The Sweet Stuff Ministry

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Identity

Proverbs 18:21    The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences. 

Have you ever thought about your identity?  What defines it?  What it includes?  A drivers' license gives a glimpse into the identity of an individual.  Hair and eye color, height, weight and a photo offer a visual image of the person.  A visual image does not give us the complete view of the true identity of anyone.  How do we find out the true identity of someone that we want to get to know. 

Our identities are made up of the things that make us different from others, yet also the things that make us the same as others.  In Building Bridges, Not Walls, John Stewart explains how our identities are shaped by our experiences in life, our beliefs and values and relationships both past and present.  It includes how we view ourselves as well as how others view us.

Identities are expressed mainly by use of  the tongue.  The words we use, how we use them and how others react to our words have a great bearing on our identities.   Through conversations we reveal our true identities and learn of the identities of others.  Reactions and responses reveal characteristics of a person's identity.  

We have a responsibility to accurately represent our identities as well as to accurately interpret the identities of those around us.   It is easy to embellish ourselves or misrepresent who we are, especially when we communicate electronically and miss the nonverbal language of others.  We should use our tongues the way that God intends and that is in a way that brings life into the words that we speak and to represent our identities in reflection of him.  




Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Live in the Moment

Matthew 6:34     "So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries".

While it is good to plan and think about tomorrow, it is a waste of time to worry about things that might happen tomorrow.  By worrying about tomorrow, next week or next year, we rob ourselves of The Sweet Stuff in the moments of today! 

Worry generates fear and fear is not of God.  Fear interferes with relationships- with God as well as with others.

We cannot live in tomorrow until tomorrow. We can't re-live or redo yesterday.  We should practice living in the moments of today, relishing the joy, love and peace that we are offered in each moment.    

Monday, October 28, 2013

Focused on self

“Anger and bitterness are two noticeable signs of being focused on self and not trusting God’s sovereignty in your life. When you believe that God causes all things to work together for good to those who belong to Him and love Him, you can respond to trials with joy instead of anger or bitterness.” ~ John C. Boger


The largest trial in my life thus far left me with a great deal of anger and bitterness.   Within those emotions, I was constantly asking, "Why did this happen?"  I felt as though since I loved God, was making sacrifices for him, and serving him that he would never have allowed such events to cause me such distress.  

Let us unpack that paragraph.  Why did God allow it to happen?   It was not his fault, nor did he approve of the damaging details.  Humans have free will and they are not afraid to use it!  

Next is the issue of my "feelings".  I was focused on what I felt I was doing right instead of things that God wanted me to improve upon as well as drawing closer to him.  I had some things to learn and until we are ready to commit as students, God will not allow us to move forward in the situation.   The main point within that lesson was that serving at church and "doing" things for God is not the complete relationship that God expects us to have.  I needed  a bit of surgery on my heart to understand that I could not serve away the anger and bitterness.   I was so focused on my feelings and circumstances that I lost sight of God's sovereignty.   I was saying that I trusted him with my mouth and serving him with my hands, but my heart did not reflect that trust. 

Ridding of anger and bitterness requires a sincere desire to be rid of it.  When I reached the point of being so tired of those feelings, only then could I be healed.  I have not experienced a trial of such magnitude since, but believing that God will bring all things together for my good allows me to view trials and struggles in a more positive light.  I know that I am better equipped to deal with any trial that may come my way in the future. 

We must believe that God does not bring about bad things in our lives.  He only wants the best for us.  However, he can bring us out of the bad things in our lives when the free will of others causes us pain and suffering.  He will use those times as opportunities to allow us to grow in our relationship with him and strengthen our inner constitution.  We truly can come out of trials better and stronger than ever before when we completely turn to God for healing and strength. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

This week's cupcake crown goes to a young lady that has taken the high road in a situation where it would have been easy to fall into the "drama" of the issues.  While encountering difficult people, she chose to seek God's counsel instead of reacting from within her emotions.  She has chosen to walk away when that was best.  She has sought what God will have her to do in dealing with what the devil is throwing her way and when character assassination is thrown at you, it can feel as if you are underneath tire tracks in the road.   She is wise beyond her two decades.  May God continue to bless her and may she always realize that the view from the high road is more scenic and breathtaking!   #TSS

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Overwhelmed

Psalm 61:2  From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

I must admit that I am feeling a bit overwhelmed lately.  Some times in our lives seem more demanding of us both physically and emotionally.    I feel like there needs to be 3 of me and that my brain needs more gigabytes.

