The Sweet Stuff Ministry

Friday, February 28, 2014

Service for God

Matthew 25:40    The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

God calls each of us for different works and service.   We are ALL called to serve, but not all are called to the same service.  Our mark in this world may not be outlined with "hoopla" as I like to call it.  We will not all be famous, wealthy nor in the spotlights of media.   Some of us are called to the quiet service of being a prayer warrior in  our own homes.  Others may be called to serve in public places such as food pantries while some are called to serve with music, writing or speaking.   Whatever the call to serve, each of us is expected to be obedient to the call and serve with our all.  

How is God calling you to serve?    Are you being obedient to what he expects you to do?   Do you feel he is calling you but perhaps the work he wants you to do doesn't seem as glorious as you would like?  Do you look to serve only in ways that will earn the praise of the world?  God has the perfect plan for our service.  He will share his plans with us through visions and ideas.   It is not up to us to decide if the plan or idea is worthy of our time.  We are to honor God's worth and serve without ceasing.  We must serve to earn God's rewards for us.

Our service in this world may touch hundreds, thousands or millions of people or our service may only touch one or two people.   Nonetheless, obedience and service are expected in God's plan for us.                                          #TSS

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ultimate Forgiveness

John 3:16-17  For God so love the world that he sent his only begotten Son, that whosoever  believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.   For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

More important than what any person has done to us is what one person did FOR us.   The ultimate experience of forgiveness is found in the fact that Jesus gave his life for our forgiveness.  

For us to forgive someone is not nearly as painful and excruciating as what Jesus suffered when forgiving us.  Think about that.  We find it painful emotionally to forgive, but what do we suffer that compares to going to the cross.    I am grateful for Jesus' willingness to take the nails for me!   #TSS

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Change the "W" to "Y"

1 Peter 3: 8-9  Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another;  be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.  Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

Change the "W" to "Y".

Have you ever known someone in your life that seems to constantly oppose the projects in which you are involved?  Have you worked around a person that is quick to to offer contradictions to your thoughts and ideas?   This type of person is difficult to be around, to say the least.  We may come into contact with such people in our families, at church or in the workplace.   Sometimes it seems as if the person does not necessarily oppose the idea or project but rather you personally.   It is difficult to understand why people behave this way but I have come to realize that usually an internal battle exists between their own ears.

When we are criticized, insulted, excluded and ignored it hurts.  Period.    It is especially hurtful and confusing when we do not know the reasons why a particular person feels such strong opposition to us. 

Our flesh wants to respond. We desire to defend our position and opinions.  It is tempting to allow our minds to wield weapons for responses that are equally as hurtful.  We may plot retaliation with double barreled weapons.   Our arsenal may contain remembrance of words spoken or lists of criticisms and insults.  We may wield pride by storing up thoughts of our own righteousness and their wrongdoing.  This type of situation can escalate into a battlefield of emotions, bitterness, and destructive actions.

Change the "W" in wield to "Y" and begin to YIELD.    Lay down the arms of destructive thinking and defensiveness.  Allow self righteous pride to yield to compassion, mercy, forgiveness and humility.  Relinquish insensitivity and begin to offer genuine affection.  Chances are that the person truly needs to feel loved and cared for and that the battle really has nothing to do with you.  

The battles of the flesh are tough and require daily attention much like caring for our bodies physically.   I encourage you to seek out any "W"s in your life that can be changed to "Y"s.  If there be any wielding in your heart, convert those thoughts to yieldings. Relinquish the desire to add fuel to the fire.  Surrender all temptation to open the arsenal of retaliation.  Yield to compassion, humility, mercy and love. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Why do we experience anger?

James 1:19-20    My dear brothers, take note of this:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 

What is anger?    Why do we experience anger?    Anger is a strong emotion within usually follows an injustice or being "wronged".   The physiological response in the body produces an increase in adrenaline which leaves us with the instinctual "fight or flight" option as a response.  This occurrence is what causes the heart to race and the warm rush throughout the body.  Many times it also leads to a reaction with the tongue before engaging the brain.   

