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

Don’t Provoke Your Children

Fathers, do not exasperate (irritate or provoke) your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. ~ Ephesians 6:4

The Apostle Paul wrote this message while imprisoned, on behalf of Christ, to encourage believers to advance in their faith, love, wisdom and revelation of the Father of Glory. He wanted those who professed Christ to be different from the world, and live holy and blameless in God’s sight. Paul believed that the relationships we have with our families should be righteous and bring glory and honor to the Lord. It is the obligation of both mothers and fathers to give their children the instruction and correction they need to become lovers of God and doers of the Word. Parents should be examples of Christian character and care more about their children’s salvation than for their jobs or social success. Fathers are to have such love and concern for their children that they would be willing to sacrifice their time and interests to that of training them to love God and hate evil. Thus, ultimately, have eternal life in Heaven and avoid the consequences of eternal life in hell. What an awesome achievement that would be for such a small sacrifice!

Dear Heavenly Father:  Thank You for being the wonderful Father that You are and for allowing me to be Your child. Help me to love others, especially my family, with your unconditional love. Forgive me for the times I have been selfish and unloving to my loved ones, and help me to change as I strive to be more like You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Help me Lord to live my life, to glorify Your Name.
That others might see You in me and never be the same.
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BBQ RIBS (done right)

Slab of ribs
Dry rub or rib seasoning salt
Favorite BBQ sauce

Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs before cutting the ribs into sections of 2-3 ribs. Sprinkle with dry seasoning and rub into meat. Place ribs in a shallow pan, meat side up. Cover with foil and bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour. Remove foil and bake another hour at same temp. Remove ribs from oven and transfer to hot grill. Baste with BBQ sauce and grill until done (about 15 minutes). Ribs may be cooked in oven day before and stored in the refrigerator until ready to grill.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor. ~ Isaiah 61:1-3

Isaiah is prophetically speaking here for the Messiah who will one day, Himself, read these same verses (Luke 4:16-22). The Messiah recognizes that it is the Holy Spirit that empowers and anoints Him to fulfill the purpose of His coming.  Jesus’ mission to preach the Good News to the poor, and all else mentioned here, should also be the same reason we as Christians should also take the news of His mission to our lost world. But, the Messiah knew that it could not be done unless the Spirit of God anointed and empowered Him. If Jesus, perfect in deity and humanity, recognizes the need for the Holy Spirit’s power, how much more should we, in our daily lives, need the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord to anoint our words, thoughts, and actions?

Dear Father:  Thank You for coming to save us from our sins. You love the broken-hearted and poor, and knew we would need a Savior, Deliver, and Comforter. I ask for your power and anointing as I live my life for You as I share the Good News of Your love and grace to those who are lost.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

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The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord, will give us strength each day,
To teach the lost about God’s grace;His love we must convey.
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CHICKEN STIR-FRY

3 tablespoons oil
1 pound chicken breasts, diced
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 pound broccoli florets
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced

Sauce:
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup chicken broth
¼ cup flour

In large pan add on medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon oil. When hot add chicken and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until cooked through and browned. Remove to plate. In same pan heat 1 tablespoon oil and add mushrooms. When they start to soften add broccoli and stir-fry until broccoli tender. Remove to plate with chicken. Add 1 tablespoon oil and sauté garlic and ginger until fragrant. Add remaining sauce ingredients and stir until smooth. Return chicken and vegetables to pan; still to heat. Serve with hot rice or noodles.

When God Doesn’t Listen

Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. ~Isaiah 59:1-2

Just as the Psalmist warned us in Psalms 66:18, so does God tell us through the Prophet Isaiah in these verses that He does not hear our prayers if we have sin in our heart. What is sin, and what should we do to remedy the separation from God it causes? Sin is any offense done or not done that is contrary to the Word of God. If we live our lives apart from the teachings of the Bible, we cannot expect God to answer our prayers when we call on Him. When living in this sinful state the only prayer God hears is the prayer of repentance. Psalms 91:14-15 says: “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.”  And Psalms 145:19 says: “He fulfills the desires of those who fear (love) Him; He hears their cry and saves them.” God loves us and wants to hear and answer our prayers, but He gave us a free will to either choose to serve Him or go the way of sin and remain apart from Him. May we each decide today to repent of our sin and invite Jesus to be our Savior and Lord, knowing for sure that God will indeed hear our prayers.

