Obey God Rather Than Men

Acts 5.29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men

This was the apostles’ response to the council and high priest when asked, “Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name?” (v 28) and the apostles were correct.

Sometimes it is easy to remember this verse when faced with a BIG, clear directive in opposition to God’s Word, when obeying that directive sends clanging warning bells.

To how big or how little a thing does this apply?

What about peer pressure? What about advice from a trusted friend? What about when your boss hints that a task should be done ~this~ way? How about a spouse’s suggestion that’s a bit “off?” What about that television show? What about when everyone else in church thinks this is the way to go? What about when the pressure to do something is tremendous, and you think you have no choice?

How faithful and obedient can a person be to God in every. little. thing? Do we even stop to consider? Do we, like the Bereans did (Acts 17.11), stop to examine the Scriptures to see whether these things are so?

When we don’t examine God’s Word, when we don’t have our daily devotionals and time with God, we can quite easily go singing merrily along in our own power and the power of the culture that surrounds us – bombards us, even. The more we stray from God’s Word, the easier it becomes to stray even more.

Be grounded in the Bible. Read it every day. Compare what you hear, what you believe to be true, with what God has to say about it. Pray before, while, and after you read; pray the Holy Spirit will guide and interpret to your poor mind what the truth is in any given situation.

In big things and small, God always blesses obedience. Always. You may conjure up consequences to your actions, but God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3.20). Trust Him.

Then go forth, and obey God rather than men.

Recipe Friday: Easy Apple Pie-ish

I had the apples

I had the spices

I had the pie dough

I had the appliances.

 

I had the time

I had the space

I had the oven,

I had the place.

 

I had all I needed

Except the ambition

So here is the –ish part

Of my creation.

Ingredients:

  • 2 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into wedges
  • 1 prepared pie crust dough, thawed
  • Sucanat (or sugar, or brown sugar)
  • Spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice
  • Butter (about 2 tablespoons), shredded or cut into itty-bitty pieces

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spread dough out flat onto a rimmed baking sheet.
  • Arrange apple slices onto dough.
  • Sprinkle with sugar and sprinkle with spices.
  • Sprinkle with butter pieces.
  • Bake 35 minutes, until crust is golden.
  • To serve: Tear off portions and eat by hand; or slice and serve on plates. Ice cream might be good with it. Or maybe cheese.

To my surprise, this was SO GOOD!

Faithful in That Which is Least

Are you faithful in the little things?

Little things:

  • Did you get your daily chores finished before you went to bed, or did you leave some undone so that you could do stuff that may not have been on God’s list?
  • Were you faithful in showing love to your spouse and children?
  • Did you return that little item? You don’t know exactly how it ended up with you, but you know where it goes.
  • Did you spend quality time with God?
  • Did you rejoice in the day the Lord has made, or did you grouse?
  • Did you remember to thank God for all things?
  • Were you respectful to others, counting them as more important than yourself?
  • Did you walk and speak with integrity all the day long?
  • Were your words needed and edifying? How about your facial expressions?
  • Were you wise with your resources: time, money, gifts/talents?

If we are not faithful in the little things, that is an indicator that our faith is small.

God trains our faith. Notice the disciples. In Luke 17, Jesus is in the midst of teaching them about temptations, trespasses, and forgiveness. As happens so many times with the apostles and with us, they were cloudy as to the meaning of Jesus’ Words. Verse 5: And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.

One of the first and most important lessons in faith-training is to read God’s Word. He tells us to pray that He will increase our faith.

Pray God to increase your faith.

Also in God’s Word are hundreds of examples for us to follow or learn from:

Noah, by faith, built the ark that saved humanity. He probably did not jump into faith the moment God called him to start collecting gopher wood. Like all of us, he started by being faithful in the little things.

I’m guessing Abram, when he was little, had many little lessons in faith. In adulthood, he was able to, in faith, fully obey his God. How? Abraham had learned that God is always faithful, that God always loved him, and that God would always protect him.

Joseph’s faith was tested in his teens when his brothers sold him into slavery. He was faithful in Potiphar’s house, he was faithful in prison (remember that part about thanking God for all things?), and he was faithful as a high ruler in Egypt. Here, too, Joseph probably had much faith-training as he grew up, and was rewarded time and again for that growing faith.

David was called the Friend of God. He learned as a boy how faithful God is, and he carried that with him all his life.

Study the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11. All these people were able to look back on their own lives. What did they see first? The faith of God. And they could see what God had worked through them.

Faith does not come easily. God has designed us so that we learn through trials, tribulations, and struggles. It has to be that way because our flesh is so strong, and we must learn to put away the flesh.

James 1.2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Allow perseverance to finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

AND – look what God can do through those who are faithful!

