Firstfruits

We’re continuing our study of Mosaic law in our Sunday School class, and this past week we delved into some of the festivals and feasts. In particular, we read about firstfruits.

In Exodus 12, God instituted the first Passover, and the Angel of Death passed over the obedient Israelites. In Exodus 13, God laid out the ritual of consecration of the firstborn – all the firstborn of God’s people were His. Exodus 13.2 Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine.

In Exodus 23, God gives direction for three festivals each year: Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Harvest (the firstfruits of thy labors), and the Feast of Ingathering. These were to be solemn feasts to the Lord.

The premise of firstfruits is that we are to give back to God the first whatever-it-is that He gives us, whether it be income, friends, harvest, children, time, or other resources. God allows for payment to redeem the firstborn, because He does not ask us to kill our young.

Israel was precious to God, His firstborn of His peoples: Jeremiah 2.3 Israel was holiness unto the LORD, and the firstfruits of his increase: all that devour him shall offend; evil shall come upon them, saith the LORD. God desired to protect His people from evil.

God promises blessings when we remember Him and give Him thanks.

Proverbs 3.9, 10 Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your harvest; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.

Why does God want to bless us when we give Him the first part of what He gives us? He wants us to trust Him. He wants to give us hope and assurance. He wants us to see that we can trust Him, that He wants the best for us, that He wants to take care of us.

Romans 8.22-25 We know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until the present time. Not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved; but hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he can already see? But if we hope for what we do not yet see, we wait for it patiently.

We can’t see God; we can’t necessarily see His immediate blessings when we offer to Him, when we sacrifice, when we honor Him. But we hope! The more we obediently place our trust in Him, the more we are able to wait patiently for His blessings, because we learn that He is always faithful.

So let’s take this to a personal, spiritual level: I am the only one of me. God created in me a firstling: the first of its kind to be produced or to appear. There has never been, and never will be, another me.

John 12.24-26 Truly, truly, I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a seed; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life will lose it, but whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, My servant will be as well. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.

Do you see what Jesus is saying in this passage? He repeats it in other passages. Luke 9.23, 24: And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. Mark 8.35: For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and for the gospel will save it. Luke 17.33: Whoever tries to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it. Matthew 16.25: For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

Because we have the Holy Spirit within us, and because we have the mind of Christ, and because God’s mercies are new every morning; we have the opportunity to die to self every day, to give God the firstfruits. We can sacrifice our flesh to the Lord, so that it may go well with us.

Think again on Proverbs 3.9, 10 Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your harvest; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine. Honor the Lord with all He gives us, even our own selves. He will bless in so many ways, we will overflow! We will gain hope and assurance of His great provision and lovingkindness.

Recipe Friday: Ha! This Really Works! Keeping Strawberries Fresh

I bought two cartons of fresh strawberries, and wondered how to keep them fresh for the longest time. Every time I buy strawberries, they’re already moldy or soft in just about the next day or two. So I went on the Internet and found this site, where Taste of Home tried out several methods: https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/how-to-store-strawberries/ .

I tried out their winner, which was to store them, unwashed, in tightly sealed mason jars, in the ‘fridge. I moved them straight from the store’s carton into my jars, tightened the lids, and put them in my crisper. That was on a Wednesday morning. The pictures you see are from this afternoon, Friday – a week and two days later!

They turned out fresh. One strawberry was slightly softened in one spot, but that was all the deterioration I had. After I washed them, I popped one in my mouth to make sure the taste and texture were still fresh, and everything was great.

I love it when something works! 😁

Robyn Openshaw (Green Smoothie Girl) Preparedness Principles

Robyn Openshaw is the Green Smoothie Girl, and I have often cited her in my blog. After following her for several years (blog, e-mails, website),I have developed a great respect for her information, her research, her thoughtfulness and common sense, and her presentation of the information she presents. I have never paid a dime for the valuable information she freely shares (although I could because she sells really good nutritional products). She is a Christian, and follows Godly principles, as far as I’ve ever seen.

