In Spirit and Truth

In Spirit and In Truth

God was very particular and exact about how He wanted things done in the tabernacle.  He was very clear in saying that the fire that was to heat the incense MUST come from the altar of sacrifice.  This was for 2 reasons.

#1 – God lit the fire on the altar of sacrifice himself.
#2 – Blood from a sacrifice poured over the coals on the altar of sacrifice.
Any other fire for petition or worship were absolutely unacceptable.  God made this very clear to Nadab and Abihu when they offered “strange fire.”  They were consumed by fire.  (Lev. 10:1-11)

The symbolism here with the two altars is that Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for us.  The altar of incense represents the intercession which He does on our behalf.  His intercession on our behalf is a fragrant offering to the Father.  That fragrant offering is only possible because of sacrifice – His sacrifice of His own life for our sins.

When we come to God, we must remember that He is a HOLY God.  We must remember that the only way we can approach Him is through Jesus, because Jesus is our intercessor.  Trying to approach God because of our good works, or in any other manner, aside from Jesus, is offering “strange fire.”  Because Jesus is our intercessor, we can now worship the Father in spirit and in truth.  The Hebrew word for “truth” means unveiled reality.  Keep that in mind as we look at some scriptures that Beth Moore used in the study book A Woman’s Heart, God’s Dwelling Place.

Jn. 1:14 says that Jesus was full of grace and truth. (unveiled reality)
Jn. 1:17 says that grace and truth (unveiled reality) came through Jesus.
Jn. 8:32 says that we will know the truth and the truth (unveiled reality) will set us free.
Jn. 14:6 says that Jesus is the way, the truth (unveiled reality) and the life.
Jn. 16:13 says that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth (unveiled reality) and He will guide us in all truth (unveiled reality).
Are you getting the idea that Father wants us to really know Him intimately?  With no veil blocking us from seeing or knowing Him?  I pray that you catch the vision!

Because of the blood which Jesus shed as the ultimate sacrifice, we can now be clean.  We are now free to worship God with no accusations, with no more guilt.  May we all learn what it means to worship in spirit and in truth (unveiled reality).  After being cleansed by the blood of Jesus (the altar of sacrifice), we can worship (the altar of incense) God from the very core of our being.  May we learn to have a deeper reverence for Him, and a holy desire to focus all that we are on who HE is.  May we all see our Savior’s great sacrifice in a new way, and begin to worship freely.  My hope is that your prayers and your worship are becoming an incense before Him, (just as the altar of incense rose before Him).  Jesus in us is the fire that causes the fragrance of our worship to rise to Father God.

When this happens, we may ask the Lord, “Can we have more intimate times like this?”

He will tenderly tells you, “My child, I am ready and waiting.”

© 2003, Stacy R Miller

Advertisements

Impressions

Impressions

God knows how impressionable our children are.  That is why He told us to talk about His ways when we sit, walk, lie down at night, or rise in the morning. (Deuteronomy 6:7)  Young children are like sponges, soaking up everything they see and hear.

If our children observe us gossiping, what impressions are we leaving on their little hearts?  Rather than gossiping, if we would turn to intercession, we would impress upon them that God is the first one to run to in a crisis.  We will teach them to daily take their needs to the Lord.

If we criticize the pastor, we impress on their heart that this man isn’t to be respected.  On the other hand, if we talk excitedly about something we learned from the pastor’s message, we teach them that church is an exciting place to get new insights about our Father.

If we speak critical words about the music they play at church or the songs they sing, we impress upon them to look for the negative.  If we talk about how the music touched us and replaced our worry with God’s peace, we place an impression on them that could last for years.  They will learn that godly music can be a healing balm to frazzled emotions.

If we frequently act out of our feelings, rather than God’s truth, we place a strong impression on their hearts that will steer them to do the same thing.  It could lead to years of living a very unstable life, being a constant slave to their emotions, rather than using God’s Word to master those runaway emotions.  Yet when we speak forth God’s truth and stand on the Word no matter what our feelings tell us, their impression will likely lead them to stand firmly on the Rock.

