Slaves of Righteousness

Slaves of Righteousness

After being a stay-at-home mom for thirteen years, the economic situation required that I reenter the workforce.  That was a major culture shock to me!  Much to my dismay, I discovered that any topic was opened to discussion.  I was appalled by the amount of backbiting I observed.  On top of that, gossip and negativity abounded where ever I went.

It is very hard to keep a positive attitude in those kinds of situations.  In fact, all too often, it was too easy to join in.  However, I soon realized that doing so left a very bitter taste in my spirit.

However, in Romans 6:15-18, it is clear that I don’t have to be a slave to sin.  Rather, I can be a slave to righteousness.  It is my choice — I can continue to join in with the gossip and negative conversations at work.  Or, I can choose to be a slave to righteousness and walk away, keeping my integrity intact.  What an encouragement to realize that I do not have to let sin reign in me!

© 2011, Stacy R. Miller

The Rescue Inhaler

The Rescue Inhaler

There is a new policy being put into place at the hospital where I work.  Those of us who work on the financial side will be required to start wearing dress clothes to work.  Being that my closet is full of scrubs, I needed to start shopping.  As a woman who tries to live frugally, I headed to the local Goodwill for their half price day.

As I walked into the store, I was clearly a woman on a mission.  However, as an asthmatic, I quickly realized I had entered a dangerous place.  While I was going through the racks of clothing, it was becoming increasingly harder to breathe.  The scents of the numerous laundry soaps which had been used on the clothing, along with the body scents of the previous owners was overpowering.  I quickly reached for my rescue inhaler to ease my discomfort.

I saw some spiritual insights to be gained from this experience.  In a spiritual sense, we can be overwhelmed by the “scents” of this world.  For instance, we can watch television shows that portray murder, violence, and immorality.  We can watch as Hollywood mocks Christianity.  The music we listen to can get deep into our spirit.  If we aren’t careful about what we listen to, we will find that it can deeply affect our thinking.  As an asthmatic struggles to breathe in an unhealthy environment, Christians can struggle to have the breath of God breathing through us when we aren’t faithful to be in His Word.

While at Goodwill, I was seeking to find clothing that had been worn by someone else.  In a spiritual sense, if we aren’t careful to nurture our spirits, we will find that we are dressing ourselves in the dirty, stinky clothing of this world.  Some examples of this clothing are anger, rage, bitterness, envy, lust, selfishness, greed, and jealousy.

When we find we’ve taken on the clothing of this world, just as I reached for my rescue inhaler, we can reach for Jesus.  He is our Rescue Inhaler.  As we inhale on Him and His Word, our spiritual breath will become refreshed, renewed, and restored.

Do you need to reach for your spiritual Rescue Inhaler?

© 2011, Stacy R. Miller

The Blessing of Forgetfulness

The Blessing of Forgetfulness

Paul talks in Philippians 3:13-14 about how he focused on forgetting the past and looking forward to what was ahead of him. When I did a word study on the word “forgetting,” I discovered a couple of interesting things.

First, forgetting is an active obliteration. This was certainly true of Paul. He said he focused on forgetting the past. To focus on something requires a lot of active concentration and diligence on our part. Paul spoke in 2 Corinthians 10:5 of taking the bad, evil thoughts captive. He recognized that a spiritual war took place in his head when he battled his thoughts.

Secondly, forgetting in its present tense, means that it is ongoing. Paul didn’t just decide one day that he would forget the past, and it was done. No, this was an ongoing battle. You have to choose to keep forgetting past mistakes, past failures, past lies that the enemy will try to drudge up on a daily basis.

As you continue to be vigilant in guarding your thoughts, and replacing negative, ungodly thoughts with powerful truths in the Word, you will one day find that you truly do forget the past in the sense that you are no longer bound to it. You are truly set free. Oh what a blessing it is to have this kind of forgetfulness!

© 2014, Stacy R. Miller

Spam

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Spam
In this world of technology, spam no longer refers to a can of meat you find in the grocery store. Rather, it is a term for junk mail.

