God’s Recipe for Lemonade

We have all heard the quote, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” It is a phrase of encouragement for anyone who is encountering difficulty in life. Lemons taste sour, and so can adversity. A verse of scripture that we can apply to this concept is Romans 12:21, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” The evil would be the lemons while the good is the lemonade. So, how do we make lemonade? I want to share with you God’s recipe for His revitalizing spiritual drink while also using a recipe of a common refreshing summertime drink.

Lemonade requires only three ingredients: lemons, sugar and water. The first ingredient I want to consider is the lemon. If life gives me a lemon, I have to do something with it in order to make lemonade. I cannot just put the whole lemon into a glass with some sugar and water. Initially, the lemon must be cut to enable me to access the fruit. I need a knife, so I take the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God according to Ephesians 6:17. God’s Word helps me to cut through all my bitter and difficult experiences. Next I squeeze the lemon to extract the juice. Romans 16:20 says, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” Crushing reminds me of squeezing. God’s peace squeezes out the sourness within my disposition. The lemon juice is now available.

To the juice I add sugar. Sugar adds sweetness to the tartness of the lemon. I find sweetness depicted in scripture as love. Summarizing I Corinthians 13: 4-7, love is described as being patient, kind and not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, nor is it provoked. Love does not take into account a wrong suffered but rather rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Then Luke 6:35 tells me to love my enemies. The sweetness of sugar and love counteracts the sourness of lemons and hatred caused by my enemies.

Water is the primary ingredient of lemonade. In Revelation 22:17, the water of life is described as a free gift. And in John 7:38, Jesus says, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” Here is the water to be combined with lemon juice and sugar to complete our lemonade.

Lemons suggest sourness or difficulty in life, while lemonade is a sweet drink. Jesus says in John 16:33 NLT, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” This suggests that we can expect to find some lemons during our lives, but we also have the assurance that the Lord will take these sour pieces of fruit and help us make lemonade. According to Philippians 4:13, “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength” – that includes making lemonade! Romans 8:28 confirms, “that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” God will help us make lemonade out of our lemons of life. So, do not become bitter when you encounter a sour experience but remember Romans 8:37 NLT, “Despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” The Lord has a glass of sweet spiritual lemonade for you rather than a sour lemon! “Taste and see that the LORD is good,” Psalm 34:8.

Joyfully,
Cheryl

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HOPE helps me COPE

 

hope-bWe have a granddaughter named Hope who is the manifestation of the HOPE that helped our son and daughter-in-law COPE during a difficult time. It was discovered that they were not able to get pregnant because Amy had a tumor on her pituitary glad that was preventing her body from functioning properly. Although they had to COPE with a time of delicate brain surgery etc., their unwavering HOPE in the Lord was rewarded with the birth of their daughter, Hope.

Before I continue to share my insights, I want to clarify some definitions. The Hebrew word “tavah” translated HOPE means “to wait for” or “to look hopefully” in a particular direction. HOPE is an expectation, something yearned for and eagerly anticipated. However, it is also something for which one must wait. The Greek word for HOPE is “elpis” and is defined as a confident expectation based on solid certainty. This type of HOPE is derived from God’s promises. The other word I want to explain is COPE that is defined as the ability to deal effectively with something difficult. Manage and survive as listed as synonyms. With biblical HOPE on my side, I desire to more than survive when I encounter difficult times in my life. HOPE helps me do more than just COPE! When I mention HOPE, I am not just thinking about something I am “wishing for,” but my HOPE is firmly rooted in the person, work and promises of Jesus Christ.

A question most of us ask at some point is, “Why does God allow me to be in situations where I find it difficult to COPE?” Romans 5:3-5 says, “we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Yes, there will be tribulations that I need to COPE with, but there will also be character traits formed within me during these times as the Holy Spirit builds HOPE within me

In the novel Two Steps Forward by Sharon Garlough Brown, there is a character who says she refused to HOPE because she was afraid of being let down by others and/or by God. She refused to get her “hopes” up because she did not want to be disappointed. Her reasoning was that if she set her hopes low she would be pleasantly surprised if something good happened. She went on to suggest that her lack of HOPE might have been a way of her hardening her heart because she was resisting the love of God that has been generously poured out by the Holy Spirit. She emphasized that God’s love was poured out, not measured out by teaspoons. I like this as a description of the abundance of HOPE being poured into our lives to help us COPE. HOPE does not assure me of a specific outcome, but it does promise me God’s help to COPE. The writer of Romans 8:38-39 states, “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” That is the kind of HOPE that makes it possible for me to COPE!

Paul says in Philippians 3:10, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” I gained new insight regarding this verse when I recently read Frappe with Philippians by Sandra B Gleann. I do not have to wait for extreme persecution to share in Christ’s sufferings. In every trial I endure, I fellowship in His sufferings because He is with us throughout my struggles. Christ had to COPE with death upon the cross. And, He did this so that all of us now have the HOPE of resurrection power being released into our lives to help us get through our difficulties whether that may entail a strained relationship, a health diagnosis, a financial need or whatever. Each of us can articulate our own situation in which we need HOPE to COPE. I cling to the promise of Psalm 30:5 that says, “weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” The HOPE of joy in the morning helps me COPE with the night’s tears.

I encourage my readers to read the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3. I want to quote just a couple of verses. Daniel 3:23-25, But these three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, fell into the midst of the furnace of blazing fire still tied up. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and stood up in haste; he said to his high officials, Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire? They replied to the king, Certainly, O king. He said, Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods! This story helps me visualize that the Lord is with me in my fiery trials. His presence not only gives me HOPE but it also assures me of His presence to help me COPE. My Reader, the Lord is there for you as well as for me. Oh, the joy we can feel when we realize the truth of Romans 8:37, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” We are more than conquerors! We have HOPE to help us COPE!

 Joyfully,
Cheryl
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