Unity

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Unity

Unity is something which God truly desires for His church, yet very few churches have a strong sense of unity.  I came up with an acrostic to help us in striving to remember what unity is all about.

Use your gift and talents for God’s glory and never for your own.
Never put someone else down to try and elevate yourself.
Invite the help of the Holy Spirit so you will only speak that which is edifying.
Trust in the Lord at all times, even when you do not understand what He is doing.
Yearn for God’s presence to saturate you every day.

Remember that any gift or talent you have is from the Lord.  Every good gift comes from the Father. (James 1:17)

We are to do nothing out of selfish ambition, but consider others better than ourselves.  By keeping an attitude of humility, we will protect ourselves from a prideful heart that tries to make us look good on the outside, while polluting us on the inside.

The place where I struggle the most is with my words.  If I do not diligently seek the help of the Holy Spirit, I will easily be swayed to complain.  I am more likely to be critical if I am not mindful of the Lord.  If I fail to be faithfully in the Word, I resort to my “B.C” (before Christ) language – a language which should be completely foreign to me now.

Many times we see things in the church which we do not understand.  Rather than grumbling or gossiping about it, we need to trust the Lord to work out the situation for His glory, and our good.

When the body of Christ yearns for God’s presence seven days a week, great things will take place.  Relationships will be healed.  The sense of Christian family will grow stronger within the Body of Christ.  Visitors will not only sense God’s presence, but they will see His presence in our love toward one another.  Factions, dissensions, and gossip will cease.  We will be concerned about the Father’s business, rather than our own agenda.

© 2007, Stacy R. Miller

Transformed

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Transformed

In the fast-paced society in which we live, it is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle.  Several days may pass before we notice it has been a while since we have taken time to pray.  Yet, if we want to see amazing things happen, we must learn to pray faithfully.  After all, the Word tells us we have not because we ask not. (James 4:2)

Incredible things would happen when Jesus took the time to pray. (Matthew 14:23) He walked on water. (14:25) He boldly faced the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. (15:1-9) He cast demons out of a little girl.  Not only that, this was accomplished while Jesus was in one village and she in another! (15:21-28) Next, He healed many who were lame, crippled, blind, and mute. (15:29-31) He followed this with feeding over four thousand people. (15:35-38)

After another time of prayer (Mark 1:35), Jesus healed a leper and a paralytic. (1:40-42; 2:15)
Again, He faced the accusatory looks of the teachers of the law. (2:6-12)

Jesus appointed the twelve apostles after spending a night in prayer. (Luke 6:12-16) This was followed with crossing cultural barriers by touching the casket of the widow’s son.  He raised this poor woman’s son to life. (7:11-15)

His diligent prayer life led to the transformation of a very sinful woman. (Luke 7:36-50)  She was able to perceive who Jesus was, even though the most prominent religious leaders of that time could not.

Jesus took Peter, James, and John with Him to pray one night.  During His prayer time, He was transformed before them.  His clothing became as bright as a flash of lightning. (Luke 9:28-36)

What transformations might we see if we cultivate a deeper prayer life?

After going through a serious trial, people may be amazed at the transformation which has taken place in our lives.
We all have modern-day Pharisees to face.  Through prayer, we can answer them with godly wisdom and insight.
Our prayers can help us to make wise decisions about our family, our work, our ministry, and our finances.
After spending time in prayer, we will have spiritual nourishment to give to others.
When we spend time with God, it will show in our countenance and in our behavior.  Unsaved people will be drawn to us, just as they were drawn to Jesus.
When basking ourselves in prayer, we will find the strength to cross our own cultural barriers and reach those who need a Savior.
Our prayers have the ability to heal the sick and set free those who are bound by Satan, even when in those individuals are in other cities, states, and countries.

What can God transform in your life if you take time to pray?
© 2007, 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

The Warfare of Love

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The Warfare of Love

“Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sin (forgives and disregards the offenses of others).

 

I Pet. 4:8  (Amp. Bible)  The KJV uses the term “fervent” love.  In the Greek, fervent is translated “to be hot, to boil.”

 

We need to have a love in us that is hot and on fire.  Too often, our love appears as barely observable.  Yet, Jesus told us that others would know we are Christians by our love for one another.  (Jn. 13:35)

 

As I pondered on this truth, I thought of the many times that I have popped popcorn in the microwave.  I can’t tell you how many times I have burned my fingers, trying to open the bag.   Needless to say, I drop the bag very quickly when I feel my fingers being scorched by the steam coming out of the bag.  God wants our love to be so hot that we can literally scorch Satan – even before he has his day in the Lake of Fire.

 

In Mt. 24:12 (Amp. Bible) it says, “And the love of the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity.”  The church is the “great body.”  Even in this day and age, we can look at things that are taking place within the body of Christ and see that the love of many is already waxing cold.  I know of a lady whose husband lost his job, where he was making over $150,000 per year.  Where they used to be part of the “inner circle” in the church, now they are being scorned.  Love has waxed cold in that church.