In the Bible, we get to see the results of the faithful work of others. Every once in a while, God gives us a peek at the results of our own faithfulness (I love it when He does that!). We know not what God intends when we carry out His tasks, when we are faithful stewards with the resources He gives us. Sometimes we get a peek at the results when we are not faithful.   Arrrghh!  Those are faith-lessons, too.

Are you faithful in the little things? Is your faith increasing? What is God showing you about faith?

Hebrews 11.6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Recipe Friday: Beef Stroganoff Pressure Cooked

We’ve got a blizzard going on in our neck of the woods. This calls for comfort food.

I know, I know, stroganoff automatically goes over noodles, right? Well, you can do it that way, but this household likes potatoes. Hey, you can even serve it over rice or quinoa or whole grain barley or not over anything.

The Instant Pot (or a pressure cooker) and the coffee make the meat tender. The sherry or red wine adds “depth of flavor,” as I hear in all the cooking shows (well, it makes it better is what it does).

Ingredients:

1 pound beef stew meat, cut into bite-size pieces

1 medium onion, diced

1 tablespoon (heaping) minced garlic

1 cup strong brewed coffee

spices to taste: cloves, basil, paprika, parsley, celery seed

salt to taste

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup cooking sherry or red wine

1 tablespoon tamari sauce

1 cup hot water

1/2 – 1 cup instant potato flakes

1/2 cup sour cream

hot mashed potatoes

 

Directions:

Set pressure cooker to sauté. Sauté onions and beef until browned. In the last five minutes, add garlic.
Add just a bit of the coffee, and stir up the browned bits.
Add the rest of the coffee, the hot water, the spices, salt, Worcestershire sauce, tamari, and sherry or red wine. Stir.
Push Cancel. Put the lid on, and seal.
Set the Instant Pot to meat/stew, set for 20 minutes.
At the end of the 20 minutes, allow natural pressure release for at least ten minutes. After ten or fifteen minutes, release the pressure. Remove the lid.
Stir in the potato flakes: add enough to thicken. (This should be a bit thicker than you want it to end up, as it thins out a bit after you add the sour cream.)
Push Sauté, and let the mixture come to a low simmer.
Turn off the Instant Pot.
Stir in the sour cream; stir until completely incorporated.
Serve over hot mashed potatoes.

I’m Better than You Because _____

Our Sunday School class has been going through some of 1 Corinthians. The theme recently has been division. Everything we read about and discussed from the Book was relevant to today.

The culture of the city of Corinth was that of a divided economic status. [I think of what I’ve heard of India and the caste system: whatever order you are born into is the order you stay in for life.] The wealthy of Corinth could pretty much do as they pleased (and they did) without concern for losing status. The poor of the same city could do whatever they were able, and never leave their poverty or circumstances. Into whichever level you were born, you expected to stay there always. It was accepted and understood, and no one considered mingling with others of a variant status.

Into this culture walked the apostle Paul, “in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling” (1 Corinthians 2.3). Happily, God had prepared for him some true friends in Aquila and Priscilla, and then also Apollos.

This small group, armed with the Holy Spirit and God’s Word and His direction, set out to change the culture of Corinth and set them free.

Corinth was an important city along a major trade route, with large numbers of sailors and merchants. It was also one of the wickedest cities of ancient times: immorality, scores of pagan practices and heathen religions

It must have been a shocking thing for Corinthians to hear that God created all men equal, that God loves everyone equally. Of course, hatred of God’s Word and violence against Paul’s messages were not new to Paul. It happened in Corinth, too. But in Acts 18.9, 10 God encourages and consoles Paul: “Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.” Was Paul surprised to hear that there were many people to be saved in such a city? I think not, as Paul had before seen the miracles of God’s salvation.

Paul shook his raiment when the Jews in the synagogues opposed the Christian group and blasphemed; Paul declared that he would go to the Gentiles.

Not having lived in Corinth at that time, I don’t know if the Jews living there were any more moral or kind or loving than the Gentiles. But God had given Paul a mission, and Paul knew he had the power of God to fulfill it.

I’m visualizing Paul making his tents, talking with people who pass by or want to purchase his wares. I picture him walking around to meet other people, speaking as often as the opportunity presents itself to declare Jesus Christ. He would invite them to hear more.

Christians of course did not have churches then; they met in people’s houses. Perhaps there was a group that met in and around the merchant stall where Paul and his friends had set up their tent-making trade. Can you imagine rich and poor and in-between, sitting together for the first time – no seats reserved for the mighty or the lowly, everyone taking a seat where there was one.

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians often touched on the topic of division. He must have witnessed it. Even after he left, he still received ill reports of their behavior.

This is a hard thing to embrace! God thinks I’m just as valuable and loveable as that guy over there?

The rich may think: Impossible! I’m better than anyone else in here.

The poor may think: Impossible! I could never be as important as the rich and mighty.

