The Sweet Stuff Ministry

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Does your journey seem mediocre?

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 29, 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.  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 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.  We should instead pursue a reaction that is filled with godly behaviors and attitudes.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Regrets

2 Corinthians 7:10  For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation.  There's no regret for that kind of sorrow.  But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. 

We all have regrets.  Coulda, woulda, shoulda, and if I had only are thoughts that we all have somewhere throughout our lives.  Dr. Charles Stanley said this about regret:  "If you do not have regret, you have either not lived or you have not learned".  Either you have been sitting on your couch wrapped in bubble plastic or you have not realized how God expects us to treat our mistakes.

Satan wants to magnify regrets.  He wants to put them right in front of our faces and cause us to experience worldly sorrow.  God wants to put regret in its place.  He wants us to experience sorrow for mistakes that will only cause a realization of the mistake which will lead to repentance.  God wants us to improve our behavior in order to grow spiritually.  He wants us to become wiser and closer to him.  He does not want us to wallow in regret.

Worldly sorrow results in ruminating, chewing the cud, wallowing, rehashing-you get the picture.  This type of sorrow and regret hinders spiritual growth.  If we constantly dwell on mistakes and regrets, we fill our minds with discouragement and negativity.  This will keep us from moving forward and growing spiritually.

If you find yourself drowning in regret, take a look at why you continue to ruminate.  Have you given it over to God?  Have you repented?  If you have done these things, then God tells us to stop dwelling on our mistakes (Isaiah 43:18).  He tells us that he forgets our mistakes (Hebrews 8:12).  Mistakes are opportunities to learn and grow.  Treat mistakes the way in which God expects-with repentance and growth.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving

Colossians 3:15  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful. 

Happy Thanksgiving to each and every one of you!

May you set aside the worries, burdens, and sorrows and enjoy peace and comfort from Christ and those loved ones around you. In spite of any dysfunctions and chaos that may be present in your life, may you relish in the blessings.  Take one moment and one hour at a time with the approach of a grateful heart.  Decide today that you will have peace and joy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

When you are overwhelmed

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Stay focused in the face of opposition

Nehemiah 2:19    But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us.  "What is this you are doing?"  they asked.  "Are you rebelling against the king?"

Nehemiah had a prestigious job with the king.  He was the cup bearer which meant that he served drinks at the royal table.  It doesn't sound like a high ranking job to us in this day, however, in Nehemiah's day that position was only given to trustworthy and loyal people.  In this time, there was a high incidence of plotting to kill kings and officials and the cup bearer was a protector of the king through testing of the drinks.  Sometimes the cup bearer was required to taste some of the drinks in order to check for poison before the king drank.  This was a job of courage and loyalty. 

During Nehemiah's important position, God began to call upon his heart to go to Jerusalem and lead the people in the rebuilding of the city walls.  The job in which God was asking him to do was not glamorous.  He would first need to motivate the people in the city and convince them to work along side him.  Remember, the wall had been destroyed many years before and no one had taken any initiative to repair it.  Nehemiah was required to convince them that they had civic responsibilities to their city.  He also dealt with a financial crisis regarding the city. 

Nehemiah was obedient to the job that God called him to do.  Obedience required him to give up his high ranking position, move to another town and work with people who were less than cooperative.  He was met with opposition, mockery, and ridicule. Some of the people made fun of him for leaving his job and viewed it as a negative move. 

Opposition is to be expected when God asks you to take on jobs or duties that fulfill His purpose.  When you accept a call to obedience, just go ahead and put on your armor, because you will need it.  Whether it is a squabble over how a program at church should be presented, a disagreement about a church dinner or carpet color, or opposition against a large project or an entire ministry,  Satan will find a way to oppose you.  Sometimes the opposition will come from close friends and family; other times it will come from beyond your circle.  Some people will even hope that you fail at your task or ministry. 

I can tell you without a doubt, that God will accomplish his purpose through you in spite of any opposition you may encounter.  Your role is OBEDIENCE.  God will police those who oppose you.  He will react to opposition on your behalf.

