Follow the Directions

frying panIf you have followed this blog for long, then you know Pilot is the one at our home who cooks. He is creative, innovative, and an expert chef in the kitchen. All things I am not.

He likes to experiment. I do not. I follow the directions of a recipe no matter how many times I have made it. I figure if the recipe tastes good the first time I make it by following the directions, why improvise?

Recently, this difference in cooking and following the directions of a recipe surfaced. Pilot made a recipe I have made and loved for almost fifty years. Yep. That long.

When I took the first bite, I realized something was off. It didn’t taste right. I asked Pilot if he followed the recipe. Yes he did.

I took another bite. Again, I asked, “Are you sure you followed the recipe?”

Again, Pilot replied, “Yes.”

Maybe so, but I wanted to make sure.

We pulled out three copies of the recipe. My original hand-written recipe card, and two church cookbooks I submitted the recipe to. Each recipe was the same. Step by step. No deviations in either one.

I looked around the kitchen counters. One important part of this recipe was missing. A lid to cover the pan. Small thing, perhaps, but covering the pan for five minutes is part of the directions in the recipe.

Easy enough to skip over. Pilot had a good reason not to cover the pan. But without a lid covering the pan, the juice from the tomatoes in the recipe would not stew. If the tomatoes did not stew, they would not create juice. If the tomatoes did not create juice, the recipe would not taste the way I believed it should.

I tell you this story for one reason. Sometimes we may not think we need to follow the directions written down for us in the Bible. If we think that, we’re wrong.

When we do that, we might think we have good reasons for skipping something, adding something, or removing something.

Maybe we think we can improvise to suit our lifestyle. Or maybe we want to be a little creative. We add a touch of this or remove a smidge of that. We might even want to skip a few steps altogether.

We don’t particularly care for the part in Deuteronomy that talks about holiness, so we decide to disregard it.

That one area in Jesus’ sermon on the mount feels a little restrictive, so we decide to improvise to suit our needs.

And Paul’s letters on church conduct? Oy, vey.

The Bible is God’s Living Word. It is both prescriptive—explaining how we are to live, and it is descriptive—describing events that occurred.

In neither case are we to add to it, nor are we to subtract from it. So let’s decide to follow the directions, all of them, and not skip any steps.

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So be careful to obey all the commands I give you. You must not add anything to them or subtract anything from them. Deuteronomy 12:32 NLT

You can find my June Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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The Apostle’s Sister Book Review

Filled with biblical historical research, The Apostle’s Sister by Angela Hunt tells the story of Saul of Tarsus and his sister Aya, and their lives in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus’ crucifixion and Paul’s conversion to The Way.

This is the fourth book in Angela Hunt’s Jerusalem Road series. You do not need to read the previous books to understand The Apostle’s Sister.

Aya has a gift for singing and wants to use it. As a Jewish woman in Jerusalem, her options for using her gift are limited. After she finds a way to use her talent, her brother’s decision to leave his seat in the Sanhedrin, and devote himself to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, complicates her life in ways she never imagined.

At the back of the book the author explains her reasons for some of the details she includes in her book, along with pages of references for her research.

At times I felt the author’s research overshadowed the story. I didn’t really connect with Aya or Saul. The character I enjoyed most was a minor character.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House for a fair and honest review, which is exactly what I gave.

Have you read this book? If so, what was your impression of it?

You can find my June Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Pause for Poetry-Hold On My Heart In Your Believing

meadow lakeHold On My Heart In Your Believing

selected from Streams in the Desert.

Hold on, my heart, in your believing-

Only the steadfast wins the crown:

He who, when stormy winds are heaving,

Parts with his anchor, will go down;

But he who Jesus holds through all,

Will stand, though Heaven and earth should fall.

Hold on! An end will come to sorrow;

Hope from the dust will conquering rise;

The storm foretells a summer’s morrow;

The Cross points on to Paradise;

The Father reigns! So cease all doubt;

Hold on, my heart. Hold on, hold out.

selected from Streams in the Desert.

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.

You can find my June Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Gluten-free Easy Scalloped Potatoes and Ham Recipe

scalloped potato casserole

This delicious gluten-free easy scalloped potatoes and ham recipe is a one dish wonder with added frozen peas.

  • 2 boxes (4.7 oz each) gluten-free scalloped potatoes
  • 1 cup diced ham
  • 1 cup frozen sweet peas (no need to defrost first)
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup half and half milk
  • 2 tablespoons dried chives
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 450°F.  Spray 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray.

In large bowl, place both packages of potatoes and sauce mix from scalloped potatoes boxes, the ham, and frozen peas.

