God Works in Mysterious Ways

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Who would have thought God would use a public restroom in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to speak words of truth into me through a perfect stranger-turned-friend, while we both brushed our teeth during the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference last month? Certainly not me. That’s for sure. And probably not Joni, either. Once again, proving God works in mysterious ways.

Let me set the scene for you.

Because Pilot and I stay in our RV in the Ridgecrest campground while I attend the writers conference, Pilot drops me off each morning at the conference where I eat breakfast before spending the day and evening in workshops and sessions. He joins me for the evening key note and afterwards, we return to our campsite for the night. Repeat the next day.

After I ate breakfast each morning, I needed to brush my teeth. So did Joni who drove in for the conference each day, and didn’t have a place to brush her teeth either.

Each morning we both ended up in the same restroom at the same time to brush our teeth. We didn’t plan it. We didn’t prearrange it. And we didn’t show up at the exact time each morning, but God had plans, and was moving behind the scenes nonetheless.

Throughout the week Joni and I chatted, but on the next to last day when she asked how things were going, I mentioned the fact I’d been told the disappointing news, by several industry professionals at the conference, there was no market for the genre I write; middle grade and young adult historical fiction.

Joni put her toothbrush down and told me God will make the market. I just need to keep writing what God puts on my heart. Funny thing about this, one of the workshop presenters told me the exact same thing the day before. For my final third confirmation that God wants me to keep writing my historicals and he’ll make a way to market them, I won first place in all three contest entries I submitted at the conference. Thank you, Jesus.

DiAnn Mills, Me, and Edie Melson 2017 Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Photo courtesy Mary Denman

You guessed it. All three entry wins are middle grade and young adult historicals.

Since God parted the Red Sea for the Israelites to cross on dry land, what’s a little making a way through closed markets?

Who knows? God may use the person standing next to you at the restroom sink to speak words of truth to you, too. Then again, maybe not. 🙂 Regardless of how God chooses to deliver his message, he will speak to us if we’ll listen.

Yes. God works in mysterious ways. How have you seen him work?

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The Lord says, “Forget what happened before, and do not think about the past. Look at the new thing I am going to do.
It is already happening. Don’t you see it? I will make a road in the desert and rivers in the dry land.
Isaiah 43:18-19 (NCV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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What Good Must I Do?

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

The story is told in the 19th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew of a man who came to Jesus and asked Jesus, “What good must I do to earn eternal life?” The man many call the Rich Young Ruler felt he had all his bases covered. You know; he keep all the required religious laws. Yet, he wanted to make sure he hadn’t left anything undone. So he went to the one he considered a good teacher. Mind you, this man did not call Jesus Lord or Messiah. Just teacher.

“What good must I do to earn eternal life?” Sounded like the man wanted a checklist of good deeds to follow to be sure he earned his spot in heaven.

I’ve met students like this. They never came right out and asked me what was the least they could do and still pass the class, but their actions made it quite clear that’s what they wanted.

Internal motivation to do a job to the best of their ability, was nowhere on their radar.

When Jesus mentioned several commandments recorded in what we refer to as the Ten Commandments, the man said he’d kept all of them, and wanted to know what he lacked. Jesus told the man if he wanted to be perfect, then the man must sell his belongings and give them to the poor. Then, Jesus told the man to follow him.

Matthew tells us the man went away grieving, because he had many possessions.

Although the man asked, “What good must I do to earn eternal life?” he wasn’t willing to put Jesus before his possessions when asked to.

The first commandment tells us not to place anything before God. We might not put our possessions before God, but what about our relationships, jobs, leisure activities …

Jesus told the man if he wanted to have eternal life, it wasn’t a long to-do list of external things to check off.

Jesus is more concerned with heart attitude than outward show. Our motivation to strive to keep the commandments should be because we love God and desire to please. It’s all about internal motivation, not external motivation.

Do we love Jesus enough to let go of the things that keep us from following him?

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A man came to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to have eternal life?” Matthew 19:16 (CEV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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One of my devotions will appear on Christian Devotions May 17, 2017. Please stop by and check it out.

Be Strong In The Lord

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

When we need to be strong in the Lord, sometime God shows up in the words of a friend. Have you noticed that?

Despite tangible proof I am doing what I believe God called me to do; write, I recently allowed one acquaintance’s negative comments make me doubt it.

While I processed the validity of what was said to me, I received the sweetest email from a friend assuring me God has indeed called me to write, so write I must. Her words were confirmation to keep on this long and winding path.

Have you ever heard discouraging words from someone, then God sends someone else alongside to speak life into you? To speak truth?

