From Quarks to Galaxies

gallaxyThe ancient Greeks believed that there were only four elements that made up everything: earthwater, air, and fire. When I was in school, our microscopic world consisted of cells, molecules, atoms, neutrons and protons. Today scientists have discovered neutrinos and bosons, leptons and quarks. What will be discovered tomorrow? Every time man makes a new discovery he gets puffed up with pride but God just sits back and says, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

We turn our eyes to the sky to see moons, comets, planets, stars, black holes and galaxies. The Hubble Space Telescope has photographed an area of the sky less than 10% the size of the moon and discovered over 6,000 galaxies. Imagine if our eyes were opened to the entire sphere of the heavens. Our mind staggers before the complexity and enormity of creation yet man declares there is no God. What a joke!

A single fertilized human egg divides and divides again until, from only the blueprint in that single cell, every muscle, every nerve, every organ is formed. Under a microscope we could probably not distinguish it from the first cell of any other animal. And yet never once has a human egg produced a canary or an alligator. Only a human with every blood vessel and gland duplicated to such perfection that my doctor knows exactly where to find every bone and how my body will react to a catalog of medications. Bacteria may try to invade my body, but it will automatically fight to repel them. If I am injured, this body has mechanisms that begin the healing process. There are seven billion people on this planet each with unique fingerprints, unique DNA profile and unique facial characteristics. I think to hold there is no creator defies logic. It’s a hypocritical choice to ignore the evidence of nature. Hold a newborn baby and tell me that life is not a miracle.

All of Psalm 139 is excellent, but let’s focus on verses 13-16 (NIV), “For 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. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” These are probably the strongest verses in the Bible on the evil of abortion but that is not the point here. The world may say I am an accident; God says I am special to Him.

My sin separated me from Father God. Nothing I could do would satisfy the righteous justice of a holy God. Yet, the One who speaks stars into existence, who breathes and galaxies appear, the creator of it all came down to earth to suffer and die as a substitutionary sacrifice for me so that I can stand before God’s throne forgiven and justified.

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11, NKJV) What is my response? If I don’t stand in absolute awe of the majesty of God, I simply haven’t understood His nature and power.

An earthly king depends on pomp and fancy clothes to impress those that come before him, because underneath he is just another man. Jesus didn’t need any of those trappings because He knew who He was. Do I know who I am? I am a carpenter. I am a nurse. I am an engineer. I am a housewife. Strip away the job and the doing, who am I on the inside? I am a child of the King. Apart from Christ, the world clings to the doing and the title because they have nothing else. They are afraid to look at the emptiness apart from the job. I have read that many will die shortly after retirement because they no longer find meaning in their lives. In Christ I am loved, forgiven, victorious and chosen. I have an eternal destiny plus my life here has meaning in Christ.

The prodigal son (Luke 15) returned from the pig pen with a servant mindset but his father still saw a son. A servant mindset says I need to earn approval and love. A son relationship is not based on performance but on position. Even the servant mindset was a step up for him.  He was stuck in the pigpen until he made a change.  The change didn’t happen when he changed his clothes or changed his job. No, he changed his mind, his thinking. Verse 17 says, “He came to his senses.” As long as I hold onto the old thinking, I will stay in the pigpen. To experience a new destiny I need new thinking.

Deep down I know I am a sinner unable to stand before the creator. Since the beginning of history, man has created religious rituals and rules to placate the justice we inherently know is demanded. Baal worship, Islam, Buddhism, Mormonism all have one thing in common: How can I do enough good things to counter the sin and tip the scales of justice in my favor? The simple truth is I can’t. No amount of prayer or fasting or feeding the poor or killing the infidel is enough. Only one thing can satisfy God’s justice: the blood of Jesus.

The Everlasting God is supreme over the past, the present and the future. By Jesus’ substitutionary sacrifice 2000 years ago, we were redeemed from slavery to sin. Medicines have expiration dates; medical isotopes have half-lives; milk will sour if kept too long. The Blood of Jesus never loses its power.

The Old Testament prescribed animal sacrifices for sin. These offerings were made over and over. Jesus once and for all entered the heavenly Holy of Holies to place His own blood on the mercy seat for our justification (Hebrews 9:12). God’s people in the Old Testament brought their offerings to the priest. The priest examined the animal sacrifice to ensure that it was without blemish. The priest did not examine the sinner. If the animal was without blemish, God accepted the animal sacrifice as well as the one bringing it. When I approach God, it is not based on my good works, but on the sacrifice Jesus made in my place. His sacrifice was without blemish.

