Tuesday, April 24, 2018

To Do or Not To Do ... Is That Even a Question?

By Andrea Merrell

God expects us to lay our burdens at His feet. Cast all our care on Him. Give Him everything.

Everything? Okay, here goes.

Lord, I pray, I give you my all … spirit, soul, and body. All that I am, all I have, all my hopes and dreams.

Then I go away from that prayer and realize there was something important in my pocket I forgot to give Him—my to-do list.

Being a recovering perfectionist, I can definitely be a little OCD with my lists and notes. Okay, a lot OCD. But I’m learning. In the past, I would present my long laundry-list of items (that desperately needed to be checked off) to God and ask Him to help me get them done. Not a bad idea at all. It’s really difficult to accomplish something without Him, especially if I want to do it well and on time.

But lately, I’ve learned a new concept. A pastor recently said we shouldn’t get up in the morning and present our list to God, asking Him to bless it. Our best plan for the day, according to him, was to tell God good morning, then ask what He would like for us to accomplish that day. Sounds like a great plan to me. Changed my whole perspective.

While it’s true God cares about everything that concerns us, even down to the smallest detail, He is more concerned about His plan and purpose for us … what He wants to accomplish in and through us.

What I’ve learned is that my day works much better when I allow God to create and prioritize my to-do list instead of trying to invoke His blessings on my own opinion of what needs to be done.

If you’re a list-maker like me, try it. You might be surprised how well the Father will order your day and how much you will accomplish.

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


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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Relentless Love

By Andrea Merrell

The Lord is slow to anger 
and filled with unfailing love.
Numbers 14:18 NLT

Relentless. That was the only word that came to mind.

My husband and I generally avoid timeshare pitches, but this one seemed a good fit since we like to camp in our motor home. After the tour and a heavy-duty pitch, we turned down the $15,000 opportunity. Then the big boss came in and offered us the same opportunity for only $5,000. Needless to say, when we refused that offer as well, the folks at this establishment were not happy campers.

A few days later, I got an email saying another fantastic opportunity had just become available, and we could have the same package for only $1,000 plus a yearly fee. Amazing. From $15,000 down to $1,000 for the same amenities. Someone’s pocket would have been well-padded had we taken the original offer. This was months ago, and I still get an occasional email as they try to pull me in.

Relentless. Constant, incessant, persistent. Sounds like a bad thing, right? Like a drippy faucet. But it also means endless, unfailing, and unwavering—just like the love of God.

The Bible says God pursues us. He created us, formed us, gifted us, and gave us life. Thankfully, he is relentless in His pursuit. My heart is full to overflowing when I remember how God pursued me when I was determined to go my own way. That unfailing love surrounded me and wooed me back into His arms.

If you’re running from God, know that He is relentless in His pursuit of you.

 (Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and winnond.)


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Sunday, April 8, 2018

Childlike Faith

By Andrea Merrell

The Lord protects those of childlike faith.
Psalm 116:6 NLT

We met many years ago. I don’t even remember the woman’s name, but I will always remember her unwavering, childlike faith.

The woman (we’ll call her Doris) was a coworker who occupied the office next to mine in an accounting office. During the months we worked together, we were never what you would call close, but she was always anxious to share her prayer calendar with me.

Whenever Doris had a need, no matter how big or small, she would pray, asking God to meet that need, then write it on her calendar. If she needed forty-three dollars and fifty cents, that’s exactly what she asked for. When God met her need—which He always did—she would mark it on her calendar as “prayer answered.”

The Bible talks about childlike faith. I can see that trusting, unhindered faith in my granddaughters when I take their hand or promise to do something for them. They have no doubt I will do what I say.

Too many times, as Christians, our faith is childish instead of childlike. We want what we want when we want it … end of story. In 1 John 5:14-15 (MSG) we read:

And how bold and free we then become in His presence, freely asking according to His will, sure that He’s listening. And if we’re confident that He’s listening, we know that what we’ve asked for is as good as ours.

This verse has so much to say to us about how God operates. First, He expects us to come boldly into His presence, asking freely—not out of compulsion or obligation—for whatever we need. The key is in asking according to His will. When we do, we can be assured He is listening and that what we’ve asked for is as good as ours.

God is our provider. He is our Father. We should be as confident as a child when we ask for what we need and then place our hand in His.

Are you operating in childlike faith?

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and David Castillo Dominici.)


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Sunday, April 1, 2018

Are You a Grace-Giver?

By Andrea Merrell

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. 
Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.
Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
Luke 6:37 NIV

The first thought that shot through my mind when I saw the girl was, do you even own a mirror?

The next was maybe that’s the best she has. Then, maybe no one ever taught her how to dress properly and modestly. And finally, maybe she’s starved for attention and this is all she knows to do. Pray for her.

Ouch! I quickly repented of my critical attitude.

My grandparents always told me not to judge, make fun of, or look down on anyone. “Except for the grace of God, that could be you,” they said.

The Bible says “judge not.” Why? In order that we won’t be judged in return. So, how do we overcome a judgmental attitude and a critical spirit? By extending grace.

The truth is everyone messes up. But when we set high, unrealistic standards for others to live up to, we set them up for failure—at least in our own eyes. It’s that whole idea of removing a tiny splinter from another person’s eye when we have a stack of firewood in ours.

The Lord told Paul, “my grace is sufficient.” And it’s sufficient for us as well, both as the giver and the receiver. Pastor and author Bob Gass says, “When you take it upon yourself to condemn others, you are denying them the same grace you may need before the day is over.”

God gave freely so we might do the same. I need His grace, so I must extend it to others.

How about you? Are you a grace-giver?

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


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Monday, March 26, 2018

Panic Attacks

By Andrea Merrell

Do not be afraid of sudden terror,

Nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes;
For the Lord will be your confidence,
And will keep your foot from being caught.

Proverbs 3:25-26 NKJV

I couldn’t move. I couldn’t talk. I could barely breathe. Time seemed to stand still. I was frozen in a dark place as helplessness washed over me. I was out of control, spiraling downward.

Fear comes in many forms, one of which is a panic attack. If you’ve ever experienced one, you know the symptoms all too well: sweaty palms, tight chest, and extreme weakness. The Bible calls it “sudden fear.”

In a world filled with stress, demands on our time and energy, and so many unknowns, these attacks have become commonplace, sometimes requiring therapy or medication. Fear grabs us by the throat and tries to choke the life out of us. But fear—like everything else—is subject to the laws of God and must bow to the name of Jesus. If you struggle with this type of sudden fear, here are a few ways to overcome:

Fear causes our chest to constrict, producing short, shallow gasps of air. This can lead to hyperventilation. Take a deep, cleansing breath to calm yourself. Relax your body, then do it again. I bless God every chance I get; my lungs expand with His praise. I live and breathe God (Psalm 34:1-2).

Call out to the Lord, whether silently or out loud, even if it’s just to speak His name. The name of Jesus carries power and can drive away fear. When you call, He will answer. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6).

Not only does God inhabit the praises of His people, praise will drive away the Enemy. In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We don’t thank God for the problems, but we praise Him in the midst of—and in spite of—them.

Talk to yourself
Take your focus off your situation and turn it to the Word. Again, whether silently or out loud, let the Scriptures wash over you:  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).  Fear not, for I am with you (Isaiah 41;10). For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Resist the Devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7). 

Fill your mind, heart, and mouth with God's promises. They are yes and amen.

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


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