The Sweet Stuff Ministry

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Rearranging your inquisition

Psalm 25:4-5   Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

When a major hurt or disappointment happens in our lives, one of the first things we want to do is get answers.  Can you remember a time when your prayers regarding a particular event contained many "why" or "why me" sentences?   Instead of seeking answers, we should seek guidance and direction.  Instead of asking "why", it will serve us in a better way to ask, "what do you want me to do with this?" or "where do I go from here?".  In Psalm 25, David asks God for guidance instead of answers.  David recognized God's wisdom and regarded his attributes.  He wanted God to teach him how to move forward and fulfill God's will. 

Spending a great amount of time seeking to find out why something happened or why someone did what they did, is a type of ruminating or wallowing.  This type of mindset holds you back, preventing you from moving forward and letting go.  Asking God to give you direction, helps to build wisdom.  Wisdom is cumulative.  Wisdom is what equips us to be prepared to react to the next disappointment or hurt that comes along. 

If you are on a path of asking the same "why" or "why me" questions, rearrange your inquisition.   Seek guidance in how to process and react to what has happened or what will happen in the future.  No more wallowing or dwelling on "why".  It is time to ask, "how do I move forward and gain wisdom from disappointing situations"?  Inquire of God what He wants to teach you.  He will lead you in truth and grant you the wisdom to move forward through any situation. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

We cannot pick and choose what to forgive

Matthew 18:  24-27  As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him.  Since he was not able to play, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.  The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.'  The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

This passage of scripture is about compassion, mercy and forgiveness.  The king had mercy on the man who owed him.  The man owed him 10,000 talents which, in today's currency, would be several  million dollars!  It was many years worth of wages that the servant owed the king.  The king quickly forgave the debt and sent the servant and his family on their way.  Let us take a look at the next part of the story.

Matthew 18: 28-30  But when the servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denari.  He grabbed him and began to choke him, 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.  His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'  But he refused.  Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.

A hundred denari is but a few dollars.  It was mere pocket change in comparison to what the servant had owed the king.  The servant expected to be forgiven of his debt of a millions of dollars, yet how quickly he had forgotten that act of mercy toward his debtor.  When a man that owed him a small amount asked for mercy, the servant refused to show him any.

If we intend to live righteously, according to God's commands, then we cannot pick and choose what debts we forgive.  God does not pick and choose which debts of ours to forgive.  He forgives them all!  If we accept God's principles, then we do not have the option of assigning weights and measures to forgiveness.  We must forgive the large, heavy offenses, just as we forgive the small, lightweight misdeeds.  In regards to forgiveness, there should never be a scorecard.  The gospel should flow out with mercy and compassion.

Friday, January 27, 2017

God may change things in your journey

Job1:21  "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart.  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised."

Things change in our lives and sometimes we do not desire those changes.  If you look at change in your life as God "taking away", then perhaps you discount his sovereignty.  Change can be viewed as God moving you along to where he needs you to be in order to fulfill his purpose within you.

For example, if you lose your job, what is likely the first thought you would have about it?  You might ask, why did God take this away from me?  Then you might begin to justify why you should have been able to keep your job.  Perhaps you would say, "I have been here for 15 years, I should not have been let go".  Other changes in our lives can also be viewed as losses or we can view them as changes in our opportunities.

God is a giving god.  He does not desire to take things from us and cause us to suffer.  However, in order to get our attention or in order for us to move into the direction that he has planned for us, sometimes he changes the gears for us.  If he is trying to lead us down a different path and we do not listen in order to follow, he will send a situation that well get our attention.

If we look at everything that God takes away as a loss, or a punishment then we discount His sovereignty.  To believe that God is sovereign requires us to trust in his provisions and decisions in our lives.  Just as Job did in his time of great loss, we should praise God for the things he takes away as well as the things he gives.  When the details in our lives change, we should look for new opportunities that allow us to travel the journey which God has planned.  I have come to learn that the journey that we might have mapped out in our own minds can be very different from the journey that God has planned for us.    


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Share your gifts and leadership talents

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

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

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


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

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

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

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

God expects obedience in small and large matters.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, January 23, 2017

Decide to focus on growing in Christ

Philippians 3:15-16     All of us who are spiritually mature agree on these things.   If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you.  But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.

