The Sweet Stuff Ministry

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Holiday is a day on the calendar in November. 

Thanksgiving should be an attitude of our hearts every day on the calendar. 

May you and yours have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving Holiday weekend.

See you back here on Monday!                                          #TSS

Monday, November 25, 2013

Filling in the Blanks

Isaiah 11:3      He will delight in obeying the Lord.  He will not judge by appearance nor make a decision based on hearsay.

Years ago at a bridal shower for one of my college friends, we played a game of fill in the blank.  It was designed to show how well we knew the bride by asking various questions that were not the most obvious things you might know about someone.  I still remember the laughs we had as the answers were read and how the bride would tell us if we were right or in most of the cases, not even close to right about the answers.

This game was all in fun but how many times do we fill in the blanks with how we think we know people?   Are we quick to make judgments based on appearances, hearsay or false evidence?  I think that we can all bring to mind a time when we made a "fill in the blank" judgment about someone and then after we really began to know the person, we realized that our initial assumption was far from the true person.   Perhaps you can call to mind a time when such assumptions were made about you.  Some we can chuckle about and others cause hurt.  

Only God can perfectly judge us and he does not use appearance or hearsay, no "fill in the blanks" with him.  We should ask that he govern our hearts in order to be fair with our treatment of others as we expect others to be toward us.                                      #TSS

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Self Control

2 Peter 1:5-7  For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

Once upon a time a frog and a scorpion sat next to each other on the river bank.  The scorpion wanted to get across the river but could not swim.  He asked the frog to take him across the river on his back since he was a good swimmer.  The frog said to the scorpion, "why would I do that?  You and I both know that you will sting me and neither of us will make it across the river."  The scorpion laughed and said to the frog, "my friend, I will not sting you, for if I do, I will not make it across the river either."   This made sense to the frog and so he trusted in the scorpion and allowed him on his back to carry him across the river.  About half way across the river, the frog felt a mighty sting in his back.  As his legs began to fail from the poison of the sting, he asked the scorpion, "why did you sting me when you promised that you would not do that?"  The scorpion simply stated, "It is my nature". 

We are all born into this world with a sinful nature.  Satan is always around to tempt us to do wrong and to treat others in ungodly manners.   Having faith is more than believing facts, it must result in action and a growth in Christian character.  Moral excellence, knowledge, perseverance, doing God's will and loving others is faith in action.  

The story about the frog and scorpion is an example of a lack of self control on the scorpion's part.  He did not treat the frog with brotherly love.  He did not keep his promise to the frog and in doing so, set himself up to die as well.   God expects from us temperance in both our thoughts and actions.  He expects us to love one another and to be good to one another.  Seeking his will and understanding the principles that he expects us to uphold are not optional, they are part of the Christian life.  They require hard work and constant attentiveness.  God gives us the strength and power to keep these virtues as well as the responsibility to learn and grow.                                                     

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Job

Job 42:12    The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first.

I recently studied the book of Job seeking to understand his strength and perseverance.  When we think we have it rough, a good look at Job's life will put ours into perspective. 

Job's experiences opened his eyes to the indescribable holiness of God.  God used Job's sufferings to refine his character.   To make him a better person.  We often hear that when we suffer trials and temptations that we should seek to find what God is teaching us.  Job is a great example of this.  

In all the sufferings and losses that Job experienced, he was still able to worship God and acknowledge his sovereignty.  Many times Job was tormented by others and encouraged to turn away from God.  He was humiliated, rejected, knocked down and beaten while he was down. 

The central theme of Job is that through God's grace, we shall trust and serve him merely because of his sovereignty and not in return for earthly benefits.  God's sovereignty means that he is not required to give a reason for all that he does, however, we are required to trust in all that he does.  

Trusting in God's grace and sovereignty in the midst of suffering is not always easy.  We can see the benefits however in the last chapters of Job where his life was fulfilled and blessed way beyond all that Job had lost.                            #TSS

Monday, November 18, 2013

Words

Proverbs  18:21    The tongue has the power of life and death.

