Hidden Idols

Hidden Idols

We live in such a materialistic world.  We find that the worldly ways have even infiltrated the church.  Many are so wrapped up with their toys, their social status, and their idols that they don’t even realized that they’ve fallen to into the grievous sin of idolatry.

Achan was a person whose sin got him into lots of trouble.  In Joshua 6, we see where the Israelites overcame Jericho.  There was a clear directive spoken by Joshua, advising the people not to take anything from the city, but to destroy everything, and bring any silver, gold, bronze, and iron into the treasury.  Achan coveted and took some of the items and hid them.  Achan thought that he could hide his sin.

God saw Achan’s sin, and his anger was aroused.  This caused the Israelites to lose thirty-six of their men when they went up against Ai.  The men of Ai also chased the Israelites from the city gate. (Josh. 7:4-5)

As Joshua got before the Lord, seeking to discover why Israel wasn’t successful against Ai, the Lord told him that there were some devoted things in the camp.  God went on to tell Joshua that as long as the devoted things were in the Israelites camp, He was not going to be with them or bless them.

While Achan thought that he had hidden his sin, we see in verse 20 where Achan reaped the wages of his sin.  Even when he admitted his sin, he was still put to death.  Be sure your sin will find you out. (Num. 32:23)

In Genesis 31, we see where Rachel stole her father’s household idols.  When Laban chases down Jacob and confronts him about the missing idols, Rachel tells him that she is having her period, so she can’t climb down from the camel and stand in his presence.  She makes it sound as if she’s being spiritual because she is obeying the law of that time where a woman who is bleeding is not to touch another person.  Obviously, they can’t check her to see if she is lying or not because if they do, then they are unclean.  Her sin remains ‘hidden.’

I find it very interesting to note that only four chapters later, we see where Rachel dies in childbirth.  She named her son Ben-Oni, which means ‘son of my trouble.’  I used to always view his name as having come from the difficulties she faced in childbirth.  But was that really why she named him ‘son of my trouble’?  Or, could it have been out of the guilt she carried for her sin of stealing her father’s gods, then lying about it?

While it appeared that Rachel’s sin was hidden, Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death.  It looks to me like Rachel’s sin caught up with her to make it’s final payment.

We have all heard of stories where Christian people have fallen.  They may have gotten involved in all kinds of ministries, but somewhere along the line, they began to covet, to lust, even idolizing their own calling from the Lord.  They thought they could hide their sin, but pretty soon, it catches up with them.

Sisters, we can even fall prey to this very sin when we are called to be stay-at-home moms.  We begin to be puffed up and proud of our accomplishments.  Maybe we see that our children are much better behaved than the children of a mother who works away from home.  We begin to look down upon this other mother, making unjust judgments about her.  For those of us who homeschool, we may become haughty because we think that our method of homeschooling is the only way to go, leaving us judgmental of those who do it differently from us.

What about those of us who are very happily married?  Do we ever begin to set our own marriages up as an idol?  Do we go boasting about how great things are, as if we were the ones who did all the work to have this great marriage?  When we forget that every good and perfect gift comes from God, we are in a dangerous place of setting up an idol. (Jas. 1:17)

Let’s not forget the other things which can easily become idols in our lives.  What about reading many other things, but neglecting the Father?  What about watching the television but never taking time to look into the Word to see what Father wants to show us?  We can easily fall into idolatry with the amount of time we spend on our physical appearance.
We can even fall into idolatry when we are so consumed with the appearance of our children — always needing the latest fads or the name brand clothing for our children.  We may even end up in debt because our idols have caused us to buy into the lie that we must only have the absolute best of everything.

While we may fool some people into thinking that we are still virtuous, godly women, we can’t fool ourselves.  We know the emptiness that comes from serving false gods.  We still feel that deep loss of wonderful joy and peace from having a clear conscience before God.

So, what do we do if we find ourselves in a trap of hiding idols?  In II Cor. 7:10, we find that godly sorrow will bring repentance that leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.  Let’s not be like the people in Hos. 7:14 who would cry and wail from their beds, yet they weren’t crying to God from their hearts.

