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.

When Life Is Hard

She got a new job a few months ago. She had been so excited. It was more responsibility. A lot more money. Permanently remote. Just what she was looking for. She was over the moon. For multiple reasons. She was leaving a job that she had soured on months earlier. She was getting a fresh new start. She would have less projects but an expanded role. She would have a work/life balance. And then she started the job.

A couple months in, she was at her wit’s end. She was struggling with all the newness and learning it remotely. She felt she had no support, because she knew no one. She had been assigned many more projects than she felt comfortable with. She worked morning and night, sometimes without eating. She found herself crying multiple times during the day. She wanted to look for a new job, but felt it was too soon. After all, this job was her new start. And after a few months, she was overwhelmed.

A couple more months went by. She texted me one morning. She said she had updated her resume and was looking for a new job. The work load was out of control. The demands from her superiors were overwhelming. She found herself in tears more often than not. She just wanted out. She was done.

Oh. I’ve been in similar situations. Some struggles sounded familiar. Others were new to me. But all the same. I could understand her frustrations and anxiety. I could relate to her uncertainty. I had been down that road more than once. I didn’t want to be in a hard time. But what I wanted and what I got were often two different things.

But I began thinking about her situation. I wondered what she would do if this was the only job left in the world for her. What if she had to do this work in this situation for twenty more years. Could she handle it? Could she rise above the stress and make the situation work as much in her favor as was possible? Could she do a hard thing with no end in sight if that was all life offered her?

Someone else I know is undergoing intense physical therapy. She’s working to become stronger and more independent. The work she’s doing each day will strengthen her muscles and improve her coordination. She wants that, so she’s willing to do the hard work. It isn’t easy on her. Or her parents. She’s only eight years old.

But she knows that if she does the hard work now, she’ll improve her chances of walking independently and more steadily. Oh. I’m sure she has moments of anxiousness and fear. But she doesn’t let it hold her back. She is one determined young woman. And that determination and perseverance will take her far in life. She isn’t giving up even when she is faced with doing hard things.

I read the story of a young woman who was assaulted by several guys. The attack ended in pregnancy. This brave teenager made the decision to give birth to this baby conceived in the most traumatic of situations. She is now the mother of a baby girl. Not knowing who the father is, she chose life for her child. Oh. Sure. There is trauma from the attack. There are obstacles she faces. She didn’t ask for this. But she chose life for her innocent child. And life is hard. But it’s worth living. For both of them.

We don’t have to be a victim when we’re given difficult situations. We can be overcomers.


How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world. You hide them in the shelter of your presence, safe from those who conspire against them. You shelter them in your presence, far from accusing tongues. Psalms 31:19-20


In the book of 2 Corinthians, the apostle Paul wrote of the many hardships he faced in his life as a follower of Christ. His was not a life of ease. His choice to follow the teachings of Jesus placed a target on his back. And he wore that target with courage. Because all his sins had been forgiven. All the persecution of Christ followers that he had led was forgiven. The slate listing all his sins was wiped clean. Oh. I’m sure having a target on his back was a heavy burden. He was regularly persecuted for speaking about the risen Messiah. He was sought out for his faith, just as he had once sought out those who believed as he now believed. So he knew the risk. He knew that his life might be cut short. But he did it anyway.

Here’s what Paul wrote about his persecution.

Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches. 2 Corinthians 11:23-28

Paul’s life was one of his choosing. He could have continued down the path of persecuting believers. But instead, he chose to follow the teachings of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. His life changed in an instant. He became an ambassador of Christ. He taught the good news of salvation to both Jews and Gentiles. He dared to do hard things even when he faced hard times. He knew that he would be on the short list to be prosecuted for the message he preached. Those in pursuit of him never gave up. They tried him on false charges. They did physical harm to him. They imprisoned him. But he continued. At all costs.

We too can continue down the road of hard times. It may not be our faith that causes hard times. It could be a financial setback. It could be physical issues. Health challenges. Job loss. Family or relationship issues. Pandemics. Lockdowns. Life can be hard. And we can’t avoid it. But through the hard times, our God will be by our side. Every step of the way. We can do hard things. Let’s keep our faith in God strong.

