Grave Digging

Grave Digging

 

In Prov. 5:5, we see that the adulteress gives no thought to the way of her life.  Are we like that?  Do we blindly make our way through each day, never taking heed to the direction in which we are going?  Do we neglect to take the time to see the path where we are venturing?  For instance, if we are suddenly struggling with fits of rage, do we just flippantly blow it off as being hormonal?  Or do we get before the Lord, asking Him to reveal any hidden places in our hearts that may be leading to those fits of rage? 

 

Sometimes the Lord may reveal to us that these fits of rage are a trigger from the past.  I have learned that one of my triggers is the springtime.  It reminds me, sometimes even subconsciously, of the baby I lost during that time of year.  I often fall prey to feelings of hopelessness or extreme anger during that time of year.  Rather than continuing to ‘dig a grave’ with my fleshly emotions, I have allowed the Lord to ‘fill the hole’ and give me a straight path.  When  we take the time to allow the Lord to speak to us, we may find that we have some unforgiveness, resentment, or even areas of unconfessed sin, which has caused us to ‘dig a grave,’ thereby opening a doorway to the enemy, giving him a foothold in our life.

 

Are we in a place where our fuse seems to be shorter than usual?  Do we continue to do as the adulteress, giving no thought to our ways?Once again, we can blame it on hormones.  But could it really be that we are neglecting to feed our spirit because we are just too busy doing other things?

 

Prov. 18:21 tells us that we hold the power of life and death in our tongue.  Those who love it will eat its fruit.  Notice that the scriptures don’t say that we MIGHT eat its fruit, but that we WILL eat its fruit, whether that fruit be good or bad.  How many of us know someone who is very bitter with their words?  Do you know someone whose tongue is like a viper, ready to strike at any moment?  Now think upon what physical ailments they face because of their bitterness.  With their own mouths, they have been digging their grave.

 

In Prov. 11:13 and 16:18 we find that a gossip betrays a confidence and separates close friends.  It is so easy to discern who is a gossip.  Just close your mouth and listen when you are in the presence of others.  The gossip’s words usually start out with, “Now don’t tell anyone I told you this, but….”  The gossip digs her own grave by her incessant need to talk about others.  Her grave digging abilities come from words that aren’t edifying and full of love.  Also, she digs a grave by alienating people.  No one wants to be around her because they know that she will just stab them in the back the moment they walk away from her.  She may die an early death, in part because she a lonely woman, but also because of her grave digging abilities.

 

Father, help us not to be grave diggers, but to be life givers.  Help us to speak words that will edify and encourage.  Give us words that will be a soothing oil to a wounded heart.  Help us speak words that will bring healing and grace to those around us.  Amen.

 

© 2003, Stacy R Miller

 

Eternity in Our Hearts

Eternity in My Heart

 

It amazes me how God created animals with a homing instinct built within them. Many birds and butterflies will fly north in the summer, then head south in the winter. Many of the birds return to the exact same locations year after year.

 

Even cats and dogs have a homing instinct. I have heard numerous stories of dogs who have “gotten lost” in other states. Suddenly, months later, they show up on the front porch. We had a cat who disappeared for a couple of weeks. We thought he was gone for good. One night, as I was heading to bed, I looked out the back door to find him. He looked a bit beaten up and scrawny, but he found his way home and melted our hearts because we missed him so much while he was gone!

 

Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that God has put eternity in our hearts. Spiritually, we need that. It keeps us grounded when temporary, worldly things want to crowd out the eternal.

The more I watch the news and read things on the internet of things happening around the world, the more dissatisfied I am with this world. I have a longing to go “home.” That is eternity in my heart. My heart wasn’t made to set up permanent residence in this world. My heart yearns to see the place my Savior is preparing for me. (John 14:1-4) More and more, my husband and I will look at each other and say, “I want to go home!” We long for that perfect place where there will be everlasting peace and joy in His presence.

 

In this world where it is so easy to get caught up in temporary treasures, we need a spiritual drive inside us that won’t be satisfied with anything less than Jesus!

 

© 2014, Stacy R. Miller

 

Contentment

Contentment

 

Do you ever have trouble being content? It seems we can always find something else that we think will bring added comfort and contentment to our lives. Perhaps it’s a new car, a new home, a new wardrobe, children who excel at everything, more money, less hours at the office, and the list goes on.

