by Susan TuttleI've been memorizing Scripture this year over on my blog Steps, and the current verse I've been working on is:
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43: 18-19
When I first read this, I focused on how God tells us not to look back, to not dwell on our past. And oh, can we do that, right? All our mistakes can really trip us up, to the point that we forget they are forgiven and we are redeemed. But we are the moment we ask God to forgive them! 1 John 1:9 says If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
And I do think this is a great way to look at the verse in Isaiah. It's a great nudge to look forward to your new life and stop staring in your rear view mirror at your old life.
However, this week I saw the verse in another light. Sometimes it's not that we can't hurdle our past, but that we cling to it. Sure, we may have been in bondage (think of how the Israelites WANTED to return to Egypt at one point--seriously, check out Numbers 14:1-4) but when that's all we know, when our bondage has become our comfort zone and our habit, then sometimes we don't want to let it go. We want to stay there.
But God is saying - FORGET it! Let it go and stop dwelling there because I'm doing a NEW thing here!
For a new thing to happen, you've got to let go of the old, otherwise it's just the same-ol-same-ol. Sure, it can be scary, but if we want to keep growing into who God has created us to be, we've got to let go of our grip on the familiar and cling to the new.
Because when God's in the new, it's something you won't want to miss.
by Susan Tuttle
But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:11
I was having not the best of days a few weeks back. The house was a mess, I was behind on most chores, we'd barely survived the homeschooling day, and dinner still needed to be cooked. I began chopping and stirring, while simultaneously clearing off the dining table from a recent painting project my girls had taken on. (I am so not a craft mom. Not even gonna pretend here.)
My youngest came into the kitchen to check out what I was doing. Now, can I just say, she is the child God saw fit to bless us with about the time Hubby and I were sure we had this whole parenting thing down. I do believe He daily chuckles over that one--God is so good to us, isn't He?
Anyway...Raleigh came into the kitchen and eyed the paint tray I had just set on the counter to dry. Knowing what she was about to do, I calmly told her, "DO NOT touch those paints!"...however, Raleigh's fingers seem to have a mind of their own. She so badly wants to do good, she wants to listen, but sometimes her desires get the best of her, and before I could even blink my eye, her finger poked into the black paint. She just couldn't help herself.
And there her fingertip was, black paint against her white skin. One small spot that could create one big mess if I let her leave the kitchen.
My water was boiling, my meat was sizzling, and I here sat with my girl who had paint on her little hand.
Now, her sin was disobeying me, but my sin came in my anger. Isn't it great that God loves us enough to not leave us there?
I snatched her hand, flipped on the kitchen faucet, and pushed her finger under it and yelled at her, "Why can't you listen? Now your hand's a mess and I have to clean it up." Figuring I'd have to scrub, I reached my hand into the water and rubbed my finger across hers. When I twisted my hand up, the spot was gone from her hand--completely, as if it had never been--and my fingertip was now black. One round dot of black now marring my white skin, and that's when God nailed me:This is what I do for you on a daily basis, Daughter--clean you up when you've failed to listen. I take your black spots of sin onto my own skin, leaving you clean and white. I wear them for you, so that you don't have to. So that you can stand before My Father without spot or blemish.
Oh, boy. Talk about hitting me right between the eyes.
I am no better than my daughter, I'm simply older. There are so many moments where I hear Him tell me to not touch something, and yet my hand reaches out for that temptation. And when I call, He gently takes my hand and cleans me up.
That's what grace is.
We need Him. Every second, of every hour, of every day, we need Him. We are far from perfect people, and yet He covers us with His perfection. And why? Because He loves us.
If you're struggling with something today--whether you are a Christian or only just finding Jesus--call out to Him. He'll wipe every one of your spots out and wash you white as snow.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
And if you want to read more about it, check out Psalm 51 here...and be blessed today:)
By Marie Coutu
We made a trip back to western Kentucky recently to finish cleaning out the house following my mother's recent death.
