Cocoa Powder

Trust God and Be Obedient

Sadie came in the back door and took a deep breath. Mmm, brownies. When she rounded the corner into the kitchen she stopped. There were stacks of brownies everywhere! Sadie reached out to take a brownie off the stack nearest to her. “Stop right there!” 

“Mom, you scared me to death! Where were you?” Mom chuckled. “I needed more baggies. Hands off those brownies. Those are for the bake sale tomorrow.” Sadie’s shoulders fell. “We can’t eat even one?” 

“Not unless you want to pay for it.” Mom opened the baggies and dropped the brownies into individual bags. “Do you need any help?” Sadie really wanted to get her hands on a brownie. They smelled so good. 

“Sure, you can clean up and put all the ingredients away.” Sadie spied the cocoa powder sitting there without the lid. She picked it up and inhaled deeply. Mmm, chocolate. What if she just ate a spoonful of the cocoa instead of a brownie? All that chocolaty goodness made her mouth start to water. 

Sadie grabbed a spoon and Mom spoke. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you. It doesn’t taste as good as it smells.” Sadie smelled the cocoa again. “Trust me.” Mom said. 

“It can’t be that bad.” Sadie said. She took a big bite, then grimaced and choked, blowing cocoa powder all over the sink and counter. “Yuck!” She spit the powder in the sink and used a cup to rinse her mouth, her eyes watering because of the bitter taste. 

“You know, this reminds me of our devotion this morning,” said Mom as she helped Sadie wipe the counter. “Remember how Satan made the fruit so appealing Eve began to doubt she could trust God’s word?” 

“Just like I didn’t trust you about the cocoa powder.” Sadie mumbled. Mom nodded, continuing. “Sin looks appealing, but when you get a bite, it is bitter and makes your soul sick. The cocoa smelled good, but you didn’t trust me when I told you it doesn’t taste good.” 

“Yeah, I think I’ll remember this lesson the next time I’m tempted not to trust you.” said Sadie. Mom hugged her. “The same goes for trusting God. Next time you are tempted to sin, remember the bitterness that will follow and trust Him. Obedience won’t leave a bad taste in your mouth.” 

Follow Up Verse

The LORD watches over those who obey him, those who trust in his constant love. Psalm 33:18 (GNT)

F. I. T. – Follow It Through

Do you wonder if God is trustworthy? Should we be obedient to Him and his commands? The answer is Yes! He only wants what is best for us. The Bible says that if we are obedient and trust God, He will bless us.  Be obedient and trust God. He has good plans for us and will give us a hopeful future.

A Few Good Men

Have you felt like things were spiraling out of control recently? I know I have. With all that is going on in the world right now, most of us are terrified to leave our homes, unsure about the future, and trying to resist caving to panic and fear. Our front line workers and essential employees are fighting to help stem the spread of the pandemic that is sweeping across our nation while still providing the goods and services we need to keep going. We have good men and women working and serving everyday to help others.

All the good notwithstanding, we must consider possible reasons behind the state of the world at this moment. It is time for self-reflection. Is there anything I can do to contribute?

Most people, even unbelievers, know the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. The two cities had become so full of sin that The Lord Himself came down to investigate and see with His own eyes. He stopped by Abraham’s tent and foretold of their coming son, Issac, and then made his way towards the two cities.  He did not hide what He was going to do and Abraham interceded on behalf of the people of the cities. Abraham begged the Lord to spare the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, even though they were so sinful, for the sake of the righteous who might be living there. Abraham begged that if fifty could be found, would The Lord spare them? The Lord agreed to spare them for fifty. Abraham risks further wrath by arguing for smaller numbers five more times, until he gets to the number ten.

“Finally, Abraham said, “Lord, please don’t be angry with me if I speak one more time. Suppose only ten are found there?” And the LORD replied, “Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.”(Genesis 18:32)

However, as we all know, ten righteous people could not be found. The two cities could have been saved by a few good men. 

What about your city? Are there ten righteous? Can it be saved?  The Bible tells us in 2 Chronicles what to do in times of trouble.

At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. (2 Chronicles 7:13-14)(emphasis mine)

Are you the swing? Is your “city” counting on you to be one of the righteous? Are you living like it is? If not, humble yourself. Pray and seek God’s face. Turn from your wicked ways. What would happen if we all chose to live like we were the deciding factor in saving our city?

