The Sweet Stuff Ministry

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The end of your rope

Psalm 3: 3-6   But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.  To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill.  I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.  I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side.

The end of your rope is not the end of your hope.

Let us repeat:  The end of your ROPE is NOT the end of your HOPE.

When situations and hurts persist or even escalate, we can begin to feel as if we are dangling from a cliff and running out of rope.  We may feel as if we are slipping toward the bottom of that lifeline that is holding us together.  Worry can send us to the end of our ropes.  Turmoil, conflict and division can cause us to lose our grip on the truths and promises that God has for us.  

Our minds can become weary with worry and conflict to the point where we feel we have no hope of peace and joy.   When we are gripping that rope with all our might; our strength weakens.  Our faith and courage may waiver.  We may feel as if we have lost all hope.  

There is a knot at the end of the rope.  GOD is the knot at the end of the rope.  When we are slipping over treacherous cliffs and steep mountains, He is atop his holy hill holding the other end of the rope.  As a matter of fact, he is on BOTH ends of the rope.  He stands at the top, ready to help us climb the steep mountain.  He is at the bottom ready to catch us before we run out of rope and hope.

He promises to always take care of us.

He has all the answers.

He will protect us from all the dangers that we face.  

When you feel like you are at the end of the rope, allow your feet to rest upon the knot.  Pour yourself into the promises found in the Bible, pour your heart out to God.  He will show you the way. Allow Him to shield you from all danger.  Ask Him to show you the hope he has has for you, even in the seemingly hopeless situations.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

About me

I want to take this opportunity to show you a bit about myself on the other side of Facebook and my blog. I am a wife of 23 years, a mother of three, daughter, sister, granddaughter, adjunct college faculty, Radiologic Technologist, seamstress, horse lover and most of all a Christian woman with a desire to know God on a deeper level each day.

God asked me to begin The Sweet Stuff Ministry to reach folks who deal with hurts, disappointments, and bitterness in life. I am in the ditches of life right along with you. I have hurts, scars, worries, and fears. I know that we live in an imperfect world, but we serve a PERFECT God! He can take all the bitterness, hurt and worry and turn it into Sweet Stuff.

Thanks to each of you for reading my posts but most of all I want to praise you for desiring to learn more about God's word and his omnipresence. My posts contain inspirations that come from the time I spend seeking God and through the everyday events of life. He has been so good to me-even in the times when I fail Him.

Feel free to share The Sweet Stuff Ministry FB page with your followers and invite them to LIKE the page for daily notifications!

May God richly bless you all and may you forever enjoy The Sweet Stuff that God has for you!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

You may be missing out

1 Peter 4:8    Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

We have expectations of others. Period. Whether it is our children, families, friends or co-workers, there are certain behaviors and feelings that we expect from others.   It is easy to love others when they meet our expectations, especially when things are going exactly like we think they should.   It becomes difficult at times to love people that do not meet our expectations.  Perhaps they do not think exactly the way we do or they do things differently.  

Love can be very fragile.

If you can only love those that meet the standards of your personal criteria- you miss out!    If you can only like someone that thinks exactly the way you do or that does things exactly as you do, you are robbing yourself of some wonderful relationships.  You miss out on joys of sharing.  You miss out on hearts that are hurting and may need your love and attention.  You miss out on opportunities to share God's mercies and grace.  You may even miss out on the purpose that God has for you in serving him. 

We are all but filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).  We are all messes of attitudes, thoughts and actions that have plenty of room for improvement.  We grumble when people do not act the way we expect.  We become offended when our friends and family do not react in ways that please us. 

Not one of us will ever meet all of God's expectations of us.   No one will ever meet all the expectations that we have of others.  Open your hearts to others, no matter whether or not they are able to meet your expectations.  Look for opportunities to fulfill the expectations that others may have of you.  You will find treasures and friendships that you never could have imagined! 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Patience

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

Longsuffering 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 longsuffering 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. Longsuffering 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, April 24, 2015

Today's prayer focus.

Psalm 144:1-2   Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.  He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in  whom I take refuge, who subdues people under me.


Today's prayer focus:

Lord, may we be WARRIORS and not worriers. 

