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Posts Tagged ‘God’s Creative Genius’

“Who has known the mind of the Lord?” Paul asked (1 Corinthians 2:16).

That’s an easy question to answer: Nobody! His intellect and wisdom are far beyond our human ability to comprehend.

After all…

God has worked out the complexities of every living cell–with perfect precision.

 

yeast-front

(X-ray microscopy combine to picture interior of living cell)

 

He has engineered a staggering number of specialized plants and creatures, carefully interrelated in a web of reliance upon one another.

 

wshedcrosscut2

 

He has created the unfathomable reaches of the universe filled with countless heavenly bodies of immeasurable proportions.

 

hs-2007-41-a-small_web

(Spiral Galaxy M74)

 

Such intellect and wisdom to accomplish these feats is incredible.

Yet, at the end of that same verse above, Paul makes a statement even more astounding. In fact, at first glance it seems ludicrous.

 

Unknown

 “We have the mind of Christ.”

 

What? How is that possible? His knowledge and wisdom are infinite; ours is markedly limited.

But Paul makes clear:  we have the mind of Christ because he lives within us (Galatians 2:20).

 

Galatians-21

 

Not that we can know everything and respond with pure wisdom in all situations. Our perfection is a process that won’t be completed until Jesus returns (Philippians 1:6).

But my heart beats a little bit faster to realize that, each day and for all my tomorrows, I might think more like Jesus, understand more like Jesus, and react more like Jesus.

One particular action will encourage progress: spending time with him, especially in his Word.

 

Young woman reading bible

 

Here’s an analogy, though far from perfect. Steve and I have been married a very long time—forty-four years.  At this point, we can finish each other’s sentences, supply missing information or words in a conversation, and sometimes even know what the other is thinking.

It’s as if we’ve acquired a bit of the other person’s mind. And it’s happened bit by bit, over time.

So I repeat: We will have the mind of Christ as we spend time with him day by day– especially in his Word.

And how will we know that his way of thinking is becoming our way of thinking? After all, there’s no measuring stick for spiritual growth.

 

tapemeasure

 

Oswald Chambers, in My Utmost for His Highest, posed an excellent question that can help us determine our progress:

“Are other people beginning to see God in my life more and more (p. 78)?” Because a person with the mind of Christ will demonstrate Christ-like behavior.

Perhaps we could take an occasional inventory, based on the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). The attributes listed in these two verses characterize a person with the mind of Christ–someone who is loving, joyful, peace-filled, patient, kind, good, and so on.  We could ask ourselves, how have I demonstrated these attributes this week?

And what will be the result of cultivating the mind of Christ? “The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).

 

Romans8_6

 

Life that is characterized by vitality and purpose.

Peace that includes inner-contentment, freedom from guilt, and security for eternity.

That sounds awfully good to me.

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Heavenly Father, we praise you for taking us into the high places of blessing in Jesus. That includes this gift: the mind of Christ. And day by day you are transforming us into his likeness, with ever-increasing glory. May I seize this day and its opportunities to think like you, understand like you, and react like you.  

(Ephesians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 3:18)

 

Art and photo credits:  www.lbl.gov; http://www.chesapeakebay.net; http://www.hubblesite.org; http://www.crosspointenwa.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.changingthefaceof christianity.com; http://www.footsoldier4christ.com; http://www.motivationalquotes.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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I awoke around midnight one evening in December, crept out of bed, and peeked out the loft window facing the street.  All was quiet.  No cars passed, no breeze rustled the trees.  The pavement below glowed faintly under the street lamp.

Again, around two, the same tiptoe trip to the window.  Same view; same stillness.

No, I was not watching for Santa.  I was watching for snow.

The last snowfall this Floridian witnessed was thirty-eight years ago.  So during a rare Christmas visit to Ohio, when snow was forecast during the early hours of one morning, I didn’t want to miss it.

The third time I awoke, around three o’clock, my trip to the window was rewarded.  In the dim light, I could make out large flakes falling fast and straight.

As much as I anticipated its arrival, now I looked forward to the accumulation that had been forecasted: at least several inches.

Sure enough, the pale light of morning revealed a world transformed.  Each tree branch, even every twig, appeared iced in white frosting.

And yet more snow was falling.  Now the flakes were lighter and smaller, drifting gently and softly to the ground.

