“I” Check-Up

“I” Check Up

We could probably all name someone we know who has an “I” problem.  You know the type -– they constantly toot their own horn, bragging about their new car, new house, new clothes, closing their latest business deal, or how they just got promoted to a new position.  It is really easy for us to spot the speck in someone else’s eye, but it is much harder to look and see the plank in our own eye.  (Matthew 7:3-5)

I think of the times I have thought, “I want to sleep in.  I need the rest.  I’ll read my Bible tomorrow morning.”  Or maybe my daughter wants me to play with her, but I refuse because I would rather check my email.  How many times have I gone to church, but somewhere along the line, I have copped a bad attitude, so I refuse to enter into worship?  What about the times when I have thought, “I do not want to forgive him/her.”  What about the many occasions when I knew I should refrain from eating another piece of candy, yet I ate it anyway?  What about the moments when I have selfishly spent money on myself when it could have been better spent on something else.  The list could go on, but I am not sure that my toes could handle being stepped on anymore.  How about yours?

Notice that the choices made in the above situations have all been very selfish.  Maybe you can see yourself in some of the examples.  If so, it could be that you, too, are struggling with having an “I” problem.  However, do not be discouraged!  There is a remedy for this condition in Romans 12:3.  It tells us not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought.  Instead, we should be thinking of ourselves with sober judgment.   We should think of ourselves with a serious, clearheaded awareness, realizing when we need to occasionally step back and re-evaluate our priorities.  Taking the time do to do a careful analysis of our lives will assist us in staying on the right track, as well as helping us to take on the nature of a servant, just as Jesus did.  (Philippians 2:5-7)

Do you need an “I” check?
© 2006, Stacy R. Miller

Advertisements

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

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

Handwriting on the Wall

Handwriting on the Wall

 

“So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from

them.” (Daniel 5:3, NIV)

 

I can assure you that these Babylonians were not using these stolen items from the temple of God in a holy manner.  Rather, they were drinking from them as they

were praising their false gods. (verse 4)

 

Their actions must have incited the anger of God, for the next verse tells us that

“suddenly” a finger of a human hand appeared, writing on the wall.

 

The Lord let this evil king know that his days as king were numbered, and would

be divided and given to other nations.

 

As much as God watched what was taking place with these stolen items, they were

just “things.”  They did not hold His holy presence.  However, we do hold His 

presence, for we are the temple of God.

(First Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; Second Corinthians 6:16)

 

In our “Babylon” there are many false gods such as success, money, beauty, and

self-absorption.  We must be very careful not to use our temple to worship the false

gods of this generation.  We do not want to end up receiving the same kind of

fateful, fearful message that God spoke to a Babylonian king many years ago.

 

© 2007, Stacy R. Miller

 

Guarded Boundaries

Guarded Boundaries

 

Do you ever feel pressured to do things that we know are not God’s best for you? It seems that we are constantly facing people who are trying to get us involved in activities or commitments that we just don’t feel good about, yet we have a hard time saying ‘no’ to them.

 

We must be careful to guard our hearts, not allowing them to be swayed emotionally, taking us across a boundary line that God has put into place in our lives. We need to guard our boundaries!

 

Even Jesus felt the need to guard His boundaries. In Matthew 13:36, we see that Jesus left the crowd and went into the house. Notice that the crowd didn’t leave, but Jesus did. There were times that He knew He needed to pull away.

 

In Matthew 14:22, Jesus made the disciples get in the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, then He dismisses the crowd so He could pray. It had been a mentally exhausting day because his cousin had just been beheaded. Jesus knew that He needed to come apart or He would end up ‘coming apart.’ He needed to find that place of solitude to pray through His grief over the vicious death of His beloved cousin. He needed God to refill Him with some fresh oil so that He would have something to offer those who sought Him. Sometimes we need to dismiss the crowds in our own life. We need to send the children to their room, turn off the phone, turn off the TV, the computer, and get alone with God.

 

In Luke 4:42-44, Jesus is praying and the crowds come after Him once again. They were pressuring Him to stay there with them. Jesus had His priorities in order, and He knew that if He stayed there, He would be crossing a boundary line. He told the people that He was to be preaching the good news to other towns. He wasn’t persuaded to stay, no matter how much they pressured Him to do so.

 

It’s the same with us – we will be pressured to sign our children up for activities because ‘everybody else is doing it.’ We will be pressured to get involved in more church activities than what is feasible for us. Keep in mind that when you overstep the boundaries and get involved in too many activities or you take on too many charity cases, you may end up not being able to do a good job of taking care of your husband and your children. And guess what? If YOU don’t do it, no one else will! Why? Because God has called YOU to do it!

 

Even commercials bombard us, pressuring us to spend more money. If we don’t have the money, it’s no problem, just call the 800 number for a quick and easy loan! We must guard our boundaries! One of the best ways we can guard those boundaries is by simply guarding our hearts for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23) If we don’t guard our hearts, that wellspring of life will run dry very quickly. We will have crossed a boundary line that leads us to a very dry and parched land.

 

© 2005, 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

Cyanide, Part 2

Cyanide, Part 2

 

Do you struggle with depression?

Do you ever battle thoughts of suicide?

Do you grapple with fear?

Do you have a day-to-day struggle with cussing?

Do you have frequently fantasize or have lustful thoughts?

Do you struggle with bitterness and anger?

Do you have some addictive behaviors?

Do you constantly battle the temptation to drink?

Have you become addicted to food?

Are you caught in a web of sexual sin?

Do you look at others who worship with such freedom and wonder why you can’t seem to do that?

 

Perhaps you have been drinking spiritual cyanide.  There was a time in my own life when I could answer yes to several of the above questions.  I want to share some of my own struggle with drinking spiritual cyanide in hopes that those of you who may be struggling in this area will find hope, as well as victory.

 

When I first got saved, it seemed like I would go to church, only to find myself drinking Jack Daniels a short while later.  I could go to the altar, asking God to help me stop cussing, only to find myself cussing like a sailor before the day’s end.

 

I could attend services, promising myself that I’d quit looking for love in the wrong places, only to find myself in a compromising position later that week.

 

Even as I was faithful to read my Bible and attend church services, I constantly battled thoughts of suicide.  I just felt hopeless.  Was this really all there was to the Christian life?

Where was the victory?  Where was the deliverance for which I longed to see?

 

One night we had a special speaker at our church.  I was deeply challenged and convicted in an area where I thought I had ‘cleaned up’ enough.  Obviously, I was wrong.

 

Next time, I will share a very deep devotion about that challenge, and why my obedience to what I heard was crucial to my deliverance from sexual temptation, a desire to drink, anger, and even suicide.  This is something that has been burning in my spirit for over two months, and I have spent a great deal of time in prayer over it.  Please be in prayer, asking the Lord to help you have an opened heart to what He may desire to speak to you through the next devotion.

 

© 2006, Stacy R. Miller

 

Previous Older Entries