As Dr. Charles Stanley so often says, "May we fight our battles on our knees". 

Keep anxiety, fear and discouragement from wreaking havoc in our minds.

Strengthen us in our times of struggle.

Help us to allow the injustices in this world increase our faith in YOU.

Show us how to embrace your love and take refuge in your fortress. 

Place the people in our paths that you want us to serve. 

In Jesus precious name, we ask all things.

AMEN

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Do not be afraid to be different

Matthew 5:16   In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds
                         and praise your Father in heaven.



In order to make a difference, we must be willing to be different.   Let us repeat that.

IN ORDER TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE, WE MUST BE WILLING TO BE DIFFERENT.

God calls each of us to a specific purpose.  He equips us with specific gifts to be used by the Holy Spirit indwelling within us.  We are not all equipped in the same manner. 

A natural human tendency is to want to be like everyone else.  We want to fit in and be accepted.  However, God designs us to be different and we must be willing to express those differences.  If we hide our light by going along with the crowd and trying to blend in to be accepted,  we hide our light from others.  God expects us to shine the light that he has given each of us. 

Being different is not a bad thing.  Being different allows us to make a difference while we are here on earth.  Sharing our different gifts and purposes lets our light shine in truth and in service.  Making a difference allows others to see God and offers them the chance to praise God for his magnificence.

If God is calling you to make a difference, do not be afraid to be different.  Embrace the purpose that he has assigned you.  Seek the differences that you may make in this world.

Go out and make a difference! 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Compassion for our enemies

Proverbs 24:17   Do not gloat when your enemy falls;  when he stumbles, do not let your heart
                           rejoice. 

King David had an enemy-Saul.  He was a lifelong enemy.  Saul had tried every way imaginable to have David killed.  Saul was jealous of David's accomplishments and victories in his life.  Saul was envious of David's position and ranking; In the book of 1st Samuel, it is revealed that he did not accept what God had called David to do.

Imagine knowing that another person desires to have you killed, either figuratively or literally.  How disheartening it must be to have someone that wishes only bad things will happen to you.  I figure that David was forever more looking over his shoulder and watching for what Saul would try next.  To constantly be on guard for your life would be exhausting. 

We may have people in our lives with the same sentiments that Saul had for David.  Hopefully we will not have someone trying to kill us, however, there may be someone that desires to cause us grief.  When others wish for or try to cause calamity to come to our lives, we may be left with feelings that there is an enemy close by.  Jealousy is a strong and desperate emotion.  It can lead to a desire for others to stumble and fall. The same type of jealousy that Saul felt for David may be a reality for some.   

We are commanded to avoid rejoicing when our enemies fall.  We should not be happy when someone suffers a loss or disappointment in life. When our enemies fall, especially those enemies that have caused much strife in our lives, it is tempting for us to feel as if they got what they deserved.  It is easy to enjoy those feelings that they have been served justice for hurtful things they have done. 

We should be full of compassion when others fall. Our hearts should be saddened when others suffer.  Not always easy, but always necessary.  David did not gloat when he heard that Saul had died.  He was saddened and full of compassion.  Bear in mind that this was a man that had actively tried to kill David for many years.   From our perspective it might seem that he should have been relieved that his enemy could no longer try to kill him.  Yet, he found no joy in his death. It seems that it would have been easy for David to say that Saul had gotten what he deserved, however, he "mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and his son Jonathon" (2 Samuel 1:12).  David left the judgments to God, as we should do also.

It should be our desire to have heart felt compassion, even for our enemies.  The Bible tells us to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44).  As we pray for our enemies, we should also pray for our own hearts-that we may not rejoice in the sufferings of our enemies. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

God does not make junk

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

This verse is full of words that should boost our self esteem and self worth.  We are wonderfully created. 

God does not make junk.

God thought about and covered all details when he made us.  Our body systems function together to sustain life.  Our minds and bodies are capable of great works for His glory.  As females, we can carry and deliver new life!  What a beautiful quality to be blessed with.

