The Light of Christ Journey

Encouraging people on their journey with Christ

Judgment, mercy, and hope don’t seem like they should be in the same sentence. We like to hear about mercy and hope because they sound positive. We have a negative opinion of judgment and try to avoid it at all costs. Yet, we desire justice. Even very young children know when something is unfair. God sends judgment to bring justice.

Micah Warned of Judgment

The wealthy elite of Micah’s day found ways to make themselves richer. Micah 2:1What sorrow awaits you who lie awake at night, thinking up evil plans. You rise at dawn and hurry to carry them out, simply because you have the power to do so.[1] God saw the evil and knew what those unjust wealthy people were doing. God desired to be merciful to the helpless poor and warned the rich to change their ways.

Micah would call these people out. Micah 3:But as for me, I am filled with power—with the Spirit of the Lord. I am filled with justice and strength to boldly declare Israel’s sin and rebellion.[2] Unfortunately, similar things continue to happen today because we live in a sinful world. But we can be assured that God still sees and is merciful. That gives us hope.

Micah Gave Hope of a Messiah to Come

During a time of injustice and rebellion against God, Micah knew there would be a Savior. He didn’t know when Messiah would come, but God had promised that one would come to redeem. Micah 4:10bBut the Lord will rescue you there; he will redeem you from the grip of your enemies.[3]

And as God gave this hope because of His mercy, He made a surprising announcement. This Savior wouldn’t be born in Jerusalem but in a small, obscure village. Micah 5:2But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf.[4]

This hope was Jesus, who was born as a baby and placed in a manger. He would grow, have a three-year ministry, and then die on the cross. His blood sacrifice pays the price for our sins as we trust Him. Jesus’ resurrection gives us hope of life eternal with Him.

We can be sure that God still operates in judgment, mercy, and hope. To find out more, listen here:

[1-4] Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188

Praise the Lord for what He has done. This praise should be the words on the lips of every believer. If you know Jesus as your Savior, the Lord prompts you to raise your voice to give thanks. Think about how Jesus is working in your life and the lives of people worldwide. As we look up to the Lord and give thanks, there is much to be joyful for.

I remember doing a crusade in Central America a few years ago and wondering how the Holy Spirit worked in the hearts of those who came to faith that day. I praise the Lord for what He did that day and what He is doing in their lives today. The Lord is like a gardener and is always at work in our lives. John 15:1I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.[1]

Isaiah Praised the Lord!

Ministry as a prophet was not easy, but this was the calling the Lord extended to Isaiah. Isaiah knew that his true joy was not in the trials he would endure but in looking for what God was doing and would do.  Isaiah 12:In that wonderful day, you will sing: “Thank the Lord! Praise his name! Tell the nations what he has done. Let them know how mighty he is! Sing to the Lord, for he has done wonderful things. Make known his praise around the world. Let all the people of Jerusalem shout his praise with joy! For great is the Holy One of Israel who lives among you. [2]

Isaiah praised the Lord and encouraged others to praise Him. Part of praise is sharing what God has done with others. When God fills us with joy, we don’t want to keep it a secret but tell everyone. What has the Lord done that results in praise for God and sharing the news with others? 

Praising the Lord Leaves No Room for Complaining

Sometimes we all complain about our problems, me included. God knows before we tell Him what is going on in our life that troubles us. The Lord cares and is always concerned about us. But when we praise the Lord, we focus on Him and not on the circumstances we face. When we praise the Lord, we are reminded of what He is doing and has done in our lives.

The Psalmist praised the Lord. Psalm 103:Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. [3] Also, remember that praise pushes back the darkness of evil! Evil will not stick around when we begin to praise the Lord

Praise the Lord for what He has done. To learn more, listen here:

[1-3] Tyndale House Publishers. (2015). Holy Bible: New Living Translation . Tyndale House Publishers.

Where does true joy come from? This is a puzzle to most of the world. The Lord tells us that true joy comes from giving up our will for His. Sometimes it takes finding the world’s narrative is false before we realize the Lord has been correct all along.

