The Sweet Stuff Ministry

Friday, July 29, 2016

Leap Forward Instead of Lashing Out

Ephesians 4:26     Be you angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down on your wrath:

When we have been hurt by another or a group of others, anger is a an emotion that rears its ugly head.  Anger is a strong emotion; one that tempts us to lash out.   Usually the lashing out comes in verbal form.  We want to tell the person that caused the hurt just exactly how we feel.  We want to quickly point out any imperfections that he/she possesses.   Some people call lashing out  "unloading"  or "giving someone a piece of our minds".  

Does lashing out fix the problem?  NO.  Does lashing out help the person to better understand the wrong he/she has committed?  NO.  Does lashing out help you to feel better.  Well, maybe,  but only in that moment when you feel in control of the fight and when you think that you have made that person completely aware of what he/she needs to change about themselves.  While lashing out is an immediate release of built up anger, it is not a long term solution to the problem.  In fact, it creates more problems because the "lasher outer" (I don't think that is a word) has reacted with sinful behavior. 

The opposite of lashing out is holding in anger.    The problem with holding in anger is that the roots for bitterness will take hold.  We are still mad, still hurt, still dealing with the same thoughts and feelings except our feelings never surface.  When bitterness begins to grow, those angry feelings will surface in other ways such as a bad attitude, critical spirit, withdrawal, or even physical ailments.

Instead of lashing out or holding in anger, we must learn to leap forward.  Leap forward into forgiveness, mercy, and compassion.   Leap into spiritual maturity by talking to the person that offended you in a Christlike way in order to better understand the situation.   Take care of angry emotions sooner rather than later.   When we allow the sun to set on our anger, especially numerous sunsets, we allow temptations of vengeance and lashing out to linger in our minds. 

Anger is better dealt with sooner rather than later.  The longer anger lingers, the more likely we are to sin by inappropriately dealing with such strong emotions.  Lashing out is not a proper response to anger.  Leaping forward toward forgiveness is an appropriate reaction.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Depend Upon God Absolutely and Unequivocally

Jeremiah 17:7-8   "But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.  He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream."   It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."


The following paragraph is from a letter that my husband wrote to our children a couple of years ago for Fathers' Day:   "I want you to understand that as much as I wish it could be different and as much as I pray it could be different for you, the fact of this world is:  You will have hard times and troubling and difficult tribulations.  You must learn to depend upon God absolutely and unequivocally."  Depend upon God absolutely and unequivocally.  

No one looks forward to troubling times.  Not one of us dreams of tribulation or hard times.  Yet each of us will have these experiences at some point in life.  The Bible says, "consider it pure joy, my brother, when you face trials of many kinds.....(James 1:2) It does not say "if" we face trials.  It says "when".

The joy of facing trials is found in reliance upon God.  We can find joy in the hope that He is sovereign and in control of any tribulation that we encounter.  We will find strength when we allow Him to guide us through the troubles with which we often tend to be confident in our own flesh. 

As much as we think we can rely upon others, humans are fallible.  We are powerless on our own.  We are faulty in our ways.   We can do nothing apart from the powers of God.  Reliance upon God must be without conditions or exceptions.  Putting our confidence and trust in God is the only way that we can withstand the heat of this world.  Relying solely upon God will guide us through any tribulation that we might ever endure. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Seek His mighty deeds

Isaiah 41:4   "Who has done such mighty deeds, summoning each new generation from the beginning of time?  It is I, the Lord, the First and the Last.  I alone am he."

Since the beginning of time, there have been problems unique to each generation.   Each generation  seems to think that their problems are worse than any generation before.   While the problems will contain different details and flavors, all problems are basically the same.   The root of problems among people is that we as humans have a sinful nature and we often times choose not to rely completely upon God. 

God has spoken to the hearts of people the same way since the beginning of time.  He never changes!  He worked personally in the lives of people one thousand years ago, he works personally in the lives of people today, and he will continue to work personally in the lives of people until the end of time.   He has seen the whole picture since the beginning of time and has never lost sight of it all. 

