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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A Time of Change and Transition

courtesy pixabayby Sandy Kirby Quandt

As summer draws to a close, it’s a time of change and transition. Students go back to school and vacations come to an end. It won’t be long before leaves change color and fall to the ground. But one of the greatest times of change and transition recorded in the Bible is found in Exodus chapters 13-14.

In the story of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, God did not take them the shortest route to the promised land. Because he knew they were not strong enough, yet, to face the Philistines and conquer the land he would eventually give them, God took his people a roundabout way instead. You might say he took them the long way home.

Amidst our times of change and transition God sometimes does the same with us, don’t you think?

We see a direct line between where we are and where we want to be, but from God’s courtesy pixabayperspective, he sees things differently.

God doesn’t always take us the shortest route because he knows our strengths, and he knows our weaknesses.

The Israelites questioned, grumbled, complained, and resisted God the whole way. They didn’t realize the road God chose for them led away from disaster, not toward it. They didn’t understand receiving God’s deliverance meant obeying him. They didn’t want to accept the fact that in order to be delivered from bondage, they had to follow the route God laid out in front of them.

We do that too, don’t we? We want a change. We want God’s deliverance, but when God tells us to obey and follow him the long way home, we balk. When God tells us we have to be obedient to his law, his rules, his way, we cry out like the Israelites, and decide we’d rather die where we are than go one step further on the path God laid out.

When we read the story of the mass of humanity caught between the waters of the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army, we read a story of fear; and rightly so. I doubt many of them were expert swimmers.

courtesy pixabayThe odds didn’t look good from where they stood. When Moses told the people not to be afraid, to stand firm, and see God’s deliverance, I’m sure more than one of those Israelites thought Moses was loco.

Moses told the Israelites the reason they didn’t need to be afraid; the LORD would fight for them.

The same God who delivered the Israelites from Pharaoh’s army and safely led them across a dry river bed, is the same God who delivers us from the armies and seas that trap us. Following God does not mean all will be smooth sailing. No sirree. Anything but.

When we follow God, we will face frightening experiences. Guaranteed. The challenge, however, is to put our potentially frightening circumstances and situations up against the all-powerful Lord God Almighty. The One who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Change and transition can be frightening. The unknown can be frightening. Moving from one phase of life to another can be frightening. The main thing we should remember during our times of transition is the fact anything we might fear is nothing compared to the God who goes before us and leads the way.

Are there any changes or transitions you are facing in your life?

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So the people of Israel followed all of Jehovah’s instructions to Moses and Aaron. That very day the Lord brought out the people of Israel from the land of Egypt, wave after wave of them crossing the border. Exodus 12:50-51 (TLB)

I wish you well,

Sandy

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Be Watchful

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Well, our resident opossum is back and Bear is not happy. I don’t know where Mr. Possum goes between visits, but Bear believes it is his responsibility to send the intruder away.

It’s bad enough for our poor dog the cat across the street spends his evenings curled up  on the chair on our front porch, but the backyard is Bear Territory. No varmints allowed.

Bear takes this intrusion into his yard seriously. He wakes up at 2:30 am many mornings to sniff out violators of his space and secure the perimeter.

I have no idea why Bear believes 2 am is the prime time for possum chasing, (and skunk investigating) but I know Pilot wishes he’d make his rounds in the daylight hours.

As I ponder Bear’s vigilance, I wonder how well we stay on guard against those things that go bump in our nights.

No, I’m not talking about bats again. I’m talking about those spiritual attacks that can come out of nowhere and catch us snoozing with our defenses down. Things that by themselves might seem innocent, things we can rationalize away, but if allowed to become a habit, can turn unhealthy.

The following is in no way exhaustive, and I’m sure you can add to the list, but I’ll just mention a few.

  • We eat lunch with a co-worker of the opposite sex more often than we should. They understand when our spouse doesn’t after all, so what’s the harm in that?
  • We watch shows and movies we know don’t line up with God’s word. How else can we know what our friends are discussing?
  • We read books and magazines that would make our grandmother blush. We need to stay current with the trends, right?
  • We lose our temper, become angry, and spew harmful words that we can’t take back. Can we help it if we have a short fuse?
  • We decide it won’t hurt to skip church today, or next week, or the week after that. I can worship God anywhere, right?

In 1 Peter we’re told to be watchful because the devil prowls like a lion looking for someone to devour. After Paul tells us to put on the armor of God so we can stand against Satan in Ephesians 6, he tells us to remember to pray at all times.

Just as Bear is vigilant to protect our perimeters from intruders, we need to be watchful against spiritual intruders that threaten to undo us. The Bible tells us how. All we need to do is follow it.

courtesy bing

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 Pray all the time. Ask God for anything in line with the Holy Spirit’s wishes. Plead with him, reminding him of your needs, and keep praying earnestly for all Christians everywhere.  Ephesians 6:18 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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King of the Jungle

Bing ImagesRecently, a friend and I lamented the craziness of the current world we live in. The conversation reminded me of a similar conversation I had with a different friend in the nineties, where we lamented the craziness of the world at that time.

