The Real Christmas Story

I believe you will gain some new insights to the very familiar Christmas story if you listen to this 32 minute message.  Merry CHRISTmas!

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Following at a Distance

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Following at a distance

 

The account of when Peter denied the Lord three times in Matthew 26 has always fascinated me. This man was in the inner circle with Jesus, yet when the heat comes on, he denies Him, not once, but three times.

 

I find it interesting to notice the sequence of events. In verse 58, we find that Peter is walking in the direction of Jesus, but he does so at a distance. He has gone from being up close, in that inner circle, to following at a distance. This reminds me of Psalm 1:1 when it speaks of how the godly will not walk in the counsel of the ungodly.

 

In following at a distance, I would imagine there were times when Peter stopped, and stood still, thinking, “I’m getting too close. I need to stop for a bit so they don’t see me.” This could be likened to standing in the path of sinners, from Psalm 1.

 

Next, we find in verse 69 that Peter is sitting outside in the courtyard. He has now made himself comfortable. This is similar to sitting in the seat of the scornful, from Psalm 1. He just keeps getting deeper and deeper in his distance from the Lord.
In that distance place, the disastrous result is that he denies the Lord three times. In verse 70, he simply denies him. His heart turns just a bit harder. In verse 72, he steps it up a bit by denying Jesus with an oath. His heart gets even harder. In verse 74, he not only denies Jesus, but he curses and swears.

 

This is how the deceitfulness of sin can snare us. First, we have just a bit of distance from the Lord. Perhaps we skip a few days of reading the bible and praying. Next, we think we are doing fine, so we skip a few more days of devotions, and even skip attending church. We don’t notice our heart’s coolness to the things of God. Before we know it, we begin to deny the Lord in our thoughts, words, and actions. It is a dangerous, and slippery, slope.

 

How much better to do like Psalm 1:2, meditating and delighting in the Word and in the Lord! The results are so much better! We will grow strong, like a tree, we will bring forth righteous fruit, and we will not wither. In other words, when under pressure, unlike Peter, we won’t wither and deny the Lord. We will be strong and stand firm!
© 2018, Stacy R. Miller

Have You Lost That Loving Feeling?

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Have You Lost That Loving Feeling?

The beginning chapters of Revelation have seven letters to the churches of that day. The first one is to the church in Ephesus. Jesus had a strong word against them – they had lost their first love – Him!

 

You would think this church was a dead church in reading His warning to them to repent. However, if we take a closer look, we will find that it appeared to be a “happening” church. They were working for the Lord. They hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which was compromise. They couldn’t stand evil. This church hadn’t become weary in their works. In fact, they had persevered and had great patience. They even recognized false teachers. This implies they knew their bibles, because you cannot recognize false teachers unless you have a strong knowledge of the truth. BUT, they had lost their first love.

 

I have recently started researching many false teachers who are very popular because I want to teach a class on this very topic. I don’t want my brethren to fall prey to their deceptions. As I read this portion of scripture, it really stood out to me not to get so caught up in exposing the error of certain teachers that I lose my love for Jesus in the process.

 

We need to take inventory of our own lives. Have we gotten so busy doing the work of the Lord that we have forgotten the Lord of the work? Have we neglected those times of intimate fellowship through prayer and reading His Word? If so, just as Jesus admonished the church of Ephesus to repent, we also need to repent.

 

Have you lost that loving feeling, where Jesus is no longer your first love? He is waiting for you to reach out to Him. Don’t delay!
© 2018, Stacy R. Miller

God’s Unfailing Love

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God’s Unfailing Love

God’s love is an amazing thing. It conquers fear. (1 John 4:18) His love can dispel bitterness from the hardest of hearts. It sets us free. His love satisfies like no other.

We feel limited by many things in our lives. Sometimes when we are bound by sin, we let the guilt of that sin hold us back from His love. However, God is not limited by the challenges we face. His love is limitless! After all, He sent His only son to die for us! Who else would do that?

Perhaps you have been trapped by the deceitfulness of sin. Maybe you have been snared by the greener pastures of adultery, only to find it was nothing more than a lie. Now invisible chains hold you back, telling you God will never forgive you.