As Christians, we need not worry about the future.  The end result is promised.  Be encouraged by the fact that God will work personally in our lives and our futures.  If this devotion finds you without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I encourage you to seek that security and allow him to work in your heart.  He will do mighty deeds!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Forgiveness Checklist

Colossians 3: 8  But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

Colossians 3:12-13  Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. 

One of the most common questions that I receive when counseling people about forgiveness is, "how do I know if I have any lingering unforgiveness?"

The two passages above from Colossians can serve as a check list for lingering unforgiveness.  When you begin to search your own heart for the need to forgive, if any remnants of the emotions listed in verse 8 can be identified, then you likely have some amount of forgiveness to address.  The following questions will answer the checklist of what God commands of us when are offended and fall into an attitude of malevolence:  1.)When you think about the particular situation or person, do you experience any temptation to hold a grudge?, 2). Do any feelings of resentment or animosity surface when you see the person or think of the situation?, 3).   Do you secretly wish for ill-will to find its way into the life of the one that offended you?, 4).  Do you desire to tell others about the offense, presenting the offender as an evil doer?  If you are able to answer "yes" to any of these questions, then you have not completely forgiven the offender.

Verses 12 and 13 of Colossians offer a checklist of how we can live out forgiveness day-by-day.  By clothing ourselves in compassion, we can offer a strong sense of sorrow for the other person.  If someone wrongs you in way that is ungodly, unethical, illegal, or immoral, they are lacking an intimate relationship with God.  Therefore, that person needs your compassion and prayers.  Your prayer should be for them to become closer to God so that repentance and reconciliation of the heart may occur.

Next on the list is kindness.  Yes, I know firsthand that it is difficult to be kind to someone that caused deep hurt or harm to you.  It is difficult to even want to be in the presence of that offender.  Maybe you will not be in their presence and sometimes it is best that you do not continue to be in the presence of harmful behavior.  Kindness from you is an attitude of the heart.  Kindness is when you are rid of the thoughts of malice and can think about the person without wishing harm or vengeance.

Humility is perhaps the most important check point in forgiveness.  When we are able to release the need to feel like the most important person in the entire situation, then we are expressing humility.  God is the most important person in the equation of forgiveness.  His importance and His sovereignty must be considered paramount in any offense. If we reach the point of humility and surrender, then we have reached a point of releasing the offense.

If we can clothe ourselves with patience and gentleness, then we are able to bear the burdens which others may inflict upon us.  Patience to seek God's heart and His word on any situation will lead us into the path of forgiveness.  We must be patient with ourselves as we grow into the mature Christians that God wants us to be.

If you are wondering whether you hold unforgiveness or if someone near to you has suggested such, then study Colosssians chapter 3.  Utilize the check list as you ask God to show you any areas that may need to be addressed.  Free yourself of all the emotions that are on the list in order that you may experience the freedom that comes through forgiveness.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Release the bitterness into a memory

Proverbs 14:10     Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.

Each of us knows or has known our own bitterness, however great or small.  The circumstances that cause bitterness within people vary and the mechanisms of injury that cause the hurts may be different.  However, the consequences and by-products of bitterness are UNIVERSAL.  The same type of destructive  root will begin to grow in the heart, no matter the cause of the bitterness.    

I have not sustained the same trials and tragedies that many of you have endured.  I do not know the levels of betrayal, the depth of the injustices, the magnitude of your sorrow, nor the acts that have occurred in each of your lives.

I am familiar with the thoughts and questions that have gone through your minds.  I have endured the feelings that consume you at times and some that have haunted you for long enough.

I know how Satan can trample all over your inner self.  He can even cause you to dislike others as well as yourself.

I remember the anger, fear and frustration that accompanies bitterness.