Have you ever thought about what causes us to enjoy some people more than others?   Even though we love many people in our lives there are just some people that we have a stronger desire with which to spend our time.  Think for a moment of some of your "favorite" people.   What about them influences the fact that they are favorites?

When I think of some of my favorite people throughout my lifetime, I think of words.   It is not that there were any spectacular words or fancy words, but just merely the fact that we shared words.  Kind words and words of encouragement develop those warm, fuzzy feelings.  Questions with words that displayed an interest in the happenings of my life have contributed to deep bonds with other people.  Words of love and fulfillment come to mind when I think of those most close to my heart.  Words that convey compassion, trust, and security develop everlasting relationships. 

We remember words. We also remember the emotion attached to the words.  Damaging words that bring about negative emotions will cause us to have no desire to be in the presence of the people that spoke them.  On the other hand, encouraging and loving words will produce a desire to spend great amounts of time with the people that spoke them.   

Words have a huge impact on our minds and emotions.  Words can build up or tear down.  We can all call to mind words that we would like to take back because they tore down or caused damage.  We can likely remember times when words were spoken to us that we would like to give back to the mouth from which they departed.

There have been words that we should have said yet never did.  There have been words that we did say but never should have.

Each time that we talk with people, we have a choice in our words.   We choose whether we use words that are destructive or constructive.  When we choose our words, we release the opportunity for life or death.  May we always choose construction.  May we always have a desire to speak life into the ears of another.   



Friday, November 15, 2013

Thanksgiving

Psalm 100:4    Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

Each and everyday, may we be mindful and forever grateful of all the things God has given us...

as well as for all the things he has taken away!    


Have a great weekend!                                  #TSS

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Suffering

Job  30:15    Terrors overwhelm me; my dignity is driven away as by the wind, my safety vanishes like a cloud.

Job was a man that suffered immense tragedies in his life.   Along with his extreme loss of his family,  possessions, health and his position, he was also mocked by the younger people.   They even mocked the way he suffered.  Talk about a lack of compassion. 

Verse 15 conveys such deep emotion and raw honesty.  Job cries out about his fear and anxiety.  He was insecure and worried.  He even felt like he had lost his honor, that his name was no longer respected. 

Job's situation typically brings to mind a man of great patience, endurance and steadfast faith in God.  I am certain that he felt broken in ways that seemed unbearable at times.  I would like to focus on his broken heart.  Think of a time in your life when you have suffered.  Maybe it was the loss of a marriage, job/finances, family member or close friend, friendship, health, pet, or home.  Whatever the loss, think of how your heart felt; the fear that terrorized your mind, the worries and anxieties that kept you awake at night.  Can you recall the despair that left your heart feeling empty and beyond repair?  Now, multiply that times 10 and perhaps that will come close to how Job suffered. 

With the thought of the brokenness, I also want to focus on compassion (on our part).  When we hear of the suffering of others, do our hearts break or do we acknowledge that the situation is bad yet move on with our busy lives?   When we listen to someone describe their brokenness and suffering do we merely hear the words or do we hear the emotion, fear and distress?  Let us make it our personal prayer to be more compassionate for situations no matter what the source of the suffering.   May our hearts feel the brokenness along with our our friends and family members.  I pray that we will have a burden for the brokenness of others and that we will not forget what it is like to hurt and worry.  Hurt and brokenness are in the eye of the beholder and we should not discount any one's suffering.   I encourage you to today to make it your prayer that God will pierce your heart with a deeper level of compassion that each and every one of us could be concerned with the hurts of others.  We cannot always fix the brokenness of others but God can!  When we pray in earnest for others, God will hear our intercessions.                                              

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

It is time for a Cupcake Crown!   This crown goes to a precious lady that I have known for over 20 years.  So many times I have seen her pour out compassion and understanding.  She maintains the same deep level of compassion and understanding even when she does not agree with a person's situation.  She is non-judgmental, non condemning and always puts others needs before her own.  I would love to give her a real crown full of the most precious diamonds available.   

