More Like Them

by Tama Fortner

Have you ever had a single verse just explode your perception of God and the magnitude of His love for you? That’s exactly what happened when my son introduced me to one of his favorite Bible verses.

It began with a simple conversation as our family gathered around the table. What is your favorite verse? One by one we shared the words that had touched our hearts and why. When it was my son’s turn, he read this:

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and remembers your sin no more.” Isaiah 43:25 NIV

Then my son offered his why: “Because it tells me that God wants me with Him.”

Wait! What? How had I missed that all these years?

Of course, I knew that God’s mercy—through Jesus—swept away my sins. (And some days, I keep Him pretty busy with all that sweeping!) And yes, I knew that He chooses to no longer hold my transgressions against me. (Though He has plenty to pick from!) But those four little words in the middle of this verse stopped me in my tracks and overwhelmed me with wonder. They’re the beautiful why behind everything our Lord does. How had I never noticed them before?

For my own sake.”

When these words were written, Israel had been behaving quite badly. Just one verse earlier, the Lord declared, “You have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your offenses” (Isaiah 43:24 NIV). Oh, Israel. Oh . . . me.

And yet, God did not abandon His people. Nor does He abandon us. Instead, He freely offers not just forgiveness for our sins, but life—full, rich, and abundant life in Him (John 10:10)! God’s love for us is so great that He sent His own Son to purchase that abundant life for us on a Roman cross and through an empty grave. We’re not just another obligation to God. We’re not just part of some grudgingly kept, long-ago promise. God wants us to be with Him.

It was just a single verse, just a few words shared by a child, and yet they changed forever the way I see my God and my Savior.

I suppose some truths are so big and so wonderful that they can only be grasped by the hearts of those who are most like Him. Lord, help me to be more like them.

“ . . . for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” —Mark 10:14 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Tama Fortner is an ECPA award-winning and bestselling writer with more than forty titles to her credit. As a ghostwriter, she has collaborated with some of the biggest names in Christian publishing to create inspirational books for children, teens, and adults. But her greatest accomplishments happen in a happy little home on the outskirts of Nashville, Tennessee, where she lives with her family and an incredibly lazy dog who doubles as a footwarmer.

Tama’s newest title, Simply Christmas, releases September 28th from Ink & Willow and is available for pre-order now. Catch up with Tama and all her latest book news at www.TamaFortner.com.

Join the conversation: Have you ever heard an amazing truth from a child?

When We’re Spiritually Cross-Eyed

by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant.                                                                                             Psalm 34:4-5 NIV

Someone has said, “If you have one eye on yesterday and the other eye on tomorrow, you’ll look at today cross-eyed.”

That’s what regrets do to us. Regrets can paralyze us from thinking positively about God’s present working and even steal our enthusiasm for the future. We concentrate on a mistake from the past and fear the consequences of that regretful incident will continually hamper our future. Cross-eyed.

In fact, regrets are a form of worry—we worry with thoughts like, “if only I had treated my child better” or “if only I hadn’t said that to my friend.” Such worry keeps us focused in ourselves, making us unable to receive his loving approval, which would enable our efforts for His glory.

What can we do to fight against crippling regrets?

The Apostle Peter could easily have been paralyzed with regret. He’d denied knowing Jesus three times the night He was arrested. That one terrible failure had the potential to keep him from fulfilling God’s plan for his future. But after a conversation with Jesus on the beach, Peter knew he needed to move past his mistake. Without even a single mention of Peter’s big fail, Jesus told him: Take care of my sheep. (John 21: 17) Stop looking back. Keep focused on what God would have you do next.

From a Scriptural standpoint, the word “forget” means more than not remembering. Holding on to a regret entails being held hostage to the memory. It is not God’s will for us to be held captive by the past. Jesus already paid for that sin. So God has already forgiven it.

The key to overcoming regrets is to forgive ourselves and to forgive others. It is a choice to let go of focusing on the hurt we inflicted and the hurt that others have inflicted upon us. Our enemy, Satan, wants us to mentally bash ourselves over the head by tearing ourselves down. When we do that, there is no positive value. We will not earn back God’s approval (we already have it); we only dig ourselves into a pit of depression.

Isaiah 43:25 can motivate us to forgive ourselves. “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (NIV). At a time when I needed to forgive myself, I was struck by the phrase, “for My own sake.” I realized, Lord, You want to have fellowship with me because you love me so much. And if I am overcome by regrets, my ability to fellowship with you is compromised. I have distanced myself from Your empowerment to serve.

Are you condemning yourself for the past?

God wants you to embrace His forgiveness and empower you for godly living. Then you won’t be looking at life cross-eyed. Instead you will be eyeing the past, present, and future through the lens of Jesus’s cross!

TWEETABLE
When We’re Spiritually Cross-Eyed – insight from @KathyCMiller on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Kathy C MillerAbout the author: Kathy Collard Miller wrote her book on trusting God more and overcoming worry because God was showing her how she was cross-eyed with regrets and fear. That book is titled Partly Cloudy with Scattered Worries. She has also written over 55 other books on various spiritual life topics. Kathy has spoken in more than 35 states and 9 foreign countries. She and her husband, Larry, are parents, grandparents, lay counselors, and often write and speak together. They live in Southern California. Visit her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com.

Join the conversation: Are there regrets in your life that have kept you from living in freedom? Or have you applied the forgiveness of the cross to prevent being spiritually cross-eyed?