All posts by Chris Miller

I am a writer and presenter. My passion is to inspire individuals to overcome the barriers holding them back in life. Find my blog at https://chrismilleronline.wordpress.com.

Exchange the Gifts

Many people will be at the store the day after Christmas exchanging gifts. It is normal to receive a gift that is the wrong color, wrong size, or in some cases, just not desirable. Making these exchanges has become part of the Christmas tradition. Stores may even have extra staff to ensure the lines at the return counter do not become too long. Gifts can go back, and we can leave the store with something even better. There are many things in life we may desire to exchange, especially from the past couple years.

Gloomy is a description of many events from the past couple years. From global headlines to personal tragedies, there has been much in the way of bad news. Absorbing it all is burdensome and weary. It leaves us longing for rest just like the Israelites in Isaiah’s day.

Isaiah was delivering the Lord’s message to people amid much gloom and despair. They were toiling physically, probably spent emotionally, and struggling spiritually. Amid it all, the Lord sends Isaiah to bring hope of rest.

In chapter 9, Isaiah reminds the people this gloom will not go on forever. A different day is coming; a rest like none other is coming. Verses 6-7 say, “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders, and he will be called wonderful counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s armies will make this happen.”

Though these words were spoken hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth, they point directly to him. Israel was on the lookout for a political messiah. Someone who would establish rule and slam their enemies to the ground, but God had a different plan. God was working to establish an eternal rest. This would not be a rest just for the Israelites, but it would be a rest for you and me. This rest would not be temporary but eternal, and on Christmas day, the child that brings this rest arrived.

His arrival was not in a grand fashion, but he sure made a grand difference.

As you read this today, you may feel like the Israelites. Physically, you are toiling and don’t know how you are going to have the strength to continue. Emotionally, you may be spent, and your spiritual life is a constant struggle. As Isaiah says, the Lord offers rest to you. Jesus, in Matthew 11:28-30, invites us to exchange all of this weariness for his rest and peace. Allow this exchange to happen. Trade your gloom for peace, your despair for hope in Jesus.

Be Faithful in Prayer

Two ladies were discussing their lives as they were at the laundry mat. They were both married, and they had much in common.

While they were waiting on clothes to wash, they were both mending a pair of their husbands’ pants. “Things at home are stressful. My husband is grouchy and always a ball of stress,” the first lady said as she mended the butt of her husband’s pants.

As she mended the knees of her husband’s pants, the second lady said, “My guy is usually in a good mood. Things are going really well.”

It has been said the biggest fear of the devil is our prayers. He fears nothing from prayerless efforts, and trembles at prayer. The Bible encourages Christians to never stop praying.

“Be joyful in hope. Patient in affliction.” Romans 12:12 encourages, “Faithful in prayer.”

Jesus illustrated the power of prayer. He spends a great deal of time praying. The disciples admired his prayer life and hoped they could model it. Jesus prayed about everything.

How do we do? Jesus encourages us to pray and never give up. Remember, the Lord does hear our prayers, and praying is just a conversation with him. Spend some time talking with him today.

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Giving Thanks

Many are pausing this week to offer thanks.

The first Thanksgiving was a celebration of harvest. It was a celebration of the fact the pilgrims finally had a foothold in their new land. These folks had a rough start in their new settlement. In fact, it has been calculated that out of the 101 original settlers only 48 survived to celebrate Thanksgiving. This band of settlers experienced much hardship, but with the help of their neighbors, they learned how to live. To spite the emotional drain of their hardship, the settlers took time to thank God for their blessings.

This week we are celebrating Thanksgiving in the United States and Canada. This celebration comes amid much difficulty; however, we have reasons to be thankful. As Christians, we all can be thankful for a Lord who is always with us. Beyond this, our reasons for being thankful could vary. Family and friends, the start of a new job, the start of an exciting life chapter or the end of a stressful one, or the long-asked prayer being answered may make the list of thankful reasons.

