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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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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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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When Finding Favor with God Makes Life Tough

What was true of Mary is also true for you—why that's good news.

It sounds strange, but sometimes finding favor with God makes life tough. When Gabriel informed Mary she would give birth to the Son of God, many thoughts ran through her mind, not the least of which was how she, a virgin, could conceive.

When Finding Favor with God Makes Life Tough

(Photo: by Jolanta Dyr. Own work. CC-BY-SA-3.0-pl, via Wikimedia Commons)

What’s more, Mary knew the social and biblical fallout that occurs for a pregnant woman without a husband. How could she possibly explain that her pregnancy was an act of God and not an act of passion? Finding favor with God meant she faced disfavor from people. Maybe finding favor with God isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?

Christmas usually causes us to marvel at the virgin conception—and at the love of our God who would become Man so that He could die for our sins.

But there’s another part of the Christmas story that amazes me just as much. It comes from this amazing young woman.

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Ein Harod —How to Move from Fear to Faith

Sometimes what we see seems more compelling than what God says.

Too often, fear keeps us from enjoying what God has promised. We want so badly to have faith in what the Lord says. But fear of what we see seems more compelling than mere words. Gideon knew that.

Ein Harod —How to Move from Fear to Faith

(Photo: Ein Harod (Gideon’s Spring). Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Gideon longed to believe God. But the enemy army before him was enormous. What he saw seemed far more compelling than what God had promised him.

We face the same odds today. And the solution is the same.

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How the Pool of Siloam Helps us Connect Sukkot and the Messiah

Jesus' invitation on the Feast of Tabernacles offers life abundantly.

If you’ve ever camped, you know that camping requires we forgo a lot of conveniences. The Feast of Tabernacles required similar sacrifices. In fact, it remains a timeless reminder that everything we possess—both physically and spiritually—comes from God.

The Pool of Siloam Helps us Connect Sukkot and the Messiah

(Photo: Western Wall at Sukkot. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Of all places, an ancient pool in Jerusalem—the Pool of Siloam—helps us connect Sukkot with its ultimate fulfillment.

A statement made by Jesus—really, an invitation—makes it clear.

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When You’re Ready—But Nothing Happens

Peter's experience at Caesarea may explain why.

You’re ready for a change. You’ve asked God to open a new door in your life, and He has taken years to prepare you for it. Finally, you’re ready. There’s just one problem. Nothing happens. You just hover. 

Caesarea, where Peter met Cornelius

(Photo: Caesarea, where Peter met Cornelius. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The plan of God includes preparation and waiting. But why do you have to keep waiting once God has prepared you? What else must you do for God to open the door?

The Apostle Peter experienced something at Caesarea by the Sea that may explain why your progress is delayed.

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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.

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