In these times we can become so caught up in the busyness and emotional distractions that our relationship with God will suffer.  I have discovered about myself that within these periods of "overload"  I MUST spend more time with God in study, prayer and submission.  By studying and spending time with God first thing every day, I recognize a decrease in the stress level of all the "stuff" that swirls in my mind.  It is like eating your dessert first and enjoying The Sweet Stuff.

How do you deal with feeling overwhelmed?

If you are reading The Sweet Stuff for the first time, welcome!  I invite you to click on LIKE at the top of the page and receive daily notifications/devotions. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Difficult People

Matthew 5:43-45 "You have heard that it is said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'  But I tell you:  Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.  He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?

At various times throughout our lives,  people will cross our paths that will tempt us to falter in our love and compassion for others because they are extremely difficult to get along with.  There are just some people that make it seemingly impossible to be around.  When we are in situations that require us to spend a great deal of our days in close proximity with these types of people, discouragement can easily set up housekeeping.  It is easy for our spirits to become dampened and if the door is opened wide enough, insecurities and despair can enter and lead into bitterness.

You have met some of the people that I am referring to. 

Abrasive.  Rough.

Self-centered.  Things are always someone else's fault.

Emotional bullies.  Instigators.  Confrontational.  

While being in these situations will cause torment on our emotions, we must keep things in perspective and remind ourselves of the truths and strengths that God offers.  I have found that this type of person is usually one or all of the following deep inside themselves:   emotionally wounded, insecure, lacking self confidence, cowardly, rejected, in need of salvation and looking for love and acceptance.  

It is human nature to want to stay away from these people, to seek peace or even think about retaliation.  

To be God centered requires us to show love, compassion, patience, prayer and a genuine burden for their salvation.  Through consistency, kindness and seeking to understand what is deep beneath the surface, the relationship has the opportunity of  becoming smooth instead of rough.  Easy?  No.  Important?  Yes.

God's truths: he will protect you; he will always love you; anyone that hurts you will be accountable for every thought, emotion and action;  you, also, will be held accountable for every thought, emotion and action so pray and guard your reactions.   

Loving our enemies is not easy.  God can help us to love those that seem to be unlovable.  I encourage you to intentionally seek out someone that you know that fits the bill of being difficult to love.  Do something random that involves an expression of love.  Love is exactly what difficult people are in need of.                                
 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Testimonies

Mark 5:19   "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you."

Each of us has a testimony.  Each testimony is unique to our situations and experiences. 

Each testimony offers us the opportunity to reach others.

 Each testimony contains power and the chance to tell others about what God has done and to show others what he can do. 

Testimonies offer hope, healing and comfort. 

I found that a deeper level of healing comes each time I share my testimony-a deeper level of healing for myself.  It offers a sense of freedom within my heart and strengthens my relationship with the Lord.

I encourage each of you to share your testimony.  It may not be in public, it may only be with one friend or a group of friends, but it is important to do so.  Share and give thanks for all that God has done for you.                             

Friday, October 18, 2013

There are 5 distinct moments/situations in which God spoke to me about my need to rid of the bitterness in my heart.  Those moments will forever be etched in my memory.  This song is one of them:   I Need You Now  by Plumb.    If God is speaking to you about a need to rid of any bitterness in your heart, I urge you to move forward and allow him to heal you. 

Listen to it here:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Little Things

"Everyone is trying to accomplish something big, not realizing that life is made up of little things."
                                -Frank A. Clark

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Compassion

Romans 12:15   Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.

So many people in the world are hurting and dealing with emotional turmoil.  Discouragement, bitterness, depression and deep wounds will cause people to feel isolated-like no one understands what they are feeling. 

Each of us experience different hurts with different depths to our wounds.  We do have in common the feelings produced by the hurts. We understand the emotions that accompany hurts and disappointments.  We share a need to know that we are not alone in feeling the way we do.  We have a desire to feel loved and accepted.

It is difficult to reach out at times to seek comfort from others.  We fear that our friends and family may analyze our situation or pass judgment on our thoughts or actions.  We fear that we might hear the "well you should have done....................." lecture. 

When others come to us for comfort, we should remember that it takes courage for most to share their deep inner hurts and feelings.  It creates vulnerability.   It is important to love and understand others rather than analyze or give advice.   Weep along side those that value your friendship enough to pour their hearts out to you.  Love and acceptance speak louder than any words you might offer.                                            

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pride

Ecclesiastes 7:8  The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.

Self-righteous pride is basically the largest obstacle to forgiveness.  Pride doesn't want to  let go of hurts and disagreements.  Pride wants to ruminate, hold on and not move forward. 

Pride wants to always be right.

Pride wants to be smarter or better.

Pride wants to be more righteous. 

