The Sweet Stuff Ministry

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Do not be blind to self-righteous pride

Philippians 2:3  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.


I read the following quote a while back.  I wrote it in my notes without giving credit to the author.  My apologies to the author, it is a great quote.  "Pride causes us to be blind to the evil within us.  It also causes us to be blind to the good in others".  Allow that to sink in a moment.

Self-righteous pride prevents us from examining ourselves.  Self-examination is a necessary part of Christian growth.  From time to time, especially when trials and tribulations occur in our lives, we should take an inventory of our perspective on things.  We must look within our thoughts to see if they align with God's principles.  We should evaluate how we handle various circumstances so that we can grow in grace.

Not one of us wants to think of ourselves as having evil within us.  However, we all sin, fall short of the glory of God and we all have room for improvement.  If we have a mindset of self-righteousness or that we have done no wrong, we miss the opportunity to grow spiritually.  Being a Christian does not mean that we never have any evil thoughts or intentions.  Being a Christian does mean that we have a commitment to God to recognize and correct any evil thoughts or intentions that might enter our minds.

Self-righteous pride can cause us to be critical of others and miss the good characteristics that they possess.  A vain attitude will prevent us from enjoying the goodness and gifts of those around us.  Such a mind set will also cause a barrier between us and God.  His graces will never be seen when there are blinders over our eyes.

God calls us to humility.  He wants us to never view ourselves better than others.  He expects us to see the good in others. He has a great desire for each of us to overcome any self-righteous pride.  May we each conduct a self-examination of our attitudes.  May we find within ourselves, humility and compassion.  May we strengthen our Christian character.  May we use those qualities to uplift and assist others to grow in Christ.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Wisdom

Psalm 111:10  Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom.  All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom.

What does wisdom look like?  What does wisdom feel like?  What does wisdom act like?  The Bible tells us in Psalms 111:10 that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  Fear in this sense does not mean to be afraid, but it means to respect.  A respect and deep appreciation for the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. This is where to start in becoming wise. 
    
Webster's Dictionary defines wisdom as an understanding of what is TRUE.   Understanding truth is understanding the Bible (God's word).  We understand God's word first by having a strong desire to obtain wisdom.  Secondly, we should pray, read scripture, and seek the counsel of God and godly people. 
    
Worldly wisdom can be dangerous.  Being of great intelligence or possessing worldly knowledge does NOT equal wisdom.  Man's wisdom often responds to the flesh and emotions that one is feeling.  Godly wisdom responds to the Holy Spirit. 

So what does wisdom look like?  
Wisdom is first a deep love and respect for God.  
Wisdom is righteous living by obeying God's commandments. 
Wisdom is calm. 
Wisdom is finding the truth in situations before reacting and knowing when not to react at all.  Wisdom embraces integrity. 
Wisdom seeks God in all situations, no matter how small or large. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Troubles

Psalms 9:9 "The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble."

When troubles come, and they will, it is easy for us to wonder if God has forsaken us. We may ask God, "Are you there? Have you forgotten me? What am I doing wrong?" The Bible tells us that as Christians we will be persecuted. (1 Peter 2:19-23; John 15: 18-20; 2 Cor. 11:23-26; 2 Timothy 3: 10-12) Our persecutions come from Satan and those that enable Satan to use them. Persecution may be in the form of ridicule, gossip, torment, physical injury, or character assassination just to name a few. It is Satan's goal to steal from us, torment and destroy us.

As Christians, we should rejoice and embrace these persecutions (Matthew 5:10-12; Acts 5:40-42). This does not mean that they do not cause pain or that we will feel like celebrating, in fact some persecutions are painful and grievous. But we should be honored to endure for the Lord and remember the sufferings that Christ endured for us.

When people persecute us, we are tempted to become angry and sometimes to retaliate. In our times of suffering, we must not sin but hold steadfast in our faith. God promises us that he will provide a way out of the suffering and will hold us when we hurt. 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that God will not give us more than we can bear.

Each of us has our own troubles and heartaches. They come in different flavors, different degrees of seriousness and have different outcomes. But one thing remains the same: God offers us comfort and refuge.   In those times of torment and persecution, be still, be quiet and watch God work for you.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Making peace with the past

Luke 9:62   But Jesus told him, "Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God."

When we accept Jesus as our lord and savior and make a commitment to follow him, he expects a full commitment.  In looking at Luke 9:62 that commitment includes looking forward and not behind us.  If you plow, whether with a mule or tractor, you cannot see where you need to go if you are constantly looking back at where you have been. 

