Blood in the Nile
Verse: Exodus 7:14-24
The plague of blood is a powerful testimony to the truth of God’s ownership and management of all creation. The Nile River is Egypt’s greatest natural resource, serving as the source of the land’s natural fertility and prosperity throughout history. By changing the waters of Egypt into blood, God demonstrated his control over the source of Egypt’s economic vitality.
Pastor James E. Mead reflects that [the very] air we breathe, the water we drink, the wonder of life itself, the planet we live on, the universe—we brought none of these things into being. They are gifts we enjoy out of the overflow of God’s love. The love of God, the gift of Jesus Christ, forgiveness of our sins, the call into Christian community, the comfort of the Holy Spirit, eternal life—none came from us, each is a gift to us from God.
To remember that God owns everything prompts a remarkable shift in our view of stewardship. Usually when we think of stewardship (of giving to charitable causes, if you want), we define it as our giving to God or to the church something that belongs to us. But in the Bible, stewardship is just the reverse—our freely using, enjoying, and giving what already belongs to God.
In the words of Generous Giving’s Stewardship Bible Study Notes for this passage:
Just before God gave Moses permission to perform the first plague which turned all the water in Egypt into blood, God reemphasized that the reason he had determined to bring such cataclysmic disaster and violent upheaval upon the land of Egypt was that Pharaoh’s “unyielding” heart had caused him to refuse to let God’s people go (Ex 7:14).
We should exercise caution in drawing too close a parallel between Pharaoh and ourselves because God hardened Pharaoh’s heart (Ex 10:1) while he has promised to give us new hearts of flesh (Eze 36:26). Still, it is important for us to recognize that an unyielding heart always brings disaster. This truth applies whether it is Christians or non-Christians who are being unyielding and withholding what belongs to God.
In the end, God cannot be robbed, “For from him and through him and for him are all things” (Ro 11:36) … Everything in creation is at God’s disposal, so the question is whether we will give willingly, with yielding hearts, or whether we will harden our hearts and have our closed hands forced open by the Almighty God. We will either experience the joy of giving generously or, like Pharaoh, be smashed, having everything taken from us. In light of these ultimate ends, everyone should give what he has decided in his heart to give, “not reluctantly or under compulsion” from others but out of love for God’s Son, who became poor so that we might become rich [2Co 9:7].
Think About It
•God wants you to use and enjoy his creation. How can you do that with a proper attitude?
•Is there anything in your life that may alert you that some part of your heart is “unyielding”?
•How does God show us our heart attitudes?
Pray About It
God, reveal to me through your Holy Spirit any attitudes about my possessions that might point to an improper view of what you have entrusted me to manage.
This devotion is from the NIV Stewardship Study Bible by Zondervan. Used with permission.
October 24, 2013
The story of David and Goliath is one of the most well known events in the Bible. Even nonreligious people know something about this particular story. David is the underdog, Goliath is the undefeatable giant, and David wins the victory against seemingly impossible odds. When David was first anointed as King, he didn’t really understand any more than just that, he would be King. In God’s eyes, however, David was already King, but David hadn’t realized it yet.
This is the same as us concerning our position “in Christ.” You are there, as a believer, “in Christ” whether you know it or not.
Now as David was tending the sheep, he began to think about what being the King really meant. It meant that he was in God’s hands and nothing would happen to him until he was King, thus he could fight bears and lions and Goliath’s without fear of being killed because he now understood his position as a future King and his position concerning God. That must have been a liberating realization for David as he began to accept the truth concerning God’s promise. Once David became King, he fully realized that which he had only thought about as a young man. He was God’s man, to do God’s will, in God’s time. He operated from his position, as King, and the same should be for us, to operate from our position “in Christ,” as a joint heir, seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven.
Colossians 3:1-3 says, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
For more resources from Above & Beyond Fellowship, visit www.abidingabove.org.
You can eat healthy with diabeteswhile still enjoying the types of foods you know and love, says Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, of Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services in New York and creator of MomDishesItOut.com. Follow these four key steps to planning healthy diabetes-friendly meals:
- Balance your diabetes meals with a mix of high-fiber carbs, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
- Spread your intake of carbohydrates throughout the day rather than saving for a big splurge at dinner or over the weekend.
- If you want dessert immediately after your meal, eat non-starchy veggies with your protein choice and save the rest of your carbs for the sweet dessert. Think salmon with steamed asparagus and roasted Brussels sprouts, followed by a slice of flourless chocolate cake (a small piece, of course, of 45 grams of carbs or less).
- To keep meals flavorful and interesting, make friends with healthy fats like olive oil, canola oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados. Used in small amounts, these can add taste, texture, and color.
By experimenting in the kitchen, you can give all of your favorite dishes a healthy-meal makeover. Here are five ideas to get you started.
Meal Makeover: Put Your Favorite Salty Dish on a Low-Sodium Diet
According to the American Diabetes Association, for better diabetes nutrition, your daily sodium intake should be 2,300 mg or less. Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which can contribute to a host of other health concerns. Make over high-salt recipes for betterdiabetes meals by relying on spices and herbs rather than salt, using low- or no-sodium broths or sauces in place of traditional choices, and adding mushrooms — they’re high in glutamic acid, known for salty flavor, but is sodium-free.
Here’s Cipullo’s low-salt, low-fat beef broccoli stir-fry recipe:
1/2 cup reduced-sodium teriyaki sauce
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound boneless beef sirloin, trimmed if needed and sliced
3 cups broccoli florets
1 medium red bell pepper, sliced
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 shallot, chopped
2 cups cooked brown rice
- In a small bowl, mix teriyaki sauce and flour. Set aside.
- Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a wok or large non-stick skillet and add garlic and shallots; sauté until golden. Add beef strips and stir-fry, tossing until brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and rinse the skillet.
- In the skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil on medium heat. Add broccoli and peppers, cover and cook, tossing occasionally until crisp tender, about 5 minutes. Add teriyaki mixture and return beef to skillet. Cook until sauce thickens, about 2 more minutes. Serve warm over brown rice. Makes 4 servings.
Meal Makeover: Lose the Fat, Not the Flavor
Saturated fat raises blood cholesterol levels, a risk factor for heart disease. On its own, diabetes increases yourheart disease risk too, so limiting saturated fat in your meals is a must. The easiest way to cut fat from a dish is to start with lean cuts of red meat rather than fatty marbled cuts, skinless chicken, or fish, and bake or grill foods instead of frying. Cipullo also suggests cooking with broth instead of adding butter or other fats. Here’s her version of crispy chicken strips, which are diabetes-friendly because they’re baked not fried:
1 pound skinless chicken cutlets, cut into 1-inch strips
¾ cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 egg white
1 cup skim milk, more as needed
Canola oil spray
- Heat oven to 375°F. Line a large sheet pan with foil and spray with canola oil.
- Place the breadcrumbs in a medium bowl.
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk the egg white and milk.
- With a fork, dip each strip of chicken in the mixture of milk and egg white. Immediately transfer to the bowl with breadcrumbs and coat each side of the strips thoroughly. Place the breaded chicken strips on the sheet pan.
- Spray a light mist of oil on the top of each chicken strip for a crispier coating.
- Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once.
- Serve with tomato sauce or applesauce instead of ketchup. Makes 4 servings.
Meal Makeover: Go Vegetarian One Night a Week
A study published in the journalDiabetic Medicine found that people with type 2 diabetes who ate a vegetarian diet experienced a greater improvement in quality of life and mood than participants with diabetes who ate a conventional diet. For at least one meal each week, take a favorite dish and replace the meat with tofu, tempeh, or beans — hearty and thick alternatives in soups, chili, casseroles, and stir-fry, Cipullo says. Try her delicious recipe for heart-healthy vegetarian burritos to boost your diabetes nutrition:
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
8 whole wheat tortillas
1 15-ounce can low salt black beans
1 15-ounce can low salt kidney beans
1 cup corn, frozen or fresh, steamed
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon cilantro
4 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups reduced fat and grated cheese
1 avocado, sliced
- In a large bowl, combine the beans, corn, tomatoes, lime juice, and cilantro.
- Drizzle oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the red onion and garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes.
- When garlic becomes fragrant, add the bean mixture and reduce to low heat.
- Warm tortillas in the microwave for 20 seconds. Remove from heat and spread each tortilla with ½ cup rice down the center, followed by the bean mixture. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup shredded cheese and few slices of avocado, if desired.
- Wrap your burrito and enjoy. Makes 4 servings.
Meal Makeover: Go With Whole Grains
Meal Makeover: Boost Diabetes Nutrition in Dessert
You can still enjoy dessert after a diabetes-friendly meal. Cipullo suggests a few quick fixes to make favorite recipes deliver better diabetes nutrition. For starters, opt for nutrient-rich, whole-wheat flour and whole oats rather than overly processed white flour, she advises. Use lighter whole-wheat pastry flour for delicate recipes. Cut the amount of sugar in half or try a sweetener like agave nectar, which you can use in smaller amounts to get the same flavor.
Try Cipullo’s delicious oatmeal-raisin cookies to satisfy your sweet tooth:
¾ cup canola oil
1 cup honey or agave nectar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ cup raisins
½ cup toasted chopped walnuts
1½ cups wheat germ
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
¾ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
½ cup powdered fat-free milk
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Line two large baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, stir together the canola oil, honey, eggs, vanilla extract, raisins, chopped walnuts, wheat germ, and rolled oats.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and powdered milk.
- Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until well-combined.
- Scoop spoonfuls of the cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets. The cookies won’t spread much, so you don’t need to leave a lot of room between them.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until dry around the edges.
- Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Jesus went into the wilderness, to prove He was worthy of being the full atonement for the sin of all mankind. Thank you Jesus.
The Story: Tempted – Matthew 4:1-11
“Virtue is not virtue if it be untested and unexamined.” – Origen
Immediately following his baptism, the Holy Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness. The wilderness calls to mind Israel’s desert / wilderness experience in the aftermath of the Exodus. We mentioned this earlier in our study: Matthew understands Jesus as the fulfillment of Israel’s story. There are several parallels between Jesus and Israel here:
- In the previous chapter, Jesus passes through the waters of baptism just as Israel crossed the Red Sea.
- His 40 days of fasting parallels the 40 day fast Moses experienced on Mt. Sinai (Ex. 34:28).
- The 40 days Jesus spends in the wild also matches the 40 years Israel spent wandering in the wilderness.
- The wilderness is the place of Israel’s great failures. But where Israel fails repeatedly, Jesus succeeds.
In the wilderness, Jesus…
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What a joy it will be when we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory.
Stalactites and stalagmites are also an awesome sight
Golden structures built with main and might
In silence and emptiness, they’re slowly made
As endless drips of water down the top cascade.
And so it is that all things of beauty are created
With patience true and efforts unending exerted.
Thus, we should do when with God we’re interceding
That when we pray, we should pray without ceasing.
Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him…
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