As I graduated from college, we all started chasing the world’s dreams. Now at the end of our working careers, we find that the world’s ways were an illusion. The Lord, in His mercy, always calls us back to Himself, even when we walk down the wrong road. Our Lord is the good shepherd who pursues us so we can fulfill His amazing plans for our lives.

Isaiah Knew True Joy was From the Lord

Isaiah, the prophet, ministered in a difficult time as he proclaimed God’s word to warn and encourage people. Isaiah knew that looking to the Lord for his strength, encouragement, and joy was the key to being a successful prophet. He rejoiced that the Lord was his salvation, knowing that it is not earned but given to us by His undeserved love. Isaiah 12:With joy, you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation! [1] Isaiah not only rejoiced in his salvation but also in the salvation of others.

The Lord Gives Us Our Joy

Where are you finding joy in life today? The Lord wants your attention today to remind you that Jesus is the source of true joy. Sometimes people confuse happiness with joy. Joy is not always happy, for sorrowful joy exists. I am joyful that I had terrific parents, although I am sorrowful that they are not with me anymore, for they have gone to heaven.

Unfortunately, life is not a continual happy existence because I believe in Jesus as my Savior. Life is full of struggles and trials. The Lord doesn’t stop all struggles but goes through them with us. Isaiah was a very faithful man of faith, yet there were also many difficulties in his life the Lord would use to mold him. As we look to the Lord and His word, He gives us perspective about the source of true joy.

Psalm 16:11 You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. [2] Paul tells us about joy through believing. Romans 15:13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. [3] True joy comes when we focus not on ourselves but on the Lord. This life will end one day, but life with Jesus as our Savior is eternal. I love that the Lord gives us joy despite all our trials.

Where does true joy come from? Learn more here:

[1-3] Tyndale House Publishers. (2015). Holy Bible: New Living Translation . Tyndale House Publishers.

(Ro 15:13). Tyndale House Publishers.

Trusting the Lord helps me overcome is a truth that we see throughout the Bible. There are many trials in life, and as we trust the Lord, He enables us to move forward even when it seems impossible. You may be in a situation you cannot overcome with your own strength, and the Lord calls you to look to Him.

A friend had an alcohol addiction and tried to stop many times unsuccessfully. During this time of struggling with this addiction, the Lord drew him into a closer relationship with him. He then turned this addiction over to the Lord and prayed for his divine intervention to help him. As he repented and turned to the Lord, He freed him from many years of addiction.

Isaiah Puts His Trust in the Lord

God called Isaiah to prophesy judgment to the southern Kingdom of Judah because of their sins. Idol worship, drunkenness, pride, injustice, and other sinful behavior plagued the nation. Without God’s help, the people would remain in their sin. The Lord often uses hopeless situations to show us the folly of our direction in life and our need for Him.

Isaiah knew that changing the nation would take God’s intervention. Isaiah 12:See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The Lord God is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.[1] Isaiah looked to God and knew that the Lord’s nature is to save. Isaiah also knew that someday the Lord would send a Savior into the world. As Isaiah looked to the Lord, his strength was not in himself but in the Lord. Like Isaiah, when we praise the Lord, we begin to look up and realize God can work through whatever circumstance.

Jesus, Our Example of Walking by Faith

As Jesus suffered on the cross, it appeared that satan and the godless people had defeated the Messiah. But not all was lost. Acts 2:23 But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him. 24 But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip. [2]

Instead of being defeated, the cross was a great victory as Jesus died for our sins and rose again. Because of what Jesus did, we can be forgiven, restored, and become a child of God. Praise the Lord!

Our life is much like a fine tapestry. As we walk by faith, we can often only see beneath the tapestry, which looks like a mess. As the Lord leads by faith, He creates a beautiful tapestry that His eyes can see.

To learn how trusting the Lord helps me overcome, listen here:

[1] Tyndale House Publishers. (2015). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Is 12:2). Tyndale House Publishers.

[2] Tyndale House Publishers. (2015). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Ac 2:23–24). Tyndale House Publishers.

