Monday, December 11, 2017

Change Your Perception

By Andrea Merrell


Someone once asked, “How do you see yourself?” I don’t remember my answer, but it was a thought-provoking question that has stayed with me for years.

Many people tend to look at the world—and themselves—through the proverbial rose-colored glasses. Being positive and optimistic is an admirable trait but can cause a person to see something as better than it really is.

On the other hand, too many of us go through life seeing ourselves in a negative light or through the eyes of others. By doing this, we set ourselves up for failure. It’s impossible to know exactly what another person thinks. Besides, their thoughts and attitudes can shift as fast as the wind.

To see ourselves as we truly are—as God sees us—it’s necessary to change our perception. The only way to do this is to see through God’s eyes. Through His loving gaze into our soul, we see a child of the King who is loved, forgiven, and destined for an eternity so wonderful our mind can’t comprehend.

God looks at us and says: You are loved. You are valuable, special, and unique. You are forgiven. You are redeemed. You are my child. You are forever mine.

So … how do you see yourself? If not through God’s eyes, it’s time to get into His Word and change your perception.

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Aleksa D.)


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Monday, December 4, 2017

When the Pressure Gets Too Great

By Andrea Merrell

 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you 
and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and lowly in heart, 
and you will find rest for your souls. 
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV

I felt like I was going down for the third time, overwhelmed by circumstances far beyond my control. If one more thing was thrown at me, I would surely go under.

Do you ever feel as if you’ll never hold up under the burdens you carry? We face pressure is so many ways. It might be excruciating pain in our body, a lack of finances, or a failed relationship. We agonize over prodigal children, work-related issues, and addictive behavior. The Bible calls these the “cares of this life.”

Spiritual battles are tough. The Enemy cranks up the pressure, hoping to wipe us out. What he fails to realize is that God uses the pressure to develop us, not destroy us

The truth about pressure is it’s not always a bad thing. Great wine comes from crushing the carefully tended grapes. And diamonds are formed by that same crushing force. Even a pressure cooker produces a variety of delicious foods.

When the apostle Paul couldn't take it anymore, he cried out to God for help. God's answer? "My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9 TM).

Paul's response? "It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take my limitations in stride and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size: abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over. And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become" (v.v. 9-10 TM).

Sometimes, the pressure we experience will transform our thinking, help us see people and situations in a new light, or move us from one place to another. The key is in not facing it alone. Jesus tells us to come to Him when we’re weary so we can find rest. The Message says He will teach us the “unforced rhythms of grace.”

The Lord came to my rescue, and He'll do the same for you. If you're in a spiritual battle, cry out to Him and allow His grace to pull you through. He'll give you everything you need ... peace, strength, comfort, wisdom, and direction. When the pressure gets too great, let Jesus take over. Your faith will grow, and you'll come out victorious.

Are you weary? Reach out to Jesus. He’s waiting for you.

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and digitalart.)


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Monday, November 27, 2017

Stinkin' Thinkin'

By Andrea Merrell

We demolish arguments and every 
pretension that sets itself up
against the knowledge of God, 
and we take captive every thought
to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV


The thought shot through my mind—out of the blue and without warning. It caught me completely off guard and tried to anchor itself in my soul.

What do I do with this? How do I get rid of it? I asked the Lord. Something my former pastor used to say came to mind. He told his congregation that whenever this happened to him, he would say out loud, “that’s not my thought.”

Our thought life is much more important than we realize. The Bible says, “as he (a man) thinks within himself, so he is” (Proverbs 23:7 NASB). In other words, our thoughts shape us into what we become.

If we want to change our life—our words, actions, and attitudes—we must first change our thoughts. One author says our thoughts can be our best friends or our worst enemies. Pastor and author Bob Gass says, “What enters your mind repeatedly occupies it, shapes it, controls it, and, in the end, expresses itself in what you do and who you become.”

Everything we expose ourselves to affects us either positively or negatively—where we go, who we hang around with, what we read, what we listen to, and what we watch, especially the media. It’s a difficult battle to fight, but we’re given the tools in Philippians 4:8: think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.

If you’re tired of walking around with stinkin’ thinkin’, it’s time to live beyond your feelings and your circumstances. It’s time to let it go and “let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5 NKJV).

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

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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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