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 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.)
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 Susan Tuttle
How often do we attach that word to ourselves? Or let others do it for us.
But taking on that name does not make it true.
See, we are all unworthy, but not one of us is worthless. Not one.
Beloved, do you not know what God did for you? He purchased you—and your cost was so much more than silver or gold. It was His blood. “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)
Don’t minimize the price which was paid for you. If He thought you were worthless, He wouldn’t have died for you. And yet, He took on the cross with joy, knowing we were unworthy. "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus...who for the joy set out before him endured the cross..." (Hebrews 12:2) and He "...demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Hebrews 5:12)
He knew we were sinners. He knew we couldn’t approach the Holy throne of God looking the way we did. And He knew there was nothing we could do to change it…but He could.
So He did.
See, it is only through grace that we are saved. The very nature of grace is it’s a gift given to one who does not deserve it—one who is unworthy. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)
Unworthy, yes. We all are...which is the beauty of His grace. But worthless? No. Christ sees your worth. He loves you more than there are words, and He desires you for His very own. All He wants is for you to accept His gift. Accept Him.
Bring all your guilt and shame to Him. Let Him carry it. Let Him wipe it from you--gone forever. Because underneath it all is a beautiful daughter of Christ. Spotless. Cleansed by His blood. And worthy of her Father’s love.
All you need to do is believe.
You are loved. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Marie Wells Coutu
It happens every year. Many of us make a New Year’s Resolution to exercise more in the coming year and eat less. Or we resolve to watch less TV and spend more time reading the Bible.
One woman I know resolved not to make sarcastic comments about other people. She says she succeeded for about an hour and sixteen minutes.
If you made a resolution, how do you define success or failure? If I exercise twice a week instead of four times as I resolved—is that failure? What if that is two times more often than I exercised last year? Could that be considered success?
Maybe, as some people have decided to do, we should skip making resolutions altogether. Just “resolve” that we are incapable of change.
Or maybe we should redefine “success.” Diet experts warn you not to give up just because, for one day, you fail to follow the diet plan.
It’s that way anytime we determine to make a life change, whether at the beginning of a new year or sometime later in the year. Whether I want to diet, exercise more, stop gossiping, or spend more time with God, I can’t give up when I blow it.
After all, God doesn’t call us to be successful. We will never be good enough on our own. He only asks us to be faithful: We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up. We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith
.–Hebrews 12:1-2 (GWT)
So if you’ve already blown your resolutions for 2012, remember the year has just begun. And you can start over. Today. Be faithful to your goals.
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