We need to come to place of "making peace with the past".   This doesn't mean that we will forget everything bad or uncomfortable about the past, for in doing so, we would also forget the good.  We can choose not to remember in a way that affects our commitment and work for the Lord.

Some thoughts and points to help make peace with the past:

-Whether you were on the giving or receiving end of wrong, it is over.   No going back.
- You should keep no record of wrongs. You should keep no record of rights.  Life is not a contest.
-Feel whatever you need to feel: anger, sadness, sorrow and be finished with those feelings for each particular situation.  Refuse to feel negative and hurtful emotions.
-You have total control over your mind, therefore, find a place to put the hurt and let it hurt you NO more.
-Grieve it, bury it and sow flowers on it. 
-Life will still move forward, even if in small steps.  Move forward with it in a positive way.
-If you have accepted Jesus as you lord and savior, you are NOT that person from the past anymore.  You have been made a new creature.  Don't let the devil tell you otherwise.

There is a saying that I remember from a church sign years ago:  "When the devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his future."

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Does your journey seem mediocre?

Ephesians 5:15-16 Be careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.


In speaking with a young adult college student the other day, she seemed a bit down-and-out because at this time in her life she doesn't have time for a vast amount of hobbies.  She was reminiscing about her days in high school when many competitions and accomplishments seem to happen often and in short amounts of time.  Now she is in the midst of college studies where the focal point of her activities has shifted to her studies, with little time for hobbies and personal interests. She said that she feels mediocre.  I am sure that this is a common feeling among college students as they make the transition from high school activities into responsibilities of college and life preparation for fulfilling what God has called them to do.  There are likely times when students feel like they will never arrive at their destination.  Training, learning, and preparing for life's purpose can feel mediocre. 

In order to arrive at the full potential of one's purpose in life, the journey of preparation must be traveled.  This conversation reminded me of the times when our family would take vacations that required a long drive.  I remember the common question that came from our children, "Are we there yet?"  In our vehicle, it usually came just about the time we crossed the county line, less than 30 minutes into the journey.   

In order to reach our destination, we must first travel the road in that direction.  Some roads are easy with straight pavement and clear views.  Other roads are filled with sharp turns and steep hills.  If hills and curves are on the road to our destination, we must navigate each one in order to arrive.  In the midst of our journey, we should make the most of every opportunity in order to fulfill God's purpose in our lives.  We may be tempted to question whether our journey is enjoyable.

We should not compare ourselves or our lives to the lives of others.  Our journey is unique.  We also should not compare our present journey to a past season in our life.  Doing so indicates that we do not believe that God has us exactly where he needs us to be at this given time in life.  When we are committed to following God and traveling the journey that he has planned for us, we must trust that each curve in the road is as important as the straight, scenic by-ways.  It is all according to His purpose!

Each opportunity that is before us in the journey should be seized as a chance to advance the kingdom of God.  To make the most of every opportunity that God places before us adds to our wisdom and character.  It is not ours to decide if part of the journey seems to be mediocre.  God is in charge of assigning the adjectives. 

My prayer for each of you that may be feeling mediocre in your journey with God is this:  I pray that you will enjoy the scenery all along the way.  I pray that you will keep your eyes on the road as you navigate the hills and curves throughout the journey.  I pray that you will not focus on the question, "are we there yet?" but instead you will concentrate on what you have to offer and what you can receive all along the trip.  I know that God does not view your journey as mediocre.  He looks at each and every curve and straight stretch as wonderful opportunities to fulfill his purpose. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Humility

Proverbs 11:2     When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.
Being right is not nearly as important as doing what is right. 
Disagreements and conflict are a common part of the human life.  People will not always see eye to eye.   Pride loves to rear its ugly head and allow the conflict to escalate into "who is right".   Settling disagreements should not rely upon who is right and who is wrong.   Tomorrow, the "right" person, who started to conflict or even the topic of the disagreement may long be forgotten.  Emotions, hurtful words and actions during the disagreement will last-sometimes for extended periods of time and sometimes forever. 
Walking away or refusing to take part in disagreements equals wisdom. Many people will view it as cowardly or not taking up for oneself.  God views it as humility and he views humility as wisdom.   God doesn't care what the disagreement is about, who is right and who won in the end.  But he does care that our pride and emotions can lead us to treat others disrespectfully and without love.   

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Seek His kingdom FIRST

Matthew 6:33  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

This section in Matthew that contains this verse teaches us about God's provisions.  He promises us that he will care for our needs.  In Matthew 6:25-34 God tells us not to worry about what we will eat or what we will wear.  God takes care of every bird and each flower that blooms on earth and he declares that he will take care of us.  

Have you ever feared, I am talking a paralyzing type fear, that your basic needs would not be provided?  Has there ever been a time when your faith failed to keep you secure in God's commitment to take care of you?  I have had such a time in my life.  Several years ago, a change in our job situation, left me weak in my faith.  The circumstances that were taking place at that time created much fear about what was going to happen next.  My greatest fear was that we would not have daily provisions.  In my lack of faith, I began to ask God, "Why is this happening to us?  Why are you doing this to us?" 

I had taken my eyes off His kingdom.  My eyes were only looking upon my situation.  I began looking for solutions.  I wanted to fix the problem.  The real problem was that my eyes were on "I". 
I needed.
I wanted.
I tried.
I couldn't. 

When we can take our eyes of "me" and look to His kingdom, we can begin to see things as God wants us to see.  My questions should have been, "Lord, how can I seek your kingdom in the midst of my situation?  What, Lord, can I do for you?" 

Life's processes and events are opportunities for seeking and building God's kingdom.  Matthew 6:33 holds a strong promise that when we seek His kingdom FIRST, we will never be without provisions.  Our basic needs for survival will always be met when our hearts are in line with God's principles.  We must use those life events and circumstances to build His kingdom, which in turn, will build our character.


Monday, September 21, 2015

Do not reject the love and comfort that God sends

2 Corinthians 4:9   ....persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

Rejection creates fertile soil for seeds of bitterness to grow.  However, those seeds do not grow into plants that offer astounding beauty nor ones that are aromatic.  The seeds of rejection are the vilest weeds with large painful thorns. 

Rejection causes feelings and thoughts of unimportance.  It causes people to feel of little value and unloved.  Sometimes we get to the point of not liking ourselves because of rejection.  Rejection in our past or present will affect how we behave in future relationships.  

Many people do not recognize the effects that rejection has had on their lives until they reach adulthood or years after an occurrence.  The effects of rejection are often denied, all the while realizing that specific topics and/or events stir negative and fearful emotions.  Negative emotions that will destroy inner peace and joy result from bitterness caused by rejection.


Rejection brings about distance between people.  It causes chaos, turmoil and discord.   Satan's ultimate goal is to create enough bitterness between people that each will eventually become bitter toward God.  There is a great example of this in Job chapter 1 when his wife turned against him and asked him to "curse God and die".  The bitterness that Job's wife felt toward God had caused so much pain and discord that she wanted Job to reject God.  

Rejecting others because of our own feelings of rejection is not the answer to the chaos and pain.  When dealing with rejection, we must separate ourselves from the behaviors and thoughts of others and discard any self defeating thoughts of being unimportant or unlovable. The sooner that the negative feelings caused by rejection are dealt with and gotten rid of (Eph. 4:31), the better our relationship with God and others will be.   The emotions that follow rejection in our lives, prevent us from enjoying all the blessings that God has for us.

Having been rejected in the past does not mean that we will to suffer rejection in the future.  When we have suffered rejection, Satan will tempt us with believing that we will be rejected from everyone that we encounter in the future.  He wants us to fear relationships based upon a feeling from the past.  This creates a barrier to love and joy with people in our lives that do not plan to reject us.  In other words, we miss out on what God has in store for us if we believe that all people will hurt us through rejection. 

The most important relationship we have is with our Heavenly Father.   Even if people that are important to you in this life, or people that are you family reject you, you are still real and you are important to God! Remember that you are loved by God, you are important to him and he will never reject you.  

Prayer for today:  Lord, I pray that for every person that deals with rejection and the long term effects of the emotions that accompany rejection.  I pray that each and every person will feel the love that you have to offer.  I pray that each person dealing with rejection will not reject those on this earth that you have sent to provide them with love and comfort.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Friday, September 18, 2015

When you are overwhelmed

Psalm 61:2  From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Some times our lives seem to be more demanding of us both physically and emotionally, more so than other times.  These times can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed.  In those times of feeling overwhelmed, we may experience a decrease of enjoyment of everyday life.  

In these times we can become so caught up in the busyness and emotional distractions that our relationship with God will suffer.  I have discovered about myself that within these periods of "overload"  I MUST spend more time with God in study, prayer and submission.  First thing in the morning is a great time to focus on God and the peace that he extends.  By studying and spending time with God first thing every day, I recognize a decrease in the stress level of all the "stuff" that swirls in my mind.  It is like eating your dessert first and enjoying The Sweet Stuff.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and overloaded, I encourage you to spend time with God.  He understands it all.  He will give you peace and joy.  He can restore calmness and take away anxiety. The following verses are great to read when feeling overwhelmed:  Psalms 61:2, Isaiah 40:28-31, John 14:1, Psalms 28:7. 


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Functional Bitterness

Ephesians 4:31  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form
of malice.


I have used this verse in other posts and focused on different words found in the verse.  Today I will focus on the word "all".  God wants us to rid of ALL bitterness, rage and anger.  Each and every bit of those emotions must go.  If ALL bitterness is not rid of, even the smallest bit can cause resentment and barriers between you and the people in your life.

You might be inclined to think that if you are not paralyzed by bitterness that your life is in good shape.  Not necessarily.  There can be a level of what I call functional bitterness.  The bitterness is there, it causes barriers within relationships, but the relationship is still functional.  You are able to be in the presence of the person which you have bitterness toward, however, there are inhibitions with the level of closeness and enjoyment that you can experience with this person.  Functional bitterness is a mask that conceals what is truly in the heart.   

With functional bitterness, you are able to operate and perform your regular every day duties.  The bitterness is not constantly on your mind, however, there may be periods of intense reminders or thoughts about the situation that caused the bitterness.  The people around you may not notice the bitterness within you, however, you still feel the effects.  Functional bitterness allows you to get through the days but you do not experience the joy and delight that could be yours if ALL the bitterness is gone.

If you allow your heart to be clear of ALL bitterness, you can then realize the wholeness which God intends for us.  When you experience the wholeness of heart and the delight that the freedom from the bondage of bitterness and anger can bring, it is then that you will become acutely aware of what you have been missing.  The desire to have wholeness and delight will outweigh the desire to wallow in the bitterness when you realize how wonderful the freedom can be.

It is my prayer for any of you that are suffering from any type of bitterness, rage or anger that you will allow God to examine those emotions and help you rid of them.  For those of you that may have functional bitterness, I pray that you will allow the mask of denial to be removed and that God will take any and ALL of those feelings away.  I pray for each of you to experience the wholeness that God has to offer.  In Jesus name, Amen!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Following God's rules

Judges 2:18-19   Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the Lord had compassion on them as they groaned under those who oppressed and afflicted them.  But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers, following other gods and serving and worshiping them.  They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways. 

In the days of the Old Testament, people were more inclined to obey God and follow his rules when they had a judge appointed to lead and guide them.  When the judge died, the people had no self-control nor discipline.  They worshiped idols, became corrupt and followed other gods. 

Why did the people so easily fall back into their evil ways and worship idols?  Worshiping idols has immediate, short range benefits.  People could give the least amount of efforts and produce gratification.  With the worship of idols, no regard for others is expected.  The people were able to act selfishly and sinfully.  It did not matter if moral and ethical standards were compromised.  The rules were easy.

God's rules are stringent.  They do not always please the flesh nor produce instant gratification.  He expects our behavior to align with his morals and standards.  He requires us to act selflessly, not selfishly.  The gratification and reward is long term for worshiping God and following his rules.  The benefits are sometimes postponed and experienced later.  Following God's rules relies on faith and the desire to please him.  The act of living as God wants us to live does not depend on the immediate presence of a judge or leader.  Living as God expects and worshiping him is reliant upon a deep and committed relationship with him.  Understanding His rules and expectations evolves from reading the Bible.   Romans 10:17 "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ". 

Monday, September 14, 2015

The desire for vengeance

Romans 12:19 & 21     19-Do not take revenge, my friends,but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written:  "it is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. 
21-Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. 


When someone has hurt you, which is greater:  The desire for vengeance or the commitment to forgive and move forward?  The desire for and thoughts of vengeance lead into sinful territory.  Wishing for someone to hurt as they have hurt you is wallowing in their wrongdoing.  Plotting with thoughts of retaliation causes us to dig deeper in the sin of vengeance.  A constant craving to remind the other person how much he/she hurt us is not consistent with moving forward.

When the desire for vengeance is greater than the desire to move on, a heart check is in order.  A self-examination of how we view the person and situation should be conducted.  Anger toward the person that caused the hurt will in turn tempt us to retaliate with some form of hurt.  Satan enjoys when we have an attitude of vengeance and he will stir those emotions seeking action from us.  Sometimes the temptation to act in revenge is so strong that we give in.  This type of activity may go on for long periods of time, much like a tennis match where the players hit the ball into the court of the opponent.  As time goes on, instead of moving toward getting over the hurt and actions that happened, repetitive retaliation leads to a list of offenses that each person involved has committed.  Now all participants are as guilty as the other. 

Our desire to let go and move forward should always be greater than our desire for vengeance, which in turn hurts the other person.  Our most inner longings should be to forgive, move forward and seek ways to improve ourselves. Yes, the flesh desires vengeance, it has since the beginning of time.  But the spirit must recognize the importance of forgiveness and moving forward.  God commands, "In your anger, do not sin" (Ephesians 4:26 NIV).  Simply stated, yet sometimes difficult to adhere to.  Sinning does not improve ourselves.  Forgiving and moving forward yields personal and spiritual improvement in each of us.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Look beyond the struggle

Romans 5:3-5    More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

The struggles that each of us face do not usually cause us to feel like rejoicing.  In fact the struggles of life most of the time cause us to feel at our lowest.  When we are facing difficulties and trials we are often tempted to focus on the "struggle" portion.  It is easy to become burdened with the negativity of the situation and loaded with worry about how we will make it through the hard times.   Illnesses may cause us to think we will never be well again.  Financial struggles may lead us to think that we will never be in a secure place.  Relationship struggles may cause us to feel as if we will never have peace among people. 

Look beyond the "struggle" in difficult situations.  Look at the struggles as endurance training for the marathon of life.   Look ahead and focus on the character development that suffering offers us.   Look the struggle in the eye and find the love that God has to offer you no matter how small or large the situation.  Allow God to pour his love into your heart and let him wrestle the "struggle" for you.  

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Contentment has nothing to do with "stuff"

Luke 12:15  And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

Do you ever focus on things that you do not have?  Do you ever fall into the sin of comparison, measuring your car or home to what someone else has?  Perhaps you have secretly wished for material things that others seem to acquire so easily.  Covetousness is a common trap of the enemy.  Satan will, quite often, try to make us feel as if the things we own do not measure up to the people around us.  When he can convince us that we need more "stuff", he has successfully managed to distract us from delighting in the blessings that God has poured out on us.

Being happy in life has nothing to do with "stuff".  Material things are temporal in nature.   They will only last for a time-some will last more briefly than others.  When we become entangled in the thought that material things equal contentment, the days roll by on the calendar and the result is this: The things are gone and we are still searching for contentment.  Replacing things with more things does not improve happiness. 

Instead of spending time acquiring material things, we should spend time with God asking him what he wants for you to have.  1 Timothy 6:7 "For we brought nothing into the world, and can take nothing out of it".  God loved us when he brought us into this world, naked and with absolutely no material possessions.  He will love us as we go out of this world with no material possessions.  He wants us to find contentment in seeking righteousness while enduring this world with faith and love.

Contentment is NOT expecting God to give us everything we seek.  Contentment is being happy seeking the things that God plans to give us. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Do not force closed doors to open

1 Chronicles 29:13  David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, "Praise be to you, O Lord, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.  Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours.  Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.  Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things.  In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.  Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name".

A dear friend of mine vowed this to God:  "I promised the Lord I would walk through any door He opens and would not try to force open any door he closes".  Read that again.   Such a profound promise with a heart to follow the will of God!  This promise is loaded with obedience and a desire to serve God.  I have witnessed first hand her commitment to this vow.

We are not always accepting of those closed doors.  Often times we want to break the lock and pry the door open because we think that the path we need to follow is on the other side of that particular door knob.  Our flesh may want something so badly that we push and tug at that door knob trying to get it to open. I have been guilty of this myself.

I have learned over time that closed doors do not mean that God has said "no".  An unopened door does not necessarily indicate that our mission is being thwarted.  It may feel like it at the time, however, a closed door means that God wants you to go into another area where He has plans for fulfilling His purpose.  He has the map.  He will easily open the doors which He wants us to enter. It may not happen as quickly as we wish; God may have us waiting for his perfect timing. 

We are comfortable with the familiar places and routines in which we live.  God expects us to trust and be comfortable going into new territories.  He also expects us to leave closed doors closed.  No pushing, picking the locks, nor banging on the door to get in.

Watch for the open doors.  Walk through with faith and courage.
Accept the closed doors with the same faith and courage.

May we all make the promise to God that we will walk through the open doors and walk away from the closed ones!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Self-control

2 Peter 1:5-7  For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

Once upon a time a frog and a scorpion sat next to each other on the river bank.  The scorpion wanted to get across the river but could not swim.  He asked the frog to take him across the river on his back since he was a good swimmer.  The frog said to the scorpion, "why would I do that?  You and I both know that you will sting me and neither of us will make it across the river."  The scorpion laughed and said to the frog, "my friend, I will not sting you, for if I do, I will not make it across the river either."   This made sense to the frog and so he trusted in the scorpion and allowed him on his back to carry him across the river.  About half way across the river, the frog felt a mighty sting in his back.  As his legs began to fail from the poison of the sting, he asked the scorpion, "why did you sting me when you promised that you would not do that?"  The scorpion simply stated, "It is my nature". 

We are all born into this world with a sinful nature.  Satan is always around to tempt us to do wrong and to treat others in ungodly manners.   Having faith is more than believing facts, it must result in action and a growth in Christian character.  Righteous living, perseverance, doing God's will, and loving others is faith in action.  These virtues demonstrate self-control.  Through adherence to God's commands, we are able to exercise self-control and resist acting in response to a sinful nature. 

The story about the frog and scorpion is an example of a lack of self-control on the scorpion's part.  He did not treat the frog with brotherly love.  He did not keep his promise to the frog and in doing so, set himself up to die as well.   God expects from us temperance in both our thoughts and actions.  He expects us to love one another and to be good to one another.  Seeking His will and understanding the principles that he expects us to uphold are not optional, they are part of the Christian life.  They require hard work and constant attentiveness.  God gives us the strength and power to keep these virtues as well as the responsibility to learn and grow.                                                     

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Love and wisdom will help us persevere

Proverbs 2:12-15  Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways.

As much as we know someone and as much as we love someone, we CANNOT control what he/she may do.  We have no power over their thoughts nor their actions.  Each person is granted free will, free range and free choice in thought and deed.

Our love for others will not keep them from wrongdoing.  Love that we feel in our hearts for others is non-transferable.  We are not able to make someone feel the same for us as we do for them.

There will be people that hurt us.  There will be times when others do wrong against us.  There will be times when the wrongdoing and hurt is caused by those who we hold dear to our hearts.

While our love will not prevent others from hurting us, what our love will do is help us to persevere.  It will carry us through the hurt.  Our love for God will help us to see the straight paths on which to walk.  Our love for others will allow us to forgive the wrongdoing and love them anyway.  The wisdom and understanding of God's love for us will grant us the desire and strength to continue to love others even when they rejoice in wicked ways. 



Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Mistakes

Romans 8:28  And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Mistakes are isolated moments in time, not permanent reflections of who you are.  Learn from mistakes and allow the lesson to add to your wisdom. 

Do not allow your mistakes or memories of past mistakes to overpower the whole person that you are.  Satan loves to dangle those mistakes in front of us, taunting us with worthlessness and insecurities. 

God knew that we would make mistakes-He made provisions for us (John 3:16).  Once you call upon his name for forgiveness, you do not have to think about or worry about those mistakes any more.    We are not to use God's provisions to willfully sin and count on forgiveness.  God's intention is to mold us to fulfill his purpose-for us to be more like Christ every day.    

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Good Times and Bad Times

Ecclesiastes 7:14   When times are good, be happy;  but when times are bad, consider:  God has made the one as well as the other.

As humans, we have a tendency to be very happy during the good times in life.  Sometimes we even credit ourselves for prosperity in the good times.  But then when the bad times come, and we will all have bad times, we sometimes want to question why we are being punished or forgotten.   Life is a blend of good times and bad times.  

During the bad times, a great opportunity exists to take a personal inventory.   Are we distant from God causing time to seem worse than they actually are?  That inventory should include questions such as:
                   -Am I behaving in a way that is contrary to God's standards?
                   -Are there behaviors that I need to change or improve upon to line up with God's commandments?
                   -Is there a lesson for me to learn in this situation?
                   -Do I need to draw nearer to God and have a closer relationship with him?

God expects us to live a life full of trust in him, not relying upon human wisdom and power.   Through the bad times, we should recognize that God is still in control and we should thank him for the opportunity to experience situations that teach us more about him.   We are to seek the good that he offers from each bad situation and thank him for the lessons.  He can bring good things out of ALL our struggles.  The key is to allow him to guide us and show us the way out of the bad times.