The Sweet Stuff Ministry

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Temper tantrums


Proverbs 14:17     A quick tempered man does foolish things, and a crafty man is hated.

Proverbs 14:29    A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.


Temper tantrums are common in children between ages 1-4.  Psychologists say that temper tantrums are a normal response when something blocks a child from gaining independence.  In plain "mama" terms, a temper tantrum occurs when a child does not get his/her way. 

I remember the temper tantrum stage several years ago when our children were smaller. We had three children within seven years and so the stages of development repeated in a short span of time.  One of our children in particular is a strong willed, determined child, born with an independent nature.  The temper tantrum stage tried my patience with this one.  I remember one day in particular when I felt as though  my theory of overlooking temper tantrums seemed to be ineffective in ridding of the behavior.  Around supper time when the children began to express their hunger and readiness to eat, I did something profound.  With all three children standing in the kitchen, I got down on the floor, flailed about, and had myself a temper tantrum, protesting that I did not want to fix supper.  As I continued to demonstrate how I viewed their throw-down-on-the-floor tantrums, I remember glancing up and seeing my children with their eyes and mouths wide open as if they wondered what on earth was coming next.  Psychology books may never suggest this technique but not one of our children ever had a temper tantrum again!  Awareness can be a wonderful thing at all ages!

Children have temper tantrums because of frustration.  They lack the wisdom to reason and think a situation through, therefore the raw emotions surface instead of logical behavior.  Do we ever have temper tantrums when we are upset with God?   Do our raw emotions surface in the form of anger, bitterness or discouragement?  Do we stop going to church or studying God's word each day with attitudes of protest?   Do we flail about in self-pity, lacking control over our emotions?  Do we make hasty decisions in the midst of a tantrum?

God does not want to see our temper tantrums.  He does not acknowledge those types of behaviors nor does he bless us when we act out of raw emotion. When we are faced with situations that tempt us to react out of anger, God wants us to seek Him.  The godly reaction comes from prayer, reading the Bible, and logically making decisions that do not reflect that we merely wanted our way. 

We all will experience emotional growth spurts in life.  Studying God's word, spending time in prayer, and gaining wisdom to grow spiritually will equip us to deal with our frustrations in ways other than temper tantrums.  Emotional intelligence can be acquired through a deep understanding of how God desires for us to react.

When we are tempted to react with self-pity and raw emotions, we need to evaluate the reaction.  We should seek wisdom in order to respond to frustrating situations.  We should seek a response that is not fueled by intense emotions.  We should instead pursue a reaction that is filled with godly behaviors and attitudes.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The scorpion and the frog

Matthew 5:41-42     If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.  Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. 

Once upon a time there was a frog and a scorpion sitting on a river bank.  Both wanted to cross the river and be on the other side.  The frog had the ability to swim across.  The scorpion did not.  The scorpion said to the frog, "I would like for you to allow me to ride upon your back while you swim across the river."  The frog, with apparent wisdom, said to the scorpion, "How can I trust you?  If I allow you to ride on my back and then you sting me, and we will both drown in the river before we get to the other side."  The scorpion, with an offended attitude, replied to the frog, "Why would I do that to you, knowing that we will both lose in that situation?"  Reluctantly, the frog agreed to give the scorpion a ride across the river.  Halfway across, the scorpion stung the generous frog.  The frog asked the scorpion, "Why did you sting me?  You said you would not do that."  The scorpion simply replied to the frog, "It is my nature."

Have you ever experienced someone in your life that reminds you of the scorpion?  Have you ever tried to help someone with loving intentions in your heart only to have them stab you in the back?  I am sure that it has happened to all of us at some point.  It is frustrating to deal with people that are "takers" and rarely are "givers".  For some people, it seems to be their nature to "sting" others and cause hurt. 

How are we to react to the scorpions in our lives?   The frog in the story had no defense.  In the middle of the river, paralyzed by the scorpion's sting, there was nothing he could do to retaliate.  He had no choice but to accept that situation.  We should have the same mindset.  God offers us the strength to love others when they wrong us.  He offers us the ability to forgive and have an attitude of love instead of vengeance.  We are instructed to love others instead of seeking vengeance.

When we seek vengeance instead of peace and forgiveness, we perpetuate the situation.  There will be "takers" in our lives that can seem to paralyze us and zap the energy from us.   Give to them anyway.  Go the extra mile in order to show them the love and mercy that God shows us.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Feast on the manna

Exodus 16:14-15     When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor.  When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, "What is this?"  For they did not know what it was.


