but who had nothing in his heavenly account!)

Rather, the thankful heart, the heart of gratitude for God’s blessings, would remember that God not only gives us the job to do to earn our money but He also gives us the strength and ability to do so. 

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:11-13

Thankfulness and gratitude are attitudes that the Christian should exhibit throughout the day.  Thank Him for what He has done for you through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Consider the humiliation of our Lord when He left heaven and came to the world that He created, leaving His glory in heaven and coming as a baby into a sinful world. Consider all that He suffered throughout His life, the ridicule and harassment by the authorities, the constant clamor of people who wanted Him to heal them even though they would not even say thanks,  culminating in condemnation and execution even though He had led a perfect life and had not committed any crime. 

Of course, the reason Christ had to die was so that He could satisfy the justice of God by paying for your sin and mine.

This thought alone should result in our singing praises to Him throughout the day. 

Thank God for all things, good and bad, big and little, significant and insignificant.  All things are under His control and the Christian is in His hand. 

Blessings to you and may you give thanks to our God and Father and to His Son, our Lord and Savior, through the Holy Spirit on this day.

Father help me remember to thank You throughout the day.  Forgive me when I have accepted your blessings without so much as a “Thank You”.  Forgive me when I have taken credit for blessings that You have granted to me.  Give me a heart that is thankful and full of gratitude for all Your many blessings.  Through Christ my Lord, I pray.

EATING – LIVE TO EAT OR EAT TO LIVE?

I have heard it said that some people “live to eat” and others “eat to live”.    We have two dogs who represent these two concepts.

Cuddles loves to eat – in fact the trainer who worked with us when the girls were brought home from the animal shelter said, and I quote: “I have never seen a dog that was so food-centric as Cuddles!”  If you want her to do anything, you need to give her a treat, preferably before AND after her obedience.

20190604_143355
Cuddles, in the foreground, LOVES to eat; Snickers, in the background, is pickier!

In this picture of the two of them “sitting pretty”, Cuddles is in the foreground and you can see that she has to sit with her rear legs spread apart to keep her balance. 

On the other hand,  Snickers, despite her candy-bar-name, eats her food but she is not hankering for a treat every time we turn around.  You can see that her rear legs are at right angles to her body.  She does not have to sit “side-saddle” like her younger sister does.

In short, the difference between the girls is that Cuddles lives to eat and Snickers eats to live.

Since both my husband and I are overweight, I am not going to point to us as examples of this concept.  Rather, I want to think about what we consume from Scripture.  Do we eat to live, that is only eat from Scripture a sufficient amount to gain our fire insurance from hell, or do we live to eat, that is feast on the truths of Scripture and come again and again to the Word for more food for our spiritual souls’ growth and development?

The Bible talks about eating in many places.  In the very first book of the Bible God tells Adam that he can eat of every tree in the Garden of Eden, except for one.  (Genesis 2:16-17)  After their disobedience, Adam and Eve were ejected from the Garden and they had to work for their food ever after.

In Exodus we read of the meal of unleavened bread and bitter herbs which preceded the visitation from the angel of death.  After the exodus from Egypt, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness and God sent manna and then quail for them to eat.

David puts God’s provision like this:

Yet he commanded the skies above and opened the doors of heaven, and he rained down on them manna to eat and gave them the grain of heaven.  Man ate of the bread of the angels; he sent them food in abundance.  He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens, and by his power he led out the south wind;  he rained meat on them like dust, winged birds like the sand of the seas; he let them fall in the midst of their camp, all around their dwellings.  And they ate and were well filled, for he gave them what they craved.

Psalm 78:23-29

The New Testament talks of food as well. For example, Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine at a wedding feast. (John 2)  Jesus fed thousands as He taught them along the seaside. (Mark 8.)

In 1 Corinthians 6 we find Paul’s instruction regarding eating the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of His death for our sins.  Some call this feast Communion and others Eucharist, but the essence is that we are celebrating the marvelous work of our Lord and His sacrifice for us.

