How Geography Opens Our Eyes about God’s Closed Doors

Why does God hinder us from doing what He commanded us to do?

Sometimes it seems God gets in the way of us doing the very things He’s commanded. The most frustrating part of these moments isn’t our lack of success. It’s our confusion. Why does God close the door on His will?

How Geography Opens Our Eyes about God’s Closed Doors

(Photo: Troas, where Paul, Silas, and Timothy visited. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

These roadblocks in God’s guiding us show up in various ways.

  • A relationship that stays strained.
  • A ministry effort that can’t start.
  • A job search that lands nowhere.
  • A person who refuses to change.

These closed doors can confuse our spiritual lives by seeming to contradict the will of God. Doesn’t the Lord want relationships to mend, people to change, ministry to occur, and provision for daily needs?

Thankfully, the Bible’s geography offers us some clarity.

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Jesus’ Astonishing Capernaum Question Boosts Your Faith

How Christ's confusing words can deepen your spiritual life.

The question Jesus asked in the Capernaum synagogue still rattles around in our minds. In fact, whether or not we realize it, we deal with His question most days of our lives.

Jesus’ Capernaum Question Still Astonishes Our Ears

(Photo: Capernaum Synagogue. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

You do not want to go away also, do you? (John 6:67)

Jesus’ question had an edge of disappointment. He had just spoken with some of his followers, called “disciples,” though not the twelve apostles. Jesus spoke words that drew a line in the Galilean dirt, separating his followers into two groups.

Jesus had just uttered the unthinkable. How would you respond to what He said?

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An Ephesus Question: What Comes First in Your Relationship with God?

One thing more than anything is essential.

All Christians long to live pleasing to Jesus Christ. That’s why if Jesus told us He had a criticism for us, many of us would pull out our checklist and grab a pencil.

An Ephesus Question: What Comes First in Our Relationship with God?

(Photo: Ephesus theater and the Arcadian Way. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

We’d make our way down the list and ask the Lord:

  • “Should I go on a mission trip?”
  • “Do you want me to pray more?”
  • “Maybe memorize the book of Romans?”
  • “You just name it, Lord, and I’ll do it!”

I have discovered that the weak points in our relationship with God never start with failing in the big things. For example, we would never consider waffling in our morality or our theology. It always comes when we ignore a more basic element.

The church in Ephesus did it. But we don’t have to.

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Israel’s Negev Gives Enormous Hope for Your Barren Life

Nothing can stop God from fulfilling His promises.

Nothing can stop God from fulfilling His promises to those who believe in Him. In the mean time, it takes great vision to see something where there is nothing. Israel’s Negev provides a great example.

Israel's Negev Gives Enormous Hope for Your Barren Life

(Photo: Sculpture garden at Sde Boker, by שי קסל CC-BY-2.5, via Wikimedia Commons)

Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, saw the vast expanse of Israel’s Negev as something that offered great potential. In 1953, he settled in the kibbutz Sde Boker, urging Israelis to help him tame the Negev into a new society for Israel.

To many, the idea seemed no more than a pipe dream. As a result, the plea fell on deaf ears, for the arid region receives barely eight inches of rain per year.

In the Negev, life has one uncompromising requirement: water. Through this simple need in the same land, God taught His people a life-giving lesson.

We can drink from it as well.

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How God Helps You in Impossible Situations

The only way to experience the joy of God's power

God often puts us in impossible situations. We find it frustrating, sure—but it’s never meant to be. In fact, those circumstances are meant to do just the opposite. God means to encourage us.

Plain of Bethsaida

(Photo: Plain of Bethsaida. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

With the Sea of Galilee in view on the Plain of Bethsaida, Jesus pointed to thousands of people and said to His twelve disciples: “You give them something to eat!” (Mark 6:37).

You can hear the frustration in the disciples’ reply: “Should we spend half a year’s wages to feed them?” Forget for a moment you’ve heard this story before.

Think instead of your current problem.

  • Your financial picture is unmanageable.
  • A close relationship has been strained for years.
  • You’ve been unemployed for much longer than you imagined.

Whatever it is you’re facing today, you face one of many impossible situations. Now go back to Jesus’ crazy command to His disciples. His solution for them is also His solution for you.

Let me show you why.

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2 Big Questions to Help You Live Intentionally for God

Jesus' example at Capernaum is a model for strategy.

It’s always easier to react to life rather than to shape it. To go with the flow rather than to dig a new trench. But God gives us help to choose the direction of our lives.

Capernaum synagogue, where Jesus taught

(Photo: Capernaum synagogue, where Jesus taught. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The Lord helps us live intentionally for Him. God has given us the freedom to make significant choices in spite of our circumstances.

Jesus’ example at Capernaum shows us what choices to make to live intentionally for God.

Two questions can help us do that.

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When You’re Waiting on God in a Weary Land

How your place of confusion can become a place of refuge.

Sometimes waiting on God feels like you’re dying of thirst. That’s what David thought as he wandered in the Judean wilderness, running from a problem he couldn’t solve.

Waiting on God in a Weary Land

(Photo: The Wilderness of Judea. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Chased by the jealous King Saul, David took refuge in the Wilderness of Judea and prayed, “My flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1).

This barren land is a picture of our own challenge with waiting on God.

It also pictures the place of refuge God provides for us while we wait.

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The Dominus Flevit Church—and a Triumphal Entry that Wasn’t

As I made my way down the Mount of Olives, I couldn’t help think about the day Jesus rode down the slope on the back of a donkey.

His words that day hardly seemed fitting for a “Triumphal Entry.”

The Dominus Flevit Church—and a Triumphal Entry that Wasn't

(Photo: Jerusalem from inside the Dominus Flevit Church, courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

When Jesus saw Jerusalem, He wept over it:

If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. —Luke 19:42

I pondered the words. Why did He say: “this day . . .”?

The prophet Daniel penned a meticulous prediction of the very day when the Messiah would appear in Jerusalem.

It was that very day.

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How Jesus’ Powerful Personal Hope Can Lift You Up

The movement of the Ark of the Covenant from Kiriath Jearim mirrors our hope.

Do you know what one, primary, personal hope drove Jesus’ life? What He looked forward to the most? It’s important we do know, because the same hope should drive our lives.

Kiriath Jearim church statue of Mary standing on Ark of the Covenant

(Photo: Kiriath Jearim church statue of Mary standing on Ark of the Covenant. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

As we read the gospels, we see Jesus’ goal was not merely the cross. And even as great as the resurrection was, Jesus still had another hope beyond that.

It’s good news you can apply by the end of this blog post—and then for the rest of your life.

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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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