Why You Never Need to Settle for Second Best with God

What God wants to give us is always far better than what we want Him to give us.

Their request seemed to make sense. But it was crazy: “Let this land be given to your servants as a possession,” the people of Reuben and Gad said to Moses, “do not take us across the Jordan” (Numbers 32:5).

Never Settle for Second Best with God

(Photo: Land of Gilead, overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The tribes of Reuben and Gad had huge herds, and the land of Gilead and Jazer had lush pastures. So they settled east of the Jordan River instead of crossing over into what God had promised. Bad idea.

Their choice shows us why we should never settle for second best with God.

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Caesarea Philippi (Banias)—From the god Pan to the God-Man

Refreshing hope from the Son of God and the sons of Korah

In a land where water is life, it’s no wonder one of the major sources of water would become a primary place of worship. Regrettably, the god worshipped at Banias was not the God of Israel.

Caesarea Philippi

Caesarea Philippi forms the headwaters of the Jordan River. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.

The flowing streams and the nearby waterfalls offer some of the most pleasant and inviting surroundings for tours, holidays, and family outings. What an absolutely beautiful area!

But that’s not why Jesus came here.

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Clear Your Guilty Conscience in 3 Steps

When God gets your attention, here's what to do.

It’s amazing how God can get our attention. I read that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle played a joke on 12 of his friends. He sent them each identical telegrams that read: “Flee! All is discovered!” Within 24 hours, all 12 fled the country. What Conan Doyle did in jest, God does to us in all seriousness.

Clear Your Guilty Conscience in 3 Steps

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

The Lord will use situations to awaken ignored or unresolved guilt, testing our willingness to come clean and clear a guilty conscience.

The Father may remove what He gave—money, possessions, even family—to get us to a place where we’re willing to listen to Him and to come clean with sin we’ve buried. We’d rather try to live with a guilty conscience than to face the pain of accountability and confession. But God provides the right circumstance to help us face what we’ve avoided—and this for our good.

When God puts you in a situation that awakens your unresolved guilt, are you willing to come clean before God and man?

How do you do that?

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Kiriath Jearim—A Noteworthy Hill Nobody Notices

A reminder that God gave His Word for a reason.

It’s a place between important places. Few individuals, if any, journey there directly. Most would miss it, in fact, if they didn’t know to look. Yet Kiriath Jearim was profoundly significant.

Kiriath Jearim—A Noteworthy Hill Nobody Notices

(Photo: Kiriath Jearim, Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.)

Modern commuters along Israel’s Route 1 drive by the site every day, their minds on their routines. Even tour buses rarely point to the place, much less stop there.

The tourists who do pull over often do so only to snap pictures at the Elvis American Diner (also known as the “Elvis Inn”). A 16-foot-tall bronze likeness of Elvis Presley greets every visitor. Inside the diner, Elvis music is all they hear as they eat their Elvis Burgers. But Elvis isn’t what makes this hill noteworthy.

Around the corner from the offbeat diner, near the modern Israeli Arab village of Abu Gosh, sits the site so few see and even fewer visit—the biblical site of Kiriath Jearim.

You’d never know by looking, but the physical symbol of God’s presence in Israel rested for about a century on this overlooked hill.

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What is Reformed Theology

What Is Reformed Theology?: Understanding the Basics (Baker Publishing Group, 2016)

This repackaged version of Sproul’s 1997 classic What is Reformed Theology? is, in Sproul’s own words, “a shorthand introduction to the crystallized essence of Reformation Theology.”

Much of what Sproul refers to as foundations of reformed theology might better be understood as the theology of the reformers—namely that it is centered on God, based on God’s Word alone, committed to faith alone, etc. After all, these tenets are also true of other theological systems outside of Reformed Theology.

How to Take Your Accountability to God Seriously

Amos' words to Samaria offer wisdom to our lives.

We don’t like accountability. Oh, we like the idea of accountability. For governing officials. For pastors and priests. For bankers and doctors. But personally? Uh, no thanks.

How to Take Your Accountability to God Seriously

(Photo: Ruins atop Samaria’s acropolis mark the kings’ administrative center. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

From the pages of Scripture, an unlikely prophet named Amos helps us learn why our refusal to accept personal accountability is more than simply wrong or foolhardy. His words to the northern capital of Samaria are words we need to hear as well.

Without accountability to God, we will never become all we want to be.

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A Different Kind of Happiness

A Different Kind of Happiness: Discovering the Joy That Comes from Sacrificial Love (Baker, 2016)

Larry Crabb has written one of the best books I’ve read all year. He describes the narrow way of Jesus’ teaching to include the hard work that true love requires –with a reward that is unmeasurable. In his own words:

I’ve written this book to think through what it means to really love and to explore the truth that sets us free to relate closer to the way we wish we could, to love like Jesus. As you journey with me in the following pages, and as I share something of my path to loving more like Jesus, think about your relationships and the circumstances in which you find yourself. What would it mean for you to battle for a better love?

2 Essential Choices Help Destroy the Painful Void in Your Life

Everything else only deepens the chasm.

I love how some homeowners chose to deal with their drought-dried lawns. They paced their yards with green spray paint, and they had lawns to dye for. No more watering. No mowing. Just fake, green grass all summer.

2 Essential Choices Help Destroy the Painful Void in Your Life

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Actually, such innovation applies beyond the front yard straight into the human heart.

On the surface, most of us look vibrant, successful, content, and happy. And except for the occasional “scene”—when the truth bursts from behind our thin veneers—most of us manage to keep it together long enough to preserve the image.

In social circles where hurting is unacceptable (insert your church’s name here), we quickly learn how to paint on the smile and shake all the hands—while inside we feel as dead and needy as parched grass.

While we may have ideal hopes about tomorrow, and how in that ever-elusive “someday” things will get better, the truth is, life doesn’t fix itself.

Instead, God must fix life. Two essential choices can help.

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How to Resist Temptation Like Jesus

The Lord's strategy in the Judean Wilderness also works today.

Everybody faces temptation. And on some level, everybody has fallen to it. Everybody but Jesus. I have walked in the wilderness where Satan tempted Jesus.

Judean wilderness

(Photo: Judean wilderness. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Good grief, what a place. As far as my eye could see, it was empty, dry, and depressing. I tried to imagine the solitude and struggle Jesus would have endured for over a month. But I could not.

How did Jesus resist temptation here?

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