Then why do so many females have such negative self images.    Because we look to the world to define beauty and appeal.   Television, magazines, clothing stores and peers describe the "perfect" bodies.   Every form of media shows us bodies that are toned, groomed and exploited.   Medical procedures offer opportunities for removal or alteration of body parts that do not meet our standards of perfection and acceptance.   Our bodies are somewhat of an obsession.

Some ladies never reach their goal of perfection.  Some are so focused on their bodies that extreme measures are taken to produce a picture perfect body.    They never feel validated, accepted or loved.  The words in Psalm 139:14 are enough because God's word is the truth!

If you are battling with a negative self image or lack of self worth, I encourage you to hold on to the words of Psalms 139:14.  You will not see them on the cover of a magazine, nor in a television commercial with a super model, nor on the tag of a piece of clothing.  Look to yourself as a whole body, not just a stomach with a few extra pounds or eyes with a few wrinkles or a head with thinning hair.    Focus on your self by exploring the potential that the parts of your body have in regards to serving God.  Our hands can serve and care for others, our minds can pray and encourage others, our legs can form laps for holding children, our ears can listen when others are hurting. 

You are beautiful and valuable just the way you are. God designed you and He does not make junk! 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Crumbled or Humbled

Acts 20:24     However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. 

Crumbled or Humbled? 

Every day we are each granted the opportunity to be HUMBLED in God's throne room of graces.

We also have the option of being CRUMBLED by the things that Satan puts in front of our faces.

To be humbled by God's graces looks like this:  
                  -divine assistance in all matters of our lives
                  -mercy, mercy, mercy and more mercy
                  -His offerings of kindness, courtesy and clemency to us
                  -unmerited pardon of sin

All day.  Every day!!!!!

To be crumbled by Satan's antics looks like this:
                 -discouragement
                 -fear
                 -feelings of worthlessness
                 -bitterness
                 -discontent
                 -misery, misery and more misery


The choice is ours.   CRUMBLED or HUMBLED?                   

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Proverbs 16

Today's devotion is from Proverbs 16.  I encourage you to read the entire chapter, however, I will pull a few verses from it relating to success and achievement.

Proverbs 16:1   To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue.

Proverbs 16:3  Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.

Proverbs 16:16  How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver.

Proverbs 16: 33  The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.


Making plans for our lives is necessary.  In making plans, we plan to succeed at our plans.  Sometimes our plans do not go as we planned.  Sometimes God has other plans that are very different from the plans of our hearts.

When we fully commit our lives and plans to the Lord, he will see to it that we succeed.  The success may be of a different measure than that of the world, but all we should strive for is success in God's eyes. 

If God changes your plans, do not view that as failure.  View it as a decision from God.  Allow him to make the decisions about the plans in your life.  Yes, there are steps and actions that we must take such as applying for jobs or setting goals, however as Proverbs 16:33 tells us, "its every decision is from the Lord".

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sort, Sieve, Learn, and Leave

 

Isaiah 43:18-19    Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.  Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it?  I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. 



When sorting through unexpected events or disappointments in life, the following four steps have proven beneficial to me.

               1.  Sort
               2.  Sieve
               3.  Learn
               4.  Leave


SORT: Sort through the details of the event.  Disregard any non-truths, ungodly actions or behaviors
         and things with which you have no control.  Take responsibility for your part-good or bad.

SIEVE:  Hold onto only the details that may be beneficial to your spiritual growth.  Allow all other
               details and occurrences to sift through your mind.

LEARN:  Learn what lessons God is teaching you in each situation.  No matter the situation, there is
             always some bit of learning that can occur.  You may learn about yourself, others or God, but
             the opportunity to learn is there.

LEAVE:  Leave ALL negativity, destructive thoughts, and vengeful intentions.  Just leave them out
             of your mind.  When we allow those things to enter our minds, we open the door for poor
             decisions, dangerous reactions and bitterness to enter the scene.  Leave the past in the past.
             The past consists of things that happened yesterday, years ago or one minute ago. 

Sort, Sieve, Learn and Leave.  Four steps to moving forward and letting go. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

God understands our plans and dreams

Psalm 147:5   Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.

