The Sweet Stuff Ministry

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Maintaining Daily Peace

James 4:7-8     Submit yourselves, then to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and he will come near to you.


      Maintaining daily peace requires submission of yourself and all the turmoil in your life to God.  On a daily basis we must humble ourselves before God and let him handle the turmoil.    Satan likes to "mess in our peace". 

Verse 7 tells us to resist the devil.  What does this look like in our quest for daily inner peace?  It looks like this: 
         1. When you get up and negative thoughts or memories come into your mind, refuse to dwell on these (no wallowing; no ruminating).  Immediately begin to list at least 3 positive thoughts or memories, otherwise the devil has a good start at ruining your day. 
         2.  No reading negative things on social media--there is a delete button for your convenience. Turn that television off or better yet, disconnect it.  Most things on tv are sad, negative, or contain fear inducing material.  
         3.  Hang around with positive and encouraging people.  If you feel that you do not know any of these folks, pray and God will send some your way.  
         4.  This is last, however it is MOST important.  PRAY, PRAY AND PRAY.  Prayer is how you give it all to God and how peace is found. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Are You Only Making Left Turns?

Proverbs 3:6  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

We have two Thoroughbred horses that we adopted from a rescue center in our area.   The purpose of the center is take race horses that have been abandoned or injured and repurpose them.  They are trained, taught new things, and placed in locations where they can serve in a new capacity.  Some of the abandoned horses are trained for mounted police jobs.  Others become award winning competitors while some enjoy life in lush green pastures as pets.  

Think about race horses.  They are taken from their natural environment and taught to focus on speed in order for the owner to win a purse.   During all of a race horse's career, they run in a circle and make only left turns.   When race horses are injured or perhaps do not have great winning records, the owners are finished with them.  Sometimes they are abandoned at the tracks, other times they may be sold for slaughter.  At this point, their paths are unclear; their purpose is no longer the same.  This is where the retirement centers enter the picture.  The center rescues the horses and teaches them new skills.  The horses must learn to trust the new trainers because remember, they have only run in circles making left hand turns all their lives.  It is a heart warming experience to visit the center and to hear the stories of the lives that the horses are offered. 

It is easy in life for us to become similar to a race horse in that we run in the same circular direction chasing after scenery that never seems to change.  Do you feel as if you run in a circle making only left turns?  Are you unsure of your purpose or which way your life should be going?  Trust in God, acknowledge Him in every aspect of your life.  He will show you how to live your life other than racing in circles.  He can rescue you from the race tracks of life.  He can teach you many new things as long as you trust and go to Him for everything. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

May We Love With Intentional Actions

1 John 3:18   Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

How many times do we intend to do good things?  The birthday card that we think of sending, the phone call that we could make, giving away clothing or shoes that we no longer need are all thoughts of good intention but also are things that are easily postponed or never carried out. 

Each day God will place opportunities before us to serve him and serve others in ways that he desires.  We may pass someone on the street with a cardboard sign indicating that he/she is hungry.   We may know of a family in financial need in order to make ends meet for the month.  We all surely know of older folks that are lonely and can be uplifted by a phone call or card in the mail.  

How often are we contenders and oppose those whispers of  opportunity to help others that God speaks in our ears?   I know that I am guilty of hearing messages of sending cards, visiting the sick, calling the lonely, yet procrastinating instead of surrendering to that still small voice that is calling me to do something for another person.

May we surrender to those opportunities in which we might serve others.  Intentions are never seen by people that are in need.  They only see what we actually do.  Let us be intentional with actions that show love.  May we be prayerful that God will help us to love more with our actions than with words.  Lord, help those whispers to resonate in our ears as loud explosions of opportunity to serve you and make a difference in the life of another.  Amen.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Put Rejection in its Place

1 Samuel 8:7    And the Lord told him:  "Listen to all that the people are saying to you;  it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king....."

There are many emotions involved when bitterness is present within a person.  One of the most common feelings experienced with bitterness is rejection.  Because bitterness usually stems from an offense, a hurt of some type, rejection is a by product of hurt-especially intentional hurts. 

Rejection is an implied gesture that we are not accepted, liked, or valued.  We do not feel important or of any worth.  Rejection causes our esteem to suffer.  Rejection, unaddressed can lead to a deep degree of bitterness.

We can all recall a time in our childhood days, whether at school, in sports, or within our families that we felt rejected or left out.  It affected our esteem.  Rejection allowed an open door for Satan to talk us into all sorts of self-defeating ideas and beliefs about ourselves. 

Even in our adult lives, things happen that cause us to feel rejected. 
  
Unaccepted.  

Unimportant.
 
Of little value. 

I have been there.  Period.  Exclamation point!!

When people hurt others and fail to love others as God expects, then the rejection is not personal.  It is a rejection of God and his commands.  Rejection of another person is the failure to love as Christ loves us.  Believe me, I know that the hurt and pain is still as great, but when we draw near to God and understand his sovereignty, it lessens the intensity of what others have caused.   When we can recognize God's commitment to us, we can begin to view rejection in a different light.  If we can put rejection in its place, it is easier to prevent bitterness from entering our hearts.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

I Left my Baby in a Trailer Park in Alabama!!

