“I Do It Myself!”

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“I Do It Myself”

When my daughter was a toddler, we would often try to help her with things, and hear the words, “I do it myself!” Can you relate?

In our Christian walk, we sometimes take on that same attitude of “I do it myself!” We may struggle in an area, and we don’t want anyone to know. It can be the shame of our sin, but most often, it is our own pride, which stops us from opening up to anyone.

However, there are times when we really need to reach out to a trusted friend who will agree with us in prayer. Sometimes our friend, who isn’t caught in the middle of the issue, can have valuable, wise insights to help us.

James 4:6 tells us that God opposes the proud but gives grace to those who are humble. James 5:16 tells us to confess our sins to one another so that we may be healed.

Sometimes, by simply being willing to step out and admit openly that you are struggling with something, the power of that secret sin begins to lessen. It can be much like someone who was sexually abused. Once they speak out, exposing the abuse, the power their abuser once had over them, diminishes. Many former victims admit that by speaking out, they finally felt like they had the power. The abuser lost his power over them.

It is often the same when Satan has lied to us about our own sin. I remember learning years ago that Satan’s greatest weapon against us is a lie. Don’t let his lies hold you back any longer. If you need help, pray for the Lord to lead you to a trusted friend who can help you get out of his web of deceit.

Don’t be like a toddler, who adamantly declares, “I do it myself!” Let Jesus help you! He is waiting and willing to set you free!
© 2018, Stacy R. Miller

 

 

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Machine Gun Mouth

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Machine Gun Mouth

I have to thank Dan, who leads the Sunday school class I attend. He used this phrase to describe himself in earlier years. I loved the phrase because it gives us such a good word picture for how our words can be! So thank you, Dan, for the inspiration behind this devotion!

Sometimes we are on the receiving end of a ‘machine gun mouth.’ David felt the oppression from this scenario in Psalm 64. He described it as his enemies sharpening their tongue and bending their bows to shoot those bitter words like arrows into his soul. However, David found his refuge and hope in the Lord. He chose to glory in the Lord, and doing so changed his outlook when others were wounding him with their words.

Isaiah 32:6-7 gives a good example of a ‘machine gun mouth’ by mentioning those who speak foolishly, making evil plans, and speaking falsely about the Lord.

In dealing with others who may have a ‘machine gun mouth, we find that we shouldn’t cast our pearls before the swine.  (Matthew 7:6)  Proverbs 26:5 tells us not to answer a fool according to his folly or we will be just like him.  Clearly, there are times when we need to keep our pearls to ourselves and not share them.  We must use wisdom and discretion when dealing with others who ‘run at the mouth.’

When speaking of the last days, Timothy warned us in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 that we will see many in the church who are boasters and blasphemers. They will have a form of godliness, but deny its power. He gives a strict warning for us to stay away from such people.

Regarding our own tendencies to be a ‘machine gun mouth,’ we are warned that our foolish talk and godless chatter can destroy relationships.  (Proverbs 11:9)  1 Timothy 6:20-21
admonishes us to avoid foolish discussions with others who have so-called knowledge. People who engage in that have even wandered from the faith.  2 Timothy 2:16 advises us to avoid worthless foolish talk because it only leads to more ungodly behavior.

Colossians 3:8 warns us to put off anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, and filthy language.  I like how it words this, like these characteristics become a part of our clothing.  Have you ever met someone who just reeks of anger?  When you encounter someone like that, you likely want to run the other way!  I also found it interesting that every word listed here has to do with what comes out of our mouths. Obviously, our words hold a lot of power.

Proverbs 10:19 tells us that when our words are many, sin is not absent.  When you think of having an argument with someone, have you noticed that the longer, and more-heated the argument gets, the easier it is to start sinning with your mouth?

Another scenario where words can be many, thus leading to sin is in a group setting with several women.  If one begins to speak ill of her husband, the others tend to join in.  Next, each lady tries to outdo the others with her comments.  Before you know it, the room is filled with negativity and sin.

I have to admit, I have had many times in my life when I spoke with a ‘machine gun mouth.’ I have struggled with a bad temper for many years. If I don’t keep myself well-grounded in the Word, it is so easy to slip back into that nasty habit of letting my words be like a machine gun, wounding others, killing relationships, and putting chinks in my spiritual armor.

I noticed something else about our words when researching this topic. Proverbs 31:26 tells us when she speaks. This implies that we don’t always need to be talking! We don’t always need to share our opinions on every topic. We don’t need to vent every frustration we faced throughout the day. We don’t need to voice every burden we are carrying to everyone we meet.

Scripture shows us some beautiful ways to use our words and the results that come when we choose to allow the Lord to have control over our tongue.

·         We become wise and our tongue can bring healing to others. (Proverbs 12:18)
·         When we speak at good word at the right time, our words are like apples of gold in settings of silver. (Proverbs 25:11)
·         When we speak edifying words, it can impart grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)
·         Our words can feed many. (Proverbs 10:21)
·         God can give us an instructed tongue so we will know how to speak a word to those who are weary. (Isaiah 50:4)

Matthew 12:34 tells us that out of the abundance of our heart, our mouth will speak. This implies that our words hold a lot of power, as well as revealing what is truly in our heart — good or bad. I want my words to be the kind which will impart healing, refreshment, encouragement, grace, and wisdom to others! How about you?

