When It Floods

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When It Floods

After seeing the worst flooding in our city since 1958, I made some observations that can be applied to our spiritual lives.

As I was watching those terrible storms rolling in, the winds began to blow furiously.  The storm was raging outside, but inside my home, all was peaceful, calm, and full of light.  The Lord gently spoke to me that there are times when it feels that life is fiercely blowing one storm after another at us, but if we stay connected to the vine, we will be able to have light, peace, and calmness in spite of what is going on around us.  Ps. 1:3 mentions the person who is like a tree planted by streams of water, yielding its fruit in season.  The tree yields its fruit because of a deep root system.  If we don’t keep our roots going deeper and deeper into the Word of God, when the winds begin to blow in our life, we aren’t going to be able to withstand for long.  How are your roots doing?

I was in the living room watching a storm rolling in from the west.  It was only 8:45 AM, but looking outside, it looked more like 8:45 PM.  The darkness was unbelievable for that time of day during the summer months.  When we face trials of many kinds, our outlook can become darkened.  II Sam. 22:29 tells us that the Lord turns my darkness into light.  Ps. 28:28 says that the Lord keeps my lamp burning and turns my darkness into light.  Ps. 37:6 says that our righteousness will shine like the dawn.  Ps. 112:4 says that even in darkness, light dawns for the upright.  Even when the darkness of trials and tribulations surround us, God can cause our light to shine forth.

The destruction from the flooding was incredible.  It was unlike anything I had ever observed.  So many families saw the destruction of their homes, their cars, precious items were destroyed.  Many lost treasured family pictures and sentimental gifts.  When we are flooded with problems, we can face spiritual destruction.  We can feel that our fortress has fallen, never to be repaired.  We must be sure that we are laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven.  (Mt. 6:19-21)  We must remember that we are aliens and strangers on this earth.    (I Pet. 2:11)

After the water receded, everything was so dirty and polluted.  When we are being flooded by numerous trials, are we allowing ourselves to become polluted?  Are we allowing the wrong, negative thoughts to set themselves up as strongholds in our thinking?  Are we allowing our hearts to become bitter and hardened?  I remember hearing our pastor mention that the only difference between the words “bitter” and “better” is the letter “i.”  Many times we can’t stop the trials that come upon us, but we can choose how we will respond to those trials.  When troubles assail us, we must choose to think upon those things which are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and praiseworthy.  (Phil. 4:8)  When our flesh is wanting us to think negatively all the time, we must choose to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  (Rom. 12:2)

Once the water began to shrink back, you could see that the grass was dead.  The flooding waters choked the life out of the grass.  Mt. 13:20-21 talks about the seed that fell on the rocky places and relates it to one who falls away in times of trouble.  In verse 22, Jesus talks about the seed that falls among the thorns representing those who let their worries choke their spiritual life.  Is this our response when we face misfortunes?  Jesus admonishes us in Mt. 6:33-34 that we need to seek His kingdom first and not worry about tomorrow.  In John 16:33 He reminds us to take heart and be of good courage because He has overcome the world.  It doesn’t matter what storms come our way, our God is big enough to help us through them!

While we were out observing some of the effects of the flooding, we couldn’t help but notice the stench that was left after the waters had shrunken back.  When facing multiplied trials, do we become a stench to those around us?  Does our attitude stink?  (No pun intended!)  Is. 3:24 says that “instead of fragrance, there will be a stench.”  (NIV)  But in II Cor. 2:16, it mentions that we can be the fragrance of life.  Which description is a more apt description of us when troublesome times assail us?  My prayer is that we can say, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”  II Cor 4:8-10 (NIV)

When the Mississippi River had the great flood in 1993, I was flying to Arizona to visit my brother.  From the plane, I could look down and see the devastation everywhere.  I could also look up and see the beautiful clouds and sunshine that surrounded the plane.  The clouds looked like huge sculptures that day.  They were stunning to observe.  I had the choice of choosing to either look down at the devastation from all of the rain, or I could lift my eyes and see beautiful artwork, done by the Master Creator.  It reminded me of Is. 40:31 where it tells us that those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, that they will soar on eagle’s wings, they will run and not be weary, they will walk and not faint.  Even when there seems to be trouble on every side, we can find our strength in Him.

Many people have fallen away from the Lord in times of trouble and distress because their roots didn’t go deep enough to sustain them in the winds and storms that raged in their lives.  Ps. 119:165 says that those who love the law of God will have great peace and NOTHING can make them stumble.  We must be sure to keep our roots going deep.  Ps. 42:7 mentions deep calling to deep.  When we face various trials, we need for deep to call to deep, pulling out from the reservoir of God’s spirit in us, the words of life to sustain us and give us hope, encouragement, peace, and strength.

