What a Difference a Week Makes!

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Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin (James 4:13–17 ESV).

These verses have a WHOLE new meaning to me in light of the coronavirus pandemic. I am still wrapping my mind around what is occurring. As I said in my previous post, if someone would have told me last year or even at the end of 2019, that life would change so drastically and suddenly, I would have thought they were crazy.

On Sunday March 15, 2020 when Nathan and I were out walking in the woods, Nathan asked me if I wanted to try making fire with his ferro rod and file. I said, “Ok” and after a few tries, my little pile of grass seeds lit on fire. AMAZING!

When we got home that evening, I ordered my own ferro rod and file. Nathan gave me a small knife and now when I am out walking around by myself, I actually look for things that I think could be used to start a fire. So far my findings have not produced any results, but hey, at least I am trying!

Fishing
Mandy Sweigart-Quinn fishing on the Susquehanna River, March 20, 2020, Pequea, PA.

What is even more amazing, stunning, unbelievable is that on March 19, 2020, I got my fishing license. I spent the last three days fishing with Nathan (March 20, 21, 22). This truly is an act of God. For those of you who do not know me or are new to this blog, while I am a sports girl, I am NOT a wilderness girl. While I am practical and like to be outdoors, I do not need to be at one with nature. Nathan has nicknamed me “Shiny” for a reason! I am not afraid, ashamed or embarrassed to admit this! (In regards to Nathan and I please read “Junk”.)

Dr. Teague in his Commencement Speech (May 10, 2019) encouraged us to “Make Your Mist Matter” (James 4:14). I have so much more of an appreciation for wanting my mist to matter to God and His people. Precious reader, you and your mist matter to God, to current believers and to future generations, be encouraged by this!

As everyone knows who reads this blog, I have lamented not having a house. I repent before God and you, dear reader! Praise God and I mean PRAISE God for His Sovereignty in allowing us to rent in this time. Only God knows what is going to happen and I am going to follow James’s advice and “boast only in the Lord.” I am not going to boast about nor lament tangible things. If God is stirring in me, preparing me to  learn how to make fire and fish, I know that God is doing something in you! All those times that I said, “I will never fish” are coming back to bite me (pun intended!).

I know for a fact that these are things that I would NEVER do if it were not for the coronavirus. What ways can you make your mist matter in this time? How is God wanting to show Himself to you through this pandemic that He may otherwise not have been able?

Father God, thank You that You are near in this time of uncertainty. Lord, help us to make our mist matter. Lord, we ask that You give us guidance and wisdom. Lord, may we grow in our trust and dependence on You. Lord God, for many of us, we have been removed from our comfort zones. You are exposing our deepest fears and longings. Lord God, prepare us for what You will have us face with boldness and courage. Lord God, thank You for Your unfailing love. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

Welcome, Spring 2020!

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If someone would have told me on the first day of Spring 2019, that on the first day of Spring 2020, we would be experiencing a global health pandemic that is shutting down houses of worship, schools and sports seasons, travel, businesses, restaurants etc. I would have scrunched eyebrows thinking there was something wrong with this person!

With that said, I still love Spring! I am coming to a greater understanding that the only thing that matters in life is that unbelievers hear about Jesus and that believers are being discipled/mentored. This is why I love Ecclesiastes so much. Everything is vanity/meaningless without God. I love Spring and its glorious, colorful, fragrant rebirth of vegetation. All of Creation points to the Creator Triune God. I love and am very excited that Spring brings longer and warmer days; however, without God the days are just days. Seasons are just seasons. Everything is monotonous with nothing new under the sun.

