Sunday Scripture — Christmas Eve 2017

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Merry Christmas, everyone. I pray your Christmas is blessed. For each of us I pray we have a renewed awareness of who Jesus, the Baby in the Manger, Redeemer on the Cross, truly is and pray that awareness penetrates deep into our souls as we live our lives for the One who gave his life for us.

“Comfort, yes, comfort my people,” says your God.  “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and tell her that her sad days are gone. Her sins are pardoned, and I have punished her in full for all her sins.”

Listen! I hear the voice of someone shouting, “Make a road for the Lord through the wilderness; make him a straight, smooth road through the desert.  Fill the valleys; level the hills; straighten out the crooked paths, and smooth off the rough spots in the road.  The glory of the Lord will be seen by all mankind together.” The Lord has spoken—it shall be.

 The voice says, “Shout!”

“What shall I shout?” I asked.

“Shout that man is like the grass that dies away, and all his beauty fades like dying flowers.  The grass withers, the flower fades beneath the breath of God. And so it is with fragile man.  The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God shall stand forever.”

O crier of good news, shout to Jerusalem from the mountaintops! Shout louder—don’t be afraid—tell the cities of Judah, “Your God is coming!”  Yes, the Lord God is coming with mighty power; he will rule with awesome strength. See, his reward is with him, to each as he has done.  He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will carry the lambs in his arms and gently lead the ewes with young. Isaiah 40:1-11 (TLB)

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I wish you well.

Sandy

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A Special Deposit

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Last week I volunteered at our church’s Christmas luncheon for the homeless in our area. Although I had conversations with several of the folks invited to the celebration, my conversation with a new member to our church, who was also there to volunteer, is what I’d like to write about today.

My new friend is recently from Iran; a Muslim country where professing to be a Christian has severe repercussions including not being allowed access to education and job opportunities. My friend, husband, and son are here while her husband studies at the local university.

In the short amount of time, months actually, since my friend arrived in America, she became a Christian. She felt something in her heart which drew her to Christ. That something is the special deposit God places within us to draw us to himself. That special deposit is his Holy Spirit.

As we talked, I asked if she’d told her parents about her decision to become a Christian. No.

They could face persecution if anyone knew she had chosen to follow Jesus.

I asked if she could ever go back to Iran. No.

Let me back up to the first few words my friend said when we were introduced. She told me she missed her family, and it was hard being away from them. Take a moment to read that again.

This woman willingly gave up her country, family, language, and everything she knew to embrace the Savior of the World. She has no regrets. Her heart overflows with joy. She felt the Holy Spirit’s tug, and responded to the special deposit God placed within her.

At one point in our conversation she said, “We don’t choose where we are born. God is the God of everyone. No matter where they live.”

God is the God of everyone. No matter where we are born, or where we live.

Those of us in America sometimes falsely believe we have the corner market on Christianity. God puts his special deposit of the Holy Spirit in people all across the world. He calls them to himself. He cherishes them as much as he cherishes us. He wants everyone to be saved and none to be lost. ALL nations are under God.

As you prepare to celebrate the birth of the Savior of the World, pause and give him thanks for the special deposit he placed within your heart and let the whole world, or at least those within your sphere of influence, know what that gift means to you.

How will you share what Jesus has done for you?

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And so God makes it possible for you and us to stand firmly together with Christ. God is also the one who chose us and put his Spirit in our hearts to show that we belong only to him. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (CEV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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He Will Crush the Serpent’s Head

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

It isn’t often I go to the book of Genesis to reflect on Jesus’ birth, but that’s what I did recently.

When Pilot and I toured the painted churches of Schulenburg, Texas, the cemetery at the Praha church fascinated us. As we wandered through the grave markers, read the names, and noticed the dates of birth and death, Pilot made an amazing discovery.

It was a statue of Mary. If you look close, at the bottom of the statue you see a snake crushed under Mary’s foot. Fulfilling God’s prediction the day he confronted Adam, Eve, and the serpent in the Garden. Mary’s seed did indeed crush the serpent’s head.

Jesus has been, is, and always will be. Before the creation of the world, God knew man would sin and need a Savior. Jesus knew he would be the Sacrificial Lamb slain for the sins of the world.

Jesus’ birth in a manager in Bethlehem brought the Gift to mankind. His sacrifice on the cross of Calvary paid the debt we owed but could never pay. His resurrection conquered sin, hell, the serpent, and death. He fulfilled the promise God made all those many, many years earlier that although the serpent would bruise Christ’s heel, Our Redeemer would crush the serpent’s head. And glory hallelujah, he did exactly that!

Have you ever considered this section of scripture during the Christmas season before?

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Then the Lord God said to the snake, “You will be punished for this; you alone of all the animals must bear this curse: From now on you will crawl on your belly, and you will have to eat dust as long as you live. I will make you and the woman hate each other; her offspring and yours will always be enemies. Her offspring will crush your head, and you will bite her offspring’s heel.” Genesis 3:14-15 (GNT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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The Shadow of the Cross at Christmas

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Christmastime makes it really difficult for me to keep secrets. And I’m not fond of secrets.

When I was a child, the suspense of not knowing what was in the packages with my name on them was torturous. Absolute torture. Because of that, more times than not I surreptitiously lifted the cellophane tape off one end of my brightly colored presents and peeked inside.

After years of practice, I became an expert at unwrapping the package without damaging the paper, sneaking a peek, replacing the tape, and acting surprised on Christmas morning.

When I clandestinely unwrapped my Christmas presents, if there was a toy inside, whoopee! If there was a necessary sweater, or more knee socks, well …

As an adult, I have the same problem. Only in reverse.

