Jerusalem’s Water Gate—Where the Source of Truth Gushed

Why You Need to Wall Off Your Time with the Bible

The best way to make sure we respond positively to the opportunities God provides us is to prepare ahead of time for them. But how do we anticipate those moments? The Lord has shown us how.

Jerusalem’s Water Gate—Where the Source of Truth Gushed

(Photo: Scribe copying the Scriptures. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

At the end of the exile, God moved the heart of the pagan King Artaxerxes to allow Ezra—a scribe and priest—to return to Jerusalem in 458 BC. Fourteen years before Nehemiah returned to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, Ezra returned to rebuild the people. He did it by calling them to return to the Word of God.

Ezra shows us both how to prepare for the opportunities God provides and how to protect ourselves from what threatens them.

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Giving Your Child Back to God

Hannah's decision at Shiloh shows us how to prepare.

Giving your child back to God can be a tough decision for parents. Eighteen or more years of sacrifice, commitment, and training suddenly bring you to a point of no return.

Giving Your Child Back to God

(Photo by Monkey Business Images via Vivozoom)

Whether it is for college, for the military, or in the natural course of growing up, giving your child back to God is a point every parent has to face.

Hannah’s story shows us how to prepare for it, and then, how to do it.

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The Levitical Cities—God’s Word Made Accessible to You

Finding it is the easy part. The next step is the tough one.

I am convinced God is far more concerned that we know His will than we are. In fact, He has gone to great lengths to help us understand what we need to know. But we have a problem.

The Levitical Cities—God’s Word Made Accessible to You

(Photo: Tel Jokneam, one of the 48 Levitical Cities. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

We often treat the Bible as a simple reference book—kept handy on the shelf for those moments when we need inspiration but not something we see as essential for daily living.

But God’s will is found in God’s Word. If we want to find His will, we must read His Word. It’s often that simple—and yet, it’s also difficult. But it needn’t be.

In fact, God has always made His Word accessible to us—today more than ever.

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Walk the Path of Wisdom without Falling Off

The connection between between the first steps we take in making a decision and its final outcome often seems unrelated. Walking the path of wisdom or the way of foolishness has domino effects far greater than we can imagine.

Walk the Path of Wisdom without Falling Off

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com)

For us, a disciplined intake of Scripture certainly promises wisdom. But wisdom offers a course of action, not just a course of instruction.

The book of Proverbs reveals the outcome of the pathways we are walking. And it tells us how to stay on the path of wisdom.

Here’s how.

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Gibeah—Displaying the Integrity of God Where It Isn’t

Atop the site of ancient Gibeah in Israel today stands the skeleton of a building. Although it marks the ambitions of a king who never occupied its halls, the structure reminds me of a deeper emptiness.

Gibeah—Displaying the Love of God Where It Isn't

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

In 1964 King Hussein of Jordan began constructing a palace on the site of ancient Gibeah. The Six-Day War in 1967 put a permanent halt to the construction. All that remains today are the empty ruins of his intentions.

When we read the book of Judges, repeatedly the book notes Israel had no king in those
 days (Judges 18:1; 19:1; 21:25). They had no one to model and impose a moral standard—and thus had none.

Like the skeleton that stands on Gibeah today, God’s people had the structure of God’s Law but it was empty in their lives.

Here’s how that emptiness needn’t be true of our lives today.

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Dothan—Learning to See Near and Far in Your Spiritual Life

As the ancient International Highway cut its way though Israel, it divided three ways through the Mount Carmel range. The eastern fork passed through a valley named after the town of Dothan.

Dothan—Learning to See Near and Far in Your Spiritual Life

(Photo: Dothan with a well in the valley. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

On the day Joseph’s brothers dropped him in the pit at Dothan, neither they nor Joseph gave one thought about how that decision would affect eternity. It was all about the here and now. But in hindsight, both Joseph and his brothers saw God’s hand in the events and interpreted them accordingly.

Hindsight provides insight. It always can.

In our lives we can get so caught up in today’s issues that they blind us to tomorrow’s purpose for them.

Interestingly, Dothan appears only twice in the Bible. In both places, we learn how to see near and far in our spiritual lives.

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Kadesh Barnea—How to Follow (and Not Get Ahead of) God’s Will

Which seems worse: refusing to follow God though He promises success, or stubbornly pressing forward without Him? Sometimes it’s tough to tell the difference.

Kadesh Barnea—How to Follow and Not Get Ahead of God’s Will

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God’s people swung on both extremes of this pendulum in the course of one day.

What their experience teaches us can guide us as we anticipate the future God has for us.

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Finding and Following God’s Will This Year

There is only one way you will know God’s will for you this year. Relatively speaking, that’s the easy part. But once you know it, then comes the tough assignment: choosing to walk in it.

Finding and Following God's Will This Year

(Photo: by Luca Zanon. Courtesy of Unsplash.com)

From the first verse of Scripture, God revealed how the Earth set the stage for the divine drama of history to take place (Gen. 1:1). From its formless, void beginning, the Lord fashioned the Earth with His intention in its details. From this ground, God made physical people spiritual beings in His image.

Finding and following God’s will was no different for Adam and Eve than it is for us.

We have the same problem they did.

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What to Do When It’s Not Really the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The songs play it. The movies portray it. Even our church services have their part to play. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Yeah, well what if it isn’t? For many people, holidays bring up painful memories.

(Photo by Photodune)

(Photo by Photodune)

Sore spots from childhood or the loss of loved ones hit hard during this sentimental season. While many people celebrate the joys of Christmastime, others suffer lonely holidays.

During one of the most desperate times of King David’s life, the anointed future king of Israel found himself running from two separate enemies—hardly a time to celebrate. With the Philistines to the west and King Saul to the east, a distressed David sought refuge in the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1–2).

David felt very alone.

His situation offers encouragement to us during lonely holidays.

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Living Life in the Balance with God

To hear Moses describe the Promised Land, it sounded as if it offered vast natural resources—a land where food was plentiful and lacked for nothing (Deut. 8:9). Well, true and not true.

Living Life in the Balance with God

(Photo: Grapes left on vine after harvest in Israel. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

The land had streams, pools, springs, wheat, barley, grapevines, figs, pomegranates, olives, and honey. Sounds pretty nice. Sign me up.

But this good land existed in a delicate balance of nature—and God tipped the scales. The Hebrews would learn that God alone made the good land “good” in direct proportion to the gratitude, praise, and obedience of His people.

The same is true of our lives.

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