3 Truths You May Have Missed about Struggle in the Christian Life

How to release the life you want for the one God wants to give you

We had no idea what following Jesus would require. Oh, we thought we knew. We had great ideas. The disciples had the same hopes one day in Capernaum. It didn’t include struggle in the Christian life.

3 Truths You May Have Missed About Struggle in the Christian Life

(Photo: Capernaum by the Sea of Galilee. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

That day in Capernaum, Jesus set straight some people who intended to make Him king by force, and He spoke some hard words. Afterwards, many no longer followed Him.

Jesus then turned to His disciples with a question.

It’s also a question for us. 

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How to Apply those Bible Verses that No Longer Apply

A Timeless Truth Hides Behind Every Oddball Command

If we’re honest, reading the Bible sometimes seems like reading a TV Guide from 1975. Amusing and nostalgic, sure—but out-of-date. It seems better fitting in a museum. So why apply the Bible?

Gospel of Luke 7.12-22, fragment

(Photo: Gospel of Luke 7.12-22, fragment. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

After all, any book that commands us not to eat shellfish or to refrain from mowing the yard on Saturday seems archaic. No wonder the world reads the Bible with a shrug. 

But it’s too easy to pigeonhole the Scriptures as irrelevant just because its principles often hide in the context of yesteryear. Behind every oddball command sits a timeless principle that helps us apply the Bible today.

Our challenge? How to find it.

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Land O Goshen! Why it Seems Like the Wheels are Coming Off

Hope for the day when God will again draw the line.

The curious phrase: “Land O Goshen!” is a way folks in the southern US expressed amazement or angst. As we look at today’s world, the biblical land of Goshen gives us good reason for amazement and frustration.

Land O Goshen in Eastern Nile Delta

(Photo: Land of Goshen in Eastern Nile Delta. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

As Christians in a fallen world, it’s easy to feel like the wheels are coming off of God’s plan. After all:

  • Morality is optional.
  • Truth is relative.
  • Disease runs rampant.
  • Power is abused.

And (here’s the rub) God stands by and allows it all.

But the land of Goshen offers us hope. 

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Valley of Achor: How to Change Your Trouble to Triumph

Why You Should Never Give up if You're in a Hopeless Place

Some places in life have hard memories. Maybe it was your hometown or even your home. The events associated with those places taint their memories. The Valley of Achor was such a site.

Valley of Achor: How to Change Your Trouble to Triumph

(Photo: The Wadi Qilt, perhaps the Valley of Achor. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

After Joshua’s victory at Jericho, the Israelites suffered defeat at Ai because a man named Achan had buried banned spoils of war under his tent (Joshua 7:1, 21). Following this event, the Valley of Achor served as a reminder of failure, of setback, and of defeat.

But God would change the place from a site of trouble to a place of triumph.

He can do the same for you.

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The Secret to Revealing the Lies of Temptation

Learning from Jesus at the Pinnacle of the Temple

Temptation is hard. That’s because the lies of temptation sound so convincing. When Jesus stood on the pinnacle of the Temple, He faced temptation with a wisdom we also can apply.

Temple Mount southwestern corner - The Secret to Revealing the Lies of Temptation

(Photo: Temple Mount southwestern corner. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Some believe the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem represents the pinnacle where Satan dangled temptation before Jesus (Luke 4:9). Satan is the best marketer in the sin business. 

A recent phone call reminded me of this. 

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Why Forgiving Someone is Hard and How to Really Do It

2 truths remain essential if we hope to move on.

Would you like to hold a grudge with God’s blessing? Wouldn’t it be great to know exactly how much of the same guff you had to take from someone until you no longer had to forgive?

Why Forgiving Someone is Hard and How to Do It

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

The problem with forgiving is that the debt is real.

  • Your parents neglected or even abused you.
  • Your spouse betrayed your wedding vows.
  • Your best friends backstabbed you.
  • Someone hurt you so deeply you feel you may never recover.

The debt is real. And in order to forgive, you must give even more than has already been taken. And this is hard. Very, very hard. But if we want God to forgive us, it’s essential.

The good news? Scripture shows us how.

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How to Breathe When God Steps on Your Air Hose

Habakkuk Helps Us Turn Our Panic to Peace

We aren’t surprised when we see people sidestep God. What shocks us, however, is when God seems to ignore people. The God of the Bible isn’t a far-off deity. So why does He seem so uninvolved?

How to Breathe When God Steps on Your Air Hose

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com)

God’s response to people’s non-response to Him seems conspicuous by its absence. For those of us who believe in God, it’s tough to breathe when it seems like God is stepping on our air hose.

A prophet with a funny name helps us turn our panic into peace—and to take a deep breath.

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Walking with God Requires One Thing Most of All

How the basics keep us from growing cold.

We start strong. Determination and strength come easily. Faithfulness flows from our hearts. Then life happens. We didn’t plan to grow cold spiritually. But we did.

Walking with God Requires One Thing Most of All

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Somehow, we can wake up after a number of years and discover that our lack of passion for God has gradually shifted Him away from our hearts. We then find ourselves living in the ruins of once-vibrant spiritual lives.

How does this happen? By forgetting this one thing.

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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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What’s Your Motive? There’s Only One Way to Tell

How Tisha B'Av & the Burnt House Examine Us

What’s your motive? In Jerusalem, one site always begs the question. I find it fascinating that when the New Testament talks about God judging our motives, it uses the metaphor of a burnt house. 

How Tisha B'Av & the Burnt House Examine Us

(Photo: The Burnt House in Jerusalem. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Some call it coincidence. Some call it Providence. But according to tradition, both the First and Second Temples (in 586 BC and AD 70) were destroyed on the same date in history. Tisha B’Av marks the 9th day of the month of Av—the fifth Jewish month. During the exile, the Jews instituted a fast to commemorate the Temple’s destruction. After they returned to Jerusalem, they asked God a question about Tisha B’Av:

Shall I weep in the fifth month and abstain, as I have done these many years? —Zechariah 7:3

Their question made sense.

They had observed the fast in exile, but should they continue to fast on Tisha B’Av now that they were building the Second Temple? God’s answer to their question reaches beyond them to the heart of why we do what we do.

One question gets to the heart of our heart.

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