The Sweet Stuff Ministry

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Swarms of locusts

Joel 1: 4-5   After the cutting locusts finished eating the crops, the swarming locusts took what was left!  After them came the hopping locusts, and then the stripping locusts, too!  Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you wine drinkers.

When locusts swarm in an area, the can quickly devour a large amount of vegetation in a short amount of time.  In the book of Joel, the locusts represent devastation.  Joel used the description of the locusts to alert the people and call upon them to repent of their sinful nature and turn to God for mercy. 

Our nation today is being swarmed by plagues of locusts that are destroying the vegetation.  Sin and rebellion against God has a profound presence at this time in our existence.  Moral senses are dulled which leads the awareness of sin leading into an oblivion.  We all should awaken from our complacency.  When we have times of peace in our lives or when there is no impending crisis, we must not allow ourselves to slack or become complacent in our spiritual lives.  We must remain on guard spiritually.  

May we wake up from spiritual sleepiness and pray.  Pray for all those who are lost.  Pray that we will not live in rebellion.  Pray that we will never become oblivious to the destruction around us.  Pray in times of peace as well as times of crisis. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Love your enemies

Matthew 5:  43-46    "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'  But I tell you:  Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.  He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?......."

God does not give us any reason not to love everyone.  We find the reasons.  We fill in the blanks with "I don't like him because _____________________" or "How can I love someone who did _____________ to me?" 

We have a tendency to love only those that can love us in return.  We are comfortable loving and being around those people that we trust and that we expect will do us no harm.  It is difficult to love people that have offended us.  One of the obstacles that is hard to get past is knowing that enemies have the desire to harm us or cause us grief.   It is much easier to avoid people that we know are difficult to love. 

We are not responsible for the treatment or lack of love that we may receive.  We ARE responsible for the love or lack of love that we give.  The ability to love our enemies comes from giving ourselves fully to God; trusting the Holy Spirit to show us how to love those that we may not "feel" a love towards.  In order to grow more Christlike, we must overcome any feelings of "unlove" and function in the capacity of God's love.  Is this always easy?  NO.  But it does get easier the more we  pray to love others the way in which God expects. 

It can be awkward loving enemies as we wrestle with our own fleshly emotions.  It may seem unfair that we offer love to people that will give us nothing in return.  People that have caused us harm or said unkind things about us can leave us with feelings that are volatile.  We may be tempted to unload our negative emotions on enemies instead of offering love and kindness.  Through His grace and strength that comes only from Him, we are able to love our enemies without erupting like a volcano.  

God wants us to show Agape love, a selfless sacrificial love; the kind of love that He has to offer.  It is a love that expects nothing in return.  It gets easier the more you practice loving those that cannot offer or perhaps will not offer love in return.  If we focus our love on others as a direct means of loving God, it is then easier to love an enemy.     

I encourage you to pray for your enemies.  Pray that you can love them in spite of it all.  Pray that God will soften your heart so that you can get past your feelings and understand Agape love.  Praying for your enemies, the ones that you know have caused you harm, is a difficult prayer to pray.  It goes against what we as humans feel in the flesh.   The ability to arrive at a place where we genuinely pray for our enemies comes from the Holy Spirit.  It is a fleshly battle that does not feel good.  However, the rewards are great for loving as God expects us to love!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Still waters and green pastures

Psalms 23: 1-3   The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He maketh me lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.  

A shepherd protects his flock which is completely dependent upon his guidance.  The shepherd shows the flock the safe places in which to dwell.  The shepherd will not guide his flock into unsafe areas nor will he allow predators to damage his herd. The shepherd leads the sheep to pastures that are rich with grass and have access to a water supply. Sheep prefer to drink from still water as opposed to running water that can be unpredictable or imply danger.  Shepherds will create a dam in running streams in order for the sheep to be able to drink from still water.  The still water provides a sense of peace and safety.

The Lord is the good shepherd and we are his flock.  We need not be timid animals but obedient followers of where we are being led.  The Lord will lead us toward the peaceful streams and rich green pastures.  If we rebel against God's leading, we are placing ourselves in danger of straying from the paths of righteousness.  When we seek our own paths, we subject ourselves to predators that may be lurking along the way.  Such rebellion indicates that we think we know the best route by which to reach God's provisions.   


