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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Sign Of The Times

Outside of my window, overlooking my little garden stands a tree.  Throughout the year, its portrait in my window frame changes with the seasons.  The summer green of its leaves fades into vibrant shades of red and ginger before they become dry and brittle and waft to the ground.  My nosy, striped cat bounds up its trunk, with her ears back confidently chasing whatever dares move.  Her descent is comical as the bravado of the climb has denigrated into an awkward backward wide-eyed shimmy.  In winter it stands as a sentinel of spring with its boney arms supporting drifts of snow, as small round wrens scatter the frozen white tufts earthward.  Spring awakens with a long yawn as tender green leaves begin to emerge from its renewed branches.  A feisty hummingbird uses one of its branches as a perch to defend the feeder full of sweet nectar bobbing below.  Any interloper is buzzed with a sharp fly by and he returns to his loft.  Years ago I noticed that in the middle of July, one vibrant red leaf appears on the tree.  It is a sign of the times, a blatant reminder of fall, in such a lush green place.    
In Matthew 24:3 the disciples inquire of Jesus, “. . . ‘Tell us,’ they said, ‘when will this happen and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’” Jesus had just spoken of the impending destruction of the temple as they walked through Jerusalem.  Jesus answers them in verse 24:4-8 “Watch out that no one deceives you.  For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.  You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed.  Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.  Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  All these are the beginnings of birth pains” (NIV).  This statement is akin to the red leaf on my tree heralding fall, Jesus is saying, “Not yet, but these things are coming.”
Even more surely as the turning of the seasons, the Words of scripture will come to pass.  I pray that you are ready at His coming.  The Blood of Christ has bought our opportunity for entrance into eternity with God.  The newspapers are reading like scripture, the unrest in the Middle East is exacerbating, Israel is being singled out; consequently, there is an accelerated sense of spiritual urgency.  The cross is our only safety.

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