It is difficult to admit to one's own pride.  It is equally as difficult to set it aside.   Holding on to pride causes us to miss the sweetness of God's grace, both from him and between us and others.

Setting aside pride, experiencing forgiveness and fore bearing all things in love puts an end to all matters of conflict and exposes us to sweet grace.                                      

Monday, October 14, 2013

Psalm 3 Shadow

Psalm 3:3  But you, O Lord, are a  shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. 

Today's devotion was inspired by my 11 year old daughter as I watched her taking pictures a couple of days ago while we were on a little trip.  We were on sand bar of a large river around mid day.  She noticed her shadow and began taking photos of it.  I was amazed at how well they turned out and I complimented her on her work as well as her creativity.  She said to me, "yea, the pictures are good, but my shadow is much larger than I really am".  I suppose the kid in me leaked out and I began to notice my shadow and photograph it as well.  Wherever I was, there was my shadow. 

As I studied the shadow, God came to mind. 

He is larger than we are.

He is always with us, everywhere we go. 

When we experience disappointments in life, we may be tempted to think that God is not there for us.   A job loss or not being chosen for a job, a financial situation that did not turn out the way we had planned, a broken relationship or any other type of disappointment may lead us to wonder if God is paying attention to the things that are going on. 

Rest assured that God shadows us, shelters us and protects us every where we go and in every situation that we encounter.  Even when things go wrong or "seem" to be going wrong, he is watching over us like a mid day shadow.                                              #TSS

Friday, October 11, 2013

Cupcake Crown


This week's cupcake crown goes to a fellow that has dealt with rejection most of his life.  The flavors of the rejection have varied.   Friends, family, and co-workers have contributed to the rejection. Satan has knocked at the door with bitterness, yet, he holds to these truths:  We have worth.  We have value.  Otherwise, we do not believe what God says.  He has trusted in God's sovereignty, in his promises and has rested in his love.   Much like Daniel, when he faced the lion's den for standing up for God's laws, he has remained steadfast in his beliefs.                                         #TSS

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Rejection Part 4

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, even when rejection is involved, the opportunity to exercise and increase our faith exists.   We must rely fully upon God, and not look to others for personal validation.   This is difficult-it was for me.  It requires practice daily.  It is possible. 

Be still and know God.  He is sufficient!                  #TSS

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Rejection-Part 3

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.  Whether it was being chosen last for a kickball team at recess during childhood, having an idea rejected from a team member at work, losing a position or job in the hands of subjectivity, betrayal from friends or family, divorce, or not being included in social groups, rejection is not pleasant.

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 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  (Study Job).  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.  

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!                              #TSS

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Don't reject the love that God sends


2 Corinthians 4:9   ....persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

Rejection creates fertile soil for seeds of bitterness to grow.  However, those seeds do not grow into plants that offer astounding beauty nor ones that are aromatic.  The seeds of rejection are the vilest weeds with large painful thorns. 

Rejection causes feelings and thoughts of unimportance, it causes people to feel of little value and unloved.  Sometimes we get to the point of not liking ourselves because of rejection.  Rejection in our past or present will affect how we behave in future relationships.  

Many people do not recognize the effects that rejection has had on their lives until they reach adulthood or years after an occurrence.  The effects of rejection are often denied, all the while realizing that specific topics and/or events stir negative and fearful emotions.  Negative emotions that will destroy inner peace and joy result from bitterness caused by rejection.


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  (Study Job).  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.

The sooner that the negative feelings caused by rejection are dealt with and gotten rid of (Eph. 4:31), the better.   The emotions that follow rejection in our lives, prevent us from enjoying all the blessings that God has for us.  Remember that you are loved by God, you are important to him and he will never reject you.  

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! 

Prayer for today:  Lord, I pray that for every person that deals with rejection and the long term effects of the emotions that accompany rejection.  I pray that each and every person will feel the love that you have to offer.  I pray that each person dealing with rejection will not reject those on this earth that you have sent to provide them with love and comfort.  In Jesus name, Amen.




Monday, October 7, 2013

Rejection

All of this week's posts will focus on rejection.

Psalm 94:14  For the Lord will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance.

One of the greatest seeds of bitterness is rejection.  Rejection leads us to wonder why we are not liked or wanted.  Why aren't we good enough?  Why are we excluded? 

Rejection leads to a great number of emotions that easily turn into bitterness:  anger, discouragement, fear, disappointment, and insecurities. 

Satan loves for us to feel rejected.  He will walk through any open doors and offer us feelings of inadequacy, insignificance or insecurity.  Remember that those feelings are not of God for he promises never to forsake us.                                              #TSS

Friday, October 4, 2013

Cupcake Crown

This week's cupcake crown goes to a lady who has seen and endured many things in her 9 decades of life.  Within the past year she has lost her youngest son (age 53) to cancer and her husband of 75 years, who passed away 8 months later.  