Do you have any hidden idols?  Get rid of them before they come, ready to collect on the payment that is due.
© 2004, Stacy R Miller

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Headship — The Husband’s Role

Headship:  The Husband’s Role

“You wives must submit to your husbands’ leadership in the same way you submit to the Lord.  For a husband is in charge of his wife in the same way Christ is in charge of his body, the church…So you wives must willingly obey your husbands in everything, just as the church obeys Christ…and the wife must see to it that she deeply respects her husband – obeying, praising, and honoring him.”  (Eph. 5:22-24,33) The Living Bible.  In the NIV, it says that the husband is the head of the wife.

The footnotes in the Full Life Study Bible for the above verses say, “God has established the family as the basic unit in society. Every family must have a leader.  Therefore, God has assigned to the husband the responsibility of being the head of the wife and family.  His headship must be exercised in love, gentleness, and consideration for his wife and family.  The husband’s God-given responsibility of “head of the wife” includes: (1) provision for the family’s spiritual and domestic needs; (2) love, protection and interest in her welfare in the same way that Christ loves the church; (3) honor, understanding, appreciation and thoughtfulness; (4) absolute faithfulness to the marriage relationship.”  I want to focus on number one in this group.  Many times over the years, while attending ladies Bible study groups, I have heard different ladies ask us to pray for their husband.  They would talk about how he wasn’t being the “spiritual leader” of the home.  In looking at the above scriptures, he isn’t called the “spiritual leader of the home,” but he is called the “head” of the wife.

Let’s look a little further into this.  Many women complain that their husbands won’t do family devotions.  As for his “provision for the family’s spiritual needs” (mentioned above), if he is working extra hard so that the wife can be at home with the children, he is entrusting them to the one person whom he should be able to trust the most.  Your children will be indoctrinated by someone, and if we are blessed to be stay-at-home moms, then we have ample opportunity to be training them and instructing them in righteousness.

Gen. 2:18 says, “I will make a companion for him, a helper suited to his needs.”  (Liv. Bible)  As a helper, what better way can you help him than by raising godly children?  If you train them and instruct them to be well-behaved, God-fearing children, then it will be a joy for your precious husband to come home after a hard day at work.  He will surely appreciate your many efforts in raising godly children.

Prov. 31 talks about how the husband is respected at the city gates.  This was where he conducted his business affairs.  One reason why he was respected was because of the noble wife who was at home, doing her husband good and not harm, all the days of her life.  She carefully managed the home, not just in the practical matters like grocery shopping, doing the laundry, cooking and cleaning, but also in the spiritual training of the children.  After all, this whole Proverb is about a mother who is teaching her son.  I doubt that all of the insights which are in this one Proverb were taught to him in a single sitting.  Rather, they were lived out before him, on a daily basis by his godly mother.

I asked a few men what their perception of their role as “head” was.  I got the same answer from every man.  They weren’t looking at it from the standpoint of leading devotions or family prayer time, but they perceived it to be a place where they would discuss things with their wives, but the final decision would be theirs.  If they made the wrong decision, then they had the weight of that wrong decision falling on their shoulders.  They saw this position as one of leadership in more of a practical role, rather than a leader in the sense of leading the family where spiritual things are concerned.  I am not saying whether their views were right or wrong.  My point in asking this was to show us that how women view “head of the wife” and how men view that particular role, are often completely different.

We may be whining and complaining because our husband won’t take the initiative in doing family devotions.  When God is pruning us, he will often use those closest to us to bring about the pruning process.  Too many times I have heard ladies complaining about their husband, asking us to pray for him, but I don’t recall ever hearing a lady say, “Would you pray for me to be content in a situation I am facing until God sees fit to make a change in it?”  You see, it’s too easy to point our fingers at what we perceive to be wrong in our husbands.  It’s much harder to face the fact that maybe Father is wanting to teach us contentment, joy, and peace, regardless of the situation we are facing.

I remember talking with a lady one time who was complaining because her husband didn’t want them attending Wednesday night services.  She was very unhappy with that because church was very important to her.  When she told me that she was praying for God to change his heart on that matter, I suggested that maybe God was trying to teach her to honor his feelings, to stay at home on Wednesday nights, and be happy about doing it!  She had never thought of it that way.  As she began to change her attitude on it, God began to move in BOTH of their lives.  They are both more active in church now.

