The Sweet Stuff Ministry

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Keep swimming

Proverbs 19:21   Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.

Today's post is inspired by a phone conversation with a young reader who is working toward a goal in her life and feels somewhat like a goldfish in an ocean full of sharks.  She knows that this goal is God's purpose for her life, yet people (many of which are non believers) continuously "mess in her peace" as I like to call it.  

Petty jealousies, criticisms, acts of favoritism in the workplace, deeds of unfairness and evil plots by others, will leave a person feeling insignificant and cause one to doubt his/her purpose.  Be aware that these are plots of satan to deter you from God's purpose for your life.

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

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

Friday, June 26, 2015

Broken hearts and breaking hearts

Psalms   73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Each and every one of us is vulnerable to a broken heart and capable of breaking the hearts of others.  We all are subject to the uncertainties of life.  Hurts and disappointments will happen because we are all imperfect as human beings.  Our flesh and our hearts may fail and often do just that.

Most of us have suffered a broken heart at some point in our lives.   Broken hearts come from disappointments when our dreams are shattered.   The grief of losing a loved one will cause our hearts to literally ache within our chests.   Our emotions will be broken when people fail to keep their promises or betray us.  Broken hearts can lead to broken attitudes that turn into bitterness, broken relationships, distrust or loss of excitement about life.    A broken heart can feel as if the world is coming to an end and that things will never be the same.    

A broken heart does not have to be  permanent.  God can fill up your broken heart in ways that you can only imagine.  Look to him for strength and allow him to mend your brokenness and restore your heart.  If you have a broken heart or have caused a broken heart, confess that to God, and pray for him to show you how find restoration.                                                     

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Proper Worship

Genesis 4:3-5
In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

Cain and Abel were brothers; sons of Adam and Eve.  Cain was the oldest; Abel, second born.  They both worked the land but they did not see things alike.  Cain worshiped God in a "self-willed" way.  He did not want to play by the rules and respect God's expectations.  Abel was opposite, worshiping in a way that pleased God.

The description in the Bible concordance that I use has these words to say about Abel:  2nd son of Adam; offered proper sacrifice; murdered by Cain.

The word "proper" spoke to me as I studied this passage a few days ago.  Abel worshiped God in a proper way.  This says to me that by the sacrifices that he offered, his heart was full of love and proper worship for God.  Cain, on the other hand, brought "some" offering.  In other words, he seemed to decide what was the proper sacrifice to God, while Abel offered what God expected.  

Cain wanted to be recognized by God as doing good things.  He wanted God's favor.   This led to jealousy, anger and finally murder of his brother.  The main issue in this story is the condition of the heart.  Cain's heart was not filled with pure love and devotion to God, yet he expected to be blessed the way he saw God blessing his brother.  

We cannot worship God with self-willed motives and then be disappointed when we do not seem to find favor with him.  God looks at the condition of the heart.  Whatever we offer God, if it is offered with a heart that is not in the shape that he desires, our offering is for naught.  Whether the offering is in the form of tithing, teaching, singing, playing music, prayer or deeds, the motives must be God willed and not self-willed.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Filling in the blanks

Isaiah 11:3      He will delight in obeying the Lord.  He will not judge by appearance nor make a decision based on hearsay.

Years ago at a bridal shower for one of my college friends, we played a game of fill in the blank.  It was designed to show how well we knew the bride by asking various questions that were not the most obvious things you might know about someone.  I still remember the laughs we had as the answers were read and how the bride would tell us if we were right or in most of the cases, we were not even close with the answers.

This game was all in fun but how many times do we fill in the blanks with how we think we know people?   Are we quick to make judgments based on appearances, hearsay or false evidence.  I think that we can all bring to mind a time when we made a "fill in the blank" judgment about someone and then after we really began to know the person, we realized that our initial assumption was far from the true person.   Perhaps you can call to mind a time when such assumptions were made about you.  Some we can chuckle about while others may have caused hurt.  

We do not like it when people make judgments about us based upon appearance, assumptions, or hearsay.  Many times such judgments arise because of jealousy or insecurity.  It is frustrating when others do not take the time to learn who we really are.  Are we quick to judge others using the same standards with which we find hurtful?  How often do we make assumptions without taking the time to get to know a person?  

Only God can perfectly judge us and he does not use appearance or hearsay.  No "fill in the blanks" with him.  We should ask that he govern our hearts in order to be fair with our treatment of others as we expect others to be toward us.                                  

