Tap into God’s Blessings (Boot Camp for Creators & Dreamers 5.2)

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“I have been driven many times upon my knees by overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.” —Abraham Lincoln

In our previous Boot Camp session, “Tap into the Power of Prayer,” we set out to demystify prayer and zero in on how it can aid our creativity and help us to achieve our dreams.

Prayer is just a fancy way of describing a heart-to-heart chat with God, and it’s vital if we want to stay connected to the source of our strength and creativity. Jesus told His disciples that people should pray often. (Luke 11:8) He even offered them some simple guidelines in the form of “The Lord’s Prayer.” (Matthew 6:10-12) As we discussed, it’s a good idea to memorize these Scripture verses, along with Psalm 23, another handy Biblical prayer, — as an easy “icebreaker” to get the “dialogue” rolling. Doing so will ensure we’ll never be at a loss for words when we address the Creator of the Universe.

We highly recommend that anyone who is pursuing a dream or involved in creative activities follow the Apostle Paul’s instructions concerning prayer: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest….” (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)

Enjoy the ride and let God take care of the destination.

So, don’t waste time and energy fretting over why your dreams haven’t been fulfilled yet, or when God is going to open that special door, give you a breakthrough, meet your needs, or solve your problems. Instead, ask and trust God for everything, and then cast your cares upon Him. In fact, God admonishes us, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV)

Jesus Christ furthered this wisdom by saying, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7 NLT) In other words, BE PERSISTENT — both in prayer and in the pursuit of your dreams. Never, ever give up!

Now, why should we believe that God actually wants to answer our prayers? First, because He said so (in the preceding verses). Second, because of His Divine nature — His essential qualities of love, goodness, and giving, and His ability “to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.” (Ephesians 3:20 TLB)

God illustrates this truth by providing an earthly reference point: “…Parents — if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? …Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him.” (Matthew 7:9-11 NLT)

To help get you started — in the practice of asking your Heavenly Father for some of these “good gifts” — here are a few short Biblical prayers you can read and/or memorize and recite.

To prepare yourself for His blessings:

  • “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10 NLT)
  • “May all my thoughts be pleasing to [my God], for I rejoice in the LORD.” (Psalm 104:34 NLT)
  • “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? [I] put [my] hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42:1,5 NIV)

To receive comfort and reassurance:

  • “You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your Word.” (Psalm 119:114 NKJV)
  • “Keep my soul, and deliver me; Let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You.” (Psalm 25:20 NKJV)
  • “In You, O Lord, I put my trust; Let me never be put to shame. Be my strong refuge, to which I may resort continually; You have given the commandment to save me, for You are my rock and my fortress. Do not cast me off in the time of old age; Do not forsake me when my strength fails. You, who have shown me great and severe troubles, shall revive me again” (Psalm 71:1,3,9 NKJV)
Always ask while fully expecting to receive God’s blessings.

To request His blessings:

  • “Stir up Yourself, and awake to my vindication, to my cause, my God and my Lord.” (Psalm 35:23 NKJV)
  • The Prayer of Jabez: “[Your name] called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory [my readership, my viewers, my listeners, my clients, my customers, my influence, my outreach, etc.] that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted [me] what [I] requested.” (1 Chronicles 4:10 NKJV)
  • The Aaronic Blessing: “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Tell Aaron and his sons to bless the people of Israel with this special blessing: May the LORD bless you and protect you. May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you. May the LORD show you His favor and give you His peace.’(Numbers 6:22-26 NLT)
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Crock-Pot Promises (Angel in the Kitchen)

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Irving the Inventor!

In this age of high-speed internet, fast food, express checkout, and technology bent on making people and processes move ever more quickly, it’s really cool to learn about something that was actually designed to be slow. We’re talking about the crock-pot; designed to allow cooks to safely prepare a soup, stew or roast at a lower heat, while they were doing something else — probably away from home. In fact, one clever ad slogan announced that the Crock-Pot “cooks all day while the cook’s away”!  At this point, we should explain that all  Crock-Pots are slow cookers, but not all slow cookers are crock-pots. Huh? You see, Crock-Pot  is a brand name, in the same way that Jello is a brand of jello — er, gelatin!

Rival’s Crock-Pot was the first commercially marketed slow cooker. Initially it was marketed toward working moms who could toss meat and veggies in the pot before heading out the door, and then return home hours later to a hot cooked meal. The Crock-Pot sold millions throughout the 1970s, but then it seems to have fallen out of fashion. Perhaps its image as a slow cooker no longer fit in with the hyper-driven lifestyles of a newer, speed-obsessed generation.

Well, baby, the crock-pot is back! And we’re not ashamed to tell you we own seven of them! We use them for a variety of food preparations, and particularly during our Annual Soup Social. We plan this for Winter, then invite friends and family to join us for a meal featuring three or four hearty soups and stews. Our guests often pitch in by bringing their favorite breads or specialty crackers. The neat thing about having several crock-pots lining the kitchen counter is that our guests can help themselves to as much soup as they want, as often as they want; and the soup stays hot!

Irving Naxon invented the first slow cooker way back in 1936, and called it the Naxon Beanery. In 1970, he sold the Beanery to the Rival Company, which quickly changed the name to the Crock-Pot. (Can’t imagine why.) But where’d Irving ever get the idea for the slow-cooker in the first place? Well, many Sunday-go-to-meeting families owe the hot dinner that awaited them after church services, to Irving’s Jewish mother, the Sabbath, and … beans!

Irving’s mom often told him about a bean stew called cholent, which she made back home in Lithuania. She explained to her son that on the Jewish Sabbath, the day of rest, observant Jews aren’t supposed to do any work  — including cooking. But cholent slow-cooked all by itself. The stew went on the fire a little before sundown on Friday night. At sundown, the time the Sabbath begins, the ovens were turned off. Pots of cholent were placed inside the ovens, and the residual heat, over the course of 24 hours — all the way until the end of Saturday’s Shabbat services the next day — would be enough to complete the cooking process.

Sometimes the answers to our prayers are like cholent; the results are wonderful — but not immediate. The process of realizing our goals, or seeing our hopes and dreams come to fruition, is SLOW. It takes time to find and marry your soul-mate. The birth of a child comes after 9 months of expecting. It can take years to develop a good career, decades to fulfill a dream. But we need to develop “Crock-Pot Patience”! We need to learn to toss our cares and prayers into God’s hands and then get on with the rest our lives, confident that the answers, the breakthroughs, the blessings are being prepared — slow-cooked to perfection, while we’re taking care of other things God wants us to do.

In the Bible, David and Joseph waited years to see their dreams fulfilled. Moses, Joshua, and Caleb all waited decades to achieve their goals. Abraham and Sarah didn’t receive their Isaac, “the son of Promise,” until after a quarter-century had passed. But all these heroes of God’s Word had something in common. Call it “cholent confidence”: the process may be long, but it works … and the results are pleasing indeed! “…The LORD says: At just the right time, I will respond to you.(Isaiah 49:8 NLT)

“The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake.” (2 Peter 3:9 NLT)

“Write the vision; make it plain…. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; …If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come….” (Habakkuk 2:2-3 ESV)

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