Monday, May 20, 2019

Those Hidden Places


By Andrea Merrell

He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean,
washed by the cleansing of God’s word. 
He did this to present her to himself
as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle 
or any other blemish. 
Ephesians 5:25-27 

I felt something drop and realized it was one of my favorite earrings. A tiny one at that.


After retrieving it from the bathroom floor, my search for the back of the earring began. After looking for several minutes—and even feeling around on the carpet—I came up empty. That’s when I grabbed my cell phone, turned on the flashlight feature, and did a closer inspection.

Instead of a missing piece of jewelry, what I discovered was a very dirty floor. To the casual observer, the floor appeared clean. But turning on a bright light exposed all the little dust bunnies that had gathered along the bottom of the cabinet and baseboards. It was time for a good cleaning.

At times, our lives may appear perfectly in order while those dust bunnies of bad attitudes, unforgiveness, and unconfessed sin cling to the edges of our mind and heart. When we ask Him to, the Lord will graciously shine His light on all those places and give us the opportunity to do a deep cleaning with the water of His Word.

Sin is deceptive, and the Enemy is a liar. If not careful, we can be duped into thinking all is well when it’s not. Clean hands and a pure heart call for daily attention to all those little details we might otherwise miss.

Is it time for a cleansing in your life? Go ahead. Ask the Father to shine His light on those hidden places, then allow the Holy Spirit to wash away the debris.

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


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Sunday, May 12, 2019

An Unexpected Mother's Day Gift


By Andrea Merrell

 
Every good and perfect gift is from above, 
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, 
who does not change like shifting shadows. 
James 1:17 NIV 

This particular Mother’s Day was an unusual one. After bringing my husband home from a shoulder replacement and a two-day stay in the hospital, I was spending the day reading and watching him sleep. He had jokingly apologized earlier for not getting me a gift or even a card. I assured him it was perfectly okay, considering what he just went through.

My day changed drastically when I picked up a journal to write down some things I’m grateful for. My daughter had given me this beautiful, leather-bound journal some time ago, and I had never used it. When I opened the cover, I realized my daughter gave me the journal ten years ago—on Mother’s Day.

That was blessing enough, but inside were these words:

                  Dear Mom,

I want you to know that I am so very proud of you and how far you’ve come with your writing. You are cultivating a gift that not only are you extremely passionate about, but that inspires others to better themselves. So, thank you for the blessing that you are, especially to me as my mom, but also to those you write to. You say that I’m a great mom … but only because I followed your lead! Happy Mother’s Day!

Love you bunches!
Your Daughter

What an amazing gift, not only from my baby girl, but from my heavenly Father, who knew I needed those words to make my day special.

God knows exactly what we need and when we need it. He takes joy in giving us those unexpected gifts (I call them UBs … unexpected blessings). 

Be thankful and delight in Him. You never know what special gift might be waiting for you.

 

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and adamr.)


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God knows exactly what we need and when we need it. He takes joy in giving us unexpected gifts. via @AndreaMerrell (Click to tweet.)


 

 


Monday, May 6, 2019

Who Are You Trying to Please?


By Andrea Merrell

Let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.
Romans 12:6 MSG


Fear comes in many forms, but one of the worst is fear of rejection … which leads to frustration and disappointment … which leads to insecurity … which leads to a lifetime of unsuccessful people-pleasing.

For years I battled with low self-esteem and spent most of my time trying to measure up to what I thought others expected of me. I became the ultimate people-pleaser. Since it never seemed to work—no matter how hard I tried—I always felt like a failure, never knowing my true self or worth. I was always trying to find myself and where I fit. I feared rejection and found myself being controlled by others.

My life drastically changed when I finally found myself—in Christ. The revelation of His love for me turned everything around, especially the way I viewed myself.

Pastor and author Bob Gass says:
People who succeed at being themselves don’t let others control them. They see themselves as God sees them; therefore, they’re led by His Word instead of the fear of rejection. You can invest so much effort in trying to keep everyone happy that you end up losing yourself.

I’ve learned that what other people think is not my problem—unless I make it my problem. My first and foremost concern is pleasing God with my thoughts, words, and actions. My only responsibility is to be who He created me to be. When I try to be someone else, my life becomes all about pretense. When I imitate others and try to be someone or something I’m not, I run the risk of forfeiting God’s blessings, because God can’t bless an imitation.

When we are secure in who we are in Christ—loved, forgiven, redeemed, accepted, unique—the scattered pieces of our life come together to form the picture of us that God sees as complete and perfect.

Don’t let others control you by their unrealistic expectations. Your security and self-worth are only found in Him—and He is the only One you need to please.

(Photo courtesy of Blogpiks.com and Stuart Miles.)


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Monday, April 29, 2019

Catch Yourself in the Act


By Andrea Merrell

 
For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks
Matthew 12:34 NKJV

“I can’t change. It’s too hard,” the woman said. Her words were bathed in both defeat and defiance. “It’s just the way I am.”

Her problem was a negative mindset and a critical spirit—and she couldn’t figure out where it came from.

The Bible clearly tells us that what we say is a result of the abundance of what’s in our heart. The Message puts it this way: It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. 

The following verses go on to say: Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.

Just like the woman said, change doesn’t come easily for most people. It takes hard work and determination, but it begins with a decision—a decision to allow Holy Spirit to be in control. The psalmist cried out, Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips (Psalm 141:3 NIV).

Someone once said the best way to change a bad habit is to catch yourself in the act. Whenever that first negative, ungodly thought pops into your head, recognize it for what it is—and get rid of it.  

Words are powerful, so take yours seriously. God does.

Don’t let them come back to haunt you.

(Photo courtesy of Blogpiks.com and Stuart Miles.)


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Monday, April 22, 2019

How Do We Measure Maturity


By Andrea Merrell

So let us stop going over the basic teachings 
about Christ again and again.
Let us go on instead and become 
mature in our understanding. 
Hebrews 6:1 NLT 


We all expect certain behavior from children. Even teens. It comes, as they say, with the package. As children grow, they change. But what about adults?


There’s a thin, wavy line between natural and spiritual maturity. A lot of people get tripped-up with the word, because the Bible relates mature to perfect. But being perfect doesn’t necessarily mean without flaw or error. It also conveys being complete, sound, whole, pure, correct … in other words mature, especially in our understanding.

But how do we know when it happens. How do we measure?

Immature folks are full of excuses. They mostly operate in confusion and are generally disorganized. They have the best of intentions but tend to break promises, lose friends, and have a difficult time following through—especially in business and other important matters. (Hmmm … sounds a lot like childhood.)

On the flip side, pastor and author Bob Gass says it best:

Maturity is the ability to control your anger and settle your differences without violence or resentment. Maturity is patience; it is the willingness to pass up short-term pleasure for long-term gain. It’s the ability to “sweat it out” in spite of heavy opposition or discouraging setbacks. It’s the capacity to face unpleasantness and frustration without complaining or collapsing. Maturity is humility. It’s being big enough to say “I was wrong,” and when you are right, never needing to say “I told you so.” Maturity is the ability to make a decision and follow through with it instead of exploring endless possibilities and doing nothing about any of them. Maturity means dependability, keeping your word, and coming through in a crisis. Maturity is the art of being at peace with what you can’t change, having the courage to change what you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

So, how did you measure-up according to those parameters? I don’t know about you, but I think I have a bit more maturing to do.

(Photo courtesy of Blogpiks.com and Stuart Miles.)


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