We must have a desire to follow God into the areas of green pastures and still waters in every day life.  If we push our own agenda and seek our own way of doing things, in essence, we say, "God, I do not trust you to lead me".  If we follow the lead of our mighty and all knowing shepherd, then we have submitted to his guidance.  This gesture says, "God we trust you and we will feast in the areas in which you show us".  

God shows us the areas in which we may find peace and contentment.  The safety of the still waters and the delight of the rich, luscious pastures are opportunities for us to be content in God's leading.  We must agree to follow Him.  It is our decision to trust and be content with the paths that God lays before us.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Station yourself on the ramparts

Habakkuk 2:1                I will stand at my watch
                                           and station myself on the ramparts;
                                      I will look to see what he will say to me,
                                           and what answer I am to give to this complaint.



Habakkuk was troubled by the evil going on around him.  He tried hard to understand why things occurred and what God planned to do about.  When he was worried or troubled, he took his concerns straight to God.  No whining around or beating it to death with his friends, he went straight to the one who has all the answers.   He went to his watchtower which in Habakkuk's time was to show an attitude of expectation.  He expected to hear from God.   Watchtowers were atop the ramparts which were built for fortification around a city or an area in order to stand guard and see who was coming toward them-mainly to identify any enemies.   Habakkuk put himself in the best position to focus on what God would tell him.

When God answered Habakkuk's complaint (Habakkuk 2:2-20) he told him that he was well aware of everything that was going on around him.  God promised that all the injustices and evils that were taking place would be taken care of in His time.  God told Habakkuk that no matter how slowly it seems to take for answer, that it will indeed come.  

Do not be mistaken into thinking that God is not aware of all the evils that still exist around us today.  He knows every bit of evil that takes place.  He knows everything that each of us is going through.   When our hearts are breaking, his heart is broken as well.   

It is up to us to seek a better understanding of God and his sovereignty instead of trying to understand all the injustices and evils around us.   Stand in your watchtower.  Station yourself on the ramparts and put yourself in position to hear all that God has to say.  Wait patiently as God reveals his answers to us.   Stand ready to seek an understanding of his sovereignty and magnificence.   You will hear many things as you listen from your watchtower.   

Monday, August 22, 2016

A new season! A time of thanksgiving.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4   For everything there is a season, and a to every purpose under heaven.  A time to be born and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.  That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil-this is the gift of God. 


A few days ago we moved the middle child into the dorm for his freshman year of college.  Earlier last week as I prepared for the move, I was sad, worried, filled with dread, along with all the other emotions that moms experience as the babies leave the nest.  My mind was filled with the normal questions of "have I prepared him properly?", "is there anything else I should warn him about?", "will he be happy, lonely, or homesick?".  "How can the little boy that watched the Peter Pan movie a gazillion times and had spatula duels in the kitchen with me countless hours be moving away to college?"  My mind was all over the place.  As I prayed through the day and night, the next day I had peace that was such a contrast to the day before.   

God had used several people to speak to my heart and to offer words of comfort and encouragement.  I was gently reminded that we are designed by God to move forward in life and embrace change.  Psalms 100:4 emphasizes that we are to be thankful for all things, "enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name".  

Therefore, I decided that I would be excited on the day that we moved him in instead of being saddened by his absence at home.  I decided that I would give thanks to God instead of mourn during a time of progression toward God's calling in his life.  I give thanks for the opportunity to be this young man's mother.  I am eternally thankful for his salvation.  I am thankful that he has the opportunity to fulfill his purpose.  I am thankful that he is a happy, healthy, well-adjusted adult with a great desire to contribute to the advancement of God's kingdom. 

As we loaded our vehicles for the move, I was flooded with sadness-not for us but a different sadness.  Suddenly, my heart was heavy for the parents that have lost children before they had the chance to move them into a dorm.  I thought of the parents that have children with medical conditions that will not allow them the attend college.  I was reminded that there are parents who would love to be packing up their vehicles and driving a child to the dorm on this very day but will not be able to because of shattered dreams for various reasons.  Through those realizations, I became extremely thankful! 

