Wednesday, July 26, 2017
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About every five years or so, I run into my scrapbook while I'm going through this closet. Oh, yeah, there's the geeky-looking, eighth-grader there, holding his county spelling bee trophy. Yea! And there's the chubby little Ronnie in his Indian outfit on a vacation in Minnesota. Yeah. And, the picture of our championship Bible Quiz Team. Now it's also a lot of fun when we pull out the old photos of our family. Decades of Christmas eves, scenes from scores and scores of vacation adventures, sons in football uniforms, a daughter all dressed up for her first recital. Ah, the memories. Now it isn't that we haven't had some not-so-great things happen. There was the automobile accident, the painful injuries, the bouts with various sicknesses. You know what? Somehow they just didn't make it into the memory book.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Only Reason To Look Back".
Now, all of us have an album of memories stored away. Not just in a book, I mean in the memory banks in our mind. And some of us think a lot about the things in the past, and we talk about them, too. But which things? Well, God has something important, even liberating, to say about what's in your past, especially the things you keep bringing out and bringing up again and again.
Our word for today from the Word of God is Isaiah 43 beginning at verse 16. God is talking to people who have been through a lot of pain; people who have lost a lot of things they care about. There are some parts of the past God says they need to remember, and there are some they need to forget. Here we go, "This is what the Lord says, He who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters." Now God says remember that stuff. He goes on, "Forget the former things; and do not dwell on the past." In other words, don't keep your pictures of the ugly stuff.
He goes on to say, "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." Now God says, I don't want you to miss the glorious things I'm about to do for you because you've got your nose buried in your pictures from the past!
Now, I wonder if your memory album has a lot of mental pictures of the painful moments in your life. I wonder if some of the folks close to you are maybe tired of you going over, and over, the times you've been hurt and wronged. God's Word is clear - forget that stuff. What kind of memory album is filled with pictures of the ugly times? If you dwell on the past, if you dwell in the past, you may miss the new things God wants to do with your future.
But there's one good reason to look back - to relive those countless moments in your life you can praise God for! The parted seas, the conquered obstacles, the divine interventions, the deliverances, the miraculous provisions, ways in the desert, streams where it looked like there'd be nothing for your need. Wow! In Isaiah 43:20-21, God says, "I provide water in the desert...to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise."
So which past are you going to dwell on? The painful past? Well, that will just keep the pain alive right into your future. Or are you going to dwell on the praiseful past; all the ways your loving God's been there for you over and over again? Those memories will get you ready for the next exciting episode in your life with this awesome God of yours. And it will open your eyes to the new thing He's doing right in front of you.
Our family albums aren't full of images of the bad times. The images we keep going over are the good times. That's how it needs to be in that photo album in your heart, don't you think? The only reason to look back is to once again relive your memories of life with your wonderful, miraculous Heavenly Father.