Trusting to Jump into the Pool of Life

While spending the night at a motel, we walked past the swimming pool and observed the following scene. A father was encouraging his small daughter to jump into the water. Actually, Dad was inviting the girl to jump into his arms because the father was already in the water. The little lass was hesitant because the water was much deeper in this location than where she had previously been playing in the shallow end of the pool. The father was asking his child to trust him and take a risk. It would be fun. Although this was not an unusual interaction to be happening during a family swim time, the Lord asked me to look more closely as He wanted to reveal something to me through this encounter.

The young girl playing in the shallow water was enjoying herself but the father wanted to interact more personally with his daughter. He desired to be closer to her. Maybe he wanted to teach his daughter how to swim or help her overcome a fear of deep water. Our Heavenly Father has a similar yearning for us. Although attending a worship service on Sunday mornings has value for us as believers, God longs for a deeper personal relationship with each of us. (Exodus 20:8 says, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Hebrews 10:25 NLT says, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another.”) God does not want us to be content to only “play church” for a couple of hours every Sunday. This represents a person with a shallow faith. Our Heavenly Father holds out His arms asking each of us to trust Him and jump with both feet into a commitment of living with Him and for Him 24/7. (John 3:16-17,36 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.)

Let’s create a spiritual setting for our swimming scenario with our Heavenly Father. He invites us to jump into the pool of life with Him. Isaiah 51:15-16 says, “For I am the LORD your God, who stirs up the sea and its waves roar – the LORD Almighty is His name. I have put My words in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of My hand, to establish the heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’”

Are we, as believers, ready to jump into a deeper relationship with our Heavenly Father? Deuteronomy 33:27 says, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” These are safe arms waiting for us! In case, we fear something unsafe might happen after we jump, Isaiah 50:1 assures us, “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.” When we jump into the arms of our Heavenly Father, we have the opportunity to jump into the His Word. We can trust our Heavenly Father because of promises He has given us.

I want to encourage you to quit playing in the shallow end of faith and jump into a deeper relationship with God. Let me share with you some scriptures that will give you confidence to trust our Heavenly Father with your life.

The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
Psalm 145:18

He will not let your foot slip–
He who watches over you will not slumber;
Psalm 121:3

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,
for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.
Psalm 56:3

I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation.
Psalm 13:5

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

Joyfully,
Cheryl

 

*Click on image to find the credit for appropriate image.

Anchored to Hope

While HOPE is one of my favorite topics to blog about, I have chosen to emphasize it today in honor of a dear friend of mine, Judy, who went to be with Jesus a year ago in April. June 17 was her birthday on earth, and while she is celebrating that day in heaven now, I want to honor her with the following insights regarding HOPE. She anchored her faith to hope throughout her illness. The anchor with a yellow ribbon pictured above, was given to each of us at her celebration of life service. I still cling to this anchor pin as well as to the spiritual promises of hope.

In the bigger picture, the view from which Judy now experiences it, hope is the eternal full manifestation of eternity with God. Our eternal hope is promised in Revelation 21:4, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” But in the meantime, we walk by faith and not by sight because according to Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

My Reader, what comes to your mind when you hear the word HOPE? Do you perceive hope as a fluffy, flimsy desire floating through your mind or do you picture hope as an anchor uniting with faith in your heart? We often have trouble describing hope because it is invisible. There is an anonymous quote that says, “Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.” A scriptural definition of hope is found in Romans 8:24-25, “But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

Although HOPE is invisible, I want us to envision the anchor as a picturesque image of hope.
Hebrews 6:19 states, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Sarah Young says in Jesus Calling, “A good way to remain anchored to Jesus is to whisper His name as often as needed. We can pray and proclaim “Jesus, You are my HOPE!’”

With this in mind, I have created an acronym for HOPE that elaborates upon four descriptions of the Lord that will help us understand why He is the One in whom we must put our hope and trust.

H.O.P.E.

H = Helper – Zechariah 4:6
John 14:26 NASV says, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” In this verse, Holy Spirit comes from the Latin term paraclete that means advocate or helper. II Corinthians 5:7 tells us to walk by faith and not by sight, but as human beings this is hard for us to do. We tend to want to follow what we see and what we know in our heads, so we need the assistance of the Holy Spirit to help us secure HOPE deep in our hearts.
In Zechariah 4:6, the Lord Almighty declares that victory is attained “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit.” So, with this assurance, we can assume that Helper is an accurate word for the letter H in our acronym for HOPE. Only as the Holy Spirit helps us, can we grasp the assurance of hope.