I find it fascinating that youth who have no issue staying indoors playing video/computer/electronic games for hours on end can be seen outside playing and roaming the sidewalks. All of us are wired to rebel against anyone who advises not to do something (even if it is for the benefit of ourselves and society at large). May we grow in wisdom this Spring (or Fall for our Southern hemisphere brothers and sisters!) and allow God to grow us and mature us in this season. As life brings death and death brings life, we know that none of this is meaningless for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Father God, help us to be Christ to those in our midst today, whether it is in person, talking on the phone or through text and email. Lord God, thank You that You are in our midst. Thank You Lord that we are not a people without hope. Lord God, may this trial refine our faith, molding us and shaping us to be more like You. Thank You God for this reader. May this reader come to know You and Your Word more in this new season of life. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

 

Renewed Focus

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I learned a MASSIVE lesson about myself at the grocery store last night: If I were an Israelite and the first time God sent down manna, I would have received Moses’s ire for hoarding (Ex 16:16-20). This is humbling and heartbreaking to me. Looking at the rows and rows of empty shelves last night created a panic in me that I never knew could exist.

I also learned that whenever God decides is the right time for the events in Revelation to occur, it is going to happen QUICKLY! Even quicker than what is happening now. I do believe what we are currently witnessing and experiencing is a foreshadow of what is to come. We need to be prepared; however, we need not panic!

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (Col 3:1-4 NIV).

Colossians 3 was my Bible reading for today and I am SO thankful that it was. Set in verses 1 and 2 are imperatives. In Greek heart (v 1) is inserted by the NIV translators and it rightly deserves to be there. Our basic desires stem from the heart. Paul commands us to set our hearts and desires on the things above. To me this means “Desire Christ!”

Paul references Psalm 110:1 when he says, “Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” In both the OT and NT times being seated at the right hand of the king meant power, honor, privilege and the right to act on the king’s behalf. God’s right hand is portrayed as a place of power, victory and favor.  Jesus’s being seated expresses His completion of His assigned task. Jesus is the only One who could be referenced in Psalm 110 and is the only One who could ever fill that seat.

This is why Paul also commands that we set our minds on things above. Minds is more than our thinking, it is our values. What we value and love is to be centered on the rule of Christ. We are to call people to Christ and life and away from earthly things that will perish. Christ does not just provide for us in this life, He IS our life.

As Christ is hidden from the world, so too is the believer hidden in Christ. When Christ is revealed to the world, so will we as believers. While we need to be prepared in our current situation, we need not panic. We need not roam around as a people without hope. We are called and purposed to bring God glory both in this life and in eternity. May we glorify God in how we respond to all that is happening in our world today.

It is SO easy for me to focus on the here and now. These verses remind that life begins and ends in Christ. We need to partner with Christ in being prepared; however, at some point we have to come to a place where we declare with David, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want” (Ps 23:1).

I have always wondered how strong my desire would be to survive if I were ever put in that situation. Now I know. Jesus’s response to Satan applies to me as well, “‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God'” (Matt 4:4). For the believer and the unbeliever, please, seek Jesus while there is still time!

Father God, thank You that for resetting my heart and mind on You! Lord God, may we desire You and live for You while there is still time. Lord God, thank You that no quarantine will EVER stop Your Word! Lord God, I ask that You prepare us for all that You have for us. May we reflect on Your past workings in our lives so that we may face the present in confidence and trust. Lord God, thank You for this reader. Lord God, I ask that You will keep this reader’s gaze and focus on You. Lord God, may we be agents of peace, faith, hope and love in this time. Lord God, may we NEVER forget that Christ IS our life. Without Christ we are nothing and have nothing. Thank You Jesus! Amen.

 

Psalm 110

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110 A PSALM OF DAVID.

1 The LORD says to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”

2 The LORD sends forth from Zion
your mighty scepter.
Rule in the midst of your enemies!
3 Your people will offer themselves freely
on the day of your power,
in holy garments;
from the womb of the morning,
the dew of your youth will be yours.
4 The LORD has sworn
and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever
after the order of Melchizedek.”

5 The Lord is at your right hand;
he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
6 He will execute judgment among the nations,
filling them with corpses;
he will shatter chiefs
over the wide earth.
7 He will drink from the brook by the way;
therefore he will lift up his head (ESV).

This is the greatest Messianic Psalm! There is no king in ancient Israel whom this Psalm could reference. “The linkage of king and priest would have been impossible to reconcile in ancient Israel because these offices were taken from different tribes” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019).

