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Posts Tagged ‘God’s Creative Genius’

 

 

 

“He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.”

–Psalm 104:5

 

The ancient psalm writer, with his limited knowledge of how the universe works, could only express what he observed: the earth remains stable. Perhaps he noticed we never veer too close or too far from the life-giving sun. And without knowing why, he knew who was responsible: God Almighty.

Now, after centuries of research, we can understand more clearly the reasons for our constant position in space.

 

Isaac Newton (1643-1727)

 

Isaac Newton was the first to surmise that the planets are held in place by the sun’s gravity.   Why?   The more massive an object, the more gravitational pull it produces. Since the sun is by far the largest entity in our solar system, it exerts the strongest pull.

But what keeps the planets and their moons from being drawn into the sun and consumed? Rotation. As the sun exerts pressure inward, the planets’ orbit around the sun pulls them outward. (Think of an object tied to the end of a string and spun in a circle.) Centrifugal force pulls the object outward. Perfect tension between these two forces keeps every celestial body in its place within the solar system.

 

 

And because earth’s foundations are never moved, life is sustained. Any closer to the sun and our glaciers would melt, causing sea levels to rise and massive coastal flooding to occur. More water surface on the globe would mean more heat absorption as well.

Just a minor move closer to the sun would cause drastic results.

On the other hand, if Earth were just a few million miles farther away from the sun, the reverse effects would occur. More ice would form, diminishing the oceans. Their function to absorb heat would be lessened. Colder oceans would not evaporate as quickly, causing less rain to fall.

Again, just a minor change would cause drastic results.

 

 

Now we know:  Our specific, firmly established distance from the sun is crucial to sustaining life.

But our foundations are unique in another regard. Planet Earth is tilted on its axis 23 ½ degrees. (How’s that for precise?)

 

 

The tilt keeps our overall temperature stable.   Each hemisphere, north and south, receives three months of greater sun exposure, creating warmth. They also receive three months of less sun exposure, bringing the temperature down.

If the world was not tilted at all, there would be no seasons. All points on the globe would retain the same temperature in July as in January—equatorial regions would remain intolerably hot; regions toward the poles would be unbearably cold.

 

 

Weather patterns would remain rather static, creating areas of high humidity and other locations of insufferable aridity. As a result, only the mid-latitudes–about half the planet– would be suitable for human habitation and favorable for cultivation.

With these facts in mind, I’m much more appreciative of that truth tucked into Psalm 104: “He set the earth on its foundations.”

Did you notice the psalmist used the plural form of foundation? Perhaps he spoke more truth than he realized.

The viability of Planet Earth rests on at least these three foundations described above: gravity, centrifugal force , and tilt.

 

 

Such precision, multiplied again and again throughout the universe, proves God has thought of everything to keep his creation functioning millennium after millennium.  And…

 

“Nothing under his control can ever be out of control.”

–Chuck Swindoll*

 

If he can perfectly orchestrate numerous factors, with absolute exactitude, in order to maintain life on this planet, he can certainly handle the less-complicated, smaller-scale aspects of my life and yours.

 

 

All that’s required of us is the application of one foundational principle:

Faith.

 

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*from Intimacy with the Almighty

 

Sources:  https://spaceplace.nasa.gov/review/dr-marc-solar-system/planet-orbits.html and http://www.icr.org/article/planet-eart-plan-or-accident/

 

Art & photo credits:  http://www.jpl.nasa.gov; http://www.wikimedia.com; http://www.pixabay.com; http://www.maxpixel.net; http://www.wikimedia.com; http://www.pxhere.com (2); http://www.canva.com.

 

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(a personal psalm)

 

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(I will praise you;

for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:

marvelous are your works;

and that my soul knows right well.

–Psalm 139:14, King James Bible 2000)

 

I do praise you, oh God, for the breathtaking wonder of the human body.

You put together trillions of cells that perform a multitude of functions in one harmonious whole.

