As I fish my mini-Hershey bar out of my purse, I remember how it felt to be “Queen for Two Hours.” (Some of you may remember the TV show “Queen for a Day” from the early 60s.) A couple of days ago I was promoted to first class on a domestic flight! I’d always wondered how it would feel to be boarded first into the front seats and then sip one’s drink while watching the ordinary people (“the unwashed masses” according to comedian Tim Hawkins http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_xV4NL9aSc) coming through on their way to the nether regions of the plane (which is normally my own lot).
Though I felt totally unworthy of the special treatment, I settled in to enjoy this experience for all it was worth. As I sipped coffee and nibbled on chocolate, I pulled out my Bible and read once again the story of Queen Esther. In this fascinating story, not one word is said about Esther enjoying the perks of her office. Instead, she is honored for risking her life to save her people from certain genocide.
Her cousin urged her to action:
“Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”
“Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.”
What might be the special purpose God has for me to fulfill in this life? Or even in this day? What will be the risks? God, give me the wisdom and commitment to fulfill Your wise and wonderful plan for me no matter what it may cost me!
P.S. To find out what happened, read the book of Esther yourself. It’s a real page-turner!
While other houses around here are sporting fall and Halloween decorations, we got a jump on them and put up Mom’s Christmas tree already! This is something I thought I could do for her during my short visit, but it does bring a sense of excitement to see it shining there in the dark of the early morning. Another part of Christmas that I look forward to is listening to Handel’s “Messiah,” even if it’s only on a CD.
Part of that musical work is based on Isaiah 9 which I read this morning. The light shining in darkness is even more poignant as the world grows dark around us and we long for the light at the end of that tunnel.
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine…
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.
In my Bible I have written “Jesus!” in the margin. It’s a very familiar passage which we associate with Christ’s birth at Christmas. But the next lines have definitely not yet been fulfilled:
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice
from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies
will make this happen!
Oh, how I long for this part of the prophecy to be fulfilled! Jesus Himself will rule singlehandedly with true peace, justice and righteousness. No more scam, scandal, selfishness, secrecy, oppression, violence, deception and all the other things that characterize government and society today. I am committed, by God’s grace, to stay the course. Not to give up in despair or to give in to the forces of evil (even those in sheep’s clothing). It will be worth it all when that glorious kingdom arrives!
Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!
When we were kids on a long car trip, sometimes we’d sing “There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea” to pass the time. And Mom would join in (or maybe she was leading it!) from the front seat. The plot of the song is sort of Seuss-esque:
There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea…
There’s a log in the hole in the bottom of the sea…
There’s a bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea…
There’s a frog on the bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea…
There’s a wart on the frog on the bump on the log in the hole…
There’s a hair on the wart….
There’s a flea on the hair…
There’s a leg on the flea…
And so on, as far as your imagination (and the length of the trip) will take you.
This endless chaining reminds me of scientists’ endless discovery of layer upon layer of wonders in outer space, in the cell and whatever other frontiers they may explore. If the things they’ve found are fascinating, think how much more spectacular are the things yet to be discovered—smaller, farther, more intricate. These are the Creator’s masterpieces, and I’m looking forward to learning about all of them in the real life beyond this one.
But there’s something more astounding than all of this: My Creator knows and loves me personally and has gone to great expense to make me his friend. Amazing indeed!
The Wonder of It All (by George Beverly Shea)
There’s the wonder of sunset at evening,
The wonder as sunrise I see;
But the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul
Is the wonder that God loves me.
O, the wonder of it all! The wonder of it all!
Just to think that God loves me.
There’s the wonder of springtime and harvest,
The sky, the stars, the sun;
But the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul
Is a wonder that’s only begun.
Hintawa man to ngadan nu?
Como se llama usted?
Ano ang pangalan mo?
What is your name?
So many languages and so many ways of saying things! Languages both unify and divide people, as we see from Genesis to the end of history described in the book of Revelation.
1. At the tower of Babel, the single language that had unified the whole earth was suddenly split into many, giving people no alternative but to obey God’s command to inhabit the entire globe.
2. Thousands of years later in Jerusalem, Jews who had adopted the languages of many other countries were startled to hear God’s message, each in their own language.
3. Since Jesus returned to heaven, His disciples have carried his message to the far corners of the globe, to thousands of language communities. However, there are still 1919 languages that do not have any part of that message. People are still waiting to hear!