For a limited time, Robyn is offering a free, 1-hour, 20 minute introductory webclass in preparedness. Nearer the end of the video, she offers her reason for sharing what she has learned (God).

I accessed the video via an invitation e-mail, then registered. When you click on the link, you will likely be redirected to a registration page. https://greensmoothiegirl.com/preparedness/registered/

She also offers a page full of resources (that she mentions in the class) here: https://greensmoothiegirl.com/preparedness/list/ Again, you may need to register first.

Robyn is worth following, as she offers the sage advice and resources she works so hard to obtain.

Recipe Friday: Hubby’s Birthday Cheesecake (Instant Pot)

I topped this with a white chocolate glaze and macerated strawberries – all his favorites together!

I did have lots of little lumps when I poured the batter into the crust; but they did not transfer to the finished product – couldn’t notice them.

I was unable to separate the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake until after I’d cut a couple of slices. But they cut and served from the bottom of the springform pan just fine. I did think that, if I’d put the cake (still attached to the pan bottom) over a simmering pot of water, and allowed it to warm up; that maybe I could have separated the cake from the pan and parchment paper via an offset spatula run around the bottom, and a wide spatula to lift.

Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 35 min at pressure + natural pressure release

Yield: 7″ cake

Ingredients:

Crust:

1 cup crushed vanilla wafers

3 tablespoons melted butter

Cake:

2/3 cup sucanat sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 pinches sea salt

16 ounces (2 pkgs) cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup sour cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 large eggs, at room temperature

4-8 drops lemon essential oil, optional

Glaze:

4 ounces white baking chocolate

3 tablespoons whipping cream

Directions: Line a 7″ springform pan, bottom and sides, with parchment paper. (Oiling/buttering the paper is optional, but the paper sticks to the sides better if you dab some oil or butter in the pan.)

Mix the crushed wafers and melted butter together and press into the bottom of the springform pan. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, cornstarch and salt.

Beat the cream cheese until smooth. Do this carefully: you don’t want too much air in your cheesecake, or it will be too dry and cake-y; but you need to beat all the lumps out (once you start adding the other ingredients, you’ll never get any lumps out).

Add the sugar mixture, mix well, scrape down the sides, and mix again.

Add the sour cream and vanilla, mix, scrape and mix.

Add the eggs and lemon essential oil (if you wish), mix, scrape and mix.

Pour the mixture into the prepared crust. Tap on the counter to get the air bubbles to rise. Pop them, and smooth out the top.

Pour 1 cup of water into the Instant Pot pot.

Cover the pan tightly with foil. Place on a trivet and lower the pan and trivet into the pot.

Tighten the lid, set the valve to seal, and set to pressure cook for 35 minutes.

When the 35 minutes are up, allow to natural pressure release.

Using the trivet handles, carefully lift the pan out of the pot and remove the foil. Set the pan on a cooling rack.

Allow the cake to cool on the counter for an hour or two, until it’s at room temperature. Cover the pan with plastic wrap or foil, and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Remove the ring from around the cake, and peel off the parchment paper from the sides. If you can, separate the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake, and remove the cake to a serving plate. Otherwise, just place the cake, pan bottom and all, onto the serving plate.

In a double boiler or in the microwave, melt the white chocolate. Whisk in the whipping cream. Allow to cool, then pour over the cake. (This glaze does not harden, even after refrigeration.)

Garnish with fruit, if desired, and serve.

Be Ye Transformed by the Renewing of Your Mind

Romans 12.2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

In Romans 12.2, the word transformed is from the Greek metamorphousthe or μεταμορφόω (metamorphoó), which is the root of the English terms “metamorphosis” and “metamorphize.”

How do we effect this transformation, this metamorphosis of the mind?

1 Corinthians 2.11b-16 even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

This is how we effect the transformation: through the power of the Holy Spirit of God. We simply cannot understand the things of God without His guidance. And, as children of the Most High God, WE HAVE THE MIND OF CHRIST!

But we must work with God’s Spirit, and put our salvation to work – we must LEARN the Word of God, the ways of God.

The primary avenue of learning God is through the mind. The foundation must be God’s Word.

