Given Freely Not Stolen

courtesy pixabayby Sandy Kirby Quandt

While re-reading the story of the woman with the years-long ongoing health issue that left her bank account empty, and her body weak, a thought came to me. The healing she sought from Jesus, and believed she had to steal, he freely gave.

As I contemplated this thought, another scene popped into my brain. A scene from Les Miserables. Perhaps you’ve either read the book, seen the play, or watched the movie, and know where I’m going with this.

courtesy bingAt one point, in an act of desperation, ex-convict, Valjean, steals expensive silver candlesticks from the priest who took Valjean in and showed him kindness. The police find Valjean with the candlesticks and take him back to the priest.

Here’s the connection …

The priest shows mercy, and says he gave Valjean the candlesticks. They weren’t stolen. Before the priest in Les Mis lets Valjean leave, he gives one of the most important messages of the story. The priest shows Valjean he is a person of value, one the priest cares about. One who God cares about.

Valjean didn’t need to steal the candlesticks. The priest gave them freely.

The woman with the issue of blood touched the hem of Jesus’ cloak seeking healing. When she did, power flowed out of Christ, and the woman was immediately healed.

She didn’t need to steal the healing. Jesus gave it freely.

This woman was desperate. She had exhausted all her known resources. Out of embarrassment and being ostracized for her condition, she didn’t want to draw attention to herself. She just knew Jesus was her only hope for healing.

When Jesus felt the power leave him, he asked who touched him. In a crowd, lots of courtesy bingpeople touched Jesus, but only this woman was healed. Jesus could have gone on his way without requesting the woman show herself, but he didn’t.

Jesus wanted to offer the woman something more. Something important. He wanted her to know he cared for her and her concerns.

Jesus wanted the woman to know he valued her. Despite how others treated her, she was precious in his eyes.

Although her physical healing was what drew the woman to seek out Christ, she received emotional and spiritual healing as well.

Jesus is the Great Physician who heals all our hurts. We don’t need to steal his blessings. He gives them freely when we seek him out, come to him humbly, and acknowledge he is able.

We need no longer fear. We are children of God.

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Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and told him what she had done.  Mark 5:33 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Thy Will Be Done

courtesy milada vigerova_unsplash photosby Sandy Kirby Quandt

In the hours before Jesus was arrested and crucified he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane for God’s will to be done. Jesus asked for the horror of what he knew lie ahead of him to be removed if there was another way to save mankind; yet he prayed, “Thy will be done”, knowing God’s will truly is best.

We’ve read the account of Christ’s suffering and we also pray thy will be done in our lives, courtesy pixabaybut you know what? It’s awfully difficult to accept God’s will in those times when it goes so contrary to what we thought God had planned for us. When our dreams lie in ashes all around us, counting it all joy is probably not at the top of our to-do-list, but it should be.

When life pulls the rug out from under us we may become confused. We thought we were headed the direction God set before us. We don’t understand how the heartache we feel could possibly be part of that plan. God loves us, after all. How can this be?

courtesy pixabayWe find ourselves on our knees wondering. Questioning. Begging for answers. God may someday reveal to us how he brought beauty from these ashes. Or he may remain silent. The point we need to never forget is HE is God and we are not.

Have you found that as we surrender to God’s will in our lives, it becomes easier to pray thy will be done, believing God’s will truly is best? Easier. Not always easy.

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He walked away, perhaps a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed this prayer: “Father, if you are willing, please take away this cup of horror from me. But I want your will, not mine.” Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him, for he was in such agony of spirit that he broke into a sweat of blood, with great drops falling to the ground as he prayed more and more earnestly. Luke 22:42-44 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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God Sees Our Struggles

courtesy pixabayby Sandy Kirby Quandt

Oftentimes, when we think of Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, we think of his wife, Rachel. Not his first wife, Leah.

When reading their story in Genesis 29 and 30 it would be difficult not to feel sorry, even if only a little bit, for Leah. The unloved wife. It wasn’t her fault the way things turned out.

Jacob didn’t keep it a secret his true love was Leah’s sister. Rachel didn’t keep it a secret the only reason her husband married Leah was because he was duped by their father, Laban.

Leah knew where she stood. She wasn’t stupid.

When she conceived and gave birth to courtesy pixabayher first child, Reuben, she said, “It is because the LORD has seen my misery.”

When she gave birth to her second son, she said, “Because the LORD has heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.”

And so it continued.

In our lives there may be people who don’t hide the fact they love one sibling over the other. One parent over the other. One child over the other. One best friend over the other …

It may even be that we’re our own worst enemy.

We doubt we are loved.

We doubt we are worthy.

We doubt we are capable.

But that’s not how God sees us.

God knows us better than anyone else ever could and he loves us even still.