If God is stirring in your heart to begin a task or a full time job that serves him, your role is to:
                 -1. be obedient and accept the position
                 -2. stay focused on the task and mission
                 -3.  stay in tune with God and what he expects from you
                 -4.  keep working, no matter what anyone says or does.














Monday, November 21, 2016

Thank God for moments

Ephesians 5:19-20  Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving is this week and it is a time when we reflect upon the things for which we are most thankful.  Often times we make our thankful lists with the big things in mind.  Those things are very important.

Today I want to focus on being thankful for moments.  Cesare Pavese said, "We do not remember days, we remember moments".  If you will take time to reflect things that have occurred throughout your life, you may not always remember the date or the day of the week, but you will remember a moment.  Details of that moment are likely vivid in your mind.

Let us be thankful for the moments that have contributed to the totality of time in our life span.  Thank God for the moment of your salvation.  Thank God for those moments of peace that he has bestowed upon you when your world was in turmoil.  Thank God for that moment that you spent with a family member or friend that turned out to be the last. Be thankful for heart warming moments, sometimes unexpected, spent with precious people.  Thank God for every moment in which he has provided you with protection.

The list could be long.  Take some time to reflect on the moments that you remember.  Thank God for them!

Friday, November 18, 2016

God promises comfort and peace

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.

When turmoil, anxiety and disruption of  peace are present in your life, remember that we ALWAYS have the promise of comfort from God.

It is up to each of us to submit to that comfort and to enjoy inner peace.

Allow Him to comfort you-whatever your situation.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thoughts and attitudes

2 Corinthians 10:3-5   For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretense that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 

In this passage, Paul is defending his authority because the people in Corinth were not taking his  advice seriously.  He was trying to teach the people what God expected of them and they could win their battles over sin with God's weapons and armor.  This particular passage is dealing with thoughts and attitudes that keep people from finding God and having a close, personal relationship with him.

Attitudes and thoughts can be sinful.  Bad attitudes and ungodly thoughts can become strongholds in our lives.  Bitterness is fertile ground for bad attitudes and ugly, ungodly thoughts.  Such dispositions can lead to a cold, hardened heart.  When I was in the depths of my bitterness, my attitude was BAD.  I cannot even candy coat it.  It was bad.  Many times my thoughts and words included, "I did not do anything to cause this.  He/she/they did ______________ and that is why I feel this way."  I justified my attitude.  I argued with God, placing the blame on others.  I used my own methods of thought to fluff up my pride and destroy my attitude.  When I finally realized and saw things as God showed me, all of it was a huge pill to swallow.  A HORSE pill going down sideways.  With no water.

A huge wall had been constructed in my mind.  A wall that had prevented me from seeing things as God intended.  The wall that Satan had built in my mind was a barrier to love, joy, fulfillment and worship.  I could go through the motions, but my heart seemed empty and without affection.

Thoughts and attitudes have enormous power within us.  A single thought can change our entire attitude about ANYTHING.  Thoughts can change how we view others, how we feel about ourselves and how we view our relationships.  A single thought can lead to changes within us that enter into damaging attitudes which are destructive to our relationship with God as well as our loved ones.

If this devotion finds you with an ungodly attitude, I urge you to allow God to crumble the barriers that keep self-righteous pride festering inside you.  I pray that you will allow God's weapons of prayer, faith, His word, hope, and love to fill your hearts and minds so that your relationships will be full of all that he has to offer.  Swallow that horse pill; it is good medicine.  Drink plenty of water to flush your system and allow God to heal you of your poor attitudes and ugly thoughts.  You deserve to enjoy God and life to its fullest!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

God is always with you.

Psalms 139:8-10  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.


God is sovereign.  He is ever present, all knowing, all powerful and ever loving.

He loves us when we are in the depths of destruction and despair.   He cares for us when we feel as if we are under the deepest part of the ocean without an oxygen tank.  He is aware of all the evil schemes that are plotted against us.  He knows when things look and feel hopeless to us and when we feel helpless.

God always, ALWAYS, has a way to protect us and provide for us.  ALWAYS. Period.  Those provisions may not look exactly like what we expect, however, he can and will provide.  Through our perception of things in life, we often will have tunnel vision.  God does not have tunnel vision, he has panoramic vision with x-ray sensors that can see around and through every situation that we may ever find ourselves in.  He can see backwards, forwards, high and low, deep and wide.