If honest, we could understand why many husbands would be intimidated by the thought of leading family devotions.  We women have a way with our body language that can speak volumes, even if our mouths are shut.  If we feel that he isn’t doing a good enough job, is he going to be able to perceive that by our body language?  We have the ability to roll our eyes, thinking that he can’t see it, but oops!  He did see, and it makes him feel that he can’t do anything that meets your standards for family devotions.  How many times do we find that we interrupt our husbands in the course of a normal conversation?  Is it really going to be any different if he is leading family devotions?  Won’t we still be tempted to say, “Oh, honey, they can’t understand those big words.”  Or, we might say, “They don’t understand that concept.  You have to tell them like this…”  The key is to give the children a chance to say, “Daddy, what do you mean when you say….?”  We need to remember not to interrupt him.

Another thought on this line is that if you really want family devotions, ask him what he thinks about it.  He may not be interested in doing it at all.  You might suggest that you all come into the room, then YOU be the one to lead that time.  Maybe he could be the one to tell the children that it’s family devotion time.  He could be the one to do the scripture reading, but you would be the one teaching the lesson.  Most of the time it is Mom who spends the most time with the children, so it should fall upon Mom to be the one to find devotions to use that are fun, exciting, and age-appropriate.  (I highly recommend the books Heritage Builders Family Night Tool Chest.)

A word of caution – if you take it upon yourself to do family devotions, and you ask your husband if he would like to join, if he tells you “no” two or three times, then back off and quit asking him.  If you continue to ask, it will come across as nagging.  Let’s look at two approaches.
“It’s time for devotions.  Get in here so we can get started.”  OR “Honey, we are going to do devotions now.  Would you like to join us?”  By which response do you think you can gently persuade him to want to join?  The first one will obviously put up a “wall” between the two of you because you aren’t being respectful at all toward him.

I have heard many women complaining about the lack of “spiritual leadership” in the home.  Your husband isn’t called a spiritual head, but he is called the head.  Your spiritual head is Christ.  If you are looking for family devotion times to fulfill you, give you peace, or to help you grow, you are putting something on your husband that only Father God is able to fulfill in you.  Please don’t misunderstand me on this issue.  I am not negating the husband’s responsibility in helping to train and instruct the children in righteousness.  I am just looking at it from a different point of view – a view that I don’t feel that is looked upon very much.  Keep in mind that by his diligence in going to work and providing a home, along with paying the bills, he IS teaching something to your children.  He is teaching a good work ethic about working as “unto the Lord.”  He is teaching them about providing for their families, for I Tim. 5:8 tells us that if a man doesn’t provide for his own family, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.  If he is loving, caring, and gentle, he is giving them a good example of a loving Father in heaven.  Your children will grow up with a better view of God because they have seen those godly traits portrayed in their own earthly father.

© 2003, Stacy R Miller

Handwriting on the Wall

Handwriting on the Wall

 

“So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from

them.” (Daniel 5:3, NIV)

 

I can assure you that these Babylonians were not using these stolen items from the temple of God in a holy manner.  Rather, they were drinking from them as they

were praising their false gods. (verse 4)

 

Their actions must have incited the anger of God, for the next verse tells us that

“suddenly” a finger of a human hand appeared, writing on the wall.

 

The Lord let this evil king know that his days as king were numbered, and would

be divided and given to other nations.

 

As much as God watched what was taking place with these stolen items, they were

just “things.”  They did not hold His holy presence.  However, we do hold His 

presence, for we are the temple of God.

(First Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; Second Corinthians 6:16)

 

In our “Babylon” there are many false gods such as success, money, beauty, and

self-absorption.  We must be very careful not to use our temple to worship the false

gods of this generation.  We do not want to end up receiving the same kind of

fateful, fearful message that God spoke to a Babylonian king many years ago.

 

© 2007, Stacy R. Miller

 

Guarded Boundaries

Guarded Boundaries

 

Do you ever feel pressured to do things that we know are not God’s best for you? It seems that we are constantly facing people who are trying to get us involved in activities or commitments that we just don’t feel good about, yet we have a hard time saying ‘no’ to them.

 

We must be careful to guard our hearts, not allowing them to be swayed emotionally, taking us across a boundary line that God has put into place in our lives. We need to guard our boundaries!

