Do You Have a Hangover?

Do You Have a Hangover?

 

When things are not going our way, we can easily fall into the trap of having a pity party, throwing a temper tantrum, causing emotional damage in someone through the harsh words we’ve spoken, or even by letting the reins loose on our tongue where we find ourselves cussing and swearing.  These very things can come back to haunt us, leaving us with a ‘hangover’ of a spiritual kind. 

 

We try to sleep, and yet our minds are repeatedly play back those sinful acts.  We wake up feeling bogged down, heavy-hearted, and zapped of any spiritual zeal.  (Rom. 12:11) We try to read the Word, and we feel condemnation from the enemy.  He makes us feel that we are being hypocritical by trying to read the Word, after having been rather ungodly in our behavior.  Sadly, he often succeeds in his plan.  We find ourselves just setting aside our Bible, and trying to make it through the day in our own strength.  Very soon, we find ourselves falling into the same old trap, and we try to fight our way out of it in our own strength, all to no avail.

 

We must be especially careful of our words when we are under pressure.  If we aren’t careful, our words may invalidate the prayers which we have prayed.  We must stay in agreement with the Word of God, and hold fast to our confession of faith.  Heb. 10:23  Now, this doesn’t mean that we ‘stick our head in the sand,’ and ignore our circumstances.  It does mean that we stay positive in the midst of those circumstances.  We need to remind ourselves that God works ALL things together for our good.  Rom. 8:28

 

Another reason why we must be careful of our words is because we can open a doorway for the enemy to snare us.  For example, I have been having a lot of back trouble at the time of this writing.  It’s been not only painful, but frustrating.  The leaves need to be raked, and winter is coming sooner than I care to admit.  If I focus on what needs to be done, and on how much pain I am in, I am going to fall into despair.  The despair could lead me to cry out, “I’m NEVER going to get any better!”  If I utter those words, I’ve just ensnared myself.  Doesn’t God’s Word say that He can do anything?  Haven’t I seen Him touch my back many times in years past, where I have been able to go well over a year without even needing to visit the chiropractor?  YES!  So, I must be careful with my words, or I may find that I am stuck in the midst of back trouble longer than necessary.  If I start discounting the truth of God’s Word, I open a doorway for Satan to come in, leaving me with an awful ‘hangover.’ 

 

When facing difficult or trying circumstances, we may find that we need to talk with a friend.  While there is nothing wrong with doing so, we must be careful not to wear out our welcome.  (Prov. 25:17) A friend can often bring insight to us because they are able to look objectively at the situation, sharpening us as iron sharpens iron.  (Prov. 27:17)

 

Also, when we talk too much about our problem, the problem becomes magnified in our minds, leaving us again with a spiritual ‘hangover.’  If we magnify anything in our lives, we must magnify the Lord God.  Ps. 30:1 says to exalt the Lord who has lifted you out of the depths.  When I ponder the ‘depths’ from which He has lifted me, it’s not hard to begin magnifying His Name.  Ps. 34:1-2 tells us to extol the Lord at all times.  (That doesn’t mean that we thank Him for every trying circumstance we face.  It means to find something for which you can begin to bless and praise His Name while in the midst of that circumstance.)  His praise should always be on our lips.  Our soul should boast in the Lord Almighty.  Verse 5 tells us that those who look to God are radiant.

 

A good cure for a spiritual hangover is found in Ps. 34:12-14.

1.  Don’t let your lips speak lies.

2.  Turn away from evil.

3.  Do good.

4.  Pursue peace.

 

So, do you have a hangover?  Don’t grab coffee to try and cure it.  Go grab your Bible!

© 2003, Stacy R. Miller

 

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Do You Adore or Stand Afar?

 

Do You Adore or Stand Afar?

 

Think back to when your children were at the infant to toddler stage.  Can you remember certain times when they would look at you with those innocent little faces, and there was such adoration there – adoration of you?

Or what about the times when they are playing with Daddy, and there is a look of such utter joy and sheer satisfaction on their little faces?

 

When you think about how your child would look at you, and then how they would look at utter strangers, there is a sharp contrast.  There is no adoration there for strangers.  They knew that you were special – you were the one who would cuddle them when they were sick or hurt, you were the one who would feed them, change them, play with them, and meet their needs.

