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Over the past few years my blog has been visited by people from all over the world. Very few know me, or of me, they simply are looking information concerning the Bible and discover my blog. After many years of intense study and teaching, I've come to believe we are vulnerable to misguided and incorrect teaching if we don't understand for ourselves the teaching of God's Word. My 'hot buttons' are - grace, sovereignty, exhortations and sanctification. If you understand these basic principles of Scripture, and apply them to daily life, you will understand what it means to have peace, joy and absolute security in any circumstance.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A RECIPE FOR EVERYTHING

If you like to cook, you are probably a creative person. Most of us who enjoy cooking don't follow a recipe precisely; we tailor it to our taste. We may add a little more of this, a little less of that, to create something that works for us. Then, there are the times we want to make a dish and have no idea how to begin. We'd be lost without a recipe as a guideline. I know this isn't a cooking blog, but I'd like to share the parallel between a recipe to make something wonderful to eat, and using the Bible as a guideline for making life something special to savor and enjoy.

        We have a son who does some of his own cooking. He really likes pork chops. He sticks them in a hot frying pan, and cooks them until they are browned and cooked through. The result is a very tough piece of meat that is difficult to chew. I've suggested the following recipe. . .

Pork Chops
  • Spray a pan lightly with olive oil
  • Fry chops until brown, add a little salt and pepper
  • Add a can of cream of mushroom soup - no water
Turn down heat, cover and simmer on low heat for 30 - 40 minutes depending on the thickness of the chops.
  • Add a sliced apple - pork and apple go well together
  • Cover, continue to cook until pork is very tender 
  • Add more seasoning if you wish, be creative. Add water to thin out gravy.

You can serve these chops over mashed potatoes, rice, noodles or just as they are. If your children are meat eaters, they'll love this.

We're not all meat-eaters. A good homemade soup can be a great meal. I sometimes make soup during the summer, even if the kitchen gets a little warm. Soup is lighter meal, but it is filling and when you use good ingredients, very nutritious. This is a favorite of ours. . .

Lentil Soup
  • 1 chopped onion, 1 clove minced garlic, 1 stalk sliced celery
  • 1 carrot or about 2/3 cup shredded carrots
Add a little olive oil to a soup pot and add above ingredients. Cook and stir until a soft. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add 2/3 to 1 cup of rinsed lentils
  • Stir in 4 - 5 cups of water, and 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • Add 4 teaspoons of beef or vegetable bouillon
  • 1 teaspoon crushed dry oregano, 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • A few dashes of hot pepper sauce - or not, depending on taste
Cook until lentils become soft, then add a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach, cook down. Some like to add about 1/3 cup of small uncooked pasta. Soup is always better the day after you make it when the flavors have had a chance to meld together.

What else might we need a recipe for? How about loving others? I can love others, but this seems impossible. "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." John 13:34.

The above verse is an exhortation which is a command of God given so we know what to ask Him for. Jesus loved so much that He died on a cross for us. The Lord knows that we can't even come close to this kind of love. Therefore, when we are faced with our own lack of love, we ask God to supply the love. It comes from Him.

"We know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. We love because he first loved us." I John 4:16, 19.

Most of us have had the experience of feeling a lack of love for someone we think we should love. We are not humanly able to force this feeling; there is a reason for this.

"God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit."
Romans 5:5

This is the 'how to' recipe we need. It is God who pours His love into our hearts; if He doesn't do that, we don't have it. So we go to Him and ask that He do this. Somehow we think we're capable of loving on our own, and we are to some extent, but it's God's love that we can trust.

What else might we need a recipe for - forgiveness maybe? If we are completely honest with ourselves, we know that we often need to be forgiven and those around us aren't perfect either. Being able to freely forgive ourselves and others is crucial to living a life of peace. If you don't have peace, there isn't much joy in your life.

The Scripture has a lot to say about forgiveness. David prayed to God in Psalm 19 asking Him to "forgive my hidden faults." We want the faults that others can see to be forgiven - many of David's worst faults were seen and known by many. But David prayed for his "hidden faults." He truly desired to be cleansed of sin, and he knew that with God there was forgiveness, Psalm 130.

"Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:13

We as believers have experienced forgiveness and because of that, we are able to forgive others. Not everyone is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. But you are, if you know the Lord as your Savior. Call on that power to help you forgive those who need to be forgiven. In other words,  everybody.

"And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."

        Think of a bowl of plain cookie batter. It won't result in a tasty cookie until you add chocolate chips, or raisins, maybe chopped nuts,  and stir together until the ingredients bind. When you bake this dough, the ingredients melt together and the result is a tasty cookie. You might say, 'in perfect unity', like love and forgiveness; one goes with the other. If you love, you can forgive, and if you can forgive, you have God's love in you. There is one thing this recipe is missing - our own wonderfulness! There isn't even a teaspoon of us that goes into this mixture. We are usually too proud and working too hard to be, and to look righteous, to notice that it's all of Him, and none of us.

There comes a day when Christ in us - Galatians 2:20 - becomes evident. This is 'hallelujah' time! What a relief! God is doing for us what we can't do for ourselves. Bend a knee and praise Him. Jesus didn't need to die if we could have become righteous on our own - Galatians 2:21.

Another recipe we might seek is one for our insecurity. We all live with some kind of insecurity - health issues, worry that you may lose your job, financial woes, a difficult child. . .we could make a long list of items we feel insecure about. We crave to be secure. When insecurity invades our lives, it may compromise our relationships, hinder our abilities, and certainly will steal our peace and joy in life. It is written in Psalm 112. . .

"Blessed is the man who fears (honors, reveres) the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands (instructions, recipes). . .His heart is secure and he will have no fear. . ." vs. 1,8

        None of us know what tomorrow will bring. We often look at what is happening in the world and cringe. But know this; we have a hiding place where our real life is protected by the Lord - Colossians 3:3. Whatever may come, we are safe and secure because we are God's child. We human parents fail sometimes to protect our children, but God never fails.

The book of Hebrews, Chapter 6, sheds some light on the subject of security. It states that God has made a promise, God cannot lie, and He wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear for those to whom the promise was made. It is God who "anchors" us in this world so we don't fly to pieces.

"We have this anchor for the soul, firm and secure."
Hebrews 6:19

In Deuteronomy, Moses blesses the twelve tribes of Israel and writes this. . .

"Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders."  33:12

        What a beautiful visual - the Lord carrying us on his shoulders! God has promised eternal life for those who believe in Him. No matter what happens during our time in this world, our fate has been secured by the only One who has the love, mercy and power to do that. Take a few minutes and read Psalm 16; you will be blessed and better understand as David did, that God has made our lot secure, and we will receive a delightful inheritance. We're not talking about gold and riches. David had his eye on heaven.    

You can use the Bible as a recipe book for making your marriage better, raising your children, handling your money and attaining better health.  The book of Proverbs has very practical advise from King Solomon. The Lord blessed him with the gift of wisdom. There are thirty-one chapters in Proverbs, read one a day and in a month you've read the whole book and been exposed to much wisdom. Ask the Lord to apply what you learn to your present circumstances. We can read, study, take classes, listen to messages in church, but it is God alone who reveals truth - He makes it 'real' to us. We are dependent upon Him.

Lord, I thank you for the tools you've given us in your Holy Word to help us to cope with this world. Help me to remember, my real life is hidden in you and I'm not of this world.