This week we consider sources of happiness.

To prepare, stop the world around you.

Breathe, be still, and feel God’s presence.

Invite God’s calm.

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The most cunning heart— it’s beyond help. Who can figure it out? I, the Lord, probe the heart and discern hidden motives, to give everyone what they deserve, the consequences of their deeds.

Jeremiah 17:9-10

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Does the thought of God probing your heart and mind make your cringe? You’re not alone. Too many of our private thoughts fail the “living like Jesus” litmus test.

My wife and I are both Speech Language Pathologists. We often work with individuals who can’t differentiate between “internal” and “external” voices. Using an “inside my head” voice can get you in trouble. Simply put, many thoughts should never make it to the tongue. As therapists, we teach those we serve to keep “inside” thoughts to themselves.

So, God hears those inside thoughts? Yes, but… What’s the “but” you ask? As Christians we enjoy God’s forgiveness and grace, God's undeserved favor. The lesson here? When your inside thoughts reflect a deceitful or unkind heart, seek God’s forgiveness and grace, and keep pressing forward. Becoming Christ-like is a journey – one that takes time but is well worth the effort.

Bill Ogletree

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Lord, create in me a clean heart. Help me to know that your forgiveness and grace give birth to happiness and are always available. Keep me pressing forward in pursuit of Christ’s likeness. Amen.

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The Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, wrote:

“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another.” (in Love and Living, 1965)

Go now and find happiness and God’s love in the community of others.

Bill Ogletree

Billy T. Ogletree is a professor at Western Carolina University. He is forever grateful for the love of his wife and two adult children and appreciates little more than living in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina. Dr. Ogletree is the author of the 2018 book Mean Christianity: Finding Our Way Back to Christ’s Likeness, available through Wipf and Stock, Amazon, Kindle, and Audible.

I Come to the Garden Alone

Ken Medema

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