In a spiritual sense, we also deal with spam on a daily basis. It is those unwanted, negative, nasty, ungodly thoughts the enemy will impose upon us. It might be thoughts like:

· You are worthless.
· You don’t have any spiritual gifts.
· Nobody loves you or cares about you.
· God has forgotten you.
· You will never overcome this habit.
· Things will never get better.
· God won’t forgive you.
· You will always be a ______.
· Who are you to think you are a good Christian?

In our world of technology, we quickly hit the delete button, and our spam is gone. In a spiritual sense, we can take action to get rid of the spam Satan tosses in our direction:

· Think upon things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. (Philippians 4:8)
· Cast down any thoughts or imaginations that exalt themselves against the knowledge God’s word. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
· Set our minds on heavenly things, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:2)

As we are steadfast in taking action against spiritual spam, our thoughts will begin to change little by little. We will find that the daily spiritual spam becomes less over time because the enemy will see that we no longer “read” his mail.

© 2014, Stacy R. Miller

Mental Health

Mental Health

We have had so many things happening in our world over the last few years that it would be easy to fall prey to a stronghold of fear if we let our minds think upon all of the troubling things which are taking place.  Almost daily, we hear of more suicide bombings in Israel.  We are still losing some of our precious troops each week in Iraq.  Even where I live, the police departments can’t keep up with all of the meth labs.  That doesn’t even include the daytime robberies where the perpetrators just barge into your home, beat you up, then take your goods.  It appears that our city is being taken over by evil.  Even sitting here, typing this, I find my eyes filling up with tears.  It seems like our world is a hopeless place.

Let’s bring it a step closer to home.  What about the things taking place in our own life?  What about the child who has chosen to rebel against God?  What about cancer or some other disease that is ravaging our body?  What about someone who is spreading lies about us?  What about those of us whose spouse may be out of work?  How do we keep our minds and our hearts from becoming overwhelmed with fear?

Prov. 12:25 tells us that an anxious heart can weigh us down.  In John 14:1, Jesus tells us not to LET our hearts be troubled.  This is a command to us, meaning that we have something to do.  It means that we must not let those troubling thoughts come into our minds and find a place to rest.  When they come to our minds, we must remember the command in Phil 4:6 not to be anxious about anything but to give our requests to God.  Verse 7 tells us that after we leave our requests with God, His peace will guard our hearts and minds.

When the sinister things of this world enter your thoughts, make the choice not to sit and ponder on the seeming hopelessness of it all.  Don’t think upon the threats of more terrorist attacks.  Don’t think upon the unstable job market.  We are commanded to think upon those things which are true (certain, reliable, trustworthy), noble (excellent, supreme, lordly), right, pure (genuine, unmingled, uncontaminated), lovely (captivated, delightful, splendid), admirable (worthy, good), excellent, and praiseworthy.  Phil. 4:8

I have found that one way to speedily ruin my mental health is by thinking bad thoughts of others.  In Zech. 7:10, it tells us not to think evil of others in our hearts.  Often when we think the thoughts, we end up speaking those very thoughts because out of the abundance of our hearts, our mouths often speak.  Prov. 12:14 tells us that from the fruit of our lips, we are filled with good things.  The only way this can happen is by renewing our minds and causing our thought life to be renewed (remade, reawakened, reconditioned).  Rom. 12:2

Another way to bring mental health to our lives is by learning not to be quick-tempered.  Yes, I know this a very hard one to do.  I struggle with this on a daily basis.  Prov. 14:17 says that a quick-tempered person will do foolish things.  When we do those foolish things, then we have to deal with the consequences, not to mention the guilt.  That can promptly remove any sense of well being that we had been experiencing.  In Prov. 15:18, it says that a hot-tempered person will stir up dissension.  This can happen in our homes, which God designed to be a refuge for our families, not a place of conflict, clashing, and opposition.  Prov. 14:26 says that the Lord has a secure fortress for those who fear Him, and for their children, it is a refuge.

Another thing which can suddenly zap our sense of well-being is envy.  Prov. 14:30 tells us that a heart at peace will give life to us, but envy will rot our bones.  I Cor. 13 tells us that love doesn’t envy.  We are told to rejoice with those who rejoice.  When we find it hard to rejoice with others when they have been blessed with something that we would like to have, we need to ask God to help us to be able to honestly rejoice with them in the blessing of God on their lives.