Early in my Christian walk I prayed to better understand the Father’s heart. In reply God showed me a picture of my mother. My older brother Gene died of polio before I was born. This was an insidious killer that brought tragedy to many families in the first half of the twentieth century. When I was in 5th grade the Salk polio vaccine was released. Since we lived in a rural area all the children in our school were bussed to a central location for the vaccine. The picture I saw was returning on the bus after the injections, my mother went done the aisle of the bus checking on each child. What was going through her mind? I think it was something like, “Thank God these children are protected, but why couldn’t it have come soon enough to save Gene?” In that picture I saw Father God. I think the Father looked down with tears in His eyes on Calvary, at the broken body of His Son and thought, “My children are redeemed, but at such a great price!”

The spotless Lamb of God, the One who created the galaxies and set the stars in place, the one who created atoms and electrons and quarks, took my sin to the cross. Now because of the divine exchange, I can stand before the Father accepted and forgiven. Jesus is the One who came down to this infinitesimal dot in the vast universe. He died a shameful death in my place to pay a debt I could not. To the world it looked like the end, a promise that fell short. But three days later He shook the foundations of hell. He ripped the keys to death and the grave out of the devil’s hands and strode triumphant out of the tomb.  Today, Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father (Mark 16:19). He is our eternal intercessor (Romans 8:34). Because of Jesus’ victory we now declare Him Lord of all.  From quarks to galaxies, Lord of all.

A House on I Can Do It Street

san-franciscoImagine with me God the Father seated on His golden throne, His feet resting comfortably on a velvet foot stool. The air is heavy with the fragrance of flowers; Hillsong music is playing quietly in the background. He looks over the side of His throne down to earth and suddenly His eyes widen in horror, His feet drop to the floor with a thunder that shakes heaven and He says with a slight edge of panic in His voice, “Jesus, My Son, come quickly. Look at what Joe just did! Did Your sacrifice cover that?!” Jesus extends a nail-scarred hand to rest gently on the Father’s shoulder, “Yes, Father, My blood covers even that.” No, that conversation just ain’t gonna happen.

If I told you some of the things of my past would you be shocked!? Perhaps. Is God shocked? Of course not. If I could look into the future and see everything I will do someday would I be shocked? Undoubtedly. Is God? No. The truth is I cannot shock God. There is nothing God can’t fix through the blood of Jesus. More than that, there is nothing He hasn’t already fixed through the cross.

There is nothing spiritual about guilt and condemnation. God does not expect a penance of beating ourselves up for a period before he will forgive us. Guilt is just unforgiveness of myself and, like unforgiveness, it keeps me chained to the past and the devil loves it. Why would I continue whipping myself when Jesus took the whip for me?

When our oldest son, our firstborn, was little we made a lot of mistakes. We used negativity to motivate and we disciplined out of anger. We basically followed what was modeled to us by our parents. Today he is bitter and angry. The choices he has made sadden me but we have asked his forgiveness and God’s forgiveness. That is something “behind” (Philippians 3:14) and I will not be chained to feeling guilty about the past I can’t change. Not forgiving myself would be destructive to my destiny. I could not be a light of God’s love if I remained under a burden of guilt for every sin and failure of my life.

I was burdened by guilt and condemnation for many years after I became a Christian. Then I read a verse that changed my life: Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” The key is to repent and let go. 1John 1:9 promises, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Once we confess, once we repent, they’re gone. Why would I keep holding on to them? That just sucks me back in.

I will never be who God wants me to be if I am loaded down with guilt. There is a difference between healthy grief and carrying a burden of guilt and condemnation. Sorrow for sin is normal but a burden of guilt drains my energy and my desire to grow and serve God. I will be held back from going where God wants me until I am willing to let go of my past.

Isaiah 43:25 promises, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” Why am I still talking to God about things He has forgotten. Am I waiting for God to do something in my life? He has already done all He is going to do. Now it is up to me. I can’t change yesterday but I can change today and changes made today will change my tomorrows.