 

Look at the divorce rate in the church.  Love in marriages is waxing cold.

Look at the children who are in rebellion, even in the church.  Love is waxing cold.  Have you noticed the materialism that is even creeping in to our churches?  How often do we find ourselves falling into that subtle, but snaring trap?  So many people in the body of Christ suffer from terrible “I” problems, always thinking of only themselves.  Their love has waxed cold.  So many people have found themselves in rather troublesome circumstances.  It is so easy to be caught up in those affairs, and before we know it, our love toward others has waxed cold.

 

We need to be praying for God to help us to have an intense and unfailing love toward others, helping us to forgive the sins of others, and to disregard their offenses.  It can seem overwhelming to try to walk in God’s love all the time, but He encourages us that we can do all things through Jesus, who gives us strength.  (Phil. 4:13)

 

Father, let our waking thoughts be turned toward You.  Show us this day how we can be Your hands and Your love extended to those who will cross our path.  Go deeper into our hearts and fill us with Your love.  Let there be more of You and less of me.  Amen.

 

© 2003, Stacy R Miller

The To-Do List

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The To-Do List
As Christians, we can see there are so many scriptures telling us that we have things to do.  Jesus said that if we love Him, we will obey His commands. (Jn. 15)  In the same chapter, He makes it clear that obedience will bring abundant joy to us.  In John 15:4 we are told to remain in Him.  If we remain in Him, He will fill us with His strength so that we are able to do what He tells us to do.

Tit. 3:8 tells us to devote ourselves to prayer.  Col. 4:2,5 also mentions praying, as well as telling us to be watchful and thankful, and to be wise in the way we act toward outsiders, making the most of all opportunities.  Verse 6 tells us to let our conversations be full of grace.  There are times when we just don’t know how to answer someone.  Being full of grace will help in those times.
Eph. 4:2 tells us to live a life worthy of the calling we have received.  It goes on to mention that we need to be humble (submissive, unassuming, simple) and gentle, bearing with one another.  Jas. 4:10 and I Pet. 5:6 mention humbling ourselves before the Lord.

I Cor. 15:5 tells us to give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord.  For many of us, that “work” is taking care of our families.  We need to remember that as we do it for them, we are doing it for Christ.

We are called to love our enemies in Mt. 5:44.  In Rom. 12:14 we are told to bless those who persecute us.  This can be very hard, especially when our enemies are sometimes in our own extended family.  The hurt from those betrayals and persecutions can go so deeply into our spirit.

In II Tim. 2:22 we are told to flee the evil desires of youth and to pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace.  II Cor. 7:1 tells us to purify ourselves from all that contaminates our body and spirit.  We are to clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus, (Rom. 13:14) and live a life worthy of our calling.  (Eph. 4:1)  We are to live as children of light and to find out what pleases our Lord.  (Eph. 5:8, 10)

We are to be made new in the attitudes of our minds, as well as getting rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, and malice.  Instead, be kind, compassionate, and forgiving.  (Eph. 4:23-32)

Rom. 12 could keep us busy every day, just by itself!  It tells us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, hate what is evil, cling to what is good.  Keep our spiritual fervor (enthusiasm, passion).  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  We are told to share with God’s people who are in need, and to be hospitable.  Rejoice with those who are rejoicing and mourn with those who are mourning.  We are to live in harmony with others.

We are to rejoice in the Lord and let our gentleness be evident to those around us.  (Phil. 4:4-5)  Col. 3 tells us to set our minds on things above.  Eph. 6:10-11 tells us to be strong in the Lord and to put on His armor so that we can take our stand against the devil’s schemes.  Since we have seen here that we have much to do, I think it is feasible to assume that Satan doesn’t want us to get work on this “to-do list.”  He will use anything he can to distract us.  It may be phone calls, a lack of sleep, moodiness, hormones, fighting children, financial woes, illness, our own busyness, or even our own selfishness.  That is why it is so important to daily put on the armor of God.

I heard a sermon many years ago by a man who would physically go through the motions of putting on each piece of armor.  Going through the motions, saying the name of armor, and stating what it was for was a good way for him to remember that the battle was not his, but God’s.  So many times we struggle in our own strength.  Goliath tried that too, and it got him struck down by a little shepherd boy who knew where to go for the right kind of armor.  As we daily work on our “to-do list,” may we also declare to our enemy that we come against him in the Name of the Lord Almighty.  And may God Almighty go before us, lighting our path and giving us victory after victory.
© 2003, Stacy R Miller

Christians Blaspheming the Holy Spirit

This article is a fabulous breakdown of the heresy of The Shack. 

1000 Leading Christians Blaspheme the Holy Spirit

This quote really stood out to me:  “The movie is so blasphemous that only individuals with greatly compromised and callused spiritual systems could enjoy it.”

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

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