The Sweet Stuff Ministry

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Maintaining Daily Peace

James 4:7-8     Submit yourselves, then to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and he will come near to you.


      Maintaining daily peace requires submission of yourself and all the turmoil in your life to God.  On a daily basis we must humble ourselves before God and let him handle the turmoil.    Satan likes to "mess in our peace". 

Verse 7 tells us to resist the devil.  What does this look like in our quest for daily inner peace?  It looks like this: 
         1. When you get up and negative thoughts or memories come into your mind, refuse to dwell on these (no wallowing; no ruminating).  Immediately begin to list at least 3 positive thoughts or memories, otherwise the devil has a good start at ruining your day. 
         2.  No reading negative things on social media--there is a delete button for your convenience. Turn that television off or better yet, disconnect it.  Most things on tv are sad, negative, or contain fear inducing material.  
         3.  Hang around with positive and encouraging people.  If you feel that you do not know any of these folks, pray and God will send some your way.  
         4.  This is last, however it is MOST important.  PRAY, PRAY AND PRAY.  Prayer is how you give it all to God and how peace is found. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Are You Only Making Left Turns?

Proverbs 3:6  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

We have two Thoroughbred horses that we adopted from a rescue center in our area.   The purpose of the center is take race horses that have been abandoned or injured and repurpose them.  They are trained, taught new things, and placed in locations where they can serve in a new capacity.  Some of the abandoned horses are trained for mounted police jobs.  Others become award winning competitors while some enjoy life in lush green pastures as pets.  

Think about race horses.  They are taken from their natural environment and taught to focus on speed in order for the owner to win a purse.   During all of a race horse's career, they run in a circle and make only left turns.   When race horses are injured or perhaps do not have great winning records, the owners are finished with them.  Sometimes they are abandoned at the tracks, other times they may be sold for slaughter.  At this point, their paths are unclear; their purpose is no longer the same.  This is where the retirement centers enter the picture.  The center rescues the horses and teaches them new skills.  The horses must learn to trust the new trainers because remember, they have only run in circles making left hand turns all their lives.  It is a heart warming experience to visit the center and to hear the stories of the lives that the horses are offered. 

It is easy in life for us to become similar to a race horse in that we run in the same circular direction chasing after scenery that never seems to change.  Do you feel as if you run in a circle making only left turns?  Are you unsure of your purpose or which way your life should be going?  Trust in God, acknowledge Him in every aspect of your life.  He will show you how to live your life other than racing in circles.  He can rescue you from the race tracks of life.  He can teach you many new things as long as you trust and go to Him for everything. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

May We Love With Intentional Actions

1 John 3:18   Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

How many times do we intend to do good things?  The birthday card that we think of sending, the phone call that we could make, giving away clothing or shoes that we no longer need are all thoughts of good intention but also are things that are easily postponed or never carried out. 

Each day God will place opportunities before us to serve him and serve others in ways that he desires.  We may pass someone on the street with a cardboard sign indicating that he/she is hungry.   We may know of a family in financial need in order to make ends meet for the month.  We all surely know of older folks that are lonely and can be uplifted by a phone call or card in the mail.  

How often are we contenders and oppose those whispers of  opportunity to help others that God speaks in our ears?   I know that I am guilty of hearing messages of sending cards, visiting the sick, calling the lonely, yet procrastinating instead of surrendering to that still small voice that is calling me to do something for another person.

May we surrender to those opportunities in which we might serve others.  Intentions are never seen by people that are in need.  They only see what we actually do.  Let us be intentional with actions that show love.  May we be prayerful that God will help us to love more with our actions than with words.  Lord, help those whispers to resonate in our ears as loud explosions of opportunity to serve you and make a difference in the life of another.  Amen.

Monday, August 14, 2017

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 10, 2017

I Left my Baby in a Trailer Park in Alabama!!

Joshua 1:9   "Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go".

I left my baby in a trailer park in Alabama!!

You may be wondering if this is the making of a new country song.  I assure you there is a testimony here.  I will hold on to my day job for a bit longer before I try my hand at song writing.

This past weekend we moved our oldest daughter to Auburn, Alabama to begin her studies at the College of Veterinary Medicine.  This is eight hours from our home.  Even though she left home four years ago for her undergraduate studies, she was only a couple of hours from us if we wanted to pop in for a visit.

A tradition at Auburn for many decades has been that the veterinary students live in mobile home parks that are situated close to the school.  The vet school is away from main campus and what we call "out in the country".  Our daughter has met several veterinarians over the years that have told her about their experiences in the various mobile home parks.  It is where the students get their start at living on their own.    

In the weeks preceding her move, it all seemed in my mind like she was moving to the other side of the planet.  I had a great amount of anxiety, as all mothers do, about her safety and all the "what ifs" that might occur.  The thought of the distance between us caused a restlessness within me.  I was fearful.   

I have always thought that my main role as a mother is to teach our children to seek God in all that they do.  In that role, I am to lead my children toward the purpose which God has designed for each them.  Even in doing this, there is still what seems to be a ripping of the flesh as our children grow from a dependence on us as parents into their independence. We experience such feelings at various times throughout a child's growth and development.

