Mount of Beatitudes—Beauty that Illustrates Truth

Seeing Beyond the Lake to Life

No matter where I stand to view the picture, the subject seems to be smiling. The hills surrounding the Sea of Galilee frame the lake like a portrait. In spring, the hillsides burst with wildflowers, fresh grass, and spectacular color. The tranquil slopes tower above fruit crops and fertile fields that stretch across the lush Plain of Gennesaret.

Mount of Beatitudes—Beauty that Illustrates Truth

(Photo: Mount of Beatitudes and Sea of Galilee, courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Numerous places around the lake offer splendid panoramas.

  • The best view, by far, is atop Mount Arbel. Windy and requiring a walk, the vast landscape stuns every first-timer.
  • Another grand vista is the view from Kfar Haruv on the eastern side—I can see the whole lake from tip to tip. Impressive, for sure.

But the picturesque view from the Mount of Beatitudes offers visitors more than simply a beautiful view.

It offers a place to consider truth taught there by One who knew it.

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The Harod Valley—Your Overwhelming Anxiety Finds its Peace

Truths as enduring as the beautiful settings in which they occurred.

It’s amazing how history repeats itself in our lives. We think we’ve learned to deal with overwhelming anxiety, but each new day offers a new challenge we never would have expected.

The Harod Valley—Your Overwhelming Anxiety Finds its Peace

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

In ancient Israel, the Harod Valley gave stage to two sets of desperate situations. From threats to insecurities to death and hopelessness, in every case the overwhelming anxiety found its peace only one way.

It’s the same with your overwhelming anxiety today.

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Where the End of Hopelessness Begins for You

Theology offers something essential in your struggle.

There’s not much we can be sure of today. We live in a culture of broken promises, broken relationships, shallow friendships, and flawed leaders. And that’s just at church.

Where the End of Hopelessness Begins for You

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After a number of stabbing disappointments, we can come to the place where we expect little else. We can choose to hope for nothing in hopes we won’t be disappointed. When we focus on the here and now—and especially on all the pain life has handed us—the black hole of hopelessness sucks us in and surrounds us.

To the marvelous promise that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose,” we need to ponder the rhetorical question that follows: “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Rom. 8:28, 31).

The question gives context to those painful parts of God’s sovereignty in our lives.

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Why Your Life in Christ is Supposed to Hurt

Finding the key to pressing on in spite of your pain.

Any woman who has experienced childbirth understands. Any helpless man who has witnessed childbirth, like me (twice), gets it to a degree. That’s why the Bible uses the experience as a metaphor of our lives.

Why Your Life in Christ is Supposed to Hurt

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The whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves . . . groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. —Romans 8:22–23

We would all love to have an emotional epidural to where we didn’t feel the pain of life. But that won’t happen.

God doesn’t give us a way to avoid the hurt.

But He does tell us what to think so we can make it through the struggle.

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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 Antioch Can Energize Your Right Motivation for God

Where you are and who you are make all the difference.

Some cities have a geographical location that seems especially designed by God as a springboard for communication. Antioch on the Orontes, for example, bears the thumbprint of God.

How Antioch Can Energize Your Right Motivation for God

(Photo: The modern city of Antakya covers much of ancient Antioch. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Scripture’s first mention of Syrian Antioch refers to the city on the Orontes River, 300 miles north of Jerusalem. Antioch served as the Roman capital of Syria and ranked as the third largest city in the entire Roman Empire, behind Rome and Alexandria.

Its influence came from its location.

  • The river snaked southwest along a narrow valley between the Amanus Mountains and the harsh Lebanon Mountains.
  • This valley offered the easiest access inland for those traveling from the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Anyone journeying overland across the Taurus Mountains would have to pass by Antioch.

The land funneled all who traveled in this area by Antioch. No wonder the Lord chose this city as a springboard for the known world to hear God’s universal good news.

Antioch offers a great lesson in our motivation for God.

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Get the Perspective You Need with 3 Truths

How to watch for the journey as well as the destination.

The Texas Driver’s Handbook has a tip that can help you today. A diagram shows when you sit in a parked car, you have a 180-degree field of vision. Great perspective. But then you start moving.

Get the Perspective You Need with 3 Truths

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Once you get going, your perspective immediately changes:

  • When your car accelerates to 20 M.P.H. that field of vision reduces to 66%.
  • At 40 M.P.H. your visual field shrinks to 20%.
  • At 60 M.P.H. your field of vision remains barely wider than the headlights.

Simply said, the faster you go the less perspective you have. The same holds true for your day today. If you never sit still, you never see the big picture—only the immediate right in front of you.

Here are 3 truths to give you the perspective you need for your journey.

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Finding the Dead Sea Scrolls Isn’t Enough

The Qumran caves only take us so far.

Our guide pointed from the road to a rocky outcropping on one of the distant hills. “This hike is definitely optional,” he warned. “But it’s worth it.”

Qumran Cave 4 interior

(Photo: The interior of Cave 4 at Qumran. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

A few of us brave souls followed, and for the first time in my life, I wished I had four legs.

Our guide scurried over the rocks like a lizard and stopped ahead, halfway up the hill, near the fissure in the rocks to which he had pointed. He turned and stood, arms crossed, one leg over the other, and waited for us. Finally I arrived.

“This is it,” he beamed.

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2 Questions to Help You Live Intentionally for God

There's no need to keep going with the flow.

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. Obviously, we want to respond well to what life throws at us. It’s assumed we should do that.

2 Questions to Help You Live Intentionally for God

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But I believe God gives us help to choose the direction of our lives. To live intentionally for Him. I don’t mean we choose what happens to us, but rather, that God has given us the freedom to make significant choices in spite of our circumstances.

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

Two questions can help us do that.

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Connecting the Rapture, Rosh Hashanah, and the Place of Trumpeting

A reminder of where our true hope lies.

Whenever I visit the Jerusalem Archaeological Park, I’m eager to walk to the southwest corner of the Temple Mount. I’ve never been to this corner on Rosh Hashanah or during the Feast of Trumpets, but I’d love to go there then. Archaeologists have uncovered a large portion of the first-century street that stretched north along the original Western Wall.

Echoes of Rosh Hashanah— To the Place of Trumpeting

(Photo: The southwest corner of the Temple Mount at left. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

One hundred meters north of the corner is the part of the Western Wall where locals and tourists pray. But beneath the ground, Jerusalem’s Central Valley has been filled in with the rubble of the Second Temple’s destruction in A.D. 70.  As a result, the beautiful modern plaza stands about 30 feet above the first-century street uncovered at the southwestern corner.

There at the corner lies a reminder of something Jesus predicted 37 years before the temple’s destruction.

And of a promise He made that could be fulfilled at any moment.

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