How the Spring Blows Open Your Backdoor to Hope

The Ultimate Earth Day Still to Come

Not long ago I walked down a country road and saw the spring leaves popping from the trees. Literally a week earlier the branches had nothing. One week! It got me to thinking.

How the Spring Blows Open Your Backdoor to Hope

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All the potential for the trees to leaf lay hidden, dormant all winter, until something inside the trees awakened them from sleep. Life was there all the time, hiding behind death, until something cued it to resurrect.

If this is how the earth responds to the stimulus of spring every year, how much more potential lay dormant—awaiting the moment God removes the effects of fallen humanity from our planet? Talk about an Earth Day!

The Bible uses this truth to encourage us in our struggles.

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The Kidron Valley – How Your Burial Can Point to Your Faith

Even after death, we can have a powerful witness to the living.

Have you thought where you’ll be buried? The place where someone chooses to get buried is always significant.

  • A hometown family plot is common.
  • The place where one’s ashes are scattered or stored often holds a special association.
  • Even unknown soldiers who die in battle occasionally receive a prominent interment.
The Kidron Valley with olive trees and graves

(Photo: The Kidron Valley with olives trees and graves. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

But in Israel, a burial place often exposed one’s faith. The tombs beside the Kidron Valley bear witness to this truth.

Each one offers a connection to resurrection.

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When You’re Ready—But Nothing Happens

Two reasons may explain why.

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.

When You are Ready—But Nothing Happens

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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.

After you read this post, you’ll understand what you can do in the mean time.

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Good Friday Gives Your Shame a Choice

Understand the choice between sin's penalty and sin's remedy.

Good Friday wasn’t so good for Judas. The guilt-ridden betrayer of Jesus hung himself and then fell headlong, spilling his innards. Hence, the residents later named the place where it happened, “Akeldema,” or “Field of Blood” (Acts 1:18-19).

Judas may have chosen this place to die for a specific reason.

Good Friday Gives Your Shame a Choice

(Photo: Monastery of St Onuphrius, traditional Akeldema, courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Today, the peaceful Monastery of St. Onuphrius at Akeldema offers no clue to the fact that Judas killed himself at that site—nor does it reveal the Hinnom Valley’s sordid history.

  • Horrific atrocities occurred in the Hinnom Valley during the days of Judah’s kings (2 Chronicles 33:6; Jeremiah 7:31).
  • In Jesus’ day, the city dump lay in this gorge. Some suggest that fires continually burned the trash, and so Jesus used the smoldering landfill of Gehenna as an illustration of hell’s eternal flames (Mark 9:43).

Because Jesus compared the Hinnom Valley to hell, one has to wonder if this is the reason Judas’s desperate regret led him to end his life in this ravine.

Like Judas, you have failed. But Judas’ shame doesn’t have to be yours.

Good Friday gives your shame a choice.

Peter shows us why.

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2 Lessons from Mount Hermon we Must Never Forget

Applying Jesus' commands on and below the Mount of Transfiguration

Sometimes the cross we bear can obscure our view of heaven. God knows that. That’s why He gives us encouragement along with the difficult commands He issues.

Caesarea Philippi and Mount Hermon

(Photo: Caesarea Philippi at the foot Mount Hermon. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

At the foot of Israel’s highest peak, Mount Hermon—near Caesarea Philippi—Jesus told His disciples that He would die in Jerusalem and rise again (Matt. 16:21, 24). Shocked that the Messiah would die, the disciples outright rejected Jesus’ words. On the heels of His unthinkable statement, Jesus made another just as fantastic:

If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. —Matthew 16:24

The cross exposed the disciples’ expectations of what they thought following Jesus would bring.

What do you expect from following Jesus? The lessons Jesus gave from Mount Hermon are two we must never forget.

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God’s Promises—How We Can Know They’re True

One sure way proves God has told us the truth.