How do we deal with bitterness and walk free from its pull.  How do we resist being angry, resentful and unforgiving when Satan works diligently to keep us holding on to these attitudes?

Paul taught the Philippians the importance of growing into a Christlike maturity.  This type of maturity seeks Christ and asks him to fill any discrepancies between who we are and who we need to be.  This maturity comes from knowing God, spending time with him to learn his will for us and then acting in obedience to fulfill that perfect will. 

The Bible says we must focus our lives on being like Christ.  As with anything that we desire to do well, we must have discipline and diligence as we seek to become more Christlike.  With the mind set of an Olympic athlete in training, we must lay all harmful and distracting things aside that will keep us from being effective Christians.  Seeking Christ requires focus and a deep desire to overcome anger and resentment. 

In dealing with bitterness, a mature Christlike attitude is one that leads us to intentionally choose to relish our blessings instead of wallowing in our bitterness.   Choose to grow and relish instead of wallowing.   Decide to follow Christ's teachings about attitude and spiritual maturity.  Seek growth in Christ that will draw you closer to him.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Let Him Heal Your Wounds

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Instead of Punishment, 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.  Vengeance is not ours to distribute and focusing on such 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 persecuted?  What is His purpose for us from day to day?   These are questions to ponder while leaving our enemies in the hands of our victor.  

Monday, January 16, 2017

His Faithful Love Endures Forever

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


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

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

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

Friday, January 13, 2017

Avoiding anxiety

1 Corinthians 14:33   For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

How can we avoid anxiety and live in a state of peace?

In yesterday's post, anxiety was identified as an internal disruption.  When we suffer anxiety, we have lost our inner peace, whether it be for a brief or extended period of time.  Anxiety produces confusion and feelings of chaos.

In discussing feelings of anxiety with several women, one common thread that I have noticed is that as women, we often become overloaded because we try to accommodate several people in our lives.  We can easily arrive at a place of over commitment between church, work, family, and community.  One self-truth with many women is that they feel obligated to do many things just because they have been asked to do so.  Some women will feel "guilted" into saying yes to things that others ask of them.  That is an emotional reaction based upon feelings (see previous post regarding emotional decisions).  So, the question for today is, "how can we develop a healthy sense of self, free of anxiety and chaos?"

The answer is simple.  Give everything to God!  Reread Philippians 4:6-7.  Why does this sound so simple yet seems so hard to do?  The giving it to God is the easy part for all of us.  Where we complicate matters is listening to what He says about things, accepting what He says, and obeying what He asks of us.  In order for each of us to maintain a state of peace within us, we must give everything to God and do what He says.  Let us rinse and repeat that.

Remember that we must give EVERYTHING to God.  Every little detail.  Everything that causes any turmoil or anxious feelings.  Here is an examples of a recent situation that have offered feelings of anxiety in my life.  Last year, our son was in the process of choosing a college to attend.  He had narrowed the choice down to two schools, both of which were excellent choices for his field of study.  In sifting through each detail, and advising him of the pros/cons of each school, I became anxious about the decision.  My mind became consumed with the small details.  While we as a family had all been praying for well over a year about this decision, my mind became chaotic.  I said to God, "show us the decision that you have for our son".  I refused to worry anymore about it.  I put the folders with all the information about the schools away and waited to hear God.  I declared in my mind that I would have peace about the situation and would allow God to guide us.  In this situation, my anxiety came about because I was trying to have control.  Giving God complete control relieved the anxiety.  By the way, the choice that God made for our son's college was perfect!

Here is the key to relieving anxiety: give God complete control.  Period.  It is that simple.  When we mess in the details of any situation, we are likely to have anxiety.  Give the control to God.  Even in the smallest of situations. 

One way to approach any situation that will help to alleviate anxiety is to be "responsive" before you are "reactive".  For example, if you are asked to serve on a committee at church, before you answer, ask God what you are supposed to do.  Respond by saying that you will seek His instruction.  Avoid emotional reactions and decisions.  Let God be in control instead of being controlled by others.  When He is in control, peace will follow.  He is not the author of chaos and confusion. 
 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Peace and Anxiety

Philippians 4:6-7  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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".