Above all else, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God stands ready to heal you and take away all the negative emotions and consequences that bitterness presents.  He stands ready to restore your feelings and attitude.  Allow him to reconcile your heart.  Release the bitterness and set it aside as a memory.  

You will never forget the memories of the experiences that cause bitterness.  The accompaniments of bitterness, however, can become memories instead of realities through forgiveness.  Forgiveness releases the negative thoughts and emotions that will consume your mind and prevent you from having joy and peace. 

I am so thankful that the bitterness that once was a destructive emotion for me is now only a memory!!  I now have in my presence the joy and peace that God offers in place of the bitterness.  The same joy and peace is available for you as well.  Seek forgiveness and release the bitterness into a memory that you can reflect upon without inner turmoil.  Allow God to restore your peace and reconcile your heart.  

Friday, July 22, 2016

Being right is not nearly as important as doing what is right

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 nature.  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" instead of focusing on doing what 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.  However, emotions, hurtful words, and actions during the disagreement will last-sometimes for extended periods of time.   
 
Walking away or refusing to take part in disagreements equals wisdom. Many people will view the refusal to participate in conflict as cowardly or not taking up for oneself.  God views it as humility.  He views humility as wisdom.   God doesn't care what the disagreement is about, who is right and who won in the end.  He expects us to use self-control versus allowing our emotions and pride to result in an ungodly treatment of others.

When conflict does occur, God has a plan for resolution.  The plan involves grace, forgiveness, repentance, and Christ-like behavior (see Matthew chapter 18).  He wants us to be humble in all our dealings with others.  It is never in God's plan for us to focus on who is right and who is wrong.  It is His plan for us to do what is right in all matters.     

If the need to "be right" is causing you to have conflict with others, pray for humility.  Seek God's heart and ask Him to help you do what is right instead of focusing on being right.  Study and seek His wisdom in all situations.  

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Words

Proverbs  18:21    The tongue has the power of life and death.

Have you ever thought about what causes us to enjoy some people more than others?   Even though we love many people in our lives there are just some people that we have a stronger desire with which to spend our time.  Think for a moment of some of your "favorite" people.   What about them influences the fact that they are favorites?

When I think of some of my favorite people throughout my lifetime, I think of words.   It is not that there were any spectacular words or fancy words, but just merely the fact that we shared words.  Kind words and words of encouragement develop those warm, fuzzy feelings.  Questions with words that displayed an interest in the happenings of my life have contributed to deep bonds with other people.  Words of love and fulfillment come to mind when I think of those most close to my heart.  Words that convey compassion, trust, and security develop everlasting relationships. 

We remember words. We also remember the emotion attached to the words.  Damaging words that bring about negative emotions will cause us to have no desire to be in the presence of the people that spoke them.  On the other hand, encouraging and loving words will produce a desire to spend great amounts of time with the people that spoke them.   

Words have a huge impact on our minds and emotions.  Words can build up or tear down.  We can all call to mind words that we would like to take back because they tore down or caused damage.  We can likely remember times when words were spoken to us that we would like to give back to the mouth from which they departed. 

There have been words that we should have said yet never did.  There have been words that we did say but never should have.

Each time that we talk with people, we have a choice in our words.   We choose whether we use words that are destructive or constructive.  When we choose our words, we release the opportunity for life or death.  May we always choose construction.  May we always have a desire to speak life into the ears of another.   



Wednesday, July 20, 2016

We should weep alongside

John 11:35.      Jesus wept.

This is the shortest verse in the Bible.  The meaning of this verse is anything but short. To understand the full meaning of this scripture, please read John 11:1-44.

Lazarus had become ill and died.  He was the brother of Martha and Mary of Bethany.  Mary had poured perfume on Jesus and wiped his feet when he visited their home.  Jesus loved Martha and Mary and he was troubled when he heard of their brother's passing.  

In this period of time, Jesus was traveling around with his disciples to different towns and villages teaching and performing miracles.  He had much work to do and many places to visit.  However, when he heard about Lazarus, he told his disciples that they were going back to Bethany.