 

Our Father desires for us (His children) to look at Him with that same innocence and adoration.  He wants us to know Him so well, that we don’t look at Him like He is some stranger, but the One who loves us, cares for us, and desires to meet our every need.

 

Let’s look at some different scriptures, and see how people responded to Jesus.  In John 8:49, they said that Jesus was a Samaritan (that was an insult to the people of that day), and they said that He was demon-possessed.  They repeated it in v. 52.  John 7:5 says that his own brothers didn’t believe in Him.  In Luke 4:29, people wanted to throw Him off a cliff.  In John 7:12, it says that the people believed that Jesus deceived others.  Then there was the real slam against Him – a slam by one of His disciples – the famous Judas kiss of betrayal.

 

Now there were a few examples of people who adored Jesus.  There was the sinful woman who anointed Jesus with costly perfume.  (Mk. 14:3, and Lu. 7:36-38)  There was also John, who reclined next to Jesus, then leaned back against Him.  (John 13:23-25)  There just aren’t very many stories of those who took the time to adore the Master.

 

What did the children do?  They were brought to Jesus so that Jesus could bless them.  They even allowed Jesus to take them in His arms.  (Mk. 10:13-16)  I always pictured them thoroughly enjoying being in the presence of Jesus, just having the time of their lives.  In other words, adoring every moment spent with Him.

 

Then, in Mt. 21:15, the children were crying out “Hosanna to the Son of David!”  But just 6 chapters later, what are the adults doing?  They are yelling “crucify Him.”

 

The children weren’t afraid to be in the Master’s arms, yet the adults would stand afar and criticize Him, call Him names, and make accusations against Him.  They were skeptical of Him, to say the least.

 

The Lord wants us to have that heart of praise and adoration for Him.  He wants us to grasp what He desires to show us.  He doesn’t want us to stand afar, being skeptical of everything which He allows in our lives.  He wants our faces to light up when we are in His presence, or when we even think about Him.

 

Picture this:

God says, “Look!  See my child!  She finally got the revelation I’ve been trying to show her!”

“Did you see that?  She chose to give my grace to that person, even when the other person just made some cutting remarks to her!”

“Oh!  She’s getting the picture of how gentle words can do so much better than harsh words!”

“I’ve been waiting on this – she has the evening to herself, and instead of calling her girlfriend to catch up on the latest news, she is choosing to spend it with Me!”

 

Just as He desires for us to adore Him, be assured that He adores you so much more than you can ever fathom.

 

Father, help us not to stand afar, trying to figure out things which come into our lives, but help us to desire to take the time to be in Your presence.  Help us not to look to You like You are a stranger, but to look at You with the same look of adoration as our children have for us.  No wonder You said that we must come to You as little children.  Help us to humble ourselves to be the “little children” that You desire us to be.  Amen.

 

© 2003, Stacy R Miller

 

The “Do-Not” List

The Do-Not List

 

I have often heard it said that being a Christian is just living by a bunch of rules of what you can’t do.  How wrong are the individuals who believe that!  I looked up a bunch of scriptures that say “DO NOT.”  After pondering on them, it is very easy to see that the same loving God who put these in His Word only did it for OUR good.  He wants us to live life abundantly, and in the abundance, there are boundaries.  God even had a boundary in the Garden of Eden, and it was for their good.  Ps. 16:6 says that the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.  (NIV)

 

Mt. 6:1  Do not do your acts of righteousness to be seen by men.  If you do, you’ll receive no rewards for it in heaven.

Romans 6:12-13 Do not let sin reign in your mortal body.  Do not offer parts of your body to sin.

Rom. 12:2 Do not conform to the patterns of this world.

Rom. 12:16 Do not be proud.  Do not be conceited.

Rom. 12:17 Do not repay evil for evil.

Rom. 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil.

Rom. 13:14 Do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Eph. 4:29-30 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth.  Do not grieve the Spirit.

Phil. 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything.

Col. 3:9 Do not lie to each other.

I Th. 5:19 Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.