O = Omniscient – Isaiah 55:8-9
Omniscience is defined as “the state of having total knowledge, the quality of knowing everything.” Although God is beyond our full understanding, He is omniscient. He is sovereign and knows all about all His creation. We serve a God who thinks about our lives, our world, and Yis creation on a completely different level than even the smartest human being can think. Psalm 147:5 says, “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit.”
With this in mind, I have chosen Isaiah 55:8-9 as our scripture to describe how the omniscience of God is appropriate for the letter O in our acronym for HOPE. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

P = Perfect – Jeremiah 29:11
Psalm 18:30 begins by saying, “As for God, His way is perfectand Deuteronomy 32:4 declares,His works are perfect.” God is the only one who is perfect, being without sin or weakness. As I looked for a definition of perfect I read such phrases as “complete and right in every way; having nothing wrong” – “exactly right for a particular purpose or situation” – “being entirely without fault or defect.” I also think of the hymn Holy, Holy, Holy that describes the Lord as being “perfect in power, love, and purity.” God is the only one who is perfect!
When I want a reason to have hope in God, perfection is a good choice of words to use for the letter P in the acronym for HOPE. Jeremiah 29:11 supports this by stating, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’

E = Emmanuel – Deuteronomy 31:8
When the angel announces that Mary will conceive a child by the Holy Spirit and have a son, it is declared in Matthew 1:23 that they shall call His name Emmanuel which is translated “God with us.” This is a fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14. In Genesis 28:15 the Lord says, “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.” Not only does He promise to be with us but He also promises to watch over us! So, if God is with us, we can rely upon His help because of what we previously said about the Holy Spirit being our Helper. And, we can trust His help because God is omniscient and perfect, also based on previous statements.
T
he choice of Emmanuel as an applicable word for the letter E of our acronym for HOPE is supported by the scripture found in Deuteronomy 31:8, “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” It has been said that “Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.”

The anchor of HOPE prevented death from having a hold on Judy. I desire the anchor of hope to prevent hopelessness from having a hold on me. To us, our situation may look hopeless, but according to Mark 10:27, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” I like the New Living Translation of Hebrews 11:1 that says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” These are the words upon which I desire to anchor my heart to God’s heart.

I want to conclude by extending to all of you the message of Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

 

Living in the Land of In-Between

 

between

The story of the Israelites being led out of Egypt into the Promised Land of Canaan is recorded in the books of Exodus, Numbers and Joshua. The accounts tell of a 40 year journey that should have taken only 11 days. Where were the Israelites during these 40 years? They were wandering and waiting in the wilderness. They were in the Land of In-Between. They were between Egypt and Canaan. What happened in the lives of the Israelites between Egypt and the Promised Land?

What took place for the Israelites back in 1436 BC still has significance for us in 2016 AD. I believe the experiences of God’s chosen people 1400 years before Christ was born were a foreshadow of what we will encounter over 2000 years since Christ was born. We live in the shadow of the Israelites and I want to learn from their experiences on both the physical and spiritual levels. Let’s look at some details.

The Israelites were in slavery and bondage in the physical land of Egypt. From the spiritual perspective, Egypt is often considered a symbol of sin. As human beings we are born into the bondage of our sinful human nature. Moses was sent to deliver God’s people out of Egypt and lead them into the Promised Land of freedom. God sent His Son, Jesus, to deliver us from sin. When we accept Jesus as our Savior (He saves us from sin) and Lord (He rules our lives and guides us in the freedom He purchased for us through His death), we travel from our personal Egypt to our Canaan. Our Promised Land is where we will dwell with God throughout eternity. Jesus says in John 14:2-3, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” So, if we have a personal relationship with Jesus, where are we? Like the Israelites, we are in the wilderness, the Land of In-Between. The Israelites sojourned there for 40 years. We will dwell in the wilderness, or the Land of In-Between, throughout of our earthly lives.

Join me as we look at some scriptures relating to the Israelites and to us. Let’s apply their experiences to our journey in the Land of In-Between.