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Live in the moment

Matthew 6:34     "So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries".

While it is good to plan and think about tomorrow, it is a waste of time to worry about things that might happen tomorrow.  By worrying about tomorrow, next week or next year, we rob ourselves of The Sweet Stuff in the moments of today! 

Worry generates fear and fear is not of God.  Fear interferes with relationships- with God as well as with others.

We cannot live in tomorrow until tomorrow. We can't re-live or redo yesterday.  We can only live in the moments of today.  We should relish the joy, love, and peace that we are offered in each moment.  We must live in the present moment instead of living in the worry of tomorrow.     

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Give thanks for your circumstances!

1 Thessalonians 5:18  Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Helen Keller said,  "Life is short and unpredictable.  Eat the dessert first."  Helen Keller also gave thanks to God for everything in her life.  She was blind and deaf as a result of an illness when she was a baby.  Think about what it would be like to be both blind and deaf.  We rely on those senses every second of every day.  Many people threw their hands in the air in regards to dealing with Helen.  She was described as "wild and uncontrollable".  I imagine that she was extremely frustrated at the lack of being able to communicate.  She had a teacher, Mrs. Sullivan, who never gave up on Helen.  She made remarkable breakthroughs in teaching her to communicate.  

Helen spent her life working to improve communication methods for the blind and deaf.  Where would the world for the blind and deaf be today if she had not been able to give thanks to God in her circumstances?

In our lives, we should eat dessert first.  By this, I mean that we should be able to recognize the sweet things that God has given us.  We should be able to give him thanks for whatever circumstance and seek to find what he wants from us in each of those circumstances.

It has been said that necessity is the mother of inventions.  Many times God will show us ways in which to invent things that will will help others.  Those inventions may be on the lines of what Helen Keller helped inspire, they may be a book that will help someone to heal or the invention may be as simple as planning a new ministry within our churches or communities.

Give thanks today for your circumstances!  Ask God if there is any contribution to his people that he wants you to make based on your circumstances.             

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Lashing Out

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

Today's post was inspired by a question presented to me by a reader of my daily posts.   WARNING:  Content contains raw, honest emotions.

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

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

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

I had a mental list of what I would say if and when I encounter any of the individuals that had offended me.  It all sounded good in my mind.  I could unload my emotions and then they would realize the degree to which they had offended me.   While I was in the depths of my bitterness (which lasted a few years), not one time did I encounter any of the people with which I had a desire to "unload" my mind.  Not one, zilch, notta.    If you have ever lived in a small place, you can mentally calculate the odds of this happening.  Never so much as came remotely close to being around any of them.

God protected me from acting out my own foolish intentions.   I cannot express to you how grateful I am for that now that I have overcome the hurt and bitterness.    In the midst of anger, hurt and bitterness, we cannot see the damages that such behavior can cause on many levels.   We can only think of how much better we will surely feel if we let them know how much they have hurt us.  Nothing productive would have resulted from lashing out.  It may have made me feel better for a moment, however, it would not have a changed one single thing about any of the situation.  Acting in the heat of emotions is never wise.  

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

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

Monday, June 15, 2015

Psalm 37:7

Psalm 37:7   Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their evil schemes.

God wants what is best for us.  In order for us to receive what it best for us, we must commit everything in our lives to him.  Everything!  This includes our health, job, possessions, family, worries, decisions--EVERYTHING.

When we commit everything to God, we must wait upon his timing.  We must also realize that his plans for us may not happen as quickly or in the same order as someone else.  Waiting patiently is often difficult to do, especially if we think others around us seem to find success quickly and easily.

When others around us are seemingly succeeding in various areas of their lives, we must still wait for what God has for us.  We must not allow ourselves to compare our life journey with the life journey of those around us.  Most of the time that comparison is like comparing apples to oranges.  As we wait patiently, we must find contentment in what God is doing in our lives at the present.  If we spend time looking at what he is doing in the lives of others, we miss a part of our own purpose.  If we concentrate on the lives and purpose of others, instead of our own, we may lose our peace. 

God expects us to focus on him and to seek what purpose he has for us.  We must seek him and his goodness, wait patiently for what he has for us and we must trust that he can take care of us better than we can take care of ourselves. 

Friday, June 12, 2015


Mark 5:19   "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you."

