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Sunday Scriptures — When God Says No or Not Yet

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

For numerous years now, I have participated in a wonderful non-denominational weekly Bible study that delves deep into a book of the Bible from September to May. The mission of Bible Study Fellowship is global, in-depth Bible classes producing passionate commitment to Christ, His Word and His Church. Our vision is to magnify God and mature His people as they cultivate a deeper relationship with Him. If you aren’t in a BSF class, I suggest you check the link above, and see if there is a class near you.

This year we are studying the book of Romans. Some of you who read this blog attend Bible Study Fellowship also. Although BSF began worldwide this year on September 13, 2017, those of us here in Houston did not begin until October 11 due to Hurricane Harvey, so we are playing catch-up with our lessons for a bit.

While preparing one of my early lessons for discussion, I knew I needed to share some thoughts from that lesson with you on the subject of when God says “No” or “Not Yet”.

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Our requests are good. They are godly. They aren’t selfish. Yet, God says no or not yet. Frustrating, is it not?

Looking at Paul’s request to go to the church in Rome to preach and see how they were doing gives us insight into this very idea and I’m pretty sure if you are like me, you can see similarities with your requests.

Paul’s request was for godly purposes, still God told Paul no, not yet. Paul did go to Rome, however, the day near the end of his life when he was taken in chains as a prisoner, and later executed there.

In my life there are unanswered prayers I will never understand until I reach heaven. There are some unanswered requests I’ve made where I’ve later said, “Thank you Jesus for not answering that request.” There are also prayer requests I feel are stacked up like airplanes on the tarmac waiting to take off.

Perhaps you can nod in agreement. Maybe God tells us no or not yet because we are not the one God has tapped to accomplish the thing we’re praying to accomplish. If we find that to be the case, then shouldn’t our prayers shift toward praying for those God has tapped?

Could it be when God tells us no or not yet he has something else mo’ better planned instead? How many times have we prayed for a certain job position or relationship, not gotten it, and found the one God does provide fits us much better?

Finally, God may be working on us to change our heart, or the heart of others. Who knows?

Because we don’t know if our unanswered prayers will result in a no or not yet, let’s follow Paul’s example and pray without ceasing.

How do you handle your unanswered prayers?

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject.

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Please don’t misinterpret my failure to visit you, friends. You have no idea how many times I’ve made plans for Rome. I’ve been determined to get some personal enjoyment out of God’s work among you, as I have in so many other non-Jewish towns and communities. But something has always come up and prevented it. Romans 1:13 (MSG)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Keeping Our Focus

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Focus.

How many times do we start off doing one thing, and end up distracted, pulled away, unable to complete what we set out to do? If you’re like me, perhaps this happens more than once in your life.

Sometimes distractions can be a good thing, but often they are not. Distractions might pull us out of the doldrums and lead us on to something meaningful. They might also lead us away from something worthwhile to something useless.

Because Baxter has problems with inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity, his trainer has identified him with Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. ADHD. As an elementary school educator, I dealt with ADHD children, but never expected I’d have an ADHD dog, although it does make perfect sense.

Baxter tries to focus and follow commands. He really does, but like Pie told me when he was young, he only has so much good in him. Once it’s gone. It’s gone.

Several ways we’ve found to help Baxter is to redirect his attention to what he should be doing, give him a time-out where he can compose himself, regain control, and simply rest, or kneel beside him and stroke his head.

In the book of Nehemiah we read of the gigantic task Nehemiah began in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem after the city was destroyed by the Babylonians. He faced opposition, ridicule, planned attacks, calls for special meetings, espionage … numerous distractions all designed to keep him from completing the task the LORD placed on his heart to complete.

Still, Nehemiah was faithful. He kept his eyes and focus on God. He was committed to completing the work set before him. He didn’t let all those outside distractions stop him. It would appear Nehemiah did not have ADHD.

Sometimes when we are called to complete the work God’s given us to complete, we get distracted. We get pulled from the task. We lose our focus. Maybe we have a little ADHD going on. Maybe it’s Satan’s strong pull to keep us from the work God’s called us to. Who knows? Whatever the reason, our loss of focus allows the work to go unfinished.

