The Sweet Stuff Ministry

Friday, October 20, 2017

There is Nothing New Under the Sun

Ecclesiastes 1:9-11  What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.  Is there anything of which one can say, “Look!  This is something new”?  It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.  There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow.

When we read that “there is nothing new under the sun”, we likely think, well there are plenty of things in our lifetime that were not here 100 years ago. This is true when we think of inventions, improvements in material things, or medical advancements.  However, when we think of man’s heart, is there anything new within it?  

The book of Ecclesiastes reflects Solomon's experiences.  While Solomon was the wisest man on earth besides Jesus Christ, he sinned against what God had warned him.  Solomon gave into his appetite of the flesh as he entertained and married many foreign women (1 Kings 11:1-13).  God had told Solomon not to marry these women as they "will surely turn your hearts after their gods" (1 Kings 11:2).  

Solomon was allured by the offerings of the world.  His love for women and the desires of his flesh, led him to have a divided heart.  Solomon's sin not only impacted  himself, but also had a great effect on an entire generation.  

The passage that tells us "there is nothing new under the sun", can point us in several directions.  When I studied this passage a couple of days ago, I was inspired to view it from a sin perspective.  

Sin is as old as the creation of man.  In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve gave into the desires of the flesh.  Their actions had a great impact on every future generation that has been created on this earth.  We are still experiencing consequences of the sin of Adam and Eve.  Sin is "nothing new under the sun".  

We can look at the methods of sin throughout time.  Advances in technology allow sin to be carried out in new forms.  But if we look at the nature of sin, there is nothing new.  Sin is still and will always be a temptation by Satan to do wrong against Gods' divine law and principles.  Sin is heart condition.  

The 10 Commandments cover the types of sin about which God warns us.  As we read through the list, we can think of examples of how methods of sin may have changed in our lifetime, but the sin is not new.  The name and meaning of each sin is still the same as it was when God gave Moses the 10 Commandments to present to the people. 
As a generation, have we learned anything from the generations before us?  Are we able to look back at sins that were committed by the people before us and connect the consequences to the actions?  Matthew Henry's Commentary says, "men's hearts and their corruptions are the same now as in former times; their desires, pursuits, and complaints, still the same.   This should take us from expecting happiness in the creature, and quicken us to seek eternal blessings". 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Guard Your Heart from Dejection

Proverbs 4:23   Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Guard your heart so that rejection does not lead into dejection.  Understanding the potential damage that rejection can do to you emotionally is the key to guarding your heart from bitterness.

The bitterness that accompanies rejection will rob you of your peace.

It will steal your joy.

It will cause you to question your purpose. 

It will cause you to lose faith in people, even people that you love. 

I've been there and experienced all the above.

Within every situation that we encounter, the opportunity to exercise and increase our faith exists.  Even when rejection is involved, we can strengthen our relationship with God.   We must rely fully upon God, and not look to others for personal validation.   This is difficult.  It requires practice daily.  It is possible. 

Be still and know God.  He is sufficient!                 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Psalm of Gratitude

For as many times as we go to God with prayers of petition, we must also present prayers of gratitude.  Today my heart is filled with gratitude.  I am sharing with you, Psalm 116, to express my gratitude. 

Psalm 116

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
    he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
    I will call on him as long as I live.
The cords of death entangled me,
    the anguish of the grave came over me;
    I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
    Lord, save me!”
The Lord is gracious and righteous;
    our God is full of compassion.
The Lord protects the unwary;
    when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return to your rest, my soul,
    for the Lord has been good to you.
For you, Lord, have delivered me from death,
    my eyes from tears,
    my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the Lord
    in the land of the living.
10 I trusted in the Lord when I said,
    “I am greatly afflicted”;
11 in my alarm I said,
    “Everyone is a liar.”
12 What shall I return to the Lord
    for all his goodness to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
    and call on the name of the Lord.
14 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
    is the death of his faithful servants.
16 Truly I am your servant, Lord;
    I serve you just as my mother did;
    you have freed me from my chains.
17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you
    and call on the name of the Lord.
18 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the Lord
    in your midst, Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord.[a]

Monday, October 16, 2017

Listen to the Hurt Instead of the Words

Ephesians 4:29  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 

Have you ever had someone come to you in anger and "let you have it with both barrels" as the old saying goes?  Or perhaps you have unleashed your own anger at some point on someone.   I have been on both sides of this situation.   

Neither is fun. 
Neither is productive.
Neither is uplifting. 
Neither is godly.

Both wreak of hurt.  If a person lashes out verbally at another, then the entire tone of all the words is HURT.   Underlying hurt, whether from the past or present, has the potential to produce volatile words.  Those words in anger only produce more hurt.   Bottled up, unhealed hurts, resentment, and bitterness will lead to an explosion that erupts from the mouth.  Luke 6:45 tells us that "out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks".   When a heart is hurting, the mouth will call attention to it.

If ever a person lashes out at you verbally, instead of hearing their words, try to hear their HURTS.  Seek what is truly bothering them, which may not have anything to do with you at all.  If you are tempted in the future to verbally lash out at someone, or "unload on" as some call it, stop and think about what you are really trying to say.  Do you really want to say all the destructive words and critical adjectives or are you truly trying to let the other person know that you are hurting? 