There are so many points to gain from this story;  let us focus on "Jesus wept".  Mary and Martha were deeply saddened by their brother's death and they wanted Jesus to heal him and bring him back to life.  Jesus wept when he realized how troubled his friends Martha and Mary were.  He took the time to physically be near the sisters and grieve alongside them.

Jesus went out of his way to have time for them in their grief and mourning.  He had time to weep in their sorrow; time to express concern and show compassion.  He understood their emotions. 

Jesus understands our emotions and he cares about our grief and sorrow.  When we weep, He weeps along side us.   Each of us should care about the emotions of the people around us.  We should weep when a friend is discouraged or depressed.  We should weep when a family member has cancer or other illness.  We should weep when we see someone whose heart or bank account is broken.  We should weep for the lost in our world.   We should weep with deep compassion and emotion, not just a few tears flowing down our faces but a deep heartfelt sorrow for the troubles of others. 

I pray that each of us will feel the burdens of others, weep for their hurts, fears and frustrations.  I pray that our compassion for the burden of others will deepen and cause us to move on their behalf.  I pray that we can all find time and desire to be near someone who is grieving and weep alongside. 


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Share Your Testimony

Luke 8:38-39  ...but Jesus sent them away saying, "Return home and tell how much God has done for you."  So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.

Our testimonies serve as evidence of God's actions on our behalf.  Testimonies serve as an important witness to what God has done for each of us.  Testimonies are powerful tools with the potential of changing lives forever.  They offer support of the hope that God offers through His holy word.

Testimonies tell the story of the struggles that we face in life and how hope is restored in the midst of our trials.  Sometimes the struggles we face are because of decisions that we make.  Other times the trials and tribulations occur because of the actions of others.  In either instance, God wants to do so much for each of us.  He offers healing through salvation.  He will rescue us from any type of situation or condition in which we may find ourselves.  He gives peace in a world that is chaotic.

I have listened to various testimonies throughout the years.  I have heard face-to-face testimonies from murderers, adulterers, thieves, mob members, prostitutes, and addicts.  The details of their struggles have distinct flavors.  They each have an assortment of the extent of damage that their trials have caused in their spiritual journey.  Hope in Christ is the one element of each testimony that remains the same.  God's promise of hope is universal.  He will do the same for you, me, and any person on this earth regardless of the level of sin involvement.

It is important to share what God has done for us.  Testimonies offer others a glimpse into the human nature and God's sovereignty.  Sharing what God has done for us reinforces His word.  The next time you have an opportunity to share your testimony, DO so.  Sharing does not require that you speak at a large convention or in front of large group.  Sometimes the sharing occurs one-on-one.  In whatever way you share, do so with the mindset of reaching others on behalf of God.  One dear lady that has shared her testimony with me and many others said this, "God himself working in and through us will bring salvation, change, hope and restoration to a lost and broken world!"  

Share your testimony.  You do not want to miss out on being a part of God's work in this world.  Feel free to share your testimony here on The Sweet Stuff Ministry page.  You never know how and when your story will be of hope and help to someone else! 


Monday, July 18, 2016

Trials Can Bring About Strength

Exodus 15:2  The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.  He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him. 


“Anger and bitterness are two noticeable signs of being focused on self and not trusting God’s sovereignty in your life. When you believe that God causes all things to work together for good to those who belong to Him and love Him, you can respond to trials with joy instead of anger or bitterness.” ~ John C. Boger


The largest trial in my life thus far left me with a great deal of anger and bitterness.   Within those emotions, I was constantly asking, "Why did this happen?"  I felt as though since I loved God, was making sacrifices for him, and serving him that he would never have allowed such events to cause me such distress.  

Let us unpack that paragraph.  Why did God allow it to happen?   It was not his fault, nor did he approve of the damaging details.  Humans have free will and they are not afraid to use it!  

