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

Uniquely Me

Uniquely Me

Each of us has a unique place in this world.  We are each given a unique calling.

When we are pressed to do more than what God has called us to do, we fail to be the person God intended us to be.  Other times, we may fall into the trap of trying to be someone other than the person God intended us to be.  So when we try to be someone else, who is being me?

Looking at the flip side, there are times when we do less than what God intended.  In those times, we miss out on a grand adventure – that of being me!

© 2013, Stacy R. Miller

Fear Factor

The Fear Factor

 

God gave a very clear directive to Jonah, but Jonah didn’t like what God said, so he thought he’d run away from God. (Ever been there?)  Instead of facing his fears and obeying the Lord, he paid money to go a different direction. 

 

What did his fare buy for him?

  1. He had to face a violent storm while on the wrong ship.
  2. He faced the humiliation of having all of the men on board know that he was disobeying God.  What a wonderful testimony he gave for the Lord!
  3. He got thrown overboard.  He surely didn’t count on that taking place or he would have asked for a discounted ticket!
  4. He caused great fear in the other men when they threw him overboard.
  5. He got to spend three days in the belly of a huge fish, living among all of the putrid stomach acids — the likes of which I don’t even think “Fear Factor” would use on their television show.

 

Finally, Jonah faces up to his sin.  In Jonah 2:8, he mentions that those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.  Could it be that fear becomes an idol when it hinders us from doing God’s will?

 

After confessing his sin, Jonah finds himself being vomited onto dry land.  From there, he completes the task God set before him — the very task that had previously left him dealing with the fear factor.

 

If you are battling fear, here are some promises for you:

Ps. 27:1 The Lord is my light and salvation, so whom shall I fear?

Ps. 34:4 God delivers me from ALL my fears.

Ps. 91:5 You don’t need to fear the terror of night, the arrows that fly by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the dark, or the plague that strikes at midday.

Is. 41:10 Don’t fear, for I am with you.

Is. 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace the woman whose mind is fixed on you because she trusts in you.

Jn. 16:33 In this world you will face tribulations (including battling with fear), but take courage because Jesus has overcome the world.

Heb. 13:5 NEVER will I leave you, NEVER will I forsake you.

Do you need to take a fear factor before the Lord?

© 2004, Stacy R Miller

 

Fearing to Look Younger

I had a very interesting thing happen one weekend.  My husband took us out to eat, and while standing in line, waiting to pay, I saw a face from my past.  It was a girl who beat me up when I was in sixth grade, and she was in eighth. While I went through months of being terrified to go to school each day, that fear no longer grips me.  I even approached this gal and asked if she remembered me.  She didn’t, so I proceeded to tell her where I knew her from, what my name was, and then I added, “You beat me up.”  The look on her face was priceless!  She was so embarrassed!  It gave us both a good laugh.

 

While we can all laugh at a story like that, seeing her again didn’t put fear into me, but sadness.  She is only two years older than me, but she looks about fifteen years older.  I have been praying for her because the hard lines on her face spoke volumes to me as to what kind of life she has lived over the last thirty years. 

 

One thing I’ve noticed about serving the Lord is that it can take years off of your face.  (Thank you Jesus!)  I have been told many times that I look much younger than what I really am.  I give all of the credit for that to my Master.  Jesus wasn’t lying to us when He said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. (Mt. 11:30) While we all deal with fear at some point in our lives, there is another kind of fear that is for our own good.  It is the fear of the Lord, and there are many rewards found in having this kind of fear.

 

Ps. 19:9 The fear of the Lord is pure, and it endures forever.

Ps. 111:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who walk in the way of His precepts have good understanding.

Pr. 8:13 The fear of the Lord leads one to hate evil.  (When we hate evil, we work hard to avoid it, and it can add years to our life because we aren’t dealing with the guilt and consequences of doing evil.)

Pr. 10:27 The fear of the Lord adds length to life.  (I believe it softens our countenance, causing us to look much younger too.)