During these times when her heart was ripped into pieces, I have seen a strength within her that is amazing.  In her time of sorrow and grief, I saw her put her own feelings aside and minister to other members of the family.  In her darkest hours alone instead of becoming bitter and blaming God, she seeks him and draws closer to him and her family.  

She is such a strong, solid woman of godly character.  When I grow up, I want to be like her.  I love my Nana-my hero.  As far as I am concerned, she wears the cupcake crown every day!   #TSS

Thursday, October 3, 2013

World politics

Isaiah 41:4  "Who has done such mighty deeds, summoning each new generation from the beginning of time?  It is I, the Lord, the First and the Last.  I alone am he."
Isaiah 41:10  "Do not be afraid, for I am with you.  Don't be discouraged, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."

I normally do not enjoy discussing politics, however as I spent time with God yesterday, the present state of our nation was on my mind.  As I read in the Bible (I was actually studying a different matter), Isaiah 41 came into focus.  I encourage you to read the entire chapter of Isaiah 41.

Verse 4 tells us that God's plans embrace all generations.  Each generation of people has its own problems, political issues, fears and sufferings. 

God has been there through all generations. 

He can see 100 years behind us as well as 100 years ahead of us.

He is in control of all world politics and is completely aware of all the details.   He understands how the government shut down affects each and every one of us.  He sees the intent of every politician and political group in existence. 

Isaiah 41:10 is reassurance that we do not need to worry, fear or lose sleep over politics and the state of our nation.  As the young generation says, "God has your back"! 

As Christians we can rest in that peace that passes all understanding and stop worrying over all this.  Go ahead, let God deal with the politics.  The only thing that we can do at our level right this minute to change any of it is to pray and trust in God.   

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Practice makes Perfect

2 Corinthians 12:9   But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

"Practice makes  perfect".  Did you ever hear your mom or coach tell you this?  Practice makes us more efficient, but never will we be perfect.

To say that I love to sew is an understatement.  I would rather sew than eat.  I have had a great amount of sewing practice-over 35 years.   My sewing skills are far from perfect.  Stitches are still sometimes crooked and have to be ripped out and re-done.   Pattern measurements may not always fit accurately and will require alteration.  Trying to finish a project hurriedly causes inattentive mistakes.  Then, there is the matter of zippers- talk about anxiety producing!  Zippers are tedious and require patience and focused attention and if a zipper is inserted improperly, it is extremely difficult to rip out.

The same can be said about Christian living.  As much as we practice, we will never live perfect lives.  Some things we will mess up on and have to repent and "re-do".  Areas in our lives that do not "fit properly" into God's will, require alterations.  Just like zippers, there are areas of Christian living that require a great amount of patience and detailed attention.  

In those areas of weakness in our lives, as we recognize our limitations, we have the opportunity to rely on God for our effectiveness and not on our own energy, efforts or talents.  Our limitations and dependence upon God will strengthen our Christian character, deepen our worship and affirm God's strength. 

The only way that we will reach perfection is through Christ.   Accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior will offer us a promise of eternal perfection.  (John 3:16) 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Psalm 139:14  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

My eleven year old has recently discovered re-runs of the Twilight Zone.  She loves them!  A recent episode that we watched began with a patient in the hospital whose face was completely covered with bandages.  The doctor spent quite some time talking with her about removing the bandages and that if the surgery had not gone according to his liking, she would look unacceptable and would be an outcast.  He talked with her about places that she might find to live where she would fit in.  

If you have ever watched The Twilight Zone, you know that there is some twist to the story and the themes are usually a bit backwards from reality.  This episode was no exception.  The doctor's face was never shown and as he continued to talk to the patient about her surgery and how he had attempted to make her look like everyone else, the suspense and emotion was mounting.  You know, the music that is played on the show helps that out!

My eleven year old figured it out before the bandages were removed.  She said, " I think the doctor looks like something other than a human the woman will be normal".  She was right!  When the bandage was removed, the patient was a beautiful young lady with flawless skin, beautiful eyes and hair while the doctor and nurses all looked like pigs in the face.  The doctor and his people had defined beauty and had made this young woman feel unaccepted and of little value. 

I know that the Twilight Zone is not a yardstick for reality, however our society uses yardsticks other than God's measuring devices to define and describe beauty and what is "acceptable"

This message is for ladies young, old and in anywhere in between.  Do not allow magazines, television nor society in general to define your beauty.  God made you in his perfect image to accomplish his divine purpose.                       #TSS