Monday, January 21, 2019

Does That Make Me a Rebel?


By Andrea Merrell

 
Let your light so shine before men, 
that they may see your good works
and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:16 NKJV


No white after Labor Day. Who came up with that rule? Does anyone still follow it? I think it went out the window when women started wearing—or almost wearing—cropped tops, plunging necklines, see-through dresses, hot pants … well, you get the picture. At some point, society decided anything goes.
 
Some Southerners may still follow the no-white rule. I don’t. I love dark shirts and sweaters with white pants, so I wear them year-round. Does that make me a rebel?

The Bible compares rebellion to witchcraft. Yikes! That’s a hard pill to swallow, right? But rebellion against God versus rebellion against the norm is a whole different animal.

What the world may classify as acceptable, God sees as sin: lying, stealing, cheating, slander, abuse, homosexuality, addiction … the list goes on. When we go against the world’s standards, we’re seen as weird, Bible-thumping, right-winged radicals who refuse to go along with the status quo. In reality, that’s exactly what God expects from His children. The only rules we are to follow—along with the governing laws of the land—are those He has set forth in His Word. And obedience brings blessings.

Trying to fit in with the crowd is never a good idea. The Bible calls us a peculiar people. That means we’re to be different … lights shining brightly in a dark world, pointing the way to Jesus.

When I’m wearing my white pants in December, the world may call me a rebel. But that’s okay as long as God sees me as His obedient child.

How about you?

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and renjith krishnan.)




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Trying to fit in with the crowd is never a good idea. We’re to be different … lights shining brightly in a dark world, pointing the way to Jesus. via @AndreaMerrell (Click to tweet.)


 



Monday, January 14, 2019

Finding Your True Self


By Andrea Merrell


Sometimes we can spend a lifetime trying to “find” ourselves. We set goals, read self-help books, and maybe even seek counseling. All these things are helpful, but our true identity can only be found in Christ.


Finding ourselves also means loving ourselves, which is a hard concept for some. The Bible tells us not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to (Romans 12:3), but there’s a big difference in being arrogant vs. being comfortable in our own skin.

These are some of the biblical attributes of a believer who has found his or her identity in Christ—filled with His love and abiding in His presence:
  • Confident but humble.
  • Honest and transparent.
  • Not given to anger.
  • Doesn't take himself too seriously.
  • Quick to esteem others.
  • Polite and considerate of others.
  • Quick to listen and slow to speak.
  • Unafraid of commitment.
  • Not easily shaken.
  • Not easily offended.
  • Well-spoken of.
  • A good example to others.

Since we’re well into the first month of 2019, let’s take these words by Sarah Young in Jesus Calling to heart:

I am leading you along a way that is uniquely right for you. The closer to me you grow, the more fully you become your true self—the one I designed you to be. Because you are one of a kind, the path you are traveling with me diverges increasingly from that of other people. However, in My mysterious wisdom and ways, I enable you to follow this solitary path while staying in close contact with others. In fact, the more completely you devote yourself to me, the more freely you can love people.

Marvel at the beauty of a life intertwined with My Presence. Rejoice as we journey together in intimate communion. Enjoy the adventure of finding yourself through losing yourself in Me. ~Jesus

What better way to find your genuine self than by losing yourself in Him?

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




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Monday, January 7, 2019

Time to Carry Out the Rubbish


By Andrea Merrell

Now sanctify yourselves, sanctify the house
of the Lord God of your fathers,
and carry out the rubbish from the holy place.
2 Chronicles 29:5 NKJV


It’s that time of year again—time to forget the old and think about the new. Time to set goals, make resolutions, or renew long, overdue commitments. Time to forget about all the things we regret about last year or neglected to accomplish, while making plans for the future.

New Year. Fresh Start. Clean Slate.

In all reality, most of the goals, resolutions, and commitments we come up with seldom make it past a few days or weeks: lose weight, exercise, eat healthier, read the Bible more, catch up with old friends … 

The list goes on. We all have good intentions.

If we lived in Scotland, we would be cleaning out our house, emptying all the ashes from the fireplace, and paying off all outstanding debts.

Now that’s what I call a great way to enter a New Year.

But maybe a better way to enter 2019 would be a heart-cleaning rather than a house-cleaning. What a great time to get rid of all the wrong thoughts, negative attitudes, and bad habits that set up residence in us in 2018. In 2 Chronicles, the Levites were told to sanctify themselves and carry out the rubbish from the holy place. We are that holy place—God’s temple where His Spirit resides.

Make it a priority this week to spend some quality time in the Lord’s presence. Ask Him to shine a light on those places that need to be cleaned out. Then be ready to carry out the rubbish and enter this New Year with praise and joyful expectation for all the Lord has in store for you.

Wishing you a wonderful year filled with all the goodness and blessings of the Lord.

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

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Monday, December 31, 2018

Move Out of Your Comfort Zone in 2019


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’ll have to admit, I’m not very adventurous. I like to play it safe, staying well inside my comfort zone. But one morning during my quiet time with the Lord, I was reading my daily devotional from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young and it addressed this very subject.
Be willing to go out on a limb with Me. If that is where I am leading you, it is the safest place to be. Your desire to live a risk-free life is a form of unbelief. Your longing to live close to me is at odds with your attempt to minimize risk. You are approaching a crossroads in your journey. In order to follow me wholeheartedly, you must relinquish your tendency to play it safe.
Going out on that proverbial limb can be scary but as Sarah Young so aptly puts it, if that’s where God is leading, it’s the “safest place to be.”
Everyone has that dreaded fear of the unknown to some degree. Some push past it easily and take the plunge, while those of us who want to know exactly what’s ahead tend to hold back and wait for a clear signal.
I can tell you that the times I’ve moved out of my comfort zone and taken that leap of faith, God has been right there, holding my hand and guiding my steps. There is no greater satisfaction or fulfillment than to be obedient and walk in our calling.
So, my question for you as we enter this New Year is are you ready to move out of your comfort zone? Are you willing to move forward in 2019 and do those things you’ve been shying away from? Maybe you want to try a new sport, take a class at a local college, or learn a new language. Perhaps you have a desire to write a book, take voice lessons, or try out for a part in your local theater. Whether it’s a matter of changing your hair color or changing your career, if God’s put it in your heart, go for it.
Wishing you and your family a blessed and prosperous New Year.

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

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Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Christ of Christmas


By Andrea Merrell

And I pray that Christ will make his home 
in your hearts through faith. I pray that you may have 
your roots and foundation in love.
Ephesians 3:17 TEV

The birth of Jesus, the true reason for the season, was a beautiful, wonderful, magical time. An angel appeared to lowly shepherds, and a brilliant star led a trio of wise men to a stable where the savior of the world awaited them. But I wonder what happened after that holy night. Did the shepherds and wise men go back to business as usual with fond memories of the awe they experienced, or did the events change their hearts and lives forever?


This year, prepare a special place in your heart for the Christ of Christmas. He is no longer the babe in a manger. He is our risen savior—King of kings and Lord of lords. Celebrate Him, not only this Christmas, but every single day throughout the year.

May He truly make his home in your hearts through faith.

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

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