3 Powerful Truths to Know When God Delays

Taking small steps from Egypt to Sinai to the Promised Land

God’s program to give the Promised Land to Abraham and his descendants took some strange turns. For instance? A famine upon the land, Joseph’s imprisonment, and bondage in Egypt. Hardly a joyful journey with God.

3 Powerful Truths to Know When God Delays

(Photo: Great pyramids of Egypt. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

But God’s deliverance of His people from slavery in Egypt, and His gracious provision along the way, served to motivate gratitude in them “so that they might keep His statutes” (Psalm 105:45).

Our painful journey with God offers a hidden blessing.

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Beth Shean—When God’s Blessings Seem Too Hard to Hold

What to do when they seem to slip from your grip.

Sometimes the blessings God gives you seem hard to hold. In some cases, the difficulty urges us to abandon the blessings. Beth Shean gives us a great example.

Beth Shean excavations

(Photo: Beth Shean excavations. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The Lord provided Beth Shean for the Tribe of Manasseh. But the excellent location proved to be a double-edged sword. Because the spot was so good, every nation wanted control of Beth Shean. And whoever held it always seemed to contend with those who would wrench it from their grasp.

Perhaps its strategic location gave Beth Shean its name, “House of Security.”

But security only works when you trust in God.

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Hezekiah’s Tunnel and Wall Give a Lesson from Archaeology

Scripture is supported by what we can dig out of the ground.

The ancient world had a bully system that worked in straightforward terms. A nation would conquer a region and demand tribute—annual payment of money and goods. If you didn’t pay tribute, they’d come and kill you. Pretty simple system.

Hezekiah's Tunnel

(Photo: Hezekiah’s Tunnel. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

King Hezekiah refused to pay tribute to the bully. So the Assyrians invaded Judah.

Archaeology has unearthed treasures that reveal Hezekiah’s faith in God. How does it strengthen your faith to see the Bible in archaeology?

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The Promised Land and God’s Amazing Provision for Your Life

If God will provide, why do our means seem so meager?

The tension is nothing new for us who believe in God. It’s just that most days it seems we never have enough. Between the bills, the home upkeep, and the car repairs, it’s tough just to stay afloat. Often, amazingly, God rigs it this way.

In fact, an unusual custom gives insight into why our means seem so meager.

If God Will Provide, Why Are My Means So Meager?

(Photo: Wheat field near Bet Guvrin, Israel. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

After settling in the Promised Land, God allowed His people to work the land. But every seventh year, God said, “the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord” (Lev. 25:4) and lie fallow.

  • This Sabbatical Year allowed for the forgiveness of all debts, and any food that grew went to the poor and to the wild animals.
  • Then every 50 years, on the year of Jubilee, the land not only rested but also returned to its ancestral owners. And all slaves walked free.
  • However, in 586 B.C., after God’s people failed to observe the Sabbatical Year for 490 years, God exiled them for the 70 special years they failed to give the land (2 Chron. 36:20-21).

All this was to show that the Promised Land belonged to God, not to those who lived on it (Lev. 25:23). Although they worked the land, they believed God will provide, and He made them stop working to prove He would.

For even when they rested, God supplied (Ps. 127:2).

Here’s why the same is true for us.

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The Harod Valley – Your Overwhelming Anxiety Finds its Peace

Truths as enduring as the beautiful settings in which they occurred.

Have you noticed how history repeats itself in our lives? We think we’ve learned to deal with overwhelming anxiety, but each new day offers a new challenge we never would have expected.

The Harod Valley—Your Overwhelming Anxiety Finds its Peace

(Photo: The Harod Valley. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In ancient Israel, the Harod Valley gave stage to two sets of desperate situations. From threats to insecurities to death and hopelessness, in every case the overwhelming anxiety found its peace only one way.

It’s the same with your overwhelming anxiety today.

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The Surprising Secret to Greatness We Need to Discover

What the original team of rivals can teach us about true greatness.

God never promised us the Christian life would shield us from the temptation of popularity, greatness, or admiration. In fact, don’t we often toy with getting what we want out of life just like the world does?

The Surprising Secret to Greatness We Need to Discover

(Photo: The road up to Jerusalem from Jericho. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

On His way up to Jerusalem for the last time, Jesus once told His followers that greatness is a fine goal to pursue. In fact, He applauded it.

As long as we understand what true greatness is.

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Paul’s House Arrest in Rome and Our Home Isolation

What do these unusual days make possible?

These unusual days in which we find ourselves homebound reflect, in a way, Paul’s days under house arrest in Rome. Our home isolation amounts to a couple of months. But Paul’s incarceration lasted two years.

Paul's House Arrest in Rome and Our Home Isolation

(Photo: Insula in Rome by Lalupa/Public domain)

In Rome today stands an apartment from the 1st-2nd century, roughly the time of Paul’s first imprisonment in the city. These types of quarters, called insula, were literally everywhere in Rome. This insula offers an example of the “rented quarters” Paul would have lived in during his two years of house arrest.

The book of Acts refers to Paul’s time under house arrest as amazingly productive.

His time also offers us a example of our own unprecedented opportunity during these unusual days of home seclusion.

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How to Choose a Contagious Hope

Jesus' Miracle in Bethany Gives Context to Our Current Fears

What an unusual time we’re living in. Less than two weeks ago, much of America still stood in the dark as to the potential of the coronavirus. Many (including me) saw its threat as mostly media hype.

How to Choose a Contagious Hope

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

But now, America and other countries find themselves in quarantine mode—with grocery stores struggling to stock the basics, airlines flying near-empty planes, and social distancing keeping us from connecting face-to-face.

Kind of sounds like the book of Revelation, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not (at least, not yet). But the events of these days do remind us how global our issues have become and how easily the Lord could engage end-times events should the Rapture occur today.

Remember Jesus’ great miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead in Bethany?

The story gives great context (and hope) to our current fears.

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Ephesus – Redeeming the Time You Have Now

How the Ephesian Agora illustrates Paul’s principle of focus in your life.

What if God inspired 3 books of Scripture for your church and also sent two apostles to live and minister among you for years? Ephesus got both. And much more.

Ephesus commercial agora

(Photo: Ephesus commercial agora. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

On his third missionary journey, the apostle Paul lived for several years as a (literal) tent-making missionary in Ephesus. He may have even sold his tents in the city’s agora, or marketplace.

The commercial agora of Ephesus served as a real-world illustration for an intensely practical principle Paul would later write to the church at Ephesus.

It’s a principle of productivity we can (and must) apply today.

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Colossae – Finding the Freedom to Forgive

3 lessons linger from Paul's letters to the Colossians and Philemon

I had the privilege last week to walk atop the empty tell of ancient Colossae—and to open the letter written to the saints who lived on the soil I stood on. While there I remembered a crucial lesson on forgiveness.

Colossae tell with sign

(Photo: Colossae tell with sign. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Colossae offers little in the way of excavations, but a few tooled blocks of stone peer up from the ground like tombstones. The outline of an ancient theater shapes the hill on one side of the tell. Standing tall in the beautiful valley, the site reminds us of the lives and struggles of the people who lived there—most notably, of Philemon and his runaway slave.

The apostle Paul wrote a letter to a master named Philemon on behalf of his runaway slave whom Paul had met in Rome. Paul’s letter takes us not only all the way from Rome to Colossae, but it mirrors our own journey with God—from condemned to forgiven.

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