God comes to save. This is cause to praise and thank God. Each generation that lives on the earth needs saving. To save is to rescue, and our Lord is the God of intervention and rescue. What were the circumstances when you began to follow Jesus? How has your relationship with Jesus changed and challenged you?

We did a large crusade in Central America a few years ago, where thousands of people filled the stadium to hear about Jesus. There the people had an opportunity to place their faith in Jesus, and many responded through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Seeing God at work in so many hearts was a fantastic sight.

Isaiah was a great prophet and man of faith in the Old Testament who wrote about God coming to save. Isaiah 12:See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The Lord God is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. [1] As Isaiah reflected on what God had done, he worshipped the Lord by offering praise. Isaiah knew only God can save for we can’t save ourselves.

Jesus Means the Lord Saves

Jesus’ name reflects what He would do for humankind. The Greek name Jesus is a translation of the Hebrew word Joshua which means Savior. It is the same name as Joshua in the Old Testament. Our Savior received this name because He saves His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21) Joseph and Mary named their son Jesus not because they knew what He would do but because an angel instructed them.

When we think about Jesus coming to save us, this action begins with Him. Saving is what He is doing, and we are the recipient of His act of mercy. As people, we are incapable of saving ourselves, and the work of the Holy Spirit draws us to faith. Our part is to receive the gift the Lord has extended to us. Yes, some people refuse to accept the gift of salvation and miss the opportunity to be saved.

Making Room for Jesus

Placing your faith in Jesus is something someone else can’t do for you. Jesus asks you to surrender and follow Him to receive forgiveness. For people all over the world, the question is, what will you do with the Good News of Jesus? The Good News is that Jesus came to this earth and died for our sins to call us to faith and forgiveness.

Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost. [2] Even the most sinful people in the world have an opportunity to come to Jesus and be forgiven! This speaks volumes of the Lord’s grace that He wants everyone to be saved, including you.

To learn more about how God comes to save, listen here:

[1] Tyndale House Publishers. (2015). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Is 12:2). Tyndale House Publishers.

[2] Tyndale House Publishers. (2015). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Lk 19:10). Tyndale House Publishers.

Hope in difficult times is always possible as we look to the Lord Jesus, our Savior. The people of Israel had drifted away from the Lord and brought judgment on themselves. God sent judgment to wake them up so they could repent. God is merciful and sent judgment to bring restoration.

Like a good parent, the Lord disciplines us not to harm but to correct destructive behavior. Even though Isaiah the prophet had to preach a message of judgment to the people, he also preached a message of hope. Isaiah 12:In that day, you will sing: “I will praise you, O Lord! You were angry with me, but not anymore. Now you comfort me. [1]

Isaiah knew that praising the Lord was uplifting and infectious. When we begin to praise the Lord in difficult situations, this helps others do the same thing.

Putting our Hope into Action

We live in a world that seems upside down in many ways because of sin. As believers, we are the light in the darkness. People today are looking for hope, and as believers, we have hope because of our faith in Jesus. When the news is depressing, we have the Good News of Jesus. The Lord has allowed us to intercede for people and the world’s nations. The Lord may call you to pray for someone because no one else is! You are His representative to those who don’t know the Lord as a believer. What a fantastic privilege it is to make a difference.

The Hope We Have in Jesus

Paul writes about our hope in Jesus when we place our faith in Him. Romans 8:24 We were given this hope when we were saved. [2] Just like faith in Jesus, when we have hope, we patiently wait for something we can’t see with our eyes. We have the hope that one day we will live in heaven with Jesus for all eternity. When we build our life on the foundation of Jesus, He has promised that no storm will be able to shake us. As followers of Jesus, we can find hope by believing God’s word even in difficult times.

The Scriptures do not say storms of life will not come. Storms of life can strike anytime and can be overwhelming, but we know that Jesus is always the rock in the storm. Today you may be in a great storm and struggling, but there is always hope in Jesus. The Lord can put the pieces of our lives together again as we trust Him to work out His plan. Psalm 18:2The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.[3]

To learn more about hope in difficult times, listen here:

[1-3] Tyndale House Publishers. (2015). Holy Bible: New Living Translation . Tyndale House Publishers.