 

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As each of us was formed in our mothers’ wombs, you carefully engineered the transformation of cells into:

  • blood vessels—an estimated 60,000 miles of them.
  • more than 600 individual skeletal muscles. Two hundred of them are required for just one step—an indication of the complexity of the muscular system.
  • organs, including the liver. Scientists have discovered five hundred functions for this highly important body part that we rarely think about.
  • The heart–strong and reliable enough to beat more than 2.5 billion times over an average lifespan.

Within each cell nucleus is the DNA double helix, just 80 billionths of an inch long, yet “comprised of chemical bases arranged in approximately 3 billion precise sequences. Even the DNA molecule for a single-celled bacterium,  E. coli, contains enough information to fill all the books in any of the world’s largest libraries.”*

 

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(Model of the DNA double-helix)

 

Once this amazing organism called “human” begins functioning, you, oh God, orchestrate more wonder:

  • Nerve impulses travel to and from the brain at 170 miles per hour.
  • Noses (in conjunction with the brain) begin cataloging up to 50,000 scents.
  • The heart pumps the equivalent of 2,000 gallons of blood through the vessels every day.
  • The blood circulates through the body three times every minute.
  • Cell replacement must occur frequently.  Approximately 25 million new cells are being produced every second.

 

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Yet the wonder continues. You’ve given us the power to think and reason.

  • All the grooves or wrinkles in the brain provide more surface area, which equates to more processing power within the small confines of the skull.
  • The brain is surrounded in fluid that acts like a cushion in case of impact, and as a barrier in case of disease.
  • More than 100,000 chemical reactions occur in the brain every second.
  • The brain contains billions of neurons that send electrical and chemical messages to the body. If all the neurons were lined up end to end, they’d stretch 600 miles.
  • And for each neuron there are 1000 to 10, 000 synapses.

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But you, oh God, weren’t finished yet! You created within each of us wonderful and unique abilities. Just among our family you’ve designed a (n):

  • imaginative artist,
  • caring school psychologist,
  • attention-holding preacher,
  • passionate psychiatrist,
  • self-taught tech wizard, and
  • talented graphics designer

 

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(2010 — Shame on us for not having

a more recent photo of the whole family!)

 

How glorious to contemplate, O Lord, the breathtaking wonder of how we’re made. Hearts keep pumping, lungs keep breathing, nerve impulses keep sending messages–without a single voluntary thought. Our brains are capable of learning and storing an enormous amount of information. And everything works together in perfect unity.

I cannot begin to fathom your creativity, expert engineering, and attention to detail. Even if we were identical robots, we would have to stand in awe of your holy genius.

But you have made each person unique, designed to fulfill a specific purpose.

May I live close to you in order to be transformed day by day into the one you designed me to be.

 

*www.allaboutscience.org

Other sources: www.facts.randomhistory.com; www.health.howstuffowrks.com; www.icantseeyou.typepad.com, www.medindia.net; www.nursingassistantcentral.com; http://www.sciencekids.co.nz

Art & photo credits:  www.pinterest.com; http://www.youtube.com; http://www.tr.wikipedia.org; http://www.superteachertools.us; http://www.pinterest.com; Nancy Ruegg

 

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Tuesday afternoon, our older son, Eric, held up his iPhone so I could see the screen. On display was an unimpressive image of a sphere, various shades of beige to brown against a black background. Not much of an attention-grabber.

“What am I looking at?” I inquired.

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“Get ready to be amazed,” he teased. “It’s Pluto.  The New Horizons spacecraft just arrived there after a 9 ½-year flight, and sent this photo back to NASA.”

First, I was impressed by how far the spacecraft had traveled: over three billion miles. Even at thousands of miles per hour, it took New Horizons almost a decade to reach Pluto.  Incredible.

Then I noticed how well-lit the dwarf planet appeared, considering its distance from the sun (3.6 billion miles).  Also astounding.

