Sowing and Reaping

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Today’s post, Sowing and Reaping, is written by my writer-friend, Phyllis Farringer.

I read somewhere that for optimum emotional health we need 12 hugs a day. It makes sense, really. Studies of babies raised institutionally have shown that those who are held and cuddled thrive in comparison to those who merely have their physical needs met.

People who are involved in a good church may get 12 hugs in a matter of minutes on a typical Sunday morning. Perhaps that helps explain why people at church often appear happier than those we meet randomly everywhere else.

A hug benefits both giver and receiver. What a wonderful illustration God has given us concerning giving in general. Whatever we give away tends to come back to us. Those who give away hugs get hugged a lot. Those who give away anger and hostility generally encounter anger and hostility wherever they go. Those who are generous with their resources usually don’t live in want.

A friend of mine once observed that God measures His provision for us the way we measure brown sugar– pressed down and overflowing. There is nothing stingy about the way He pours out blessing. What would happen if we lived with brown sugar generosity about everything?

The Bible commends generosity. A poor widow, in obedience to God, shared what she thought was her last meal with Elijah the Prophet, then experienced supernatural abundance in the midst of a drought (1 Kings 17). Jesus took notice of another poor widow. He said her gift at the temple of two small coins was greater than that of all the others because she gave out of her poverty, and they gave out of their wealth (Luke 21:3,4).

God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). The amount is not as important as the willingness to share what we have (2 Corinthians 8:12). Whether our time, energy or material goods, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and whoever sows generously will also reap generously,” (2 Corinthians 9:6). When we give liberally, God liberally provides what we need (2 Corinthians 9:11). Everything we have comes from God. Giving is an expression of our faith that God will continue to provide for our needs.

Christmas is the season of giving. In the prevailing spirit of happiness and friendliness, people are kinder, even to strangers. Of course, celebrating the birth of Jesus is cause for joy, but Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus all year long. It could be the extra measure of joy and happiness evident this time of year is related to a focus on giving away good things.

Since generosity seems to produce joy, maybe a key to lifting our spirits is to give something away. It may be as simple as finding someone who needs a hug.

Phyllis Farringer delights in proclaiming God’s goodness. Her work has appeared in various periodicals including Decision Magazine, Focus on the Family publications, and Christianity Today Bible Studies. She has also written for several compilations including Cup of Comfort for Moms and God Allows U-Turns. She and her husband live in North Carolina. They have two married children and seven grandchildren.

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Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38 NIV

I wish you well.

Sandy

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This post was originally scheduled to appear November 25, 2018.

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Sunday Scriptures — Who Is Your Neighbor?

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Today’s Sunday Scriptures post, Simple Truth, is written by my writer-friend, Phyllis Farringer.

I don’t remember her name. I don’t remember if I even knew it, actually. The details of a decades-old event have receded to a dusty, untended memory shelf. We occupied a waiting room at the Presidio Army hospital, both awaiting surgical outcomes. A year into our marriage, my husband needed major kidney surgery. Far from family, and miles from the Air Force Radar Site where he was stationed, I was alone. I was 19, self-absorbed, and scared. Would he lose a kidney? Would he die?

She had a young son in open-heart surgery. I don’t know why her husband wasn’t with her. We were at a military hospital. It is likely he had been deployed somewhere. I don’t know because I never asked.

What I do remember is her kindness. While she had to be concerned about her son’s serious surgery, she displayed only peace and a serene, confident spirit. She asked me about my husband. She reassured me the doctors at the Presidio were some of the best anywhere. She got coffee for me. She kept me from feeling alone. She may have spoken about God being in charge, but I’m not sure. Just her presence helped me get through the long wait.

After several hours, surgery over, the doctor assured me all was well and I could see my husband. I left the waiting room and never followed up with the woman about her son. She had lavished kindness on me and received nothing in return.

In Luke 10, Jesus was asked by an expert in the law what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus asked this expert to tell Him what he already knew about that from Scripture. He knew he was to love God with all his heart and love his neighbor as himself. Jesus told him his knowledge was correct. What he needed to do was live it.

The lawyer wanted to justify himself. He asked, “Who is my neighbor?”

As is often the case, Jesus didn’t answer the question that was asked; He answered the question that should have been asked: “How do we do that?” Through the parable of the Good Samaritan, He teaches us not to try to decide for whom we may or may not be responsible, but instead to be a neighbor to whomever in our path is in need.

Long ago, a stranger showed mercy and compassion to me in my need. At the time, I could have quoted the Greatest Commandment and I knew about the Good Samaritan. The difference between us then was that she was living it out. Even now, the Lord is using her example to help me understand what He is teaching me.

Phyllis Farringer delights in proclaiming God’s goodness. Her work has appeared in various periodicals including Decision Magazine, Focus on the Family publications, and Christianity Today Bible Studies. She has also written for several compilations including Cup of Comfort for Moms and God Allows U-Turns. She and her husband live in North Carolina. They have two married children and seven grandchildren.

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(Jesus said,) “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:36-37 (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Sunday Scriptures — Simple Truth

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Today’s Sunday Scriptures post, Simple Truth, is written by my writer-friend, Phyllis Farringer.

The Pharisees translated all of God’s commandments into a system of rules – rules for righteousness. As they checked off the things on their lists, they fooled themselves into believing they were righteous. They missed the whole point of the Law. The commandments teach us how to live in ways that please God, but they can’t make us righteous. The purpose of the Law was not to make us righteous, but to reveal that we are not. No matter how good we try to be, we fall short of God’s perfect standard (Romans 3:23; James 2:10).

Rules can’t save us. God placed Adam and Eve in a perfect environment and gave them one restriction – one rule to follow. It evidently wasn’t long before they replaced God’s rule with their own (Genesis 2, 3). Every person since – each one of us – has repeated our own version of their story. That’s why Jesus came. We need a Savior. God knew from the beginning we needed Jesus. Jesus gave human shape to all the grace and truth and goodness of God’s character. Jesus paid the penalty for our inability and unwillingness to obey the requirements God rightfully expects of each one of us.

How great and gracious God is. All of human history is a record of His faithfulness amidst our unfaithfulness. That is the essence of what the Bible teaches from Genesis to Revelation. If we think we can do enough good in order to be good enough, we deceive ourselves. We need a Savior. We are incapable of attaining righteousness and a right relationship with our Creator without help. The real ‘work’ God requires of us is to believe in Jesus (John 6:28,29). Once we put our faith in Jesus, we demonstrate our love for Him by our obedience to his teaching (John 14:21).

Jesus summed it up even more simply. He told us to love God and love our neighbor. If we just do that, it takes care of all the other requirements. But if we are honest with ourselves, we know we don’t do that. We can’t do that perfectly. Pride, selfishness, self-centeredness, ambitions, and mountains of other things, get in the way of loving God and loving others as we should. Once we recognize that, He can work on our hearts. It is the condition of our hearts that matters to God.

God is patient with us. He wants us to get it right. Outward behavior, though important, is not enough to make us right with God. The commandments teach us how to live, but really, once we put our faith in Jesus, the key to living righteously is to learn to love better.

Phyllis Farringer delights in proclaiming God’s goodness. Her work has appeared in various periodicals including Decision Magazine, Focus on the Family publications, and Christianity Today Bible Studies. She has also written for several compilations including Cup of Comfort for Moms and God Allows U-Turns. She and her husband live in North Carolina. They have two married children and seven grandchildren.

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Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all you soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Sunday Scriptures — Eliezer Prayed

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Today’s Sunday Scriptures post, Eliezer Prayed, is written by my writer-friend, Phyllis Farringer.

It was no small request. Abraham wanted his servant to find a wife for his son. The unnamed servant, probably Eliezer, (Genesis 15:2) would travel several hundred miles, find Abraham’s relatives, convince them he was on a legitimate mission, then convince one of them to return with him to marry Abraham’s son, Isaac. Oh my!

The story unfolds in Genesis 24. A quick reading could seem to indicate a series of convenient coincidences brought Eliezer to the right place. Eliezer arrives in Nahor, stops at a well and Rebekah shows up at just the right time to relieve his thirst and that of his ten camels. Rebekah just happens to be the granddaughter of Abraham’s brother. Her family welcomes him and offers him their spare room. The next morning Rebekah begins the long journey back to Canaan with this servant who had arrived a stranger.

A closer reading reveals the whole process was steeped in prayer. Abraham’s prayers are evident in the guidance he had already received. He knew where to send his servant to find a wife for Isaac, and he had confidence God would lead Eliezer (vs. 7). Eliezer’s prayer in vs.12, seems to pick up an ongoing conversation. When he finds success in his mission, and gives the Lord all the credit for leading him, it is clear he had been relying on Him since he saddled up the camels.

When we don’t know what to do, where to go, or how to proceed, the best course is to pray. God is faithful to lead, if we just ask Him. Step by step, He reveals His plans.

Amazing. Guidance, protection, provision–available just for the asking. So many times I have experienced God’s leading and provision just as I needed it. Daily, actually. In one of the bigger for instances, my husband received a stage 4 cancer diagnosis. The doctors suggested drastic measures, with an uncertain outcome. We didn’t know what to do. We wanted a second opinion, but didn’t even know where to go to get it. We prayed. God led us to that second opinion, and to a course of treatment that, we believe, ultimately saved my husband’s life.

Another time, our family was comfortably settled where we thought would be home for the rest of our lives. We began to feel an unexplained restlessness. We had no idea what it meant. We prayed. Over time, little by little, God led us to pick up and make a move across the country. He has since confirmed, repeatedly, it was the right thing for us to do.

On another occasion, reduced income and a limited budget disturbed my thoughts as I entered the grocery store. I prayed. I bought everything I needed to feed our family for the week, but at about half our usual grocery bill. All the right things were ‘coincidentally’ on sale.

The secret to Eliezer’s success–and any believer’s–is prayer.

Phyllis Farringer delights in proclaiming God’s goodness. Her work has appeared in various periodicals including Decision Magazine , Focus on the Family publications, and Christianity Today Bible Studies. She has also written for several compilations including Cup of Comfort for Moms and God Allows U-Turns. She and her husband live in North Carolina. They have two married children and seven grandchildren.

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.

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. (Colossians 4:2).

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please enter your email address on the form located on the right sidebar to sign up to receive posts every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks!

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