Monday, July 22, 2024

The Gift of Joy

By Andrea Merrell


 The joy of the Lord is your strength.

Nehemiah 8:10 NKJV


“That woman’s a Christian? You’ve got to be kidding. She comes to work every day looking like she’s been sucking on a lemon."

People’s perception of a Christ-follower differs, but as someone once said, as a child of God we are walking billboards for His kingdom.

How we come across to others is important. What they see in us—who are supposed to be salt and light in a dark, fallen world—should point them to the Lord.

I’ve known many believers who never smile. Never offer a kind or encouraging word. Who are harsh with their children, neighbors, and co-workers. Who act as if they think being happy is a sin.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus said, “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows]” (John 10:10 AMP). In John 15 He said,  I have told you these things so that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy may be made full and complete and overflowing” (vs. 11 AMP). He went on to say, “Ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your joy may be full and complete” (John 16:24 AMP).

God wants His children to be happy. Joyful. Full of life. The salvation He offers us includes the gift of joy—His very own joy in us. “Joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8 KJV). Throughout the Scriptures He tells us to rejoice. To be glad. To shout for joy. He even tells us that His joy is our strength.

Go ahead. Put a smile on your face and be happy. Show the world how wonderful it is to be a child of the King. 

Photo courtesy of and Stuart Miles.

Monday, July 15, 2024

What Do You Value Most?


By Andrea Merrell

For there is no partiality with God.

Romans 2:11 NKJV


“Looking back over your life, what do you value most?” the speaker asked.

A man in the audience immediately raised his hand. “Myself,” he said without hesitation. Look at what I’ve accomplished. I started with nothing. Now I have it all.”

In this man’s mind he truly did have it all. Possessions. Positions. Titles. His great wealth and prestige made him feel on top of the world. He had little to no respect for those he felt were beneath him. He considered them of lesser value.

The Bible says, “there is no partiality with God.” In other words, He show no favoritism—regardless of worldly accomplishments or a person’s position in life.

What God values most is a heart that is fully committed to Him. A person who cares more about character, integrity, and generosity than what this world has to offer.

Solomon, the richest and wisest man who ever lived wrote:

So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me. Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere. (Ecclesiastes 2:9-11 NLT)

Without God, life is meaningless, no matter how much stuff we acquire or how many platforms we stand on. We were created with a God-shaped void inside that nothing else can fill except Him. No earthly pleasure or possession can ever truly satisfy our soul.

Where do you place your value?

Photo courtesy of and Stuart Miles.

Monday, July 8, 2024

Lighten the Load


By Andrea Merrell

Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

1 Peter 5:7 NKJV


I have a couple of family members who are certified hoarders. One collects newspapers and old books that are literally stacked to the ceiling, barely leaving a path from the front door through the living room.

The other has accumulated enormous piles of clothes, toys, kitchen items, and other paraphernalia that eat up all the floor space in her house.

I personally cannot handle clutter. In fact, the older I get, the less stuff I want. It’s getting easier as the days go by to downsize and lighten the load. To get rid of things I don’t need. Things I don’t enjoy that don’t add value to my life or make me happy.

I wish it were as easy to declutter the mind. Those random thoughts, problems, and issues from the past that shoot through my head and try to take up residence. If I’m not careful, they clutter my mind and take my focus off the Lord, putting it on all the wrong things. They make me anxious and even fearful. The load can get very stressful and quite heavy.

In Jesus Calling, Sarah Young writes:

Your mind leaps from problem to problem to problem, tangling your thoughts in anxious knots … When you turn from your problems to My presence, your load is immediately lighter. ~Jesus

Jesus invites us to cast all our care on Him (1 Peter 5:7). The Passion translation says, “Pour out all your worries and stress upon Him and leave them there.”

Sounds like a good plan. I’m ready to lighten the load and keep things simple. Won’t you join me?

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Monday, June 24, 2024

Are You Stuck in the Past?


By Andrea Merrell

There she goes again, I thought, rehearsing her painful past.

I’d heard it all before—repeatedly. She just couldn’t let go and get beyond the things she had suffered. She not only kept those events fresh in her mind, she began to alienate others who had heard the story countless times.

The Word for You Today says:

Grieving your losses is healthy. But when you get stuck in the past, it’s always at the expense of the future. There comes a time when you must stop talking about what cannot be changed. Plus, if you keep treating your friends to a history lesson, you will lose them because your words are creating a climate that’s uncomfortable for them to be in.

Reliving the past is not beneficial, especially when it puts us in a perpetual state of regret. It blurs our God-given vision for the future and robs us of all the blessings He has in store for us along the way.

If the past is holding you captive, it’s time to break free and move forward. Stop dwelling on what you cannot change, and allow God to redeem it. Forgive. Change your focus. Exchange discouragement for gratitude.

God is doing a new thing in you. Are you ready?


 Photo by Blake Cheek on Unsplash

Monday, June 17, 2024

The Toxicity of Fear


By Andrea Merrell

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.

But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

1 John 4:18 NKJV


Fear. My constant companion for much of my life. It kept me from doing so many things, but I never realized how much it affected my body and my emotions.

According to Dr. Caroline Leaf, “Fear triggers more than 1,400 known physical and chemical responses and activates more than 30 different hormones and neurotransmitters."

Columnist Ann Landers says, “People are afraid of losing their health, their wealth, and their loved ones. People are afraid of life itself.”

The Word for You Today takes it a step further: “It’s the root of all our stress. When fear causes a stress reaction in us, it actually marinates our body in toxic chemicals.” The author goes on to tell us what we can expect:

  • The fear of not being accepted by others can make you develop a phony personality, stifling your true self and hiding who God made you to be.
  • The fear of failure will prevent you from trying new things or stretching yourself to do more than you feel comfortable doing.
  • The fear of failure can cause you not to enjoy your life today.

But what does the Bible have to say? “Fear involves torment,” but the perfect agape love of the Father will drive away that spirit because fear is of the Enemy. God’s gifts include a spirit of power, love, and a sound (self-disciplined) mind (2 Timothy 1:7 italics mine).

The psalmist said, "Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You" (Psalm 56:3 NKJV). Sounds like good advice. Don't be a slave to fear. Use your faith. Give your fears to God and allow His perfect love to drive them away once and for all.


Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash