How Jerusalem’s Mountains are Like God’s Presence in Your Life

Jerusalem's Geography Can Relieve Your Doubts

Life is full of moments that expose our doubts. In spite of all the Scripture we’ve learned and all the past victories the Lord has given us, occasionally something will happen that causes serious doubt.

How Jerusalem's Geography Can Relieve Your Doubts

(Photo: Jerusalem’s Temple Mount near sunset. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Maybe it’s a financial situation that undercuts future security. Or it might be a miserable marriage. Perhaps it’s a pastor or a leader who has failed. Maybe it’s our own failure.

Whatever the reason, seasons of doubts and confusion can come even to the most committed followers of Jesus:

  • John the Baptist struggled with doubts about his own beliefs about Jesus (Matt. 11:2-3).
  • The apostle Thomas found the resurrection of Christ something he had to see before he’d believe (John 20:25).
  • Some of the disciples had doubts about Jesus’ appearing to them, even at the Great Commission (Matt. 28:17).

I confess, I’ve had my doubts as well. Sometimes circumstances literally demanded I doubt God. A simple walk in Jerusalem one evening gave me an essential reminder.

I’m convinced it can help you.

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How to Breathe When God Steps on Your Air Hose

Habakkuk Helps Us Turn Our Panic to Peace

We aren’t surprised when we see people sidestep God. What shocks us, however, is when God seems to ignore people. The God of the Bible isn’t a far-off deity. So why does He seem so uninvolved?

How to Breathe When God Steps on Your Air Hose

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com)

God’s response to people’s non-response to Him seems conspicuous by its absence. For those of us who believe in God, it’s tough to breathe when it seems like God is stepping on our air hose.

A prophet with a funny name helps us turn our panic into peace—and to take a deep breath.

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How to Apply those Odd Canaanite Names and Places

2 Lessons from People that Don't Seem to Matter (But Do)

All my life as I’ve studied the Bible and heard it taught, reading the odd list of Canaanite names feels like driving over potholes. I think, Why doesn’t somebody fill in those holes? Why should I care about the Canaanites this week?

Sorting Out Those Odd Canaanite Names and Places

(Photo: Megiddo’s Canaanite temple and sacrificial altar. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In fact, most of the time when I hear preachers read the list of “Canaanites, Hittites, and Jebusites,” they typically add “Termites” to the list just to get a laugh. We chuckle because—if we’re honest—including those Canaanite names seems a bit ridiculous—and irrelevant.

What difference do all those “—ites” make to us? In this post I’ll give a simple overview of these names, who they were, and where they lived.

But more importantly, I’ll share what difference they make to us today.

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Jerusalem’s Water Gate—Where the Source of Truth Gushed

Why You Need to Wall Off Your Time with the Bible

The best way to make sure we respond positively to the opportunities God provides us is to prepare ahead of time for them. But how do we anticipate those moments? The Lord has shown us how.

Jerusalem’s Water Gate—Where the Source of Truth Gushed

(Photo: Scribe copying the Scriptures. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

At the end of the exile, God moved the heart of the pagan King Artaxerxes to allow Ezra—a scribe and priest—to return to Jerusalem in 458 BC. Fourteen years before Nehemiah returned to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, Ezra returned to rebuild the people. He did it by calling them to return to the Word of God.

Ezra shows us both how to prepare for the opportunities God provides and how to protect ourselves from what threatens them.

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Walking with God Requires One Thing Most of All

How the basics keep us from growing cold.

We start strong. Determination and strength come easily. Faithfulness flows from our hearts. Then life happens. We didn’t plan to grow cold spiritually. But we did.

Walking with God Requires One Thing Most of All

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Somehow, we can wake up after a number of years and discover that our lack of passion for God has gradually shifted Him away from our hearts. We then find ourselves living in the ruins of once-vibrant spiritual lives.

How does this happen? By forgetting this one thing.

