Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Have We Lost Our Integrity?

By Andrea Merrell

We see it everywhere we turn—the workplace, the government, and even in the church—a loss of integrity, of doing the right thing even when no one is watching or giving us credit for our actions.

I think we would all agree our society is spiraling downward at an alarming rate. There are no moral absolutes, and it’s hard to know who we can trust or depend on. People are encouraged to be free thinkers and do whatever feels right—to them. Ungodly people make the rules, and we’re supposed to blindly follow … no questions asked.

But we should ask. And here’s the big question: What does God say?

This is what Psalm 119:1-8 tells us in the Message:

You’re blessed when you stay on course,
    walking steadily on the road revealed by God.
You’re blessed when you follow his directions,
    doing your best to find him.
That’s right—you don’t go off on your own;
    you walk straight along the road he set.
You, God, prescribed the right way to live;
    now you expect us to live it.
Oh, that my steps might be steady,
    keeping to the course you set;
Then I’d never have any regrets
    in comparing my life with your counsel.
I thank you for speaking straight from your heart;
    I learn the pattern of your righteous ways.
I’m going to do what you tell me to do;
    don’t ever walk off and leave me.

The only way to walk in integrity is to have a standard, and that standard is God’s holy, unchangeable, living Word.  It's infallible, forever settled in heaven, and the only source of truth. 

Why not make it your daily go-to guidebook.

Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Pazham/StuartMiles.)


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Monday, September 19, 2016

Has God Stopped Talking?

By Andrea Merrell

The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom,
    so that I know how to comfort the weary.
Morning by morning he wakens me
    and opens my understanding to his will. 

Isaiah 50:4 NLT

As soon as I said “God told me,” she checked out and stopped listening.

“What? God doesn’t talk to us!” She shot me a look that clearly said I was crazy, then walked away.

I wanted to ask her exactly when God stopped talking. He spoke the world into being and had daily fellowship with Adam and Eve. He spoke to Moses from a burning bush, a cloud, a pillar of fire, and the cleft of a rock. He chastised Balaam from the lips of a donkey. He instructed Paul through a vision and Joseph in a dream. He spoke to Mary through an angel and continually warned His people through the prophets.

That’s a lot of talking. So when exactly did He stop?

Thankfully, He hasn’t … and never will.

God loves us with an all-consuming love and desires a personal, intimate relationship with each of His children. So why would He leave all the communication up to us? Relationship is two-sided. That’s why He sent the Holy Spirit to live inside us to lead, guide, comfort, instruct, and correct.

God speaks through His Word and in that still, small voice in our quiet times with Him. His words can be heard through the lips of a trusted friend and in the “I love you” of a child. He can give us a life-changing word even through a stranger.

What I would have told my friend—if she had been willing to listen—is that God has spoken to me many times in many different ways. My responsibility is to listen and respond.

If you think God is too far away or too busy to care about you, think again. He cares about everything that concerns you, and He is patiently waiting for you to call on Him.

God is always ready to talk to His children. Are you listening?

(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Pansa/Stockimages.)


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Monday, September 12, 2016

Hang In There

By Andrea Merrell

I have told you all this so that you may have 
peace in me. Here on earth you will have 
many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because 
I have overcome the world. 
John 16:33 NLT

How do you know when it’s time to go—from a stressful job, an unhealthy church, or a toxic relationship?

I have found myself in all three situations … more than once. When things got really tough, I prayed, “God, do you have me here for a reason, or are you telling me it’s time to go?”

There’s a very fine line between knowing when to hang in there—hoping things will turn around—and when to walk away. Sometimes God has us in a situation or environment where He is molding us, changing us, chipping off the rough edges. Or maybe we’re there to help someone else.

At other times, it’s simply time to go.

I remember one particular job situation where the lady I worked with for nine years retired. She was a jewel. The woman who took her place was a tyrant. I struggled for months, unsure whether I was to stay or go. When the situation became so bad it was affecting me mentally, emotionally, physically, and even spiritually, I felt like I was headed toward a nervous breakdown,

One Sunday morning at church, I said, “Father, I’ve tied a huge knot at the end of my rope and hung in there as long as I could. If you have a reason for me to stay, You need to let me know … give me peace. If not, please show me what to do. I can’t go on like this any longer."

Immediately after the service, the pastor’s wife asked if I would consider being part of the church staff. They needed someone immediately. With tears of joy and a huge sigh of relief, I said yes … knowing that was my answer, my cue to go. My one-week notice was given to the tyrant the very next day.

I’ve learned that the most important thing we can do is to follow the Holy Spirit’s lead. He will either give us a release or the staying power we need to complete the task. But no matter what happens, Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer (Romans 12:11-12 NIV).

When God says “Go,” don’t hesitate. But when He says “Stay,” know that He has a plan ... and hang in there.

(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Photostock/Stuart Miles.)


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Monday, September 5, 2016

Renewing the Mind ... God's Way

By Andrea Merrell

And do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,
that you may prove what is that good and acceptable
and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:2 NKJV

Renewing is something we’re all familiar with. It’s part of life. We renew our driver’s license, our gym memberships, and our loans at the bank. We renew furniture, marriage vows, and even old friendships.

But what about the most important thing?

Our minds.

Romans 12:2 tells us to renew our mind with His Word so we can be transformed from the inside/out. A renewed mind will cause us to think and act differently. This different mindset will produce different and more effective results in everything we say and do.

We’re told in 1 Corinthians 2:16 that we have the mind of Christ, but we’re also instructed in Philippians 2:5 to let—or allow—this mind to be in us. How is that even possible?

Because Jesus was the Word made flesh. When we saturate our minds with the powerful, life-giving Word of God, we take on the same mind that was in our Lord. When we begin to think like Jesus and live our lives accordingly, we will see amazing results.

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Stuart Miles.)


Monday, August 29, 2016

Getting the Real Inside Track

By Andrea Merrell

Who doesn’t like a good tip—especially those who bet on the horses and dabble in the stock market? We want the skinny on the best places to live, the most fuel-efficient cars, and the most fabulous restaurants. We seek the opinion of others about schools, churches, and the best and most reasonable places to shop.

Life is full of choices. Decisions must be made on a daily basis from “What do I cook for dinner?” to “Is it time for a career change?”

Seeking the opinions and advice of others—especially those who have been there/done that—is fine as long as we don’t only look for external direction. When we fail to look inside for internal guidance from the Holy Spirit, we can miss the wisdom of the ages and God’s perfect will for our lives.

Here are some promises we can hold fast to:

The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
    He delights in every detail of their lives.
Psalm 37:23 NLT

Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take.
Proverbs 3:6 NLT

Your own ears will hear him.
    Right behind you a voice will say,
“This is the way you should go,”
    whether to the right or to the left.
Isaiah 30:21 NLT

Want to get the real inside track? Ask God for wisdom and direction. Then listen closely. It’s that simple. 

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Stuart Miles.)