It is time for self-reflection. There is something you can contribute. Prayer. Pray for personal, local, and national repentance and protection. Sacrifice. Stay home and practice social distance when you must leave on essential trips. Understanding. Follow rules and guidelines to help stop the spread. Leaders are doing all they can, lift them up in prayer so that they can make wise decisions. This is an unprecedented situation and therefore calls for an unprecedented reaction.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones. (Proverbs 3:5-8)

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Who You Can Be

Who are you now? Is it who you thought you’d be? If not, why not? What is keeping you from being who you can be? It might be circumstances you can’t currently control, it might be God’s timing, or it might just be fear. Yes, sometimes we can be more afraid of greatness than of failing. It is then that we must choose courage. 

Living courageously is not easy and not for the faint of heart. As coined by Ambrose Redmoon and The Princess Diaries 

“Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all. For now, you are traveling the road between who you think you are and who you can be.”

This makes me think about Peter. Impetuous, immature, outspoken, combative Peter. His start wasn’t fabulous and Jesus had to leash and muzzle him on more than one occasion. However, for all his talk and bravado, even he was counted among the deserters at the time of Jesus’ betrayal. 

But God knew what manner of man Peter was and who he could be. 

For, even though Peter denied Him, Jesus knew that Peter was a leader and that he would return and encourage his brethren. Though in the beginning he was rough around the edges, Peter matured and participated in some of the most profound things ever recorded in the Bible. Walking on the water with Jesus, identifying Jesus as the Christ, the Transfiguration, preaching at Pentecost, even raising the dead! 

Many of Peter’s reactions, I’m convinced, were ultimately rooted in fear. Fear of not being in control, fear of inaction or indecision, or fear of failure. Courageously overcoming these fears was part of what transformed Peter into the great leader he became. He came to the understanding that Jesus had provided all we’d ever need and lived accordingly. 

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.  Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3-4

If there was hope for him, then there is hope for me.

I can live courageously in the power of Jesus Christ and accomplish all that He has for me to do. I do not have to be afraid of failure or greatness, because He will be there guiding my every step. We are all traveling the road between who we are and who we can be. Choose your course and your guide wisely.

A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

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When We Don’t Get Our Way

Working For Him

“Mom, I didn’t get the job.” Emily sniffed and her voice broke. “She didn’t even let me finish the application. She just took it and said ‘It’s fine’ and then said she’d think about it.” Mom held the phone close and listened carefully.

“Oh sweetie, I’m so sorry. What happened?” Mom could tell that Emily was upset. She could almost see the hurt on Emily’s face.

“She asked me if I was applying for the host position or the bus person position. I said I wanted the host position because I didn’t like dirty dishes.”

“Oh dear,” said Mom. 

“She wasn’t very interested in me after that.” She sniffed. “That wasn’t what I meant though, and she didn’t give me an opportunity to explain.” Emily started crying again.

Mom was nodding her head, then realizing she was on the phone and Emily couldn’t see her, she said, “I’m so sorry, honey. I know how it feels to be misunderstood.”

“I’m going home.” Emily said.

“Okay, baby. But, don’t feel too bad. Maybe this was God’s way of protecting you from a bad situation. That woman might not have been a very good person to work for.”

Emily sniffed again. “What do you mean?”

“Well, remember when I didn’t get that job I wanted? I was sad for a while until I heard what it was like to work for the person that is the manager.  When I heard how he micromanaged everyone I was glad that I didn’t get the job.”

Emily huffed. “Yeah, but I hate my job now! I thought it was going to be great but it’s awful!”

“I understand.” Mom said. “But God may have placed you there for a purpose. Have you thought about that?” Emily sniffed again. “No.” She paused a moment. “Why would God put me somewhere that I’m miserable?”

“That’s a good question. Have you asked yourself why you’re miserable? Are you too focused on the negative instead of the positive? Have you asked God why you are there?” There was another long pause before Emily responded.

“No, not really.”  

“When I start to get down about not having the job I want, I remember that I am working for God, not myself.” Mom paused before continuing.  “I didn’t get the job. Maybe it was because I would have settled. I would have achieved what I wanted, not necessarily what God wanted, and I wouldn’t be where I am now. I wouldn’t have trusted in God so much as in myself.”

“I guess I never thought about it that way.” Emily said. “Maybe I need to pray about God wants instead of what I want.”

Mom smiled. “I think that is an excellent idea. I’ll pray with you.”

Emily smiled too. “Thanks Mom.”

Follow up Verse

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. Colossians 3:23-24 NLT

OPERATION: ACTIVATE

Are you seeking your own plans or God’s plans for you? He has a great plan and a future full of hope for you. Pray for His guidance in your life. Work wholeheartedly and focus on serving Him instead of man (the world).  

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