Trick or Treat

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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

Immediately

Immediately

I marvel at the patience and mercy that Jesus shows His disciples.  Here they are, hanging out with the Son of God on a daily basis.  They have heard Him preach some awesome messages.  They have seen Him dismantle the religious leaders and their theology.  They were at His side when He healed the multitudes.  They were there when Jesus calmed a storm.  They saw many people set free from demons.  They even had the privilege of seeing how Jesus could raise the dead.  They even beheld the feeding of the five thousand.

Yet, only hours after seeing this most recent miracle, they began to waver in their faith.  When their boat was being tossed about by the strong winds and high waves, they lost their confidence and their faith.  (Matthew 14:22-33)

At this point, I think I would have lost any compassion and mercy for the disciples.  I think I would have given them some strong criticism for their fear and lack of faith.  But what does Jesus do when they cry out in terror?  Immediately He told them not to be afraid.

After Peter walked on water, he began to get fearful when he felt the blast of the wind and beheld the swells in the water.  He cried out for Jesus to save him.  Again, we see Jesus immediately reach out His hand to Peter.

We may feel like we’re drowning in our emotions because of fluctuating hormones.  We may be overwhelmed with concern for a loved one.  We may have gotten a phone call that shakes our whole world.  We may have gotten news from the doctor that is devastating.  Whatever the need, Jesus is there.  Cry out to Him and watch Him immediately reach out His hand to steady you, to strengthen you, to give you peace, and to deliver you from the terrors that assail you and try so hard to overwhelm you.  He’s there – just reach out your hand to Him.

© 2006, Stacy R. Miller

Growing Spells

Growing Spells

 

My daughter, Rachel, has learned that if she goes through a spell where she is eating a lot and/or sleeping a lot, she is likely going through a growing spell.  She’ll come to me and ask, “Mommy, will you measure me?”  There have been times where we’ve been amazed at the amount of growth in only a short period of time.

 

We also have growing spells in our walk with God, but we can also stunt our growth.  For instance, if a lady has been raped, she has obviously gone through a very traumatic experience that can change her emotionally.  She may talk about the rape constantly.  When she meets new people, she may be quick to tell them about the rape.  She identifies with it so much that it becomes part of her identity, and it now defines who she is.  In fact, if she is quick to tell strangers about having been raped, when they see her again, they will likely think, “There’s that gal who was raped.”  This scenario could also work for anyone who has been a stripper, a prostitute, a drug addict, or even one who has been physically abused.  There is nothing wrong with remembering where we came from, but when we continually identify ourselves with our past, we stunt our spiritual growth.

 

One reason that the victim mentality stunts spiritual growth is because a victim won’t embrace God’s work.  They are too caught up in the sympathy and attention they get when they talk about their past.  They also use that victim mentality as an excuse for why they are still struggling with sinful behaviors, addictive behaviors, and the like.

 

Our salvation experience is the only thing from our past that should define who we are now.  When we came to Christ, we became a NEW creature, and the old things are gone.  (II Cor. 5:17) We need to define ourselves as the righteousness of God.  (II Cor 5:21) As we learn who we are in Christ, we experience a lot of growth because we become confident in our identity.  That, in turn, leads us to work toward obeying God and doing what He desires, leading us to even more growing spells.

 

Have you noticed in your own life that when you are going through trials, you spend a lot more time in the Word?  You are ‘eating’ more spiritual food to help you in your growing spells.

 

The apostle Paul had his own growing spell when he was given a thorn in his flesh.  God showed Paul that His grace was more than enough for whatever Paul faced.  (II Cor. 12:7-10) Paul learned through that growing spell that he could delight in being ridiculed, facing persecution and hardships, and in difficulties because it was in Paul’s times of weakness that God’s power was made perfect.  My own paraphrase is that in Paul’s hardships, God’s grace brought tremendous growing spells in Paul’s life.  Paul didn’t take a victim’s mentality where he was defined by those trials.  Rather, he was defined by his reaction to those trials, and the reaction was choosing to let others see Jesus in Paul.

 

Some days, we need a lot more of God’s mercy than what we needed in previous days.  That is why we are told in Lamentations 3:23 that God’s mercies are new every morning.  On those mornings when the Father knows that His child is getting ready to through a big growing spell, He gives even more mercy to sustain us during that time.

 

As we go through times of trial, we may end up approaching our Father and saying, “Daddy, will you measure me?”

 

How about you?  Are you in a growing spell right now?

© 2004, Stacy R Miller

Clothed in Christ

Clothed With Christ

 

Ever since the fateful events of 9-11 and the ensuing economic depression, the world we once knew no longer exists. If we spend too much time watching the news or pondering on our current world, we can spiral downward into a state of depression.

