Tuesday, August 23, 2016

How Do We Minister to Others?

By Andrea Merrell

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.  
He comforts us in all our troubles 
so that we can comfort others.
When they are troubled, we will be able to give them
the same comfort God has given us.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

I sat in awkward silence as she poured out her story of pain and betrayal. The battle going on inside me was in not knowing whether to offer advice and encouragement or remain silent.

It’s much easier to be busy and stay away from people going through serious issues, but they need someone to care. Someone to listen. Someone to simply be there.

So, how do we know what to do? How do we effectively minister to others?

We might take a lesson from Job’s friends. Even though they didn’t offer the best advice, when they first arrived at Job’s side, they sat with him in complete silence for seven days. Their presence was Job’s comfort. The fact that they considered the plight of their friend more important than anything else was Job’s consolation. These men put His needs above their own.

What I’ve learned is that the best gift we can give someone in distress is to just be there. We can give advice when asked for it, but the most important thing we can do might be holding a hand while our friend cries and letting her know we love her.

I’ve heard it said that God does not comfort us so we can be comfortable, but so that we can comfort others. Be led by the Spirit and reach out to someone who needs you.

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Master Isolated Images.)


Monday, August 15, 2016

Take God's Hand

By Andrea Merrell

Do you believe God desires to speak to you and give you the guidance you need?

I can’t possibly count the number of times that still, small voice has given me direction when I needed it most, and even when I didn’t know I needed it at all.

There was a time years ago when, on my way to work, I felt a strong nudge to return home for something. When I walked into the kitchen, there was a piece of paper on top of the toaster oven—which had been left on—and it was about to go up in flames. Another time, I just happened to arrive at my grandmother’s house to find her sitting on the porch steps literally bleeding to death from a puncture to her leg. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that God has steered me clear of many mishaps during my years of walking closely with Him.

Being led by God through this life is the most important thing we can do. Staying close to Him, listening for His voice, and allowing Him to take our hand and lead us down the path He has chosen for us is not as hard as we make it. Listen to what Isaiah 42:16 says in the Message translation:

But I’ll take the hand of those who don’t know the way,
    who can’t see where they’re going.
I’ll be a personal guide to them,
    directing them through unknown country.
I’ll be right there to show them what roads to take,
    make sure they don’t fall into the ditch.
These are the things I’ll be doing for them—
    sticking with them, not leaving them for a minute.

There you have it. He’ll take our hand, guide us, and not leave us even for a minute. What better promise could we hope for?

If you need help today, reach out and take God hand. He’s standing there with arms stretched wide.

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


Monday, August 8, 2016

Scarred for Life

By Andrea Merrell

 He said to them, “Why are you troubled,
and why do doubts rise in your minds? 
Look at my hands and my feet.
Luke 24:38-39a

The scars were almost healed—at least the ones on the outside. They were barely visible. The ones on the inside she would carry forever.
The pain and agony she suffered at the hand of her abuser were great, but her deliverance and restoration were even greater. God poured His love on her wounds and healed them.

But there were still scars.

Jesus also suffered at the hands of his abusers. Death was the result, but He was gloriously raised from the grave by the loving hand of His Father and returned to His rightful place in God’s kingdom.

But He still carries the scars.

Even though wounds heal, the scars remain—visible or invisible. The woman looks at hers as a reminder of God’s love, protection, and ultimate deliverance. They remind her to be thankful and give praise to the One who set her free.

I believe that when Jesus looks at His hands and feet, it reminds Him of the sacrifice He made and the incredible love He has for each of us. One day we will look upon those scars and be reminded of the price He paid for our redemption. Then we’ll have all eternity to be thankful and give praise to the One who set us free.

(Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com.) 


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Monday, August 1, 2016

Don't Call Grace Busters

By Andrea Merrell

Do not give dogs what is sacred;
do not throw your pearls to pigs.
If you do, they may trample them under their feet,
and then turn and tear you to pieces.
Matthew 7:6 NIV

Do you have a grace buster in your life? You know … those people who shoot you in the foot every time God blesses you?

When I was growing up, my grandfather used to say to me, “Don’t cast your pearls before swine, and watch out for the dogs.” He had a lot of pet sayings, but for some reason, this was one of his favorites. He used it often and with a smirky little grin that seemed to say, “I know something you don’t—but maybe one day you’ll find out.”

Well, he was right. For years, I had visions of chubby pink animals with curly tails stomping beautiful white pearls underfoot, and mangy dogs trying to tear me apart—until the day I said the right thing to the wrong person. In my eagerness to share what God had spoken to my heart, hoping for encouragement and affirmation, I became the object of ridicule and scorn. Maybe it was jealousy or immaturity on the part of the hearer. Maybe they just didn’t give a rip. Whatever the reason for their reaction, I was deeply hurt.

I learned a hard lesson that day. It seems dreams, goals, and visions are a private, intimate matter of the heart. They are not to be taken lightly or shared with just anyone. I found out that by sharing my innermost desires and passions with the wrong person can bring on a bad case of doubt, discouragement, and disillusionment … causing me to give up on my dreams.
When God pours out His grace on you and blesses you in abundance, be careful who you share it with. Choose your confidants and counselors wisely and—whatever you do—don’t call the grace busters.

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/atibodyphoto/Idea go.)


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Monday, July 25, 2016

When You Do Your Part ... God Does His

By Andrea Merrell

Sometimes when I pray, I have to ask myself if I’m doing my part.

Doing my part can mean several things. It’s up to me to allow God to be involved in every part of my life. Staying in intimate fellowship depends on how much time I’m willing to commit to our relationship. The Bible tells me that when I draw close to Him, He will draw close to me. When I humble myself before Him, He will lift me up. When I confess my sins, He is always faithful to forgive me. When I ask for something in faith, according to His will, He will answer.

God’s love is amazing and unconditional. It’s a gift, and there’s nothing we can do to make Him love us more … or less. But when it comes to His Word, He puts the ball back in our court and asks us to meet the condition He has placed on the promise.

In other words, if I want to be blessed financially, He expects me to be a giver. As a tither, my covenant with God gives me the right to ask when I’m in need, knowing He will meet that need. If I need to be forgiven, He expects me to forgive. When I need wisdom, He says all I have to do is ask. When I admit my weakness, He pours His strength into me.

Does God know what I need before I ask? Absolutely. He also promises to give me the desires of my heart when I delight in Him. But He also tells me all through Scripture to worry about nothing and pray about everything.

If you’re in a situation that has you on your knees and you feel God is not responding, go to the Word and check out His promises. Have you met the conditions? Are you doing your part?

One thing is certain: God is faithful. He is a man of His Word. When we do our part … He will do His. That’s a promise you can count on.

(Photos courtesy of Morguefile and FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Stuart Miles.)


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