The Sweet Stuff Ministry

Friday, May 29, 2015

We are all of the same value

Proverbs 22:2    Rich and poor have this in common:  The Lord is the maker of them all.

I recently saw in a news clip a story about a teen aged boy, athlete and likely a "popular" fellow at his school.  The story was not about his accomplishments in sports, but instead focused on a might accomplishment within his character.  This fellow had asked a girl from his school to the prom.  You might ask why this story was news worthy.  The young girl has Down's Syndrome.  The most noteworthy part of the entire story is what the young fellow said when the news caster asked him why he had decided to take this girl to the prom. 

His response was, "There is no difference between the two of us.  She has a heart, I have a heart.  She wants to be loved and I want to be loved".  PROFOUND!  Amazing amount of wisdom coming from a teen boy. 

This boy is able to see people the way that God intends for us to see people.  "The Lord is the maker of them all".  Why is it so hard for most folks to see people this way?  Society wants to assign value to people according to their exterior assets, ie., salaries, material possessions, looks, brands of clothing, etc.  God looks at every one of us as having the same value.  Yes, we look differently, own different things, and accomplish different things, but we are all of the same value!

In the story above, the young man was able to look beyond the expectations of society and the way that everyone else does things.  He was able to place value on another human being at the level of the heart instead of the superficial level of outer appearance.  He understands the human need for love and acceptance.  What a mighty character he is!  I know that God has great things in store for this young man. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

New, Crisp, Green leaves.

Isaiah 43:  18-19   "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland".

Green is my favorite color.  I love all shades of green.  Green is crisp, clean and easy on the eyes.  The color reminds me of new growth and fresh beginnings. 

The other day, I took a break and got into the hammock.  The position of the hammock was so that my view was of the woods behind our house.  The only colors that I saw were the greens of the tall trees pressed against a beautiful blue sky.  I watched the leaves move about in the breeze.  I absorbed all the shades of green that the new, crisp leaves had to offer.  I thought about the process of leaves and how a tree does not keep the same leaves, but instead grows new ones each year.  I can't remember the leaves from last year, except the fact that they were there and they were green. The leaves from last year are no longer useful.  Those leaves served their purpose, dried up, and fell off the tree.

As I soaked it all in, this thought came to mind:  "We do not think about the leaves that were on the tree last year.  We enjoy the leaves that are on the tree this year."   Isaiah 43:18-19 reminds us to do just that.  We are told to forget the former things and notice the new things. 

We are so often tempted to dwell in the past, especially if the past contains things that were unpleasant, disappointing, or hurtful.  Like the trees that shed the dried brown leaves, we must also shed those things from the past.  We should focus on the new things that God is doing in our lives.  Opportunities  that do not turn out the way that we had hoped can become "new" occasions for us.  God will provide the way.  He will help us to grow new leaves with crisp beginnings.   He can make all our leaves new and green.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Send the message, even if others do not respond to it.

Ezekiel 2:7  "You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious"  3:4  He then said to me: "Son of man, go now to the house of Israel and speak my words to them".

Ezekiel was bitter toward the people because of their sins and attitudes.  He was bitter to the point that he did not want to do what God was asking of him.  God had called Ezekiel to present his message to the stubborn, hard hearted people of Babylon.  The people were rebellious and refused to admit their sin.

Ezekiel was caught up in dealing with his own feelings of worrying that his efforts would be of no use.  He expected to be rejected just as the people had previously rejected what Jeremiah had told them. Despite the expectations of a negative outcome, Ezekiel put his fears, worries and emotions aside and obeyed what God asked him to do. 

How many times do we feel the same as Ezekiel?  How many times have we been in disobedience of what God has asked us to do because we "feel" that people will not respond in a particular manner.  Our role in obedience is just that; to do what God has asked us to do.  We do not need to over analyze the task.  We should never worry how people will react.  We simply need to carry out the task/message without regard to our emotions.  God will deal with the reactions.  He will sort through the behaviors of the people. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Bell Sheep

Jeremiah 23:1-2  "What sorrow awaits the leaders of my people-the shepherds of my sheep-for they have destroyed and scattered the very ones they were expected to care for", says the Lord.   Therefore, this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to these shepherds: "Instead of caring for my flock and leading them to safety, you have deserted them and driven them to destruction."