And I marveled how a tiny sphere of rock that far-distant, is still controlled by the sun’s strong gravitational pull, keeping it in orbit within the solar system. In fact, there are even more dwarf planets beyond Pluto that are maintained in a stable, elliptical orbit around the sun.

It’s no wonder David proclaimed:

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“The heavens declare the glory of God;

the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”

–Psalm 19:1

We’d be smart to consider the heavens with David.  Our attention is so often focused on to-do lists, calendars, and bank accounts, we forget we’re just specks in the cosmos. Even Planet Earth is less than a tiny pinhead of matter, when compared to the universe.

Yet we view the sun as playing a supporting role in our lives, giving us light and keeping us warm. In fact, the sun is the star (pun intended!) of the Solar System Show. It occupies center stage, and accounts for 99.8% of the mass in our planetary system.

In actuality, the sun is the most important influence to our existence. It is perfect in size, perfectly distanced from earth, burning at the perfect temperature and brightness in order to sustain life here on our little planet.

Sun

Yet another sun is even more perfect.   “The Lord is a sun” (Psalm 84:11).

Just as the physical sun is a glorious object in creation, so our God is glorious in light and splendor (Psalm 104:1-2).

The sun has existed since time began, and will continue to exist until time (as we know it) ceases. God, too, spans all of time (Isaiah 40:28).

The sun is a source of incomprehensible power. To produce the same amount of energy as the sun, 100 billion tons of dynamite would have to be detonated every second! Yet our God is more powerful yet. He is the Creator of our mighty sun, the sovereign Lord of the universe (Jeremiah 32:17).

The sun provides light; the Lord provides the light of his presence and understanding (Psalm 44:3; 2 Corinthians 4:6).

The sun provides warmth; our God provides the warmth of comfort and consolation (2 Corinthians 1:3).

Without the warmth and light of the sun we would soon die. Without the Light of Life (Jesus) in our lives, we would forfeit eternal life (1 John 1:5-7).

The sun’s glowing beams shed beauty and joy; our God sheds beauty and joy into our hearts (Isaiah 61:3).

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Thank you, Father of the heavenly lights, for illuminating our lives from without and within.  We praise you for your dazzling splendor!  May we walk in the light of the Sun of Righteousness, and reflect his radiance to those around us.

 James 1:17; Malachi 4:2, 1 Corinthians 3:18

(Photo credits:  www.earthsky.org; http://www.youtube.com; http://www.suddenlinkfyi.com; http://www.allposters.com.)

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Take a close look at the intricate design above. Did you notice the artist’s medium? Corks!

And look at what some clever soul did with some old tires.

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And how about this stemware rack? Quite the creative use for a discarded garden rake.

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All three of these projects are examples of upcycling—the process of converting useless products and waste materials into new products of higher quality or value than the original.

On a much grander scale, consider:   those of us who know Jesus have also been upcycled.

“Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.

The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

– 2 Corinthians 5:17

 And what does that new, upcycled life include?

  • The opportunity for intimacy with Almighty God
  • A fresh perspective on life
  • Strength to face whatever might happen
  • A glorious certainty for the future
  • A deep sense of peace and joy that circumstances cannot destroy

And that’s just the beginning of the list.

Just as resourceful people are able to upcycle any number of materials, God can use everything in our lives:

  • Every relationship
  • Every situation
  • Every trial
  • Every hurt
  • Even every failure

No matter what we go through, God can upcycle the experience to create something worthwhile.  Good things like:  1) important life-lessons, 2) steps in his carefully orchestrated plan for our lives, and 3) a positive influence upon others.

Nothing is wasted in God’s economy.

–Bill Wilson

(founder of Alcoholics Anonymous)

Paul expressed the same truth in scripture:

“God is able to orchestrate everything

to work toward something good and beautiful

when we love him and accept his invitation

to live according to his plan.”

–Romans 8:28, The Voice, italics added)

The inconsequential bits of our lives are never wasted in God’s economy either. For example:  He uses every good deed, every exercise of self-discipline, every effort to keep peace, to mold us into better people and to minister to others.