It is easy for us to plan our lives and dreams.  We look ahead at how we want the details to fall into place.  We can see clearly what will work best for us.  We expect the details to be pleasing and the transitions to be smooth.  We desire for the road to be easy and the yolk to be light.

When we wish for details and plans to happen a certain way, we are disappointed when they do not work out as such.  Details such as not being chosen for a job that we really want, not being accepted into the college of our choice, not performing on exams or at work as we would like are things that may cause disappointment or feelings of inadequacy.  We may begin to wonder why our life path seems so clear to us, however it is not working out as clearly as we can see.

God has a plan for our lives.  For each and every one of us, he can see from the beginning to the end.  He has the power to cause all the details to fall into place, according to his will.  According to his will.  Not according to our plans.  There will be times when his will does not align with our dreams.  His plan for us may contain different details than what we have mapped out. 

God is mighty and powerful!  Just as the Bible tells us.   When we pray for our dreams and plans, we want the answer to be "yes".  However, our prayer should really be that God's will be done and that our lives fall into place according to His plans.  Understanding God's sovereignty is the key to understanding when his answer to our prayers are "no" or "not right now". 

In the midst of disappointment it is difficult to comprehend how anything better can come along.  When we want our plans to work out so badly, it is hard to move past disappointment.  When our minds are clouded with disappointment, we cannot see what better things God has in store for us.  Our pride opens up the opportunity for bitterness to grow because we feel as if we have failed.  Through various situations in my life, some with great disappointments, there have been times when I did not understand why God said "no" to my prayers.  As life progresses and all the details fall into place, I can look back and see that God's plan was best and that his way of presenting the details was necessary.

If you are dealing with a disappointment relating to your plans and dreams, do not view this as failure. Perhaps you didn't get a job you really wanted or one of the other examples listed above, or maybe you are disappointed from by other plans that did not work out as you expected.  Do not entertain thoughts and feelings of inadequacy.  Do not allow the disappointment to keep you from seeing what God has in store for your life.  If you wait patiently, you will most likely at a later time see why God chose the details as he did.  God will work out all the details of your life in ways that you may not have ever considered.  There is no limit to how he can organize all the specifics so that we will be equipped to fulfill his plans for us. 


Monday, April 13, 2015

4 quarters or 100 pennies

Proverbs 20:6  Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?

In reading an article the other day, I came across this question which I have pondered:  "Does our desire for attention outweigh our desire to be loved?"

Social media comes to mind.  A place where attention is plentiful, both positive and negative.  "Likes", friend requests, shares and comments are available at the click of a button.  These options have the ability to put photos, news flashes, announcements, rants/raves, gossip, and drama in the spot light of attention.  The attention in social media may be negative or it can be very positive.  Social media can be a place to share love such as staying in contact with far-a-way family but many times it seems to be a place for attention.

Do we have a desire for attention?  By nature, we all want to be liked by people and have many friends.  However, few friends in our lives will have unfailing love for us.  Will the amount of friends on a social media list or the amount of "likes" on a picture or post fulfill our desire to be loved?  Not in the long run.

I want to share with you a conversation that I remember our children having at the supper table one night.  It spoke to my heart.  I love it when we can see the hearts of our children mature and minister to one another! 

Our oldest daughter was talking about groups of friends in college.  She was talking about the things in Proverbs 20:6.  She has experienced some claims of friendship only to find that the love is not unfailing.  We can all relate to such instances.  Our son, three years her junior, tells her this, "It is much better in life to have three or four faithful, true friends than have large numbers of friends who are not true to you.  That is what I have in my life and I am very satisfied".  Where did this young fellow gain such wisdom?  Then our youngest offered this, "Would you rather have four quarters or 100 pennies in your pocket?"  She continued, "think about it carefully.  The four quarters are much easier to carry around in your pocket".  Their conversation was short and to the point.   I gleaned wisdom from what they had to say.

We desire to be loved.  Sure it is nice to have many acquaintances and to get to know hundreds of people.  But the most satisfying of all relationships are those with unfailing love.  The ones that love us, warts and all, provide us with the sense of steadfast, boundless, consistent love.  Friends and family that value us as God's creation, who will love us through all of life's storms, offer the most fulfilling attention that we can receive on this earth.  I agree with my youngest daughter, I would rather carry four quarters in my pocket than 100 pennies.  After all, both add up to be the same amount of money!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Reactions

Our reaction to events in our lives can change the course of action that God has planned for us.