II Tim. 2:23 Do not have anything to do with foolish arguments because they produce quarrels.

Ex. 20:3 Do not have other gods before the Lord God.

Ex. 20:4 Do not make an idol in any form.

Ex. 20:7 Do not misuse God’s name.

Ex. 20:13 Do not murder.  (Don’t forget that with our mouths, we can often murder a reputation.)

Ex. 20:14 Do not commit adultery.  (Don’t forget that Jesus said that if we even look upon someone with lust, that it’s the same as having committed adultery.)

Ex. 20:15 Do not steal.  (This includes even taking a pen home from work.)

Ex. 20:16 Do not bear false witness.  (This could easily include gossip.  How many times are things said that aren’t really true?)

Ex. 20:17 Do not covet.

Prov. 3:3 Do not let love and faithfulness leave you.

Prov. 3:5 Do not lean on your own understanding.

Prov. 3:7 Do not be wise in your own eyes.

Prov. 3:11 Do not despise the Lord’s chastening.

Prov. 3:27 Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to act.

Prov. 4:6 Do not forsake wisdom.

Prov. 4:21 Do not let God’s Word out of your sight.

 

Father, help us to always know that any boundaries which you place before us are only for our good.  Help us to make the choice not to step outside of those boundaries, but to see the abundant life that can be ours when we stay in those boundaries – Boundaries that You created out of Your great love for us.  Amen.

 

© 2003, Stacy R Miller

Do Not Disturb

o Not Disturb

 

How many times do we put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on our hearts?  For some reason, it seems that we are afraid to let Father into certain places in our hearts.  Is it because we are wanting to cherish a certain sin, hold onto a bad attitude, or refusing to forgive someone from a past hurt that wounded us so deeply?  Do we somehow think that if we don’t allow God to visit those places that He can’t see them?  Whatever the reason, we may feel like we can’t let God go into those dark places, but what does it cause when we refuse to allow Him access to those places?

 

Prov. 15:13 says that heartache crushes the spirit.  When we close off certain parts of our heart, no matter the reason, it will cause our spirit to be crushed.

Ps. 38:18  says that I confess my sin, and I am troubled by it.  Many times we may use an excuse, saying, “I’m not angry, I’m just hurt.”  We try to convince ourselves that we haven’t sinned, but if we are harboring something inside us, many times, it does lead us into sin.  It may be the sin of unforgiveness or even the sin of gossip.  How many times does someone really hurt us, and instead of turning to God (the true heart healer), we call all of our girlfriends and begin telling them how awful this person was to us?  What does that do to the other person’s reputation?  What does it do to us?

 

As I was looking up scriptures to use in this message, I came across a rather interesting verse in I Sam. 10:22.  It says that He has hidden himself among the baggage.  How often do we find ourselves hidden among our own baggage from the past?  We don’t feel like we can truly be the real “us” because we are so burdened with things from the past.

 

Sometimes it is very painful to let God come into those hidden places.  I remember a time when I let God into one of my “hidden places.” It was incredibly painful because I had to revisit some things from my past that I didn’t want to think about ever again.  In the process of letting that two-edged sword of the Word penetrate my heart and my spirit, God brought awesome cleansing and healing to me in that area.  Yes, it hurt, and it hurt really bad.  Was it worth it?  YOU BET IT WAS!

 

Prov. 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts above all else because the heart is the wellspring of life.  We tend to get so busy with daily cares that it is very easy for something that isn’t good and holy to take root in our hearts.  Jer. 17:9 says that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked.  If I don’t take the time to get before the Lord and allow Him to show me anything bad that has taken root in my heart, it’s no time at all before I feel like all of my spiritual strength has been zapped from me.

 

Heb. 3:13 tells us to encourage one another daily so that we won’t be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.  Not that we need to unload all of our cares on people every time we see them, but most of us probably have a good friend who can just look at our countenance and tell that something is going on.  We may not even see it when we look in the mirror, but those dear friends have a way of bringing it to the surface for us.  Thank God for friends who love us enough to confront us on issues where we would rather not go!

 

Here’s what can happen when we let God remove the “Do Not Disturb” sign.  Ps. 51:10 He can create a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit in us.