 

Even Jesus felt the need to guard His boundaries. In Matthew 13:36, we see that Jesus left the crowd and went into the house. Notice that the crowd didn’t leave, but Jesus did. There were times that He knew He needed to pull away.

 

In Matthew 14:22, Jesus made the disciples get in the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, then He dismisses the crowd so He could pray. It had been a mentally exhausting day because his cousin had just been beheaded. Jesus knew that He needed to come apart or He would end up ‘coming apart.’ He needed to find that place of solitude to pray through His grief over the vicious death of His beloved cousin. He needed God to refill Him with some fresh oil so that He would have something to offer those who sought Him. Sometimes we need to dismiss the crowds in our own life. We need to send the children to their room, turn off the phone, turn off the TV, the computer, and get alone with God.

 

In Luke 4:42-44, Jesus is praying and the crowds come after Him once again. They were pressuring Him to stay there with them. Jesus had His priorities in order, and He knew that if He stayed there, He would be crossing a boundary line. He told the people that He was to be preaching the good news to other towns. He wasn’t persuaded to stay, no matter how much they pressured Him to do so.

 

It’s the same with us – we will be pressured to sign our children up for activities because ‘everybody else is doing it.’ We will be pressured to get involved in more church activities than what is feasible for us. Keep in mind that when you overstep the boundaries and get involved in too many activities or you take on too many charity cases, you may end up not being able to do a good job of taking care of your husband and your children. And guess what? If YOU don’t do it, no one else will! Why? Because God has called YOU to do it!

 

Even commercials bombard us, pressuring us to spend more money. If we don’t have the money, it’s no problem, just call the 800 number for a quick and easy loan! We must guard our boundaries! One of the best ways we can guard those boundaries is by simply guarding our hearts for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23) If we don’t guard our hearts, that wellspring of life will run dry very quickly. We will have crossed a boundary line that leads us to a very dry and parched land.

 

© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

Pre-trib or Post-trib???

I highly recommend this video.  It is long, but it is worth every minute.  It is very enlightening, informative, and easy to understand.  He points out key words in scripture that most preachers overlook when discussing the tribulation.  He lays portions of scripture out, side by side, and it helps you to clearly see things.  It’s one of the best videos I’ve seen on this topic.

 

Guard Duty

Guard Duty

 

We find a command in Prov. 4:23 to guard our hearts because it is the wellspring, or abundant supply, of life.  In the CEV, it says that we should guard our thoughts because they are the source of true life.  Indeed, when we take the time to meditate on God’s Word, it gives life to our spirit.  In the negative, when we think upon negative things, it can zap us of any positive outlook, causing us to be negative.  We will wind up in a bad mood, and our spirit will reek of a terrible stench to all who have the sad misfortune of meeting us on those days.

 

In Mt. 12:34, Jesus tells us that it’s from the abundance in our heart that our mouth will speak.  What kind of abundance is in your heart?  In verse 35, Jesus tells us that a good man will bring up good from the treasure stored within him, but an evil man will bring up the evil that is stored within him.  If we are honest, we will admit that we all have times when evil comes out of us.  But, how did it get there when we are Christians?  Eph. 4:26-27 tells us that one way we let evil in is by letting the sun go down on our wrath.  The next verse tells us that we shouldn’t give the devil a foothold.

 

Any soldier who has been in Iraq could tell you that in guard duty, you have to be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove. Mt. 10:16.  The soldiers are in areas where there are many civilians.  They want to be harmless where innocent civilians are concerned, but they know that there are enemies lurking among the civilians.  As Christians, we need to be on active guard duty.  Even among people whom we consider friends, there can be an enemy lurking.  That is why Paul addressed the issue of factions and discord within the church in Gal. 5:20.  James was speaking to the church when he mentioned the quarrels and fights that were taking place in James 4:2.  I find it interesting to note that just a a few verses later, in verse seven, he mentions resisting the devil.  It looks to me like the Christians went AWOL from guard duty, only to give Satan a foothold through their bickering.  Have any of us gone AWOL?

 

Here are some keys to avoid going AWOL from spiritual guard duty:

Col. 4:2 Be watchful and thankful.  Pay attention to areas of your life where you are growing lax.  Learn to cultivate a thankful attitude.  When we give in to complaining and murmuring, we open ourselves up to the enemy’s attacks.  Just look at what the Israelites faced when they grumbled in the wilderness.

