Three Murderers

sad manHave you ever wondered how God could possibly use you? If God could use three murderers, then he can use each of us.

Maybe you’re the mother of young children and your days revolve around them and their needs. Maybe you work all day at your paying job. Perhaps you’re retired and feel a little used up. It could be you are somewhere else along this continuum, and wonder how could God possibly use me?

When we look in the Bible, we see God used all kinds of people in all stages of life. From every tribe and nation. Young. Old. Middle-aged. Married. Single. Widowed. Greek. Jew. Free. Slave.

God even used three murderers in a mighty way.

Don’t believe me? Well, what about Moses, David, and Paul?

Murderer number one.

As Pharoah’s daughter’s adopted son, Moses was a prince living in Pharoah’s palace. He had every privilege imaginable. Acts 7:22 tells us Moses was taught all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was powerful in both speech and action.

After witnessing an Egyptian taskmaster beat a Hebrew slave, Moses went into a rage and killed the Egyptian. When he realized his actions were witnessed, Moses fled Egypt.

Moses ran away and lived in the desert tending his father-in-law’s sheep. There he stayed for forty years until God called to him from a burning bush. God sent Moses back to Egypt. In doing so, God used a murderer to lead his chosen people out of bondage. God used a murderer to lead his people to the Promised Land of Canaan.

Murderer number two.

As Israel’s King, what David commanded be done was done. It did not matter whether what David commanded was just or not. Such was the case when David learned Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, was pregnant with David’s child.

When Uriah’s loyalty prevented him from doing what David hoped Uriah would do in David’s scheme to hide his sin, David sent word to his generals. Put Uriah at the front of the battle. Then pull back so that he is killed.

The baby died, but God wasn’t finished with David. David and Bathsheba’s next child, Solomon, was one of Jesus Christ’s ancestors.

Murderer number three.

As a pharisee of Pharisees, Paul fervently sought out Christians to persecute and kill. He felt in doing so, he was honoring God and defending the Jewish faith.

But Paul was wrong. Christ met Paul on the road to Damascus in a blinding light. He asked Paul why he was persecuting him. Paul ended up writing thirteen (and possibly fourteen if you feel he wrote the book of Hebrews) books of the New Testament. Paul turned his zeal from persecuting Christians, into a zeal to preach Christ and him glorified.

Moses. David. Paul. Their past did not define them. God saw beyond their past to what he could accomplish through them.

Our past does not define us. When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are brought into a relationship with him. Our sins our forgiven. Though they were like scarlet, they are now whiter than snow. We are defined as a beloved child of God. Christ looks beyond our past sin to what he can accomplish through us.

Yep. God used three murderers in a mighty way according to his purpose. And since God used these three murderers to fulfill his plans, don’t you think he can use us too, regardless of where we are at this moment in time? All it takes is a surrendered heart and saying yes to God.

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For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 NLT

You can find my June Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Be Silent

quiet pond

Be silent. Think before you speak. Perhaps if the apostle Peter had done that, he would have saved himself some embarrassment and trouble. When we learn to be silent and think before we speak, we can save our self some embarrassment and trouble, as well.

One day Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him up a high mountain. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white. Whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. As the disciples stood there frightened and amazed, Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus.

Instead of worshipping in Christ’s magnificent presence, kneeling in silence, and marveling at the privilege of being on that mountain at that particular time with Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, Peter decided he should say something. Even if it was the wrong thing to say.

What Peter suggested received a speedy rebuke from God. He told Peter to listen to Jesus, his son. Peter thought it would be a grand idea to build three shelters on that mountain. One for Jesus. One for Moses. One for Elijah.

Yes. Moses and Elijah were great men chosen by God to serve him. However, they weren’t God’s son. They weren’t to be worshipped. They were simply men used by God to serve him.

Then, just as quickly as Moses and Elijah appeared, they disappeared.

Sometimes, like Peter, we feel we must fill in the silence. We believe we should say something. Anything. Even if it is inappropriate. Have you noticed that?

Silence can seem to stretch on forever. It can feel uncomfortable. Most times, though, it is the best response. As God told Peter, listen to Jesus. It’s kinda difficult to listen when we are speaking.

Have you ever considered silence as a form of humility? Think about that a moment.

Often, when we feel we must fill in the gaps of silence, it is because of our pride. Perhaps Peter felt it necessary to step up and offer a solution to the situation on the mountain with Jesus, Moses, and Elijah.

