God is a Consuming Fire

courtesy pixabayby Sandy Kirby Quandt

Through the years I’ve witnessed first hand how absolutely destructive fire can be. And let me say, it isn’t pretty. Because of this, and probably for other unknown reasons, I’ve been reluctant to embrace the thought that God is a consuming fire.

The first time I read the words stating God is a consuming fire in Hebrews, I shuddered.

The first time I watched Third Day’s rather apocalyptic video, Consuming Fire, it frightened me.

Yes. I sang Refiner’s Fire at church along with everyone else. Sure, I wanted to be holy, set apart for God’s use. Didn’t we all?

courtesy pixabayI longed to be a clean vessel God could use, but there was that fire thing again.

Couldn’t I just be scrubbed clean with soap, or something?

Did it HAVE to be fire?

This morning as I listened to Meredith Andrews’ song, “Burn Away” it hit me.

Looking back I see where God took his refining fire to my heart multiple times. I’ve been in the crucible and held over his consuming fire more times than I care to remember. But remember I must.

And you want to know why we must remember the times God’s consuming fire burned courtesy pixbayaway the things in our lives that are not of him; that kept us from being all he designed us to be? Because it is in those times of trial and testing we are purified to become vessels he can use.

So, instead of shrinking from the flames and being fearful, I have a new perspective. If God’s refining fire is what it takes to make me more like Jesus, then burn away.

How about you?

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Since we have a Kingdom nothing can destroy, let us please God by serving him with thankful hearts and with holy fear and awe. For our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:28-29 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Father to the Fatherless

Pie and Pilot

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Sunday here in the States, we celebrated Father’s Day. For some this day is a day of celebration. For some it is not. For some memories of a loving relationship bring smiles. For some memories of a painful relationship being tears.

Even though our family enjoyed a nice lunch together after church Sunday and happily celebrated Pilot, there was sadness in my heart. I longed for my father’s presence even after all these years since his death. 36 to be exact. That’s a long time to still miss someone, but I do.

My dad and me

For one of my friends it took decades before she could call God Father because of the dreadful abusive relationship she had with her biological dad. Her experience of a father was the exact opposite of who we know God to be.

Perhaps you can relate to her situation.

It took her decades to understand who God truly is.

God is our Protector. Our Provider. Our Healer and Defender.

He does not inflict pain on us. He does not withhold his affection from us. He binds us up when we hurt.

He is All Loving. Patient. Kind.

God does not treat us as our sins deserve.

Although I miss my dad and look forward to the day we will be united in heaven, I praise God as my Heavenly Father for not leaving me orphaned.

courtesy pixabay

God is the Father to the fatherless. That means he loves us beyond measure. It does not  matter if our earthly dads have died physically, or if they withdrew their love from us and are emotionally dead to us.

Whatever your relationship with your dad, I pray you know your Heavenly Father loves you with an everlasting, unconditional love that will never fade.

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Sing praises to the Lord! Raise your voice in song to him who rides upon the clouds! Jehovah is his name—oh, rejoice in his presence. He is a father to the fatherless; he gives justice to the widows, for he is holy. Psalm 68:4-5 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Walking Through the Fire

By Sandy Kirby Quandt

While preparing to lead a recent study in the book of Daniel in the Old Testament, I discovered something new in a story I remember learning as a child.

When I first learned the story, my Sunday School teacher used flannel graph figures to flannel boardrepresent the characters of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

How many of you remember flannel graph? I loved those colorful paper figures with scratchy lines of something on the back that miraculously attached to a piece of cardboard wrapped in flannel. Simply amazing!

In my flannel graph days, the furnace of the story in Daniel Chapter 3 that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into for refusing to bow to the king of Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar, was like a huge oven with a door that latched on the outside. From that picture, in my mind, the only way the three Hebrew men could leave the fiery furnace they’d been thrown in was to have the door opened from the outside.

Through the years, I’ve come to understand the furnace of the Babylonians may have been like a huge ziggurat with sloping walkways leading into the fire, or like a very large clay oven with an open front. Either way, these descriptions seem to indicate there was a way of exit, if those inside them could indeed exit.