Dear Father in Heaven: Forgive my sin and pardon me from the things that I knew were wrong but did them anyhow. Forgive me also for those things I didn’t do that I knew I should have done. Cleanse me within and hear my plea for repentance and salvation. Lead me with Your Holy Spirit to do only those things that would glorify Your Name. May you be pleased with my life and hear my every prayer. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Holding sin within my heart will turn God’s face from me.
I must repent and turn to Him; that’s where I want to be.
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COMPANY CHICKEN

8 chicken breasts
1 package Pepperidge Farm dressing mix
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 pint sour cream
2 tablespoons milk

Simmer chicken in water until tender; cool; dice and put in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Mix soup, sour cream and milk; spread over chicken. Make dressing according to package directions; spread over chicken. Cover; bake 45 min. at 350 degrees.

Seek the Lord

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. ~Isaiah 55:6

Everyone is born with a sinful nature and never has to be taught how to be disobedient to authority. Because of this, God provided for us a Savior. He also gave us a free will to either accept His Son as our own personal Savior, or reject Him and face the consequences of an eternal Hell. God’s Holy Spirit speaks to us and convicts us of our sin. If we ignore that still small voice that speaks deep within our soul, our hearts will gradually grow hard and no longer be sensitive and yield to the Spirit’s call. When this happens, living a righteous life no longer is a priority. Instead, we seek more worldly pleasures and compromise the morals and values we once knew. God warns us in His Word to seek Him while He may found and to call on Him while He is near – before it is too late. There is a point of no return, a place none of us ever want to be. God is not the One Who leaves us, but it is a choice of our own to accept or reject Him. May we all choose to seek Christ while there is still time.

Dear Heavenly Father: I love You Lord and seek You with all my heart. Your Word is Truth and explains so well how I should live my life. Thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit to speak, guide, direct, listen, convict, and comfort my heart. Without You, life would have no meaning, but with You, I have purpose and a reason to live. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Seek the Lord while He is near, and walk with Him each day.
Read His Word and talk to Him; He hears each word you say.
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CHICKEN ENCHILADAS

1 can cream of chicken soup
4 ounces chopped green chilies (optional)
2 cups Cheddar cheese
¼ to 1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cups cooked chicken (2 or 3 breasts) diced
8 small flour tortillas
2 cups Monterey Jack cheese

In a large bowl, combine the soup, chilies, and Cheddar cheese; stir. Add the chicken. Melt butter in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish (warm oven works well). Dip both sides of tortillas in the butter. Add spoonful chicken mix to each tortilla; roll up and place in baking dish. Sprinkle with Monterey Jack. Cover with foil; bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve with salsa, as desired.

Do Not Fear

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  ~Isaiah 41:10

We are encouraged by these words and our fears are lessened, especially if a storm or some type of trial is in our midst. Israel was in captivity and God spoke these words through Isaiah so the people would know that He was with them and knew exactly what they were enduring. At times, we may feel all alone and wonder if anyone really cares. The pressures of life are overwhelming and whether it is a financial, physical, spiritual, family, or any type of circumstance or affliction, God wants to lift our fears and discouragement and help us. His hand is strong, willing, and able to see us through any ordeal or threat from the evil one. God’s will is that His people do not live in fear, but in victorious faith and trust in Him. We should be dependent on God’s presence to be with us in the best of times, and in the worst of times. His tenderness and compassion is available when we admit that we no longer can conquer the battle ourselves, but are ready for His help. In humility, we must cry out to Him for forgiveness, and then receive His counsel and comfort. God’s hand is strong and His love is everlasting.

Dear Heavenly Father:  I praise and thank You for Your willingness to provide strength when I am weak and comfort when I am in the midst of a storm. Help me Lord to trust You more and to reach for Your strong hand when I feel like I am falling. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Do not fear or be dismayed for I am here with you.
Look to Me for strength and help in everything you do.
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SHREDDED CREAMY CHICKEN

2 pounds boneless chicken breasts
2 (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese
2 (1-ounce) packets dry Ranch seasoning
8 ounces bacon, cooked crisply and crumbled

In slow cooker combine chicken, cream cheese, and Ranch seasoning. Cook on low 6-8 hours or on high 4 hours, until chicken shreds easily. Once shredded, add all ingredients and mix. Stir in crumbled bacon. Serve warm on buns. Serves 6.