Donning my coat, I slipped out to the front porch, and extended my arm.  Soon I had a lovely collection of tiny star-shaped flakes on my sleeve.  Delicate displays of lacy symmetry.  Each one a magical wonder.

The next day, under a crystalline blue sky, we rode through a nearby cemetery where the snow created an even more stunning display.  Hillsides, ancient trees, and tangles of bushes were majestically trimmed in sparkling white.  Frozen ponds glistened subtly, like great pearls.  By contrast, the streams twinkled, as if crystals had been laid out on rippling, steel-gray silk.  I oohed and aahed at every turn.

Those of you who experience snow every winter may not be so enthusiastic.  There’s a dark side to the white stuff!  Bundling up in extra clothing for outdoors, then shedding the layers for indoors.  Slow, snarled traffic.  Shoveling.  Scraping off the car.

But, oh, the beauty!  The splendor!

“He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes” (Psalm 147:16)

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Thank you, O God, for the glorious wonders of your winter creation.  I marvel that you design each tiny snowflake unique from all others.  How mind-boggling to consider the millions of flakes required to cover just one tree, much less a forest or a whole region.  And  I marvel at your artistry with just one color—white!

How great and glorious you are, the almighty Creator and Sustainer of the universe! How  awe-inspiring to know you are also our loving Heavenly Father.  And that same awesome power that paints winter-white landscapes is at work in our lives, creating the beauty of holiness.   Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you. 

(photo credits:  www.r2square.wordpress.com; http://www.shutterstock.com; http://www.allposters.com; http://www.journals.worldnomads.com; http://www.dance.net.)

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God often uses improbable people, in obscure places, to accomplish his purpose.  Scripture is full of examples; and each of us can probably site contemporary proof.

The story of the familiar carol,  “O Holy Night,” certainly confirms the premise.

In 1847, a parish priest of Roquemaure, France asked Placide Cappeau, a winemaker, to compose a poem for the Christmas mass.  Placide was not a published author; he only wrote poetry as a hobby.

So did the priest choose Placide because he was a devout follower of Jesus and faithful in his support of the church?  No, in actuality, he rarely attended mass.  Did God choose Placide, and prompt the priest to ask him the favor?  Perhaps.

(Placide Cappeau)

What we do know is, Placide said,  “Yes.”    Not long after, while en route to Paris by coach, he began the creative process by imagining himself at the birth of Jesus.  His spirit became inspired, and before Placide arrived at his destination, “O Holy Night” was finished.

What this poem needs is music,  Placide thought, and asked his friend, Adolphe Adams, to provide a melody.

(Adolphe Charles Adams)

Adolphe was a gifted musician, having studied at the Paris conservatoire.  Before age thirty, he had produced two operas and several ballets.  He received commissions from around the world to write symphonies and ballets for orchestras and ballet companies.

Adolphe could have said, “No.”  After all, he was a busy man, and what would he gain by writing a tune for a Christmas Eve service?

Perhaps he was motivated by fondness for his friend.  Or did he find the lyrics strangely compelling?

You see, Adolphe was not a church-goer either.  In fact, he was of Jewish ancestry.  He had no interest in Christmas!  So did God work in his heart, giving him the desire to create music for this carol, then inspiring the moving melody?  Perhaps.

Just three weeks later, “Cantique de Noel” was performed for Christmas mass.

You might expect a “happily-ever-after” ending at this point.  Something like:  “Quickly the song spread from church to church, and within several years, the song had become a favorite carol across Europe, and even in America.”

“Cantique de Noel” did become a beloved carol very quickly, but church leaders banned the song from services.   Placide had joined the socialist movement, and it became known that the composer was Jewish.

The French people, however, continued to sing it.

Ten years later  in America,  a former-minister-become-publisher, John Sullivan Dwight, “happened” across the French carol.  Like so many before him, he fell in love with the song.  John translated it into English and published “O Holy Night” in his Journal of Music.

(John Sullivan Dwight)

The third verse particularly impressed him:

Truly He taught us to love one another;

His law is love and His Gospel is peace.

Chains shall He break for the save is our brother

And in His Name all oppression shall cease.

The confrontation between North and South was already brewing, being heavily debated throughout America.  John was an abolitionist, and found those words (which he translated faithfully from the original French) to be incredibly meaningful.