 

In Philippians 4:11, Paul states that he has learned to be content, whatever the circumstances.

 

In the Greek, the word “learned” refers to what we have gleaned from our experiences and tribulations. It isn’t referring to just our book knowledge of the Word. Rather, it refers to a knowledge that comes from the growth we gain through our experiences, circumstances, and trials.

 

Seeing it in this light has caused me to reflect on my own life experiences, seeking to find the golden nuggets I’ve gained through the good times and the bad. I want to share some of them with you, as a way to get you thinking about your own life, in hopes that it will help you discover your own treasures through life’s experiences.

 

  • Miscarriage – developed a deep sense of compassion and mercy in me.
  • Struggling with anger – helped me to be less judgmental toward others who also experience it.
  • Asthma – God allowed me to experience severe asthma for a couple of years, then miraculously healed me, giving me an incredible testimony I can share with others to encourage them.
  • The sudden death of my brother – I experienced God’s mercy in a whole new way through this tragic loss.

 

What treasures can you discover that can be used to help others?

© 2014, Stacy R. Miller

 

Demolition Crew

Demolition Crew

 

A friend of mine recently moved into a new home. When we would see each other, she would give me an update on what phase they had reached with the construction. Though there were several men working on the house, in order to get it done quickly, it still took several weeks to be completed.

 

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to watch a house as it was demolished. It was done within a couple of hours. What a difference from watching a house being built!

Our words can be like a demolition crew. Research shows that it takes ten positive comments to overcome one negative one. Oh, the power of the tongue! Proverbs 18:21 tells us our tongue holds the power of life and death.

 

When home schooling my daughter, I could see the daily impact of my words on her. I had to be very careful how I said things to her when she would struggle with a new concept. If I was insensitive and critical, she would wilt emotionally.

 

When my daughter was much younger, I would reward her for a good job with stickers. As she got older, I would add words of encouragement on her papers. It was amazing to watch how those actions could set the tone for the rest of the day!

 

I have tried to make it a rule that if I can say anything nice, do it! It can make a huge impact on someone’s day to hear a word of praise, appreciation, or encouragement. The older I get, the easier it has become to release those kind words. I used to see someone and think, “She is so pretty,” or “She has a beautiful smile.” Now those words flow freely, and it is such a pleasure to watch the expressions on their faces when they hear something so positive and encouraging.

 

Losing my brother to a heart attack has been an impetus for me, motivating me to make more phone calls and send notes of appreciation to people who have been instrumental in my life. We have probably all lost a friend or loved one and had the thought, “Oh how I wish I would have told them _____!” I don’t want to leave those words unsaid!

 

Let’s strive to be like the building crew – building a strong foundation with our words, as opposed to the demolition crew who can destroy months of work in a matter of minutes.

 

© 2014, Stacy R.Miller

 

A Differing Kind of Fasting

A Different Kind of Fasting

 

Proverbs is my favorite book of the Bible for the wealth of practical insights and knowledge that it offers. I have to admit that I can be a bit intimidated when I read the section on the virtuous woman. There is one verse in particular that really gets me. It’s the one about her words. In the Message Bible, it says, “When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she says it kindly.” It’s that first word that gets me: “when.” The implication is that she isn’t always talking. This causes problems for me because…well….I’m a talker!!!

 

After a long day at work, I come home, and I need to talk about my day to de-stress. However, my daughter, who works in a daycare with 23 children in her class, will come home and retreat to her bedroom. Once she has had some time to unwind, she will come out and share bits and pieces of her day. It may take her five minutes to tell us about her day. In contrast, it may take me at least twenty minutes to talk about mine.

 

One day, as I was pondering on this portion of scripture, it occurred to me that we can do a different kind of fast. Normally, when we fast, we refrain from putting food into our mouth. A new kind of fast could be to refrain from letting bad words come out of our mouth. I’m not just talking about cuss words. I’m referring to a fast where we don’t gossip, don’t let unwholesome, corrupt speech escape our lips, and we stop negative words from gushing forth from our mouth. If we make a conscious decision to fast from the wrong words, and we invite the Lord to help us do so, I have a feeling people will see an elegant grace develop within us. We will slowly become much more like the virtuous woman!

 

© 2014, Stacy R. Miller

 

Friends

Friends

 

Sunday:

Sincere Leigh: “Lord, I want to be more like You. Help me to be steadfast and faithful — a woman of integrity and character. Let me be a woman of great faith who can encourage others.

