The Sweet Stuff Ministry

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Forgiveness allows us to rearrange our memories

Isaiah 43:25   "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more."

In the midst of my battle with bitterness, I would get up each day and desire for the day to be positive and filled with joy.  It wouldn't be long into the day that my memory would engage the events, the feelings and the people that had caused my hurt and disappointments.   I wanted desperately to forget it all.  I wanted my days to be filled with thoughts and emotions that did not contain any details or reminders of those events.  I asked God, "Why can't I forget it all?"  I knew that he forgets all our offenses and promises us that he remembers no more.  Why can't I do the same?    Why can't I let it all go?

The memory does not function to dismiss selective events and occurrences.  If we could forget bad and hurtful things, some good memories would also be forgotten and we surely do not want to get rid of our good memories.   God made me keenly aware that I did not need to forget.  What I needed to do was FORGIVE.   Ouch!   The fact that my days were turning sour quickly upon arising, was my fault.  I needed to fix the problem instead of waiting incessantly for the offenders to make it all right. 

Forgiveness is a process.   At times it is a long process that involves many steps and much effort on our parts.  It must be a daily, conscious attitude that we practice and decide that we will hold in our hearts.  The benefits of forgiveness are ours.   When we desire to forgive and submit that desire to God, our relationship with him will advance to a deeper level. 

Have I forgotten it all?  No.  But the wonderful thing is that I have forgiven it all and now when I remember any of the details, which by the way is not everyday anymore, I now remember with peace and forgiveness.   If I have a reminder of the events, I can quickly put it into perspective and not allow it interfere with my joy.

Forgiveness is a healing.  It heals the beholder!  If you have negative memories that you desire to forget, I urge you to seek the process of forgiveness.   You will not totally forget the memories but you will be able to rearrange their location in your mind.   You deserve peace of mind and God wishes for you to have it!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Are you being attacked by your old mindset?

Psalm 32:1-2      Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.

Are you being attacked by your old mindset?  Do your thoughts cause you to feel guilt and unworthiness?  Does this mindset prevent you from worship, service and joy in the Lord?

God only wants you to experience the sorrow from guilt that will lead you to repentance.                     2 Corinthians 7:10  Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.  Listen to that carefully-"worldly sorrow is NOT godly".  God does not want you to feel guilty after your salvation for the sins in which you have been forgiven.  He does not want you to feel condemned by constantly focusing on past transgressions. 

Guilt past repentance and salvation is a tool of Satan.  He finds pleasure in reminding us of our failures and mistakes.   He will even use those reminders to try and lure us into going back to those behaviors and thought patterns.  

NO good comes from the accusations and reminders of Satan.  He only uses these methods to take away the joy we find in God.  He wants to shake our confidence in Jesus Christ.   We must learn to discern between convictions and condemnation (guilt).   When we sin, God will convict our hearts to move us toward repentance.   He does not place worldly guilt upon us.    He does not count any of our sins against us.  

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Taking care of the elderly

Acts 20:35   "In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

This verse can be applied to many instances.  I present it to you today in regard to taking care of and visiting the elderly.  Elderly folks, especially ones that are widowed and live alone, suffer from loneliness.  It is a part of the separation they feel upon losing a spouse.  Many people are blessed with large families that live close by and will tend to them and maintain a close relationship.  Others have no one to help them out or visit and care for them. 

I encourage you to seek out an elderly person, be it a neighbor, remote family member, or a resident in a nursing home.   Visit that person.  Spend time in conversation.  Take him/her a handful of flowers.   Even small amounts of time will offer blessings like you cannot imagine.   You, as the giver of time and attention will receive a much greater blessing than the person you visit.   I love how that works!!

Keep this in mind:    The one small gesture or amount of time you might offer an elderly person, may be the one BIG thing he/she needs that day.   

Monday, July 28, 2014

Seek His mighty deeds

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."

Since the beginning of time, there have been problems unique to each generation.   Each generation  seems to think that their problems are worse than any generation before.   While the problems will contain different details and flavors, all problems are basically the same.   The root of problems among people is that we as humans have a sinful nature and we often times choose not to rely completely upon God. 

God has spoken to the hearts of people the same way since the beginning of time.  He never changes!  He worked personally in the lives of people one thousand years ago, he works personally in the lives of people today and he will continue to work personally in the lives of people until the end of time.   He has seen the whole picture since the beginning of time and has never lost sight of it all. 