How about us? Do any of these thoughts barge in, unannounced?

“I’m better than you because I’m married.”

“I’m better than you because I have children / grandchildren.”

“I’m better than you because I’m not poor.”

“I’m better than you because my fingernails aren’t dirty after I scratch my head.”

“I’m better than you because I have healthy foods in my cart.”

“I’m better than you because you’re fatter than I am.”

“I’m better than you because I still have my job / I have a better job / I like my job / I get promoted in my job.”

“I’m better than you because your house is a mess.”

“I’m better than you because my house is bigger / I live in a nicer neighborhood.”

“I’m better than you because I take more medications.”

How many more can you think of?

Philippians 2.3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

What a hard lesson this is! Most of human flesh depends on assuring ourselves that we are good, and the way we look good is by looking better than others around us. We fall into this trap so easily because it’s our weak point. Look at how easily Hitler gathered Aryan followers. Look at how easily advertisers sell their products.

Look at how easily our nation has divided. “I’m better than you because I’m right.”

In a book I’m reading, the author posed the question, Do any of us really understand how much God loves us? I thought, No, only Jesus did.

That’s how Jesus could look on every single person with love. Jesus knew how much God loved Him, because He loved Him equally right back. God’s love is perfect, infinite, true. It is impossible for God to love anyone with anything less than perfect love.

If we are looking upon others with the eyes God gave us, instead of our own, then we will understand that we are, indeed, no better than anyone else on any level.

This is why we are able, in Jesus’s strength and wisdom, to serve others. When we access the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2.16), when we work from the love that God puts within us, we receive special wisdom through the Holy Spirit to look upon others with tender hearts and with understanding. We can see that all other people are on the same level we are: in need of the grace of God.

Will God use you to serve that grace to others?

1 Corinthians 1.10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

Romans 15.5 – 7 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.

Recipe Friday: Chicken, Quinoa, and Broccoli in a Pot

image from google

Quinoa, widely called an “ancient grain,” is actually a seed, originally from South America. Quinoa seeds contain essential amino acids like lysine and good quantities of calcium, phosphorus, and iron. It is also a high-fiber food. Easy to cook, and very flexible, it fits nicely into many dishes. A few years ago it was hard to find, but now quinoa is commonly sold in grocery stores, usually in the rice aisles.
Any kind of bite-size chicken meat would fit in this recipe (even canned); or, any other kind of meat. Maybe even no meat.
Half-and-half, or cream, could be substituted for any of the milk.

This recipe reflects how I made this dish for a pot-luck. Really, make it any way you like. Certainly more veggies could be added, like chopped carrots or peas. Cheese might also be a tasty addition.

Serves: 8
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hr +

Ingredients:

6 chicken thighs

1 cup quinoa

2 cups salted water

6 green onions

1 pound frozen broccoli florets

1 cup dairy or non-dairy milk

salt to taste

Directions:

Place thighs in a shallow baking dish. Bake at 350° for one hour.
When chicken is almost done, put water and quinoa in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer for about 15 minutes. You can stir it, if it needs it. Quinoa is done when you can see little circles.
Chop the green onions.
When thighs are done, remove from oven. Pour drippings into a large frypan or Dutch oven.
Sauté the onions in the drippings while you work with the chicken.
Remove skin from thighs; Remove meat from bone. Save skin and bones for stock or other use.
Slice the chicken meat into bite-size pieces. Add to the pan with the onions. Stir and brown a bit.
Add the broccoli to the pan. (If you prefer, you can thaw it in the microwave first; this will cut cooking time in the pan.) Cook and stir until broccoli is hot. (If you add it frozen, covering the pan helps to cook it faster. Be sure to stir once in a while.)
Add hot quinoa to the pan; stir to mix.
Add the milk and stir.
Salt to taste. Cook a minute or two more, until heated thoroughly.
Serve immediately, or put it all into a crock pot.

Random Thoughts about Heaven and the Garden

My Bible reading at the end of last year took me into Revelations, where John falls down as though dead when he sees Jesus (Revelations 1.17). On Earth, this was Jesus, his buddy: they walked together for three years, ate together, exchanged words and questions and deep thoughts. But when John saw Jesus in Heaven, he fell as though dead.

Now I’m reading in Genesis. There are Adam and Eve in the Garden, walking with God in the cool of the day, and talking with Him. Do they see God face to face? No (1 John 4.12). But they walk with Him and talk with Him and do not fall down as though dead. I think that’s because Adam and Eve were perfect at that time. They knew no sin. They knew God only as their Loving Creator, and had no terror of Him.

I think that might be a glimpse of Heaven. In our fleshly sinful bodies, our minds cannot contain what absolute holiness is. But in Heaven, we will see God face to face (1 Corinthians 13.12). We will finally know how to worship Him perfectly.

