Toss it Overboard

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Toss it Overboard

I have noticed that occasionally the Lord will allow us to go through storms of life so that He can bring to the surface things that are hidden.

Do you ever feel like you are a ship, carrying too much cargo, and headed for stormy seas?  Sometimes the cargo we carry may be stored ‘under the deck.’  In other words, it is buried in the deep recesses of our heart.  God can see the rebellious attitudes, our never-ending quest to please man, bitterness, deep hurts that need healing, or even fears.  Whatever we may have hidden, God still sees it, and He wants to bring those things to light so that we can be free from them.

Paul was on a ship during a storm of hurricane proportions.  The ship took such a violent battering that they began to toss things overboard in order to lighten their load and save themselves. (Acts 27:13-44)

When God takes us through storms, He wants us to see those hidden things and toss them overboard.  He wants to help us lighten our load, taking on his yoke. (Matthew 11:28-30) When we learn to toss things overboard during our stormy struggles, God will help us to persevere, growing and maturing in Him. (James 1:2-4)

© 2006, Stacy R. Miller

To Train or Not to Train

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To Train or Not to Train

In II Tim. 1:5, we find that Timothy had a godly heritage in his grandmother, as well as his mother.  Paul was convinced of that same godly heritage also abiding within Timothy.  It is apparent that Timothy’s dear mother was diligent in training him and instructing him in righteousness.

Today I am going to contrast the differences between training and not training our children in the Lord.  I found it to be an eye-opener for myself.

Prov. 5:23 tells us that a lack of discipline will cause one to die or to be led astray by his own folly (stupidity, carelessness, foolishness).
Prov. 15:10 tells us that stern discipline awaits the one who leaves the path, and the one who hates correction will die.
Prov. 17:21 tells us that having a fool (idiot, imbecile, blockhead) for a child brings grief to his father (or mother).  There is no joy for the parent of a fool.
— I guess another way to look at training and instructing in righteousness is to see it as an added benefit for ourselves.  I know that I want my child to be a joy to me, so I need to be diligent in instructing her in righteousness.
Prov. 17:25  A foolish child brings bitterness to the one who bore him/her.  — Can you think of a person who has become bitter, due in part to having a grown child who has turned out to be foolish?
Prov. 19:18 Tells us that we are to discipline our children and not to be a willing party to their death.  — The implication here is that if you don’t discipline your children, you are a willing party to their death.  Now this could refer to their physical death, but also to their spiritual death.
Prov. 29:15  tells us that a child left to himself/herself disgraces (discredits, strips of honor, shames, disregards) his mother.

Now let’s see what can happen if we follow the Lord’s command to instruct them in righteousness.
Prov. 2:1-5  If we teach them to store God’s commands in their hearts and to turn toward wisdom, we are helping them to understand the fear of the Lord.  We are also helping them to find the knowledge of God.
Prov. 3:1-2  If we teach them to hold the Word in their heart, it will prolong their life by many years as well as bring prosperity (accomplishment, victory, success).
Prov. 6:21-22 If our children will learn to bind God’s Word upon their heart and to fasten them around their neck, God’s Word will guide them, and when they sleep, His Word will watch over them.  When they awaken, the Word will speak to them.
Prov. 6:23  They will find that God’s teaching is a light and that the corrections of discipline are the way to life.
Prov. 19:18  The inference here is that we need to discipline them while they are young, (while there is still hope).
Prov. 22:15  The rod of correction (not punishment) will drive away the folly that is bound up in the heart of our children.  — Punishment is when we react out of anger, rather than responding to the situation with emotions which are controlled by the Holy Spirit.
Prov. 23:15  If we raise our children to have a wise heart, then our hearts will also be glad.
Prov. 23:16  When our children speak what is right (precise, accurate, certain), our inmost being will rejoice.  — Have you had times when you’ve been in public, observing the ungodly behavior of others, and suddenly you hear wisdom coming from the mouth of your child regarding that situation?  What joy that brings!
Prov. 23:24  If our children grow up to be righteous men/women, then we will have great joy.  A wise child will bring delight to us.
Prov. 29:15  The rod of correction will impart wisdom (sense, reason, clear thinking, good judgment, sanity, knowledge, tact, stability, solidity). — I know of individuals who refused to spank their children.  Now these children are grown and they are constantly getting into some kind of trouble.  It appears to me that the parents don’t even want the children to come visit because they have to worry about what valuables are going to come up missing, etc.

