Monday, May 25, 2020

Take Your Bible Off the Shelf


By Andrea Merrell

 
Many years ago when I worked in a Christian bookstore, a woman brought her young son in to purchase a Bible. After a lot of searching and discussion between the two, they chose one.

Excitement radiated from the boy’s eyes as his mother paid for the Bible, then ceremoniously handed it to Him like a gold medal or coveted trophy. “Now, you take very good care of this. I’m counting on you.”

“Yes ma’am, I will.” His head bobbed up and down. “I promise.”

She shook her finger at him. “And I don’t want to see you writing in it or using one of those messy highlighters.”

The boy’s eyes grew wide, but he nodded. “Yes ma’am.”

I remember wondering what the woman would say if she saw my Bible. There are dozens upon dozens of verses underlined and many starred. I’ve written in the margins and made lots of notes in the front and back. I’ve even had to go to a professional book binder to have pages put back in place. My Bible looks like what it’s intended for—to be read.

A few have told me I need a new Bible. I’ve had several over the years. They don’t realize how hard it is to break one in. No, I’m very happy with the one I have. I know just how to find what I’m looking for. Sometimes I flip through and read the underlined portions, those passages that minister to me the most.

Yes, God’s Word is sacred. But people have different ideas about how to respect it. For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires (Hebrews 4:12 NLT). 

The Bible is not a trophy to be proudly displayed or kept on a shelf to preserve it. It's meant to be read ... and read ... and ...

Is your Bible on the shelf?

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and pazham.)



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Monday, May 18, 2020

Time for a Heart Cleanse


By Andrea Merrell

For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
Luke 6:45 NKJV
 
I’m not fond of cleaning the toilet, scrubbing a dirty oven, or washing a car. It’s hard work. But I’ve found a chore that’s even more difficult: cleaning out my heart.

Sometimes, at the most inopportune moment, my heart will betray me. Just when I think it’s all good, words will shoot out of my mouth and leave me wondering where in the world did that come from?

It’s simple really. The Bible gives the answer I don’t want to hear: it came from the abundance of what’s in my heart. The Passion Translation calls it "the overflow." For the overflow of what has been stored in your heart will be seen by your fruit and will be heard in your words.

That’s when I know it’s time for a heart cleanse.

It’s easy to ignore those snarky little thoughts that creep into our mind. Those wrong attitudes that take up residence where they don’t belong. They move through our mind and wiggle down into our heart. They can be so well hidden we don’t even realize they’re there—until we open our mouth.

Whenever this happens, my prayer goes something like this:  Lord, if my mouth speaks from the abundance of what’s in my heart, please take out all the junk that’s hiding there. Forgive me. Cleanse me. Renew a right spirit and a right attitude in me. I want my heart to be filled with your love, your peace, and your joy. Help me to see people and situations through your eyes and to be moved with compassion and not criticism. Let my words be salt and light to others but more than anything, pleasing to you.

Ahhh … what a great feeling. Are you ready for a heart cleanse?


(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and samuiblue.)




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Monday, May 11, 2020

Halftime Is Almost Over


By Andrea Merrell

 
In sports, halftime is meant for rest. It also gives the players and the coach time to evaluate the game and make adjustments in their strategies as they move forward.

In life, we also need a time of rest. A time to step away from the norm and evaluate what’s important. To get our priorities in order. To get advice and guidance from our Coach.

Because of our busy, hectic lifestyles, COVID-19 has forced us into our own halftime. After weeks of isolation, social distancing, a shortage of toilet paper, and sanitizing everything we own, the game of life is about to begin again. Businesses will reopen. People will go back to work. Families will reunite. Children will be able to spend time with their friends.


While some players are on the edge of the bench, anxiously waiting to jump back into business as usual, others are nervous and even fearful about what the future holds. One thing is for certain: we will enter a new normal.

Wherever you might fall on that spectrum, the question is this: What have you gained from your downtime? Have you rested? Have your priorities changed? What lessons have you learned? Will you do things differently as you move forward?

The most important question is: Have you spent time with the Coach? The One who knows the end from the beginning and everything in between. The One who is trustworthy, who provides and protects. The One who tells you how to win.

Yes, halftime is almost over. How will you play the rest of the game?

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Digitalart.)


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Monday, May 4, 2020

Don't Stop Praying for Them


By Andrea Merrell


Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save;

nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear.

Isaiah 59:1 NKJV
 
A certain family member has been out of my life for years. I have no contact with him, but it breaks my heart to know that he does not believe in the God I love and serve. Many previous conversations with him about the Lord have only gotten me this: “That’s so good for you. I’m very proud of you, it’s just not for me. I’m doing fine.”

But I keep praying.

Some have said, “Let it go. He’s too hardhearted, too far gone …”

But I keep praying.

When my son and daughter were caught up in a scary lifestyle of drugs and alcohol, they appeared to be “too far gone” as well. But I kept praying and believing, and God answered. He delivered and restored them.

There’s always hope. No one is ever too far gone. I once had a poster with a picture of a large rock with a single flower growing through a small crack. It read, No heart is so hard that God’s love can’t break through.

The psalmist wrote about himself, “So many are saying, ‘God will never rescue him’” (Psalm 3:2 NLT). But David wasn’t discouraged, and he didn’t listen to popular opinion. Instead, he cried, “But you, O Lord are a shield around me. You are my glory, the one who holds my head high” (vs. 3).

Maybe you’ve been praying for someone for years. The skeptics and naysayers might try to discourage you, telling you that you’re wasting your time. It’s too late. There’s no point. But our God is a God of miracles. He is faithful, and His Word is true.

Whatever you do, don’t stop praying.

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and imagerymajestic.)


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No one is ever too far gone for God’s love to break through.Don’t ever stop praying for those who need to know Him. via @AndreaMerrell (Clickto tweet.)




Monday, April 27, 2020

Tick-a-Lock


By Andrea Merrell

My sheep listen to my voice;
I know them, and they follow me.
John 10:27 NIV

As I tried to sit quietly in the Lord’s presence to seek His face and hear His voice, I thought about the childhood game of tick-a-lock. Zip your lips and lock them. See who can go the longest without talking.

Difficult but doable. But that’s when I realized just how difficult it is to zip the mind shut, drowning out all the anxious thoughts, planning strategies, fear, and worry that shoot through my head like fireworks.

Tick-a-lock for the mind. That’s what I needed.

Sitting still and quiet is not an easy task. Even when watching TV, reading a book, or working on the computer, my mind tends to wander. I have to constantly bring my focus back to what’s at hand.

Thankfully, God knows the way we’re wired. And He already knows all our anxious thoughts. What He offers us in exchange for our fears and anxieties is peace that goes beyond human comprehension, joy that persists and overflows even in the worst of circumstances, and pure, brilliant light that fills us, drives out the darkness, and shines on the path He has set before us.

When I’m talking to someone, I desire their full, undivided attention. God wants and expects no less. He is always ready and waiting to speak words of life to us. All we have to do is listen.

So … tick-a-lock.

 

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and lekkyjustdoit.)




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