Last week I had an unusual experience. Cathy and I rented a car and drove through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for several days. We had no agenda but rest.
(The beautiful Biltmore estate in North Carolina.)
For an achiever like me, a vacation can feel like a waste of time. Usually my vacations mean time off from my regular work to do chores around the house or to do a writing project.
But last week was strange. I actually took a vacation to rest.
- I turned off my work email and never opened it. (Yeah, the swelling number of emails showing in my Mail icon tempted me.)
- I got a full night’s sleep every night.
- I even found some roses to smell. (Real roses.)
But it was tough at times. Why do we struggle so much with rest?
I think it’s a spiritual issue.
We fear what we think may happen in the world we see. But the world we don’t see is the source of our real fears. Our spiritual lives hold the solution to it.
(Photo: By Alex Micheu Photography from VILLACH, Austria Uploaded by Sporti CC-BY-SA-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
That’s what happened with Jacob.
Returning to the land of Canaan forced Jacob to face a problem he had run from 20 years earlier—his deception of his brother Esau. As he approached the border of Canaan, angels of God came to meet him.
The presence of the angels gives us a critical reminder during our times of fear.
I doubt you’ll meet a person who goes to Israel without seeing Jerusalem. It’s the most important city in history, and it offers so much to see. But often, it’s seen only from this view.
There are many great views of Jerusalem. Like looking at the various facets of a diamond, each direction offers a different perspective on the same city.
Here are 4 views of Jerusalem every visitor should see—from the north, south, east, and west.
Good news: 3 of the views are free.
The Bible’s teaching on forgiveness can seem confusing. Even contradictory. In fact, over the years I’ve heard one question more than any other.
On one hand we have the marvelous promise that once we believe the gospel message—that Jesus died for our sins and rose again—we have forgiveness of all our sins.
All of them.
But that begs a question: If Jesus has already paid for our sins, why then does the Bible tell us to confess our sins for forgiveness?
It’s because the Bible teaches two kinds of forgiveness.
Do you understand the difference?
As often as we use the name, “Holy Land,” amazingly, the phrase only shows up in the Bible on rare occasions. In fact, you can count them on one hand.
The first man, Adam, had a name that means “man,” and it relates to the word adamah, meaning “ground,” from which God formed him. Accordingly, when Adam sinned, God cursed the ground to which Adam would return when he died.
It seems surprising, then, that the first use of the noun form “holy” in the Hebrew Bible finds its connection with the ground. God told Moses at Horeb:
Remove your sandals, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground. —Exodus 3:5
So, what makes the holy land holy? Or for that matter, what makes you holy?
You wake up to it each morning. It follows you as you go through your day. It’s waiting for you in every room and conversation. Your battle cleverly disguises itself in many forms.
Your battle appears as a person, or as money, or as a tense situation at the office.
But the reality is that the battle you face each day has another source. The fight that God’s people faced at Rephidim proved that point.
The battle is spiritual—and there’s only one way to win.
There has always been only one way to God—even in the Old Testament. That way is by grace through faith in the object of God’s choosing. Bethel gives us a peek at that way.
In his flight to Haran, Jacob spent the night at Bethel, where years earlier his grandfather Abraham had heard God promise that he would receive all the land as far as he could see. There, Jacob dreamed of a stairway to heaven, and the Lord repeated to him the promises that Abraham received.
Shaken, Jacob awoke and cried:
How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. —Gen. 28:17
Jacob named the site Bethel—“house of God.” The dream gave more than a vision of God’s house.
It offered a foreshadowing of how to get there.
I look forward to teaching for 4 sessions at the Music Ministry Bible Study for the Stonebriar Community Church choir and orchestra. I’ll be teaching on “Waiting on God.”
Last month I asked you to tell me which cover you liked better for my upcoming book, Waiting on God. The majority preferred the cover below, and Baker Books agreed. So this is it!
Thanks so much for your help!
Also, I’m happy to announce I sent the completed manuscript to my editor on Wednesday. Hurrah! Now the process of editing and layout begins in order to have the book ready for its release in August 2015.
Please take a moment to ask God to bless the whole process and for Him to be glorified in the lives of all who read the book. Thank you!
(By the way, I’ll be teaching on “Waiting on God with Joseph” at our Sunday School class soon. Please join us!)