Holy Saturday 2020

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I have always been sensitive that to the disciples and first followers of Jesus, the Saturday after Good Friday would have been to them, the darkest day in the history of the world (link for last year’s “Holy Saturday” post).

The Gospel writers do not give details about the disciples activity on the Sabbath. Köstenberger and Taylor state, “We can presume, however, based upon their actions Sunday evening-fearfully hiding together behind locked doors-that Saturday was spent in secretive fear and dread” (The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived, 2014).

While Jesus told the disciples what was going to happen, they did not understand. The disciples truly thought all was lost. For me, when the whirlwind of events starts to settle and I begin to reflect on the situation, circumstances, thinking that all is lost, I am prone to fear (in all its various forms), anger, anxiety and situational depression.

The church is not the building, it is the people who are the church. Even if every church building and Bible in the land were burned or destroyed, it would not destroy the Good News of Jesus Christ. Regardless of what fears, anxieties, insecurities you may be experiencing, dear reader, please know Easter is coming. Hold on!

Father God, thank You that in the midst of our deepest and darkest fears You are there. Calm the storm inside of us as we wait for You. Lord God, thank You that the grave does NOT contain You. Thank You that no matter what happens in this life or on this planet that NOTHING will change the fact that Christ died to save sinners. Lord God, help us to not waste what You want to do in us and through us in this time of coronavirus. Jesus, help us to hold on, knowing that You are coming soon. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Good Friday 2020

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In light of the coronavirus, I have an even greater appreciation for how quickly life can change whether for Jesus’s first followers or for us. I have even greater empathy to the reactions of the disciples after Jesus’s arrest, trial, crucifixion, death and burial.

I cannot comprehend that even if I were the only sinner, Jesus would have died for me. I grieve that everyday, multiple times a day I spit in Jesus’s face, mock, flog, crucify Him by how I think, speak and act towards Him, others, things etc.

Even in the midst of my personal anguish of Jesus’s death for my sins, I know death does not win. The grave does not contain Jesus. Jesus is Resurrected, Ascended and Seated at the right hand of God the Father (Col 3:1).

Master Jesus, thank You for doing Your Father’s Will and allowing Yourself to suffer in our place. Thank You Jesus for the gift of salvation by grace through faith. May we never lose sight of what our salvation cost You and how worthy You think we are. Triune God, help us to ponder and reflect on the events of Good Friday in a manner that brings us closer to You. Thank You Jesus for all that You have done, are doing and will do. Amen.

 

I Am Sorry!

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Yesterday when I was talking to my mom on the phone the Holy Spirit convicted me.

I have been incredibly selfish and self-centered and I need to make a public apology to my mom and to all the people out there, especially those who are older, who are physically alone right now in this time of quarantine, social distancing and stay at home orders due to COVID-19.

  •  I am sorry for not apprecating human presence
  •  I am sorry for not appreciating human touch

To say to those who are alone right now, “Jesus is with you” sounds so trite and unencouraging to me. I hate and I mean hate when I hear people say to someone who is suffering or homeless that “Jesus loves you!” and just walks away.  What does this love of Jesus mean to someone who is suffering? What does it mean that you will always have a home with Jesus? What in this time of COVID-19 does it mean that Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you when everything is a mess and is upside down?

Ultimately, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:14-17 ESV).

My challenge to myself and all of us is to truly consider others in this time. For those who have children that are home and driving you crazy, consider those who do not have children and would love to have that problem. Whatever social/relationship situation we are in right now, may we consider those in the opposite.

I am thankful that God does not play favorites. I am thankful that God does not change.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Cor 1:3–4 NIV).

I am a hugger by nature, and right now, dear reader, I am giving you a VERY big hug. May we not allow this pandemic to alter us to the point where we will cease human contact and touch out of fear of the next virus.

