Unexpected Grief

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 | The Bottom of a Bottle

Unexpected Grief

This will likely come as quite a shock to you — I know five people who were murdered.  It still shocks me whenever I think about it because it’s not like I grew up in bad neighborhoods in New York City or Chicago, where murders are so prevalent.

I met Dennis through one of my high school friends.  He was friends with her next-door neighbors.  Though I didn’t know him well, I still remember the horror I felt at seventeen years old when I discovered he had been murdered.  His murder is still unsolved.

Pat ran cross-country with my brother in high school.  I had a crush on him back then.   A few years after we graduated, he was shot by his step-brother, who claimed he thought it was an intruder.  The shooting was ruled an accident.  However, I remember bad blood between the two of them, and have always believed it was murder.  It is still difficult in those rare times when I encounter his step brother in public.

Julie’s murder was a very high profiled case.  Julie was one of my customers at the bank where I was working.  I didn’t know her well, but I remember the shock of hearing of her murder.  Though her murder is still unsolved, the consensus among the locals is that her husband did it.  

Abby’s murder was a very high profile case because her family is well known in our community.  I went to high school with many of her aunts and uncles.  I even watched her dad play basketball in high school.

While all of these murders still stand out in my mind, none affected me like this next one.  About three weeks ago, a lady whom I ministered to for several months was allegedly strangled by her lover.

During this pandemic, I have written about the different types of grief I have experienced:  loved ones who have died from Covid, loss of hugs and smiles, loss of simple things like eating out, etc.  Beth’s murder (not her real name), is a grief that was completely unexpected, and so pitifully sad.

I met Beth when I returned to my home church a few years ago.  She was rough around the edges — not the type of person I would normally befriend.  However, I felt drawn to her.  Perhaps it was because she had several young children, one of whom was still a baby.  I remembered the days when my daughter was colicky or teething, and how exhausting it could be to deal with a fussy baby for what seemed like weeks.  I’m sure it was only a day here and a day there, but when you are in the middle of it, those days seem like weeks.  Whatever the reason, I was drawn to Beth.  

We often sat together at the women’s studies and in Sunday school.  As I learned more about her, I discovered she was struggling with drinking and smoking pot.  While I never got into smoking pot, I did drink before the Lord saved me.  I wanted to see Beth delivered from those shackles.  We spent many Sundays at the altar, crying out to God for deliverance.

As I read Ecclesiastes 3, I see so many things that remind me of that time I invested in Beth.  There was a time to plant — I sowed many seeds into Beth’s life.  I would reach out to her at church, call her during the week, text her encouraging scriptures, and send her cards in the mail.  

A time to heal and build up — Several of us would frequently gather around her and pray with her.  We would take time to listen to her, hearing the struggles she was facing.  We would share personal victories, trying to encourage her that she could also experience those same victories in her own life.

A time to laugh and a time to dance — We learned that we needed to celebrate even the tiniest of victories with her.  If she was able to go one day without smoking pot or drinking, we celebrated it with her.  Whenever she passed an exam at college, we celebrated those moments because we wanted to encourage her to keep moving forward so she could make a better life for herself and her family.

A time to speak up and time to be silent — There were times when we would just be silent while she unburdened her heart.  Other times, we would boldly speak up to counsel her with the Word.

A time of war and a time for peace — We knew we wouldn’t see peace until we battled the forces of darkness that seemed to keep her shackled tightly.  

Eventually, I saw that Beth was a manipulator, who loved all of the attention she was getting.  When she put me in the middle of an ethical quandary, I knew it was a time to “throw away,” as Ecclesiastes said.  Not that I was giving up on her, but I could no longer be up close and personal with her.  I could still be kind when I would see her at church.  I could still pray for her.  However, I had to pull back.  Now was the time for silence (Ecc. 3:7), and I had to stop responding to texts.

I eventually had to leave that church when they began to embrace false teaching.  However, I often wondered what happened to Beth and if she ever broke free from those shackles.  Sadly, Ecclesiastes 3:2 became a devastating reality — a time to die.

People often think their sin doesn’t affect others.  They are so wrong in their misconstrued thinking.  Beth’s husband is now a single dad, raising several young children.  Beth’s church is now faced with the extra responsibility of helping him raise those children, not to mention the emotional support they must provide him.

As I have pondered on this tragic situation, it reminded me how our sin does affect the lives of others.  During this pandemic, life is hard enough.  We must not cater to the flesh and make the lives of others even harder.  Rather, we need to delve into the Word of God and grow in righteousness so we can be a light to others.

All of us have experienced a myriad of griefs this year.  Sadly, until the Lord returns, it will only get worse.  It is imperative for us to stay connected to Jesus so that when those moments hit, we don’t lose our footing.  We can allow ourselves to grieve and mourn, for there is healing in that.  However, we are soldiers in a spiritual war.  We must keep marching forward, even in the midst of our pain.  We must not lose our focus!

