Spiritually Used

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Spiritually Used

It is a noble thing for a woman to desire to model Titus 2:3-5.  However, because a woman has a passion to minister to other women, she can easily fall prey to the tactics of a user.  Women who are timid find it difficult to say “no” to a user.  Women with strong personalities often find pleasure in being asked to share their opinions.

I met a lady whom I will call Betty.  We hit it off very well, seeming to share the same values.  We forged a friendship, attending some of the same classes, and even visiting each other on occasion.

I began to notice a pattern to our conversations.  They seemed to revolve around the happenings in her life.  She was constantly seeking my advice.  When I would respond with scripture, she would quickly affirm my insights with comments like, “Oh, that is good,” or “I never thought of it like that.”  Because I thrive on words of affirmation, I never seemed to notice that she rarely brought scripture into our conversations.

Several months later, Betty was faced with a difficult dilemma.  Because of my desire to help women, I spent a great deal of time counseling her with a scriptural approach to her situation.  A few times I even left messages for her, stating that I had some more information which she may find helpful.  Those calls were always quickly returned.  Yet on other occasions, she would rarely, if ever, return my calls.

One evening, I was quite stressed and in despair over a situation of my own.  I knew Betty had faced this very circumstance, so I decided to call her.  I left a message for her, leaving no doubt as to my frame of mind.  I knew I could count on her to help me.  After all, Betty was my friend.  However, she never returned my phone call.

As I pondered and prayed about this, I realized that I was not being unreasonable in feeling that I deserved a return phone call, for true friends are kind to each other. (Job 6:14)

I also came upon the realization that some people are only friends with us if we give them gifts. (Proverbs 19:6) I had poured myself into Betty’s life, yet was not getting anything in return.  I discerned that what Betty was doing was using me.  She was seeking the spiritual food which I had earnestly sought so she would not have to be diligent in the Word herself.

By trying to be a Titus 2 woman, I had ended up becoming spiritually used, allowing her to use up my time, my energy, and my spiritual food.

The Word tells us that faithful friendships are refreshing. (Proverbs 27:9) A true friend sticks by you in good times and bad times. (Proverbs 17:17; 18:24)  Real friends are like iron sharpening iron. (Proverbs 27:17)  If you cannot say this is true of your friendships, perhaps you have also been spiritually used.

Take some time to evaluate your friendships.  Have you been spiritually used?

© 2007, Stacy R. Miller

My Sheep Know My Voice

My Sheep Know My Voice

I was facing a situation where I knew I needed to call a couple of wise, godly friends and ask for their counsel on an issue.  What they said confirmed the action I was thinking of taking, so I planned to follow through quickly.  However, later that day, as I began to dust the furniture, I heard that still, small voice of the Lord.  Though what He said was spoken very softly, the impression on my spirit was incredibly strong.  He told me not to take action; He would take care of it.  I was amazed when the entire situation was taken care of in just a few weeks time, and with no action from me.

What my friends said all sounded very logical, yet I knew I had to listen to what the Lord was speaking to me.  It gave me a new understanding of the importance of John 10:27 where Jesus said that His sheep know His voice and will listen to Him.  There are many times when we want to follow what sounds logical.  Yet, when the Lord speaks something that doesn’t sound logical to us, we need to follow His voice.  This is even more important since I believe we are living in the last days.  There are many voices speaking things which “sound” good.  Yet, we cannot discern what is truly good unless we clearly know the voice of our Shepherd.

Do you know your Shepherd’s voice?
© 2008, Stacy R Miller

An Instructed Tongue

An Instructed Tongue

The tongue is a very hard thing to tame.  James calls it a fire, a world of evil that is set on fire by hell.  He calls it a restless evil that is filled with deadly poison.  (Jas. 3:6-8)

Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘restless’ as unable to relax, giving no rest, rarely quiet or still, or discontented.  I don’t know about you, but just seeing that definition in light of how I use my tongue, I’m getting convicted already!

When we find that we are unable to relax our tongue, we will find ourselves being quick to speak.  Yet, James tells us that we should be slow to speak. (Jas. 1:19)

When we have a discontented tongue, it’s hard to follow the admonition in Philippians to think upon the things which are lovely, true, just, pure, and excellent.  We don’t allow ourselves time to shut up long enough to count our blessings.  That discontented tongue just has so much to say!

Another thing that a discontented tongue can do is make us like the quarrelsome wife, who is like a constant dripping. (Pr. 19:13) We fall into the habit of nagging, whining, complaining, and/or disrespecting our husband because we have become discontent with our lot in life.  No wonder Proverbs 21:19 tells us that a man is better off in the desert than living with a quarrelsome woman!  At least in the desert, he might find some peace and quiet.

When our tongue gives us no rest, we miss out on intimate moments with the Lord.  He may be calling us to find rest for our weary souls. (Mt. 11:28-30) In John 10, Jesus tells us that His sheep listen to His voice.  If our tongue gives us no rest, how can we hear His still, small voice?