Perhaps the arduous challenges of life have led you to drink, just to ease the tension and help you relax. Now it seems you can’t function without that drink.

Maybe you started surfing the internet to unwind, and suddenly find yourself caught in the web of pornography. The images won’t leave your mind. You think about it while you are at work. You see them in those intimate moments with your spouse, and what is supposed to be beautiful has turned sordid and ugly. You don’t know what to do.

My friend, don’t give up! Keep reaching out to the Lord. Even in those times when you stumble again, keep pressing on! He loves you. He fights for you! He wants you to win this battle. I promise you – if you are serious about breaking free of your sin, He will continue to pick you up every time you fall. Keep running to His Word; keep repenting when you sin. Do not listen to the lies of the enemy! After all, he is the one who chained you. He doesn’t want you to know the deep, limitless, unfailing love of your God!

The Lord takes pleasure in those who hope in His unfailing love. (Psalm 147:11) Let His unfailing love be your hope! Don’t give up!
© 2018, Stacy R. Miller

Seasoned Words

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Seasoned Words

A male coworker stopped by my office one day and repeatedly dropped the f-bomb. It was very uncomfortable for me. One of my other coworkers was there that day, and could easily see that I did not like what I was hearing. Once I had clocked out for the day, she told the him that I didn’t like hearing it. He was clueless as to how uncomfortable it was for me.

I also wasn’t too pleased that my coworker spoke up and said something to him because I had a feeling it was done in a way that made me come across as having a “holier than thou” attitude. I decided to pray about it, trusting the Lord to open the door for me to address it with him in a way that let him know the true reason I was upset by hearing that language. I wanted my words to be as Colossians 4:6 says – gracious, seasoned with salt, so that I would know how I should respond to him. I didn’t want to offend him. He doesn’t know the Lord, and the last thing I wanted was for him to be thinking, “Oh, so she is one of those people who thinks she’s better than everyone else.”

He stopped by my office a few days later, and the subject of language came up. It opened the door for me to address the situation. I casually mentioned that I knew my coworker told him I did not like hearing that word. I added, “It’s not because I think I’m better or holier than thou. It’s because I used to speak that language, and I don’t want to be that person again!”  I could tell he appreciated my honesty and now when he stops by, the conversations tend to go in a more positive direction.

I wonder what would happen if we would pray daily for the Lord to grace our words, seasoning them with salt, so that we will have the wisdom to know how to respond to those around us. I have a feeling we might just be amazed!

© 2018, Stacy R. Miller

The Last Miracles of Jesus

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The Last Miracles of Jesus

It is important to notice the ‘firsts’ in the bible. They have important insights for us. For example, the first time the word ‘love’ is used in scripture is in Genesis 22:2 when God told Abraham to take his only son, whom he loved, and sacrifice him to the Lord. This story is a picture of Jesus being God’s only Son, whom He loved, thus why it is important to note that it is the very first time that word is used in scripture.

 

Another example is in Exodus 20:3 with the Ten Commandments. The very first one is that we have no other gods before the Lord. If we get this one mastered, the others will follow suit, and not be as likely to cause us to fall.

 

In Galatians 5:22-23, we find the fruit of the spirit. The first one is love. Why? Because if we have love, then it only makes sense that we will have joy, peace, faithfulness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. True love will emanate these others qualities in our lives.

 

I believe it is also important for us to look at the ‘lasts’ in scripture. My friend, Kathy, saw a very interesting insight that really peaked my interest on this topic.

 

The last healings Jesus did in Matthew and Mark was blind Bartimaeus. In the book of Luke, it was the healing of the ear of the high priest’s servant, which Peter cut off. Notice that these final miracles had to do with sight and hearing.

 

As we look at the warnings Jesus gave us in Matthew 24 regarding the end times, we see many of them had to do with these two things! He warned us what to watch for, as well as what things to which we should not be listening.