After God freed the Israelites from the slavery of Pharoah, they wandered in the desert, grumbling and groaning; complaining because they were hungry.  Obtaining food was different than when they had lived in Egypt.  Food in a desert is scarce and their gratitude for having been freed from bondage quickly turned to grumblings because they had to obtain food in a different way than before.

The "flakes like frost on the ground" were sent from heaven.  It was called it manna and it came down like rain from the sky.   Manna means "what is it?".  Manna is described in the dictionary as something that is needed and is received unexpectedly.  The Israelites did not know what the flakes were nor what to do with the manna.  Moses explained to them that God had sent it and that they were to gather the amount needed to sustain them for a day.  Each day, God sent new manna down to the Israelites to meet their needs.  They crushed it and made delicious, honey flavored pancakes to eat.  The manna was a gift each day that satisfied their needs.  

How many times do receive our "manna" each day amidst our own grumblings and ungrateful attitudes?  How often do we wish for other circumstances, i.e. more money, more possessions, bigger home, better car, different job?  How often do we miss "feasting on the manna" because we do not know what it is? 

God is wonderful provider.  Each day when we arise, their is new manna raining down from heaven.  I can think of many times over the years in which manna has appeared unexpectedly in my life in order to meet a need.  God understands our needs.  He will supply us with just what we need each day.   Feast on his manna, those gifts that we receive each day.  Seek to recognize the manna.  Give thanks for it!
 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Face your Goliath

1 Samuel 17:32  David said to Saul, "Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him."

David was a small, young boy full of determination and a desire to serve God.  He volunteered to fight a Philistine giant over 9 feet tall with nothing but a slingshot and some rocks while the giant stood before him with a large sword capable of decapitating him.  As I think of this, I visualize David likely being waist-high to Goliath.  The giant must have looked like a sky scraper to such a little boy. 

1 Samuel 17:38   Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic.  He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head.  

David was dressed in armor for the battle.  Man-made protection with shields and helmets and a sword was available to him to take to the fight.   However, David said he could not function in the armor because he was not used to it.  So he took it all off.  He went to the battle line dressed in his shepherd's clothing with only a slingshot and a hand full of smooth stones that he picked up in a stream.  Smooth is a key word describing the stones; they were not sharp nor were they large such as you would think necessary to kill someone. 

1 Samuel 17:48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.

As Goliath ran toward David in battle mode, David ran toward the Goliath.
No fear.   No second guessing.  Full of faith.  Totally confident.  Bring it on!

David's sling and rocks were ORDINARY.  What was extraordinary was David's mind when he threw the stone.  David's mind was filled with trust in God and faith that God would provide him with the strength to slay the giant Philistine.   With one small stone, the first one that he hurled at Goliath, he killed him.   One little rock to the forehead pronated the over 9 feet tall giant.  "Deader than a doornail".   (1 Samuel 17:49)

What are the Goliaths in your life?  What gigantic obstacles do you face each day when your feet hit the floor?

Fear?  Addiction?  Financial trouble?  Depression?  Bitterness?   

Stand in the face of your Goliath!!!!  Do not run.  Do not hide behind man-made shields and masks.  Sling your rocks with faith and trust in God.  He will provide you with the strength to slay ALL your giants.  Run to the battle line and take God with you.                                         

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Agape love

Luke 10:27   He answered:  "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself".

     AGAPE is the Greek word for love.  Agape is a non-romantic, brotherly, Christian love, representative of how Christ love humankind.  It means to love without expecting anything in return.  Charity and service are types of agape love.  To give freely from the heart whether the giving is time, money, compassion, material possessions, or kindness.   Agape is the type of love that Christ offered during his time on earth.  He gave of himself as representation of God by teaching, healing, and showing love and compassion.  He did all this freely, never expecting anything in return and by the way, most of the time what he did get in return was mockery, persecution and mistreatment. 
     As we enter the Christmas season, many people feel a desire to give to those in need.  I challenge each of you to search your hearts for agape love, offer it to someone and serve God by doing so.  May agape love become a permanent attitude of the heart and not just a mindset at the Christmas season.   

Monday, November 17, 2014

Make yourself vulnerable to God's plans

James 4:7-8   So humble yourselves before God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come close to God and God will come close to you.