© 2018, Stacy R. Miller

Living With the Unclean

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Living With the Unclean
I have always been fascinated by the story of the demoniac in Mark 5. Though I wasn’t bound by a legion of demons when I came to the Lord, I did have a lot of baggage. I remember the freedom I found in Jesus and how my life drastically changed when He came into my heart. So in a way, I can relate to the demoniac and the amazing feeling of freedom he must have had after Jesus set him free.

I find it insightful that when Jesus gave the spirits permission to enter the swine, the unclean swine refused to live with those unclean spirits. Yet, how often will people put up with evil spirits? We forget that we have been given the power through Jesus to overcome these foul spirits and take authority over them. We do not need to dwell with them any longer!

I remember when a woman, whom I will call Tiffany, related a story to me of dealing with evil spirits at work. A new employee, whom I will call Delilah, had started working in her department. Nearly every strongman listed in the bible bound Delilah. Those spirits were wreaking havoc in Tiffany’s department. Tiffany was proactive in doing spiritual warfare, praying, and anointing the department frequently. She bound those spirits from entering her office. One evening, Delilah was standing outside Tiffany’s office, talking to her. Another coworker walked by and said, “Why don’t you just go in there and sit down?” Delilah’s response was, “I’m not allowed.” Imagine the expression on Tiffany’s face when the Lord allowed her to actually hear the bound woman reciting exactly what Tiffany had been praying and declaring in her office!

There is something else in this story that stood out to me. When the people of that region showed up, they saw the demoniac in his right mind. Rather than rejoice and praise God, they begged Jesus to leave! Personally, I think they were focused on the herd of swine that was destroyed and the money which was lost. Jesus had caused them to come out of their comfort zone and they didn’t like it! They preferred the old way of doing things. They had gotten used to seeing this man, bound and living among the tombs. They didn’t need someone coming in and changing the way things were done!

I think this attitude is prevalent in many churches these days. Preaching a gospel of true repentance would cause people’s lives to drastically change. However, we choose to be seeker-friendly and not address sin. After all, we don’t want to make people feel uncomfortable. If we do that, they might not come back and we might lose a lot of money in the offering plate.

Instead of using scripturally-based worship music, we compromise. After all, we don’t want this younger generation to leave the church. Instead, we compromise on the worship, allowing lyrics, which are doctrinally incorrect, fill the minds of our youth, just so they will stay in church. So the youth may still be in the church, but they are lost because they feeding their minds on doctrine which is in err.

Jesus made it very clear in Matthew 24 that deception is going to be prevalent in the last days. As I look at the changes which have taken place among many churches in the last thirty years, I think that time has arrived.

Lord, break our chains and deliver us! Help us not to become comfortable with abiding in a church where uncleanness and compromising Your Word is allowed. Open our eyes and give us the courage and wisdom to get out of our own comfort zone so that we can be radically transformed by You.
© 2018, Stacy R. Miller

Proverbs 19:16

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As I was reading the Word this morning, I came across this scripture, which made me pause and think.
…He who despises the word will die.  Proverbs 19:16 RSV
When I despise something or someone, I try my best to avoid them/it.  If I neglect to read, study, and meditate on the Word of God, by my neglect, are my actions showing that, in reality, I despise His Word?

 

Let it Go

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Let it Go
Do you remember the song from the Disney movie Frozen? Little girls across the nation could be heard singing that famous line, “Let it go….”

The concept of letting things go is one many Christians could stand to learn. In fact, I wish I had learned this concept when I first got saved. However, being raised Catholic for so many years, it was hard to undo the concept of paying penance for my sins. Whenever I sinned, I still felt like I needed to carry the weight of that sin for several days and say a very lengthy prayer of repentance.

Perhaps you feel the same whenever you sin. You carry that heavy load of guilt until your spirit feels bowed over. You don’t feel like you can walk in freedom and joy because of your sin.

May I offer you some hope?  Psalm 32:1-2 tells us that God blesses those whose sins have been forgiven and wiped away. God blesses us because we tell him our sins, without trying to hide them. The result: He forgives us! Yes, it is that simple!

But that’s not all! Verse 5 tells us that along with forgiving us, the Lord also takes away our guilt. In verse 6, we are admonished to pray when we have sinned so that we aren’t swept away by a raging flood. That flood could be a flood of guilt, so we clearly see that we aren’t to wallow in guilt for several days when we have sinned. We are to let it go! Verse 7 tells us the benefits we reap when we confess our sin instead of holding onto it. God protects us from trouble and puts a song in our heart.

I had to chuckle as I read verse 9 because I can see myself in this verse. It tells us not to be stupid like horses and mules. Stubborn would be a good word to substitute here for stupid. Have you ever been there? So the next time you feel like you have to carry your sin around with you instead of immediately repenting and moving on, just remind yourself that it is stupid to carry that weight with you when there is such a better way of dealing with it!