Next is the issue of my "feelings".  I was focused on what I felt I was doing right instead of things that God wanted me to improve upon as well as drawing closer to him.  I had some things to learn.  Until we are ready to commit as students, God will not allow us to move forward in the trying situation.   The main point within the lesson I learned was that serving at church and "doing" things for God is not the complete relationship that God expects us to have.  I needed  a bit of surgery on my heart to understand that I could not serve away the anger and bitterness.   I was so focused on my feelings and circumstances that I lost sight of God's sovereignty.   I was saying that I trusted him with my mouth while serving Him with my hands, but my heart did not reflect that trust. 

Ridding of anger and bitterness requires a sincere desire to be rid of it.  When I reached the point of being so tired of those feelings, only then could I begin to rid of the bitterness. I have not experienced a trial of such magnitude since, but believing that God will bring all things together for my good allows me to view trials and struggles in a more positive light.  If we believe in His sovereignty and righteousness, we are better equipped to deal with any trial that may come our way in the future. 

We must believe that God does not bring about bad things in our lives.  He only wants the best for us.  However, He can bring us out of the bad things in our lives when the free will of others causes us pain and suffering.  He will use those times as opportunities to allow us to grow in our relationship with Him and strengthen our inner constitution.  We truly can emerge from trials a better and stronger Christian than ever before when we completely turn to God for healing and strength. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

An Attitude of Eternity

Ecclesiastes 3:11    He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

If we have an attitude of eternity, then we can experience peace and contentment. 

God planted eternity into our hearts.  The reason that people often find dissatisfaction from earthly accomplishments and material possessions is that they do not adjust their attitudes to focus on eternity.  God's intent is for us to fasten our minds on eternity.  He has given us a spiritual appetite that we often try to fulfill with earthly pursuits.  We will not experience the perfect sense of His creation until we exist under His perfect rule.  When our attitude wanders from eternity and focuses on the temporary (earthly) portions of this life, we can become discontent. 

I heard the following statement in a sermon, "a mistake that we make as Christians is that of thinking in permanent terms about our current circumstances".  This is so true.  It is easy at times to think that our work and efforts on this earth are doing no good for God's kingdom.  It is important to press forward, continue to work for the advancement of God's kingdom, and direct our efforts toward eternity.  The fruits of our labor are gifts from God.  Eternal fruits are much sweeter than earthly produce.   

Our problems and circumstances should not be a barrier to God's intended purpose for us.  Keeping a positive attitude about His promises of a wonderful eternity will allow us to experience satisfaction in all that we do.  Seeking to understand all that God has done since the beginning and all that He will do until the end, strengthens an effective attitude of eternity.  When your attitude tends to concentrate on the temporary nature of this world, give yourself an adjustment and focus instead on eternity.  After all, we are designed to do so!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The end of your rope

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

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

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

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

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

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

He promises to always take care of us.

He has all the answers.

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

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

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

You may be missing out

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

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

Love can be very fragile.

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

In the midst of calamity, do not sin.

Job 2 :10   But Job replied, "You talk like a foolish woman.  Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?"  So in all this, Job said nothing wrong. 

When calamities come to us in life, we are often quick to question God's goodness or justice in allowing bad things to happen to us.   Believing in God does not protect us from trouble, however faith and believing can protect us from sinning in the midst of our troubles.

Let us focus on the last few words from Job 2:10:  "So in all this, Job said nothing wrong".   Think of a time when something undesirable happened in your life.  Maybe the loss of a job, death of a loved one, an attack on your character by someone.  Maybe it was betrayal of a friend or co-worker.  Perhaps it was illness or financial hardship.  These instances may lead us to question why such a thing happened.  I have heard others say things such as "If God is so good, why did he allow this?"  I have seen people turn from God due to anger because of trouble in their lives.