Pour boiling water and half and half over mixture and stir.

Stir in 1 tablespoon of the chives.

Pour mixture into baking dish. Spread evenly.

Sprinkle cheese over potato mixture. Bake 33 to 35 minutes or until top is golden brown and potatoes are tender.

Let stand 5 minutes. Sauce will thicken as it stands.

Top with remaining 1 tablespoon chives.

Enjoy!

You can find my June Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Three Murderers

sad manHave you ever wondered how God could possibly use you? If God could use three murderers, then he can use each of us.

Maybe you’re the mother of young children and your days revolve around them and their needs. Maybe you work all day at your paying job. Perhaps you’re retired and feel a little used up. It could be you are somewhere else along this continuum, and wonder how could God possibly use me?

When we look in the Bible, we see God used all kinds of people in all stages of life. From every tribe and nation. Young. Old. Middle-aged. Married. Single. Widowed. Greek. Jew. Free. Slave.

God even used three murderers in a mighty way.

Don’t believe me? Well, what about Moses, David, and Paul?

Murderer number one.

As Pharoah’s daughter’s adopted son, Moses was a prince living in Pharoah’s palace. He had every privilege imaginable. Acts 7:22 tells us Moses was taught all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was powerful in both speech and action.

After witnessing an Egyptian taskmaster beat a Hebrew slave, Moses went into a rage and killed the Egyptian. When he realized his actions were witnessed, Moses fled Egypt.

Moses ran away and lived in the desert tending his father-in-law’s sheep. There he stayed for forty years until God called to him from a burning bush. God sent Moses back to Egypt. In doing so, God used a murderer to lead his chosen people out of bondage. God used a murderer to lead his people to the Promised Land of Canaan.

Murderer number two.

As Israel’s King, what David commanded be done was done. It did not matter whether what David commanded was just or not. Such was the case when David learned Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, was pregnant with David’s child.

When Uriah’s loyalty prevented him from doing what David hoped Uriah would do in David’s scheme to hide his sin, David sent word to his generals. Put Uriah at the front of the battle. Then pull back so that he is killed.

The baby died, but God wasn’t finished with David. David and Bathsheba’s next child, Solomon, was one of Jesus Christ’s ancestors.

Murderer number three.

As a pharisee of Pharisees, Paul fervently sought out Christians to persecute and kill. He felt in doing so, he was honoring God and defending the Jewish faith.

But Paul was wrong. Christ met Paul on the road to Damascus in a blinding light. He asked Paul why he was persecuting him. Paul ended up writing thirteen (and possibly fourteen if you feel he wrote the book of Hebrews) books of the New Testament. Paul turned his zeal from persecuting Christians, into a zeal to preach Christ and him glorified.

Moses. David. Paul. Their past did not define them. God saw beyond their past to what he could accomplish through them.

Our past does not define us. When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are brought into a relationship with him. Our sins our forgiven. Though they were like scarlet, they are now whiter than snow. We are defined as a beloved child of God. Christ looks beyond our past sin to what he can accomplish through us.

Yep. God used three murderers in a mighty way according to his purpose. And since God used these three murderers to fulfill his plans, don’t you think he can use us too, regardless of where we are at this moment in time? All it takes is a surrendered heart and saying yes to God.

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.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 NLT

You can find my June Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Psalm 40

prayingFor today’s post I am doing something different. I am letting Psalm 40 speak for itself. Please join me in praying this psalm as David did when he wrote it, thanking God for who he is and for what he has done.

I waited patiently for God to help me; then he listened and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out from the bog and the mire, and set my feet on a hard, firm path, and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, of praises to our God. Now many will hear of the glorious things he did for me, and stand in awe before the Lord, and put their trust in him. Many blessings are given to those who trust the Lord and have no confidence in those who are proud or who trust in idols.

O Lord my God, many and many a time you have done great miracles for us, and we are ever in your thoughts. Who else can do such glorious things? No one else can be compared with you. There isn’t time to tell of all your wonderful deeds.

It isn’t sacrifices and offerings that you really want from your people. Burnt animals bring no special joy to your heart. But you have accepted the offer of my lifelong service. Then I said, “See, I have come, just as all the prophets foretold. And I delight to do your will, my God, for your law is written upon my heart!”

I have told everyone the good news that you forgive people’s sins. I have not been timid about it, as you well know, O Lord. I have not kept this good news hidden in my heart, but have proclaimed your loving-kindness and truth to all the congregation.

O Lord, don’t hold back your tender mercies from me! My only hope is in your love and faithfulness. Otherwise I perish, for problems far too big for me to solve are piled higher than my head. Meanwhile my sins, too many to count, have all caught up with me, and I am ashamed to look up. My heart quails within me.

