Jesus’ Birth in a Humble Bethlehem Had You in Mind

What His ignoble birth means for you.

It must have seemed really strange. Honestly, it still does. Two thousand years of waiting for the Messiah, and He is born in a barn and laid in a feed trough.

Jesus' Birth in a Barn Had You in Mind

(Shepherd in modern Israel, courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

If it had been up to us, we would have given God’s Son a room in the finest five-star hotel in Bethlehem. But Jesus got only a one-star motel—and God had to provide the star!

When the shepherds hurried into Bethlehem to find the baby of whom the angels spoke, the wonder of God’s power must have seemed a strange contradiction to the conditions they found.

  • No halos hovered over Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.
  • Instead, they saw a poor couple surrounded by animals and the smell of manure.

Actually, the crudity of Jesus’ birth story offers really good news.

Because it had you in mind.

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7 Christian Christmas Readings for Download

Remember these essential truths in your spiritual life

It’s a good thing we have holidays. Without these forced pauses in our hurried schedules, we would plow through life with only a headstone to stop us.

7 Christian Christmas Readings for Download

(Photo by Photodune)

Christmas certainly offers us a time to take a break from work. It’s also a time for family to reconnect. But most importantly, the holiday reminds us of essential truths in our spiritual lives.

Here are 7 Christian Christmas readings from Scripture with suggested themes for personal reflection or group discussion.

You can also download these Christian Christmas Readings if you prefer to print them.

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When You’re Waiting on God in a Weary Land

How your place of confusion can become a place of refuge.

Sometimes waiting on God feels like you’re dying of thirst. That’s what David thought as he wandered in the Judean wilderness, running from a problem he couldn’t solve.

Waiting on God in a Weary Land

(Photo: The Wilderness of Judea. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Chased by the jealous King Saul, David took refuge in the Wilderness of Judea and prayed, “My flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1).

This barren land is a picture of our own challenge with waiting on God.

It also pictures the place of refuge God provides for us while we wait.

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My Virtual Reality Tour Through Jerusalem’s Second Temple

And a danger of living in a virtual reality mindset.

Have you ever experienced virtual reality? I hadn’t. But a Tweet from my friend, Carl Rasmussen, changed that. He made me aware of a new exhibit in Jerusalem. I checked it out recently.

My Virtual Reality Tour Through Jerusalem's Second Temple

(Image: Screenshot from the promotional video below)

On our free day in Jerusalem on our recent tour, my wife and some friends and I decided to experience a virtual tour through the Second Temple. This exhibit is sponsored by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation (the same organization that hosts underground tours of the Western Wall).

After entering a small room and receiving some instruction on using the virtual reality equipment, the guide ushered us to a room with a dozen swivel seats, each outfitted with virtual reality glasses and headphones. I put the gear on.

Suddenly, I was all alone.

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What makes the temptation of power so seemingly irresistible? Maybe it is that power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love. It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, . . . Jesus asks, ‘Do you love me?’ We ask, ‘Can we sit at your right hand and your left hand in your Kingdom?’

Henri Nouwen
In the Name of Jesus (Crossroad Publishing Company, 1992), 59.

Cyber Monday Deal on the Best Photos of the Holy Land

Today Only: 30% off for my blog readers!

Whenever I go to Israel, I seldom take pictures for my blog. Why? Because the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands has all I need. It’s simply that good.

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Israel Collection

I went out on a limb and asked the publishers of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands if they could offer a special “Cyber Monday” deal just for my blog readers. For today only, they have extended a special offer of 30% OFF any volume—including my favorite: The Israel Collection!

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A Great Christmas Gift

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Black Friday Audio Blowout!

My newest resources at a great deal.

I have saved 5 brand new audio resources (plus my newest audiobook) to offer you at a significant discount for this Black Friday sale. From lessons from Bible lands to questions about why a good God allows evil, you’ll get something worth hearing that will encourage you today!

Black Friday Audio Blowout

Get all 5 audio resources at 60% OFF their retail price. When you do, you can get my newest audiobook, Waiting on God at a whopping 75% off! This weekend only!

LEARN MORE!

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What My Dumb Dog Taught Me about the Greatness of God

Welcome to the spectrum of all we don't know.

As I left the house early one morning recently, I turned on the garage light to make my way out. Our dog, Carlie, who sleeps in the garage, immediately stood up, walked over to me, and leaned against the wall.

What My Dumb Dog Taught Me about the Greatness of God

(Photo: Our dog, Carlie)

Her wagging tail slammed against the wall repeatedly—and the other side of that wall was my bedroom. I knew the pounding would disturb my sleeping wife.

I had tried to keep quiet. My dog ruined that. I got frustrated fast.

“Dumb dog,” I muttered under my breath.

Then it hit me.

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Did the Old Testament Offer Only One Way to God?

The exclusivity of salvation isn't a new question.

Of course, we can only approach God’s presence God’s way. The New Testament clearly reveals that only through Jesus can anyone come to God the Father (John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:23). But what about in the Old Testament? Are there multiple ways? 

Did the Old Testament Offer Only One Way to God?

(Photo courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

After King David conquered Jerusalem and secured it as his capital, he desired to bring the Ark of the Covenant up from Kiriath-Jearim into his new City of David. But in his passion to have God’s presence, David neglected to follow God’s principles. That negligence of improperly transporting the Ark cost a man his life (2 Samuel 6).

Three months later, David correctly transported the Ark into Jerusalem and placed it in a tent he pitched for its keeping.

In this experience, David gained a profound respect for God’s holiness.

This principle directly relates to the question: did the Old Testament offer only one way to God?

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Remember and Return

Remember and Return: Rekindling Your Love for the Savior–A Devotional (Baker, 2016)

MacArthur’s new devotional, Remember and Return, is content pulled from his trade book, Simple Christianity. Each of these short, 31 chapters takes a thought from the book and introduces it with a Scripture verse and concludes with a “Daily Challenge,” a new, poignant paragraph that is really what transforms MacArthur’s older content into a devotional. The book has some wonderful quotes by other authors, most especially puritans like John Owen. Remember and Return really doesn’t read like a devotional, but more like a book of theological truth with a “challenge” each day to apply it.