When we allow our minds to entertain the questioning of God's sovereignty, we become caught up in sin.  The sin is having an irreverent, disrespectful attitude toward God.  Such an attitude shows a lack of faith. When our attitude switches over to one of disrespect, other sinful words and thoughts will begin to develop.    

In our troubles, we must praise God.  If we trust in His sovereignty and lean toward His wisdom, we are protected from sinning in the midst of trouble.  We will not always understand why things happen; we are not meant to.  Leaning to God's understanding will allow us to accept our circumstances and trust in His promises for the future.   

If you are in the midst of a calamity in your life, remember this method:  Sort, sieve, learn, leave.

Sort--the blessings and praise God for them.  Sort the truths from the untruths. 
Sieve--allow the anger and negative emotions to pass through your mind. Rid of any temptations to
            sin in the midst of trouble. 
Learn--seek what God is teaching you.  Learn more about His wisdom.  Increase your faith in him.
Leave--put away the hurt, offer forgiveness and leave the details to God.        

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Winds fo 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.    

Friday, July 8, 2016

Forgiveness does not cure the offender. Forgiveness cures the offended.

Hebrews 12:15  See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

Forgiveness does not cure the offender.  Forgiveness cures the offended.

In dealing with the need to forgive another person, we may hold ourselves back due to a lack of understanding of who benefits most from forgiveness. Choosing to forgive and get rid of bitterness presents some feelings of vulnerability.  We may feel as if forgiveness is permissive.  We may think that forgiving someone will give the impression that it is acceptable to hurt us.

If we forgive, is it the same as saying that what someone did to hurt us is alright?   NO!
Forgiveness is not equivalent to tolerance or permission.  Granting forgiveness does not mean that we agree with the wrongdoing.  Forgiveness means that we agree to rearrange the emotional effects of a transgression.  Forgiveness is a measure which forfeits the grudge.  By forgiving, we prevent our hearts from feeling hurtful emotions and contempt. 

We cannot prevent someone from saying hurtful words or holding contempt in their heart toward us.  We cannot prevent betrayal or rejection from others.  Forgiveness does not mean that these things will not happen more than once in our lives.   Forgiveness DOES mean that each of us can be cured of bitterness that will grow in the heart.  Forgiveness means that as the offended, we have made the choice to deal with the situation in a Christ-like manner. 

Forgiveness does not weaken, it strengthens.  It empowers us to heal, move forward and have a stronger relationship with God.  Forgiveness also serves as a witness to others.  Forgiveness may very well be the act that causes someone to see the love of Christ in you.   Forgiveness may offer another person a glimpse into the grace of God.      

Thursday, July 7, 2016

There is no need to react to the actions of enemies

Psalm 86:17  Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.


We serve a God of comfort and peace.  His offer of both is always available. 

Satan wants to disrupt our peace and comfort and he will use anyone that will listen to his schemes in order to accomplish misery on our behalf.  The schemes will make us think that our world is upside down.  The actions of others may cause disruption of our peace.  We may be tempted to react in a manner that causes more chaos.

There is no need to react to the actions of enemies.  When God shows us His goodness through peace, we must reflect such to others.  By reacting to the actions of enemies, we fail to show God's goodness and grace.  If we provide an equal reaction to an evil action, we have only contributed to the evil.  

When turmoil, anxiety, and disruption of peace are present in life, remember that we ALWAYS have the promise of comfort from God.  When people around us intentionally cause pain and discomfort, God is available to offer comfort.  When you hold on to God's comfort, and submit to the inner peace that he offers, the schemes of enemies will not seem as significant.  Through God's protection, our comfort can prevail and the enemy's plan will be thwarted. 

It is up to each of us to submit to that comfort and to enjoy inner peace.  Do not pay attention to an enemy's actions that are intended to cause you discomfort.  There is no need to react to the enemy-God will act in your behalf.   Reacting to actions from enemies will disrupt your inner peace even more.

