Friday, November 25, 2011

Leftovers

 “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness:  for they shall be filled.” 
Matthew 5:6 (KJV)

I absolutely love the holidays!  I love seeing my family and friends walk through our living room door towards the dining room table that is spread with all kinds of wonderful food placed on the lace tablecloth I put on year after year.  The aroma of rolls baking in the oven, the chill in the air, and the smile on each face warms my heart with an unexplainable peace.  As I hug each person who walks in our front door, I am deeply grateful for who they are and how much they mean to me.  They are all unique and wonderful….and very, very loved.

We gather around our table and give God thanks for all of the bounty and love and kindness He has extended to us for yet another year.  Then we eat…and we eat…and we eat!  And as my father-in-law says, if we always felt the way we did right then, we would never eat again! 

The sad part of special holidays for me is when they are all over, and everyone has gone home.  Seeing our table reduced back to its normal size with the extensions taken out is a vivid reminder that another cherished family time is now history and has been transferred to my “special memory” bank.  Later that night, hunger ultimately does set in again, and it occurs to me that there is still something left of the day…a very pleasant after-effect that remains long after the kitchen is silent and every dish has been washed and put back in its place.  Leftovers!!  As I sit down to enjoy some leftover ham, macaroni and cheese, and broccoli casserole (you will find a recipe for my family’s favorite variation of this dish at the end), it hits me that some foods taste even better the second time around.

Recently, we had a church service that was truly out of the norm.  It just seemed that the Spirit of God was overwhelmingly present from the time we walked through the church doors, until the moment we walked back out of them a couple of hours later.  I don’t think there was a dry eye in the whole chapel, and there was a spirit of worship that was extraordinary.  It seemed like the pastor was glowing as he preached, and he ended up preaching way before it was even time.  He started off testifying of God’s goodness, and the next thing we all knew, he was preaching strong under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  To say that we were blessed with an overflowing abundance of God’s special visitation, is putting it mildly.  By the time we left, my spiritual cup was overflowing, and I think everyone else’s was, too.

Leaving service that night was hard.  None of us wanted to leave the special spiritual feast God had prepared.  Eventually, we all said our good-byes, went our separate ways, and the chapel was left silent.  Later, as my soul became hungry for God again, I was pleasantly reminded that the good I received that night didn’t end when I walked out the door.  God gave enough for there to be plenty of “leftovers”!  I can call them back to my mind any time I want to and “re-chew” and ponder them and as I do, they taste even better the second time around!    

God knows what is up ahead for each one of us.  He knows how long the spiritual nourishment He provides will have to sustain us, and He feeds us accordingly.  I love the story in I Kings 19:1-8.  The great Old Testament prophet, Elijah, found himself discouraged, alone, and depressed sitting in a cave.  He had followed and minded God, yet the wicked queen Jezebel was determined to take his life.  He was spiritually depleted and down-hearted.  He lay down under a juniper tree and took a nap.  As he slept, an angel came, touched him to waken him, then told him to “arise and eat”.  Verse 6 says, “And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again.”  Evidently Elijah felt full and nourished and felt he had eaten enough to be satisfied.  But, verse 7 says, “…the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.”

God knew the journey ahead would be rough and hard and discouraging.  He knew Elijah would have to travel 150 miles before he would be able to obtain more sustenance.  He knew one round of food would not be enough to keep him during all he would go through.  Verse 8 says, “And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.”  I am so comforted to think of God’s providential care of Elijah.

Don’t you know God is aware of what we need, too?  He knew that the church service I described above would be the very last one Sis. Inez Richardson would ever attend.  She came to church that night with a very heavy heart and a tired and weary body.  She was racked with pain, and during service, she asked for special prayer.  We prayed earnestly for her, and she walked out of the chapel that night for the very last time. 

The following week, she went for some medical tests and found that there was a severe recurrence of the cancer from which she had previously suffered.  Her condition deteriorated very rapidly, and she was called home to be with Jesus yesterday….on Thanksgiving Day….just 18 days after that special service.  God knew what was ahead for Sis. Inez.  I can just imagine that in the 18 days that followed that service, her memories of that spiritual “meal” came back to bless her time after time, as she suffered.  Her children were amazed at the way she sang from her hospital bed during the days before her death.  Right in the midst of her intense suffering, God was feeding and nourishing her soul! 

I Corinthians 2:9 says, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”  He has what you need, my friend.  He will fill your heart to overflowing, enough for the “leftovers” to sustain you for many days.  Then, when it is necessary, He will fill you again!  His storehouse of spiritual blessings will never run out!  One day, like Sis. Inez, we will all make that crossing to be with Jesus for eternity.  Then we will never be hungry again.

Broccoli-Cheese Casserole
1 pkg. frozen chopped broccoli
1-8 ounce jar Cheese Whiz
1 cup Minute Rice
1 stick margarine
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
¼ cup chopped celery
¼ cup chopped onion

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients in casserole dish, cover, and bake for one hour.  Stir after the first 30 minutes.  Remove cover the last 15 minutes.  Enjoy!!  It is delicious and tastes great “left over”!

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