Each of us has a testimony.  Each testimony is unique to our situations and experiences. 

Each testimony offers us the opportunity to reach others.

 Each testimony contains power and the chance to tell others about what God has done and to show others what he can do. 

Testimonies offer hope, healing and comfort. 

I found that a deeper level of healing comes each time I share my testimony-a deeper level of healing for myself.  It offers a sense of freedom within my heart and strengthens my relationship with the Lord.

I encourage each of you to share your testimony.  It may not be in public, it may only be with one friend or a group of friends, but it is important to do so.  Share and give thanks for all that God has done for you.                             

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Looking for the kingdom of God

Luke 17:20-21  "....The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is, or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you."

The following passage is from The Imitation of Christ written by Thomas A' Kempis in the 1400s.  In this meditation, he writes about turning to God with all our hearts, forsaking the external world and finding joy and peace in the Holy Spirit.  He says that by doing these things, we will find the kingdom of God.

       "Give place then to Christ, but deny entrance to all others, for when you have Christ you are rich and he is sufficient for you.  He will provide for you.  He will supply your every want, so that you need not trust in frail, changeable men.  Christ remains forever, standing firmly with us to the end.
       Do not place much confidence in weak and mortal man, helpful and friendly though he be; and do not grieve too much if he sometimes opposes and contradicts you.  Those who are with us today may be against us tomorrow and vice versa, for men change with the wind.  Place all your trust in God; let Him be your fear and your love.  He will answer for you; He will do what is best for you."

Such eloquent writing from centuries ago!  I find this book to be a wonderful meditation and interpretation of biblical principles.  What I find most interesting is that even centuries ago, people were troubled by the actions of others.  The inner struggles of the world versus eternity have been in place since the beginning of people.

This writer has a clear picture of what our priorities and loyalties must be.  Those loyalties must be rooted in God for he never changes, yet people do change.  Trust God and love him with all your heart and you will find His kingdom. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Do not conform to your circumtsances

Matthew 8:20   Jesus replied,  "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

The message for today: 

Do not conform to your circumstances.  Rise above the challenging situations that life presents. 

I am so thankful that Jesus did not conform to his circumstances while he was here on earth.  I am thankful that he faced each challenge with courage and the mind set that he was going to carry out God's will no matter what he encountered.   He was mocked, cursed, rejected, and pretty much homeless, yet he did not dwell on those details.  He did not sit in the sand,  have a huge pity party and invite all his friends.  He did not become paralyzed by the actions and treatments of others.   He remained focused on his purpose moving forward with all that he was to accomplish. 

Was it all easy for him?  I doubt it.  I am sure there were times that he stood in disbelief of how people thought and behaved.  I imagine that his heart was broken several times as he witnessed the actions of people around him.   I am sure that discouragement tried to creep into his mind at various points during his ministry. 

When we face difficult situations in life, we are tempted to react with an attitude of defeat.   While we may suffer defeat at some points in life, we are not defeated!  If we can learn to view defeat and difficulties as challenges in which we are eager to rise above, we can grow and abound in our relationship with God.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


1 Corinthians 2:11  For who among men know the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him?

I love to sew! I have probably said this before, I would rather sew than eat!  I love to sew clothing, crafts, purses and home d├ęcor.  The last step for me when I make something is to put a label in my creation.  The label bears the name of my sewing business. That is all that the label contains.  The label does not tell you that I put hours of planning and work into the item.  It does not tell of the mistakes that I made and corrected along the way.  The label does not reveal broken sewing machine needles nor pin pricks to my fingers.  It also does not tell the customer how much love and joy I put into creating each item that I produce.   The label on the finished product is there to identify the item as being my creation.  The customer's mind is open to fill in the details of how the item came to be.

As human beings, we label.  We label others as smart, poor, wealthy, nice, mean, etc. We label hastily and often times unnecessarily.  We label according to how people appear on the surface, instead of how they are deep in the heart. 

How many times do we mislabel?  How many times do we miss out on knowing the inner details of someone because we do not read past the "label"?  How many times do we miss out on helping someone because we are not willing to learn more about them? 

I recently learned something about a friend of mine that I had never known.  I had labeled her, in a good way, before I knew her story.  I had labeled her as a person whose life had been sugar coated with much happiness.  I had included in that label much success on her part that was likely due to a lifelong deep relationship with God.  When I learned the details of her younger life, I was made keenly aware of the fact that labels do not tell us everything about an item (in this case a person).  She had been through many things that had molded her into the Christian woman that she is today.  In her lifetime she has experienced deep rejection, poverty, and verbal abuse.  Her life has not been sugar coated, however God has provided her with opportunities to succeed through him.  It has not always been an easy road. 

Just as I put much time and effort into creating a garment, God puts much time and effort into creating each of us.  There are many pin pricks and mistakes along the way.  There are difficulties and disappointments.  There are years of molding and shaping.  However, He can take all those things and create a beautiful person! 

The main points of this devotion are:  1.  Do not be quick to label others.  2.  Learn about other people beyond the label that you are tempted to place upon them.  3.  Look for the blessings of knowing others past the label that you see when you look at them.

Monday, June 8, 2015


2 Peter 3:17-18      I am warning you ahead of time, dear friends, Be on guard so that you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing.  Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Several years ago I had my gall bladder removed.  It was the first time that I had ever had surgery and anesthesia.  I had a great amount of anxiety about the anesthesia and whether I would have an incision as long as my leg if laparascopic removal was not possible.  It was all I thought about for days prior to my surgery.  I remember waking up in recovery asking the nurse if they were able to use the scope to remove it.  She said, in a much aggravated tone, "Yes, and you have asked me that over 100 times."  My reply to her was, "I do apologize, but right now is the first time that I have been aware of the answer."   This statement is what today's post will focus on.

In dealing with bitterness and letting go of hurtful situations, I focused a great amount of time (far too much time) asking over and over "why".  I tried to understand people, what they were thinking, why they said and did certain things.   I felt an enormous need to understand people.  I wanted answers and would like to have heard the explanations from those particular people.   

Then, finally, I was aware of the answer and just like in my recovery room conversation, when I was aware of the answer, I could stop asking the questions.   The answer was this:  I was trying to understand the wrong people.   I needed to spend less time trying to understand human beings and focus my time on understanding God.   Digging deeper into his word, seeking to understand his grace, love, mercy and his plan for me.   Trying to understand people is mind boggling and exhausting-a depressor.  

If you are ruminating in the questions of "why" and you are spending too much time trying to understand people and their thoughts and actions, I urge you to spend time seeking to understand God and develop a deeper, more intimate relationship with him.  This offers a greater understanding of Him and interestingly enough, it aids in understanding the nature of people.         

Friday, June 5, 2015

The winds of the Big Bad Wolf

Matthew 7:24-25   "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

This verse reminds of the childrens' book The Three Little Pigs.  Each little pig was trying to build a house that would protect him from the "Big Bad Wolf".  Each of the little pigs had his own idea of the type of house that would offer him protection from the beast. 

The first little pig built his house with straw; the second pig built his house with sticks.  I imagine that these homes were quick to build without much effort or cost.  The third pig built his house with brick, all the while taking time to place each brick in precise fashion with mortar in between to hold the brick together.  When the Big Bad Wolf visited the first two pigs, he made short work of destroying their homes and devouring each of them.  However, when he visited the third pig's home made of the sturdy brick, he was unable to huff and puff enough to take that house down. 

The same is true for us in our relationship with God.  When we build our house with bricks and carefully lay the foundation, we are able to withstand the huffing and puffing of the biggest wolf of all-Satan. 

What does building our house upon a rock look like in daily life?  It looks like this:  getting in the word (not just reading, but getting into the message of each part of the Bible).  A house of bricks is built by praying and holding on to the truths and promises that God offers us.  It is made sturdy by living a life of integrity robed in Christian character.  When we build our spiritual foundation upon the solid rock of God's word, the Bible, we can stand upon a firm foundation. When the wolf blows gusty winds of hurtful words, rumors or untruths with our names on them, our house may feel the wind blowing, but it will not crumble. 

Just like the Big Bad Wolf wanted to devour each little pig, the same is true for Satan's desire to devour each of us.  Words of destruction are one of his favorite tools.  Words hold a great amount of power and he likes to blow those that shake us to the core.  Often times those words will come from our loved ones or friends that we thought were true, solid Christians. 

Build your house upon a rock.  Hold strong to the foundation.  Sort through the winds of the Big Bad Wolf for any truths.  Accept accountability for any truths that may require attention.   Let the winds of untruth by Satan blow over and around your strong house.    

Thursday, June 4, 2015


Hebrews 12:5-6  "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son".

Last night we watched the track and field portion of the Summer Olympics.  One thought kept coming to mind:  discipline.  The athletes must have self-discipline and they must also yield to the discipline of their coaches and trainers in order to accomplish gold medal performance in any sport.  Why is the discipline important?  Discipline allows one to be trained in a way that improves a skill.  Discipline trains one to follow the rules by enhancing self-control.  Discipline is also a form of correction.  When there is a problem or inconsistency within the skill, discipline will correct it and place the athlete back on track.  Therefore, we can say that discipline will lead to mastery of a skill or talent.

Our relationship with God can be viewed as training for gold medal status.  He expects us to constantly seek to improve our performance as Christians.  He is the trainer, we are the contenders.  Just as an athlete must consent to the disciplinary measures of trainers, we must yield to the discipline that God imparts in our walk with him.  When we stand in need of correction, we must allow him to show us the precise way in which he wants us to think or act in any situation.

If we are ever to master Christian living, we must be willing to be recognize God's discipline and make the corrections that align with his will.  We must not view discipline as an offense.  Our pride must be put aside in order to fulfill God's purpose in our lives.  God disciplines because he loves us, not because he wants to hurt us.  


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Mental Fortitude

Ephesians  6: 11  Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
Fact of life:  adversity will present itself to all of us.   Period.  No exemptions.  Distress visits all of us.   Each and every one of us faces difficult situations or difficult people to deal with at some point in our lives. 

Adversity comes from the adversary--Satan.
Emotional fortitude offers us the strength of mind that enables us to face adversity and withstand difficult situations.   Mental toughness equips us with protection from Satan's antics.  How do we build emotional fortitude in offer to protect us from our adversary?
When our forefathers built actual forts to protect our country, each fort had similar specifications.  Those specs included:    a.)being built at a distance from the cities so their artillery could not bombard the city center, b.)forts were built in a shape that offered a panoramic view of potential routes of the enemy, c.) forts were surrounded by ditches, moats or high walls making it more difficult for the enemy to enter, d.)forts were constructed of strong materials and each fort had  "look out" points in order to recognize that the enemy was approaching.   Each fort had other details specific to the geographical location, but the aforementioned specs were common to all.   
We must built mental forts to protect our minds and emotions.  We must constantly look in a panoramic fashion for all avenues that the enemy may enter as well as recognize the enemy when he is trying to enter.  We must fortify our minds with the truths in God's word.  By doing so, we will be able to stand strong and maintain mental fortitude. 

Strength of mind is mental preparedness.  It is a vital part of facing adversity and getting through those difficult times that will come in our lives.  The armor and strength of mind that we need is found in God's word and with a close relationship with Him.                                                  

Monday, June 1, 2015

Turn to Him for love and learning

Isaiah   30:18  So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion.  For the Lord is a faithful God.  Blessed are those who wait for his help.

Life Principle #7  (Dr. Charles Stanley):  The dark moments of our lives will last only so long as necessary for God to accomplish His purpose in us. 

I love Dr. Charles Stanley.  I had the privilege of meeting him in person a few years ago.  I love to study his life principles.  If you are not familiar with these principles, I strongly encourage you to study each one of them. 

Life Principle #7 spoke to me many times during my battles with bitterness.  In the healing process of bitterness, or any dark period in our lives, we must look within ourselves.  We must look at what God is trying to teach us or to change within us.

During the dark periods in our lives we tend to pray for the situation to change or perhaps we pray for the other people involved to change.  So many times, we are the one that stands in need of change in order for a situation to be altered.   Even in the storms and trials of life, God has a purpose for each of us.  The purpose is not to suffer or be miserable for God does not wish for us to be anything but joyous. 

The intent of God's lesson for each of us during life's discouraging situations is for us to turn to Him for love and learning. He wants us to love Him more.  He desires for us to learn more about Him.  He plans for us to grow in both love and knowledge.  Spiritual growth and learning more about God will strengthen us as Christians.  

If we do not learn and move forward, the dark period seems to linger on.  When God has accomplished his purpose in our situations, the dark periods will begin to produce light.  As we move toward the light, the darkness seems easier to bear.

Strive to be the agent of change.  Move closer to God.  Seek to learn His purpose for you in each and every dark period in your life.  Advance toward Him in order to love and learn.