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

 

Monday, June 10, 2024

Are You Hearing God’s Voice?

 

By Andrea Merrell


My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

John 10:27 NKJV


I packed my car, pulled out of the driveway, and headed toward my writers’ conference. Before I pulled onto the main highway, I stopped at the end of my road and pushed go on my GPS.

Nothing.

I pushed again.

It wouldn’t work—even with Bluetooth, cellular data, and the hotspot turned on.

I tried again. The message kept popping up that I needed to be connected to the internet. I knew that wasn’t right but didn’t know how to fix it. So I turned around and pulled back into my driveway. My phone immediately connected to my home’s Wi-Fi, and my GPS started working.

I thought about this a couple of weeks later while sitting in church and listening to a message about hearing God’s voice. Too many times we think we have to be in church to hear, just like my GPS mistakenly decided it had to be hooked up to Wi-Fi in order to work.

The truth is we are hard-wired to hear our Shepherd—anywhere and anytime. When His Spirit takes up residence in our heart, we have a direct line to the throne room of heaven.

Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice.” That’s a promise we can count on. All we have to do is listen.

My cell phone had to be reset for my GPS to work properly. Sometimes we have to reset our mind and heart in order to hear from our Lord.

What about you? Are you hearing God’s voice. If not, maybe it’s time to reset your connection.


Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Ohmega 1982.

Monday, June 3, 2024

The Value of Relationships

 

By Andrea Merrell


Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone.

If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody.

Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do.

Romans 12:17-18 MSG

 

Do you have someone in your life who drives you nuts? Someone who makes you want to escape to another planet? Maybe it’s a friend, neighbor, or co-worker. It might even be a family member. If you could just put some space between the two of you, maybe you could regain your peace. Things would be so much better if only …

I’m sure we all have that one person in our life who feels like sandpaper on every part of our being. While we’re with them, they’re a constant irritant. But maybe we should stop and consider the results.

Maybe, just maybe, that sandpaper is smoothing down some rough edges. Teaching us valuable lessons. Making us stronger. Making us take a harder look at ourselves.

Let’s face it, relationships are important. We all need them. But they’re not all going to be easy. The Word for You Today says, “Some of those relationships will bring you more pain than pleasure. Some people bring comfort while others build character—and you need both.”

God is definitely more concerned with our character than our pleasure, and He will bring people into our lives to help refine us.

Think about it. That difficult relationship you have with someone just might be God working in you.


Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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