How Geography Opens Our Eyes about God’s Closed Doors

Why does God hinder us from doing what He commanded us to do?

Sometimes it seems God gets in the way of us doing the very things He’s commanded. The most frustrating part of these moments isn’t our lack of success. It’s our confusion. Why does God close the door on His will?

How Geography Opens Our Eyes about God’s Closed Doors

(Photo: Troas, where Paul, Silas, and Timothy visited. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

These roadblocks in God’s guiding us show up in various ways.

  • A relationship that stays strained.
  • A ministry effort that can’t start.
  • A job search that lands nowhere.
  • A person who refuses to change.

These closed doors can confuse our spiritual lives by seeming to contradict the will of God. Doesn’t the Lord want relationships to mend, people to change, ministry to occur, and provision for daily needs?

Thankfully, the Bible’s geography offers us some clarity.

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Jesus’ Astonishing Capernaum Question Boosts Your Faith

How Christ's confusing words can deepen your spiritual life.

The question Jesus asked in the Capernaum synagogue still rattles around in our minds. In fact, whether or not we realize it, we deal with His question most days of our lives.

Jesus’ Capernaum Question Still Astonishes Our Ears

(Photo: Capernaum Synagogue. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

You do not want to go away also, do you? (John 6:67)

Jesus’ question had an edge of disappointment. He had just spoken with some of his followers, called “disciples,” though not the twelve apostles. Jesus spoke words that drew a line in the Galilean dirt, separating his followers into two groups.

Jesus had just uttered the unthinkable. How would you respond to what He said?

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What to Do When God Gives You a Hard Command

Why God Teaches You the Same Thing Over and Over Again

What God teaches us in one area of life we can easily miss in another area. So God has to repeat Himself. But sometimes the connection isn’t so easy for us to make.

Why God Teaches You the Same Thing Over and Over Again

(Photo: Waves crash ashore on the Sea of Galilee. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Jesus performed more miracles in the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee than any other place in His ministry. Standing on its shores, one can easily see across the shallow lake. The hills to the east and west tower above the water. As cool air from these heights rushes down the slopes into the lake’s warmer basin, winds can whip up the surface of the water to deadly proportions.

A small craft, such as the one Matthew reported the disciples clung to during a stormy night, could find itself foundering in an instant.

In one day, Christ taught His disciples a simple truth we should never forget.

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An Ephesus Question: What Comes First in Your Relationship with God?

One thing more than anything is essential.

All Christians long to live pleasing to Jesus Christ. That’s why if Jesus told us He had a criticism for us, many of us would pull out our checklist and grab a pencil.

An Ephesus Question: What Comes First in Our Relationship with God?

(Photo: Ephesus theater and the Arcadian Way. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

We’d make our way down the list and ask the Lord:

  • “Should I go on a mission trip?”
  • “Do you want me to pray more?”
  • “Maybe memorize the book of Romans?”
  • “You just name it, Lord, and I’ll do it!”

I have discovered that the weak points in our relationship with God never start with failing in the big things. For example, we would never consider waffling in our morality or our theology. It always comes when we ignore a more basic element.

The church in Ephesus did it. But we don’t have to.

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Come With Me to the Holy Land—and Egypt!

Experience a Life-Changing Journey, October 15-26, 2020

Picture yourself standing at the Sea of Galilee, with the waves lapping against your feet. Now imagine looking up at the massive Temple Mount in Jerusalem from the very steps Jesus climbed to get there. Or stare wide-eyed at the massive pyramids in Egypt

(Photo: Three Great Pyramids of Giza. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Here’s the amazing truth: you don’t have to just imagine it—you can experience it!

I’m sending you this special note about my upcoming tour to the Holy Land in October 2020. This tour to Israel promises to be spectacular and even offers an optional pre-tour to Egypt! Egypt is amazing and gives such insight into the Bible lands and the Word of God.

Take a moment now to check out the details of our upcoming tour in October 2020.

  • Watch the video of the beautiful sites.
  • Scan the itinerary of biblical places.
  • Dream a little—and imagine yourself there.