Look to God and praise Him. These are healing actions we can do. As I look to the Lord, I begin to take the focus off myself and my difficulties. Looking to the Lord may not change my circumstances, but it changes my perspective. As you focus on your faith in Jesus, you can be thankful for and meditate on many things.

My circumstances are temporary, and life in heaven is eternal. I am sinful, but Jesus came to die for my sins so I could receive forgiveness. The Lord has placed people in my life who love me, and He loves me with great love. I can’t imagine how fantastic it is.

Praise Lifts My Heart

Isaiah, the prophet, praises the Lord because there will come a time when He is no longer angry at the people. Isaiah 12:In that day, you will sing: “I will praise you, O Lord! You were angry with me, but not anymore. Now you comfort me. [1] Isaiah chose to focus on the good things to come of the Lord and not on the past.

There have been times when I have been discouraged and not sure how long this season would last. Yet, as soon as I focused on the Lord, His mercy, love, and forgiveness, the clouds of discouragement lifted. This does not mean my problems went away, but my burden seemed lighter when I remembered what the Lord was doing in my life. The Lord may call you today to take your discouragement to the cross and look to Him for your strength.

It is possible to praise the Lord in hardship because it is an act of our will. I choose to praise the Lord. I read a story of a man who thought he was going to drown in the Bearing Sea after a plane crash, yet he drifted across the waves shouting praises to God. Wow! This man was later rescued, an absolute miracle from the Lord, so He praised Him even more.

The Lord Heals the Distressed Soul

The Lord heals the soul that looks to Him for comfort. The Holy Spirit inside us enables our hearts to overflow with joy in impossible situations. The Lord is always the Light in the darkness. Psalm 42:11Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God! [2]

Praising the Lord when life seems upside down does not deny my problems. Instead, it redirects my focus on the character of God and how much He loves and cares for me. The Scriptures tell us our Lord never changes. The Lord will never leave or forsake us, so we can depend on Him always being there no matter how we feel emotionally. If you are struggling today, take the Lord’s hand and look up to Him, who is our joy, strength, peace, and encouragement.

Look to God and praise Him. To learn more, listen here:

[1] Tyndale House Publishers. (2015). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Is 12:1). Tyndale House Publishers.

[2] Tyndale House Publishers. (2015). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Ps 42:11). Tyndale House Publishers.

Can you be led? Your willingness to allow the Lord to lead you will determine how you live. The Lord has unique plans for us and is always at work around us to help them unfold. To follow the Lord means adjusting our lives to Him.

As we go through life, the enemy tempts us to turn away from God’s plan and go our own way. There have been times when I did not follow the Lord’s guidance and suffered the consequences. Has the Lord given you second chances along your spiritual journey when you refused to follow? How did second chances affect you?

Jonah received a second chance to be led by the Lord when he failed the first time. When God first spoke, Moses was not interested in leading the Israelites out of captivity. With the Lord’s encouragement, Moses reconsidered what He requested, which changed his life and those around him.  

The Lord Can Only Do What We Allow

During the days of the prophet Isaiah, Israel was a people the Lord dearly loved, but they were stubborn and rebellious. The Lord loved them so much that He continually worked on their behalf. God often compares the nation of Israel to a vineyard and Himself to the Gardner.

The Bible tells us that the Lord worked hard to make their lives fruitful, but they rejected His ways. Isaiah 5:Now I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a rich and fertile hill. He plowed the land, cleared its stones, and planted it with the best vines. In the middle, he built a watchtower and carved a winepress in the nearby rocks. Then he waited for a harvest of sweet grapes, but the grapes that grew were bitter. [1]

The Lord is Rich in Grace

Grace is God’s undeserved love, and we see the Lord pouring His grace on Israel. They are stubborn, yet the Lord will keep His covenant with them to send the promised Messiah. Yes, there will be a judgment on Israel because of their sin. Yet, God tells Isaiah of hope in a Savior to come.