Please, Lord, rescue me! Quick! Come and help me! Confuse them! Turn them around and send them sprawling—all these who are trying to destroy me. Disgrace these scoffers with their utter failure!

But may the joy of the Lord be given to everyone who loves him and his salvation. May they constantly exclaim, “How great God is!”

I am poor and weak, yet the Lord is thinking about me right now! O my God, you are my helper. You are my Savior; come quickly, and save me. Please don’t delay!

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.

But may the joy of the Lord be given to everyone who loves him and his salvation. May they constantly exclaim, “How great God is!” Psalm 40:16

You can find my June Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Seekers, Fact Checkers, and Trend Chasers

John 3:16In the 17th chapter of Acts, we find Paul preaching to three different types of people. Seekers. Fact Checkers. Trend Chasers.

Seekers

As was Paul’s custom, upon arriving in Thessalonica he went to the synagogue service. Three Sabbaths in a row, he used the Scriptures to reason with the people. He explained the prophecies and proved the Messiah must suffer and rise from the dead. Paul told his listeners he was telling them about Jesus.

Many Jews, Greeks, and prominent women were persuaded by Paul’s message because he used the Scriptures to prove his case for Christ being the Messiah. Our Risen Savior.

Fact Checkers

From Thessalonica, where he was driven out, Paul traveled to Berea. When he arrived, you guessed it, Paul went to the synagogue to preach Christ crucified.

The Bible tells us the people in Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica. They listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul was teaching the truth. As a result, many Jews and prominent Greek men and women believed.

But those who stirred up trouble against Paul in Thessalonica, followed Paul to Berea. They stirred up trouble there. So, Paul left Berea and went to Athens.

Trend Chasers

In Athens, Paul was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city. He went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles. He spoke daily in the public square to all who happened to be there. Paul also debated with some of the philosophers. When he told them about Christ’s resurrection, some called him a babbler with strange ideas. Others said he seemed to be preaching about foreign gods.

Then they took Paul to the most learned council of philosophers in the city. They invited Paul to tell them about this new teaching. They told Paul he taught some rather strange things, and they wanted to know all about them.

Acts 17:21NLT says, in parenthesis, (It should be explained that all the Athenians as well as the foreigners in Athens seemed to spend all their time discussing the latest ideas.)

The Athenians were professional trend chasers. They spent their time seeking new things. New ideas. New ways. It didn’t matter what those things, ideas, or ways were. If it was new. If it was trendy. They wanted in on it.

At that, Paul gave his great speech. Men of Athens, I notice you are very religious in every way, for as I walked along, I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: To the Unknown God. This God whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about. Paul met the Athenians where they were.

Paul went on to explain who God is and what he expects. Telling them God has set a day for judging the world with justice through Jesus. The man who was raised from the dead.

Some laughed. Some dismissed it, saying they wanted to hear more at a later time. Others joined Paul and became believers.

Seekers. Fact checkers. Trend chasers.

Paul shared facts from Scripture. He let God’s word speak for itself. Some, like the seekers in Thessalonica, believed after Paul explained the Scriptures. Some like the fact checkers in Berea put everything Paul said against Scripture to know if he spoke truth. They were open-minded, willing to receive new truth, but it had to be God’s truth. Not just any willy-nilly thing someone spouted off.

Then we have the Athenians who made it their job to be trend chasers. These folks were so open-minded, they couldn’t distinguish truth from falsehood. It didn’t matter. Just as long as it was new, they chased after it.

Those folks were forever seeking, chasing, looking, but they weren’t interested in finding. What would be the fun in that? If they actually stopped chasing, and settled on the Truth, they’d have to give up their chasing.

In each of these situations recorded in the 17th chapter of Acts, we see people who accepted the truth of who Jesus is. We also see people who didn’t.

What about us? Are we a seeker, a fact checker, or a trend chaser?

Jesus is the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father God except through him.

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.

So they took Paul, brought him before the city council, the Areopagus, and said, “We would like to know what this new teaching is that you are talking about. Some of the things we hear you say sound strange to us, and we would like to know what they mean.” (For all the citizens of Athens and the foreigners who lived there liked to spend all their time telling and hearing the latest new thing.) Acts 17:19-21 (GNT)

You can find my June Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

The Path to Peace Book Review

blue designIn The Path to Peace, Ann Swindell asks questions. Two questions she asks are what does Christ’s victory mean for us in our daily lives? and How do we experience Christ’s victory in our day-to-day life, if our difficult circumstances don’t always or ever change?

By looking at the lives of eight people from the Bible, she shows readers who God was for these heroes of faith is who he is for us today. The same God who delivered them delivers us.

Written in eight chapters of five daily studies, The Path to Peace is not a quick devotional read. It is a book to spend time studying and reflecting on.

At the beginning of each chapter, Ann gives a suggested scripture to read, then recounts the story as if the person is telling it. She moves to how the person’s situation mirrored hers. Ann suggests how the reader might apply this to their lives. At the end of each chapter are questions for reflection.

For me, I believe the section on Christ’s mother, Mary, was the one I’ve read so far where I found the most area for reflection.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House for a fair and honest review, which is exactly what I gave.

Have you read this book? If so, what was your impression of it?

You can find my June Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Trusting God

hands lifted upwardThe Bible is filled with scriptures that talk of trusting God. Through these scriptures, we are called to boldly believe God is reliable, good, effective. We are called to believe he will do what he says he will do. These scriptures show us multiple instances of people who trusted God, despite their situation.

One such person was King David. If we take a close look at David, we know he waited many years from the moment the prophet Samuel anointed him, until the time the people fully accepted him as their king after Saul died.

We know David spent years fleeing from Saul’s wrath. As he fled, he faced one mountain-sized problem after another. Throughout the Psalms, we read David’s pleas for God’s intervention.

Although things weren’t working out the way David envisioned they would on his road to the throne, he never let go of his bold confidence that God was reliable, good, and worthy of his hope.

David trusted in Jehovah God.

Few of us have been tapped to lead a nation, but each of us has been tasked with using our abilities in one way or the other for God.

What I’m finding to be true is just because we’re doing something for the Lord, that does not mean all will be smooth sailing. Not all the mountains will be removed.

What I see happening, more times than not, is that when we step out to make a difference for God, the mountains pop up and block our way. Have you ever noticed that?

We may wonder, as King David did, what’s the deal? What’s with the sheer rock cliff we’re facing? What’s with this wide river that stretches between us and our God-honoring goal? Why haven’t the dreams God gave us been fulfilled? Why?

I don’t have the answers. In fact, I ask myself those very same questions occasionally.

What’s the deal?

That’s when I look at David and the psalms he wrote. I remember how long he waited before God’s promise was fulfilled. I remember it all goes back to trust. Trusting the One who is faithful, good, and true. Even when the mountains ARE. NOT. MOVING.

I think of David and decide I must be bold and confident. I must truly believe that I’m heading the right direction, even though there are rivers to pass through.

In hope, I hold onto the truth God knows the future. He’s been there. His timing is perfect. Always has been. Always will be. When he says it’s time, those mountains are gonna’ fall.

Until they do, we keep trusting God.

How do you handle trusting God while you wait for him to move your mountains?

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.

But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me. Psalms 13:5-6 (NLT)

You can find my May Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Who Will We Listen To?

children whisperingWhen we claim Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, all our sins are forgiven. Although that is true, sometimes we allow people or situations in our lives to cause us to wonder. Cause us to doubt. Cause us to question if we truly are forgiven for our sins.

Especially the REALLY big ones we don’t want anyone to know about. When that happens, we should ask our self, who will we listen to?

Sometimes we allow Satan to step into our minds and tell us we are guilty. We allow him to tell us we will never be forgiven. We listen to the accuser’s condemnation and feel unworthy. We forget to listen to God tell us we are his Beloved. Purchased at the expense of his precious Son’s life.

All of Satan’s lies and accusations are hogwash. Pure and simple. We need to stop listening to him. We need to listen to the truth of who we are in Jesus. We are redeemed and forgiven by the only one whose opinion matters.

Jesus knows us inside and out. He knows each and every single time we sin. He knows when we truly repent.

Jesus is the only one qualified to judge us, and he tells us we are no longer condemned. Why? Because he took our guilt, our shame, our very sin upon his perfect sinless self.

God’s only son paid the debt we owed but could never repay with his precious blood on the cross of Calvary. Through Christ’s sacrifice we are forgiven. End of argument. 

If we are forgiven by the only one whose opinion matters, the Supreme Judge, then we are forgiven.

So if we find ourselves asking who will we listen to, the voice of condemnation or the voice of grace, we need to listen to the voice of grace every time. 

Can I get an Amen?

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.

Now, because of this, those who belong to Christ will not suffer the punishment of sin. Romans 8:1 (NLV)

You can find my May Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

Please enter your email address on the form located on the right sidebar to sign up to receive posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Thanks!

Photo by Saeed Karimi on Unsplash