Many years ago I worked as a bank teller.  I remember getting off from work one evening after an incredibly stressful day.  I was on my way to the post office to drop off the bank’s mail, yelling to God at the top of my lungs in such frustration.  It had been raining that evening, and as I turned to make my way out of the post office parking lot, I saw the most beautiful, vivid rainbow that I have ever seen.  It was so awesome that I immediately stopped my yelling, but instead of closing my mouth, my jaw just hung there in awe.  Very gently, Father whispers to me, “Daughter, you will face trials of many kinds, but I will NEVER let them overflow you.”  His Word spoken to me is the same for you.  Do not fear.  Your trials will not overflow you!
© 2003, Stacy R. Miller

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The Other Side of the Storm

This is a fabulous message!  He has such a way of looking at simple things in scripture and adding a spiritual perspective to it.

The Rose Garden

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The Rose Garden

When you see a rose first budding, you are looking at it in its youthful stage of life.  Only when it’s fully mature, will you be able to see it in full bloom, capturing the beauty from the depth of its color.  What causes the rose to bloom into a beautiful flower is the heat from the sun and the storms to water it.  After the sun has provided much heat and the storms provide the water, it blooms, giving off a wonderful fragrance.  We are to be the fragrance of Christ to our world. (II Cor. 2:15) Before we can be much of a fragrance, God requires that we go through heat and storms, otherwise known as the trials of life.  When we actively look to God, trying to capture the lesson He is trying to teach us through those storms, we become a rose — giving off the fragrance of our Christ to those around us.

You can’t help but notice the thorns on a rose bush.  One thorn may tear into another branch on the rose bush, destroying it.  Many times, we will find that the thorns in other people may try to destroy us.  While that can be very hurtful to us, we must also realize that we can’t have beauty without enduring pain in the process.  Gazing upon my Savior, I can’t help but notice the pain He endured to become the Rose of Sharon to me.  The fragrance of His love is unending.  It lifts my spirit on the darkest of days because He never fails to remind me that just as He endured much pain to bring about something so wonderful, He will use the very pain I endure and make something beautiful from it.  And sister, He will do the same for you.
© 2004, Stacy R Miller

Spiritual Depression

This is the best message I’ve heard in many years.  So timely for the times in which we are living.  I know it will encourage you!

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

I love to see rainbows.  They remind me of how faithful God is to His promises.  One thing about rainbows though — you can only see them after the rain.  Even though all the components are there in the atmosphere for making a rainbow, you won’t ever see one until there’s been some rain.  Then suddenly, you see it, off in the distance is a fascinating sight — a rainbow.  It’s beauty is captivating; you don’t want to take your eyes off of it.

In our own life, we have the opportunity to see rainbows, but first we must go through the storm.  While in the midst of the storm, we may see the wind blowing furiously.  We may be engulfed in a raging storm, with thick, dark clouds turning our light into darkness, obscuring our way.  We may even feel ourselves bending like a tree branch in the wind, feeling like we are going to bend far enough to break.

While the scenario I’ve just described doesn’t sound inviting, we need to take a moment and look at some examples in scripture of people who have gone through storms.

Naomi found that there was a famine in her land, so her husband took her and their two sons and moved to Moab, which was a land filled with very ungodly people.  Soon after that, Naomi’s husband died, leaving her with two sons.  Then her two sons marry pagan women from Moab.  Ten years later, her sons die.  Now she is all alone… except for Ruth.  We see that Ruth refuses to leave Naomi, even in Naomi’s bitterness of soul.  They go back to the land of Judah.  Ruth marries the kinsman redeemer, then gives birth to a son.  At that point, the women from Judah approach Naomi and they tell her that Ruth loves her and is better to her than seven sons.

Another example of a person who went through a violent storm is Job.  In one day, he lost his sheep, camels, oxen, donkeys, servants, and all of his children.  Shortly after that, he is afflicted from head to toe with very painful sores.  After all of the afflictions on his own body and dealing with a nagging wife who wants him to curse God and die, he also has to deal with judgmental and critical comments from his friends.  (Some friends!)  In Job 42, we see where Job prays for his friends.  It’s after that point that Job finds that God makes him prosperous again, giving him twice as much as before.  The latter part of his life was more blessed than the first.  It sounds to me like Job saw a beautiful rainbow in his own life.

Our last example is found in Mary, the mother of Jesus.  She was visited by an angel and told that she was highly favored.  Then the angel proceeds to tell her that she will bear the Messiah.  Mary finds that she’s having one of those mountaintop experiences, only to find that in the very next chapter, Simeon tells her that a sword will pierce her own heart.  She had to face the sneers of people who believed that she had sex with Joseph before she was ever married to him.  Then, as Jesus got older, she heard the people call her Son a lunatic and a blasphemer.  She watched as He was brutally beaten, then as He carried the cross to Golgotha, and then, she watched her precious Son die on that cross.  But three days later, Mary saw a rainbow shining brightly after the worst storm of her life.  Her Son was no longer dead, but He was risen!