Peace and Anxiety

Peace and anxiety are paradoxical terms.  One state does not exist within the other.   Peace is not found in feelings of anxiety.  Anxiety is not present when peace rules in our hearts.

Anxiety is an internal disruption of our emotional state.  It produces turmoil, worry, fear, and apprehension.  Anxiety is a disturbance of our peace.

Peace, on the other hand, is defined in the dictionary as freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety, or an obsession.  In a state of peace, there is no worry, fear, or feelings of apprehension.  Therefore, peace is the opposite of anxiety.

In the verses above from Philippians 4:6-7 and John 14:27, peace and anxiety are addressed.  The verses give us instructions about how to avoid anxiety and experience peace that is free of worry and troubles.  That peace is found in submitting ALL things to God.

ALL things!

Every little detail.

Every worry.

Each and every situation that causes turmoil.

Anxiety is not something that God wants us to suffer.  He wants us to enjoy peace!  Why, then, is it difficult for us to avoid anxiety and live in a state of peace?  Stay tuned over the next couple of days and that very issue will be addressed.




Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Emotional Decisions

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

"Do not make permanent decisions based upon temporary emotions".  I found this written on a stick-it note that my daughter had read and written down.  It is very good advice and can be applied to many situations.  In fact, NO decision should ever me made based solely on emotions.  Feelings are often unreasonable and unreliable.  Strong feelings such as anger are truly temporary and many decision have been made by many people in the midst of their anger.  When this happens, regret usually follows.

I remember the time when each of our three children decided to leave home.  Not in the grown up sense to pursue college and careers, but in the little child stage around seven or eight years old.  It always followed a request for something they wanted to do or purchase.  When the answer was "No", which went against their desires, then some anger followed, along with the announcement, "Well, I will just leave home".  I remember when our oldest daughter announced her leaving, it caught me off guard and as I stood there looking at her in disbelief, she looked at me and said, "Can you help me pack a few things?"  I knew that she could in no way at seven years old make it on her own.  Seems like I can also remember when I announced this to my own mother.  I took a piece of cheese and some crackers and set out walking to my grandmother's house.  I was only gone a couple of hours and when the emotions subsided, I was ready to reverse my decision to leave home. In the moment, those decisions seemed best. 

When emotions are strong they take over our thought processes.  We begin to reason that if we cannot get what we want, we will just make a drastic decision.  We may quit a job if things are not going the way we want.  We may move in order to be away from the people that are not doing what we think they should.  Often times those decisions are motivated by the desire to capture the attention of another person or to cause some hurt.  When reasoning returns to our minds, we realize our permanent decisions may not have been the best thing for us.   

Wisdom is not found in emotional decisions.  Everlasting decisions based upon an emotional state can cause permanent damage to the journey that God has planned for each of us.  Emotions are unreliable and many times short lived.  The decisions that we make are not always short lived.  They have compounding effects on all aspects of our lives.   Wisdom is found in the Lord.  Wisdom is acquired through concentrated and focused time with God. Some decisions in life will be made in short periods of time while others will require long periods of seeking God's advice.  Emotions must be put aside when making permanent decisions in order to allow wisdom to permeate the situation. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

"D-e" words

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

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

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

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

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

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




     

Monday, January 9, 2017

Making Peace with the Past

Luke 9:62   But Jesus told him, "Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God."

When we accept Jesus as our Lord and savior and make a commitment to follow him, he expects a full commitment.  In looking at Luke 9:62 that commitment includes looking forward and not behind us.  If you plow, whether with a mule or tractor, you cannot see where you need to go if you are constantly looking back at where you have been. 

We need to come to place of "making peace with the past".   This doesn't mean that we will forget everything bad or uncomfortable about the past, for in doing so, we would also forget the good.  We can choose not to remember in a way that affects our commitment and work for the Lord.