Pr. 14:27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning one from the snares of death.

Pr. 15:33 The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom.  (When we walk in wisdom, it can save us from a lot of things that can could otherwise lead to excessive worrying, ulcers, and lack of sleep.)

Pr. 19:23 The fear of the Lord leads to life.  (Jesus mentions coming to give us life abundantly.  Part of that ‘life’ is learning to fear Him.)

 

Do you want to look younger?  Do you want to live life abundantly?  Get a healthy fear of the Lord, and see what benefits you may reap!

© 2004, Stacy R Miller

The Extreme Makeover, Part Four (final one)

The Extreme Makeover, Part 4

 

At the end of the “Extreme Makeover” show, they have the person make a grand entrance to be reunited with family and friends.  There are often happy tears shed as they behold this stunning beauty who has entered the room.  She appears to be so happy.  I have to wonder though: How long does this happiness last?

 

Proverbs 31:30 tells us that beauty is fleeting.  When one has a makeover done in the physical realm, the beauty and glamour of it all will quickly fade.  However, when God gives us a ‘makeover,’ it results in a transformation that will result in a gentle, graceful elegance, a joyful countenance (which can take years off of us!), a peaceful, contented heart, and a beauty which comes from His glory, which radiates through us. 

 

Are you ready to sign up for your ‘makeover’?  It won’t cost you any money, but it may cost you a whole lot of your pride.  The first step is taken by simply getting on your knees and approaching Father with a humble heart, a heart that is ready to be made over.

 

© 2003, Stacy R. Miller

 

 

The Extreme Makeover, Part Three

The Extreme Makeover, Part 3

 

I want to take this subject a little further to address how we handle the way our daughters are dressing.  I see so much immodesty in teenaged girls, even in the church! 

 

In Lev. 19:13, it tells us that we shouldn’t defraud our neighbor.  Webster’s dictionary says that defrauding means: “to take property, rights, etc., from them by fraud; cheat.”  Fraud is deceit, trickery, intentional deception, to mislead.  In looking at the word ‘mislead,’ I was thinking about how false prophets mislead the people little by little, and before they know it, they are completely astray.  Are we allowing our daughters to do this to young men by the way they are dressing?

 

The word ‘deceive’ refers to outwitting someone, fooling them, robbing, not playing fair, victimizing them, betraying them, entrapping them, or to ‘take in.’  I think these words paint a very vivid picture of what can happen when we allow our daughters to dress immodestly.  They may be attending church, but if dressed in an inappropriate way, they are deceiving those around them.

 

When we allow immodest dressing in our daughter’s lives, we allow them to defraud young men of pure and holy thoughts.  We are called to bear one another’s burdens, not to bare our flesh to others.  I may be stretching it a bit, but I think that the rapid hormonal changes that young men face should count as being a ‘burden.’  Why should we, and why would we, want to allow our daughters to fill the minds of young men with impure, lustful thoughts?  We should desire that they be encouraging one another in godliness, faith, love, purity, compassion, gentleness, and much more! 

 

It is God’s will for us avoid sexual immorality.  We need to control our bodies in a way which is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen.  We shouldn’t do our brother wrong, or be taking advantage of him.  (I Th. 4:3-6)

 

I talked with a youth pastor’s wife, and she gave me some wonderful insights to stress the importance of making sure that our young ladies are dressed in a modest way.  She said that she’s seen too many times where her husband has to intentionally avert his eyes when praying for a young lady at the altar.  Let’s say that a young lady is dressed in a very low-cut shirt.  She decides to go to the altar.  When she leans forward as she kneels, she’s giving a free view to all who are on the platform.  From the back, if her shirt is short, and she has hip huggers on, she is showing a lot of bare skin to those behind her, not to mention that they may be seeing her panties or thong.