Paul has strong words for the people in the Corinthian church.  He wrote:

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.  I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready,  for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?

1 Corinthians 3:1-3

The writer of Hebrews expresses this same idea in this way:

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.  But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. 

Hebrews 5:12-14

We know from our own experience that babies take milk and then, at some point in their infancy, they move up to some diluted cereal such as infant oatmeal.  Then comes soft food and, upon reaching childhood, they can eat regular food, starting with soft meats and them ultimately moving up to steak! Meat comes with maturity. 

What does this solid food look like?  Paul tells us, it is the food in Scripture that we read with our power of discernment trained by constant practice, to do what?  To distinguish good from evil. 

Do you know when the preacher’s doctrine is faulty?  You know it when you have read the Scripture, studied and have discernment from constant exposure to the Word of God.  Then you can tell good teaching from the faulty teaching.

So, beloved, when it comes to spiritual food, are you satisfied with milk?  Or, do you long for solid food, for the meat not just the milk?   Do you read the Word of God for yourself?  Do you study with others so that you can practice your discerning powers and so identify both the good and the bad.  Do you ask the Holy Spirit to guide your thinking and open your eyes and your mind to the truths and riches that are found in the Word of God?

From a spiritual perspective, the question is:  Are you Snickers or Cuddles?  Do you eat to live, or do you live to eat.  Oh, that we would be spiritually overweight with the rich meat of Scripture.

Father, forgive me when I have been satisfied to skim the surface of Your Word, when I have been lazy and have not studied Your Word to uncover the truths and precepts that You want me to have.  Enable me to feast on the meat of Your Word through Your Holy Spirit, I pray.

IMITATION

Have you ever tried to imitate someone?

When we were in England eight years ago, we went to London so the Beatles fans in the family could see Abbey Road.  Then, in typical tourist style, the four men in the family walked across the street, in an apparent attempt to imitate the album cover!

Abbey road

When I look at the picture, I have to smile seeing the totally serious faces of the participants!

In June 2018 I used this same picture in a blog entitled “Who do you imitate?”.  Apparently the Lord wants me to reinforce this thought in the blog site!  Please refer to that blog for additional thoughts on our duty of imitation.

The Greek definition of the word “imitate” relates to one who mimics or who is an actor.  In Vine’s Expository Dictionary, it is noted that the verb “imitate” is always used in exhortations and always in the continuous tense, suggesting a constant habit of practice.

So, do you make it a habit of imitating those Christians who have provided us examples of Christlike actions?  Think about these exhortations:

WE SHOULD IMITATE THE CONDUCT OF MISSIONARIES

For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you,  nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you.  It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate.

2 Thessalonians 3:7-9

WE SHOULD IMITATE THE FAITH OF SPIRITUAL GUIDES

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.

Hebrews 13:7

WE SHOULD IMITATE THAT WHICH IS GOOD

Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.

3 John 1:11

God is good, and we should imitate this characteristic of our Heavenly Father.  God’s goodness is shown in His benevolence toward us, His creatures.  In like manner, we should reflect His goodness.  How?  We should imitate His goodness in our benevolence to others.  This may look different for each of us as we relate to others in our own unique manner, but it should have the same fundamental characteristic – the actions should be for the benefit of the other person without regard to whether they thank us, like us or even know that we did anything for them.  Our benevolence is based in God and in our transformation into the likeness of Christ.

Recall when Christ healed the 10 lepers.  The story is found in Luke’s gospel.

And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance  and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”  When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice;  and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”  And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

Luke 17:12-19

Ten were healed of the dreaded disease leprosy.  Ten men went from having to stand outside the city, without family or friends, covering their mouth and crying “Unclean, Unclean”.  Ten men went from having no interaction with society to being welcomed home, in the community and at the synagogue.  But, only one came back to thank Him.

Scripture says that all ten of the men were healed as they were walking to the synagogue.  There is no indication that their healing was reversed when they failed to give thanks.

One said thank you to our Lord.

