5 Loaves and 2 Fish

I was listening to a message this morning by Pastor James Merritt on the 5 loaves and 2 fish.  Something really stood out to me.  Speaking of the 12 baskets of leftovers, he said, “Jesus isn’t all I need; He is MORE than I need.”

Advertisements

Out of My Comfort Zone

Out of My Comfort Zone

Several months ago, a lady from our church had a severe stroke.  Whenever we would get an update on how she was doing, the news was never good.  I had such a burden to pray for this lady, and the lack of good news spurred me to intercede even more for her.

Imagine my surprise when I walked into church one morning and saw her sitting there!  Later, the Lord spoke to me about the significance of her being there on that particular day.  He gently told me, “It is the first day of a New Year, and I want to remind My children that I am still a God who heals.”

I need to back up a bit to help you grasp the vital importance of what happened here.  While I had seen this lady at church for years, even sitting in the same section for years, we really did not converse much beyond the customary formalities of “Hi, how are you?”

One time I signed up to attend an in-home fellowship.  After viewing the list of who was attending, I began to feel a little uncomfortable about going.  I was not only the youngest one attending, I was the only one attending without a spouse.  In spite of my discomfort, I chose to go.  It turns out that it was one of the most memorable nights for me!

The lady who had the stroke was there.  As I listened to her stories, I saw a side of her I had never seen in a church setting.  She was hilarious!  And boy!  Could she ever tell a story!

Because I stepped out of my comfort zone, I got to know several members of the body of Christ a little better.  I started chatting with them more at church.  I felt more connected to my church family.

Had I refused to push myself out of my comfort zone, I do not believe that I would have carried such a burden to pray for this lady.  I would have missed out on being part of the miracle that took place in her life.  I also feel that I would have missed hearing the gentle voice of my Father speaking to me on that New Year’s afternoon.

We are told to bear one another’s burdens. (Galatians 6:2) What better way to bear a burden than to become an intercessor for someone?  We are told to love one another fervently. (First Peter 1:22) If we fail to take the time to get to know one another in the body of Christ, how can we love each other deeply?  We are told to rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15)  How can we do that if we don’t even know them?

I want to encourage you to get to know your church family outside of the church walls.  You may be amazed at what God does in your life when you get better connected with His people!

Do you need to step out of your comfort zone?

© 2006, Stacy R. Miller

Judging Versus Judging Fruit (part 2)

Good trees don't bear bad fruit.

Judging (continued)

When Jesus tells us that a good tree cannot bear bad fruit and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit, what does that mean for me?  How do I live that out?

As I pointed out in the last devotion, it takes a lot of discernment.  It also requires us to be wise as serpents, but harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16)  I want to share some examples that would easily fit our society today, in hopes of helping you to understand what it means to judge fruit.

Suppose you see a man who faithfully attends church, often gives testimonies, and prays out loud at prayer meetings.  He seems like a very spiritual man, yet when you observe him around the women, you notice that he touches them in ways that do not seem to be appropriate.  As you watch his eyes when a lady walks passed him, you see that he is looking at certain places on her anatomy that a truly godly man should refrain from viewing.  Are you judging him by thinking that he is after more than just hearing the Pastor’s sermon?  No.  You are judging the fruit of his life, and it tells you to avoid him at all costs.

Suppose a lady starts coming to the women’s Bible study and she is very vibrant and expressive in her worship.  She appears to really be in love with Jesus.  After several weeks of attending Bible study, it becomes apparent that she has a serious problem with respecting her husband and submitting to him.  She can never talk about him in a good light. Many of the stories she shares show that she is very manipulative in her relationships.  If you choose not to befriend her, are you judging her?  No, you are simply being cautious in friendship. (Proverbs 12:26)  You want to choose a friend who is like iron sharpening iron. (Proverbs 27:17)

Perhaps there is a woman who attends your church who seems to thrive on attention.  During worship, you cannot help but see her because she is making such an expressive display of emotion.  In fact, she almost seems out of control.  This lady is involved in so many activities in the church that she appears to be quite disorganized.  Yet she continues to faithfully attend every activity at church, spending more time at church than she does home.  You decide to stop by her house one day, only to find that her house is so filled with clutter that you would not be able to safely maneuver through the living room.  Piles upon piles of disarray, and they are everywhere!  Are you judging her if you decide that you do not want to spend much time with her?  No, you have judged her fruit against Proverbs 31:12, which says that she brings her husband good and not harm.  You see that she is not the faithful manager of the home that a virtuous woman should be. (Proverbs 31:27)

I firmly believe that we are living in the latter days.  Because of that, Jesus told us that the love of many will wax cold. (Matthew 24:12)  People will want to hear only preaching that will tickle their itching ears. (Second Timothy 4:3)  While it may be easier to just keep our mouth shut and refuse to speak the truth of God’s Word, I want to encourage you to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.  Keep running the race He has marked out for you.  Even in the midst of persecution, know that your Father is closely watching you, and He is pleased when you stand up for righteousness. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

© 2006, Stacy R. Miller

Leaks

Leaks

When I was growing up, we lived in a house that had a basement.  There were cracks in the foundation, so every time we got a heavy rain, there would be water in the basement.

