The Sweet Stuff Ministry

Friday, January 29, 2016

Share your gifts and leadership

1 Peter 4:10  Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. 

I often write devotions regarding obedience and what God may be calling each of us to do.  We are all given gifts and God fully expects us to utilize those gifts to accomplish his purpose in and through us.  If you are unsure of what gifts and talents God has given you, search for them.  Pray for discernment of what specific calling He has placed in your life.  He will place a burning desire in your heart that pertains to the use of your gifts.  

I found the following quote in my studies.  I leave it with you today and charge you to find that calling.  Seek his special gift for you and put it to use.  Step into your leadership opportunities.  The world needs your gifts and talents.  Share your calling so that His kingdom will be advanced and glorified!

"It concerns me that there is a certain amount of 'gift envy' among church leaders these days.
God gave each of us our gift mix for a reason. When leaders adopt someone else's style, they
miss the unique opportunities God has given them.  I celebrate when I look around the world and see flourishing churches of all kinds, with many different types of leaders, because it's going to
take a variety of churches led by a variety of leaders to reach our world with the love of Christ.
Whatever your style, recognize it, celebrate it, and step up to the plate and lead."
Bill Hybels,  pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

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 The Sweet Stuff .   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.   We all know that satan was strongly encouraging me to do so, however, God protected me from myself by preventing the opportunity for me to do so.   Let me explain.

For those of you that do not personally know me, I live in a very small town.   A town where going to the bank or grocery store presents opportunities to see many people that you know and visit, talk, etc.  When I was in the depths of my bitterness (which lasted a few years), not one time did I encounter one of the people on my list upon which I wanted 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.  

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.  

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


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Focus on what God is saying to you, not what others are saying about you!!

Proverbs 26:20  Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.


We need not worry about what others are saying about us. Let us repeat this:  Don't worry when others gossip and say derogatory things about you!  People will speculate, postulate, guesstimate, and formulate about the lives of others.  It is human tendency to gossip and surmise the reasons behind the things that are going on in the lives of those around them.  I believe that some people find entertainment in writing the scripts for people around them.  We do not need to spend time and energy focusing on the negative speculations that may be floating around.  If we do not add fuel to the fires of gossip, the flames will die down.  

We need only to focus on what God is saying to us.  Let us repeat this:  Focus on what God is saying to you, not what others are saying about you!!  Our journey and purpose on this earth is between God and each one of us.  It has nothing to do with what others think we should be doing.  The norms and expectations of the people around us should not form the pathway for our purpose.  We must realize and accept that when we veer from the normal way that the world expects us to travel, there will be gossip and speculation about why we are taking such a road.  Take the road anyway.

Focus on what God is asking you to do.  His requests may take you down pathways that are out of your comfort zone.  He will ask you to journey over roads that are less traveled by the norm.  He will also navigate the way for you down any road on which he asks you to voyage.  Do not allow the threat of gossip and speculation by others dissuade you from your journey.  Keep your mind open to what God may call you to do, even if you have done the same old thing for the past 20 years, he may have new things in mind for you.   Do not fret about what others will say.  Truth is, they will talk about you for a while and then move on to the topics in the life of someone else.   

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Contentment

Philippians 4:11-12  Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned to be content with whatever I have.  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything.

The recent snow bound days and cold weather in my area sparked memories of the winter of 1978.   I think we were out of school most of that winter.  We went to school on Saturdays in the spring to make up all that we had missed. 

I was in elementary school but remember the details vividly.  We were snow bound at home for two whole weeks due to a severe snow and ice storm.    We had no power and water for most of the time.  We relied on a spring for water and  the lines froze from the spring to the house and the pipes ruptured inside the house.  For several days, Daddy worked at getting the water lines open while having to carry buckets of water to the house for us to heat and use for bathing and cooking.

In those days, the modern weather predicting equipment that we have today, did not exist.  We could not always know when a major snow storm would arrive (unlike today when the forecasters predict the precise time that snow will begin to fall).  Therefore, we were not always stocked up and prepared for being house bound for 2 weeks.    We were not able to get to town, 20 miles away and so we ate whatever was in the freezer and cabinets.  Fortunately, there was a wood stove in our basement and a fireplace in the living room for warmth and cooking.  Mama cooked stew and soups in the fireplace and made cornbread in iron skillets on the hearth.  She put our milk outside in the snow to keep it cold and heated water for us to take a bath.  

With no power, there was no television- we could only get one channel anyway!  There was only light as long as the sun was shining, no radio, no way to do laundry, dry our hair, etc.  This is the closest I have ever been to living like an episode of Little House on the Prairie.  

Our house bound days consisted of reading books, crossword puzzles, "chunking" the fires, packing water, Trouble, Sorry, Rummy and Monopoly and playing outside for a little while each day.   What I remember most about this time is that the days consisted of great CONTENTMENT!    We found fun in being out of school, staying in our pajamas, playing games and "roughing it."    I don't remember Mama nor Daddy complaining about the situation.   I remember vividly that feeling of contentment and wanting for nothing more than what I had. 

I have never been in need of the basic necessities of life, even when snow bound for two weeks.  I am extremely grateful for that.   At times in my life, I have been in "want" of things that I thought I needed.   There have been times when I did not have appreciation and contentment for God's provisions for me.  It is easy for us to think that we know what is best for us.

Peace in your heart is disrupted when contentment is absent.  We must learn to be content whether we have little or much.  Our contentment should come from the strength that is available to us through Christ.   If you find yourself discontent and thinking that you need something more or something different, pray for God to change your attitude from "wanting" things into an attitude of accepting his provisions and plan for your life.  God promises us that he will supply us with all that we need.  Even when times seem tough to us, He is a wonderful provider!                

Monday, January 25, 2016

God expects obedience in both small and large matters.

Jonah 1:11  The sea was getting rougher and rougher.  So they asked him, "What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?"

Jonah ran from obedience.  He thought that his way was the best way.  He did not want to deal with the wicked Ninevites as God had asked him to do.  Through his disobedience, he caused turmoil in the lives of the other men on the ship.  The men quickly figured out that in order to restore calmness to the boat, they needed to get rid of the problem-Jonah.  So they threw him overboard.

Have you ever considered how disobedience to what God's is asking of you might disrupt the lives of other people?  Are you running from something that God wants you to accomplish for him?  Are you living in disobedience to his truths and principles?   Are the waters around you tumultuous and frightening?  When you chose to ignore God's call to obedience, did you notice that your ship became stormy?  Has your peace been disturbed? 

I am not recommending that you ask the people around you to through you in an ocean.  But if you are living in disobedience to God's word or a specific task that he is asking of you, there are some things that you need to toss overboard.

The things that need to go over the side of the ship are:
               -any willful, intentional sin==James 4:17
               -doubts and fear for doing what God is asking of you==Isaiah 41:10
               -self-righteous pride and thinking that your way is best==Romans 10:3

Jonah ended up in the belly of large fish for three days because of his disobedience.  I have never literally been in the belly of a fish, but I imagine that it was dark, smelly, cramped, and void of any fresh air.  It must have been a place where Jonah realized that God was the only one that could help him.

God wants us to realize that He is the only one each and every day and in every situation in which we might find ourselves.  He expects submission and obedience.  He desires for us to yield to his wishes with a willing attitude and without running from his requests.  When the sea around us is threatening to sink our ship, may we consider whether there is an area of disobedience in our life that needs to be addressed.  Disobedience, on a small or large scale, is not what God expects of us. 

If you feel as if you are in the belly of a whale where the air is sparse and your surroundings seem dark, then it is a good time to ask God if there is something that he wants you to do that perhaps you are not doing.  Maybe he is trying to get your attention so that you can submit to full obedience of his plan for you.  Perhaps he is calling your focus to a particular task/ministry opportunity that you have disregarded.  He can calm the seas of life and rescue any of us from a fish's belly.  It is our role to submit in obedience in all matters small or large. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

LIfe is about the hyphen

Revelation 14:13   Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on."  "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them."

Growing up I spent a lot of time in cemeteries.  Before you label me as morbid or strange, allow me to explain.  My mother and grandmother are genealogy fanatics experts.  They have successfully traced our family back to England, Scotland and Ireland in the 1500s.  WOW!  In order to accomplish this, they visited cemeteries to conduct part of the research.  As children, we went along to help locate stones, rub old stones with chalk in order to read the information and of course to whine when it was hot and uncomfortable.  While I am not as excited by tombstones and cemeteries as they are-hey we all have our own gifts and talents-I did learn many things by accompanying them and listening to their findings throughout the years.  The research also included visiting people to ask questions and reading many books.  The stories that they have discovered are at times inspiring and at other times, downright shocking. 

Tombstones contain minimal information about people.  Common inclusions on the stones are birth dates, death dates, a Bible verse and sometimes the children's names-just enough information to identify the person.  The most important symbol on any tombstone is the hyphen.  The hyphen is found between the date of birth and the date of death.  It is but a small symbol, with no descriptions or details.  It is merely a representation of the person's life.  It serves as the time between birth and death.  

The "hyphen" encompasses the legacy of life spent on earth.  Legacy cannot be gleaned from a symbol on a piece of limestone or granite.  Legacy is identified by the fruits produced by a person's deeds.  Actions and deeds follow us into eternity.  We cannot take material possessions, degrees or titles into eternity, instead, we are known by our fruits.  What positive advancements for the kingdom of God have come as a result of an action or deed in which we participated?  How many fruits are hanging from the hyphen?

Life is about the hyphen.  The work and service that each person offers God's kingdom from birth until death is what is carried into eternity.  Consider your fruits.  Think about the hyphen that will represent your life.  Will it be filled with a legacy that will be remarkable on earth as well as into eternity?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Healing wounds

Jeremiah 33:6  "Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it;  I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security."                                                            

We all have scars from the emotional injuries that life produces.  We all have experienced wounds that require healing.  The details of one's wounds are often different from the wounds of others.  Perhaps the wound was caused by the loss of a loved one.  Some wounds are the result of the betrayal of a friend or family member.  Emotional wounds can be caused by job loss, stress from finances, and illness.  Each person's story has a different flavor.  Wounds occur in various degrees of seriousness, yet pain and hurt are all the same.  Hurts and wounds rob us of peace and happiness if left untreated and gaping open.

In medicine, physical wounds and diseases are caused by many different mechanisms of injury.  The injury or pathology can be in various locations of the body.  However, healing and repairing the wound involves the same basic approaches.  The repairs (surgeries) and procedures will employ instruments and practitioners with the design and skill to address the problem. The order of repair to any physical injury/disease in the body is as follows:

           -stop any bleeding
           -remove any diseased or non-functioning tissue
           -restore or reshape the body part to its original structure and function


When we have emotional wounds, the same approaches to healing and repair apply.  Any bleeding of the heart and spirit needs to stop.  The raw emotions and hurt need to be addressed first and foremost.  The diseased tissue needs to be removed.  The emotions and spirit of the person need to be restored so that it can function the way God intended.  God will utilize different tools and techniques to offer healing to each of us.  He will use people in our lives to bring comfort through relationships.   But most of all, God offers healing through His love and comfort.  He can repair gaping wounds in the heart and restore the peace that has been disrupted.    

Whatever your wounds, be assured that God wants you to heal.  Trust in Him.  Allow Him to heal your hurts so that you may enjoy peace and comfort.  Seek the joy that comes through His healing power.  

Monday, January 18, 2016

His faithful love endures forever

Psalm 136:23-26      He remembered us in our weakness.  His faithful love endures forever.  He saved us from our enemies.  His faithful love endures forever.  He gives food to every living thing.  His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of heaven.  His faithful love endures forever.


When doubt, discouragement, fear or anxiety creep in, how do you find your ground?   Let's be real with one another-if you have a pulse, then one or more of these emotions will find their way into your mind at some point in time.  There will be times when everything in your life seems to be great and then WHAM, out of nowhere your mind begins to go in a negative direction causing you to become discouraged.  

Why?  Because the devil never gives up on trying to defeat us. When we work for the kingdom of God, Satan will work overtime to prevent our obedience and works.  There is nothing he will not try in order to rob us of our peace.  Self doubt, discouragement, fear and anxiety are common means that Satan uses to try and thwart our feelings and turn them into discouragement.  If he can cause us to feel discouraged, then he can hinder our works for God. 

A great chapter to read to remind us in whom we are grounded, is Psalm 136.  God is faithful.  His love is faithful!  His protection, mercies and kindness are faithful!    While Satan is persistent in negative modes, God is faithful in his power and strength and can rescue us from ANYTHING negative that is thrown our way.  Every other line in Psalm136 says, "His faithful love endures forever".  We can remain grounded in the truth that God is always in the business of love and encouragement.                            

Friday, January 15, 2016

Focus on understanding God

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 wanted an uneventful surgery and recovery.  I remember waking up in the recovery room and 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 learning to let go of hurtful situations, I focused a great amount of time, FAR too much time, seeking to find the answer to why certain things had occurred.  I tried to understand people, especially what they were thinking during these occurrences.  I had lots of questions and I wanted answers. I felt an enormous need to understand people. I felt as if there were some folks that needed to explain their actions and behaviors.   

Then, finally, I was acutely aware of the answer.  It was the same answer even though I had many different questions.  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.  Understanding God comes by digging deeper into his word, seeking to understand his grace, love and mercy.   Focusing on God's will and his plan for me led to far more answers than seeking to understand humans.  Trying to understand people is mind boggling and exhausting.  Working harder to understand God is rewarding and offers much peace in our lives.  

If you are ruminating in the questions of "why" some things have occurred in your life.  If 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.  Work to develop a deeper, more intimate relationship with him. As you gain a deeper understanding of Him, interestingly enough, you will begin to better understand the nature of people.  His grace will allow your mind to let go of the questions and feelings that lead to bitterness. 


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Service with humility

Philippians 2: 1-4  If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Mission work and service to others requires humility.  In order to serve in the manner that God desires, mission work should be conducted out of love for God first and foremost and secondly out of love for others.  Mission work should not be about boasting rights or score keeping.  Mission work should consist of all people involved working toward the same goals. 

The main goal for mission work is salvation.  There must be diligence in the affairs of salvation.  When we serve on mission teams, we are serving God by offering his plan of salvation to his people.  We may pass out clothing to people in need.  We may feed hungry children.  We may go into foreign lands to offer medical treatment and assist in building structures.  We may go and help clean up after natural disasters.  We may send money to various mission groups. We might fill shoe boxes with small items to be shipped around the world.  We do all these things as service and out of love for God.  The main goal, the most important reason that we do these things is for SALVATION.  The plan is to spread the word of God and give people all over the world the opportunity to learn about salvation through Jesus Christ. 

There must be unity in service and mission work.  Paul tells the people of Philippi the importance of unity.  He stresses to them the importance of remaining focused on being interested in the needs of other people and not just our own needs.  

Humility means many things.  It means having the attitude of godly love and service.  Humility involves selflessness and a focus on doing God's work.  Serving with humility never involves participating on behalf of obligatory feelings or from the standpoint of guilt.  True humble service comes from a heart full of love for God which in turn generates concern and compassion for others. 

Selfishness will cause division and discord among church members and mission workers.  Humility provides a strong foundation for spiritual unity.  Humility begins by putting ourselves in perspective.  We must realize the fact that we are all sinners, saved by God's grace.  We are above no one else in the scheme of things. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Do not worry that others may gloat

Psalms 13:3-6  Look on me and answer, O Lord my God.  Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; my enemy will say, "I have overcome him," and my foes will rejoice when I fall.  But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.

All of us have problems and things in our lives that are not as we would like for them to be.  We all have times of tribulation when we feel that hope may be lost.  In those times, we may feel as if we are failing.  We can become discouraged thinking that our enemies will rejoice in our sufferings.  In this passage of Psalms, David shows concern for what his enemies will say if he fails.  He recognizes that his adversaries may take delight in seeing him fall.

When we fail at earthly things, one common reaction is to worry that others will gloat.  It is likely that there will be some people around us that will delight in thinking that we have been defeated or persecuted.  We are told in the book of James that we can expect trials and tribulations here on earth.  We should never find satisfaction in the downfall of another.

An important point to remember is this: The things that our enemies may say and do are only temporary.  There is no permanent damage that can be done by anything that someone else feels toward us regarding our eternity.  Worry not what your enemy may think of the trials in your life.  If they gloat, pray for them.  Just as David said in verse 5, "rejoice in your salvation"!  Look not to the earthly reactions of others, but seek the love and comfort of God. He never delights in our sufferings or failures.  He always offers love and compassion. 


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Abishag

1 Kings 1:3-4    So they searched throughout the land of Israel for a beautiful girl, and they found Abishag from Shumen and brought her to the king.  The girl was very beautiful, and she looked after the king and took care of him.

Abishag is not one of the most talked about women of the Bible.  She did not do great and mighty things like some of the women but she did what she was told.  Abishag was a young virgin girl chosen as a live in nurse for the elderly King David in his older years.  Her main job was to lie in his arms and keep him warm.  The Bible tells us that she did just that and that nothing sexual existed between them.

Not my first choice of careers by any means, but that is not where this story is going.  Immediately after King David's death, Abishag became a bargaining tool, a pawn if you will, between sons Solomon and Adonijah.   They used her as leverage to claim stakes to the throne.  Solomon had inherited the throne and Adonijah wanted it.  Politics at their finest with an innocent girl in the middle!  

In this era, kings had harems.  Abishag was part of Solomon's harem; a part of the property of the throne.   Solomon's brother, Adonijah sent their mother, Bathsheba to ask for Abishag to marry.  Solomon realized his brother's intentions were to work his way into the throne and be the king.  Solomon had his brother killed because of his lack of loyalty. 

The focus of this post is Abishag.  No one asked her about any of this; she was not asked how she felt, what she thought, what she wanted---not one thing did they ask  her about.   She was merely treated as a piece of furniture in the palace with little or no value. 

Sometimes in life, we may feel as if we are treated as objects with little value.  There are many examples in our society of how human life is not valued.  The treatment/attitude may come from family members, co workers, or groups with which we are involved.  Satan will use these opportunities to cause us to feel that we are of no value.  He uses people to carry out treatments that devalue human life.  Betrayal, lies, hatred and self serving motives for acquiring "things" are all ways in which he operates. 

Resist the temptation to believe these lies.  God will always consider each of us with great value and will always treat each of us as an important person.  When people treat you without value turn away from their attitudes and turn to God for the truth.  In Matthew  28:20 God reminds us, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."                      

Friday, January 8, 2016

Make 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, January 7, 2016

Stop wandering in circles

Isaiah  43:19    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.

This verse refers to the Israelites as they wandered in the desert after having been slaves in Egypt for so many years before the Exodus.   This verse promises a new exodus-a delivery from their past; a promise for much greater things in the future.

The Israelites wandered around in circles for 40 years.  They wandered, not because they couldn't find their way (God offered the GPS!).  They wandered because they chose not to let go and listen to what God was saying.  The trip they had to make to be free from their past would have only taken 10 days if they had let go and listened to God. 

10 days. That was 14,590 unnecessary days of turning in circles.  Talk about wasted time!

Are you turning in circles?  Wandering in a desert full of wastelands of your past?  If so, it is unnecessary and unproductive. Listen to what God is saying.  He wants you to focus on the future instead of the past.  He wants you to move forward instead of going around and around.  Isaiah 43:18, one verse before, tells us this, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past". 

Some points about the past:
       -whether the event/hurt/mistake was 1 minute, 1 month, 1 year or 1 decade ago--- it is done. 
       -You, nor anyone else can change what happened
       -We cannot rewind
       -The past is just that:  it has PASSED

Treat each moment as NEW.  Get out of the desert wastelands in into the stream of better things in the future.  Let go and stop wandering in circles.  Listen to God and move forward into the new things he has planned for you.                         


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

"D-e" words

1 Peter 5:8  Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Devil begins with the letters "de".  The Latin meaning of the prefix "de" is removal, reversal, away from, out of.  The modus operandi of the d-e-vil is to move us away from God.  He seeks to prevent people from a relationship with God and reverse any godly actions that will occur. 

As I began to list some "de" words, I realized there are many of them.  All with the same motive from Satan: to d-e-vour someone and keep them from the kingdom of God.

de words to ponder and be aware of:
               -deactivate
               -debate
               -debauch
               -debilitate
               -deceive
               -decrease
               -depress
               -destroy
               -deter
               -demorilize
               -desensitize
               -decay
               -decenter
               -defeat
               -delete
               -detach
               -devalue

The list could be many times longer than this.  All these verbs are tactics used by Satan to turn people away from God.  He uses these on anyone and everyone that will listen.  He works overtime with his falsehoods and and gimmicks.  God is stronger than anything that Satan can produce.   

We must be aware of how the devil operates by recognizing his intentions.  When thoughts enter our minds or things happen that relate to any of the "de" words, we must bolster our knowledge of God's truth and his promises.  We must rely heavily on God to protect us from the devil's antics.  There will be times when Satan's tricks are sugar-coated and may seem as though the situation may produce good fruit.  Staying close to God will help us to recognize these times and he will guard us from the devil.




     

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Facing past hurts

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

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

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

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

In order to emotionally heal and grow in our relationship with God, it is necessary to face past hurts, emotions and thoughts brought about by those hurts, as well as any wrong motives.  We do not necessarily need to face or confront the people involved, but we do need to deal with the feelings.  Admit the emotions and allow God to replace them with righteous motives.   Facing the past and dealing with the emotions frees the heart to accept the love and good things that God has in store for us.  Bitter, negative emotions and attitudes crowd the mind leaving little room for positive, productive ones. 

Facing hurtful feelings and events is not always easy.  No one wants to recount unpleasant events.  However, by facing past feelings that have a negative effect on our present life, we are able to allow God to take the hurt and turn it into healing.  If there are things that have happened in your life that create barriers or produce bitterness of any flavor, I urge you to face them full speed.  Allow yourself to rid of those unpleasantries in order to heal.  Take it all to God.  He may place wise counsel in your life in order to help you sort through the bitterness.  Allow them to assist you in facing what hinders you and lay it all to rest.


Monday, January 4, 2016

Are you working for the advancement of His kingdom?

Ecclesiastes 2:10-11    I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure.  My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor.  Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. 

We work for over one-half our lives.  One-third or more of each work day is spent at a job.  Whether the job is from home, at a nearby facility or whether the job is at the end of a lengthy commute,  it consumes a great amount of time in our lives.  When we work, we have a vested interest in being a good employee, making production and supporting our companies.  Titles and promotions may be important.  Paychecks are important-they pay the bills. 

We work in order to survive and acquire.  The acquisition of material things can easily become a point of focus in our lives.  Achievements of awards and initials behind our names require much attention and time.  Work can easily rise to the top of our priority list.  It is tempting to allow our jobs or work to define our lives.  Satan wants us to believe that our jobs are "who we are". 

In this passage of Ecclesiastes, Solomon compares his attempts at finding meaning in life to "chasing the wind".  He realized that self-worth can not be found in accomplishments and possessions.  He came to the stark realization that no matter how much he worked or how much wealth he acquired it was meaningless without the love of God.  He says in chapter 2, verse 25, "for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment"?  Solomon realized that without seeking God's love and wisdom that all his labor and acquisition had no value and that after his life was over, it could all be passed onto someone that might not appreciate any of it. 

No matter the title of our jobs, no matter how many degrees we have earned or how many initials follow our names on our name tags, we should all work for the same common goal.  That goal is to seek the wisdom and will of God that we may fulfill his purpose for the advancement of his kingdom.  You may wonder how that can fit into your work on a daily basis.  It can and will when you seek what God will have you to do. 

If you feel that you are "chasing the wind" with you career and you desire to have more value and purpose in your life, ask God to show you how to find this.  It may be that you are in the wrong job.  It could also be that your attitude about your job needs to be rearranged.  Perhaps you spend too much time focused on work and too little time focused on working for God.  He will guide you toward working for his purpose.  You will be pleasantly amazed at how much more you will love your job and going to work when it is all placed in the proper perspective.