At those times it may be wise to keep our eyes on Jesus, take a time-out, draw close to the One who has the power to keep us focused and allow him to comfort us. We need to go to God in prayer, compose ourselves, seek his clear direction in what to chase and what not to chase. Then we can ask him what distractions are from him, and which ones are not. After all that, we are able to simply rest in who he is, and who we are in him; his Beloved child who he loves with an everlasting love.

Do you have difficulty completing tasks you set out to complete? If so, how do you overcome that tendency?

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I sent messengers to say to them, “I am doing important work and can’t go down there. I am not going to let the work stop just to go and see you.” Nehemiah 6:3 (GNT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Made Clean Through Jesus

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

As I put the dirty clothes into the washer, added detergent, and selected the correct water temperature and cycle, I knew I would go through these exact same steps again before the week ended. Just as I had done for countless years before.

Clothes are worn. Clothes get dirty. Clothes are washed. Clothes become clean. Clothes are washed. Clothes get dirty … An endless cycle of washing away dirt to make presentable, usable, and clean again.

Once we claim Jesus as our Lord and Savior and commit our lives to him, we are washed clean by the power of his sacrificial blood which he freely spilt on the cross of Calvary to save us from our sins. Mercy. Grace. Love. Forgiveness.

We become whole in his eyes. Presentable to his Father. Usable. Clean.

There is no stain too deep or spot too dirty that Jesus can’t clean. Let me repeat that. There is NOTHING Jesus’ blood can’t make clean.

Are we perfect, never to get the dirt of sin on us again? Certainly not. But when we recognize our sin for what it is, and don’t brush it aside; when we repent, and turn back to God; though our sins be like scarlet, we are washed whiter than snow.

My clothes don’t miraculously get clean by themselves. They don’t jump into the washer and add the detergent. I have to make the effort to clean them. I have to choose not to walk around in dirty clothes. I have to do my part to make those clothes usable again.

I mentioned before we humans have a tendency to find mud holes to wallow in. It’s up to us to choose whether we’ll step into that mud, or walk around it. We choose whether we’ll walk around with the dirt of sin in our life, or turn it over to Jesus, the only power able to clean us. Our choice.

Unlike needing to wash our clothes over and over, once we’re washed by the blood of the Lamb of God we’re clean.

And aren’t we glad? Amen?

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Therefore there is now no condemnation [no guilty verdict, no punishment] for those who are in Christ Jesus [who believe in Him as personal Lord and Savior]. For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has set you free from the law of sin and of death. Romans 8:1-2 (AMP)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Sunday Scriptures — The Opportunity to Repent

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

During a recent Sunday School class discussion on Exodus 32 where the Israelites convinced Aaron to build them a golden calf to worship, while Moses tarried on Mount Sinai receiving the handwritten commandments from God, we wondered why in the world Aaron gave in to the people’s request. What was he thinking? Or not thinking?

One person said she was glad all our misdeeds aren’t written down for generations to look at and critique. Yep. So am I.

Because we know all Scripture is God-breathed and given for our instruction, after class I pondered what we’d discussed, and what God wanted me to learn from this very familiar lesson.

I’d like us to consider one lesson I came up with. The second lesson on peer pressure will wait for another time. 🙂

Although Aaron sinned by giving in to the people, forming an idol to worship, and honoring it instead of worshipping and honoring the One True Jehovah God, God gave Aaron, and everyone else who participated in the idol worship, an opportunity to repent, follow God’s command, and avenge his honor.

Aaron and some of the others did repent, and they did follow God’s command to avenge God’s honor by killing those who chose not to repent.

Harsh to our way of thinking, yes, but the point I want us to consider in this part of Aaron’s story is the fact it is in the Bible for a reason.

I don’t believe the sole purpose of Aaron’s story is for us to scratch our heads and question how in the world he could do such a thing. Although we will do that. No. I believe Aaron’s story is there for us to prick our hearts and realize if our story was recorded for the whole world to read, we’d be the one others scratched their heads at and wondered how we could do such a thing.