As Christians, we need not worry about the future.  The end result is promised.  Be encouraged by the fact that God will work personally in our lives and our futures.  If this devotion finds you without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I encourage you to seek that security and allow him to work in your heart.  He will do mighty deeds!


































































Friday, July 25, 2014

Let us make ourselves full of love and worship

Until we rid of any and all bitterness that may dwell within us,

We CANNOT have peace,

We CANNOT worship effectively,

We CANNOT forgive totally,

We CANNOT love wholly. 

God expects us to rid of all bitterness and malice (Ephesians 4:31).  Our love for him is not complete as long as we harbor rage and bitterness.  

With repentance and God's healing,

We CAN have peace,

We CAN worship effectively,

We CAN forgive totally,

We CAN love wholly. 

Let us make ourselves complete; full of love and worship.  God stands ready, willing and able to equip you with the strength and courage to rid of all the bitterness and negativity in your life.   Peace and joy await you.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Rejection is not destruction

2 Corinthians 4:8-9  We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.

Rejection occurs in many sizes and shapes.  Rejection brings about many emotions, questions and much insecurity.  Rejection in a nut shell means we are discarded as invaluable or unsatisfactory.  Rejection says:  "I do not want you",  "I do not like you", "you are useless to me".    Rejection is crushing and very difficult to understand.  

What exactly happens with rejection? 
               -Someone changes the way they feel about you.
               -Someone does you wrong-most often because of self seeking attitudes and behaviors
               -Someone cares more about themselves that others
               -Sometimes rejection is a cold shoulder, other times it involves intentional acts that clearly
                 demonstrate the thoughts and feelings of one person toward the other.

The main question that I have always had about rejection is "WHY"?  Why does a parent reject a child?  Why do siblings reject one another?  Why does a spouse one day decide there is no love for the other?  Why do people in the workplace work to destroy a position of a fellow co-worker?  Why do people decide they will not like and respect others? 

The common denominator in each of the instances mentioned is "self".  Self seeking, self-serving, selfish feelings are the base of rejection.  Promoting "self"  demotes others.  When "self" is in the forefront, others are in the back.  Left behind.  Left out. Abandoned.  Rejected. 

Rejection may come from all sides of our lives:  work, family, social activities, sports, etc.  Rejection will NEVER come from God.   No matter the destruction that other people may cause in our lives because of rejection, we are never destroyed in God's eyes.  He will never reject, nor forsake us. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Release the bitterness into a memory

Proverbs 14:10     Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.

Each of us knows or has known our own bitterness, however great or small.  The circumstances that cause bitterness within people vary and the mechanisms of injury that cause the hurts may be different.  However, the consequences and by-products of bitterness are UNIVERSAL.  The same type of destructive  root will begin to grow in the heart, no matter the cause of the bitterness.    

I have not sustained the same trials and tragedies that many of you have endured.  I do not know the levels of betrayal, the depth of the injustices, the magnitude of your sorrow, nor the acts that have occurred in each of your lives.

I am familiar with the thoughts and questions that have gone through your minds.  I have endured the feelings that consume you at times and some that have haunted you for long enough.

I know how Satan can trample all over your inner self.  He can even cause you to dislike others as well as yourself.

I remember the anger, fear and frustration that accompanies bitterness.

Above all else, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God stands ready to heal you and take away all the negative emotions and consequences that bitterness presents.  He stands ready to restore your feelings and attitude.  Allow him to reconcile your heart.  Release the bitterness and set it aside as a memory.  

You will never forget the memories of the experiences that cause bitterness.  The accompaniments of bitterness, however, can become memories instead of realities through forgiveness.  Forgiveness releases the negative thoughts and emotions that will consume your mind and prevent you from having joy and peace. 

I am so thankful that the bitterness that once was a destructive emotion for me is now only a memory!!  I now have in my presence the joy and peace that God offers in place of the bitterness.  The same joy and peace is available for you as well.  Seek forgiveness and release the bitterness into a memory that you can reflect upon without inner turmoil.  Allow God to restore your peace and reconcile your heart.  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Depend upon God absolutely and unequivocally

Jeremiah 17:7-8   "But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.  He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream."   It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."