Ps. 66:18-19 When we confess our sin to Him, He listens to us.  – He’s not out to condemn us, but to renew that intimate fellowship once again.  The accuser of the brethren is the only one who seeks to bring condemnation to us.

As we learn that we can easily bring ANYTHING to Father, we will become much more intimate in our fellowship with Him.  Ps. 73:26 says that my heart and flesh may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  This scripture became very real to me as I recently went through a long, hard struggle – one that started about nine months ago.  I faced some major battles while going through the trial because there were many times when I didn’t feel that certain people wanted to be bothered with it, or to address the issue.  Like the persistent widow, who continued to go before the judge, I wouldn’t let up in this fight.  I learned to lean on Father in a way that I never have before.  The fellowship we shared was so sweet and so intimate.  I remember one day, while I was doing an in-depth Bible study on the tabernacle, I was learning some awesome things, and it was like Father was sitting right there at the table with me.  He stopped me from going any further and began clearly telling me how that particular lesson fit right in with what I was experiencing.  I had been in tears of hopelessness and fatigue earlier that morning, but His words were life to my wounded spirit.

 

There was another day when I just felt that I couldn’t go on in the battle.  I was facing some persecution for my stand on a very important issue, and the persecution was coming from some of my own church family.  Now THAT was REALLY hard to bear.  While I was cleaning the house one day, Father was right there with me, and we had a very long two-way conversation about the situation.  Before the end of the day, I was filled with joy and my strength was incredibly renewed.

 

Now, you may wonder what this has to do with a “Do Not Disturb” sign.  Well, in the process of going through this trial, let me tell you – I wasn’t always so holy in my words or actions!  I had my moments when I was raging mad, and times when I talked about the situation in a not-so-nice-way.  While there were times that I did need to talk about it, looking for some direction, there were times that the talking turned to gossip and angry, bitter words.  Instead of putting the “sign” up over my heart, I noticed that the close fellowship with Father was waning.  Ps. 26:2 says to test me and try me, Lord.  Examine my heart and my mind.  I did just that, and Father was faithful to show me where I had gone wrong.  I quickly got back on track.  After having had those awesome intimate moments with Him, I was hooked!  I didn’t want ANYTHING stopping me from having those times with my Father!

 

If you have put up the “sign” on your heart, and want Father to take it down,  I pray that the God of hope would fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  (Rom. 15:13)  May your love abound more and more and extend to its fullest development in knowledge and all keen insight so that you may surely learn to sense what is vital and prize what is excellent and of real value, recognizing the highest and the best, and distinguishing the moral differences.  I pray that you would be untainted and pure, unerring and blameless as you approach the day of Christ.  (Phil. 1:9-10)

 

Remember that we are being transformed into HIS likeness with ever increasing glory which comes from the Lord.  II Cor 3:18

 

I guess what we really need to do is give up putting up a “Do Not Disturb” sign for the Lord, and instead, put up a “Do Not Enter” sign for Satan.

 

© 2003, Stacy R Miller

 

Missing the Mark (Cyanide, Part 4)

Missing the Mark

When I was a child, we had a dart board in our basement.  The target was to hit the bull’s-eye, but I could never seem to master it.  The holes in the wall are a testimony to the fact that I missed the mark quite often.

God’s Word gives us some clear direction to keep us from missing the mark.  Romans 12:1-2 tells us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to the Lord, not conforming any longer to the sinful patterns of this world.  We are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.  First Thessalonians admonishes us to test everything, holding on to the good, and avoiding every kind of evil.

Psalm 101:3 tells us to set no wicked thing before our eyes.  Obeying this scripture could alleviate most of our struggles in missing the mark.

Second Corinthians 6:14-17 warns us about being yoked with unbelievers.  I believe this scripture speaks of more than just yoking together in a marriage.  It can refer to what we read, listen to, watch on TV, and where we visit on the Internet.  What fellowship can we have with darkness?  By listening to and watching things contrary to the Word, is it going to edify our spirits?  NO!  That is why God tells us to come out from them and be separate, touching no unclean thing.

