God Our Father

Albert Einstein is considered the most brilliant person of the 20th century and one of the most brilliant people who ever lived. His Theory of Relativity has formed the basis of how scientists viewed time and space for over a century. Yet for all his brilliance he said this,

“I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this, but have expressed it clearly. I believe in … a God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings.”

I am convinced that the single most important part of your life is how you view God. As humans, how we view God cannot be separated from how we act and relate to God. So how do you view God? Do you see Him as an angry old man who doesn’t care about your well-being? Do you see Him as a bellhop and His only duty is to give you want you want when you want it? Maybe you view Him as Albert Einstein did, that He exist but is not personal and not involved in your life.

Whatever you may believe about God, the truth is, the God who created the universe desires to have a personal, eternal relationship with you. In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus gave us an example of how we as believers are to view God; “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.'” God is not just the God who parts seas; He is a Father to you and relates to you as a Father to a child.

During your Bible study and prayer time this week, remember that God is your Heavenly Dad. When you read His Word, ask Him to explain it to you, as an earthly father would explain instruction to his child. When you pray this week, whether it be in sorrow, joy, or confusion, remember that God is your Heavenly Daddy and always has grace and compassion in store for you. Embrace your Heavenly Father this week!

–James Merritt

Stay The Course

shutterstock_133462172“They were just trying to intimidate us, imaging that they could discourage us and stop the work. So I continued the work with even greater determination.” Nehemiah 6:9 NLT 

Have you ever felt distracted, intimidated or discouraged? Maybe you have felt intimidated by your boss at work lately; or perhaps you have been discouraged as a stay-at-home mom with thoughts like, “Am I really making a difference by cleaning the house and feeding the kids?” Everyone feels discouraged or intimidated at times; it’s part of being human. But today I want us to look at Nehemiah’s example of how to stay the course when we face intimidation and discouragement in life.

Nehemiah was a cupbearer in the king’s palace who had destroyed Jerusalem and taken Israel into captivity. Nehemiah was also a man of God and at the appointed time, God burdened his heart for the people of Jerusalem, specifically with the task to rebuild the broken walls of the city.  The Book of Nehemiah is the journal that he kept detailing how God, in His faithfulness, enabled him to finish the task he set out to do.

Now I know you are sitting there thinking, “What does a wall-builder have to do with me?” Well I bet some of you are facing the task of rebuilding “walls” without realizing it. Some of you might be trying to rebuild the walls of your marriage. Others might be trying to rebuild the walls of your finances. I’ll let you in on a secret; the same God that enabled Nehemiah to finish rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem will enable you to rebuild the walls of your life. The key is to stay focused!

If there is one thing that Nehemiah faced relentlessly, it was opposition. But he didn’t allow it to distract him. Read the Scripture above again. It says that Nehemiah continued with even greater determination. In order to achieve what you set out to accomplish, you have to learn to dismiss distractions. Tune out the lies of evil people who will discourage you to give up and tune into God’s Word that encourages you to keep going! Every work that God calls you to is great work in His eyes. Stay the course my friend and don’t give up.

—James Merritt

Grow Up

shutterstock_109473368“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 6:1a NLT

Warren Wiersbe once said, “After over forty years of ministry, I am convinced that spiritual immaturity is the number one problem in our churches.” Sadly, I have to agree with him. In today’s society, more and more Christians are abandoning their spiritual growth to churches and pastors, believing that hearing God’s Word on Sundays is enough to get them through the week.

In the passage above, the writer of Hebrews charges believers to “stop going over the basics” of their faith. This does not mean to forget the foundational teachings of Christ, but rather, to build upon them. To become mature means we begin to seek to know God deeply; we strive to know His nature and earnestly desire to know His Word so we can model our lives after it.

So what is the first step to mature faith? You must desire mature faith. Like any new toy or electronic, you must first have a desire to use it before you will actually put in the time to learn how to use it. Did you catch that?  If you are going to attain spiritual maturity, you must want it. So there’s the question: do you want mature faith? Because God wants mature faith for you!
If you are a Christian, growth should be your goal. Maturity is mandatory for every child of God. Because when a Christian stops growing, he starts backsliding; you never stay the same. Start a journey to grow in Christ this week. Spend at least 15 minutes in the Bible every day. If you really desire maturity, the Lord will encourage you to achieve it.

–James Merritt

Trusting God Fully

“When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged Jesus to come to Capernaum to heal his son, who was about to die. Jesus asked, “Will you never believe in me unless you see miraculous signs and wonders?” The official pleaded, “Lord, please come now before my little boy dies.” Then Jesus told him, “Go back home. Your son will live!” And the man believed what Jesus said and started home.” John 4:47-50 NLT

Trust. It is the foundation for every relationship, and the peace of mind for any situation you find yourself in. Still, it is arguably the one area of life that most Christians struggle to fully surrender to the Lord.

John chapter 4 tells us an incredible story about real trust and the avenue many must take to arrive at it. The man in the passage above is an important officer in government court. He is a man of both prominence and position, but he has a problem. His young son is deathly ill, and no nurse, doctor, or drug has been able to heal him. It is the man’s personal, tragic circumstance with his son that brings him to Jesus for answers and solutions.

So often when trouble comes into our life, we begin to doubt God. We begin to doubt His love and care for us, even though He has given us promise after promise that He will always take care of us. I want to say with full conviction that I believe any time trouble or tragedy is allowed into our lives, God uses it to draw us closer to Himself. He uses it as a time to grow our faith and increase our trust in Him. Trusting God completely means we surrender all our doubts.  It means to whole-heartedly believe He will work every situation we face for our good. God has promised, “never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” He is worthy of your complete trust.

–James Merritt

Leave Your Baggage Behind

shutterstock_167992091-2“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14 NIV

Wow, it’s hard to believe 2014 is already here. But I am so excited for all the plans this new year holds! A new year brings an opportunity to start fresh. It’s a time to make new goals, learn new things, and improve the things that failed the year before. However, in order to fully move forward into 2014, you must put 2013 behind you.

In the passage above, the Apostle Paul reveals how to successfully step into 2014: “Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead.” Paul had learned the valuable lesson that you cannot fully focus on where you are going, until you forget where you’ve been. Yes, you failed at something last year. Yes you disappointed a loved one last year; but in order to grow, you’ve got to press on.

I am convinced that one of Satan’s greatest weapons against Christians is the ‘shame game.’ The enemy loves to pummel us into the ground over sins we’ve committed and times we haven’t obeyed God. We must repent, but then we must also learn to move on. So start fresh in 2014. Leave your baggage and shame behind, and move forward toward what is ahead.

–James Merritt