Tattle Tale, Tattle Tale

Oh. Their long wait was over. Seventy long years had ended, along with their exile to Babylon. The Israelites were now free to return home to their country. God had punished them for disobeying and ignoring his commands. So they had been conquered by the Babylonian army and moved to a strange land. Sure. God had spoken through his prophet, Jeremiah, who told them their stay would be only seventy years. And then they would return home. Seventy years seems such a short time once it’s over. But to be a young person at the start of those seven decades was one thing. To be on the back end meant your life had passed you by in a foreign land. Your life was lived not of your choosing. But you were alive. And now you were free to go home. So home they went. They were survivors. They were the chosen remnant.

But when they got home, they realized that others had moved into their land as it stood mostly empty all those years. There were squatters living in their cities. And those squatters had their own way of living. And it didn’t fall in line with what the Israelites knew to be true. So they were at odds. But one thing the Israelites knew was that they had been advised to start rebuilding the temple of God. So they began the work.

But there were those who just couldn’t stand it. The squatters were upset by this new development. Their new neighbors, who rightfully belonged in this city, were rebuilding the temple of God. And the usurpers of the land, those who had moved in while the Israelites were in exile, were upset that the Israelites were obeying God’s command. So the newbies did what immature people do. They tattled on their neighbors. They wrote a letter to the king and demanded that he instruct the Israelites, the chosen people of God, to stop their work on the temple. And their immaturity won out. The king demanded all work on the temple be stopped. And so it did. The Israelites stopped rebuilding the temple. For fifteen years, no more work was done on it.

And then the king died. And the Israelites resumed work on the temple. After all, that was the command they were given when they had returned to their country. Rebuild the temple of God and observe his commands. And yet they hadn’t been able to complete the work. Now was their chance to make things right and finish the temple.

But once again, the newbies complained. They wrote another letter, this time to the new king. And in their second complaint letter, they asked the king to research the court archives to see if there was any reference to work on the temple. Lo and behold! There was. The king told them in no uncertain terms that work was to begin immediately. And he told the newbies that they must pay for all the work. And all the supplies. Anything the Israelites needed to finish the temple was on them. And if they didn’t obey, their lives would be taken from them. Wow. So the newbies bowed to the commands, and the temple was completed.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. Genesis 50:20

I’m reminded of the many stories of the Israelites. Year over year, they refused to obey God. They refused to follow his commands. They ignored his threats of punishment and exile. Yet he still loved them. After all, they were his chosen people. But enough was enough. He wanted them to love him and pledge to him their allegiance. Oh sure. They did from time to time. They repented. But their humility and devotion to him was short-lived. And then they went back to living life their way. And when God had finally had it, the Israelites were once and for all defeated and taken as exiles to the foreign land of Babylon. Oh. God had promised this would happen unless they repented. And they never repented. So they were punished. He had promised seventy years of exile in Babylon. And that’s exactly what happened.

But God also knew that those who had defeated his chosen people and taken them prisoner were evil. He knew they needed to be punished for harming his chosen ones. Being against God’s chosen people was the equivalent of being against God. And that’s not a winning combination. So God made sure that eventually the Babylonians were destroyed. All because they defeated the Israelites.

Just know that Satan will always find someone to oppose God’s work. Someone is always gullible enough to do Satan’s bidding. But also. Just know that those who oppose God’s work and give in to Satan’s scheming will be on the list of those punished by God. Oh. God doesn’t forget those who oppose him. If they never repent and confess their sins, they will be exposed on judgment day. Make note of it.

And there’s more.

God had plans for the Israelites who had returned to Babylon. Although their efforts to rebuild the temple were stopped, God knew that the work would eventually be restarted. And so he had his people wait for fifteen long years. But he wasn’t worried. If they had continued the work, they would have paid for it out of their pockets. But by waiting, God turned their enemies plans on their heads. The squatters paid for all the repairs and supplies. The Israelites rebuilt the temple debt free. Thanks to God’s timely planning.