First, God was with the Israelites throughout their journey in the wilderness and He made His presence known through the cloud during the day and the pillar of fire at night.
The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
Exodus 13:21-22
Today, Christ lives in us and we have the help of the Holy Spirit.
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Colossians 1:27
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
John 14:26

Second, as their leader, Moses could always talk with God and seek His guidance and direction.
The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.
Exodus 33:11
Each of us can personally talk with God anytime we want. This is our privilege of prayer.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6

Third, God provided food in the form of manna for the Israelites each day. The Israelites set a good example for us in that they gathered their frosty flakes in the morning to give them nourishment throughout the day.
Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.
Exodus 16:4
God has made provision for our spiritual manna in the form of scripture that we can feed on every day. May we remember to take time to gain new spiritual insight when our minds are fresh in the morning.
like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
I Peter 2:2-3

Fourth, the soles of the Israelites’ sandals did not wear out even though they wore them for 40 years.
Yet the LORD says, “During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet.
Deuteronomy 29:5
God watches over us so that our souls will not wear out for the duration of our journey in the Land of In-Between.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
I Corinthians 10:13

My Reader, every day of our lives is spent in the Land of In-Between waiting for Jesus to return so we can live with Him throughout eternity. While we are on the journey to this Promised Land, each of us will experience specific times of waiting that bring our attention to the fact that in a narrower sense we are also living in the Land of In-Between. We will feel like we are in the wilderness wandering and waiting. Life can be rather wild in the wilderness! The trials of some trails are more difficult than others. Maybe you have lost your job and you are waiting to find new employment. Maybe you are waiting for results from a medical test that will reveal whether or not you have cancer. Maybe you are waiting to see whether your spouse will go to marriage counseling with you or if you will be served divorce papers. You can give a name to the situation that accentuates your waiting in the Land of In-Between today. I know it is frustrating to wait. However, there are lessons God can only teach us in this Land of In-Between. The Israelites traveled around Mt. Sinai many times during their 40 years of waiting to cross over into the land of Canaan. So I encourage you to take another trip around your mountain or sit at the foot of your Mt. Sinai until the Lord reveals your next travels. Remember Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” The Lord will make our paths straight even when we are waiting and wavering in the wilderness of the Land of In-Between!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

Note: The phrase about the land of the in-between resonated in my spirit when I first heard it. I do not know if there is a specific person to whom I should give credit for these descriptive words or not. However, I do know that what I have shared in this post are insights the Lord gave me when I thought about and prayed about the Land of In-Between.

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

“Innkeeper” or “In Keeper”?

manger mf sign open mf

sign no vacancy mf

I know Christmas is still a couple of weeks away so maybe I am rushing the season by reading the account of Jesus’ birth in the Bible already, but maybe not.  I am making Christmas preparations within our home so it is appropriate that I also prepare my heart to celebrate Christmas.  Today as I was reading Luke 2:4-7, I began to think about Joseph and the innkeeper.  I focused upon the fact in verse 7 that there was no room in the inn and yet Jesus was still born on the premises of the innkeeper.

 When Joseph asked the innkeeper for a room in his dwelling, he was told that the inn was full and there was no room for anyone else. However, the innkeeper did answer Joseph’s request to a degree when he gave this couple, who was soon to be a family of three, a place in his stable.  He did not completely ignore Joseph.  It would have been nice if Jesus could have been born in the warmth of a cozy room, but a stable was better than an unprotected spot beside the road.  If the innkeeper had known who was asking for a room, I wonder if his answer would have been different.  What if the innkeeper had known he was closing the door on Emmanuel?   What might have happened if the innkeeper would have made room somewhere inside the inn or if he had even given up his own room and allowed Jesus to be born within his heart and home?

 It is not Joseph, but Jesus Himself, who each morning stands at the door of my life and knocks asking if I have room in my heart where His will for my day can be given birth and life.  I have the choice as to how I will respond.  Will I be so busy that I do not even hear the knock at the door?  Will I be like the innkeeper over 2000 years ago and give Him only limited access to my life?  Or will I totally surrender my day to Him and let Him have control? Jesus desires a place in my heart rather than just a scratchy bed of straw in a manger.  Am I like the innkeeper or do I keep Jesus in the center of my life?  I really do not want to settle for less than Emmanuel, God with me, this Christmas season.

I guess I need to make my questions even more relevant for my situation today.  If Joseph came knocking on our front door today, would I have room in the busyness of my preparing our home for the holidays to invite Joseph and Mary into our home?  Would I be aware of Mary’s pregnancy and who the baby was that she was carrying?  Would I move aside my boxes of Christmas decorations on the sofa so they could sit down?  Would I offer them a cup of coffee and some Christmas cookies I had baked?  Would I be sensitive enough to the leading of the Holy Spirit that I would know Jesus was here?

