Picking Fruit

Picking Fruit

Strawberries, grapes, bananas….ahhh, the scents of summertime fruits.  Delicious, appealing, inviting!  A scrumptious fruit salad can be so invigorating on a sweltering, summer day.

Just before we are able to bite into that luscious fruit, we have to first pluck the grapes from the vine.  Sometimes the grapes are attached so well to the vine that it requires some pulling to get it loose.

Moving on to the bananas, it requires pulling them apart, one by one.  Sometimes the way it’s pulled causes the peel to be ripped off of the end, exposing the inside of the banana.

Now we’re ready for the strawberries.  Before we can eat them, we have to core out the stem.  I use a special spoon with sharp, jagged edges to cut out the stem.  As I’m doing that, I can usually find a few strawberries that have been bruised.

Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that we are to have fruit in our lives.  We are to have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Just as we have to pick the fruit that we eat in order to enjoy it, we will have times in our lives when our own fruit needs to be picked.  How do we respond when someone starts picking our fruit?  We never know what kind of fruit we have until people start picking it.    How do we act when someone starts ripping and tearing away at our patience?  What is our response when our love is jaggedly ripped to the core?  When we are peeled away, much like a banana peel, and our naked wounds are exposed, do we come up fighting to try and protect ourselves?  When self-control gets pulled, do we lose our joy?  When gentleness gets plucked, do we become unkind?  When we’ve become bruised, do we continue to be faithful in serving God and showing love to others.  When we’ve been torn over an issue, do we forget to walk in goodness?  When others pick our fruit, do we blow our stack and lose our peace?

Who’s picking your fruit?  How does is look, once it’s picked?
© 2004, Stacy R Miller

Plugged In

Here is a devotion written by Angela Georgantas.  It has a very interesting perspective on staying “plugged into” the Holy Spirit.

Plugged In

Pick Your Battles Prayerfully

Pick Your Battles Prayerfully

I have often heard my pastor tell us to pick our battles with our children.  Some battles really aren’t worth fighting.  Others need to be fought at all costs.  It takes discernment to discover which battles are the ones we need to fight.

In Deut. 17:8-10, we see that Moses was told that if he had cases come before him that were too difficult for him to judge, he was to take them to the person whom God would choose.

As a mother, I have often found situations arising that leave me at a loss on what to do.  I learned very early as a parent that it’s wise to pray for three wise and godly women to whom I could go for counsel on tough issues.  They have been a great help to me, providing some wonderful insights.

In Judges 4:4, we see that Deborah was leading Israel.  In verse six, she sent for Barak, telling him that God wanted him to gather ten thousand men to go to Mount Tabor.  God was preparing to give Jabin’s army into their hands.  In verse 16, we see that all of Sisera’s troops fell by the sword.

The correlation to us, as women, is that we should be causing our spiritual foes to fall through using the Word in our intercession for our family.  It is a powerful thing to quote the Word when we are praying.  I remember one Sunday when our youth pastor used a machete, calling it a sword, and tossing an apple into the air, then slicing it in half.  It was a fantastic visual picture of how using the Word of God can slice our spiritual foes.

Saul and his servant were out searching for some lost donkeys.  The looked for hours with no success, coming to  the point where they didn’t know where else to look.  In verse six, the servant mentions a man of God.  He states that everything the man of God speaks comes true, so perhaps, he could tell them where to look for the donkeys.  As Saul agrees to go see the man of God, he not only finds his donkeys, but the man of God anoints Saul as leader over Israel.

Sisters, sometimes when we approach God, He not only answers our original request, but if we are careful to listen, we may find Him revealing much more to us.

The story of David and Goliath is a very familiar one.  We see that David is a brave man, a warrior, and most importantly, the Lord was with David.  God had delivered David from the paw of the lion and the bear, and David was confident that God would deliver him from this vile Philistine.  When David spoke to Goliath, he was careful to make mention that he was coming in the name of the Lord.  He knew that all of his success was from God alone, and he was certain to give God the glory for his success.

We also need to be constantly aware that every good and perfect gift comes from the Lord. (Jas. 1:17) Any battles that we win, we win because God is for us.  (Rom. 8:31)

Another battle in the Old Testament that is incredible is when God gives very clear instructions to the Israelites for going against Moab. (II Kings 3) After they followed the Lord’s instructions, the valley was filled with water.  As if that wasn’t awesome enough, in verses 22-23, the Moabites see the valley of water, only it looks like blood!  They head out to plunder, not realizing that they were walking into their own destruction.

When we pick our battles prayerfully, it can cause the plans of the enemy to be destroyed.

In Acts 12, the church was earnestly praying for Peter, who was in prison.  Suddenly an angel appears to Peter, causing his chains to fall off.

Sometimes when we pick the battle of intercession, we will cause chains of bondage to fall.

In Mt. 1:19, Joseph was going to divorce Mary quietly.  But once an angel appeared to him in a dream, he was encouraged to go ahead and take Mary as his wife.  He was given a clear revelation as to what was taking place within Mary’s womb.

In Acts 16:6, the Holy Spirit kept Paul and his companions from preaching the Word in Asia.  In verse 9, we see that Paul has a vision of a Macedonian man and he concludes that God had called them to preach the gospel there.

Sometimes when we pick our battles prayerfully, God will speak clear instructions to us through the stillness of our sleep.

Do you feel the need to pray about some battles?
© 2004, Stacy R Miller

The Party Dress

Here is a devotion written by Angela Georgantas.  I love the way she shares this story, turning into something deeply spiritual.

The Party Dress

 

Pest Control

Pest Control

Many times, we read the Word of God, skimming over things that become ‘familiar’ to us, refusing to allow God to give us new insights into what they mean.  We are probably all familiar with the parable about the wise man building his house upon the rock.  Even when the storms came and the winds blew hard, that house stood firm.  Yet the foolish man, who built his house upon the sand, finds that his house is demolished by the winds and storms.

Having just found out recently that our house has been invaded by carpenter ants, the Lord showed me a great analogy to our spiritual life.  For those of you who may not be familiar with the damage that can come from carpenter ants, let me share that those ants can destroy the foundation of even the very strongest house if you fail to have the house treated for them.  One treatment isn’t enough.  It requires treating the house every other month.  It’s a process of maintaining the house, staying ahead of the enemy ants, so that they don’t attack again.  Spiritually speaking, even when your house is well-built, ‘spiritual pests’ can try to invade your house.  These ‘pests’ can be in the form of selfishness, failing to deny our flesh and falling prey to gluttony, or ‘comfort’ eating, fear, false idols, too many activities, or even the wrong activities, or even spending our time in foolish pursuits instead of pursuing our God.

Just as we need to do upkeep on our home, we need to do a spiritual upkeep on our temple.  All homes will eventually need a new roof, representing that we need to get a new roof in spiritual sense — a new way of thinking. (Rom. 12:1-2) We may need to replace a toilet, representing how we need to get rid of things that are toxic to our spiritual life. (II Tim. 2:20-22) Windows eventually need to be replaced, representing how we need to seal the openings in our spiritual life so that Satan isn’t able to get a foothold in our life. (Eph. 4:27) A new coat of paint can transform a room, and God can transform our lives into His likeness. (II Cor. 3:18)  Sometimes we must rewire the house to avoid the wiring to short-out, causing a fire. We also need to be wired to God, through our connection to the vine.  It’s only through that connection that we can be fruitful. (Jn. 15)

Many times, we hear the phrase “Out with the old, in with the new.”  This is true in our walk with God.  I started writing poetry when I was only in fifth grade, and I continued to write  through out my high school years.  Since I wasn’t a Christian during those years, none of the poems edified the Lord.  After having been saved for a while, I clearly heard the Lord telling me to burn all of those poems.  I couldn’t believe it!  I put my heart and soul into those poems!  I felt like a part of me was dying.  I was right too.  As I burned those poems, the ‘gift’ that I had used in an ungodly way died, and in its place, an even greater gift was born.  I began to write things that edified the Lord, and many years later, here I am, writing devotions.  Had I not been willing to surrender to God’s will, I believe that I wouldn’t have been able to reap the harvest that I have now.

Maybe you’re not sure how to begin the process of being ‘proactive’ against those spiritual ‘pests.’  First, let me say that you should begin with a daily quiet time with the Lord.  Don’t just rush through it so that you can mark it off of your ‘to-do’ list.  Take time before the Lord, allowing the Holy Spirit to show you hidden things in the Word.

