The Roman Forum and God’s Surprising Ways in Your Life

Paul’s experiences in Rome mirror the Lord's leading our dreams.

We have more to do in life than wake up, work hard, and come home only to rinse and repeat. Life amounts to more than a stack of paychecks and a few laughs. God wants so much more for us than that. The Roman Forum offers us a picture of this truth.

Basilica Julia, where Paul was condemned

(Photo: Basilica Julia in the Roman Forum. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The Apostle Paul was about 50 years when he penned his letter to the Christians in Rome. In fact, Paul held quite a portfolio in his hands:

  • 3 missionary journeys under his belt
  • Many churches planted
  • 6 books of Scripture to his credit
  • Thousands of people impassioned for God

If Paul’s career had stopped right there, no one would have protested. Everyone would have given him a standing ovation. Some might even urge him to start slowing down. But nothing doing. Paul dreamed of doing much more!

But not even he could fathom that his dreams would turn out with him standing in the Roman Forum.

Our lives and our dreams are the same.

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How to Deal with Overwhelming Odds through Your Powerful God

Michmash shows us the power of God in our lives.

When the Bible includes geographical references, they appear as more than throwaway statements. Often they play a vital role in our understanding and application of the Bible.

Michmash—Overwhelming Odds and Your Powerful God

(Photo: Cliffs near Michmash and Geba. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

For example, geography bears importance as to how Jonathan and his armor-bearer—only two men—could help rout the entire Philistine army.

The geographic descriptions given in 1 Samuel 14:4-5 describe two steep crags on either side of a great ravine separating Geba on the south from Michmash on the north. Here Jonathan and his armor bearer scaled the crags for a surprise attack on the Philistine garrison at Michmash.

Because geography does not change, these natural elements remain for us to easily imagine the story.

As well as its application.

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Praying for Rain in Your Searing Life

How the land of Israel offers encouragement to our parched lives.

Summer. August. Texas. Stir those together and you get blistering days, muggy mornings, and sizzling evenings like a heat lamp over cheap pizza. But Wednesday morning, something amazing occurred.

Wilderness of Paran

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

The forecast showed no rain at all. None. So I prayed something crazy. I told the Lord I knew He could make it rain in a Texas August with zero chance of rain. If He was willing, He could do it. I asked Him to make it rain.

The next day thunder clouds rolled in, and Wednesday morning it rained—more than an inch. Happy trees. Happy grass. Happy house foundation. Happy lakes. Happy water companies. Happy me. But for more than the water.

I thought of the parched lives we lead and how the land of Israel offers encouragement.

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How God’s Promised Land Gives You Hope Here and Now

Abraham walking the real estate put reality in his hope.

Day after day of life demands we have faith in God. Lots of it. After all, so much of what God promises us is future. And honestly? It seems most of what we live for is a hope that never seems to arrive. God knows that.

Area of Ai, near where Abraham and Lot parted

(Photo: Area of Ai, near where Abraham and Lot parted. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Thankfully, the Lord also gives us tangible encouragement here and now to push us along toward that elusive, untouchable future we long for.

Abraham needed that same encouragement, and God gave it to him in an unusual way. He told him to take a walk—and to look around.

We need to take that same walk.

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When God Surprises Your Life with a Hard Left Turn

The crossroads we would never choose are often God's best gifts to us.

I recently heard that God is the God of hard left turns. So many of us began life headed one direction and ended up in a place we never thought we would. I bet that happened to you, didn’t it? Me too. And to the apostle Peter.

When God Surprises Your Life with a Hard Left Turn

(Photo: El-Araj, one possible place of Peter’s hometown. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

For Peter, it was a long, long way from Bethsaida to Rome—from his birth to his death. It’s the same in the changing courses of our lives.

So many of us grew up in certain towns or earned degrees for a particular field, but we find the Lord has led us in a completely different direction.

I went to college to study music theory and classical guitar. (Exciting, I know.) But nowhere in my wildest dreams could I have imagined today my profession would have me leading real tours and virtual video tours to the Holy Land. That seems to have little to do with music theory and guitar, you know?

Why does God lead us with hard lefts?

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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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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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Bethel Reveals What You Need to Know to Connect with God

There has always been only one way.

There has always been only one way to God—even in the Old Testament. But how? That way is by grace through faith in the object of God’s choosing. Bethel gives us a peek at that way.

Modern Beitin, ancient Bethel

(Photo: Modern Beitin, ancient Bethel. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In his flight from his murderous brother Esau, Jacob spent the night at Bethel, where years earlier his grandfather Abraham had heard God promise that he would receive all the land as far as he could see. There, Jacob dreamed of a stairway to heaven, and the Lord repeated to him the promises Abraham received.

Shaken, Jacob awoke and said:

How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. —Gen. 28:17

Jacob named the site Bethel—“house of God.” The dream gave more than a vision of God’s house.

It offered a foreshadowing of how to get there.

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