I would like to call to your attention a Bell Sheep-a sheep with a bell around its neck.  Bell Sheep are important leaders which a shepherd relies upon.  A Bell Sheep is chosen because of its natural tendency to follow the shepherd.  Once the shepherd identifies the outstanding sheep as a leader, a bell is placed around its neck.  The concept is simple:  the other sheep will hear the bell and follow the leader.

The shepherd relies upon the Bell Sheep to wear the bell, ring the bell and walk toward him.  The sheep rely upon the shepherd for protection, food, water and safety.  The shepherd is expected to care for the sheep in the herd. 

Let us think about our roles as Bell Sheep and leading people to the Great Shepherd.  The same expectations apply to us as the Bell Sheep for God.

Leadership is a tremendous responsibility.  Leadership that involves leading people in God's direction is an even greater responsibility.  In Jeremiah 23:1-2, God expresses his disappointment in the leaders of Israel that he had entrusted.  He expected them to lead the people in his path.  Instead, the leaders had deserted the people resulting in destruction. 

God calls us all to be Bell Sheep.  We are expected to ring the bell so that people follow us into his path.  We are to be Bell Sheep for our children, co-workers, friends and strangers that we encounter.  Being a Bell Sheep for the great shepherd carries much responsibility and God holds us accountable for those which he has placed in our care. 

Who has God placed in your care?  Are you ringing the bell in order to lead those into his path?   

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Forgive and let it go.

Matthew 6:15  "But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins."

Forgiveness is a decision. 

A decision to let go of anger, bitterness and resentment.

A decision to let go of one's pride.

It is a decision to live with inner peace no matter the turmoil around you.

To totally forgive means to understand God and his sovereignty.

If you harbor unforgiveness, it is because you have not decided to let go. 

Forgiveness does not take away what was done but it does take away the desire for us to do something in return.

Make that decision. Forgive and let it all go.   Lay down the pride, anger and bitterness.   It is worth the peace!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Insecurity is a lie from the enemy

Psalms 30:6   When I felt secure, I said, "I will never be shaken."

Insecurity afflicts many people.  Insecurity, unattended to, causes mental stress, and may cause bodily pain and stress.  Insecurity within one person in a relationship will affect both sides of that relationship. 

Insecurity is a product of self-doubt, lack of confidence and/or lack of assurance.  Insecurity is a personal prison in which a person never feels "good enough" for others.  The lack of self-confidence may prevent a person from fulfilling his/her purpose in life. 

Insecurity may be caused by the actions of others.  Personal insecurity may result from character assassination, emotional abuse, bullying, or rejection.  Short and simple, ungodly behavior from another person can cause insecurity within us. 

Insecurity has many flavors.  It produces fear, vulnerability, anxiety and trust issues.  Often, insecurities will create barriers that keep a person from experiencing life and love to the fullest extent.  Those barriers prevent knowing the love and joy that God has for each of us in life.

Know this:  Insecurity is a lie from the enemy!!!  The securities that we seek in the world are false.  Security that we strive for in job success, prosperity or material things will never break the barriers of internal insecurity. While another person may contribute to helping one feel secure, the only real security that we have is found in Jesus Christ. 

John 10:10  "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

God wants us to feel secure!   He wants us to be confident in our relationships and every day life.  He expects us to enjoy the love from our families.  He wants us to be happy and stress free. 

If you are dealing with insecurities, face them.  Head on.  Get in the face of all of them.  Stand up and say, "it is time to get rid of all doubt and lack of assurance".  It is time to find your security.  God will supply it for you.


Monday, May 18, 2015

Are we too busy being fabulous?

Haggai  1:9    "You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little.  What you brought home, I  blew away.  "Why?"  declares the Lord Almighty.  "Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house".

JUST TOO BUSY BEING FABULOUS...........

The Eagles (one of my favs!!!) sing a song that contains the line "you were just too busy being fabulous.  Too busy to think about us......"  The song is about a wife that no longer makes time with for her relationship with her husband.  However, as I listened to the chorus, I was inspired by the words and how they apply to us each day toward God.  We can be so wrapped up in the busyness of the day that we do not make time to be about God's BUSINESS.  We often fail to make time for our relationship with God.

We are just too busy being fabulous. 

That fabulous employee, super mom, PTA member, committee officer, little league coach, social butterfly and so on.

Each day we should take time out of our "fabulous" adventures and seek what God wants us to be.

What does He want us to do?

Where does He want us to be?

