~~ Devotions and recipes for God's hurried people ~~

Meaningless! Meaningless!

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.  “Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”
~ Ecclesiastes 1:2

King Solomon was the wisest man in the world, and his kingdom was known for its wealth and affluent grandeur. In spite of this, he believed that life was empty and meaningless outside of knowing God and keeping His Word. There was a time though in Solomon’s life when he experienced great wealth, power, fame, and sensual pleasures; but he remained disillusioned and empty. Our lives aren’t much different than his. We are all born with a void that is in the shape of Jesus and nothing or no one is able to fit into that space, except for Him. Yet, we will search high and low, and deep and wide for things, people, places, entertainment, and so on, to fill that void. It doesn’t happen and never will. Before Solomon died he looked back over his life and saw the spiritual decline that came from the sin of idolatry and self-indulgence. He was sorry for the futile attempt he made to find happiness in the ways he did. Perhaps in his writings he wanted to share his regrets and testimony with us so we would not make the same mistakes he had made. Life IS meaningless, utterly meaningless, apart from the will of God. We must resolve to love God and obey His commands, for this truly is the only way to have life with meaning and purpose.

Dear Heavenly Father:  Thank You for showing us Solomon’s life and how sorry he was when he didn’t live for You. Life without You is meaningless and of no value. Forgive me when I take my eyes off You and place them on material things, looking for happiness and fulfillment. Help me to spread the good news of Your love and grace so others might also have purpose in knowing You.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Apart from God there’s emptiness and life has no real worth.
So Him I’ll seek and do His will while I am here on earth.
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COUNTRY CHICKEN CASSEROLE

3 cups shredded hash brown potatoes
1 (6-ounce) can French fried onions, divided
6 slices American cheese
3-4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut in small chunks
1 can cream of chicken soup
¾ cup milk
1 (15-ounce) can corn, drained (or 1 pound frozen corn)

Mix hash browns and half of the French fried onions together in a baking dish. Lay cheese slices overtop. Spread chicken pieces overtop cheese. Mix soup with milk and pour over chicken; cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Add corn to partially cooked casserole and mix. Bake uncovered for another 20 minutes. Sprinkle remaining French fried onions overtop and bake an additional 5 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

TWO THINGS

“Two things I ask of You, O Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown You and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the Name of my God.” ~ Proverbs 30:7-9

What a humble request this was to the Creator of the Universe and One Who could grant wealth and fame to whomever and whenever He desires. Agur, the author, could have asked for anything he desired from God but he knew that nothing mattered outside of knowing Him. If he asked for materials possessions and wealth Agur realized that he might be too busy or too self-centered to serve God. If he asked to be poor and needy then perhaps he would have to succumb to stealing to provide for his family, thus, dishonor the name of his God. Agur wanted only to have his needs met by trusting God on a daily basis. This would keep him humble, reliant on God, and trusting Him only to supply his daily bread. Perhaps we all should be more like Agur and pray only to have enough income to adequately furnish our personal and family needs, to do God’s work, and to give to those in need.

Dear Heavenly Father:  Thank You for all You have given me and for supplying my every need. You are a gracious Lord and care about each one of Your children. Please keep me humble, even if it means living one day at a time, trusting You for the income I need to provide for my family. Help me to remember to serve my fellow men and give to those who are in need. In doing so, may they come to know You as their Savior and Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Give me only daily bread; that’s all I ask of You.
To honor You my precious Lord, is what I want to do.
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HAWAIIAN CHICKEN (quick and easy)

2-3 tablespoons oil
1 (13-16-ounce) can pineapple tidbits
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced
¼ cup brown sugar
1 green pepper, cut in strips
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 cups cooked rice
1 can cream of chicken soup
¼ cup toasted almonds (optional)

Heat oil in a skillet and cook chicken pieces until tender and no longer pink. Add green pepper strips and garlic; sauté 2-3 minutes. Add chicken soup, pineapple and juice, brown sugar, and soy sauce. Heat through until bubbly. (May add a little water or chicken stock if mixture is too thick). Serve over cooked rice and top with almonds.

Moral Apostasy

A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed – without remedy. ~ Proverbs 29:1

The Bible warns us about the deadly dangers of moral apostasy (abandoning or withdrawing from a former union with Christ). One who has known Jesus as their personal Savior ceases to remain in Him and instead becomes enslaved once again to sin and immorality. How does this happen? It usually is a gradual decline in one’s relationship and service to the Lord. The seriousness of God’s Word begins to diminish while the desires for things of the world heighten. We become conditioned and tolerant to sin as the power of the Holy Spirit’s convicting rebuke is ignored and rejected. Wickedness is no longer hated and righteousness is looked at as only for the weak and frail. As this happens, hearts become hardened and that “still small voice” deep inside begins to fade. Each time it is ignored or pushed away, hearts grow harder and harder. Eventually, the Holy Spirit is so grieved that He departs from the former believer; no longer is there any remedy for his soul. But all who genuinely desire to come to God with repentant hearts have not reached the point of unpardonable apostasy. It is God’s will that none would perish, and His mercy and grace are available for all who willfully come to Him.

