2 Biblical Gardens Reveal How to Make the Best Decisions

How Eden and Gethsemane still affect you today.

Two gardens, Eden and Gethsemane, provided the settings for two choices that brought opposite results. The Bible wildly contrasts these choices. In fact, you face them today.

Olive Trees in the Garden of Gethsemane

(Photo: The Garden of Gethsemane. Notice the city walls in the distance. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In the Garden of Eden, Adam’s choice to commit sin had the potential of bringing condemnation to everyone. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ’s decision to die for sins provided potential justification to everyone (Romans 5:18).

Adam never would have eaten the fruit had he known the consequences to himself and to his race. But he couldn’t see the results.

All he had was God’s Word and its warning. That’s all we have as well.

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Your Rededication to God Can Begin Right Now

Shechem urges us to get back to where we once belonged.

The Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC marks where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his speech, “I Have a Dream.” Standing in the shadow of Lincoln gave greater force to Dr. King’s words. The site intensified the message. I’m convinced that’s why Joshua regathered the young Hebrew nation to Shechem

Shechem in the valley between Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal

(Photo: Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal, with Shechem in the valley. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The geographical context of his words played a significant role. They spoke as loudly as Joshua did that day.

And they speak to us.

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Surrendering Your Will to God in Difficult Times

How Jesus' decision in Gethsemane is the only path to peace.

I have discovered that the most difficult battles in life simply mirror Jesus’ struggle in Gethsemane. His words to the Father remain the most challenging words we could utter:

Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done. —Luke 22:42

Surrendering Your Will to God in Difficult Times

(Photo: Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus surrendered His will. Courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.)

Surrendering your will to God in difficult times is often harder than the trial itself.

Our greatest challenges come not from those circumstances that press in upon us, but from the internal struggle to surrender our will to God. We enter Gethsemane daily and have to drag my will to the Father in prayer.

Here’s how.

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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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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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How to Stop Looking for God in the Wrong Places

The solution to the futility you feel is easier than you think.

The world makes promises it can’t keep. It says the reason we’re unhappy is that we just haven’t found the right whatever yet. But if we keep looking, we’ll find it.

Looking for God in the Wrong Places

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com)

The right spouse, the right hairdo, the right salary, the right entertainment system, the right church, the right pastor, the right Bible, the right seminar, etc.

Those without God struggle with this, for sure. But even those of us who do believe in Jesus can chase these shadows.

We may not know we’re looking for God. But we are.

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How God’s Light Can Help You in Surprising Ways

When you don't know what to do next, do this.

Imagine your life without light. No corrective lenses would help. Without light, even 20/20 eyes see nothing. Why? Your ability to see comes from a source completely outside of yourself. Without light, you have no sight.

How God's Light Can Help You in Surprising Ways

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

So often life feels like we’re groping in the dark for answers. How do we know which way to go? How do we find answers to our questions? That’s why David writes:

The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? —Psalm 27:1

The Lord illumines what otherwise would remain hidden in darkness. But there’s a problem. We need more than direction and even more than answers.

So God’s light gives us another essential help.

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How to Avoid High Places if You’re Looking for God

We need one thing more than anything in our spiritual climb.

You started strong. Determination and strength came easily. You reach a summit in your day (or Christian life)—only to find life in high places has let you down.

Mount Tabor

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

We followed the rules. We stayed in line. We walked the straight and narrow. So what happened?

The path we followed led to a false summit. A huge distraction. 

It happens when we forget this one thing.

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Christmas Shows God’s Amazing Providence in Your Life

Here's how you can know your chances are really God’s choices.

The first Christmas looked like a coincidence. From a human perspective, politics set the agenda: Caesar took a census of his people. End of story. But it wasn’t.

Christmas Shows the Power of God's Providence in Your Life

(Photo: Bethlehem Fields with Herod’s Herodium in background. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

From the divine viewpoint, God orchestrated ordinary events for extraordinary outcomes.

Think about this past year in your life. Many ordinary events occurred. Most of them you don’t remember. But God has been working. It isn’t just the Christmas story.

It’s your story too. God uses the power of providence in your life.

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How Your Patience Can Protect You Like a Wall

The crumbling walls of Lachish illustrate a proverb you can apply today.

Sometimes piles of rocks speak great truths for our lives. I caught a fresh reminder of this as Cathy and I just returned from several weeks in Israel. The fallen walls of Tel Lachish tapped me on the shoulder.

At Tel Lachish, I stood atop the ruins where the Assyrians laid siege to this fortified city during the reign of Hezekiah. The crumbling walls of Lachish illustrate a proverb I read this week in the Bible.

In fact, you will have the choice to apply the proverb before the sun goes down today.

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