Proverbs 19:27 tells us to stop listening to teaching that contradicts what we know is right.  When we listen to contradictory teachings, it causes us to “miss the mark.”  There are so many things which are contrary to God’s Word.  TV is filled with shows that flaunt lifestyles which God clearly condemns.  When we choose to watch shows that portray homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle, we are missing the mark.  When we watch shows that involve adultery, we are missing the mark.  When we listen to music that promotes things which are contrary to the truths in the Word of God, we are missing the mark.  When we read books that are filled with graphic sex scenes, violence, murder, and many other sinful activities, again, we are missing the mark.

Some of you may think that these items are all a matter of personal choice – that they don’t really affect our walk with the Lord.  Yet, by watching illicit TV shows or listening to music that hails sinful activities, we are saturating our minds with the very sins for which Christ died.  In the Old Testament, the root word for sin was “to miss the mark.”  However, in the New Testament, the Greek word for “sin” means “to miss the mark, and so not share in the prize.”

In order to keep from missing out on the prize, we need to put Philippians 4:8 into practice regarding everything we listen to, read, or watch.  If it is not true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy, then we shouldn’t be partaking of it.

We don’t want to be like the people of whom Jesus said, “They honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (Matthew 15:8)

Are you missing the mark in your life?

© 2006, Stacy R. Miller

Cyanide, Part 3

WARNING!

Reading this devotion may be painful to your flesh!

Cyanide, Part 3

 

I ended my last devotion by telling you about a special speaker whose message greatly challenged me in my thinking.  He was talking about the music we listen to.  Since I had burned my KISS albums years before then, I had a very defiant attitude at first, but as the evening progressed, he had my full attention.

 

As I walked to the car, I remember praying for the strength to change the radio to a different station.  The station I had been listening to was hard core, rock music.  After choosing to obey the conviction I had felt in church that evening, I noticed something amazing later in the week.  I had not cussed in several days.  This was HUGE because every other word from my mouth was normally something very foul.  I hadn’t thought of suicide for days, and I no longer wanted to drink or smoke.  I even stopped battling sexual thoughts.  It was INCREDIBLE!  This took place almost thirty years ago, and I have never gone back to listening to rock music or any other kind of music besides Christian.  I can truly testify to the fact that listening to rock music (or any other kind of music that is not Christian), is like spiritual cyanide.

 

If we think about the content in the lyrics to rock music, we find that they are filled with deceit, lying, violence, carousing, adultery, illicit sex, hell, Satan, death, anger, and occultic themes.  There are even songs that talk about selling your soul to the devil.  Many songs teach disrespect for authority, as well as disrespect for women.  Clearly, rock music is filled with much darkness.
Let’s take a look and see what the Word has to say to us on this issue.

Galatians 5:16 tells us that through living by the Spirit, it will keep us from gratifying our sinful desires.  The sinful desire craves what is contrary to the Spirit. – The inference here is that if I listen to rock music, which is so filled with darkness, I will have a hard time living by the Spirit.

Galatians 5:24 tells us that those who belong to Jesus have crucified their sinful nature with its passions and desires.  – If we continue to listen to rock music, which is so full of sinful lyrics, have we really crucified our sinful nature?

Romans 6:1 says that we have died to sin.  How can we live in it any longer? – If we make a habit of listening to ungodly music, aren’t we still living in sin, being that the lyrics are full of it?

Romans 6:4 tells us that we were buried with Christ so that we may live a new life.  – This means that we should no longer be holding to old, sinful things.

Romans 6:12 commands us not to let sin reign in our bodies so that we obey its evil desires.

A thought often becomes an action, so if we fill our minds with ungodly music, chances are high that we will end up acting out some of the very lyrics which fill our mind.

Colossians 3:1-3 tells us that we are to think on things above, letting heaven fill our thoughts.  — I think it would be very hard to let heaven fill my thoughts if I saturate my mind with ungodly words.

Colossians 3:5-8 commands us to do away with sinful, earthly things.  We are to deaden those desires that lurk within us.  We are not to have anything to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, or shameful desires.  God’s anger is on those who do such things.  It is time to cast off those garments.  – This scripture makes it clear that by continuing to soak our minds with music that is filled with sexual sin, lust, and impurity, we stir up God’s anger.