And then there is the trash of our lives—those circumstances and relationships we wish never had happened.  Even the trash is upcycled:

Wailing becomes dancing (Psalm 30:11)

Tears become joy (Psalm 126:5),

Ashes become beauty,

Despair becomes praise (Isaiah 61:3),

The crooked roads become straight (Luke 3:5),

Darkness becomes light (1 Peter 2:9).

Someone very clever expressed it this way:

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Does that mean we sit and wait while God turns our tears of disillusionment to joy? The ashes of disappointment into something beautiful? The crooked road of bad choices into a straight, smooth path?

No, God honors us by allowing us to participate in the upcycling process.

“Always work enthusiastically for the Lord,

for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”

— 1 Corinthians 15:58, NLT

Let’s strive to choose the next “best thing” before us, and let God upcycle the results!

(Photo credits:  www.winecorkdesigns.com; http://www.newscentral.exsees.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.mediawebapps.com.)

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“Stay awake! Stay awake!” the pilot yelled at himself.

His little plane skimmed over the ocean, mere feet from the cresting waves. Another moment of dozing might have spelled disaster for the lone aviator.

The scare pumped adrenalin through his weary system. He pulled up out of danger, then banked the plane slightly so he could see ahead through the side window. There was no window facing forward, because an over-sized gas tank blocked any possible view.

Up ahead the young pilot saw towering storm clouds. He decided to guide the plane around the thunderhead. Earlier, he had tried to fly through a large cloud, but sleet began to collect on his plane. He was forced to turn around and get back to clear air immediately.

Once clear of the cloud bank, the pilot thought, Maybe I should eat something. He pulled out one of five sandwiches stored behind his chair. Very little else was packed into the tiny cockpit—no parachute, no radio, not even the usual leather pilot’s seat. He’d opted for a wicker chair, to keep the plane as light as possible.

The young man checked his watch. He had already been awake thirty-six hours and knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep for at least another twenty. The good news: his destination was closer now than his departure point. Of course, that also meant no turning back.

The little plane hummed along, bouncing a bit on the air currents. If any plane is well-suited for this journey, it’s this one.  And the pilot smiled, remembering the camaraderie of the design team, of which he had been a part.   With creativity and engineering prowess, they sought to solve every problem that might present itself during his long solo fight.

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The body of the plane was only 9 feet, 8 inches high, and 27 feet, 8 inches long. But the wingspan was longer than usual, to handle the weight of the extra-large fuel tank. Someone quipped the plane wasn’t much more than a propeller-driven fuel tank.

Yet another cloud bank loomed ahead. The pilot checked his compass, the only instrument he had brought aboard to steer by. It wasn’t working again. Magnetic storms from the North Pole interfered with its function.

So he chose to fly over this bank, skimming the tops of the clouds at 10,000 feet. Darkness enveloped him. There wasn’t even the glimmer of a crescent moon to guide his way. Only pinpoints of stars glinted in the black sky overhead—stars to guide his course.

The tiny plane seemed like a speck, hung in that immensity of space between sea and sky—a sea whose depths were beyond man’s reach, and infinite outer space, beyond human comprehension.  Inside the tiny plane was a man, smaller still. Any moment could be his last on earth.

The pilot grabbed his inflight journal and wrote:

“It is hard to be an agnostic up here…aware of the frailty of man’s devices, a part of the universe between its earth and stars. If one dies, all this goes on existing in a plan so perfectly balanced, so wonderfully simple, so incredibly complex that it’s far beyond our comprehension—worlds and moons revolving; planets orbiting on suns; suns flung with recklessness through space. There’s the infinite magnitude of the universe; there’s the infinite detail of its matter—the outer star, the inner atom. And man conscious of it all—a worldly audience to what—if not God.”

And just as David had proclaimed in Psalm 19:1-2, the young pilot heard in that moment “the heavens declare the glory of God”—as if all the heavenly bodies thundered praise for the Lord’s wisdom, splendor and power—to create such complexities on such a grand scale. Indeed, “the skies proclaim the work of his hands”—in the countless stars of immense proportions. “Day after day…night after night they display knowledge,” as they constantly revolve in the same precise order.

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No one knows how long the young pilot contemplated God and his wonders.  We do know this:

Thirty-three hours after takeoff he landed his little aircraft, the Spirit of St. Louis. He had gone without sleep for fifty-five hours. But Charles Lindbergh had fulfilled his dream to be the first to cross the Atlantic Ocean–by plane.

The date: May 21, 1927. Eighty-eight years ago today.

“Lindbergh did it,” wrote Edwin James, for the New York Times. “Suddenly and softly there slipped out of the darkness [surrounding Paris], a gray-white airplane as 25,000 pairs of eyes strained toward it.”   Later the crowd would be estimated close to 100,000.

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When he returned to the States, Lindbergh was honored by a ticker-tape parade in New York City, attended by four million enthusiastic spectators.

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But I wonder if his most precious memory of that world-changing event was the moment when his heart filled with wonder and he recorded those inspired thoughts in his journal. That was the point he profoundly understood in new ways God’s creative genius, his precise engineering, and powerful control of immense forces in the universe. That was when Lindbergh acknowledged God is the only One capable of producing such perfection.

Sources:  www.biography.com; http://www.charleslindbergh.com; Christmas, by Charles Allen and Charles Wallis, Revell, 1977; http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com; http://www.history.com.

(Photo credits:  www.fiddlersgreen.net; http://www.charleslindbergh.com; http://www.worshipinitiative.som; iconicphotos.wordpress.com; http://www.telegraph.co.uk.)

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Slow, somber music faded away.  All lights were extinguished, including the spot on the cave-like tomb, stage left.

Black silence enveloped us for several moments as the burial scene concluded, a dramatic part of the Easter musical production at our church.

In a hushed voice, the narrator picked up the story.  He explained that when Sunday morning came, women went to the tomb. We, the audience, could see them approaching from stage right, talking among themselves.

They peered into the tomb, and cried out as they discovered the body of Jesus was gone. No sooner did they begin to question what might have happened, than an angel suddenly appeared next to them.  I don’t mean, “walked up and joined them.”  No.  One moment that angel was nonexistent; the next moment there he stood, gleaming brightly.

How did the stage crew create such a startling scene? They used a scrim, a large sheet of gauzy fabric, behind the back of the tomb. When the tomb was lit from the front, everything behind the scrim was invisible. When the spotlight behind the scrim came up, suddenly the audience could see the angel.

That scrim-effect made me think: we live with a virtual scrim in front of us every day. We cannot see what God has planned for us in the future. Events of tomorrow—even this afternoon—are blocked from us by black silence. In his infinite wisdom God has determined that’s the best way for us to live.

But! After the fact–after events unfold—sometimes we’re able to look back to see behind the scrim, and note how God orchestrated events for our benefit.

I’m remembering a particularly difficult move years ago. We were leaving a much-loved church where my husband had pastored for six years, and beginning a new ministry across-state.

My personal challenge would be obtaining a teaching position in our new locale, at a time when there were more teachers than positions available.

But look what God did:

First, he “introduced” me to Diane, a delightful young woman—also a teacher. Her parents were members of our new church. Diane actually attended elsewhere, but every now and then would join her parents on a Sunday morning. She visited shortly after our arrival.

Second, God urged Diane to offer help with our unpacking. We spent a delightful morning emptying boxes and organizing various items while getting acquainted. I learned that she taught at a small private school, with just two classes at each grade level. The school was close by, too—only four minutes away. Diane suggested she submit my name for the substitute list. I told her, “Sure!”

Third, God created many substitute opportunities for me at Diane’s school, but fulltime employment seemed unlikely. No one was close to retirement; no one was moving. Meanwhile I applied at public schools within a reasonable commute of our home.