When our children were small we would load them in a backpack and hike with them. Problem was as they got older, they were darn heavy. So often I carry around a sack of guilt. I may put it down for a while when I go to church, shove it under the seat in front of me but after the closing prayer I pick it up again and carry it out with me. I may feel energized to carry that burden more easily for the moment but it is still there. It weighs me down and soon I am stumbling and shuffling under the unbearable weight again. That is the time I need to remember Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Ever feel like you can never do anything right and please God? Romans 5:20 promises, “Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound.” Grace is the empowerment from the Holy Spirit to overcome sin.

When Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees strikes out, do you think he comes off the field saying, “I’m such a loser. I can’t do anything right.” Or is he saying, “OK, I’ll do better next time. What do I need to change? I better be out for batting practice early tomorrow.” He is not dwelling on the past; he is focused on the future and that focus makes him an overcomer. Forward focused. When I sin I need to be asking: What was the trigger? What do I need to be doing differently? Every failure can become a launching pad to growth.

Guilt starts as a thought, becomes a feeling and we too often live by our feelings. When I live by what I know is true and not my feelings, my feelings will eventually change to line up with truth. All problems can be traced back to the way I think. That is why the Bible talks so much about our thoughts: Be transformed by the renewal of your mind (Romans 12:2), As a man thinks in his heart so is he (Proverbs 23:7), Bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2Corinthians 10:5). Meditating on the word of God will change my thinking, change my feelings and ultimately change my life.

Romans 6:2 declares I died to sin. Yet sin seems to be alive and well, screaming at me every day. Here is the difference: The new me does not want to sin. Sin has been taken care of. I am a new creation (2Corinthians 5:17). I have a new heart to replace a stony heart (Ezekiel 36:26). I am the temple of the Holy Spirit (1Corinthians 6:19). Is God giving me a license to sin? No! (You wouldn’t be reading this if you were looking for an excuse to sin.) God sees my heart. I have a new heart, a new desire to please God.

Jesus was my substitute in taking sin to the cross. All sin was taken care of. I don’t need to pay for it because Jesus paid for it.  In God’s eyes that was me on the cross. That is not, “I hope so, maybe it’s so, I wish it were so.” It is a fact. My name is written in heaven. Romans 6:3 promises that I can live in newness of life. That comes from knowing who I am in Christ.

What do I think are God’s expectations of me? God is not as hard to get along with as I may think. Matthew 5:48 says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Whoa, that’s a pretty high standard, impossible in reality. I can get discouraged pretty quickly trying to live to that standard, but the Amplified Bible gives a fuller picture, defining perfect as “growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity.” Life is not about having arrived but about growing. It is time to leave the city of regret which includes thought like, “I should have…” “I shouldn’t have…” “I did it again!” “I should know better.” “I’m never going to change.”

I died with Christ and now I live with Him.  The closer I am to God the more strength I will have to do the right thing and reject the wrong thing. When I fail, I repent, recognize that I have more growing to do in that area and keep moving. I don’t need to fear sin because it can’t conquer me.

According to 1John 2:1, if I should sin I have an advocate, a lawyer, someone on my side. When our son was killed, we hired a lawyer to help with the insurance settlement. He was the one on our side though all negotiations.  That is who Jesus is for me before the Father. He was the atoning sacrifice.

Hebrews 12:1 describes a cloud of witnesses that are cheering us on in this race. That is my son, my mom, the child we lost to miscarriage.  You may finish reading today and make a nasty comment to someone or dwell on a selfish thought, and the devil is right in your face saying, “How can you do that when you just came from church! You are never going to change!” “Devil, shut up. I am growing.” Hebrew 9:12 (NIV) says, “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.” The work of redemption is complete. That promise is not just for Billy Graham or your pastor or Roy the gal in the next row at church. It’s for you!  Every stain removed. We have been set free.

Let’s start building that house on I Can Do It Street. Here are some construction materials to use:

  • I am a friend of God. (John 15:15)
  • God is on my side. (Psalm 118:6)
  • God lives inside me. (1Corinthians 3:16)
  • I have been made alive with Christ. (Ephesians 2:5)
  • Nothing can separate me from God’s love. (Romans 8:35-37, 39)
  • I am more than a conqueror in Christ. (Romans 8:37)
  • I am a new creation. (1Corinthians 5:17)
  • I am the righteousness of God in Christ. (1Corinthians 5:21)
  • I am free of condemnation because I am in Christ. (Romans 8:1)
  • The Father loves me as much as He loves Jesus. (John 17:23)