Is anger wrong?  No.  But how we deal with feelings of anger can lead to wrongdoings.  Anger must not manifest into retaliation, lashing out or sin.  Anger becomes sin when we attack the wrongdoer instead of addressing the situation/problem.  Anger must not be allowed to linger.  Lingering anger prolongs forgiveness and allows roots of bitterness to grow.  Physical problems may arise from unresolved anger. 

At times it is necessary to experience anger in order to let go and reach a place of forgiveness.  Notice I said EXPERIENCE it.  That means within yourself and it does NOT mean that we use the anger in unacceptable ways.  We must deal with anger in a way that no one else recognizes that we are angry.  No one else should be on the receiving end of our dealings.

Why do some people become angry over situations that would not slightly upset others?  Anger is related to our internal disposition.  Our attitudes about forgiveness and unconditional love for others are factors that affect how we perceive injustices in our lives.   When unresolved anger exists, the slightest offenses will produce the strong emotion partly because the person is reminded of all the offenses that led to the unresolved issues.   Super sensitivities and an easily angered person are indications of deep unresolved issues that may not have anything to do with the current offense.

If you are easily angered, pray for God to reveal to you why you respond in this manner.  Seek the unresolved issues or unforgiveness that may exist so that you can improve your disposition and be free of this destructive emotion.  If someone close to you is easily angered, pray for him/her as well.  Realize that there must be issues that need to be resolved and that he/she need your prayers.  

Friday, February 21, 2014

"Keep Swimming"

Exodus 9:16  But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. 


Have you ever felt as if you are a goldfish in an ocean full of sharks?  Do you ever wonder if you will fulfill the purpose which God has set apart for you?  It can be tough at times to feel as if you are making headway toward accomplishing what God has called you to do.  Stumbling blocks along the way may cause you to doubt if you are working toward God's intended purpose in your life. 

Petty jealousies, criticisms, acts of favoritism in the workplace, deeds of unfairness and evil plots by others, can leave a person feeling insignificant and cause one to doubt his/her purpose.  Be aware that these are plots of Satan to deter you from God's purpose for your life.  God does not place doubt and fear in your mind.  He does not want you to stumble from the path to fulfilling his purpose. 

God says to you:
                 -Do not be discouraged  1 Peter 5:6-7
                 -They will not win with their evil schemes      Psalms 21:11
                 -When people seek things or accomplishments with the wrong motives, success does not
                   come     James 4:1-3
                 -your purpose and God's plan for you will be fulfilled regardless of what ANY person on
                  this earth may try to do to you   Prov 19:21

I say to you:
                 -Work diligently as God guides you to
                 -be humble with your intentions
                 -refuse to be a part of the pettiness of others
                 -your life and goals are between you and God, not you and your co-workers or friends
                 -daily tell yourself that you refuse to allow any schemes or criticisms to move you off track
                  of your purpose
                 -as Dory said in Finding Nemo,   "keep swimming, keep swimming, keep swimming"
                 -in God's eyes you are beautiful, majestic whale with grace and power that He provides for
                   you
                -"rinse and repeat" all the above as often as necessary


                

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Live for the future

Matthew 6:33   But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.       

Bitterness will grow when we live only for the present and in the past.  Constantly wallowing in "what happened to me" and "why me" is a recipe for bitterness.

We must live for the future, trusting in God's sovereignty and have faith in his promises.  Seek his kingdom first and all his promises will be fulfilled unto you. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

God's creativity

Genesis 2: 7  Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground.  He breathed the life into the man's nostrils, and the man became a living person. 

Our Sunday school lesson this week focused on creation.  Interesting timing to follow the big creation debate between Bill Nye and Ken Hamm.  My post today does not jump into that debate.  Instead, I will focus on a question that our Sunday school lesson posed-"What part of the creation do you find most interesting"?  

Answers in the class varied from the seasons to the planets and the tides of the oceans.  I find the creation of the human body to be the most fascinating.   To study Anatomy and Physiology and all the intricate details of the human body from the muscle strength of the mandible to DNA and genetics leaves me speechless and WITHOUT a doubt in my mind of being created by God and his intelligent design.  