To encourage you to be strong in the Lord and never give up?

And on the flip side of this thought, when family and friends encounter discouragement, loss, pain, do we step up and offer them words of truth?

Do we encourage them to be strong in the Lord and never give up? Or do we remain silent, hoping they’ll recover on their own?

For our part, when we encounter discouragement, loss, pain, do we remain silent thinking we’ll be strong enough to get through on our own, or do we go to God first, and trusted friends next?

On a recent Sunday I wrote that when God called Joshua to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land after their forty years of desert wandering, God told Joshua to be very strong and courageous. God knew what lay ahead for Joshua. He knew how difficult conquering the land he had given his people would be.

Yet God wanted Joshua to know there was no need for him to fear. Jehovah-nissi, the LORD our banner, would be with Joshua in the future, just as surely as God had been with Joshua in the past.

Same holds true for you and me today.

Our El Shaddai, the All-Sufficient One, lacks nothing. There is nothing we need that can’t be found in him.

When life threatens to wear us down and undo us, we need to cry out to Jehovah-shammah, the LORD who is here with us, and when we do, we need not be surprised when God sends a friend alongside to encourage us to be strong and courageous, because Jehovah-sabaoth, the LORD of Angel Armies, fights our battles for us.

God knows what it costs us to follow his call. He knows we’ll face discouragement and struggles. God knows Satan will try everything he can to keep us from accomplishing what God wants us to accomplish. Whatever that looks like for each of us.

God tells us to be very strong and courageous, and wants us to tell others the same thing.

Is there someone in your life you need to speak a word of encouragement to? If so, what’s stopping you?

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But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:13 (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Worn Out

courtesy pixabayby Sandy Kirby Quandt

The last couple weeks have been a little hectic around here.

People were in and out of the house for three days painting and repairing various things. During the repairs, as is often the case, new problems were discovered. One problem was electrical, and thank you, Jesus, was caught and fixed before it started a fire.

After a problem was discovered with our chimney, I promptly made an appointment with the courtesy pixabayonly chimney repair company in town. The earliest they can get here … November 10.

Although there was potential for the discovery of wood damage when the gutters were replaced, praise God, there was nothing wrong.

Once the home repairs wrapped up, I had appointments with three different specialists that required x-rays taken of multiple parts of my body, one procedure, blood work drawn, and referrals to see three additional specialists for various concerns.

My last doctor appointment was last Tuesday, Pilot and I loaded up the RV and headed west on Wednesday for a most excellent time of enjoying God’s creation, and returned home Saturday.

Sunday afternoon we discovered rain pouring in through our fireplace and onto the floor. The chimney problem that was discovered two weeks earlier? There is no cap covering it.

Between doctor appointments Pilot and I attended the Tenth Avenue North, Sidewalk Prophets, Dan Bremnes All the Earth is Holy Ground tour. The venue was small. The crowd even smaller but that didn’t negatively affect the performance.

When Mike Donehey, mega energetic lead singer for Tenth Avenue North, took the stage coutesty binghe made mention of the fact the room wasn’t packed, but said even in our highest highs and lowest lows, God is there.

A low turnout for their concerts was not something that happened often, I’m sure, but they didn’t let it dampen their performance and ministry.

By the end of the concert there was no doubt in my mind Mike, and everyone else, didn’t expend one less ounce of energy than they would have, had the room been packed and overflowing.

So I’m thinking … amid all the things life throws at us whether it’s the good, bad, or ugly, God is still there. Jesus is still there. The Holy Spirit is still there.

God was there when our electrical problem surfaced. He was there as Pilot and I mopped up water, swapped out towels and washed and dried them, emptied pans full of water, and rotated fans to dry up the bricks. He’ll be with me as I go to those three yet-to-be-scheduled appointments I have to make, but don’t want to.

I’m worn. I’m tired. I’m weak.

BUT Jesus isn’t.

courtesy pixabayAnd he tells us to lay our cares on him because he cares for us.

He tells us to come to him all those who are weak and weary.

He’ll give us rest.

He’ll help carry our burden.

He’ll get us through whatever it is we face whether it’s financial concerns, health concerns, relationship concerns, or crumbling chimney concerns with more rain predicted.

He’s got this.

Worn out? Facing one more thing that you don’t want to face? Keep your eyes on Jesus.

Anything you’re facing right now you need to hand over to Jesus?

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Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 (NCV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Leaving Home

pixabayby Sandy Kirby Quandt

With the end of summer comes the return of the calendar school year and the process of children leaving home.

While it has been multiple years since I taught in the classroom, the sense of anticipating the new beginning as the students walk into the room is still there. I imagine those students who are entering the school environment for the first time, or those who are leaving home to attend college.

