Blessings around the bend

I am overwhelmed by the goodness and power of our Almighty God.

This morning during our ladies Bible study at church we were discussing the sovereignty of God.

One interesting illustration given was about a stoplight which controls traffic in a construction zone. This light is provided to stop people from a head-on collision with oncoming traffic hidden by the bend in the road. Sometimes a person is tempted to ignore this light, assuming that no one is coming and becoming impatient waiting for the light to turn. As a sovereign God who knows the future, He asks us to wait on Him rather than barreling forward because of His great love for us.

The point was then made that God is good to not reveal the future to us for if we knew about the tragedy that lies just around the bend we would spend our lives fretting rather than living each day in itself.

While I do wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment, I can’t help but think once again about our human propensity to dwell on the negative, on the coming trial, rather than the coming joy. Several years ago, God revealed to me that when I spend my time fretting about today and about what the future might hold, that I’m missing out on the HOPE that comes from looking forward to the joy that might lie hidden just around the bend. I don’t want to know the future because I wouldn’t want to know that my son was going to die tomorrow, but also I would miss out on the HOPE that comes from waiting expectantly for the JOY that God might have waiting for me tomorrow.

Paul writes in his letter to the Romans, “Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8:24-25) Remember, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) If we could see what was just around the bend, whether tomorrow or a hundred years from now, then we would have no need for HOPE, no need for FAITH. God grows our faith, our trust in Him, by having us wait upon Him.

This makes me think about Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Over the years I’ve heard all kinds of people quote this to mean that God is going to give us lives filled with chocolate and roses! This always upsets me because this passage was written to a people who are living in exile in Babylon. In the verses that follow, God proceeds to warn the Israelites of the many trials they will go through! And yet He promises to RESTORE them. He promises that when they return to Him, when they seek Him, that He will be found by them and return them to their promised land. This is like the “blessings around the bend.” Joy was indeed going to come in the morning, even though they were in the midst of years of trials. God KNEW the plans that He had for them. His plans indeed were for their good. His plans indeed were to give them a future and a HOPE!

So, the next time when you and I are in the midst of despair, when things look bleak and hopeless, remember that God holds the future and that He is worthy of our trust. May we be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:12)

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” Psalm 28:7

“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” Psalm 37:5

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.” Psalm 130:5-7

God wants our attention

In August, I began reading through the Bible in a year. I take turns reading in the Old Testament and the New Testament. At this moment, I am in 1 Kings in the Old and something struck me – not for the first time, but it struck me for the first time in a concise, simple way.

God WANTS to be known. He WANTS our attention. There are all sorts of ways that He hides and all sorts of secrets that He keeps from us, but He WANTS us to FIND HIM!

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20 ESV)

At the same time, He but knocks. He does not break down the door.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8 ESV)

While He is knocking, it is OUR responsibility to open the door – Then, He will come in.

Yet, this idea that God wants to be found, is something that I’ve thought about for quite some time. The new idea is this: God gets our attention in two different ways. He will get our attention through the great blessings that He gives to us, His great majesty, all of the good things of God OR He will get our attention through great trial and pain.

Have you ever thought of it so concisely and simply?

Here’s what prompted me to think about this idea. 1 Kings 18 contains the account of when King Ahab (King over Israel) summons the 450 prophets of Baal who contest against the prophet Elijah in calling down fire upon an offering. The prophets of Baal are unable to get their god’s attention.

“Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it.” And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made. And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention.” (1 Kings 18:25-29 ESV)

That was the response of the false god, Baal. He did not answer nor pay attention.

Now it’s Elijah’s turn. He fixes up the altar of God which was in ruins, prepares the bull for sacrifice, and then proceeds to saturate the wood and bull by pouring twelve large jars of water over them.

“And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God.” (1 Kings 18:36-39 ESV)

Now, if you were King Ahab, wouldn’t this be enough, for you to believe in the LORD GOD, rather than Baal? God’s power and might is so great.

Yet, God is so merciful, that next He speaks directly to Ahab himself, sending a prophet to speak on His behalf. Ben-Hadad (the king of Syria) is preparing to attack Israel after King Ahab has refused his demands. The prophet declares to King Ahab, “Thus says the LORD, Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will give it into your hand this day, and you shall know that I am the LORD.” (1 Kings 20:13 ESV)

Do you see it? God is going to save Ahab and His people Israel, that Ahab would KNOW that He is the LORD. Sure enough, in 1 Kings 20:21, we see that Ahab overpowered the Syrians. This course of events is repeated again in the spring, as the Syrians once again attack the Israelites, yet this time on the plains as they thought the the God of Israel was a “god of the hills.” And, once again, the prophet tells Ahab, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Because the Syrians have said, “The LORD is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys,” therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD.’” (1 Kings 20:28 ESV)

Sadly, though King Ahab and Israel are saved again, the king has not turned to God as a result of God’s power and mercy. Instead, he chooses to spare King Ben-Hadad’s life and God once again sends a prophet to King Ahab, but this time with bad news. “Thus says the LORD, ‘Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall be for his life, and your people for his people.’” And the king of Israel went to his house vexed and sullen and came to Samaria. (1 Kings 20:42-43 ESV)

Food Storage Recipes

30 Minute Rolls

Dough can also be used for pizza crust.

