The Sweet Stuff Ministry

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Positive Outlook

Philippians 4:8   Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.

If you do not have a positive outlook, you cannot expect a positive outcome.

There are so many things in the world around us that can foster a negative attitude.  The news seems to be a pit of negativity.  We will find people around us who seem to have lost hope and joy.  It can be a challenge to maintain a positive outlook within the world today.

Having a positive outlook does not mean that nothing negative will ever happen in your life.  A positive attitude means that in whatever does happen within the world around you, you can find God's truth.  He wants us to ponder those truths and appreciate the positive things that we do experience in life.  He wants us to find peace even through any negativity that we encounter.  He wants us to focus on the good things in which he fills our lives.

If we focus on negativity and discouraging things around us, we will only spread that same negativity through our words and actions.  Focus on a positive outlook, so that your outcomes will also be positive and encouraging. 
Philippians 4:8   Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.

If you do not have a positive outlook, you cannot expect a positive outcome.

There are so many things in the world around us that can foster a negative attitude.  The news seems to be a pit of negativity.  We will find people around us who seem to have lost hope and joy.  It can be a challenge to maintain a positive outlook within the world today.

Having a positive outlook does not mean that nothing negative will ever happen in your life.  A positive attitude means that in whatever does happen within the world around you, you can find God's truth.  He wants us to ponder those truths and appreciate the positive things that we do experience in life.  He wants us to find peace even through any negativity that we encounter.  He wants us to focus on the good things in which he fills our lives.

If we focus on negativity and discouraging things around us, we will only spread that same negativity through our words and actions.  We should set our focus on a positivity, so that our outcomes will also be positive and encouraging. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Regrets

2 Corinthians 7:10  For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation.  There's no regret for that kind of sorrow.  But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. 

We all have regrets.  "Coulda", "woulda", "shoulda", and "if I had only", are thoughts that we all have somewhere throughout our lives.  Dr. Charles Stanley said this about regret, "if you do not have regret, you have either not lived or you have not learned".  Either you have been sitting on your couch wrapped in bubble plastic or you have not realized how God expects us to treat our mistakes.

Satan wants to magnify regrets.  He wants to put them right in front of our faces and cause us to experience worldly sorrow.  God wants to put regret in its place.  The only sorrow he wants us to experience for our mistakes is that which will cause a realization of the wrongdoing which will lead to repentance.  God wants us to improve our behavior in order to grow spiritually.  He wants us to become wiser and closer to him.  He does not want us to wallow in regret.

Worldly sorrow results in ruminating, chewing the cud, wallowing, rehashing-you get the picture.  This type of sorrow and regret hinders spiritual growth.  If we constantly dwell on mistakes and regrets, we fill our minds with discouragement and negativity.  This will keep us from moving forward and growing spiritually.

If you find yourself drowning in regret, take a look at why you continue to ruminate.  Have you given it over to God?  Have you repented?  If you have done these things, then God tells us to stop dwelling on our mistakes (Isaiah 43:18).  He tells us that he forgets our mistakes (Hebrews 8:12).  Mistakes are opportunities to learn and grow.  Treat mistakes the way in which God expects-with repentance and growth not regret.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Offer to Help Others with Bitterness

1 Samuel 1:6-7  And because the Lord had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her.  This went on year after year.  Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. 

Hannah was bitter.  She was so bitter that it affected her physically to the point that she would not eat.  Hannah was bitter because God had closed her womb.  That was devastating in and of itself because in Hannah's day, barrenness was looked upon as failure.  Not only was she dealing with these feelings, but she was also bullied and ridiculed about her situation by a mean spirited person. 

There are many points to make about bitterness in this story.  First, bitterness takes root in people for MANY reasons.  Those reasons involve loss, injustices, hurts, and disappointments.  Hurts come in all sizes and flavors.  Secondly, bitterness can cause severe emotions and reactions within a person.  Thirdly, bitterness can last for long periods of time.  Lastly, bitterness within a person should bring about compassion from others, but sometimes others delight in seeing people tormented by bitterness.  The three sentences in this passage tell us so much.

I wish to focus on the part of this passage where Hannah was provoked and tormented.  We should never enjoy another person's suffering, no matter the reason.  We are called to lift others up, to bear their burdens and to help them overcome suffering.  Bitterness is a type of suffering.  Grief, worry, and other strong emotions can bring a person to a point where physical effects occur.  Torment only makes the emotions stronger.    

If you know someone suffering from bitterness, offer comfort.  Provide friendship, a listening ear, or a Bible study in order to help someone overcome bitterness.  It is easy to overlook bitterness as suffering but I can tell you from my own experiences, much internal suffering occurs.  Compassion, love and friendship offer much encouragement to a person struggling with bitterness. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Insecurity is a Feeling NOT a Fact

Deuteronomy 33:12       And of Benjamin he (Moses) said, "The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders."

Insecurity is often an accompaniment of bitterness.  Insecurity is especially present when bitterness stems from some form rejection.  After all, rejection implies to us that we are not good enough or loved by others.

Insecurity causes us to feel inferior and have little confidence in our value.  It makes us doubt that others love us.  Insecurity produces chronic feelings of self-doubt.  

Insecurity generates fear.  The fears of insecurity look like this:
                        -Who will reject me next?
                        -I am worthless and nobody likes me.
                        -I will isolate myself from activities and relationships so that I will not be rejected.
                        -Everyone intends to hurt me.
                       
Insecurity is an inhibitor in a person's life.  It limits happy, fulfilling relationships.  Insecurity restricts a person's accomplishments.  It prevents wholehearted service and the relationship that a person can offer God.  Insecurity may also cause people to lash out at others in a mode of self-protection.

No one wants to admit insecurity.   It adds vulnerability and fear to an already sensitive esteem.  Self-doubt and uncertainty are not topics of conversation that most people readily initiate.  

If today finds you dealing with insecurity and fear, look to God to find security in your heart.   Trust Him to secure your surroundings by blessing your relationships and endeavors.   Remember that insecurity and fear are FEELINGS, not  facts.  Search for the truths that God has placed in your life. Open your heart to the blessings that he has provided you.  Cherish the people which He has placed in your life to help you fell secure.

He intends for each of us to feel loved and secure.  He wants us to enjoy relationships and find comfort and security day to day.  May His love and comfort dwell in the mind of each of you so that you never experience insecurity. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Daily Bread

Exodus 16:14-15     When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor.  When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, "What is this?"  For they did not know what it was.

Daily bread.  That is what it was.  The Israelites did not even realize that the manna which God sent them fresh every morning was their daily bread.  The manna rained from heaven onto the grass.  The interesting thing was that it could not be stored.  It only lasted long enough for the Israelites to eat and then it spoiled.  But, each morning, there was fresh, new manna to sustain the hungry people. 

Daily bread.  The Israelites had a literal "daily bread" with a symbolic meaning.  While they grumbled and wondered what they would eat and how they would survive in the desert, God was showing them that he would provide everything that they needed, exactly when it was needed. 

Same goes for us.  Daily bread.  What we need, when we need it.  Everything we need for the moment, for the day.

Several scriptures in the Bible speak of daily bread.  In the Lord's prayer, Matthew chapter 6, asks the Lord to "give us this day our daily bread".   Proverbs 30:8, "give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread". 

Daily bread means more than just our "manna" for the day.  When I think of daily bread, I think of these things as well:
                  -peace that God offers in the midst of tumultuous storms in our lives=daily bread
                  -protection from all the evils in our world=daily bread
                  -phone call from a friend at a moment when you needed it=daily bread
                  -an unexpected act of kindness that beams with God's love=daily bread
                 
Daily bread consists of those things that keep us filled up with God's love.  Daily bread sustains us when the world around us is chaotic.   Daily bread fills us until our cup runneth over. 

We should thank God each day for our daily bread, the literal slices as well as the figurative slices.  Daily bread is everything we need today. Tomorrow, new manna will be sent from above!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Activated Memories

Revelation 21:4  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. 

Do you ever have one of those days when a negative emotion or memory just pops up out of the blue?   The day is seemingly going great, and then-THUD here comes the remembrance of a hurtful event or situation. Maybe the memory was prompted by something someone said, something you read, or a date on the calendar that signifies a painful memory.  I had one of those moments recently.  A memory was activated by what someone said.  Although it was not with the intent to cause any pain,  my mind flooded with some painful memories and questions for which I still do not have the answers. 

Those instances may knock you backwards and threaten to knock you down.  If you have already dealt with forgiveness and letting go, then remind yourself that you have done so and remember to:  SORT, SIEVE, LEARN AND LEAVE.  

-Sort out the truths and facts vs. feelings. Feel the emotions and refuse to linger on them.  
-Sieve all the negatives, hold on to the positives.  Let go of the things over which you have no control.
-Learn what God wants you to learn about yourself and about him.
-Leave the bitterness and bad memories behind. 

If the memory/emotion lingers in your mind and you have not dealt with forgiveness and letting go, now is the time to do so. 

We cannot totally erase memories or avoid things that trigger the memories.  We can choose to avoid entertaining the side effects of those memories deep inside us.  In the not so distant past, the same memory trigger would have sent me into a negative tailspin that would have lasted for days.  The internal commotion of asking why, how, and what were they thinking would have been the focus of my day.   This time, I just said God I know you are still aware of this hurt and that I have given it to you. 

Thank God for taking care of all things! 

Monday, December 4, 2017

A Season of Forgiveness

Matthew 18:21-22  Then Peter came to him and asked, "Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me?  Seven times?"  "No, not seven times," Jesus replied, "but seventy times seven!"

Forgiveness is multifaceted. 

Forgiveness is tough.

One of the toughest parts of forgiveness involves fear---the fear that comes with feeling vulnerable to being hurt again.  For as many times as we are hurt, we must forgive.   Non-negotiable. 

Worrying about subjecting ourselves to the possibilities of hurt is not fun.  It is also NOT forgiveness.  Forgiveness is letting go of the actions or words that caused hurt in the first place; the decision that we will not allow the actions or words to affect our inner beings and service to God.  Forgiveness pertains to things in the past, no matter how recent or distant.   

The fear of being hurt again is a trust issue.  It pertains to the future.  Fear is anticipation of something that might happen.  Fear is not of God, it is a tool of the devil.

We are required to forgive over and over and over.  Think of it from God's perspective, He forgives us over and over and over.  The offer is always good.  

Do not allow fear to prevent you from offering forgiveness.  Trust in God to protect you from hurts and decide to live in forgiveness.  

The Christmas season is a great time to offer forgiveness.  After all, Christ was born in order to die and offer forgiveness for us.   The Christmas season stirs our hearts to deal with forgiveness-I believe this is no coincidence!