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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Why We Celebrate Jesus’ Birth

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Once again Christmas has come and gone.

As we put Christmas 2016 behind us for another year, here are a few quotes to remind us why we celebrated the birth of our Savior two days ago, in the hope we remember the reason for the holiday everyday throughout 2017.

“Who can add to Christmas? The perfect motive is that God so loved the world. The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son. The only requirement is to believe in Him. The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life.” ~ Corrie Ten Boom

“Christmas is that moment in time when God, in His unconditional love, stepped out of heaven onto earth, in order that we might one day step out of earth into heaven.” ~ Charles F. Stanley

“The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.” ~ C.S. Lewis

“How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, his precepts! O! ’tis easier to keep holidays than commandments.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

“We tend to focus our attention at Christmas on the infancy of Christ. The greater truth of the holiday is His deity. More astonishing than a baby in the manger is the truth that this promised baby is the omnipotent Creator of the heavens and the earth!” ~ John F. MacArthur, Jr.

“The very purpose of Christ’s coming into the world was that he might offer up his life as a sacrifice for the sins of men. He came to die. This is the heart of Christmas.” ~ Rev. Billy Graham

“The Christ child in the manger is forever an indication of the great lengths God will go to reconcile his creation, a savior willing to descend that we might be able to ascend with him…” ~ Ravi Zacharia

“The Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as this truth of the Incarnation.” ~ J.I. Packer

Which of these quotes is your favorite?

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 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. John 1:10-14 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Sunday Scriptures Glory to God in the Highest!

Isaiahby Sandy Kirby Quandt

Glory to God in the Highest! the angels sang on that night so long ago. Today we say, Happy Birthday, Jesus as we celebrate the birthday of the King of kings and Lord of lords. God’s only son. Immanuel – God with us. Prince of Peace. Savior. Redeemer. Friend.

Merry Christmas, Everyone! I pray God’s blessings upon you and your household.

Long ago God spoke in many different ways to our fathers through the prophets, in visions, dreams, and even face to face, telling them little by little about his plans. But now in these days he has spoken to us through his Son to whom he has given everything and through whom he made the world and everything there is. God’s Son shines out with God’s glory, and all that God’s Son is and does marks him as God. He regulates the universe by the mighty power of his command. He is the one who died to cleanse us and clear our record of all sin, and then sat down in highest honor beside the great God of heaven.

 Thus he became far greater than the angels, as proved by the fact that his name “Son of God,” which was passed on to him from his Father, is far greater than the names and titles of the angels. For God never said to any angel, “You are my Son, and today I have given you the honor that goes with that name.” But God said it about Jesus. Another time he said, “I am his Father and he is my Son.” And still another time—when his firstborn Son came to earth—God said, “Let all the angels of God worship him.” Hebrews 1:1-6 (TLB)

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I wish you well.

Sandy

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Mary Was Blessed Among Women

courtesy pixabayby Sandy Kirby Quandt

Many a time I’ve tried. I really have. But I just cannot imagine what it was like to be Mary, the mother of Jesus. To be a teenager engaged to be married, and told you would become pregnant with a child that was not your intended’s? To be told by an angel, of all things.

That right there would be scary enough.

God found favor in Mary. He chose her to give birth to the long awaited, much prayed for Messiah. Savior. Deliver. Mary was blessed above all others.

Bing Photos

A poor girl from the village of Nazareth. A descendant of the House of David. Mary was honored above all women who ever were and ever would be. Her son’s kingdom would never end.

How can you be the mother of the child of God?

It’s difficult enough being the mother of a regular everyday garden variety child. But to raise the son of the One True Creator God?

Like I said, I just cannot imagine it.

I can’t truly understand the flood of emotions that must have coursed through Mary’s every waking, and probably sleeping, moment. Me? The vessel chosen to deliver the Messiah to the world?

I believe that in God’s omnipotent, omniscient love and grace he shielded Mary from the shadow of the cross for as long as he could.

Beyond the awesomeness of being chosen to carry Immanuel in her womb must have Bing Photosbeen the pain of telling Joseph she was pregnant.

Would he believe her? Really believe her? Fortunately, God took care of that when he sent an angel to inform Joseph of what was going on.

Then, of course there were the neighbors. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.

Did the gossip sting Mary’s heart? God took care of that too when Mary visited her cousin, Elizabeth, and Elizabeth pronounced the fact Mary held the Savior in her womb. Affirmation of who Jesus was. Who Mary was.

There were the angels. The shepherds. The wise men. Anna and Simeon in the temple.  Witnesses to the great thing the LORD God Almighty had done and would do.

God continues to use his people to accomplish his plans.

We won’t give birth to the Messiah, but like Mary if we’ve claimed Jesus as our LORD and Savior, we carry Christ inside us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

It then becomes our responsibility to praise God for the great things he has done for us through his love, mercy, and grace and share that wonder with those around us.

Do you ever wonder how Mary felt when she found out she would be the mother of the Messiah?

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Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me. He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him.” Luke 1:46-50 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Once Again It’s Christmas

courtesy pixabayby Sandy Kirby Quandt

Less than a week before December 25.

I’m sure you did not need a reminder of that fact. We’ve been bombarded with the countdown to Christmas since before Thanksgiving.

Decorations. Stores. Lights. Wish lists. TV specials. The list goes on and on.

We are surrounded with advertisements telling us our lives will be incomplete if we don’t have X, Y, or Z. Our loved ones will be disappointed Christmas morning if they don’t find P, Q, R under the tree or in the driveway. But is that really true? I think not.

In our quest to have the perfect Christmas tree, decorations, meals, outfits, gifts … have we forgotten something? Is something missing?

What about going back to the original Christmas story. The one recorded in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke about our Savior’s birth. There we find simplicity. Love. Wonder. Praise. Humility. Glory. Peace. Worship.

If Jesus has gotten pushed to the side, or worse yet, forgotten in our striving for the perfect Christmas, how about we pause, take inventory of our priorities, and make the main thing the main thing.

That night, some shepherds were in the fields nearby watching their sheep. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them. The glory of the Lord was shining around them, and they became very frightened.  The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I am bringing you good news that will be a great joy to all the people. Today your Savior was born in the town of David. He is Christ, the Lord. This is how you will know him: You will find a baby wrapped in pieces of cloth and lying in a feeding box.” 

Then a very large group of angels from heaven joined the first angel, praising God and saying:  “Give glory to God in heaven, and on earth let there be peace among the people who please God.” Luke 2:8-14 (NCV)

And to quote Linus, “…That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

How are you keeping the main thing the main thing this holiday season?

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

I wish you well,

Sandy

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