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By Marie Wells Coutu

Every year about this time, the dead flowers are removed from this flower bed at an office building near me, leaving a wide brown swath of dirt for a few days. Then some fall flowers are planted to replace the ones that don’t thrive in this spot where hey get full sun.

This year, they did add the elephant ear on the ends, which have done pretty well. But for some reason, each spring the flowers of choice are ones that really would prefer a shadier location.

Do you ever repeat the same old mistakes, year after year, month after month, even day after day? I know I do.

Sometimes I plead ignorance—I just don’t realize that what I’m doing is dumb, or wrong, or hurtful to someone I love. Other times, I know that my actions are not pleasing to God, but I choose to continue because I’m weak. Or just because, deep down, I don’t want to change.

But the good news is that God can help us avoid making the same mistakes over and over again, if we ask. King David wrote in Psalm 19:12-13, “Who can notice every mistake? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep me from sinning. Do not let anyone gain control over me. Then I will be blameless, and I will be free from any great offense” (GWT).

Not only will He keep us from sinning, but He will forgive even those offenses that no one else knows about. And once He forgives, we become sin-free in God’s eyes.

Instead of planting the same flowers in the wrong place, I’m going to ask God to help me plant beautiful flowers in the right places—in the lives of others. I trust Him to change my heart so that I want to make the effort to control my tongue, my mind, and my heart.

What repeated mistake will you ask Him to help you with today?

 
 
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in Him.  In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment, because in this world we are like him.  There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
I John 4:16-18

By Vera Warren Carroll

In this world that far is from the perfect world God intended, we have mind-boggling opinions and versions of love.  A child disobeys and ignores the parents’ instructions but says, “Mom, Dad, I love you.”  A husband abuses his wife and returns with flowers and a smile saying, “I love you.”  A mother disciplines a child with a brutal beating that leaves cuts, bruises and sometimes broken arms or ribs and says, “I do this because I love you.”  We live in a society where a young woman will chase after a young man who often ignores her publicly, doesn’t call unless it’s to his advantage, and belittles her in front of others, but the young woman only remembers the kind and loving words he shares during their intimate moments and says, “He loves me.”  This type of love operates out of fear.  Perhaps this is why many are confused about their love for God.

God doesn’t have to rely on tricks and mind games to show His love.  He doesn’t have to expose you to all manner of mental and physical abuse and say, “I do it because I love you.”  His love cannot be imperfect in any way.  Yet many see the confusion of life and its troubling events as reflecting God’s love, and they respond to God in a confused and abusive manner.     

God’s love for you can be seen in His Word and all that He does and promises to do for you.  He is sovereign, so He cannot make a mistake, He cannot lie, and He’s all knowing, supreme, powerful and absolute.  He doesn’t have to try to love you; He loves you.  He sacrificed His Son because of His love for you.  He gave you His Word that is alive and active if we will just read it, believe it, and receive it, walking in complete confidence of His love.

God is moved by your love for Him but not your manipulative love.  We often try to end our trials of life by trying to manipulate God to show His love for us by fixing our problems.  But God is looking for your complete confidence in His love.  He only wants to know how much you love Him.  Throughout the Bible nations and individuals experienced great problems, but God’s love for them never changed.  He loved them.  What changed their lives is when they stepped out on faith and trusted God, Who showed perfect love that destroyed any fear they had.  He was moved by their perfect love through faith in Him.

We want God to see our love much like the abusive mother or husband, the disobedient child or the young man who is only nice when it’s to his advantage.  We say we love God but we disobey Him, abuse Him with our words and don’t have time for Him unless we have a need and it’s to our advantage.  Our love for Him becomes more about us and what we want.

Do we really love Him? How will he know?

A song by Angelo and Veronica says, “The only way He’ll know is how I live.”  As the song says, we say we love Him and that we care.  We go to church, know the scriptures, and know all the right words to say, but the truth is, “The only way God will know how much we love Him is how we live.”

Do you love Him?

©2011 Vera Warren Carroll

 
 
By Susan Tuttle

I’ve thought a lot about names lately. As women, we so often wear a name tag we never were meant to wear. God’s been working with me on this one, and I want to share something.

I recently read Ruth. There’s a lot of great lessons in that book. But what jumped out at me was how Naomi renamed herself Mara, which means bitterness. She had a beautiful name that meant pleasant or delightful, and she allowed her circumstances to rename her. Now, God renamed several people in the Bible: Abraham, Sarah, Jacob…but here is an instance of someone renaming herself.

Maybe just like Naomi, you’ve renamed yourself. Maybe Bitterness, like her. Or maybe it’s Insignificant, Ugly, Worthless…oh, satan is full of names we’re never meant to wear. But, read Ruth. Go on, read it. Naomi renames herself, but nowhere else in scripture is that name used. She is still called Naomi throughout the entire book. See, all scripture is God-breathed (Timothy 3:16), which means that even though Naomi tried hard to call herself by a new name, God never did—because He knew it wasn’t her name. She'd chosen it. He hadn't given it.

Are you wearing a name you’ve given yourself? One you aren’t supposed to have? Rip off that name tag. It’s not yours! God has a name for you, don’t scribble it out and write your own on top. The one He’s given you is much too beautiful to cover.
©2011 Susan Tuttle

Susan Tuttle is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of three whom God has filled with a passion to reach hurting women and draw them to His healing hands.
 
 
Whom have I in heaven but thee?  And besides thee, I desire nothing on earth.   Psalm 73:25

By Vera Warren Carroll

Many Christians are found, very innocently, keeping our eyes focused on the wrong thing as we live this life of faith.  We focus our attention on what we want in life and our loved ones, spending hour upon hour thinking how we might purchase some expensive item that we have to have or how we can redecorate our house.  It’s the bride-to-be who daydreams about her wedding day or the husband-to-be caught up in thoughts of his dream car.  We fill our minds with idle, often complicated, thoughts that quickly turn to worry the minute we see these dreams not coming to reality.  They become problems that preoccupy our existence, complicating our lives and becoming our primary focus. 

The Word of God is very clear about worry.  (See Matthew 6:25-34) “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  This scripture leads us away from the daily ritual of worry.

The Word also says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV).  Without a doubt this establishes that God doesn’t want us to worry and take our focus off Him.  Doing it God’s way means having more time to focus on Him.  Focusing on Him will move us to grow closer to Him.  

If growing closer to God truly is a desire of your heart and not just words lightly said, then spend more time thinking about Him.  Replace each thought of this world with thoughts that glorify your Father.  Focusing on Him means meditating on Him and His Word.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew  6:33

Whatever you spend hours worrying about--the house, the husband, the wife, the wedding, the car, the bills and the children--just trust God to work it out. Keep your thoughts stayed on Him, seek Him, and you may find those things you worried about weren’t that important anyway.  God will change your desires and you will find that nothing on this earth is worth occupying your every moment.  You will learn that God and His desires are most important and besides Him, nothing is worth the attention and time we give it.

Then you can say as David said, “I desire nothing on earth.”  Focus on God!
©Vera Warren Carroll