Valley of Achor: How to Change Your Trouble to Triumph

Why You Should Never Give up if You're in a Hopeless Place

Some places hoard bad memories. Maybe it was your hometown or even your home. The events associated with that place have forever tainted its memories. The Valley of Achor was such a site.

Valley of Achor: How to Change Your Trouble to Triumph

(Photo: The Wadi Qilt, perhaps the Valley of Achor. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

After Joshua’s victory at Jericho, the Israelites suffered defeat at Ai because a man named Achan had buried banned spoils of war under his tent (Joshua 7:1, 21). Following this event, the Valley of Achor served as a reminder of failure, of setback, and of defeat.

But God would change the place from a site of trouble to a place of triumph.

He can do the same for you.

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Why Some Fundamentals Never Change with God

Yet some rules no longer apply (and why)

Remember the day you left home? For some of us, that day was when we took off for college. For others, it was to take a job. We all had reasons, and we were gone.

Why Some Fundamentals Never Change with God

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

When you left home, some things immediately changed. No longer did you have to be home at a certain time each night. If you wanted pizza ten times a week, you had it. Freedoms increased.

But there were also some things that didn’t change.

  • The speed limit was still 55 mph.
  • You still had to brush your teeth.
  • Right and wrong was still right and wrong.

It’s interesting that in all the changes we experienced, neither our parents nor we had changed. Only the situation changed.

In a similar way, God has managed the world differently at different times. Some things never change with God.

But some do.

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Chasing the Surprising Geography of the Presence of God

How can God be somewhere and everywhere at the same time?

It’s hard to imagine an omnipresent God dwelling in one place. And yet, every December we celebrate the fact. God dwells in the confines of a human body. And He is also everywhere.

But the incarnation isn’t the first time God has localized His presence among His people.

Presence of God

(Photo: Olive groves near Bethlehem. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

God is both omnipresent and present. King Solomon summed up the seeming contradiction when he prayed:

Will God indeed dwell with mankind on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You; how much less this house which I have built. —2 Chronicles 6:18

From creation to Christmas—and from today to eternity.

Let’s take a quick geographical journey and follow movements of God’s dwelling place among us.

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Christians Struggling with Sin and 4 Lies We Believe

In more ways than one, the truth will set you free.

Everybody sins. But when Christians do it, reactions vary. The culture says we’re hypocrites—and often uses our sin to justify their own. Other Christians may view our sins as proof we aren’t even saved.

Christians Struggling with Sin and 4 Lies We Believe

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

But the people who offer the most brutal judgment against our sins?

Very often, it’s ourselves.

That’s because Christians struggling with sin tend to believe these four lies.

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The Ideal Life You Want Isn’t Enough

That's why God gives you what you need before what you want.

Most people live for dreams. It’s a quest, really. Clinging to ideals of how life could and “should” be, they chase those dreams like a carrot on a stick. Always within reach, but never gotten.

The Ideal Life You Want Isn't Enough

(Photo by Photodune)

I guess we’re all wired to pursue the ideal. The world calls it following “your heart,” and we Christians refer to it as “the will of God.” But in truth, we generally settle for nothing less than our version of how life ought to be.

Any search for the ideal needs only to look at the Garden of Eden to see the futility of that pursuit.

God points us a different direction.

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When Your Life Feels Empty

Looking at the Right Gauge is the Secret to Making It

I used to use an old pickup truck for odd jobs. It was dented, scratched, and ugly—but faithful. The only glitch in the truck was the gas gauge. No matter how much gas it had, the gauge read “almost empty.”

When Your Life Feels Empty

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If you had just filled up, it read “almost empty.” If you had half a tank, it read “almost empty.” The gauge only worked when you were out of gas! It would immediately move from “almost empty” to “empty.” I remember once I coasted into a gas station on fumes and a prayer.

I have found one thing in life that cuts the cable from the gas tank to the gas gauge quicker than anything else.

  • It drains your relationships with people and dries up your walk with God.
  • It blurs your vision, exaggerates your emotions, and takes a healthy, balanced perspective of life and twists it of proportion.

I’m talking about the pervasive and infectious attitude of bitterness.

You can be riding along with a full tank, but bitterness will show you a gauge “almost empty.”

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Pools of Bethesda—God’s Kindness and Our Repentance

What motivates you most isn't fear.

Very few people are drawn to God by intimidation. Instead, the Lord urges us to come to Him by revealing the kindness of His mercy. It’s a tremendous motivation.

Pools of Bethesda—God’s Kindness and Our Repentance

(Photo: Pools of Bethesda and Crusader chapel, courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Once we comprehend the depth of our imperfections, and the futility of our own efforts to remove them, we are in a position to respond to God’s kindness.

In this post, you’ll read how Jesus revealed this simple truth one day in Jerusalem with an act of mercy at the Pools of Bethesda.

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Lydia—How to Honor a Generous God

You can express love for God with anything you choose to offer Him.

Lydia made her way outside the city gate. A short stroll led her and a group of women to a familiar spot beside the Krenides River. For a synagogue to be established, ten Jewish men had to be in regular attendance. But there weren’t ten to be found in Philippi.

Lydia—How to Honor a Generous God

(Painting of Lydia at St Lydia chapel in Philippi. Courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

That didn’t keep these women from worshipping together, though. They gathered every Saturday at the river for prayer. But this Sabbath was different. It would change Lydia’s life forever.

And her change can affect our lives as well.

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Take a devotional break for a moment and watch the beautiful words of Isaiah come to life.

All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him. —Isaiah 53:6

Sometimes I think God created particular creatures simply to provide potent metaphors He could use to teach us with. Picture yourself as one of these sheep—and the Lord as your shepherd.

We all have wandered. But the good news is our Good Shepherd sought us out—and died for our sins. Jesus Himself said:

If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? —Matthew 18:12

Question: How does seeing these words visually help you internalize their truths? To leave a comment, just click here.

(Video from SourceFlix.com)

Why You Must Listen to God Rather than to People

Joash's life demands we cultivate our own resolve to follow the Lord.

We all need people to influence us. God made us that way. From the languages we speak to the character we develop—it all begins with those who surround us in our formative years.

Listen to God

(Photo by Noam Armonn via Vivozoom)

It starts with our environment, but it shouldn’t end there. It cannot.

When it does, it’s tragic. That was the case with King Joash.

But it doesn’t have to be that way with us.

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