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

why question abstract

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

Blooming in the Desert

Blooming in the Desert

It is easy to think that when we are faced with a “desert” experience that we are being spiritually assaulted by the enemy.  Yet, when we look at what happened to Jesus, we see that He was led by the Spirit into the desert. (Mark 1:12)  Of all things, this occurred after a pivotal moment when Jesus was baptized and the Spirit descended on Him like a dove.  He heard the affirming words from heaven, “This is my Son, whom I love.  I am well pleased with him.” (Mark 1:9-11)

In my own life, it seems as if I can go through what many would call a “mountain top experience.”  Yet, within a matter of days, I feel as if I’ve been thrust into the wilderness.  Why?  I believe that many times, it is because the Spirit of God has led me there to teach me some important things.

As human beings, we are given the gift of feeling emotion.  Where we go wrong is when we rely on emotions too much.  Our emotions can change many times over the course of the day.  By going through a desert experience, we can learn to live on the truth in God’s Word, rather than depending on our fluctuating emotions.  In some of my own desert times, I have learned to declare, “God, I know You are there.  I cannot feel You right now, but I thank You for the promise in Your Word that tells me You will never leave me nor forsake me.”  There is much power in proclaiming His Word, even when we don’t feel like it.  It is often during those times that suddenly, I feel His peace envelope me.  He tests me to make sure that I am learning to depend on His Word which will never fail, as opposed to depending on my feelings, which can fail me many times a day.

After Jesus went through forty days in the desert, he returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit. (Luke 4:14)  It can be the same for us – those desert experiences can cause us to bloom.  When you face your next “desert,” determine to come out stronger on the other side.  Continue to read the Word, even if you feel as if it doesn’t sink into your spirit.  Continue to pray, though the heavens feel like brass.  If you do this, you will be able to come out of your desert in the power of the Spirit.

© 2008, Stacy R Miller

Into the Fire

Into the Fire

My daughter has done a ceramics project the last two years for her 4-H project.  The process she uses to make her craft is very similar to some phases we go through in our walk with the Lord.

The first phase of making a ceramic is to take the clay and mold it into something useful.  It takes a lot of work to mold the clay because it is cold, hard, and stiff until you start working with it.  I have gone through spells where my heart would become rather cold toward the things of God.  The only thing that would change my cold heart was to let God take my heart in His hands, and warm it with His touch and His Word.  I have also had times when I was very hard toward things the Lord wanted to do in my life.  I fought the work He wanted to do in me.  The longer He held me in His hand, the softer and more pliable I became, until He could finally mold me into what He wanted.

Once Rachel had finished the molding process in making her ceramic, she would have to set it aside for two weeks so that it could dry.  I have often heard people say that God has times where He puts us on a shelf.  I don’t believe that.  I believe that even when we may feel like we are just sitting there, God has a specific purpose in mind.  Just as Rachel’s ceramic had to set for two weeks so that it could absorb the shape she created it to be, God’s molding process in us may require that we sit for a while, just absorbing the work that He has done.  It may also be a time for resting, preparing us for the next phase of our journey.

In the second phase of making ceramics, the ceramic must go through the fire.  We also need to go through the fire at different times throughout our lives.  The fire is the process God uses to refine us.

In the next phase of making ceramics, you must paint the item.  It requires three coats of paint, letting each coat dry before you apply the next coat.  This would be similar to how we come through fiery trials.  As we are faithful to God, allowing Him to teach us during the fire, He ‘paints’ us with the colors of His glory. (II Corinthians 3:18)

After the paint dries, the ceramic must go through the fire once again.  As the ceramic goes through this last phase of entering the fire, the paint will become vivid in color, as well as developing a beautiful shine.

When we go through the fire, our ‘paint’ is the genuineness of our faith.  Once our faith is tested and proven real, our countenance becomes vivid, just like the paint on a ceramic.  We will glow with God’s glory.  (James 1:2-4; I Peter 1:6-7)

How is your ‘paint’ doing?  Is it vivid in color?
© 2006, Stacy R. Miller

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