In the eighties, while I dined on a terrace in Greece, a British stranger leaned over her table and told me, “You Yankee Doodles have done it this time.” Yes, we lived in a crazy world.

Bing ImagesEvents in the seventies proved craziness abounded all around. I grew up in the wild and turbulent sixties. Talk about craziness. Boy, howdy.

Of course there were the fifties, forties, thirties, and twenties. And let’s not forget the 1910s and 1860s.

Seems no matter how far back we go, this world’s been one wild and crazy place, inhabited by a bunch of wild and crazy people. I’m sure I’m not the only one with  memories of times you shook your head and wondered what in the world was going on.

So what to do?

In 1994, Steven Curtis Chapman wrote the song, King of the Jungle. Guess he was Bing imageslooking at the state of the world, and doing some head shaking of his own. Wonder if he’d add any additional verses today? Maybe not, because it seems his message was no matter how crazy, and how much of a jungle our world appears, the truth is, God is still God. He is still on his throne. He is still in control. He’s the King of the Jungle we humans inhabit.

Things spinning out of control? Take heart, my friend. God’s got it. He’s the LORD of the gentle breeze, as well as the rough and tumble. It’s all under his command.

What are your thoughts on the subject?

God is our refuge and strength, a tested help in times of trouble. And so we need not fear even if the world blows up and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam; let the mountains tremble! Psalm 46:1-3 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Forgiven

Bing photosThe thief on the cross.

He knew he deserved his punishment. He knew he deserved to die in the most horrific way Rome had ever devised. Death by crucifixion. To struggle for every breath, against the insufferable pain and torture of the spikes driven through his hands and feet, until that final, last, ragged breath left his lungs. He knew he got what he earned for his crime.

Yet…the man in the middle. The man they called the Christ. Messiah. Son of God. The thief was convinced, Jesus did not deserve the unjust punishment. The thief knew Jesus was innocent. The thief understood Jesus to truly be Redeemer. Savior. Lord.

The thief cried out to Jesus. And Jesus answered him, just as surely as he answers us when we cry out to him today.

The debt we owed, but could never pay, was paid in full by Jesus. Our King. Our LORD. Our Messiah. Our Savior. That’s how love conquered death. That’s how Christ’s love won.

Jesus took our place on the cross. He died so we wouldn’t have to. His wounds can heal even our deepest sins. We only need to ask.

What are your thoughts on the subject?

But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong. ”Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:40-43 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Sometimes God Comes in the Clouds

Bing photosSissy lives in the lightning capitol of the world, and is well accustomed to storm clouds. She’s had more than her fair share of life-storms, as well. Next week, Sissy is facing majorly serious surgery. For those of you who are so inclined, I would sincerely appreciate your prayers on her behalf.

Sissy told Chief she wasn’t trying to compete with me to see who gets the most metal surgically implanted in their bodies. I told her she could win…don’t want any more metal in me, thank you very much.

But, you know what? I’ve lived in that very same lightning capitol, and equally dealt with more than enough life-storms. What I’ve observed, however, is bing photosthe sun does eventually come back out. Maybe not as soon as we’d like, but it does come back out. You can count on it. And if you look hard enough, sometimes, you even get to see a rainbow, or two.

Near the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, he took three of his closest followers up a high mountain. While on that mountain, Peter, James and John witnessed something no other human had ever seen. Right before their eyes, Jesus was transfigured…his appearance changed. His face shone like the sun. The brilliance surrounding him was nothing man could create. It was from God. (Matt 17:1-13, Mark 9:2-13, Luke 9:28-36)

Then, who should appear out of nowhere? Moses and Elijah. Oh, yeah. This was definitely a God-thing.

Bing photosSo, Peter gets really excited, and decides three shelters should be built. One for Jesus. One for Moses. One for Elijah. While Peter was still making plans for these structures, a bright cloud enveloped them, and God spoke. After the disciples picked themselves up off the ground, literally, there was no one with them except Jesus.

And he was more than enough.

Storm clouds of life come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. They can hover over us, or hover over our loved ones. They can blot out the sun and leave us dreary and depressed. They can seem foreboding and impenetrable. Just like the disciples on the mount discovered, God can speak through the clouds, if he’s so inclined.

Whatever cloud is blocking your sunshine right now, don’t give up. Don’t give in. Remember everything God’s already brought you through. Remember he will never leave or forsake you. No matter how dark the clouds become, Jesus is always right there with you.

Bing photosSuddenly, when they (Peter, James and John) looked around, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus with them. Mark 9:8 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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