Toss it Overboard

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Toss it Overboard

I have noticed that occasionally the Lord will allow us to go through storms of life so that He can bring to the surface things that are hidden.

Do you ever feel like you are a ship, carrying too much cargo, and headed for stormy seas?  Sometimes the cargo we carry may be stored ‘under the deck.’  In other words, it is buried in the deep recesses of our heart.  God can see the rebellious attitudes, our never-ending quest to please man, bitterness, deep hurts that need healing, or even fears.  Whatever we may have hidden, God still sees it, and He wants to bring those things to light so that we can be free from them.

Paul was on a ship during a storm of hurricane proportions.  The ship took such a violent battering that they began to toss things overboard in order to lighten their load and save themselves. (Acts 27:13-44)

When God takes us through storms, He wants us to see those hidden things and toss them overboard.  He wants to help us lighten our load, taking on his yoke. (Matthew 11:28-30) When we learn to toss things overboard during our stormy struggles, God will help us to persevere, growing and maturing in Him. (James 1:2-4)

© 2006, Stacy R. Miller

I’m Done!

I’m Done!

As mothers, don’t you sometimes wish that you could say, “I’m done!”  It seems that a mother’s work is never done!  Even when we are sleeping, we are still on-call for the one who may wake up ill during the night.  We get the house cleaned, only to find that by the end of the day, the kids have trashed it once again!

We can find ourselves falling into the mode of being ‘task-oriented,’ rather than ‘people-oriented.’  We can become easily irritated by any interruptions.  We seem to forget that some things which happen are God-ordained; we view it as another interruption to our already busy schedule.

In John 17:4, we find that Jesus is talking with the Father, saying that He has completed the work which God gave Him to do.  I wonder how we might view each day, if we are careful to only do the things which Father really wants us to do.  If He wants us to be diligently instructing our children in righteousness, will we be able to relax and let the housework go for a day?  Would that cause excessive stress to our flesh because we have to view the messy house?  Would we be able to set aside our plan to go to garage sales because someone is in need of a meal?  Would we be able to put aside the plan we had made to do something refreshing in order to go visit someone who is in dire need of some company?  Can we set aside our holiday tasks to play a game with the children, or read them a book?

In Matt. 8:1, we find Jesus coming down from the mountainside, after having taught the people for many hours.  He was probably hoping for some time of refreshing and relaxation.  What did He find?  He found that the crowds followed Him.  Moms, do you ever find that your ‘crowds’ have followed you?  Most of us can’t even go to the bathroom by ourselves!  We can certainly understand the frustration that a person would feel when they can’t get away for that time of aloneness, that time to refresh oneself.  But Jesus didn’t respond out of frustration to them.  He continued to minister to them, putting His own fleshly wants aside.  What a contrast between how the Master responded and how I often respond to those ‘interruptions.’  It’s quite convicting, to say the least.

In verses 14-16, we find that Jesus was visiting Peter’s house.  When we go to visit someone, it’s often to relax and fellowship.  Yet, we see that Jesus is immediately called upon because Peter’s mother-in-law was sick.  Not only that, while He was there, MANY were brought to Him.  So much for relaxing and fellowshipping…..

As we move on to Matt. 8:23-25, we find that Jesus is trying to sleep, and now it’s the disciples who are ‘interrupting’ Him.  Have you ever had those days when you finally get to climb into bed, hoping that you can find a peaceful night’s rest, only to find that just as you fall into a deep sleep, you hear these words, “Mom, I had a bad dream.  Can I sleep with you?”  Once again, a peaceful night’s rest seems to be out of the question.

Moving on to Mt. 9:1-2, Jesus crosses over in a boat to visit His home town.  Again, they bring people to Him.  Those of us who have loved ones who live out of town know how precious those family times are.  Yet, Jesus didn’t often have those times with His family because the crowds were always looking to find Him.

In verse 27, He is still being followed.  In verse 36, we find that as He sees the crowds, He has compassion on them.  When we are followed by our ‘crowds,’ do we respond in the same manner?  In my own life, I find myself falling short so many times when MY schedule is interrupted.  When I remember to view the ‘interruption’ as a God-given intervention, my attitude is quite different.