For Fathers' Day this year my husband wrote a precious letter to our children and read it aloud to them as a testimony in church.  Talk about a tear jerker!  In the letter he told them how proud he is to be their father and talked about some memories over the years.  He also charged them to always love, support and guard one another. 

The paragraph that stood out to me the most in the letter was this:    "I want you to understand that as much as I wish it could be different and as much as I pray it could be different for you, the fact of this world is:  You will have hard times and troubling and difficult tribulations.  You must learn to depend upon God absolutely and unequivocally."  Depend upon God absolutely and unequivocally.  

As much as we think we can rely upon others, humans are fallible.  We are powerless on our own, faulty in our ways.   We can do nothing apart from the powers of God.  Putting our confidence and trust in God is the only way that we can withstand the heat of this world.  Relying solely upon God will guide us through any tribulation that we might ever endure. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

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?   Not that we necessarily love some any less, but there are just some people that we have a stronger desire to be around and spend time with.  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, words of encouragement, questions with words that displayed an interest for us, words of love and fulfillment are what comes to mind from those that I have been and continue to be most close to.  Can you think of a phrase or exact sentence that someone you love said to you, such as those that we begin with, "Mama always said"?  We remember words and we remember the emotion attached to the words. 

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.  There were words that we should have said yet never did and 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.  May we always choose construction.   

Friday, July 18, 2014

Do you have rocks in your pocket?

John 8:7   ....."All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone."

Please read John 8:1-11 in its entirety.  This passage of scripture has several lessons packed within it.  Messages about judging and condemning others, compassion and unconditional love immediately  come to mind when we read this passage. 

I want to use this passage to consider friendships.  Friendships are important gifts from God.  We begin friendships early in life with school, sports and other activities.  Lifelong friendships are precious blessings!  When we have lifelong friendships (emphasis on the long), we will encounter many situations and events with our friends.  There will be happy times, sad times, times of disappointment and down right tough times.  There will be times when our friends make decisions that we do not agree with.  There will be times when our friends suffer great loss and disappointment within their lives.   Sometimes friends will make poor choices and seemingly lose their way.  

Are we able to be a genuine friend no matter what happens?   Are we able to love or do we just use words of love while we are really judging?   Do we develop a self righteous attitude and abandon the friendship? Is it easier to no longer participate in the friendship?  Do the sufferings and failures of our friends require more effort on our parts than we are willing to invest?   Do we throw that first stone instead of considering the sin in our lives?

Too often people walk away from friendships by throwing the first stone.  Some folks seem to keep rocks in their pockets waiting for an opportunity to hurl one at someone.  Judging the actions and thoughts of others is a common reason that friendships fail.  We have all known friends, or so called friends, that throw the first stone when there seems to be nothing in the relationship to benefit them.  Sadly, at times people savor the failures and losses of others and when a friend suffers a loss such as a job, title or position, others view them as a loser instead offering compassion and love during the loss. 

Being a genuine friend requires love, compassion and forgiveness.   Just as Jesus told the crowd in John 8:1-11, we should consider our own lives before we condemn others.   Leave the stones on the ground where they belong.  Love your friends, no matter what they are going through, no matter how bad their lives seem to be and even when you do not agree with their decisions.  Present yourself as an example of love and compassion.  Teach them the righteous ways of God and what he expects from each of us.  Love them through their losses.  Grow together in the friendship.  

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Do not reach out to the offers of this world.

Romans 12:2  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

We should not reach out to the offers of this world.  The masquerades and empty promises change and fade over time.  Promises of wealth, fame, feelings and images prey on the vulnerability of a person's self worth.  These empty promises mask themselves in many forms and the masks are ever evolving.

Following the offers of the world, interferes with God's will in our lives.  If we seek a renewing of our minds, God can change the way we view the things in this world.   To view things from God's perspective, takes our eyes off "self" and focuses our eyes on loving and serving others.  Our thoughts will no longer be centered on self gain and accomplishment but will be centered on obedience, honor and giving to others. 

Refusing to conform to the patterns of this world requires self discipline.  A renewing of the mind will create a desire to submit to God's will which will in turn replace the desire to yield to fleshy and material "wants".   The things and patterns of this world will pass away.  Following God's perfect will for us on this earth will produce eternal treasures.  The promises of this world are empty.  God's promises are fulfilling and everlasting.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Healing a broken heart

Psalm 147:3    He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  

The first time that I ever had a broken heart, I was an adult.  I praise God for that-for the fact that my heart had remained intact in my formative years!   When it did happen, it was a broken heart that caused the rest of my body to feel broken as well.  I felt physically ill, nauseated, paralyzed, emotionally numb.    As these symptoms began to subside, bitterness began to "set in".   Just as healing and forgiveness are processes, arriving at bitterness is also a process.  Bitterness is cumulative.  