One example of this design is in fetal development.  During gestation a fetus is sustained by the umbilical cord and its connection to the placenta.  Have you ever wondered what happens when the cord is cut after birth?  Within the cord are 2 arteries and one vein that supply the nutrients to the baby and rid of all waste from the baby.  It is like a grocery store and septic system all in those tiny vessels.   After the cord is cut, the vein closes off and becomes a fibrous remnant and the part of each artery closes up and the remaining parts blend into the circulatory system.   Birth also brings about the function of the gastrointestinal system, ready for eating and eliminating.     AMAZING!!!!

This is one example of the creativeness and complexity of the human body.  There are so many other examples that leave me awestruck.   I leave you to ponder the question:  What part of creation (any part) do you find most fascinating and I challenge you to research the details.    Spend time thanking God for his creations, marvel at the intricate details, and appreciate the inter workings of our earth, the solar system,  our bodies and everything else that God created for our benefit.                   #TSS

Monday, February 17, 2014

Two Steps Forward, Three Steps Back

This is a rerun of a post from last summer.  I had another post planned but God led me back to this one. 

Philippians 3:13-14
       “Forgetting the past and look forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Jesus Christ, is calling us.” 

            Today’s devotion is a “mail bag” item that posed this question:  “Why on some days do all the hurtful things that others have done come flooding back?  Two steps forward and three steps back.”

            One reason this happens is because you ARE taking the two steps forward.  When we move toward forgiveness and letting go of hurts, we are moving toward a closer relationship with God through obedience of his commands to do so.  When we move toward God, the adversary feels threatened.  He knows he is losing ground, therefore he must remind us of the injustices we have been served.  He will replay details and try to convince us that we need to harbor bitterness and wallow in the hurt.  There may be times that we encounter the one(s) that hurt us and without a doubt this stirs the raw pain and may even re-open the wound. 

            Another reason it happens may be that God is trying to speak to you about some part of the situation.  Let me explain my own experiences.  In dealing with the situations that have hurt me most, I had the same question. “Why do the hurts keep flooding back?  Why can’t I be free of these reminders”?   As I continued to pray and cry out to God, He showed me that not only did I need to forgive, but I also needed to learn to pray for my offenders.  Some of the people that hurt us are not saved and have no relationship with God.  When I finally saw what he was trying to tell me, I had a different kind of hurt inside me, a deep hurt with a burden for the lost. 

            Both reasons listed above can be dealt with in your daily walk with God.  First, when the flood gates open and the hurts flow in, re-establish the fact that you have decided to forgive.  Claim that decision in Jesus’ name.  Set those emotional boundaries and tell the devil he will not win.  Refuse to feel the hurt.  Decide that you will enjoy The Sweet Stuff. 

            Secondly, pray for the offenders.  Pray that they will walk with God.  Pray for their salvation and for their families.  Yes, I know that this is not easy and is quite uncomfortable to do in the beginning.   Remember that when others offend, they have hurt God far more than they have hurt us and that they will stand before him with an account just as we will.  It is important to settle our accounts here on earth, if not with the offender, then we should settle it in our hearts.   #TSS

 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Prayers

Today I suggest that we spend an extra amount of time in prayer.   I know that each of you has specific prayer concerns and situations that need extra attention.   Please use the time that you would normally spend reading TSS and pray for those situations. 

I specifically pray for the folks in our area that lost their homes in the pipeline explosion yesterday.  I praise God for protecting the lives of those involved.  The situation was fearful and devastating.  It is my prayer that God will comfort each and every one of the victims as well as the emergency personnel.  May each of us as a community represent love and comfort by helping those in need. 

My prayer list is long;  I leave this time to you and your lists.                             #TSS

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Friendship

At my great aunt's funeral several years ago, one of my cousins spoke and said these words about her that I ponder often.  She said, "Aunt Audrey tended to her friendships".  I knew that to be true but what does that really mean?     It meant that she loved her friends and she was committed to caring about them and having a relationship with them.  Such a wonderful way to be eulogized! 

