Monday, May 4, 2020

Elderberry Syrup recipe

I was looking for an elderberry syrup that could not only boost the immune system, but would also help with controlling mucus and cough. This is what I came up with.

3½ cups water
2/3 cup dried black elderberries (dried, or 1 1/3 cups fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup dried echinacea root or 1 tsp echinacea tincture
2 TBSP marshmallow root
2 TBSP slippery elm bark
2 TBSP licorice root
1 TBSP ginger (grated)
Orange zest from 1 orange, or 2 tsp dried orange zest
1 tsp  cinnamon
1/2 tsp  ground cloves
1 cup raw honey

1. Pour the water into a medium saucepan and add the elderberries, echinacea, marshmallow root, ginger, orange zest, cinnamon, and cloves.
2. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until the liquid has reduced by almost half.
3. Remove from heat and let cool until it is cool enough to be handled.
4. Mash the berries carefully using a flat utensil.
5. Pour through a strainer into a glass jar or bowl.
6. Discard the elderberries and let the liquid cool to lukewarm.
7. When it is no longer hot, add the honey and stir well.
8. When the honey is well mixed into the elderberry mixture, pour the syrup into a mason jar or 16-ounce glass bottle of some kind.

Instant Pot option: Put all ingredients except honey in pot, seal lid, and set manually for 9 minutes on high pressure. Vent pressure and strain. When cooled to room temperature, stir in the honey.

Store in the fridge and take daily for its immune boosting properties. Some sources recommend taking only during the week and not on the weekends to boost immunity.
Standard dose is ½ - 1 teaspoon for kids and ½ - 1 tablespoon for adults. If sickness does strike, take the normal dose every 2-3 hours instead of once a day until symptoms disappear.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

The Burden Bearer (poem)

Christian, when thy way seems darkest.
  And thine eyes with tears are dim,
Straight to God thy Father hastening.
  Tell thy sorrows unto Him.
Nor to human ear confiding
  Thy sad tale of grief and care.
But on God thy Father resting,
  Pour out all thy sorrows there.

All thy griefs by Him are ordered,
  Needful is each one for thee;
All thy tears by Him are counted,
  One too much there cannot be!
And if, while they fall so quickly,
  Thou canst own His love aright.
Then each bitter tear of anguish
  Precious is in Jesus' sight.

Far too well thy Saviour loves thee,
  To allow thy life to be
One long calm, unbroken summer,
  One unruffled stormless sea.
He would have thee fondly nestling,
  Closer to His loving breast;
He would have that world seem brighter
  Where alone is perfect rest.

Though His wise and loving purpose,
  Clearly now thou canst not see.
Still believe, with faith unshaken,
  All shall work for good to thee.
Therefore when thy way seems darkest,
  And thine eyes with tears are dim.
Straight to God thy Father hastening
  Tell thy sorrows unto Him.

  —Author unknown

Friday, May 1, 2020

What Are Dispensations?