Colossians 3:10 tells us that we should be trying continually to become more and more like Christ.  – In my own struggle, I shared how I continued to struggle with old, sinful habits, rather than becoming more and more Christ-like in my behavior.

 

Some of you may say that the issue of rock music is a matter of personal choice, but God Word tells us differently.  In Ephesians 5:19, it commands us to let the Words of Jesus enrich our lives, making us wise.  We are to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, making melody in our heart to the Lord. This same command is seen again in Colossians 3:16-17.  Obviously, God is stressing the importance of listening to and singing music that is uplifting to our spirits.  – This is a clear commandment regarding the type of music Christians should be listening to, and rock music does NOT meet the criteria!

 

Proverbs 13:20 tells us that a companion of fools will suffer harm.  The musicians we listen to will become our companions.  Even though it has been over twenty years since I have listened to rock music, if I am in a store that happens to playing some of the music I used to listen to, I can still remember most of the lyrics, word for word.  Obviously, there is a great amount of power in music.  Even King Saul saw this when he called for David to play the harp so that he wouldn’t be tormented by the evil spirits. (I Samuel 16:14-23)

 

By giving us a clear command in Ephesians 5:19 to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, the implication is that if we choose to disobey, we are sinning.  In First John 1:5-6, we see that God is light.  There is no darkness in Him.  If we claim to have fellowship with Him, yet choose to walk in the darkness of rock music, we are liars who do not live by the truth.  In verse 10, it tells us that if we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and His Word has no place in us.

 

If you are annoyed by the hard truths shared here, you may very well have a love problem. For when you truly love God, you will obey Him. (John 14:15)  If you listen to rock music, and you don’t think it affects you, I would suggest that you go back and read the questions I asked in the last devotion, and answer them honestly.

 

God wants His people to wake up and put on beautiful clothes.  He wants us to take off the slave bands from our necks, leaving our bonds and slavery, for we are to be His holy people.

(Isaiah 52:1-2)

 

While I have focused mainly on rock music in this devotion, due to my own personal struggles with it, the truths shared here are applicable to what we watch on TV, where we go on the Internet, and even what books we read.

 

Next time I will wrap up this series with some final thoughts.

© 2006, Stacy R. Miller

Cyanide, Part 2

Cyanide, Part 2

 

Do you struggle with depression?

Do you ever battle thoughts of suicide?

Do you grapple with fear?

Do you have a day-to-day struggle with cussing?

Do you have frequently fantasize or have lustful thoughts?

Do you struggle with bitterness and anger?

Do you have some addictive behaviors?

Do you constantly battle the temptation to drink?

Have you become addicted to food?

Are you caught in a web of sexual sin?

Do you look at others who worship with such freedom and wonder why you can’t seem to do that?

 

Perhaps you have been drinking spiritual cyanide.  There was a time in my own life when I could answer yes to several of the above questions.  I want to share some of my own struggle with drinking spiritual cyanide in hopes that those of you who may be struggling in this area will find hope, as well as victory.

 

When I first got saved, it seemed like I would go to church, only to find myself drinking Jack Daniels a short while later.  I could go to the altar, asking God to help me stop cussing, only to find myself cussing like a sailor before the day’s end.

 

I could attend services, promising myself that I’d quit looking for love in the wrong places, only to find myself in a compromising position later that week.

 

Even as I was faithful to read my Bible and attend church services, I constantly battled thoughts of suicide.  I just felt hopeless.  Was this really all there was to the Christian life?

Where was the victory?  Where was the deliverance for which I longed to see?

 

One night we had a special speaker at our church.  I was deeply challenged and convicted in an area where I thought I had ‘cleaned up’ enough.  Obviously, I was wrong.

 

Next time, I will share a very deep devotion about that challenge, and why my obedience to what I heard was crucial to my deliverance from sexual temptation, a desire to drink, anger, and even suicide.  This is something that has been burning in my spirit for over two months, and I have spent a great deal of time in prayer over it.  Please be in prayer, asking the Lord to help you have an opened heart to what He may desire to speak to you through the next devotion.

 

© 2006, Stacy R. Miller