Monday, November 11, 2013

Bitterness: The receiving end

Romans 15: 1-3  We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.  Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.  For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written:  "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me."

There may be times in life when someone treats you in ways that are difficult to understand.   The treatment may include disrespect with unkind words, manipulation, rejection or  attitudes of indifference.    Some acts may be outright malicious with the intent of causing harm.  This kind of treatment sends mixed signals to us.   A person may say "I love you" or "you are important to me" but not show it with actions.  When this happens, you are on the receiving end of bitterness that is present in that person's life.  Deep hurts in the past will lead a person to lash out at others, especially when it is perceived that another has what he/she is missing in life. 

You may never be able to explain or understand why these things happen.  However, I have come to realize that when people act in ways as stated above, one or more of the following will apply:
      -the person has unresolved hurts that need to be healed
      -the person is in need of an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ
      -the things that are said and done really have nothing to do with you. He/she is battling issues internally. 
      -compassion and unconditional love may be something the person has never known

I do not intend to imply that any of these behaviors are acceptable.  What I do want to emphasize is that when you are on the receiving end of these behaviors:
                1.  you must remain strong in knowing that you are not the cause of another person's
                      actions
                2.  you must NOT allow bitterness to grow within you from their actions and words
                3.  being on the receiving end says more about the other person than it does about you as a
                     recipient
                4.  it is your responsibility not to entertain thoughts of vengeance or similar actions

Prayer and patience will go a long way in coming to accept that everyone will not love you as God loves you.  It would be a wonderful world if that could be the case.   When you are placed in these situations, pray that God will reveal to you what he expects from you in response to the actions/words of others.   Seek strength in dealing with the failings of other people.          

Compassion for one another

Proverbs 19:17    Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.

A mother sent her young daughter to the store down the street to pick up some things.  When the young girl did not return promptly, the mother began to frantically worry.  When the girl finally did return, the mother asked her what had taken so long.  The little girl said that on her way she had seen her friend crying and upset because her doll was broken and she had stopped to help her.  The mother asked her if she fixed the broken doll.  The little girl said, "No, I helped her cry."

I used this story some time ago in talking about friendship but today I want to focus on compassion.  In this story, the little girl was not able to fix the broken doll but she shared the burden that was in the heart of her friend.  She took time to offer her comfort and to be in her presence to show support and understanding. 

True compassion for one another is the ability to see the pain within others, to understand where the pain is coming from and to offer loving support which in turn lends itself to the steps of healing.   To offer this form of love and understanding fulfills the law of Christ.   He was full of love and compassion and showed the ultimate act of carrying our burdens when he went to the cross for each of us. 

We may not be able to relate to the source of another person's pain because we all have different hurts and burdens.  However, we can understand the process of pain because we have all suffered a form of hurt whether it is physical or emotional.  We can relate to the emotions, fears, worries and insecurities that our burdens can present.    

In Proverbs 19:17 we are encouraged to be kind to the poor.  The poor are not only people in financial distress, the poor are also those who are in emotional distress, spiritual distress or physical distress.  I encourage you to take a moment and think of someone you know that is carrying a heavy burden at this time.  Give them a call, send a card or an email or better yet, go for a visit.   Compassion is being aware of the distress of others and also having a desire to alleviate it.  We cannot always fix the problems, but helping someone to cry is a great source of comfort for both parties involved.      #TSS


Friday, November 8, 2013

Self Worth Part 5

1 Corinthians 8:3    For whoever loves God is known by God.

We are not required to accomplish great things in order for God to view us as important or successful.   Our successes in God's eyes are measured with the amount of love we hold in our hearts.  First and foremost, we are to love Him with all our hearts.  Secondly, we are to love one another.   These are things of  most value!  These things create your self worth. 

