We recently discussed the many similarities between a cookbook and the Bible. For instance, cookbooks are collections of recipes created to help us prepare successful meals; the Bible is a book of “recipes” created to help us prepare for a successful life. The recipes in most cookbooks were actually tested in the kitchen of the author. God is the author of the Bible (something we’ll discuss on Thursday), and He’s tested all His “recipes” in the kitchen of life! Interestingly, the standard format for culinary recipes is not much different from the format of the successful life recipes God gives us in His holy Word.
The standard format for a cookbook recipe really should be a no-brainer, but it wasn’t until the Victorian era that a writer struck upon the idea. Between 1857 and 1861, Mrs. Isabella Beeton wrote 24 installments of a guide to maintaining a proper home. She later collected and published these as Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, a monstrous volume of over 1100 pages. Her hardcover hulk contained 900 recipes, so readers often referred to it as “Mrs. Beeton’s Cookbook.” It was the first cookbook to establish a logical format for recipes, which is still used today.
Recipes, in order for the reader to easily follow them, and not leave out any steps or ingredients, should be formatted as follows: 1) a list of all ingredients needed — and their specific measurements or quantities — and 2) the precise steps to follow while preparing the recipe — in the exact order the steps must be performed! Try to prepare a dessert that leaves out an important ingredient, such as “a tablespoon of vanilla extract” and, unless you’re a mind-reader, you’ll end up with something very different from what you set out to make. And if you frequently use cookbooks, you probably already know how frustrating it is to be following the directions
of a recipe, and realize a step is missing or out of order. If we’re supposed to add melted butter to beaten egg whites, please don’t wait to tell us to beat the eggs AFTER we’ve already melted the butter — or we might decide to just beat you instead.
The God of the Universe knows that “all things should be done decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:40) In His Word, He lists all the ingredients you need to have success in every area of life. And He lists the steps we must follow in the proper order. God’s recipes for peace, contentment, security and success are properly “formatted”! Below is an example.
God’s recipe for Keeping Our Priorities Straight (with all the ingredients and steps in order):
1. You must love the LORD your God
a. with all your heart,
b. all your soul,
c. and all your mind.
This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important:
2. Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments. (Matthew 22:37-39 NLT) [This one “recipe” follows the same order as the Ten Commandments: the initial commandments deal with our relationship with God the Father; the remaining commandments deal with our relationships with those around us. Read it and see!]
3. …First, be concerned about:
a. His kingdom and
b. what has His approval.
c. Then all these things will be provided for you. (Matthew 6:33 GOD’S WORD)
4. a. Trust in the LORD and do good;
b. Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
5. a. Delight yourself in the LORD;
b. And He will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4 NASB)
6. So place yourselves under God’s authority.
7. a. Resist the devil,
b. and he will run away from you.
8. a. Come close to God,
b. and he will come close to you. (James 4:7-8 GOD’S WORD)
Follow this recipe and then God and His desires will be the focus of your life. You’ll keep your priorities in order — something which will be reflected in how you start your day and spend your time, as well as your talents and resources. Follow this recipe and you’ll be cooking up some good success in all you do.