But in April, without even an interview, God prompted the headmaster at the private school to offer me a position. One of the fourth grade teachers had just been elected mayor. Trying to fulfill those responsibilities and teach was more than she wanted to tackle.

I started the following August, which gave me the entire summer to prepare. My classroom was right next door to Diane’s.

When that job opportunity opened up, it was as if the spotlight turned on behind the scrim. Suddenly I could see how God had carefully arranged the whole sequence of events.  My disappointment over leaving our previous home and church turned into a God-ordained appointment at that private school, one that lasted twenty-two years.

“Never underestimate what a redeeming God can do, “ says Karol Ladd.*

And keep your eye on that scrim, for the glorious moment when you can see how he’s been orchestrating events for your benefit (Jeremiah 29:11).

 

*from Thrive, Don’t Simply Survive by Karol Ladd, Howard Books, 2009.

 

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When have you glimpsed behind the scrim of your life?  What events has God orchestrated for your benefit?  Share with us your story in the comments below!

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Our neighbor, Christine, happened to be in her yard yesterday morning (in spite of frigid temperatures), as I was leaving to babysit our granddaughter. Christine was picking up trash that had blown in front of her house.

“I’ll be so glad when this weather warms up,” she called, stooping to gather more bits in her bag-covered hand. We encouraged each other with the forecast for the weekend: temperatures approaching fifty degrees.

Actually, I haven’t minded the deep freeze that has gripped the Midwest for most of January.  After living in Florida for forty years, I see cold weather as a pleasant change from stifling hot temperatures and hard-to-breathe humid air. (Give me a few years up here, and I might be longing for that heat again.)

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For now, these wintry January days offer a multitude of pleasures:

  • A bit of rest after the bustle of Christmas.
  • Feathery cirrus clouds gracing the sky.
  • Cardinals, juncos, and flickers cavorting in the trees on the occasional temperate, sunny day. (Without foliage to obscure the view, we can watch their antics unobstructed.)
  • The soft, pale glow of winter sunsets.
  • Plumes of smoke winding lazily upward from the neighbors’ chimneys.

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  • Candles glimmering cheerily as dusk falls.
  • The scent of homemade chicken soup simmering on the stove. (Granted, soup can be enjoyed anytime, but it takes a chilly evening to bring out the best of a savory bowl.)
  • Hibernating by the fire, computer on my lap, hot tea in a thermal mug at my side.
  • Layering myself in soft, cozy clothing—and Smartwool socks!
  • Quenching my thirst with a drink of water from the faucet–and it’s already cool – no ice necessary.
  • That first “Ah” moment upon entering the warm house. (Entering a cool house in Florida is more of a “Whew!” moment!) The coziness of home is most appreciated when cold winds blow outside.
  • Nature renewing itself for the life-burst of spring. One sign: buds on the magnolia tree are already growing plump.

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And what about those times when snow covers the landscape? Oh my. The enjoyment is magnified ten times.

  • Delicate flakes waltz in quiet descent.
  • Trees become dressed in lace.
  • Light glistens and sparkles from the brilliant snowscape.
  • A quiet hush surrounds us, as the freshly fallen snow absorbs sound.

All precious gifts, indeed.

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Heavenly Father, I thank you that the whole earth is full of your glory, even in bleak winter.

In the snowflakes we see your never-ending creativity.

In the full magnolia buds we see the hope of spring, symbolic of our sure hope in you.

In the pleasure of a warm home and crackling fire we glimpse the refuge you offer to us: a place of safety, comfort, rest, and delight.

In the purity of white snow that covers the gray and the dismal, we see a reminder that you cleanse away our sins and make them white as snow (Isaiah 1:18).

And in the beauty and hush of a winter snowscape, we find our attention drawn to you. In quiet, wondrous worship. we give praise to you, our gracious, glorious God!

 

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What gifts of winter do you most appreciate?

 

(Photo credits:  www.zatavki.com; http://www.blog.snyderac.com; http://www.shutterstock.com.)

 

 

 

 

 

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