The sense of melancholy was strong as I walked the neighborhood streets for the last time, slept in the house one final time, decided on items to be discarded, and wondered when the next time might be to visit my old hometown.
I only lived in that specific house for my last two years of high school and summers during college. But during the next forty years, as my husband and I moved halfway across the country three times and lived in nine different houses, the knowledge that my parents remained in the same house provided stability, a foundation I could always count on.
I still have a sister and an aunt who live in that town, so I know I'll be back but the visits will be less often and less like going "home."
During my pondering, I turned on the radio and smiled when I heard the old song that was playing--"Ain't Gonna Need This House No Longer."
Mother and Daddy no longer need that house, and neither does anyone else in the family.
And we know that someday we will join them once again in our heavenly home. That confidence and hope eases the sadness that comes with saying "good-bye" to that earthly home.
by Susan TuttleAt our church’s mid-week Bible study this week we spoke about our lives and how they’ve been changed since meeting Christ. We were asked to fill in this blank: Since meeting Christ, the one word I’d use to describe my life is____________ One woman at our table said, “found”. I love it! Found. We once were lost and now we’re found. It means He sees us. We’re not invisible. It means He sought after us. We are valuable. It means He has a place for us. We belong. And this is the best part. Have you ever lost something incredibly valuable to you? Torn places apart looking for it? Worried and grieved over the loss, only to find it later? What did you do? I bet you celebrated. Well, Beloved, God and all of heaven throw a crazy party, rejoicing, singing, dancing, feasting…all over YOU being found. Don’t believe me? Read Luke 15. The chapter is filled with three parables telling the story over things lost and now found. In the first two parables when the item is found, here’s what it says: “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:10 (see also Luke 15:7) And then they move on to the final parable of the lost son which paints a picture of what heaven looks like when YOU are found. Go ahead, read it, and see yourself. They party! So today, if you’re feeling lost, call out to Jesus…He’s only waiting to hear your voice. Call on Him. You will be found. And then they’ll party in Heaven--all because of you.Your Turn: What would YOU fill in the blank with above?
(If you are a new Christian, we’d love it if you contact one of us so we can celebrate with you, pray for you, and get you some information. Or if you have more questions about Christ, we’d love to chat.)
To Elizabeth Gray Wells
Oct. 28, 1911-Sept. 29, 2012
Blessed were you, Mother, for you did not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.
But your delight was in the law of the Lord, and on his law you meditated day and night.
You were like a tree planted by streams of water, which yielded its fruit in season and whose leaf did not wither.
Whatever you did prospered.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous.
Your husband had full confidence in you and lacked nothing of value.
You brought him good, not harm, all the days of your life.
You were clothed in strength and dignity; you laughed at the days to come.
You spoke with wisdom, and faithful instruction was on your tongue.
You watched over the affairs of your household and did not eat the bread of idleness.
Many women do noble things, but you surpassed them all.
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
(Adapted from Psalm 1, Proverbs 31)
It’s what God supplies.
He tells us it’s an anchor. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6:19.
Some days I just need to hear that—don’t you? To know that in the midst of our bad day, bad news, raging hormones, feelings of isolation, sickness…whatever the news for the day that we didn’t want or expect, we have hope.
It anchors us.
Psalm 40 tells us that not only does God hear us when we call, but He pulls us out of the shaky place we are and sets our feet on a rock—a solid place to stand.
He is that rock. And he holds us firm. It is where our hope comes from.
God has us in His hand. He loves us. Everything around us is under His control—we don’t have to sweat it, just leave it at His feet and let Him wrap His arms around us. In His very embrace, we find rest. Peace. Hope.
So when the day is raging around you, let Him anchor you.
Hold to His hope and be secure in Him.
By Marie Wells Coutu
While driving to Kentucky for my mother's funeral a few days ago, many memories and thoughts swirled in my head.
She would have been 101 in 30 days. Our family has been blessed to have her with us long as we did. And we are grateful to know that she is now in the arms of Jesus, and with Daddy, who went on ahead of her seven years ago.