© 2020, Stacy R. Miller

United States of Anxiety

Silhouette Design Store - View Design #263026: he restores my soul

United States of Anxiety

This year has been fraught with grief.  Personally, I have grieved the loss of loved ones who died from Covid.  I also grieve the loss of seeing smiling faces, as well as the loss of physical touch.  Whenever someone does violate the six-foot rule, I want to beg them, “Please touch me!”  

I grieve the loss of simple things – like being able to go to my favorite restaurants and eat inside.  I grieve over not being able to have our gal’s monthly dinner gathering, where we celebrate whoever has a birthday for that month.  Prior to Covid 19, I think I took many of those things for granted.  Now I see how precious those simple things were!

There is one more thing that I am also grieving, and I have a feeling many of you are doing the same.  It is grieving over the loss of our nation.  I believe we have reached the point of no return.  Honestly, depending on how the election results turn out, it has me wondering if we will be moving to an underground church within the next four years.

As I have been writing this, a coworker informed me that her mom just received devastating news.  She has stage four pancreatic cancer.  

With the overwhelming challenges of this year, we could easily feel as if we are being smothered by emotional quicksand, with no way to escape.  A friend who struggles with anxiety has endured a rough week, due to some health issues her husband is facing.  The other night, she texted me and said, “United States of Anxiety.”  I have a feeling many people would concur with her assessment of life right now.

While I was doing my Bible reading for today, I came across some fabulous reminders to help us in navigating these rough waters.

The Lord is a shield around us.  He is our glory, and the lifter of our head. (Psalm 3:3)  We may want to look down, put our head in our hands, and sink into a pit of despair.  While it is perfectly fine to have a good, healthy cry to release the pent up emotions we have, we must not stay there!  We must remember that the Lord can help us hold our heads high in the midst of this turmoil.  He is the One who can lift our spirits, giving us the strength to stand firm.  He is the One who can shield us from sinking into that pit of emotional quicksand.

When I read Psalm 23, I usually see it in the context of death because of how it mentions the valley of the shadow of death.  However, I saw it in a whole new light this morning.  He restores my soul.  When my soul becomes overwhelmed with life, He is One who can restore that aching soul.  He is the One who can give me joy in the midst of the chaos of this world.  He is One who can calm my soul and overwhelm me with delight. (Psalm 94:19)

When we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we don’t have to fear evil.  Right now, our nation is at the brink of despair and chaos. Our nation as we have known it is dying.  That sure sounds like a valley of death. Yet, we don’t need to fear because our God is with us.  If God be for us, then who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

His rod and his staff comfort us.  His Word can comfort us by giving us wisdom, direction, peace, and even correction.

He prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies.  No matter how this election turns out, that should never be our focus.  JESUS is our focus.  When we remain connected to Him, drawing our strength and peace from Him, others will notice that our outlook and attitudes are different.  Our countenance will show that we have been feasting at our Father’s table.

When we feast at His table, He anoints us, causing our cup to run over. Goodness and mercy will follow us because we feast at His table, rather than feasting on the nightly news.  We will dwell in His house forever. We can dwell with Him right now by dwelling in the secret place of the Most High, abiding in the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalm 91)  

By doing these things, we will keep ourselves from falling prey to the United States of Anxiety, even when it appears the whole world has gone mad.

© 2020, Stacy R. Miller

A Watchman

A message to the watchmen on the wall – Faith Saturday

I sent this to my church family, but thought it was worth sharing here because of the information it includes.

Pastor has mentioned in several of his recent sermons the deception that is taking place. He has mentioned the “revivals” where people bark like dogs, shake uncontrollably, and even more disturbing displays of “being struck by the Spirit.”

Being that I actually attended a church where these false signs of revival were displayed, I thought you might like to hear more about it. I had a newborn when people were flocking to this “revival” that was taking place in Pensacola, Florida.  Everyone at church seemed to be talking about it.  Those who went kept encouraging others to go.

I wasn’t nearly as far along in my faith back then as I am now. However, I watched these disturbing displays.  No matter how many times people claimed these were manifestations of the Holy Spirit, it just never set right with me.  People would shake like they were having an epileptic seizure.  Others would tremble uncontrollably.  I even saw one woman who was literally in a trance-like state for the entire church service.  Every time I looked at her countenance, the hairs on the back of my neck would stand up.  It was so creepy!

Now that I have grown in the Lord, I can clearly see why these manifestations were not from the Lord.  The fruit of the Spirit is self-control.  When you have people manifesting weird things that seem out of control, that is not the Holy Spirit!  

Another thing I have seen is churches that want to preach salvation without repentance.  Many of today’s mega churches fall into this category.  I used to attend one of these local, mega churches.  I never once saw a message of repentance in the years I attended there.  At the time, I didn’t give it a lot of thought because I had heard about the ABCs of salvation.  Admit you are a sinner, believe in Jesus, confess your sins.  Yet, something about this church just left me feeling like it was nothing more than a social club.

After I left that church, the Lord led me to read nothing but my Bible.  I quickly saw that the first thing for salvation was to repent.  John the Baptist preached this, and so did Jesus.  (Matthew 3:8; Luke 3:8)  In Acts, we are told to do works in keeping with repentance. (Acts 26:20) Clearly, what I was taught about the ABCs of salvation was also a deception.  Yes, it did include confessing your sin, but you can confess that you have sinned without ever repenting of your sin.

