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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Monday, April 15, 2019

When the Truth Hurts


By Andrea Merrell

 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
John 8:32 NLT


“You’re still carrying an offense.”

The words, spoken in love and not with criticism or accusation, hit a nerve—a raw one. My heated reaction revealed the truth of the statement. “I am not!”

My reaction was followed by a bucketful of tears and an afternoon of getting things right with the Lord. After a time of prayer and honest, let’s-get-real soul-searching, my heart was clean and the offense gone.

They say the truth hurts. I’ve found that to be true on many occasions. But what I’ve also discovered is when we choose to ignore it instead of facing it head-on, things only get worse. Jesus Himself said the truth would set us free. The Passion translation puts it this way:  For if you embrace the truth, it will release more freedom into your lives.

In my mind, I had forgiven. But in my heart, I still carried the offense. Left unattended to fester, it would have turned into a root of bitterness. It hurt to face the truth, but that’s what it took to set me free.

If you want to release more freedom into your life, don’t be afraid to embrace the Truth of God’s Word. His Truth will transform your life.

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

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Monday, April 8, 2019

You Can't Fool God


By Andrea Merrell

 
The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them.
People judge by outward appearance,
but the Lord looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7 NLT 

As I listened to her story, it became evident the woman’s life was a disaster. No one knew. She had lived a life of pretense for years—even from herself.

This scenario reminded me of another story I heard once about another woman who appeared to have it all together. She was beautiful, smart, talented, benevolent, and highly respected in her community. On the outside, everything appeared to be perfect.

But one day the Lord showed the woman a picture of her heart. It was filled with envy, pride, criticism, and unforgiveness. God told her she was like a shiny, red apple—lovely and appealing on the outside—with a rotten core. She, too, had lived a life of pretense.

There’s an old proverb that says, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” The truth is while we might be able to fool those around us numerous times—and even ourselves—we can’t fool God. He sees straight through the pretense into the depths of our heart.


The good news is that in the blink of an eye, He can make us new from the inside/out when we submit ourselves to Him, confess our sins, and pray as David did, Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” 

That’s a prayer He is waiting to hear.


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


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Monday, April 1, 2019

Holy Is a Four-Letter Word


By Andrea Merrell

 
Set yourselves apart for a holy life. Live a holy life,
because I am God, your God.
Do what I tell you; live the way I tell you.
I am the God who makes you holy.
Leviticus 20:7 MSG


God said to Moses, “Be holy.” Short, sweet, and to the point. That’s a tall order. Moses must have thought, Be holy like you? Seriously? But you’re Jehovah. Yahweh. The Great I Am.

The truth is God expects all his children to be holy, but too many people view it as a four-letter word—don’t understand it, don’t like it, can’t achieve it—so they ignore it.

But God never requires more of us than we have to give. And He doesn’t make things so complicated we can’t understand or comply. We do that to ourselves. We look at the synonyms—devout, godly, pious, saintly—and decide there’s no way we can meet the mark.

In Jesus Calling, Sarah Young clarifies what the Lord expects from us:

Holiness is letting me live through you. Since I dwell in you, you are fully equipped to be holy. Pause before responding to people or situations, giving my Spirit space to act through you. I want to inhabit all your moments—gracing your thoughts, words, and behavior. ~Jesus

We’re told in 2 Peter 1:3 that His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness. We have the mind of Christ, the Fruit of the Spirit, and the full armor of God. What more could we need?

Yes, holy is a four-letter word, just like hope, love, and give. God loves us so much that He gives us hope and the ability to be holy so we can be blessed and bring glory to His name. It’s a simple matter of letting Him live through us.


Will you let Him live through you?

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


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Monday, March 25, 2019

Endless Chores and Clutter


By Andrea Merrell


I’m a list maker. Always have been. But sometimes I feel as if I’m about to be swallowed by my enormous list … much like the whale swallowed Jonah.

No matter how hard I try to get everything done, the tasks take on a life of their own as they multiply. There’s always more to do than time allows.

I love what Sarah Young writes in Jesus Calling:

Do not be weighed down by the clutter in your life: lots of little chores to do sometime, in no particular order. If you focus too much on these petty tasks, trying to get them all out of the way, you will discover that they are endless. They can eat up as much time as you devote to them. Instead of trying to do all your chores at once, choose the ones that need to be done today. Let the rest slip into the background of your mind so I can be in the forefront of your awareness. ~Jesus

Recently, I had a month where I was facing twelve appointments of various kinds (eye doctor, physical, tests, MRI, shots, blood work, etc.). Add to that my regular domestic responsibilities (bills, cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping) on top of several editing jobs with deadlines, then throw in two sets of out-of-town company (one of which stayed a week). I had no idea how to get through the month without a complete meltdown.

Then the Lord, in His loving and gracious way, invited me to take His hand and allow Him to walk me through each task, focusing only on one day at a time. I did only what had to be done each day and refused to think about the rest of the days ahead of me. It was amazing how smoothly those four weeks went, not to mention the peace that filled my heart.

I’ve learned that there will always be demands on my time, and some will scream louder than others. But God is concerned with everything that concerns me, right down to my to-do list. With Him by my side, I can accomplish more than I could ever imagine.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take His hand and let Him guide you. Allow Him to set your agenda. You, along with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit make an unbeatable team.


(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net, 89studio, and Stuart Miles.)



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