I have never doubted that our oldest daughter is exactly on the journey which God has planned for her.  God has prepared her for this journey.  I can look as far back as when she was a toddler and recognize how God has opened each door at just the right time in her life.  Life is dynamic.  It is ever changing and always moving.  God is the only constant for each of us in life.  I must trust Him for all the things that are impossible for me to control.


Driving away, I felt like my insides were being ripped apart.  God was quick to remind me that her life is exploding toward her purpose and her dreams.   As we left Auburn on Sunday, a slow peaceful rain began to fall.  Much like the tears that were falling from my heart.  They were peaceful tears.  My husband said to me, "things are as they should be".  There is great peace in that truth.  John 14:27,   "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid".   


It is hard to let our babies go.  It involves a range of emotions that all parents understand.  I know these truths and promises:  God has plans for each of our children to prosper (Jeremiah 29:11); God is with our babies everywhere they go (Joshua 1:9);  God will protect our children (2 Thessalonians 3:3).

God has brought her this far.  She is fulfilling her purpose.  She has placed her trust in Him.  He will protect her, comfort her, and give her the strength to persevere.  These are the reasons that I left my baby in a trailer park in Alabama!!


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

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!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

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 4, 2017

Be Who God Created You to Be

Philippians 2:1-2   Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,  then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

It is so easy for teens to desire attention and popularity.  Most have a need to "fit in".  It can be heartbreaking for young folks to feel rejected by exclusive cliques.  It is damaging to the self-esteem and self-worth.   The scars from this type of rejection can be long lasting, even into adulthood.  Sadly enough, some adults carry those exclusive types of thoughts and behaviors throughout their lives.  In turn, the may reject others, therefore limiting potential friendships and missing out on blessings.

Each person on this earth is a creation of God, each with unique gifts and purposes.  God designed us in different ways so that we can use our gifts in order to advance his kingdom.   People reject other people.  God loves and accepts us all.

If you know a teen, adult, family member or friend that feels rejected because of bullying or cliquish behaviors, offer these points of encouragement:
                  -It is perfectly alright NOT be like everyone else
                  -Your peers are not the yardstick by which your worth is measured
                  -Continue to be who you are and not a Xerox copy of someone else
                  -Do not chase after the affections of others
                  -Pray for God to send the people that He would have in your life
                  -Find your security in those loving adults and family members in your life
                  -Search for the greatness within you--God put it there for a purpose!

*Rinse and repeat as often as necessary!

Be who God created you to be!  It is non-productive to spend time trying to be like someone else.  Find your acceptance and joy by being united with Christ. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

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 a 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- it is a gift that we receive each day.  Seek to recognize the manna.  Give thanks for it!
 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

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, the day can be ruined.  More importantly, if we entertain these thoughts, God's plan and purpose for us can be impaired.  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. 
                 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

There is Power in the 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. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Blessings will ALWAYS Out Number the Burdens

Psalms 68:19  Praise  be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.

Is your life 1/2 empty or 1/2 full?   As you reflect on events in your life, what is in the forefront of your mind?  Do you first recall the burdens, trials, and tough times or are you quick to state your blessings?

Many times we hold on to the memories and details of the burdens in our lives without holding on to the details of the blessings we have received.  Satan wants us to hang on to negativity and heartache.  God wants us to enjoy our blessings and allow him to bear our burdens.  We should praise him for bearing our burdens.  He does not want us to be burdened, for when we are, we can easily miss the blessings he has for us.

When you think about your life, do not look at your glass as 1/2 empty.  Measure out the blessings versus the burdens.  Thank God for both the blessings and burdens.  Keep the details of those blessings in the forefront of your mind.  Move the details of the burdens to the back of your mind.

Remember to praise God for the blessings.  The blessings will ALWAYS out number the burdens! 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Forgiveness Strengthens Character

2 Samuel 9:7-8  "Don't be afraid," David said to him, "for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathon.  I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table."  Mephibosheth bowed down and said, "What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?"

Mephibosheth is not a person in the Bible that we hear much about.  He was the son of Jonathon, who was David's loyal friend.  Mephibosheth was crippled in both feet and was limited in his activities and abilities.  He appears to have felt less deserving and inadequate because of this. 

At the time that David found Mephibosheth he was seeking out some of the descendants of Saul.  Now remember that Saul, Jonathon's father, had tried many times and many ways to kill David.  Yet, David remained best friends with Jonathon through all the war and hatred from Saul.  David and Jonathon remained loyal to one another and vowed to always protect and love each other.  When David sought out Mephibosheth, he was seeking a descendant of Jonathon in order to show God's kindness.  He honored Jonathon and the promises they had made to one another.  

David desired to show love and mercy.  He was a leader both politically and spiritually.  Mephibosheth was afraid to visit David partly because he felt unworthy.  Perhaps those feelings were because of his physical handicap, maybe it was because he knew the grief that his grandfather Saul had caused King David.