In Pr. 31:26-27 we see that ‘when’ the virtuous woman speaks, her words are kind, giving wise counsel and instruction.  The word ‘when’ implies that she isn’t talking all of the time.  She has learned to be silent at times.  She also doesn’t eat the bread of idleness.  Idleness is a dangerous trap because when we become idle in our bodies, our tongue usually doesn’t follow.  Instead, it finds reason to  gossip or even to wallow in self-pity because we are discontented.  Those ultimately lead us to that place of having a restless tongue.

How do we stop this vicious cycle?  It is certainly a hard one to break once we fall prey to it.

Is. 50:4 says that God has given me an instructed tongue so that I will know what to speak to the weary.  He awakens me morning by morning, wakening my ear to listen to Him, like one who is being taught.

When we begin to honestly pray for God to give us an instructed tongue, we may find the resulting fruit:
1.  Our kind words may cheer up someone.  (Pr. 12:25)
2.  Our lips will nourish many. (Pr. 10:21)
3.  Our wise words will bring healing to others.  (Pr. 12:18) In fact, our wise words may even bring healing to ourselves because we begin to speak the Word over our situation instead of speaking out of our fickle emotions.
4.  Our words can become a fountain of life.  (Pr. 10:11)
5.  Wisdom will flow from us.  (Pr. 10:13)
6.  We will learn how to weigh our answers before we speak. (Pr. 15:28)

An instructed tongue…..I want it!  How about you?  Do you want it?
© 2004, Stacy R Miller

Go Ask God, part 1

Go Ask God, Part 1

I remember a story about a wonderful saint in our church who has gone on to be with Jesus.  Everyone in the church called her “Grandma Rose.”  One day, someone asked her a question.  She paused to think upon the question, then she said, “Go ask God!”  What wisdom Grandma Rose possessed!  Too many of us would come up with some kind of answer, even if it were the WRONG answer.  Grandma Rose was wise enough to admit that even she didn’t have all the answers, and when she didn’t know the answer, she knew Who would have the answer!

Moses had a lot of questions for God.  In Ex. 3:13 he was asking God what he should tell the Israelites that His name was.  In the next verse, God told him to tell them that “I AM has sent me to you.”  When God told Moses that he was going to be God’s spokesman to people, Moses came back with these reasons of why he couldn’t possibly be the servant to speak to the Israelites.  In other words, he was questioning God’s wisdom in choosing him. – How many times have we made excuses for not doing what God was clearly telling us to do?

Once Moses spoke to Pharaoh and told him to let the people go, the workload of the Israelites drastically increased.  Moses approaches God in Ex. 5:22-23 asking Him why He had brought this trouble upon the people. – I can picture Moses whining in this particular question.  How many times do we go whining to God?  In spite of this, as you read through the life of Moses, you can see that God used him mightily to fulfill His desire for the Israelites.  God can even use us in spite of our own whining!

In Ex. 15:24, the people are grumbling to Moses about the bitter waters at Marah.  Moses cries out to God.  God told him to throw wood in the water (wood representing Christ), making the bitter waters sweet. In Ex. 32:9-10 God calls the Israelites a stiff-necked people, and He is ready to destroy them.  Moses asks God another question, seeking God’s favor for the people.  He reminds God of His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Because of this, God relented and did not destroy the people.  Maybe YOUR intercession on behalf of some people could cause God to change His mind on what He is going to allow into their lives.

In Ex. 33:16, Moses says, “What else will distinguish me and your people from all other people on the face of the earth?”  (NIV)  God answers him by telling him that He will go with them.  He also tells Moses that He is pleased with him and knows him by name.  – Let me remind you that God knows you by name.  Even on those days when you feel utter despair creeping in, He still knows you by name, and His presence goes with you, just as His presence went with the Israelites.

In spite of the many questions that Moses had for God, God didn’t give up on Moses.  In fact, they had an awesome and intimate relationship.  When Moses died in Deut. 34:5-6, God was the one to bury him.  In verse 10 of that same chapter, we see that there was never another prophet in Israel whom the Lord knew face to face.  Sometimes I think we fear going to God and asking Him any of our questions.  God is a loving, gracious, and compassionate God.  We don’t need to fear asking Him questions.  It doesn’t mean that we will get the answer for every question we have, but we just might get some answers that give us very clear insight.

Is II Sam. 5:19, we find David asking God if he should go and attack the Philistines.  – How often do we think to ask Father God if we should go do “this or that?”  Too many times, we just make our plans and ask God to bless them, without waiting to see if that is even His plan for us.

In II Sam. 12:16, we find David pleading for the life of the child who was conceived in his adultery with Bathsheba.  I can imagine him asking God many questions during the time that he was pleading and fasting on behalf of the child.  In spite of not receiving the answer that he so diligently sought, we find that David cleaned up, then went to the house of the Lord and worshiped.  – Many times we may not receive the answers that we want.  We need to remember that God’s ways are higher than our ways, and that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.  (Is. 55:8)  Even if the answer isn’t what we may have desired, we need to remember that God always has our best interest at heart.

