Monday, June 26, 2017

God Wants to Set Us Free

By Andrea Merrell

Stand fast therefore in the liberty 
by which Christ has made us free,
and do not be entangled again 
with a yoke of bondage.
Galatians 5:1 NKJV

Sometimes I can’t help but laugh at the way God sets things up when He wants to get my attention.

 Recently, on my way to church, I listened to a song on the radio that spoke of being free. The line that jumped out at me was “there are no chains on me.” When I got to church, the guest speaker read from John 8:31-36 about how the truth makes us free. “Freedom,” he said, “releases you into your calling and destiny.” When the service was over and I got back into my car, there was another song on the radio about … you guessed it … being set free.


Free. That was my word from God for the day, but I wondered what it meant for me specifically.

I tried to remember all the things that had held me captive in the past—chains that kept me in bondage. There was rejection and verbal abuse which caused low self-esteem and a desire to be a people-pleaser. There were deep wounds inflicted by cruel words and situations out of my control. Even though God had lovingly delivered me from the pain of my past, there seemed to be more chains to be broken.

The next morning when I opened my devotional book, the title of the devotion was “God Wants to Set You Free.” Okay, God, I thought. I get it. It’s obvious we have work to do.

As I spent time in God’s presence, He revealed negative attitudes and offences that needed to be dealt with. As I confessed my sin, He once again forgave me, cleansed my heart, and renewed my spirit and soul. He washed me clean and set me free from the unseen chains that were holding me down. Sometimes we don’t realize how much bondage we’re in until we’re delivered and looking at things from the other side with a different perspective—a godly perspective.

Freedom is a wonderful gift. Allow God to set you free today.

***
I would love for you to check out my new book, Marriage: Make It or Break it, now available on Amazon.

(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Stuart Miles/David Costillo Dominici.)

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Listening for God’s Voice

 By Andrea Merrell

Then the cares and anxieties of the world 
and distractions of the age, 
and the pleasure and delight and false glamour 
and deceitfulness of riches, 
and the craving and passionate desire for other things 
creep in and choke and suffocate the Word, 
and it becomes fruitless.
Mark 4:19 AMPC


My husband says I’m hard of hearing. The audiologist says I have excellent hearing. How can this be?

A hearing test always produces very positive results. I can hear the tiniest noises that others can’t always hear. So why is it that my husband so often has to repeat himself when we’re talking?

For some reason, whenever there’s background noise—TV, radio, fan, water running, wind, or any type of machinery—I have a hard time distinguishing voices and conversation. It’s very annoying, both to me and the person who has to repeat himself. I have to remind myself to listen carefully.

I’ve found that in our Christian walk, we can have the same problem distinguishing God’s voice above the cacophony of the world. The Bible calls it the distractions of the age. We’re pulled in so many directions with so many voices calling to us that it’s easy to allow the cares and anxieties of the world  to come in and choke out God's Word and silence His voice. Again, this is where I have to remind myself to listen carefully. 

God’s desire is to lead and guide us throughout each and every day. He speaks to us in many different ways, but it’s up to us to tune our ear to listen. Just like adjusting the volume on our radio or TV, we can turn down the voices of the world that are clamoring for our attention, and allow God’s voice to be heard loud and clear.

God is speaking. Are you listening?

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Ohmega1982.)

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Monday, June 12, 2017

People-Pleasing Is a Dead-End Street

By Andrea Merrell

Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people,
but of God. If pleasing people were my goal,
I would not be Christ’s servant.
Galatians 1:10 NLT

As a former, rehabilitated, dyed-in-the-wool people pleaser, I can tell you it’s a dead-end street. Once you think you’ve proven yourself to people, made them happy, and lived up to their standards … the standards change, leaving you back at square one, defeated and frustrated. It’s a vicious cycle that produces nothing but hopelessness.

Everyone needs approval and acceptance, but sometimes—especially when we have a low opinion of ourselves—we find ourselves constantly seeking the approval of others while trying to convince them we're valuable.

I’ve learned the hard way that the only approval I need is God’s. He's the One I need to please. And the good news is that I don’t have to jump through hoops to get there.

There’s a popular Christian song that talks about not needing our name in lights or seeking the applause of others. Why? Because in our Father’s eyes we are both famous and adored, and He knows us by name. In His opinion, we're both valuable and special.

Paul said in Galatians that he was not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. Pastor and author Bob Gass says:
Until you quit agreeing with the opinions of those who criticize you, you’ll remain locked in a prison of your own making. When your critic’s opinion becomes your opinion, you’ve built a prison inside your soul with only one prisoner—YOU. The fact is, some of the people you’ve spent your life trying to impress may never be impressed. And you need to accept that from God’s perspective, it doesn’t matter.

If you need approval, stop trying to please everyone. Look to God for what you desire. He already thinks you’re the bomb. 😊


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

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Monday, June 5, 2017

Don't Get Ahead of God

By Andrea Merrell

But those who wait on the Lord

Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31 NKJV


Life can be brutal at times, making it hard to wait on God, trusting Him to come to our rescue. Instead, we analyze the situation, come up with our own plan, then run ahead of Him as we try to fix things.

I love what Sarah Young says in 40 Days with Jesus:

Concentrate on keeping in step with me, instead of trying to anticipate My plans for you. If you trust that my plans are to prosper you and not to harm you, you can relax and enjoy the present moment … Your main focus should be staying close to Me. I set the pace in keeping with your needs and my purpose. (~Jesus)

No matter what's going on in our lives, God knows all about it and has a plan. He sees the big picture. He has promised to always be with us, fight the battle for us, and to work all things together for our good.

According to Merriam Webster’s, to wait doesn’t just mean to remain stationary, it also means to look forward expectantly, serve, and to be ready and available. In other words, it’s not the time for us to just sit still and do nothing.

When we learn the true spiritual posture of waiting on the Lord—praising, trusting, and serving—we move from a place of anxiety to a place of rest, filled with His peace.

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

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Monday, May 29, 2017

No Risk ... No Reward

By Andrea Merrell

And without faith it is impossible to please God,
because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists
and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Hebrews 11:6 NIV

We’ve all heard the saying “no pain, no gain.” It seems anything worth achieving comes with a cost, whether it’s losing weight, bodybuilding, training for a sport, improving your marriage, or starting a business.

Whatever we do requires effort. We must do our part. In God’s kingdom, our part is faith, for without it we have no chance of pleasing Him.

Abraham had to leave everything behind and travel to an unknown land. Peter had to get out of the boat. Ananias was instructed to go to Saul of Tarsus and lay hands on him so he would receive his sight. Saul was well-known for terrorizing and killing Christians.

This was all at God’s command … His direction.

When God says go, there is a blessing waiting ahead. Abraham became the father of the faith. Peter was tested and proved strong as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus. Saul—who later became Paul—received his sight and became an apostle who wrote a good portion of the New Testament.

When we’re not willing to be obedient—leaving the familiar, getting out of the boat, and going where God says go—we miss out on God’s provision and purpose.

No risk … no reward.

What is God telling you to do? Will you listen and obey?


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

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