What Masters You?

Image result for 2 peter 2:19

What “Masters” You?

In I Cor. 6:12, Paul says that while everything is permissible for me, not everything is beneficial.  He goes on to say that while everything is permissible, he isn’t going to be mastered by anything.  When I read in II Pet. 2:19 that I am a slave to that which masters me, I feel the Holy Spirit stepping on my toes.  My question to you is, “What masters you?”

We aren’t to allow things to master us, but we are to master them!  It’s an issue of using self-control and setting boundaries for things.  Self-control refers to restraining our passions and appetites.  We live in a world that often does the opposite, giving into excess or being self-indulgent.

How many of us fall into the trap of eating when we are depressed, sad, stressed, mad, or bored.  Even when we are in a mood for celebrating, we find ourselves eating!  How often do we have an overwhelming craving for chocolate?  How many times do we hide the last piece of cake so that we can eat it when no one else is looking?  This would fall into the category of being self-indulgent.  Do we feel compelled to have caffeine first thing in the morning?  Do we keep running to the coffee pot for refills throughout the morning?  Are we lacking self-control?

Do we avidly search the library, looking for a new romance novel, needing it like a drug addict needs a fix?  Are we news junkies, always needing the TV turned on to a news channel?  Do we find ourselves adjusting our schedule so that we can watch Oprah or Dr. Phil?  Do we adjust our schedules so that we can read the Word or talk to Father?  Are we being self-indulgent in some areas, while lacking the self-control to spend time doing what really is important and of eternal value?

What about bargain hunting?  It’s never a bad thing to get a good value for your money, but when you don’t need the items that you got for a bargain, are you really getting a bargain or a bondage?  It’s not only wasting your time, your money, and your energy, but now it’s adding clutter to your life.

Prov. 25:28 tells us that a (wo)man who lacks self-control is like a city with broken down walls.  In the O.T. times, the walls were the security around the city.  They were a strong fortress, protecting the people from their enemies.  Self-control is our fortress.  If we walk in self-control, it will keep us safe from bondages and snares of the enemy.

In Ez. 26:7-14, it gives some descriptive words about the walls being broken down.  The results were a city that was ravaged, sieged, trampled upon, and their wealth and goods were plundered.  When we allow a passion for reading romance novels to master us, our homes can look ravaged because we have failed to be taking care of them.  When we don’t know when to stop shopping and stay home, our wealth is plundered.  When we don’t master our eating habits, all of that excess sugar in our bodies can leave us feeling as if we have been trampled upon.

In Ps. 119:37, it says to turn my eyes from worthless things.  We may need to pray this every day, just so that we stay focused on what is truly important.  It may help keep us from being mastered by things.

In. Ps. 16:6, it says that the boundaries have fallen for me in pleasant places.  We often need to set boundaries for ourselves.  The boundary may be to simply write down a list of what items we need, and pray for God to help us stay focused on getting only those items while we are shopping.  We may need to go out of our way to stay away from the mall.  It may be as simple as making a covenant to not look at the ads in the Sunday paper.  Those are a lure to the mall.  I know in my own life, I can be totally content with what I have, but if I pick up the flyers that are in the Sunday paper, I suddenly find about five things that I feel I must have.  I have learned to quit looking at them.

If you are struggling with being mastered in any areas, I want to encourage you with these words:  In Phil. 4:19 we see that God is able to meet ALL of our needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus.  If you have been mastered by something, then He promises in His Word that He is able to meet that need.  Jesus came to set the captives free. (Lk. 4:18)

© 2003, Stacy R. Miller

What Did I Tell You to Do?

Image result for following god's word

What Did I Tell You to Do?

Recently, I’ve had to implement a new method to giving instructions to Rachel.  After telling her to do something, I would discover that it wasn’t done.  I’d find myself saying, “What did I tell you to do?”  She’d claim that she didn’t hear me, and I’d end up repeating the same thing three or four times, wearing myself out in the process.  In my frustration, I’d often resort to yelling things like, “Why are your shoes still by the back door when I’ve told you three times to put them away?”  Or, “Why aren’t your teeth brushed?  I told you to do it twenty minutes ago!”  I think you get the picture.

A wise lady suggested that when I tell Rachel to do something, have her repeat the instructions back to me.  If she fails to do what I told her to do, she can’t use her normal excuse of not hearing me.  I am amazed at how well this method has worked for us!

I have a feeling that sometimes God wants to yell at us, “What did I tell you to do?”  Not that God needs to hear us repeat the instructions He’s given us, but WE need to speak them verbally so that they stick in our mind.

When I have trouble in submitting to my husband, I can say, “Jesus didn’t hurl insults when He was insulted, nor did He retaliate.  He didn’t make threats, but He entrusted Himself to God, who judges justly.  In the same way, I am to be submissive to my husband.  I am to be like the holy women of old, who put their hope in God.” (I Peter 2:23, II Peter 3:1, 5)  Keep in mind that I’m not saying that you should submit to a husband who abuses you or your children, or that you should submit if your husband asks you to do something that is clearly sinful.

