Do You Truly Believe? Lessons from Exploring Israel

Margaret —  July 18, 2013 — 7 Comments

Do You Truly Believe? Lessons from Exploring Israel

A few years ago I had the opportunity to go to Israel.

Now I know lots of friends who have traveled to Israel and they describe it as their most meaningful spiritual experience. Places you’ve read about in the Scripture take on a whole new meaning when you encounter the places mentioned in the Bible firsthand. [Tweet this]

It’s one thing to read about the Dead Sea. But it’s another thing to put on a swimsuit, climb along the slippery rocky shores and immerse yourself in a body of water where  you can’t help but float while also discovering every little cut on your body stinging because of the salt content.

It’s one thing to read about Jesus on the Sea of Galilee with his disciples, but it’s another thing to be riding along in a small fishing boat on the Galilee when the clouds turn dark and a storm rolls in.

It’s one thing to see a mention of a camel in the Bible, but it’s a whole experience to make the awkward climb onto a camel’s back and imagine traveling across deserts on these creatures—by the way, in case you were wondering, they smell terrible.

Do You Truly Believe? Lessons from Exploring Israel

Of all the places that we visited in Israel, the one which was the most meaningful for me was the garden tomb.

There was a long rock wall and a large opening. At the base of the wall was a groove in the stone, where a large rock could be rolled over the opening. Stepping inside the tomb, dark and cold, I was struck by the fact there’s no one there.

Do You Truly Believe? Lessons from Exploring Israel

I know that sounds so simplistic and obvious, but until I saw with my own eyes, I never comprehended the profoundness of an empty tomb. I remember taking my hand and pressing it up against the cold rock and thinking, “This is what the resurrection power of Jesus Christ feels like.” This is what the resurrection looks like. It’s embodied in an empty tomb. [Tweet this]

In the silence of the moment, I had to ask myself, do I really believe in the resurrection power of Jesus? I know I say I do. But do I really believe?

The empty tomb is the ultimate challenge for us to choose to walk among the believing, not the unbelieving. [Tweet this]

Do You Truly Believe? Lessons from Exploring Israel

Are there reasons not to believe? Absolutely. Sometimes we need to experience the reality of Jesus in our own lives in order to truly believe.

God knows that. In many ways that’s what the Gospel of John is all about. At the end of John 20, the author reminds us that there were many other signs Jesus performed which aren’t recorded, but, “These have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”

May you experience the power of the resurrection in your own life in unexpected ways and may Jesus reveal himself to you in ways that transform you forever.

This week we dove into John 20-21.  You can catch up on this week, here. I can’t believe we’re wrapping up our time through John. I have so enjoyed exploring this beautiful Gospel with you. I hope you’ll join us next week as we begin our time in GENESIS! (Click here to learn more).

FOR DISCUSSION: Answer the following questions as a comment to this blog post. Feel free to ask questions, reply to others’ comments, and post prayer requests.

  • Jesus pursues Thomas. He specifically reveals himself to Thomas, inviting Thomas to touch his scars. In what ways has Jesus been pursuing you over the course of this study?
  • After engaging in a Bible study, sometimes it’s easy to move on to the next one without taking time to reflect on what God has been communicating to you. Like a traveler on a long road trip, you can wake up and wonder, Where have I just been? What did you learn through this study that you never knew about John’s Gospel or about Jesus?

LINK UP. Click HERE to link up your blog post on what God is revealing to you in His Word.

Join us next week as we launch our exploration through the book of Genesis!  Pick up your copy of the Pursuing God’s Love DVD and Workbook, here. Click here to subscribe to the RSS feed and receive each day’s post in your inbox each morning.

Don’t miss out on the Midday Connection Podcast interview as we chat through Session Six at 12PM Central today. Click here, to subscribe to their podcast each week.


It’s not too late to join the online #SummerBibleStudy at through Genesis. Click here to learn more.

7 responses to Do You Truly Believe? Lessons from Exploring Israel

  1. No, I don’t truly believe. Sometimes, people have kinda been mean to me for it. Margaret, kindly consider ways which you can also use your influence to encourage those who believe to be nice to both those who believe and those of us who don’t. “In what ways has Jesus been pursuing you over the course of this study?,” is a self-centered questions. If Jesus lives in you, perhaps that Jesus too can pursue the Thomas in another too. There are those of us who consider these essentially stories. Yet, we well know stories can affect us deeply. Please consider ways you can use these stories and your influence so that people will believe that God is nice, Christ lives in them, and that Holy Spirit encourages them to be nice to outsiders like us. Thank you.

    • I agree with you completely, Brian. Thanks so much for your added perspective and doing so in such a kind, loving way. Praying that God can speak to us all in our unbelief, just like he spoke to Thomas.

  2. Yes, I believe! I BELIEVE! He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!

    This post is meaningful to me for so many different reasons. I recently visited the Holy Land and I was in awe at what I saw, what I heard, what I ate, and what I experienced. I floated in the Dead Sea, I stood in the lowest valleys and atop the highest peaks, tasted the most delicious hummus and schwarma on the planet, and toured the most sacred of places in religious history. The people I met — the relationships I developed — will last a lifetime and I know I will return again someday to visit my friends again.