If you feel that God is overlooking you and your situation, remember he is there with you wherever you are and whatever you are going through.  He will provide and protect.  Keep loving him and building a deep relationship with him.  You will be amazed of all his capabilities. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Make yourself vulnerable to God's plans

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 can be difficult. 

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.  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!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Do some scenarios require more compassion from us than others?

Luke 10:36-37  "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"  The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."  Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

The verse for today refers to the parable of the good Samaritan.  A man going from Jerusalem to Jericho had been robbed, beaten and left for dead.  Several people passed by the man without stopping to help.  The Samaritan stopped to help him.  This is used as an example because Samaritans and Jews did not associate with one another.  The passersby did not show compassion toward the man in need. 


Ponder this scenario:  A six year girl old in your community or on your street has been diagnosed with cancer.  The disease has ravaged her body.  Doctors say that it has likely been growing inside her for three years.  Extensive surgery and lengthy treatments will be necessary in order to treat her condition.  Her family is devastated, afraid, and very discouraged.  How does this make you feel?  How eager are you to help her family?  How quickly will you place her in your prayers and/or on the prayer list at your church?

Ponder this scenario:  An adult that is an acquaintance of yours has been recently imprisoned for wrongdoing in the workplace.  There are addictive behaviors involved which led to criminal acts.  The addictions have ravaged the person's soul for years.  Extensive treatment and lengthy court proceedings will be required to sort through the issues.  The family is devastated, afraid, and very discouraged.   How does this make you feel?  How eager are you to help the family?  How quickly will you place such a person in your prayers and/or on the prayer list at your church?

Does one of these scenarios bring forth more compassion from your heart than the other?  As human beings, we have a natural tendency to feel more compassion for innocent children than adults that have made poor decisions.  But, shouldn't our reactions and feelings be identical in both these situations?  Should we not be as equally devastated when an adult makes choices that cause destruction and hurt within his/her family or community as we are when a heartbreaking diagnosis is received?

Both scenarios should spark within us a urgent desire to pray.  We are often willing to spend much time in prayer for physical illnesses and afflictions.  We must be willing to spend as much time in prayer for strongholds of addiction or other forms of sin that may be present in the people around us.  Our hearts should break for the hurt that a person's family and friends may be experiencing as a result of poor decisions.   

If we entertain thoughts such as: "he/she deserves whatever punishment is given" or "I knew he/she was up to no good", then we miss the mark on compassion.  If any of us has ever relished the thought of a brother or sister failing or getting into trouble, then each of us has failed at "loving thy neighbor as thyself".   It is important to remember that no matter the extent of sin, crime, or wrongdoing, each and every person on this earth is a creation of God.  Each one is worthy of God's love, mercy, and grace. 

Our hearts should burn within for people around us that fall head long into sin.  Like the traveling Jew mentioned in Luke 10:30-36, we have all been robbed and wounded by Satan at some point in our lives.  Just as Jesus offers us infinite compassion and mercy, we should be filled with compassion for those that have fallen prey to the schemes of Satan.  We must be in prayer for the souls of those who are lost.

If our hearts do not immediately feel a call to action when we hear news of a neighbor stumbling, then we fail to understand the love of God.  If our first thought when we hear of the failures of another is to "spread the word" instead of immediately beginning to pray for the person, then we fail to understand how God expects us to love one another.

If we can love one another unconditionally, then we will feel compassion for the burdens of others.  Galatians 6:2 tells us, "carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ".  Compassion is connected to love.  The greater our love for God, the easier it is for us to have compassion for one another.   

Friday, November 11, 2016

Worship in prayer

Charles Stanley said, "If problems are all that keep us on our knees, then we have missed the main point of our relationship with Him".

Prayer is often thought of to be a time of going to God with our problems.  While he does want to hear all our troubles, he always wants to hear us worship.  Prayer is great opportunity to worship God.  We can do so with the following: 

                  -gratitude:  Colossians 3:17,  "and whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in
                                                                 the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father
                                                                 through him".