•3 1/2 c warm water
•6 T instant yeast
•1 c oil
•3/4 c granulated sugar
•1 T thrive iodized salt
•3 T thrive whole egg powder (reconstituted)
•3 T additional water
•8 c thrive whole wheat flour (approximate)

1. *Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. *Use a mixer to combine warm water, instant yeast, oil, and granulated sugar. Let rise 5 minutes until bubbly.

3. *Add remaining ingredients to bubbling mixture. Mix well and roll out.

4. *Form dough into rolls and let rise approximately 15 minutes.

5. *Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Cool and serve.

Yield: 36 rolls

Chicken Tortilla Soup ala Food Storage

2 cans diced tomatoes
1/2 cup tomato powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
6 cups water
2 Tbs sugar
3 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 cup freeze dried green chilies
1/2 cup freeze dried chicken

1. Put all ingredients in a crock pot and cook on high for 4 hours.

2. Serve with toppings such as shredded cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips

3. This makes a LOT.  You might want to halve it.

Apple Berry Pie from Food Storage

NOTE: I only used ONE crust (on the top) and put the other crust in the fridge.

For the Crust
2 cups Shortening Powder
1/3 cup water at room temp
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup ice cold water
For the Filling
1 cup Dehydrated Apple Slices
1 cup Freeze Dried Berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries etc)
1 cup water
2/3 cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
3 Tbs Cornstarch
4 Tbs lemon juice

FOR THE CRUST

1. Reconstitute your shortening by mixing the powder with the 1/3 cup water. The powder will float on top of the water at first. Keep mixing and you will get a crumbly texture. Keep going until you get a liquid cream. Put this soft shortening in the fridge for 30 minutes until it has the texture of regular shortening.

2. Once shortening is ready, use your hands to mix it with four and salt until it resembles cornmeal.

3. Add water and mix until combined (DO NOT knead, just mix lightly)

4. Split dough into two pieces.

5. Roll out one piece on a floured surface until dough is very thin.

6. Fold in half twice so it looks like a triangle

7. Unfold it into your pie pan and “wiggle” it down (don’t stretch or pull / push it down)

8. Tuck extra down under the edge to create a “rim” around your pan.

9. Add filling to pie pan

10. Roll out 2nd piece of dough the same as the first and place it over the filled pie.

11. Pinch the two pie crusts together with finger on one side and thumb on the other to create a pretty edge.

12. Bake at 375 (dark pan) or 350 (glass pan) for about 1 hour.

FOR THE FILLING

1. Combine apples, berries, water, sugar, cinnamon, salt, cornstarch, and lemon juice in a small pot and bring to a boil.

2. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes. Apples will begin to break down and the liquid will turn into a thick syrup.

3. Carefully spoon mixture into pie crust.

Servings: 8

Oil Free Chocolate Cake (made with black beans)

1 box devil’s food chocolate cake mix (Aldi)
water (as called for)
instant black beans (amount of oil called for)
eggs (as called for) – use egg powder

1. Prepare black beans as directed.  If using canned beans, make sure to drain and rinse thoroughly.

2. Mash beans thoroughly.

3. Mix on medium speed beans with water and eggs

4. Add cake mix and mix as directed

NOTE: You can do the same thing with WHITE beans and a yellow cake mix.  Try substituting beans for butter in cookies, etc.

Black Bean and Corn Salsa ala Food Storage

1 cup THRIVE Instant Black Beans
1 cup THRIVE Sweet Corn
1 can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup THRIVE Green Chilies
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt to taste

1. Cook beans (follow cooking directions)

2. In a small bowl, add corn and cover with hot water. Let sit 5-8 minutes or until corn is softened and rehydrate. Drain.

3. Mix the black beans, corn, chilies, red onion, and cilantro together in a large bowl.

4. Sprinkle with red wine vinegar, sugar, olive oil, cumin, garlic and salt.

5. Stir and refrigerate for several hours.

6. Serve with tortilla chips.

Homemade Flour Tortillas ala Food Storage  (I haven’t made these — they just seemed like something I’ll want to try!)

A couple of notes:

DO NOT let your pan get too hot.  You may even need to turn it down before you finish cooking all the tortillas as the pan will continue to heat.
DO NOT cook the tortillas for too long: 20-30 seconds MAX on the first side and 20 seconds on the second side.
Roll and cook each tortillas separately.  If you roll them all first, they will shrink and become too thick before you get around to cooking them.

1 cup. all purpose flour
1 cup. White Wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tbs THRIVE Shortening powder
1/2 cup+. water

1. Combine flour, salt, baking powder and shortening powder.  Add 1/2 cup water and mix. If needed, add more water a tbsp at a time, until it just comes together. I added about 3 extra Tablespoons.  You do not want the dough too dry.

2. Divide the dough and roll into 12 balls.  Let them rest for 15 minutes.

3. Take a dough ball, and flatten with the palm of your hand. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface.  (Do not use too much flour or the excess flour will burn when you cook the tortillas).  Roll the dough out very thin: it will become transparent.  As you roll it out, turn the dough a quarter turn with each stroke until it is about 6 inches in diameter.

4. Heat your skillet over medium heat: make sure it is hot before placing the tortilla on it.  Cook the first side for about 20-30 seconds, until it just begins to turn golden. Flip and cook the other side for 20 seconds. Place cooked tortilla in a ziplock bag.  This will keep it soft and warm while you cook the other tortillas.