I Tim. 4:16 admonishes us to watch our life and doctrine closely.  To do this, we must be diligent to be in the Word, absorbing it so that we aren’t carried away by every wind of doctrine.  Eph. 4:14.  Even on Christian TV, there are times where things are spoken that aren’t scriptural.  If we don’t get ourselves filled with the Word, we won’t be able to discern the difference.  We should be like the Bereans in Acts 17, who searched the scriptures, looking to make sure that what Paul said was true.

Phil. 4:7 tells us to pray with thanksgiving, giving all of our requests to God, then He will guard our hearts and minds.

Ps. 141:3 Ask the Lord to set a guard over your mouth.

Mk. 13:33; I Cor. 16:13 Be on guard, standing firm in your faith.

Lk. 12:37 tells us that it’s good for the servant whom Christ finds watching when He returns.  This isn’t a passive watching, but it’s very active.  Thinking again to soldiers who are on guard duty, they use surveillance, and they are vigilant and aware.  Being on guard duty  means to attend to or to concentrate.  They are active in watching out for any attacks of the enemy.  These are all active words, rather than passive.

May our Lord Jesus find each one of us active in watching and awaiting His soon return.

© 2003, Stacy R. Miller

 

Growing Spells

Growing Spells

 

My daughter, Rachel, has learned that if she goes through a spell where she is eating a lot and/or sleeping a lot, she is likely going through a growing spell.  She’ll come to me and ask, “Mommy, will you measure me?”  There have been times where we’ve been amazed at the amount of growth in only a short period of time.

 

We also have growing spells in our walk with God, but we can also stunt our growth.  For instance, if a lady has been raped, she has obviously gone through a very traumatic experience that can change her emotionally.  She may talk about the rape constantly.  When she meets new people, she may be quick to tell them about the rape.  She identifies with it so much that it becomes part of her identity, and it now defines who she is.  In fact, if she is quick to tell strangers about having been raped, when they see her again, they will likely think, “There’s that gal who was raped.”  This scenario could also work for anyone who has been a stripper, a prostitute, a drug addict, or even one who has been physically abused.  There is nothing wrong with remembering where we came from, but when we continually identify ourselves with our past, we stunt our spiritual growth.

 

One reason that the victim mentality stunts spiritual growth is because a victim won’t embrace God’s work.  They are too caught up in the sympathy and attention they get when they talk about their past.  They also use that victim mentality as an excuse for why they are still struggling with sinful behaviors, addictive behaviors, and the like.

 

Our salvation experience is the only thing from our past that should define who we are now.  When we came to Christ, we became a NEW creature, and the old things are gone.  (II Cor. 5:17) We need to define ourselves as the righteousness of God.  (II Cor 5:21) As we learn who we are in Christ, we experience a lot of growth because we become confident in our identity.  That, in turn, leads us to work toward obeying God and doing what He desires, leading us to even more growing spells.

 

Have you noticed in your own life that when you are going through trials, you spend a lot more time in the Word?  You are ‘eating’ more spiritual food to help you in your growing spells.

 

The apostle Paul had his own growing spell when he was given a thorn in his flesh.  God showed Paul that His grace was more than enough for whatever Paul faced.  (II Cor. 12:7-10) Paul learned through that growing spell that he could delight in being ridiculed, facing persecution and hardships, and in difficulties because it was in Paul’s times of weakness that God’s power was made perfect.  My own paraphrase is that in Paul’s hardships, God’s grace brought tremendous growing spells in Paul’s life.  Paul didn’t take a victim’s mentality where he was defined by those trials.  Rather, he was defined by his reaction to those trials, and the reaction was choosing to let others see Jesus in Paul.

 

Some days, we need a lot more of God’s mercy than what we needed in previous days.  That is why we are told in Lamentations 3:23 that God’s mercies are new every morning.  On those mornings when the Father knows that His child is getting ready to through a big growing spell, He gives even more mercy to sustain us during that time.

 

As we go through times of trial, we may end up approaching our Father and saying, “Daddy, will you measure me?”

 

How about you?  Are you in a growing spell right now?

© 2004, Stacy R Miller