Many Americans joined John in his enthusiasm for the carol, especially in the North.

Had God brought the carol to John’s attention, just when Americans needed a reminder of God’s love for all men and His Gospel of peace?  Perhaps.

The history of this carol does not end there.

According to legend, “O Holy Night” brought about a Christmas miracle in 1871.  France and Germany were at war.  Even on Christmas Eve, the battle raged.  Suddenly a French soldier jumped out of a trench, stood boldly without his weapon, and began to sing “Cantique de Noel.”  Gunfire ceased.  Except for the man’s singular voice, all was quiet.  He sang all three verses.

Suddenly a German infantryman climbed out of his trench to sing a carol written by Martin Luther:  “From Heaven above to Earth I Come.”

For twenty-four hours the fighting stopped, in honor of Christmas.

(Reginald Fessenden)

Thirty-five years later, in 1906, “O Holy Night” was part of another historical event.  Reginald Fessenden, a professor and former chemist for Thomas Edison, broadcast his voice over airwaves on Christmas Eve.  First he read from Luke, chapter 2.

Can you imagine the shock of radio operators, used to hearing the long and short pulses of Morse code, suddenly hearing a voice?

And my guess is, there were a few tears as the Christmas story ended and Reginald took up his violin to play “O Holy Night”– the first song ever heard on radio.

What prompted Reginald to choose that particular carol?  Did he wish to remind the world that:

“It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!

…He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices,

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”

Perhaps.

(Sources:  Stories Behind the Best-Loved songs of Christmas by Ace Collins, Zondervan, 2001, Stories of the Great Christmas Carols by Kenon D. Renfrow and June C. Montgomery, Alfred Publishing Co., 2003, and the website for the Museum of Radio and Technology, Inc, at http://www.ohio.edu/people/postr/mrt/Cmas1906, htm.)

Art & photo credits:  www.hdwallpapersinn.com, www25.uua.org, http://www.wikipedia.org; http://www.stormfront.org.

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Sky sunset

 

Think of the last time you …

… gazed in wonder at a blazing sunset,

…marveled at the heavenly aroma of lilacs or orange blossoms, or

…listened to a melody that brought tears to your eyes.

 

God has equipped us with amazing physical senses, enabling us to experience and enjoy the display of his creative genius.

But physical manifestations are not his only outlet of expression.  God also revels in displaying his fullness in our hearts.  The question is:  how do we become aware of such revelations in the abstract realm of our spirits?

A.W. Tozer presents a possibility in his classic, The Pursuit of God.  He suggests we use the senses of our hearts.

The Bible gives us glimpses of how these internal senses might work.

 

1.  TASTE

David urges us to “taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8).  That verse reminds me of a father urging his child to try a bite of some new food.  “Try it—you’ll like it!” he says.

 

 

As Christians, we can “try” God—offer him a prayer, believe in a promise, trust in his love and care.  He will not ignore such efforts!  When we come near to God, he will come near to us (James 4:7).

 

2.  SMELL

Although Psalm 45 was written as a wedding song, perhaps for King Solomon, it also has prophetic qualities, looking forward to the day when Christ and his bride, the church, will be united forever.  Verse 8 mentions the groom’s fragrant robes:

“All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia,” says the psalmist.

 

 

Think of a favorite candle with a delightful aroma.  Do you light it and then leave it?  No, more than likely you place that candle in close proximity, so you can breathe in deeply the lovely fragrance and relish the pleasure.

We can draw near to God and relish the pleasure of his presence—the fragrance of his peace, joy, and comfort.

 

3.  HEARING

Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).

 

 

His voice represents wisdom, guidance, encouragement, and security.  Our primary source for those benefits?  The Bible.  But God also speaks to his children in other ways:  through creation, other people, events, even inner impressions.

Times of stillness are necessary.  If every moment is filled with chatter, we will not be able to hear God.

 

4.  TOUCH

Talk to those who have sought God during a crisis and without exception they will attest to sensing God’s presence with them.  For me, it’s like a holy heart-hug, infusing me with peace of mind and strength of heart.  Not that I am impervious to hurt or discouragement, but the touch of God provides respite and hope.

How?  Through praise and worship, especially as I meditate in the psalms.

