Following at a Distance

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Following at a distance

 

The account of when Peter denied the Lord three times in Matthew 26 has always fascinated me. This man was in the inner circle with Jesus, yet when the heat comes on, he denies Him, not once, but three times.

 

I find it interesting to notice the sequence of events. In verse 58, we find that Peter is walking in the direction of Jesus, but he does so at a distance. He has gone from being up close, in that inner circle, to following at a distance. This reminds me of Psalm 1:1 when it speaks of how the godly will not walk in the counsel of the ungodly.

 

In following at a distance, I would imagine there were times when Peter stopped, and stood still, thinking, “I’m getting too close. I need to stop for a bit so they don’t see me.” This could be likened to standing in the path of sinners, from Psalm 1.

 

Next, we find in verse 69 that Peter is sitting outside in the courtyard. He has now made himself comfortable. This is similar to sitting in the seat of the scornful, from Psalm 1. He just keeps getting deeper and deeper in his distance from the Lord.
In that distance place, the disastrous result is that he denies the Lord three times. In verse 70, he simply denies him. His heart turns just a bit harder. In verse 72, he steps it up a bit by denying Jesus with an oath. His heart gets even harder. In verse 74, he not only denies Jesus, but he curses and swears.

 

This is how the deceitfulness of sin can snare us. First, we have just a bit of distance from the Lord. Perhaps we skip a few days of reading the bible and praying. Next, we think we are doing fine, so we skip a few more days of devotions, and even skip attending church. We don’t notice our heart’s coolness to the things of God. Before we know it, we begin to deny the Lord in our thoughts, words, and actions. It is a dangerous, and slippery, slope.

 

How much better to do like Psalm 1:2, meditating and delighting in the Word and in the Lord! The results are so much better! We will grow strong, like a tree, we will bring forth righteous fruit, and we will not wither. In other words, when under pressure, unlike Peter, we won’t wither and deny the Lord. We will be strong and stand firm!
© 2018, Stacy R. Miller

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Peaceful and Steady

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Peaceful and Steady

It seems to me that many Christians are facing diverse trials. One thing after another seems to go wrong. I know for my family, we have been hit hard. It started when a tree fell on our house. Eight weeks later, and we still don’t have a new roof because it won’t stop raining long enough for the roofers to do the job. That means the hole in the ceiling hasn’t been repaired. There’s no sense in doing that until the roof is fixed. Just a few nights ago, my hubby and I were watching TV when we heard a loud crash. I knew immediately what it was – the ceiling caved in. Thankfully, the damage wasn’t nearly as bad as what it sounded.

During this time, we had one weekend where all three vehicles needed attention. After thinking all was taken care of, mine started acting up again. It’s nothing major, but it is annnoying!  My daughter and I were both battling colds, then I ended up with a UTI. One evening, when I was using the broiler, I almost set the house on fire! I have had some major things happen at work, which required immediate attention, and the list goes on. I know I am not alone in dealing with these types of things. So many of my friends are going through some really tough trials. Honestly, it seems to me that the enemy thought he could bring me down with the tree issue. When a big issue didn’t sidetrack me and wreck my faith, it was like he switched gears, turning to constant, irritating things, day after day – just trying to wear us down.

Yet, I noticed something. In the midst of all of this, I have maintained my sense of peace, and my faith has remained steady. As I was reading through some scriptures, I began to understand why I remained firm and wasn’t swayed by what we were seeing happening in our lives.

Proverbs 14:27 tells us “The fear of the Lord is a well of life. Its waters keep a man from death.” (NLV) I had been diligent to “wash” myself in the Word. (Ephesians 5:26) The Word cleanses us. It can wash over all of those trials and irritating things of life and give us a peace that passes all understanding. It gives us perspective because we are reminded of the eternal, which makes the passing struggles of this life easier to face.

Proverbs 14:30 says, “A heart that has peace is life to the body, but wrong desires are like the wasting away of the bones.” (NLV) As I have been diligent to study the Word, I have noticed that I don’t get “rattled” as easily. It’s easier for me to see the good in a bad situation because I have focused on Psalm 119:68 where it says God is good and all He does is good. (Emphasis added) Because I have been meditating on that scripture, I look for the good in the situation. For instance, when the cars all needed attention, my husband was able to do two of them himself. The result was that it cost less than $300 for all of them to be fixed! Also, I was off work that weekend, and just wanted to stay at home, so my daughter was able to use my car while hers was being fixed. No one was inconvenienced or stressed about having to find a ride! So what the devil was trying to use to discourage us turned out to be even more reason to give the Lord praise!

“For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever.
He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.
His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.” Psalm 112:6-8 (ESV) This scripture has come alive for me in recent weeks. We have had a lot of bad news recently, but my heart is not afraid. My heart has been steady, peaceful, thankful, and trusting the Lord in the midst of all of this.

Are you struggling? Have your trials worn you down, emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually? I want to encourage you to start digging into the Word of God. His Word is life! It is Living Bread for us! It will nourish us, encourage us, direct us, and bless us. “Blessed are those who obey his written instructions. They wholeheartedly search for him.” Psalm 119:2 (GW) When you wholeheartedly search for the Lord, He cannot help but bless you because His promises are faithful and true!

© 2018, Stacy R. Miller

Hiding From Sin

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Hiding From Sin

Proverbs 22:3 tells us that a wise person sees sin and will hide. What a concept! How do we do that? As I spend more time in the Word, I find I am drawn away from certain activities. I no longer feel comfortable watching hours of Netflix or marathons of some of my favorite shows on TV. I can literally feel the spiritual life draining from me when I try to do that. Now I will allow myself to watch a show here and there, but not for hours. I choose to hide myself from those activities.