Some thoughts and points to help make peace with the past:

-Whether you were on the giving or receiving end of wrong, it is over.   No going back.
- You should keep no record of wrongs. You should keep no record of rights.  Life is not a contest.
-Feel whatever you need to feel: anger, sadness, sorrow and be finished with those feelings for each particular situation.  Refuse to feel negative and hurtful emotions.
-You have total control over your mind, therefore, find a place to put the hurt and let it hurt you NO more.
-Grieve it, bury it and sow flowers on it. 
-Life will still move forward, even if in small steps.  Move forward with it in a positive way.
-If you have accepted Jesus as you Lord and savior, you are NOT that person from the past anymore.  You have been made a new creature.  Don't let the devil tell you otherwise.

There is a saying that I remember from a church sign years ago:  "When the devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his future."

Friday, January 6, 2017

Prayer procrastination

Nehemiah 2:4    The king said to me, "What is it you want?"  Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, "If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it."

I have a saying that I use with my children and my students:  "your procrastination is not my emergency".  This phrase deals with planning versus procrastination.  Procrastination is not a friend.  It leads to stress, a decrease in the quality of our work and any time that I have ever procrastinated, something will usually go wrong, ie, computer locks up, tools break, or I run out of time to complete the task.  I learned many years ago that planning is a better friend.  A steady work flow that involves tackling jobs as they are assigned leads to greater productivity, better quality work and much less stress.

Nehemiah was a planner, especially in the prayer department.  The above scripture is when Nehemiah was dealing with being obedient to what God had asked him to do.  He was preparing to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the city walls which had been destroyed for many years.  He planned with God and by doing so, was able to carefully lay out his plans with all the people involved in the rebuilding of Jerusalem.

Nehemiah prayed regularly and very often.  He did not procrastinate in his prayer life.  He was "prayed up" as the saying around here goes.  As a result, he had a deep, intimate relationship with God.  Therefore, when God called upon him, Nehemiah recognized the calling and was completely comfortable discerning God's plan for him and communicating the details.  It was easy for Nehemiah to seek God at any time throughout the day to check in with details and requests. 

Nehemiah's prayer life shows us a great picture of how our prayer lives should be.   If we cultivate deep prayer time, frequently, then we can avoid emergency prayer situations.  God wants more from us than just running to him with urgent, emergent prayer.  He does not merely desire for us to list and ask and plead.  He wants times of fellowship where we pour out our hearts. He wants our prayers to contain thanksgiving along with pleas for action. 

Prayer procrastination is much like any other.  It leads to stressful communication and feelings of distance between God and us.  A more productive prayer life comes from steady, daily, constant prayerful attitudes that build an intimate relationship with God. 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

January: A Necessary Month

2 Corinthians 4:16-17   Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 

January is here and it is snowing today in our area.  I can remember times in my early school days when we would miss many days in January due to snow on the ground.  January became a symbol of long days of being in the house looking for things to do in order to occupy time.  The month of January may be a discouraging month for some people.  The weather is often gloomy and restrictive.  The trees are without leaves and no flowers are blooming.  January follows the Christmas season which has been filled with activities and celebrations, therefore the month often leaves us with an anticlimactic feeling. 

I decided several years ago, that I would no longer dread January or look at it as a gloomy month.  January is a great month to renew.  Departments stores advertise January white sales in order to renew our home with fresh linens and towels.  We can begin to view January as a month to renew our minds with a deeper study of God's word.  Extra time in the house is a great way to spend some one-on-one time with God.  Plan new works for His kingdom.  Set new goals for your spiritual growth.  In order for us to hear what God is speaking to each of us, we must spend some time being still.  January is a great month to "be still". 

Stay encouraged!  Even though January seems like a dreary month without much color, it is a necessary month.  We must first pass through January in order to arrive at February which then leads into spring.  As we are told in the Bible in Ecclesiastes chapter three, all things have a season.  Each season on earth depends upon various elements of the previous season in order to prepare the environment for production.  We can view our spiritual lives in the same manner.  January can be a great month spiritually, gathering inspiration, renewing, and strengthening our relationship with God.  It is a good time to seek an inward renewal day by day.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Encouraging Others to Believe in Themselves

John 8: 6-11  But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.  When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."  Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.  At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.   Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?"  "No one, sir,"  she said.  "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared.  "Go now and leave your life of sin."

Everyone needs someone who believes in him/her.   Having someone who believes in us can make the difference between a life remaining as it is or a life that will move toward the potential that God has planned for each of us.  