Some Christians talk about Bible "dispensations" and how things were different for those in the Old Testament from how things are in the New Testament.
First, let me explain what is meant by "dispensation" as it pertains to this devotional. By dispensation, I mean a period of time in which God deals with mankind in a specific way. About four dispensations have passed us in history, we are living near the end of a specific dispensation, and there will be about three more yet to come (as I write this).
There are several dispensations in the Bible, not necessarily called out, but they are evident by one or two different things- how a person gains the eternal destination of their soul, and what a person eats. Whenever a dispensation changes, the rules for salvation change and the guidelines for a person's diet changes.
The first dispensation is usually referred to as Innocence. This is when Adam and Eve were first created in the Garden of Eden. They ate from the trees. And their eternal destination was dependent on one thing- don't eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil- that's it!
There was no sin to deal with. Heaven and Hell were not destinations that a person would go to. Adam and Eve could live forever in a perfect garden world if only they obeyed that one rule.
Genesis 2:16-17- And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
This dispensation ended with Adam and Eve eating the fruit from that one forbidden tree. They died spiritually instantly in their relationship to God; they began to die physically; and their soul would now be destined for one of two places- heaven or hell.
When Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden, a new dispensation took over which is usually referred to as Conscience. In this new time period they would eat not only of the trees, but also from the ground. And, their eternal destination was dependent on their walk with God and whether they were accepted of Him.
Genesis 3:17-19- And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
Genesis 4:3-7- And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
How did these boys know to bring an offering to the Lord? Because God showed Adam and Eve way back when he killed the lamb that clothed them what was the price for sin- blood of an innocent animal had to be shed. If they died and their sins were covered (not forgiven) by the blood of an acceptable sacrifice then they would go to a place they would come to call Abraham's Bosom, or paradise. If they died and their sins weren't covered they would go to hell.
Jesus describes both of these places in the Gospel of Luke chapter 15.
This dispensation ends with all mankind corrupting itself with fallen angels and the wickedness of humanity being so great that God destroyed almost all of mankind.
After the flood, Noah and his family were the only humans to remain on this planet. This begins the third dispensation usually referred to as human government. Mankind would create rules of law and people would try to obey them. These laws weren't perfect, and a sacrifice of innocent blood from an animal was still required to cover sins.
Genesis 9:1-4- And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.
Their diet now included animal meat. No restrictions were put on which animals could be eaten. And, the only two rules that God gave were not to eat blood and not to murder other humans. God initiated Capital Punishment for murder during this dispensation and it carries on until today.
Genesis 9:5-6- And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
Every other law was made up by a human government. Mankind was to use his conscience and follow the truths that were evident there. The more a person obeyed their conscience, the more light God gave to them on the means of their soul and their eternal destination.
Romans 2:14-15- For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
And, the eternal destination of the soul was the same as the previous dispensation- hell or paradise.
Mankind would end this dispensation with a ton of rules, but no real morality or holiness. They had their laws, but they would decide who really broke them or who could be "forgiven" for their error. God had been dealing with the whole of mankind during this time period, but now God would focus on a particular family- Abraham.
This time period is usually referred to as the dispensation of Promise. It was a promise made by God to Abraham and his descendants. It was a covenant for a physical land grant in exchange for worshiping and obeying God only. Besides worship, there was one other things required- circumcision of the male lineage.
Genesis 15:7- And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.
Genesis 17:9-11- And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.
For many years God would tell the children of Abraham the exact same thing and make the promise to them. Through Isaac and then to Jacob and his children God worked within this family. Their eternal destination was dependent on obeying God and following his guidance. Their diet was very similar to that of their father Abraham, and when they died they either went to hell or paradise (called Abraham's Bosom). In time, their descendants would move to Egypt and begin to pick up some of those habits and that would be the end of this time period- a mixture of Jewish tradition and Egyptian lifestyle- but these people were not enslaved by a foreign Assyrian ruler.
Eventually God would step in and show them exactly what His law was and how they could guarantee their eternal destination. This would be known as the dispensation of the law.
The law was a strict dietary and moral guide that they had to keep perfectly to ensure that they would go to Abraham's bosom when they died. They had specific sacrifices that had to be performed, certain feasts that they had to observe, and foods that had to be eaten or avoided.
This law would carry through from Moses until Jesus Christ and it had a lot to do with the covenant of the physical land grant to the Jewish people. They rebelled many times against God and He would remove them from their land through captivity and then send them home again when they repented.
The entire time each person was really judged eternally by how he died- whether he had lived righteously and had his sin covered, or whether he died being a wicked sinner.
Ezekiel 18:21-24- But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live? But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.
This works based system ended, just like the last dispensation, with a mixture of Jewish tradition mingled with Babylonian paganism.
For almost 2,500 years God dealt with the lineage of the Jews. The covenant and the law was given to the Jewish people. Only those Gentiles who searched out the law had any knowledge of what was expected of them- so God dealt with the Gentile nations according to his last rules to them and they fell under a mixture of the dispensation of Human Government and Conscience.
