Scripture in a Bowl of Potato Salad

potato-salad

holy-spirit-in-ephesians-4It is officially summertime! For me, this means it is time for potato salad since it is one of my favorite summer foods. As is often the case for me, I am looking for a spiritual lesson as I prepare my first potato salad of the season.

I begin by boiling potatoes and eggs. As the potatoes and eggs boil in water, I realize that within a few minutes my potatoes will be soft and my eggs will become hard. As heat is applied to both foods, different things happen to each of them. Now for my spiritual application. I think of the water as being the power of the Holy Spirit that works within our lives. In John 4:14, Jesus says that the water He gives becomes like a spring of living water within a person. The Holy Spirit is who Jesus is referring to when He mentions Living Water. So, if the Holy Spirit is living and working in us, He will bring about changes within us. Sometimes we may need to be softened while other times we may need a little hardening.

In Matthew 3:11, John the Baptist baptized people who repented of their sins. When we repent of our sins, we accept Jesus as our Savior, but that is not all there is for believers. Matthew 3:11 goes on to promise the baptism of the Holy Spirit with fire. This promise is fulfilled in Acts 2:3 when the Holy Spirit, described as tongues of fire, came upon the disciples. Back to my potato salad. I baptized my potatoes and eggs in the water and through the heat of the stove, their textures, or natures, were changed. The potatoes were hard when I put them in the water but as they boiled, they became soft. The raw eggs would not have held any shape were it not for the shells when they were placed in the water. However, after boiling in hot water (placed under the fire of the Holy Spirit), they became solidified and were able to keep their shape after being peeled.

As believers, there are times when our hearts will become hard and require softening. Ezekiel 36:26 is our promise for a hardened heart to be made soft when the Lord says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Hard heart out; soft heart in! Another scripture that comes to my ind is I Peter 3:8 that instructs us to be tender-hearted and humble. Just like tender potatoes are needed for potato salad, a tenderness within our souls is favorable for our personality. This is only possible with the help of the Holy Spirit.

There are other situations when it will beneficial for us to be strengthened, or hardened, in our faith. In II Corinthians 12:10 Paul says, “When I am weak (soft), He is strong (hard).” It is the Holy Spirit who provides us with this strength. It is heat that produces boiling water that in turn changes the consistency of the egg. I Peter 1:7 says that we will encounter trials in life to test the strength of our faith. Peter recounts how although we will be tested with fiery trials in the turbulent waters of life, the result will be us having a stronger faith in the Lord. Ephesians 6:10 admonishes us to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” That is a picture of a hard-boiled egg!

Finally it is time for me to add some mayonnaise to complete my potato salad. Oil is one of the primary ingredients in the dressing and once again I have a reminder of the Holy Spirit. II Corinthians 1:21-22 is a scripture referring to the oil of the Holy Spirit and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. My potato salad becomes a specific kind of food when I combine the ingredients with the dressing. As believers, we are all a part of the body of Christ because of the working of the Holy Spirit who unites us into one. The Holy Spirit also works within each of each according to our need at the present time. For some of us, our hearts may require softening while for others of us, our faith may need strengthening or hardening. Whichever the case, we all gain from the anointing of the Holy Spirit in order to best serve the body of Christ.

My potato salad is in the refrigerator getting cold for dinner tonight. My awareness of the work of the Holy Spirit within my life has been increased. Whether the Holy Spirit is interpreted in my life as water, fire or oil, I always benefit from the help of the third person of the Trinity. My Reader, I encourage you not to quench the work of Holy Spirit (I Thessalonians 5:19). Do not thwart the working of the Holy Spirit to soften your heart (like boiling hard potatoes to make them soft) or to strengthen your faith (like boiling eggs to make them hard). As Paul says in Ephesians 4:23 NLT, “let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.”

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

A Father’s Responsibility and a Son’s Response

 

father-and-son-shoes

footprints-in-sandThis Sunday we will be celebrating Father’s Day, a time to honor and thank our dads for their place within our lives. Today I want to take time to challenge both fathers and sons. I have my Bible in hand as I begin this undertaking. My goal is to show the responsibility placed upon fathers and the response expected by sons.