Father, You have given us much to do in training our children.  You know how tired we can become over the course of the day, and when we are tired, it desperately clouds our judgment.  WE NEED YOUR HELP!  We recognize that we cannot do it alone.  Thank You for not calling us to even try and do it alone.  Help us in our failings and shortcomings.  Help us in our short fuses, our busyness, our lack of patience, our intolerance, our selfishness.  Help us to grant mercy, grace, and love to those with whom You have entrusted to our care.  Help us to lay down our fleshly desires that we may fulfill your calling upon each of us as parents.  Amen.

© 2003, Stacy R. Miller

Jacob Prasch – A Picture of the Anti-Christ

This is a very informative and interesting message.

To Destroy or To Build Up

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To Destroy or to Build up

I did a lesson with young children at church where I took in bubbles and the bubble wand.  Of course they loved chasing the bubbles and trying to catch them.  I ended the lesson with telling them to go get all of the bubbles and bring them back to me.  They got the funniest expressions on their precious little faces!  They told me that they couldn’t do that.  I explained how it’s the same with words that come out of our mouths too.  Once they are out there, we can’t take them back.  Oh sure, we can say that we are sorry, but wouldn’t it be better if we had never said the words that required the apology in the first place?

James says in chapter 3 that a word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything – or destroy it!  He then goes on to mention how just a spark can set off a forest fire, and compares our tongues to a fire – that with our speech we can turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, etc.

Prov. 6:2 says that we are snared by the words of our lips, caught by the speech of our mouths.  — Think about this:  Sometimes we can be having a day where nothing is going right.  We begin to say aloud that we can’t do anything right.  The enemy of our souls hears that, and TRAP!  He’s caught us, and sets a snare for us.  The next thing we know, we are in the mindset that we are nothing but a failure.  Our joy, peace, contentment, and over-all sense of well-being goes out the door in an instant.

Prov. 10:19 says that in the multitude of words, sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is prudent.  In the Webster’s New World Dictionary, “prudent” means, “exercising sound judgment in practical matters, cautious in conduct, not rash, managing carefully.”  Oh, that we could all say that where our tongues are concerned.

Prov. 18:20 says that life and death are in the power of the tongue.  There are so many ways in which our tongues can speak death.  With our words, we can emotionally damage our children, we can kill a friendship, we can cause a huge wall to erupt in our relationship with our husbands (and in a matter of only a few words!), we can even cause physical ailments to come upon ourselves…..and the list goes on.  There is a flip side to it though; our words can speak life to people too.  (I like this part!)  We can speak life to someone who is so discouraged that they don’t feel they can go on.  We can encourage our children in their struggles, or even encourage them in what we see as strengths for them.  We can lift the spirits of our husbands who can carry such heavy loads at times.

Prov. 10:11 says that the mouth of the righteous man is a well of life.
Prov. 10:14 says that wise men store up knowledge in their heart and mind.  Well, what is the wise man going to do with that knowledge?  He can use it to speak life to those who need it.
Prov. 10:20 says that the tongues of those who are upright and in right standing with God are as choice silver (the best silver).

Father, may we daily make the choice to let our words be as choice silver, bringing life and joy to those to whom we speak.  Amen.
© 2003, Stacy R Miller

Titus 2 Moms

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Titus 2 Moms

“Teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.  Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”  Titus 2:3-5 (NIV)

We have discussed this portion of scripture in previous mailings, but as I pondered on it the other day, I saw it in a whole new light.  When I have studied this before, I always thought of it as meaning that the older women of the church should be teaching and mentoring ladies like us, who are in the midst of raising our children.  And yes, that is true.  But let’s look at it from a new perspective.  If we are mothers of daughters, then WE are the “older” women, and the daughters are the “younger” women.  (For those of you who have sons, please continue reading.  You will find some information that can be applied to sons as well.)

