Escaping the Yoke of the Swindler

This message is FABULOUS!!!  It really helps explain why our churches today are so dry and not sensing the power of God.

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Trick or Treat

Image result for chained to sin
Trick or Treat

The Bible teaches us that Satan is a master schemer.  II Cor. 2:11  His goal is to trick us into bondage.  That bondage can come in many forms. Unforgiveness can leave us chained to the one we refuse to forgive. Food addictions lead us to being overweight, not to mention the guilt and low self-esteem that is caused by our lack of control in that area.  Sexual bondages seem to be rampant in our society.  We can be compulsive shoppers, always looking for a fix, only to find that the thrill of it passes so quickly.  Being overly concerned about how we look may cause us to look good on the outside, but leave us with unseen chains wrapped around us.  Greed has led many people astray and into shackles which seem impossible to loosen.  As we fall prey to Satan, I can almost hear him, deviously laughing, shouting, “Trick or treat!  I got you!”

The Bible is clear that we are slaves to whatever masters us.  II Pet. 2:19.   Paul said in I Cor. 6:12 that he would not be mastered by anything.  The way that he kept from being mastered was by knowing the truth.  It’s in that “knowing” that we can be set free.  John 8:32

I find it comforting to know that even in bondage, God hasn’t deserted us.  Ez. 9:9  While we were still sinners (and in bondage), God still loved us enough to send His Son to die for us.   Rom. 5:8   That is the best treat we could ever have!

Jesus said in Luke 4:18 that He came to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and to release the oppressed.  When He arose from the dead, can’t you just hear Him declaring to Satan, “Trick or Treat! I won!  I have the final victory!”

My dear sister, Jesus won that victory for YOU!  Whatever bondages you may be struggling with, He is still with you in the midst of it, and He has promised to never leave you, nor forsake you.  Don’t be ashamed to bring your shackles to Him.  He would love nothing more than to set you free.  After all, He’s already paid the ultimate price for your freedom.  Let Him unshackle you today!

© 2003, Stacy R. Miller

I’m so Ashamed!


I’m so Ashamed!

In John 8:1-11, we find the story about the woman who was caught in adultery.  This woman’s passionate pursuit in her adulterous act likely brought a crimson color to her cheeks as she was brought publicly before the people.  Have you ever stopped to notice who brought her?  It was the teachers of the law AND the Pharisees.  That’s quite a group of men!  Knowing the law very well, they made sure that they had more than two witnesses to speak against her.  This was a very cliquish group who had an ulterior motive to their actions.  I believe that they purposely planned to trap this woman in a very intimate act, only to use it, trying to ‘trip up’ the Master when they asked Him about it.

While this woman’s shame was very public, yours may be private.  It may be the mental and emotional abuse from a spouse, or physical abuse by your spouse or even your parents, or the silent shame of that abortion which took place so many years ago, the sexual intimidation by your boss, or even the shame of what a trusted, but perverted, relative inflicted on you as a child.  Whatever kind of shame you may bear, think of it as we continue on in this story.

Now that this poor woman has been brought publicly before the people and branded an adulterer, that stigma would stay with her for the rest of her life.  If you don’t believe me, look at these names, and see what thoughts come to mind:
Jeffrey Dahmer, Benedict Arnold, Monica Lewinsky, Ted Bundy, Susan Smith, O. J. Simpson, or Kobe Bryant.  Kobe hasn’t even had a trial yet, but chances are very high that for the rest of his career, he will be thought of as the NBA star who was charged with rape.  Regardless of the outcome of the trial, I’ll bet that many would even call him the NBA star who was a rapist.  You see, even before there is a trial, public opinion has often formed, and the stigma of that public opinion stays for years, regardless of what a jury may say.  We’ve seen that happen in the O. J. Simpson case.

Moving back to our story, this woman would go to the well every day, having to listen to the whispers of the women, enduring their scorn.  When she goes to town, she’ll endure the coarse joking from the men, and the snubbing of the ladies.  After all, what married lady wants to befriend an adulteress?  She would be seen as a threat to any married woman.