Over the years of teaching college courses, I often encountered students that struggle with the material.  Radiologic Science is difficult material.  Courses include radiation physics, radiation biology, imaging techniques and imaging equipment.   With increased study efforts and practice, along with the support of professors, most students overcome the struggles and come to a full understanding of the material.

In getting to know students throughout the years, God revealed to me that very often, the greatest area in which some students struggle is not so much the difficulty of the material.  Many students struggle with believing in themselves which becomes a barrier for comprehending the materials.  So many times, students are more than capable of completing the courses; however, life's circumstances and events may leave them without the belief that they can accomplish their goals.  Satan will run through this open door and compound the discouragement.  

The same must be true in all realms of life.  I would venture to guess that many people in all situations of work, school, family, etc. need encouragement in order to believe in themselves.  In the Scripture above, a woman caught in adultery was brought before Jesus.  This verse is about many things, such as being judgmental, forgiveness and the treatment of others.  When I read the verse today, I saw a savior who believes in us!  Jesus showed the woman that he believed in her; that she could change her life for the better.  He helped her to see that she had worth and was important.  He stood up for her in the crowd and proved that he is a great encourager.  He knows that all of us can rise above our circumstances, whatever they may be, and overcome the struggles that are present in our lives. 

The woman in the story was encouraged.  This surely made a difference in her life.  I have seen the same encouragement make a difference in the lives of students.  I have witnessed first hand how people can rise above their circumstances and move toward their potential.

Encouragement falls under our command to love one another.  By encouraging, we love.  When we reinforce a person's potential, we cheer them on and promote love. If you are aware of someone who struggles to believe in themselves or their potential, please become a cheerleader for them.  Offer encouragement and the unconditional love that Jesus offered the woman in the passage of John 8.     

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year!

Psalm 51:10   Create in me a clean heart, O God.  Renew a loyal spirit within me.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  Once again, the year has rolled by.  I praise God for all the blessings he has given me in the past year.  I also want to praise him for all the things he has taken away. 


I want to take this opportunity to reflect upon the past year of The Sweet Stuff Ministry.  It has been a year of spiritual growth and spiritual strengthening.  The year has been filled with many opportunities within this ministry, both through the online portion and the up-close-and-personal portion.  I have met new people that inspire and encourage me.  God continues to reveal his expectations for the future of this ministry.  I am excited to enter a new year with broadened horizons.

I want to thank each and every one of you that supports The Sweet Stuff Ministry through your interactions, prayers, and kind words.  A special THANK YOU to each of you that has donated clothing for the trailer.  I cannot begin to tell you how the clothing ministry blesses me continuously.   Several times per month, clothing is distributed from the trailer to people in need.  Some folks that receive clothing have lost their homes to fire, some have fled abusive situations with only the clothing on their backs, others have lost jobs and need clothing for growing children.  Clothing has gone to areas of our country that have suffered natural disasters.  Outfits have been sent to ladies as they get out of jail and have nothing to wear  because they lost everything upon being incarcerated.

All the clothing distributions are made possible because each of you was obedient to God's call to donate items.  A loud THANK YOU! for your servant hood and obedience!  It is amazing on this side of the ministry to see how God works to fill the clothing trailer.  I have never solicited donations for clothing or money.  Yet, God sees to it that the trailer stays fully stocked.  He is perfect in his timing and gifts!  I sometimes receive phone calls to pick up bags of clothing, other times, boxes and bags arrive at my doorstep.  I stand in awe of how it all falls into place.  There have been times when I have had people request clothing in sizes that I do not have in stock.  In a matter of a couple of days, sometimes the same day, I will receive a call or message for a donation and guess what, the exact sizes that are needed will be in the donated items. If you have ever doubted that God takes care of little details, I can assure you that he does!

As we enter a new year, I covet your prayers for the ministry.  It is my prayer that everything that The Sweet Stuff Ministry offers will afford each of you a closer walk with God.  I pray for opportunities in which to serve others with a renewed spirit and a clean heart.  I pray for healing, particularly emotional healing, for any of you that may suffer from bitterness and the affects of discord in your life.  May each of you live out the words in Isaiah 40:31, "but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength;  they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Much love to each of you!