We teach our daughters more by example than by our words.  We have all heard that phrase “actions speak louder than words.”  Children are smart, and they can pick this up at a very young age.  So, we need to be very careful of what our actions (and our words) are teaching them.  Are we modeling a good example of Biblical love to our husband?  If not, then dear daughter is learning an unbiblical way to love her future husband.  Are we careful to honor and respect our husband?  If not, we are teaching our little ladies to do the same thing when they are older.  Do we whine, nag, and manipulate to get our way with our husband?  If so, then by our poor example, we are teaching our daughters to do the same thing to get what they want.  Do we find ourselves screaming most of the time?  If we are, then we are teaching them to react to situations from their flesh rather than responding to them through God’s Spirit who lives in us.  Do we refuse to submit to our husbands?  Here again, if we struggle in this area, we are showing a poor example to our children.

It is very important for daughters not to be allowed to back talk to their fathers.  They must learn to respect Daddy.  If we don’t train them to respect him, then how can we expect them to respect their future husband?  If we don’t take a strong stand in this area, then they will perceive that this behavior is acceptable in a marriage.

Sons must not be allowed to walk all over their mothers or be disrespectful toward them.  This is a critical thing for them to learn.  If we don’t train them correctly in this area, we may end up raising a son who could lean toward being abusive to his future wife, be it verbal abuse, mental abuse, or physical abuse.

Let’s keep in mind that a child left to himself/herself disgraces his mother.  (Prov. 29:15)

I have read many times that the person who has the most influence on people is their mother.  That is a heavy load for each of us to carry.  That is why it is so important for us to learn to stay connected to the vine.  (Jn. 15)  We must remember that apart from Christ, we can do nothing.  (Jn. 15)  But, with Christ, we can do all things!  (Phil. 4:13)

© 2003, Stacy R Miller

Those “Little” Sins

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Those “Little” Sins

In Christian circles, it’s easy to find ourselves isolated from the world.  We surround ourselves with Christian friends, Christian music, Christian television, Christian websites.  Because we are around those “Christian” things, it’s easy to begin to feel a little pious about ourselves.  After all, we don’t take part in orgies or carousing.  We don’t abuse our children.  We don’t murder or extort money.  In fact, we do pretty good!  We teach our children about Jesus.  We teach them how to pray.  We faithfully attend church, take meals to those in need, lead Bible studies, do volunteer work at church and other places.  We’re doing pretty well in our spiritual walk!

All of a sudden, Father comes to talk to us about those “little” things.  He says, “Do you remember when you came to just a rolling stop at the stop sign the other day?”

I say, “Oops, sorry Lord.  I was in a bit of a hurry.”

Then He says, “What about the words that came out of your mouth when that little, old lady was driving too slow to please you?”

I humbly reply, “Umm, I guess I was in a hurry again.  I didn’t give it any thought that I was being rude.  I’m sorry, Lord.”

Then He asks me, “What about the lies?”

I come up for air on this question! “What ARE You talking about?”

He gently reminds me,  “Do you remember telling the lady at church that you would pray for her?  Have you done so?”

Knowing I was caught again,  I reply, “Well, I’ve just been busy, and I forgot.”

He reminds me that it’s better not to make a vow, than to make one and not fulfill it.  (Ecc. 5:5)

Just as I ask Him to forgive me, He brings up another lie.  “What about the words you often tell yourself?  You know, the ones about how you don’t have time to read My Word?”

I answer,  “Well, Lord, I know I should, but it’s just so busy around here.  You know, the spring cleaning, school work, trying to get the summer wardrobe ready for all of us, and then the garage sale this week.”

He replies,  “I know that you’ve been busy.  I’ve been closely watching.  Even in the midst of all the things you mentioned, you still found time to do some leisurely reading, not to mention chatting on the computer.  The reality is, instead of saying that you didn’t have the time to read My Word, you should have said that you would rather be doing other things.”

“OUCH!”  I think to myself.  “Again Lord, I’m sorry.  You are right.  Will You help me to set the right priorities?”

He gently answers,  “Of course, my child.  I would LOVE to do that!  It’s one of my better specialties.  You know, my Son became a human being, never losing sight of His priority to do His Father’s will.”

“Are we done yet, Lord?”

“No, child, we aren’t.  Do you remember the phone conversation with your best friend?  You began talking about someone.  You tried to make it sound like you were really concerned about this person, but you forget, I see your heart.  You weren’t nearly as concerned about her as you tried to pretend.  You were just wanting to talk about her.”

“Oh, my Lord, please forgive me.  I was so wrong in that.”

As I began to ponder on those seemingly “little” things, they seemed to pile up very quickly, growing higher and higher.  As I continue repenting, I begin to think about how my loving and precious Savior hung on a cross and went through excruciating agony because of sins like these!  Oh, God FORGIVE ME!

I begin to read in Is. 6 where Isaiah cried, “I am a man of unclean lips!  I am ruined!”  Yes, I was feeling the same thing during my talk with Father.  –Or maybe I should say “during Father’s talk with me.”

In verse 6 it tells about how the seraph took a live coal from the altar and touched Isaiah’s lips, telling him that his guilt was taken away, and his sin atoned for.  In studying this, the word “guilt” stands for the most depraved or perverse thing we could do.  The words “taken away” mean “made to disappear, to be turned off.”  The reason that Isaiah’s guilt could be taken away was because the coal which touched his lips was a coal from the altar of sacrifice.  There had been an animal sacrificed, and the blood of that animal had touched the coal, which in turn, had been placed on his lips, cleansing him.

Jesus Christ was put on the altar of sacrifice for you.  His blood was poured out so that you can be guilt-free and cleansed.  That is why Rom. 8:1 says that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  Jesus bore all of the sin and guilt so that we wouldn’t have to do it!

Thank You, Loving God for your mercy that has been so abundant in my life.  It never ceases to amaze me.  Help me to think of the incredible sacrifice Jesus made for me each time that my flesh wants to lead me down a path of sin.  Give my spirit the strength to do the right thing, and to turn away from sin’s dark path. Amen.

© 2003, Stacy R Miller

The Word — It is Your Life!

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The Word – It is Your Life!

Have you ever noticed how children go through times where you can read them a book, and  suddenly, THAT book is the one which you have to read  to them EVERY single time?  I have never cared for the book Green Eggs and Ham.  Back when my nephew loved it, we would try to skip a few pages, here and there, only to have him tell us that we missed a page.  Well, would you like to take a guess which book Rachel seems to love?  Yes, you got it –
Green Eggs and Ham.   What is it with that book?  As I pondered on that question, it dawned on me that the first clincher was that it had a character named Sam, (our cat’s name).  Then, it was just the humor that children find in such a silly story line.  Then it seemed that she liked the repetition because she could remember parts of it and say it along with me.  Eventually the thrill of it was that she could read the whole book all by herself.  It seemed that there was always something new about this book that thrilled her and gave her such joy, no matter how many times we would read that book.

Oh, that we would have that kind thrill and joy whenever we read the Word!
Oh, that we would forever see new things in the Word, each time we pick it up and read it!  So often, we get caught in the trap of reading it just out of “Christian duty.”  We seem to fall into this rut of reading the Word, just so we will feel like we are being a better Christian, but yet, we aren’t really getting into the life-giving spirit of which the Word was written.  When is the last time that you saw the words of scripture “leap off the page” at you?

The Word of God is His love letter to us.  Do you remember when you were dating your spouse?  Do you remember how you would pour over the love letters or romantic cards which he bought for you?  You could read them a hundred times, and each time they got better.  I would bet that there were times that you read them so much that you actually memorized what he had written!  This should be the same way in which we approach the Word.  Jesus, precious Lover of my soul, gave His very life for me.  What love!  Now He’s given me a book filled with His love letters to me, and the words in this book aren’t just idle words, they are my very life!  Deut. 32:47

In Phil. 2:16, Paul calls the scriptures the Word of life.  Heb. 4:12 says that the Word of God is living and active. It is  sharper than a two-edged sword, even penetrating to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow.  It can judge the thoughts and attitudes of our heart.  — That could very well be why many of us refuse to look at the Word when we know there is something in our heart that isn’t quite right.   We don’t want this living Word pricking our hearts, convicting us of what may need to be removed from our lives, our attitudes, or our thoughts.