Maybe he thought that would show what a good problem solver he was. Especially since it didn’t seem James nor John were going to do anything to honor these two men from Israel’s past.

Satan is the enemy of silence. He wants to fill our minds with chaos and noise. Why? Because when our minds and lives are full of noise, we have a harder time hearing the Spirit’s voice. It is harder to hear what God wants to say to us.

When all we hear is noise, and we are contributing to that noise, it is difficult to interrupt those thoughts which we need to take captive and throw away and those we need to keep.

Learning to be still and be silent before God, think before we speak, and listen to God’s voice above all others can keep us from becoming like Peter, and speaking when we do not know what to say.

What do you do to make sure you think before you speak?

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Peter burst out to Jesus, “Master, it is wonderful for us to be here! Shall we put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah?”

He really did not know what to say, for they were very frightened. Then came a cloud which overshadowed them and a voice spoke out of the cloud, “This is my dearly-loved Son. Listen to him!” Mark 9:5-7 (Phillips)

You can find my March Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

A Long Time to Wait

Forty years. A long time to wait. That’s how long Moses spent in preparation for the great mission God had in store for him.

A long time to wait but in the wait, God wasn’t inactive. During Moses’ time of herding his father-in-law’s sheep in Midian, God prepared him for his future role of leading God’s people through the wilderness to the Promised Land.

At just the right time, when Moses displayed characteristics of a man God could use, God called him.

Moses wasn’t the only person who spent years in preparation before stepping into the mighty work God had for them. Jesus spent thirty years before beginning his earthly ministry. Joseph and David spent decades in preparation before God said their time was right.

Perhaps we’re in a time of God’s preparation and really don’t like or understand it. We wonder what the hold-up is. We wonder why God delays. It’s been a long time to wait, and we wonder if God forgot about us. We thought we heard him correctly when he placed a dream on our heart, but now we aren’t sure.

So we wait.

And in the wait God prepares us. He gives us lessons to learn. Situations to overcome. Attitudes to adjust.

Hopefully, when God says it’s time to head into the role he created us, we’ll look back on the long time of wait and be grateful. Perhaps we’ll look back and realize without the lessons learned during our preparatory wait, we wouldn’t have the skills and abilities needed for the task ahead.

It is difficult walking through a long time of wait. However, at just the right time God will say, “Come now. It’s time to set out.” It won’t be one moment too early. Nor will it be one moment too late.

Any lessons you are learning or have learned during long times of wait?

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After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai…I have seen the cruel suffering of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groans, and I have come down to set them free. Come now; I will send you to Egypt. Acts 7:30, 34 (GNT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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When Our Arms Grow Tired

For Christmas this past year, Pie gifted Pilot and me with tickets to a Beach Boys’ concert which the three of us attended several months ago. We each thoroughly enjoyed the event. Especially Surfer Boy, Pilot.

Near the beginning of the concert Mike Love, one of the remaining original Beach Boys, asked everyone in the audience to take out their cell phones and turn on its light.

He then instructed us to wave our phones through the air while the band played one of my personal all-time Beach Boys’ favorites, Surfer Girl.

It was great. Arms waved back and forth in the audience in time with the song.

Well.

Pretty much.

Some folks were a little off beat.

Nevertheless, it was great.

Until …

I looked over the audience and noticed some arms no longer waved. They’d grown tired. They couldn’t keep up the pace. They fell in defeat.

After thinking about it, several things came to mind. One of those thoughts I’ll share with you today.

When we’re on the front lines for God, doing his work, fighting his battles, we can grow tired. Can we not?

Our arms can grow weak. We might want to fall on our knees in defeat to all the opposition thrown at us. It doesn’t matter our age one bit.

Just like Moses in the desert fighting the Amalekites, we need help.

As Joshua and his men fought the Amalekites, Moses stood on a hill overlooking them. As long as Moses kept his arms and staff in the air, the Israelites prevailed.

Whenever Moses’ arm dropped, the Amalekites prevailed.

Moses’ arms grew weary. He couldn’t help it. No matter how hard he tried to keep his arms in the air, he just couldn’t.

That’s when his brother, Aaron, and friend, Hur, stepped in. The two men found a large stone for Moses to sit on. Then they stood on either side of Moses, holding up his arms.

With the support of these two men, Moses was able to keep his arms and staff held high. Because of that, the Israelites were victorious over their enemy.

Don’t you think we need the support of those around us to fight our daily battles when our arms grow tired, too ?

Some days we’re Moses. Some days we’re Aaron and Hur.

When it’s our turn to hold up our friend’s arms, let’s not hesitate to step up. When we grow weak and need help, let’s not hesitate to ask.

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The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Pick out some men to go and fight the Amalekites tomorrow. I will stand on top of the hill holding the stick that God told me to carry.” Joshua did as Moses commanded him and went out to fight the Amalekites, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his arms, the Israelites won, but when he put his arms down, the Amalekites started winning. When Moses’ arms grew tired, Aaron and Hur brought a stone for him to sit on, while they stood beside him and held up his arms, holding them steady until the sun went down. In this way Joshua totally defeated the Amalekites. Exodus 17:8-13 (GNT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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It’s A Sign

One of my fellow teachers often replied to unexpected occurrences with “It’s a sign.”

Sometimes I’ll jokingly say the same thing. I don’t know about you, but I like to have assurance I’m heading the right direction whether that means driving in downtown traffic, which I strongly resist, or following God.

Throughout the Bible people asked God for signs to know they understood him correctly. Gideon and his fleece come to mind, as does Moses. In Gideon’s case, God provided a sign – twice – before Gideon acted. In Moses’ case, God told Moses he’d see the sign when he brought the people up out of Egypt.

It’s been said the most compelling signs are revealed after faith is exercised, not before. Funny how things become clearer when we look back on a situation, and see all God did to get us on the other side of it.

When God addressed Moses from the burning bush, and tasked him with bringing the Israelites out of bondage, God believed in Moses even before Moses believed in himself. It’s the same with us today. We believe in our I CAN’Ts more than we believe in God’s YOU CANs.

Moses’ mission wasn’t all on his shoulders, although at times he sure thought it was. His mission was accomplished through God’s power every step of the way. Moses’ job was to trust God completely and absolutely, then act on that trust.

God led the Israelites through the wilderness. He didn’t simply give Moses a job, then disappear. He accompanied Moses every step of the way.

Moses had plenty of reasons to fear returning to Egypt. Plenty. There was great risk involved. There was also the issue of a former prince of Egypt returning as a humbled shepherd.

Like Moses, when we accept the mission God has for us, when we step out even while shaking with fear, we see God work, we see his sign, and our faith has a chance to grow stronger.

When have you seen God work in your life after accepting the mission he sends you on?

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God answered, “I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.” Exodus 3:12 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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I know I said I wouldn’t post videos due to the large amount of media space they take up on the blog, but after hearing a group play Take Your Shoes Off Moses last month at the Ozark Mountains Dulcimer Festival, I couldn’t resist. Hope you enjoy this song.

Blessings and Curses

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

At one of the schools where I taught in Florida, my classroom was a portable building. Across from our portable was another portable. One day at the height of college football season, the teacher in the other portable and I lined our students up the ramp leading to our respective portables, and shouted at each other.

No. We weren’t on opposing teams. Both teachers were University of Central Florida grads, (Go Knights!) and we were teaching our students one of UCF’s cheers.

Black! Gold!

Maybe you had to be there to appreciate the cheer, but for those few minutes, each class tried to out-scream the other with rounds of Black! Gold! Black! Gold!

It was great.

Remembering that day, I thought about a time near the end of Moses’ life when he told the twelve tribes of Israel to line up on opposite mountains from each other; reminding them of the blessings and curses that would come upon them depending on whether they obeyed the commandments of the LORD, or not.

Seven tribes stood on one side of Mount Gerizim to proclaim blessings, and five tribes stood across the valley on Mount Ebal to proclaim curses. No. I don’t know why it wasn’t an even six and six.

The priestly tribe of Levites stood in the valley between them.

As Moses recited what would bring a curse from God to fall upon them: idol worship, taking advantage of a blind person, injustice toward a foreigner, orphan, or widow … all the people shouted Amen. So be it.

Next Moses listed the blessings which would come if they obeyed the Lord’s commands: blessings in the field, city crops, children, flocks and herds …

It was important to Moses the people understood what he set before them before he died. Life or death. Blessing or curse. He wanted so much for them to choose life by following God.

You know, we have the same choice to make. Life or death. Blessing or curse.

Follow Jesus and be blessed.

Follow the world and be cursed.

As it was up to the individual to decide during the time of Moses, it is up to the individual to decide in our current time.

This isn’t a simple matter of standing in front of one portable and shouting to the other.

Its a matter of blessings and curses. Life or death.

It’s a matter of choosing this day whom we will follow. Amen?

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 “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Step Aside

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Watching the Winter Olympic Games got me thinking about how the Olympic Torch is handed off. After each person does their job, they step aside, much like runners in a relay race.

That thought took me to look at Moses and David. Near the end of both their lives, one thing they pursued was not theirs to complete. God chose another to fulfill what these two dreamed would be there’s.

For forty years Moses led the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land of Canaan, which the Lord promised his people. But as Moses stood at the entrance to the land, God told Moses he would not lead the people in. Joshua would.

From the time David was king, maybe even before, he dreamed of building a temple for the Lord his God. He had magnificent plans for a building that would surpass all others. One fit for the presence of Jehovah God.

But God had other plans.

God did not let David build the temple. Instead, God chose David’s son, Solomon, to build it.

I imagine both of these men were crushed at the outcome of their service and work for God. We see no grumbling or complaining to the fact, however. What we do see is these two men of God accepted his decision, and stepped aside for the one who came after them.

They didn’t selfishly insist on fulfilling the own ambitions. They didn’t get in the way of the one God chose to complete the task. They simple handed off the baton, and stepped aside so someone else, a person of God’s choosing, would complete the race they began.

Maybe we’ve come right to the gate of our long-held dreams, only to have God hand the baton to someone else to complete the race.

How do we respond when that happens? Do we, like Moses and David, step aside, or do we cling to what we believe is our right and refuse to yield the project to someone else when it’s their turn?

Finishing well does not always mean seeing a project through to completion. Sometimes it means we step aside so others can share in the glory of the task God called us to begin.

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 planted the seed, Apollos watered the plant, but it was God who made the plant grow. The one who plants and the one who waters really do not matter. It is God who matters, because he makes the plant grow. There is no difference between the one who plants and the one who waters; God will reward each one according to the work each has done. 1 Corinthians 3:6-8 (GNT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Sunday Scriptures Moses God’s Leader

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Moses. Leader of God’s people. How would you describe the man God chose to lead God’s people out of Egypt?

Even though Moses resisted God’s call on his life the day God spoke from the bush that burned but never consumed, the record of the Israelites’ Exodus from slavery in Egypt shows Moses was a true leader. Do you think God would have called Moses if he wasn’t?

The more I read about Moses’ life, the more I admire the man. What patience he exhibited when time after time the ungrateful Israelites complained against God and Moses during their forty year trek through the desert. Moses showed compassion and a willingness to sacrifice himself for the people he led. Moses also showed strength in the face of rebellion.

Numbers 12:3 tells us Moses was the humblest man on earth and Deuteronomy 34:10-12 says there has never been another prophet in Israel like Moses.

Even so, Moses told God he was not the man for the job. Moses said his speech was slow and halting, and that right there should disqualify him. God disagreed. Because we know the end of the story, we know Moses did go, he did what God told him to do, and he did lead the Israelites to the Promised Land God prepared for them.

During the martyr Stephen’s words just prior to being stoned to death, Stephen said of Moses, “Pharaoh’s daughter found him and adopted him as her own son, and taught him all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he became a mighty prince and orator.” (Acts 7:21-22)

Moses became a mighty prince and orator. Doesn’t sound like a man whose speech was slow and halting to me.

I believe sometimes we judge ourselves the way Moses did. We discount our abilities and shrink back from using them. God put those abilities in us to accomplish great things for him. One thing I heard years ago, which I firmly believe, is God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called.

So if God has tapped us on the shoulder to step out of our comfort zone to do a mighty work for him, we shouldn’t start writing a list of our shortcomings. Each of us has shortcomings a plenty after all. Instead, let’s put God at the top of our list of strengths, leave it at that, and perform the work God’s called us to through the Holy Spirit’s mighty power living in us.

Where in your life have you seen God’s power at work?