It is possible to spend years in bitterness and misery.  Some people spend a lifetime in misery, living with bitterness, anger and malice in their hearts.  It is Satan's desire for us to be miserable and to distance ourselves from God.  If we have drifted into a state of bitterness and misery, how can we establish a closeness with God?  The first step is to humble ourselves before God (James 4:7).  To humble ourselves means to surrender and submit.  We must surrender all our ungodly thoughts and attitudes and yield to God's authority.  This step can be difficult. 

Why is it so difficult to surrender and submit to God?  Pride and control are part of the issue.  We want to feel as if we are in control of our lives; we are really not.  Surrendering all our thoughts and attitudes to God may present a feeling of vulnerability.  We fear that we will be hurt again.  However, by holding on to bitterness, we are vulnerable to Satan and that is far more risky than being vulnerable to the goodness of God. 

There is a part of us that holds on to bitterness because we are holding on to the desire for vengeance.   If we can hold on to bitterness or keep the grudge kindled against our offender, we feel more in control.  Tough to admit.  Tougher to let go.  We may even think that if we hold these thoughts and feelings inside of us that no one will notice.  They do notice.  The loved ones in our lives are grieved by those types of attitudes. 

If you are harboring bitterness and anger, all the while thinking that it is your own battle, please realize that everyone around you is affected by that battle.  I ask that you ponder these things:  1. God is in control.  2.  When we try to control, we go against God's will in our lives.  3.  We cannot change things that have happened to us   4.  We can change how we feel about the things that have happened.  

Humble yourself.  Surrender.  Make yourself vulnerable to God's plans.  Life will be much sweeter this way!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Thoughts and Attitudes

2 Corinthians 10:3-5   For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretense that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 

In this passage, Paul is defending his authority because the people in Corinth were not taking his  advice seriously.  He was trying to teach the people what God expected of them and they could win their battles over sin with God's weapons and armor.  This particular passage is dealing with thoughts and attitudes that keep people from finding God and having a close, personal relationship with him.

Attitudes and thoughts can be sinful.  Bad attitudes and ungodly thoughts can become strongholds in our lives.  Bitterness is fertile ground for bad attitudes and ugly, ungodly thoughts.  Such dispositions can lead to a cold, hardened heart.  When I was in the depths of my bitterness, my attitude was BAD.  I cannot even candy coat it.  It was bad.  Many times my thoughts and words included, "I did not do anything to cause this.  He/she/they did ______________ and that is why I feel this way."  I justified my attitude.  I argued with God, placing the blame on others.  I used my own methods of thought to fluff up my pride and destroy my attitude.  When I finally realized and saw things as God showed me, all of it was a huge pill to swallow.  A HORSE pill going down sideways.  With no water.

A huge wall had been constructed in my mind.  A wall that had prevented me from seeing things as God intended.  The wall that Satan had built in my mind was a barrier to love, joy, fulfillment, and worship.  I could go through the motions, but my heart seemed empty and without affection.

Thoughts and attitudes have enormous power within us.  A single thought can change our entire attitude about ANYTHING.  Thoughts can change how we view others, how we feel about ourselves, and how we view our relationships.  A single thought can lead to changes within us that enter into damaging attitudes.  This path can be destructive to our relationship with God as well as our loved ones.

If this devotion finds you with an ungodly attitude, I urge you to allow God to crumble the barriers that keep self-righteous pride festering inside you.  I pray that you will allow God's weapons of prayer, faith, His word, hope, and love to fill your hearts and minds so that your relationships will be full of all that he has to offer.  Swallow that horse pill; it is good medicine.  Drink plenty of water to flush your system and allow God to heal you of your poor attitudes and ugly thoughts.  It is God's plan for each of us to enjoy Him and life to its fullest!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Facing past hurts

Psalm 139:23-24   Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life.


We are all busy.  Life is busy.  Some of the busyness is necessary to take care of our homes and families.  Perhaps some of the busyness is in the name of evasion.   Let's think about that for a minute.

I seem to thrive in a busy environment.  Not that I need to be going somewhere all the time but I think I need to keep my mind busy with hobbies, reading, projects, work, etc.  I have often said that being busy keeps my mind off the bad stuff, some of the unpleasantness of the past.   This works to a degree.  However, a while back when I read Psalm 139:23-24, the words of the verses pierced my heart with a different view.  There are times, however,  when God wants us to focus our minds on those unpleasant occurrences in order to lay them to rest and rid of bitterness.

When we possess emotions, attitudes and thoughts that are offensive to God, it is beneficial to allow him to show us what those are.  We can then in turn deal with emotions, thoughts and attitudes that contain vengeance, bitterness, anger and hurt.  Filling all our time with work, hobbies, or social activities does not afford us time to hear God and seek the things in our hearts that he would have us address.  Busyness in the name of evasion only perpetuates things of the past that need attention. 

In order to emotionally heal and grow in our relationship with God, it is necessary to face past hurts, emotions and thoughts brought about by those hurts, as well as any wrong motives.  We do not necessarily need to face or confront the people involved, but we do need to deal with the feelings.  Admit to the emotions and allow God to replace them with righteous motives.   Facing the past and dealing with the emotions frees the heart to accept the love and good things that God has in store for us.  Bitter, negative emotions and attitudes crowd the mind leaving little room for positive, productive ones.  Facing hurtful feelings and events is not always easy.  No one wants to recount unpleasant events.  However, by facing feelings, we are able to allow God to take the hurt and turn it into healing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Put rejection in its place

1 Samuel 8:7    And the Lord told him:  "Listen to all that the people are saying to you;  it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king....."

There are many emotions involved when bitterness is present within a person.  One of the most common feelings experienced with bitterness is rejection.  Because bitterness usually stems from an offense, a hurt of some type, rejection is a by product of hurt-especially intentional hurts. 

Rejection is an implied gesture that we are not accepted, liked or valued.  We do not feel important or of any worth.  Rejection causes our esteem to suffer.  Rejection, unaddressed can lead to a deep degree of bitterness.

We can all recall a time in our childhood days, whether at school, in sports or within our families that we felt rejected or left out.  It affected our esteem.  Rejection allowed an open door for Satan to talk us into all sorts of self-defeating ideas and beliefs about ourselves. 

Even in our adult lives, things happen that cause us to feel rejected. 
  
Unaccepted.  

Unimportant.
 
Of little value. 

I have been there.  Period.  Exclamation point!!

When people hurt others and fail to love others as God expects, then the rejection is not personal.  It is a rejection of God and his commands.   Believe me, I know that the hurt and pain is still as great, but when we draw near to God and understand his sovereignty and recognize his love and commitment to us, it lessens the intensity of what others have caused.    If we can put rejection in its place, it is easier to prevent bitterness from entering our hearts.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

God promises comfort and peace

Psalm 86:17 Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.


We serve a God of comfort and peace. His offer of both is always available.

When turmoil, anxiety and disruption of your peace are present in your life, remember that we ALWAYS have the promise of comfort from God.

It is up to each of us to submit to that comfort and to enjoy inner peace.

Allow Him to comfort you-whatever your situation.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Worry

Matthew 6:25-27   "That is why I tell you not to worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"   

What causes us worry?  We commonly worry whether or not we will be able to buy groceries, clothing and pay the bills.  Why do we spend so much time worrying about these particular topics?   In Matthew 6:25-7:12 we are reminded that our basic needs will be met.  With that promise, why do we continue to worry?  Do we not believe God's promise?  Or is it really that we fear that we may have to come out of our comfort zone and make sacrifices?  Will we have to learn to do more with less or change the things that we are used to doing in life in order to buy the things we need.  Are we afraid that our standard of living may change or that we will need to rearrange some material things in our lives. 

Matthew 6:33 says, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you."  God will provide the things we need when we seek his kingdom.  No amount of worrying is ever productive.  As a matter of fact, worrying is a distraction from productivity in working for God.  Worry is a time-waster and stressor.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Take a stand

1 Peter 3:14   But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.

Doing what is right will not always make you popular.  In fact, it may cost you relationships.  Doing what is right may put you in a minority.  You may feel persecuted, isolated and rejected, especially when someone else expects you to go along with doing wrong.  Doing what is right will sometimes cause strife and suffering.  However, the suffering is only here in this life and the blessings of doing what is right outweigh any suffering that may occur.