Another thing I noticed from this mega church was that I felt more drained when I left than when I came in.  I couldn’t understand why. Finally, it dawned on me — the “worship” service was full of Hillsong and Bethel music — both of which are not scriptural.  Not only that, but the music appeals to our flesh.  It feels good.  The music has a hypnotic kind of effect.  I noticed that instead of worshiping the Lord, what really seemed to be happening was they were worshiping the feeling they were getting from singing those songs.  I often refer to it as the “worship of me,” because they were worshiping the feelings that they would get when hearing that music.  I heard Jacob Prasch refer to is as “the worship of worship.” That is another very good insight.

Pastor also mentioned this one world government that is starting to come together.  He mentioned the Catholic Church being part of that movement, along with Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life. I have studied Rick Warren, and can say with confidence that he is a false teacher.  He is pushing for “Chrislam,” which tries to bring Christianity and Islam together, like we are all from the same faith. Rick Warren calls prophecy a distraction.  However, Jesus chided the religious people of His day for not being able to discern the times.

Having been raised in the Catholic Church, I can tell you that there is nothing Christian about it.  The Mary they speak of was sinless, so she is not the Mary of the Bible because the Mary of the Bible said she rejoiced in God her Savior. (Luke 1:47)  Catholics pray to dead people, which is the sin of necromancy.  Catholics don’t believe that Jesus offered himself as a single sacrifice for sins for all time.  (Hebrews 10:12)  That is why they have purgatory — where you go when you die until you have paid fully for your sins.  Loved ones who remain here can pay money and say prayers to get you out of purgatory quicker.  So if their Jesus didn’t fully pay for our sins with His death, then their Jesus is “another” Jesus, or “another gospel,” of which Paul mentioned in Galatians 1:6-9.  

Catholics also refer to the Pope as the Vicar of Christ.  Vicar means “in place of.”  So by calling him the Vicar, they are declaring he is in the place of Christ.  This means they are holding the pope up as God! However, Jesus told us the “in place of” would be the Holy Spirit — the Spirit of Truth.  (John 14:15-17)

If you have been attending our church for many years, you may not be aware of the deception that is happening in many of the churches around this country.  Being that I have been in some of the very ones of which Pastor warned us about, I wanted to share more information to show you that he was absolutely correct in what he said.

I also share this information with you to show how blessed we are to have a pastor who is also a shepherd, and a watchman.  Our pastor is truly aware of what is happening across our land, and he boldly speaks of it.  He warns us so that we don’t fall prey to these same deceptions. We are a very blessed congregation to have this man as our shepherd!

Bearing Fruit

lectionarypondering: John 15:1-8

Bearing Fruit

People are likened to fruit bearing trees in many portions of scripture.

A person who delights in the law of the Lord is described in Psalm 1 as being like a tree planted by the rivers of water.  They will bring forth fruit, their leaf won’t wither, and they will prosper in all that they do.  

Those who trust in the Lord are described in Psalm 52:8 as a green olive tree in the house of God.

The righteous are described as flourishing like a palm tree, growing like a cedar in Lebanon.  They will be fresh, and will flourish in the courts of the Lord, bearing fruit in old age.  They will declare the Lord is upright, He is their rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. (Psalm 92:12-15)   

Sadly, many churches have embraced a “fresh” version of Christianity. They choose the “feel-good, happy, emotional, Christianity” at the expense of the “true, fruit-bearing, abiding-in-Christ, Christianity.” They want to ignore our sin nature, ignore the agony Christ endured on the cross to purchase our salvation, and ignore biblical truth.

In Matthew 13:31-32, Jesus speaks of a mustard seed that grew so large, it became a huge tree where birds could perch in its branches.  This may sound like a story about a large, strong, and vibrant church. However, when we look at the parables before and after this, that isn’t the case.  The mustard seed grew abnormally — they are only supposed to be a small bush.  From the other parables in this chapter, we see that birds represented workers of Satan.  This parable represents many churches in our society, who have compromised, allowing “birds” to come in and corrupt the gospel message.  They offer a watered down gospel, detracting from the power of the cross.  They are like the unfruitful branches Jesus speaks of in John 15.

Jesus is the vine and we are the branches.  (John 15:1-8)  If we are abiding in Him, we will bear much fruit.  Part of that process means Jesus will prune us, so we bear even more fruit.  That pruning stage can be quite unpleasant because He is cutting our fleshly ways from us. However, as uncomfortable as that season is, it is far better than being an unfruitful branch, which is cast out and burned.  The temporary pain we face through pruning brings a far greater result:  We will bear much fruit and bring glory to the Lord.  

The cross is the most fruit bearing tree there is.