What impressions are you making in the hearts of your children?

© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

Immediately

Immediately

I marvel at the patience and mercy that Jesus shows His disciples.  Here they are, hanging out with the Son of God on a daily basis.  They have heard Him preach some awesome messages.  They have seen Him dismantle the religious leaders and their theology.  They were at His side when He healed the multitudes.  They were there when Jesus calmed a storm.  They saw many people set free from demons.  They even had the privilege of seeing how Jesus could raise the dead.  They even beheld the feeding of the five thousand.

Yet, only hours after seeing this most recent miracle, they began to waver in their faith.  When their boat was being tossed about by the strong winds and high waves, they lost their confidence and their faith.  (Matthew 14:22-33)

At this point, I think I would have lost any compassion and mercy for the disciples.  I think I would have given them some strong criticism for their fear and lack of faith.  But what does Jesus do when they cry out in terror?  Immediately He told them not to be afraid.

After Peter walked on water, he began to get fearful when he felt the blast of the wind and beheld the swells in the water.  He cried out for Jesus to save him.  Again, we see Jesus immediately reach out His hand to Peter.

We may feel like we’re drowning in our emotions because of fluctuating hormones.  We may be overwhelmed with concern for a loved one.  We may have gotten a phone call that shakes our whole world.  We may have gotten news from the doctor that is devastating.  Whatever the need, Jesus is there.  Cry out to Him and watch Him immediately reach out His hand to steady you, to strengthen you, to give you peace, and to deliver you from the terrors that assail you and try so hard to overwhelm you.  He’s there – just reach out your hand to Him.

© 2006, Stacy R. Miller

I’m so Ashamed!


I’m so Ashamed!

In John 8:1-11, we find the story about the woman who was caught in adultery.  This woman’s passionate pursuit in her adulterous act likely brought a crimson color to her cheeks as she was brought publicly before the people.  Have you ever stopped to notice who brought her?  It was the teachers of the law AND the Pharisees.  That’s quite a group of men!  Knowing the law very well, they made sure that they had more than two witnesses to speak against her.  This was a very cliquish group who had an ulterior motive to their actions.  I believe that they purposely planned to trap this woman in a very intimate act, only to use it, trying to ‘trip up’ the Master when they asked Him about it.

While this woman’s shame was very public, yours may be private.  It may be the mental and emotional abuse from a spouse, or physical abuse by your spouse or even your parents, or the silent shame of that abortion which took place so many years ago, the sexual intimidation by your boss, or even the shame of what a trusted, but perverted, relative inflicted on you as a child.  Whatever kind of shame you may bear, think of it as we continue on in this story.

Now that this poor woman has been brought publicly before the people and branded an adulterer, that stigma would stay with her for the rest of her life.  If you don’t believe me, look at these names, and see what thoughts come to mind:
Jeffrey Dahmer, Benedict Arnold, Monica Lewinsky, Ted Bundy, Susan Smith, O. J. Simpson, or Kobe Bryant.  Kobe hasn’t even had a trial yet, but chances are very high that for the rest of his career, he will be thought of as the NBA star who was charged with rape.  Regardless of the outcome of the trial, I’ll bet that many would even call him the NBA star who was a rapist.  You see, even before there is a trial, public opinion has often formed, and the stigma of that public opinion stays for years, regardless of what a jury may say.  We’ve seen that happen in the O. J. Simpson case.

Moving back to our story, this woman would go to the well every day, having to listen to the whispers of the women, enduring their scorn.  When she goes to town, she’ll endure the coarse joking from the men, and the snubbing of the ladies.  After all, what married lady wants to befriend an adulteress?  She would be seen as a threat to any married woman.

Thinking upon catching someone in the act of adultery, we’ve all heard stories of a husband or wife who hires a private investigator to track the other spouse.  It’s only one person who is watching.  Even if they set up hidden cameras, it’s still usually only one person who is doing the work.  So, for all of these teachers and Pharisees to catch this woman in the act, centuries before hidden cameras were available, it’s a trap!  And this woman was simply the bait used to catch the ‘big fish,’ who would be Jesus.  Notice that the man she was committing the act with wasn’t even brought forth.  He was probably part of this sinister plan.

