Monday, March 20, 2017

Peace Stealers

By Andrea Merrell

It’s amazing how upset we get over things that really don’t matter in the broad scheme of our lives—and eternity.  Just watch the arguments and judgmental remarks on Facebook and Twitter. And let’s not forget about the news.

First, it was the presidential election (actually, it still is to a lesser degree). Then we transitioned to a controversy over The Shack. Some people even want to fuss and fume about the weather. Seems our human nature always looks for something to argue about.

As long as we’re on this earth, there will always be people and situations that challenge, frustrate, and annoy us. The Bible refers to these as the little foxes that spoil the vines (Song of Solomon 2:15 NKJV) and the cares of this world (Mark 4:19 NKJV). Anything that robs our joy and chokes out the Word in our heart is a peace stealer.

Like joy, peace is a gift from God that we can experience every day—no matter what’s going on around us. But we have to seek it and allow it to rule in our hearts; it doesn’t just automatically drop into our laps. As pastor and author Bob Gass says, “In the middle of life’s storms, you can be anchored by God’s peace.”

This peace is supernatural—beyond human comprehension. It keeps us from falling prey to fear, worry, and stress, and helps our focus to remain on the Lord and His goodness. Peace gives us the stability we need to stand tall for what we believe as we accomplish His will and purpose for our lives.

Make a decision today to pursue the things which make for peace (Romans 14:19 NKJV). Don’t allow anything or anyone—people, situations, the Devil, the media, or even yourself—to be a peace stealer.

What is your biggest peace stealer?

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Monday, March 13, 2017

Are You Fully alive in Christ?

By Andrea Merrell

And you He made alive, 
who were dead in trespasses and sin.
Ephesians 2:1 NKJV

Have you ever wondered what it means to be “alive in Christ?” That’s probably a question we give little or no thought.

According to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, alive means: 
  • not dead or inanimate
  • active
  • still in operation
  • marked by alertness, energy, briskness
  • marked by much life, animation, or activity

Wow. That’s a lot of excitement and doing.

When Jesus comes in and takes up residence, He turns our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. We're made alive in Him, strengthened by His might, and empowered by His Spirit. There’s nothing more inspiring than the joy and zeal of a new Christian.

But what happens to the zeal? The Bible talks about the cares of this life that come in and choke out the Word that has been planted in us. We get caught up in the stress of everyday living and our spiritual life suffers. If not careful, we can easily get discouraged and become inactive, living in a state of defeat.

I recently heard a song that talked about rising from the ashes of defeat, and it was all through His name, the mighty name of Jesus. Listening to the lyrics and letting them wash over my weary soul reminded me that all we have to do is call upon His name when we feel like we’re in a dry place. Calling on Jesus lifts our focus off our problems and gives Him the opportunity to raise us from the ashes and fill us with his resurrection power.

That’s when we become fully alive in Christ.

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Monday, March 6, 2017

God Is Bigger Than My Fears

By Andrea Merrell

Cancer. Radiation. Cyberknife. The very words can cause fear in the bravest heart. And they can definitely cause fear in me.

No one can ever be fully prepared for a bad report from the doctor and a bevy of tests. We all hope for the best, and when it doesn’t happen, we cringe, cry, and question. Then, if we’re smart, we turn it over to God. Bad news might catch us by surprise, but it doesn’t catch God off guard for a second. He knows the end from the beginning … and everything in between.

The Bible is full of “fear nots.” We’re told to trust in the Lord with our whole heart, to be anxious and worried about nothing, and to pray about any and everything. Add to that, people willing to surround you with a warm blanket of prayer when you’re going through a trial, and you have a priceless gift.

Many times, problems appear in our minds as huge, insurmountable mountains, which brings on the fear. But God tells us to speak to that mountain if we want it to move. He is not only ready to calm our fears but to provide whatever we need. He is still a miracle-working God.

My husband just finished five intensive rounds of radiation therapy. Our youngest granddaughter helped him ring the bell. What an awesome day!

I’ve learned over the past few weeks that God is greater than cancer, radiation, and the gigantic, robotic cyberknife. He is our healer, protector, and peace-speaker. He is our strength. And he is way bigger than all our fears.

He is all we will ever need.


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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

First Things First

By Andrea Merrell

Let all things be done decently and in order.
1 Corinthians 14:40

I am a creature of habit, especially first thing in the morning. After a quick trip to the bathroom, the next item on my list is drinking a small glass of water. Reading an article about water a few years ago alerted me to the benefits.

That little bit of water hydrates my body, takes away those initial hunger pangs, and kick-starts my system for the day ahead. Water, vitamins, eye drops, coffee … that’s my routine, my decently and in order, as the Word says. When I fail to follow my routine, my day gets out of sync.

It’s the same with my quiet time (which comes during the coffee). When my schedule gets interrupted and I fail to spend time with the Lord and do my devotional reading, my day gets off to a rough start, and it feels like I’m going backward.

As they say, first things first. Even when my day is packed and my to-do list overflows, I simply must have those few minutes with God to help me make it through the day. In fact, that’s when I need it the most.

How about you? Do you have an early-morning routine? If you’re having a hard time getting your day off to a good start, maybe it’s time to put first things first.

You won’t be sorry.

(Photo courtesy of and Stuart Miles.)


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Monday, February 20, 2017

Time for a Praise Break

By Andrea Merrell

To all who mourn in Israel,
    he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
    that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

Isaiah 61:3 NLT

Everyone needs a break from time to time. Whether it’s a coffee break, a brisk walk, or a few minutes for a power nap, taking time to rest, regroup, and refocus is vital to our mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

But what about our spiritual needs?

God promises to replace our heavy hearts with a garment of praise. I’ve found that when darkness seems to surround me, invading my soul and pulling me into a pit of despair, it’s time to offer up a sacrifice of praise. When I do, God always comes on the scene and drives away the clouds of doom and gloom.

The Bible is filled with admonitions to praise the Lord—no matter how bleak out circumstances may appear. Giving thanks to our Creator and worshiping His holy name will restore our peace, our joy, and our purpose. Praise takes the focus off our problems and places it on the One who can turn every situation around, solve every problem, and restore us to our rightful place in His kingdom. He is ready, willing, and more than able to come to our rescue.

If you’re struggling today and your life is out of kilter, maybe it’s time for a praise break.

(Photos courtesy of Miles/tiverylucky.)


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