We, too, are diseased.  Oh, not with leprosy but with a disease just as deadly and putrid – sin.  Oh that we would have a realistic understanding of how grievous our sin is to God, how God will not look at sinful creatures.  He sent His Son to take our sin upon Himself so that we could come to God and become His children, children who God can look upon because what He sees, instead of our sin, is the righteousness of Jesus Christ that has been given to us through the blood of Christ.

May we imitate that one man who turned back, praising God with a loud voice;  and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks.   May we recognize our sin and thank God through Christ Jesus for wiping it away, for cleansing us, now and forever.  Once we are cleansed from our sin, may we imitate our God and Father Who lavishes His benevolence on us.  When we give to others, when we help others, when we do for others without their knowledge, we are imitating our Father.  Praise His Holy Name.

Father, so often we minimize our sin, saying it was just a ”white lie” or “not as bad as murder” when there is no gradation of “sin”.  Disobedience to Your Word is sin, no matter how we may want to characterize it.  Thank You for sending Your Son to be our atoning sacrifice that paid for the consequences of our sin.  Thank You for calling us to Yourself through the Holy Spirit, and enabling us to imitate Your benevolence to those You place in our world.

EXPECTATIONS

Expectations.  We all have them.  Sometimes they are met and we rejoice.  However, many times we are disappointed when the expectation is not met, completely ignored, or disregarded.  Then, we are emotionally distraught because we feel abandoned, cheated or unfulfilled.

When we went out west on vacation, I had certain expectations, and all of them were met and exceeded.  The scenery was jaw-dropping.  The people were incredibly friendly.  The events we had lined up to do surpassed their claims.  We had doubts about one expectation, however.

We went through several National Parks where the brochures said there would be a plethora of wild animals for us to see, and we saw NONE.  Even in areas that had flashing “Watch for Bison” signs, no bison, chipmunks or squirrels were in sight. At one point, I suggested to Bill that we purchase a statue of a bison, put in way out in a field, and then the next day we could drive by and take a picture …

The last day in Yellowstone National Park we did see bison, and lots of them. Then we saw a bison family that walked along with us through the woods.

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Bison family walking
Bison family walking through trees in Yellowstone National Park.

I was ecstatic – my expectation for seeing bison out west was fulfilled.  Then, when we went to Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park, we saw hundreds of them.

Hayden Valley bison herd
Part of one of the herds of bison in Hayden Valley, Yellowstone National Park.

But, the best was yet to come … as we were leaving the Park, we saw “our” family of bison, relaxing and laying in the grass alongside the roadway.

Bison family relaxing
“Our” family of bison, resting along the roadside as we were leaving the National Park.

What a joy.  My expectation for seeing bison was, truly, surpassed when we saw these beasts relaxing, although the “daddy” was surely standing guard and would not have hesitated to attack if we had posed any threat.

We have expectations about a great many things, not just wild animals on vacation.  When they are met we are happy, and when they are ignored we are saddened and disappointed.

Scripture says that we are made in God’s image.

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Genesis 1:26-27

We know, of course, that at some point after creation, sin entered the world when Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s instruction.  So, while we no longer walk with God in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8), we still were made in the image of God and the Christian will bear God’s image through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul said this about Jesus:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”

Colossians 1:15

In the Book of Romans we read:

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.  For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified.”

Romans 8:28-30

So, what does God expect of those who bear His image in the world? My husband created this listing of expectations for his Sunday School Class.  I present them here for your consideration, and with his approval:

God expects a  man to FEAR HIM AND OBEY HIM.  Ecclesiastes 12:13

God expects a  man to PLACE HIS TRUST IN HIM.  Psalm 3:5

God expects a  man to LOVE HIM.  1 John 4:19

God expects a  man to BE OBEDIENT TO HIS WILL.  Revelation 22:14

God expects a  man to DESIRE HIM.  Psalm 27:4

God expects a  man’s EXCLUSIVE DEVOTION.  Matthew 4:10

God expects a  man’s PRAISE AND DEVOTION.  Psalm 100:4

God expects a  man to WORSHIP HIM.  John 4:21-24

God expects a  man to be HIS SERVANT.  Romans 6:16-18, 22

God expects a  man’s PRAYERS TO BE ADDRESSED TO HIM.  Matthew 6:9

In short, God has told us exactly what He expects from us:

He has told you, O man, what is good, and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8

So, how do you stack up against what God expects from you?  Thankfully, our God is loving and merciful, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance before Him.  (2 Peter 3:9)  So, if you are disappointing God in His expectations, repent and turn to Him for support and strength to do that which He desires.

