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A cheerful heart is a choice. Difficulties will come. Tragedy will occur. But the resilient spirit will see joy in the midst of calamity. A crushed spirit dwells on problems not possibilities. A crushed spirit relies on their own strength or the strength of others to flourish. When human effort fails, and it will, strength is sapped away. When we place our hope in God we can look adversity in the eye with a cheerful heart. This is impossible without Jesus Christ as Lord. 


We’ve never done well with choices. Ever since Adam and Eve chose the fruit over obedience mankind has consistently chosen self-gratification. Ironically, satisfying our physical desires never lasts. The body constantly demands more to fill the emotional side of us. It’s a futile attempt because nothing we can see, taste or touch will satisfy forever. Someone once said that within the soul of every person is a God shaped hole. The only thing that will fill the void is Jesus. But here’s the kicker. You have a choice. Will you continue to try to fill the void with the temporal or will you choose the narrow road and follow Christ? It’s your choice and your decision will determine your level of satisfaction and contentment.



This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. Isaiah 48:17

paths we choose“I told you so.”

Don’t you hate hearing those words? Perhaps they are the words of a friend or a parent or an employer. You thought you had a better idea. You were warned that your idea wouldn’t work. You went ahead anyway and did what you thought best.

If you had been right you’d be a hero right now. But you weren’t. In fact, your decision has made a huge mess for yourself as well as those around you. Now you have to suffer the consequences. Not only that, your decision is like a pebble dropped into a still pool. The ripple effect with affect your life and the life of others for a long time, maybe eternity. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.”

Whether your decision was personal (such as family, kids, lifestyle), or career oriented, there’s some good news for you. We human beings tend to make decisions that lean towards our own understanding and comfort level. Our finite minds aren’t always able to grasp the full impact of our decisions.

The good news is that there is redemption available to us. Redemption is defined as “the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil.” The implication is that if you need redeeming it’s because of an action you are responsible for, or an action that is outside your control. In other words, whether the consequences are your fault or the fault of another you have hope.

Each of us have no doubt been told something by a parent or teacher and knowingly taken a different path because it looked better and easier to us. Even worse are those times when we knowingly go against what God has told us to do. We do so either intentionally, or in ignorance because we didn’t check with God before we acted.

We are redeemed. That’s the message God give us in Isaiah 48:17. The prophet reminds us that “This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow.

Another way of stating this verse might be to say this. “I know what’s best for you. I’ll teach you all you need to know. But WHEN you stray from me and take the wrong path, I’ll redeem you. When you focus on your own comfort rather than my glory, I’ll redeem you. When your actions cause turmoil for yourself and those around you, I’ll redeem you.

What a blessed promise we have of redemption through Jesus Christ. He alone frees us from everything that seeks to imprison us.

PRAYER: Father God. There are so many times I see my own comfort. So many times I take the path I think best even though I know it’s the wrong path to take. Thank you for Jesus. Thank you that he alone is my redemption from myself and the evil others plan for me. Amen.


In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s house will be the highest of all— the most important place on earth. It will be raised above the other hills, and people from all over the world will stream there to worship. Micah 4:1

moutainWe’d arrived in the middle of the night at our hotel. Although I grew up in the North woods, I’ve always had a fascination with mountains. From time to time in my travels around home I’d enjoy looking out over an area from some high hills, but the mountains still intrigued me. This would be my first trip into the Rocky Mountains. (start John Denver music here)

As I pulled back the curtains in our room the next morning my view was dominated by a huge rock wall that seemed to tower over everything. The top was covered with snow. I couldn’t wait to begin our ascent!

One of the first things that caught my attention as we headed west was that the mountain, which seemed just a stones through from our hotel was really miles away. As we approached the mountain I saw from the hotel we had to travel through some smaller mountains, the foothills, in order to reach our destination.

The road seemed to be a gradual incline at first, until I looked in the rear view mirror and realized we were much higher than when we started. That mountain was much higher and much more dominant than it first appeared. Our car strained to reach the top, but once we reached the summit, the view was breathtaking!

There are times in our lives when it seems our God is small. There are times when we may seem overwhelmed by the future. There may be times when we question our ability to go on. But our God, the one and only true God is much larger than we can imagine. Just as the large mountain towered above everything around it, our God towers in strength, and power over every other god that others may choose be follow.

Don’t be discouraged by the struggles you face as you make the ascent to the mountain. Sometimes the road is gradual. Sometimes it is steep. But the end result is worth the trip.

PRAYER: Father God. There are times when traveling here in the valley I forget your strength and how you tower over everything in my path. Help me to focus on the end of the journey as I struggle, at times, on the way. Amen.

 

 

 


Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation. Colossians 1:15

mirror mirror 2.2.16Most people don’t like to look in the mirror. Looking in the mirror reveals all of our blemishes, at least in our own eyes. Usually, when we do look we look with a critical eye, wanting to make sure we look our very best. Mirrors don’t hide anything. When you see yourself in the mirror, you see exactly what everyone else sees.

One day, just before Jesus was brutally murdered by an angry mob, Philip, one of his disciples, made a very stunning request. Jesus had just announced that he would be leaving them. I can’t imagine how that made his followers feel. They had lived with him for three years. They had left all they had to follow him. Now he was going to leave. How could they possibly understand?

So, in the midst of this distress, Philip says, “Show us the Father and that will be enough.”

I don’t think we gentile believers can really grasp the significance of that statement. Jehovah God, YHWH, was revered, feared and distant to most Jewish believers. Many saw him as demanding and ready to show his wrath at the drop of a hat.

Jesus had shown them a different vision of the Father’s Kingdom. It was a Kingdom of grace and mercy; of healing and restoration; of forgiveness and hope. Still they didn’t completely understand.

When Philip made his request I envision Jesus turning to him and looking him square in the eyes. Maybe he placed his hands on Philip’s shoulders to make sure he had all his attention. Then he said (my paraphrase), “Philip. Look at me. When we look at me you see the Father”.

When he said that to Philip I can imagine Philip looking into Jesus’ eyes and seeing the woman caught in adultery who left pardoned rather than condemned; of him healing the blind man and delivering him from his spiritual and physical darkness; of him returning a now breathing young man to his mother, who celebrated his new life.

Some see God as being an angry task master intent on making our lives miserable. I don’t. I see a loving father who earnestly desires for us to come to him for healing, encouragement, guidance and protection. When I see God I see Jesus hanging on a cross for my sin. When I see God, I see an empty tomb and realize that everything I fear, even death, has been defeated.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus. I bow before you in awe at who you are. Thank you for revealing to me the great love and patience your Father has for me. Forgive me for the times I’ve doubted and rebelled. Help me to live and love the way you showed us to live and love. Amen.

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