Sister, if you are seeing storms all around you, don’t fret.  Don’t give up!  You are about to see a rainbow in your own life!
© 2004, Stacy R Miller

Serving His Purposes

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Serving His Purposes

A pregnant teenager, a chronic illness, terminal cancer, losing your job, or even divorce….All of these can invoke fear. Such devastating news can shake us to the core of our being. It is in times like these when we are most tempted to ask, “Why, God?”

The world in which we live is so unstable these days. Honestly, I have battled some fear as I see the frequent reports of beheadings from ISIS. It makes me wonder, would I be able to stand firm in faith if ISIS suddenly invaded my city?

I have to admit – several years ago, as I was watching things play out when Obama first ran for president, it evoked fear in me. I had to remind myself that God is the One who sets up kings and deposes them. Every time I started to pray that Obama wouldn’t
get elected, the Holy Spirit would gently speak to me, saying, “What if he is God’s man for such a time as this?” I knew at that point who was going to win the election, and it wasn’t going to be the candidate I wanted.

Psalm 119:91 tells us that everything serves God’s purpose. (NLT) When I look at situations in light of this verse, it changes my outlook. Though my choice for president wasn’t who I wanted, I can rest assured, knowing God will cause Obama to serve His purpose. And from the looks of all that is transpiring in our world, I believe the Lord is using that man to help usher in the last days. Even so, come Lord Jesus!

I have a dear friend who was raised by an alcoholic parent whose numerous husbands/boyfriends molested her. She ended up in a marriage with an abusive, adulterous man. Instead of turning bitter over the many wrongs done to her, she embraced the Savior who felt every ounce of her pain. She is letting her pain serve His purpose. Through that experience, she started working in a battered women’s shelter, offering hope to others who were in the same scenarios she once faced.

I know another lady whose grandbaby died unnecessarily, due to the hospital’s error. Rather than wallow in self-pity, she has risen from her ashes to embrace another lady who lost her infant grandson. Out of the depths of her grief, she is serving God’s purposes.

Another precious sister discovered she has a serious heart disease and needs a heart transplant. Even though she is greatly challenged by her own health issues, she continues to reach out to another sister in Christ who received the same devastating diagnosis. Her own physical ailments fuel her compassion to serve God’s purposes.

I have watched ladies in our church rise above the dreaded words from their teenage daughters, “Mom, I’m pregnant.” They have reached out to others who are now going through the same experience, offering them a listening and compassionate ear, offering them hope.

I have even seen a lady whose son is in prison open her arms to embrace another lady whose son recently got sent to prison. It has been beautiful to watch a new friendship evolve between these two dear sisters. I have seen a man whose son was in prison get involved in prison ministry. His own devastation became the impetus to move him to reach out to others behind prison walls.

Romans 8:18 reminds us that our present sufferings aren’t worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us. When we rise above our situation, seeking for God to use our pain for His purposes, we will experience some of that glory on this earth.

We are told that all things work together for good for God’s children. (Romans 8:28) Any hardship we face can be God’s instrument to conform us into the likeness of His Son. Even our trials can be turned to gold and serve His purposes.

© 2014, Stacy R. Miller

Our Shepherd

Our Shepherd
Do I really believe God is my Shepherd?  Psalm 23:1 says that I shall not be in want.  Yet, how many times do I find myself wanting a new outfit, a thinner body, or a thicker bank account?

One of the responsibilities of a shepherd is to make sure the sheep have what they need.  When something happens that I don’t want to deal with, I will often blurt out — ok, in all honesty, I will YELL out, “I don’t need this right now!”  Perhaps my Shepherd thinks I do.  He may be trying to develop my character through it.

A shepherd leads the flock to green pastures and still waters, seeking to restore them.  Many times when my soul needs restored, I find myself running toward chocolate or caffeine.  I fail to pick up His Word and letting Him refresh me.  How many times in a state of discontentment do I surf the web, only to find myself drained even more?
Our Shepherd guides me in righteousness.  Yet when discomforted or disquieted, I fail to take that path.  I choose instead to get on the phone where my myriad of words may lead me to gossip.

When walking through the darkest valley, He is with me.  However, when I look at my countenance during that valley, I can see fear and doubt.  I have failed to reach out for the comfort He offers me.

When battling my enemies, how many times do I forget God is there?  He offers anointing that will cause my cup to overflow.  Yet, I choose to become so myopic in my focus that I get focused on how big the problem is, rather than how great and magnificent my Shepherd is!

If you would look at me during these times, my countenance might say, “Misery and misfortune will follow me all the days of my life.”  Yet our Shepherd offers us goodness and mercy.

In becoming too familiar with Psalm 23, I think we often fail to realize how truly rich it is in showing us how much our Shepherd really does care for us.  He is a tender, loving Shepherd whose eyes are constantly on His sheep.  Can we ask for anything more?

© 2013, Stacy R. Miller

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