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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Monday, July 8, 2019

You Can't Ignore Jesus


By Andrea Merrell

 
The authority of the name of Jesus 
causes every knee to bow in reverence!
Everything and everyone will one day submit 
to this name—in the heavenly realm,
in the earthly realm, and in the demonic realm.
Philippians 2:10 TPT 

“What do you think about Jesus?” the man asked.

The girl frowned in confusion, then shrugged her shoulders. “Actually, I don’t think about Him at all.”

It was one of those street interviews with random passersby. Other answers ranged from “nice guy” to “fairy tale dude.” But my thoughts kept going back to the girl’s answer. How could anyone not think about Him at all?

Some people might misunderstand Him or even hate what He stands for, but the truth is Jesus cannot be ignored. The Bible tells us that one day every single knee will submit and bow to that name.

Jesus. What a beautiful, wonderful, glorious, powerful name. The name above all names. The name that loves, saves, heals, delivers, guides, forgives, strengthens, and comforts. The name that never fails.

Jesus. King of all kings and Lord of all lords.

The name that cannot be ignored.



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


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Monday, July 1, 2019

Ushers and Bouncers


By Andrea Merrell

  The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”
And let the one who hears say, “Come!”
Let the one who is thirsty come;
and let the one who wishes 
take the free gift of the water of life.
Revelation22:17 NIV

Eyes grow wide. Backs stiffen. The elbowing and whispering begin. The ushers are on high alert.

I’ve seen it so many times in the church. In walks the young man with spiked hair and tattoos covering his arms and neck. Then there’s the teenage girl with the too-short skirt, cropped shirt, and more facial piercings than anyone could count. Sometimes it’s the older gentleman with ragged shorts and alcohol on his breath.

The sad part is watching how people respond to these “strange” visitors. Why are they strange? Because they’re not like us and anyone outside our norm threatens our peace of mind.

Too many times, the judgmental side takes over. Instead of ushering these folks in and showing them the love of God, we want to bounce them back out the door.

In Love Does, author Bob Goff says:

When you read the Bible, the people who loved Jesus and followed Him were the ones like me who don’t get invited places. Yet Jesus told His friends they were invited anyway. He told them that the religious people weren’t the ones who decided who got into heaven and who didn’t. He said the people who followed Him should think of themselves more like the ushers rather than the bouncers, and it would be God who decides who gets in. We’re the ones who simply show people their seats that someone else paid for.

God’s invitation is to whosoever will. There are no dress codes or politically correct rules to follow. He simply says come.

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and vectorolie.)




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Monday, June 24, 2019

Put a Lid on It


By Andrea Merrell

The tongue is a flame of fire. 
It is a whole world of wickedness,
corrupting your entire body. 
James 3:16 NIV

I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I didn’t mean it.

Do you ever find yourself saying these words? I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to repeat them.

The tongue is a tricky little body part, and the words that roll off of it can either encourage and bless others or get us in a whole lot of trouble. The Book of James calls the tongue a fiery world of iniquity, full of evil and deadly poison. A troublemaker.

Ouch!

James also tells us that no man is able to tame the tongue or keep it under control. So, what are we supposed to do? How do we put a lid on it?

Just as with every other part of us, we have to submit ourselves to God, offering every member—especially the tongue—to Him as an instrument of righteousness.

The problem is whatever we say begins with a thought. It starts in our mind, ends up in our heart, and finds its way out our mouth. That means to get a handle on this unruly body part, we have to change our thinking and guard our heart. We need to pray as the psalmist did, Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips (Psalm 141:3 NIV).

When we invite Holy Spirit to be in charge, He will help us speak words of blessing, not cursing. Words of kindness, not hate. Words of encouragement, not criticism.

It’s not easy, but keeping the tongue under control is a spiritual discipline that comes with spending time in God’s presence and in His Word.

The next time your tongue threatens to spout off the wrong words … put a lid on it.

Lord, may our words always edify others and glorify you. Amen.


(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and rickymusafia.)





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Monday, June 17, 2019

Don't Argue with the Ump


By Andrea Merrell

   And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ
rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts
[deciding and settling with finality all questions 
that arise in your minds.
Colossians 3:15 AMPC

It was embarrassing. All eyes focused on us as my son-in-law got thrown out of the ballpark for arguing with the ump.

Everyone else thought my daughter was safe as she dove for second base. But the ump saw it differently and yelled, “Out!” 

The rest of the disappointed crowd accepted his decision—but not my son-in-law. He jumped up, grabbed the fence with both hands, and proceeded to make his case against—as he put it—a stupid call. I think there might have been a comment about needing glasses …

We might not always agree with the ump, but when he’s in charge, what he says goes. His word is law. Like it or not, no one can dispute him.

The Bible talks about another ump who wants to direct our daily lives. And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts.

When God’s Holy Spirit takes up residence within us, He moves in with all his baggage: love, joy, wisdom, understanding, creativity, favor, and especially peace. That’s His specialty. No matter what's going on in our lives, the peace of God can calm the storm and keep us grounded if we let Him call the shots. He is there to help us win the game every time.

That day at the ballpark, we all learned a valuable lesson. Don’t argue with the ump.


(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and vectoroli.)



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