So we need to quit beating ourselves up and hold to the truth. We are God’s beloved.

courtesy pixabayGod sees our situation and he cares for us just as he saw Leah’s situation and cared for her. Despite how others treat us, God is able to bless us beyond measure.

Others do not define us. God does.

We remember Rachel gave birth to two sons; Joseph and Benjamin. But her sons were not in Jesus’ lineage.

Nope.

The Messiah came from the tribe of Leah’s fourth son, Judah.

God truly did bless Leah, wouldn’t you say?

When you think of the story of Jacob, Rachel and Leah, what jumps out at you? Have you ever felt sad for the unloved wife?

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So Jacob slept with Rachel, too, and he loved her much more than Leah. He then stayed and worked for Laban the additional seven years. When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, he enabled her to have children, but Rachel could not conceive. Genesis 29:30-31 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Lord, What About Him?

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

The book of John is my favorite Gospel. Maybe it is the storyteller in me, but I love the way John presents Jesus and how Christ interacted with those around him.

Today, I’m focusing on the last chapter of John.

By now, Jesus has been crucified, resurrected and appeared before Mary Magdalene at the tomb. He suddenly appeared in the locked room where the disciples, minus Thomas, hid. He appeared again eight days later in the same locked room when Thomas was present. He met the two on the road to Emmaus. And now waited on the shore beside the Lake of Galilee, preparing the disciples’ breakfast.

 

We may remember this as the scene where Jesus pointedly asked Peter if he loved him. Three times. And each time Peter said he did.

After Jesus told Peter to “feed his little sheep” and predicted the kind of death Peter had in front of him, Peter turned, saw John, the disciple Jesus loved and asked, “What about him? What sort of death will he die?”

Jesus replied, “If I want him to live until I return, what is that to you? You follow me.”

That’s the line I love most. Always have. But it wasn’t until recently I related it to my writing and looked at it in a way I’d never looked at it before.

Jesus called Peter to feed his sheep by preaching about the resurrected Lord. I believe as a writer, Jesus has called me to feed his sheep through the words I write.

Regardless of what abilities God has given each of us, he has called us to follow him.

Peter was given his commission but behind the one question he asked, I believe a multitude more where in his mind. What about John? What was going to happen to him? Was he going to suffer or skate through life untouched? Was John’s ministry going to be bigger than Peter’s? Was he going to receive more pats on the back? More awards? More atta’ boys? Was John going to be more popular than Peter?

Jealousy.

That’s an emotion I believe each of us can understand. Maybe we’ve had similar thoughts about those we work with. What about them? How come they got the promotion, the raise, the praise? We compare. We compete. We wonder if maybe, just maybe, God loves them more.

 

In writing, the whole purpose is to get what I write published so people can read it. Makes sense, wouldn’t you say? I send my writing to editors and often, not always, but more times than I’d like, I receive a rejection.

They wish me well and I keep writing and waiting. At times like this it’s easy to say, “What about them, the person who just got the contract, or just won the award? Does God love them more than me?”

These last verses in John tell us Jesus has a plan for each of us, and that plan is not cookie-cutter sameness. How could it be? We are all different. We don’t think alike. We don’t work alike. We don’t communicate in the same way. We have different abilities and personalities.

If what I write only reaches the editor who rejects my story, I pray God uses that story to touch that one life. I’m not going to kid you here, if I send something to an editor it is because I’m praying they love it enough to publish it and it reaches the multitudes.

 

Still, I have to remember my job is to write to the very best of my ability. God’s job is to get what I write in front of whomever he wants it in front of.

Even if that is the editor who sends me the “Sorry. Not for us.” rejection letter.

If Jesus wants someone else to win the awards, get the promotion, receive the atta’ boys and atta’ girls what’s that to us? He’s called us to follow him. And that’s exactly what he expects us to do.

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 Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”

Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.”  John 21:21-22 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Thirty Pieces of Silver

coutesy pixabayby Sandy Kirby Quandt

Thirty pieces of silver.

The price the leading priests and teachers of the Jewish law paid Judas Iscariot to hand Jesus the Messiah over to them to be killed. Money Judas accepted to betray the man he’d lived with and learned from for three years. Coins he tried to return once he understood the impact of what his betrayal actually meant to Christ, and to himself.

Thirty pieces of silver.

We may look at Judas and wonder how anyone who knew Jesus could do such a thing.

Sometimes, I believe, we overlook the times we’ve betrayed Jesus with our sins. I’ve heard courtesy pixabaythat whenever we sin we’re crucifying Christ all over again because it was for our sins he died.

Sobering thought.

Today I would like for us to think about God’s grace in light of the fact we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

Through Christ’s sacrifice God justifies the ungodly. (Romans 4:5)

And while we were still sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

We aren’t to take God’s grace lightly by continuing to sin. (Romans 6:1)

The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus. (Romans 6:23)

courtesy pixabayThrough Christ’s death and resurrection God graciously redeems those who repent and turn back to him.