As we moved him in, I was excited but beyond that, I am thankful!!  It is the season in life where we must dance as our children begin to move into their adult roles.  It is time for them to begin a new generation by entering into their careers and starting families of their own.  It is a time to build them up as they begin to replace the generation before them.  It is time to be thankful for new beginnings.  There is much for which to look forward!   

Each season in life presents us with a time for thanksgiving. May we embrace those seasons, accept the changes, and look forward to God's work in our lives and those around us.  May we give God praise and thanks in each season for which he has designed. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Put rejection in its place

1 Samuel 8:7    And the Lord told him:  "Listen to all that the people are saying to you;  it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king....."

There are many emotions involved when bitterness is present within a person.  One of the most common feelings experienced with bitterness is rejection.  Because bitterness usually stems from an offense, a hurt of some type, rejection is a by product of hurt-especially intentional hurts. 

Rejection is an implied gesture that we are not accepted, liked or valued.  We do not feel important or of any worth.  Rejection causes our esteem to suffer.  Rejection, unaddressed can lead to a deep degree of bitterness.

We can all recall a time in our childhood days, whether at school, in sports or within our families that we felt rejected or left out.  It affected our esteem.  Rejection allowed an open door for Satan to talk us into all sorts of self-defeating ideas and beliefs about ourselves. 

Even in our adult lives, things happen that cause us to feel rejected. 
  
Unaccepted.  

Unimportant.
 
Of little value. 

I have been there.  Period.  Exclamation point!!

When people hurt others and fail to love others as God expects, then the rejection is not personal.  It is a rejection of God and his commands.  Rejection of another person is the failure to love as Christ loves us.  Believe me, I know that the hurt and pain is still as great, but when we draw near to God and understand his sovereignty it lessens the intensity of what others have caused.   When we can recognize God's commitment to us, we can begin to view rejection in a different light.  If we can put rejection in its place, it is easier to prevent bitterness from entering our hearts.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Discipline

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

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

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

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





 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Seek wisdom

James 1:5  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 

Psalms 37:30  The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just.

If we fail to seek wisdom, we choose to live in ignorance.  Ignorance can mean that we ignore the truths and wisdom that God has to offer.  Ignorance can be that we do not seek knowledge of God's principles and expectations. 

Intelligence does not automatically offer wisdom.  Intelligence is an accumulation of facts, figures, and information.  Wisdom is intelligence in action. For example, intelligence allows someone to describe several reasons why the washing machine stopped working.  Wisdom is the means by which a person begins to repair the washing machine by finding the reason it stopped working.

The wisdom that God offers each of us goes far beyond intelligence or common sense.  Godly wisdom is the divine means by which we are able to discern right from wrong and to live in God's will.  His wisdom allows us to sort the truths in any given situation in which we are called to participate.

1 Corinthians 1:24 we are shown that "Christ is the wisdom of God".  Pursuing wisdom is seeking to be Christlike.  If we seek wisdom from God, we will be able to speak what is honorable.  God's wisdom affords us the knowledge to speak his truths and to dwell with prudence.  Wisdom engages our brains to use discretion over the exercises of the tongue.  Striving for wisdom leads us to an opportunity to make sound judgments and decisions.  

A desire to find wisdom moves us in a direction of righteous living.  Wisdom is spiritual growth toward a Christlike maturity.  Wisdom is an opportunity to produce Christlike love in all people. 

Wisdom has always been and always will be available to each and every one of us.  We must pro-actively seek God's wisdom each and every day for all situations that life may present.  Join me in praying for wisdom.  I pray to have wisdom in order to reflect God's love to other people in my life.  I desire wisdom that I may be more Christlike.  Amen!


Monday, August 15, 2016

There is much to see in the dark

Joshua 1:9  "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

I recently heard a beautiful song for the first time.  The song talks about the dark places in our lives-the dark valleys that we all experience.  The line of the song that caught my attention was this:  "It is in the darkest places that I see most clearly". 

Dark places in our lives come in the form of finances, broken relationships, illness and other great trials.  Those dark places can cause us to feel as if we are walking in the pitch black night with no flashlight.  We stumble, afraid of completely falling.  We are afraid of what is lurking around us.  Fear and despair lurk in those dark places.  The darkness can be very scary. 