Oh. God doesn’t forget his people in need. When the people of God are being used and abused, he sees it. When his people are being tortured and tormented, he sees their pain. The suffering of God’s followers does not go unnoticed. In due time, God will repay those who harm his people. So when we think we can’t continue on in a state of abuse or oppression, know that our ultimate reward is eternity with God. All suffering will not be in vain. God is our redeemer.

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

The human body is a work of art. Actually, it’s a masterpiece. It was designed by One who created everything else in the universe. And yet after all animals and plants were created, he knew that something was missing. Something important. He needed someone to fellowship with. So he created man. And boy. Did he think of everything in this creation. He not only created man. But he created woman. Two parts that together are whole.

And even before birth, God has specific plans designed for every individual. He doesn’t overlook anyone. From fertilization to the last breath, God has planned each moment of life. Each moment is designed to honor God. He knows how many breaths each of us will take. He knows those who will never breathe outside the womb. And he knows why they won’t. But his love covers all of us.

This artist’s work is complex. He created bones and ligaments. Fascia and muscles. Organs and follicles. Orifices and senses. He thought of everything a body would need in order to survive. Eyes for seeing. Ears for hearing. Nose for smelling. Skin for touching. Tongue for tasting. Brain for thinking. There’s nothing more or less that a body needs in order to do its job.

God knows his creation so well that he can read our minds. He knows our thoughts without them being spoken. He knows our intentions. And he sees our actions. He knows the movements of our body and the natural abilities we have. Who wouldn’t be in awe of this amazing masterpiece?

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. Psalms 139:13-16

So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

While it’s true that God created a masterpiece when he created the human body, we must remember that he never makes a mistake. When we’re unhappy with our body type or our facial structure, God isn’t. He didn’t create everyone to look exactly alike. He’s much more talented than that. He made each one of us unique. You may think your nose looks like a beak. And I think my short fat fingers look stubby. We don’t all need a slimline nose or long slender fingers. Stubby fingers can feel and poke the same as long ones. A beak of a nose can still smell the calming fragrance of lavender the same as a slim nose. Bald heads are just as attractive as full heads of hair. Gray hair tells a story that black, brown, red or blond hair can’t. We worry about the most senseless things when it comes to our appearance. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Some things are just better left untouched.

God only made two sexes. Male and female. You’re either one or the other. Nothing you or anyone else can do to your body can change that. Regardless of how desperate you are or what extremes are attempted, your sex was God ordained. Oh. Sure. We’re told that we can change our pronouns and our name. We can chop off body parts and create simulated ones. It doesn’t change our DNA. When we stand before God on judgment day, he’ll see us as he created us. Not as we’ve re-created ourselves. Don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise.

The two bodies need each other. Male and female. That’s the natural order of reproduction. It takes one of each to create another human. Only females can get pregnant and deliver a child. Man cannot. If a man gets pregnant and delivers a baby, then the one who says he’s a man is really a woman trying to be a man. It’s not rocket science. But it is science. God ordained science.

We may think we can fool mother nature, but we can’t fool our heavenly Father. He is the one and only Creator. When we mess with his design, we will answer for it. Because when God created mankind, he saw that his creation was very good. That’s what he saw. If he didn’t like what he saw, he would have done things differently. He doesn’t make a mistake. Make no mistake about it. God’s handiwork is perfection. Let’s not meddle with it.

Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! Genesis 1:31

Life’s Declaration

She ascended to the throne at her quarter century mark. She spent the next seventy years serving her country. Oh. She’s a face that everyone recognizes. Her bright dresses made her stand out. As she wanted. She wanted to be easily spotted in a crowd. She was a private soul who was thrust into a position she never asked for, but she took it on with pride and dignity. She would have been happy living a quiet, simple life with her family. But no. It wasn’t to be. So she vowed to perform her duty whether her life be long or short. And indeed, it was a long life. Everyone knew who she was. Ninety-five percent of everyone living on this earth know of no other queen of England but her. She’s outlived most leaders. She’s met more world leaders than anyone else. She’s raised corgis and horses. She liked to drive fast. From the outside looking in, she lived a charmed life. Oh. If only walls could talk.