God has mercy on those on whom he will have mercy. (Romans 9:18)

Those are some things I’d like us to contemplate as we approach the day we call Good Friday.

On that day, Jesus Christ was crucified for our sins so those of us who claim him as Lord and Savior can be made right with God.

Amazing love.

Is there a special way you reflect on what Jesus did for each of us on Good Friday?

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The Festival of Unleavened Bread, which is also called Passover, was approaching. The leading priests and teachers of religious law were plotting how to kill Jesus, but they were afraid of the people’s reaction. Then Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve disciples, and he went to the leading priests and captains of the Temple guard to discuss the best way to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted, and they promised to give him money. So he agreed and began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus so they could arrest him when the crowds weren’t around. Luke 22:1-6 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Sunday Scriptures – Praise Him

Isaiahby Sandy Kirby Quandt

In Luke’s account of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, he mentioned something Jesus told the Pharisees which I’ve always found interesting.

Jesus sent two of his disciples ahead of the group to secure a colt for Jesus to ride into Jerusalem. He told the disciples if anyone should ask why they were taking the donkey to tell them simply, “The Lord needs it.” No other explanation was necessary.

The two did just as they were told and returned with the colt, threw their cloaks on it, and put Jesus on the animal. As he went along the road, people spread their own cloaks on the road and joyfully shouted praise to God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen Jesus perform.

This praising disturbed the Pharisees. A lot of things concerning Jesus disturbed the Pharisees, actually, but at this particular point in time, the people’s praise bothered them greatly. They told Jesus to quiet his followers.

And here’s the part I love best …

In reply to their request, Jesus simply told the Pharisees even if his followers were quiet, the rocks and stones themselves would cry out their praises to him.

Jesus the Son was with God the Father and the Holy Spirit when the earth was created. Those rocks and stones which lined the road into Jerusalem KNEW who Jesus was. The Creator. The only one worthy of praise. He was the King who came in the name of the Lord. And if the humans who lined the road refused to shout their praise to the Lord, the rocks would. Creation will praise its Creator.

Do we look for God’s hand in the world around us and praise him? Do we see each sunrise and sunset as the work of the Master and praise him? Do we ache to shout our praises to the Lord for everything he has done, is doing, and will do in our lives?

Don’t you think if the rocks and stones know enough to praise Jesus, we should as well?

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When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:

 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Luke 19:37-40 (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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God’s Multiplication

pixabayby Sandy Kirby Quandt

In the familiar story told in all four Gospels of the five loaves and two fish, Jesus used multiplication. Not just any multiplication. Miracle multiplication.

From that small offering of a boy’s lunch about five thousand men, not counting the women and children who accompanied them, were fed. After everyone ate all they wanted, twelve basketfuls of bread and fish remained.

pixabayWhen the boy with the loaves and fish willingly handed his lunch to Jesus, he had no way of knowing the multiplication miracle about to unfold.

He may have felt what he had to offer was insignificant and hardly enough to do any good. Yet, he offered it anyway.

Sometimes we may feel as if we have nothing of importance to offer. Or if we do have something, surely it is not grand enough to be used by God. We might feel our offering is as small as five crackers and two sardines.

Whenever we limit ourselves and what we have to give, we forget who Jesus is and the miraculous way he uses multiplication.

We can choose to offer what we have back to him, or pixabaynot.

We can surrender our life to be used for his purpose, or not.

We can offer everything we are and everything we hope to be to him, no matter how small or insignificant we believe that to be, or not

The One who fills us with his love can take the little we have and multiply it beyond our greatest imaginations.

Are we willing to give our little?

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When Jesus saw the large crowd coming toward him, he asked Philip, “Where will we get enough food to feed all these people?”  He said this to test Philip, since he already knew what he was going to do.

Philip answered, “Don’t you know that it would take almost a year’s wages just to buy only a little bread for each of these people?” John 6:5-7 (CEV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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One of my devotions is scheduled to post on Christian Devotions February 10, 2016. Please stop by.

Jesus Paid Our Debt

bingby Sandy Kirby Quandt

Mercy. Grace. Forgiveness.

Not receiving the punishment we deserve. Receiving favor we don’t deserve. Someone else paying the debt we owe, but could never pay.

‘Tis a puzzlement to our way of thinking, wouldn’t you say?

Because God is Holy and can’t be in the presence of sin, our sin demands justice. Payment. Things made right.

Jesus did that on Calvary. He paid the debt we owed but could never pay. His blood covers our sin and makes us right with God. When God looks at us, he sees Christ’s blood covering all the things we’ve done that break God’s law, and he accepts Christ’s sacrifice in our place.

grace2

Mercy. Grace. Forgiveness.