Allow Him to comfort you whatever your situation.  Recognize His authority and permit Him to deal with your enemies.  Resist the temptation to react to the schemes of the enemy.  Not only will God comfort you, He will take care of all your enemies!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Rebellion

Isaiah 1:19-20  "If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword."  For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. 


I recently read an article about a young intern that had just begun working at a company.  She did not agree with the dress code policy and felt an urge to appeal to the administration to make some changes in the rules.  She stated in her proposal that she felt the rules were too strict and should be more lax.  She attempted to justify the overture from the angle that most positions within this particular company did not deal with the public, therefore, why did it matter what the employees were wearing.

This initiative early in her tenure as an intern spoke volumes about her attitude.  She had a boldness that lacked respect for authority.  Her quick attempt to change a policy at a new place of employment did not present an attitude that is willing to conform to rules.  She presented herself as an person with a rebellious nature.

There are consequences to rebellion.  The company terminated the intern for insubordination.  Her defiance cost her an opportunity in the company.  The company first and foremost expected allegiance from the employees.  Rebelling against the rules early in her employment, told the company that this intern did not esteem the organization for which she worked.


God does not bless rebellion.  He desires for us to conform to His rules.  He wants our allegiance.  He wants our hearts to seek out ways in which to be obedient to His principles.

Rebellion is more than just an attitude that is presented when we are unhappy with rules and policies.  Rebellion is a heart issue that requires attention.  Many forms of rebellion against God are presented in the world.  There are many examples of rebellion in the Bible and the punishments that ensued. One commonality is that all forms of rebellion are self-seeking.  There are many warnings about rebellion in the Bible.  Proverbs 17:11 gives us this warning, "An evil man is bent only on rebellion; a merciless official will be sent against him".

  

Friday, July 1, 2016

Positions and Possessions

James 4:1-2   What is causing the quarrels and fights among you?  Don't they come from the evil desires at war within you?   You want what you don't have, so you scheme and kill to get it.  You are jealous of what others have, but you can't get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. 

I remember a time several years ago when my youngest two children were fighting over a Butterfinger candy bar.  A bite sized one at that.  Butterfingers are my son's favorite candy bar.  There was one of the bite sized bars in the candy jar and little sister had gotten it out for herself.  He claimed it was his because they are his favorites, she claimed it as hers because she took it from the jar first.  Verbal cruelties ensued along with a list of reasons that ranked the position of each sibling.   Neither was hungry so I know they were not fighting for the basic survival need of food.

They asked me which one should have the candy bar.  Since I don't like chocolate, or I would have eaten it myself, I took the bite sized bar and put it into the trash can.  Yes, jaws dropped to the floor in disbelief.  The second round of moaning began.   "How can you do that?" "It was mine!" "I need that candy bar" were among the wails coming from both of them. 

Seriously?  All of this over a bite sized candy bar?  No, all of this was really over  the position of  most importance.  It was a battle of clout.   A battle to see which sibling could outrank the other.  A fight because one sibling had something that the other wanted.  We see this in our world every day.  Politics, positions withing the workplace, and siblings within families are arenas for fighting over rankings of position as well as possessions.  We see it several times in the Bible:  Cain and Abel, Esau and Jacob, and Joseph and his brothers.   Jealousy and rivalry can lead people to wage war against one another. 

Life is filled with opportunities to place more value on possessions and positions rather than our relationships.  When possessions and rank are of more importance than people, rejection occurs. Jealousy and anger may take root.  Bitterness can grow filling the heart with contempt.  With these things in place, sin is in the mix. 

The candy company makes millions of Butterfingers each and every day and we can get them at the store anytime.  God only makes one of each of us.  Neither a bite sized candy bar nor being the president of a large corporation are nearly as important as each human being and relationships with one another.  Positions nor possessions will ever equal the importance of loving one another.  If possessions cause us to wage war against another person, a heart check is in order.  If we feel that we should be ranked above others in importance, we need to evaluate our intentions.  May we never allow evil desires to replace love for others.