I used to love to read fiction – especially mysteries! However, the Lord convicted me on how I could spend hours reading those books, but only spend a few minutes with Him. When I did spend time in His Word, it was more to cross it off my to-do list so I could relieve my guilt. As I have hidden myself from those books, His Word has come alive to me where I can’t wait to read it each day!

I used to really enjoy spending time on the phone, talking with friends. However, I would often find the conversation turning to gossip, because the Word warns us that when our words are many, sin is not absent. Now that I work as a switchboard operator, when I get home, I literally ‘hide’ from the phone! I do not want to be on the phone at all when I am home, so in a sense, I’m hiding from the sin of gossip.

The second part of Proverbs 22:3 tells us that the foolish go on, and they are punished. So by making wiser choices to hide from sin, we can avoid being punished. How might we be punished? It could be through a load of guilt for doing what we know is wrong. It could be from destroying a relationship because we didn’t choose to ‘hide’ from anger and unleashed some destructive words on someone. It could even be a physical ailment, due to the sin of gluttony or from harboring bitterness in our heart.

However, I believe the worst punishment for foolishly going along with sin is the separation that comes between the Lord and me when I choose to hide sin in my heart.

I firmly believe we are living in the last days. It is time to get serious in our walk with the Lord and not play games! It time to start hiding from sin!
© 2018, Stacy R. Miller

 

Peace in Tumultuous Times

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Peace in Tumultuous Times

I have noticed something as I look into the eyes of people I pass while I’m walking through the hospital, getting groceries, shopping at the mall, and even attending church. Peace is missing. Instead, I often see fear and hopelessness.

I would also be one of those who has fear and hopelessness, but for the grace of God. You see, I have learned a secret to navigating through the storms of life and still have His peace. It is abiding in the secret place of the Most High. (Psalm 91)

A few years ago, I got caught up in reading a lot of websites that were focused on supposed events taking place. I wanted to be informed so that I could prepare for what was coming. However, I became so fearful when I would read those websites The fear and sense of panic was so intense that I considered getting on medicine to help me cope.

As I began to research much of what they were claiming as truth, I discovered that most of what they were touting as truth was extreme exaggeration. Their goal was to instill fear so deeply within me that I would spend a small fortune on their supplies, books, etc., to help in preparation for what was supposed to be coming.

Thankfully, after several months of this torment, the Lord impressed upon me to stop reading those websites and start reading His Word. Though not much has changed in world events, my heart has changed. I have joy, not fear. I have peace, not turmoil. It is because I have found such treasures in the Word of God. HE is my exceedingly great reward. (Genesis 15:1)

Psalm 34:14 tells us to turn away from evil and to do good, to search for peace and work to maintain it. I turned from evil by not allowing my eyes to view websites that thrive on instilling fear in me in order to deepen their pockets. I did good by choosing to read my Bible, which is ALL truth, and nothing but truth. I searched for peace by getting to know my heavenly Father more through His revealed Word. As I have come to know Him more deeply, my peace increases, in spite of what I see transpiring in this world. I work to maintain that peace by daily reading the Word – not just as something I need to cross off my daily to-do list, but I look forward to seeing what He wants to show me.

My prayer is that you will also seek daily treasures in His Word, finding His peace to be your own in these last days. It is an amazing journey!
© 2018, Stacy R. Miller

 

I’m Hurt, So What Do I Do?

What an excellent, biblical message on forgiveness!  He says a couple of really powerful things.  

It’s always more rewarding to resolve a conflict than to dissolve a relationship.

Being offended is a choice.

My Fear is a Revelation

If you are battling fear of any kind, you need to hear this message!  Even if you aren’t battling fear, this is a good message for the next time you battle it!

The Key to the Battle

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The Key to the Battle

 

We are told in Psalm 149:6 to let the praise of God be in your mouth. Notice what this verse doesn’t say. It doesn’t tell us to praise God when we feel like it, when things are going well for us, when we are joyful, or when it is convenient for us. Instead, the command is to let the praises of God be in our mouth……period!

 

We base so much on our feelings because they are so real. We feel things so deeply. Sometimes it is hard to praise God when we feel overwhelmed with the trials of life. However, it is imperative that we learn to praise Him in spite of our feelings or our circumstances.

 

When the Israelites went up to conquer the land of Canaan, the first group sent into battle was the tribe of Judah. Why is it important to note the first group that was sent? Judah was the worshipers! Before they faced the battle, they worshiped!

 

Why is that so important? When we worship God for who He is, it builds our faith! It turns our focus away from the problem and puts it on God. We can magnify our problems, which does nothing but depress us and wear us down. Or we can choose to magnify our God and increase our faith. Whatever we focus on becomes magnified in our minds, so it is important to magnify the right thing!

 

Even in the small things of life, I choose to have worship music playing. For instance, we were dealing with the flour bugs (weevils). I needed to find the source that was drawing them in and remove it, then clean that area really well. I don’t like bugs of any kind. They creep me out! To help me remain calm and joyful in my spirit during this arduous task, I listened to a playlist on You Tube that was scripture set to music.  It helped me in battling those nasty little bugs!

 

When dealing with other kinds of trials, listening to praise music reminds me of God’s faithfulness, love, protection, and His promises. On my morning drive to work, I will often spend time praising the Lord. Focusing on His wonderful attributes during that time helps keep me from stressing out later when things get busy or chaotic at work.

 

Just like Judah helped prepare the Israelites for battle, it can do the same for us! For instance, I recently shared about the tree which fell on our house, leaving eight holes in the roof, and even crashing through the ceiling in one spot. Had my focus not been on the Lord, I would not have handled that news with nearly as much grace, poise, and confidence.

 

The next time you are in the midst of a battle, remember to worship! It changes everything!
© 2018, Stacy R. Miller

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