The Sweet Stuff Ministry

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".