 

I have heard several cases of where a youth pastor ends up ensnared in charges of sexual misconduct with a minor.  While there is no excuse for his behavior, if we are allowing our daughters to dress immodestly, are we helping to contribute to his behavior?  Even unknowingly, our daughters could be setting up a snare when they dress in this way.

 

As we look at the characteristics of a harlot in Prov. 5, we see in verse 3 that her lips drip words like honey, leaving us with an image of setting up a snare through flattery.  Her words are described as smoother than oil.  This reminds me of how Satan works – he is so crafty at what he does, and many times, he does it so smoothly, being that he’s had lots of practice at it.  Verse 6 tells us that she doesn’t give a thought to her way of life; she doesn’t even realize that her paths are crooked.  Is this how it is with some of our daughters?  Do we allow them to dress immodestly, which starts a spiraling path, leading them to act in an unbecoming way, much like a harlot? 

 

In verses 8 and 9 of this same chapter, it talks about staying away from her because you could wind up giving your best strength to her, along with giving your years to someone who is cruel.  While there are young men out there who are looking to defile our daughters, when we allow them to dress inappropriately, we may be opening a door for them that should remain closed.  How many of us know women who were promiscuous when they were young, and now they look much older than their years?  Have you noticed how deep the lines are on their faces?  That is what happens when we give our years to someone who is cruel.  Satan is the cruel taskmaster, and he tries to trick us into partaking of his “free love,” which comes back to haunt us for years to come.

 

Prov. 7:10 talks of a woman who comes out to meet a man.  She is dressed like a prostitute, with crafty intent.  Verse 11 describes her as being loud and defiant, never staying at home.  Doesn’t that sound much like the teenagers of today?  Visiting the malls on a Friday night can almost be scary because of how loud and defiant they are acting.  A common thing to hear these days is how the family is never together long enough to even have a sit-down meal together.  Could this be leading to some of the defiance and immodesty that is so prevalent in our society?  Could it be that we aren’t home long enough to instruct them in righteousness?

 

In verse 13, we find that the promiscuous woman takes hold of the man.  She is very forward, kissing him with a brazen face.  Then she continues her crafty intent, flattering him with her words in verse 14.  In verse 21, we find that she has ensnared him, leading him away with her seductive words.  In verse 26, we find that many are the victims of this kind of woman.  Let’s look again at her characteristics:  She is immodest, forward, defiant, loud, and she will use flattery, trickery, and anything else to trap a man.

 

We need to be careful if we see any of these characteristics coming out of our daughters.  It could be leading them down a very dangerous path.  For those of you who have preschoolers, I would highly suggest that you teach them modesty very early.  I did this with my daughter, explaining that we don’t wear bikinis at any age because we are not to be showing our skin to others because God wants us to be modest.  If we are careful to train them at a young age, it will be ingrained in their thinking when they get older.

The Extreme Makeover, Part Two

The Extreme Makeover, Part 2

 

On the show, almost every person wants to have liposuction done, removing that unwanted flesh.  Do we have flesh that God would like to remove from us?  Paul describes the battle with unwanted flesh so clearly in Rom. 7:15-25.  He tells us in Rom. 8:5-16 that when our flesh is in control, we have our minds upon what our flesh desires, and the end result is death.

 

After a person has liposuction done, they will go through intensive body building to sculpt their body.  God desires for us to do some ‘body building’ also.  He wants us to carry one another’s burdens.  (Gal. 6:2) We are to encourage one another.  (Heb. 10:25) He wants us to speak kind words to each other. (Pr. 12:25) We are also to be devoted to one another.  (Rom. 12:10)

 

After the body has been sculpted to satisfaction, they take the person out for a wardrobe makeover.  For the women, they always manage to pick out items that show cleavage.  While there is nothing wrong with dressing nicely, and in a way which pleases our husband, we don’t need to be letting anyone else see our cleavage.  That is for his eyes only!  Our dresses shouldn’t be so short that when we sit down, others can see our panties, nor should they be so short that our thighs are showing when we cross our legs.  Again, that is for your husband’s eyes only! 