King David's expression of love and mercy toward Mephobosheth is filled with compassion.  He also fulfilled his promises to show love to Jonathon's descendants.  King David showed us in this instance that our character can be strengthened when we are able to forgive those who have wronged us.  We reap heavenly benefits when we can be generous to those who might feel less deserving.  There is a link between forgiveness and compassion.  Through forgiveness, we have the opportunity to become aware of situations of others and what might have driven them to do us wrong in the first place.  That awareness allows our hearts to realize a need for compassion.

Forgiveness strengthens character.  It strengthens the character of both the forgiver and the forgiven. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

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 26, 2017

Let God Fight for You

Exodus 14:14 The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.

Just stay calm! Sounds easy enough, but how in the world can we stay calm when things around us seem to be in such turmoil?  What can we do when the enemy is camped at our doorstep?  
We feel so powerless and weary and often times despair will set in and cause us to feel trapped. Perhaps we feel trapped by depression, rejection, disappointments, fear. The despair may come from a job situation, conflict within a relationship, health or finances. 

We have all been faced with these situations- events and circumstances with the potential to trap our hearts into negativity, anger, or bitterness.  Maybe you have a present situation in your life that brings about these emotions and you are feeling trapped. Let us read this scripture from back to front, “Just stay calm. The Lord himself will fight for you.” He WILL fight for you and He is the mighty warrior, but first you have to allow Him to be your warrior. Staying calm, although seemingly impossible at times, will allow you to submit all your troubles to God. 
   
Submission is letting go.  Let go of the need to emotionally wrestle the situation.  Let go of the need to do something.  Let go and let God fight it for you.                   

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

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.  

Monday, July 24, 2017

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!

Friday, July 21, 2017

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 20, 2017

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. 


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Asking earthly questions will only give us earthly answers.

Proverbs 2:6  For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 

Proverbs 3:5-6  Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Each of us has experienced a time in life when we had to make a major decision.  Perhaps it was a decision about your health, buying a home, changing jobs, or starting a business.  Making major decisions can be difficult and exhausting.  This does not have to be the case if we allow God to make the decision for us.  

Have you ever asked for heaven and earth to be moved in a situation?  Have you ever asked for heaven to me moved and earth to be removed in a situation?  Let us unpack this.   If you are given a situation where you need to make a major, life changing decision.  Within that decision are two
choices, both good choices, however, you sense that one is better for what God is calling you to do.  One of the choices is a perfect match for the details in your life.  The other choice, still a good one, offers a situation where the details in your life will not so easily fall into place.  The choice becomes one of good versus best. 

Whether we are planning to go back to school, change jobs, or relocate geographically, seeking God's will in the major areas of life can leave us with uncertainty and sometimes confusion.  When seeking clarity from God regarding His will in our life, we cannot look for the answers from an earthly perspective.  We must be willing to remove our earthly outlook and focus our sights on heaven. 

Asking earthly questions will only give us earthly solutions.  In order for God to move heaven and earth for you, heavenly answers must be sought.  If you seek discernment from God regarding a decision in your life, ask Him to move heaven on your part.  Talk with Him about how you can discern what exactly he wants you to do.  Ask Him to remove your earthly viewpoint and to help you see things through his lenses.  

If we seek God's will in all our decisions, he will work out all the details in ways that we could never have imagined.  God is in charge of heaven and earth.  He can move both in your favor if you only ask and earnestly desire for His perfect will to be done in your life. 

If today finds you struggling with a decision, don't wrestle it alone.  Ask God to move heaven and earth in order for you to clearly see the solution which he has for you.  Seek the answers that He has in store for you.  He will reveal that which is best for you!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Is it Loud Between Your Ears?

Is it Loud Between Your Ears?

John 16:33  "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world". 

John 14:1  "Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me". 

A couple of weeks ago, I had a very discouraging day.  It was so discouraging in fact that I began to question myself and my abilities to accomplish some of the tasks at hand that day.  None of us are immune to these feelings.  Discouragement and self-doubt can quickly escalate and cause feelings of defeat. 

Discouragement can become very loud between our ears.  Loss of confidence in a situation may lead to an implosion of negativity in the mind.  We may have thoughts of inadequacy and/or incompetence.  Self-esteem is lessened when discouragement is present. 

Jesus tells us in John 14:1, "Do not let your hearts be troubled".  He commands that we do not wallow in discouragement.  The last part of that verse says, "Trust in God; trust also in me".  Instead of being focused on whatever situation caused the discouragement, Jesus tells us to focus on his promises.  He assures us that he is in charge and that we can trust in that. 

Discouragement does not come from God to us. Discouragement comes from person to person.  It is a transfer of feelings from one human to another.  It includes a sense of failure and disappointment.  Discouraging times can open the door for fear and insecurities. 

When we feel defeated, it is natural to seek comfort. We must not look to our own strength to overcome the blows of discouragement.  God wants to provide us with that comfort and reassurance that we are adequate and capable of accomplishing anything that he calls us to do.  He also will equip us with a toughness to prevent discouragement.

When defeat and fear get loud between your ears, remember this:  God wants us to be encouraged.  He has our best interests at heart.  He does not want us to be defeated or discouraged.  May we pay great attention to his command of "let not your heart be troubled".  

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Long Suffering

Galatians 5:22-23--But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Long suffering is patience. Patience is defined in Webster's dictionary as the capability of bearing affliction with calmness; able to tolerate delay; understanding. We must have patience in all aspects of our world around us.   Patience is required when we deal with people, situations, God and ourselves.

Is patience always easy? NO! Even some of the most patient people in small everyday situations are tested when trials seem to have no clear end or resolution. One might be patient enough with children, traffic or small frustrations, but when that long suffering is put to a test, how well does it hold?  How do we endure the trials of our patience such as praying for a family member that is unsaved, enduring a chronic illness, loss of a loved one, or dealing with a job lay off and financial uncertainties?

Christian character comes from the Holy Spirit.  There is no amount of self-effort that will build a Christian character.  Drawing nearer to God develops the character trait of long suffering.  We should become totally dependent upon him and his timing, trusting that he has the plan best suited for us.

If we seek solid a Christian character within ourselves and desire to possess the fruits of the spirit as mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23, then the situations in life that require long suffering will be easier to bear.  Events and situations that we describe as "trying our patience" are opportunities to strengthen Christian character.  So, the next time your patience is put to the test, seek what God is showing you.  Look to strengthen your Christian character.  Draw near to Him.  Thank him for the experience! 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Perfect Love is Built Upon Grace, Compassion, and Sacrifice

1 John 4:18-21   There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.   We love because he first loved us.  If anyone says, "I love God, yet hates his brother, he is a liar.  For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.  And he has given us this command.  Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Let's get real here.  There are some people that are difficult to love.  There are some people that have a difficult time loving us.  I have experienced both sides.  A friend of mine once made this statement, "sometimes, you have to love them like you find them".  It seems like all we can do sometimes.  Honesty, that is all that we want to do sometimes.  God expects more from us.

Why does love, such a great emotion, come with so many difficulties?  First of all, if the giver and receiver are not on the same page with how they feel about love, then there will be trouble.  Love can produce fear and insecurity.  It is not designed that way, but when events happen in life that distort the true meaning of love, then negative emotions arise pertaining to love.  1 John 4:18 tells us that there is no fear in love.  There is no fear when the love is perfect.

What is perfect love?  Perfect love is the love that God has for us.  He showed us his love when he sent his son Jesus to the world.  Jesus modeled perfect love and then died so that we could fully understand love in its perfection. This love was full of grace, outlined in compassion and built upon sacrifice.

It is difficult for us as imperfect people to love one another in a perfect manner.  Mainly because we are not willing to make sacrifices.  Let us repeat that:  We are not willing to make sacrifices for one another.  We are not always willing to give the time and energy that perfect love for one another requires.  We find it difficult to continue to offer our brothers and sisters compassion and mercy.  We often do not want to try to understand someone on a deep and intimate level.  Our attitude is often that we have enough things of our own to do besides helping a friend to bear their burdens.

Love requires work.  Whether the love is a friendship, family relationship, marriage, or relationship with God, it requires time, attention, focus, and effort.  Love that is perfect, first and foremost requires a love for God.  Through that relationship, we can learn to love others.  Through that relationship, we also can gain strength and desire to want to love others.

I pray this today:  Lord, help me to love you with the perfection in which you offer all of us.  Through this love, show me how to love others, even when it is difficult.  Give me the strength, wisdom, and desire to understand how to love others, especially those that have a hard time loving me.  May your perfect love for us, help us to experience a perfect love with others, a love full of grace, outlined in compassion and built upon sacrifice.  AMEN

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Looking for the Kingdom of God

Luke 17:20-21  "....The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is, or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you."

The following passage is from The Imitation of Christ written by Thomas A' Kempis in the 1400s.  In this meditation, he writes about turning to God with all our hearts, forsaking the external world and finding joy and peace in the Holy Spirit.  He says that by doing these things, we will find the kingdom of God.

       "Give place then to Christ, but deny entrance to all others, for when you have Christ you are rich and he is sufficient for you.  He will provide for you.  He will supply your every want, so that you need not trust in frail, changeable men.  Christ remains forever, standing firmly with us to the end.
       Do not place much confidence in weak and mortal man, helpful and friendly though he be; and do not grieve too much if he sometimes opposes and contradicts you.  Those who are with us today may be against us tomorrow and vice versa, for men change with the wind.  Place all your trust in God; let Him be your fear and your love.  He will answer for you; He will do what is best for you."

Such eloquent writing from centuries ago!  I find this book to be a wonderful meditation and interpretation of biblical principles.  What I find most interesting is that even centuries ago, people were troubled by the actions of others.  The inner struggles of the world versus eternity have been in place since the beginning of people.

This writer has a clear picture of what our priorities and loyalties must be.  Those loyalties must be rooted in God for he never changes, yet people do change.  Trust God and love him with all your heart and you will find His kingdom. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Struggles (A guest writer)

2 Corinthians 12: 9-10  But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  That is why,for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong. 

We all have struggles.  If we deny that we do, then we kid ourselves.  This past week, I have dealt with some struggles.  While they are not on the scale as major, small struggles can lead to large amounts of discouragement.  A friend of mine, that I have known since high school wrote a powerful message about struggles.  It is applicable to anyone and any struggle no matter how small or large.  With her permission, I am sharing the message with you all today.

"Some days are just hard. The struggles are real, emotions are raw, and wounds are fresh. You feel like a failure in life. You look in the mirror and you do not like or even know who is staring back at you. You are aging, your hair is a mess, you have gained weight, and all you see are your inadequacies. You look around you and other people seem to be living perfect lives. Mom is always put together, perfect hair and makeup, thin, husband adores her, kids are well behaved, new house, new car, beach vacations, a perfect Facebook life. Guess what…..they struggle also. You just don’t see it. We all have days that we fail as spouses, parents, and friends. That is life! The devil wants you to feel inferior to others and get you to wallow in self-pity. That way you lose focus on whose you really are.

You see we are created in Gods image (Genesis 1:27). If you are a child of His, redeemed by his grace and mercy then you should walk around with your head held high. You have someone who you can always turn to when struggles come. We can talk with God, read His word, and know that He hears, He cares and He is with us (Isaiah 41:10). God created each of us different, with different talents, different passions and He even lets us have different struggles. Why….so we learn to turn to Him, grow in our trials, strengthen our faith and trust in Him (James 1:2-4).

You will still have hard days but remember to whom you belong. Look at all of the blessings He has given you and strive to be a little better today than you were yesterday. Love a little more, listen a little closer, spend time with family and friends, forgive each other and lend a hand where it is needed.

The person you see in the mirror is loved by God. She may not be perfect but she is valuable. You are Gods handiwork, created to do great things (Ephesians 2:10). So do not focus on your failures, your flaws, the I should haves, instead remember whose you are, straighten your crown and walk tall. Tomorrow is a new day, with new blessings and maybe some new struggles even, but God is there, by your side ready to take on the world.

Zephaniah 3:17 ESV The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing."

Thank you, Glenda, for a sharing the message that God spoke to you.  It pierced my heart!


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Rejection NEVER comes from God

2 Corinthians 4:8-9  We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.

Rejection occurs in many sizes and shapes.  Rejection brings about many emotions, questions, and much insecurity.  Rejection in a nut shell means we are discarded as invaluable or unsatisfactory.  Rejection says:  "I do not want you",  "I do not like you", "you are useless to me".    Rejection is crushing and very difficult to understand.  

What exactly happens with rejection? 
               -Someone changes the way they feel about you.
               -Someone does you wrong-most often because of self seeking attitudes and behaviors
               -Someone cares more about themselves that others
               -Sometimes rejection is a cold shoulder, other times it involves intentional acts that clearly
                 demonstrate the thoughts and feelings of one person toward the other.

The main question that I have always had about rejection is "WHY"?  Why does a parent reject a child?  Why do siblings reject one another?  Why does a spouse one day decide there is no love for the other?  Why do people in the workplace work to destroy a position of a fellow co-worker?  Why do people decide they will not like and respect others? 

The common denominator in each of the instances mentioned is "self".  Self-seeking, self-serving, selfish feelings are the base of rejection.  Promoting "self"  demotes others.  When "self" is in the forefront, others are in the back.  Left behind.  Left out. Abandoned.  Rejected. 

Rejection may come from all sides of our lives:  work, family, social activities, sports, etc.  Rejection will NEVER come from God.   No matter the destruction that other people may cause in our lives because of rejection, we are never destroyed in God's eyes.  He will never reject, nor forsake us. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

"Self" is at the base of rejection

Psalms 41:9   Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me. 

I am sure as many of you read this verse, you can call to mind a time when you were rejected by a close friend, a family member, or perhaps a spouse.  Rejection hurts.  Not only does it hurt immediately, but it also causes long term hurts and issues that effect other relationships in our lives. 

Rejection and betrayal are difficult to understand and equally as difficult to overcome.   When we are rejected, a part of us dies.  We mourn.  We grieve.  We wonder why we are not good enough.  We ask ourselves, "What is wrong with me?" or "What did I do wrong?"

What dies within us is mostly the death of our expectations of that relationship.  Our hope and trust in that person dies.  We lose the expectation of being loved and cared for and treated accordingly.  We expect a spouse to honor the vows of "for better or worse" and "till death do us part".  We expect friends to be real and true.  We expect jobs to be fair and people to treat us with respect and concern. 

We experience feelings of rejection because the actions of others do NOT meet our expectations.  This leaves us feeling of little value.  We feel unimportant and unloved.  Rejection occurs because the actions of people do not meet God's expectations of how to treat others.  He will never approve of rejection. 