 My Reader, what about you?  How do you answer the request of Jesus to be born into your life and to reside within your heart?  Do you deny his plea for a place of priority in your heart or do you delegate him to a safe place where you can say you have not shunned him and yet you do not unreservedly allow Him to interfere with your personal plans? Jesus wants to be born into your life and to find a place of warmth and acceptance and adoration in your heart.  Listen for the leading of the Holy Spirit today and throughout this Christmas season.

Joyfully,
Cheryl

 Question for the week:  Are you an “innkeeper” or an “in keeper” of Jesus?

Smoothies Made Smoothly

Our daughter-in-law has started the tradition of their having fruit smoothies for their family‘s Saturday morning breakfast.  The family looks forward to this nutritious treat.  Right now since it is summertime, something cool and refreshing to drink is especially appealing to me whether it is Saturday morning or not.  I also have a spiritual thirst needs to be satisfied. So, my Reader, I would like to share a couple of recipes with you.  The first is one that Amy has given to me from a cookbook and the second one is found in Galatians 5:22-23 of the Bible.

apple smoothie mfRecipe for Refreshing Apple Smoothie
2 small containers of vanilla yogurt
1 large apple – peeled or not (depending on your preference)
1 cup of apple juice, made into ice cubes and crushed
1 frozen banana
pinch or 2 of cinnamon

Combine the yogurt and apples in a blender.  Add the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth.

This recipe serves 4 people but can be adapted for more or less servings.

*Taken (but slightly modified) from Super Smoothies by Barber and Whiteford

fruit of spirit link pdRecipe for Fruit of the Spirit Smoothie
love . . . . . . . . . . . . . . forbearance . . . . . . . . . . . . . faithfulness
joy. . . . . . . .  .   . . .  . kindness  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . gentleness
peace . . . . . . . . . . . . goodness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . self-control

Live your life by walking in the Spirit and the fruit listed above will be produced in your life.  No ingredient will be lacking.

This recipe serves 1 person or it can be multiplied many times to serve as many people as desired.

*Taken (but slightly modified) from Galatians 5:16, 22-23 NIV

As I compare these two recipes for fruit smoothies, there are several observations that I want to share with you. The extraordinary thing about the recipe for the Fruit of the Spirit is that the action of walking or blending is the first thing that occurs and then the ingredients are produced.  This is different from any other recipe I have ever made.  Most always ingredients are measured and then combined.  Here the ingredients are the fruit, or the results. I do not know exactly what the fruit of the Spirit looks like compared to an apple, but I do know that this spiritual fruit portrays the multifaceted nature of God. It reflects the spirit and character of God who is holy, complete and perfect. This spiritual smoothie is what is produced in me when I live and walk in the power of Holy Spirit.  This is delicious!

When I picture a fruit smoothie, I think of a medley of fruit flavors blended together to create a unique taste.  Apples, strawberries, peaches etc. – each is good by itself.  However, there is a brand-new flavor and texture when all are combined.  It is the same with the spiritual smoothie.  All nine ingredients, or character traits, are combined to produce a unique fruit.  This personality will be evident in an individual walking in the Spirit.  The outgrowth of this complete mixture is different from a personality exhibiting only one or two of these traits.

While comparing these two recipes, another thing I notice is that although there are nine “ingredients” listed in the recipe for the Fruit of the Spirit, they are referred to as a singular fruit rather than plural fruits.  This spiritual fruit is all-inclusive; all nine characteristics or ingredients are evident.  Caution:  there is no picking and choosing of what traits are found in this fruit.  This fruit is the outcome of living in the power of the Holy Spirit.  With a fruit smoothie, the results are evident after the fruits are blended together. 

I also become aware of another difference between natural and spiritual smoothies.  Substitutions are more readily accepted in the natural realm than in the spiritual realm.  When I asked Amy for a recipe for a fruit smoothie, I asked for one including apples because apples are emphasized in my blog.  However, I would encourage you to try your own substitutions with the recipe.  How about using various kinds of summer berries or different flavors of yogurt?  My Reader, you and I can be as creative as we desire with this type of recipe.