 

One of the major differences between men and women is that men are turned on by sight.  If we, as Christian women, are wearing clothing that shows cleavage, or makes us look voluptuous, we are becoming a stumbling block to other men.  I Cor. 8:9 tells us not to let our freedom become a stumbling block to others.  Paul even said that if eating meat was a stumbling block to someone that he wouldn’t eat it.  Although he had the freedom to eat it, the law of love said that he should give up that freedom, so as to not cause another person to stumble.  In Rom. 14, he reminds us that none of us lives to (her)self alone. (verse 7) He also admonishes us to make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification. (verse 19) If we are dressing in an immodest way, we aren’t making the effort to live in peace and mutual edification because we are causing the thoughts of other men to be lustful.

 

The Extreme Makeover, Part One

The Extreme Makeover

 

One night, out of sheer boredom, I started watching the “Extreme Makeover” show.  People come on the show to have radical changes made to the features on their body which they don’t like.  Nose jobs, plastic surgery, enhancing the lips, breast implants, and liposuction seem to be quite popular choices.  It occurred to me that we, as Christians, can also be in need of a ‘makeover’ in a spiritual sense.

 

How many of us could use a nose job because we tend to stick our noses into other people’s business?  II Th. 3:11 refers to this as being a busybody.  Titus 2:5 gives us clear instruction to be busy at home, leaving the inference that while we are to be busy, we are not to be busy bodies.

 

Do our lips need enhanced?  We are admonished in II Th. 4:12 to live a quiet life, minding our own business.  Having a lip job done may require that we walk away from certain conversations.  If we stay there listening, it’s too easy to fall into the trap of wanting to add own opinions and judgments.  When we choose to walk away from that conversation, we end up carrying our integrity with us, rather than carrying guilt over having loose lips.

 

In Col. 3:8, it is clear that we aren’t to be using our lips for filthy language.  James 1:26 gives us a more sobering message, stating that if we are unable to keep a tight rein on our lips, our religion is worthless.  However, Prov. 13:13 tells us that if we guard our lips, we guard our life. 

 

When God does a lip job on us, His desire is for us to have words that are like choice silver.  (Pr. 25:11) He desires that we declare His praises through our lips, and to keep our lips from sinning.  (Ps. 34:1, 39:1, 119:71)

 

We’ve looked at what flows out of our lips, but what about that which comes into our lips?  In the church, it appears that gluttony is the acceptable sin.  So many of us who call ourselves Christians are either obese, or overweight to some degree.  We are bound by food addictions, which start a vicious cycle, leading us to be bound to physical ailments all because we have a lack of restraint where food is concerned.

 

In continuing our ‘lip enhancement,’ God wants us to find that His words are sweet to our taste. (Ps. 119:103)  In Jer. 15:16, we find that when God’s Word came, he ate them.  Do we take time daily to ‘eat’ of God’s Word?  Many times, we wouldn’t dream of skipping a meal or our afternoon snack, yet we don’t hesitate to neglect our spiritual food!

 

One of the most popular procedures on “Extreme Makeover” is to have  breast implants done.  While God doesn’t do ‘boob jobs,’ He can do a circumcision on our heart, which is in that same vicinity.  (Rom. 2:29) 

 

We may find ourselves speaking things that are sinful.  The root cause is from a sinful heart.  (Mt. 12:34)  Prov. 27:19 tells us that just like water reflects a face, a (wo)man’s heart reflects the (wo)man.  We find that where our heart is, our treasure lies.  (Mt. 6:21) Do we need to find different treasures?  Do we need to lay hold of treasures that moth and rust won’t corrupt?

 

Jer. 17:9 tells us that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, but God is able to give us a new heart.  (Ez. 36:26)  He can help us to have a pure, undivided heart.  (Ps. 51:10, 86:11)

 

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