 

 

5.  SIGHT

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8).

The verb tense used here is called “future continuous.”  The verse could read:  “They shall be continually seeing God for themselves.”

I’m reminded of a time Steve and I visited friends at their new home.  We turned off a familiar busy street and were almost immediately surrounded by tall trees.  The homes were set back from the road, barely visible.  The neighborhood was like a little piece of country set down in the middle of our metropolis.

 

 

“Who knew this area even existed?” I said to Steve.  He agreed.

We had both passed that street numerous times, but never saw it.

Isn’t that how it is with God?  We’re so busy, dashing from one task to the next, we never see God at work around us.  We aren’t looking for him so we miss him.

But!  When we are attentive for evidence of God’s presence and power, we will see him!

 

“When the habit of inwardly gazing Godward 

becomes fixed within us,

we shall be ushered onto

a new level of spiritual life.”

– A.W. Tozer

 

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Thank you, loving Father, that you do expand my understanding as I seek to know you more and strive to comprehend more fully the greatness of your glory.  Teach me to use the five senses of my heart to accomplish those goals.  With great anticipation, I look forward to the new levels of spiritual life to which you will guide me!    

 

(Photo credits:  www.flickr.com (2); www.roshchodeshnewmoon; http://www.canva.com http://www.pixabay.com; www.healycabins.com.)

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Long ago, David wrote a prayer of praise, marveling at God’s omnipresence, omnipotence, and omniscience—Psalm 139. David celebrated that God is present everywhere at the same time, he is all-powerful, and he knows all.  It’s one of my favorite psalms.

In the middle of this prayer, David says, “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (vs. 13-14).

Even back in 1000 B.C., David recognized that the human body is an amazing work of engineering and art. But centuries of scientific discoveries only increase our wonder as we begin to understand the intricacies of how the human body works.

One of the most amazing finds occurred in the middle of the twentieth century: the discovery of DNA, researched by Francis Crick, James Watson, Rosalind Franklin, and Maurice Wilkins.

 

Maclyn McCarty (June 9, 1911, to January 2, 20...

(Maclyn McCarty with Francis Crick and James D. Watson.

Photo credit:  Wikipedia)

 

You may recall from biology class that all living cells contain a chromosome, a single molecule of DNA bonded to various proteins. These chromosomes contain the genes that determine inherited traits. In all eukaryotic cells (those that contain complex structures enclosed within membranes), the chromosomes are thread-like strands, located in the nucleus.

75 pxThese thread-like strands form a spiraled ladder, called a double helix. One side goes up, the other goes down. “Base pairs” interlock in the middle, keeping the distance constant between the two helixes.

(If you remembered all that, you either studied biology recently or have an incredible memory! And if I have misread the research and reported the facts wrong, please set me straight in the Comments section.)

Scientists now know just how many bits of information are coded onto each chromosome: twenty billion! That amount of information would take three billion letters to record.

If the average word contains six letters, the information on one human chromosome equals about 500 million words.

If there are 300 words on a printed page, the information would require two million pages to record.

If these pages were bound into 500-page books, the resulting library would contain 4,000 books.

The human chromosome carries 4,000 large books of information!

Chromosome segregation during mitosis

Chromosome segregation during mitosis (Photo credit: TheJCB)

Part of that information is to instruct each cell about its job. There are more than 200 different cell-types in the human body. DNA instructs each one how to function—as bone, muscle, organ, brain, hair, fingernails, blood vessels, etc. DNA programs all 100 trillion of each body’s cells. And every hour one billion of those cells are being replaced.

Suddenly, David’s words, “We are fearfully and wonderfully made” take on fresh meaning. We shake our heads in amazement. And we’ve only considered one tiny miracle out of thousands that occur every day within our own bodies, much less everything else happening on our planet, in the galaxy, and in the universe.

Almighty God, our hearts fill with awe and praise as we consider your infinite genius, manifested in the wonders you have made. You are the all-wise Designer of everything, a perfect God whose work is perfect.

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power; for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Revelation 4:11).

We proclaim your glory and honor and power!

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What wonder of God’s creation fills you with awe? Share with us a fact or two that has caused you to marvel.