 

In times like these, it is important to remember that we are clothed with Christ. (Galatians 3:27) When fears assail us, Jesus is our peace. When sickness assaults us, we need to remember that He is our healer. When sadness overwhelms us, He is there to comfort us.  When we feel all alone, He is the friend who sticks closer than a brother. When we’ve lost our job, He is our provider. When we are weary, we can find our strength in him. When we need direction, we can call upon him for wisdom.

 

What a tremendous blessing to know that when we are clothed with Christ, we truly have everything we need!

 

© 2011, Stacy R. Miller

Focused to Win

Focused to Win

 

We fall so easily into the trap of doing too many things.  I have heard many parents talk about how they are always eating on the run because they have at least one or two activities every night of the week.  That doesn’t even count the myriad of activities they must attend during the weekend. 

 

In watching how some people live their lives, constantly on the go, you might even think that they are in a marathon.  That may very well be the case, only there’s no prize at the end.  Paul tells us to run in such a way so that we will get the prize. (I Cor 9:24) To win the prize, we must go into strict training, beating our body, and making it our slave, so that we won’t be disqualified for the prize. (I Cor. 9:25, 27)

 

What kind of training do we need?

  1. We need to learn to run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  (Heb. 12:1) This means that we need to learn to God’s will for our own life, and not someone else’s will.
  2. We must redeem the time.  Realize that there is never going to be enough time to do everyone else’s will for your life, but there will always be enough time to do God’s will for your life. (Eph. 5:16)
  3. Fix your eyes on Jesus. (Heb. 12:2) You must get focused on what God wants you to do.  If you don’t, you may find yourself doing too much, following the crowd, only to find that you are lost in that same crowd.
  4. Find a lighter yoke. (Mt. 11:29-30) Jesus tells us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  Do you need to lighten your load by getting rid of some outside activities?  If you are constantly saying, “I just can’t get everything done,” may I suggest that you ask the Lord which burdens you need to remove from your yoke?
  5. Resolve to know nothing except Christ, and Him crucified.

(I Cor. 2:2) If anything can help you keep things in the right priority and in the right perspective, it is knowing your God.

 

When we run to win, persevering in doing our Father’s will, we will receive a crown which will last forever. (I Cor. 9:25)

© 2004, Stacy R Miller

Cyanide, Part 3

WARNING!

Reading this devotion may be painful to your flesh!

Cyanide, Part 3

 

I ended my last devotion by telling you about a special speaker whose message greatly challenged me in my thinking.  He was talking about the music we listen to.  Since I had burned my KISS albums years before then, I had a very defiant attitude at first, but as the evening progressed, he had my full attention.

 

As I walked to the car, I remember praying for the strength to change the radio to a different station.  The station I had been listening to was hard core, rock music.  After choosing to obey the conviction I had felt in church that evening, I noticed something amazing later in the week.  I had not cussed in several days.  This was HUGE because every other word from my mouth was normally something very foul.  I hadn’t thought of suicide for days, and I no longer wanted to drink or smoke.  I even stopped battling sexual thoughts.  It was INCREDIBLE!  This took place almost thirty years ago, and I have never gone back to listening to rock music or any other kind of music besides Christian.  I can truly testify to the fact that listening to rock music (or any other kind of music that is not Christian), is like spiritual cyanide.

 

If we think about the content in the lyrics to rock music, we find that they are filled with deceit, lying, violence, carousing, adultery, illicit sex, hell, Satan, death, anger, and occultic themes.  There are even songs that talk about selling your soul to the devil.  Many songs teach disrespect for authority, as well as disrespect for women.  Clearly, rock music is filled with much darkness.
Let’s take a look and see what the Word has to say to us on this issue.

Galatians 5:16 tells us that through living by the Spirit, it will keep us from gratifying our sinful desires.  The sinful desire craves what is contrary to the Spirit. – The inference here is that if I listen to rock music, which is so filled with darkness, I will have a hard time living by the Spirit.

Galatians 5:24 tells us that those who belong to Jesus have crucified their sinful nature with its passions and desires.  – If we continue to listen to rock music, which is so full of sinful lyrics, have we really crucified our sinful nature?

Romans 6:1 says that we have died to sin.  How can we live in it any longer? – If we make a habit of listening to ungodly music, aren’t we still living in sin, being that the lyrics are full of it?

Romans 6:4 tells us that we were buried with Christ so that we may live a new life.  – This means that we should no longer be holding to old, sinful things.

Romans 6:12 commands us not to let sin reign in our bodies so that we obey its evil desires.

A thought often becomes an action, so if we fill our minds with ungodly music, chances are high that we will end up acting out some of the very lyrics which fill our mind.