Thinking upon catching someone in the act of adultery, we’ve all heard stories of a husband or wife who hires a private investigator to track the other spouse.  It’s only one person who is watching.  Even if they set up hidden cameras, it’s still usually only one person who is doing the work.  So, for all of these teachers and Pharisees to catch this woman in the act, centuries before hidden cameras were available, it’s a trap!  And this woman was simply the bait used to catch the ‘big fish,’ who would be Jesus.  Notice that the man she was committing the act with wasn’t even brought forth.  He was probably part of this sinister plan.

Bringing their ‘bait’ to Jesus to try and ‘hook’ Him, they expected Him to condemn her.  They must have been dumbstruck at His reaction.  Instead of seeing her condemned, they get to watch the finger of God write in the dirt!  The same fingers that carved the Ten Commandments are now writing in the dirt!  (I wonder if He wrote things like ‘fraud, deceiver, ambusher, cheater, swindler, double-dealer.’  These terms certainly describe the way these men handled this situation.)  Later, we see these same fingers of God carrying a wooden cross to Calvary.  Not only did He bear the weight of all of your sin, He bore your shame too.  Heb. 12:2 tells us that He scorned the shame of the cross.  He bore your sin and shame.  Carrying guilt and shame is nothing but Satan’s trick to hold you in a prison of shame, but Jesus tells you the same thing He told that woman.  “Neither do I condemn you.”

Sister, be loosed of that infirmity of shame that you’ve been needlessly carrying.  Lk. 13:11
© 2004, Stacy R Miller

High Tech Busybody

High Tech Busybodies

In today’s busy society, it seems that we have lost the art of hospitality.  People rarely take time to have company over for an evening of fun.
Because of that, it may be easy to think that the nasty habit of being a busybody has died out too.  After all, First Timothy 5:13 describes a busy body as one who goes from house to house.

On the contrary, I think the busy body is thriving in today’s society.  The only difference is that she has become a high tech busy body.  Instead of going from house to house, she now goes from website to website, from chat room to chat room, from one bulletin board to another.

This verse in First Timothy also tells us that she learns to become an idler.  The dictionary describes an idler as one who is useless, not busy, inactive, moving about aimlessly, and one who wastes.

When we think of a Miss Busy Body’s use of the computer, we can easily picture her as one who does not manage her home well. (Proverbs 31) She spends so much time online that she is not busy taking care of her home.  Inactivity in the home tends to lead to piles of dirty laundry and dirty dishes.  There will be dusty furniture and sticky floors.  There will be unmade beds and piles of clutter.  Things in the home continue to pile up while she continues to wander aimlessly around the Web, soon finding herself tangled in that very web.

I can picture her husband coming home to a disorganized home every night, giving her a disgusted look that says, “What did you do all day?”
I would imagine that there is a lot of bickering in the home because the kids are looking for something, unable to find it because of her lack of managing her home.  I can picture her finally getting around to fixing the evening meal, only to discover that she doesn’t have the necessary ingredients – all because she chose to be online all day, rather than fulfilling the ministry of taking care of her home and family.

We can picture this high tech lady rising early, not to get into the Word, but to check out her favorite websites.  She convinces herself she will do devotions later, only to see a hot topic arise on a particular board.  She chooses instead to see what juicy discussions take place.  Little does she realize that those morsels of gossip go down into her deepest parts. (Proverbs 18:8)

It’s no wonder she soon feels empty, void, barren, and dead inside.  Have you ever felt that way?  These words are words used in the Thesaurus to describe one who is idle.

If these words fit how you often feel, could it be that you have become a high tech busy body?  Is it time to turn off the World Wide Web in order to spend time with the Creator of this whole wide world?
© 20006, Stacy R. Miller

Hide and Seek

Hide and Seek

Children seem to revel in playing hide and seek.  They find such pleasure in this game.  We, as adults, often play hide and seek, but we don’t do it because it’s fun.  In fact, it is an often painful “game” which we play.   We do it because we are trying to hide our hurt feelings, our anger, our fears, our failing marriage, physical or emotional abuse, our sin, and the list could go on and on.  What do you hide behind?  Many times it can be the big things, but sometimes it’s the “little” things that can cause us to hide.  You know, those nagging little things like envy of a friend’s nicer, bigger home, or anger at being treated unfairly, or the jealousy of a friend who has a prestigious job and gets to wear nice clothes all the time……

You may think that you are hiding things very well, but God says:

