Monday, June 24, 2019

Put a Lid on It


By Andrea Merrell

The tongue is a flame of fire. 
It is a whole world of wickedness,
corrupting your entire body. 
James 3:16 NIV

I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I didn’t mean it.

Do you ever find yourself saying these words? I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to repeat them.

The tongue is a tricky little body part, and the words that roll off of it can either encourage and bless others or get us in a whole lot of trouble. The Book of James calls the tongue a fiery world of iniquity, full of evil and deadly poison. A troublemaker.

Ouch!

James also tells us that no man is able to tame the tongue or keep it under control. So, what are we supposed to do? How do we put a lid on it?

Just as with every other part of us, we have to submit ourselves to God, offering every member—especially the tongue—to Him as an instrument of righteousness.

The problem is whatever we say begins with a thought. It starts in our mind, ends up in our heart, and finds its way out our mouth. That means to get a handle on this unruly body part, we have to change our thinking and guard our heart. We need to pray as the psalmist did, Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips (Psalm 141:3 NIV).

When we invite Holy Spirit to be in charge, He will help us speak words of blessing, not cursing. Words of kindness, not hate. Words of encouragement, not criticism.

It’s not easy, but keeping the tongue under control is a spiritual discipline that comes with spending time in God’s presence and in His Word.

The next time your tongue threatens to spout off the wrong words … put a lid on it.

Lord, may our words always edify others and glorify you. Amen.


(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and rickymusafia.)





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Monday, June 17, 2019

Don't Argue with the Ump


By Andrea Merrell

   And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ
rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts
[deciding and settling with finality all questions 
that arise in your minds.
Colossians 3:15 AMPC

It was embarrassing. All eyes focused on us as my son-in-law got thrown out of the ballpark for arguing with the ump.

Everyone else thought my daughter was safe as she dove for second base. But the ump saw it differently and yelled, “Out!” 

The rest of the disappointed crowd accepted his decision—but not my son-in-law. He jumped up, grabbed the fence with both hands, and proceeded to make his case against—as he put it—a stupid call. I think there might have been a comment about needing glasses …

We might not always agree with the ump, but when he’s in charge, what he says goes. His word is law. Like it or not, no one can dispute him.

The Bible talks about another ump who wants to direct our daily lives. And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts.

When God’s Holy Spirit takes up residence within us, He moves in with all his baggage: love, joy, wisdom, understanding, creativity, favor, and especially peace. That’s His specialty. No matter what's going on in our lives, the peace of God can calm the storm and keep us grounded if we let Him call the shots. He is there to help us win the game every time.

That day at the ballpark, we all learned a valuable lesson. Don’t argue with the ump.


(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and vectoroli.)



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Monday, June 10, 2019

The Pathway to Peace


By Andrea Merrell

Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
Luke 6:37 NKJV 

My emotions bounced back and forth between anger and resentment. My spirit assured me I needed to forgive, but my flesh screamed all the reasons not to forgive: She hurt me. She betrayed my trust. Her words cut too deep.

But the simple truth was … I didn’t want to.

As I tried to pray, my flesh and spirit continued their debate. I argued with God. “I know your Word says to forgive so I’ll be forgiven. But she doesn’t deserve it, Lord.”

Do you?

Those two words were soft and gentle but carried a punch. At that moment, my resolve crumbled. All my excuses came tumbling down. I thought about all the times I had asked the Lord to forgive me. He never gave me a laundry list of all the reasons He shouldn’t. He never questioned whether or not I deserved it. And He never told me to wait or come back another time after I’d had a chance to think about what I’d done.

Unforgiveness is a deadly poison. It acts as a cancer that spreads through our spirit, our soul, and even our body. If left unchecked, it turns into a root of bitterness—a disease that affects everything we think, say, and do. It robs us of our peace and slowly eats away our spiritual well-being.

Forgive and you will be forgiven. Those are powerful words. In truth, none of us are worthy or deserving, but God loves us so much that He gave … and His love just keeps on giving.

We should always be quick to forgive, just as the Lord is quick to forgive us when we ask. When we bless and pray for those who have wronged or offended us, we find ourselves back on the pathway of peace.

Don’t allow unforgiveness to poison your soul. And while you’re at it … be sure to forgive yourself.

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and paisan191.)



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Monday, June 3, 2019

The Underdog


By Andrea Merrell

  God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.

James 4:6 NKJV

Underdog. What does that word bring to mind? The old cartoon figure? Someone you know? Yourself?

Webster’s defines underdog as “a loser or predicted loser; a victim of injustice or persecution.”

Let’s face it, being a victim or the loser is never fun. I’ve been in those shoes a few times in my life. While some people have a heart for the underdog and do whatever they can to help and encourage them, others snub their nose and strive to push them even lower. To these proud, heartless folks, it’s laughable. A joke.

But it’s no joke to God. He doesn’t rank people by size, color, education, personality, strengths, money, or social status. The Bible tells us God is not a respecter of persons. In other words, he shows no favoritism. But He does pour out His grace on the humble ones, while resisting the arrogant and proud.

Against all odds, God takes the underdogs and turns them into overcomers. His ways and thoughts are different and so much higher than our own. He uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. He turns beauty into ashes and mourning into dancing. With Him, all things are possible.

Against all odds, God chose a young, unmarried girl to give birth to our Lord and Savior. He chose a murderer-turned-farmer to go back to Egypt and lead the Israelites to freedom. He took another murderer and adulterer and appointed him king. He took Joseph from the pit to the prison to the palace to save a nation from starvation. He took a man whose goal was to kill Christians and turned him into one of the most prominent New Testament figures.

In my own life, I’ve survived rejection by both parents (along with their dysfunction and bitter divorce), negative, hurtful words (that told me I was the ultimate loser), anger, low self-esteem, and two prodigals. But God had a plan. He saw me when it seemed no one else did. He loved me when it seemed no one else cared. He rescued me and gave me hope.

Against all odds, God turned my life around and made it something good. Something worthwhile. He can and will do the same for you. Just trust Him.

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and saphatthachat.)


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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

A Drop in the Eternal Bucket


By Andrea Merrell

 
You do not know what will happen tomorrow.
For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears
for a little time and then vanishes away. 
James 4:14 NKJV 

An old song asks the question, “Is that all there is?”

I’ve heard people say, “It doesn’t get any better than this.” Even millions of dollars have been spent on advertising that promotes the same idea. Some say, “We live, we die, we are no more.”

What a sad commentary, not to mention a depressing way to live. Without something to look forward to, our life can become meaningless. Without hope, we struggle to make it from one day to another.

The Bible tells us that when we are in Christ, we are seated in heavenly places with Him. We are told to set our affection on things above. Jesus said He has gone to prepare a place for us. As a child of God, this is our eternal destination … our heavenly home.

Life can be tough, but the time we spend on this earth is only a tiny drop in the eternal bucket of time. The life and years we’re given by our Creator come with a plan and a purpose—a blueprint for our lives that honors Him and draws us closer to His heart.

Chris Tiegreen says, "Pursue God relentlessly, knowing that he has already pursued you and invited you deeper. Be willing to let go of whatever is holding you back. Vast treasures are awaiting your daily, persistent response. Ask God to make these things real and, over time, they will become more real than you ever hoped for."


For believers, there is a bright light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. That light is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the light of the world. We can be assured that He has sealed us—and our future destination—with the Holy Spirit of promise until that day we see Him face to face.

Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV).

(Photo courtesy of Morguefile.com and jeltovski.) 


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