 

Verse 5: We are to watch out for (look, see) those who come in His Name, deceiving many. Keep in mind, this does not just mean people are going to be saying, “Hey! I am Jesus!” Rather, it is referring to those who claim to represent Him, but what they preach and teach will be a false gospel.

 

Verse 6-7: We will hear about wars, rumors of wars, nations rising against nation. We will see famines, pestilences, and earthquakes.

Verse 9-10: We will see Christians murdered and hated by all nations. During that time, we will see people betray one another, as well as hate one another.

Verse 12: Because of how lawlessness will abound, we can watch for the love of many to grow cold.

Verse 15: When you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place”… –Notice that He says when “you” see. He is speaking to believers here. If believers will not be here to see this, why is He mentioning it?

Verse 23-26: Jesus tells us look out for false Christs and if we hear anyone tell us where to find him, not to believe them. He tells us to watch for great signs and wonders to appear, deceiving many, even the elect.

Verse 27: Jesus tells us that His coming will be as lightning flashing across the sky. In other words, He is saying that all will see it. It is not a secret coming, where we just suddenly disappear, and no one knows where we went.

Verse 28-31: Notice He says “immediately after the tribulation.” He is telling us what to watch for, what to listen for, and the order in which these events will happen. We will see the sun darkened, the moon won’t give its light, and stars will fall from heaven. Next, He will appear and all tribes of the earth will see Him coming. He tells us to watch for angels to come and to listen for the sound of the trumpet. This is the rapture of the church!

 

I hope this study has peaked your interests in looking at the deeper meaning of things in scripture, like when you see a list of things mentioned. Study it and search why something is mentioned first. What is the significance? I believe you will see the Word become more alive in your life, as well becoming much more interesting to study!
© 2018, Stacy R. Miller

 

 

True Prosperity

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True Prosperity

There has been a lot of false teaching over the years about how God wants us to be rich and prosper. I do believe God wants us to prosper, but prospering doesn’t always mean financially. After all, if a concept is in the bible, it should fit all people of the world.

I recently heard about a man who preached a prosperity message to men in prison. Seriously? The love of money is what likely landed those men in prison! What about those in a third world country? Do you really think that kind of message is applicable to those people? This proves to me that this prosperity gospel is a false gospel. It is what Paul would call a ‘different’ gospel, and those who preach it should be cursed. (Galatians 1:8)

Over the last several months, I have made a concentrated effort to be in the Word. I have done so with no other motive than this: I want God! He is my one desire in this! I want to know Him, I want to learn from Him, I want to be guided by Him, and Him alone! It has been an exciting journey, as well as very precious. There is nothing that compares to digging deep into His Word, allowing Him to teach you.

However, something has happened during this time of intensive study in His Word. In February, I was given a promotion at work, which came with a significant raise. In May, I got my annual raise. One day in June, I came into work to find that I had been nominated for a Hero Award, which is a huge honor, just to be nominated. (At this time, I am still waiting to see if I actually win that award.) That same day, I discovered those in my department were all receiving a market adjustment to our hourly pay. This was completely unexpected.

Now this means I got three raises in less than four months! That is unheard of!!! And to get the nomination for that award during this time is incredible.

That doesn’t even count the joy and peace I have gained through my time in the Word because of how the Lord is increasing my faith. It doesn’t count the unbelievably sweet fellowship I have gained with our Father, nor the excitement I have every day as I search His Word for what treasures He wants to show me. All of these things are priceless!

Needless to say, after the announcement of the third raise, my heart was overflowing with God’s goodness toward me. While I was pondering on all the Lord has done in my life recently, 3 John 2 came to mind. It speaks of prospering in all things, even as our soul prospers. It occurred to me – this was exactly what was happening in my life! I made the choice to choose God’s Word and to be faithful, and I didn’t do it because I was looking to gain awards or more money. I did it only for Him, because He is already my exceedingly great reward. (Genesis 15:1) But look what the Lord did! He gave me so much more!
I share this to encourage you to get into His Word. Do it to gain Him, and nothing else. I have a feeling if you do so, you will find the blessing of the Lord abounding in your life!

© 2018, Stacy R. Miller

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