There is another snare that we may not think of right away when we ponder on what can hinder our mental health.  It is that of gossip.  Prov. 10:19 tells us that where words are many, sin is not absent.  The more we say, the more we find ourselves getting into trouble.  Do you ever wonder what may come back on you because of what you have spoken?  Prov. 21:23 tells us that if we guard our mouth, we will keep ourselves from calamity, distress, or trials.  If we don’t quickly repent of speaking sinful words, there is that separation between us and God.  I know when I find myself separated from my Father because of my sin, my frame of mind is not a good one.  I miss the peace, tranquility, and calmness that I have when I know that my walk with Father is what it should be.  God wants us to be wise with what we say because then our words have the ability to bring healing and restoration to those around us.  (Prov. 12:18, 18:21,)  If we guard what we say, we guard our very life, meaning that we will be mentally healthy, not to mention many other physical ailments which we may avoid.  (Prov. 13:3)

I remember when I first got saved.  I had been with a crowd that was really rough and sinister.  I had to let my parents screen all of my phone calls because they wouldn’t leave me alone.  I was stalked by one of them for several weeks after pulling away from that way of life.  It was a very fearful time for me, never knowing when one of them was going to be right on my tail.  A dear man at church prayed over me regarding this.  From that very moment, it stopped!  I was amazed.  Several months later, I saw the verse in Prov. 16:7 that reveals to us that when our ways please the Lord, He makes even our ENEMIES to be at peace with us.  I have seen the person who was stalking me only one or two times in the twenty years since this took place, and both times, the FEAR was in THAT person’s eyes!  Light truly does chase away the darkness!  I mention this illustration because many of you may have some “enemies” who are causing your mental health to be disturbed.  I urge you to start praying the above scripture over your circumstances.  You may see God work speedily on your behalf, bringing that tranquility back into your life.

I want to close with some final scriptures that talk about health.  This can refer to mental health, as well as a vast array of physical health in our lives, if we choose to follow the decrees given to us.
Prov. 3:7-8  Don’t be wise in your own eyes, but fear God and turn from evil.  This brings health to your body and it nourishes your bones.
Prov. 3:21-22 Preserve sound judgment and discernment because they will be life for you.
Prov. 4:20-23 Pay attention to God’s word and keep His word in your heart.  His word is life to you and health to your whole body.  Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
Prov. 17:22  If we have a cheerful heart, it works like a medicine.  (Not to mention that it’s much cheaper than visiting the doctor!)

Awesome God, You love us so much, and you desire for us to have life, and life abundantly.  Help us to make changes in our thoughts, where needed, so that Your life, love, joy, peace, and tranquility can be ours at all times, in all ways, in all circumstances, and in all conditions.  (I Th. 3:16)  Amen.

© 2003, 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

How Do I Look?

How do I Look?

Have you ever gotten dressed for a special occasion, then asked your husband,  “How do I look?”  We like to be assured that we look nice.

In I Peter 3:4, it mentions a meek and quiet spirit.  Meekness is often looked upon by the world as being weakness.  How wrong they are!  Jesus was certainly meek, but He was definitely not weak!  Meekness means that we aren’t easily irritated or provoked.  (I know, some of you are wanting to stop reading right now, aren’t you?  Believe me, I’m speaking this to myself, even as I sit here typing it.)  Quiet refers to being peaceful, at rest, not troubled.

When someone offends you, or does something which really irritates you, do you keep your mouth shut?  Even if you manage to keep your mouth shut, are you inwardly fuming?  Were your thoughts less than holy?  If so, while it ‘appears’ that you are being meek, reality tells a different story.  It says that you are just a very good actress.  In other words, you are really good at ‘faking it.’

So, how is your appearance?  Do you appear before others as one who is meek?  How do you appear before the Lord?  Remember, He sees what our inward thoughts and attitudes are, even when others can’t.

Father, help me not to be easily provoked, whether outwardly or internally.  Help me to respond, rather than react.  Help me to give a calm response in those situations which try my patience.  Amen.

© 2003, Stacy R Miller

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