Is There Life On Other Planets?

“Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.”    Isaiah 4:26.

In 2022, mankind took unprecedented leaps forward in unraveling the mysteries of the cosmos. We witnessed the first mission to the International Space Station funded entirely by space tourists. There were historic launches of spacecraft and technology by NASA and its international partners that could one day be used to land humans on Mars. As we move farther and farther into the cosmos, will we find life on other planets? How do these new discoveries affect our view of God? Do we need to revise our understanding of Him?

The answer depends on how big your concept of God is. You see, we need to recognize that God is far greater than anything the human mind can conceive. The discoveries of science excite us, but it’s even more exciting when we recognize the greatness of the Creator of it all.

Louie Giglio, pastor of Passion Church wrote a book called “Indescribable: Encountering the Glory of God in the Beauty of the Universe.”  In his book, Louie makes the case that while modern science allows us to see farther into space than ever before, every step draws us closer to the God who breathed each star into existence.

David wrote in Psalm 8:3, “When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place.” The universe contains objects of incredible size and mass at distances that the human mind cannot fully grasp. When we consider the power of the Lord who made all this, we cannot help but feel humbled.

We should be standing in reverent fear of a God so indescribably powerful that He called it the work of His fingers.  Psalm 147:4 adds   “He counts the stars and calls them all by name.” Imagine looking up on a starry night and counting the stars and giving them a name as you go along. “It was my hand that laid the foundations of the earth, my right hand that spread out the heavens above. When I call out the stars, they all appear in order.” (Isaiah 48:13).

Truly, the God who created this universe is glorious and worthy of praise. As to whether there is life on other planets, we simply do not know. So far, no evidence of life on the other planets of our solar system has been found. Wherever life exists or doesn’t exist, God is still the Creator and Controller of all things, and all things were made for His glory.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When have you had the chance to observe the night sky and its starry host?  What emotions did you feel?
  2. Read Psalm 19:1-6.  What does the universe communicate to us about God?
  3. Why do we tend to lose perspective on how big God is?  How does this impact how we approach life?

Living In Light Of Eternity

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,  press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:13-14:

Paul was clearly looking ahead rather than dwelling on the past. But that doesn’t mean that Paul has suddenly developed amnesia. He clearly understood his past and had not forgotten the man he once was, but he did not let his past discourage him or defeat him. He was determined to press on and to keep running the race. Paul was focused on eternity and what awaited him at the end of his life.

We are accustomed to viewing our lives in the order of “past, present, future.” The Bible suggests we should view time as flowing from the future into the present and then into the past. The believer should be future-oriented, “forgetting the past.”

Henry Ford once said, “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goals.” Do we realize just how mired down in the here and now we have become? Sometimes it’s dark and scary and you’re fumbling around because you feel like you have lost control allowing all kinds of noise and potholes in your lives. Things like broken relationships, money problems, illnesses, and so on. None of those things will matter in eternity. What will matter is whether we lived lives that were pleasing to God.

Paul’s was completely focused on the future. He uses the image of a race to describe the Christian life. In verse 12 Paul says, “I press on.” In verse 14 he says, “I press on to reach the end of the race…” The idea of the word press is to run swiftly in order to catch a person or thing, to run after. The goal is to reach a certain distance at a certain time, or if you are in a race, to overtake another runner. Basically, you are running, not just for the exercise, but with a specific goal and purpose in mind. A runner who keeps his or her “eyes on the prize” will stay on track.  

You may have started the race a few days or a few weeks ago. Or maybe you started the race a long time ago, but somewhere along the way, you stopped running. Perhaps you lost your joy or passion. Perhaps you stumbled and fell, or maybe you just got tired and decided to take a break. If you’re temporarily sitting on the sidelines, I encourage you to get back in the race. There’s a Savior to serve and a prize of an eternity with Him to be won.

Discussion questions:
1. How can we start thinking future, present, and past rather than the current order of past, present, and future?

2. In Philippians 3:13 Paul said “… forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, …” What do you think he meant, and how does it relate to our “pressing on toward the goal …”

Keystone Habits

“Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.” –  Charles Duhigg

In the message on Sunday, I referenced a book by Charles Duhigg entitled “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.” Duhigg studies the science of behavior, focusing particularly on habits. His premise is that in essence, our entire lives can be summed up by our habits, those things we do incessantly, day in and day out. From brushing our teeth, to the places we shop to the way we eat, sleep, work and play, our habits define us. Good habits, done over a long period of time, have incredible results. Bad habits, even little ones, done over a long period of time have the power to destroy us.

It is hard to argue with Duhigg’s assertions. I would suggest that the key to changing your life is to change your habits, but this is easier said than done. In the book, researchers studied people who underwent radical and enduring lifestyle changes and found that the secret nearly always boiled down to what is known as a single keystone habit.

As I mentioned in my sermon on Sunday, a keystone habit is a single habit which, when implemented, has a ripple effect or compounding effect on other areas of life. In other words, we change the most when we change one habit that will ultimately impact other areas of our life. Sounds a lot like the series Small Changes Big Differences, doesn’t it?

As we have said through this whole series, don’t set far flung and overly ambitious goals. I would like to be like the apostle Paul, but that won’t happen this year or even in this decade. Instead, we need to focus on one goal, that if we accomplish over time will have a ripple effect in other areas of our lives. In other words the small steps we take this year should be focused on a keystone habit. Don’t look for quick wins because they don’t bring about lasting change.

OK, Marty, what are the keystone steps in your mind. I will answer that, but if you thought about it for a few minutes you would have probably come up with the same list. Here are the habits which I believe will make a big difference in our lives:

1. Attending church and Northstar group weekly.
2. Spending time with God in His Word and prayer daily.
3. Serving in a weekly ministry.
4. Giving back to God at least 10 percent of my income.
5. Going on a short-term mission trips.

These five habits are so much a part of me I take them for granted. They have shaped who I am and what God has done in my life. However, they didn’t become habits overnight. It took time, in fact years. So, I would suggest you concentrate on number 1 on that list until it becomes a habit. If it is already a habit go on to number two and so on. Do that and I believe your life in several years will be radically different than it is today and bring lasting spiritual growth and change in your life.

Discussion Questions:
1. What are the keystone habits in your life? What should they be? How do those keystone habits intersect with discipline?
2. How would your life be different if you developed the daily habit of reading the Bible?
3. Do you attend Northstar Groups whenever possible? Do you tithe? Do you pray as frequently or as fervently as you would like? How do we develop the discipline to make those things a habit?
4. One of the keystone habits for church members is inviting unchurched members to attend church. Is that a habit of yours? If not, why not?