Monday, November 20, 2017

When You Feel Like God's Abandoned You

By Andrea Merrell

Lord, you have examined my heart

    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
 You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
 You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.

Psalm 139:1-4 NLT

“God, where are you?” I asked over and over. There was no answer. I wondered if I’d been tossed aside to fend for myself.

Have you ever felt as if God has completely abandoned you—turning a deaf ear to your prayers and ignoring your faith?

If so, you’re human.

There’s nothing better than walking in close communion with the Lord, feeling His presence and hearing His voice. But sometimes we find ourselves in a hard place, and we think we’re there all alone.

Even Jesus faced a time when He asked the Father why He had been forsaken.

But the powerful, life-giving Word of God is the truth we can cling to no matter what we’re going through. In reality, the Lord is as close as our breath and knows us even better than we know ourselves. He has promised to never leave us, so He’s always there—even when we can’t feel His presence. He’s concerned with everything that concerns us. Our names are engraved on the palms of His hands. He even numbers the hairs on our head. As we seek Him and draw close to Him, He promises to draw close to us. When we take one step, He takes two.

When the cares of this life and the voice of the Enemy tell you that God has abandoned you, turn to His Word. Rest in His promises. He will never let go of you.

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Stuart Miles.)

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Leave Them Better Than You Found Them

By Andrea Merrell


You know that God anointed Jesus from Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and with power. Jesus went everywhere
and did good things, such as healing everyone
who was under the devil’s power.
Jesus did these things because God was with him. 
Acts 10:38 God’s Word Translation

It was a mess. The walls needed paint, the carpet had to be replaced, and the yard was filled with trash. The basement was loaded with boxes overflowing with junk, and the refrigerator and freezer were  full of food—some rotten, some untouched.

Renters. Certainly, not all are bad, but we’ve heard horror stories about the ones who are. My daughter’s experience was not a positive one.

It’s sad when someone leaves a place so much worse than they found it. I cringe at the mess some people create in a restaurant, especially when there’s food all over the table and trash on the floor. As an added insult to the server, they leave no tip. My husband laughs at me for cleaning the table and stacking the dishes (and we always leave a generous tip). I tend to have the same mindset in a hotel room, making sure not to leave a mess behind.

But it’s even worse when we leave a person in worse condition than we found him.

Jesus is our example. He went everywhere and did good things … because God was with him. Wherever Jesus went, He always left people better off than He found them. Those He touched were healed, delivered, fed, encouraged, loved, and filled with hope.

Shouldn’t we do the same?

No matter where you go or who you encounter, leave them better than you found them.

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Master isolated images.)

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Monday, October 30, 2017

Don't Be a Negative Nelly

By Andrea Merrell

I knew the answer to my question before it left my lips, but I asked it anyway … just to be polite. “How are you today?”

With the familiar frown I had become accustomed to, the woman proceeded to tell me everything—and I mean everything—that had gone wrong that day.

This woman is not a close friend. She's a virtual stranger in a place of business, someone I see three to four times a month. In all my dealings with her, I’ve never heard a single positive word come out of her mouth. I imagine if she won the lottery, she would tell me she was having a bad hair day, her dog just died, and she had a headache from trying to figure out how to spend all that ridiculous money. To me she has become Negative Nelly.

Negativity is a habit. We train ourselves to look for the bad, while taking all the good in our life for granted.

The Israelites were delivered from bondage and slavery, and God provided every single thing they needed in their journey to the Promised Land. He sent manna from heaven, gave them water from a rock, and drowned their enemies in the sea. He kept them well and strong and didn’t even allow their clothing or sandals to wear out. He was right there with them—in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night—ready to meet their needs, yet all they did was complain. Because of their negativity, a trip that should have taken twenty-one days lasted forty years. The worst part is that the majority of them never lived to experience what God had in store for them.

How many times have I been like the Israelites, murmuring and complaining instead of being thankful and praising God for His protection and provision? And how many times have I voiced those complaints to people who didn’t really want to hear them?

God reminds us over and over in His Word that we are to be salt and light, full of joy and peace, offering hope to everyone we meet. That requires a positive mindset and getting rid of our negative habits.

The next time you want to share your complaints with someone, remember … no one enjoys a Negative Nelly.

 (Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Ben Schonewille.)


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Monday, October 23, 2017

Spots and Wrinkles

By Andrea Merrell

 That He might present her to Himself a glorious church,
not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing,
but that she should be holy and without blemish.
Ephesians 5:27 NKJV

I did everything possible, but it was no use. It was ruined.

The shirt—one of my husband’s best—went through the washer and dryer with an ink pen in the pocket. The stain was small, but there was no way to salvage the shirt.

While throwing the shirt in the garbage, I was reminded of the Scripture about not having spot or wrinkle … or any such thing, and I wondered how many times my failure to keep myself holy and without blemish had caused a spot that ruined my Christian walk.

Just like one rotten apple can spoil the rest of the barrel, one tiny spot of anger, resentment, or unforgiveness can cause a root of bitterness that not only defiles us, but everyone in our path. James 1:27 tells us to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. That means we have to constantly renew our mind and guard our heart.

Before doing laundry, I always check pockets. Now, I’m a little more diligent in my search. In the same way, I plan to be a little more diligent about checking my thoughts, attitudes, words, and actions.

How about you?


(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos/Aleks Melnik.)


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Monday, October 16, 2017

Getting Over the Hurdles

By Andrea Merrell

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, 
for he who comes to God must believe that He is,
and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Hebrews 11:6 NKJV


“It’s always something!”

I’ve found myself saying that a lot to my husband lately. We get over one hurdle—sickness, financial difficulty, job issues, or family problems—and here comes another. There seems to be, as they say, no rest for the weary.

My attitude changed recently while reading from a devotional during my quiet time. According to the author, these constant hurdles are being used to test and grow my faith.

The Bible tells us that we can’t please God without faith. Actually, it’s impossible. That means our entire journey through this life is learning to trust God and believe that He is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. Pastor and author Bob Gass puts it this way: “The key to momentum is always having something to look forward to and believe God for. You either venture or vegetate.”

In other words, if we don’t use our faith, it won’t develop—just like muscles will atrophy when not used. Every situation the disciples faced—no fish after fishing all night, getting caught in a terrible storm, and facing opposition at every turn—increased their capacity to believe and trust. They continually had opportunities to see exactly what God could do.

An old song says if we never had problems, we’d never know God could solve them. Nineteenth-century preacher Phillip Brooks said, “Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your power; pray for power equal to your tasks.”

As long as our faith is being tested, we are growing wiser, stronger, and more resilient. When we see each hurdle as an opportunity that matures us and brings us closer to God, we just might get over them a little faster and easier. In fact, we might even learn to appreciate them.


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

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