    While so many memories are “highlights” of my trip, I have to say the most meaningful was the quiet, intimate conversation I had with a business owner and resident of Bethlehem. While my group mates were shopping in his store, we stood in a small corner and introduced ourselves. He did most of the talking as I was so interested in what he had to say. He explained so of the region’s history from his perspective and even elaborated on what it meant to live in Bethlehem, often considered an open-air prison. He asked me about my life and my travels to Haiti for mission work. I described to him the beautiful people and places, including a conversation with a Haitian man who said he often felt like Haiti was the garbage can of the world. He was reminded, however, that he was a beloved child of God by the love and ministry of mission teams who came to his country and helped them rebuild.


    • Amen, Nicole!

      It’s amazing that just traveling to Israel opens your senses to the reality of who Christ was. Thank you for sharing your favorite moments, Nicole. I have got to see the camel you rode on! I bet it was the same stinky guy!

  3. Tara Lantieri July 20, 2013 at 8:22 am

    This is how the John study has impacted me over the last 6 weeks. I’ll try to make these brief and too the point.
    1. I saw Jesus’ “cleansing” of the temple in a whole new light…it was so personal. I pictured how He will passionately cleanse me, over turn the things in my life that do not belong there.
    2. I was in awe of the official’s faith who asked Jesus for his son’s healing – he simply too Jesus at his word and then just move on. He didn’t keep begging and pleading…
    3. The reaction of the community who saw the blind man healed but then weren’t sure it was the same man they had seen begging and probably walked past for years…challenged me to keep my head up…to be aware of those around me who need Jesus…and be aware so I don’t miss a miracle!
    4. I love learning that Jesus’ lessons about living water and being the light of the world corresponded with the actually festivals happening at that time – it brought richer, deeper meaning to those teachings.
    5. The good Shepherd…I have 2 pages of my notebook full of what this means to me now. How he protects and cares for me. <3 it!! I also did this lesson on the day my hubby learned there really was only 1 option left for his continuing medical condition, I needed to learn this and be reminded of just who Jesus is as the Good Shepherd on that day.
    6. He wept…I never understood this. Jesus knew the end result, why would he cry? My eyes were opened to the fact that Jesus' had so much compassion for the process…(the grieving of his friends)…that is moved him to tears. I needed to hear of Jesus compassion on that day.
    7. In session 4 I was challenged to be aware of where I've become heart hearted to others. Sometimes when you are going through a long, hard, exhausting trial it is hard to look at others and have compassion because you end up comparing your own trial to theirs…and honestly I think their complaints can be somewhat trivial – comparatively speaking. Jesus is softening my heart…to see others through his eyes.
    8. It is important to remember what God has done in my past, it builds trust for current events. (pg 91)
    9. It would have been so easy for Peter to disappear after denying Jesus, but he didn't give in to shame and guilt, he didn't bail after his mistake. He must have known the compassionate and forgiving Jesus intimately. I want that.
    10. "It is finished" declaration of Jesus' triumphantly fulfilled mission…I read this on the day we learned that my hubby's 1 option for his continuing medical condition was no longer an option (we had no options). Since that day…we have seen improvements in his situation. I believe I need to read this and digest it and receive it and believe it…and I feel the Lord saying to us "it is finished". I don't know what that plays out like but we are challenged to trust Him at his word.
    11. I STILL can't answer the question, what does the resurrection mean to me personally. I'll be processing this one for a while.
    12. I kinda always judged Thomas for his response but taking some time to think on it through this study, I realized…I think I would have responded the same way. I would have been skeptical and wanted proof so I didn't feel like I was "dupped" by believing in Jesus.
    13. And finally…I have a deep, deep desire to overflow His life and light into those around me…especially in non-church situations. I believe the only way I can and will do this is to stay connected to the vine, making it my priority every morning before I start my day…get filled with His life and light so that I can overflow it, there is no other way for it to happen. This is abundant life.
    Thank you for this study Margaret…

    • Yes, yes, yes! Tara, thank you so much for sharing what God has been speaking to you during the last several weeks. I’m thrilled you tagged along for the study and the powerful ways God is moving in and through you and your husband (even in difficult circumstances).

      Isn’t it amazing that no matter how many times we’ve read a book of the Bible or familiar story, we still have new passages come to light? God reveals even more of his grace and mercy as we read again and again. For which, I am so grateful. Hug to you!

      • Margaret I am so grateful for you these past few months…from reading Wonderstruck in Jan, reading the Bible for Lent, for some of your other little challenges along the way and this study. God has used you to keep me connected to him in a way that I haven’t been able to do quiet a long time – it has been a life line between Jesus and me. Words can not express the my deep, deep love for you for the way the Lord has used your work to re-energize, re-fuel, revitalize and restore me. May He pour is blessing upon you for your faithful diligence in what you do my friend. Gigantic hugs to you.

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