© 2020, Stacy R. Miller

Wearing Down The Saints

John 14:27 | Peace wall art, Bible verse wall art, Christian wall art

Wearing Down The Saints

I recently did a series on the topic of finding treasures in the Word of God.  Before I ever wrote that series, I was already on a treasure hunt of a different kind.  Now that I have completed that endeavor, I thought I would put it in devotional form for two reasons.  First, by putting it into devotional form, it will give me an easy way to find it when I need a refresher.  Second, I can share it with others who may benefit from it.

In Daniel 7:25, we see that the antichrist will wear down the saints.  Though the great tribulation hasn’t started, I see signs that our enemy is already at work, trying to wear down the saints.  Times are only going to get worse before Jesus returns for us.  Satan knows this, and wants to wear us down, in hopes that he can immobilize and weaken us.

When my brother died several years ago, I remember looking forward to the New Year.  My thinking was that a New Year would somehow make things new and fresh.  Through the years, I have heard others express that same sentiment.

There is no denying that this has been a horrible year for all of us, with the pandemic greatly affecting our lives.  We can’t even get a break from it when we leave home because masks are everywhere – a constant reminder that normal life has left us, possibly never to return.  

I would like to say that next year will be better.  Sadly, I don’t think that is the case.  Rather, I think we have reached the point of no return.  

What are we to do to keep from faltering as persecution comes crashing down on us?  How can we prepare when so many of us are already wearing down?  I have been on a quest for several months to find answers to that question.  There are some driving forces that have kept me focused.  First, I wanted to strengthen my own walk with the Lord.  Second, I have had a burden for several years for a church that is biblically illiterate and lazy.  I am hoping my own quest will awaken those who have fallen asleep spiritually.

Another driving force behind this particular treasure hunt has to do with an experience I had a few months ago at Walmart.  I was focused on finding what I needed, so I wasn’t watching the arrows.  When I unknowingly went down the aisle the wrong way, a woman came running at me, screaming like a demon-possessed person.  It was disturbing to hear the tone of her voice.  I tried to respond kindly to her when I stated, “No, I didn’t.  And you do not need to yell at me like that.”  She continued her tirade.  My voice began to raise.  I have to admit, my final words to her were not kind and loving.  That encounter made me think about the persecution to come.  If I can’t respond to someone in love when they are yelling at me, how do I expect to do so when I am being severely persecuted?

I discovered many scriptures along this journey that have given me comfort and encouragement.  I have turned many of them into prayers.  I also searched intently for when the early church was facing intense persecution, and what their response was to it.  I want to share those scriptures with you.

Isaiah 30:15  For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” (NKJV)

Psalm 71:2-3: Deliver me in thy righteousness, and rescue me.  Bow down thine ear unto me and save me.  Be thou to me a rock of habitation, whereunto I may continually resort. (ASV)  This verse reminded me that even in the midst of persecution, God can still be my rock of habitation.

Psalm 73:25-26: The Lord is my desire.  My heart and flesh may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  Luke 21:26 speaks of men’s hearts failing them, due to fear.  However, God is the strength of our hearts.

Psalm 119:5: Lord, help my actions to consistently reflect your decrees.

Psalm 119:29: Keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing your instructions. (NLT)  If we lie to ourselves, we won’t see the chinks in our armor.

Psalm 119:30: I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by your regulations. (NLT)

Psalm 119:33: Teach me your statutes and help me keep them to the end.    

Psalm 119:35:  Lead me in the path of your commands, for that is where I find true joy.    

Psalm 119:68: You are good and do only good; teach me your decrees. (NLT)

Psalm 119:161 Powerful people harass me without cause, but my heart trembles only at your word. (NLT)

Psalm 119:165 Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble. (NLT)

Psalm 138:7 Even though I walk into the middle of trouble, you guard my life against the anger of my enemies.  You stretch out your hand, and your right hand saves me. (GW)

Romans 12:9-21:  Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.  Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer…Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with one another…Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (ESV)

Philippians 1:9-10   And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may [approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ. (NASB)

Philippians 2:14-17: Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.  Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. (ESV)

Ephesians 1:4 mentions being holy and blameless before Him, in love. – I asked the Lord to help me be holy and blameless before Him when persecution comes, helping me to supernaturally love my persecutors.

Ephesians 3:16-18: Lord, according to the riches of Your glory, strengthen me with power through Your Spirit so that I would be rooted and grounded in love. — The love we will need in the midst of persecution is not a love we will possess within ourselves.  It is something we must get from the Lord.

2 Thessalonians 1:3-5:  Lord, help my faith to grow abundantly.  Let my love for everyone increase, and help me to be steadfast and full of faith in the midst of persecution and affliction.  Help me to be found worthy of the kingdom of God.

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12:  That we would be found worthy of His calling, fulfilling every resolve for good and every work of faith by His power, so that Jesus will be glorified in us.

2 Thessalonians 2:16:  That the Lord would comfort our hearts and establish them in every good word and work.

2 Thessalonians 3:2-3:  Lord, deliver us from wicked and evil men, for God is faithful and will establish us and guard us against the evil one.

Philippians 3:8:  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. (ESV)  We will never know the surpassing worth of knowing Christ if we are negligent to deeply study scripture.