Thank you, Jesus.

Satan tries to condemn us. He works hard to make us feel worthless. His lies tell us God has abandoned us. They say we are unforgiven, so why even try?

But we have a Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord, who paid the price for our sin, and in his great mercy and grace tells the devil he can’t have us.

We’ve been bought with a price. Christ’s precious blood. We belong to him and he isn’t about to let us go.

forgiven much

Glory Hallelujah. Amen?

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God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die. John 3:16 (CEV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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While We Wait

By Sandy Kirby Quandt

Right now I’m in a season of waiting … again …

In an earlier post, I mentioned the patience Noah needed while he waited for God to open  the door to the ark after the flood.

This post is inspired by the account of the disciples on the sea during the storm. (Matthew 14:22-33)

Among the many things I thought about as I reread this story was the fact Jesus sent the disciples out in the boat and told them to wait for him.

It wasn’t until the disciples had been in the boat since before sunset of the previous day that Jesus appeared to them walking on the water between 3:00–6:00 a.m.

There are numerous accounts in the Bible of people who waited for one thing or the other.

For years Hannah prayed and waited for the LORD to give her a child.

Anna and Simeon both prayed and waited to old age before God fulfilled his promise to allow them to see the Messiah.

The Israelites waited for someone to deliver them from Egypt.

Then they waited 40 years to enter the Promised Land.

David waited over fourteen years to become king.

We wait for children to be born.

We wait for the right job. Right spouse. Right home. Right economic climate.

We wait for unanswered prayers. Healing. Peace. Restoration.

We wait for that book contract. College acceptance letter. Prodigal to come home.

We hurry up and wait.

Let’s go back to the disciples in the boat on the sea during the horrible storm.

They had no other option but to wait on Jesus, did they?

They didn’t have the power to stop the raging wind and rain. They didn’t have the power to get safely to shore on their own. They had to wait no matter how long it took before Jesus arrived and saved them.

I believe it’s the same for us. Sure we can be like Sarah and Abraham, take things into our own hands and try to rush God into action.

Any other hands raised out there who’ve foolishly tried this?

But when the disciples waited, Jesus showed up at just the right time. He arrived at the exact moment that would prove who he was. The One with the power to calm the sea and command the wind to be still.

And while they waited perhaps their faith grew stronger. Perhaps their confidence increased. Perhaps they realized it really wasn’t about them after all, but about the Savior they loved and served.

What do you think? Is waiting something you find easy to do or is it difficult? I’m not real fond of waiting but I’m getting better at it. I’m beginning to realize I don’t have a whole lot of choice in the matter.

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But I will watch for the Lord; I will wait confidently for God, who will save me. My God will hear me. Micah 7:7 (GNT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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One of my posts is scheduled to appear on Inspire a Fire October 6, 2015. Please stop by and check it out.

Opposition

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Last month I mentioned how excited I was about our new gardenia bush.

Everyday after Pilot planted it I walked outside and admired the bush. It was lovely with several blooms and additional buds ready to burst forth.

I smiled with joy as I envisioned how grand it would be to watch this small plant grow into a large bush. I looked forward to placing vases of fresh gardenias throughout the house.

Until ..

Our weather decided to spike into triple digits and the clouds refused to send rain. After being flooded in May, our area plunged into a drought reminiscent of one several years ago.

As I watered my struggling gardenia bush each day in the cloudless 100-degree-plus heat, I watched the buds die and the blooms turn brown. Scorched leaves shriveled.

Thankfully, the past few days our yard has received much-needed rain and the temperatures have dropped to the upper 80s.

On my morning inspection of the dying gardenia today I noticed hope. Tucked close to the branches of the tree spots of green shone through the brown.

It reminded me of the times I’ve faced opposition in this life. I start out strong, confident what I’m doing is what God wants me to do. Then Satan applies pressure.

He sends scorching heat and dries up refreshing rain. He does his very best to kill the blooms God’s planted in my heart and shrivel the buds yet to flourish.

He steals the dreams. The hopes. The enthusiasm. The fruit of our labor.

Jesus told us in this world there will be trouble. But he also told us he has defeated this world.

Praise, God!

Just as with my gardenia bush, there is hope when things in our lives seem to shrivel and die.

When we keep holding onto Jesus’ hand, a small spot of green sprouts and refuses to die. Evidence the battle isn’t over.

Once again I look forward to filling the house with the sweet fragrance of gardenia flowers.

It may not be this year, but I wait in expectation for next year.

Have you stepped out to do something you believe God has called you to only to be faced with opposition? How did you push past it and complete the good work you were called to?

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“I told you these things so that you can have peace in me. In this world you will have trouble, but be brave! I have defeated the world.” John 16:33 (NCV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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