Abe Lincoln said this:  God must love the common man.  He made so many of them.

Have a great weekend!                                

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Self Worth Part 4

1 Timothy 6:6   But godliness with contentment is great gain.

Disappointments in life can lead to dissatisfaction.  Perhaps you are disappointed about your circumstances, acts others have committed against you or perhaps you are dissatisfied with poor decisions that you have made in the past.  Dissatisfaction should NOT give way to feelings of unworthiness.   Trust that the work which God is performing in you and your life is exactly what he has planned. 

I can recall a situation in my family's life a few years ago that left us feeling disappointed and dissatisfied.  I felt confused as to the direction in which God was leading us.  Because of the dissatisfaction and the fact that I thought our situation should have been going in a different direction, I began to have feelings of low self-esteem and of little worth.   I can tell you from my own experience that if you are telling yourself that you are of little worth, then you begin to be clouded with only those thoughts.   My mind was cluttered because I allowed worldly measures to influence my feelings of worthiness and importance.  When we can have a positive attitude about ourselves and maintain a positive self-worth, we can keep our minds open for self-improvement and to hear what God is asking us to do. 

We must learn to be content in "whose" we are, not who we are.   We are all God's creations.    We are all valuable and should use any feelings of dissatisfaction to improve ourselves and seek God's direction.     

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Self Worth Part 3

Hebrews 13:5      Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he
                            said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."


New cars, new home, latest fashions, exotic vacations, latest technological gadgets, impressive diamonds-all valuable, yet none of these indicate a person's self worth.   Quite often, the people that seem the happiest with their material possessions are miserable internally.  Measuring self worth by possessions will leave a person feeling unfulfilled.   Insecurities and a lack of self worth can lead to the love of money and many folks find feelings of empowerment by spending money.  The money serves as a substitute for the personal worth that is missing in their minds. 

Media such as television, magazines, store ads and displays advertise "things" in such a light to cause us to believe that our lives will be happier or easier.  The more things we have, the happier we will be.  Right?  Hardly.   Material things will all pass away.  Cars and technological items become outdated quickly. 

We must learn to be content with what we have.  Resenting what we don't have or feel like we are missing out will lessen our perception of self worth.  Your value in this life is measured by who you are in God.  Take inventory and list your personal value.  As a mother or father, your worth to your children is invaluable.  As a daughter, sister, or granddaughter, your worth and importance in a family cannot be measured.  No amount of money nor "things" can ever serve as a substitute for you.  You are of value to your spouse.  You are of value at your job.  Most of all, you are of great value to God.   I leave you with this verse:  Proverbs 22:2  Rich and poor have this in common:  The Lord is the maker of them all.               

 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Pink Suit and Identity Negotiation

Matthew 5:14  "You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden."

A pink linen suit and identity negotiation.  What on earth do these two things have in common?  

Many years ago when I was a Junior in high school, I participated in a program called Junior Miss.  The program was a competition that included academic achievement, talent, self expression, poise and appearance and personal interview.   For around three months, all the participants prepared and practiced together for the program.  We learned dance routines, polished our speaking skills and practiced talent presentations.  

Behind the scenes, I was working on a pink linen suit.  Those of you who know me personally are aware of how much I love to sew and  that creating things with fabric is such a huge part of my identity.  I have been sewing since I was 8 years old (much thanks to my Nana).    In high school, I took all the sewing classes that I could find my way into.  I had a wonderful teacher who shared my passion for sewing (we still discuss techniques and fabrics today!).  I decided that I wanted to make a suit to wear for the interview portion of the program.  I picked out a gorgeous pale pink linen fabric.  The suit had a full, gathered waist and a long sleeved jacket with a stand up collar-quite the fashion in the early 1980's.   I worked many hours on the suit setting sleeves, inserting the zipper, hemming, etc. 