Joshua 1:9   "Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go".

I left my baby in a trailer park in Alabama!!

You may be wondering if this is the making of a new country song.  I assure you there is a testimony here.  I will hold on to my day job for a bit longer before I try my hand at song writing.

This past weekend we moved our oldest daughter to Auburn, Alabama to begin her studies at the College of Veterinary Medicine.  This is eight hours from our home.  Even though she left home four years ago for her undergraduate studies, she was only a couple of hours from us if we wanted to pop in for a visit.

A tradition at Auburn for many decades has been that the veterinary students live in mobile home parks that are situated close to the school.  The vet school is away from main campus and what we call "out in the country".  Our daughter has met several veterinarians over the years that have told her about their experiences in the various mobile home parks.  It is where the students get their start at living on their own.    

In the weeks preceding her move, it all seemed in my mind like she was moving to the other side of the planet.  I had a great amount of anxiety, as all mothers do, about her safety and all the "what ifs" that might occur.  The thought of the distance between us caused a restlessness within me.  I was fearful.   

I have always thought that my main role as a mother is to teach our children to seek God in all that they do.  In that role, I am to lead my children toward the purpose which God has designed for each them.  Even in doing this, there is still what seems to be a ripping of the flesh as our children grow from a dependence on us as parents into their independence. We experience such feelings at various times throughout a child's growth and development.

I have never doubted that our oldest daughter is exactly on the journey which God has planned for her.  God has prepared her for this journey.  I can look as far back as when she was a toddler and recognize how God has opened each door at just the right time in her life.  Life is dynamic.  It is ever changing and always moving.  God is the only constant for each of us in life.  I must trust Him for all the things that are impossible for me to control.


Driving away, I felt like my insides were being ripped apart.  God was quick to remind me that her life is exploding toward her purpose and her dreams.   As we left Auburn on Sunday, a slow peaceful rain began to fall.  Much like the tears that were falling from my heart.  They were peaceful tears.  My husband said to me, "things are as they should be".  There is great peace in that truth.  John 14:27,   "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid".   


It is hard to let our babies go.  It involves a range of emotions that all parents understand.  I know these truths and promises:  God has plans for each of our children to prosper (Jeremiah 29:11); God is with our babies everywhere they go (Joshua 1:9);  God will protect our children (2 Thessalonians 3:3).

God has brought her this far.  She is fulfilling her purpose.  She has placed her trust in Him.  He will protect her, comfort her, and give her the strength to persevere.  These are the reasons that I left my baby in a trailer park in Alabama!!


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Come Close to God

James 4:7-8   So humble yourselves before God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come close to God and God will come close to you.

It is possible to spend years in bitterness and misery.  Some people spend a lifetime in misery, living with bitterness, anger and malice in their hearts.  It is Satan's desire for us to be miserable and to distance ourselves from God.  If we have drifted into a state of bitterness and misery, how can we establish a closeness with God?  The first step is to humble ourselves before God (James 4:7).  To humble ourselves means to surrender and submit.  We must surrender all our ungodly thoughts and attitudes and yield to God's authority.  This step is difficult for many. 

Why is it so difficult to surrender and submit to God?  Pride and control are part of the issue.  We want to feel as if we are in control of our lives; we are really not.  Surrendering all our thoughts and attitudes to God may present a feeling of vulnerability.  We fear that we will be hurt again.  However, by holding on to bitterness, we are vulnerable to Satan and that is far more risky than being vulnerable to the goodness of God. 

There is a part of us that holds on to bitterness because we are holding on to the desire for vengeance.   If we can hold on to bitterness or keep the grudge kindled against our offender, we feel more in control.  Tough to admit.  Tougher to let go.  We may even think that if we hold these thoughts and feelings inside of us that no one will notice; this is our little deal.  They do notice.  The loved ones in our lives are grieved by those types of attitudes. 

If you are harboring bitterness and anger, all the while thinking that it is your own battle, please realize that everyone around you is affected by that battle.  I ask that you ponder these things:  1. God is in control.  2.  When we try to control, we go against God's will in our lives.  3.  We cannot change things that have happened to us   4.  We can change how we feel about the things that have happened.  

Humble yourself.  Surrender.  Make yourself vulnerable to God's plans.  Life will be much sweeter this way!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Praise

Psalms 107:28-32    They they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their
                                 distress.  He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.
                                 They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.
                                 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds
                                 for men.  Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people and praise him in the
                                 council of the elders.


When you experience great trials, you have a testimony with powerful potential.  The more extensive the trial that is weathered, greater is the praise is due for the Lord.  He is to be praised when He delivers us from grief and trouble.  He deserves much praise for protecting us from calamity.

God is our strength in the midst of trial.  He is the calm in the middle of chaos.  He is the promise of hope in the throws of heartache, sorrow, and loss.

The greater the trial, the more praise we should offer.  Praise Him for His sovereignty.  Thank Him for inner peace.   Praise Him for His protection and mercy.  Be encouraged by the hope we find in Him!   Have you praised Him today?