Monday, May 20, 2024

God’s Presence Changes Everything

 

By Andrea Merrell

 

Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away

and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence

without a single fault. Jude 1:24 NLT

 

Everything good in my life seemed to be unraveling right before my eyes. Problems loomed before me with no possible solution. I lost my peace and my joy as I headed straight for the pit of depression. I felt separated from God and completely devoid of hope.

Then I remembered someone once asking me, “How long has it been since you spent time in God’s presence?”

That simple question was exactly what I needed. After seeking forgiveness for taking my eyes off what (or rather who) should have been my main focus and putting them squarely on my problems, I spent the time I so desperately needed in His holy presence.

The result? I walked away forgiven. Cleansed. Refreshed. He restored my peace and my joy. He renewed my hope. He set my feet back on the right path and kept me pointed in the right direction. Everything changed.

Sometimes we hesitate to run to God when life spirals out of control because we feel guilty for letting Him down. Maybe He won’t understand. Or maybe He won’t love us as much. But as Sarah Young says, “Rejoice in the One who understands you completely and loves you perfectly.”

Don’t let circumstances take you down. Keep your focus on the Lord and not what’s going on around you. Spend time in His presence. It truly changes everything.


Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

 

 

Monday, May 13, 2024

Contentious People

 

By Andrea Merrell


Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments,

because you know they produce quarrels.

2 Timothy 2:23 NIV


“There she goes again—off into the atmosphere like a bottle rocket. You never know where she’s going to land or who’s going to get burned,” someone said as they backed away.

The woman was trouble looking for a place to happen. A know-it-all. A one-upper. Labels placed on her by those she had verbally attacked. Those who avoided her whenever possible. She was what Proverbs calls a contentious woman. Argumentative and always trying to provoke others. Wanting to be in control of every situation and prove she knew more than anyone else.

To be honest, I joined the ranks of those who avoided her. Then one day I felt a strange sense of compassion for her and wondered if I was doing the wrong thing. I asked the Lord to show me, and He led me to 2 Timothy 2:23 where Paul said:

Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone.

Being contentious pushes others away and keeps the Fruit of the Spirit from growing and manifesting in our lives. The Word instructs us to be kind and gentle. To use soft answers and pleasant words. To walk in love. To give grace and show mercy.

No one knew what drove this woman to be so unkind, but as the saying goes, “hurting people hurt people.” They subconsciously try to inflict their pain on others, unaware of their own need for healing.

The Lord assured me it was okay for me to “avoid” close contact with her as long as I maintained a right attitude. That meant forgiving, being kind, and refusing to be offended by her behavior. It also meant I needed to love and pray for her.

Do you have a contentious person in your life? If so, lift them up to the Lord. Shower them with love and prayer. You just might be surprised what God does in their life.


Photo by Julien L on Unsplash

 

Monday, May 6, 2024

Excess Baggage

 

By Andrea Merrell


Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and

carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28 NLT

 

I watched in fascination as the man trudged through the hotel lobby with a duffle bag slung over each shoulder and a camera case around his neck while dragging a large suitcase and carrying what appeared to be a computer and a garment bag. Instead of grabbing one of the carts to make his exit easier, he struggled under the weight of excess baggage.

I couldn’t help but laugh, but I felt a bit sorry for him as he carried everything on his own when there was help readily available to lighten his load.

It made me think of all the emotional baggage we carry around. Weights like anger. Bitterness. Wounds from the past. Broken promises. Shattered dreams. Yet all the while, Jesus invites us to come to Him. To allow Him to take those heavy burdens and give us rest.

Then He says, “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 11:30 MSG). That’s how He intended for us to live.

If you’re carrying around excess baggage, know that Jesus stands ready to take it from you. Give it all to Him today and walk in freedom.


Photo by Raquel Brepohl on Unsplash

Monday, April 29, 2024

The Assurance of God’s Love

 

By Andrea Merrell


For here is the way God loved the world—He gave His only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in Him will never perish but experience everlasting life.

 John 3:15 TPT



For anyone who has ever struggled believing God’s amazing love for themselves, I’d like to share something I read recently. It’s the story of author Brennan Manning and how he got his name.

It seems Brennen grew up with his best friend, Ray. They were buddies and did absolutely everything together, including joining the Army and fighting on the front lines. This is the rest of the story, according to The Word for You Today:

One night, sitting in a foxhole, Brennan was reminiscing about the old days in Brooklyn while his friend Ray listened and ate a chocolate bar. Suddenly, a grenade landed in the foxhole. Ray smiled at Brennan, dropped his chocolate, and threw himself on the grenade. It exploded, killing Ray, but Brennan’s life was spared. Later, Brennan was ordained as a priest, and at that time it was customary to take the name of a saint. He thought of his friend, Ray Brennan, and chose the name Brennan. Years later, he visited his friend’s mother in Brooklyn. They were sitting up late one night drinking tea when Brennan asked her, “Do you think Ray loved me?” Mrs. Brennan got up off the couch, shook her finger in his face, and shouted, “What more could he have done for you?” Brennan says that right there he experienced an epiphany. He imagined himself standing before the cross of Jesus wondering, “Does God really love me?” and Jesus’ mother pointing to her Son, saying, “What more could He have done for you?”

Jesus paid the ultimate price and offered Himself as the greatest sacrifice to show His love for all mankind and to pay a debt we could never pay. My pastor says that God didn’t send Jesus so He could love us; He sent Jesus because He already loved us.

There’s nothing we could do to make Him love us more and nothing we could do to make Him love us less.

Don’t ever doubt God’s love for you, my friend. It's more real and lasting than anything you could ever imagine.


Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com and Kelly Sikkema.



Monday, April 22, 2024

Do You Know God?

By Andrea Merrell

My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.

Job 42:5 NIV

 

“I knew about God when I was growing up,” my friend said. "I heard His name often when my father used it as a swearword. Our home was more like a war zone.” She stopped to wipe away tears. “But now I really know Him. I’ve experienced His love, and I've seen what He’s done in my life.”

As she told me her story, I thought about Job. When we read the account of his life, we see that he was a wealthy, prominent man who lost everything—his health, his children, and his wealth. Some would say he had every reason to curse his creator and feel sorry for himself.

But in the midst of all his adversity, Job chose to trust the Lord. He said, “My ears had hear of You, but now my eyes have seen You.” And the Bible tells us that Job’s latter days were blessed even more than they were in the beginning.

I heard about God my entire life. I grew up in church. I went to Sunday school and VBS. I got baptized at an early age and tried to do all the “right” things. But my younger years were filled with all the dos and don'ts. No one ever told me I could have an actual relationship with a loving heavenly Father. I was like my friend and like Job: I knew about God. But nothing in my life changed until I really knew Him. The Master of the universe. The all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth. Yet He calls me His child and His friend.

God created man for fellowship and communion. He desires a close, personal relationship with His children. My friend now has that, and so do I. We have experienced His grace and His amazing love ... the greatest gifts anyone could ever receive.

What about you? Do you know about God or do you really know Him? 

Photo by Emmanuel Phaeton on Unsplash