I am pleased to share a sample of my brand new devotional e-book based on what God showed me during my recent trip to the Holy Land. Focusing on ten ways that Jesus taught us to live differently, the e-book is filled with over 40 full-color travel photos and scripture graphics, thoughtful reflection questions and historical context to put you on the scene as Jesus brought a new way of living to his times and ours. If you’d like the complete e-book emailed to you, click here to request your free copy.
Approach God Differently
To get to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, you have to enter through a military checkpoint. I put my bag on the belt of the x-ray machine and stepped through the security gate, just like at the airport. A soldier looked me up and down, but let me pass.
I entered a broad paved courtyard, with freedom to wander around, and walk down to the wall.
As I got closer, a fence separated access into two directions. Men went to the left of the fence. I joined women making their way to the right. Plastic chairs littered the vicinity immediately in front of the wall.
A number of women sat, heads bowed and eyes closed, praying. Others scribbled intently on scraps of paper.
For a moment, sweet-sounding melodies from the other side of the fence distracted me.
I stepped onto one of the low benches beneath the fence and peered over—a good vantage point to observe a group of men and boys singing, holding hands, and dancing in a circle. “A Bar Mitzvah celebration most likely,” our guide informed us. No barrier could stop the contagious spread of their jovial mood.
I smiled as I climbed down and turned my attention to the sixty-two feet high, one hundred and eighty seven feet long section of the Temple Mount.
I didn’t expect this setting to move me. Already, though, I could sense the importance of these blocks of stone to many people of different faiths.
Then, as I stood with only millimeters between my nose and the pitted limestone, a lump rose in my throat. I watched the woman next to me place her hands on the rough slabs and touch her warm lips to cold stone. I knew she felt the same as me.
Every crevice as far as I could stretch to reach was crammed with scrunched up pieces of paper. I scanned for a suitable location to place my own folded square containing my carefully worded prayer. I found a nook and pushed it in until it held secure.
Then facing the wall, I closed my eyes and prayed to my heavenly Father in a place where millions of people for thousands of years have come to worship God.
And, I realized, a location where Jesus came up to the temple to pray, to teach, and to heal.
The Western Wall is a reminder of the ancient practices of past people coming to Yahweh. And of a temple, long destroyed, where only the high priest with a lamb sacrifice could step into the inner sanctum to make an offering to God.
Jesus, during his life and ministry, modeled a different way of approaching God.
He spoke with God on the mountainside. He stood on the Mount of Olives and knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane to be with his Father.
The significance of Jesus’ actions become apparent through his death when Jesus made God’s throne room accessible to us.
Jesus, scripture tells us, entered the Holy of Holies—his spotless life took the place of a blemish-free lamb—rendering those sacrifices obsolete. Jesus, the ultimate sacrifice, means no other sacrifice was needed for us to be close to God.
The thick, heavy curtain of the Temple, barring an ordinary person’s access into the Holy of Holies, tore from top to bottom when Jesus died. The way to God was opened up.
Through Jesus’ death, access is no longer limited and security checkpoints are outdated. We have total freedom to come fully into the presence of a holy and pure God in any place, at any time, and with no restrictions.
- How does direct access to God’s most holy place through Christ change the way we should pray?
- Is there anything creating a wall between you and God today? An unconfessed sin? Fear? Doubt? An area of your life you have not fully given to him?
- Bring anything standing between you and God before the throne of grace and allow Jesus to remove what blocks you from experiencing his closeness.
- If you were at the Western Wall today, what carefully worded prayer would you stuff into its crevices? Write it down on a piece of paper and tuck it in a safe place in your home.
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I’m linking up with Suzie Eller at #LiveFree. Susan Mead at #DanceWithJesus, Missional Women at #FaithFilledFriday, Susannah Kellogg at #FaithandFellowship, Kelly Balarie at #RaRaLinkup, Holly Barrett at #TestimonyTuesday Jaime Weibel at #SittingAmongFriends and Holley Gerth at #CoffeeForYourHeart
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