Father God, I am sorry for once again losing focus and sight of You. I am sorry for the way that I have grumbled and complained. Lord God, thank You for the medical professionals and grocery store workers who are putting themselves at risk. Lord God, give political leaders all over the world wisdom and common sense when it comes to dealing with this pandemic. Lord God, thank You that You are God and that You are here whether we feel it or not. Lord God, speak to each one of us as to how we our faith can be manifested in action during this time of COVID-19. Lord God, prepare our hearts for Easter. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

 

 

Welcome, April!

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Father God, keep us connected to You in this new month. Lord God, thank You for the brave men and women all over the world who are working to help others in the midst of the coronavirus. Lord God, in this time of quarantine and stay-at-home orders, may we not grow distant and isolated from You and from each other. Lord God, be present with the elderly all over the globe as many face this time alone. Lord God, in the United States, may we grow in our respect, appreciation and awareness of our elders.

Lord God, “April Showers Brings May Flowers” I ask for Your rain to cleanse and renew Your creation and us literally and figuratively this month. Lord God, may we cling to You and trust You in this new month. There’s a saying Lord, “You don’t know how much you need Jesus until Jesus is all you have.” These are desperate times Lord, make Yourself known to those who do not know You and strengthen those who belong to You. Lord, I am learning to depend on You now more than ever. Lord God, help us to pass this test that we are going through in our speech, thoughts and conduct.

Lord God, may we cling to faith and not fear, wow is that easier said than done. Lord God, I ask that Your people (myself included) practice common sense when it comes to social distancing. Lord God, help us be a people who will live for You and others and not just for ourselves. Lord God, may we be reminded that JOY means Jesus Others Yourself. Lord God, thank You for the gift of a new month. Lord God, only YOU know what this month has for us. Prepare us to face this month knowing that You are in control.

Prepare our hearts for Easter. Thank You that we have a Savior who has defeated all sickness, disease and death. Thank You Jesus that You are our Resurrected, Overcoming and soon returning King. Praise You God for this reader. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Happy Birthday PQ Puppy!

Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn
Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

In light of the stay at home mandate I will not be able to celebrate my puppy’s first birthday, so I thought I would share the day with y’all!

Before June 17, 2019 I was NEVER responsible for keeping anything alive other than

Bringing PQ Home
Bringing PQ home June 17, 2019

Planty. God has taught me SO much about myself through the PQ puppy. I have learned more lessons than I could ever have imagined! Some good and some ugly. Thankfully, Nathan grew up with dogs so this is no issue for him. Having a puppy also calms Nathan in a way in which I never imagined! For me, honestly, there are moments where I just do not know what to do!

 

I have SO much more appreciation for parents and for people with animals. I also have FAR more appreciation how patient our Triune God is with us. There are times when PQ bites his leash or when he takes fifteen minutes to do his business. There are times where I say aloud, “Come on PQ! Get on with it! Let’s go!” And he just keeps hopping and circling away.

I cannot help but laugh at how often PQ would like to eat or do things that could harm him. PQ has yet to meet a leaf, stick or blade of grass that he does not like! I know there are times where I go after things that the Lord says are bad for me. In many ways that I have the same mannerisms before Holy God as PQ; however, in his case he is not a new creation. We as believers are.

By now you may be wondering what does “PQ” mean? Legally, our puppy’s name is PQ (pronounced “Pee Cue”). We have a running joke that Nathan’s the NKQ and I am the ALSQ. I said if we ever got a pug we could name him “PQ” for “Pug Quinn!” Well, long story short we did not get a pug, we have an adorable Cavapoo (aka Tiva puppy) and now PQ means “Puppy Quinn.”  When I told my mom we got a puppy and his name was PQ she said, “That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard!” My mother-in-law agreed!

Thank you for allowing me to share this moment with you!

Father God, thank You Lord for the lessons that You teach Your people through creation. Thank You Lord that You are patient and do not give up on Your people. Lord God, thank You for this online community. Lord, how sweet it will be when Your people will be able to gather together in person again. Lord God, thank You for PQ. Thank You for the way that You have used him to humble me. Thank You for caring about all Your Creation. Lord help us to love and care for all that You have entrusted to us well. In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

PQ in LeavesMessy PQMe and PQPQ and I selfie

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!

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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.