Philippians 4:6-7  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (NKJV)

Ephesians 3:20  Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…(NKJV)

Colossians 1:10-12:  Walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. (NKJV)

Colossians 4:5-6:  Pray that you will walk in wisdom, making the most of every opportunity toward outsiders.  Also, that your speech would be gracious and seasoned with salt, so you will know how to answer those who oppose you.

Hebrews 6:11-12 – We need to pray to have the full assurance of hope, until the end, so that we won’t become sluggish, but will be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherited the promises.

Hebrews 10:39:  We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. (ESV)

Hebrews 12:15-16:  Lord, help me not to allow a bitter root to spring up in the midst of the persecution, thus defiling me.  I don’t want to be like Esau, who sold his birthright for one meal.

James 5:7-8, 10-11:  Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.  You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand….My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed, we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. (NKJV)

1 Peter 1:3-9: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  (NKJV)

Notice in the above verse that we are kept through faith.  Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.  This implies that we must be faithful to read, meditate upon, and obey the Word or we won’t make it through what the next few verses say in that same chapter:

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls. (NKJV)

1 Peter 1:13 tells us to prepare our minds for action, setting our hope fully on the grace that is to be revealed at the revelation of Jesus.  This verse also implies the importance of staying true to the scriptures.  If I am not daily, intently studying the Word, there is no way my hope will be fully on God’s grace.  Rather, I will be like a man who looks at the Word, but walks away, never putting what I read into practice – similar to one who looks in the mirror, then walks away, forgetting what he has seen. (James 1:22:23)

1 Peter 2:12 We are to behave among unbelievers in an honorable way, so that when they speak against us, as being evildoers, they may see our good deeds and glorify God.  In verses 19-23, we are reminded that it is a gracious thing when we suffer unjustly, being mindful of the Lord we serve.  In fact, we are called to suffer because of Christ.  When He faced opposition, He was never responded by with an angry, insulting manner, nor did He threaten others.  Rather, He entrusted Himself to God.

1 Peter 3:9:  Do not repay evil for evil for reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. (ESV)

1 Peter 3:14:  But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed.  Have no fear of them, nor be troubled. (ESV)

1 Peter 3:17:  For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. (ESV)

1 Peter 4:2:  The life we live in our flesh shouldn’t be for human passions, but for the will of God.

1 Peter 4:7-8:  But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.  And above all things, have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” (NKJV)

1 Peter 4:12-13:  Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. (NKJV)

1 Peter 5:6-10:  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.  But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. (NKJV)

2 Peter 1:2:  May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. (ESV)  The implication is that as our knowledge of the Lord grows, through reading His Word, grace and peace will also increase.

2 Peter 1:3-10:  His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. (ESV)

Peter wrote the above verses, knowing that he would soon die a martyr’s death.  (2 Peter 1:12-15)  We are still benefitting from the richness of these words.

2 Peter 3:14:  Be diligent to be without spot or blemish, and at peace, when Jesus returns.

2 Peter 3:17-18:  In these final verses, Peter warns us not to be carried away with the error of lawless people.  He then admonishes us to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord.  That is how we avoid being duped by error.

1 John 3:14:  Whoever does not love abides in death.  — This one really convicted me after the Walmart encounter that I shared earlier.   

1 John 4:8:  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (ESV)

1 John 4:12:   …If we love one another, God abides in us, and his love is perfected in us.  (ESV)

1 John 4:16: …Whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in Him. (ESV)

1 John 4:18:  There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.  For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. (ESV)

2 John 1:5-6 tells us to love one another.  Also, that love is demonstrated by obeying the scriptures.

Jude 1:20-21:  We must build ourselves up in our faith, pray in the Spirit, and keep ourselves in the love of God.

Isaiah 32:17-18:  The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.  My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, In secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places. (NKJV)

Genesis 41:52:  And the name of the second he called Ephraim: “For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.” (NKJV)  Lord, help me to be fruitful in the land of my own afflictions.

Psalm 46:1:  The Lord is called a “very present help:” in this verse.  The exact meaning goes deeper.  When we face a persistent, ever-present evil, or time of trouble, He will be our very present help.  That phrase means He is always here and available, with unlimited access.

Proverbs 24:10:  If thou art slack in the day of tribulation, thy strength shall be reduced. (Jubilee Bible)  Implication – start strengthening your spiritual muscles now.

Psalm 16:7 The Lord counsels us, even at night, our hearts can instruct us.  Night often refers to tribulation.

Psalm 119:157 People will persecute and trouble us, but we must pray that we don’t swerve from the precepts of the Lord when that happens.  

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (ESV)  Notice the word “let.”  It implies that we do have control over how we respond to what is happening.  How we avoid letting our hearts be troubled is by maintaining that deep, abiding relationship with our Precious Savior.

Through this treasure hunt, I discovered that I am lacking in love toward those who do not hold my views.  That caused me to turn to the Lord in repentance, asking Him to develop that quality within me.  If the Lord has revealed any “chinks” in your armor, I urge you to go to Him in prayer and repentance, asking Him to make the necessary changes in you so that your life will bring honor and glory to our Blessed Lord.