When we go out in the dark to drive or walk we plan to have lights with us.  We try to pay more attention and focus on what we need to see.  The same is true when our lives seem to be in dark places.  We need light and to focus with more attention.  In those dark places, God is there.  He is there when your finances are in a mess.  He is there when your relationships seem to be on a downhill spiral.  He is there with you every minute of any sickness or horrible disease that may take you into the darkness.  He knows your fears.  He feels your despair. 

Wherever you go, even in the darkness, God is with you.  He will comfort you and guide you.  In those dark places, seek what God wants to show you about himself and about yourself.  There is so much to see in the dark. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Temper Tantrums

Proverbs 14:17     A quick tempered man does foolish things, and a crafty man is hated.

Proverbs 14:29    A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.


Temper tantrums are common in children between ages 1-4.  Psychologists say that temper tantrums are a normal response when something blocks a child from gaining independence.  In plain mama terms, a temper tantrum occurs when a child does not get his/her way. 

I remember the temper tantrum stage several years ago when our children were smaller. We had three children within seven years and so the stages of development repeated in a short span of time.  One of our children in particular is a strong willed, determined child, born with an independent nature.  The temper tantrum stage tried my patience with this one.  I remember one day in particular when I felt as though  my theory of overlooking temper tantrums seemed to be ineffective in ridding of the behavior.  Around supper time when the children began to express their hunger and readiness to eat, I did something profound.  With all three children standing in the kitchen, I got down on the floor, flailed about, and had myself a temper tantrum, protesting that I did not want to fix supper.  As I continued to demonstrate how I viewed their throw-down-on-the-floor tantrums, I remember glancing up and seeing my children with their eyes and mouths wide open as if they wondered what on earth was coming next.  I am sure that I displayed great folly during this demonstration.  Psychology books may never suggest this technique but not one of our children ever had a temper tantrum again!  Awareness can be a wonderful thing at all ages!

Children have temper tantrums because of frustration.  They lack the wisdom to reason and think a situation through, therefore the raw emotions surface instead of logical behavior.  Do we ever have temper tantrums when we are upset with God?   Do our raw emotions surface in the form of anger, bitterness or discouragement?  Do we stop going to church or studying God's word each day with attitudes of protest?   Do we flail about in self-pity, lacking self-control over our emotions?  Do we make hasty decisions in the midst of a tantrum?

God does not want to see our temper tantrums.  He does not acknowledge those types of behaviors nor does he bless us when we act out of raw emotion. When we are faced with situations that tempt us to react out of anger, God wants us to seek Him.  The godly reaction comes from prayer, reading the Bible, and logically making decisions that do not reflect that we merely wanted our way. 

We all will experience emotional growth spurts in life.  Studying God's word, spending time in prayer, and gaining wisdom to grow spiritually will equip us to deal with our frustrations in ways other than temper tantrums.  Emotional intelligence can be acquired through a deep understanding of how God desires for us to react.

When we are tempted to react with self-pity and raw emotions, we need to evaluate the reaction.  We should seek wisdom in order to respond to frustrating situations.  We should seek a response that is not fueled by intense emotions, but instead pursue a reaction that is filled with godly behaviors and attitudes.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Turn to Him for love and learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Wisdom is knowledge in action

James 1:5-6  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

The wisdom that God has to offer us is the tool that will allow us to overcome trials and troubles.  Wisdom will help us to propel forward.    God promises that he will take care of us through the difficulties of life.  He promises that he is close by and will see us through anything that comes our way.  Does this mean that we will not experience pain throughout our trials?  No.  But it does mean that God will comfort us as he shows us the way. 

There is a difference between having intelligence and being full of wisdom.  An intelligent person possesses much knowledge, has profound ideas and may offer explanations and theories about a variety of subjects.   A person with wisdom puts knowledge into action.  A person with godly wisdom understands as well as accepts God's will for each and every circumstance in life. 

Wisdom allows us to utilize His word in order to live a righteous life.  God offers wisdom that allows us to stop focusing on the past and all its injustices and move forward into the future.  Wisdom affords us the ability to apply the promises of God to the journey ahead of us.  