I want to point out one more difference between these two recipes. When the Fruit of the Spirit Smoothie is produced, there are no specific quantities listed for each “ingredient” while there are exact measurements for each item used to make the Refreshing Apple Smoothie.  The consistency would be quite different if the ratios between the fruit and yogurt were significantly altered.  For a fruit smoothie, each ingredient needs to be increased or decreased proportionally.  For the Fruit of the Spirit, I expect that the proportions of the nine “ingredients” may vary according to the personalities of  the people are who make up this particular group.  I Corinthians 12:27 says, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”  If the spiritual smoothie is produced by the body of Christ, some of the people (myself included) may need to be “beat up” a bit to be blended with other Christians to show the true nature of Christ. I tend to think that although all nine qualities will be found in each person in a specific group of believers, each person may contribute a different amount of each facet of the fruit.  For example, I may be more patient than someone else while another person may be more joyful.  These differences in personalities, will make it harder for some people to blend together than others. Hmmm!  I wonder which recipe will need the most blending for the best smoothie that is refreshing and satisfying to the natural body and the spiritual body?  Whether people or fruit are involved, consistency can require patience and time.  These smoothie recipes share some similarities, but there are also many differences.

My Reader, is it time for you to satisfy your spiritual and physical hunger and thirst with both spiritual and natural fruit smoothies?  I have given you a couple of recipes.  Now it is your turn to blend them up.  Enjoy!  

Joyfully,golden apple #2(MF)
Cheryl                   

But God!!!

But God!                  But God!                   But God!                   But God
  

                  But God!                  But God!                   But God!

My Reader, what comes to your mind when you hear the phrase But God that I used in the title of my blog for today?  It can be taken as an argumentative phrase or a phrase of exaltation.  I will have to admit that I have used these words from both perspectives.  Let me explain.

When I am facing a challenge or a difficult situation, one of the things I like to do is to find a few scripture verses to claim during this time of turmoil.  However, I sometimes have trouble fully standing on God’s Word.  For example, Matthew 7:7&8 says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” So, I ask, seek and knock being fully aware that God is hearing my requests.  However, I do not stop with just these words.  I add, but God I really want an answer now!  I want clear direction for what I am to do.  Why am I not hearing from You?”  Another verse I might claim is Psalm 56:11, “In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?”Hear how I might respond, “Yes, God, according to Psalm 56:11, I am trusting You and I do not want to be afraid, but God this situation is different and I am afraid! Show me that I can trust You by answering my prayer in a positive way now!”  I believe, and yet there is an element of unbelief.  I read James 1:6-8 which says, “ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.  For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”  Hmmm.  I don’t want to be double-minded, so what can I do?  I find another scripture where I identify with the man who cried out to Jesus saying in Mark 9:24, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” As I ask the Lord to help my unbelief, I discover that I am able to remove the phrase but God from my vocabulary and I am able to ask, seek and knock with a trusting attitude and not be fearful.  For me, but God is no longer an argumentative phrase but is now a phrase of exaltation unto the Lord.

How can but Godbecome a phrase of exaltation?  To answer my own question, I turn to the story in Genesis 37-50 of Joseph and how he was treated by his brothers.  Summarizing the events of his life, Joseph concludes by telling his brothers in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Joseph was a man of great faith who was able to comprehend how God worked in both the good and the bad experiences of his life. Paul later confirms this attitude of faith when he says in 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.”

I have a friend who has a wonderful testimony about how God has worked in her life and she often uses the phrase but Godwhen relating her story.  Shortly after she and her husband moved to a different state, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She did not know anyone with breast cancer at that time.  Her treatment included a double mastectomy, a second surgery, and 8 chemo treatments followed by 5 years of chemo drugs.  I now quote her, “But God ….intended it for GOOD: Thus ‘Women Of Hope’ Cancer Support Group was started about 7 years ago.”  She also told me of the death of her twin brother when they were only 46 years old.  Again I quote her, “But God…..intended it for GOOD: God called me into AIDS Ministry. I started a grief support group for mothers in my home for 9 years. Where else could mothers go to weep & talk about their sons & daughters in the late 1980’s? Thus, I was an AIDS spokeswoman for 12 years. Our GOD is Good & Faithful! He took me through these dark nights.”

After reading God’s Word and hearing my friend’s personal testimony, how can I not exclaimBut God!” in a positive tone?  How can I even think of arguing with God by assuming I have any right to ask, But God? My faith is strengthened and, at least at this moment, I proclaim and identify with Job 42:1, “I know that you (the Lord) can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.”

How about you, my Reader? Do the same feelings arise in you now that you had when you first read But God as the title of my blog?golden apple #2(MF)

Joyfully,
Cheryl

Challenge for the week:  Exalt the Lord at least one time this week by using the phrase But God in a positive way during a conversation with a friend.

                 But God!                 But God!                 But God!

But God!                          But God!                But God!                 But God!