These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.
You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when
you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie
down and when you rise up.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7
(the Father’s responsibility)
A wise son heeds his father’s instruction.
Proverbs 13:1
(the Son’s response)

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when
he is old, he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6
(the Father’s responsibility)
 Listen to your father who gave you life.
Proverbs 23:22
(the Son’s response)

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but
bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4
(the Father’s responsibility)
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. HONOR
YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment
with a promise), SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU,
AND

THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH.
Ephesians 6:1-3

(the Son’s response)

These scriptures place a heavy responsibility upon our fathers. However, dads do not need to rely solely upon their own power to successfully fulfill their role. The primary responsibility of all dads is to follow the example of their Heavenly Father. In order for fathers to fulfill their responsibility as fathers and teach their sons to respond correctly, they must respond to the instructions of their Heavenly Father. Proverbs 3:11-12 sums up this concept well. In verse 11, “My son” refers to an earthly father being told how he is to respond to his Heavenly Father’s instructions. God as the Heavenly Father is setting an example for fathers on earth. Listen to the following words.

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline,
and do not resent his rebuke, because the
Lord disciplines those he loves.
Proverbs 3:11-12
(earthly Father‘s and Son‘s response)

What is the outcome of this type of Father/Son relationship? Once again I go to scripture to find the answer.

The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who
fathers a wise son will be glad in him.

Proverbs 23:24
(the Father’s responsibility)
The righteous who walks in his integrity—blessed are
his children after him!

Proverbs 20:7
(the Son’s response)
And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the
hearts of children to their fathers.
Malachi 4:6
(our Heavenly Father’s responsibility)


These are beautiful promises! They are the fulfillment of the Father/Son relationship as the Lord designed it. How is it possible for the Lord to bring about this rapport? Listen again to God’s Word.

As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.

Psalm 103:13
(earthly Father’s and Heavenly Father’s responsibility)


When claiming this promise, we must be aware that the Lord’s compassion is not always a warm fuzzy type of love. Sometimes discipline is a form a love as stated by the writer of Hebrews.

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons.
For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

Hebrews 12:7
(our Heavenly Father’s responsibility)

Discipline your son, for there is hope.
Proverbs 19:18
(the Father’s responsibility)

Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path.
Proverbs 23:19
(the Son’s response)

Unfortunately, we live in a society today that often minimizes the role of fathers.  However, we need to remember that according to God, our Heavenly Father, fathers are extremely important in the development of their sons and daughtersThe Bible illustrates the correlation between our earthly fathers and God our heavenly father. With this in mind, let us take time Sunday to be obedient to one more verse of scripture.

Honor your father … so that you may live long in the land
the LORD your God is giving you.

Exodus 20:12
(the Son’s response)
(Our response!)

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

Author’s Note: I have only used the terms “father” and “son” because this blog highlights Father’s Day. Feminine references are equally applicable in many of the instances.

Be a Bridge

 

golden-gate-bridge-viewA bridge is defined as a structure carrying a road, path, railroad, or canal across a river, ravine, road, railroad, or other obstacle. When thinking about a bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco is a structure readily identified by most people. According to Wikipedia, it is a suspension bridge 4200 feet in length spanning across the Golden Gate strait linking the city of San Francisco to Marin County. It opened in 1937 and was, until 1964, the longest suspension bridge in the world. It is considered one of the most beautiful bridges in the world and likely the most photographed bridge.

golden-gate-bridge-viewArchitecturally, bridges are fascinating but I am intrigued by bridges from a spiritual perspective as well. Matthew 14:22-33 records the account of Jesus walking on the water. Notice that Jesus was walking on water, not on a bridge! He was walking towards His disciples who were in a boat upon the water. The disciples were afraid when they saw a figure coming towards them. After Jesus identified Himself, Peter jumped out of the boat and began to walk on the water towards Jesus. He was not walking on a bridge either! As long as Peter kept his eyes upon Jesus, he was able to walk on water but when he thought about the turbulent sea below him, he began to sink. I suggest that Peter’s faith functioned as a bridge spanning the water separating Jesus and the boat of the disciples. Peter’s faith was the bridge that allowed him not only to reach his destination but to walk on water to get there. Just as faith was the connecting link between Peter and Jesus, our faith can join us to Jesus as well. It does not matter how deep the troubled sea of our lives may be, faith is our unseen bridge linking us to our Lord. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Although “we walk by faith, not by sight,” according to II Corinthians 5:7, we still have a bridge to walk upon that connects us with Jesus!

golden-gate-bridge-viewWith faith as our bridge, I propose that we can also become a bridge. In Ezekiel 22: 30, the Lord says, “I looked for someone among them who would … stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it,…” The two “land masses” that needed joining by a bridge in this scripture are Jesus and unbelievers. This bridge must have two lanes for traffic with one lane going each direction. One lane brings the unbeliever before the Lord and the other lane brings the Lord to the unbeliever. God created us to be that bridge by our functioning as intercessors and witnesses. As intercessors, we bring others before the Lord in prayer presenting the individuals and their needs to Him. As witnesses, we introduce others to the Lord by sharing our testimony of how the Lord has worked in our lives. It is amazing how we can become a bridge standing in the gap by interceding in prayer and by witnessing through our testimony!