When someone makes us a promise, it’s always best to give them the benefit of the doubt. Might as well believe them. Unless, of course, they have a history of fibbing to you.

God’s Promises—How We Can Know They’re True

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It happened again to me not long ago. A man I know shook my hand and said, “Let’s grab a coffee soon; I’ll call you.” I didn’t say it, but I wanted to reply: “No, you won’t. But thanks.” Does that ever happen for you? Honestly, it doesn’t take many times for someone to fail keeping a promise, and I lose confidence in the person.

The only way we can trust that people will keep their word is if they have kept their word.

The same is true of God’s promises.

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The Best Insurance for the Most Certain Event in Your Life

Why you should insure what's certain and not only what's possible.

As worriers, we often place more value on possibilities than certainties. We’ll invest plenty of money to insure ourselves against theft, flood, fire, sickness, or accident—all only possibilities. But we give little thought to the most certain event in our lives.

Death. Even life insurance doesn’t cover that.

The Best Insurance for the Most Certain Event in Your Life

(Photo by Photodune)

I believe in insurance. I pay for it, consider it prudent, and enjoy its benefits. In a way, my blog distributes spiritual insurance in bulk.

  • I explain people’s options and risks regarding the events following death.
  • I do my best to warn them of buying into cheap insurance that looks good up front but raises its premiums exorbitantly and reneges on paying the final benefits of their claim.

Such shams offer heaven for the price of good deeds.

Only God offers the best insurance for the most certain event in your life.

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The Feast of Booths—When You Want Heaven Now

(And why your road to glory has splinters.)

The Feast of Booths, or Sukkot, provided a time to remember how God had delivered His people from bondage and how He had provided for them in the wilderness. It looked back at deliverance, but it also looked forward to something else—to Messiah.

The Feast of Booths—When You Want Heaven Now

(Photo: Crowds at the Western Wall at Sukkot, the Feast of Booths. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Building tabernacles or “booths” (Hebrew sukkot) was nothing new for the Jews (Lev. 23:34, 42-43). The act served as a mandatory memorial of God’s faithfulness in the wilderness. At Sukkot, every seven years on the sabbatical year, the Law was read in the hearing of all Israel (Deut. 31:10-11).

The Bible refers to the holiday by several other names:

  • The Feast of the Harvest (Exod. 23:16)
  • The Feast of Ingathering (Exod. 34:22)
  • The feast of the Lord (Lev. 23:39)
  • The feast (1 Ki. 8:2; 2 Chron. 7:8-9; John 7:37)

In light of the world’s ugliness, it’s tempting to hole up on some mountain and just wait for God to come get us. In fact, it was the Feast of Booths Peter had in mind when he made exactly that request to Jesus.

We may not know it, but we often ask for the same thing.

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Avoid High Places if You’re Looking for God

We need one thing more than anything in our spiritual climb.

We start strong. Determination and strength come easily. Finally, we reach the summit in our Christian lives—only to find life in high places often lets us down.

Avoid High Places if You’re Looking for God

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We followed the rules. We stayed in line. We walked the straight and narrow. So what happened?

The path we followed led to a false summit.

It happens when we forget this one thing.

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How the Downer Book of Lamentations Offers Us Hope Today

3 bits of good news from the character of God and the promises of God.

The book of Lamentations isn’t one we often read. Let’s be honest. It seems like a real downer. Jeremiah’s “lamentations” sting like the swat of a paddle. And yet—amazingly—there’s good news for us.

How the Downer Book of Lamentations Offers 3 Reasons to Hope

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Good news seems good usually because of the bad news that came first.

  • The bad news: Because Jerusalem had abandoned the Lord by pursing idols and foreign alliances, God had given over the city to the Babylonians, who disciplined Jerusalem by forcing most of its citizens into exile.
  • The good news: God’s divine discipline always comes as an expression both of His faithfulness and His love.

Amazingly, this downer book of Lamentations offers at least 3 reasons we can have hope in life.

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