Kings came from the tribe/line of Judah and Priests were from the line of Aaron, the Levites. I have to agree with Boice, the Messiah being a king and priest would have been “a novel and probably shocking idea to the Jews…because kingly and priestly functions were never united in a single person in Israel” (Psalms 107-150: An Expositional Commentary, 2005).

Again, in Israel, no king could be a priest. No priest could be a king. “The reason for having a balance of governmental power is obvious: Human beings cannot be trusted with excessive or uncheckable power” (Boice). God took the distinction between king and priest so seriously that He punished Uzziah, the king of Judah, with leprosy when he tried to offer the Lord incense in the part of the temple where only priests were permitted to enter  (2 Chron 26:16-23).

Melchizedek in Genesis 14:18 is called “King of Salem,” which means “king of peace” and “priest of God Most High.” Melchizedek is of a different order, where king and priest are united, with no beginning and no end. Melchizedek is a type of Christ but he is not the Christ. Only in Jesus Christ are the offices of King and Priest forever, eternally united.

This humbles me beyond measure. Psalm 110  is the most frequently cited Old Testament passage in the New Testament. Psalm 110:1 is the most quoted verse. Jesus uses verse 1 to question the religious leaders in regards to whose Son is the Messiah (Matt 22:44-45; Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:42-43). Hebrews 6:20-8:13 expounds on Melchizedek and Jesus, the High Priest of the new and better covenant.

“As the people of God appropriate Psalm 110 as their own song, their hearts are prompted to cry out, ‘Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!’ (Rev 22:20). This blessed hope sustains them when so much in the world today is so wrong” (Estes). I am so thankful that Psalm 110 helps us to not lose sight of who Jesus is and what He does even in the midst of geopolitics, the coronavirus pandemic, locust invasions, etc.

Triune God, thank You for preserving Your Word. Lord God, may we cling to You and Your Word in the midst of all that is happening in the world right now. Lord God, help us to keep our eyes fixed on You. Help us to live wisely. Prepare us for what we will face. Thank You, Jesus, that You are fully God and fully Man. Thank You, Jesus, that You are our King. May Your peace rule in our hearts like an umpire, calling balls and strikes. Jesus, may we never forget that You are our Priest and that You want us to partner with You in reconciling people to God. Lord, may we never take our salvation for granted. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

 

 

Redemption

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“God cannot redeem what we do not give to Him” is a line I received from the Holy Spirit a few years ago in my quiet time. This past sermon reminded me of this as Pastor David preached on choices how our choices affect outcomes. For whatever reason, I NEVER considered the implications of David’s sin with Bathsheba (2 Sam 11) as happening AFTER God made His covenant with David (2 Sam 7; c.f. 1 Chron 17:11-14; 2 Chron 6:16).

The Davidic Covenant is one of the most significant theological statements in the Bible. It is “the promise made by Yahweh that He would establish for King David a ‘house’ or a dynasty of kings who would perpetually reign over God’s people” (Lanier, G. R. Lexham Bible Dictionary, 2016). This eternal dynasty is fulfilled in Jesus.

What amazes me about all of this is that God knows what His people are going to do. God knows the choices that we are going to make. It does not mean that He likes what we are doing or that He approves of our behavior; however, He allows it.

When the prophet Nathan confronts David about his sin, David’s response is one of confession and repentance. I love that David does not run from his sin and guilt; rather, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he writes Psalm 51.

David was an adulterer, murderer and an absolutely terrible father. Yet, David is given the honor of being called, “a man after God’s own heart.” God forgave and redeemed David. David was never immune to the consequences of his choices and actions; however, God never revoked the Davidic Covenant. God gave David and Bathsheba four sons, two have significant roles in the Bible. Solomon built the Temple and was the wisest man who ever lived and Nathan is mentioned in Jesus’s genealogy (Luke 3:31).

Far too often we hold onto our past choices, relationships, failures, rather than giving them to God and allowing Him to redeem and restore us. I know there are areas in my own life that I have struggled to give to God because wanted to hold onto the anger and hurt to use as a weapon. Other times I thought that my choices and mistakes were too unredeemable or unforgivable.