I often ponder why it is difficult for us to share our hurts and vulnerabilities with others.   Why can't we simply say to another, "your words or actions have hurt me and I want to discuss that with you"?   Why must character assassination accompany hurt feelings or offenses?  

Emotions carry powerful punches.  When those emotions are not controlled and are contained inside the heart, eventually the mouth will spew out those feelings.  Misuse of strong, negative emotions can cause much damage.  Repair of the damage can take great lengths of time and effort because words are one of the elements that we remember most in our relationships.

The next time you receive a verbal blast of emotions from someone, try to listen to the hurt instead of the words.  The next time you are tempted to deliver a verbal blast to someone, take the initiative to address within yourself why you feel the need to lash out.  Listen to the hurt in what you are saying. Put a label on the hurt that causes such strong emotions to surface from within you.  Seek God's help to heal that hurt before it hurts anyone else.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Rejection is a Ploy of the Great Deceiver

Psalms 7:1  O Lord my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me, or they will tear me like a lion and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.

At some point in our lives, we all have felt a form of rejection.  Rejection comes in many flavors and varying degrees.  Rejection can be felt in mild form such as being chosen last for a kickball team at recess during childhood or having an idea rejected from a team member at work.  Rejection may also be experienced in greater degree.  Examples of deeper forms of rejection are betrayal from friends or family, divorce, or losing a job due to subjectivity.  Rejection is not pleasant.  The effects of rejection may be cumulative over many years and throughout numerous situations. 

Why does rejection have the potential to cause such deep emotional wounds?  Rejection, whatever the flavor, involves a relationship between two people or a group of people.  Relationships are the core of our existence on earth.  God designed us to have relationships.  His will is for our relationships to be pure and according to his principles.  By nature, human beings are self-serving.  Pride and "self" do not yield to the needs of others.  When pride and self-centered intentions are in the mix, someone will feel rejected and unimportant. 

Rejection influences our feelings of worth.  We feel of lesser value when we are seemingly cast aside by others.  When dealing with rejection, we must separate ourselves from the behaviors and thoughts of others and discard any self-defeating thoughts of being unimportant or unlovable.  

Rejection brings about distance between people.  It causes chaos, turmoil, and discord.   Satan's ultimate goal is to create enough bitterness between people that each will eventually become bitter toward God  (We see this in the book of Job).  He uses rejection to disrupt our relationships.  What better way to tear people apart than for the great deceiver to convince people to destroy relationships?

The most important relationship we have is with our Heavenly Father.  Even if people that are important to you in this life, or people that are you family reject you, you are still real and you are important to God!   He values each and every one of us.  He can and will rescue you from rejection and all the effects thereof.                        

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

There is Rest in Forgiveness

Colossians 3:13-14  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

You will find rest in forgiveness. 

When we have a grudge against someone, the mind does not rest.  It is constantly ruminating about the details.  Our thoughts will continuously remind us of negative feelings about a grudgeful situation.  Persistent feelings of ill-will crowd out peace and happiness.  If the mind is working diligently then our entire body can become exhausted. 

There is rest in forgiveness.  The rest is the peace that comes when we free the mind of grudges.  Getting rid of ill feelings toward a hurtful situation frees the mind and body to rest and find peace.  If the mind is no longer imprisoned by vengeance and negative feelings, then we are able to find comfort and peace of mind. 

If your mind and emotions focus regularly on hurtful situations or people in your life, perhaps you are bearing a grudge.  Grudges are indications that forgiveness has not yet occurred.  I encourage you to seek forgiveness.  Work through the process of letting go of grudges in order to find rest in forgiveness.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Bitter Roots can Produce Sweet Fruits

"That which is bitter to endure, may be sweet to remember."  ---Thomas Fuller, 17th & 18th century

"Sorrow remembered sweetens present joy." ----Robert Pollock, early 19th century

"Only stay quiet while my mind remembers the beauty of fire from the beauty of embers."
                              --John Mansfield, early 20th century

The human mind has been dealing with overcoming bitterness since the beginning of time.  I found the above quotes that span the past four centuries relating to bitterness.  Each quote tells us that we can enjoy sweet things in life even when we have experienced bitterness.  

Bitterness is a stronghold of the mind.  It leads to many negative emotions and actions.  However, a bitter root can be transformed to yield sweet fruits.  Overcoming bitterness, and growing both spiritually and emotionally can lead to sweeter things in life.  Once bitterness has been overcome, we are able to appreciate the joys of the current situations in life.

When we ask God to help us rid of bitterness and its hindrance to His purpose for our life, we can begin to grow spiritually.  It is sweet to remember the bitterness of the past and be able to recognize growth and improvement.  Putting bitterness in its place equips us to deal with tough occurrences that will crop up in the future. 

I encourage each of you that may be dealing with bitterness to strive for sweet memories of the bitter situation.  This does not mean that you will not remember the events of the situation.  It simply means that you can remember the bitterness and thank God for removing it and allowing you to produce sweet fruits.  Ask God to remove all bitterness and replace it with sweetness.  It is amazing how much it will increase your joy!!