Ein Kerem—Waiting on God’s Promise a Long Time

God has something special planned for you.

When we think of the Bible’s Christmas couple, of course we picture Joseph and Mary. But there’s another couple in the Christmas narrative. In fact, they appear even before Jesus’ parents do.

Ein Kerem terraces

(Photo: Tradition places the home of Zacharias and Elizabeth at Ein Kerem. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

God had been silent for 400 years. No additional Scripture. No more prophecy. No visions. Just waiting for the Messiah. 400 years! Then, God spoke to an old man in Jerusalem. God had been silent to Zacharias and Elizabeth as well. They were elderly and had no children. They prayed for years. But nothing.

God’s Word makes the point that they were righteous in God’s sight—blameless in God’s Law. In other words, their childless home wasn’t because of their unfaithfulness.

Times of waiting on God can even come to a point of what seems impossible. Most times of lack are like that.

Waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. (Rom. 8:24, The Message)

God had something special planned for them. And for you.

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Free Black Friday Download for You

This weekend only: "How to Forgive When Forgiveness is Really Tough"

To counter the madness of BLACK FRIDAY, I want to give you something free. As my way of saying thanks, you can download a free copy of my audio resource: “How to Forgive When Forgiveness is Really Tough.” 

How to Forgive When Forgiveness is Really Tough

This message retails for $5 but you can get it FREE this weekend only. Here’s how:

  1. Go to the audio resource page
  2. Add the item to your cart (and go to the cart)
  3. Enter the coupon code: forgiven (coupon expires Sunday night) 
  4. Complete the checkout process, and the download page appears for you! 

I believe you’ll be encouraged by this resource. Forgiveness is tough because the debt is real. How can we forgive when doing so feels like we’re sacrificing even more?

In this intensely practical message from the book of Philemon, I’ll show you how God provides wisdom and help to move past your past into the freedom of forgiveness when it’s really tough to forgive someone. 

Grab your free download now—with no strings attached—as my gift to you. (This offer expires Sunday night!) 

How to Deal with Difficult People Who Refuse to Change

God shows you how to move forward in a room of fog.

Several years ago I found myself at odds with someone. This individual had spoken severely to our daughter, and I confronted this person with the truth—but in anger, and I failed to speak truth in love.

How to Deal with Difficult People Who Refuse to Change

(Photo by Photodune)

Later, I tried to get together and talk it through. I knew I needed to ask for forgiveness for how I said what I said. But those in authority asked me to leave it alone until later. Although I tried to comply at first, I felt miserable keeping quiet. I came to realize I needed to ask forgiveness, no matter what.

The only way I felt I could honor both the Lord and those in authority came by writing a letter and asking for forgiveness. I never heard back from the individual, nor did I expect to or need to. But I needed to do my part. I needed to reach out.

But it was tough.

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2 Ways to Find Balance in the Christian Life

Only when we know what to say yes to can we say no to everything else.

One of our greatest challenges is finding balance in the Christian life. Think of a person on a tightrope. There’s never a point where they just stroll across effortlessly. Balance requires continual effort.

2 Ways to Find Balance in the Christian Life

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Have you ever noticed that somehow Jesus balanced it all? The demands of His work and ministry left Him exhausted at times, of course—yet somehow He found time to get it all done.

Jesus perfectly balanced the demands of life—with the same 24 hours we have.

Here’s how.

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Cities of Refuge – Where to Run When You’ve Done Nothing Wrong

God still provides sanctuary when others misunderstand you.

You did nothing wrong. Still, those with influence and a voice have chased you out with accusations as agonizing as they were outrageous. You needed a place of refuge to run.

Shechem, one of the Cities of Refuge

(Photo: Shechem, one of the Cities of Refuge. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In ancient Israel, Cities of Refuge gave the innocent person a place of sanctuary so that those who presumed him guilty couldn’t harm him before the facts came to light.

Justice assumes innocence until proven guilty. This biblical principle has found a place in our own legal systems (at least in theory). But justice sometimes plays no part in verdicts. In truth, the ones with the power often get their way in this world—and justice has nothing to do with it.

Have you been misunderstood? Even though the particulars of God’s ancient law may seem outdated, the principle reveals His heart—and it still applies.

God still provides you a place to run.

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How to Understand God’s Plan for You in a World of Confusion

No need to miss the opportunity God has given you today.

Tough circumstances of life always change our minds about God. They either tempt us to doubt what He’s promised, or they draw us closer to Him in faith. But we never stay the same.

How to Understand God's Plan for You in a World of Confusion

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

God’s plan for your life is revealed and tested in times of struggle.

If you’re struggling today, don’t miss the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of God’s plan for you.

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Why Facing the Facts Begins with Faith

Hezekiah shows you how your faith has more facts behind it than you think.

Today you will be told to face the facts. Usually, that means bad news. You don’t have the money. The doctor’s report looks grim. Time is running out on your biological clock. Facing the facts is hard.

Why Facing the Facts Begins with Faith

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

But think about it: facing the facts isn’t our problem. It’s that we fail to face all of the facts.

God has facts to factor into our thinking as well.

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The Critical Question We Ought to Ask When Hurting

And why asking "why" never goes far enough.

When something or someone hurts your feelings, where do you run? The book of Psalms repeatedly asks God where He is in the midst of our pain. After all, we’d really love it if God would stop the hurting since He can.

The Question We Ought to Ask When Hurting

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Amazingly however, the book of Job never answers the questions: “Where is God in my pain?” nor “Why does God allow such struggle in our lives?” Even Job himself received no answers to these questions—only elsewhere in the Bible do we discover their solutions.

When we’re struggling or suffering, finding out “why” is never enough.

There’s another question we need to ask.

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A Balm in Gilead—Your Solution is Nearer than You Imagine

Why suffer when the remedy is just over the river?

Have you ever missed seeing something only to discover it lay in front of you the whole time? Misplaced car keys are one thing. But ignoring help from God is something else.

A Balm in Gilead—Your Solution is Nearer than You Imagine

(Photo: The hills of Gilead. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Few things seem more tragic than for someone to suffer when the remedy stood near all along. Why suffer when the remedy lies just over the river?

The Prophet Jeremiah asked similar rhetorical questions in his day:

Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has not the health of the daughter of my people been restored? —Jeremiah 8:22

The words “balm in Gilead” give us more than the makings of a great spiritual song. They offer a principle we can apply today.

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Chorazin—Sitting in the Seat but Missing the Message

Jesus explains why leadership remains a privilege, not a prerogative.

Leadership in any form is a place of honor because of one reason only. You won’t see that reason in the world’s system where leadership often stands upside down. A small town in Galilee reminds us how to keep it upright. 

Chorazin—Sitting in the Seat but Missing the Message

(Photo: Chorazin’s ruins hide at center left. Courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

From a distance, Chorazin seems like it’s hiding. I don’t blame it for trying. After all, it remains one of the three cities in Galilee that Jesus rebuked for failing to respond to His message. The basalt ruins of Chorazin appear little more than a pile of rocks among so many thousands of others. Clumps of grass and volcanic rock offer a variegated green and gray to the hillside above the Sea of Galilee.

Unless you look carefully, you may not even see the city.

But Jesus saw it. So should we.

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