The Sweet Stuff Ministry

Thursday, April 27, 2017

An Attitude of Eternity

Ecclesiastes 3:11    He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

If we have an attitude of eternity, then we can experience peace and contentment. 

God planted eternity into our hearts.  The reason that people often find dissatisfaction from earthly accomplishments and material possessions is that they do not adjust their attitudes to focus on eternity.  God's intent is for us to fasten our minds on eternity.  He has given us a spiritual appetite that we often try to fulfill with earthly pursuits.  We will not experience the perfect sense of His creation until we exist under His perfect rule.  When our attitude wanders from eternity and focuses on the temporary (earthly) portions of this life, we can become discontent. 

I heard the following statement in a sermon, "a mistake that we make as Christians is that of thinking in permanent terms about our current circumstances".  This is so true.  It is easy at times to think that our work and efforts on this earth are doing no good for God's kingdom.  It is important to press forward, continue to work for the advancement of God's kingdom, and direct our efforts toward eternity.  The fruits of our labor are gifts from God.  Eternal fruits are much sweeter than earthly produce.   

Our problems and circumstances should not be a barrier to God's intended purpose for us.  Keeping a positive attitude about His promises of a wonderful eternity will allow us to experience satisfaction in all that we do.  Seeking to understand all that God has done since the beginning and all that He will do until the end, strengthens an effective attitude of eternity.  When your attitude tends to concentrate on the temporary nature of this world, give yourself an adjustment and focus instead on eternity.  After all, we are designed to do so!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

4 Quarters or 100 Pennies?

Proverbs 20:6  Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?

In reading an article the other day, I came across this question which I have pondered:  "Does our desire for attention outweigh our desire to be loved?"

Social media comes to mind.  A place where attention is plentiful, both positive and negative.  "Likes", friend requests, shares and comments are available at the click of a button.  These options have the ability to put photos, news flashes, announcements, rants/raves, gossip, and drama in the spot light of attention.  The attention in social media may be negative or it can be very positive.  Social media can be a place to share love such as staying in contact with far-a-way family but many times it seems to be a place for attention.

Do we have a desire for attention?  By nature, we all want to be liked by people and have many friends.  However, few friends in our lives will have unfailing love for us.  Will the amount of friends on a social media list or the amount of "likes" on a picture or post fulfill our desire to be loved?  Not in the long run.

I want to share with you a conversation that I remember our children having at the supper table one night.  It spoke to my heart.  I love it when we can see the hearts of our children mature and minister to one another! 

Our oldest daughter was talking about groups of friends in college.  She was talking about the things in Proverbs 20:6.  She has experienced some claims of friendship only to find that the love was failing.  We can all relate to such instances.  Our son, three years her junior, tells her this, "It is much better in life to have three or four faithful, true friends than have large numbers of friends who are not true to you.  That is what I have in my life and I am very satisfied".  Where did this young fellow gain such wisdom?  Then our youngest offered this, "Would you rather have four quarters or 100 pennies in your pocket?"  She continued, "think about it carefully.  The four quarters are much easier to carry around in your pocket".  Their conversation was short and to the point.   I gleaned wisdom from what they had to say.

We desire to be loved.  Sure it is nice to have many acquaintances and to get to know hundreds of people.  But the most satisfying of all relationships are those with unfailing love.  The ones that love us, warts and all, provide us with the sense of steadfast, boundless, consistent love.  Friends and family that value us as God's creation, who will love us through all of life's storms, offer the most fulfilling attention that we can receive on this earth.  I agree with my youngest daughter, I would rather carry four quarters in my pocket than 100 pennies.  After all, both add up to be the same amount of money!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

New, Crisp, Green Leaves

Isaiah 43:  18-19   "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland".

Green is my favorite color.  I love all shades of green.  Green is crisp, clean and easy on the eyes.  The color reminds me of new growth and fresh beginnings. 

The other day, I took a break and got into the hammock.  The position of the hammock was so that my view was of the woods behind our house.  The only colors that I saw were the greens of the tall trees pressed against a beautiful blue sky.  I watched the leaves move about in the breeze.  I absorbed all the shades of green that the new, crisp leaves had to offer.  I thought about the process of leaves and how a tree does not keep the same leaves, but instead grows new ones each year.  I can't remember the leaves from last year, except the fact that they were there and they were green. The leaves from last year are no longer useful.  Those leaves served their purpose, dried up, and fell off the tree.

As I soaked it all in, this thought came to mind:  "We do not think about the leaves that were on the tree last year.  We enjoy the leaves that are on the tree this year."   Isaiah 43:18-19 reminds us to do just that.  We are told to forget the former things and notice the new things. 

We are so often tempted to dwell in the past, especially if the past contains things that were unpleasant, disappointing, or hurtful.  Like the trees that shed the dried brown leaves, we must also shed those things from the past.  We should focus on the new things that God is doing in our lives.  Opportunities  that do not turn out the way that we had hoped can become "new" occasions for us.  God will provide the way.  He will help us to grow new leaves with crisp beginnings.   He can make all our leaves new and green.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Do Not be Afraid to be Different

Matthew 5:16   In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds
                         and praise your Father in heaven.



In order to make a difference, we must be willing to be different.   Let us repeat that.

IN ORDER TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE, WE MUST BE WILLING TO BE DIFFERENT.

God calls each of us to a specific purpose.  He equips us with specific gifts to be used by the Holy Spirit indwelling within us.  We are not all equipped in the same manner. 

A natural human tendency is to want to be like everyone else.  We want to fit in and be accepted.  However, God designs us to be different and we must be willing to express those differences.  If we hide our light by going along with the crowd and trying to blend in to be accepted,  we hide our light from others.  God expects us to shine the light that he has given each of us. 