Rejection is most difficult when it comes from a family member or close friend.  If you have ever heard the words, "I don't love you anymore", then you know all the emotions and thoughts that follow.   When a person betrays you or decides they have changed the way they feel about you, that relationship is severed.  If the relationship is a close one, perhaps a marriage or a friendship of many years, the rejection will cause a physical "ripping of the flesh" experience.   Physical symptoms will accompany this type of severance. 

How does someone suddenly change his/her mind about loving or even liking someone?  How does a person wake up one day and no longer wish to be a part of someone else, especially when the relationship has existed for many years?  

The root of the matter when a person rejects another is "SELF".   When a person wrongs another, there are selfish motives and attitudes at heart.  There is an absence of God's will anytime rejection intentionally occurs.   When we seek God with all our hearts, it should never be within us to reject another. 

In the midst of the pain and grief that rejection brings, remember that God loves you and will never reject you.  Also focus on your value as he sees it, not as humans assign it.  The actions and rejections of others do NOT determine your value as God's child. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Freedom

Galatians 5:13   For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

As we celebrate freedom today, let us be ever mindful of the greatest freedom of all.  Jesus Christ offers us freedom from our sins and the opportunity to be eternally free.  May we always use the offer to love others and serve Christ by serving others.   Let us forever remember what the flesh of Christ suffered in order for us to experience freedom.  May we never use that freedom to satisfy our own flesh. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

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".

  

Thursday, June 29, 2017

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.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Let go of the expectation of an apology.

Ephesians 4:32   Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you.

Is it easier to forgive someone who repents and is remorseful of the wrong they have done against us?   Allow that to soak in.  It seems easier to forgive someone that comes to you with repentance and is genuinely sorry for the offense.   But, should it be easier to forgive in this manner?  If we have an attitude of forgiveness, it should be easy for us to forgive in any circumstance.  

God expects us to forgive with or without repentance and apologies.  However, our pride and stubbornness will sometimes hold out for the remorse from the other person.  The emotional side of us wants an emotional forgiveness.  We want to see that a lesson was learned on the part of offender.  We long to know that they realize the hurt that was brought upon us.  It may feel like a bit of justice is  served if there is genuine remorse.

Forgiveness is not about emotions and feelings.  We cannot entertain the expectation that our offenders will ever show remorse or repentance.  There are so many situations where this never happens.  Perhaps the offender passes away before amends are made.  Maybe the offender is not a Christian and never acknowledges God's convictions about doing wrong to others.  Some people simply feel that they do no wrong and refuse to be accountable for their wrongs.  

We cannot wait and delay taking care of forgiveness.  Forgiveness is in the heart of the beholder.  It is beneficial to the offended more so than the offender.   Forgiveness is to be worked out between you (the offended) and God.  It is necessary for your heart to align with God's expectations.  Forgiveness should free your mind of the attitudes of injustice, anger, vengeance, and bitterness. 

If you have unforgiveness in your heart that beckons to be addressed, yet you are waiting for an apology or repentance from the offender, let go of that expectation.  You may wait forever and it may never happen.   Take care of the unforgiveness ASAP.  To hold unforgiveness in your heart is a sin on your part.  Forgiveness is between you and God anyway. 
  

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

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.      

Monday, June 26, 2017

There is no need to react to the actions of the enemy.

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!!

Friday, June 23, 2017

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. 

Was 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. 

          

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The desire to help others should never be replaced by the self-gratification of power.

1 Kings 11:11   So the Lord said to Solomon, "Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates".

When the desire to help others is replaced by the self-gratification of power, kingdoms are torn down.  The love of power and splendor separates people from God.  God does not favor the actions of those who are self-serving.

Solomon was appointed as king when his father, David, was near death.  Solomon was a wise king.  He was granted wisdom and authority by God to be used for ruling the kingdom of Israel.  As king, Solomon became wealthy and famous.  His advice and wisdom were sought by people.  He was approached as a counselor of sorts as people desired the wisdom that God had bestowed in his heart.  He was often paid for his counsel and he accumulated many assets as a result.

As Solomon absorbed the fame and power that he had acquired, his heart became more interested in  self-gratification.  He enjoyed many women and began to worship idols.  The women, who were from many different countries, introduced him to their idols and other gods.  God had warned Solomon when he became king that he needed to guard his heart against going astray.  He had been specifically warned about marrying women from foreign countries, "because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods" (1 Kings 11:2).  The self-gratification of his power led Solomon to follow after things other than what God had intended for him.

Solomon's attitude and rebellion caused his kingdom to be taken away.  God was angry with Solomon, "so the Lord said to Solomon, 'Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates'" (1 Kings 11:11).

No matter the task that God has placed before us, we must not allow any authority or attention to become an idol.  When God grants us wisdom or appoints us to preside over a calling, we must use that appointment for His glory, not for self-gratification.  If we become like Solomon, then we lose the desire to help others and to glorify God.  We must guard our hearts against the idols of recognition  and prosperity.  We must remain eager to help others and never lose the desire to advance God's kingdom.    

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Rise Above Challenging Circumstances

Hebrews 10:35-36  So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 

The message for today: 

Do not conform to your circumstances.  Rise above the challenging situations that life presents. 