We learn with both our hearts and our minds. The heart may influence the mind, but only the fool allows the heart to rule. (Jeremiah 17.9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?)

We must train our hearts through the transforming of the mind.

When we learn God’s Word, the Holy Spirit works to transfer that knowledge to our hearts. This is vital, because we act on what is in our hearts – what we really believe. We know things in our minds, but we believe them in our hearts.

Proverbs 4.20-23

20My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.

21Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.

22For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.

23Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

As you study God’s Word, pray that it floods your heart and fills it with His Truth.

God’s Word can be a mainstay in times of trouble. In my own experience, I sometimes haven’t had the heart to read my Bible or pray. But when, in obedience, I read anyway, and I prayed anyway, God blessed that obedience. March your way through the tough times in obedience.

Allow God’s Word to cleanse you, to fill you with hope, to guide you, to bring you peace.

And, in order to set your heart aright, learn what God says; let it filter to your heart, and believe.

Still Learning, Pt 3

In my last post, I mentioned that God created evil, and I cited Isaiah 45.7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

I found it interesting that the replies contained comments about God creating evil, and that some do not agree with this, or have other ideas.

So this post is an invitation to discuss where you think evil came from.

My position:

  • God is good and love and light. He is eternal, and has ever been eternal. I don’t think evil has been present from eternity past, so it must have been created.
  • Where would evil have come from, if God didn’t create it?
  • I don’t think that evil is simply the absence of the presence of God, because, if that were so, then evil would have to have been co-eternal with God. And, God is omnipresent.
  • I cited Isaiah 45.7, and the word evil is from ra’, which can be translated as calamity, bad, evil. In this passage, God says He created evil; He doesn’t say, as in many other passages, that He used evil, or sent evil; but that He created it. Perhaps in this passage He is referring only to this instance; but, to me, it shows that God creates evil.
  • I believe God has complete control over evil, that He can send or use or prevent.
  • I think Lucifer may have been the first entity to choose evil. Did he choose it immediately after God created evil, or after God created him?

I am really interested in other perspectives, with Bible passages to corroborate. What do you think?

Still Learning Pt 2

Another question that pops into my mind: This one has been an ongoing question, as it likely has for many of you. And my answer may not be your answer. But it is what I feel God is showing me.

Why does God allow such horrific evil in our midst?

We see horrendous, unspeakable atrocities perpetrated unto innocent children, unsuspecting spouses, parents, neighbors, and friends; crimes committed in private homes, or in public; mass murders; political villainy; people we know, and people we don’t know; weather disasters, diseases and accidents killing, maiming, and destroying lives; and countless other personal or public barbarity.

God created evil. (Isaiah 45.7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.) We know this: where else could darkness and evil come from, had not God created it?

And, in His love, God allowed humans to choose between Him (goodness and love) and evil. We often choose evil. (Jeremiah 17.9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?) So the wickedness we witness is not from God; He only gave us the capacity to choose it. What we witness is the depravity of people, consummating their evil desires.

I think the evil we see is God giving us a taste of hell.

Just as Jesus describes how the Kingdom of God is upon us, that we can live in the Kingdom of God here on Earth; I think that God gives us a pretty clear picture of the Earth that belongs to Satan. (2 Corinthians 4.4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them)

 I think we must heed the pictures of evil that God provides for us. The wailing, the fear, the stress, the crying and anguish and despair that we see in this world are but a foretaste of spending eternity in hell.

TURN AWAY FROM IT! REACH FOR GOD!

In this world we at least have God’s mercy to assuage our griefs. Even those who do not believe in God can receive the blessings He showers upon the whole world. In hell, there will be no presence of God to comfort, no hope to cling to, no justice to look for, no one to save.

We have God in the here and now. Run to Him! Receive His comfort, His hope, His salvation. Receive the faith that tells us, without a shadow of a doubt, that we get to spend eternity with our Lord God in Heaven. And receive His Spirit that guides us into all Truth and Peace and Joy while we yet live here.

Ephesians 5.8, 9 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light, for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth.