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.
Maybe it’s a financial situation that undercuts future security. 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.
I will never forget one evening during my first few days in Jerusalem. A simple walk gave me an essential reminder that helped relieve my doubts.
Most days it seems we never have enough. Between the bills, the home upkeep, and the car repairs, it’s tough just to stay afloat. Often, amazingly, God rigs it this way.
This tension is nothing new for a people who believe God will provide. In fact, an unusual custom gives insight into why we are means seem so meager.
After settling in the Promised Land, God allowed His people to work the land. But every seventh year, God said, “the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord” (Lev. 25:4) and lie fallow.
- This Sabbatical Year allowed for the forgiveness of all debts, and any food that grew went to the poor and to the wild animals.
- Then every 50 years, on the year of Jubilee, the land not only rested but also returned to its ancestral owners. And all slaves walked free.
- However, in 586 B.C., after God’s people failed to observe the Sabbatical Year for 490 years, God exiled them for the 70 special years they failed to give the land (2 Chron. 36:20-21).
All this was to show that the land belonged to God, not to those who lived on it (Lev. 25:23). Although they worked the land, they believed God will provide, and He made them stop working to prove He would. For even when they rested, God supplied (Ps. 127:2).
Here’s why the same is true for us.
Most of us use Google Maps to find directions or to estimate the time a trip will take. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what the site can do.
(Take a Virtual Tour of Jerusalem Using Google Maps)
The handy Web site also allows us to take virtual tour of Jerusalem. Obviously, you can sight-see anywhere in the world using this method. But Jerusalem offers unique benefits for Christians.
I suggest as a starting place searching for “Temple Mount, Jerusalem” in Google Maps. When you do, you’re screen will look something like this:
In King David’s day, the city of Jerusalem stood as a renovation and expansion of Jebus, a site the Hebrews never occupied in the territory of Benjamin.
Those who come to Jerusalem today for the first time are often surprised to learn that the original Jerusalem, “The City of David,” sat on a mere ten acres just south of the Temple Mount. Hardly impressive, it looks like some third-world neighborhood.
Steep slopes surround the City of David and gave it in a strategic advantage during any military threat. So much so, the inhabitants of Jebus felt confident “David cannot enter here” (2 Samuel 5:6). But he did, and David made the site his new capital.
The steep slopes became King David’s military strength.
But the slopes also played into his moral weakness. Here’s how.
Sometimes a deal looks so good it can’t be bad. Or what we stand to gain overshadows any thought of what we stand to lose. At the southern end of Israel sits a seaport with an ancient admonition to be careful.
The biblical city of Ezion-geber, near modern Eilat, served as Israel’s occasional port on the Red Sea. On one occasion, the gulf offered a tremendous opportunity for a lucrative shipping industry for King Jehoshaphat.
As with Jehoshaphat, Eilat parallels many opportunities you have today when your ship has come in:
- The financial deal promises a sure return on your investment.
- The kind, attentive gentleman asks for your hand in marriage.
- The promotion comes with the salary you’ve waited for a long time.
- The new church you’re attending is just around the block.
But in making these decisions, have you forgotten to ask the most important question?
I stood waist-deep in the Jordan River, waiting for the man I was about to baptize. He made his way slowly into the current, stopped in front of me, and looked me in the eye. “Are you sure I can be baptized?”
“What do you mean, Don?” I asked him. He had tears in his eyes.
With a trembling voice, this man in his sixties confessed to me a terrible sin he committed many years ago. He waited for my answer.
I’ll never forget that moment.
Let me ask you. If you could pick one event in your life you could go back and do it over, which would it be? If you’re like me, it would be tough to choose just one. We’ve all done things that have left us in deep regret. We mourn them like a death.
And while we can’t change the past, we also can’t ignore it.
Nor do we need to.
To a Christian, the Sea of Galilee is synonymous with the ministry of Jesus. The hub of the Galilee region, the sea’s importance came from its fishing and its location along the great International Highway.
Jesus located His base of ministry in Capernaum. From that town He walked many miles with twelve disciples—most of whom hailed from the towns around the sea.
When Christian pilgrims come to Israel today, they almost all visit the Sea of Galilee. And for good reason. As in the days of Jesus, the large lake still has storms, beautiful sunrises, and sites that we will forever associate with the Lord’s ministry.
I’d like to show you five must-see Christian sites by the Sea of Galilee—and how each one may (or may not) connect to Jesus.
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.
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 that may explain why your progress is delayed.
And what you can do in the mean time.
We have no problem choosing to trust God with the things for which we already trust Him. We learned the hard way to live by faith. Situations forced us to learn it—and we did. But then . . .
Another situation shows up. Suddenly, it’s like starting over.
We’re a lot like Asa, one of the few godly kings of Judah. He once trusted the Lord in a battle in the Shephelah and defeated an Ethiopian who came against him with an army a million strong (2 Chronicles 14).
But Asa’s greatest test came in an area that hit closer to home—literally.
That’s where God tests us as well, isn’t it?
How fitting that the first mention of the Mount Olives in the Bible represents the irony that would occur on its slopes throughout the centuries.
In King David’s day, the summit of the Mount of Olives held a place “where God was worshiped” (2 Samuel 15:32). And yet, that same context revealed the rejection of God’s chosen king, David, who crossed the Kidron Valley and ascended the slope weeping as he fled from his rebellious son.
David’s mournful exit as Jerusalem’s rejected king offers an ominous foreshadowing of the ultimate Son of David’s rejection on those same slopes a thousand years later.
But the history that occurred on Mount of Olives does more than tell the story of rejection. It speaks of redemption and—one day—of the ultimate acceptance of the King.
More than that, it tells our own story.