When I am having a hard time forgiving someone, I can remind myself, “Stacy, you are to forgive others as Christ forgave you for all of your sins.  If you don’t, Jesus won’t forgive you for the sins you’ve committed.” (Matthew 6:14; Colossians 3:13)

When I have trouble trusting God, I can remind myself, “If I trust God with all of my heart, instead of relying on my own understanding, and if I acknowledge Him in all my ways, then He promises to make my way straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

If I want favor with God and man, I can tell myself daily, “If I will not let love and faithfulness leave me, but bind them upon my mind and write them on my heart, I will win favor and a good name with God and man.” (Proverbs 3:3-4)

When I struggle with being content, I can say, “Godliness with contentment is great gain, and I am in the process of training myself to be godly.” (I Timothy 4:7; 6:6)

When I struggle with overeating or eating the wrong things, as I reach for some food, I can ask myself, “Does eating this food bring glory to God?” (I Corinthians 10:31) I can remind myself that my body is a temple of the Lord, and I am to honor God with that temple.

When I struggle with the temptation to gossip, I can ask myself if I want someone to gossip about me.  After all, you do reap what you sow.  I can tell myself that if I have a loose tongue, I have a heart that is of little value. (Proverbs 19:20) If I gossip, I’m like a foolish woman, who will die for her lack of judgment. (Proverbs 19:21) If I gossip, I’m like a pig with a gold ring in its snout because I show a lack of discretion with my tongue. (Proverbs 11:22)

If I struggle with a secret sin, I can say, “Stacy, as long as you hide this sin, you won’t prosper, but if you’re willing to give it up, you’ll find mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13) I can remind myself that if I cherish sin in my heart, that God won’t hear my prayers. (Psalm 66:18) I have heard people say that their sin doesn’t affect others, but I believe that it does.  When I am cherishing sin in my heart, and someone asks me to pray for them, my prayers are ineffective because a holy God can’t listen to the prayers of someone who is cherishing sin.  Cherishing sin is the ultimate in selfishness.  By cherishing a sin, we are saying that our cherished sin is more important than interceding for someone.

Are you in a place where you need to repeat Father’s instructions?
© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

Bad Math – Tim Dilena

Unopened Gifts

Image result for unopened gifts

Unopened Gifts

We don’t often hear people talk these days about being lazy.  Instead, they always talk about how busy they are, reciting the myriad of activities that have taken them captive.  They make it sound as if they are being very productive because they are constantly doing something.

As I was studying about a sloth, I discovered that even in our busyness, slothfulness can thrive, simply because we are failing (or refusing) to do what we should be doing.  For example, a farmer decides that he doesn’t want to harvest the crop.  Instead, he chooses to watch the latest sports team on TV, he goes to the local bookstore in search of a treasure to read, he joins the local men’s club to get some exercise, where he meets another man who encourages him to join the local bingo clubs.  This man finds that he is suddenly busy every night, however, he isn’t busy doing what he should be doing — harvesting his crops.

Proverbs 31:16 (AMP) sheds some interesting light on this subject.  “She considers a field before she buys or accepts it, expanding prudently and not courting neglect of her present duties by assuming other duties.”  Again, we see a pattern here for a sloth — she who doesn’t do what she should be doing is giving herself over to slothfulness.

Have you lost a sense of purpose, zeal, and joy in your life?  Do you feel as it you’re spinning your wheels and going nowhere?  It could be that you’ve opened yourself up to slothfulness in some area of your life.

Busyness can keep us from opening our gifts from the Lord.  Slothfulness can bury our gifts and talents from God.  Sometimes our talent gets buried because we are doing someone else’s will for our life instead of God’s will for our life.  It can cause us to leave our gift unopened.  You can’t treasure an unopened gift because you have no idea what the gift is.  It’s only as you open the gift that you discover what it is, how to use it, when to use it, and then begin to practice using it, perfecting it with constant use.  You learn to fan into flame the gift of God.  (II Tim. 1:6)

I know that in my own life, had I done the will of other people, I could never had opened the gift of writing devotions.  It takes a great deal of time to write devotions, researching each topic, typing them, getting them copyrighted, and posted on my website. Doing someone else’s will would have left this gift unopened, and I would missing out one of the most treasured gifts of my life — a gift I not only enjoy, but find very relaxing and invigorating at the same time.  I share this with you to stir you to thinking about whether you are missing some great treasures in your own life.

Do you have any unopened gifts which need your attention?  Do you need to start fanning the flame of a buried gift to stir it up once again?
© 2004, Stacy R Miller

Unity

Image result for holy spirit

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

Image result for transformed through prayer

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!

Image result for psalm 119:11

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

Previous Older Entries