Paul faced a situation that wouldn’t go away. He begged God three times to remove it from his life. But God didn’t. So he continued down the path he was on, all the while, keeping his faith strong.

So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

I don’t know how I would respond if I were persecuted for my faith. If I were beaten. Lashed. Stoned. Imprisoned. Starved. Sleepless. I pray my faith would stand strong. Oh. I’ve lost my job. I’ve lost family members. I’ve lived in uncertainty. I’ve been bullied. But through it all, my faith became stronger as I relied fully on God to provide for every need. I pray that throughout any hardship I may face I will continue to to turn to God and to trust him. No matter what happens in my life. Living for God is worth any hardship.

You must remain faithful. Your devotion to God is being tested, and you must hold onto him. How you live in these points of crisis will define your relationship with God.

Andrew Brunson

On Winning Battles

In Judges 6-7, the Israelites are in trouble, once again. They’ve turned their back on God and have disobeyed his commands. They’ve been under the control of the evil Midianites for seven years, and they’ve had enough. At least, that’s what they say. But the Midianites are very evil and are so cruel, that the Israelites hide from them in mountains, caves and other strongholds. When the Israelites plant their crops, their enemies attack them and destroy their crops. Their oppressors leave them with nothing to eat. They’re reduced to starvation. So they cry to the Lord for help.

The problem isn’t that their enemies are strong. It’s that the Israelites have again disobeyed God. Trouble always finds them when they turn their backs on God’s commands.

One man, who is basically afraid of his own shadow, threshes his wheat at the bottom of a winepress in hopes that his enemies can’t find his food and steal it. Gideon says he is the lowliest person in the lowliest tribe of Israel, and he’s scared of everything.  But God sees him and comes to him in his hiding place. 

When the Lord finds him deep in that winepress, he calls Gideon a mighty hero. But Gideon asks God why he has allowed his people to endure such hardships. He asks why God has abandoned them. God knows Gideon has many fears, but he also knows Gideon’s heart.  He hears Gideon when he asks why God has allowed all the evil to take place.  He hears Gideon’s cries about his people starving and struggling to survive.

God doesn’t rebuke him for questioning.  God doesn’t chastise him for being fearful.  Instead, God empowers him to fight.  He enables Gideon to assemble a small army.  God says a large army would indicate that they won by their own power.  A small army shows that God is the one who led them to victory.  Because there are times in life, we can’t do everything.  We need God to guide us, and the victory is all his.


It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Zechariah 4:6


God didn’t give him attaboys or you got this, man.  No.  God wanted the praise.  God wanted the adoration and commitment. Gideon needed to depend on God’s strength to fight this battle and win.  God led Gideon to defeat the enemies, but it was with God’s power. Not Gideon’s. The victory was not through human strength but from God’s favor and power. After all, God whittled down Gideon’s army from three thousand to only three hundred men. And those few men defeated an army of thousands with the help of God.

Gideon doubted God. He thought his people were in such a bad way because God wasn’t doing his job. But when God showed him that his people’s deliberate disobedience had caused this oppression, Gideon had a change of heart. He saw his countrymen for the sinners they were. In spite of his fears, he saw God’s mighty hand upon him and his small army.

Too many times we try to fight our own battles. We imagine victory at the sound of our sharp words or brute force. But we are weak. We are inadequate. We are fearful. We are human. We can’t fight our own battles. We need God’s help. If we claim to be a child of God, we need God’s strength to fight our battles. And he says he will fight for us.

We don’t have it all together. And God sees our weakness. But he also sees our hearts. And if our hearts are seeking to obey and honor God, he will work with our weakness. He will be our strength. He will be our guide. He will lead us to victory. Oh. The victory may not look as we expect. But victory will be look the way God intended. God ordains all our steps. All our battles. All our losses and victories. They are his. If we are his, we know that obedience is much better than elaborate victories.