Go and Gather the Empty

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The House of Prayer

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The House of Prayer

I was studying my bible one evening when something ‘popped’ off the page at me. Scripture sure has a way of doing that! No wonder it is described as living and active! (Hebrews 4:12)

In Matthew 21:12-17, we see where Jesus cleansed the temple. It was defiled by a couple of things. First, there were those who were selling animals for sacrifice at an exorbitant amount. Secondly, if the people could just come and buy their sacrifice, instead of raising it, caring for it, making sure it was the best of the best for the Lord, then what kind of ‘sacrifice’ was that? Not much of one, I can assure you. It’s often easier for us to donate money, rather than our time and energy.

Here’s what stood out to me in this chapter. Right after leaving that defiled temple, Jesus headed to a city called Bethany, which means ‘house of prayer.’ He didn’t find a house of prayer in the actual temple that day, so He left and went to a city called a house of prayer. Not only that, but it also tells us Jesus lodged there. He dwelt there!

It reminded me of a situation I faced several years ago. I was attending a large church, but every time I left, I felt more drained than when I walked in. I knew that was a sign of a serious problem. As I got before the Lord and prayed about it, I realized that the atmosphere was more like a social club than church. The music was more like a rock concert than true worship, in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24) As I dug deep into my Bible, I also noticed something else. That church never taught repentance! Those were the first words from John the Baptist and Jesus about salvation. You must have repentance. Some would say I left the church when I walked out the last time. In reality, what I did was leave a defiled temple. There is a huge difference between the two!

After coming to this realization, I decided to dwell in the Word and in prayer. I was looking for direction, and I knew praying wasn’t enough. I needed to seek the Word to find that direction. I found what I was seeking and so much more! That time of intensely searching the Word, praying the Word, and meditating on the Word has left a huge imprint on my life that will leave me forever changed for the better.

Have you experienced any of what I just mentioned? If so, perhaps you are sitting in a defiled temple. Find your Bethany – find that place of prayer and seeking the Lord through His Word, and dwell there. You will never be the same again!

© 2018, Stacy R. Miller

The Ministry of Encouragement

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The Ministry of Encouragement

Our words have enormous power! They hold the power of life and death! (Proverbs 18:21) I have had times in my life when someone has spoken a much-needed word of encouragement to me. Those words literally ‘carried’ me for a few days because of their positive influence on me. However, I have also been the giver of encouraging words. I have watched as my words brought a smile to someone’s weary face. Other times, it has brought tears to their eyes because they were deeply touched by what was spoken. There have even been times when my words were a revelation to them. What a sight to behold when their faces lit up!

The words of the godly have the ability to encourage many. (Proverbs 10:21) We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 to encourage one another and build up one another. Hebrews 3:13 goes a step further by telling us to encourage one another daily.

What does it mean to encourage someone? It is to cause someone to be courageous, to cure them, to help, repair, fortify, restore strength, support, comfort, admonish, or warn. With this exhaustive list, we can see that our words can literally be a ministry of encouragement to others! With the variety of meanings, surely in the course of a day, we can find at least one way to encourage someone!

What are you waiting for? Go find someone to encourage! Use the gift of your words!
© 2018, Stacy R. Miller

The Dew From Heaven

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The Dew From Heaven

Do you feel drained? Do you feel like you have grown stale and stagnant in your walk with the Lord? Do you walk out of church feeling more drained than when you walked in?

Hosea has some insights which may help. Many times, we start looking in the wrong direction, or we search for the wrong things. First and foremost, we need to return to the Lord. It is possible that we may have stumbled, due to sin. Instead of repenting of it, we try to hide it. We let guilt pull us away from the Lord. I guarantee you, those thoughts are not from the Lord, but from Satan. He wants to keep you from returning to the Lord, finding release and forgiveness.

Sometimes we feels distance because we begin to look to the world for comfort and encouragement. However, Hosea 14:3 shows us it won’t work. The world’s ways will never save us, comfort us, or give us hope. That can only be found in Jesus.

The Lord longs to heal our backsliding. We’ve all been there. It’s a slow fade. It doesn’t happen in just a day. It happens over time. One day, we wake up and realize we are empty and dry, and we can’t figure out how we got here.

