Welcome My devotional time with God can look different from day to day. I have a prayer and devotional journal that has stories by women that are very relatable, accompanied by scripture. I read a lot of Christian “self-help” books that often lead me to certain Bible passages that become a devotional of sorts. I have two Women’s Devotional Bibles (published by Zondervan) that include daily passages to accompany scripture. These are all wonderful ways to spend time with God each day. I never stop being amazed how God can bring words to me that I need to hear at that exact moment in my life. That’s inspiring in itself! Sometimes, though, I’m struggling with an issue and I need God to speak directly to my concerns or question. I was able to experience that earlier this month and not only heard the words I needed that day, but was able to spend time in a book of the Old Testament I rarely visit. Here’s what I learned from that devotional experience.
Food For Thought I love writing. I love blogging. I love sharing stories about answered prayers and time with Jesus. I have goals and dreams and aspirations stemming from these passions. But I have moments, more like days or weeks, that I get frustrated with the slow process of growing my outreach. It may be the traffic data I read from my analytics program or the fact that I lose a sponsor or affiliate due to slow growth. It may be a comment said by someone or it could just be my own insecurities. Whatever the case may be, there are times that I consider “throwing in the towel” on this project, although I still consider it to be divinely inspired. When I have those moments, I spend a lot of time talking to God in prayer. I ask (remember our Action Steps from yesterday?) God to help me understand if I’m on the right path and if I’m making the right decisions. Over and over again, I am given signs and messages that point me toward perseverance and continuing the road I am on with faith-family-food. Sometimes it is in the form of encouraging words from someone who took the time to let me know that what I wrote touched or inspired them that day. Sometimes it shows up in the form of unexpected income to ease my worries about the financial part of my writing adventures (remember, where God guides, he provides!) Other times, I’m given the sign in the form of words I read. I experienced this last week when I finished Lysa TerKeurst’s book Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl. There were many inspiring words in the book, but I do not consider it coincidental that on one of “those” mornings I picked up and read this paragraph on page 186:
- Not getting those opportunities sooner were not God’s way of keeping me from my calling; they were His way of preparing me for it. This humbling process wound up being thrilling. I found God in deep ways during those lonely days of writing book proposals that were never published and articles that only my friends enjoyed. But God was faithful, and although my ministry was very small-scale for years, it was still fruitful.
I could not have identified with any other passage better on that day at that moment! But even better is when the words I need to hear come straight from scripture. Shortly after the new year I had one of those experiences. I was frustrated and confused. I have been trying so hard to allow God to direct my steps and listen to His will for me that the only logical thing I could think to do in my frustration, was to pick up my Bible. But I didn’t know where to turn. My subject index fails to mention any specific verses for “how do I know if I should keep blogging and writing or if I should go out and get a ‘real’ job.” So I said a quick, yet sincere prayer to God, “Lord, show me what I need to see today. Guide me to open up my Bible to the exact words that will help me with my struggle today. I trust Your plan and Your direction. Amen.” I opened randomly to page 904, the third chapter of Ezekiel. I think the only time I have read in this book is when I completed a year-long read-the-entire-Bible challenge on a couple of different occasions. I didn’t know a lot about the book as I felt compelled to read the beginning verses of this chapter.
Well, let me just start by saying that it’s quite confusing if you begin reading this book somewhere in the middle. I needed some context for what I was reading, even though I was pretty sure I knew the words God wanted me to focus on in response to my prayer. Ezekiel was called to become a prophet while exiled in Babylon, called to minister to other exiles so they would renew their commitment to God. Ezekiel is given visions and words from God to aid in his ministry. Wow, sometimes I feel like I could use that kind of help! So in my “random” reading of Ezekiel 3, I had to go back and read the first and second chapters. I could identify with some of Ezekiel’s struggles, although I’m not trying to compare myself to a prophet of any kind! God keeps letting Ezekiel know that the people he is going to be speaking to are rebellious, obstinate, and stubborn. In chapter 2, I start getting an idea of what God wanted me to read. Verse 5 says “whether they listen or fail to listen…” and verse 6 says “do not be afraid of them or their words.” I was especially drawn to verse 7: “You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious.” I felt God answering my questions and frustrations with the statement, “Go tell them anyway.” During that morning devotional, God was letting me know that criticisms, perceived or real, do not matter…tell them anyway. God was letting me know that payment for my words is secondary to the task at hand…tell them anyway. God was telling me that numbers and data and analytics are not the important piece to the puzzle…tell them anyway. God was letting me know that the world, and internet, is full of rebellious and stubborn people, people that don’t want to listen to His word…tell them anyway! In chapter 3, verse 5, Ezekiel is told, ‘You are not being sent to a people of obscure speech and difficult language, but to the house of Israel–” This is God’s way of reminding me…He didn’t send me to a foreign land to be a missionary where I would have difficulties communicating in the native language and He didn’t ask me to speak to people that have difficulty understanding. So tell them anyway!
As I completed my devotional time that morning, I finished Ezekiel chapters 1-3, but was drawn back to 3:11: “Go now to your countrymen in exile and speak to them. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says,’ whether they listen or fail to listen.” So I thanked God for inspiring me with His word and letting me know that I need to persevere with the tasks and projects at hand. I will tell them anyway…stories of faith and answered prayer, stories of real life and daily struggles, inspiration and encouragement and scriptures. Oh, and maybe some recipes, too!
Today’s Scripture My scripture focus today was in Ezekiel chapters one through three, with emphasis on 2:5-7 and 3:5-11. I want to share the passage I read for my devotional yesterday that seemed to echo the idea of “tell them anyway,” but along the lines of “sow the seeds anyway.”
Matthew 13:3-9 “Then he told them many things in parables saying, ‘A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop–a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear.”
Today’s Recipe We have been trying to eat more “quality” snacks at our house after the rich and sweet treats of the holiday season. Usually we’re stocked up with plenty of fruit, yogurt, cottage cheese, and nuts. But what about when we get to the end of the grocery week and the cupboard is getting a little bare? Oh, my goodness, I need something with a little sweet and salty, some energizing carbohydrates, but the choices are slim pickins! I don’t want to resign myself to eating chocolate chips right out of the bag! Could it be that I can whip up something using pantry staples? I almost always have peanut butter…and honey…and oats. We’re going to make PBOH Bars! They are fast, easy, cheap, and taste like a no-bake cookie, without the chocolate. Not only does my family find them tasty, they really do offer a good source of portable energy.
PBOH Bars (makes 12 bars)
- 3 cups oats (maybe slightly less)
- 1 cup peanut butter
- 1/2 cup honey
In large saucepan melt together peanut butter and honey, stirring until smooth. When thoroughly combined, remove from heat and stir in oats. Do not skimp on the peanut butter and honey in this recipe, but start with 2 1/2 cups oats and add in a little more at a time until dough is no longer sticky. If you over-do the oats, the bars will be too dry and crumbly, although still tasty. Line a 9×13 pan with wax paper or aluminum foil, spraying only the bottom with nonstick cooking spray. Pour the oat mixture into the prepared pan. Using your hands, press down completely until mixture goes all the way to the edges and has become compact. I like to take an additional piece of wax paper and place on top of the mixture and press down with my full body weight to get them as compressed as possible. Allow to set for an hour, or so, no refrigeration required (they’ll get too hard.) Lift wax paper or foil from pan and cut into bars using a long knife. Store in air-tight container for up to a week.