Monday, August 12, 2019

Have We Lost the Meaning of Godliness?


By Andrea Merrell

My soul thirsts, pants, and longs for the living God.

I want to come and see the face of God.

Psalm 42:2 

Long dresses. No make-up. Ties. No ties. Sprinkle. Baptize. Seems every church and denomination have their own rules for being “godly.”

When I was growing up, I wasn’t allowed to go to a movie or anything recreational because it would be disrespectful to the Lord. The older folks liked to say, “Don’t cuss, smoke, or chew … and don’t run around with fellas and gals that do.”

So many rules. So many don’ts. If we tried to follow them all we’d drive ourselves bonkers and probably give up. Besides, all those rules don’t make us godly—they make us religious. When we allow the Enemy to trick us into thinking that man-made religion puts us in good standing with God, we need to take a closer look at what Jesus said to the Scribes and Pharisees. He called them hypocrites and whitewashed tombs. Ouch!

What then is godliness, if it’s not how we speak, act, dress, or behave?

Simply speaking, it’s an attitude of the heart. One writer says it’s an “inside job.” It’s a matter of being passionate in our pursuit of God. A longing to know Him. To be sensitive to His voice. To be obedient and walk with him every moment of every day. It’s a desire to have a deep, intimate relationship with our Creator. To call Him friend.

David committed adultery and murder, yet God called him a man after His own heart. Why? Because no matter what he’d done, David said, My soul thirsts, pants, and longs for the living God. He wanted to see God’s face.

Does your soul thirst for God? Don’t allow yourself to be boxed in by all the religious regulations and sacred cows. Seek the Lord with your whole heart. Draw close to Him.  Talk to Him as you would a trusted friend. Be obedient to His voice and to His Word.

That’s true godliness. 

Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth (1 Timothy 6:6 NLT).

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


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Monday, August 5, 2019

Dealing with a Critical Spirit



 By Andrea Merrell


Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize
their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment.
That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. 

Matthew 7:1 MSG
 
They say “the Devil is in the details.” Experts do not agree as to who first made this statement, but there is much truth to be gained from it.

Since mistakes are commonly made in the smallest details of a project—especially by overlooking or underestimating them—we need to be cautious and alert, using a critical eye to eliminate these mistakes. Notice I said critical eye and not critical spirit.

When we’ve been gifted with discernment and an eye for detail, it’s very easy to slip over into criticism. There’s a fine line between the two, and it’s important for us to know and understand the difference.

Pastor and author Chad Norris explains it like this:

It is when we develop a critical spirit that we are actually playing the role of judge in people’s lives. We were never called to judge one another. I want my airline pilot to have a critical eye at all times. I want my surgeon to have a critical eye as he operates on my body while using the competency he or she has garnered through hard work and practice. A critical eye is not a critical spirit. A critical spirit says, “I know better than you. I am better than you. I see things more clearly than you do, and when you begin to think like me, you will be correct."

The Bible tells us not to think we are better than we really are. Instead, we are to esteem others, preferring them above ourselves. When we judge and condemn others because they don’t measure up to our standards or expectations, the law of sowing and reaping will cause those things to come back to our doorstep. As Matthew says, that critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. 

If you’re dealing with a critical spirit, ask God to give you a heart of compassion. Look for the best in others, and they will look for the best in you.

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


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Are you operating with a critical eye or a critical spirit? How do you determine the difference? via @AndreaMerrell (Click to tweet.)



 

 


Monday, July 29, 2019

Christianity—Man-Made or Spirit-Made?


By Andrea Merrell

He alone makes us adequate ministers who are focused on
an entirely new covenant. Our ministry is not based on the letter of the law but through the power of the Spirit. The letter of the law kills, but the Spirit pours out life.
2 Corinthians 3:6 TPT


The words Christian and Christianity are loosely thrown around these days. Many people who claim to be believers seem to be missing the point.