One other thing has me curious about Heaven. Genesis Chapter 3 says Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field that the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’ ”

Then Eve speaks in verse 2: The woman answered the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden…”

My thought: Why did Eve not whirl around to Adam and say, “Look, this snake can talk!”

Did Adam and Eve and God routinely speak with the animals in the Garden? And might this be a peek into Heaven?

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Recipe Friday: Yogurt So Easy

There are many health benefits of yogurt, such as boosting immunity, reducing yeast infections, and lowering the risk of colon cancer.

When you make yogurt, you will get thousands of times the benefits of nutrition if you use raw milk. This recipe is specifically for raw milk – it does not boil the milk, which would thereby destroy many of its nutrients and benefits. Be sure your raw milk comes from an impeccably clean facility with organic, pasture-raised cows.

Raw Milk Benefits:

“Raw milk is an incredibly complex whole food, complete with digestive enzymes and its own antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-parasitic mechanisms conveniently built into a neat package. It is chock-full of both fat and water-soluble vitamins, a wide range of minerals and trace elements, all eight essential amino acids, more than 60 enzymes, and CLA—an omega-6 fatty acid with impressive effects on everything from insulin resistance to cancer to cardiovascular disease. Raw milk is delicious medicine.” – from https://www.drdeborahmd.com/health-benefits-raw-milk

More information about the health benefits of raw milk can be found in a search of “weston a price raw milk.” This one is an easy read: http://www.realmilk.com/brochures/real-milk-brochure/

Another interesting and informative article can be found by Dr. Josh Axe, here: https://draxe.com/nutrition/raw-milk-benefits/ . Benefits include reducing allergies, improving skin health, and preventing nutrient deficiencies.

The addition of gelatin guarantees thick yogurt, and contributes nutrition. Be sure to only use pure, organic gelatin, as other types may be mixed with other ingredients, or may come from chemically-raised beef. Gelatin is another nutrition powerhouse. It’s great for gut health, it has collagen, and helps your body build strong discs, ligaments, tendons, skin, nails, and hair. It helps to strengthen joints and prevent against the development of injuries, or helps to heal them faster.

You can let the yogurt culture 8 – 24 hours. The longer it cultures, the tangier it gets. 20 hours was too tangy for me. I’ll try 12 hours next time.

I buy my yogurt starter in a box that has little packets; one packet per quart. You can also buy yogurt starter in bulk; read the instructions for amount to add.

 

My recipe cultures the yogurt right in the jar. You can also pour everything into the Instant Pot insert: this would be helpful if you’re making it by the half gallon or gallon. If you use the insert, you will need a good-fitting lid for it when it goes into the ‘fridge.

This recipe uses an Instant Pot. If you don’t plan to use an Instant Pot, you can culture your yogurt in any type of setting where the temperature is kept at a fairly consistent 110° – 115°. Temperatures above 125° – 130° will kill the beneficial bacteria. If you have an oven with a heat-producing light bulb, or a gas pilot light, that is an option. I’ve also seen folks use a chest-type cooler: heat the inside of the cooler by putting in a pan of hot water (with a lid on it). Make sure the water is below 115°, then put in the yogurt and close the lid. Check the temp every once in a while to keep it warm. I’ve also heard of wrapping the yogurt in a towel and a heating pad, or putting it on a heating pad (but you’d have to check the temp of the heating pad).

Raw Milk Yogurt

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 8 – 24 hours to culture; 24 hours in the ‘fridge

Yield: 1 quart yogurt

Ingredients:

1 quart raw milk

1 packet yogurt starter

2 teaspoons powdered beef gelatin

Directions:

Pour a small amount (maybe 1/4 – 1/2 cup) of the raw milk into a 2-qt saucepan.
Sprinkle the gelatin over the milk in the pan. Let it soften 1-2 minutes.
Over medium heat, warm the milk to just under simmering. Take the pan off the heat. Whisk the gelatin in.
Pour the rest of the raw milk into the saucepan. Whisk.
Sprinkle the yogurt starter over the milk. Whisk.
Pour the milk into a 1-quart glass jar.
Put the jar of milk into the Instant Pot insert. (Do not put the lid on the jar.)
Put the lid on the Instant Pot and turn to seal.
Press the yogurt function. If yours allows, adjust to show Normal.
Set how much time you want, from 8 to 24 hours (the longer the culturing time, the tangier your yogurt will be).
Once the Instant Pot recognizes the setting, it will revert to 0 for time, and count up to the time you set.
If you like, you can take the lid off any time to check on it or take it out. The Pot does not seal because it never goes above the low temperature needed to culture the yogurt.
When your yogurt is finished culturing, remove it from the Instant Pot, and turn the Instant Pot off. Put the lid on the jar, and put the jar in the refrigerator. Leave it there for 24 hours.
Now it’s ready.