Who does he want us to help?

It is ok to be "fabulous" as long as it is according to God's will and not according to the world!  The world will declare you FABULOUS according to how much you participate in worldly events. The world counts the number of contributions to your community, or the amount of committees on which you serve. 

God will declare you FABULOUS according to your work for his kingdom.  God counts the number of times you have loved his creations. He notices how many people you have helped.  He takes note of how many people you have you talked to about Christ.  He is interested in how many times you have you shown love to those that feel unloved. 

Life can become so busy with obligations and commitments that we lose focus of the most important commitment that we have as Christians-the commitment of fulfilling the great commission as found in Mark 16:15, "And he said unto them, go into the world, and preach the gospel to every creature".   

Friday, May 15, 2015

Man's rejection may be God's protection

Psalm 18:30    God's way is perfect.  All the Lord's promises prove true.  He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.

Rejection hurts.  Period.  I cannot think of anyone who will say that rejection is a pleasant experience.  As soon as Satan realizes that we have been rejected, here he comes with the attack on our self-worth and esteem.   He kicks us while we are down with repeated insults and character assassination.    Rejection is not fun.

Feeling as if no one loves us or wants us is one of the most insecure emotions that we can experience.  We feel flawed and wonder why we are such a bad person.  If rejection happens to us more than once, we really begin to feel as if we have a problem.   Sometimes rejection can lead us to act in desperation or change to meet someone else's expectations of us in order to feel accepted. 

It is difficult in the midst of the hurt caused by rejection to see beyond the event and Satan's lies.  However, as I think back about times in my life that I have suffered rejection, I can smile and thank God today for each and every time.  I can now see that the situations that hurt so badly were actually filled with God's protection.

God will protect us from people that he thinks we do not need to be around.  He will protect us from jobs and situations that might later cause harm or more hurt.  When we seek God's will, we must believe that he will put us in the midst of people and situations that are best for us, but not always who and what we think is best. 

If you are experiencing rejection of any kind, remember that God's way is never flawed.   Begin to view the situation from his perspective and believe that man's rejection is God's PROTECTION.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

From bitterness to blessings

Ruth 1:20  "Don't call me Naomi,"  she told them.  "Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.  I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.  Why call me Naomi?  The Lord has afflicted me;  the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me."

The book of Ruth is a great example of how the effects of bitterness have the potential to alter the course of one's future.  I encourage you to read the entire book in order to absorb how the future could have been different if Naomi had allowed her bitterness to control her love for God. 

Naomi was bitter because in a short period of time she lost her husband and two sons.  Her entire family was gone.  In verse 20 we get a picture of the bitterness that she felt inside.  She felt empty.  She felt as though God had caused her great heartache and loss.  By reading the entire book of Ruth, we see how Naomi's actions and persistence indicate that even though she was going through grief and bitterness, she never stopped loving God.  Her feelings did not disable her from God's will. 

The fact that she loved God in the first place is a great testimony.  At this time in history, most of the people did not love God, instead they did whatever they thought was best.  Naomi held love in her heart for God and carried out the traditions of the time in order to fulfill his will.

Another of the many lessons in the book of Ruth is loyalty.  Ruth was Naomi's daughter-in-law.  When Ruth's husband died, she promised to stay with Naomi.  Naomi tried to get Ruth to go back to her family but Ruth vowed to stay with Naomi until their lives were over.  In Naomi's time of bitterness, Ruth was a source of strength and love.  Ruth learned to love God from Naomi.  Their relationship was remarkable. 

In those days, there wasn't anything much worse than being widowed.  Widows were usually poverty stricken and were often ignored.  Naomi's focus became to help Ruth find another husband.  By tradition, widowed women married a brother of their dead husbands.  Since Ruth's husband had no living siblings, she and Naomi moved to Bethlehem seeking relatives.  A man named Boaz was a relative of Naomi and she coached Ruth in how to get Boaz's attention.   Ruth and Boaz married and had a son named Obed.  This birth began the family line of Jesus, the Messiah. 

The book of Ruth may be to some a mere story of Ruth's love for Naomi.  While this is truly a part of the story, there is so much more to glean from it.  While Naomi and Ruth suffered great tragedy, their love for God remained strong.  In their sorrow and bitterness, God brought great blessings.  Instead of wallowing in the bitterness, Naomi took actions to see that God's will was carried out.  In verse 20 Naomi was honest with God in how she felt.  She had lost everything and was in deep sorrow.  Her bitterness was such that she changed her name to Mara, which means bitter. 