Really there . . . at the places you’ve read about all your life.

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Israel’s Negev Gives Enormous Hope for Your Barren Life

Nothing can stop God from fulfilling His promises.

Nothing can stop God from fulfilling His promises to those who believe in Him. In the mean time, it takes great vision to see something where there is nothing. Israel’s Negev provides a great example.

Israel's Negev Gives Enormous Hope for Your Barren Life

(Photo: Sculpture garden at Sde Boker, by שי קסל CC-BY-2.5, via Wikimedia Commons)

Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, saw the vast expanse of Israel’s Negev as something that offered great potential. In 1953, he settled in the kibbutz Sde Boker, urging Israelis to help him tame the Negev into a new society for Israel.

To many, the idea seemed no more than a pipe dream. As a result, the plea fell on deaf ears, for the arid region receives barely eight inches of rain per year.

In the Negev, life has one uncompromising requirement: water. Through this simple need in the same land, God taught His people a life-giving lesson.

We can drink from it as well.

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Traditions, Truth, and Praying with Your Eyes Open

The Western Wall challenges us to ask why we do what we do.

Some people find it hard to identify with the Jews who rock before Jerusalem’s Western Wall. When I first saw them, the prayers seemed odd. Then I thought about my traditions. Are they any less bizarre?

The Western Wall challenges us to ask why we do what we do.

(Photo: Men praying at the Western Wall. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Oddness just comes in different flavors. They’re called “traditions.” For example:

  • Jews pray with their heads covered; we take our hats off.
  • Their prayers are public and often loud; ours are private and quiet.
  • They rock back and forth and pray from a book; we bow our heads, close our eyes, and utter unrehearsed words.

It’s easy in the familiarity of our own traditions to shake our fingers at the oddities of others. Jews pray while rocking, Muslims kneel with their bottoms in the air, and Christians bow our heads and close our eyes.

But blend any tradition—bowing, standing, prostrating, rocking, kneeling, or jumping—with no personal relationship with the true God, and it’s pointless.

How can we make sure we don’t confuse truth with tradition?

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How God Helps You in Impossible Situations

The only way to experience the joy of God's power

God often puts us in impossible situations. We find it frustrating, sure—but it’s never meant to be. In fact, those circumstances are meant to do just the opposite. God means to encourage us.

Plain of Bethsaida

(Photo: Plain of Bethsaida. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

With the Sea of Galilee in view on the Plain of Bethsaida, Jesus pointed to thousands of people and said to His twelve disciples: “You give them something to eat!” (Mark 6:37).

You can hear the frustration in the disciples’ reply: “Should we spend half a year’s wages to feed them?” Forget for a moment you’ve heard this story before.

Think instead of your current problem.

  • Your financial picture is unmanageable.
  • A close relationship has been strained for years.
  • You’ve been unemployed for much longer than you imagined.

Whatever it is you’re facing today, you face one of many impossible situations. Now go back to Jesus’ crazy command to His disciples. His solution for them is also His solution for you.

Let me show you why.

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2 Big Questions to Help You Live Intentionally for God

Jesus' example at Capernaum is a model for strategy.

It’s always easier to react to life rather than to shape it. To go with the flow rather than to dig a new trench. But God gives us help to choose the direction of our lives.

Capernaum synagogue, where Jesus taught

(Photo: Capernaum synagogue, where Jesus taught. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The Lord helps us live intentionally for Him. God has given us the freedom to make significant choices in spite of our circumstances.

Jesus’ example at Capernaum shows us what choices to make to live intentionally for God.

Two questions can help us do that.

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When You’re Waiting on God in a Weary Land

How your place of confusion can become a place of refuge.

Sometimes waiting on God feels like you’re dying of thirst. That’s what David thought as he wandered in the Judean wilderness, running from a problem he couldn’t solve.

Waiting on God in a Weary Land

(Photo: The Wilderness of Judea. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Chased by the jealous King Saul, David took refuge in the Wilderness of Judea and prayed, “My flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1).

This barren land is a picture of our own challenge with waiting on God.

It also pictures the place of refuge God provides for us while we wait.

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