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

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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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How to Struggle with God and Win

Jacob's brawl at the Jabbok River gives a model of how to do it.

What does it take for God to change you? In the Bible, when the Lord changed Jacob, it took a brawl. Isn’t it often the same with us?

Struggling with God

(Photo via Vivozoom)

These times we struggle with the Father represent His grace, I believe. It’s never easy, and it often seems rigged in God’s favor.

But Jacob shows us how to win the struggle.

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The Daniel Prayer

The Daniel Prayer: Prayer That Moves Heaven and Changes Nations (Zondervan, 2016)

I really enjoyed The Daniel Prayer. Anne Graham Lotz uses principles from the prophet Daniel’s prayer in the book that bears his name. Daniel confesses his sins and the sins of his nation—and asked God to have mercy.

All of the sections of Anne’s book are peppered with personal stories that both inspire and urge us to pray. I especially appreciate her vulnerability and admission that it isn’t easy to pray—regardless of where you are in your walk with God.

I like Anne’s reminder that to pray is to enter spiritual warfare. The prophet Daniel prayed, and the angel who came in answer to Daniel’s prayer indicated that his delay was because of a battle with a demon.

The final section of the book offers what Anne calls “patterns for prayer.” At first I thought this might be examples of prayer from the Scriptures, like what Jesus taught in the Lord’s prayer or in John 17. Instead, to my surprise, Anne has penned her own prayers to God — for various topics. Very nice.

The Daniel Prayer offers no magic pill on making God answer your prayers, but it does what all good books on prayer must do. It inspires us to actually do the job of praying, and praying is what God responds to.

Spiritual Warfare

The Spiritual Warfare Answer Book (Thomas Nelson, 2016)

In The Spiritual Warfare Answer Book, Dr. David Jeremiah reminds us that the Christian life is a battlefield. Our battle is not with the culture or with those who do not believe in God but with an enemy unseen and powerful.

Using a question-and-answer format, Dr. Jeremiah answers 75 questions pertinent to spiritual warfare. Each question forms a short chapter with answers rooted in scripture and practical application. Particularly relevant is the introductory section that answers the question, How can I be certain I’ve been called to battle? His answer is succinct and sobering: if you are a Christian, you are in battle—and you don’t have to lose.

NKJV Study Bible

The NKJV Study Bible, Personal Size, Paperback: Full-Color Edition (Thomas Nelson, 2016)

I love reading the New King James Version of the Bible (NKJV), but not until getting this study Bible did I realize why. The scholarship behind this Bible is simply phenomenal. As I read the names of the contributors, it made me want to study the notes again. An outstanding group of scholars whose words and theology can be trusted.

This edition of the NKJV Study Bible is a “Personal Size, Paperback.” It will be convenient for those who want to read more than write in the Bible. The full-color introductions, maps, and special features keep the reader’s eye glued to the pages. It’s an attractive Bible, although the print is fairly small.

The combination of an excellent translation, outstanding scholarship in the study notes, and this compact and colorful format make this edition a welcome addition to any library, travel bag, or bedside.

Google Street View of 6 Biblical Sites

Walk around in the Holy Land without leaving home.

Google Maps Street View serves us well with directions, helping us to see what the turns in our journey actually look like. But the Web site also allows a virtual peek at some key biblical sites.

Google Street View of 7 Biblical Sites

There’s nothing like traveling to Israel to see the land of the Bible firsthand. Experiencing the Bible with all your senses is an unforgettable way to learn it. You’ll never be the same.

But until your first (or next) trip, you might enjoy a virtual walk through a few biblical sites via Google Street View.

I have chosen 6 biblical sites that allow you to do a little exploring.

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How to Stay Alert to Your Evil Adversary

There are essentials we must keep in mind in order to stand firm.

You have an enemy. No, it’s not that other political party. It’s not your boss. It’s certainly not your spouse. I’m not even talking about terrorists. I’m talking about an adversary you can’t see.

How to Stay Alert to Your Evil Adversary

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He’s hidden, but there, just biding his time until he can take you out. The Apostle Peter reveals his identify:

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. —1 Peter 5:8

Contrary to Hollywood or popular fiction, Satan isn’t some imp with horns, a pitchfork, and a bifurcated tail. He’s not even the horror flick typecast of a spook who causes heads to spin and doors to slam. That stereotype is just what the devil would have us believe. Why? So that we will laugh him off as fiction, fantasy, or the superstition of simple-minded Bible thumpers.

Let’s clear our heads for a moment. Jesus Christ spoke of Satan as a reality.

You need to know you have an enemy. You also need to know what to do about it.

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Follow Your Heart (And Why That’s a Really Bad Idea)

The world's mantra isn't telling you everything.

It’s the mantra of today. It’s the moral lesson of most movies. It’s the guiding light of many lives: “Follow your heart!” After all, it sounds so right, doesn’t it?

Follow Your Heart

“Follow your heart” is another way of following your feelings. Even as Christians, our feelings often lead us, don’t they?

  • “I don’t feel good about this.”
  • “Am I comfortable with this direction?”
  • “I don’t have a peace about this decision.”

Following your heart is a popular, but unwise, way to make decisions.

Although our feelings are real, they may not represent reality. And even if what we feel does have some connection to reality, it is never all of reality.

God offers a better way.

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Must-Have Resources for Bible Lands Study

I've boiled down an essential list for you.

Not everybody can travel to Israel. But everyone can benefit from including Bible lands in their personal Bible study. You just need some good tools.

Tabernacle model and courtyard

(Photo: Tabernacle Model. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

I have discovered that including Bible lands in my study has given me more understanding of the Bible than I ever imagined. The benefits of including Bible lands in the study of Scripture are available to everyone.

Many people have asked what resources I recommend. So I’ve created what I consider a must-have list. These are the tools I reach for first when I study—those resources that have proven most helpful to me for years.

I’ll give you the full list, and then I’ll suggest which ones to get first.

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God is Guiding Your Life—and How I Know It

What seem like chances are really God's choices.

Maybe you feel like the Lord isn’t leading you toward anything significant in life. Or worse, that He has overlooked or abandoned you. I believe otherwise.

God is Guiding Your Life—and How I Know It

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In the Old Testament, a destitute single-again woman named Ruth had little hope for a future. One day she took advantage of a provision in the Law that allowed the poor to reap the corners of Israel’s fields. Her example gives hope to us all.

I want to show you that God is guiding you—and how I know He is.

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