Second, if you are struggling in a particular area, I would suggest that you find some Christian books on that subject by reputable authors.  For me, learning to be busy at home was a major issue when I first quit my job.  I had worked full time for years, and I didn’t know what to do with myself.  I began to read books on being a godly wife, I read Proverbs over and over and over, devouring it so that it would get deep in my spirit and become part of me.  I read books about being a godly mother so that I could sense what this high calling of motherhood was all about and so that I could put it into action.  We see many shows on television these days about ‘doing it yourself.’  Not that we can do anything of ourselves (Jn. 15), but if we need help in an area, there is nothing wrong with reading other godly books to help us to be better wives, mothers, time managers, and better women of God.

The third thing I would recommend is that you get connected in a Bible-based church.  We need each other!  (Heb. 10:25) God has gifted each one of us so that we can edify one another. (Rom. 12; I Cor. 12) If we fail to get connected in church, someone isn’t receiving from us what they need.  Also, YOU aren’t receiving from someone else what YOU need.

Do you have any unwanted ‘pests’ trying to eat away at your  foundation?
© 2004, Stacy R Miller

Persistent

Persistent

One night as I watched our hamster, I thought about how persistent she is in trying to escape from her cage.  It never fails.  Every single night, as soon as she awakens, she starts seeking a way out of that cage.  When one tactic doesn’t work, she will resort to another.

It made me think about my walk with God.  Am I that persistent to seek after my Father every day?  When I go through a dry season in my devotional times, will I diligently pursue a different route to find Him?  Could I be accused of persistence when it comes to seeking my Lord?  Do I persistently spend time with Him every day?  Or, am I only persistent when my back is against the wall?

Proverbs 21:5 tells us that the plans of the diligent lead to profit.  In relation to our time with the Lord, if we are diligent in spending time with Him, it will profit us greatly in the many things that we face every day.

First Timothy 4:15 tells us to be diligent in matters pertaining to the Word of God.  The result is that others will see our spiritual progress.  Not that we should specifically seek out being godly just so that others notice, but it is refreshing when someone comments on the spiritual growth they see taking place in our lives.

In Second Timothy 3:16, we find that all scripture is useful.  If we haven’t been persistent in spending time in the Word, we need to start small.  Rather than trying to read for long periods of time, try reading for five minutes.  Since all scripture is profitable and useful to us, we will find something there that will teach us, rebuke us, correct us, or train us.  Start small and see what God will begin to teach you as you begin to be persistent about reading His Word.

© 2006, Stacy R. Miller

Wretched, Poor, Pitiful, and More

Wretched, Poor, Pitiful, and More

Revelation 3:18 But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

When the economic crunch hit our home, I was forced to return to the work place.  After being a stay-at-home mom for nearly thirteen years, I can tell you it was quite an adjustment.  My daughter begged me to continue to home school her.  Since she was now entering high school, the pressure was even greater.  On top of working full time hours and swing shifts, there were many nights when I would come home, and still spend two or three hours helping Rachel with her school work.  By the time I would find time to do devotions, I was too tired.  If I wanted to do anything, it was either sleep or “veg” on the couch, letting the TV entertain me.  Oh what a hard cycle to break!

I noticed a very quick pattern when I started failing so miserably at reading the Word.  My attitude changed (and I don’t mean for the better).  The words running through my head weren’t words from the Living Word.  Rather, they were more likely to be the four-letter kind that I often heard repeatedly at work.  I also found that the longer I went without reading the Word, the less I desired to read it.  Because I knew my passion for the Word was waning, I then began to deal with the guilt of not spending time with the Lord.  If I did read, it seemed to be more of a “Ok, now I’ve got that done for the day,” rather than truly having my heart into it, seeking to hear from my Father.

One morning, as I was getting ready for work, I turned on a Christian TV station where they were playing music, and showing beautiful scenic photos.  Suddenly, a scripture popped up on the screen.  It was one of those moments that became a quick reality check for me.  It was Revelation 3:18.  It says, “You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”  Except that now, I did realize that about myself.  I fit that scripture to a “T.”  When I fail to get into the Word, it isn’t long before my attitude is wretched.  Because I was slacking in my devotional time, I had allowed myself to become spiritually poor because I had no fresh “oil” flowing in me.  I was pitiful because I was neglecting to spend time with the One who died for me.  I was naked because, by my actions, I was choosing not to clothe myself in Christ every day.  It was clearly time for a change.

Now my quest is to return to my First Love.  I know He is waiting and watching, and He’s doing so with open arms.  And He’s also doing it for those of you who may also have fallen on this slippery slope.  Let Him catch you with those Everlasting Arms.  It will delight Him and it will give you a new lease on life.
© 2010, Stacy R Miller

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