Sunday Scriptures — Remembering the Victims

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Remembering the victims of the Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Serenity Prayer

God, give me grace to accept with serenity

the things that cannot be changed,

Courage to change the things

which should be changed,

and the Wisdom to distinguish

the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,

Enjoying one moment at a time,

Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,

Taking, as Jesus did,

This sinful world as it is,

Not as I would have it,

Trusting that You will make all things right,

If I surrender to Your will,

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,

And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen

          Reinhold Neibuhr

Please join me in praying for the families, friends, and classmates of:

Alyssa Alhadeff

Scott Beigel

Martin Duque Anguiano

Nicolas Dworet

Luke Hoyer

Aaron Feis

Jaime Guttenberg

Christopher Hixon

Cara Loughran

Gina Montalto

Joaquin Oliver

Alaina Petty

Meadow Pollack

Helena Ramsay

Alexander Schachter

Carmen Schentrup

Peter Wang

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They act as if my people’s wounds were only scratches. ‘All is well,’ they say, when all is not well. Jeremiah 8:11 (GNT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Sunday Scriptures — The Power of God’s Spirit

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

In the 5th Century B.C. King Cyrus of Persia announced the God of heaven, the One who gave Cyrus his vast empire, gave him the responsibility of building God a temple in Jerusalem to replace the one that had been destroyed. All Jews throughout the kingdom of Persia were allowed to return from their Babylonian exile to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple.

The actual construction of the temple began in the second year after they arrived in Jerusalem.  Zerubbabel was given the responsibility of overseeing the rebuilding of the temple. The supervision of the project was given to Jeshua. The prophets Haggai and Zechariah provided moral and spiritual encouragement. People of all talents and abilities returned. Ezra chapter two lists a total of 42,360 people, in addition to 7,337 salves and 200 choir members who returned to Judah.

The construction was not an easy task and it was not completed overnight. There was opposition to the project from multiple sources. Yet, the work continued through to completion. As the work was being completed, the prophets encouraged Zerubbabel and told him of a time when spiritual apathy and foreign oppression would forever be abolished.

The temple wasn’t completed by people who believed that in order to survive in this world, a person must be tough, strong, unbending, and harsh. It was completed not by force nor by strength, but by God’s Spirit.

When we feel called to do something for God, we may be weak, tired, face opposition from all around us, and feel like giving up. But just like those who rebuilt the temple, we aren’t called to trust in your own strength or abilities to complete the job. Instead, we are instructed to depend on God, and him alone, to complete our work in the power of God’s Spirit.

Is there something you feel called to complete for God? Isn’t it great to know the work is dependent on the power of God’s Spirit, no on us?

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Then he said to me, “This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel’s way; it will become a level plain before him! And when Zerubbabel sets the final stone of the Temple in place, the people will shout: ‘May God bless it! May God bless it!'” Zechariah 4:6-7 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Sunday Scriptures — The Last Battle

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

In The Last Battle, C.S. Lewis’ final book in The Chronicles of Narnia series, Lewis paints his vision of what it might be like when Jesus leads his people to Paradise. A vision that had me in tears.

As the title suggests, this is the last and final battle in Narnia where good and evil have fought through the ages. With that said, if you haven’t read the book, and I suggest you do, and don’t want any “spoilers” perhaps you should skip down to the maroon quote.

As those of Narnia who stand for what is good and right battle against what is evil and unjust, their final battle cry becomes, “Further up and further in.”

When they reach a great golden gate, they aren’t sure what to do until they hear a voice say, “Welcome in the Lion’s name. Come further up and further in.”

At one point as those who have gone further in gather around Aslan he says, “You do not yet look so happy as I mean you to be.” Lucy explains they are afraid he’ll send them back, as has often been the case, but Aslan assures her he won’t. He tells her, “No fear of that. Have you not guessed?”

He tells those around him they are no longer in the Shadow-Lands—as they called death. He tells them the (school) term is over. The holidays have begun.

Lewis finishes his chronicles of Narnia with these words.

And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning for the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great story … in which every chapter is better than the one before.

You and I are living the cover and title page of our stories. When we enter the Shadow-Lands and go further on and further in to stand before the Lion of Judah, Jesus Christ our LORD and Savior, that’s when our story REALLY begins.

That will be the beginning of our Great Story. The one God planned for us before time began. It will be a story in which EVERY chapter is better than the one before.

Can you imagine it? I’m not really sure I can, but I know it will be beyond anything I could ever dream, hope, or imagine.

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And the one sitting on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true: It is finished! I am the A and the Z—the Beginning and the End. I will give to the thirsty the springs of the Water of Life—as a gift! Everyone who conquers will inherit all these blessings, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But cowards who turn back from following me, and those who are unfaithful to me, and the corrupt, and murderers, and the immoral, and those conversing with demons, and idol worshipers and all liars—their doom is in the Lake that burns with fire and sulphur. This is the Second Death.” Revelation 21:5-8 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Sunday Scriptures — The Opened Door

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

How do you think Noah and his family felt when they finally walked through the opened door that led to dry land after spending over a year together in a boat?

Last week I pondered what Noah’s wife might have thought as she floated over the waters that destroyed the world she knew. I imagine she had a lot of questions. And possibly a lot of fears. Maybe even some tears.

Perhaps her faith in Yahweh Jehovah God was tested to its limits. Maybe it wavered a little. Who knows?

When the dove returned with the olive twig, there might have been hope. When the dove didn’t return the last time, there might have been hope tinged with the fear of the unknown. What would she find when she stepped outside the safety of what had been her floating world?

The boat was Noah’s family’s world for over a year. By now, things had settled into a routine. There was hope it would all end well. Someday. They just didn’t know when, or how.

Then when God opened the door and said, “Come on out!” I imagine there was a mix of emotions, don’t you?

Their world was no longer the same. Their home was gone. Their friends were gone. Everything familiar was gone. The earth no longer smelled or sounded the same. It had changed. And so had they.

Their faith was tested like never before.

I imagine there was excitement and gratefulness mixed with uncertainty. Gratefulness for God’s sovereign protection, and his faithfulness to his promise to protect them. Uncertainty of what to do next.

Our world may get rocked. Familiar things may be torn from us. The place we find ourselves may not be what we imagined, but if we wait upon the Lord, just like he did with Noah and his family, God will lead us through the opened the door and say, “Come on out!”.

When we think about the seasons in our life when our faith was tested, what could we say about the impact those times had on us? Did they draw us closer to God, or push us further away? Were there moments of hope mixed with uncertainty as we waited for God to show us through his opened door?

How would you describe those times in your life?

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And Jehovah was pleased with the sacrifice and said to himself, “I will never do it again—I will never again curse the earth, destroying all living things, even though man’s bent is always toward evil from his earliest youth, and even though he does such wicked things. As long as the earth remains, there will be springtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night.” Genesis 8:21-22 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Sunday Scriptures — Noah’s Wife

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

While reading the account of the flood in Genesis 8 recently, I spent time pondering how Noah’s wife might have felt during the whole event.

At the beginning of the chapter it says God didn’t forget about Noah and all the animals in the boat, and 150 days after it rained for forty days and forty nights, the boat came to rest upon the mountains of Ararat. Three months later, the waters continued to go down. After another forty days, Noah opened a porthole and released a raven and a dove to search out dry land. The dove returned. The raven didn’t.

Again Noah released the dove one week later, and another week after that. Twenty-nine days after that, Noah opened the door to look and the water was gone.

Eight more weeks went by. Then at last the earth was dry, and God told Noah, “You may all go out.”

Okay. Did you do the math? For over a year Noah, his wife, three sons and three daughter-in-laws, plus countless smelly, stinky, noisy, animals of all kinds lived together on a gigantic boat as water destroyed everything they’d ever known.

It was the end of the world as they knew it, and I doubt they felt fine.

Can you imagine it? I’m not sure I can. They never experienced rain before, much less flood. Now, here they were on a boat hoping it stayed afloat, trying to go about their everyday lives as if nothing epic was happening.

Did Noah’s wife wonder if they brought enough food? Did she wonder how she would keep the clothes clean? What about taking care of the animals? And the water! Did you ever see such a sight? Let’s hope she and the daughter-in-laws had good relationships.

Oy, vey.

Do you think she wondered if they’d ever get off the boat? Do you think she wondered what their new lives would be like? After all, it was just the six of them now. Do you think she ever questioned God? Or questioned Noah?

Do you think when the dove returned the first time with no evidence of land, she felt disappointed? Maybe even distraught. Possibly depressed. Or do you think she took it all in stride, got out her broom and swept the deck … again. What about the second time the dove returned?

What would we have done? I guess to answer that we can look at our lives and what  we do when our expectations aren’t met. When our hopes are dashed. Our dreams go unfulfilled. How do we react?

Looking at how we deal with the events of our life might give us insight as to how we might have dealt with the flood if we’d been Noah’s wife. Probably not many of us have dealt with anything as historic, but we’ve got to be faithful in the little things to be faithful in the big things, right?

So what do you think? Would you have been a happy boater or not?

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Then God told Noah, “You may all go out. Release all the animals, birds, and reptiles, so that they will breed abundantly and reproduce in great numbers.” So the boat was soon empty. Noah, his wife, and his sons and their wives all disembarked, along with all the animals, reptiles, and birds—all left the ark in pairs and groups. Genesis 8:15-19 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Sunday Scriptures — Jesus Will Shepherd His People

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

In Isaiah 40 we read that the Sovereign Lord would come to rule with power. He would shepherd his people and carry them in his arms. No one compares to him. No one is his equal. He is the one who created the stars and knows them by name. He knows our troubles. He cares for us in our weakness.

If we find ourselves wondering if God sees our struggles and cares for us, all we need do is read to the end of the chapter. There we are reminded God does see our struggles, and he does cares for each of us. He is the one who gives strength to the weary, and helps us through our difficulties.

Sometimes in the midst of our struggles and pain we might wonder if God sees our troubles, and if he does, then why doesn’t he do something about them?

Well, God did do something the day he sent his son, Jesus Christ the Messiah as a tiny infant into our world to save us from our sins.

He sent a Redeemer who has conquered hell, sin, Satan, and death.

He sent a High Priest who knows what it’s like to live in this fallen world, yet be victorious.

God sent his only begotten son into the world that it might be saved through him.

The people who lived at the time of Isaiah waited for the Messiah to be born. Those of us living this side of the manger and the cross wait for the King of kings and Lord of lords to return in triumphant victory.

Because Jesus came into this world as an infant and died as our Savior, all is well.

What do you do to remind yourself all is well in your moments of doubt or despair?

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Israel, why then do you complain that the Lord doesn’t know your troubles or care if you suffer injustice? Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? The Lord is the everlasting God; he created all the world. He never grows tired or weary.
No one understands his thoughts. He strengthens those who are weak and tired. Even those who are young grow weak;
young people can fall exhausted. But those who trust in the Lord for help will find their strength renewed. They will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak. Isaiah 40:27-31 (GNT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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