“For the ways of man are directly before the eyes of the Lord, and He carefully weighs all man’s goings.”  Prov. 5:21 Amp. Bible
Ps. 139:2-3 says that God knows when we sit or stand.  God understands our thoughts from afar.  He sifts and searches out our paths and our lying down, and He’s acquainted with all of our ways.
Ps. 139:7 “Where could I go from Your Spirit?  Or where could I flee from Your presence?”  Amp. Bible
Luke 12:2 says that nothing is so closely hidden that it won’t be revealed.
Jer. 23:24 “Can anyone hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him?”  Amp. Bible

Let’s look at some people in scripture who played “Hide and Seek.”  The first game of hide and seek was in Genesis with Adam and Eve. (Gen. 3:10)   The sin which they tried to hide ended up getting them kicked out of the garden of Eden.

Jonah also felt the need to play this game.  (Jonah 1:3-4)  Where did it get him?  He was in the belly of a fish for 3 days and nights.  I was pondering on this the other day, after my husband and daughter went through a bout with the stomach flu.  When you have the flu, you get to the point where you are just vomiting bile, and not only does it taste bad, but it SMELLS AWFUL!!!  That sick smell just seems to linger if you don’t work hard to clean everything.  Imagine what Jonah went through, living amongst the bile of a fish, and for 3 days!!  YUCK!!!!  Sin will surely take you places where you DON’T want to go!

David committed adultery with Bathsheba and went so far as to have her husband killed on the front lines.  He thought that he had done a good job of covering up for his wrong doing, that is, until Nathan the prophet approached him.   Num. 32:23 says to be sure that your sin will find you out.

Hagar ended up running away from Sarah after Sarah “dealt severely with her, humbling and afflicting her.”  Gen. 16:6 (Amp. Bible)  In verse 8, God said to Hagar, “Where did you come from, and where are you intending to go?”  It ended up that Hagar called God El Roi – “the One who sees.”  Gen. 16:13  Even when she tried to hide, God still saw her.

If you trying to play your own game of “Hide and Seek,” I promise you that you won’t win.  Sometimes it is so hard to admit those things which we hide behind.  I know, I’ve been there, and unfortunately, I’ve played this game more than once or twice.  I remember a time when someone at church kept showing me their baby and telling me that I needed one of my own.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I let a stronghold of anger and bitterness develop over it.  I had some serious back trouble at the time which made pregnancy seem like an impossibility for me, not to mention that I had chronic colitis, and was on 6-8 pills a day.  That sure wasn’t a conducive environment to a pregnancy.  (God has since delivered me of the chronic colitis, and maybe one of these times I will share that AWESOME experience.)  It was so bad that God had to remove me from that particular church for a while so that he could get me away from the situation.  For the longest time, I blamed it on the pastor.  “I wasn’t getting fed.”  Ever hear those famous words?  Eventually, I was to the place where God uncovered that “hidden place” in my heart, and I dealt with it, and was very quickly back into my original church.  I have no anger or resentment toward the person who originally offended me.  I can now see her as a very dear sister in the Lord.

If you are playing the “game,” please pray for God to reveal to you what is in your heart, mind, soul, and spirit that isn’t pleasing to Him.  Allow Him to show you where you aren’t clearly seeing things which need to be corrected.  Pray for Him to strip down the walls of arrogance and  fear, and to expose you to yourself.  (That can be scary, but well worth it!)  Pray for Him to give you the desire and strength to correct the error of your ways.  Pray for Him to help you to replace any lies of the enemy with the truth of His Word.

Psalm 32:3-4 “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night your hand was heavy upon me, my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.”  (NIV)
Ps. 38:3-5 “Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; my bones have no soundness because of my sin.  My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.  My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly.  (NIV)  Life is hard enough without adding to the burden by trying to play “Hide and Seek” when there is no way that we will ever win.

When you confess your sin, it’s not like you are telling God something that is going to shock Him, or make Him turn away from you.  He all ready knows about it.  Confession is just admitting to God what He all ready knows, and agreeing with Him that what you did is wrong.  Then comes repentance – truly being sorry to the point of grief, and turning away from it.  I know in my own walk, I can repent, but then I find myself doing the same thing, even though my intention was to truly turn away from it.  When we repent of something it doesn’t mean that we won’t ever commit that sin again.  It simply means that we don’t INTEND to ever commit that sin again.  Anytime we sin, we need to quickly repent so that the death process which has been set into motion will be stopped; for we know that the “wages of sin is death.”  Rom. 6:23.

Prov. 28:13 I am paraphrasing here:  She who continues to play “Hide and Seek” will not prosper, but she who confesses and renounces the game will find mercy from her Lord.

Acts 3:19 paraphrasing again:  Quit playing “Hide and Seek” so that your sins may be blotted out, then will come times of refreshing in the presence of the Lord.

My sisters, time is too short to be playing games in any way with our spiritual walk.  Let’s be diligent in making sure that we are keeping our garments spotless so that we can be unashamed when Jesus comes to take us to that glorious marriage supper of the Lamb.

© 2003, Stacy R Miller

Hidden Idols

Hidden Idols

We live in such a materialistic world.  We find that the worldly ways have even infiltrated the church.  Many are so wrapped up with their toys, their social status, and their idols that they don’t even realized that they’ve fallen to into the grievous sin of idolatry.

Achan was a person whose sin got him into lots of trouble.  In Joshua 6, we see where the Israelites overcame Jericho.  There was a clear directive spoken by Joshua, advising the people not to take anything from the city, but to destroy everything, and bring any silver, gold, bronze, and iron into the treasury.  Achan coveted and took some of the items and hid them.  Achan thought that he could hide his sin.

God saw Achan’s sin, and his anger was aroused.  This caused the Israelites to lose thirty-six of their men when they went up against Ai.  The men of Ai also chased the Israelites from the city gate. (Josh. 7:4-5)

As Joshua got before the Lord, seeking to discover why Israel wasn’t successful against Ai, the Lord told him that there were some devoted things in the camp.  God went on to tell Joshua that as long as the devoted things were in the Israelites camp, He was not going to be with them or bless them.

While Achan thought that he had hidden his sin, we see in verse 20 where Achan reaped the wages of his sin.  Even when he admitted his sin, he was still put to death.  Be sure your sin will find you out. (Num. 32:23)

In Genesis 31, we see where Rachel stole her father’s household idols.  When Laban chases down Jacob and confronts him about the missing idols, Rachel tells him that she is having her period, so she can’t climb down from the camel and stand in his presence.  She makes it sound as if she’s being spiritual because she is obeying the law of that time where a woman who is bleeding is not to touch another person.  Obviously, they can’t check her to see if she is lying or not because if they do, then they are unclean.  Her sin remains ‘hidden.’

I find it very interesting to note that only four chapters later, we see where Rachel dies in childbirth.  She named her son Ben-Oni, which means ‘son of my trouble.’  I used to always view his name as having come from the difficulties she faced in childbirth.  But was that really why she named him ‘son of my trouble’?  Or, could it have been out of the guilt she carried for her sin of stealing her father’s gods, then lying about it?

While it appeared that Rachel’s sin was hidden, Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death.  It looks to me like Rachel’s sin caught up with her to make it’s final payment.

We have all heard of stories where Christian people have fallen.  They may have gotten involved in all kinds of ministries, but somewhere along the line, they began to covet, to lust, even idolizing their own calling from the Lord.  They thought they could hide their sin, but pretty soon, it catches up with them.

Sisters, we can even fall prey to this very sin when we are called to be stay-at-home moms.  We begin to be puffed up and proud of our accomplishments.  Maybe we see that our children are much better behaved than the children of a mother who works away from home.  We begin to look down upon this other mother, making unjust judgments about her.  For those of us who homeschool, we may become haughty because we think that our method of homeschooling is the only way to go, leaving us judgmental of those who do it differently from us.

What about those of us who are very happily married?  Do we ever begin to set our own marriages up as an idol?  Do we go boasting about how great things are, as if we were the ones who did all the work to have this great marriage?  When we forget that every good and perfect gift comes from God, we are in a dangerous place of setting up an idol. (Jas. 1:17)

Let’s not forget the other things which can easily become idols in our lives.  What about reading many other things, but neglecting the Father?  What about watching the television but never taking time to look into the Word to see what Father wants to show us?  We can easily fall into idolatry with the amount of time we spend on our physical appearance.
We can even fall into idolatry when we are so consumed with the appearance of our children — always needing the latest fads or the name brand clothing for our children.  We may even end up in debt because our idols have caused us to buy into the lie that we must only have the absolute best of everything.