Wisdom begins with an appreciation of Gods' sovereignty.  Wisdom possesses respect for God and accepts God's direction.  Wisdom believes that God knows best even in the midst of trials when it seems that things are not going our way.   Wisdom says, "your way is best Lord and I trust in your loving care". 

James 1:2  tells us that we will face trials of many kinds.   Each of these trials in life should help us to mature and grow in wisdom and faith.  Just as studying various subject matter will increase intelligence, seeking God's wisdom in all our trials will develop godly character. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Feast on the Manna

Exodus 16:14-15     When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor.  When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, "What is this?"  For they did not know what it was.


After God freed the Israelites from the slavery of Pharoah, they wandered in the desert, grumbling and groaning; complaining because they were hungry.  Obtaining food was different than when they had lived in Egypt.  Food in a desert is scarce and their gratitude for having been freed from bondage quickly turned to grumblings because they had to obtain food in a different way than before.

The "flakes like frost on the ground" were sent from heaven.  It was called it manna and it came down like rain from the sky.   Manna means "what is it?".  Manna is described in the dictionary as something that is needed and is received unexpectedly.  The Israelites did not know what the flakes were nor what to do with the manna.  Moses explained to them that God had sent it and that they were to gather the amount needed to sustain them for a day.  Each day, God sent new manna down to the Israelites to meet their needs.  They crushed it and made delicious, honey flavored pancakes to eat.  The manna was a gift each day that satisfied their needs.  

How many times do receive our "manna" each day amidst our own grumblings and ungrateful attitudes?  How often do we wish for other circumstances, i.e. more money, more possessions, bigger home, better car, different job?  How often do we miss "feasting on the manna" because we do not know what it is? 

God is wonderful provider.  Each day when we arise, their is new manna raining down from heaven.  I can think of many times over the years in which manna has appeared unexpectedly in my life in order to meet a need.  God understands our needs.  He will supply us with just what we need each day.   Feast on his manna, those gifts that we receive each day.  Seek to recognize the manna.  Give thanks for it!
 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Praise

Psalms 107:28-32    They they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their
                                 distress.  He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. 
                                 They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.
                                 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds
                                 for men.  Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people and praise him in the
                                 council of the elders.


When you experience great trials, you have a testimony with powerful potential.  The more extensive the trial that is weathered, greater is the praise is due for the Lord.  He is to be praised when He delivers us from grief and trouble.  He deserves much praise for protecting us from calamity.

God is our strength in the midst of trial.  He is the calm in the middle of chaos.  He is the promise of hope in the throws of heartache, sorrow, and loss.

The greater the trial, the more praise we should offer.  Praise Him for His sovereignty.  Thank Him for inner peace.   Praise Him for His protection and mercy.  Be encouraged by the hope we find in Him!   Have you praised Him today?   
  

Friday, August 5, 2016

Come close to God

James 4:7-8   So humble yourselves before God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come close to God and God will come close to you.

It is possible to spend years in bitterness and misery.  Some people spend a lifetime in misery, living with bitterness, anger and malice in their hearts.  It is Satan's desire for us to be miserable and to distance ourselves from God.  If we have drifted into a state of bitterness and misery, how can we establish a closeness with God?  The first step is to humble ourselves before God (James 4:7).  To humble ourselves means to surrender and submit.  We must surrender all our ungodly thoughts and attitudes and yield to God's authority.  This step is difficult for many. 

Why is it so difficult to surrender and submit to God?  Pride and control are part of the issue.  We want to feel as if we are in control of our lives; we are really not.  Surrendering all our thoughts and attitudes to God may present a feeling of vulnerability.  We fear that we will be hurt again.  However, by holding on to bitterness, we are vulnerable to Satan and that is far more risky than being vulnerable to the goodness of God. 

There is a part of us that holds on to bitterness because we are holding on to the desire for vengeance.   If we can hold on to bitterness or keep the grudge kindled against our offender, we feel more in control.  Tough to admit.  Tougher to let go.  We may even think that if we hold these thoughts and feelings inside of us that no one will notice; this is our little deal.  They do notice.  The loved ones in our lives are grieved by those types of attitudes. 