God: “Child, are you sure about this?”

Sincere Leigh: “Yes Lord! I can do all things with Your help, and I know it’s Your will for me to be more like You.”

God: “You sound pretty excited and confident in this request.”

Sincere Leigh: “Yes, I am! I know I’m praying in accordance with Your will, so I just know You will answer me!”

God: “Yes, my precious daughter. I am pleased with your request and I will grant your request. Prepare yourself for some visits by several friends over the next few days.

Sincere Leigh: “Friends? OK! Friends can be a great encouragement to me in my Christian walk! This will be great!”

 

Monday:

Sincere Leigh gets up and gets her children ready for school. On the way there, the car breaks down. Later that day while the car is still in the shop, the school calls to tell her that one of her children has come down with the stomach flu. Since she’s without a car, she must call her husband at work. He’s unavailable, thanks to an urgent meeting. Now she has to try and find some merciful soul who will take her to pick up her sick child. After reaching four answering machines, she’s beginning to get frantic. Oh! What a day this has turned out to be!

 

Tuesday:

Sincere Leigh was hoping for a good night’s sleep after the disastrous day on Monday. As soon as she drifts off to sleep, her youngest child vomits all over the bed. Yes, he’s come down with the flu as well! Instead of sleep, she is now washing bedding at midnight and giving a very sick child an unwanted bath.

 

She awakens, feeling exhausted, but knows that she still has one child who must attend school today. Since the other two are sick, she will be forced to send her child to the dreaded bus stop. Her daughter is adamant that she’s not riding the bus because the kids are always so mean. After putting her foot down, and getting quite cross with her daughter, Sincere Leigh’s current crisis comes to an end.

 

After changing the bed sheets for the two children who are no longer vomiting, Sincere Leigh gets them settled for a nap. She decides to take a nap herself. She dozes off, and the phone rings. It’s the prayer chain calling. She quickly takes care of that and realizes that she still has a little time to rest before the children will wake up. The phone rings again. It’s her daughter, calling from school. She forgot her gym shoes and she’s upset because they’re going to play her favorite game during gym class. “Please Mommy! Can’t you leave long enough to bring me my shoes?” Of course, Sincere Leigh couldn’t leave the other two children home alone to rescue her daughter, even as life-threatening as it seemed to the poor child.

 

Wednesday:

Sincere Leigh’s last child came down with the flu at 2 AM. She starts the vicious cycle once again. She is exhausted by now, and she barely muddles her way through the morning routine as she tries to get one child off to school. Suddenly, she remembers that she is supposed to meet her friend for lunch today. She makes a quick call to cancel. Now all she wants to do is go back to bed, but she knows that she must start laundry.

 

Later, when Sincere Leigh goes to get the laundry out of the dryer, she discovers that it’s still wet, with no sign of having been heated at all by the dryer. At this, she throws up her hands, and begins to wail, “Why me, Lord? I didn’t need this right now! First the car repair, now the dryer needs fixed! I’ve had sick kids all week, and had to cancel my luncheon plans! Why can’t anything go right for me?” She cries some more, but doesn’t take the time to listen for the Lord to answer all of her ‘whys.’

 

Once the kids are resting peacefully, she decides to take a nap, only to remember that she hadn’t read her Bible all week. She thinks to herself, “I’m exhausted and I need some sleep. I have the women’s retreat this weekend. I’ll make up for it then.” Suddenly, the phone rings. Her husband has been unexpectedly called out town on business. He has to leave in two hours. Can she pack his bags and have them ready? “When will you be back?” she asks. He informs her that he will be gone until midday on Saturday. What!? What about the women’s retreat?

 

Thursday:

Sincere Leigh is really wiped out this morning. She is very short-tempered, leaving everyone walking on eggshells, and she’s having her very own pity party. She can’t have her parents watch the kids so she can go to the retreat because they are on vacation. She can’t take them to a friend’s house to stay because all of her friends are going to the retreat. She was really looking forward to this retreat, and now she can’t go. She is terribly depressed.

 

Friday:

Sincere Leigh wakes up and decides that she going to do something special for herself after she drops the kids off at school. After all, it’s been a very rough week. She has to miss out on the retreat, so she owes it to herself to do something special. She finally decides that she will go out for breakfast at her favorite restaurant. After saying ‘goodbye’ to the children, she notices that she suddenly has a pounding headache and her stomach feels rather queasy. She opts out of treating herself to breakfast. She barely makes it in the door, and to the bathroom, before she starts vomiting. Yes, you guessed it — Sincere Leigh has the stomach flu.

