Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Door is Closed

By Andrea Merrell

And if you leave God's paths and go astray, 
you will hear a voice
behind you say, 
"No, this is the way; walk here.”
Isaiah 30:21 TLB


I was so excited. We had been such good friends years before and now we finally had a chance to reconnect. This was going to be the rekindling of one of the best, most meaningful relationships I had ever had—the BFF kind of friendship. There would be so much to talk about … so much catching up to do.

Or not.

After our initial greeting, the conversation was stilted and the awkwardness almost unbearable. It seemed we had gone our separate ways—physically, emotionally, and mentally. We no longer had a connection and our reunion fell flat.

I was devastated until I realized the woman had been put in my life for a certain season and a single purpose. When the season came to an end, God closed the door and we both moved on. Now, years later, here I was … trying to re-open the door with a crowbar.

Sound familiar?

Sometimes it’s hard to let go, and we can easily lose our way, but all seasons come to an end, according to God's plan. We can spend all our time staring at the locked door, trying to break it down, or peering through the keyhole. But God’s plan is for us to move on and look for the doors that are wide open with a welcome mat that says, This is the way, walk here.

That’s where the blessings are, and they're always better than before.

(Photos courtesy of morguefile.com.)

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Drive-thru Faith

By Andrea Merrell


“May I take your order please?” How many times do we hear that in the course of a week or month?

I recently read that the way some people spend time with God can be compared to fast-food fare or sitting down to a delicious meal at a fancy, fine-dining restaurant. It’s up to us.

When we become accustomed to living on spiritual fast food, it’s like driving up to the window and quickly picking out an item or two on the huge menu. We might even be asked if we want to super-size it. This can become an I’m-too-busy-to-slow-down-and-take-time mentality. Although it might satisfy our hunger for the moment, the needed nutrients are missing.

On the other hand, when we make the decision—and take the time—to put everything else aside and sit down to a nice meal, we come away relaxed and rejuvenated, full and satisfied.

Sometimes it’s okay—and even necessary—to grab something on the go, but we can’t make it a lifestyle. The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing and to seek His face continually. That doesn’t mean we have to be on our knees 24/7. We can have an attitude of prayer and talk to God all throughout the day, but He still wants us to set aside a special time to dine with Him. Those times allow us to experience His presence as He recharges our batteries and fills us with renewed strength for the journey ahead.

Babies can get by on milk for only so long. When the milk no longer satisfies and nourishes, their little tummies growl, asking for something more substantial. It’s the same with us. We can only get by with the fast-food mentality so long. Then, our spiritual stomachs will growl, begging to be fed the life-giving meat of the Word.

Don’t allow yourself to become spiritually malnourished. Fill yourself daily with God’s Word.

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Seize the Day

By Andrea Merrell

Jesus said to another, "Follow me."
He said, "Certainly, but first excuse me 
for a couple of days, please. 
I have to make arrangements for my father's funeral."
Jesus refused. "First things first. Your business is life, 
not death. And life is urgent: Announce 
God's kingdom!" Then another said, 
"I'm ready to follow you, Master, but first excuse me
while I get things straightened out at home."
Jesus said, "No procrastination. No backward looks.
You can't put God's kingdom off till tomorrow. 
Seize the day."  
Luke 9:59-62 MSG


Someone recently asked if I was faithful to do things on God’s timetable, according to His schedule, rather than my own. The question made me stop and think of all the things God has placed in my heart and instructed me to do. Have I done them?

Well … I intend to.

We all know the drill. When we’re especially busy, it’s easy to procrastinate. We put things off until we feel better, finances improve, the kids go to college, or a gazillion other reasons.

It’s been said we judge others by their actions while we judge ourselves by our intentions. Analyzing my mental to-do list, my intentions are great. My follow-through? Not so much. The question I have to ask myself is this: If God has something specific for me to do and I procrastinate, am I being disobedient. Probably not in all cases, but sometimes there is only a small window of opportunity. When I don’t respond quickly, I can miss a blessing or the chance to bless someone else.

We all have excuses. When Jesus said, “Follow me,” He was met with all sorts of excuses. One man wanted to wait until he made funeral arrangements, while another wanted to take care of things at home. Jesus had other plans and all He asked for was trust and obedience.

I am a creature of habit and live by my to-do list. But I’ve found that when I surrender that list to the Lord and allow Him to order my steps and arrange my day, He blesses me in supernatural ways and creates divine appointments that are amazing and wonderful. That’s when I know I’m on the right path, fulfilling my God-given calling.


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(Photos courtesy of morguefile.)


Monday, June 8, 2015

No Hidden Agenda

By Andrea Merrell

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: 
Take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, 
eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — and 
place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him … Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:1-2b MSG


How do you measure up?

I lived a large portion of my life as a people-pleaser, always trying to get approval by meeting the standards of others.

Raised by a very strict, legalistic grandfather, I learned early-on that to stay in his good graces, my behavior, attitude, grades, and everything else about me had to be, well … perfect. At least in his eyes. Looking back, I can clearly see his agenda: not being embarrassed or having his good reputation marred by his granddaughter.

As I got older, finished school, and moved into the workplace, it seemed everyone had some sort of agenda. Even friends and family members. As a result, my goal became trying to be what everyone else thought I should be. 

Trust me—not a good way to live.

Freedom finally came when I realized God has no hidden agenda—no favors He requires of me or unmet needs I’m expected to fix. He created and designed me for a purpose that no other living soul can fulfill. He’s not threatened by my success or embarrassed by my failures. He is continually at work, helping me to become the best possible version of myself—the one He created me to be.

When we place our everyday, ordinary life before God as an offering, He can do amazing things. A life lived to please others is a shallow life at best. It leads to frustration, confusion, and a feeling of emptiness. Only a life lived for God leads to true joy and a sense of accomplishment and peace.

(Photos courtesy of Morguefile.com.)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Bad Hair Day

By Andrea Merrell

For our sake, He made Christ [virtually] to be sin 
Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him 
we might become [endued with, viewed as in 
and examples of] the righteousness of God—what 
we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness. 
2 Corinthians 5:21 AMP


Not only was I having a bad hair day, it was a bad clothes, bad mood, bad everything day.

Sure that God was disgusted with me too, I resisted the urge to crawl back under the covers and retreat from the world. How could He possibly love me today when I couldn’t even stand myself?

Midway into my Monday morning pity party, the truth hit me full force. God loves me as much on my bad days as He does on my good ones. He doesn’t care about the state of my hair, my clothes, or even my mood. All He cares about is the state of my spirit and soul.

The Bible tells me I am approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him. As His child, His stamp of approval (the blood of Jesus) has been applied to my life. He has placed me in right standing with His holiness, taken away my filthy rags, and covered me with a robe of righteousness. He sees beyond this earthly fa├žade and sees the real me—the one He created and the one He died for.


Society screams at us to work hard to earn everything we can. With God, we don’t have to earn His respect or approval. He loves us just like we are—no matter what. When we are planted securely in Christ, our life is no longer performance based. We can rest in His unfailing, unconditional love and His amazing grace.

(Photos courtesy of Morguefile.com.)

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