So back to my preparation for leading the lesson…

In Daniel 3:25, King Nebuchadnezzar looks into the furnace, and instead of seeing three dead Hebrews, he notices four men walking around, untied.

The commentary I read in preparation for this lesson mentioned something I’d never thought of which I’d like to share with you, in case, like me, your vision of the furnace was one the men had no way out of on their own.

Which actually was the truth, no matter how the oven was configured.

The commentator asked, why were the men walking around, and not trying to leave the furnace?

The answer?

“Since God rendered the furnace of no consequence, why not stay in the flames and fellowship with the fourth man?”

Wow.

Why not stay in the flames and fellowship with the Fourth Man?

How many times have we felt like we’ve been tossed in the fiery furnace believing there was no way out? During those times are we ever content to simply walk around our furnace with the Fourth Man, Jesus, knowing God’s got it all under control?

If you’re like me maybe your answer would be, not often enough.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s faith came first. They believed God could deliver them, whether he would or not. They left their fate in God’s hands. Their praise and devotion came before deliverance.

The presence of the Fourth Man was in response to their faith. Not the other way around.

Because of our faith, God will never leave or forsake us.

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Nebuchadnezzar: Then why do I see four men, completely unbound, walking around in the middle of the fire? They don’t appear to be hurt at all. And the fourth . . . he appears to be like a son of the gods. Daniel 3:25 (Voice)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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More Pie, Please

By Sandy Kirby Quandt

On a recent chilly evening Pilot and I sat outdoors in front of our cozy chiminea sipping hot chocolate and listening to an owl sing. As we enjoyed the warmth and each others’ company, I thought of something I read in a book the day before.

In Dragons of the Watch by Donita Paul, I was struck by a passage where the male main character, Bealomondore, tries to explain to the female main character, Ellie, why Wulder has given them what Ellie considered the nice but unnecessary item of pie in their noon meal.

The explanation sounded very Biblical, to me.

Bealomondore told Ellie, “Like a good father, Wulder delights in the pure pleasure of His children’s hearts.”

When Ellie still doesn’t get what he’s saying, Bealomondore explains further that Wulder delights in His people’s enjoyment of simple pleasures. Pie, being one of those pleasures.

Or hot chocolate. Or the warmth of a fire. Or the love and companionship of a friend.

Our God is the giver of every good and perfect gift. His gifts far outshine the gifts human parents could ever give their children. God gives us more than the necessities of life. He gives us the nice but non-essential pleasures as well.

Why?

Because He delights in our enjoyment of what He gives.

The next time God gives us pie, in whatever form our specific pie may come, let’s enjoy it. That’s the reason for the gift, after all.

God has opened up the floodgates, and poured out His magnificent gifts.

And when we receive those extras, let’s not forget to tell Him, “Thanks”.

What non-essential pieces of pie have you received lately?

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Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. James 1:17

I wish you well.

Sandy

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God Will Never Leave Or Forsake Us

Do you have any fair weather friends? You know…the kind who are there when things are going smoothly, but who disappear at the first sign of trouble? I’d guess each of us have had these people in our lives, at one time or the other. Maybe we’ve been the ones who high-tail it when the going gets messy in our friend’s lives.

I’ve had my share of life’s problems, and I’m sure you have, as well. Fortunately, there is one we can depend on to always be there. To stay with us when the going gets tough. It’s Jesus. He’s promised to never leave or forsake us, and that’s something we can hang onto when life threatens to undo us.

In the midst of our pain and suffering, we might feel abandoned, or forgotten, but that’s not the way it really is. God still cares. He’s still sovereign. He’s still involved with working things out. He’s constant. Not wishy-washy like we are. His goodness doesn’t depend our our goodness. Thankfully.

I’ve mentioned before, even though we may not see his hand at work, God doesn’t go MIA on us. He’s right there with us. In good and in bad. He won’t forsake or abandon us. Ever.

Going through some tough stuff? Remember, like a loving father, holding you close, God’s going through it with you. Nothing reaches us that God hasn’t planned or permitted. Remember the things Jesus has already brought you through. He didn’t bring you this far to drop you now.

