Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thank God for Overnight Guests

By Andrea Merrell

You also, like living stones, are being built 
into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, 
offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God 
through Jesus Christ. 
1 Peter 2:5 NIV

As I zoomed through the house changing sheets, dusting, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, and doing all the last minute things you do before company arrives, I had a bit of an epiphany.  The realization that hit me was how thankful I should be for overnight guests.

My house usually stays pretty much “decent and in order,” but when you live somewhere 24/7 and lead a busy life, you tend to get used to or overlook certain things. Those minor details that we no longer pay attention to (cobwebs, fingerprints on the French doors, dead bugs on the windowsills, dirty fans and light fixtures) might be the very first things our guests will notice. It’s a matter of taking off the rose-colored glasses and getting out the magnifying glass.

Sometimes I have to do the same in my spiritual life. This spirit, soul, and body that I deal with 24/7 can become slack, causing me to overlook important elements to my wellbeing. When my quiet time with the Lord gets interrupted or my study of His Word gets pushed aside because of busyness (or laziness), things get out of kilter. When I worry and fret over things I should be praying about instead, my stress level goes up, and I know it’s time to clean out the cobwebs. That’s when God reminds me He is a permanent guest in my heart, and I should keep it in order at all times.

So, thank God for those occasional overnight guests who cause me to take a closer look at my housekeeping and take care of those things that are long overdue. And thank God for His mercy and grace as He gently reminds me it’s time to clean up my spiritual house.

(Photos courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/FrameAngel/jk1991)


Monday, November 16, 2015

Check Your Balance

By Andrea Merrell

When my kids were growing up, they thought as long as we had checks in the checkbook, we had money to spend. It didn’t matter to them whether or not we had funds in the bank. The blank checks were the same as cash in their eyes. They were convinced we had a money tree somewhere in the yard, so there was nothing to worry about.

I wonder how many times we look at our heavenly bank account the same way. The Bible tells us to lay up treasure in heaven. We need to make regular deposits if we intend to make regular withdrawals.

So, how do we make those heavenly deposits? By taking God’s Word seriously and doing what it says. If we want to reap a harvest, we must first sow the seed, so let’s make a few deposits.

  • Need a financial blessing? Are you tithing and giving offerings? Are you generous with your money and your possessions? 
  • Do you need a healing? When is the last time you prayed fervently for a sick friend or family member? Are you meditating and confessing Scriptures on healing?
  • Are you running low on peace? Cast your care upon the Lord and learn to be a peacemaker.
  • Do you need a friend? Start by being a friend.
  • Is there a shortage of real love and commitment in your life? Try putting others first and walking in love toward the unlovely and unlovable.
The list could go on and on. It’s a matter of sowing and reaping, a scriptural principle that works in every area. Our daily quiet time with God, spent in fellowship, prayer, and reading His Word, along with the random acts of kindness we do throughout the day, will keep our account full and accessible. God promises to supply our needs, but He expects us to do our part.

The TV commercial says, “So, what’s in your wallet?” My question is, “What’s in your heavenly bank account?”

Have you checked your balance lately?

(Photos courtesy of freedigitalphoto/watiporn/cooldesign.)


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Monday, November 9, 2015

What's It All About?

By Andrea Merrell

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God, and keep his commandments;
for this is the whole duty of man.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 KJV

“What’s it all about, Daddy? Why did God put us here?”

This line came from a TV sitcom, but it's a true problem for many people. Even the old song which asks, “What’s it all about, Alfie?”  begs an answer to this ageless question.

Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God has a plan for each of us. A plan and a purpose. But we can spend our entire life looking for the right path, struggling to find ways to please God and accomplish that purpose.

We hear things like: Work for God. Serve Him. Volunteer your time. Tithe. Give to the needy. Visit the widows and orphans. Read your Bible. Pray. These are all good (and necessary) things, but we can get so caught up in the doing that we lose the being part of our existence. What we do does not determine who we are ... only knowing who we are in Christ.

So, what does God expect from us? What’s it really all about? Sometimes we make our Christian walk difficult and complicated when it’s supposed to be a matter of following Him with simple, childlike faith.

The writer of Ecclesiastes sums it up very succinctly when he says, Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.

That’s what it's truly all about.

(Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.)


Monday, November 2, 2015

Apples of Gold

By Andrea Merrell

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold 
in pictures of silver.
Proverbs 25:11 KJV

“Oh, how I needed to hear that!”

People all around us—those we know and those we don’t—are starving for a kind word. Sometimes a simple attaboy or attagirl will make someone’s day and give them the motivation to keep moving forward.

Words are powerful. The Bible says they carry the power of both life and death. They create faith or fear. They can build up and tear down. Angry, unkind words create wounds that go deep, while soft answers and gentle words can soothe a troubled soul.

God speaks life into our spirit the same way He spoke the world into existence, and He expects us to do the same. When we speak just the right word (of love, praise, thanksgiving, encouragement, and affirmation) at just the right time, the Bible says it is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. The Message puts it this way: The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry.

I’ve heard it said that it only takes one single word from God to change the entire course of someone’s destiny. When we are willing to be generous with our words—and led by the Holy Spirit—we can speak life into those around us. You may not remember exactly what you said, but your words may be a lifeline for them and something they will remember for eternity.

(Photo courtesy of morguefile.com and imelenchon.) 


Monday, October 26, 2015

Conditional Forgiveness

By Andrea Merrell

“I’ll forgive her when she apologizes and not before!”

A statement like that is usually born out of the heat of the moment, or a long, festering period of anger and resentment. Even though it’s totally understandable, it’s not healthy or scriptural.

If Jesus had waited on all those who persecuted, tormented, and crucified Him to come and confess their wrongdoing, there would have been no forgiveness. Jesus responded in love and in accordance to His Father’s Word.

The truth is people need love and forgiveness the most when they deserve it the least—even you and me. When Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” He was teaching us that the ability to pardon the sins of others is an act of faith and sheer obedience. It is not conditional or based on the response of the offender. In fact, it’s not for their benefit … it’s for ours.

God tells us to forgive so we can be forgiven. So how is your forgive-o-meter? Are you putting conditions and unrealistic expectations on others? If you are, or if you’re having trouble getting past a painful situation, think about all God has done for you. Think about the sacrifice Jesus made so all your sins could be washed away by His shed blood. Call to remembrance all the things you have been forgiven for.

God shows each of us love and forgiveness the most when we deserve it the least, and He expects us to do the same.

(Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/StuartMiles.)


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