Colossians 3:1-3 tells us that we are to think on things above, letting heaven fill our thoughts.  — I think it would be very hard to let heaven fill my thoughts if I saturate my mind with ungodly words.

Colossians 3:5-8 commands us to do away with sinful, earthly things.  We are to deaden those desires that lurk within us.  We are not to have anything to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, or shameful desires.  God’s anger is on those who do such things.  It is time to cast off those garments.  – This scripture makes it clear that by continuing to soak our minds with music that is filled with sexual sin, lust, and impurity, we stir up God’s anger.

Colossians 3:10 tells us that we should be trying continually to become more and more like Christ.  – In my own struggle, I shared how I continued to struggle with old, sinful habits, rather than becoming more and more Christ-like in my behavior.

 

Some of you may say that the issue of rock music is a matter of personal choice, but God Word tells us differently.  In Ephesians 5:19, it commands us to let the Words of Jesus enrich our lives, making us wise.  We are to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, making melody in our heart to the Lord. This same command is seen again in Colossians 3:16-17.  Obviously, God is stressing the importance of listening to and singing music that is uplifting to our spirits.  – This is a clear commandment regarding the type of music Christians should be listening to, and rock music does NOT meet the criteria!

 

Proverbs 13:20 tells us that a companion of fools will suffer harm.  The musicians we listen to will become our companions.  Even though it has been over twenty years since I have listened to rock music, if I am in a store that happens to playing some of the music I used to listen to, I can still remember most of the lyrics, word for word.  Obviously, there is a great amount of power in music.  Even King Saul saw this when he called for David to play the harp so that he wouldn’t be tormented by the evil spirits. (I Samuel 16:14-23)

 

By giving us a clear command in Ephesians 5:19 to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, the implication is that if we choose to disobey, we are sinning.  In First John 1:5-6, we see that God is light.  There is no darkness in Him.  If we claim to have fellowship with Him, yet choose to walk in the darkness of rock music, we are liars who do not live by the truth.  In verse 10, it tells us that if we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and His Word has no place in us.

 

If you are annoyed by the hard truths shared here, you may very well have a love problem. For when you truly love God, you will obey Him. (John 14:15)  If you listen to rock music, and you don’t think it affects you, I would suggest that you go back and read the questions I asked in the last devotion, and answer them honestly.

 

God wants His people to wake up and put on beautiful clothes.  He wants us to take off the slave bands from our necks, leaving our bonds and slavery, for we are to be His holy people.

(Isaiah 52:1-2)

 

While I have focused mainly on rock music in this devotion, due to my own personal struggles with it, the truths shared here are applicable to what we watch on TV, where we go on the Internet, and even what books we read.

 

Next time I will wrap up this series with some final thoughts.

© 2006, Stacy R. Miller

Divided Loyalties

Divided Loyalties

 

As Christian women, we wear many titles.  In fact, the list can often seem endless.  Child of God, wife, mother, nurse, secretary, inventory manager, answering service, housekeeper, laundry attendant, chauffeur, and so on.  With so many things calling for our attention, we can find it very hard to keep the Lord our top priority, loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

 

Psalm 119:113 talks of hating those who have divided loyalties. (NLT) That really struck a chord with me because I could clearly see myself in that verse.  How many times have I given myself over to “doing” for God instead of cultivating my relationship with Him?

 

A wife whose husband is always working is going to feel neglected before too long.  To her, love is more than just “doing” things for the person all the time.  It involves spending time with each other and communicating.

 

How often have I neglected the Lord because I felt my “doing” for Him was the same as loving Him?  When I do that, I have divided loyalties.  I say I love Him, but choose my busy-ness over spending time with Him.  God wants us to seek Him first in all that we do.  I have found that by doing so, not only does my stress level drop immensely, but I am able to stay focused.  Even while going from chore to chore, my mind stays more focused on Him.  As there is a break in one area, I am better able to focus on the next task at hand, rather than get distracted with things which will waste my time and energy.

 

Recently, I took a Sabbatical from an activity I really enjoy so that I could regain my focus.  I was amazed at the difference!  After spending my quiet time with the Lord, I was able to get all of our homeschooling done, finish chores, go swimming with my daughter, work on a class I plan to teach at church, plus write a devotion.  Had I not committed my day to Him and earnestly listened to His leading, my heart would have been given to divided loyalties once again.  While I am only sharing one day’s activities here, I can assure you that since I have really been working to readjust my focus, I have had several days where I have been astounded at all I was able to accomplish.

 

What causes you to have divided loyalties?  What can you do this day to make some changes?

© 2007, Stacy R Miller

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