I am so thankful that Jesus did not conform to his circumstances while he was here on earth.  I am thankful that he faced each challenge with courage and the mind set that he was going to carry out God's will no matter what he encountered.   He was mocked, cursed, rejected, and pretty much homeless, yet he did not dwell on those details.  He did not sit in the sand,  have a huge pity party and invite all his friends.  He did not become paralyzed by the actions and treatments of others.   He remained focused on his purpose, moving forward with all that he was to accomplish. 

Was it all easy for him?  I doubt it.  I am sure there were times that he stood in disbelief of how people thought and behaved.  I imagine that his heart was broken several times as he witnessed the actions of people around him.  I am sure that discouragement tried to creep into his mind at various points during his ministry.

Jesus' confidence never faltered.  In challenging situations, Jesus did not react with with defeat or discouragement.  He had complete confidence in his Father.  His confidence and faith that God's perfect will in his life would be fulfilled, allowed Jesus to pursue his earthly ministry with assurance. 

When we face difficult situations in life, we are tempted to react with an attitude of defeat.  We are often tempted to define ourselves by the circumstances which we experience.  While we may suffer defeat at some points in life, we are not defeated!  If we can learn to view defeat and difficulties as challenges in which we are eager to rise above, we can grow and abound in our relationship with God.  Perseverance without dwelling on any negative details strengthens faith.  Confidence in God's purpose for each of us will allow us to pursue our earthly ministry work with the same assurance that Jesus embodied. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

God Sees Our Potential

Philippians 3:13  No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this on thing:  Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling me. 

We have all done things in life that we regret.  Satan tries to cause us to dwell on our mistakes.  He wants us to ruminate our failures.  He tries to fill our minds with regret.  If we allow our minds to  be consumed with mistakes and regret, we become distracted Christians.  If we wallow in the past, we cannot effectively proceed into the future.  By looking backwards, we lose our focus on the goal before us.

In this passage of Philippians, Paul is saying that he has not reached perfection, but that he presses forward to reach the perfection that Jesus Christ has to offer (Philippians 3:12).  Paul wanted to know Christ.  He wanted to experience the resurrection power that Christ has to offer.  Paul desired to be all that Christ had in mind for him.  Paul had many regrets from his former life.  He realized that dwelling on his regrets and mistakes was not conducive to becoming closer to Christ.  

Mistakes are isolated moments in time, not permanent reflections of who you are.  Learn from mistakes and allow the lesson to add to your wisdom.  Do not allow your mistakes or memories of past mistakes to overpower the whole person that you are.

God does not focus on our mistakes.  He does not repetitively look at our past.  God sees the potential in each and every one of us. God knew that we would make mistakes.  He made provisions for us (John 3:16).  Once you call upon His name for forgiveness, you do not have to think about or worry about those mistakes any more.  God's intention is to mold us to fulfill his purpose which is to for us to be more like Christ every day.   

If you spend time ruminating about things for which you regret, STOP!  Lay aside harmful thinking that includes mistakes and failures.  Refuse to live in the imbalance of what you have been versus what you can be.  Begin to live in the stability of the potential that God sees in you.  You can grow in the knowledge and wisdom of God.  He offers a fuller and more meaningful life because of our hope in Christ.   

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Instead of justice, focus on purpose.

Psalms 3:7-8       7-Arise, O Lord!   Deliver me, O my God!  Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked.   8-From the Lord comes deliverance.  May your blessing be on your people.


In verse 7 David is calling out to God for justice against the people that were persecuting him.  He wanted equal treatment.  He wanted justice.  When we have been beaten down, insulted, persecuted, we want justice from God.  When we feel as if enemies are surrounding us with intentional acts of maltreatment, we may dream of vengeance.  We might think that our enemies should receive equal treatment. 

In verse 8, David reveals humility and patience for God's timing.   He realized that victory over his enemies comes from God's perfect justice and judgment.  He can see that revenge is not the answer.  He leaves the matter in God's hands.    

In times of persecution from our enemies, it is easy to fall into a state of focusing on their punishment, especially how we think the punishment should be carried out.  Our minds may become filled with vivid details of how we think revenge would be best served.  When we are hurting, we often wish hurt upon those who caused our pain.  Vengeance is not ours to distribute and focusing on punishment is non-productive.   

Instead of focusing on punishment for our enemies, we should focus on our purpose.  What does God want us to learn from our enemies?  How might we gain strength from situations in which we are mistreated?  What is His purpose for us from day to day?   These are questions to ponder while humbly leaving our enemies in the hands of our victor.  

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Bitterness: The Receiving End

Romans 15: 1-3  We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.  Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.  For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written:  "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me."

There may be times in life when someone treats you in ways that are difficult to understand.   The treatment may include disrespect with unkind words, manipulation, rejection or  attitudes of indifference.    Some acts may be outright malicious with the intent of causing harm.  This kind of treatment sends mixed signals to us.   A person may say "I love you" or "you are important to me" but not show it with actions.  When this happens, you are on the receiving end of bitterness that is present in that person's life.  Deep hurts in the past will lead a person to lash out at others, especially when it is perceived that another has what he/she is missing in life. 

