Are We Asleep in the Light?

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Are we asleep in the Light?

That’s what happened to the prophet Jonah. He thought he could shut his ears to the mission God had for him, and fall asleep. What Jonah found out is he couldn’t hide from God no matter where he ran.

“What do you mean sleeping at a time like this?”

That’s what the captain of the sinking ship Jonah hopped aboard when he tried to run away from God asked.

In the midst of a powerful storm, which threatened to send the ship to the bottom of the sea, Jonah retreated below deck and took a snooze.

Do you find that as odd as I do?

While the desperate sailors shouted to their pagan gods for help, the prophet of the One True God was sound asleep. Jonah’s disobedience is what caused the storm, yet in the midst of the storm Jonah turned the volume of God’s voice way down. He took a nap while those around him fought to save their lives.

God gave Jonah a mission. Go to the people of wicked Nineveh and preach repentance. Jonah feared the fierce Ninevites and headed the other way. Guess Jonah figured if he closed his eyes and slept, his problem would go away. Or maybe he figured it would resolve itself without his help. Either way, he wasn’t about to go to Nineveh.

I’ve always found it interesting the sailors cried out to their gods to save them, while a prophet of God shut his eyes to those dying around him.

Just like Jonah, sometimes we listen to God’s voice and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes God asks us to do something we don’t want to do, like extend God’s grace and mercy and forgiveness to someone we feel doesn’t deserve it. And like Jonah, sometimes we shut our ears to God’s voice, go below deck, and fall asleep. Hoping the problem resolves itself without our help.

God sends each of us who call ourselves Christ-followers on a mission to bring the Light of his Word, the Good News of a Savior born in Bethlehem who grew up to be the Sacrificial Lamb, to a dying and lost people. Let’s not run the other way. Let’s not cover our ears. Let’s not head below deck and take a nap, intending to stay there until the great storm is over.

Maybe Jonah going below decks isn’t so odd after all when we examine our own behavior.

The singer Keith Green called this type of behavior Asleep in the Light.

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But as the ship was sailing along, suddenly the Lord flung a terrific wind over the sea, causing a great storm that threatened to send them to the bottom. Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship. And all this time Jonah was sound asleep down in the hold.

 So the captain went down after him. “What do you mean,” he roared, “sleeping at a time like this? Get up and cry to your god, and see if he will have mercy on us and save us!”

Jonah 1:4-6 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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No Compromise

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Compromise. Good or bad?

We understand compromise is a necessary part of every relationship, but is it ever okay to compromise our beliefs for the sake of a relationship? Should there be a line we draw that says, “I will go this far, and not a step further.”? 

Properties have fences to set their boundaries. Places of business and institutions set boundaries for those within them. Parents set boundaries with their children. So why do we sometimes look at the boundaries set for us in the Bible and believe they are merely something for us to think about, not something to actually stay within?

Reading the account of the beheading of John the Baptist; that honey and locust eating, camel hair wearing, repentance preaching prophet, cousin of Jesus Christ the Messiah, started me thinking about compromise and how far we are willing to bend before we say, “No more. Not now. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not for money. Not for power. Not for favor. Not for prestige.”

John stood up to the religious leaders of the day and called them vipers. He told them their reliance on church membership wasn’t going to get them into heaven. Only repentance and forgiveness through the coming Messiah would get them past the Pearly Gates. This did not endear John to them.

The prophet preached the Truth God gave him to preach regardless of the listener’s fame, fortune, or position.

And that included Herod, which led to John’s death.

John stayed within the boundaries God set. He refused to compromise God’s truth.

He prepared the people’s hearts for the coming Messiah. Hopefully, we are doing the same.

Do we have godly boundaries established we are unwilling to step beyond?

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Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.” Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered John a prophet.

On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for the guests and pleased Herod so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” Matthew 14:3-8 (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Looks Can Be Deceiving

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Looks can be deceiving. Pilot and I saw that truth in action that during a recent trip to the Texas Hill Country, where we visited several churches built by Czech settlers between the late 1800s and early 1900s. The fascinating thing about these churches is their artistically-crafted painted interiors. From their unassuming exteriors you wouldn’t know how impressive the interiors were until you stepped inside.

While there are individual differences in each church, they basically have the same structure of massive altars in the front of the building, balcony with organ at the back, and Stations of the Cross along the sides of the sanctuary.

The present structure of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, or the “pink” church, is the third church built on the property.

The first church was destroyed by a hurricane in 1909, the second church burned to the ground eight years later. The structure that stands today was completed in 1919.

This current church is much simpler than the previous two churches. A glance behind the ornate altar facade proves this point. Yet, the church is still very pretty. Remember, these settlers were farmers and didn’t have a lot of money to put into building programs. Especially in such a rapid succession of time.

The hand-carved altars in St. Mary’s Church of the Assumption are painted white and gilded in gold. The painted interior is bright turquoise, emerald greens and blues intended to create a sense of the Garden of Eden.

 

 

In the Nativity of Mary, Blessed Virgin Catholic Church the architect relied on decorative painting to create the illusion of Gothic groin vaults and joints.The columns are painted to look like marble.

Saints Cyril and Methodius was also destroyed in the same 1909 hurricane that destroyed St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. $5,571.90 was raised to build the new church. Quite a bit of money and sacrifice at the time, wouldn’t you say?