Dear Heavenly Father:  Forgive me for the times I have become stiff-necked and reckless with my life. Reveal to me those things I do that might lead me into a dangerous mode of rejecting your Holy Spirit’s conviction on my soul. Keep my heart soft and pliable and help me to hate wickedness, even more than I do, and love righteousness as You desire. May I be an example of Your mercy and grace to those around me. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Holy Spirit touch my life, and turn me far from sin.
Teach me of Your Holy ways, and keep me pure within.
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MALAYSIAN PEANUT BUTTER CHICKEN

6-8 green onions or one small onion
1-2 cloves garlic
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon coriander (optional)
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
2 ½ pounds chicken (dark or light meat, on or off bone)

Put all ingredients, except chicken, in a food processor and pulse until blended. Pour into a bowl and add chicken. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours. Arrange chicken pieces in baking dish and pour sauce over it. Bake at 375 degrees for 45-55 minutes, basting occasionally. Serve with rice or noodles.

If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable. ~ Proverbs 28:9

Does God hear and answer every prayer? Psalm 66:18 tells us that those who take pleasure in unrighteousness have no hope of answered prayer when they call on God. Proverbs 14:29 says the Lord is far from the wicked but He hears the prayer of the righteous. If we are the temple of the living God then He will live with us and walk among us; He will be our God and we will be His people (2 Corinthians 6:16). The decision is ours, whether we want our prayers heard or not. If we obey God’s Word then He will hear and answer our prayers, according to His will. If we ignore God’s commands and live according to our own will and way, coming to Him only on occasion when it is “convenient” or when we want something, our prayers are detestable or disgusting to the Lord. To be sure that our lines of communication are open to God it is imperative that we search our hearts for any unconfessed sin, ask Him for forgiveness, invite Jesus to be Savior and Lord, and then live as though He really is. It is then that we have the assurance that our prayers are being heard by God.

 Dear Father in Heaven:  Forgive me for my sins and cleanse me of all unrighteousness. Show me those areas of my life that need readjusted so that You are my ultimate priority and goal. When I am weak and tempted please come and be my strength. Help me to become the person of God that You created me to be, and guide me with Your Holy Spirit to live according to Your Word. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Help me Lord to live my life, according to Your way.
That You would have an open ear, and hear me when I pray.

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HAM LOAF (large – serves 10)

1 ½ pounds ham, ground in food processor
1 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon brown, spicy, or yellow mustard
1 onion, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup quick cooking oatmeal (uncooked)
½ cup milk
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup vinegar

Combine all ingredients except brown sugar and vinegar; mix well. Form a loaf and place in a greased or sprayed 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Mix brown sugar and vinegar and spread overtop ham-loaf. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes, basting every 20 minutes. When done, serve on a platter with glaze spooned overtop.

DO NOT BOAST

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.  ~ Proverbs 27:1

Mark warns us in his gospel to be prepared and watch for the return of Jesus Christ (Mark 13:35). Because no one, except the Heavenly Father, knows when Christ will return we must be on guard, alert, and ready to meet Him at that moment when He appears. Just as we don’t know when Christ will return, we don’t even know what will happen tomorrow. We think we do, but in actuality we do not. Our lives are uncertain and yet fleeting. James 4:14 tells us that we are merely a mist that appears for a short time and then disappears. Because of these things our focus should be always on what God’s will is for our lives. It is imperative that we come to repentance of our sins by asking for God’s forgiveness, die daily to ourselves, live in accordance to the Holy Word, and remain in a state of “readiness” while anticipating the imminent return of the King of Kings.

Dear Heavenly Father:  Only You know when the day and hour will be that You send Your Son to return for His church. Forgive me for my sins and guide me with Your Holy Spirit to live my life in accordance with Your Holy Word. Many of my family members and friends aren’t ready to meet You and I pray that You would draw them with Your Holy Spirit to a saving knowledge of Your love and grace. Begin a new work in me and cause me to me more eager than ever to reach the unsaved and lost. May my life represent the wonderful anticipation of Your Return so others would be drawn to You and have eternal life. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Tomorrow’s plans may never come and life may end today.
Seek the Lord while there is time and find His will and way.
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SHRIMP CASSEROLE
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
4 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups cooked, peeled shrimp
6-8 slices day old bread, trimmed, buttered, cubed
8 ounces grated sharp Cheddar cheese
3 eggs
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. mustard
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika
1 ½ cups milk
Sauté mushrooms and onions in butter. Grease a 2-quart baking dish. Put shrimp, mushrooms, onion, half the bread cubes and half the cheese in the dish and gently stir. Top with rest of cheese and bread cubes. Lightly beat eggs with salt, mustard, pepper, and paprika. Stir in milk and pour into baking dish. Bake at 325 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until set and golden brown.

Resue the Innocent

“Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. ~ Proverbs 24:11

This is a general statement concerning the command that we as Christians are instructed to intervene on behalf of innocent lives facing death. No specifics or illustrations are given. The reason for this is so that we will not limit it to one group of humans and leave out another.  We are not simply to rescue a certain color of people or the wealthy, healthy, intelligent, or the strong. This command applies to all people. One such example is the pathetic tragedy of abortion. These ones are incapable of representing themselves before a court of law, therefore, face murder at the hands of those whose purpose was once only to practice medicine to restore health and life, and not destroy it. The Bible teaches that life begins at conception and to take an innocent life is the same as murder. Since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, at least 30 million babies have been aborted or murdered. This is astronomical and heart-breaking. If a group of innocent humans is being taken away to be slaughtered then we who fear and love God ought to try to rescue them based on God’s command that we should not kill (Exodus 20:13). We must actively become involved in the rescue of innocent victims. One way is to pray for those on the front lines of the battle. Pray for the politicians, the physicians, the ministers, and the pro-life leaders. Pray for expectant mothers to be willing and more courageous to choose another way other than abortion. We all must practice and model moral purity in our own lives and abstain from premarital and extramarital sexual involvement. There are many other ways to become involved; the important thing is to do something to back up what the Psalmist is saying in this verse. If not us…then who?

Dear Heavenly Father:  You are the giver of life and not the taker. You give each of us an opportunity to live for You so that our lives really will never end, even after our earthly physical death. We are saddened at the way the world has chosen to kill innocent lives and we want to become actively involved in whatever way You show us. Forgive us when we turn our hearts away from the evil that is being done in our nation. Give us the desire to do our part in saving innocent lives so that we aren’t found guilty when judgment day comes. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Rescue those awaiting death, so undeserved and cruel.
Save them from the hands that kill, we know to be God’s rule.

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HONEY TERIYAKI CHICKEN (crockpot)

4 Chicken breasts
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon ginger
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water
Optional garnish:  chopped green onions, sesame seeds

Put all ingredients except cornstarch and water in a crockpot and cook 3-4 hours on high. Remove chicken; dice and return to crockpot. Mix cornstarch with water; pour into crockpot and mix. Cook on high 30 more minutes or until thick. Serve with rice.

True Wealth

Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.

~ Proverbs 23:4-5

In studying these scriptures we have to ask ourselves a couple questions. Am I a greedy person? Am I selfish? Do I desire an abundance of things that I really don’t need? Do I desire honor, prestige, and the power that often comes from gaining material possessions and wealth? True wealth for Christians consists of faith and love for God and His people while yet denying themselves of anything and everything that it might take to follow Jesus as close as possible. Oftentimes, we rely on our wealth or our jobs to meet our needs, and this gives us a false sense of security. Matthew 6:21 tells us that our hearts will follow our treasures, or those things that we find most important to us. We might say that to purchase a material possession, that really isn’t a “need,” we will work overtime to secure the funds while our families and God are robbed of our time and service. When the end of our time comes, it will be too late to try and make up for lost time. All the material things we wore ourselves out to get, are gone. Each of us must examine our lives and make the appropriate changes needed to leave behind a Godly legacy.

Dear Heavenly Father:  Thank You for the provisions You have made for me, and for meeting my every need. Your Word promises to supply our needs if we seek You first and foremost. Forgive me for my greed and desire for material things that have no eternal value, and may even come between my relationship with You. Help me to know the difference in needs and wants and to put aside my selfish desires to show my love for You and Your children. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Earthly treasures will be gone and yet have worn me out.
Off they fly into the sky with wings they’ll surely sprout.
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CHICKEN DIVAN CASSEROLE

1 (10-ounce) package frozen broccoli or equivalent of fresh
1 can cream of chicken soup
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
½ cup mayonnaise
2 cups water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup Cheddar cheese, grated
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup crushed potato chips

Cook chicken in pan with water until nearly done; remove and dice. Return to pan and add broccoli. Cover with lid and cook until broccoli is tender and chicken totally cooked. Drain liquid except for 1/4 cup.  Add Worcestershire, garlic powder, soup, mayonnaise, and lemon juice. Pour into a greased baking dish and top with cheese and potato chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until cheese is melted and top is golden brown.

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