Expectations can be met through prayer, devotion and dedication to seek the face of the Lord in all things.  As you do these things, you will find that you experience joy and peace that had bypassed you previously.  Love God and follow His commandments and you will experience the abundant life that Jesus promised to you.

Blessings as you walk with the Lord this day.

Father, forgive me when I have missed your expectations of my life and service to You.  Help me to look to You in all things and to praise You with a heart of gratitude.  I praise Your Holy Name, through Jesus Christ my Lord.

The Planets

We had the opportunity to listen to the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra recently.  The program included Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy, On the Beautiful Blue Danube by Johan Strauss, Jr.,  These Worlds in Us by Missy Mazzoli, and The Planets, Suite for Large Orchestra, Opus 32 by Gustav Holst.

Each piece was masterfully performed and it was a pleasure to hear them performed live.

The work that is subject of this blog, however, is The Planets.  The composer characterized the orchestral work as “mood pictures” in which each separate movement represented a planet in the solar system. (Notably, he did not include Earth.)  This composition was created in 1916, so there were only seven planets, excluding the Earth, that had been identified and were the subject of Holst’s work..

Along with the music, the Symphony presented a montage of video showing each of the planets in space.  Viewing the video, one became acutely aware of the difference between each of the planets and our Earth.  All were beautiful in their own right.  The rings of Saturn were gorgeous while the rings of Uranus were not quite as complex. While beautiful, none of them had any visible evidence of life.  No trees, no flowers, no animals, no oceans, no clouds.  Just barren rock.

earth-from-space-dscovr
Earth as seen from space.

In contrast, on this planet that is the third from the Sun, we have life in all its fullness.  Beautiful trees, incredible variety of flowers, animals that range from minute little gnats to enormous elephants and apes, fish that swim in the oceans that live so deep man cannot go there apart from specialized submersibles.  Evidence that God created creatures for His glory and beauty is found when, at the bottom of the deepest oceans where no light is found, the camera lights come on and fish are seen displaying a panoply of colors.  God’s enjoyment of His creation is profound, and man can only taste a bit of that joy here and now.

Scripture tells us that God created all things.  Genesis 1:1 states without equivocation:

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

Matthew Henry says of this verse that:

this world was, in the beginning of time, created by a Being of infinite wisdom and power, who was Himself before all time and all worlds.

The Apostle Paul says:

“To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,  and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things,

Ephesians 3:8-9

Paul was more clear on this point when he wrote to the Colossians:

“He [Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

Colossians 1:15-17

For the Christian, these words are comforting and clear.  The Old Testament says that God created all things and, in the New Testament, we find that Jesus Christ is the Person who performed that creative work.  We are also told that this creation was created by Him and for Him, and that He holds everything together.

The Biblical creation story is certainly not popular in our 21st century culture.  Big Bang and Evolution are more tantalizing today than a mere statement that by the Word of God creation came about.  But, popular or not, this is the Word of God and it is the authoritative source for my faith and its practice.

I believe the video showing the barrenness of the other planets in our solar system is evidence of the grace of our God in giving us this Earth to live on.  Not too close and not too far from the Sun.  My husband said that Earth’s placement  is called the “Goldilocks Zone” … it’s just right!

Praise God for His marvelous works.  Thank you Lord for giving us this beautiful planet on which to live, and for giving us life itself.

Father, forgive us when we act like we created anything!  Forgive us when we take Your creation for granted.  Forgive us when we disrespect our world and when we take actions that harm the environment.  Thank you for giving us such a beautiful world in which to live, all because of Your glorious grace, mercy and love.