The Golan Heights—Are You Sure Your Contentment is in the Right Place?

A lesson from the Golan Heights' bastions, burials, battles, and borders.

In a way, contentment isn’t always a good thing. The Golan Heights illustrate why. A long plateau rises east of the Sea of Galilee, high above the surrounding basins. As the highland stretches north, basalt cones penetrate the landscape, betraying extinct volcanoes below the surface.

The Golan Heights—Bastions, Burials, Battles, and Borders

(Photo: Nimrod’s Fortress in the Golan Heights. Courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

For thousands of years, the Golan Heights in Israel served history in countless ways—from pasturelands to burial grounds, from battlegrounds to borders. It’s no wonder this region has remained the envy of its environs—even to today.

The volcanic soils offer lush pastures for grazing—and spectacular panoramas for the eyes.

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Tel Dan—Worshipping at the Altar of Convenience

In the end, we'll find God far more satisfying.

The spiritual life often asks a lot of us. But Tel Dan offered an alternative. Shady walkways. Cool breezes. Abundant streams. Luxuriant foliage. Tel Dan had everything you could ever want. Except God.

Headwaters of Jordan River at Tel Dan

(Photo: Headwaters of Jordan River at Tel Dan. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In natural beauty, Tel Dan has few rivals in Israel. For the ancients, it had everything necessary for abundant living.

While the Hebrews in the south worshipped in Jerusalem, the natural beauty of Tel Dan in northern Israel offered an irresistible alternative. It was picturesque. It was convenient. It was invigorating.

And it was a complete compromise of God’s will.

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Finding Hope in Surprising Places around You

The Judean Wilderness illustrates the greener grass we envy.

Why does the grass often look greener in the lawn of those who don’t walk with God? Finding hope to look away from envy’s pull on our emotions requires help. Thankfully, God gives it in surprising places.

Finding Hope in Surprising Places around You

(Photo: Grass in the Judean Wilderness. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

By pointing to the land around him, David offers us the secret of finding hope for those seasons when we envy the wicked. The Judean Wilderness sprouts a beautiful green carpet in later winter, but its grass vanishes with the heat of the sun.

David draws from his days as a shepherd in this wilderness and offers an essential lesson in finding hope:

Do not fret because of evildoers,
Be not envious toward wrongdoers.
For they will wither quickly like the grass
And fade like the green herb.
Trust in the LORD and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the LORD;
And He will give you the desires of your heart. —Psalm 37:1–4

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus likely referred to David’s confidence that “the humble will inherit the land” (v. 11; Matthew 5:5)—a reminder that the Kingdom of God holds for us all that we desire. Finding hope in our certain future keeps us focused when envy knocks.

How essential we take the long view of life and refuse to take shortcuts that deliver longterm regrets.

Tell me what you think: What helps you find hope with the long view in mind during moments of envy? To leave a comment, just click here.

How to Follow God’s Will in the Chaos of Your Life

Jesus’ example in the Garden of Gethsemane shows us how.

Finding and following God’s will for our lives often feels like a game of chance. But if we know God’s methods of revealing His will, we will see it—even when life feels full of chaos.

How to Follow God’s Will in the Chaos of Your Life

(Photo: Garden of Gethsemane olive tree. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Jesus modeled a life that followed God’s will without hiccups. His example at many points reveals how to stay on course.

His night in the Garden of Gethsemane shows us how.

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Learning to Trust God in a New Way

The Central Benjamin Plateau gives us a lesson about who owns our hearts.

Have you noticed? We have no problem choosing to trust God with the things for which we already trust Him. But then another situation shows up. And suddenly, it’s like starting over.

Learning to Trust God in a New Way

(Photo: Central Benjamin Plateau. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In those times, we’re a lot like Asa, one of the few godly kings of Judah. He once trusted the Lord in a battle in the Shephelah of Judah and defeated an Ethiopian who came against him with an army a million strong (2 Chronicles 14).

But Asa’s greatest test came in an area that hit closer to home—literally. That’s where God tests us as well, isn’t it?

Sometimes it seems like we’re always starting over in our trust of God. Here’s why.

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Jesus Shows How to See Yourself through 3 Amazing Truths

The Lord’s Words on the Temple Mount Urge Us to Keep it Real

As Jesus made His way toward Jerusalem for His final Passover, He repeated a principle to His disciples several times. The repetition for them ought to echo in our own minds as well.

Jesus Shows How to See Yourself through 3 Amazing Truths

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

What did Jesus say? Very simply:

The last shall be first, and the first last. —Matt. 19:30; 20:16, 27

The principle rubs against our grain because we want equity with others, and we feel justifiably peeved when someone gets something for nothing or when they elbow their way to greatness ahead of us (20:1-16-24).

Jesus redefined greatness as servanthood—first as last—and used Himself as an example who came to give His life for others (vv. 25-28).

His words continued in Jerusalem.

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3 Timely Galilee Reminders from Jesus to Empower Your Life

The Lord's words can take us way beyond information to life transformation.

When Jesus taught, His content came across like no other teacher in history. He taught with authority and compassion, but His words gave more than information.

3 Timely Galilee Reminders from Jesus to Empower Your Life

(Photo: Sower’s Cove by the Sea of Galilee. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Galilee gave stage to Jesus’ life—from His early years in Nazareth to His latter years in Capernaum. During His ministry these places also played a role to offer several timely reminders.

Jesus’ teaching did much more than dispense facts. He taught to empower us with truth that could transform our lives.

Here are 3 examples.

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Why God Seems So Amazingly Inefficient in Your Life

Peter’s journey to Caesarea shows us God’s priority

In getting things done, God sometimes seem amazingly inefficient. He chooses some people to do a job when others are far more competent—or close. Peter’s trip to Caesarea shows us why.

Why God Seems So Amazingly Inefficient in Your Life

(Photo: Caesarea by the Mediterranean Sea. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The Lord wanted a man named Cornelius to hear the good news about Jesus Christ—that whoever believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins. In order to share this wonderful news, God chose what seemed an inefficient way and an unqualified person.

The reason why offers insight into God’s inefficiency in our lives.

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Chasing the Surprising Geography of the Presence of God

How can God be somewhere and everywhere at the same time?

It’s hard to imagine an omnipresent God dwelling in one place. And yet, every December we celebrate the fact. God dwells in the confines of a human body. And He is also everywhere.

But the incarnation isn’t the first time God has localized His presence among His people.

Presence of God

(Photo: Olive groves near Bethlehem. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

God is both omnipresent and present. King Solomon summed up the seeming contradiction when he prayed:

Will God indeed dwell with mankind on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You; how much less this house which I have built. —2 Chronicles 6:18

From creation to Christmas—and from today to eternity.

Let’s take a quick geographical journey and follow movements of God’s dwelling place among us.

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[Video] A Virtual Tour through the Places of Jesus’ Birth

You've never seen the Christmas story like this before...

I am excited to show you my free video series on the Birth of Jesus, called “The Promise that Changed the World.” To watch immediately, just click the video below.

Start your virtual tour now!

This is the first of 3 videos for you…

This video series will give you a virtual tour to the biblical sites of Christmas. But experiencing the Bible lands not just about pointing to a pile of rocks. It’s about connecting the Bible and its lands to life.

This first video takes you to the places and promises of God that led up the birth of Jesus. The next two episodes release over the next few days and reveal the places of Jesus’ birth and the events that followed—including the Wise Men!

I’m praying God encourages you by what you see.

Invite others to see the videos…

Share these videos with those who would enjoy seeing the sites of Christmas in the Holy Land.

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