In Mk. 1:35-37 Jesus went off to pray.  Simon and the others came looking for Him, declaring that ‘everyone’ was looking for Him.  We all have days where we feel like ‘everyone’ is looking for us.  The kids need us, hubby needs us, the phone won’t quit ringing because others needs us, the neighbor rings the bell, in search of us.  The list can be endless.  How do we respond?  Jesus responded by saying, “Let us go…That is why I have come.”  Can we say, as Jesus did, that we have come to do the Father’s will?  Can we say, “Not my will, but yours be done?”

Lord, help us to face each day, conscious of Your intervention in our lives.  Help us to view interruptions as an ordained task, given by You.  Help us to remember that as we serve others, we are really serving You.  Help us to be able at the end of each day to say, “Father, I have completed the task that You gave me to do.”  Amen.
© 2004, Stacy R Miller

I Can’t Hear You!

I Can’t Hear You!

Most parents find that it’s hard to let go of our children when they become more independent.  To help me feel a little more secure in letting Rachel ride her bike around the block, we use two-way radios.  If she crashes, and needs me, it’s easy for her to call for help.

One thing I’ve learned about those two-way radios is that if Rachel is trying to talk to me while I’m trying to talk to her, I can’t hear her.  I have to be careful to wait until she is finished talking before I start talking.  Otherwise, we can’t hear each other.

Have you ever known someone who was always thinking about the next thing they were going to say, rather than listening to what you were saying?  I wonder how many times we do this to the Lord.  While you are trying to listen to the Lord, you probably find yourself thinking about the dishes that need washed, the bill that needs to be paid, something you need from the grocery store, the card that needs to be sent, and the list goes on and on.  I wonder what God was trying to say when we were thinking about our to-do list.  Just when we think we can listen, we think of some other prayer request, so we begin to talk to the Lord about that one.  Again, I wonder what God was trying to say.  It’s a good idea to keep a pen and paper handy when we get alone with God so that when the to-do list comes to mind, we can jot it down, then take care of it later.

Is. 6:9 talks about people who will be ever hearing, yet not understanding.  They will be seeing and not perceiving.  Can Father say this is true of us?  Are we hearing other things instead of His voice?  Are we perceiving our own wants and desires while neglecting His wants and desires?

Father, help me to not be like the people mentioned in this verse.  Help me to have ears to hear whatever it is You have to say.  Help me to have a heart that will obey what You speak to me, no matter the cost.  Amen.

© 2003, Stacy R Miller

Housework – The Thankless Job

Housework – the thankless job

We clean and we clean, and nothing ever stays done.  We clean and we clean, and no one ever seems to appreciate it.  It’s easy to cop a bad attitude if you dwell on that fact.

God has placed us in our homes to be homeworkers, and we need to keep our focus in the right direction.  Psalm 16:6 says that the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; yes, I have a good heritage. (Amp. Bible)  Do you really believe that the lines have fallen in good places for you — even while you are doing housework — the job that seems so “thankless”?

Jesus calls us to be faithful in the small things. Luke 16:10 says that he who is faithful in the very little things is faithful in much.  Sometimes the small things for us may be cleaning the toilet, wiping a runny nose, filling up a sippy cup, or taking out the trash.  You see, those “little things” do matter to God.  God entrusts the little things to our care to teach each of us faithfulness in bigger things.  He also wants you to see how even those little things can have an eternal effect.

Matt. 25:34-36 says “…for I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me.” (NIV)
Think of it this way:  When you give your child a bath, you do it for Jesus.
When you scrub the stains that are so often on the clothing of small children, you do it for Jesus.  When you sew a button on hubby’s shirt, you do it for Jesus.  Even speaking a word of encouragement to someone can have an eternal impact.

A word of caution though – Col. 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord, as a reward.  It is the Lord you are serving.”  (NIV)  So, what is your motive and your attitude when you do these “little things”?  If we grumble and complain, or do it to receive the applause of man, we can’t expect a reward.

Let’s look at some of the things which Jesus did.
1.   He helped to settle arguments between people.  (Mk 9:34-35)  Any mothers out there who have done that recently?  🙂
2.   He served a meal to others. (Jn. 6:11)
3.   He even cleaned house, so to speak.  (Jn. 2:15-16)
4.   He washed feet.  (Jn. 13:5)
Do you see it?  Jesus did the SAME LITTLE THINGS which we are doing, and we get the privilege of doing them on a daily basis!

Get this in your spirit, and remember that when you are cleaning the house, you are doing it for Jesus, and He does care that you are doing it, He does see that you are doing it, and He does appreciate that you are doing it, as long as you do it with a joyful heart, and with the right motive.  I had to learn this recently because I was really getting a bad attitude.  It has really changed my way of thinking.  I have a whole new attitude when I approach housework now, and it is absolutely wonderful!

That’s all for this time.  I think I’ll go scrub a toilet!  🙂

© 2003, Stacy R. Miller

God Is Into Details

God is into Details

 

I felt this title stirring in my spirit for about six weeks, but when I’d try to come up with a devotion for it, I was completely uninspired.  That is because the ‘details’ weren’t there yet, ready for me to use.

 

As I walked into church one Wednesday evening, I was approached by Elaine, who is one of the ladies in charge of our women’s ministry.  She asked me if I would teach the class that night because her infant granddaughter was in the hospital with pneumonia.  Her request wouldn’t have seemed that strange to me, except for the fact that in the series we were studying, I had missed more Wednesday nights than what I had attended because of my daughter having whooping cough.  About the time she started getting better, I came down with it.  Needless to say, I felt rather unprepared to teach! 

 

All I had with me from the previous weeks was a few notes that I had jotted down.  The study we were doing wasn’t one where we took a book home to read, so there was no weekly homework to help keep me caught up each week if I was unable to attend.  I felt so inadequate, but here she was, asking me to teach in her place.  Now, you are probably wondering just what it was that we’d been studying.  It was Improving Your Serve by Chuck Swindoll.  OK, I know, some of you are seeing the humor in this already!  Yes, I do believe even God got a laugh out of it!  He was surely testing me to see how willing I would be to serve as a teacher that evening.

 

Thankfully, Elaine had some great notes typed up for me to use.  I was even able to thumb through the book as we quickly covered each chapter, adding a few additional tidbits of information to refresh us on what we had learned in the previous weeks.

 

I remember reading a scripture in the Amplified Bible many years ago and it said that God is still on the throne and He still rules from heaven.  It goes on to say that He closely watches everything that happens on earth.  Little did I realize how true this verse would be for me that particular night when I walked into church.

 

You see, it was a miracle that I even made it to church that evening.  Just three days prior, my back went out on me.  For two days, I didn’t do much but lie on the couch with the ice pack, trying to get the swelling to go down. 

 

While I was in extreme pain, I received a phone call from a dear friend, and I shared my dilemma with her.  We both went to bed that night, praying that my back would heal quickly.  As I talked to her the next day, I told her how much better I felt.  As I began to share with her that I felt such a peace about my healing when I prayed the previous night, she quickly shared that she had the same feeling when she was praying for me.  We discovered that both of us felt that God was going to bring about a very quick recovery for me.  I believe that the Lord led her to call me that evening so that there would be two of us in agreement in prayer regarding my back.  Even then, I still didn’t realize how much God is into details.

 

During the time that I was afflicted in my back, God was still watching other details.  He saw what was going on with Elaine’s granddaughter, and He knew Elaine was feeling torn between desperately wanting to be at the hospital, yet having a commitment to be teaching at church.  At the same time, He knew that unless He touched my back, I wasn’t going to be at church on Wednesday.  

 

As I began to teach the class, I quickly discovered that one of the key scriptures in our study was Philippians 2:3.  I had just studied that very scripture in depth earlier that morning as I was preparing a lesson for my Sunday school class.  Because of a God who is into details, I was able to share a few of my own insights on that verse, as well as sharing what Elaine had in her notes.

 

In Matthew 10:19, we see where Jesus tells His disciples not to worry about what to say because the Holy Spirit will be speaking through them.  Our God, who is into details, allowed His Spirit to speak through me, even though I’d missed several sessions during this particular study.  He has promised not to let His Word return void.  (Is. 55:11) All of the countless hours that I had been diligent to pour His Word into my spirit had prepared me for a night such as this one.  Even though I may not have been in attendance for nearly half of the classes, God had prepared me in advance for being a servant, ready in season and out of season.  All of the work I’d put into studying, learning, applying, and obeying the Word allowed the Holy Spirit to move in and speak through me because I was already yielded.  The fruit of what I’d planted the last few years was ripe and ready at a moment’s notice.  Yes, I do believe that God is into details.

