Why God Will Lead You Unwanted Places

The Holy Land helps us discover the joy of surrendering to God

God will lead you places you would never choose. Unwanted places. Because the Lord is greater than we can imagine, it makes sense He wants for us more than we ever dreamed. The Holy Land proved it so. 

Why God Will Lead You Unwanted Places

(Photo: Sunset over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

God wants you to trust Him, and you’d like to do so. He wants you to glorify Him, to know Him, and so do you. But really, you often want to trust God only when you understand Him. Too often, that desire to know the Lord slices His list of attributes in half.

When you and I settle for anything less than all of God, we also settle for less than all we can become.

Click to continue reading »

Tel Dan Stele—Providential Ironies in Favor of King David (And You)

How a stone inscription offers encouragement to your spiritual life.

Sometimes archaeology gives us a gift. The ancient site of Tel Dan in Israel has a large, rock wall—a city gate from the time of Solomon’s temple. There archaeologists unearthed the Tel Dan Stele —a marvelous vindication to biblical history.

Tel Dan Iron Age gate near where the stele was discovered

(Photo: Tel Dan Iron Age gate near where the stele was discovered. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In the courtyard of Tel Dan’s gate complex, a large engraved stone—an ancient basalt stele— gave hard evidence that King David was no King Arthur legend of Hebrew history.

It also offers encouragement to your spiritual life. Here’s how.

Click to continue reading »

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.

Click to continue reading »

Tel Arad—Israel’s Point of Impatience with God

How traveling along the path of the unknown gives us the chance to give God greater glory.

At Tel Arad, the whole land of Canaan lay before the Hebrews. They had waited and wandered forty years in the wilderness. The Promised Land was theirs for the taking. Right there before them!

Tel Arad—Israel’s Point of Impatience with God

(Photo: Arad Israelite fort, courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Instead, God led the Hebrews on a major detour.

Tel Arad in Israel’s Negev offers many benefits to its visitors. It’s an oasis of ancient archaeology. It gives a rare glimpse of Judah’s idolatry.

And it speaks to us today of the need to tap the brakes on our impatience with God’s leading.

Click to continue reading »

How God Turns Unfair Criticism into a Blessing for You

From Bahurim to Susa, the Lord’s Providential Ironies Flow from Benjamin’s Tribe

It’s tough to hear criticism—especially when it’s wrong. One of the dark moments of King David’s reign saw him shuffling barefoot over the Mount of Olives, fleeing rather than facing a fight with his rebel son Absalom.

From Bahurim to Susa—God Turns a Curse into a Blessing

(Photo: Sunrise over the Mount of Olives. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

After David made his way over the summit, he passed below the Benjamite village of Bahurim. There a loudmouth named Shimei hurled rocks at David’s passing entourage. But the curses Shimei chucked hurt worse.

David’s response was stellar:

My son who came out from me seeks my life; how much more now this Benjamite? Let him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him. Perhaps the LORD will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day. —2 Sam. 16:11–12

Centuries later, another Benjamite named Shimei would play a role in providing blessing to David’s line. In fact to all Jews.

And to you.

Has someone criticized you unfairly? Here’s what you have to look forward to.

Click to continue reading »

How to Cope When the Will of God is Hard

The will of God also includes the presence of God, and thus, His comfort.

Sometimes it seems the Lord leads us into a life that can’t possibly be His will. What started with such promise has become such a challenge. It’s tough to know what to do next.

How to Cope When the Will of God is Hard

(Photo by Photodune)

What do you do when the life God has promised you looks nothing like the life God has given you?

God had promised a son to Sarai and her husband, Abram. Yet at the same time, God prevented conception. This is the will of God? 

What God said is a lesson we need to hear.

Click to continue reading »

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.

Click to continue reading »

How to Follow God When His Plan Seems Strange

We want God's plan so we can trust the plan. God hides the plan so we will trust Him.

God’s leading is often strange. That’s because He doesn’t share the plan. He keeps it a secret. We want God’s plan so we can trust the plan. God hides the plan so we will trust Him.

How to Follow When God's Plan is Strange

(Photo by Tom Butler, courtesy of oomf.com)

Genesis began with God blessing all He created. But the fall of man, Abel’s murder, the rebellion at Babel, and the global flood gave cause to doubt that there would be any recovery of that blessing. Genesis 3–11 sketches more than 4,000 years of suffering that people experienced under the curse of sin.

But God’s plan chose one man through whom He would resurrect His blessing for all mankind.

Your life may seem in chaos as well. But God has a good plan He is hiding.

Click to continue reading »

How to Understand God’s Plan for You in a World of Confusion

No need to miss the opportunity God has given you today.

Tough circumstances of life always change our minds about God. They either tempt us to doubt what He’s promised, or they draw us closer to Him in faith. But we never stay the same.

How to Understand God's Plan for You in a World of Confusion

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

God’s plan for your life is revealed and tested in times of struggle.

If you’re struggling today, don’t miss the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of God’s plan for you.

Click to continue reading »

God’s Incredible Plan Includes Your Ordinary Days

The Dothan Valley shows how our God wastes no experience in our lives.

Sometimes the ordinary days make us wonder if God has forgotten us. After all, when we read the Bible (or Facebook), it all seems so exciting. God is working! Our lives, on the other hand, seem exceedingly boring.

Your Natural Stuff in God's Marvelous Plan

(Photo: Dothan Valley, where Joseph’s brothers sold him. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

But the events in Joseph’s ordinary day in the Dothan Valley revealed God behind the scenes.

Jacob’s 10 oldest sons had traveled north to pasture their father’s flocks at Shechem. So Jacob dispatched Joseph, whom he loved more than all his other sons, from the Valley of Hebron to check on their welfare.

When Joseph arrived, he found that his brothers had moved further north to the lush pastures of Dothan. Seeing him in the distance, the brothers—jealous of their father’s love for Joseph—purposed to kill the boy. But the presence of a nearby cistern convinced them instead to hurl Joseph into it—and leave him there to die (see Genesis 37:12-28).

It seemed that God dropped the ball. But His painful providence would prove wiser than Joseph’s limited insight.

The same is true for you. God uses your ordinary days in His marvelous plan.

Click to continue reading »