Emotions compound, satan sees a loop hole and bitterness builds its way into the heart.   We wallow in the "whys", "what ifs", "if onlys".   This process may last a short time or, as in my case, it can last for years.  

Healing and forgiveness are decisions.   Decisions in which we have complete control.  When we decide to seek healing, we must also decide to submit to God, believe in his word and live out his instructions.   

Whether you have wallowed for one minute, one day or one decade, there is no better time to make that decision to allow God to heal your broken heart and get rid of the bitterness.              

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

When the flesh wants to panic, there is PEACE.

John 14:27   "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

This past weekend a medical emergency with a family member created a bit of uncertainty for us.  Medical emergencies happen quickly and at times leave us unable to sort all the details.  While Satan waged war within me with thoughts of fear, doubt and a disruption of my peace, God said "I give you peace".   I had PEACE.  Even with a background in the medical field and all the possible outcomes and occurrences rolling around in my head, there was PEACE.    When my flesh wanted to panic, there was PEACE. 

It is that peace that passes all understanding.  It is the Holy Spirit reminding you "I can take care of this".   It is peace that comes when you immediately cry out to God when facing difficult situations.  It is a peace that is offered to all of us.  It is that security that tells us we do not need to be afraid, but we must trust and accept the peace. 

If you are willing to accept peace, God offers it.   Accepting it will free your life of stress, anxiety, fear and worry.  Philippians 4:6-7 reminds us that when we go to God with prayer and petition, he will give us that 'peace that passes all understanding'.

If you have turmoil, whether it be acute or chronic, I urge you to seek the peace that God has to offer.  Cry out to him to send it your way and then open your heart and accept it. 


Monday, July 14, 2014

In the midst of calamity, sin not.

Job 2 :10   But Job replied, "You talk like a foolish woman.  Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?"  So in all this, Job said nothing wrong. 

When calamities come to us in life, we are often quick to question God's goodness or justice in allowing bad things to happen to us.   Believing in God does not protect us from trouble, however faith and believing can protect us from sinning in the midst of our troubles.

Let us focus on the last few words from Job 2:10:  "So in all this, Job said nothing wrong".   Think of a time when something undesirable happened in your life.  Maybe the loss of a job, death of a loved one, an attack on your character by someone.  Maybe it was betrayal of a friend or co-worker.  Perhaps it was illness or financial hardship.  These instances may lead us to question why such a thing happened.  I have heard others say things such as "If God is so good, why did he allow this?"  I have seen people turn from God due to anger because of trouble in their lives.

When we allow our minds to entertain the questioning of God's sovereignty, we become caught up in sin.  The sin is having an irreverent, disrespectful attitude toward God.  Such an attitude shows a lack of faith. When our attitude switches over to one of disrespect, other sinful words and thoughts will begin to develop.    

In our troubles, we must praise God.  If we trust in His sovereignty and lean toward His wisdom, we are protected from sinning in the midst of trouble.  We will not always understand why things happen; we are not meant to.  Leaning to God's understanding will allow us to accept our circumstances and trust in His promises for the future.   

If you are in the midst of a calamity in your life, remember this method:  Sort, sieve, learn, leave.

Sort--the blessings and praise God for them.  Sort the truths from the untruths. 
Sieve--allow the anger and negative emotions to pass through your mind. Rid of any temptations to
            sin in the midst of trouble. 
Learn--seek what God is teaching you.  Learn more about His wisdom.  Increase your faith in him.
Leave--put away the hurt, offer forgiveness and leave the details to God.        

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Are you spent?

Luke 15: 11-16  (I encourage you to read 11-32 for the full parable)   Jesus continued:  "There was a man who had two sons.  The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.'  So he divided his property between them.  "Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.  After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.  So he went and hired himself out to his fields to feed pigs.  He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything."

