No Expiration Date! (Angel in the Kitchen)

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After a long, harsh winter, Spring has at last arrived! And with it, the dozens of hummingbirds that hang out with us every year, from April to around mid-September, to sip nectar from the six feeders we hang outside our windows.

This is also the season for Spring Cleaning, an opportunity to clean up, fix up, and freshen up! Yes, when Spring arrives everything starts looking up! We take the opportunity to also re-organize our kitchen shelves, exchanging our festive Winter place-settings, which feature wild birds, for brighter plates depicting song birds. (Yes, we LOVE birds!) We also go through the pantry to check the expiration dates on canned and boxed goods.

We try to use up food items that are close to expiring, and toss anything that’s gone out of date. We hope you, too, frequently check the expiration dates on foods in your kitchen, because one of life’s sad truths is that everything we buy to prepare our families’ meals has a pre-determined shelf life. (You’re gonna love where we’re heading with this analogy, but first….)

Not long ago, we heard a news story about a sweet 77-year-old Italian lady who inadvertantly poisoned her son and three grandchildren, ages 8 to 12, all because she was oblivious to the expiration date on some packets of hot cocoa. Her “victims” fell ill to vomiting and diarrhea, and soon ended up in the emergency room where they were treated for food poisoning! Turns out the cocoa had expired … 25 years ago! But what’s amazing is that we don’t hear about this sort of thing more often.

Life is hectic, and who has time to pay attention to all those tiny dates printed in often obscure places on the labels of the foods we buy? And because it’s generally out of sight, all the stuff hiding in the farthest reaches of our kitchen cabinets, is also generally out of mind. Who knows what evil lurks in the shadows of the cupboard shelves! Flour and bread crumbs can harbor grub worms, jars can lose their vacuum and grow mold. And in the refrigerator … oh, the horrors of out-of-date dairy products! Even the nectar we put out for our hummers has to be changed daily when it’s hot (and the feeders cleaned), or bacteria harmful to the birds will start to grow.

So, unless we want to poison the people we love, we need to check the dates! Unless we want the promise of a comforting mug of hot chocolate to turn into a trip to the doctor, we need to take stock of our shelves at least once a year and the fridge about monthly.

How often should we take stock of God’s promises? Daily is wonderful, because we can all use a daily helping of encouragement. But unlike food, God’s promises don’t come with expiration dates. Our Heavenly Father is into long-term agreements. In fact, His covenants and commitments are “everlasting”! He keeps His promises. Period! “O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in all of heaven and earth. You keep your covenant and show unfailing love to all who walk before you in wholehearted devotion.” (2 Chronicles 6:14 NLT)

“Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.” (Psalm 145:13 NIV)

God’s love doesn’t have a limited shelf life. His LOVE, MERCY, and GRACE stay FRESH! “Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.”(Lamentations 3:23 NLT)

“I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.” (Jeremiah 31:3 NLT)

Claim God’s fresh, eternally-lasting promises today! They never get stale or go bad!

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Easy Open! (Angel in the Kitchen)

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There’s this funny comedy sketch from the old Carol Burnett Show, in which Carol’s character enters her kitchen with several bags of groceries. She’s hungry and she’s looking forward to snacking on some of the treats she just purchased. Unfortunately, she can’t get any of the bags, boxes or cans opened! Over the next 5 minutes, she struggles in vain to get into various packages, and toward the end succeeds only in opening a gash in her thumb! She hurries to apply a band-aid, but … she can’t get into the protective sterile wrapper!

Have you ever experienced anything like this? We have. That is, one of us routinely struggles with opening kitchen items! Yes, one of us is container challenged! A bottle of cola? We need a pair of pliers to unscrew the top! A bag of chips: we need heavy-duty kitchen shears. And you know those wide-mouthed caps that come on those huge plastic bottles of laundry detergent — the caps that double as “wash load” measuring cups — we still haven’t quite figured out that one!

Once, we got this plastic tub of little frozen cream puffs, and we had to read the opening instructions three times before we figured out what the manufacturer was telling us. We located this nearly imperceptible indentation along the edge of the container, and (according to the label) needed to pry up near this indentation in order to “break loose” a tab. Once the tab broke loose, all we had to do was lift the lid at that corner. One big problem: we couldn’t get the plastic to break! We had to go to the garage and get a screwdriver, and then spent several aggravating moments digging and twisting into the edge of the plastic lid. Maybe the real  “cream puffs” were outside the box!

Sometimes we wonder if the engineers who design these cans, bottles, boxes and bags aren’t enjoying a private little joke at our expense. Then we remind ourselves that consumer goods are supposed to be hard to open — and there are good reasons why! Manufacturers want to protect their consumers, for one. They don’t want shoppers easily opening a can of mixed nuts in the aisle at Walmart to see if they’re salty enough to suit their tastes — or to simply satisfy a sudden snack attack — and then putting the container back on the shelf. Manufacturers want to protect their products from being consumed, contaminated, pilfered, and possibly even poisoned! (Yes, that actually happened a couple decades ago.)

Furthermore, cleaning fluids and over-the-counter drugs labeled as “childproof” need to be just that: impervious to the curiosity and tenacity of industrious little kids! The downside of “safe and secure” packaging is that it makes it really tough for some of us to get into a bag of cookies or a box of crackers! We’re all for safety, but does everything have to be so hard to get into?!?!

Grrrr–struggle, struggle–ggrrrrrrr! Oops!

Well, not everything in life is hard to get into. In fact, there’s at least two things we can think of that were actually designed to be easy to get into: the Family of God and, by extension, the Kingdom of Heaven. These two things aren’t even childproof! Jesus said, “…Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:3 Berean Study Bible)

The instructions for getting into God’s Family are easy to follow. It’s all outlined in the Word of God — and our Heavenly Father even made getting into His Word easy! The Gospel of Salvation through Christ is simple enough that even a child can understand it, because God wants everyone to have easy access to Him.

We may have trouble opening a can of spam, but opening our Bibles is a breeze! We may have trouble getting into a bag of chips, but getting into God’s Spiritual Family is a cinch: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name….” (John 1:12 NASB)

Want God to open the way for you? Just follow these “EASY OPEN” instructions: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved..” (Roman 10:9 NLT)

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