How Jerusalem’s Mountains are Like God’s Presence in Your Life

Jerusalem's Geography Can Relieve Your Doubts

Life is full of moments that expose our doubts. In spite of all the Scripture we’ve learned and all the past victories the Lord has given us, occasionally something will happen that causes serious doubt.

How Jerusalem's Geography Can Relieve Your Doubts

(Photo: Jerusalem’s Temple Mount near sunset. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Maybe it’s a financial situation that undercuts future security. Or it might be a miserable marriage. Perhaps it’s a pastor or a leader who has failed. Maybe it’s our own failure.

Whatever the reason, seasons of doubts and confusion can come even to the most committed followers of Jesus:

  • John the Baptist struggled with doubts about his own beliefs about Jesus (Matt. 11:2-3).
  • The apostle Thomas found the resurrection of Christ something he had to see before he’d believe (John 20:25).
  • Some of the disciples had doubts about Jesus’ appearing to them, even at the Great Commission (Matt. 28:17).

I confess, I’ve had my doubts as well. Sometimes circumstances literally demanded I doubt God. A simple walk in Jerusalem one evening gave me an essential reminder.

I’m convinced it can help you.

Click to continue reading »

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.

Click to continue reading »

How God Uses Geography to Shape Your Life

He takes us places to gain what we could get nowhere else.

Think of the places most significant to you. That’s right, the places.  What makes them so special? Most likely, it’s not the places themselves but the events that took place there.

How God Uses Geography to Shape Our Lives

(Photo: Sunset over the Sea of Galilee. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In our lives, events make places significant because of memories. But in biblical times, it was often just the opposite. The place itself often played a major role in causing a significant event.

The lands of the Bible offer more than a mere backdrop for the stories of the Bible. These places played an integral role in shaping the lives of those who lived there. God designed it so. And for us, understanding how the land shaped its people gives us tremendous insight into understanding Scripture.

Even more, it gives us a glimpse as to how God uses even geography in our lives today.

Click to continue reading »

Dothan—How to See Beyond Your Disappointment

A shift in perspective looks beyond your pain to its purpose

Hindsight provides insight. It always can. But we can get so focused on today’s issues that we miss their purpose. Dothan appears only twice in the Bible. Both times, we get a perspective we desperately need.

DOTHAN—LEARNING TO SEE NEAR AND FAR IN YOUR SPIRITUAL LIFE

(Photo: Tel Dothan and the Dothan Valley. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

As the ancient International Highway cut its way through Israel, it divided three ways through the Mount Carmel range. The eastern fork passed through a valley named after the town of Dothan.

On the day Joseph’s brothers dropped him in the pit at Dothan, neither they nor Joseph gave one thought about how that decision would affect eternity. It was all about the here and now.

But in hindsight, they saw God’s hand in the events and interpreted them accordingly.

Here’s how you can do the same.

Click to continue reading »

3 Steps to Contentment in Your Life with God

Security from the Good Shepherd who leads and walks beside you.

The word sounds too good to be true. Contentment. It feels out of reach because it sounds out of touch. The world mistakes content people for the unambitious, lazy, and weak. Yet finding contentment comes from God.

3 Steps to Finding Contentment in God’s Powerful Picture

(Photo: The quiet waters of Ein Perat. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In our hectic lives, trying to find contentment feels like finding the horizon. Always there, but always out of reach.

We need to reframe the picture.

Using the picture of a shepherd, the Old and New Testaments point to the Lord as the only one who offers contentment—and how to find it.

Three steps can take you there.

Click to continue reading »

How to Follow God by Pondering Amazing Bird Migrations in Israel

Instinct can only take you so far in your relationship with God.

Every winter, God’s design works without flaw. Thousands of birds take wing and head south. But in our lives, unlike the bird migrations in Israel, the chilly winds don’t always cause us to head the right direction.

Grey heron in Israel

(Photo: Grey heron in Israel. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Unlike birds, which instinctively know the way to go, we can wander away from God’s design for us. Birds have a lot to teach us about how to follow God.

Once learned, our relationship with God can take off.

Click to continue reading »

Cities of Refuge – Where to Run When You’ve Done Nothing Wrong

God still provides sanctuary when others misunderstand you.

You did nothing wrong. Still, those with influence and a voice have chased you out with accusations as agonizing as they were outrageous. You needed a place of refuge to run.

Shechem, one of the Cities of Refuge

(Photo: Shechem, one of the Cities of Refuge. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In ancient Israel, Cities of Refuge gave the innocent person a place of sanctuary so that those who presumed him guilty couldn’t harm him before the facts came to light.

Justice assumes innocence until proven guilty. This biblical principle has found a place in our own legal systems (at least in theory). But justice sometimes plays no part in verdicts. In truth, the ones with the power often get their way in this world—and justice has nothing to do with it.

Have you been misunderstood? Even though the particulars of God’s ancient law may seem outdated, the principle reveals His heart—and it still applies.

God still provides you a place to run.

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 »

The Critical Question We Ought to Ask When Hurting

And why asking "why" never goes far enough.

When something or someone hurts your feelings, where do you run? The book of Psalms repeatedly asks God where He is in the midst of our pain. After all, we’d really love it if God would stop the hurting since He can.

The Question We Ought to Ask When Hurting

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Amazingly however, the book of Job never answers the questions: “Where is God in my pain?” nor “Why does God allow such struggle in our lives?” Even Job himself received no answers to these questions—only elsewhere in the Bible do we discover their solutions.

When we’re struggling or suffering, finding out “why” is never enough.

There’s another question we need to ask.

Click to continue reading »

Living Life in the Balance with God

The Promised Land was a good land for a reason.

To hear Moses describe the Promised Land, it sounded as if it offered vast natural resources—a land where food was plentiful and lacked for nothing (Deut. 8:9). Well, true and not true.

Living Life in the Balance with God

(Photo: Grapes left on vine after harvest in Israel. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The land had streams, pools, springs, wheat, barley, grapevines, figs, pomegranates, olives, and honey. Sounds pretty nice. Sign me up.

But this good land existed in a delicate balance of nature—and God tipped the scales. The Hebrews would learn that God alone made the good land “good” in direct proportion to the gratitude, praise, and obedience of His people.

The same is true of our lives.

Click to continue reading »