She often spoke publicly about her faith in God. She had a deep abiding and unwavering faith that may have surprised some. Even when tragedy and trials came to her family, her faith stood strong. I wonder if at times that was the only thing she could count on. After all, she was the queen. She couldn’t share her troubles with just anyone. She may have lived a godly life, but she wasn’t God. She may have been of the royal bloodline, but she wasn’t God. She needed God just the same as every one of us.

Her life had not originally been mapped toward becoming queen. Her father was the second born, and only the first born was in the line of the throne. But the first born abdicated, so her father unexpectedly became king. So her life’s trajectory was changed at an early age. And when her father was crowned the new king of England, her path was set. She was to one day be queen. And not just for a day. While on a trip, she learned that her father had suddenly passed away. And now she was the queen. How sobering. And how unnerving. Oh. She knew the day would come, but she never expected it to happen at age twenty five while she was raising a young family. But duty called and she answered the challenge wholeheartedly.

As she spoke to her country, she vowed a lifetime of service to them. And that is what she gave. Humbly. Quietly. Politely. A servant to her people. She was dearly loved and will be dearly missed by those who knew her and those who wanted to know her.

I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.

Queen Elizabeth II

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12:1

As followers of Christ, wouldn’t it be a reasonable thing to make a vow to serve God our whole lives? Wouldn’t it be great if all who claim to be Christians devote themselves wholeheartedly to the service of their holy God for as long as they lived? What if we who say we’re committed to following Christ actually keep that commitment for our entire lifetime? Whether it be short or long. It’s a daily commitment. One step at a time. One decision at a time to continue down the path of faithful, holy living. Because, after all, we are in the great imperial family of God. We are his servants. We are to humbly bow before him and his will. Each and every day. With each act we take, honoring God is our goal when we say we’re committed to following him.

Making no claims of royalty, we who are children of God must live as children of God. With holy purpose and intentions. Serving faithfully even when life is tough. Even when tragedy befalls us. God’s mercies are ever sustaining even when life seems cruel. When the rug is pulled from under us, God’s word still stands. He never changes. So why should our devotion and commitment change when life hands us lemons?

Oh. We may not have the royal crown on our heads just yet. But we can live as if we do. We can move in this world as heirs to the throne of grace. Because we are. We’ve been given the gift of eternal life with Jesus Christ our Lord. Let’s live with holy purpose.

And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Romans 8:17

You Never Know

Last fall, she succumbed to the virus that’s been making headlines for over two years. Her family and friends were stunned. She had two teenage boys. She had everything to live for, but her time was up. A few weeks ago, her boys were in an ATV accident. The younger boy was unharmed. The older boy, who turned eighteen the day after the accident, had massive brain damage. He has now been reunited with his mother. Nine short months and the family has been reduced by fifty percent.

It’s devastating. It’s unsettling. Family and friends once again gathered around this small family to grieve and mourn. A life gone too soon. No one knows the right words to say. No one knows the right things to do. Just be there. Share a hug. And tears. And a prayer.

My mother had a famous saying when she heard news of an unexpected death or serious illness of a family member or friend. Well, you never know. Is what she’d say. And it’s true. You never know what can happen in life. We need to be prepared to be unprepared for what life throws at us. Because you just never know.

I recently had to purchase a new vehicle. It was unexpected. But one of our vehicles was involved in a mishap that pushed the value of the car underwater. Plus, the expense of the repairs we were continuing to endure shouted that a new purchase was upon us. We didn’t want it to happen. We were planning to keep the car for a few more years and just deal with occasional repairs. Time was not on our side. So we traded up for a newer vehicle in the hopes that it will last for many miles and many years. Only time will tell. You never know.

Another time, we were caught in a flash flood. A rapid rise in water outside the restaurant left us stranded for hours inside the building, while our vehicle sat under water. The car never started again. It was a total loss. Unexpected. Unplanned. You never know.