We can have leaks in our own lives.  We can have a crack in our spiritual foundation, and not even know it…….until the storm comes.  We may have neglected to build a strong foundation, and so when the storms of life roll in, we are like the house built on the sand, and we feel swiftly washed away. (Matthew 7:26-27)

Ephesians 6 gives us some guidelines for building a strong foundation:
1.  Realize that our struggle is not against flesh and blood.
2.  Put on the armor of God.  Know who you are in Christ.
3.  Put on the belt of truth.  Know God’s truth so that it can set you free.
4.  Put on the breastplate of righteousness so that you will act out what you know God’s truth to be, rather than acting out of your feelings and emotions.
5.  Put on your gospel shoes.  Learn to walk as a peacemaker, and be prepared to give an answer for the hope that you have. (I Peter 3:15)
6.  Take up your shield of faith.  It will protect you from Satan’s arrows….even those arrows that come through words spoken by people. (Isaiah 54:17)
7.  Put on the helmet of salvation so that you are able to take captive every thought, and have the mind of Christ. (II Corinthians 10:5; I Corinthians 2:16)
8.  Take the sword of the Spirit with you.  We can’t always have our Bible with us, so it’s important to know what it says.  That means we must take time to read the Word, meditate on it, and memorize it.  When we face a ‘storm,’ we won’t have to worry about leaks because we have the Word stored in our hearts, ready to guide us and protect us.

Do you need to fix some leaks places in your foundation?

© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

Juicy Fruit

Juicy Fruit

I love the times of year when fruit is in season.  It is so much tastier.  The color is more vivid and appealing.  It is so delightful to bite into a luscious, red strawberry.  I will literally savor that piece of juicy fruit.

Have you ever met a godly person that just radiated with the glory of God?  They are a great example of a person whose fruit is a tree of life. (Proverbs 11:30)  Much like the way edible fruit gets our attention with its vivid appearance, these people command our attention with their glorious countenance.  They speak wise words which we can savor, much like savoring a piece of tasty watermelon.  They bubble over with the joy of the Lord.  We find ourselves delighted to be in their presence, partaking of the juicy fruit that resides within them.

We are all to be full of juicy fruit. (Matthew 7:17-18; John 15:8) But how do we cultivate a heart that can bear such desirable, and juicy, fruit?

1. Don’t walk in the counsel of the wicked. (Psalm 1:1)  A practical way to implement this is to quit reading secular books on marriage and parenting.  Instead, find out what God has to say on these subjects.
2. Don’t stand in the way of sinners. (Psalm 1:1)  As you walk into the break room at work, if they are discussing some inappropriate topics, leave the room.
3. Don’t sit in the seat of mockers. (Psalm 1:1)  A great example of putting this to work is by refusing to watch the myriad of television shows that mock our Lord.  Many times, these shows will mock the role of the father.  If we want our children to show respect to their father, we must guard their hearts from seeing the father mocked on television.
4. Delight in God’s law. (Psalm 1:2) If you have a hard time delighting in reading the Word, ask God to give you a deep hunger for His Word, and ask Him to help you see wonderful things in His law. (Psalm 119:18)
5. Meditate on His Word. (Psalm 1:2) As you read the Word, sometimes you won’t need to read very much before you find the Holy Spirit dealing with your heart.  Write down the verse, and carry it with you, looking at it several times throughout the day.
6. Remain in Jesus. (John 15:4) Dedicate yourself to seeking Him daily.  I choose to spend the early morning hours with the Lord, however, when Rachel was a baby, it was easier to have that quiet time during her naps or right after I put her to bed in the evening.  Find what works best for you.
7. Let God’s Word remain in you. (John 15:7) When you face new situations, ask yourself, what would God want me to do?  By acknowledging Him, you will often find that the Word you have planted in your heart will guide you quickly in doing the right and honorable thing.

Following these seven steps will cause you to be like a tree planted by the river, yielding fruit in season, and whose leaf doesn’t wither. (Psalm 1:3)

Not only will you bear much fruit, but you will bring much glory to your Heavenly Father.
(John 15:8)

© 2006, Stacy R. Miller

Judge Not

Judge Not

Judge not, lest ye be judged.  Matthew 7:1
On “Little House on the Prairie,” there was an episode where Albert’s girlfriend became pregnant by a man who raped her.  Mrs. Oleson listened in on a phone conversation and mistakenly concluded that Albert was the father.  Overnight, the girl’s name was tarnished because of Mrs. Oleson’s inaccurate judgment.

We would expect that type of behavior from unsaved people.  Yet, it is all too common among the saints.

I remember a time when a young woman would bring a can of soda into the sanctuary every Sunday morning.  Immediately, people began to make comments.  Yet, if they had cared enough to find out why she was bringing soda into the sanctuary, they would have discovered that she was under orders from her obstetrician to do so because she had been showing signs of hypoglycemia.

