Devo 1

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.   The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”  Genesis 1:1,2

No three sentences ever penned could be so pregnant with purpose and possibility as those.  This isn’t the beginning of everything, God Himself has always been, but it is the beginning of the great story of redemption as revealed to mankind.  And the first thing God wants to tell us about everything is that He made it. He created it on purpose and therefore no part of creation is without purpose. 

So the earth was not without purpose, but it was without form. It was a wasteland, a dark, colorless, vacuous space.  The Hebrew word for “the deep” implies an abyss, a deep, surging mass of water.  This might all sound like a description of nothing but in reality “without form” is a pretty accurate description of the physical properties of water.  And void is an extremely accurate description of everything else!  

Consider this: all matter is made of atoms. Atoms are made up of protons and neutrons, which form a nucleus, and electrons which orbit it.  Now electrons are about 2000 times smaller than protons and neutrons and the space between them is relatively enormous.  If the orbit of the electrons were represented by the walls of a major-league baseball stadium, the nucleus of protons and neutrons would be a marble placed in the center of it.  And you know what would fill up all the rest of that space?  Nothing!  Atoms are actually made up of 99.99999% empty space, or void.  And since everything is made up of atoms, everything is made up of mostly nothing!  It’s still 99.99999% void, just like it was in the beginning. 

Hebrews 11:3 tells us that God is the creator of both the visible and the invisible and that the visible things are actually made out of things that are invisible.  

“By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”

Sounds a lot like atoms, right?  In fact, Colossians 1:15-17 gives us even more insight by stating that it is through Jesus Christ that not only was everything created, but in Him everything holds together.  If the electrical charge between the proton and the electrons held in orbit around it were altered by just one billionth of one percent, the matter it represented would explode!  Check out this article for more blind-blowing scientific speculation about what holds the universe together.

“He 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— all things were created through Him and for Him.  And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

So Genesis 1 is the account of how the .0001% that we call matter interrupted all that void.  When God created the heavens and the earth, He created all the matter that was ever going to exist in them apart from His own miraculous intervention.  And when the Holy Spirit “hovered over the face of the waters” all the energy that was ever going to exist had it’s source right there.  Scientists call this the First Law of Thermodynamics.  It states that neither matter nor energy can be created or destroyed.

The law of conservation of energy states further that we can’t run out of or make new energy.  It just changes forms, from potential to kinetic, and visa-versa. Just like matter, all energy comes from God.  Paul says it this way in Acts 17:24-28,

“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is He served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since He himself gives to all mankind life and breath and EVERYTHING… In Him we live and MOVE and have our being.”

Energy is the ability to do work.  And what a work was about to be done! That third sentence of the Bible is just oozing with the anticipation of it!  SOMETHING was going on over that dark, watery abyss.  The Hebrew word Rachaph means to brood, flutter, move, or shake.  The Holy Spirit was certainly about to shake things up!  God was at work! 

The energy I used to type these words, the energy you used to take this up and read it, existed in God at the time of creation.  We move because He Moved.  And we exist because Jesus Christ holds our atoms together by the word of His power.

Do you need a better reason than that to worship Him, the Alpha and Omega, the God of the beginning?  How about 2 Peter 3:7? 

“By the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgement and destruction of the ungodly.”

Peter warns us that scoffers will come in the last day following their own sinful desires (not scientific method).  According to Peter, these scoffers deliberately overlook the fact that the earth was formed out of water by the word of God and destroyed by water in the flood of Noah’s day.  But listen to the words of hope he gives us through the rest of chapter 3.

“The Lord… is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance… According to His promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells…Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish, and at peace.  And count the patience of our Lord as salvation.”

Do you hear that hope?  The world God created, now marred by scoffers, will be destroyed in judgement.  But oh the patience and salvation of the Lord!  Those who repent will see the new heavens and new earth where righteousness dwells.  Peter concludes with another warning, that knowing these scoffers will come we need to take care that we not be carried away by their error and lose our own stability, 

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.  Amen.

Week 1

Memory Verse: Hebrews 11:3 

Reading #1: Genesis 1:1,2

Questions:  What important question does the first sentence in the Bible answer for us?  How would the way you answer that question affect the way you live?  What other questions do the next 2 sentences leave you asking?

Reading #2: Acts 17:16-34

Questions:  What strange teaching did Paul introduce to the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers that left them wanting to hear more?  What is the first truth Paul wants to establish with the men of Athens?  In light of these 2 important truths—that God made them and that Jesus died for them, rose again, and is coming again—what does “God command all people everywhere” to do?

Reading #3: Colossians 1:15-21

Questions:  What role does Jesus Christ play in creation?  What role does He play in the church?  What role does He play in our death?  What role does He play in the Godhead?  What role does He play in salvation? How does Christ’s preeminence in all things enable you to “continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel?

Reading #4: 2 Peter 3

Questions:  What kind of people is Peter warning us will come in the last days and  what kind of people does he want us to be?  What facts are scoffers deliberately overlooking and what is the root of their scoffing?  What fact does Peter not want us to overlook and how should it affect the way we live?  What does Peter warn us not to be carried away by and what does he want us to grow in?  

Psalms and Hymns:

Holy, Holy, Holy  “Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!  All Thy works shall praise Thy name, in earth, and sky, and sea”

Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee  “All Thy works with joy surround Thee, Earth and heaven reflect Thy rays, Stars and angels sing around Thee, center of unbroken praise.”

You’re Invited!

It’s back-to-school time and the universe is our classroom!  Please join us for a unique family-style study with the whole Bible as our textbook.  After six years we are returning to Day 4 of creation and this time we’re going to look far and dig deep.  Psalm 19:1 says that the business of the heavens is to declare the glory of God and Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus Christ is that glory.  Besides holding the universe together by the word of His power, Jesus is in the business of redeeming for Himself worshippers from every tribe, tongue and nation on earth.  The Bible is the story of that redemption and the heavens God made play a big role.

So starting August 13, every Saturday I’ll be posting 5 passages of scripture for the following week that have something to do with the sky, including a memory verse, discussion questions and a couple hymns to go along with our astronomy theme.  Mondays I’ll post a devotional that explains how those passages work together to give us a better understanding of our Lord and His work of salvation.  Fridays I’ll give our 5 boys a chance to bring you up to speed on what they’ve been learning about astronomy or we might do a flash back to something we learned in our study 6 years ago.

It’s our hope and prayer that each week we will gain a fresh perspective on the eternal gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in the pages of scripture and displayed on the cosmic canvas of creation.  Also, it would be a delight to converse with any readers from the 83 countries that followed our blog the first time around.  If you’re still out there, we’d love to hear from you!  Tolle lege and Soli Deo gloria!

Final Friday’s Factoid 33 (by Titus and Joel)

This week we learned more about technology in space and we did more experiments. My favorites were the ones with balloons. We tried to blow balloons up in a bottle but you can’t because of the air pressure. Then we put a balloon on a bottle in ice and the balloon sank in but when we put it in hot water it got bigger. Then we let all the balloons go from the balcony and they flew just like rockets (Joel, 7 1/2).

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I had to do a science project. It was about why the sky is blue. It isn’t really blue it just looks that way because the white light from the sun gets scattered by particles in our atmosphere and you mostly see the blue rays of color. The sky is different colors on different planets. I did an experiment with clear water and with water that had drops of milk in it. The clear water just looked blackish clear when I shined a flashlight on it but the other water looked blue just like our sky.

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Teacher’s Two-Cents (by Mom)
Whew! I can’t believe we’re done for the year! I’m super proud of the boys for completing all 33 Factoids. This is the only time they have ever worked with a computer and I think they did a great job. Here is a little progress report on each of them.
Titus: 3 huge accomplishments stick out to me from this year. The first is your diligence in reading through the Bible. I can’t believe you only started in December and you are already half way through Psalms! Thank you for finding those great verses about birds along the way for our memory work next year. The second thing is the bravery you showed last month when you had to go to a “real” school for a whole week to do standardized testing. I know you didn’t like it but we are so proud of how well you did! Finally, I really admire how you committed to playing tennis with the “old guys” 3 days a week and how you stuck with it even when you didn’t feel like it. You are proving to be extremely reliable and I suspect Al might live to see his hundredth birthday in a few months partly because of spending time on the courts with you. God has gifted you in so many special ways and I am daily in awe of the things you can do.
Joel: You have come so far in your reading and writing skills this year. I love to hear you reading to your little brothers and I know they appreciate it, too. You are a great story teller/writer but it is your letter writing that has blessed me the most. Your little notes are treasures to me and you always know exactly the right words to encourage. I have also been super blessed by your ability to make friends and your heart’s desire that they all know Jesus. I pray that the Lord will continue to use you in mighty ways for His kingdom.
Nathan: Some poor school teacher out there is missing out on the sweetest, most eager little student! But I’m keeping you all to myself! Congratulations on finishing not just one, but 2 whole math books and for learning to read whole sentences! Your compassionate spirit continues to bless me and others. Thank you so much for always taking such good care of Mommy when she has been so sick. You are my little ministering angel.
Samuel: You learned to swim and to snorkel before you even turned 4! You are amazing! And your big brothers did a great job teaching you your ABC’s and to count. You are also developing some great artistic talent. I especially like it when your pictures end up on paper and not on you or the furniture. Those are real masterpieces! The “plays” you perform for us keep us all laughing and unlike some of Daddy’s drama students, we never have to tell you to “pro-ject.” I can’t wait to see what you will be accomplishing next year!

To Blog or Not To Blog…

As our school year draws to a close, I’m thinking more and more about whether or not to continue blogging about it next year. Because we were studying astronomy and had internet for the first time ever, it seemed a perfect complement to our studies. But next year our focus is on birds and other creatures that hatch from eggs and all the high tech accoutrements don’t seem as fitting to the subject. So here are the pros and cons of blogging our school year. Feel free to add your own in the comments.

Pros
1. The state of Hawaii requires me to keep a record of what we’re doing anyway so why not do it on-line?
2. We live really far away from family so this has been a great way for the grandparents and other family members to keep tabs on what we’re doing with our days.
3. Since we don’t allow video/computer games, assigning our older boys the “Friday’s Factoid” was a great way to get them comfortable using a keyboard/computer.
4. It was super encouraging connecting with other believers and homeschoolers in the blogging community. 3 other blogs I discovered through this process that I highly recommend to others are parablesofthesky, ihavenogreaterjoy, and hiseternalworld.
5. I loved sending our weekly memory verses and hymns out into cyber space with the prayer that they might be used to encourage others. According to our stats God was Made Known in this small way in 57 countries around the world. How cool is that!

Cons
1. Internet is expensive here!
2. It creates a strange sense of vulnerability giving strangers such a close look at our daily lives.
3. Blogging takes up precious minutes of my day that will probably be pretty full with Baby Boy #5 due in August!

So what do you all think? Is it worth the time and expense? Is it time to call it quits?