 

Maybe you won’t ever be put in a situation to teach at a moment’s notice, but maybe you’ll be given a moment’s notice that you need to drop your agenda and minister to a hurting friend.  Maybe you’ll receive a moment’s notice and have to immediately go to the hospital for a sick parent.  Maybe you’ll be given a moment’s notice to help in the nursery when the scheduled help doesn’t show up.  Maybe you’ll be asked to help serve in the kitchen during an after-church fellowship, and you don’t feel this is where God has necessarily gifted you.  Whatever the situation, rest easy…your God is into details, and while you may be caught off guard, God isn’t.  He’s closely watching everything that happens here on earth.

© 2004, Stacy R. Miller

Filthy Rags

Filthy Rags

 

As Christians, we know that we are saved by grace, through faith.  We say we aren’t saved by works, but yet the we live our lives may say something different.

 

Sometimes it’s good to evaluate why we are doing certain things.  Why do we allow our children to be involved in so many activities?  (Activities which require us to chauffeur every night of the week, and several times on the weekend)  Are we afraid to say no?  Are we trying to avoid hearing their whining if we refuse?  Is it to stroke our own ego?  Is it peer pressure?  Why do we feel that we must say ‘yes’ to every person who asks us to do something?  Are we looking for approval?  Do we fear what they may think of us if we say ‘no’?  Are we trying to stroke our ego again?

 

While doing all of these outside activities builds up a very busy schedule, it may not be building a very firm foundation for us.  Paul tells us that we should build a foundation using gold, silver, and costly stones. (I Cor. 3) When we find ourselves wrapped up in too many activities, even good activities, which aren’t God’s will for us, we will find that we are building a foundation of wood, hay, and straw.

 

When we find ourselves doing too many things that aren’t God’s best for us, we cause ourselves undue stress, excessive weariness, and constant strife.  The strife can affect our marriage, family, friendships, and most importantly, our walk with God.  Our aim should be to let God’s righteousness shine through.  When we build a foundation by doing things outside of God’s will for us, we are letting our own righteousness show through, and God makes it clear that our righteousness is nothing more than filthy rags.

(Is. 64:6)

 

Do you need to get rid of some filthy rags?

© 2004, Stacy R Miller

Do You Need Help?

Do You Need Help?

 

From heaven the Lord looks down and sees us all; He watches all of us.  No king is saved by the size of his army, nor does a warrior conquer by his own strength.  A horse is a vain hope for their deliverance.  Even in its great strength, it can’t save.  (Ps. 33:13-14, 16-17)

 

As moms, I would imagine that most of us are quick to rise each morning, ready to start tackling the day’s assignments.  If we’re not careful, we can be like the one who rides on a horse, confidently trusting in the strength and ability of the horse.  We begin to trust in our own abilities and in our own strength.  We forget that God is watching us as we scurry along, confident in our ability to get things done.  I can picture Him being saddened when we fail to acknowledge that we need His help.

 

Sometimes we can attack our housework with a vengeance, much like an army goes after their adversary.  While it’s good for us to do our work vigorously (Pr. 31:17), when we fail to invite God to help us, we may switch from attacking the house with a vengeance to attacking others with a vengeance because they have interrupted our cleaning schedule.  We may find that our positive attitude has turned sour, leading us to stinking thinking.  Instead of cleaning as unto the Lord, we may be doing it with an angry, resentful attitude.

 

In trying to homeschool, work on my Internet ministry, and recently launching a home-based business, I have found that I am getting stressed very easily.  My fuse has always been a short one, but lately, it’s gotten worse.  The tiniest offense can set my temper aflame.  As I took time to ponder on what has been happening, I realized that I’m not spending as much time in the Word.  While I resent missing those times with the Lord, I have to admit that it’s not my circumstances that have caused me to miss out on devotions.  It’s my wrong choices, and that has led to being at an emotional low point for several days.  As I read the above scripture, it made me realize that I have been trusting in my own strength to get things done.  Instead of following God’s leading, and asking for His help, I have allowed my priorities to quickly get out of order.

 

When we put our hope in God and rely on His help, here is what happens:

Ps. 33:18  His eyes are on us.

         :19  He delivers us and keeps us alive in famine.  If we look to Him on busy days, even if we don’t spend much time in the Word, He can still keep us from a spiritual famine because we are still acknowledging Him in all our ways.

         :20  As we hope in Him, He is our help and our shield.

         :21  Our hearts will rejoice because we are trusting in His holy name.

© 2003, Stacy R Miller

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