If you are harboring bitterness and anger, all the while thinking that it is your own battle, please realize that everyone around you is affected by that battle.  I ask that you ponder these things:  1. God is in control.  2.  When we try to control, we go against God's will in our lives.  3.  We cannot change things that have happened to us   4.  We can change how we feel about the things that have happened.  

Humble yourself.  Surrender.  Make yourself vulnerable to God's plans.  Life will be much sweeter this way!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

May we exercise spiritual fitness

Luke 21:34-35  "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.  For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth".

In this passage found in Luke, Jesus is telling his disciples to keep a constant watch for his return.  This verse rings true for us today in the sense that we should be constantly watchful and prepared for his return. 

Verse 34 warns us to be careful that we do not fall into careless living.  We need to keep ourselves spiritually fit for the day of his return.  This includes working and serving with the tasks that God puts before us. 

Consider the anxieties of life.  Do they hinder our spiritual fitness?  They may possibly stand in the way of our focus in preparing ourselves for Jesus' return.   Events and situations in life can cause us to worry and fret.  Sometimes our minds will become obsessed with the concerns that we have going on in our lives.  Spending time in worry and anxiety shifts our minds toward a focal point other than God's word. 

God's word is trustworthy.  His advice and commands are in place in order to prepare us daily for Christ's return.  Eternity should be our focal point each and every day.  As Luke 21:35 tells us, we will all come to the point of eternity.  No one is exempt.

May our hearts be filled with anticipation for His return. May our days be filled with preparation for that glorious day!  May we exercise in spiritual fitness each day of our lives on this earth.  




Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Promise to walk through open doors and walk away from closed ones.

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, August 2, 2016

You are adequate and capable

2 Corinthians 1:21-22   Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.  He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 

If you have ever had one of those days when Satan works hard to remind you of all the things you are not, then you also know how draining and energy zapping such a time can be.  The devil wants to make us feel as if we are inadequate and incapable.  If we entertain these thoughts, our day can be ruined.  More importantly, if we entertain these thoughts, God's plan and purpose for us can be ruined.  That would make Satan very happy. 

When such notions enter our minds, we should quickly recognize who is at work with these ideas.  Satan's motives are to kill, steal and destroy and if he can do so by changing our thoughts about ourselves, he can thwart God's work within us. 

Do not entertain thought of what you are not.  Hold on to what you ARE.  

You are God's child; His perfect creation, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them", (Genesis 1:27). 

You are loved, "for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life", (John 3:16). 

You are redeemed, "in fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness", (Hebrews 9:22). 

You are an opportunity; a chance to spread the gospel, serve and love others, "let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up", (Galatians 6:9).

When Satan or anyone else that you encounter tries to discourage you with thoughts of inadequacy, remember that God says He will give us strength and the ability to accomplish all that He requires of us.  We are adequate and plenty capable in God's eyes. 
                 

Monday, August 1, 2016

There is power in your choice to forgive

1 Corinthians 8:9     Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.

Each of us possesses the power to forgive or not to forgive others.   We are given that freedom and free will to make those choices.   This is a huge responsibility as a Christian.  The decision to forgive and allow forgiveness and grace to cover all offenses can change the course of another person's life forever.  (Read that sentence again)    Our actions and reactions pertaining to forgiveness can change a person's life. 

Forgiveness may offer a positive change of direction in the life of another.  Positive change could be:
                        -leading someone to salvation
                        -offering strength in times of weakness
                        -healing and restoration of a relationship

A lack of forgiveness may in turn offer negative or destructive change of direction in the life of another.  Negative change could be:
                       -causing a person to stumble
                       -division of family
                       -destruction of relationships

Anger, hurt and disappointment tempt us and cause us to withhold forgiveness, mercy and compassion.  Our flesh wants to focus on vengeance and justice.    There is great power in our freedom and ability to forgive. That power should not become distorted nor misused due to self righteous pride. 

We are commanded to forgive and told that we will be forgiven according to the forgiveness that we offer.   (Mark 11:8; Luke 6:37; Col 3:13).   If you are dealing with unforgiveness, I urge you to pray and may you realize the power that you hold in your freedom to forgive.