© 2020, Stacy R. Miller

Buried Treasure

Nothing Compares to Knowing Christ {No Matter What Monday} - Marissa Henley

Buried Treasure

Continuing on the topic of finding treasures in the Word of God, I want to discuss one that didn’t seem like such a treasure when I first discovered it. It’s kind of like that TV show The Antique Roadshow.  People would bring items to have them appraised.  It was always fun to watch their reactions when they discovered the items were worth several thousands of dollars. 

On a personal level, I had a similar experience.  The Lord led us to homeschool our daughter.  In the endeavor to pay for the curriculum I wanted to use, I would go to garage sales and buy items I thought would sell on EBay.  There were times when I paid very little for something, yet it would sell much more than I paid.  Once I bought some motivational CDs for $5 each.  Both sets sold for over $100. 

The final treasure I am addressing here today is that of the pre-wrath view for the rapture.  This means I believe the rapture happens at the end of Revelation 6.  Briefly, I believe the Great Tribulation doesn’t last seven years.  It is roughly 3.5 years when the seals are opened.  The wrath of God is unleashed at the end of Revelation 6, lasting another 3.5 years. I don’t want to go into a lot of detail on what led me to that belief because I have written about it several times on my blog.  You can read more here:





So you are likely wondering, “What treasure is in that belief?”  I thought the same thing when I was introduced to it.  Honestly, this new concept on the timing of the rapture was eye opening, but also disturbing.  Actually, it was terrifying!  At the time I was introduced to this concept, ISIS beheadings were on the nightly news.  There was nothing comforting about this!  

So how did I find treasure in this?  First, it showed me that I needed to shore up my armor.  At that time, if someone held a knife to my neck, I was certain I wasn’t strong enough to stand firm in my faith.  This was a huge impetus to me – moving me to spend much more time in the Word.  Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. (Romans 10:17)  I didn’t just read the Word – I devoured it.  I was desperate to strengthen my walk with the Lord because I didn’t want to run the risk that I would deny Him, and have Him deny me. (Matthew 10:33)  I knew I needed to lift my drooping hands and strengthen my weak knees.  I needed to make straight paths for my feet so that what was lame wouldn’t be put out of joint, but healed instead. (Hebrews 12:13)

Another treasure I found was that a close friend of mine had also embraced this idea.  We would email thoughts and ideas back and forth.  We encouraged one another, sharing scriptures with one another to help us grow stronger.  This not only brought us closer to the Lord, but closer to one another.  I also discovered that my own brother had embraced this idea as well.  What a comfort to know there were others who were like-minded on this topic!  I even found some online preachers who are of this mindset, so there was even more encouragement!

Here are some verses that have been an encouragement to me.   I have often turned them into a prayer.

Psalm 73:28 It is good for me to draw near to the Lord, making Him my refuge.

Proverbs 28:1 The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion. (I prayed the Lord would make me bold as a lion when facing any persecution.)

I remind myself that I am a stranger and in exile on this earth.  It is not my home!  (Hebrews 11:13-14)  God made the prophets strong out of their weakness. (Hebrews 11:34)  Since He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, I know He will do the same for me! (Hebrews 13:8)

Because I am a foreigner here, I don’t want to wander from God’s commands, because those who do so are cursed. (Psalm 119:21)  The result is to pray that no bitter root will spring up in the midst of the persecution, thus defiling me.  I don’t want to be like Esau, who sold his birthright for one meal. (Hebrews 12:15-16)

The most precious treasure I have found along this journey is a deeper, sweeter, relationship with Jesus.  I yearn to see His face.  My heart is in heaven, even while wandering on this earth.  He is my treasure, and my exceedingly great reward. (Genesis 15:1) Nothing compares to the surpassing greatness of knowing my Lord! (Philippians 3:8)

This concept of a pre-wrath rapture has motivated me to hide Word in my heart so that I won’t sin against Him. (Psalm 119:11) God’s Word has become a buried treasure – one buried deep in my heart, where I can draw from it again and again.

Because my views have changed on the timing of the rapture, I believe this pandemic is training ground for the Great Tribulation.  We have been separated from each other for months.  Depression has skyrocketed, partly due from this separation.  It has shown us how greatly we need one another.  It has shown us the importance of Hebrews 10:25, where it admonishes us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves with other believers, and all the more so as we see the day approaching.

If I am correct in what I believe about the timing of the tribulation, the Lord will be able to use me to help those who haven’t prepared for what is coming.  However, I have to admit — If I ever wanted to be wrong about a topic, this one is it!  That being said, I would rather be prepared for the tribulation, and surprised by the rapture, than to be prepared for the rapture, and surprised by the tribulation! 

© 2020, Stacy R. Miller

My Treasure Box

Unlocking Your Hidden Treasure | Treasure quotes, Word of god, Gods promises

My Treasure Box

In my last devotion, I wrote about finding treasures in the Word of God. I want to share some deeply personal experiences, and how I found treasures relating to those circumstances.

After losing my brother, scriptures on comfort and loss stood out to me. One that was especially helpful was the reminder that God’s mercies are new every morning.  I prayed that one so many times in those early weeks when the wounds of the loss were so raw.  