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There has never been another prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. The Lord sent him to perform all the miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh, and all his servants, and his entire land. With mighty power, Moses performed terrifying acts in the sight of all Israel. Deuteronomy 34:10-12 (NLV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Sunday Scriptures — Coincidence? Hardly

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

God met Moses at the Burning Bush in the wilderness, and told Moses to go to Egypt where he would deliver God’s people from slavery. But Moses gave excuses why he wasn’t the best candidate for the job. One excuse Moses gave was he was not an eloquent speaker. Even after God assured Moses God would give him the words to say, Moses balked.

God relented, and said he would send Moses’ brother, Aaron, along with Moses since Aaron spoke well. As soon as God agreed to send Aaron with Moses, who should appear on the horizon in the middle of nowhere? Aaron. Right on cue.

Coincidence? Hardly.

Before God and Moses had their conversation, God told Aaron to go into the wilderness to meet his brother. Because Aaron obeyed, he arrived at the exact moment God intended. God planned it all along. It was not a happenstance. It wasn’t a coincidence. It was God’s plan from the beginning.

God offered Moses the opportunity to be his spokes person, yet God knew Moses well enough to realize Moses would need Aaron at his side to accomplish God’s plan of deliverance.

Once Aaron arrived God instructed both men on his plan for their journey to Egypt, and the plan to deliver God’s people began to take shape.

The next time something happens in our lives which may be considered coincidence, perhaps we should look for God’s hand in the situation.

Have you had an event occur which others may think a coincidence, but you know better?

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Meanwhile the Lord had said to Aaron, “Go into the desert to meet Moses.” So he went to meet him at the holy mountain; and when he met him, he kissed him. Then Moses told Aaron everything that the Lord had said when he told him to return to Egypt; he also told him about the miracles which the Lord had ordered him to perform. Exodus 4:27-28 (GNT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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A Time of Change and Transition

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

As summer draws to a close, it’s a time of change and transition. Students go back to school and vacations come to an end. It won’t be long before leaves change color and fall to the ground. But one of the greatest times of change and transition recorded in the Bible is found in Exodus chapters 13-14.

In the story of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, God did not take them the shortest route to the promised land. Because he knew they were not strong enough, yet, to face the Philistines and conquer the land he would eventually give them, God took his people a roundabout way instead. You might say he took them the long way home.

Amidst our times of change and transition God sometimes does the same with us, don’t you think?

We see a direct line between where we are and where we want to be, but from God’s perspective, he sees things differently.

God doesn’t always take us the shortest route because he knows our strengths, and he knows our weaknesses.

The Israelites questioned, grumbled, complained, and resisted God the whole way. They didn’t realize the road God chose for them led away from disaster, not toward it. They didn’t understand receiving God’s deliverance meant obeying him. They didn’t want to accept the fact that in order to be delivered from bondage, they had to follow the route God laid out in front of them.

We do that too, don’t we? We want a change. We want God’s deliverance, but when God tells us to obey and follow him the long way home, we balk. When God tells us we have to be obedient to his law, his rules, his way, we cry out like the Israelites, and decide we’d rather die where we are than go one step further on the path God laid out.

When we read the story of the mass of humanity caught between the waters of the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army, we read a story of fear; and rightly so. I doubt many of them were expert swimmers.

The odds didn’t look good from where they stood. When Moses told the people not to be afraid, to stand firm, and see God’s deliverance, I’m sure more than one of those Israelites thought Moses was loco.

Moses told the Israelites the reason they didn’t need to be afraid; the LORD would fight for them.

The same God who delivered the Israelites from Pharaoh’s army and safely led them across a dry river bed, is the same God who delivers us from the armies and seas that trap us. Following God does not mean all will be smooth sailing. No sirree. Anything but.

When we follow God, we will face frightening experiences. Guaranteed. The challenge, however, is to put our potentially frightening circumstances and situations up against the all-powerful Lord God Almighty. The One who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Change and transition can be frightening. The unknown can be frightening. Moving from one phase of life to another can be frightening. The main thing we should remember during our times of transition is the fact anything we might fear is nothing compared to the God who goes before us and leads the way.

Are there any changes or transitions you are facing in your life?

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So the people of Israel followed all of Jehovah’s instructions to Moses and Aaron. That very day the Lord brought out the people of Israel from the land of Egypt, wave after wave of them crossing the border. Exodus 12:50-51 (TLB)

I wish you well,

Sandy

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