I grew up in a fairly legalistic environment where I learned all the don’ts—don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t cuss, and go to church on Sunday. I spent too much of my life trying to better myself so God would accept and love me. I thought I had to earn what He had so lovingly given me already. No one ever told me who I could become, only a laundry list of things God “disapproved of.”

I called myself a Christian, but was my relationship with God created and directed by the Spirit or by man? Chris Tiegreen explains it like this:

Man-made Christianity and Spirit-made Christianity can look a lot alike on the surface. Both point toward Jesus, both promise righteousness and peace, and both lead you to the cross where the old self dies. But only one actually follows through on its promises. The religious life—the man-made variety—takes you to the cross and leaves you there. It focuses on what not to do without much emphasis on who you can become.

Finding that true Spirit-made Christian life happens when we break out of the religious box, kick over a few sacred cows, and walk into the freedom Jesus died to give us. That freedom fills us with life instead of draining it out of us. It tells us we are loved and valued. We no longer have to perform or clean up our act to be accepted. We don’t have to redesign the old nature; He gives us a brand new one.

Don’t get tangled up in the traditions and doctrines of men. Find out what God’s Word has to say, and let His Holy Spirit fill you with new life. 

Make sure your Christianity is Spirit-made.                  

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


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Monday, July 22, 2019

The Simple Faith of a Child


By Andrea Merrell

  Learn this well: Unless you dramatically change your way of thinking and become teachable, and learn about heaven’s kingdom realm with the wide-eyed wonder of a child,                  you will never be able to enter in.
Matthew 18:3 TPT

“Catch me, Daddy,” the little girl exclaimed. Without hesitation, she jumped into her father’s outstretched arms.

We can learn a lot from the simple trust of a child. In fact, Jesus said we should become as little children in order to enter into the kingdom of heaven, seeing it with wide-eyed wonder.

Children are quick to forgive. They don’t hold grudges or walk around with a chip on their shoulder. When they’re forgiven, they don’t carry feelings of guilt and condemnation. They get over an offense quickly and move on. Stress does not get the best of them, because they don't worry and fret over tomorrow.

Children are humble and trusting. They have a teachable spirit and a positive attitude. They find a way to have fun and enjoy themselves in any given situation. And they offer their love unconditionally.

In essence, children have simple faith, pray simple prayers, and believe that whatever they need will be provided. That’s the way Jesus wants each of us to approach Him. One writer says that when we have this kind of simplicity in our relationship with the Lord, we will find ourselves at peace, growing spiritually, and enjoying Him more than ever.

I’m ready to leap into my Daddy’s arms. How about you?

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and David Castillo Dominici.)


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Monday, July 15, 2019

Is It Secular or Spiritual?


By Andrea Merrell

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you:
Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, 
eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and 
place it before God as an offering.
Romans 12:1-2 MSG 


How do we separate or distinguish between the spiritual and the secular? Can we? Should we?

It’s all in our perception of the words. I know plenty of folks who believe we’re only being spiritual when we’re sitting in church, praying, reading the Bible, or serving in a soup kitchen. Those are all wonderful—and needed—for a Christian to grow and stay connected to the Source, but there’s so much more to life than that, which is how God planned it.

We go to work. We raise kids. We shop. We do laundry. We wash dishes. We play games. We participate in sports. We go on vacation. We rest. The list goes on and on … you fill in the blanks. Does God view any of these activities as unspiritual?

According to the Bible, God does not expect us to separate the spiritual from the secular. And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus … (Colossians 3:17 AMPC). Verse 23 says, Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily (from the soul), as [something done] for the Lord and not for men. That’s a lot of whatevers.

But I think this verse says it best: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.

When we offer ourselves as living sacrifices—as Romans 12:1 instructs us to do—our life becomes all about honoring Him in everything we think, say, and do. With every breath, we can give honor and glory to our Creator.

The next time you’re at rest or play, do it as unto the Lord, knowing His smile of approval rests upon you.

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


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