Just as the dew falls every night, watering the earth, we also need the dew of heaven. We need to be in the Word every day. It is living water to us. It will refresh us, giving us wisdom and insight to face any situation. It will restore our soul, filling us with God’s joy and peace, once again.

When we are faithful to be in the Word, our roots grow deeper and stronger. Hosea describes it as our branches spreading, our beauty becomes like an olive tree, and our fragrance like Lebanon. We will be revived like grain, growing like a vine. (Hosea 14:5-7) What happens is that we are changed from glory to glory. (2 Corinthians 3:18) People will begin to see a beauty arise within us because the Lord is transforming us to be more like Him. They will see a joy and peace that is so rare in these uncertain times. They will wonder how we can be so serene when going through the tumultuous times.

We will turn from our idols, and seek the Living God. We will have a desire to listen and obey because anything else only leads to dissatisfaction and frustration. His fruit will be found in us. (Hosea 14:8; Galatians 5:22-23) We will have learned that the ways of the Lord truly are right, and we will delight in walking in that path. (Hosea 14:9)

The more time I spend in the Word, the more I benefit from it. Recently, my family has gone through one trial after another – some big, some small. However, because I have invested the time to being in the Word, my attitude is much better in the midst of it. I have a joy and peace that doesn’t dissipate in the midst of the trials. It is priceless! When I look back on previous years when I often chose to neglect the Word, I see a huge difference in how I handled difficult times. What wasted time! However, I know I cannot live in the past, with all of those regrets. Instead, I forget those things which are behind me, reaching for that which is ahead of me. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus!

It’s the same for you, brethren: Press on toward that prize! It is awesome!
© 2018, Stacy R. Miller

Seasoned Words

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Seasoned Words

A male coworker stopped by my office one day and repeatedly dropped the f-bomb. It was very uncomfortable for me. One of my other coworkers was there that day, and could easily see that I did not like what I was hearing. Once I had clocked out for the day, she told the him that I didn’t like hearing it. He was clueless as to how uncomfortable it was for me.

I also wasn’t too pleased that my coworker spoke up and said something to him because I had a feeling it was done in a way that made me come across as having a “holier than thou” attitude. I decided to pray about it, trusting the Lord to open the door for me to address it with him in a way that let him know the true reason I was upset by hearing that language. I wanted my words to be as Colossians 4:6 says – gracious, seasoned with salt, so that I would know how I should respond to him. I didn’t want to offend him. He doesn’t know the Lord, and the last thing I wanted was for him to be thinking, “Oh, so she is one of those people who thinks she’s better than everyone else.”

He stopped by my office a few days later, and the subject of language came up. It opened the door for me to address the situation. I casually mentioned that I knew my coworker told him I did not like hearing that word. I added, “It’s not because I think I’m better or holier than thou. It’s because I used to speak that language, and I don’t want to be that person again!”  I could tell he appreciated my honesty and now when he stops by, the conversations tend to go in a more positive direction.

I wonder what would happen if we would pray daily for the Lord to grace our words, seasoning them with salt, so that we will have the wisdom to know how to respond to those around us. I have a feeling we might just be amazed!

© 2018, Stacy R. Miller

Bad Decisions — Tim Dilena

Excellent message!

Waiting in Expectation

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Waiting in Expectation

Psalm 5:3 speaks of laying your requests before the Lord and waiting in expectation. I have done this concerning my daily bible reading.  I do not want to just read the Word to have something to cross off my to-do list.  I want the Lord to speak to me through it.  After all, His Words are life. In fact, much of what I have written in recent months is a result of that expectation, and allowing Him to speak to me through His Word.

For those of you who are parents, think back to those ‘firsts.’ Do you remember the joy you had when your baby smiled for the first time, took that first step, said “mama” or “dada” for the first time? Do you remember how you just beamed with joy?

I remember when we were home schooling in those early years. I was trying to teach my daughter how to read. It was a glorious feeling when she was able to start reading on her own. And I was the one who taught her! It was a proud moment for both of us!

As parents, whenever our children have their ‘firsts,’ or understand new concepts, there is such delight for us!  Those are big moments for us!

Now picture God, our Perfect Father. Surely He enjoys and delights in those moments when we see new things in His Word!  So go ahead, get into your bible, wait for the Lord to speak to you, and delight His heart!

© 2018, Stacy R. Miller

 

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