Being that Matt was a runner, the scriptures about running a race took on a brand new meaning for me.  It made me reevaluate my own priorities.  I have said many times that I never want my trials or my pain to go to waste.  Part of using that trial to help others was by writing a series of devotions on the things I learned during that season. Being able to write about the pain also brought healing.

Several years ago, as I was reading in the Old Testament about the myriad of details that went into the priest’s robe, I saw how the Lord is into details – even seemingly insignificant details.  This lesson also helped me see God’s detail into my brother’s memorial service.  The Lord gave me something to share at that service.  Focusing on that gave me a mission in my pain.  However, that isn’t all it did.  The Lord knew my passion was teaching.  However, with working every other weekend, teaching Sunday school was no longer an option.  He knew that providing me with that opportunity to speak, sharing things from the Word, would fuel my passion, but again, bring healing – and not just healing to me, but to those who were there.  Two minutes before I was to speak, He gave me a very personal insight that changed the entire atmosphere of the room.  That is how much our God is into details!

When trying to overcome a decades-long habit of cussing, scriptures that spoke strongly about the cost of sinning stood out.  Verses that spoke of words, and the potential they have (for good or evil), seemed to jump off the page, greatly convicting me.

Anger and cussing seem to go hand-in-hand.  When I was trying to overcome those issues, Psalm 119 was like a treasure box to me!  Whenever I would feel anger starting to rise, I would begin to fervently pray many of the phrases that are found in that Psalm.  I would say things like, “Help me, Lord, to keep Your statutes.  Help me to obey Your decrees!  Let no iniquity have dominion over me.  Strengthen me according to Your Word.  Lord, I tremble before Your judgments, so help me not to sin with my mouth.  Let me be blameless with my words!”  After all, the hotter the temper, the easier it is to spew sinful words.  Another verse that really stood out to me was Psalm 119:165. “Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.” (NKJV)  This encouraged me because it gave me hope that I would overcome that awful stronghold in my life.

That Psalm has become such a precious jewel to me that I read one section of it every day, turning the verses into a prayer.  It never gets old because each time I go through it, the Lord seems to be working in a different area of my life, so new things will stand out to me.  There is one verse I read many times, yet it never registered with me until I heard my pastor mention it in a sermon.  It says that all things are God’s servants. (Psalm 119:91)  I found great comfort in this because at the time, we were in the middle of the pandemic and the riots were just starting to erupt.  It was a comforting reminder in the midst of the chaos that God was still in control, still watching every single detail.

As I have watched the rise of the apostate church, I have noticed there are many scriptures that speak of love and truth. (2 John 1:6, 7, 9; Jude 20-21)  Again, we see how the Lord is into details.  He knew this would be an issue.  He knew one side we be saying, “We just need to love one another.”  Yet, another side would speak truth to the point of being legalistic.  He wanted to ensure that the true church sees how we need both of them.  What an awesome, amazing, and loving God!  Seeing the details on this issue became quite a treasure to me because it showed me, once again, how He really is into details.

With the coming persecution, what is currently standing out to me are the prayers many prayed in the Bible when they faced their own enemies and persecutors.  As I have been reading the Epistles, I am paying closer attention to how the early church faced the persecution.  I have turned those stories into prayer, asking the Lord to help me have the same reaction when great persecution comes my way.  Psalm 71:3 is a great reminder that God can be our habitation where we can continually resort, for He is our rock and fortress.  What comfort to know that even when standing before our persecutors, our habitation is still in the Lord!

© 2020, Stacy R. Miller


Milford First United Methodist Church - Posts | Facebook


What do you do with treasures that you have?  Do you leave them out in the open where someone can easily snatch them?  That would be foolish!  

A doctor once told me that if anyone broke into his safe, they would be sorely disappointed.  His safe was filled with letters of appreciation from his patients.  The letters would be of no value to anyone else, but he saw them as precious treasures.

The Word is often referred to as a treasure, yet we are living in times when it is being burned and scorned.  For a world that cries out for tolerance, they are certainly intolerant of Christians!

Many believe we are in the end times.  We shouldn’t be surprised then when our rights are being trampled upon.  Jesus told us these things would happen.  Persecution is coming.  One day, our Bibles will be taken away.  

Where we most often find the Lord, and converse with Him, is through His Word.  If we aren’t learning to know Him through His Word, what are we going to do when we find ourselves with no Bible?

We must learn to acquaint ourselves with the Lord now.  Doing so will help us to be at peace, even when the world seems to be falling apart. Even when we don’t have our Bibles, good shall still come to us if we take the time to hide His Word in our hearts. (Job 22:21; Psalm 119:11)  We must seek Him while He may be found, calling upon Him while He is near. (Isaiah 55:6)

I like how Proverbs 2:6 reads in The Living Bible.  “For the Lord grants wisdom! His every word is a treasure of knowledge and understanding.”  Notice that it says “every” word is a treasure.  This goes right along with what 2 Timothy 3:16 says about all scripture being profitable.  I have found treasures when reading portions of scripture that have often been referred to as dry and boring.  Those treasures will stay with me, even if my Bible gets taken away.