I believe Aaron’s story is yet one more example God uses to display his amazing grace. Just as God allowed anyone who would accept it, the opportunity to turn from their idol worship, repent, and follow him and him alone, he gives each of us the same opportunity to turn from the things in our lives we’ve made into idols, repent, and follow him and him alone.

Have you ever consider Aaron’s story this way before?

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Finally, he (Moses) turned to Aaron and demanded, “What did these people do to you to make you bring such terrible sin upon them?”

 “Don’t get so upset, my lord,” Aaron replied. “You yourself know how evil these people are. They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.’ So I told them, ‘Whoever has gold jewelry, take it off.’ When they brought it to me, I simply threw it into the fire—and out came this calf!” Exodus 32:21-24 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Watch Me

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

One of the commands Baxter is learning is, “Watch.” When Pilot or I tell Baby B watch and point to our eye, amazingly, more times than not, he sits and looks at us. Yay!

Apparently the key to modifying his behavior from Monster Mash to Sweet Pea is to get his full attention focused on us. Some days that is no problem. Other days it is. It seems to depend on his excitement level and the activity going on around him, much like the dogs in the movie, “Up!” Squirrel!

When Baxter stops what he is doing, sits, and looks at us, it is a truly wonderful moment. When he continues ignoring our commands, doing as he pleases, it is beyond frustrating.

I compare this training to us humans.

God tells us to watch him. To keep our eyes on him, not the things of the world. We are told to seek after Jesus and his righteousness. We are to model our lives after him and become more like him each and every day.

Like Baxter, sometimes we do good, and turn our eyes to Jesus when he tells us to watch him. Sometimes we ignore his plea, and look to the shiny things of the world that grab our attention and distract us from his commands.

Baxter is a work in progress, as are each of us. There will always be something for us to learn. There will always be areas in our lives in which we can improve. We will have days full of obedience that make Jesus smile. We will have days where our actions bring a tear to his eye.

One thing for certain … the best way to achieve what God has planned for each of us is to become so well-trained we constantly watch, and  keep our eyes on Jesus.

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Turn us around and bring us back to you again! That is our only hope! Give us back the joys we used to have!  Lamentations 5:21 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Waiting to Hear From God

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Many stories in the Bible tell of people who heard from God, and once they heard from him, they waited for his promises to be fulfilled. Some waited patiently. Some did not.

One Biblical story of someone who decided they’d waited long enough for God to act on his promises is the story of Abraham and Sarah. God promised them a son, but it took an awful long time by human standards, to provide that son, so Abraham and Sarah took matters into their own hands and paid a price for not waiting.

Another example of someone who waited a long time for God’s promise to be fulfilled was David. God promised David the throne. Again, by our way of thinking it took an awful long time before God put David on Israel’s throne. Unlike Abraham and Sarah, David did not take matters into his own hands when he had the opportunity to kill Saul.

The Israelites grumbled and complained, staged rebellions against God’s appointed leaders, and wandered forty years in the desert before they reached the Promised Land of Canaan.

After years of waiting, Hannah cried out to God for a son, he heard her cries, and within nine months her long awaited son, Samuel, was born.

Anna and Simeon were told they would not die before their eyes beheld the Promised Christ Child. They waited in the temple their entire lives for that promise to be fulfilled.

In each of these instances I wonder if, like me, they questioned if they’d heard God correctly. Did he really tell them what they thought he said? If so, then what was the hold up? Why the long wait?

While I’m waiting to hear from God right now about decisions, there are things I believe God has promised me which are yet to come. There are decisions I have made based on things I believed God told me, but which will never come true. There are also things which came true in my life that I never expected.

Sometimes I waited with patience – not my strong trait. More times than not, I’d have to say I did not wait patiently.

The key, possibly, in all of this is to be willing to truly listen as we are waiting to hear from God.

What do you do during those times when you are waiting to hear from God? Do you wait patiently, or not?

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The Lord has made both these things: ears to hear and eyes to see. Proverbs 20:12 (NCV)

 I wish you well.

Sandy

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