She got the test results. It was unexpected to hear the word “cancer”. But it was true. She was diagnosed with a terrible disease and was unprepared for what lay ahead. Treatment. Surgery. Hospitalization. Long, slow recovery. Unclear prognosis. Only time will tell if she is in remission. You never know.

Three times in an eight-year period, I heard the devastating words. You are no longer needed in this job. You are done with this company. Three times I filed for unemployment, unsure of what the future would hold. Three times, after months of looking and applying for many jobs, I gained new employment. Hoping against hope that those words would never be said again to me. Only time will tell. You never know.

So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return. Matthew 25:13

We’ve been hearing the same warning for many, many years. Basically, all our lives. And even before our time, the word was out. Jesus is coming again to gather all believers who have repented of their sins. They will be with him in eternity. No one knows the day. No one knows the hour. No one knows when it will happen. Only God himself knows when Jesus will come back to take us out of this world. And at this very moment, he is preparing a place for us to be with him on that day.

Oh. Some think it’s a hoax. Some say it’s never happened yet, so we still have some time. Others believe the time will be upon us shortly. The Bible tells us that Jesus will return like a thief in the night. We will be going about our daily business, expecting life as usual. And then. Bam! The eastern sky will open and Jesus will appear. I imagine time will appear to stand still. And those who have bowed before God and confessed their sins will rise to meet him in the air. Everyone else will be left on this earth to fend for themselves. Rest assured, this will happen. And it will only happen once. So we must be ready for it at all times.

Jesus said his coming back to Earth would be like a thief in the night. No, Jesus isn’t a thief. He didn’t come to rob and steal and harm. He came to give eternal life. Oh, he’s coming back. The first time He came as a baby. We celebrate his birth every year. It’s called Christmas Day. We celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world. And people ignore the true meaning of Christmas. It’s all about the gifts, the parties, the decorations, the trees, the food and family time. How often do we stop to think about the baby in the manger and who he really is. He was God laying right there in a manger as a newborn infant, and he lived thirty-three years on this earth as a man. He was fully man but he was also fully God. So anything he did as a man he did it as God. When the Roman soldiers came and arrested him in the garden of Gethsemane, Judas Iscariot planted a kiss on his cheek to show who they were coming to arrest. Here’s the man who calls himself the Son of God. Jesus was handed over, and was tried at a criminal’s trial. Under the cover of darkness Jesus was convicted.

He was flogged and beaten. His clothes were stripped off of him and cut into pieces. Then he was forced to carry his own cross. He was so weak from the loss of blood that he stumbled, so another man was forced to carry the cross the rest of the way. And when they got to Calvary, the Roman soldiers laid that cross down on the ground and nailed his hands and his feet to it. Then they shoved a crown of thorns on his head making sure the thorns sunk deep. They posted a sign above his head that said King of the Jews because that’s who he was. And Pilate knew who he was. Then they stood the cross up in the hole in the ground and left him there to die. And Jesus, the God in human form died that day.

Oh, he rose from the dead on the third day. And then later, he went back to heaven to be with his father. And now he’s planning to come back again.

He will come back again to take with him all of those who believe in his name, who’ve repented of their sins and follow His ways. He’s coming back. We don’t know the hour or the day. But we must live ready at all times. We must live as Jesus would have us live so we can be with Him for eternity. He promised he would return, and he keeps all of his promises. There’s not one promise he will not fulfill. All of the prophecies that have been spoken about him will be fulfilled at the proper time. So we must be ready, because we don’t know when that time is. We must live a holy life that pleases God, because you just never know.

When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days, the people enjoyed banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat and the flood came and destroyed them all. “And the world will be as it was in the days of Lot. People went about their daily business—eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building— until the morning Lot left Sodom. Then fire and burning sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. Yes, it will be ‘business as usual’ right up to the day when the Son of Man is revealed. On that day a person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack. A person out in the field must not return home. Remember what happened to Lot’s wife! If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it. That night two people will be asleep in one bed; one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding flour together at the mill; one will be taken, the other left. Luke 17:26-35