No matter the reasons, remember the encouragement of Scripture to always give thanks. And, challenge yourself to make it a daily occurrence if you’re not already giving thanks daily. Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”

As I think of my thankful list, you are on it. I am grateful that you have taken a moment to read this. You may also enjoy 4 Reasons to Always Have Thanksgiving.

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The Next Adventure

Caution: Tears may fall as you read this, but they should give way to excitement.

An elderly man was in a hospital room and he was fading quickly. The nurses and doctors decided it was time to call the gentleman’s family, and they gathered around his bed. As he was lying there, holding his wife of 50 years hand, looking at his son and grandchildren, he whispered, “Don’t cry. I’ll see all of you again. This was not my permanent home; I’m only passing through.”

A moment later, the man looked up and said, “I can see the Lord’s face.” Peacefully, the man fell asleep and went to be with the Lord.

Death is a sad time for those of us left behind. The person for whom we love and care deeply has gone home to be with the Lord, so we have to say “see you later,” and live in their absence. But, for the Christian who passes away in death, a whole new adventure begins.

Heaven awaits. “For this is not our permanent home,” the writer of Hebrews reminds us, “we are looking forward to a world yet to come.” While we don’t fully know what Heaven will be like, the Bible does tell us it will be a glorious place. There will be no pain, sorrow, or difficulty. Today’s struggles will be gone. There will be no pandemics or tensions caused by skin color. There will be no hurt or heartache. Rather, Scripture says there will be peace. The lame will walk, the deaf will hear, the blind will see. Heaven will be glorious.

And, the adventure of experiencing Heaven will be ours. If you, or someone you love, is struggling today, remember, it is only temporary. Something much better is coming.

Failure is not the End

Failure comes and goes.

It has happened to us all. No one likes it, and it is not one of life’s enjoyable experiences. It hurts, it is painful, and it is a part of everyone’s life. It is failure.

One stumble does not break or define a person. Some of history’s most successful people have experienced the agony of failure.

  • Babe Ruth held the record for the most strike outs, and struck out multiple times in a World Series game. Yet, look at his overall record.
  • Robert Frost was rejected by a magazine stating there was no place for his poetry.
  • An English teacher wrote on Winston Churchill’s report card that he did not have much potential for success.
  • Oprah was fired from a Chicago TV station. She went on.
  • You and I can insert our failures here.

Max Lucado says, “Though you’ve failed, God does not. Face your failures with faith and God’s goodness.”

  • “The Lord directs the steps of the Godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they never fall for the Lord holds them by the hand,” remarks the Psalmist in 37:23-24.
  • Proverbs 24:16 says, “The Godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked.”

Failures will come, but the Lord will help us overcome those failures and move on with life. Remember amid failure, the Lord is with you.

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We Can Run

In a recent post, Today’s Encouragement reminds us Jesus has set us free from whatever is holding us down.

Rick writes, “so we can flee, leave the scene, get out of danger… because Jesus took the heat for us! Whatever threatens you and I, my friend, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually, we are – already – freed from! Jesus has paid the price for our freedom! It is time for us to walk away, flee, run! from the scene. The SWAT team of our enemies, addictions, shame, depression, fear, and failure has arrested Jesus in our place… and we are Free to go!”

Check out the post here.

Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free,” so thank him for the freedom, accept the freedom, rest in the freedom, and praise God for the freedom you and I have in Christ. Jesus paid to give us an opportunity to be free.

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His Plan

David was reminded of God’s grace.

David was in a season of turmoil. His family was a mess; there were many reasons for the messiness, and one of David’s advisors wanted to help him clean it up. He drafted a woman to tell David a parable.

The parable consisted of a widow with two sons. One son murdered the other, and the community shouted for the murderer’s head. If he was convicted, the widow would have no hope of continuing her family line. She pleads for mercy from the king.

David compassionately says she should receive mercy. Then, the woman applies the parable to David’s situation.

She points out David has a banished son needing reconciliation, and reminds David God himself makes plans to enable a banished person to be reconciled to the Lord. 2 Samuel 14:14 says, “All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again, but God does not just sweep life away. Instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.”

