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

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter; Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. ~ Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Throughout the book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon shared his perspectives and random thoughts on man’s futile attempt to find purpose and meaning. Nothing or no one, outside of a relationship with God, could fill the void in which each of us is born. To pursue happiness, through any means, other than God, he called life “under the sun”(Ecclesiastes 1:3) and was considered as meaningless (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Solomon, with his wisdom and wealth, had experienced it all and now in his old age had come to the conclusion that man’s only duty is to fear (love) God and keep His commandments. He called this life “above the sun.” Though he was somewhat intense and cynical in his description of the perplexities of life, Solomon truly wanted to warn the young to not waste their lives as he did but instead prepare for death and judgment by seeking God, the only One who gives us grace, joy, salvation, and eternal life.

Dear Heavenly Father: Because of You I have peace and joy in my life. Thank You for Your compassion, mercy, love, and grace, even when I am unlovely and undeserving. You see everything I do and are my Judge. Forgive me when my deeds are evil and contrary to Your Word and show me ways to change so I might follow after You more closely. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Fear God and keep His ways; this is His will for me.
God is Judge of all my deeds; there’s none He doesn’t see.
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TACO CRESCENT RING

1 pound ground beef
1 package taco seasoning
½ cup water
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
2 pack crescent rolls
Shredded lettuce
1 chopped tomatoes
5 green onions, chopped
1 avocado, diced
1 cup sour cream
Salsa

Brown ground beef; drain. Add taco seasoning and water. Simmer about 5 minutes until most of moisture is gone. Add cheese and set aside. Place crescent roll wedges in a circle, wide side of wedge towards middle, on a cookie sheet. Point ends toward the outside. Place the ground beef on crescent rolls and wrap pointed ends of rolls around meat mixture so  it forms a ring. Bake at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a large platter. On the inside of ring, place lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and avocados. Cut into wedges and serve warm with a dollop of sour cream and salsa.

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven. ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1

In Solomon’s effort to understand the true meaning of life he sees that good times and bad times come to us all. It doesn’t matter if we have health, wealth, or success, these words are for every person, in every place, in every circumstance. God has appointed the times and seasons, the events of our lives, the happy and the sad, the easy and the difficult. On one hand this can cause us worry or sadness but on the other hand it should bring hope in knowing that God is in control. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God has a plan to prosper each of us and give us a hope and a future. God’s will is that none should perish and that all will know His Son Jesus as Personal Savior. With that in mind, if we are doing our part to live according to His will and obey His Holy Word, then it should bring us peace and joy to trust God with every area of our life.

Dear Heavenly Father:  I praise You for the wonderful plan You have provided for me. Thank You for accepting my pardon and making it possible for me to trust You with every area of my life. Because Jesus is my Savior and Lord, I know that my life is in Your hands. Nno matter what comes my way, You are in control and worthy to be praised. Forgive me for my shortcomings and sin and help me to be a better witness of Your saving mercy and grace.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

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In Your time Lord, in Your time!
Forever may I walk with you, and know that You are mine.
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CORN PUDDING

½ cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups white whole kernel corn (if using frozen, cook or microwave until partially cooked)
4 large eggs
4 cups milk

In a lightly buttered casserole dish, combine flour, salt, and sugar; mix in corn and butter. Beat eggs and add to milk. Stir into corn mixture. Bake in 450 degree oven for 10 minutes.   Remove and stir with fork, trying to disturb the top as little as possible. Return to oven for 10 minutes. Remove and gently stir again. Return to oven for 10 more minutes or until top is lightly browned and pudding firm.

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.

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