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 to Keep First Things First [Podcast]

Who’s on first? The question may make us think of a classic comedy routine. But the question goes deeper when we consider the most important priorities we can chase in life.

In this episode of the Live the Bible Podcast, we’re going to look at “How to Keep First Things First,” and we have Jesus as our model. His example in Mark chapter 1 gives us at least two practical principles for how to choose among the many good options in life and ministry—and how to focus on the few essentials God wants us individually to do.

Episode Resources

How to Keep First Things First

 

Traditions, Truth, and Praying with Your Eyes Open

The Western Wall challenges us to ask why we do what we do.

Some people find it hard to identify with the Jews who rock before Jerusalem’s Western Wall. When I first saw them, the prayers seemed odd. Then I thought about my traditions. Are they any less bizarre?

The Western Wall challenges us to ask why we do what we do.

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

Oddness just comes in different flavors. They’re called “traditions.” For example:

  • Jews pray with their heads covered; we take our hats off.
  • Their prayers are public and often loud; ours are private and quiet.
  • They rock back and forth and pray from a book; we bow our heads, close our eyes, and utter unrehearsed words.

It’s easy in the familiarity of our own traditions to shake our fingers at the oddities of others. Jews pray while rocking, Muslims kneel with their bottoms in the air, and Christians bow our heads and close our eyes.

But blend any tradition—bowing, standing, prostrating, rocking, kneeling, or jumping—with no personal relationship with the true God, and it’s pointless.

How can we make sure we don’t confuse truth with tradition?

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Let’s Begin with Good News [Podcast]

The "Live the Bible" Podcast Launches today!

I’m excited today to launch my new podcast, “Live the Bible.” Whether you’re dealing with personal discouragement, needing relief from guilt, or looking for encouragement and hope for eternity, you’ll hear words to help you truly live the Bible.

The podcast launches its first episode with good news, and we find it in the first verses of Mark’s gospel on the life of Jesus Christ.

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss an episode.

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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 Valley of the Kings – God’s Amazing Sovereignty Displayed in a Pharaoh’s Life

How Amenhotep II illustrates the tension between God’s sovereignty and our choices.

The Pharaohs buried in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt, are more than history. The New Testament uses these kings to illustrate truths to strengthen our walk with Jesus Christ.

The Valley of the Kings – God’s Sovereignty Displayed in a Pharaoh’s Life

(Photo: The Valley of the Kings. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

When we picture Egypt, we picture pyramids —those iconic burial places of the pharaohs. But pyramids posed a problem. Pyramids left no doubt where the treasures of the pharaohs were buried. It was x-marks-the-spot for grave robbers!

So the pharaohs of the New Kingdom, beginning in the mid-16th-century BC, moved their burial places from the area of Giza to Luxor, or ancient Thebes. At the bottom of a mountain that had the natural shape of a pyramid, the pharaohs, the queens, and other officials carved their tombs from the walls of the valley—easily hidden.

The Valley of the Kings contains at least 63 tombs, with more no doubt to be discovered. The most famous discovery occurred in November 1922, when British archaeologist Howard Carter and his team discovered the amazingly intact tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, or King Tut, who reigned about the time of the book of Judges.

But a pharaoh most people have never heard of is the one the Bible uses to teach us most.

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Bethel Reveals What You Need to Know to Connect with God

There has always been only one way.

There has always been only one way to God—even in the Old Testament. But how? That way is by grace through faith in the object of God’s choosing. Bethel gives us a peek at that way.

Modern Beitin, ancient Bethel

(Photo: Modern Beitin, ancient Bethel. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In his flight from his murderous brother Esau, Jacob spent the night at Bethel, where years earlier his grandfather Abraham had heard God promise that he would receive all the land as far as he could see. There, Jacob dreamed of a stairway to heaven, and the Lord repeated to him the promises Abraham received.

Shaken, Jacob awoke and said:

How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. —Gen. 28:17

Jacob named the site Bethel—“house of God.” The dream gave more than a vision of God’s house.

It offered a foreshadowing of how to get there.

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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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