 

After literally hanging over the toilet for about four straight hours, she feels like she is dying. She finally manages to crawl into bed and starts to fall asleep. When she reaches that ‘twilight stage,’ where she’s not completely asleep, yet not fully awake, she hears the Lord say, “How did you like the friends I sent you this week?” Angrily, she says, “What friends? No one came to see me. No one even called me.” With that, she starts to fall asleep. As she does, she keeps hearing “James 1:2” going through her mind. Even in her sleep, she dreams that her pastor is preaching from James 1:2.

 

When Sincere Leigh awakens, she gets her Bible and looks up James 1:2 and finds that it’s admonishing her not to resent trials. She thinks to herself, “Lord, this week has sure been a huge trial!” She finishes reading the verse and discovers that it says to welcome trials as friends. (Phillips)

WHAT? Friends? Suddenly, she blurts out, “Oh, I get it, Lord! When You told me to prepare for some friends, you were referring to trials! But I didn’t ask for trials! I asked for You to help be steadfast, faithful, full of integrity, character, faith, and encouragement.”

 

God replies, “Yes, child, you did. And now, let’s take a look at some more scriptures so that you will understand.”

 

Sincere Leigh begins to read I Peter 4:12-13 where it tells her that trials come so that her faith may go through a spiritual refining process. (The Message Bible) She discovers in Romans 5:3-4 that suffering produces perseverance and perseverance will produce character. She goes back to the first chapter in James. After reading verse three, she realizes that perseverance must finish its work in her so that she will be mature, faithful, steadfast, full of integrity, character, and full of faith and able to encourage others.

 

God speaks to her again: “Do you see it now? All of these trials are part of My plan and purpose for your life. Sincere Leigh, you sincerely prayed to become all of those things without realizing that to do so, it requires that I use trials to make you into that person. While your trials won’t be easy to endure, I will always be there with you, every step of the way. The end result will be a deeper, more intimate relationship with Me, and a heart full of joy for having grown so much during the trial.”

 

Sincere Leigh: “Wow Lord! I guess I’ve got a lot of growing up to do to become mature! Will you really be there with me through the whole process?”

 

God: “Always, child, always.”

 

Sincere Leigh had no idea what to expect when she prayed that bold prayer, but yet she did pray it sincerely. Sister, when you find yourself going through trial after trial, God is faithful, and He will also walk through it with you.

© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

 

Focused to Win

Focused to Win

 

We fall so easily into the trap of doing too many things.  I have heard many parents talk about how they are always eating on the run because they have at least one or two activities every night of the week.  That doesn’t even count the myriad of activities they must attend during the weekend. 

 

In watching how some people live their lives, constantly on the go, you might even think that they are in a marathon.  That may very well be the case, only there’s no prize at the end.  Paul tells us to run in such a way so that we will get the prize. (I Cor 9:24) To win the prize, we must go into strict training, beating our body, and making it our slave, so that we won’t be disqualified for the prize. (I Cor. 9:25, 27)

 

What kind of training do we need?

  1. We need to learn to run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  (Heb. 12:1) This means that we need to learn to God’s will for our own life, and not someone else’s will.
  2. We must redeem the time.  Realize that there is never going to be enough time to do everyone else’s will for your life, but there will always be enough time to do God’s will for your life. (Eph. 5:16)
  3. Fix your eyes on Jesus. (Heb. 12:2) You must get focused on what God wants you to do.  If you don’t, you may find yourself doing too much, following the crowd, only to find that you are lost in that same crowd.
  4. Find a lighter yoke. (Mt. 11:29-30) Jesus tells us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  Do you need to lighten your load by getting rid of some outside activities?  If you are constantly saying, “I just can’t get everything done,” may I suggest that you ask the Lord which burdens you need to remove from your yoke?
  5. Resolve to know nothing except Christ, and Him crucified.

(I Cor. 2:2) If anything can help you keep things in the right priority and in the right perspective, it is knowing your God.

 

When we run to win, persevering in doing our Father’s will, we will receive a crown which will last forever. (I Cor. 9:25)

© 2004, Stacy R Miller

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