This is especially true when we react to events and occurrences in our lives that involve injustices or being wronged by others.  Satan wants us to react with anger, vengeance and bitterness.  This type of reaction may lead to decisions being made based on emotions instead of wisdom.

God expects us to react with love, grace and mercy.  He expects us to be self-controlled with our emotions.  He wants us to gain wisdom from any negative occurrences and move forth with what we learn each time. 

He knows that people will wrong us.  It is not new information to him.  He knows that it will happen time and time again.  While we may be very surprised at some of the offenses committed against us, he is never shocked. 

I pray that each of us may grow in wisdom and react to situations as God reacts to us when we do wrong.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Cupcake crown

Today is a day for a Cupcake Crown.  This crown goes to a lady with whom I have been acquainted  for a few years.  A couple of weeks ago her husband sustained severe facial and head injuries from a bicycle accident.  He has undergone several reconstructive surgeries in order to repair the damage.  I have followed his progress through her Facebook page.  As she sits by his side, full of love and prayer, she has remained full of faith, strength and love.  I have truly been inspired by her!  

As she remains by his beside, anxiously awaiting his awakening, the prayers that she has prayed have been many.  One prayer that she has prayed has spoken volumes.  It is this, "Keep praying for God's voice to calm him inside, so he wakes unafraid and able to face these changes".  What a beautiful testament of love and protection.  1 Corinthians 13:7 immediately came to my mind, "Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres". 

Mrs. Lisa, you deserve a million cupcakes in your favorite flavor.  I know that your crown will be filled with many jewels.  Thank you for sharing your strength, faith and perseverance with us so that we may grow and learn. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Daily Peace

James 4:7-8 Submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.


Maintaining daily peace requires submission of yourself and all the turmoil in your life to God. On a daily basis we must humble ourselves before God and let him handle the turmoil.  Refusing to allow our minds to entertain negative thoughts helps to maintain our daily peace.  Prayer and trust in God is the key to cultivating a peaceful, joy filled life.   

There are many opportunities throughout each day for a disruption of our inner peace. The moment that we are awake each day, Satan likes to begin to "mess in our peace".  It may begin with reminders of difficulties in our lives.  He may use other people to say things or treat us in ways that disturb our peace and joy.  Satan desires to draw us away from the peace that we can experience when we draw near to God and trust in him.  

Verse 7 tells us to resist the devil. What does this look like in our quest for daily inner peace? It looks like this:

1. When you get up and negative thoughts or memories come into your mind, refuse to dwell on these (no wallowing; no ruminating). Immediately begin to list at least 3 positive thoughts or memories, otherwise the devil has a good start at ruining your day.

2. No reading negative things on social media--there is a delete button for your convenience. Turn that television off or better yet, disconnect it. Most things on TV are sad, negative or contain fear inducing material.

3. Surround yourself with positive and encouraging people. If you feel that you do not know any of these folks, pray and God will send some your way.

4. This is last, however it is MOST important. PRAY, PRAY AND PRAY. Prayer is how you give it all to God and how peace is found.

Your thoughts and actions contribute to the level of peace within yourself.  Put all discouraging thoughts aside.  Be encouraged by the peace that God has in store for you. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Encourage others to believe in themselves

John 8: 6-11  But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.  When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."  Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.  At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.   Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?"  "No one, sir,"  she said.  "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared.  "Go now and leave your life of sin."

Everyone needs someone who believes in him/her.   Having someone who believes in us can make the difference between a life remaining as it is or a life that will move toward its potential.

Over the years of teaching college courses, I often encountered students that struggle with the material.  Radiologic Science is difficult material.  Courses include radiation physics, radiation biology, imaging techniques, and imaging equipment.   With increased study efforts and practice, along with the support of professors, most students overcome the struggles and come to a full understanding of the material.

