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

Before You Were Born

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. ~ Jeremiah 1:5

Jeremiah was a prophet of the southern kingdom of Judah almost 600 years before Jesus was born. He was a great man and was called by God to encourage the rebellious people of Judah to repent and turn to God. Jeremiah felt inadequate to do the job that God called him to do, though he loved Him very much and had a burden for the lost. When Jeremiah questioned God’s call, telling Him of his inadequacies and limitations, the Lord spoke these words of Jeremiah 1:5. Before Jeremiah was even born God knew him and had a purpose and a plan for his life. Oftentimes, in our own lives, we hear of the great needs there are to meet the commands of spreading the Good News in our churches, communities, and throughout the world. But, we feel incompetent and inadequate to help, just like Jeremiah. Just as God called him, if we are called, God will equip us also. He has a plan and purpose for each of us. Remember this: God equips the called; He doesn’t necessarily call the equipped.

My Dear Heavenly Father: You knew me before I was born and You have a great plan for my life. How absolutely refreshing that is to know. Thank You for caring about me, even then, and thank you for orchestrating my life so that my purpose would be real and exciting as I follow after You. Equip me Lord to do Your work and help me show others how they too might follow after You. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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You knew me Lord before I came and had a plan for me.
Show me how that I might do those things You want to see.
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CHICKEN ENCHILADAS

1 can cream of chicken soup
4 ounces chopped green chilies (optional)
2 cups Cheddar cheese
2 cups cooked chicken (2-3 breasts), diced
¼ to ½ cup butter, melted
8 small flour tortillas
2 cups Monterey Jack cheese

Combine soup, chilies, Cheddar cheese and chicken; mix. Melt butter in a 9×13-inch baking dish (put in warm oven to melt butter). Dip both sides of tortillas in the butter. Add a spoonful of chicken mixture to each tortilla and roll up; place in baking dish. Sprinkle the Monterey Jack over top. Cover with foil; bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

The One I Esteem

This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at My Word.  ~ Isaiah 66:2b

Each of us is unique and has a personality and character different from any other. We all process information differently and our reactions are subsequently not the same. The world is made up of either extroverts, introverts, or a combination of both. But no matter what and how we or others perceive us to be, God created us each with a desire to know Him.  It’s what we do with that desire that determines our destiny. Some choose to ignore the Spirit’s voice that calls and convicts while others are much more yielding and easily moved toward the things of God. It doesn’t matter what our personalities are, God wants us to be humble, repentant, reliant, and obedient to the Scriptures. The Lord delights in us when we recognize our need for His continuing help and grace as we strive to live our lives according to His will.

Dear Holy Father:  Thank You for pouring out Your mercy and love to me each and every day. It is a continuous blessing and never ceases. Forgive me when I ignore the Spirit’s call and disobey Your Word. Keep me humble Lord, no matter what it takes. May my heart remain repentant and a lover of Your Word, all the days of my life.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Lord keep me humble and contrite,
That I might serve You day and night.
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CROCK-POT MACARONI AND CHEESE

1 (8 ounce) box macaroni
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
1 ½ cups milk
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup melted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups sharp cheese

Precook macaroni for just 4 minutes; drain. Grease or spray the crock-pot. Combine all ingredients inside, except 1 cup of cheese. Cook on low for 3-4 hours. During last hour sprinkle with remaining cheese.

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.

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