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.     ~Isaiah 40:30-31

Much of our weakness comes from our impatience and misuse of priorities. Only those things that bring glory and honor to God will nourish our souls and bring them the proper rest they need. We must give top priority to our daily relationship of seeking the Lord’s face. There are so many things that press in on us from every side but we cannot let them rob us of our time with the Savior. It is in these daily times of drawing upon the eternal store-house of God’s resources that we are given the strength to live for Him. If we want to face our circumstances victoriously, if we want to live for Jesus successfully, if we want to find the strength we need to keep going in the difficult times, we must spend time waiting upon the Lord. To wait is to hope. In fact, in the King James Version, the word hope that is used in this verse in the NIV, is wait. This is the secret of new strength. It is the main thing we need to do. Are you tired and weary? Focus on Christ; read His Word daily; and hope in Him to give you that inexhaustible strength that only He can give?

Dear Father:  You are my strength, refuge, and shield. I am not over-whelmed or dismayed when circumstances come and I am faced with the perplexities of life. You are my God and I believe that You will uphold me with Your righteous hand. Your love for me is great and when I wait on You and look to You as my source, You are faithful to meet my every need. For this I thank you.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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When I wait upon the Lord for strength, I know I will not fall.
In Him is everything I need; He is my All in All.
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CHEESE RICE CASSEROLE

1½ cups cooked rice
1½ cups American cheese
3 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup bread crumbs
½ cup warm milk
½ green pepper, minced
1 teaspoon parsley

Combine all ingredients and put in a greased 2-quart baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 35–40 minutes.

Perfect Peace

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. ~Isaiah 26:3

The Word of God tells us that in the last days anxiety, perplexity, and confusion will reach a climax. What we see in the world today is a result of unbelief and compromise of God’s Word. It is the result of spiritual adultery and serving the god of self. Each of us is born with a sinful, selfish nature to please our fleshly desires, and without a total surrender of ourselves to God, we will always be anxious and unsettled. When our courts struck down the Word of God as the authority of this nation, when our lawmakers no longer had to take an oath stating they believed in the Lord Jesus Christ before they could hold public office, and when humanism started being taught as the religion of our nation in the schools, we began to see a continuous decline of peace and morality. Confusion, restlessness, and unbelief resulted. True peace and true freedom from anxiety can only be found when we die to self and live in total submission to Jesus Christ. As long as we serve the god of our self, we will remain in a state of confusion, anxiousness, and dissatisfaction. What does it mean to be kept in perfect peace? It does not mean that circumstances may change, but it does mean that we have hope as we continue to live in the same confusing world but with the peace and reassurance that God is in control, no matter the circumstances. Our hope and trust come from the Lord, knowing that He will supply our every need. If we do our part and keep our minds focused on Him, God will do His part to grant us peace, tranquility, and calmness to every storm in our life.

Dear Heavenly Father: Thank You for the peace and assurance that no matter what the circumstances may be, You are in control. As I believe in You, walk with You, talk with You, trust in You, and serve You, my faith grows and the gates of hell cannot prevail against me. You bring calmness to every storm, and hope for every situation that arises in my life. Forgive me when I don’t keep my thoughts turned toward you, and the result is fear and confusion. You are my Rock and my sure and firm Foundation.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Anxious and despairing, many walk in fear.
But if we keep our minds on God,
His presence will be near.
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CHEESY BUFFALO CHICKEN DIP

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
½ cup blue cheese salad dressing
½ cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
½ cup crumbled blue cheese or mozzarella cheese
2 cups shredded cooked chicken

Place cream cheese in deep dish pie plate; microwave 30 seconds to soften. Whisk in salad dressing, hot sauce, and blue or mozzarella cheese. Add chicken and stir until well mixed. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until cheese is all melted. Serve with cut up veggies, chips, or crackers.

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