When the day came for my interview, I wore the suit- but only on the outside of my body.  You see, in high school, sewing was not "cool", especially not in the 1980's.  I did not want to be labeled "Becky Home-Ecky".   Therefore, I kept this part of my identity in low profile.  At the interview, I negotiated my identity and only focused on the parts of it that I thought were "cool".  I thought I needed to be like everyone else instead of my self.  I opted to bring into light my involvement in sports, my academic achievements and "cool" interests.  I sat there wearing one of the things that made me unique and never said a word about it. 

The next year of my life, God spent a great deal of time teaching me about my identity and how it is not important to gain the approval of others regarding who we are.  He created us to be unique with our own set of gifts and talents.  He never intended for us to be just like everyone else.    Just for the record, I did not win the program.  However, I feel like I gained many valuable lessons in the couple of years that followed and God used the pink linen suit to teach me. 

Whether you are 16, 26, 50 or 100, if you feel that you must negotiate your identity in order to gain acceptance and a place of value from others, STOP right now.  Stand strong in your identity.  God gave you a unique identity with gifts and talents to use for his glory.  Look to him to validate who you are.  He is the keeper of all the measurements of a person's value.  He gave each of us a light to shine in this world; not to hide it and shine in the light of others.                         



Monday, November 4, 2013

Self-Worth

Genesis 1:27  So God created human beings in his own image.  In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 

In the first book of the Bible, we are shown the value that we have in God's eyes.    From the beginning of creation, God valued us so much that he created us in is image, both men and women.  

We are all born with the same worth to God.  From the beginning we are all valued the same.  In the end we will still all have the same value in God's eyes.   As we go through life here on earth, experiences and situations add to or take away from our perception of our self worth as well as our view on the worth of others. God's view of our value never changes.

It seems easy to allow others to affect how important we feel.   The relationships and the communications within those relationships have a strong impact on our perceptions of our self worth.  Negative words cause hurt feelings. Actions that tear down character can cause us to doubt our worth or wonder if we have any value.  Trials and tribulations may leave us feeling insecure and  unimportant.  

When we allow others to have an impact on our self-worth, our relationship with God is diminished. Our relationships with others in our lives will be impacted if our self-worth is low.  Job performance will be affected as well as the goals that we pursue.  How we perceive our self-worth affects everything in which we are involved.  Feeling unimportant can change the course of the rest of a person's life. 

We must remain strong and grounded in the worth that God has for us.  When we allow the words and/or actions of others to have a bearing on our esteem, we forget who holds the yardstick.  God is the keeper of the measurements!  He is the one, the only one, who declares the value of a person's worth.  Guard your self-worth.  Do not look at the value of your worth according to the people on this earth.  Look to God to assign worth to your life and the purpose He has for you.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Super Heroes

Batman, Robin, Superman, Spiderman, Wonder Woman. What do all these have in common? They are super heroes and we hold the memories of their good deeds from decades ago. These super heroes were ordinary people with ordinary lives yet they had the ability to become super heroes and to call upon super strengths and insights. They each had a costume (uniform) that empowered them and they each possessed some unique power or gesture once they engaged in superhero mode. When there was trouble or danger for themselves or others, they donned the "suit" and used the super powers to save or rescue people. Each character craved justice and wanted to see evil defeated. Each hero had their own enemies and usually one arch nemesis.

We should all have the same cravings and desires to see God's ways and word carried out. When we know that people are in trouble, danger or burdened, do we delight in this, walk away in oblivion or do we put on our armour and swoop in to make a difference? Are we willing to go the extra mile to help or rescue people from evil and oppression? Are we willing to take on our enemies and arch nemeses?

I challenge each of you to put the "S" on your chest and become a Superhero for God. Crave justice, peace and to see evil defeated. Look for opportunities to improve mankind, to uplift those in trouble and make a difference in our lost and dying world!