I get so excited about what I’ve bought Pilot, I can’t wait for him to open it. To help him figure out the gift I give him hints. Sometimes, he won’t play along.

When I think about it, I wonder if God felt the same excitement and anticipation I feel at Christmas when he prepared to send his Gift of Love to our broken world. All through the Bible God gives us hints as to what was to come. The shadow of the cross. Sometimes his clues were ignored, and the people and wouldn’t play along, but that didn’t take away the gift.

God’s prophets spoke of a Messiah. Shepherd. Cornerstone. One from the house of Jesse. One from the line of David whose kingdom would never end. A Savior. Immanuel. God with us. These words hold joy and excitement.

Unlike the words in Isaiah 53:5. Words like pierced, crushed, punishment, wounds.

That’s when I understand the shadow of the cross of Calvary hung over the joyful gift of a baby in a manger in Bethlehem.

And I cry.

When I set up our manger scene for Christmas, I place  a cross with a crown of thorns next to it.

Lest I get caught up in the presents, the baking, the decorations, and the carols, I need a reminder in front of me. Perhaps you do as well.

Christmas is about much more than a baby, gifts, and family. Christmas is about the cross. It’s about the sacrifice, the suffering, and the Savior who died and rose again so we might live.

Don’t get me wrong, I still get excited about the gifts under the tree. But it’s the gift that hung on a tree, that really matters.

What do you think?

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But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5 (GNT)

I wish you well,

Sandy

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Without Christ There Is No Christmas

courtesy pixabayIf someone asked us to explain Christmas, what would we tell them?

Would we start by explaining the Christmas tree, mistletoe, and Santa Claus? (Or as Lucy from the Peanuts gang might say, “Ho, ho, ho, mistletoe and pret-ty girls”?)

Or would we start with the brightly wrapped presents we give to each other?

Maybe we’d explain about families and friends gathering together for a festive celebration. Or mention the different customs across the world. Then again, maybe we’d mention Christmas plays, bells, and Handel’s Messiah.

How far down the list would it be before we mentioned the virgin birth of Jesus, God’s son born as a human baby who lived as a man, walked this earth, was falsely accused and sentenced to die a most horrible death through crucifixion to save us from our sins?

Hopefully, that would be at the top of our list. But at this time of year when so much of our time is spent in outward busyness, if people observed our activities and priorities, would they see Christ is what Christmas is all about and the reason we celebrate?

Without Jesus Christ there would be no angels singing Glory to God in the Highest.

There would be no shepherds bowing before a baby in a manger.

No wise men bringing the best gifts they had to offer to the future King.

Without Jesus Christ the Messiah there would be no Savior. There would be no salvation. No resurrection. No hope.

Simply put, without Christ there is no Christmas.

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That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel appeared among them, and the landscape shone bright with the glory of the Lord. They were badly frightened, but the angel reassured them.

“Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone! The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem! How will you recognize him? You will find a baby wrapped in a blanket, lying in a manger!”

 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God:

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,” they sang, “and peace on earth for all those pleasing him.”  Luke 2:8-14 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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One of my post is scheduled to appear on Inspire a Fire today, Tuesday, December 5, 2017. Please stop by and check it out.

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Fresh Grounded Faith Unshaken Women

Fresh Grounded Faith
Laura Story, Sheila Walsh, Jennifer Rothschild

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

The beginning of November I attended Jennifer Rothschild’s Fresh Grounded Faith Women’s Conference that included Sheila Walsh and Laura Story. What a marvelous two days. So much wisdom. So much love. So much truth.

If you are unfamiliar with who Jennifer is, let me share how she introduces herself on her blog:

My name is Jennifer Rothschild – with a silent “s”.  I am an author, speaker, Bible study teacher, wife and Mom.

And, I happen to be blind.

I’m just like you. I just do things a little differently.

I write about real life and share what I’m learning from a real God. My goal is to create inspiring, relevant, and practical content that will empower you to live beyond limits.

Did you catch that? It’s like, “Oh. By the way. I’m blind.” This woman is absolutely incredible, as were Sheila and Laura. They do not speak before crowds to bring praise or glory to themselves. They speak before crowds to bring praise and glory to the One True Living God who loves each and every one of us with an everlasting, endearing love.

Each of these women shared from her heart what a Big God can do in our lives despite our circumstances.

I’ll attempt to share some of what I received from Jennifer, Sheila, and Laura with the understanding what God said to me through them may not be what those seated around me received. Isn’t it funny how that works? Also, my notes are not word for word, but my interpretation of what I heard.

Jennifer – We get shaken because we’re not where we’re supposed to be. Or we’re right where we’re supposed to be. God wants to use the things that shake us to shape us. When we’re most shaken, we see God more clearly.

Sheila – Until we understand Jesus knows the worst about us, we can’t accept the best about us. Your history doesn’t dictate your destiny. Dorothy dreamed of a rainbow, and got hit with a tornado. Sometimes God will take you to a prison to set you free.

Laura – We weren’t designed to be able to function on our own without God. We were designed to need God. We’re created by God. We’re his poem. His masterpiece. When we get knocked off our path, it’s not a detour. It’s a new road.

With that said, if a Fresh Grounded Faith conference comes to your area — go! You will be glad you did.

Have you attended a Fresh Grounded Faith conference? If so, what’d you think?

Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. Psalm 62:6 (NIV)

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I wish you well.

Sandy

Please enter your email address on the form located on the right sidebar to sign up to receive posts every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks!

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If you wish to use any of my blog posts, please contact me through the comments section for permission first. All written material is copyrighted.