This parable is packed with action and consequences.  Self gratification and rebellion ring loudly in these verses.  The son wanted his share of the fathers wealth now so that he could spend it on "wild living".   Wild living in that time period was likely a bit different than wild living today but the principle was the same.  The son was focused on himself and his own fleshly pleasures. He lived as he pleased and spent his money frivolously without regard to the future and the fact that he might need money once all that he had was spent.  The money that he was spending gave him instant gratification, however in another instant, it was all gone.  The consequences of his actions caused him to hit rock bottom financially and emotionally. 

As I look around our world today, many people are wandering about living as they please, spending aimlessly-seeking instant gratification.    Many do so to avoid commitments or responsibility.    Others do so trying to fulfill a void that no form of spending or material things will ever fill.  No amount of vacations, new clothing, vehicles or jewelry will ever complete any person.  Only Jesus Christ can fill that void. 

Does this devotion find you spent?  Have you chased other things in life looking for contentment and  fulfillment?   Are you spiraling to the bottom emotionally and/or financially?  It is time to end the grief and stress.  Look to God.  Seek him and submit to him with all your heart.  Turn it all around before great sorrow or tragedy occurs.  He can change your heart!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Stand Firm

1 Corinthians 15:58  Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

"A good leader is not fearful of negative pressures that may come".  I heard this quote at the closing ceremony of a leadership conference a couple of years ago.  It is a strong statement. 

All of us are leaders of some sort.  Whether we lead our children, a Sunday School class, sports team, scouting group, Bible School, an entire ministry or a huge corporation, we can EXPECT negative pressures.  Many times being a leader means that we must press on even when we feel alone in our work. 

Negative pressures come in the form of: 
     -criticism
     -sarcasm
     -slander
     -humiliation
     -gossip
     -acts of jealousy/envy
     -pressures to show favoritism
     -pressures to retreat or step down

Satan enjoys putting pressures on us.  He will go to great lengths to do so and to hinder us from serving the Lord.  It is important to recognize negative pressures as tools of Satan.

As godly leaders, we shall neither worry nor give in to those negative pressures.   We shall stand firm in what God has called us to do.   Let God handle the negative stuff while we press on to lead and enjoy The Sweet Stuff.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Lines of love

Matthew 5:4   Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 

A few days ago one of my dearest friends lost her mother in a tragic car accident.   After the initial shock of it all, I began to ponder how in the world can we offer comfort in these situations?   Are there any words that will automatically bring peace to the family?   Is there any amount of food that can be cooked and delivered that will ease the pain?  We feel so helpless. 

As I stood in the long line for the visitation at the funeral home, it became clear that many people loved this lady and her family and that all of them lined up to show their love and concern. We all shared the same loss for words, the same feelings of helplessness and the same desire to bring comfort to the family.  Lines of love filled the building to show support for the family.   Flowers and mementos formed lines of love around the walls of the rooms.  Pages of names in the registry book formed lines of love on paper.  

Loving people through their trials and pain is more valuable than any words that might be spoken.  To show love with our presence, helpful deeds and tokens of support are reminders to those who are grieving that they are not alone.  Lines of love do bring comfort to hearts that are hurting.  Many times all we can do is line up and offer love. 

The beatitudes in Matthew 5 (I encourage you to read the entire chapter) tell us of God's offer of comfort and peace.  While the beatitudes do not promise that life will be full of laughter, pleasure, or pain free circumstances, they do promise a life filled with eternal hope and a peace that is independent of external circumstances.  A life filled with joy that Jesus offers by following him. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Longsuffering

Galatians 5:22-23--But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Long suffering is patience. Patience is defined in Webster's dictionary as the capability of bearing affliction with calmness; able to tolerate delay; understanding. We must have patience in all aspects of our world around us. Patience is required when we deal with people, situations, God and ourselves.
Is patience always easy? NO! Even some of the most patient people in small everyday situations are tested when trials seem to have no clear end or resolution. One might be patient enough with children, traffic or small frustrations, but when that long suffering is put to a test, how well does it hold? How do we endure the trials of our patience such as praying for a family member that is unsaved, enduring a chronic illness, loss of a loved one, or dealing with a job lay off and financial uncertainties?

Christian character comes from the Holy Spirit. We must seek character and desire to possess the fruits of the spirit as mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. Long suffering should draw us nearer to God, more dependent upon him and his timing, trusting that he has the plan best suited for us. Events and situations that we describe as "trying our patience" are really tests of our Christian character. So, the next time your patience is put to the test, seek what God is showing you, strengthen your Christian character and thank him for the experience.

Friday, July 4, 2014

"No one else can make you feel anything"

"No one else can make you feel anything".  A great quote from a wise man that happens to be my husband.  :)  I remember him saying this to me many times over the years, however, it has only been within the past few years that I have come to a good understanding of what it means. 
We have complete control over how we feel about everything in life. 

Love, hate, happiness, misery, etc. are emotions that we DECIDE to allow ourselves to feel.  Others may do things to us that are wrong or hurtful, but how we process the feelings are completely up to each of us individually.  We decide what people we will love and value.  We may not consciously decide everyday to love someone, but somewhere along the way we made up our minds that we would love him/her.   

I urge you to "decide" to embrace peace, joy and love.  "Decide" to get rid of negative emotions or any misery in your life.  "Decide" to taste more of The Sweet Stuff in life!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Vengeance

Romans 12:19    Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

A part of dealing with bitterness and learning to let go is dealing with feelings of vengeance.  The need to get even can cloud our minds.  While we may not plot to do destructive and hurtful things, we may have thoughts of wanting those that hurt us to suffer.  We think about lashing out, letting them know how we hurt.  We need for them to feel what we have felt, to know how badly the things they said and did hurt us.  We want them to be as miserable as we are. 

We may question how some people can do or say things that hurt us deeply, yet seemingly have no remorse whatsoever.  We may never know the answers to those questions.  We are not promised to know the answers. 

In my dealing with letting go of the bitterness that had taken root in my heart, there were days when these emotions were strong.  Many questions would run through my mind on a daily basis.  I would question how can people do these things?  What are they thinking when they do?  Why are they so happy when they have done such things? 

What I learned in order to let go: 
1.  God knows everything.  Everything that has been done to me as well as everything that I have done and has gone through my mind. 
2.  Others are responsible for what they have done.  I am responsible for what I have done and thought. 
3. God will deal with them in the end.  God will deal with me in the end. 
4.  It was time for me to improve my way of viewing it all because I was losing.  Losing time with God, happy times with family and friends and losing the flavor of The Sweet Stuff. 

I encourage you to let go, do not waste any more time being bitter and unhappy.   #TSS

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Spiritual warfare

2 Chronicles 20:15    "Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army.  For the battle is not yours, but God's."

Even though we cannot always see or understand our enemies, we truly only have one enemy:  Satan.  He is the evil one who seeks to devour us in every way.  He uses people to accomplish his evil deeds.  There are times when it seems like a huge army with thousands of people is camped at our doorstep.

When we are dealt injustices, hurts and dirty deeds, it is difficult for us to understand why.  It is so hard not to take the injustices personally.  This is an opportunity for the seeds of bitterness to sprout and grow.

Spiritual warfare is important to comprehend yet difficult to accept.  Basically, it boils down to this:  the war is between God and Satan; we are on the battlefield but the battle is not ours.

Our best defense against spiritual warfare is a deep, intimate relationship with God.  When this is in place, He will fight our battles and keep the devil off our backs.       #TSS

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Loving is more important than winning

Romans 15:7    Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. 

A couple of weeks ago we were at a shooting sports competition with our son who competes in trap shooting.   It was a regional invitational meet which means that many teams from several counties were there in order to compete.  Trap shooting is scored individually as well as a team.  The competitors are divided into squads of five which consist of shooters from various counties. 

As I watched one of the squads, I noticed a young fellow with autism.  He is new to sport shooting and I am sure he was a bit nervous.   As he aimed his gun he was at times unsteady and he took a bit of extra time to get into position.  What I also noticed about this fellow was that he was extremely focused.  Each time he loaded the gun, he meticulously placed it at his shoulder, set his sights for the trap house and got into position.    A few times he raised his hand for assistance but even so, he remained focused and patient. 

What I also noticed that day was godly behavior and support from the other young ladies and gentleman on the line with him.    There was patience, understanding and camaraderie.   Godly behavior and acceptance are more important than any number of clay pigeons that any of those young ladies and gentlemen may or may not break or any amount of trophies that  may collect on their shelves.  To show love, concern and acceptance gives glory to God.   Accepting means not only taking people into our activities, but also taking people into our hearts.  

Winning is not nearly as important as loving!  We all have handicaps and deficits within us.  Some are more evident while others are more concealed.   Winning is nice but loving brings praise and glory to God.