The book of 1 Samuel, chapters 18-20 offer us a picture of what true friendship looks and acts like.  I encourage you to read these chapters in their entirety.  Here we find the story of Jonathon and David-friends in the purest sense of the word.    Their friendship is so pure that I have used it as a basis for a checklist for what should contain in order to thrive.

Checklist for friendship:    
             -friends should share the same spirit  (understand God)1 Samuel 18:1
             -friends should offer true/pure love   (1Corinthians 13:4-8)
             -friends should offer loyalty, honor and trust  (1Samuel 18-20)
             -a covenant partner (friend or spouse), surrenders all selfish motives  and walks in the daily
              decision to keep that covenant
            

The deep bonds of friendship must be established by God's principles.   True friendship is a commitment (covenant) that should not be taken lightly.  Friends are a gift from God-his creations for us to enjoy.  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Punishment versus Purpose

Psalms 3:7-8       7-Arise, O Lord!   Deliver me, O my God!  Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked.   8-From the Lord comes deliverance.  May your blessing be on your people.


In verse 7 David is calling out to God for justice against the people that were persecuting him.  He wanted equal treatment.  He wanted justice.  When we have been beaten down, insulted, persecuted, we want justice from God.  When we feel as if enemies are surrounding us with intentional acts of maltreatment, we may dream of vengeance.  We might think that our enemies should receive equal treatment. 

In verse 8, David reveals humility and patience for God's timing.   He realized that victory over his enemies comes from God's perfect justice and judgment.  He can see that revenge is not the answer.  He leaves the matter in God's hands.    

In times of persecution from our enemies, it is easy to fall into a state of focusing on their punishment, especially how we think the punishment should be carried out.  Our minds may become filled with vivid details of how we think revenge would be best served.  When we are hurting, we often wish hurt upon those who caused our pain.  Vengeance is not ours to distribute and focusing on punishment is non-productive.   

Instead of focusing on punishment for our enemies, we should focus on our purpose.  What does God want us to learn from our enemies?  How might we gain strength from situations in which we are mistreated?  What is His purpose for us from day to day?   These are questions to ponder while humbly leaving our enemies in the hands of our victor.  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Peace Offerings

Psalm  29:10-11 The Lord sits enthroned as King forever.  The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.


I recall hearing a phone conversation between my husband and our oldest daughter.   She was worried about a friend of hers who was having a really bad day.   The friend was upset and her peace was disturbed.  My daughter wanted to know what she could do for her friend.   What my husband told her has remained in the forefront of my mind and has prompted me to evaluate myself as a peacemaker.    He told her to offer her friend peace.  He said, "let her find peace in you."    Let me repeat:  "Let her find peace in you."

I began to ponder this and I asked myself if I offer people the opportunity to find peace in me.  What does this mean?   It means that we will offer comfort to those that are hurting.  To offer peace is to offer someone to confide in us and to bear their burdens and deepest feelings without fear of exploitation.   Others may find peace from us when they see us at peace with both God and the situation at hand. 

The Bible tells us that we are to love one another and bear one another's burdens.  Peace is a blessing.  Peace is available to each and every one of us.  At times our peace will be interrupted or disturbed and we will need to take a moment and find our bearings.   We can always seek peace from God.  It is also comforting to have people that offer us peace and comfort. 

Share the peace that is within you.  Lend an ear of sympathy, hug someone that is hurting, offer your friends a safe harbor of confidence and rest from their worries; "Let them find peace in you."

Monday, February 10, 2014

Christlike maturity

Philippians 3:15-16     All of us who are spiritually mature agree on these things.   If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you.  But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.

How do we deal with bitterness and walk free from its pull.  How do we resist being angry, resentful and unforgiving when satan works diligently to keep us holding on to these attitudes?

Paul taught the Philippians the importance of growing into a Christlike maturity.  A maturity of that seeks for Christ to fill any discrepancies between who we are and who we need to be.  This maturity comes from knowing God, spending time with him to learn his will for us and then acting in obedience to fulfill that perfect will. 

