Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I took this picture one summer morning when my daughter and her family accompanied me to Alaska. It’s unusual to see the top of Denali as we did that morning. Already, one little cloud showed itself, and in hours the summit was obliterated with clouds. God truly blessed us with a glimpse of His marvelous handiwork.


The High Places

Mt. McKinley (Denali) is the tallest mountain in North America at 20,320 feet. It is a magnet to nature lovers, photographers, outdoors enthusiasts, and mountain climbers. Its profound beauty, however, shrouds its dangers: violent winds, sleet, snow, severe cold, and avalanches. But nothing stops several hundred climbers who struggle to reach its summit each year.

There are man-made high places, too. Many cities vie to build the highest building. Larger-than-life statues of people and animals are seen all over our planet. We use high places as landmarks.

Although God’s people, the Israelites, worshipped Him, they built other gods—something visible to the eye—and set them on high places. When they looked up at their man-made gods, they believed they saw the object of their strength. Idol worship eventually resulted in their downfall as a strong, mighty nation.

Second Kings 12:2-3 tells that king Jehoash “did what was right in the sight of the Lord … but the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.” That scenario is repeated several times in the books of Kings.

Things haven’t changed. Our lesser gods aren’t necessarily statues of mythical creatures or dead heroes. They consist of more familiar things such as gems and money, classic vehicles, and other things of great monetary value. Even while worshipping God, it’s easy to set things above Him—things such as our homes, families, friends, careers, leisure pursuits, health, churches, spiritual leaders, and ministry.

Though we worship God, claiming Him as our Lord and Savior, do we put our trust in something or someone else? When one of the New Testament scribes asked Jesus what the first commandment was, He answered: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)

We could spend hours meditating on that verse. We could ask, how much of my heart am I devoting to the One True God? How much of my soul (emotions and will) belongs to Him? How much of my mind is focused on Him and on my service to Him? How much of my inner and outer strength do I allow Him to control?

Lord, draw us—heart, soul, mind, and strength—away from anyone or anything we may set on a higher place than You. Though we don’t see You visibly, we see the work of Your hands and learn about You in Your Word. Help us remember that Your grace is sufficient for all our needs. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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