God understands our honest, raw emotions.  He hears the cries of our heart.  When we continue to love him and when we work through the bitterness, he can and will replace that bitterness with blessings.


Monday, May 11, 2015

Cupcake Crown

Proverbs 11:25     A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

Today's Cupcake Crown goes to the youth that I worked with this weekend at the clothing give-a-way.    What precious hearts!!  

Each member of the small group worked non-stop during the give-a-way, sorting clothing, picking out and matching outfits to fill the needs that were presented that day.  They went to great efforts to choose clothing that they thought each person on the lists would like to have.  They noticed the ages of each person on the list and worked hard to fill the bags with clothing that would bring joy to those that they were serving.  At the end of the day, they cleaned up and completed all necessary tasks. 

All of the youth involved in Saturday's event worked diligently and with love at the center of their motives.  I stand in awe at the hearts of young people that are so generous, so loving and so pure in their motives.  I know that God is smiling down on this entire group of young people.  Their youth motto is to make a difference and change things in the world around us.  They are well on their way to meeting that goal.

Our young people are the future of God's service.  If you have not been a part of a service project that involves youth, I encourage you to do so.  Visiting the hearts of youth that work for the Lord will fill your heart up and teach you many things!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Symbiosis

1 Timothy 18-19  Command then to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Symbiosis is a word that is used in Biology classes quite often.  It is defined as a relationship between two organisms to the advantage of both. 

In the ocean, there are many kinds of fish that have symbiotic relationships.  Two that I find quite interesting are the cleaner wrasse and the sweetlips fish.  The cleaner wrasse is a very small fish, about the size of a minnow that we catch in streams. Stunning in color, this fish often has a blue streak down its side.  The sweetlips fish, named for its big fleshy lips, is a colorful stunning fish.  It is many times larger than a wrasse and as a matter of fact could have the wrasse for a snack.  In the order of the food chain, based on the size of each fish, they really should not be friends, but instead the sweetlips should prey on the wrasse.

Their relationship, however, is very unique.  The sweetlips will open its mouth and the wrasse goes into the mouth to clean away the build up that gets on the teeth of the sweetlips.  Yes, there are dental hygienists in the ocean!   Think about this scenario for a moment.  The larger fish holds its mouth open while the smaller fish scrapes away the goop on its teeth.  The wrasse needs the goop on the teeth to survive-that is the diet of a wrasse.  One chomp of the sweetlips mouth and the wrasse could be lunch.  These fish perform these actions intentionally.  A symbiotic relationship.  Mutually beneficial.

Considering the relationship of these fish, I wonder why as humans our relationships aren't this simple.  Why are so many human relationships so complicated?  Why do we not experience such symbiosis as demonstrated by these simple fish? 

Often times human relationships are unequivalent.  The benefits lean to one side of the relationship more than the other.  Pride and arrogance sometimes keep humans from experiencing truly symbiotic relationships.  Feelings such as envy will foster relationships that are imbalanced or mismatched. 

Symbiotic friendships are treasures here on this earth!  When friends are willing to serve one another in love there is beauty in the relationship.  If friends are willing to stay in your life even when there is goop to clean and get rid of, a relationship of true symbiosis exists.  

Life is truly about loving and serving one another.  How wonderful it would be if people could recognize the mutual benefits that relationships have to offer.  We each have strengths that we bring into relationships.  How great it is when those strengths contribute to the needs of others.  How great it is when friends are willing to share all the good and bad things that come along. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Jeremiah 29:13

Jeremiah 29:13 "And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."

When we search for God with all our heart, we must rid our hearts of all things that stand between us and God.  We cannot search for God with every inch of our heart while holding on to hurts, vengeful thoughts, anger and bitterness.  Dragging those things along side us will not offer God ALL of our heart.

When we hang on to hurts that have not been squared away or forgiven, we have junk in our hearts.  That junk looks like insecurities, bitterness, lack of confidence, and lack of desire to move forward in life.  The junk that fills part or all of the heart stands in the way of offering God ALL of your heart. 

The junk must go.  Empty out all the junk that is in your heart so that you may seek God with all your heart, free and clear of any negative emotions.   

Search and seek God.  Find Him.

If you have turned from him, return to him.