Again, paint techniques were effectively used to create the illusion of marble and vaulted ceilings.

So, what does this have to do with anything?

Well. Perseverance for one thing, as in the case of the congregation who rebuilt their church three separate times and never gave up; even though they had to scale back their initial plan.

Sacrifice of the members of the churches that were destroyed to stick together, join their resources, and rebuild to the best of their abilities instead of scattering to other churches, for another thing.

And finally, just as with these Painted Churches, while we may not seem like much from the outside when people look at us, looks can be deceiving.

Sure. Looks can be deceiving, but God created us, and he knows what’s going on in the interior he created with utmost care and detail for his glory. God knows our heart.

Have you ever been deceived by outward looks?

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Create in me a new, clean heart, O God, filled with clean thoughts and right desires. Don’t toss me aside, banished forever from your presence. Don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me again the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.  Psalm 51:10-12 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Incomplete Obedience is Not Obedience

coutesy pixabayby Sandy Kirby Quandt

During a recent study of King Saul’s incomplete obedience to God’s word found in 1 Samuel 15, once again I was reminded there is no right way to do the wrong thing. To obey is better than sacrifice.

No matter how much we rationalize or kid ourselves, incomplete obedience is not obedience. As my minister said during a sermon on this topic last year, “If we refuse to listen to and obey God, we choose to stand outside of God’s blessing and purpose for our lives.”

When we do not fully carry out God’s directions, we make the choice to stand outside God’s blessing and purpose for our lives.

That’s what King Saul did.

When Saul fought the Amalekites, he choose to do things courtesy pixabayhis way; not God’s way. God told Saul to completely destroy the Amalekites and their property.

However, Saul believed he knew better than God, and spared the Amalekite king, Agag, plus the best of the livestock, and everything else that appealed to Saul and his men.

When the prophet Samuel confronted Saul with his sin, Saul tried to justify his disobedience by saying he kept the best animals for a sacrifice to God. Doubtful.

Saul was a great military leader. This could have been his greatest victory with many more to follow. If only he obeyed God completely. God gave Saul and his men victory over the Amalekites. God expected complete obedience. King Saul obeyed partially, and falsely believed God would be okay with that.

courtesy pixabayBecause Saul disobeyed, he removed himself from God’s best for his life.

As a result of Saul’s disobedience God removed Saul’s crown and the kingdom of Israel from him.

God wants our obedience given out of grateful hearts for all he has done, will do, and is doing in our lives. Through obeying God we show God we trust he knows what’s best for us. We show we believe God is a loving, kind, and good father.

When we disobey, even partially, it’s still disobedience. Disobedience says we think we know better than the God who spoke the world into being, and knit us together in our mother’s wombs.

It’s easy to justify and rationalize our disobedience, isn’t it?

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But Samuel answered, “What pleases the Lord more: burnt offerings and sacrifices or obedience? It is better to obey God than to offer a sacrifice. It is better to listen to God than to offer the fat of male sheep. 1 Samuel 15:22 (ICB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Another Lesson From Our Hawks

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

This morning as I searched the trees for one of our resident hawks, I heard a call I at first thought a juvenile hawk, only to have it give way to an incessant squawking. My juvenile hawk turned out to be a blue jay.

It didn’t surprise me to hear the jay, but it did surprise me to see where it was. Sitting on a branch near the hawk.

If you’ve read my previous entries about the hawks in our backyard, then you know they like to seek their prey in our backyard. And that was the reason for my surprise. Knowing hawks eat other birds, why was that blue jay pestering the hawk?

More puzzling, why wasn’t the hawk going after the jay?

So I did some research and discovered:

  • The blue jay can be beneficial to other bird species, as it may chase predatory birds such as hawks and owls, and will scream if it sees a predator within its territory.
  •  It has also been known to sound an alarm call when hawks or other dangers are near, and smaller birds often recognize this call and hide themselves away accordingly.
  •  It may occasionally impersonate the calls of raptors, especially those of the red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks, possibly to test if a hawk is in the vicinity.

Seems the jay was warning surrounding birds and animals of the predator. Guess the hawk figured it would stay put since he’d not be able to find anything to eat with all the squawking going on.

Although I’ve written before about the need to tell those around us who Jesus is, there were several things I discovered from my observation of the blue jay and the red shouldered hawk that apply to us as well.

The jay stood his ground. He sounded the alarm and warned those around of the predator who lurked.

Good thing for the other birds the jay wasn’t complacent.

The musician, Keith Green, called people who get comfortable with their own salvation and don’t feel the urgency to tell others who Jesus is, “Asleep in the Light.”

Like the blue jay, we can be beneficial to others by screaming if we see predators in our territory. We can sound the alarm to take shelter under God’s wings. We can be vigilant and make sure we know when the enemy is in the vicinity.

In my research I never did find out why the hawk didn’t go after the jay. Do any of you know?

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I urge you, Timothy, as we live in the sight of God and of Christ Jesus (whose coming in power will judge the living and the dead), to preach the Word of God. Never lose your sense of urgency, in season or out of season. Prove, correct, and encourage, using the utmost patience in your teaching. 2 Timothy 4:1-2 (Phillips)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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One of my articles is scheduled to appear on Inspire a Fire May 3, 2016. Please stop by.