I have no idea what it is that you are keeping from God today. Please know that God in Christ stands willing to forgive and redeem you. Whether you are holding on to your past choices, decisions, hurts, heartaches, longings, relationships please surrender them to the Lord. Please allow the Lord to heal and redeem your hurt and broken places. I do not know much, but when I allow the Lord to redeem me and set me free from my past choices, situations, experiences, I receive a peace that passes all understanding.

Father God, thank You for Your gift of redemption. Help us to live free in Christ. Lord God, thank You for all the men and women whose stories in the Bible record confession, repentance, faith and redemption. Thank You that for the repentant person no past action is too great for Your redemption and restoration. Lord God, speak with this precious reader today. Remind this reader how valuable he/she is to You! Lord God, thank You that love covers and forgives a multitude of sins. Lord God, may we never stop looking for ways to cover and encourage each other. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Redirection

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The other day I informed my PhD director and my cohort that I was going to halt my pursuit of a PhD in Biblical Studies. I know this is the right decision for me and my family. I am thankful that God has made this decision clear!

In this time I am excited to learn what it means to be married. Nathan has been incredibly supportive and encouraging when it comes to me in Academia; however, now it is time to put what I have learned to practice. I am really excited to continue learning on my own and encouraging y’all with this blog. Thank you all SO much for your love, care, support, encouragment and prayers, I am truly humbled.

I am in prayer about applying to another Seminary in which I can take classes in person. One of the biggest reasons why I am not continuing with this PhD program is that I am tired of online courses. I need people. I love people and I feel like I am too isolated. I honestly have no idea what is next; however, I am open to His leading! In all things I will remain open, honest, vulnerable and authentic as your “Blue Collar Theologian.”

Father God, thank You for the love and support that I have received from family, friends and this Word Press community. Thank You Lord that when Your people earnestly and honestly seek You, You will answer making Your will and way clear. May we be a people who are willing to obey and do what You reveal to us. Lord God, I humbly ask that You will teach married and single people how to live well. Lord God, may Your Body come together in these chaotic times to be a beacon of hope, strength and unity in the midst of diversity rather than sowing discord, fear and dissent. Lord God, redirect our thinking and actions where we are faulty. Lord God, give my brothers and sisters courage to live boldly for You, bringing You glory. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

 

March On!

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Father God, thank You Lord for the gift of this new month! Help us to keep marching on for You as this world seems to be spiraling out of control. Lord God, may we not panic or fear sickness, hurt, trials nor death. Lord God, may we show the love of Christ to those whom You have placed in our sphere of influence.

Lord God, for those of us in the North, thank You that Spring literally follows Winter. Lord God, prepare us for longer and warmer days. Lord God, for my brothers and sisters in the South, prepare them for the shortening and cooling of days. Lord God, Your Creation amazes me. How You care for Creation is beyond what I can fathom. Thank You Lord, that where our intelligence peaks and ends, You are still greater, still wiser and still all knowing. Praise You Father for being in, over and Ruler of all things.

Lord God, thank You for this precious reader. Guide them this month. Lord, I ask that for Nathan, Patricia and anyone else who is having a birthday this month, may this be their best year in You yet. Lord God, teach us how to number our days so that we may live wisely for You. Help us to steward and redeem the time You have given us well. Lord God, may we never forget that we have NOTHING, are NOTHING and will be NOTHING without You. May we come to a place like Moses to declare, “If You are not in it, we will not go, we do not want it!” Thank You Lord that Your peace, goodness, and kindness are never far nor absent from us. Teach us today Lord how to rest in You. Teach us how to live free knowing that You are God and we are not.

Thank You Lord for the gift of community. For those of us who are more introverted, may we have a spiritual goal this month to connect more with others. For those of us who are more extroverted may we have a spiritual goal to listen more. Lord God, thank You for never leaving nor forsaking us. Lord God, thank You that You have designed our personalities. May we NOT get caught up in worldly and fleshly personality tests that pigeonhole us into some idea of who we are or who we should be. Lord, may we live in freedom as the new creation whom You gave Your Son to die and redeem. Thank You Lord God for all that You have done, are doing and will do. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.