I have seen the above happen in my own life when I miscarried my first child.  Although after eight years, I still have times when I am so saddened by the loss, and feel the emptiness, I can now say that I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in this world.  I have learned too much about my God through it.  I have come to intimately know Him as my Comforter and my Shield.  I have seen Him as the Healer of Broken Hearts.  I have seen Him take my hard heart and soften it to be responsive to the pain and despair others are feeling. 

 

 

Building a House

Building a House

If you have ever observed a house being built from the very foundation, you know that there is a LOT of hard labor involved.  It’s no less laborious for women to build their spiritual house either.  It may be a different kind of labor, but it still requires much work.

Proverbs 9:1-2 tells us that wisdom has built her house.  Then in verse 12 it goes on to say that your wisdom will reward you.  It is going to require Father’s help for us to build our house on His wisdom.  Proverbs. 14:1 says that the wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands, the foolish one tears hers down.  Verse 3 goes on to say that the lips of the wise (their speech) protect them.  What we say, and the atmosphere that we set in our home can make it a very inviting place, providing that WE have made the WISE CHOICE to make it that way.  In Proverbs 10:21 it tells us that the lips of the righteous (their speech) nourish many.  We have an opportunity to nourish many, IF we choose to build our house on a godly foundation.  Not only that, but the house of the righteous stands firm and is a secure fortress for her children. (Proverbs 12:7, 14:26).  So, when the storms of life hit our family members, home can be a refuge – a safe place for them.  They know that they can come home at the end of a hard day, to be nourished by the kind, thoughtful, loving words which we will speak to them.

I thought it was interesting to see in Proverbs 22:11 that he who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the KING for a friend.  You have probably heard men say the phrase “I am the king of my castle.”  I don’t know about you, but I know that I want the king of this castle (my husband) to be my friend! I want him to desire my company over all others, next to the Lord, of course.

Let’s see how the foolish woman can tear down her house:

Proverbs 19:13, 27:15 A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping.  No one wants to hear constant whining and nagging.  If we set that atmosphere, not only will our husbands not want to be there, but we are setting a horrible example to our children.  So many times, children end up being a carbon copy of their parents.  God help us not to set up THAT kind of example!

Proverbs 21:9, 19 tell us that it’s better to live on a corner of a roof, or in the desert than to live with a quarrelsome wife.  Think about that – the corner of a roof does not sound like a very inviting place to me!  Nor does the desert – it is a hot, dry, dusty, lonely place, filled with serpents and scorpions, yet God’s Word says that living there is better than living with a quarrelsome wife.

Proverbs 24:3-4 tells us that by wisdom a house is built and through understanding it is established.  It’s through knowledge that its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.  Proverbs 15:6 tells us that the house of the righteous contains great treasure.  One of the treasures of a house built in this way is a woman who is of noble character, whose worth is FAR MORE than rubies.  (Proverbs 31:10)  Rubies, because of their rarity, have a higher value than even diamonds.

Another way we can bring rare and beautiful treasures to our house is to “wage war.”  Sometimes we need to war against our flesh, crucifying that fleshly desire to always want things our way, or to crucify a nasty attitude that has been trying to lay hold of us.  Another kind of “war” we need to wage is spiritual warfare on behalf of our family members.  I remember when my husband was out of town for a few days.  One night I was in bed, trying to go to sleep.  I had such a wrestling in my spirit for him.  I began to intercede for a long time, asking God to keep him safe.  Finally, I felt a release in my spirit and was able to go to sleep.  The next day, he fell twelve feet and landed on his back.  He could have been seriously injured, if not killed, but I believe that my intercession on his behalf put the plans of the enemy to flight.  Because of my intercession, I may have saved myself from being a widow with a newborn, as I delivered my daughter two weeks later.

Another treasure in building our house is that we can watch over the affairs of our household.  (Proverbs 31:27)  When a house is being built, there is always an overseer, making sure that the job is done right.  In building our homes, we need to be a watchful overseer of the home, not to be confused with being the “head” of the home.  Verse 11-12 of this chapter tells us that this lady’s husband had full confidence in her.  Why?  She brought him good all the days of her life.  She had proven her faithfulness and devotion to him and to their household.

Titus 2:5 tells us that women are to be busy at home.  Sometimes this is hard for us to learn because many of us haven’t been taught how to do this.  In that case, it’s a good idea to find a godly woman who would be willing to be a mentor to you, teaching you how to put this into practice.  Pray for God to lead you to a wise woman because he who walks with the wise becomes wise.  (Proverbs 13:20)

What will be the results of building our house the way that God intends?  You will be blessed because God blesses the home of the righteous.  (Proverbs 3:33)  Your children may just arise and call you blessed. (Proverbs 31:28)  Your husband may also sing your praises.  (Proverbs 31:28)  Verse 29 goes on to say that her husband told her that many women do noble things, but she surpasses them all!  Wow!  What a compliment!

As I stated at the beginning, “Wisdom has built her house.”  When you build your house with godly wisdom and insight, you may just find that the promise of Proverbs 24:14 comes alive to you.  “Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”  (NIV)

© 2003, Stacy R Miller