Being different is not a bad thing.  Being different allows us to make a difference while we are here on earth.  Sharing our different gifts and purposes lets our light shine in truth and in service.  Making a difference allows others to see God and offers them the chance to praise God for his magnificence.

If God is calling you to make a difference, do not be afraid to be different.  Embrace the purpose that he has assigned you.  Seek the differences that you may make in this world.

Go out and make a difference! 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Compassion for our Enemies

Proverbs 24:17   Do not gloat when your enemy falls;  when he stumbles, do not let your heart
                           rejoice. 

King David had an enemy-Saul.  He was a lifelong enemy.  Saul had tried every way imaginable to have David killed.  Saul was jealous of David's accomplishments and victories in his life.  Saul was envious of David's position and ranking; In the book of 1st Samuel, it is revealed that he did not accept what God had called David to do.

Imagine knowing that another person desires to have you killed, either figuratively or literally.  How disheartening it must be to have someone that wishes only bad things will happen to you.  I figure that David was forever more looking over his shoulder and watching for what Saul would try next.  To constantly be on guard for your life would be exhausting. 

We may have people in our lives with the same sentiments that Saul had for David.  Hopefully we will not have someone trying to kill us, however, there may be someone that desires to cause us grief.  When others wish for or try to cause calamity to come to our lives, we may be left with feelings that there is an enemy close by.  Jealousy is a strong and desperate emotion.  It can lead to a desire for others to stumble and fall. The same type of jealousy that Saul felt for David may be a reality for some.   

We are commanded to avoid rejoicing when our enemies fall.  We should not be happy when someone suffers a loss or disappointment in life. When our enemies fall, especially those enemies that have caused much strife in our lives, it is tempting for us to feel as if they got what they deserved.  It is easy to enjoy those feelings that they have been served justice for hurtful things they have done. 

We should be full of compassion when others fall. Our hearts should be saddened when others suffer.  Not always easy, but always necessary.  David did not gloat when he heard that Saul had died.  He was saddened and full of compassion.  Bear in mind that this was a man that had actively tried to kill David for many years.   From our perspective it might seem that he should have been relieved that his enemy could no longer try to kill him.  Yet, he found no joy in his death. It seems that it would have been easy for David to say that Saul had gotten what he deserved, however, he "mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and his son Jonathon" (2 Samuel 1:12).  David left the judgments to God, as we should do also.

It should be our desire to have heart felt compassion, even for our enemies.  The Bible tells us to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44).  As we pray for our enemies, we should also pray for our own hearts-that we may not rejoice in the sufferings of our enemies. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Get up off the mat of paralysis and follow Christ!

Luke 5:24  .....He said to the paralyzed man, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home".  
 
Get up off the mat of paralysis and follow Christ!

The story of the healed paralytic is a literal as well as a metaphoric example in the Bible of Christ's healing powers.  The man on the mat was physically paralyzed.  His friends wanted to take him to Jesus because they had heard of his healing powers.  Crowds of people were going to Jesus as he traveled from town to town to hear of his teachings and to seek healing of their illnesses or afflictions.  Jesus desired to heal them of their ailments but he had a greater desire to heal their souls.  His purpose, as he traveled about, was to teach sinners about repentance and the condition of sin in their lives. 

The friends of the paralytic carried him on the mat to see Jesus.  There was such a crowd that they could not make their way to where Jesus was standing.  The devised a plan to place the man before Jesus, "when they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus" (Luke 5:19).  They felt an urgent need and desire to see the Healer. 

The friends went to great lengths in order to help the man on the mat be in the presence of Jesus.  Jesus told the man, "friend, your sins are forgiven" (Luke 5:20).  Immediately Jesus was thought to be blaspheming God.  He was trying to teach the people about repentance.  However, they thought only God could offer the forgiveness of sins.  They did not understand who Jesus was and his purpose on earth.  So, Jesus gave them physical proof of his power.  He healed the paralytic and the man walked off the mat.

What are your mats of affliction?

Are you paralyzed by bitterness?

Are you disabled by unforgiveness?

Do you lack of faith?

Is there a level of unbelief in your heart?

Do you suffer from physical ailments?

We do not need tangible proof in order to believe in the power of Christ!  If we are able to go before him in faith and belief that he has the power to heal our bodies and our souls, then we may get up off our mats and walk with confidence.  The men with the paralytic were confident that the Master had the power and the will to heal and make their friend whole.  We should run to Christ with the same manner of urgency and faithfulness. 








Wednesday, April 19, 2017

"Same things are in the dark as in the day"

John 8:12   Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, "I am the light of the world.  If you follow me, you won't have to walk in the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life."

I remember when our children were small, they were afraid of the dark.  If we were all in the family room and they needed to go into another room alone, they would say, "will you come with me Mama?  It is dark in there".   I had this phrase that I would say to them,  "the same things are in the dark as in the day."   We talked about how nothing extra was in the rooms at night that had not been there in the day.   I often heard them repeating that phrase as a reminder or a pep talk to muster up the courage to go into the dark room. 

The real reason for fear of the dark is that we cannot see as well in the dark.  We think that there are "unknowns" in the dark.  As humans, we fear that which we cannot see.  In reality, we face darkness every day.  Uncertainties of tomorrow or farther into the future can bring about paralyzing fear and insecurity.  Worries about the outcomes of various situations can induce apprehension that distracts us from living in peace.

Fear of the dark, both literally and figuratively, is about faith.  Letting go of our fears is a matter of placing trust in Jesus Christ to light the way through our lives.  He will first and foremost provide us with an eternal light through salvation.  He will also light up the darkness so that we can have peace and security in every situation in life.   

We have the choice of living in the darkness with fear and worry or we can walk in the light by following Jesus.  His light leads the way through all the darkness that we may face.   He is in the dark times of our lives just as He is when the sun shines upon us.