While we may fool some people into thinking that we are still virtuous, godly women, we can’t fool ourselves.  We know the emptiness that comes from serving false gods.  We still feel that deep loss of wonderful joy and peace from having a clear conscience before God.

So, what do we do if we find ourselves in a trap of hiding idols?  In II Cor. 7:10, we find that godly sorrow will bring repentance that leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.  Let’s not be like the people in Hos. 7:14 who would cry and wail from their beds, yet they weren’t crying to God from their hearts.

Do you have any hidden idols?  Get rid of them before they come, ready to collect on the payment that is due.
© 2004, Stacy R Miller

Do You Have a Hangover?

Do You Have a Hangover?

 

When things are not going our way, we can easily fall into the trap of having a pity party, throwing a temper tantrum, causing emotional damage in someone through the harsh words we’ve spoken, or even by letting the reins loose on our tongue where we find ourselves cussing and swearing.  These very things can come back to haunt us, leaving us with a ‘hangover’ of a spiritual kind. 

 

We try to sleep, and yet our minds are repeatedly play back those sinful acts.  We wake up feeling bogged down, heavy-hearted, and zapped of any spiritual zeal.  (Rom. 12:11) We try to read the Word, and we feel condemnation from the enemy.  He makes us feel that we are being hypocritical by trying to read the Word, after having been rather ungodly in our behavior.  Sadly, he often succeeds in his plan.  We find ourselves just setting aside our Bible, and trying to make it through the day in our own strength.  Very soon, we find ourselves falling into the same old trap, and we try to fight our way out of it in our own strength, all to no avail.

 

We must be especially careful of our words when we are under pressure.  If we aren’t careful, our words may invalidate the prayers which we have prayed.  We must stay in agreement with the Word of God, and hold fast to our confession of faith.  Heb. 10:23  Now, this doesn’t mean that we ‘stick our head in the sand,’ and ignore our circumstances.  It does mean that we stay positive in the midst of those circumstances.  We need to remind ourselves that God works ALL things together for our good.  Rom. 8:28

 

Another reason why we must be careful of our words is because we can open a doorway for the enemy to snare us.  For example, I have been having a lot of back trouble at the time of this writing.  It’s been not only painful, but frustrating.  The leaves need to be raked, and winter is coming sooner than I care to admit.  If I focus on what needs to be done, and on how much pain I am in, I am going to fall into despair.  The despair could lead me to cry out, “I’m NEVER going to get any better!”  If I utter those words, I’ve just ensnared myself.  Doesn’t God’s Word say that He can do anything?  Haven’t I seen Him touch my back many times in years past, where I have been able to go well over a year without even needing to visit the chiropractor?  YES!  So, I must be careful with my words, or I may find that I am stuck in the midst of back trouble longer than necessary.  If I start discounting the truth of God’s Word, I open a doorway for Satan to come in, leaving me with an awful ‘hangover.’ 

 

When facing difficult or trying circumstances, we may find that we need to talk with a friend.  While there is nothing wrong with doing so, we must be careful not to wear out our welcome.  (Prov. 25:17) A friend can often bring insight to us because they are able to look objectively at the situation, sharpening us as iron sharpens iron.  (Prov. 27:17)

 

Also, when we talk too much about our problem, the problem becomes magnified in our minds, leaving us again with a spiritual ‘hangover.’  If we magnify anything in our lives, we must magnify the Lord God.  Ps. 30:1 says to exalt the Lord who has lifted you out of the depths.  When I ponder the ‘depths’ from which He has lifted me, it’s not hard to begin magnifying His Name.  Ps. 34:1-2 tells us to extol the Lord at all times.  (That doesn’t mean that we thank Him for every trying circumstance we face.  It means to find something for which you can begin to bless and praise His Name while in the midst of that circumstance.)  His praise should always be on our lips.  Our soul should boast in the Lord Almighty.  Verse 5 tells us that those who look to God are radiant.

 

A good cure for a spiritual hangover is found in Ps. 34:12-14.

1.  Don’t let your lips speak lies.

2.  Turn away from evil.

3.  Do good.

4.  Pursue peace.

 

So, do you have a hangover?  Don’t grab coffee to try and cure it.  Go grab your Bible!

© 2003, Stacy R. Miller

 

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