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At Bible Study the other night we were discussing the wonders of creation as evidence of God’s glory (Isaiah 6:3). One woman shared that she and her husband had witnessed a triple rainbow once, while driving on the interstate. Each bow stretched from one side of the sky to the other in bright, glowing splendor. Vehicle after vehicle slowed, then pulled off the road, so the occupants could marvel at the spectacle.

Triple Rainbow

Those of us at the table listened with wide-eyed wonder. We had witnessed double rainbows, but not a triple. Several of us had seen the same double rainbow after choir practice late last spring. It, too, extended completely from north to south in luminous brilliance. I remember thinking, If only we were on the plains of Kansas for this moment, so no buildings or trees blocked this view!

English: Double rainbow

Even a single rainbow grabs our attention. The glowing colors, grand size, and rarity of rainbows all contribute to the wonder. And for those of us who know Creator God, we whisper a prayer of praise and adoration for this manifestation of his glory.

Two Rainbows at Dusk in Denmark.

Did you Know…

…rainbows are caused by light being refracted (bent) while entering a droplet of water, then reflected inside on the back of the droplet and refracted again when leaving it. It boggles my mind that light shining on tiny droplets of water, suspended in the air, can result in the astounding beauty of a rainbow. Give God a cup of water, and look what he can do!

In a double rainbow, a second arc is seen outside the primary arc. The order of its colors are reversed, red on the inside, violet on the outside. This second bow is caused by light reflecting twice inside water droplets. Once is amazing enough, but twice? You wouldn’t think droplets were big enough for a double phenomenon, much less a triple!

Descriptions of rainbows often include seven basic colors – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.  Actually, the rainbow is a whole continuum of colors from red to violet and even beyond to colors the human eye can’t see. Yes, according to the National Center of Atmospheric Research, there are more colors in the universe we haven’t seen–yet (http://eo.ucar.edu/rainbows/ ). But someday we’ll have eyes that can see all!

That brings me to…

The Rainbow of Heaven

Even in heaven, a rainbow encircles God’s throne (Ezekiel 1:28, Revelation 4:3), symbolic of God’s grace and faithfulness. Those attributes were highlighted when the first rainbow arched over the sky. Because of God’s grace and faithfulness, he promised Noah that never again would he flood the earth, even though “every inclination of [man’s] heart is evil from childhood” (Genesis 8:21). That first rainbow was a sign God would remain faithful to His promise (Genesis 9:12-17).

The rainbow in heaven is also a sign of God’s grace and faithfulness. John Gill asserts that the colors express His promises and blessings (www.bibletools.com ). Now that thought presents a challenge! What promise or blessing might each color represent? (Before you read on, you may wish to consider the possibilities.)

Red = the blood of Jesus, through which we have the promise and blessing of forgiveness of sin (Hebrews 9:14).

Orange = fruitfulness (John 15:5), providing the blessings of purpose and fulfillment in our lives. (Can you guess I live in Florida?)

Yellow = the light of God’s Word (Proverbs 6:20-23), giving us guidance, comfort, encouragement and more.

Green = the promise and blessing of everlasting life (1 John 5:11-12).

Blue = the skies and heaven, where someday we will enjoy eternity with our Heavenly Father (2 Peter 3:13).

Violet = royalty, because of the promise we will reign with Christ in his eternal kingdom (2 Timothy 2:12).

The next time a rainbow sweeps across the sky, we might remember these promises and blessings.

But rainbows can represent even more.

A Personal Rainbow

Several years ago, while sitting in the living room, I glanced down to discover a small but brilliant bit of rainbow shimmering on my leg. Revelation 4 had just recently been part of my Bible study, so the rainbow encircling the throne of God came to mind. At that moment in the living room, it was as if God had scooped up a bit of that ethereal rainbow and placed it on me, that God himself was personally touching me!

Now, when you or I reach out to touch a loved one, our unspoken message might be: “I love you; I’m here to empathize, to support, and infuse you with strength.” Well, that little rainbow “spoke” those words to me, from my Heavenly Father (even though it was caused by the beveled glass in the front door). It was a special moment of blessing and promise that brought tears to my eyes.

Of course, rainbows are not the only manifestations of God’s glory on earth. What rare and awe-inspiring moment have you experienced that “spoke” to you? “Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together” (Psalm 34:3). Share your story below in the comment box!

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