My sister said, "I can see Daddy with his lopsided grin saying to her, 'It's about time you got here.'"
For her 100th birthday last year, we held a huge celebration. As a family, we had talked of having another party this year, though on a smaller scale. We even hoped she could be made an honorary member of the 101st Airborne Battalion at nearby Fort Campbell, as her mother had been when she turned 101.
But now, after a slow decline over the past few months and a difficult two weeks, she was no longer with us.
As I drove, I listened to a novel on audio, and one of the characters said, "God's plans don't always make sense to us, but that's when we learn to trust."
As I pondered that, I realized that it not only summed up the current situation, but also the way Mother lived her life. Her faith and the way she raised us reflected Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
While our plans were not God's plans for Mother, we know that she has a future with Him. And until we see her again, we trust in God's plans.
by Susan Tuttle
The Lord remembers us and will bless us. Psalm 115:12
I recently read Hannah’s story out of 1 Samuel. She was a barren woman, and I cannot even begin to imagine her pain. In that day and age not bearing children made her an outcast, and though her husband loved her dearly, it was a burden she could not escape. It didn’t help that his other wife, Peninnah, taunted her. Hannah could not escape the sadness of her empty womb, and she made herself sick over it.
Hannah had to wonder where God was. She prayed for a child, and yet year after year she remained childless. Year after year Peninnah reminded her that she had children and Hannah did not. Year after year there remained silence from God.
I think sometimes, in that silence, we stop craving the one thing we desire and begin to crave God’s voice. We want to know he sees us. We want his presence even more than the one thing we are missing. That thing no longer is our idol and our eyes shift to God. Our heart becomes consumed with one thought, “Lord, have you forgotten me?”
Hannah had this moment. Where what she wanted was eclipsed by wanting to know God had not forgotten her. Listen to her prayer:
“Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life…” (v.11)
See, opening her womb became the sign that she wasn’t forgotten. It was no longer about having a child. No, she simply wanted the assurance that God remembered her. He could have the child, only look on her with favor and show her he hadn’t forgotten her. That mattered more. And God heard her and after what must have felt like an eternity to Hannah, "God remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son." (vs.19-20)
Beloved, just like Hannah, God sees you. He hears you. His silence does not mean you are forgotten. He’s at work. I cannot promise the answer will be what you want it to be or even when you want it, but I can promise this: he is the God who sees you, El Roi, and he remembers you.
***reposted from my blog, Steps
By Marie Wells Coutu
Some people listen to music, some read, others play games on their tablet computers or watch a movie on a DVD player.
Then there are those few of us who write.
But as much as I'd like to work on my novel en route to the American Fiction Writers Conference, I find it difficult to focus with all the activity going on. There's the soldier across the aisle listening to music (which I can hear despite his earbuds) and playing electronic solitaire. The guy next to me is playing Sodoku on his iPad, and the little boy behind me is talking, as 2-year-olds are wont to do.
How can I think about my own plot and characters when so many other interesting characters and conversations swirl around me?
Then I wonder, how does God focus on my prayers, my needs, while at the same time hearing and answering billions of other prayers all over the world? I guess that's why He is God and I am not.
And that makes my day.
I have called on you because you answer me, O God.turn your ear toward me. Hear what I have to say. (Psalm 17:6 GWT)
By Marie Wells Coutu
The first verses of the Bible tell us that when God spoke, He created.
He said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
If you or I walk into a dark room and say, “Let there be light,” nothing will happen. We don’t have the power or the authority to create light. But God does.
Unless we flip the switch—or someone else does it for us—we will not get light. And unless there is a power source behind the switch, we will remain in the dark.
But when God speaks, things happen.
He spoke, and He created you. He spoke your children into existence. He spoke the world into existence.
The Hebrew word for the verb “to create” never has a human subject. The Jewish people understood that creation is a work that is unique to God. We can take the talents He gives us and the substances He has created and make new objects, but only He can create something from nothing.
The Gospel of John tells us:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5, NIV)
If God’s Word is that powerful, shouldn’t we pay attention?