The treasures of this earth are temporary, but God’s Word is eternal. (Psalm 119:89)  How vital it is for us to be storing God’s Word in our hearts so that when the day of trouble comes, we have those precious treasures within us!  

© 2020, Stacy R. Miller

Learning To Be Still

Be Still And Know That I Am God - Photos | Facebook

Learning To Be Still

My daughter is quite the introvert.  She has grown a lot as an adult, learning to come out of her shell.  However, she still loves those days when she can just be a homebody.

A group of us goes out to eat once a month to celebrate whoever has a birthday that month.  Toward the end of the evening, my cousin overheard my daughter talking with my mom.  She said, “Staying in is underrated.”  Yep, ever the introvert!

As I have pondered her words, I saw a lot of wisdom in her words.  Too often, we are rushing to do this or that, hustling to go here and there.  It’s like our identities are tied to how busy we are – as if the busy-ness of our lives somehow makes us important.  We think if we aren’t busy doing something productive, we are wasting time.  

However, when we look at scripture, the Lord created the seventh day for rest.  Our bodies, minds, and spirits need a break.  It has made me wonder if perhaps the pandemic was part of God’s plan to get us to settle down, slow down, and rethink our priorities.  All that seemed so important at the beginning of this year is no longer so.  Everything has changed.

A common complaint among many is “I don’t have time to study my Bible.  I’m so busy!”  This pandemic has given us time to do things that are normally left undone — things like reading our Bible!  We shouldn’t let this opportunity go to waste!  Sadly, there are reports out there that those who are still unable to physically attend church aren’t even watching any church services online.  I would imagine they aren’t reading their Bibles either.

Working in health care, and in a department that has lost half of our staff during this pandemic, I long for those days when I can just stay home.  Working over 60 hours a week is exhausting – mentally, physically, emotionally, and even spiritually.  I have done my best to stay in the Word, encouraging myself in the Lord, and seeing what things the Lord wants to teach me.  However, I have to admit – there are days when I go home, curl up on the couch, and cry out to the Lord.  I release all of those pent up emotions to Him.  I release the burdens I have been bearing.  He has taught me that part of being still is learning to stop and have a good cry.  There is such healing and release in those tears.

Even with all of the hours that I am working right now, there are still times when things are quiet.  In those moments, I can bow my head and simply say, “Jesus.”  It is amazing how quickly the peace of God can soothe my soul.  

The Word tells us to be still and know that He is God.  We need to learn to be still physically, but also mentally and spiritually – where things like this pandemic won’t rock our world because we know who our God is.  We can only accomplish this if we are faithful and diligent to seek Him.  After all, when we truly seek Him, we will find Him! (Jeremiah 29:13)

Do you need to learn to be still?

© 2020, Stacy R. Miller

Thankful List and a Challenge

21 Gratitude Bible Verses: The Power of Giving Thanks

I am feeling overwhelmingly blessed this week, to the point that tears come very easily.  Happy tears, but also humble tears because of the goodness of the Lord.  Ok, some of them may also be from being so exhausted with all of the hours at work.

I felt impressed to give some money to a family who is going through an excruciating time, due to a loved one being in critical condition while battling Covid 19.  I didn’t think anything else about it once I sent the check.  Just a few days later, I received a bonus for all of the extra hours I have worked to keep our 24/7 department fully staffed while being short-staffed.  The bonus was TEN TIMES the amount I sent to that family.  GOD IS GOOD!

I have had trouble finding catfish at the grocery store.  The only place I could find it charged at least twice as much for the same size bag that I usually buy elsewhere.  Went to Kroger, and got THREE bags for the price I wanted to pay.  

I wanted to treat myself to something special, but not pricy, with the good news about the bonus.  I found the perfect item!  It was a shiny, silver, blingy face mask!  It will be perfect with a couple of tops I have.

When I went to pay for my groceries, I used some $ I had earned through using my credit card.  I got $40 worth of groceries for less than $10.

I connected with a lady from my previous church.  (Ran into her at the grocery store.)  In the course of our conversation, I found out she only lives four blocks from me.  We will be connecting again, and soon!

I was able to write a few devotions this week, and that always fuels my passion and energizes me.

I took my daughter out to eat.  I had a gift card for Chili’s, which came with an award I received at work.

I get to see my great nephews this weekend.  That is always a treat!

I get to go to church on Sunday!!!  

Last weekend, while working 12s, I wanted some comfort food.  One of the security officers not only went to the cafeteria for me (since I couldn’t leave my office), but he paid for it as well.  The food was so good it literally touched my soul.  It was just what I needed.  Feeling rather secluded, with all of the hours I have been working, I was very emotional when someone did something nice for me.  It’s been so long since that has happened. 

So with that, I want to challenge you.  What blessing can you give to someone else?  It doesn’t have to be extravagant — just do something nice.  I have a feeling it will do more for them than what you expect it to — simply because of the challenging times in which we are living. 

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