In getting to know students throughout the years, God revealed to me that very often, the greatest area in which some students struggle is not so much the difficulty of the material.  Many students struggle with believing in themselves which becomes a barrier for comprehending the materials.  So many times, students are more than capable of completing the courses; however, life's circumstances and events may leave them without the belief that they can accomplish their goals.  Satan will run through this open door and compound the discouragement.  

The same must be true in all realms of life.  I would venture to guess that many people in all situations of work, school, family, etc. need encouragement in order to believe in themselves.  In the Scripture above, a woman caught in adultery was brought before Jesus.  This verse is about many things, such as the avoidance of being judgmental, forgiveness, and the treatment of others.  When I read the verse today, I saw a savior who believes in us!  Jesus showed the woman that he believed in her; that she could change her life for the better.  He stood up for her in the crowd and proved that he is a great encourager.  He knows that all of us can rise above our circumstances, whatever they may be, and overcome the struggles that are present in our lives. 

The woman in the story was encouraged.  This surely made a difference in her life.  I have seen the same encouragement make a difference in the lives of students.  I have witnessed first hand how people can rise above their circumstances and move toward their potential.

Encouragement falls under our command to love one another.  By encouraging, we love.  When we reinforce a person's potential, we cheer them on and promote love. If you are aware of someone who struggles to believe in themselves or their potential, please become a cheerleader for them.  Offer encouragement and the unconditional love that Jesus offered the woman in the passage of John 8.    

Friday, April 3, 2015

A Good Friday Thunderstorm

Matthew 27:50-52   And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.  At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  The earth shook and the rocks split.  The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 

This morning, long before daylight, I was awakened by a thunderstorm.  Rumbling and lightning rattled the windows as the storm progressed.  Matthew 27:50-52 came to my mind as I listened to the storm.  What a wonderful way to begin Good Friday.  Even though the storm was a small rumble compared to the way the earth shook when Jesus gave up his spirit, it was a great opportunity to ponder the meaning of the crucifixion.

Each year as I study and ponder the crucifixion, the magnificence of it all increases in my mind.  Can we ever take it all in?  Can we ever understand the love, sacrifice and dedication that Jesus Christ had for us?  The mere thought that he loved us enough to endure what he did should cause our hearts to rumble and shake today and every day. 

I encourage you to spend some time on this Good Friday pondering the meaning of the cross.  Thank God for the cross and the importance it has in our lives!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Queen Anne's Lace

Matthew 15:13-14   He replied, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.  Leave them; they are blind guides.  If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit."

When I read this verse, Queen Anne's Lace came to mind.  Queen Anne's Lace is a delicate plant that is appealing to the eyes.  The name is elegant and dainty.  The white bloom of the plant resembles lace and the story goes that the red center of the blooms represents a blood droplet when the queen pricked her finger while making lace.

A beautiful plant with such delicacy, yet it is a WEED.  In fact, the USDA has declared it a noxious weed, a threat to livestock and crops.  The plant's function is to attract insects particularly wasps.  However, in pastures if this plant is ingested by livestock, it may be detrimental to their health. 

This takes us to relationships, friendships and co-workers.  Sometimes groups of friends and co-workers may have Queen Anne's Lace growing in their pastures.  Think about this for second.  Have you ever been in a group of people, social friends or a group at work where there is a person that is seemingly beautiful and beneficial only to discover that an attraction to that person may be detrimental?  Have you noticed that some people seem to attract wasps that add to the sting of the leaders behavior?  You see, by nature, we are drawn to things of beauty and stamina.  Like an insect attracted to a plant, we want to see what such people have to offer us. 

We must be careful of weeds that are noxious.  Outward beauty and strong personalities are not always indicators of inward beauty and acceptable behaviors.  We must be careful to avoid being like Jesus described in Matthew 15:13-14.  We must protect ourselves from blindly following others that do not follow the principles of scripture.  If we find ourselves following people that do not uphold biblical principles, we risk falling into the pit of destruction with them.

It is imperative that we guard our personal principles.  Situations will always arise to test our standards and ethics.  We must stand firm in what we know to be true and avoid following others that seem to lack good spiritual eyesight.   It is good practice to learn the difference between beneficial plants and dangerous weeds.  Biblical wisdom will aid in that discernment.