Caesarea Philippi (Banias)—From the god Pan to the God-Man

Refreshing hope from the Son of God and the sons of Korah

In a land where water is life, it’s no wonder one of the major sources of water would become a primary place of worship. Regrettably, the god worshipped at Banias was not the God of Israel.

Caesarea Philippi

Caesarea Philippi forms the headwaters of the Jordan River. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.

The flowing streams and the nearby waterfalls offer some of the most pleasant and inviting surroundings for tours, holidays, and family outings. What an absolutely beautiful area!

But that’s not why Jesus came here.

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How Geography Helps Destroy Your Doubts about the Bible

What you can verify about Scripture supports what you cannot prove.

I had lunch with a young man who nursed serious doubts about the Bible. He raised objections. I offered answers. After each exchange, he would shake his head and say, “I just can’t believe that’s true.”

How Geography Helps Destroy Your Doubts about the Bible

(Photo: Pisidian Antioch cardo with Church of St Paul. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

“What if I answered all of your questions to your satisfaction?” I finally asked. “Would you believe in Jesus then?” He thought for a moment, and then looked me in the eye. His answer surprised me.

“No, I wouldn’t.”

In truth, many people demand evidence for truth they never intend to accept. Their problem isn’t a lack of truth. It’s something else.

I have discovered that biblical geography can help destroy our doubts about the Bible.

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Joppa’s Greatest Export May Actually Surprise You

God's compassion to Gentiles launched here in both Testaments.

One of the best parts of going to Tel Aviv is strolling down the beautiful seaside boardwalk to ancient Joppa. Amazingly, very little remains visible to speak of Joppa’s significance. But history tells a different story.

Joppa’s Greatest Export—God’s Compassion

(Photo: Joppa’s modern port, courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Only a few fishing boats float in Joppa’s modest harbor today, hardly representative of its significant past. Beyond goods and trade, Joppa greatest export was something else.

It may actually surprise you.

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3 Fantastic Questions to Ask During Every Sermon

Make this next message one you truly hear and apply.

This Sunday, it’s going to happen again. You’ll hear one more sermon to add to the thousands you’ve listened to. Be honest, do you remember anything from last Sunday? If you’re like me, you often draw a blank with this question.

3 Fantastic Questions to Ask During Every Sermon

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

It’s not because my pastor is boring. Or because his theology is lame. Or because I fail to hear. It’s likely because I approach the sermon the wrong way as a listener.

I have discovered 3 fantastic questions that help my focus when I hear another sermon.

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The Kidron Valley – How Your Burial Can Point to Your Faith

Even after death, we can have a powerful witness to the living.

Have you thought where you’ll be buried? The place where someone chooses to get buried is always significant.

  • A hometown family plot is common.
  • The place where one’s ashes are scattered or stored often holds a special association.
  • Even unknown soldiers who die in battle occasionally receive a prominent interment.
The Kidron Valley with olive trees and graves

(Photo: The Kidron Valley with olives trees and graves. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

But in Israel, a burial place often exposed one’s faith. The tombs beside the Kidron Valley bear witness to this truth.

Each one offers a connection to resurrection.

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How Jesus Took Life in the Fast Lane in Stride

The One Thing Jesus Did to Change Activity to Efficiency

Is this true of you? Whenever I find myself with a free moment, I feel compelled to fill it with something productive. Because I hate to waste time, I fill it with activity and justify it as productivity.

How Jesus Took Life in the Fast Lane in Stride

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

But I’m learning that constant movement doesn’t always represent efficiency. It could, moreover, represent just the opposite.

As with every other part of the human experience, Jesus remains our model of efficiency. But His life—even before the cross—was no easy walk:

  • The demands on Him were constant.
  • The needs He faced were overwhelming.
  • The expectations He encountered were unrealistic.

No person was ever more qualified to do it all, and yet Jesus took life in the fast lane in stride.

What was His secret?

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Lydia—How to Honor a Generous God

You can express love for God with anything you choose to offer Him.

Lydia made her way outside the city gate. A short stroll led her and a group of women to a familiar spot beside the Krenides River. For a synagogue to be established, ten Jewish men had to be in regular attendance. But there weren’t ten to be found in Philippi.

Lydia—How to Honor a Generous God

(Painting of Lydia at St Lydia chapel in Philippi. Courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

That didn’t keep these women from worshipping together, though. They gathered every Saturday at the river for prayer. But this Sabbath was different. It would change Lydia’s life forever.

And her change can affect our lives as well.

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How To Abandon Selfishness without Abandoning Yourself

Jesus models 3 surprising solutions.

You and I suffer from a malady common to everyone. It’s the number one reason we hurt each another. It’s why children grab, pull, and scream. And, ironically, it’s often why we hurt ourselves. Selfishness.

3 Surprising Solutions for Your Selfishness

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com)

In Jesus’ day, people wore sandals, and the dusty roads produced dirty feet. When they entered a house, a servant customarily washed their filthy feet—a task akin to scrubbing toilets. When Jesus and His disciples came to the Upper Room, they came to the large upstairs room of a furnished home.

But when they arrived, no house servant washed their feet. I think Jesus arranged it that way.

Here’s why.

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2 Reasons Why Serving God Isn’t Fulfilling

Many Christians feel like oddballs in their local churches, confused why serving God holds such little joy or passion. Not fulfilling. Just frustrating. I get it. Let me explain.

2 Reasons Why Serving God Isn't Fulfilling

(Photo by Photodune)

I hold as my single claim to fame the day I danced for the judges at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. But I’ll be honest: I never intended to dance. I auditioned as a guitar player, yet when the judges called me back the next day, they asked me to dance as well! Bad idea.

End of audition. I immediately lost the job. Why? They misplaced me. 

You know where else I see dancing guitarists? The church.

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When You Still Aren’t Being Used to Your Full Potential

God’s design for a tree includes winter as much as summer. In fact, the dormant season remains essential for a tree’s growth. In a way, we are very similar to a tree.

Dormant Tree

(Photo: By zause01. Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

God has gifted each Christian for a purpose. But like a tree, our gifts have seasons—and sometimes certain gifts may lie dormant for a time—untapped.

In my last post, I offered 3 perspectives to consider when you aren’t being used to your full potential. Here they are:

  1. Remember who your gifts are for—the church, not you.
  2. Seek fulfillment in faithfulness rather than in the exercise of your gifts.
  3. Refuse to get your identify from your gifts. See yourself as God’s servant.

In this post, we’ll add 3 more to the list—including one truth that has set me free when it seems my potential is untapped.

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