We should focus our lives on being like Christ.  With the mind set of an Olympic athlete in training, we must lay all harmful and distracting things aside that will keep us from being effective Christians.

In dealing with bitterness, a mature Christlike attitude is one that leads us to intentionally choose to relish our blessings instead of wallowing in our bitterness.                            #TSS

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Are you a Christian cameleon?

Acts 4:29   Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.

It has been said that character is who we are when no one is looking.  This is true but character is also about who we are when everyone is looking.   When we are put into situations to defend our beliefs, do we or are we Christian chameleons?   Do we change our colors or suppress our beliefs blend with the environment?   Do we compromise the truths that we know in order to keep a job, maintain friends, or prevent being rejected by our peers?

Christians need not fear being who they are in any environment.  It is important to decide who we are and what be stand for.  Our beliefs and God's truths should never be compromised in the name of popularity or from fear of losing the tangible things of this life.   If you feel like a Christian chameleon, pray for boldness and courage to always be strong in what you know to be true.   #TSS

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The receiving end of bitterness

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 likely 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 they say and do really have nothing to do with you-it is an internal battle
      -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 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 does.  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.           

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Discipline of children

1 Kings 1:6    Now his father, King David, had never disciplined him at any time, even by asking, "Why are you doing that?"  

King David was a great leader and servant of God.   While he was a great leader, there were problems within his family, particularly with his son, Adonijah.   He never set any limits or boundaries and the boy did whatever he wanted.   As a result, the boy desired his own selfish way instead of seeking God's will.  

Even though David was a God fearing leader, he took for granted that his children would automatically inherit godly morals and ethics.  Well disciplined and morally trained children require time and effort along with much restraint.  Constant attention is necessary in the development of the moral characters of our children.  Is it easy?   NO.   There are bumps in the road, disappointments and many lessons to teach.  

A well disciplined adult with self restraint does not happen without time and attention to discipline from birth.   Prayer, patience and perseverance are essential in effectively providing parental guidance and discipline.                                 #TSS

Monday, February 3, 2014

Lashing Out

Proverbs 29:11     A fool vents all his feelings,  But a wise man holds them back.


Today's post was inspired by a question presented to me by a reader of The Sweet Stuff .   WARNING:  Content contains raw, honest emotions.

Question:  "In your bitterness, did you ever have a desire to lash out at those who had hurt you?"

Answer:              Y          E            S!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The desire to give some people "a piece of my mind" was a battle within my flesh during the anger phase of my bitterness.   I had plenty to say and I had rehearsed the script many times.   We all know that satan was strongly encouraging me to do so, however, God protected me from myself by preventing the opportunity for me to do so.   Let me explain.

For those of you that do not personally know me, I live in a very small town.   A town where going to the bank or grocery store presents opportunities to see many people that you know and visit, talk, etc.  When I was in the depths of my bitterness (which lasted a few years), not one time did I encounter one of the people on my list upon which I wanted to "unload" my mind.  Not one, zilch, notta.    If you have ever lived in a small place, you can mentally calculate the odds of this happening.  

God protected me from acting out my own foolish intentions.   I cannot express to you how grateful I am for that now that I have overcome the hurt and bitterness.    In the midst of anger, hurt and bitterness, we cannot see the damages that such behavior can cause on many levels.   We can only think of how much better we will surely feel if we let them know how much they have hurt us.  Nothing productive would have resulted from lashing out.  It may have made me feel better for a moment, however, it would not have a changed one single thing about any of the situation.  

I am thankful that God's wisdom prevailed!   I realized that I had a huge need for more wisdom and I seek God's counsel daily in that department.      

When you are tempted to lash out, remember the following:
                    - it will not rectify the situation
                    - it will likely intensify the negative emotions within the situation
                    - the other person will not likely take on your pain nor your emotions
                    - give it to God and allow him to work it out
                    -seek wisdom and the knowledge to change your own feelings