4. John the apostle saw the final outcome of this linguistic diversity. Around the throne of God in heaven, speakers of every language will be joyfully united again with one common purpose:
…a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a mighty shout, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!” (Rev 7:9-10)
I suspect that we’ll all understand one another’s languages as we blend them in that great cry of victory and praise to our Maker and Redeemer.
On a long plane flight the other day, I watched one of those beautiful documentaries about African cats—lions and cheetahs. Their darling babies and family loyalty on one hand, and their struggles for survival on the other. Those that prey on them and terrorize them (hyenas, rivals), and those on which they themselves prey. When the “hero” of the story is a cheetah who needs to feed her babies, I struggle whether to root for her or for the beautiful, innocent deer that she’s pursuing in a life-or-death chase.
But one day that will change. I’ve been reading through the book of Isaiah with its depths of doom and heights of ecstasy, and here at the end I welcome that famous line,
“The wolf and the lamb will feed together.
The lion will eat hay like a cow…
In those days no one will be hurt or destroyed on my holy mountain.” (65:25)
I really look forward to getting up close with those beautiful animals!
But to be fair, we have to look back at the beginning of the chapter to see just who will be enjoying this new world of peace. God says that those who have ignored Him and chosen to do what He despises are destined for destruction, starvation, and despair (65:11-14). It is rather those who are truly God’s servants who will eat, drink, sing for joy, and and enjoy that beautiful new earth where peace and prosperity reign (65:13-25.
I hope you’ll be there to enjoy it with me—by God’s grace. It will be worth it all!
Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!
Yesterday as my flight landed, the pilot’s voice came over the PA system saying, “Thank you for flying [name of airline], your home in the sky.”
Wait a minute! I might be flying a lot this month, but my home in the sky isn’t an airplane!
For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. (Hebrews 13:14 NLT)
When I leave or enter a country, I have to fill out forms that list my country of birth, citizenship and my addresses “at home” and “abroad”—whatever that means! The country of my residence isn’t the same as that of my passport, and that’s different yet from my real citizenship, which is in heaven. What a comfort that is as this world is in the process of falling apart!
I am reminded of a song sung by Evie Tornquist back in the 70’s which is sounding more and more like what we see on the news. You can listen to at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQQB26XbWsI:
When the armies of the world have stopped their war
And the game of politics has run its course
No one is around to be a nuclear force
When all is said and done, Christ is Lord
Christ is Lord, He is Lord forevermore
Speak his name and worship him alone
Join the team that is guided from his throne
For when all is said and done, Christ is Lord
In a very special time and point of history
A man was nailed to Calvary’s tree
He forever changed the course of mankind’s destiny
The Son of God died to set men free
So when the mighty US dollar lost its strength
And it doesn’t pay to trust in francs or yen
Not one banker tries to tell you he’s your friend
Yes, when all is done, Christ is Lord
When your days are done and you must travel on
To the unknown land where you have never gone
Leaving just a tombstone in the setting sun
Yes, when you are finally gone, Christ is Lord!
We all know about David’s victory over Goliath (1 Samuel chapter 17). But I am struck with the parallels between this and Jonathan’s daring assault on the Philistines which took place before that (chapter 14).
In both cases, King Saul (Jonathan’s dad) was paralyzed with fear in the face of the threatening Philistine army on one side and his own demoralized and dwindling troops on the other. Twiddling his thumbs and wringing his hands, he was taken unaware when Jonathan took the initiative in an act of faith. And it was the same scenario when David appeared on the scene in answer to Goliath’s challenge.
I love their bold statements:
Jonathan (to his armor bearer): “Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans. Perhaps the LORD will help us, for nothing can hinder the LORD. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!” (14:6)
David (to Goliath): “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD … whom you have defied. Today the LORD will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head… And everyone assembled here will know that the LORD rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the LORD’s battle, and he will give you to us!” (17:45-47)
Jonathan and his companion killed 20 Philistines. The rest panicked and fled, and God sent an earthquake to further terrorize them.
David killed Goliath. The whole Philistine army fled and was totally devastated.
Jonathan recognized in David a man who, like him, who was totally sold out to the God who alone is victorious against all odds. May I follow in their footsteps today, on God’s side and taking each step confident in His guidance, protection, provision and power.