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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Sunday Scriptures – The Innkeeper

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Have you ever wondered what the innkeeper thought when he told Mary and Joseph there was no room for them in his inn, yet offered them his stable?

When I was young I thought the innkeeper rather mean to turn them away. I wondered why he couldn’t squeeze them in somehow. Move things around. Make room amidst his crowded inn, and crowded life, for them to stay until Mary gave birth and recovered.

Maybe he was mean. Or maybe he was just preoccupied with all the busyness that surrounded him as he ran his overflowing inn, and accommodated his patrons. Perhaps he just could not handle two more people and a soon-to-be born infant.

Do you think the innkeeper regretted his decision once the multitude of angels’ voices filled the night air above his stable? Do you think he wondered what all the hub-bub was about? Do you think the innkeeper may have searched back in his memory to the scriptures he learned as a child about the Promised Messiah being born in the city of David?

Maybe. Then again, maybe not.

My intention is not to paint the man in a poor light. Nope. Not at all. My intention is for me and you to look at ourselves and see how much like the innkeeper we might be.

Have we told Jesus there is no room in our lives for him right now because of our busy schedules? We’re full up and consumed by other things at the moment. Maybe later.

Are we preoccupied with keeping the things in our lives running smoothly, and do not need to add studying the Bible to our ever-growing to-do list?

Does our busyness leave Jesus out in the cold of night until a more convenient time?

I don’t know. I only know the innkeeper couldn’t find any room for Jesus the King of kings and Lord of lords. Maybe his story is a lesson for us not to leave the Messiah out of our lives.

Just as the innkeeper needed to move something out of the way so Mary and Joseph had a place to stay, shouldn’t we move things out of the way so Jesus has a place in our hearts to stay?

What do you think? Have you any room for Jesus? If not, is that a decision you’ll regret  when the multitude of angels sing at the Savior’s return?

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So Joseph left Nazareth, a town in Galilee, and went to the town of Bethlehem in Judea, known as the town of David. Joseph went there because he was from the family of David. Joseph registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was now pregnant.  While they were in Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to have the baby, and she gave birth to her first son. Because there were no rooms left in the inn, she wrapped the baby with pieces of cloth and laid him in a feeding trough. Luke 2:4-7 (NCV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Sunday Scriptures — First Day of Advent

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Today is the first day of Advent 2017. It is a time set aside to reflect on the coming of the Good News to the world through the announcement of Jesus the Messiah’s birth. It is a time to prepare our hearts to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas before the hustle-bustle of the season takes over.

A devotional I once read put it this way. “Advent is a time of preparation and expectation. It is a time of hope and faith and longing. Our anticipation rises during Advent and then our hopes are fulfilled on Christmas with the birth of Jesus.”

Sometimes in our preparation for Christmas Day we might busy ourselves with long to-do lists, and end up exhausted. Sometimes we might allow others’ ideas of what Christmas should look like highjack our celebration, leaving us resentful of their demands. Sometimes the various situations in our life may steal our joy right out from under us. When any of these things happens, we might find the expectation and peace we hoped to experience nowhere to be found.

Today Pilot and I will light the first candle of our Advent Wreath, and as we do, I will recommit to centering my thoughts on the Gift God graciously sent into our world. I will focus on the flickering candle and think of Jesus. The Light of the World who left his throne in heaven, came into our world, lived a sinless life, yet died for the sins of the world, was resurrected, and now sits at the Father’s right hand in heaven so that through Jesus we can have eternal life.

And I will wait in hope and expectation for his return.

Is the Advent Wreath part of your Christmas tradition? If so, do you prefer red and white, or pink and purple candles?

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In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” Luke 1:26-33 (NTL)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Once Again It’s Christmas

by 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?

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I wish you well,

Sandy

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What A Glorious Night

bing imagesBy Sandy Kirby Quandt

Christmas Blessings to each of you as we celebrate the glorious birth of the Savior who came into this world to set us free from the chains and penalty of sin.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

After the wrapping paper has been picked up off the floor. After the dishes have been washed and put away. After the guests have left, or you have returned home, I would urge you to find a quiet place to reflect on what this day truly means to you. To the world. And give thanks.

Max Lucado has a wonderful devotion on FaithGateway which I believe would be well worth your reading.

I pray each of you have a blessed, Christ-centered Christmas, and that we all remember to keep Jesus number one in our lives not just on the day we celebrate his birthday, but everyday of the rest of our lives.

Peace. Grace. Hope.

As you will notice, I’ve included an additional video to this post. I hope you view them both. While the first video by Sidewalk Prophets celebrates the Christmas Miracle of Christ’s birth, the second video by Garth Brooks recounts the Christmas Miracle Truce that took place December 25, 1914 during the Great War, as World War I was called at the time. The truce was short-lived, but a miracle nonetheless.

But for just one fleeting moment the answer seemed so clear
Heaven’s not beyond the clouds it’s just beyond the fear
No heaven’s not beyond the clouds it’s for us to find it here

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

And Christ became a human being and lived here on earth among us and was full of loving forgiveness and truth. And some of us have seen his glory—the glory of the only Son of the heavenly Father! John pointed him out to the people, telling the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming who is greater by far than I am—for he existed long before I did!’”  We have all benefited from the rich blessings he brought to us—blessing upon blessing heaped upon us! For Moses gave us only the Law with its rigid demands and merciless justice, while Jesus Christ brought us loving forgiveness as well. No one has ever actually seen God, but, of course, his only Son has, for he is the companion of the Father and has told us all about him. John 1:14-18 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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This video starts out very soft. You might need to adjust your volume before starting it.