Mistakes; they have been made. Regrets exist. The list of things we would not do or redo can be extensive, but God knows how to handle all of it.

God has devised a plan to restore us to the family.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only son, so everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his son into the world, not to judge the world but to save the world through him,” Jesus explains in John 3:16-17.

Jesus also says in John 10:10, “The thief’s purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

Jesus is the plan which enables man and God to reconcile.

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Rest in Him

Isaiah was looking ahead to a time of rest and peace for God’s people. In doing so, he says the Lord will provide strength and energy for his people.

Isaiah 40:29-31 says, “He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will sore high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”

Isaiah reminds us those who trust the Lord will find new strength. They will find their strength in the Lord.

He exchanges our strength for his. The Lord helps us make it through our lives. The good and bad times. The Creator and Holder of the stars gives us strength.

“Look up into the heavens,” Isaiah 40:26 suggests. “Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army: one after another, calling each by its name because of his great power and incomparable strength. Not a single one is missing.”

We draw our strength from the one who will never grow weary. Isaiah 40:28 reminds us the Lord is the Creator of the earth. He is everlasting.

Life is tiring. The headlines we see and problems we encounter zap our strength, but they are no match for the Lord’s. We are promised the Lord will give us his strength. The Lord will renew our strength each day to take on that day’s challenges. His strength never runs out, so hopefully, we will always remember to draw upon it.

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Jesus Wept

It was a sad time for Martha and Mary. Their brother Lazarus has passed away. They sent for Jesus and he came, but his coming was delayed. The grieving sisters knew Jesus could help, but they were overcome by grief. They did not understand why the Lord delayed coming. They did not understand what was happening. All they understood in the moment was that Lazarus was no longer with them, and it hurt as they came to the realization, he would not be spending his days with them. Amid this heartbreak, we find two of the most powerful words in the Bible.

“Jesus wept” (John 11:35).

I believe these words paint a powerful picture. Jesus, fully knowing how the events were about to unfold, is so deeply moved by what is going on around him that he weeps. He does not stand idlily by as Mary and Martha grieve. He feels their pain. He understands what they are going through. He mourns with them; he empathizes with them. All powerful God has so much compassion for Lazarus’ family that he weeps for them.

We see here a compassionate, caring Jesus. Though he holds all power in his hand, he relates to Mary and Martha as they are struggling with the loss of Lazarus.

The same compassionate, caring Jesus relates to us. There is no doubt life is hard, and there are some truly sad seasons. Friends and family pass away. Relationships end. Trust in other people shattered. All of it causing heartache and pain, and in his compassion and care, Jesus is there with us. He is there to wipe our tears. He is there to heal our heartache. Jesus is there, weeping when we weep, mourning when we mourn, and holding our hand to help us get through whatever life may throw at us. How has the Lord helped you in a difficult time?

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Feeling Afraid?

Much fear has gripped many people over the past few months, and recent events are still causing many folks to battle with fear. Scenes of recent events startle us, and headlines provoke the natural emotion of fear to enter our lives. Individuals are fearful of what is happening around them; they are fearful of the days ahead. If you are saying, “That’s me,” you are not alone. There are a lot of people finding their way through a fearful season right now, and the Bible offers a suggestion.

David had fearful seasons in his life, and he writes these words in Psalm 56:3-4.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
    In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?

We can find encouragement a few times in David’s words.

  • David says, “When I am afraid….” Fear is natural and comes into life occasionally. Though he experienced fear, David was still a person after God’s own heart. Being frightened does not make us a bad person. It is how we handle the feelings of fear that make all the difference.
  • Take note of how David handles his fears. He remarks when he is afraid, he trusts in the Lord. The Lord can deliver him from his fears.
  • At the end of verse 4, David asks, “What can mere mortals do to me?” He recalls God is more powerful than the circumstances causing him to fear. The Lord says in Isaiah 41:10, “10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
        do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
    I will strengthen you and help you;
        I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

When we are afraid, the Bible suggests we look to our trust in the Lord for strength.

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