Bringing their ‘bait’ to Jesus to try and ‘hook’ Him, they expected Him to condemn her.  They must have been dumbstruck at His reaction.  Instead of seeing her condemned, they get to watch the finger of God write in the dirt!  The same fingers that carved the Ten Commandments are now writing in the dirt!  (I wonder if He wrote things like ‘fraud, deceiver, ambusher, cheater, swindler, double-dealer.’  These terms certainly describe the way these men handled this situation.)  Later, we see these same fingers of God carrying a wooden cross to Calvary.  Not only did He bear the weight of all of your sin, He bore your shame too.  Heb. 12:2 tells us that He scorned the shame of the cross.  He bore your sin and shame.  Carrying guilt and shame is nothing but Satan’s trick to hold you in a prison of shame, but Jesus tells you the same thing He told that woman.  “Neither do I condemn you.”

Sister, be loosed of that infirmity of shame that you’ve been needlessly carrying.  Lk. 13:11
© 2004, Stacy R Miller

I’m Done!

I’m Done!

As mothers, don’t you sometimes wish that you could say, “I’m done!”  It seems that a mother’s work is never done!  Even when we are sleeping, we are still on-call for the one who may wake up ill during the night.  We get the house cleaned, only to find that by the end of the day, the kids have trashed it once again!

We can find ourselves falling into the mode of being ‘task-oriented,’ rather than ‘people-oriented.’  We can become easily irritated by any interruptions.  We seem to forget that some things which happen are God-ordained; we view it as another interruption to our already busy schedule.

In John 17:4, we find that Jesus is talking with the Father, saying that He has completed the work which God gave Him to do.  I wonder how we might view each day, if we are careful to only do the things which Father really wants us to do.  If He wants us to be diligently instructing our children in righteousness, will we be able to relax and let the housework go for a day?  Would that cause excessive stress to our flesh because we have to view the messy house?  Would we be able to set aside our plan to go to garage sales because someone is in need of a meal?  Would we be able to put aside the plan we had made to do something refreshing in order to go visit someone who is in dire need of some company?  Can we set aside our holiday tasks to play a game with the children, or read them a book?

In Matt. 8:1, we find Jesus coming down from the mountainside, after having taught the people for many hours.  He was probably hoping for some time of refreshing and relaxation.  What did He find?  He found that the crowds followed Him.  Moms, do you ever find that your ‘crowds’ have followed you?  Most of us can’t even go to the bathroom by ourselves!  We can certainly understand the frustration that a person would feel when they can’t get away for that time of aloneness, that time to refresh oneself.  But Jesus didn’t respond out of frustration to them.  He continued to minister to them, putting His own fleshly wants aside.  What a contrast between how the Master responded and how I often respond to those ‘interruptions.’  It’s quite convicting, to say the least.

In verses 14-16, we find that Jesus was visiting Peter’s house.  When we go to visit someone, it’s often to relax and fellowship.  Yet, we see that Jesus is immediately called upon because Peter’s mother-in-law was sick.  Not only that, while He was there, MANY were brought to Him.  So much for relaxing and fellowshipping…..

As we move on to Matt. 8:23-25, we find that Jesus is trying to sleep, and now it’s the disciples who are ‘interrupting’ Him.  Have you ever had those days when you finally get to climb into bed, hoping that you can find a peaceful night’s rest, only to find that just as you fall into a deep sleep, you hear these words, “Mom, I had a bad dream.  Can I sleep with you?”  Once again, a peaceful night’s rest seems to be out of the question.

Moving on to Mt. 9:1-2, Jesus crosses over in a boat to visit His home town.  Again, they bring people to Him.  Those of us who have loved ones who live out of town know how precious those family times are.  Yet, Jesus didn’t often have those times with His family because the crowds were always looking to find Him.

In verse 27, He is still being followed.  In verse 36, we find that as He sees the crowds, He has compassion on them.  When we are followed by our ‘crowds,’ do we respond in the same manner?  In my own life, I find myself falling short so many times when MY schedule is interrupted.  When I remember to view the ‘interruption’ as a God-given intervention, my attitude is quite different.

In Mk. 1:35-37 Jesus went off to pray.  Simon and the others came looking for Him, declaring that ‘everyone’ was looking for Him.  We all have days where we feel like ‘everyone’ is looking for us.  The kids need us, hubby needs us, the phone won’t quit ringing because others needs us, the neighbor rings the bell, in search of us.  The list can be endless.  How do we respond?  Jesus responded by saying, “Let us go…That is why I have come.”  Can we say, as Jesus did, that we have come to do the Father’s will?  Can we say, “Not my will, but yours be done?”

Lord, help us to face each day, conscious of Your intervention in our lives.  Help us to view interruptions as an ordained task, given by You.  Help us to remember that as we serve others, we are really serving You.  Help us to be able at the end of each day to say, “Father, I have completed the task that You gave me to do.”  Amen.
© 2004, Stacy R Miller

An Instructed Tongue

An Instructed Tongue

The tongue is a very hard thing to tame.  James calls it a fire, a world of evil that is set on fire by hell.  He calls it a restless evil that is filled with deadly poison.  (Jas. 3:6-8)

Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘restless’ as unable to relax, giving no rest, rarely quiet or still, or discontented.  I don’t know about you, but just seeing that definition in light of how I use my tongue, I’m getting convicted already!

When we find that we are unable to relax our tongue, we will find ourselves being quick to speak.  Yet, James tells us that we should be slow to speak. (Jas. 1:19)

When we have a discontented tongue, it’s hard to follow the admonition in Philippians to think upon the things which are lovely, true, just, pure, and excellent.  We don’t allow ourselves time to shut up long enough to count our blessings.  That discontented tongue just has so much to say!

Another thing that a discontented tongue can do is make us like the quarrelsome wife, who is like a constant dripping. (Pr. 19:13) We fall into the habit of nagging, whining, complaining, and/or disrespecting our husband because we have become discontent with our lot in life.  No wonder Proverbs 21:19 tells us that a man is better off in the desert than living with a quarrelsome woman!  At least in the desert, he might find some peace and quiet.

When our tongue gives us no rest, we miss out on intimate moments with the Lord.  He may be calling us to find rest for our weary souls. (Mt. 11:28-30) In John 10, Jesus tells us that His sheep listen to His voice.  If our tongue gives us no rest, how can we hear His still, small voice?

In Pr. 31:26-27 we see that ‘when’ the virtuous woman speaks, her words are kind, giving wise counsel and instruction.  The word ‘when’ implies that she isn’t talking all of the time.  She has learned to be silent at times.  She also doesn’t eat the bread of idleness.  Idleness is a dangerous trap because when we become idle in our bodies, our tongue usually doesn’t follow.  Instead, it finds reason to  gossip or even to wallow in self-pity because we are discontented.  Those ultimately lead us to that place of having a restless tongue.

How do we stop this vicious cycle?  It is certainly a hard one to break once we fall prey to it.

Is. 50:4 says that God has given me an instructed tongue so that I will know what to speak to the weary.  He awakens me morning by morning, wakening my ear to listen to Him, like one who is being taught.

When we begin to honestly pray for God to give us an instructed tongue, we may find the resulting fruit:
1.  Our kind words may cheer up someone.  (Pr. 12:25)
2.  Our lips will nourish many. (Pr. 10:21)
3.  Our wise words will bring healing to others.  (Pr. 12:18) In fact, our wise words may even bring healing to ourselves because we begin to speak the Word over our situation instead of speaking out of our fickle emotions.
4.  Our words can become a fountain of life.  (Pr. 10:11)
5.  Wisdom will flow from us.  (Pr. 10:13)
6.  We will learn how to weigh our answers before we speak. (Pr. 15:28)

An instructed tongue…..I want it!  How about you?  Do you want it?
© 2004, Stacy R Miller