golden-gate-bridge-viewWhen I look back to my original definition of a bridge, I realize that bridges are designed by man. The Golden Gate Bridge was built by men over 75 years ago, yet it still stands today. When I compare Peter’s faith to a bridge, I understand that faith was something “built into” Peter during the three years he spent with Jesus and the other disciples. He grew in his understanding of the Lord and that deepened a relationship that resulted in faith which functioned as a bridge for him. While encouraging us to be bridges through interceding and witnessing, I recognize that it takes time and experience for us to grow in our prayer life and develop our testimony. These reflections remind me of the following words by John Piper, “The word bridge does not occur in the Bible. There may be two reasons. One is that God doesn’t build bridges, he divides seas. The other is that usually his people must pass through the deadly currents of suffering and death, not simply ride over them. ‘when you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you (Isaiah 43:2).” So I conclude by saying, God does not build bridges as physical structures, but that does not mean He will not use us as bridges. However, He will only use us as bridges after we have passed through rough waters and experienced the need of a bridge.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

Who Can Do All Things?

Today, the phrase “can do all things” catches my attention. With my Bible in hand, I decide to go exploring through God’s Word. Let me share a few scriptural correlations I  find regarding this phrase.

job-42-2-bible-hub“I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
Job 42:2

Many scholars believe that Job was the first recorded book of the Bible. Consequently, I feel that one of the first messages God wants to reveal to us is that He is sovereign.  Through the life of Job, we can see and hear that God can do all things and that His purposes cannot be thwarted. God is always with us and He is aware of everything that happens to us. God does not cause difficulties but He does allow them. In Job 1, we read the conversation God had with satan that resulted in the trials of Job’s life. Throughout this book of scripture, Job experiences the loss of his possessions, children and health. Several chapters are devoted to the conversations between Job and his “friends.” For me, these exchanges of words appear to be more of a trial than a help. To summarize, we can say that Job encountered financial, physical and relational problems. Are these not the same areas where we face our challenges of life? I believe that through Job’s story God emphasizes to us that no matter what the nature of our problems, He is with us. Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” God is sovereign!

After going through these all these trials, Job was able to say to God, “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. Job 42:2. In context, Job is proclaiming to God that he is fully aware of the fact that He can do anything and that His plans and purposes cannot be prevented. My Reader, do you have the same confidence in the Lord as Job? Can you and I be encouraged through Job’s story to the extent that we are able to personalize this verse and affirm, “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted”?

I am prompted to think about Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Notice the phrase “all things.”) Although Job encountered many difficulties, we learn by the end of the book that “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first.” Job 42:12. Personally, Job prospered and received twice as much as he previously had possessed.  He was blessed with more children and he lived a full life to be an old man. For us, our prosperity may come in lessons of life we learn rather than just material possessions. How we embrace challenges may be an encouragement to others and allow them to also comprehend the sovereignty of God. Testings and trials may be difficult but the results are often a deeper relationship with God. When we love the Lord regardless of our circumstances and stand firm in our faith, we are promised God’s great rewards.

phil-4-13-bible-hubI can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13

In the Old Testament we have read that God can do all things. Now in the New Testament, we read that we can do all things. Whoa! I thought it was powerful that God could do all things, but now I am overwhelmed that I too can do all things! However, I can do all things only through the strength given to me by Christ. Listen to Paul’s words in II Corinthians 12:9-10. Paul begins by saying that the Lord said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Then he goes on to state, “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” We discover that Paul is declaring the sovereignty of God in verse 10 just as Job affirmed God’s sovereignty in Job 42:2. In our strength, we may not be able to achieve everything but when we rely upon the strength God gives to us, we will succeed.

One more scripture comes to my mind. This time I turn to Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (The phrase “all things” is not used but “in very situation” has a similar meaning.)  There will be times when we will feel weak and worrisome, but God desires for us to turn our worries into prayers because He has a plan that cannot be thwarted when we rely upon  His help. Through prayer, especially when we remember to give God thanks, He will place a peace in our hearts that is beyond our comprehension. Strength and peace are two gifts available to us from God. There is no need for us to worry about our possessions, our families, our relationships or our health because God already knows what we are encountering and how He can best use our situations for His glory. He will help us do all things. This is how our sovereign God rules and reigns!

My Reader, enjoy the rest of your day. May you say with Job, “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” and may you also proclaim, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new