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You Want to Be the First, Not The Last to Find Out.

Imagine if I had lived in the first century on my way to the Temple to offer a sacrifice to the Lord. So the first thing I need to do is go to the moneychangers table and exchange my Gentile money for temple cash.  For five dollars, I get two temple dollars. It is a lousy exchange rate, but that is enough to buy a turtledove. Next, I go to the turtledove table and am told they cost three temple dollars. So now I have to go back to the moneychangers table, take out another five dollars for two more temple dollars. Now, I am in possession of the turtle dove and one useless temple dollar. Why ten dollars for a bird worth only a buck?  I’ll tell you why.  It took forty-six years to build the temple.  Can you imagine Union trucks pulling up at your front door for forty-six years? You would have to tell your family that you cooked dinner and it will cost $500 a plate. So Jesus sees this dishonest fundraising initiative and tells them, “Destroy this temple and I will raise it up in three days.” In other words, destroy the temple, and God will not rebuild it. Instead, He is going to replace it with something much better.

When I worked in Dad’s construction company, I asked him, “Why don’t you wear a nice tie, make phone calls from a fancy executive’s office, and play golf with all the other CEOs in the afternoons?” Dad put the timber down that he was about to cut and answered, “Peter, do you remember when they delivered the lumber and half of the 2X4’s were twisted and I had to send them back? I replied, “Yes, I remember.” “Well, when the company returned the 2X4s, every one of them was perfect. Do you know why? I was there. And he continued, “Do you remember the time the painters came and they didn’t know what color to paint the bedrooms on the second floor? They thought they were going to have an easy day waiting for the color scheme, but I was there. And do you remember the last time someone came to the job late?” I answered, “NO.” It is because I am here every morning. And he said, “If there is a problem on the job, if there is a question or someone is having a difficulty, I want to be the first person to know about it, not the last.  That is why I am always here. 

When God was with the Israelites in the desert, he asked them to build Him a tent. A tent, and not a stone structure with a gold dome. Why did God want a tent? Because of its portability. When the Israelites wandered in a location with no food, God was there. When the Midianites wanted to destroy the Israelites, God was on the front line. Take a guess who won that battle. When the Israelites were at the bank of the Jordan ready to cross, it was the rainy season and river was too dangerous to cross. But God was there with them.

We all love upgrades. I spent twelve years of my life using a rotary phone. It did not take pictures or offer spell check. So, my iPhone is a big upgrade. God gives us the greatest upgrade we could ever want. God did not replace the temple with a building, or answering service (leave a message at the beep), or a representative (the manager is out can, I help you?). The last words of Christ before He ascended into heaven was “I will be with you always.” That means that God wants to be the first to know our problems, hear our questions, and resolve our difficulties, Not the last.

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