If this is an issue where you struggle, I challenge you today to do what Psalm 34:8 says. “Discover for yourself that the Lord is kind.” (CEV) Confess your sin right away and watch his kindness embrace you and fill your heart with joy and freedom!

© 2018, Stacy R. Miller

 

A Change of Focus

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A Change of Focus
 
When I go to the eye doctor, he needs to check my vision carefully to ensure he prescribes the right script.  It requires him asking multiple times, “Is this clearer, or is this one clearer?”  We continue the process of checking my focus until we are sure we have the script that is best for my eyes.
 
Sometimes we need to change our focus spiritually.  In fact, I have been battling this recently.  After a long day’s work, I will often hit the on-site gym before heading home. While I used to work out because doing so caused me to drop several sizes, I cannot say that anymore.  My metabolism has changed, so losing weight cannot be my focus.  If that was still my focus, I would have given it up a long time ago.  Instead, I do it for my health.  It is mentally and emotionally good for me, it helps with alleviating back pain, and a good intense workout can help relieve the stress and tension of the day so that I can go home and not take out my frustrations on someone else.  So this change of focus has been a good change for me.  It has helped me to stay faithful to working out, even if I’m not seeing myself drop a size or two.
 
More recently, I have needed another change of focus.  I have been feeling overwhelmed.  I have been working more than full time hours for several years now, and just recently just got a promotion. The promotion means more responsibility and being on-call after hours. Yet, when I get home, I find the housework is still left for me.  I am the one who still does the monthly menu planning, including getting all of the necessary ingredients to complete that plan.  I am the one who pays all of the bills.  Why am I so frustrated and overwhelmed?  I am getting very little help or support at home. I’ll be honest with you — I have battled feelings of frustration and anger over this, not to mention feeling taken advantage of.  There have been times in my frustration where I have vented and it was not a pretty sight to behold.
 
So what was I to do?  Nagging and pleading failed. Leaving reminder notes didn’t work either. First, I had to change MY focus.  Notice what I just said.  I didn’t say I adjusted someone else’s focus.  (Too often, we focus on trying to change the behavior of others.) I adjusted MY focus.  This was hard because I wanted to stay angry, and keep nagging and yelling about how I was feeling and how unfair it was because I felt completely justified in my feelings.  However, I knew it would get me nowhere.  All it did was get me the silent treatment, and still no help.  Can you hear me sigh?
 
Secondly, instead of using the on-site gym at work three days a week, one of those days my workout is simply cleaning the house. While it may not be my preferred workout, at least the house gets cleaned before my day off. After all, who wants to spend their day off cleaning?  And if the house is in disarray on my day off, I can’t relax and refresh, like I so desperately need to do.
 
Thirdly, I have also chosen to focus on the Lord.  I do my tasks as if doing them for Him.  I choose to let Him guide me every day, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  I choose to worship Him daily, for He gives me a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.  This change of focus is the one that has made the greatest difference. 
 
What difficult situations might you be facing where you simply need to change your focus?   
© 2018, Stacy R. Miller

True Salvation

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Over the last four years, I have spent a lot more time in the Word, and I left other books alone.  When you choose to spend your time in the Word, letting the Holy Spirit be your teacher, it is amazing the things you can learn!  I began to see some things I had been taught in church, as well as through “Christian” books were in error.

One of the most common errors is the teaching of salvation being as easy as A-B-C:

  1. Admit you’re a sinner.
  2. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
  3. Confess your sins.

Ok, so number one is good.  To be saved, you do need to realize that you are a sinner in need of a savior.

Now I have a bit of a problem with number two because James 2:19 tells us that even the demons believe….and tremble.  So it takes more than just believing to be saved.

As far as confessing our sins, that is important because we are told in First John 1:9 that if we confess our sins, God will forgive us.

So what is my problem?  My problem is with a HUGE piece of the missing puzzle to being saved!  REPENTANCE!!!  Jesus came on the scene, and the first thing He told us about being saved is to repent!  So if that is the first thing He tells us, it means it is very important!

If we just do A/B/C as listed above, we could likely get up off our knees and go out and return to our sinful lifestyle, then come back and repeat A/B/C again next week.  However, Jesus told us to repent.  That means we are to do a 180 degree turnaround.  Our life is to drastically change — we are to change the direction we have been going and go in a new direction — one that doesn’t involve living a life of sin!

Let’s look at some verses where Jesus speaks of repentance:

From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)

I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:32)

Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. (Luke 13:3, 5)

Sadly, many churches are not teaching/preaching this truth, and those who are in churches where biblical truth is not being taught are going to be easily led astray.  They will be more apt to fall for a counterfeit gospel instead of the true gospel.

So I ask you — Is your church teaching this biblical concept of repentance?  If it isn’t, I challenge you to ask yourself if perhaps your church is a false church.  If so, it’s time to come out and be separate.

 

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