A situation that occurred a year or so ago came to mind when I read this verse.  A young college student told me of this occurrence and was trying to understand why she was being persecuted for making a decision to do what was right.  By the way, college is a trying time for young Christians.  They are on their own to make decisions and sort out the wiles of the world.  Many new enticements are presented during this time in their lives.  Back to the story.  The young college student was in a lab group that had been assigned a project that required work over several weeks.  The work was to be documented each week with clear-cut steps to follow and document.  The project required extra time and attention and if steps in the project were skipped or missed, the outcome would not be desirable and the project would not be complete.  Responsibilities were divided and each of the lab group members had detailed instructions to follow at specific times.  Two of the group members fell behind in their responsibilities.  As the assignment due date drew near, parts of it were not complete because of the downfall of the group.  The third young lady expressed concern about the assignment and what the outcome of the grade would be.  One of the group members said that she would not accept anything less than an A, therefore they would falsify the documentation in order to complete the assignment with a desirable grade.  The young lady that spoke to me about this refused to participate in the proposed cheating.  She met with the professor to discuss options for completing the assignment and told the professor that the other group members had not taken responsibility for the required work to be completed.

I am sure you can see the direction of all this. Group dynamics changed.  The group members quickly turned on the young lady.   Because she was not willing to seek a good grade at any cost, she was no longer liked within this group.  Friends of the group members began to treat her as if she was in the wrong.  She was no longer included in their reindeer games.   You get the picture. 

I can think of other situations that are similar to this one.  Different details, names and faces, but the same common core.  Striving to please the flesh often requires a compromise in morals and ethics.  It will make people popular among other people, especially when "me" is of benefit.  There is often peer pressure to go along with "saving face".  Pride and arrogance are also included in the equation.

God expects us to take a stand.  Doing so requires much more that proclaiming our belief in him.  Taking a stand involves going against the "norm".  It means that we many times will stand alone among our peers, friends and neighbors.  Committing oneself to doing what is right is not always easy.  It is always expected. 

Perhaps you can think of a time when taking a stand changed the dynamics of a friendship or group that you were in.  Those changes may be permanent.  So be it!  It is better to change friends than to compromise your relationship with God.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Disappointments

Isaiah 55:8-9   "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord.  "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

This time of year presents to me the memory of a great disappointment that my husband and I experienced a few years ago.  I remember having a plan in mind that appeared to be clear and the plan had many indications of becoming something that we perceived as being "perfect" for our lives.  We had dreamed, planned and worked diligently for this plan to become a reality.  That plan never became a reality.  Disappointment, discouragement and uncertainty followed.  I can tell you from experience that disappointments are fertile breeding grounds for bitterness to grow.  That will be another post in itself. 

In our lives we will suffer disappointments.  They are inevitable.   Some are very large and will cause us to feel as if our world will end.  Some will leave us wondering if we will ever understand what is going on.  The most important truth to remember about disappointments is that we must seek the path that God is preparing for us.  He knows what is best for us.  Many times what we view as disappointments are areas of protection that God offers when he is taking care of us.  Trust that God is working in your life for your own good.  Embrace his protection and wisdom.

In the midst of disappointment, we are tempted to focus on the "why me?" and "what next?" and have a self-pity party.  Instead we must focus on what God is showing us, what he is teaching us through the experience and where he wants us to go next.  Disappointments do not feel great and at times leave us with the need to re-evaluate ourselves in order to see God's plan.  Take full advantage of the opportunity to draw closer to him and seek his plan.   His ways are higher and greater than anything we can plan for ourselves.

If this post finds you suffering in the midst of a disappointment, grieve it, bury it, take note of the lessons God has taught you then move forward to the next project that He has planned for you.  I encourage you to move forward and grow, sooner rather than later.  Wallowing and ruminating in the details of the disappointment are not productive and will not change the outcome of the situation.  Remember the four steps to moving on:  sort, sieve, learn and leave. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

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.     

Monday, November 3, 2014

Accolades

Proverbs 22: 6   Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

I think that many times adults underestimate the potential and the hearts of our youth.  Saturday I had the privilege of working with a youth group at a local church.  They hosted a clothing and food give-a-way and served lunch to the attendees.  As I observed the youth, I stood in awe of the love and desire to serve that poured from their hearts.  They served with compassion and concern for others. The temperature was around 40 degrees all day yet I did not hear one young person complain.  There was no whining, no conflicts, and no drama.  There was initiative, diligence, dedication and delivery.  I so enjoyed the smiles on their faces and the sparkles in their eyes. 

I taught them a couple of things about folding clothes, finding sizes and organizing the trailer. 
They taught me many things about serving with a pure heart.  The parents and youth leaders deserve accolades for the training of these precious children.   I know that these children will make great contributions to God's kingdom throughout their lives.