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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Monday, July 18, 2016

Heart Condition

By Andrea Merrell

God desires our praise, our worship, and intimate communion. But does He expect each of His children to respond exactly the same way?

If you look around at any church service or Christian concert, you’ll see people responding to God in a variety of ways. While some hands are raised high in worship and surrender, heads are bowed and eyes closed in silent respect and adoration. Some might dance with joyful abandon while others sit quietly, soaking in His presence.

At a ladies’ conference several years ago, my friend, Joyce, was seated next to a lady who seemed to take extreme interest in the way Joyce was responding to the service and continually tried to coach her. “Don’t close your hands, honey. That means your heart and mind are closed to the Lord. Open your hands and turn your palms upward so you can receive what God has for you.”

After the third time, Joyce turned to me with a sigh and a look of total exasperation on her face. She was distracted by the constant interruptions and getting little out of the speaker’s presentation. Not wanting to be rude or offend the lady by asking her to mind her own business, we quietly slipped out of the balcony like we were going to the restroom and found another seat.

What this well-meaning lady failed to realize is that we all receive from God according to our own personality, upbringing, and state of mind. We should never try to dictate to others how they should respond when in God’s presence.

It was a very uncomfortable situation at the time but if we could go back and have a do-over, I would very nicely say to the lady, “It’s the condition of the heart that matters, not the position of the hands. That’s what God sees.”

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/imagerymajestic.)

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Monday, July 11, 2016

Do Trials Make You Bitter or Better?

By Andrea Merrell

The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
 Though they stumble, they will never fall,
for the Lord holds them by the hand.
Psalm 37:23-24 NLT
 

No one enjoys going through hard times, whether physical, financial, emotional, or relational, but the Bible tells us trials and tribulations come with the proverbial territory.

There is an old song that talks about never being promised a rose garden. In the same way, God never promised His children there would be no bumps in the road on our journey through life. What He does promise is to be with us every step of the way. He is always there to lead, guide, direct, protect, and provide. He gives us strength, wisdom, and peace. The light of His Word brightens the path before us.

When we wander off the path or the enemy comes against us, God promises to take what the enemy means for evil and destruction, turn it around, and work it out for our good and His glory. He makes beauty out of ashes and turns mourning into dancing. He truly works all things together for good for those who belong to Him.

When I look back over some of the hard times in my life and the storms I have survived, I can see how God took all those moments and events, redeemed them, and threaded them into my life to make me the person He created me to be. It’s much like the artist who adds shadows and contours to a painting to give it character and depth.

When we trust the Lord and allow Him to mold and shape us, He uses all things—big and small—to build character, integrity, and resilience into us. He doesn’t waste a single thing.

Trials can make us bitter or better. I choose better.

How about you?

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Ambro.)

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

No Trespassing

By Andrea Merrell


She might as well have been wearing a sign that said, KEEP OUT/NO TRESPASSING: Violators will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Her body language dared anyone to come close or even attempt to cross the invisible barrier that had been created.

Healthy boundaries are good. We all need them to keep us accountable and out of trouble. The danger comes when we build a wall so high that no one can get over, around, under or through it.

Why do we build these walls? There are countless reasons: fear, rejection, hurt, ridicule, embarrassment, and abandonment, just to name a few.

These walls give us a false sense of protection and even security, but they also shut out those around us and rob us of a life filled with love and true fulfillment.

God desires to tear down those walls and fill us with every good and perfect gift from above. All we have to do is give Him permission. When we learn to trust Him to keep us safe and secure, we can rest in His mercy and grace, knowing He will always be right by our side.

And there's no need to get rid of the No Trespassing sign … just hold it up and show it to the Enemy the next time he comes knocking.

(Photo courtesy of morguefile.com.)

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Beware of Toxic Spirituality

By Andrea Merrell

Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve …
Joshua 24:15 NIV

Are you discouraged? We all deal with discouragement to some degree, but sometimes we don’t realize the dark and dangerous path it puts us on. When we keep walking the wrong way, never stopping to deal with our emotions, heart issues, and our sin, we can be well on the way to a toxic spiritual life.

Discouragement is subtle. It begins by making you feel weary and maybe a little frustrated. Fatigue leads to stress and even fear. When left unchecked, discouragement grows into a sense of hopelessness and defeat and can spiral into full-blown depression.

Been there? I have, and it’s not a place I want to dwell … or even revisit.

Life is full of petty annoyances, but they’re like mud puddles. They might get you wet and dirty, but they’re not killers or life-changers—unless we allow them to be.

So, what’s the answer? When life turns sour and you find your foot in the mud, shake it off. Allow God’s Word to wash and cleanse you (Ephesians 5:26). We are told to choose the one we will serve. We can choose God’s way—peace, joy, love, encouragement—or we can choose to live in defeat.

If you’re dealing with a spirit of discouragement, turn to God and His powerful, life-changing, life-giving Word. He will set you free and put you on the right path.


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

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