Moving Mountains

Today’s post, Moving Mountains, is written by my writer-friend, Phyllis Farringer.

I usually try to avoid asking God, “Why?” Not because I don’t want to know, but because I have learned He usually doesn’t answer such inquiries, at least not directly. He is God. He doesn’t owe us explanations. But sometimes the question looms large, and I just want answers. In one such instance, after wrestling with a broken friendship for what seemed like a very long time, I hit my knees and asked Him bluntly, “Why doesn’t this mountain move?” I don’t know what I expected, exactly, but I sought relief from the hurt I felt.

I don’t claim to hear an audible voice when the Lord speaks to me. Most often, He speaks to me through Scripture. He also speaks thoughts into my spirit. Usually just a few words, but they are clearly thoughts I know didn’t originate with me. That day, as I prayed, a thought jolted me. “You are trying to move the wrong mountain.” I had come to expect Him to speak with a sentence or two. That day He spoke in paragraphs. “This thing you are praying about is not the problem. Your attitude about it is the real problem. It is consuming all of your energy. It is overtaking your prayer life. There are other things in your life that demand your attention, but you are ignoring them because your emotions are so distracted by this.”

Wow! As I saw with clarity how problematic my own thoughts and feelings were, concerning the situation at hand, I asked His forgiveness, and I asked Him to do something about the heart problem.

He did. I began to accept my inability to change the situation. Whether or not it ever changed, I needed to get on with my life. I paid more attention to the other things I needed to care about. I stopped demanding the answer I wanted.

As I let Him deal with the mountain in my own heart, I began to notice the other mountain moving also. It didn’t happen all at once, but a few rocks and shovelfuls at a time. The landscape never looked as I originally envisioned it, but in the end, the Lord created a thing of beauty.

That is His way. We want Him to change something external to us. To move a mountain, to heal an illness, to change someone’s heart. We want miracles. We want them now. He provides them, but in His time. And in His way. He is all powerful. There is nothing He can’t do. But often the real miracle is the change He brings about in us, so we learn to trust Him when His answer is not the one for which we were looking.

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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. . . I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. Matthew 17:20

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Watching and Waiting

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

Our house backs up to a woods. Deer, wild turkeys, ground hogs and other wildlife wander into our yard with some frequency. There has even been an occasional bobcat. Such wanderings create an animated response in our dog, Maggie. Her dancing and barking alerts us to the presence of whatever creature has caught her attention.

Because she has frequently discovered animal presence in the yard, Maggie often stations herself by the bay window in our den that faces the woods. She watches attentively to see if anything might appear again. As a result of her watchful pose, she is generally the first in the house to see any visitors emerge from the woods. She often brings to our attention something we would have otherwise missed, because she is the one who is watching.

Just this morning Maggie barked her excitement and drew me to the window. At first when I looked out I didn’t see anything. But then, when I looked a little harder I saw a doe standing still, and blending into the background so well she was barely visible. Then I caught a slight movement through the leaves of the brush beside her. I soon realized there were several deer with her. Just a casual glance would not have revealed any of them. In the summer, when the vegetation is much thicker, I probably wouldn’t see them at all.

The spiritual application seems obvious. God is active in our world, but His presence may be missed by those who are not looking for Him. If we were as diligent to look for Him as Maggie is about looking for activity at the edge of the woods, His work in our lives would be more apparent. God is working in every situation, but so often what He does is attributed to “coincidence” or “fate.” We may miss answers to prayer because we are not looking for His answer, or He answers differently than we expect.

The woods behind our house is teeming with wild creatures. I have never seen most of them, but I have enough evidence to know they are there. God has given us enough evidence that we can know He is there as well. We see His creative beauty all around us. He speaks life, guidance and hope through the Scriptures. He speaks to us through our circumstances.

What if we watched for His activity in our lives in the same way Maggie watches for activity in the woods? God has promised to be with us always (Matthew 28:20, Ps 46:1). He has promised that if we seek Him with our whole heart we will find Him. (Jeremiah 29:13).

Watch for Him. You may be amazed by what you see.

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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In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. Psalm 5:3 (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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The Right Time

Today’s post, The Right Time, is written by my writer-friend, Phyllis Farringer.

Though the incident happened years ago, I remember it as if it was last week. After a hectic few days, my husband and I were eager to escape the demands of life for an afternoon of sailing. It was our favorite recreation. We had a small sailboat we pulled on a trailer to a lake about 50 miles from our home. That morning, just as we were ready to leave the house, a friend showed up. He needed help with a project. It only took a few minutes, and we were glad to help, but thus began a series of 5 and 10 minute delays and interruptions. With each assault against our plans, we became increasingly frustrated and irritable.

Finally, after what turned out to be just more than an hour, we were on our way. It was our routine on sailing days to grab lunch at the one fast food restaurant near the lake. The drive-in restaurant was of the design that patrons ordered from speakers and ate in their cars. However, because we pulled a trailer with our sailboat we always parked off to the side where there was no speaker, so my husband then went inside to order our food. This day, when we arrived at the restaurant, the entrance was blocked by two police cars with lights flashing. I don’t fully understand the scientific explanation for what happened, but about an hour earlier a sudden micro burst, or very localized tornado had picked up the heavy metal roof over the speakers and set it down to the side at precisely the spot where my husband and I would have been parked in our open convertible if we had been able to get there according to our planned schedule, without all the delays.

That experience taught me there is always more to a situation than what I can see.

The delays made no sense to us when we were going through them. They were frustrating. However, when we saw what we missed because of the delays, we were grateful that the timing of the day’s events was beyond our control.

Remembering that day has shaped my perspective on delays, interruptions and changed plans. Rather than irritation, I instead find myself wondering if the interference to my plans is sparing me from some greater difficulty. When I experience setbacks or frustrating circumstances I don’t understand, I have learned to focus my thoughts on what I do understand–on the things I know to be true. I know that God is sovereign. He is good. His ways are not our ways, but His ways are perfect. Our times are in His hands. And those who hope in Him will not be disappointed.

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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But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands. Psalm 31:14, 15a (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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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

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