In both of these scenarios emotions on the part of the child and the parent runs the spectrum between elation and fear, excitement and sadness. Hopefully, our children are ready.

When Pie left home and established his own residence mere miles from us close to the binguniversity he attended, I cried. He was ready. I was not. It was the same when he walked onto our back porch one day and boxed up all his G.I. Joe toys. He was ready. I was not.

Perhaps you are not in a place where your children are headed off to new adventures. Perhaps you’ve relocated, or a friend of yours has. Perhaps you’ve lost a loved one or death is close at hand.

Either way, saying goodbye no matter what the circumstance can be difficult.

I imagine it was difficult for Jesus to leave his disciples after spending the past three years of his life with them, teaching them, preparing them, loving them. He knew he had to leave. He knew they were ready for that moment, whether they believed it or not. The disciples grieved when Jesus left them even though Jesus told them that was the way it had to be.

Jesus promised to leave a helper with them. And with us. Someone who would be a source of comfort and peace. His Holy Spirit came upon the disciples at Pentecost in Jerusalem 50 days after Jesus ascended to his throne in heaven. The Holy Spirit comes upon us when we accept Jesus as Lord.

Make no mistake, however, Jesus is coming back. His leaving was not a permanent good-bye.

It was an I love you and I’m going to prepare a place for you to live with me forever. I will return and take you there.

Do you have a child heading off to college, or school for the first time?

If not now, but you have, how did you handle it? Did you cry like me, or shout Glory Hallelujah? What about when you left home for the first time?

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So always be ready, because you don’t know the day or the hour the Son of Man will come. Matthew 25:13(NCV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Eats Shoots and Leaves

How did you interpret the title of this post? Did you see the words as verbs – action words? Or did you see Eats as a verb, and Shoot, Leaves, as nouns – describing words?

Interesting.

Like me, have you ever had something you said taken a different way than the way you intended? Or have you misunderstood what others have said to you? It leaves me bewildered, wondering what in the world just happened. Something that seemed so simple became scrambled on the receiving end. Like playing the telephone game when I was young. Mary went to the desert and ate an elephant. What?

Makes me wish I had one of those universal language Babel Fish, Arthur Dent in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy had. Might cut down on some misunderstandings.

But I don’t own a Babel Fish, and I presume, not many of you do, either. So, what to do?

David asked God to put a guard over his mouth. Not a bad idea. He also prayed his words would be acceptable. Another good idea. The third chapter of the book of James compares our tongues to a spark that can set a whole forest on fire. Not good.

Our words need to be affirming. Not destructive. We need to be mindful of what we say, and how we say it. Once out there, affirmation, or destruction, cannot be taken back.

 

I will join David, and pray for a guard over my mouth, and for God to help my words be clear.

Maybe a Babel Fish wouldn’t be such a bad idea, either, although I’m convinced I wouldn’t want the slimy thing swimming around inside my ear.

How about you? How have you handled situations where you were misunderstood, or you misunderstood others?

Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Ambassadors

While stopped at an intersection, with a light that cycles through four different directions before it is your turn to move, Pilot and I had the misfortune to be stuck next to three middle-aged motorcyclists on Harley Davidsons. You know, loud pipes save lives.

Pilot owns a motorcycle. I’ve ridden a dirt bike, on which I used a small tree to stop my forward progress one time. Pilot and I have cruised Main Street during Bike Week in Daytona, Florida.(Fully clothed, I should add.) We have helped park bikes during a Christian outreach, in a church parking lot outside Daytona, while the owners of said bikes frequented the famous Pub 44 next door.

All that to say, I am not anti-motorcycle.

But these guys sure pushed the limits. People like that are part of what gives motorcyclists a bad name. Three hours after the encounter with these guys, my left ear STILL hurts, and is ringing.

One of these brilliant men thought it his duty? job? right? to sit through the light and rev the motor of his bike to an eardrum-busting decibel. Not just once, or twice, but through the entire time the light was red. It’s a long light.

If the light had not changed when it did, I really think I may have rolled down my window and told the guy, we get it. You’ve got a Harley, and have to keep revving the motor to keep your bike from dying on you. I did say that exact sentiment with the window up, but had my hand, ready, on the window button, just in case.

Probably a good thing the light changed when it did.

To top all this off, when the light did change, the bikers went straight across the intersection, even though they were in one of the left turn only lanes.

Like I said. I am not anti-motorcycle. Just anti-rude.

So, I’m thinking…Are we ever like these bikers whose behavior can give other motorcyclists a bad name?