                  -honor:  Psalm 29:2,  "Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in
                                                    the splendor of his holiness".

                  -praise:  Hebrews 13:15,  "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a
                                                          sacrifice of praise-the fruit of lips that confess his name".
  
                  -recognize God for his sovereignty:  Ephesians 3:20, "Now to him who is able to do
                                                         immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his
                                                         power that is at work within us".

                  -proclaim his name:  Psalm 8, "O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all
                                                         the earth!"

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Grace

Ephesians 4:7
But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.

Grace is a simple yet complicated concept.  God offers us grace out of love.  An unconditional love with a never ending supply and easy access to his graces.


To know grace is to know love.  God offers his grace because as his creations, we are more important to him than anything we have done wrong.

We should offer grace to others. That grace can begin with forgiveness because forgiving clears the way for love.  Grace brings about a strengthening of the heart.  Through salvation, we are granted access to the strength that God offers.  That strength will fortify us and protect us from misusing grace.  We receive grace from God and we are therefore expected to offer loving grace to others. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Scorpion and the Frog

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

God is ALWAYS good!

Psalms 136:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.  His love endures forever.

As the Thanksgiving season approaches, it is a good time to take inventory of our gratefulness.  As we gather for festivities, we give thanks, most usually, for those things near at hand.  We should give thanks for all things in our lives, both near to and far from the present.  If you woke up this morning, you can give God thanks for protection, sustainment and a promise for the future.

Often times we want to thank God for all the "good" things in our lives.  We are grateful for the happy times, the job promotion, relationships that are pleasing and our overall prosperity.  What we need to remember in our gratefulness is that God is good--ALWAYS.  His goodness, his grace and his love never change--NEVER!  Even when the world around us is bad, God is still good.  When things in our lives seem to be going in negative directions, God is still good and he is a god of love.

Be grateful for all the good in your live.  Be grateful for when things do not seem so good.  Those are the times that God gives you strength that you may not have had before.  In bad times, God will reveal himself to you in ways which you have never known.  Give thanks to him.  He is ALWAYS good and he is ALWAYS filled with love. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Serving in the Midst of Enemy Fire

Philippians 4:13    I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Serving in the Midst of Enemy Fire.

The Greek meaning of this verse in Philippians is 'I have strength for all things'.  It means to 'bear' rather than to 'do'.  This verse does not refer to the use of Christ's strength to accomplish whatever we want to do, but instead it means that whatever Christ asks of us to do, he will provide the strength for us to utilize.
In Ellicott's commentary, we find this description of Philippians 4:13, "it represents the ultimate and ideal consciousness of the Christian.  The first thing needful is to throw off self-sufficiency, to know our weaknesses and sin, and accept the salvation of God's free grace in Christ".  The apostle Paul arrived at the conclusion that he could do all that God was asking of him through the strength that Christ provides.  Through various trials, experiences, and changes in his life, Paul relied on that strength to complete his work and service to God.  He was able to endure trials, temptations, and persecution by surrendering his weaknesses to the strength of Christ.

When we honor God's will and set forth to complete the tasks which he has called upon us to do, Satan will try to prevent us from serving.  He will draw use tools of discouragement in an attempt to talk us out of our service.  The discouragement may present itself in the form of criticisms, strongholds, power struggles, and/or imagination.  Spiritual warfare may come against us in mild or severe form as we serve God.  It is this those times that we must rely entirely upon strength that found only in Christ.  We do not have enough strength within us to battle the enemy.  

When Satan attacks our efforts to serve God, we will be tempted to react.  We may be tempted to attack those that are being used by Satan to send discouragement our way.  We may even entertain the thoughts of quitting our efforts or ministry altogether.  The strength found in Christ will offer us a way to escape those temptations and remain focused on our service to God.  We are told in 1 Corinthians 10:13, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it".  

If today finds you under the attack of enemy fire, I urge you to surrender your thoughts of self-sufficiency.  Employ the strength that Christ offers.  Keep your eyes and heart focused on Christ and not on the discouragement that Satan hurls in your path.  The apostle Paul had confidence that God would require nothing of him which he would not be able to perform.  We need the same bold confidence!  Do not avoid the duty to serve that we as Christians all have because of fear of temptation.  Do not entertain the temptation to quit.  Stand strong in Christ and allow Him to deal with the enemy. 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Deep hurts require deep repair

James 3:17   But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

Deep hurts require deep repair.