You may never be able to explain or understand why these things happen.  However, I have come to realize that when people act in ways as stated above, one or more of the following will apply:
      -the person has unresolved hurts that need to be healed
      -the person is in need of an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ
      -the things that are said and done really have nothing to do with you. He/she is battling issues internally. 
      -compassion and unconditional love may be something the person has never known

I do not intend to imply that any of these behaviors are acceptable.  What I do want to emphasize is that when you are on the receiving end of these behaviors:
                1.  you must remain strong in knowing that you are not the cause of another person's
                      actions
                2.  you must NOT allow bitterness to grow within you from their actions and words
                3.  being on the receiving end says more about the other person than it does about you as a
                     recipient
                4.  it is your responsibility not to entertain thoughts of vengeance or similar actions

Prayer and patience will go a long way in coming to accept that everyone will not love you as God loves you.  It would be a wonderful world if that could be the case.   When you are placed in these situations, pray that God will reveal to you what he expects from you in response to the actions/words of others.   Seek strength in dealing with the failings of other people.          

Friday, June 9, 2017

Self-Worth

Genesis 1:27  So God created human beings in his own image.  In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 

In the first book of the Bible, we are shown the value that we have in God's eyes.    From the beginning of creation, God valued us so much that he created us in is image, both men and women.  

We are all born with the same worth to God.  From the beginning we are all valued the same.  In the end we will still all have the same value in God's eyes.   As we go through life here on earth, experiences and situations add to or take away from our perception of our self-worth as well as our view on the worth of others. God's view of our value never changes.

It seems easy to allow others to affect how important we feel.   The relationships and the communication within those relationships have a strong impact on our perceptions of our self -worth.  Negative words cause hurt feelings. Actions that tear down character can cause us to doubt our worth or wonder if we have any value.  Trials and tribulations may leave us feeling insecure and  unimportant.  

When we allow others to have an impact on our self-worth, our relationship with God is diminished. Our relationships with others in our lives will be impacted if our self-worth is low.  Job performance will be affected as well as the goals that we pursue.  How we perceive our self-worth affects everything in which we are involved.  Feeling unimportant can change the course of the rest of a person's life. 

We must remain strong and grounded in the worth that God has for us.  When we allow the words and/or actions of others to have a bearing on our esteem, we forget who holds the yardstick.  God is the keeper of the measurements!  He is the one, the only one, who declares the value of a person's worth.  Guard your self-worth.  Do not look at the value of your worth according to the people on this earth.  Look to God to assign worth to your life and the purpose He has for you.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Dissatisfaction

1 Timothy 6:6   But godliness with contentment is great gain.

Disappointments in life can lead to dissatisfaction.  Perhaps you are disappointed about your circumstances, acts others have committed against you or perhaps you are dissatisfied with poor decisions that you have made in the past.  Dissatisfaction should NOT give way to feelings of unworthiness.   Trust that the work which God is performing in you and your life is exactly what he has planned. 

I can recall a situation in my family's life a few years ago that left us feeling disappointed and dissatisfied.  I felt confused as to the direction in which God was leading us.  Because of the dissatisfaction and the fact that I thought our situation should have been going in a different direction, I began to have feelings of low self-esteem and of little worth.   I can tell you from my own experience that if you are telling yourself that you are of little worth, then you begin to be clouded with only those thoughts.   My mind was cluttered because I allowed worldly measures to influence my feelings of worthiness and importance.  When we can have a positive attitude about ourselves and maintain a positive self-worth, we can keep our minds open for self-improvement and to hear what God is asking us to do. 

We must learn to be content in "whose" we are, not who we are.   We are all God's creations.    We are all valuable and should use any feelings of dissatisfaction to improve ourselves and seek God's direction.     

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Make Changes in Your Future!!

Isaiah 59:2   But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face
                    from you, so that he will not hear.

Forgiveness changes nothing from the past.  Not one detail is taken away from an occurrence that happened in your life by offering forgiveness to an offender.  What has happened cannot be rewound or erased. 

Forgiveness changes EVERYTHING about the future.  It will change your relationship with God.  It will change you as an individual.  Grace and mercy will affect your blessings and your Christian journey.

When we refuse to forgive and offer grace to one another, we harbor sin.  We hold onto grudges.  Bitterness festers like a cancer.  We easily fall into ruminating about the occurrence and capturing all the details involved.

The facts related to the offense will always remain.  Like history books from the beginning of time, the facts cannot be rewritten.  No changes can be made to events that have already occurred.

As long as we have the sin of bitterness active in our lives, we will not receive the full blessings that God has in store for us.  He expects us to deal with the bitterness and mature spiritually before he will advance us in the blessings department.  I have seen this firsthand in my life.  

If you are harboring bitterness of any kind, now is the time to begin to deal with it.  In doing so, you will change many things about your future-in a great and mighty way.  As we are told in Isaiah 59:2, our iniquities separate us from a close, mature relationship with God.  There is no better time than the present to make changes in your future!!