But, God had a surprise in store for everyone. He was about to shake up the dispensations with a brand new covenant that would include both the Jews and the Gentiles! This is usually referred to as the age of Grace or the Church Age.
Acts 20:24- But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
God made it clear to Peter and Paul that the dietary laws of the Jewish people were no longer required to be kept for your eternal destination to be secured, nor did you have to observe specific feast days. The only requirement was to believe in Jesus Christ's death, burial, and resurrection and that His shed blood had the power to forgive your sins (not just cover, but wipe away!). This was huge! For almost 4,000 years salvation was completely works based, and now it was faith based.
Romans 10:9-13- That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
The eternal destination of the soul had also changed. No longer did a person go to Abraham's bosom or hell, but now they either went to be with the Lord in heaven or they went to hell.
II Corinthians 5:8- We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
Anyone, anywhere can be saved simply by believing and asking Christ for salvation. No mystical words, no magical ceremony, just a prayer that you know you're a sinner and you understand that Christ died for your sins and His blood is the only acceptable offering for your soul, and that you believe He raised again from the dead and you want to go to heaven when you die because you accept the sacrifice made in your place.
So easy, and yet this would also end in apostasy where instead of simple faith people would try to work their way to heaven. No belief in Christ, in stead, there would be many different ways preached to people that they could achieve entrance into heaven by their deeds or devotions or meditations and yet they would die and go to hell in spite of all of it!
The Bible says that a "rapture" of the saved souls would happen that will end this dispensation and a new, dreadful dispensation would come in its place. Not many people recognize this dispensation, but it is called by many as the Tribulation.
This time period appears to have two distinct sections where the Lord turns to dealing directly with the Jewish people again. Gentiles can be saved during this time, but they must keep the law of Moses and ask Christ to save them, and not take the Mark of the Beast when it shows up. This is a time of both faith and works. It's hard to understand what all is required because as I write this we aren't in this dispensation- however, when it happens those who search the scriptures will find exactly what is required for them to obtain salvation of their souls during this time- even though it may cost them their lives.
Revelation 14:12- Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
Revelation 15:3- And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.
The diet during this time period will be very difficult, especially if people must adhere to the Levitical dietary laws. The natural disasters and plagues will all but wipe out most of the animal and plant life here on the earth. And, throughout all time periods one thing has remained the same- you cannot eat/ drink blood!
People who die during this time period go under the altar. Many people think that it's a physical altar in Jerusalem where the AntiChrist is reigning during the last part of the Tribulation. When souls start to get trapped here is unclear, but they don't go to heaven when they die.
Revelation 6:9-11- And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
At the end of this dispensation, the Lord will return and destroy the armies of the AntiChrist. Any human who has not taken the mark and has survived will enter into a new time period called the Millenium.
Revelation 19:19-21- And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
The AntiChrist will be chained in a bottomless pit and a literal lake of fire will be on the earth. Those who live during this time will not need faith because Christ will be sitting on a throne ruling this planet for a thousand years. A soul's eternal destination will be determined purely by their works.
Revelation 20:4- And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
Isaiah 66:23-24- And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD. And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.
 I'm not certain if those who live during this time gain eternal life or if they just live until the end of this time period and then are judged. However, those who do not obey the Lord will be cast physically into a lake of fire that everyone can see. The earth will be restored like the Garden of Eden and people will go back to eating the way they did in the garden. No atheists exist during this time because anyone can physically look on the Lord. Anyone who was in Abraham's bosom or heaven will be reigning with Christ or living on the earth during this time in new bodies.
This time period ends with the Devil being loosed from the bottomless pit and going forth to try to deceive whomsoever he can. You would think after living under Christ's rule on a perfect earth for a thousand years that no one would fall for the devil's tricks, but sadly many will. And the entire world will end in complete destruction of the entire universe and people will stand before God Himself and be judged according to their works during the rules of their dispensations.
Revelation 20:11-12- And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
The last dispensation will be an eternal one. I'm still a bit fuzzy on my understanding of how it all plays out, but I know that it is again a works based system and people eat from the trees again. God creates a new heaven and a new earth, and those who live during this time can earn eternal life. God is no longer separated from His creation, but dwells among them.
Revelation 21:1, 7-8- And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Revelation 22:1-2- And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
This was God's plan all along! He wanted to be able to live with mankind and talk with him. If Adam hadn't eaten of the fruit, we would all live in a paradise and know who God is and speak directly with Him. The end of all things will be as God originally intended.
Isaiah 65:17, 20, 25 - For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.
Those who work righteousness will be granted immortality. Those who work wickedness will be cast into the Lake of Fire. Swift punishment!
Unfortunately, sin has been unleashed on humanity. But, God has provided a way for anyone during any dispensation to gain an eternal rest for their soul if they will only search the Scriptures, find out what God says to them, and obey it.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Happy Resurrection Day!

The coronavirus can't hold back the meaning of the Resurrection. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. If you want to know the Biblical timeline of Christ's last week as a man on this earth, click here.