One thing which I have been doing for many years is “praying the scriptures.”  It has caused my devotional times to be richer.  When you come to a scripture where you can turn it into a prayer for yourself, do it!  I have found that there is nothing as powerful in my prayer life as actually praying the Word over myself or someone else.  Here is an example, taken from Proverbs 2:1-5.  “Father, help me to accept Your words and to store up Your commands in my heart.  Help me to turn my ear to wisdom and to apply my heart to understanding.  Help me to search for insight and understanding like I am searching for hidden treasures.  Fill me with the fear of the Lord and help me to find the knowledge of God.”

As I have been writing devotions, I find myself doing a lot of typing of the scriptures.  This has caused those scriptures to really stick with me because when I type them, I am having to concentrate on each little word.  If you find yourself struggling in this area, you might try typing some of Psalms or Proverbs and see if it helps to enrich your devotional time.

Through writing devotions and doing an in-depth Bible study, I have recently experienced a passion for the Word like I have NEVER had before.  Instead of grabbing the remote in the evenings so that I can “veg” in front of the television, it’s becoming an automatic thing to pick up my Bible and some paper because I know God has something incredible to show me.  When I have spare time, I am running to the Word.  There have been many times in recent weeks where I have actually spent over two hours reading the Word.  My heart is just overflowing with what I am learning, and the intimacy that I feel with Father is incredible!  I don’t share this with you to brag about how “spiritual” I am.  God knows how I still fail daily, and sometimes I fail several times.  I share this because I want you to sense the passion which His precious Word has stirred up in me, and I want that passion to overflow and spark a flame in YOU!

Ps. 119 has several benefits which we can receive from knowing God’s Word.
1.  We are blessed.  v. 1
2.  It keeps our way pure.  v. 9
3.  It helps us not to sin.  v. 11
4.  Our life is renewed.  v. 25
5.  We are strengthened by it.  v. 28
6.  We are set free.  v. 32
7.  It takes away our disgrace.  v. 39
8.  We’ll have answers for those who taunt us.  v. 42
9.  It gives us hope.  v. 43
10.  We won’t be put to shame.  v. 46
11.  We’ll find comfort in the Word.  v. 52
12.  We’ll be taught knowledge and good judgment.  v. 66
13.  We’ll learn to obey.  v. 67
14.  His Word will become precious to us.  v. 72
15.  His love will be a comfort.  v. 76
16.  We’ll learn of His faithfulness.  v. 90
17.  We’ll be wiser than our enemies.  v. 98
18.  We’ll have more insight than our teachers.  v. 99
19.  More understanding than the elders.  v. 100
20.  Wisdom is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.  v. 105
21.  God is our refuge and our shield.  v. 114
22.  We will be delivered.  v. 117
23.  We won’t be left to our oppressors.  v. 121
24.  The arrogant won’t oppress us.  v. 122
25.  We will have discernment.  v. 125
26.  Sin won’t rule over us.  v. 133
27.  We will be redeemed.  v. 154
28.  We will have peace.  v. 165  — This verse is a great one.  “Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.”  (NIV)  We definitely live in a time where peace is a wonderful thing to have.

Do you realize that many times we may face trials because we fail to learn of God through His Word?  When a sheep strays from the shepherd instead of staying nearby, the shepherd will break the sheep’s leg, training it to stay close to him.  God will uses trials to “break” us, getting us to a place where we stay close to Him.  By staying in the Word, we allow the Word to reprove and correct us.  When we neglect the Word, God will use other methods to teach us and get our attention.  Trials are one way He will teach us if we fail to get into the Word.

Precious Father, the lover of my soul, help each one of us to truly see that Your Word is more precious than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.  (Ps. 119:72) Amen.

© 2003, Stacy R Miller