Sealed and Safe…

As some of you already know, I enjoy cooking on our smoker. I have had barbecue grills for years – and I really love to make beef jerky. But with the popularity of the jerky that I have made, I was finding it difficult to keep up with production for our kids and grandchildren. And as Janet likes to say, Hank, our dog, is my biggest fan. In fact, it is difficult to get him to eat a meal without breaking up a piece of beef jerky for him to enjoy.

So… last Christmas we invested in a rather large smoker to step up my game to another level. There is no question that it is much easier to use than the grills that I have used for quite a while. In fact, there really wasn’t any joy left in the process until the new smoker arrived and now I am back to really having a great time cooking for friends and family – even our neighbors seem to be fans. And I had to name the smoker to get it added to our wifi network so I can keep tabs on how things are going during the cooking or drying process. We have chosen to call it “Scotty’s Smokehouse” until we can find a better name – and I have a sign above the smoker that reads, “If you feed them, they will come…” Truer words have never been spoken!

Whenever our kids or grandchildren come over, it is not unusual for them to grab a little sandwich bag and help themselves to a serving or two of whatever the latest flavor is. I have smoked more than 60 pounds of beef so far this year and I have been experimenting with different ways of preserving the food so it lasts much longer without spoiling.

Aside from the jerky, I tried smoking pork shoulders several days ago. This is the kind of meat that you smoke to make pulled pork sandwiches. I tried my first one a number of months ago and was disappointed in the amount of work for the small amount of pulled pork that I got from the effort. Janet and I each had a sandwich and that was about it…

So… this time I cooked 15 pounds of meat – some of it for almost 16 hours – starting at 9:30 p.m. and running through the night. The last pieces were ready about noon the next day. We made much more than we need right now, so I have decided to preserve the rest. By the way, it was really tasty!

After all kinds of experimentation for the last several years, I learned that the best way to save food is to seal it. So that is what I do. Yes, it takes effort but makes the whole process much more workable.

Last night as I was remembering the work of the last several days, it occurred to me that there are several instances in the Bible where there are references to being “sealed” by God. While there are several interpretations of the meaning of these verses, it seems clear that God “seals” his people so they will be safe. The “seal” is a mark on their foreheads and keeps them from harm – it “preserves” them. Paul makes references to this but so does the apostle John.

By the way, there are also references to the mark of the Devil, the number 666, put on those who are not saved. But that is for another time – tonight I am writing about how safe and secure we are when we are “sealed by God.” It is thought that there is a special mark put on the foreheads of those who belong to God – an invisible mark to mankind, but one that is easily seen by the angels. Then they can tell which folks belong to God.

Tonight’s verse highlights one of the areas in the Bible where we can read about the divine “seal.” John, the author of Revelation, tells us in Rev. 14:1, “Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.” The book of Revelation was a record of the events that John experienced and was ordered to write down. It has to do with the endtimes and the events that take place during that period, culminating in the eternal reign of Christ.

Of course, there are many interpretations of the information we are given in Revelation. My encouragement this evening is that God calls us His own and actually provides an identifying seal to show that believers are part of His eternal flock. My prayer is that we will all appreciate the length and breadth and depth of God’s love for us – and that we will always be protected from the advances of Satan in our lives. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…


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