Deep hurts will take us to a place where we would pretty much try anything in order to get rid of the pain.  Trying to forget and move forward often leave us to quickly try to put the event out of our mind.  Friends may offer advice and various things to try in order to move forward.  Friends might suggest that you take a trip, go to the spa, or purchase something that you "deserve".  Alcohol, drugs and addiction may result from an effort to get rid of emotional pain. While these ventures may boost  feelings of self-worth or take your mind off the hurt for a while, these attempts at removing the hurt will only mask it.  They are Band-aid solutions.  I can tell you with certainty that no amount of trips to the spa, manicures, new articles of clothing nor steak dinners will help you to truly let go of a deep hurt.  Alcohol and drugs not only mask the pain, but they also cause others problems that will require attention in order to overcome.  We can destroy all artifacts that remind us of the events such as pictures and mementos.  We can continuously busy ourselves in order to occupy our minds and we can buy things or go places that will boost our self-worth.  However, if we do not repair our hearts spiritually, the Band-aids will soon fall off and no longer cover the wound. 

Deep hurts require deep repair.

The repair of deep hurts may not occur immediately.  The deeper the injury, the more extensive the repair work.   The repair may be a process that takes enough time to allow for a dissecting of all the elements involved in the wound.   

Being able to put hurts, forgiveness and healing into perspective come ONLY when we seek wisdom from God and hear his advice.  The only healing that will be permanent in nature is a heavenly healing that only God can offer.  In Psalms 147:3, we are reminded, "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."  Only God can completely bind a wound that causes us grief and pain.  The deep repair that is needed when our hearts have deep hurts is available from Him.   His love and compassion is the greatest medicine that our hurting hearts might receive.   

If you have a need for emotional healing, seek the wisdom and advice from God that he offers so freely.  It is a healing that is sincere and genuine.  A permanent healing that will restore your peace. God wants each and every one of us to be free of pain and grief.  He wants us to be whole and full of joy.  Seek that pure, heavenly wisdom! 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Quotes from D.L. Moody

Today I leave you to ponder some quotes from the late, great D.L. Moody.  He was a spiritual leader in the 1800s whose legacy is venerated today.  He loved God with all his heart.  He sought God.  He submitted to God.  He served God.  He was dedicated to winning souls to God's kingdom.

"Let us ask ourselves the question:  Is love the motive power that urges us to go out and work for God?  ...Without it a great deal of work will go for naught.  The work will be swept away like chaff without it.  Christ looks down and examines our hearts and actions, and although our deeds may be great in the eyes of the world, they may not be in His eyes."

"If we desire to be successful in our ministry efforts, then it's not what we do that pleases God and draws men to us.  Rather, it's why we do it.  Is our service done out of love?  That's what really counts."

"...nothing but love can find out the mysterious avenues which lead to the heart."

"Do all the good you can,
 To all the people you can,
 By all the means you can,
 In all the places you can,
 As long as ever you can."

"Let it be God's glory and not our own that we seek, ad when we get to that point, how speedily the Lord will bless us for good.  Then will the measure of our blessing be full."

"There is nothing in heaven, earth, or hell too hard for our God, and it is a good thing for us to start out with this thought that God is able to do above all that we dare think or ask."

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Isaiah 41:10

Isaiah  41:10  So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 

For those days when you simply want to pull the covers over your head, stay in bed and hide from the world, remember this:
                              God has a plan and a purpose for you each day.
                              He can bless you in the midst of a mess.
                              He will guide you through any rough patches in your life.
                              He does not want you to feel lonely or discouraged.
                              Even when your ideas and plans fail, he will work it all out for the good.

So, my friends, get up out of the bed of discouragement, dust off your britches and know that God is in complete control of whatever hurdles you feel are in your path.  Pay no mind to the enemy's schemes that attempt to steal your joy.  Do not give Satan any foothold in thwarting your work for God.