Another precious Christian family had a child who was born with Down’s Syndrome.  This was a very difficult time in their life.  They came to church, in hopes of finding “sanctuary” from their trials.  Instead, they were approached by people who told them they must have sin in their lives to have given birth to a baby with Down’s.  What a sad testimony to the Church.

I have faced judgment on numerous occasions.  First, my husband and I were judged because we didn’t have any children.  What these ignorant people failed to realize was that at that time, I was on medication that prevented me from becoming pregnant.

Thankfully, the Lord healed me and I gave birth to our dear Rachel just a few years after that.  Unfortunately, that did not stop the judgmental comments.

In homeschool circles, it is common to meet families who believe in the “full quiver” concept – that of having as many children as God sees fit to give them.  Unfortunately, there are some who become holier-than-thou in their attitude.  A few have pretended to be my friend, yet make it clear that they feel I am out of God’s will because I only have one child.

If they had taken the time to talk with me, and learn more about me, they would have learned that I nearly died giving birth.  The only thing that saved that Rachel and I from death was an emergency c-section.  They would have discovered that my husband and I felt it was the Lord’s will for me to be a stay-at-home mom, which meant we lost our insurance.  We did not feel right about having more children and letting the government insurance pay for it because we didn’t feel that was biblical.

I made a judgment about someone based on having known a relative of hers who stabbed me in the back.  Thankfully, I pushed past that judgment and reached out to her.  Today we are best friends.

As a new Christian, I was very judgmental of those who were divorced.  Years later, when a lady in our church was facing a divorce, I reached out to her.  What an awesome privilege it has been to see her develop such an elegant grace and a heart of wisdom through her trials.  Had I held on to my earlier judgments of divorced people, I would have missed out on a very special friendship.

I remember another time when a lady started attending our church.  She had invisible walls around her, making her appear very unfriendly.  I decided not to be intimidated by her behavior, and kept reaching out to befriend her.  As the Lord tore down those walls, I found a lady who had a sense of humor, much like mine.  I remember several times when we would laugh until we cried.

What blessings might you be missing because you have incorrectly judged someone?
© 2008, Stacy R. Miller

Interior Decorating

Interior Decorating

I have always enjoyed decorating my house.  When we first got married, money was tight.  Since I couldn’t afford to spend much on decorating the house, I would go to garage sales, looking for little items that would make our house have a “homey” look to it – warm and inviting.

Before we came to Christ, our interior may have been decorated with such things as these:  sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, and more.  (Gal. 5:19-20)

While we became a new creation the very instant that we got saved, (II Cor. 5:17), holiness is a process.  II Cor. 5:21 tell us that God made Jesus to be sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ.  II Cor. 3:18 tells us that we are being transformed into His likeness from glory to glory.  In II Cor. 4:16 we see that outwardly we are perishing and wasting away, but inwardly, we are being renewed day by day.  This “decorating” is clearly a life-long process.

In the process of redecorating, God desires that we have these ornaments gracing our lives:
Gal. 5:22-23  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.
II Pet. 1:5-7  Faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.
I Cor. 13  God desires to transform our way of loving.  He wants our love to be patient and kind, not envious or boastful, not proud or rude, not self-seeking, not easily angered or provoked, not keeping record of wrongs, nor delighting in evil, but rejoicing in truth.  Our love is to protect, trust, hope, and persevere.
Col. 3:12 in the Amplified Bible describes patience as being tireless and long-suffering, having the power to endure WHATEVER comes, and with GOOD TEMPER.
I Pet. 5:5 Humility toward others and a submissive heart.
Rom. 13:14 tells us that we should clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus.

I have often heard it said that the “pastor isn’t feeding us.”  Feeding us, so that we can grow, is not the primary job of the pastor.  Most of that responsibility falls on us.  Let’s take a look at several scriptures that make this clear to us.
Ps. 119:11 I have hid Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.
II Tim. 2:21  If a man cleanses himself, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, useful to the Master.
Jude 21  Keep yourselves in God’s love.
Col. 2:6-7  Just as you received Christ, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in your faith.
Col. 1:22-23  Now He has reconciled you by Christ’s body, through death, to present you holy and blameless — if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not being moved from the hope of the gospel.
I Tim. 4:7  Train yourselves to be godly.
Phil. 2:12  Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
II Cor 7:1  Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates our bodies and our spirits.

The scriptures make it plain to us that we have much to do in this “interior decorating.”  Unfortunately, we can’t go to garage sales and find a “quick fix” to help us on this kind of decorating.  We also won’t find it in the quick “drive-up” fashion where we get so many things these days.  BUT, as we strive to add the touches of redecorating to grace our lives, we have the wonderful promise of Phil. 1:6 which tells us that He who began a good work in us will also carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  Remember, ladies, we aren’t alone on this journey!

© 2003, Stacy R. Miller

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries