Monday, August 21, 2017

Not My First Rodeo

By Andrea Merrell

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

I’ve already been there/done that. This is not my first rodeo.

Over thirty years ago, I was diagnosed with Fuch’s Corneal Dystrophy and told a corneal transplant would be on my schedule in the near future.

Fast forward twenty-something years. In 2010, I received a transplant in my right eye along with cataract removal. Now, seven years later, I face the same surgery in my left eye—this week, in fact.

The good thing about having gone down this road before is knowing what to expect.

The bad thing about having gone down this road before is knowing what to expect.

As with all aspects of life, we learn to accept both the good and the bad, knowing God will always be with us, no matter what.  Looking back over the years, it’s easy to rejoice and be thankful for God’s faithfulness. Just as He promises in His Word, He has never left me and never let me down.

The Book of Proverbs is filled with practical wisdom and advice. In chapter 37 (1-8) we’re told to trust in the Lord, delight in Him, commit our ways to Him, and then rest. It’s a natural progression. We can’t delight in or commit our way to someone we don’t trust. But when we trust first, the other elements fall into place.

My life verse has become Proverbs 3:5-6. I’ve learned that when I seek the Lord and trust in Him with all my heart (every fiber of my being), He will direct, lead, and guide as only He can. When I refuse to be sidetracked by my own understanding—trying to analyze every situation and figure things out—He comes through every time in wonderful and unexpected ways.

No matter what you’re going through—even if it’s not your first rodeo—trust in the Lord, and He will lead you to that place of rest.


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

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Are You Growing in Grace?

By Andrea Merrell

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge 
of our Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ. To him be glory 
both now and forever. Amen.
2 Peter 3:18 KJV

Except for the grace of God, that could be you.

I’ve heard that statement all my life, especially from my grandparents—whether it was making fun of people who were different or looking down on folks who had less.

But what does grace really mean?

We sing about God’s amazing grace. We offer it up as a prayer before meals. Paul called it sufficient despite his problems. We are expected to extend it to others.

Most people define grace as God’s unmerited favor. We are saved by grace. But as I’ve gotten older, studied God’s Word, and had numerous opportunities to experience His goodness, I’ve realized it means so much more.

My former pastor once said that grace is “the power of God working within us.” I’ve also heard it said that grace causes growth. When we become new creations in Christ, grace is a catalyst that equips us to live a godly life of discipline, commitment, and obedience. The more we grow in grace, the more like Christ we become—loving, caring, compassionate, giving, and more considerate of others. As the “old man” fades away, we become less negative, critical, judgmental, angry, and self-centered.

As I look back over the years, I see how much time I wasted by not allowing God full reign in my heart and life. Today, my prayer is that I will continue to grow in grace and never take it for granted. Grace is a gift from God that I need each and every day of my life. It is also a gift that I need to freely extend to others.

What about you? Are you growing in grace?

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/radnatt)


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Monday, August 7, 2017

Jumping Through Hoops

By Andrea Merrell


Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?
Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and
work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms
of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
Matthew 11:28-30 MSG

My husband and I have always had excellent credit and never an issue with getting a loan. Not so with this particular refinance. With all the new government regulations and requirements, we found ourselves jumping through one hoop after another, only to get tangled up in all the bureaucratic red tape. I received enough paperwork to wallpaper a small mansion, and I gave the bank everything except a blood sample and my firstborn child.


Life itself can be messy and confusing. Sometimes we might wonder why everything can’t be simpler. I have a feeling each generation has struggled with those same thoughts. But even when things are easy, we tend to complicate them, just like salvation.

When I was growing up, all I heard preached were the don’ts—don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t curse, don’t, don’t, don’t. Then when I got a little older, I heard a lot of dos—get up two hours early and spend time with the Lord, read your Bible from cover to cover every year, pray 24/7, give until it hurts, and be ready for the Lord to send you to Africa.

Between all the dos and don’ts, having a relationship with the Lord seemed pretty difficult. There I was, trying to jump through all those hoops in order earn my place in the kingdom. What I finally realized was that God has made the way easy and the path straight. The Bible tells me that to receive from Him, I simply need to believe in my heart and confess with my mouth. And I don’t mean a mentality of “name it and claim it.” It’s a matter of knowing what His Word says, believing it, and making His Words my confession.


Thankfully, God has no hoops for us to jump through, no bureaucratic red tape, and no restrictions when it comes to being part of His family. He simple says “Come.”  When we do, He promises to teach us the unforced rhythms of grace.

Take God at His Word and you will live freely and lightly.


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


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Monday, July 31, 2017

God's Waiting Room

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


Nobody likes to wait. That’s a fact. But it’s also something we do on a regular, daily basis.

We sit in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. We wait in line at the grocery store, the bank, and the movie theater. We sit impatiently in our cars in the drive-thru lane at the fast food restaurant and in front of the school to drop off or pick up our kids. We anticipate the arrival of our first grandchild, thinking it will never happen. And we wait for promotions, paychecks, and much-needed vacations.

Life is all about waiting, but what about our walk with the Lord?

When we invite Jesus into our heart, He responds instantly. And there are many other times when the Lord answers our prayers before we even ask. But there are other times when the answer doesn’t manifest immediately, causing us to ask “Why, Lord?” Sometimes the answer is simply “wait.” But waiting is not always a bad thing. It might be that God needs to do a work in us before the answer can come.

This is how Merriam Webster Online defines wait: to remain stationary in readiness or expectation; to look forward expectantly; to be ready and available; to attend as a servant.


I have found myself in God’s waiting room many times, and not always with a good attitude. On numerous occasions, I’ve whined and complained about the answers to my prayers taking so long.

But I’ve learned over the years that God is at work even when we can’t see the results. He sees the big picture when all we see is a tiny portion. He knows the end from the beginning and everything in between. He has a plan and purpose and has promised to perfect everything that concerns us. He wants us to trust Him enough that when the answer doesn’t come immediately, we can be confident that He has the situation under control. There may even be a far greater blessing ahead that He has planned for us.

If you find yourself in God’s waiting room, don’t be discouraged. Spend time in His Word and thank Him in advance for the outcome. He might be preparing you for the biggest blessing of your life.

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/smarnad)

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Be Careful Who You Confide In

By Andrea Merrell

A perverse person stirs up conflict,

    and a gossip separates close friends.

Proverbs 16:28 NIV

It was one of those “something told me” moments when I realized I shouldn’t be sharing my issues with certain individuals. I didn’t listen, and it came back to haunt me.

It’s important for all of us to have someone to talk to and confide in, especially when we’re going through a hard time. But we have to choose that person (or persons) wisely. There are many listening ears, but not all are trustworthy.

We must choose a friend, counselor, or accountability partner who can keep a confidence. Someone who won’t gossip and spread our private issues around. Someone who walks according to the principles of God’s Word. We also need someone who will let things go and not make us wear a label for the rest of our life.

Pastor and author Bob Gass says:

Bad news is often remembered longer than good news. Long after you have resolved the issue and moved on with your life, the wrong people will continue to focus on it and talk about it. That’s why God’s Word says, “Those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.”

God is always ready and willing to come to your rescue. Take your problems to Him, and be careful who you confide in.


(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/stockimages.)


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