Growing up, the father of a friend of mine used to tell her to remember she was an ambassador for the family. What people saw in her, reflected back on her family. Reflected back on her father. Good or bad.

Isn’t that what those of us who follow Christ are called to be? Ambassadors. What people see in us reflects back on our family. Reflects back on our Heavenly Father. Good or bad.

Just as the actions of those guys on their Harleys could give motorcyclists a bad name, we need to be mindful that our actions don’t give Christians a bad name. Maybe we need to remember our actions speak louder than words, at times.

I want to live so that everything I say and do points to Christ. How about you?

We are Christ’s ambassadors. God is using us to speak to you: we beg you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, receive the love he offers you—be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20 (TLB)

I wish you well,

Sandy

PS

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Even Still, God Loves Us

Full disclosure…I am a sinner. But most importantly, I am a sinner, saved by God’s grace.

God sent his son, Jesus, into this world to die for sinners just like me. Even still, God loves us. Amazing grace.

Yep. In a world that can be anything but gracious, grace is a difficult concept for me to understand. Unmerited favor which I don’t deserve. I haven’t done a single thing to deserve the gift Jesus paid the price for me to receive.

Nada. Zilch. Zippo. Nothing.

An illustration which one of my preachers used to explain grace went something like this.

You get pulled over for speeding. Instead of the punishment you rightly deserve for breaking the law, the officer decides not to give you a ticket. That’s mercy. You didn’t get what you deserved.

But, the police officer goes one step further. She pulls out two tickets to the sold out, sought after, event you had your heart set on attending. She gives them to you. Free. That’s grace. Undeserved favor.

We can’t earn it. We can’t bargain for it. We can’t sneak in under the radar and snatch it. It is a free gift to us from Jesus.

I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize. My friends, I don’t feel that I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead. I run toward the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize that God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done.

Philippians 3:12-14

 

Feeling a little undeserving? Join the club. But thanks be to our Heavenly Father who loves us anyway, for his amazing gift of grace.

Leave your comments 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 wish you well.

Sandy

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Walk By Faith, Not By Sight

I don’t know where to go from here

It all used to seem so clear

I’m finding I can’t do this on my own

These opening lines to the Sidewalk Prophets song, “Help Me Find It“, sure express how I’ve felt at times.

Sometimes we’re headed one direction, breezing along. No problems. Everything is fine. Then all of a sudden BOOM! There’s a roadblock and we’re forced to go in the complete opposite direction. I don’t even know how many times I have set off one direction in life to find I ended up taking some side roads.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about something Sir Isaac Newton discovered in the 1600s. Action comes before reaction.

 

If I expect the automatic door at the store to open, I have to step up and activate the mechanism which opens the door. Staring at the door won’t open it. Wishing it would open won’t grant me admission. Hoping it will open? Nope.

Waiting for someone else to activate the open-sesame apparatus could take forever. If I want that door to open, I have to take the necessary action to cause my desired reaction.

If you’ve seen the movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, I’m sure you remember when Indie rushes to find the Holy Grail so he can bring life-saving water back to his dying father.

Following directions written in an ancient book, Indie gets to an opening and sees no way to cross the gorge that gapes before him.

Only a leap from the lion’s head will prove his worth. It’s a leap of faith. You must believe.

When Indie steps out into the nothingness before him in faith, when he makes the first move, when he acts, a bridge across the gorge appears. Indiana Jones makes it safely to the other side.

Action before reaction.

So I’m thinking…if I want the door to open it’s up to me to step forward. I have to walk by faith, not by sight. I have to take that first step in faith – action – before God will work–reaction.

In the Bible story recorded in Genesis 22, where Abraham is ready to offer up his son, Isaac, Abe had to lift his knife into the air ready to plunge it deep into the body of his son before God provided a ram for the sacrifice.

When Joshua and the Israelites got to the flooded Jordan River, Joshua 3:14-17 tells us as soon as the priests’ feet touched the water’s edge the water upstream stopped flowing. They had to step into liquid before they could cross on dry ground. Remember, these men had lived their whole life in the desert. They didn’t know how to swim.

The ten lepers in Luke 17 had to head toward the priest as Jesus instructed before Jesus healed their leprosy.

The man with a shriveled hand in Matthew 12 had to stretch out his hand as he was told, before Jesus made it whole.

Action came before reaction. They walked by faith. Not by sight.

Are you having to walk by faith and not by sight? Hang on. Keep trusting. Remember what God’s brought you through before. He didn’t bring you this far to drop you now.

For we walk by faith, not by sight.  2 Corinthians 5:7

I wish you well.

Sandy

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