In Your Desert Times

In Your Desert Times

Do you ever struggle with guilt, feeling as if you haven’t been forgiven? Do you ever think, “How could God forgive me for what I’ve done?” Do you ever have moments where you feel as if the Lord doesn’t care or couldn’t possibly understand your situation? Do you sometimes feel like you are insignificant?

I want to take you on a little journey and see if I can help you to see things differently.
Let’s begin by taking a look at Hagar. This woman was a strong-willed, Egyptian slave woman. She wasn’t even Hebrew! And this woman also had a mean streak in her when she taunted Sarah for not being able to bear children. In spite of this, God does some incredible things in her life.

Genesis 16:7 – The angel of the Lord found Hagar. Notice it doesn’t say that AN angel found her.  Rather, it says THE angel of the Lord found her. And he did it for an Egyptian. Not only that – but he did it for an Egyptian woman! Women were considered rather low-class citizens back in that time period. Yet the Lord never showed up like this for men like Adam, Noah, and Abram!

Next, God gave Hagar a promise. He told her that her descendants would be too numerous to count. (Genesis 16:10)

Not only does the angel find Hagar once, he finds her twice! (Genesis 21) He searches her out in the desert and promises to make her son into a great nation.

Now, my friend, think about this! If God sends the angel of the Lord to the middle of the desert not once, but twice, to a heathen slave girl, what will he do for you, daughter of the King? He sent his Son to die for you, and he adopted you as his own. His plans are to give you a hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Whatever your desert is, God is there, and his promises are for you.

© 2014, Stacy R. Miller

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We Can’t Love Both Christ and This World

This was a GREAT article!

We Can’t Love Both Christ and This World

This paragraph really stood out to me:

On a closing note, carnality not only affects the pew, but the pulpit as well. A carnal pastor still offers motivating sermons, but he will lose unction, boldness, and spiritual insight. The world, and carnal Christians, will love him, but Spirit-filled believers will leave the service starving for more of God. Pastors, if we would make it our goal to know Christ more personally we would preach Christ more powerfully. Are we calling people out of the cultural mindset or are we encouraging it by our silence?

Blooming in the Desert

Blooming in the Desert

It is easy to think that when we are faced with a “desert” experience that we are being spiritually assaulted by the enemy.  Yet, when we look at what happened to Jesus, we see that He was led by the Spirit into the desert. (Mark 1:12)  Of all things, this occurred after a pivotal moment when Jesus was baptized and the Spirit descended on Him like a dove.  He heard the affirming words from heaven, “This is my Son, whom I love.  I am well pleased with him.” (Mark 1:9-11)

In my own life, it seems as if I can go through what many would call a “mountain top experience.”  Yet, within a matter of days, I feel as if I’ve been thrust into the wilderness.  Why?  I believe that many times, it is because the Spirit of God has led me there to teach me some important things.

As human beings, we are given the gift of feeling emotion.  Where we go wrong is when we rely on emotions too much.  Our emotions can change many times over the course of the day.  By going through a desert experience, we can learn to live on the truth in God’s Word, rather than depending on our fluctuating emotions.  In some of my own desert times, I have learned to declare, “God, I know You are there.  I cannot feel You right now, but I thank You for the promise in Your Word that tells me You will never leave me nor forsake me.”  There is much power in proclaiming His Word, even when we don’t feel like it.  It is often during those times that suddenly, I feel His peace envelope me.  He tests me to make sure that I am learning to depend on His Word which will never fail, as opposed to depending on my feelings, which can fail me many times a day.

After Jesus went through forty days in the desert, he returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit. (Luke 4:14)  It can be the same for us – those desert experiences can cause us to bloom.  When you face your next “desert,” determine to come out stronger on the other side.  Continue to read the Word, even if you feel as if it doesn’t sink into your spirit.  Continue to pray, though the heavens feel like brass.  If you do this, you will be able to come out of your desert in the power of the Spirit.

© 2008, Stacy R Miller

A Model of Forgiveness

A Model of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is one of the hardest issues we can face in life because hurts and betrayals run very deep.  However, God obviously wants us to work things out; otherwise, this portion of scripture would be unnecessary.

In Matthew 18:21-35, we see where Peter assumed there should be a limit to our forgiveness. He may have thought that he was being incredibly generous by offering to forgive up to seven times.   But by doing so, he fails to see that the goal of forgiveness is to restore the relationship.

In verse 31, we discover that others are watching us when we’ve been hurt.  That scripture became a reality to me when a close family member deeply wounded me.  My daughter was with me at the time of the offense, so she saw how horrible I was treated.  Since I am one who tends to talk my way through issues I’m facing, I knew I better tread carefully on this one because she would be watching closely to see how I responded.  It was incredibly hard to keep a godly attitude through this.  I prayed and prayed and prayed some more for the Lord to help me.

How we respond to our hurts can be a reflection of how deep our spiritual roots go.  And I wanted my daughter to see deep spiritual roots in me in spite of how badly I was treated.  I wanted her to see that no matter how badly she may be treated by someone, she can choose to forgive in spite of those inflicted hurts.  It gave us many opportunities to talk about the situation.  We were able to discuss forgiveness with restoration.  We also discussed the need to forgive and set up boundaries.  We even discussed how there are times when the forgiveness is for our sake and not the sake of the offender, like in the case of physical or sexual abuse.

Depending on how we respond to those types of wounds, we can either draw others to Christ or push them away.  With the Lord’s help, we can be a godly example of forgiveness.

Lord, help me be a model of forgiveness.

© 2011, Stacy R. Miller

Overweight

Overweight

Do you frequently feel overwhelmed with your responsibilities?  Do you feel like you’re driving through life in the fast lane with a crash on the horizon if something doesn’t change soon?  Do you feel as if your life is out of balance?  It could be that you are overweight.

Proverbs 16:11 tells us that honest scales and balances are from God.  In Proverbs 20:23, we see that God isn’t pleased with dishonest scales.  When we climb on God’s scales, He’s not checking to see how much we weigh.  God uses the old fashioned scales that have the two shallow dishes where you can see if the scales are balanced.

When we get involved in too many activities, we may appear to be leading a very productive, balanced life, but we are really using dishonest scales.  We give the illusion that all is well, but God sees through that illusion to those feelings of despair because we feel like we’re on a fast track with no way of getting off.  God sees all of our activities, many of which we would even claim we are doing for Him.  Yet He sees the emptiness in our souls because we’ve gotten onto to a dishonest scale, trading activity for God in place of intimacy with God.

We’ve become filled up, but we’re overflowing with the wrong things.  The end result is feelings of inadequacy, feeling like we’re spinning our wheels and going nowhere.  We’re overburdened, overstressed, overtired, and overweight.  We are overweight because we’ve put on the wrong yoke.  If we put on the yoke that Jesus came to give us, we find that it’s easy, and His burden is light. (Matthew 11:30) Once we put on His yoke, we will find that we are on honest scales.  The result will be a life that is stable, steady, centered, and balanced.

Are you overweight?
© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

Powerful Dream

I had a really powerful dream last night.  My friend Mary, who is now with Jesus, came to me as I was in the bookstore, owned by her and her hubby.  I was looking for a book.  She said, “You need to stop reading so many books, websites, dreams and visions of other people and the interpretations.  It is time to read the Word.  Immerse yourself in it.  You won’t go wrong with the Word.  The other stuff will drain you and confuse you.”  Then with a bolder tone, “LEAVE THE OTHER STUFF ALONE!  GET INTO THE WORD.  STAY IN THE WORD.  IT IS CRITICAL AT THIS TIME FOR YOU TO STAY IN THE WORD.”

So while I’m home from work today, I knew I needed to immerse myself in the Word.  I pulled out my trusty sword in the Amplified Version and Modern English Version and headed to the Psalms to soothe my weary, worn, dried-out spirit.  I wanted to share what really stood out to me in case it may help someone else.

Psalm 119:51-55 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

51 The proud have had me greatly in derision, yet have I not declined in my interest in or turned aside from Your law.

52 When I have [earnestly] recalled Your ordinances from of old, O Lord, I have taken comfort.

53 Burning indignation, terror, and sadness seize upon me because of the wicked, who forsake Your law.

54 Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.

55 I have [earnestly] remembered Your name, O Lord, in the night, and I have observed Your law.

As I look at world events, I see Christianity mocked and ridiculed on a daily basis.  The PC word is tolerance, yet there is no tolerance for Christianity.  To me, this can become overwhelming.  Thus, like verse 52 says, it is critical for me to take comfort in the Word of God and His promises to His children.  I *must* encourage myself in the Lord.

I am a news junkie.  I frequently read articles online on current events.  This too, can be overwhelming.  If I’m not careful to guard my heart, indignation can consume my spirit.  Fear and terror can assail me.  I can become very depressed and sad, as mentioned in verse 53.

I must remember that this world is not my home.  I must not become too attached to the things of this world.  I must remember that I am in a temporary body, on a pilgrimage to my eternal home.  (Verse 54)

With the constant barrage of negative news, even at midday, it can seem like night.  So in that “night,” I must remember the Lord’s Name and earnestly call out to Him, as mentioned in verse 55.

If I am faithful to do the above, here will be the result:

Psalm 119:24 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

24 Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors.

I will find myself delighting in God and His Word.  His Word will counsel me and instruct me in the way to go. 

Psalm 119:32 I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.(NIV)
Even in the midst of these dark days, if I keep myself soaking in His Word and running in the path of His commands, He will set my heart free.

Out of My Comfort Zone

Out of My Comfort Zone

Several months ago, a lady from our church had a severe stroke.  Whenever we would get an update on how she was doing, the news was never good.  I had such a burden to pray for this lady, and the lack of good news spurred me to intercede even more for her.

Imagine my surprise when I walked into church one morning and saw her sitting there!  Later, the Lord spoke to me about the significance of her being there on that particular day.  He gently told me, “It is the first day of a New Year, and I want to remind My children that I am still a God who heals.”

I need to back up a bit to help you grasp the vital importance of what happened here.  While I had seen this lady at church for years, even sitting in the same section for years, we really did not converse much beyond the customary formalities of “Hi, how are you?”

One time I signed up to attend an in-home fellowship.  After viewing the list of who was attending, I began to feel a little uncomfortable about going.  I was not only the youngest one attending, I was the only one attending without a spouse.  In spite of my discomfort, I chose to go.  It turns out that it was one of the most memorable nights for me!

The lady who had the stroke was there.  As I listened to her stories, I saw a side of her I had never seen in a church setting.  She was hilarious!  And boy!  Could she ever tell a story!

Because I stepped out of my comfort zone, I got to know several members of the body of Christ a little better.  I started chatting with them more at church.  I felt more connected to my church family.

Had I refused to push myself out of my comfort zone, I do not believe that I would have carried such a burden to pray for this lady.  I would have missed out on being part of the miracle that took place in her life.  I also feel that I would have missed hearing the gentle voice of my Father speaking to me on that New Year’s afternoon.

We are told to bear one another’s burdens. (Galatians 6:2) What better way to bear a burden than to become an intercessor for someone?  We are told to love one another fervently. (First Peter 1:22) If we fail to take the time to get to know one another in the body of Christ, how can we love each other deeply?  We are told to rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15)  How can we do that if we don’t even know them?

I want to encourage you to get to know your church family outside of the church walls.  You may be amazed at what God does in your life when you get better connected with His people!

Do you need to step out of your comfort zone?

© 2006, Stacy R. Miller