Through Christ, we are more than conquerors and overcomers.

No one will be able to oppose you as long as you live, for I will be with you just as I was with Moses; I will not abandon you or fail to help you. Joshua 1:5

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Six Decades

 

Happy Birthday to me. Cha-Cha-Cha.

Happy Birthday to me. Cha-Cha-Cha.

Happy Birthday. Happy Birthday.

Happy Birthday to me. Cha-Cha-Cha.

Welp. A day I wasn’t sure would ever happen, happened. Last week I celebrated my 60th birthday. Good golly, Miss Molly. I’m too young to be this old. 🙂

As a youngster, I looked at people in their sixties as ancient. Maybe that’s because every time we visited my grandparents when they were in their sixties and beyond, my mother told us, “This will probably be the last time you ever see them alive.”

Which wasn’t true.

They lived for several more decades. My dad’s the one who died at 62. And Mom’s 94.

Of course, today sixty isn’t ancient. It’s not even considered old in some circles. Two decades ago, however, Pie, loving son that he is, presented me with an unusual birthday cake…one shaped like a tombstone. (Maybe because he worked at a grocery store and the frozen, leftover Halloween cakes were half price? Who knows.)

Nevertheless, the cake was delicious. You just had to get past the black icing and inevitable black tinged lips.

Just like everyone else my life has its ups and downs. Good days and bad. Plans derailed. Dreams crushed. Pain endured. Incredible joy. Amazing adventures. Unbelievable blessings.

I have no idea what’s around the next corner. As Jimmy Buffet sings, if he knew what the future held, he might throw out his anchor. Refuse to go any further. Not gonna and you can’t make me.

But God…

God knows what’s ahead for me. For you. He knows the good plans he has for each of us. He’s already gone before us, been there, smoothed out the path, and worked everything out.

Our job is to make him proud. To complete the good works we were created to complete through Christ Jesus.

So embrace life and all it has to offer. Good and bad. Even if you are handed a birthday cake shaped like a tombstone, that doesn’t mean it’s the end. Eat the thing with gusto and don’t worry about the black tinged lips.

But life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about God’s mighty kindness and love.

Acts 20:24

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Stay Close to God

Boy, has it been hot here in my neck of the woods. Real hot. Stifling, 90-100 degree hot, with a heat index of 124 and higher. Yep. Hot.

While exercising on the stationary bike the other day, a thought came to me. Nothing profound, mind you. No new law of physics revelation, or anything like that. Just something I paid closer attention to than I normally would.

Because the garage where I was exercising was broiling, I pointed a small, oscillating fan my direction. The closer I moved the fan, the more benefit I received

from it. Although the fan’s speed never changed, the further away from the fan, the less power I felt.

Also, whenever one of the dogs walked between the fan and me, the breeze was blocked.

Obvious, no?

But here’s what I realized. There are times when I feel closer to God than other times. I imagine the same holds true for you as well. And like with the fan, I benefit most from staying close. God’s power is just as strong when I move away from him. He doesn’t change. But I’m the one who loses out when I distance myself. I am unable to benefit fully from his power and strength like I do when I draw nearer.

When I allow anything to come between God and me, even if it is a good thing, again, I lose out. I’ve put something in the way, and I can’t feel God’s breeze blowing as strong.

God is immutable. Unchangeable. If we feel less of his strength and power, could be we need to move closer to him. Maybe we’ve allowed something to stand between us that needs to be removed.

As we travel this road together, my friend, I pray you feel the full force of God’s love, peace, joy, goodness, strength, power…blowing your way. If not, is there something standing between you and God that needs to be removed? Even if it’s a good thing. Have you distanced yourself from his power? If so, scootch yourself closer.

Come close to God and He will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners. Clean up your hearts, you who want to follow the sinful ways of the world and God at the same time. James 4:8 (New Life Version)

I wish you well.

Sandy

PS

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Unless otherwise noted, photos courtesy Wikimedia, Christianphotos.net, Microsoft Clipart