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How God Turns Unfair Criticism into a Blessing for You

From Bahurim to Susa, the Lord’s Providential Ironies Flow from Benjamin’s Tribe

It’s tough to hear criticism—especially when it’s wrong. One of the dark moments of King David’s reign saw him shuffling barefoot over the Mount of Olives, fleeing rather than facing a fight with his rebel son Absalom.

From Bahurim to Susa—God Turns a Curse into a Blessing

(Photo: Sunrise over the Mount of Olives. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

After David made his way over the summit, he passed below the Benjamite village of Bahurim. There a loudmouth named Shimei hurled rocks at David’s passing entourage. But the curses Shimei chucked hurt worse.

David’s response was stellar:

My son who came out from me seeks my life; how much more now this Benjamite? Let him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him. Perhaps the LORD will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day. —2 Sam. 16:11–12

Centuries later, another Benjamite named Shimei would play a role in providing blessing to David’s line. In fact to all Jews.

And to you.

Has someone criticized you unfairly? Here’s what you have to look forward to.

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God is Guiding Your Life and How You Can Know it For Sure

What seem like chances are really God's choices.

Sometimes it can feel like the Lord isn’t leading you toward anything significant in life. Or worse, that He has overlooked or abandoned you. One story reminds us that idea just isn’t true. 

Women harvesting wheat near Bethlehem

(Photo: Women harvesting wheat near Bethlehem. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In the Old Testament, a destitute single-again woman named Ruth had little hope for a future. One day she took advantage of a provision in the Law that allowed the poor to reap the corners of Israel’s fields. Her example gives hope to us all.

I want to show you that God is guiding you—and how you can know He is.

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God’s Surprising Tests for You Often Look for One Thing

When the tests come, we can believe what is true or what is false.

God’s tests are most often pop quizzes. You don’t see them coming. If you knew you would be running late tomorrow morning, you’d prepare ahead of time. But that’s not a real test.

God's Surprising Tests for You Often Look for One Thing

(Photo: Shiloh, where Hannah trusted God. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

A real test hits your blindside. It tests the mettle of your theology, and often, it even seems to contradict it.

  • You have walked with God, but a family member suddenly gets terribly ill.
  • Your integrity on the job has been stellar, but someone else gets the promotion.
  • You have worked hard on a project, but the doors for its success stay closed.
  • You get an unexpected phone call with news that chills your soul.

In the end, the pop quizzes we experience usually boil down to one thing.

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What’s Your Motive? There’s Only One Way to Tell

How Tisha B'Av & the Burnt House Examine Us

What’s your motive? In Jerusalem, one site always begs the question. I find it fascinating that when the New Testament talks about God judging our motives, it uses the metaphor of a burnt house. 

How Tisha B'Av & the Burnt House Examine Us

(Photo: The Burnt House in Jerusalem. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Some call it coincidence. Some call it Providence. But according to tradition, both the First and Second Temples (in 586 BC and AD 70) were destroyed on the same date in history. Tisha B’Av marks the 9th day of the month of Av—the fifth Jewish month. During the exile, the Jews instituted a fast to commemorate the Temple’s destruction. After they returned to Jerusalem, they asked God a question about Tisha B’Av:

Shall I weep in the fifth month and abstain, as I have done these many years? —Zechariah 7:3

Their question made sense.

They had observed the fast in exile, but should they continue to fast on Tisha B’Av now that they were building the Second Temple? God’s answer to their question reaches beyond them to the heart of why we do what we do.

One question gets to the heart of our heart.

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The Levitical Cities—God’s Word Made Accessible to You

Finding it is the easy part. The next step is the tough one.

I am convinced God is far more concerned that we know His will than we are. In fact, He has gone to great lengths to help us understand what we need to know. It’s always been this way. Here’s why. 

The Levitical Cities—God’s Word Made Accessible to You

(Photo: Tel Jokneam, one of the 48 Levitical Cities. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

God’s will is found in God’s Word. If we want to find His will, we must read His Word. It’s often that simple—and yet, it’s also difficult. But it needn’t be.

In fact, God has always made His Word accessible to us—today more than ever.

It’s an incredible opportunity for us. 

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