The Lord tells the King Ahaz of the Messiah who will come into the world in His timing. Isaiah 7:14 All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).[2] Jesus would come into the world and lead people out of the darkness. His death and resurrection enable us to receive forgiveness as we trust Him.

When we let the Lord lead us to faith and to the plans He has for us, it changes our lives. Take the next step of faith where the Lord is leading, and be amazed at what He does through you! Can you be led? To find out more, listen here:

[1] Tyndale House Publishers. (2015). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Is 5:1–2). Tyndale House Publishers.

[2] Tyndale House Publishers. (2015). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Is 7:14). Tyndale House Publishers.

Forgiveness brings freedom, a gift the Lord wants to give anyone struggling with forgiving another person. Sometimes, struggles leave us deeply hurt, even if it isn’t our fault. These may include a relationship problem, false accusations, or physical or emotional abuse. These can be the source of the root of bitterness in our hearts.

The Lord tells us the importance of guarding our hearts. Proverbs 4:23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. [1] When I protect my heart, I quickly recognize the weeds of bitterness. Forgiving others allows the Lord to remove the weeds of bitterness. If we are honest, we can fall into the trap of offense if we are not vigilant.

Joseph Let Go and Forgave

Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and later falsely imprisoned. These incidents could have resulted in a bitter heart. As his life unfolds, we see that instead of becoming bitter, Joseph chooses to forgive. Forgiveness is an act of our will, and with God’s help, we can forgive. Forgiving another person is not dependent on the other person asking for forgiveness. Forgiveness is a choice.

Genesis 50:19 But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God that I can punish you? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.[2]

Forgive and Let Go

The Apostle Paul gives a fantastic insight into forgiveness. Colossians 3:13Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.[3]

When I make allowances, I begin to see people like Jesus sees them and remember that Jesus died for all my sins. God wants you to live a fulfilled life, but unforgiveness can be a barrier, blocking God’s plan for your life. Sometimes we must be honest and ask for the Lord’s help to forgive. I have done that in my own life because I could not forgive in my strength. When we choose to forgive and bless those who hurt us, we will experience the peace and joy that comes from obeying God’s word.

To learn how forgiveness brings freedom, listen here:

[1-3] Tyndale House Publishers. (2015). Holy Bible: New Living Translation . Tyndale House Publishers.

Our life is in God’s hands, which is comforting when we are experiencing the trials of life. As we journey through life on earth, many twists and turns come on us unexpectedly. My grandmother suffered from cancer when I was seven years old, but she was always in the Lord’s hands through this time.

We rejoiced when our children were born because they were gifts from the Lord. As we held our small children in our arms, the Lord did the same for us. I remember my dad’s father had large hands, and my hands seemed so small in comparison. Our Heavenly Father has enormous hands. Jesus would lay His hands on people and heal and bless them. In the same way, He blesses us. Isaiah 62: The Lord will hold you in his hand for all to see— a splendid crown in the hand of God. [1]

Joseph was in the Lord’s Hands

Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and later falsely accused and imprisoned. Through Joseph’s experiences, the Lord was with him, and He was in the Lord’s hands. Genesis 50:19 But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God that I can punish you? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. 21 No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them. [2]

Joseph was a deep person of faith who trusted the Lord no matter his situation. As he went from a slave to the second in power in Egypt, he never forgot he was in the Lord’s hands. As we cling to our relationship with the Lord, we can also be confident we are always in the hands of the Lord.  

Jesus’s Hands are Scarred

The hands of Jesus have scars, reminding us of the price He paid to save us from our sins. They are scars of His love for us. His love for us is beyond our ability to comprehend. Once you place your life in God’s hands, no one can remove you from His grasp. The Lord’s hands are so large you will never come to their end, as every aspect of your life is in His hands. The Lord is always telling us that we can trust Him through His word and the work of the Holy Spirit. No problem is too significant for us to take to our Heavenly Father.  To learn how our life is in God’s hands, listen here:

[1] Tyndale House Publishers. (2015). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Is 62:3). Tyndale House Publishers.

[2] Tyndale House Publishers. (2015). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Ge 50:19–21). Tyndale House Publishers.

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