Tel Beit Shean

History

Beit She’an’s location has often been strategically significant, as it sits at the junction of the Jordan River Valley and the Jezreel Valley, essentially controlling access from the interior to the coast, as well as from Jerusalem to the Galilee.

Early Beit She’an

In 1933, archaeologist G.M. FitzGerald, under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania Museum, carried out a “deep cut” on Tell el-Hosn, the large mound of Beth She’an, in order to determine the earliest occupation of the site. His results suggest that settlement began in the Late Neolithic or Early Chalcolithic periods (sixth to fifth millennia BCE.[3] Occupation continued intermittently up to the late Early Bronze Age I (3200-3000), according to pottery finds, and then resumes in the Early Bronze Age III.[4] A large cemetery on the northern side of the mound was in use from the Bronze Age to Byzantine times.[5] Canaanite graves dating from 2000 to 1600 BCE were discovered in 1926.[6]

Egyptian period

BetShe’an – an ancient house of Egyptian governor
After the Egyptian conquest of Beit She’an by pharaoh Thutmose III in the 15th century BCE (recorded in an inscription at Karnak),[7] the small town on the summit of the Tell became the center of the Egyptian administration of the region.[8] The Egyptian newcomers changed the organization of the town and left a great deal of material culture behind. A large Canaanite temple (39 meters in length) excavated by the University of Pennsylvania Museum may date from about the same period as Thutmose III’s conquest, though the Hebrew University excavations suggest that it dates to a later period.[9] Artifacts of potential cultic significance were found in the temple. Based on a stele found in the temple and inscribed with Egyptian hieroglyphs, the temple was dedicated to the god Mekal.[10] One of the University Museum’s most important finds near the temple is the Lion and Dog stela (currently in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem), which depicts two combat scenes between these two creatures. The Hebrew University excavations determined that this temple was built on the site of an earlier one.[11]

During the three hundred years of Egyptian rule (18th Dynasty to the 20th Dynasty), the population of Beit She’an appears to have been primarily Egyptian administrative officials and military personnel. The town was completely rebuilt, following a new layout, during the 19th dynasty.[12] The University Museum excavations uncovered two important stelae from the period of Seti I and a monument of Rameses II.[13] Pottery was produced locally, but some was made to mimic Egyptian forms.[14] Other Canaanite goods existed alongside Egyptian imports or locally-made Egyptian style objects.[15] The 20th dynasty saw the construction of large administrative buildings in Beit She’an, including Building 1500, a small palace for the Egyptian governor.[16] During the 20th dynasty, invasions of the “Sea Peoples” upset Egypt’s control over the Eastern Mediterranean. Though the exact circumstances are unclear, the entire site of Beit She’an was destroyed by fire around 1150 BCE. The Egyptians did not attempt to rebuild their administrative center and lost control of the region.

Biblical period

Map of the Decapolis showing the location of Beit She’an, (here called by its Greek name, Scythopolis)
An Iron Age I Canaanite city was constructed on the site of the Egyptian center shortly after its destruction.[17] Around 1100 BC, Canaanite Beit She’an was conquered by the Philistines, who used it as a base of operations for further penetrations into Israel proper. During a subsequent battle against the Jewish King Saul at nearby Mount Gilboa in 1004 BC, the Philistines prevailed. 1 Samuel 31 states that the victorious Philistines hung the body of King Saul on the walls of Beit She’an. Portions of these walls were excavated on Tel Beit She’an recently.[18] King David was able to capture Beit Shea’an in a series of brilliant military campaigns that expelled the Philistines from the area, pushing them back to their coastal strongholds of Ashkelon, Ekron, Gath, Gaza, and Ashdod.

During the Iron Age II period, the town became a part of the larger Israelite kingdom under the rule of the Biblical kings David and Solomon (1 Kings 4:12 refers to Beit She’an as a part of the district of Solomon, though the historical accuracy of this list is debated.[19] The Assyrian conquest of northern Israel under Tiglath-Pileser III (732 BCE) brought about the destruction of Beit She’an by fire. Minimal reoccupation occurred until the Hellenistic period.[14]

The Hellenistic and Roman Periods

Beit She’an theatre
The Hellenistic period saw the reoccupation of the site of Beit She’an under the new name Scythopolis, possibly named after the Scythian mercenaries who settled there as veterans. Little is known about the Hellenistic city, but during the 3rd century BCE a large temple was constructed on the Tell.[20] It is unknown which deity was worshipped there, but the temple continued to be used during Roman times. The local Greek mythology holds that the city was founded by Dionysus and that his nursemaid Nysa was buried there; thus it was sometimes known as Nysa-Scythopolis. Graves dating from the Hellenistic period are simple singular rock-cut tombs.[21] From 301 to 198 BCE the area was under the control of the Ptolemies, and Beit She’an is mentioned in 3rd–2nd-century BC written sources describing the Syrian Wars between the Ptolemid and Seleucid dynasties. In 198 BCE the Seleucids conquered the region. The town played a role after the Hasmonean Maccabee Revolt: Josephus records that the Jewish High Priest Jonathan was killed there by Demetrius II Nicator.[22] The city was destroyed by fire at the end of the 2nd century BCE.[23]

Roman baths
In 63 BC, Pompey made Judea a part of the Roman empire. Beit She’an was refounded and rebuilt by Gabinius.[24] The town center shifted from the summit of the Tel to its slopes. Scythopolis prospered and became the leading city of the Decapolis, a loose confederation of ten cities that were centers of Greco-Roman culture, an event so significant that the town based its calendar on that year. The city flourished under the Pax Romana, as evidenced by high-level urban planning and extensive construction, including the best preserved Roman theatre of ancient Samaria, as well as a hippodrome, cardo, and other trademarks of the Roman influence. Mount Gilboa, 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) away, provided dark basalt blocks as well as water via an aqueduct. The town is said to have sided with the Romans during the Jewish uprising of 66 CE.[24] Excavations have focused less on the Roman period ruins, so less is known about this period. The University Museum excavation of the northern cemetery, however, did uncover significant finds. The Roman period tombs are of the loculus type: a rectangular rock-cut chamber with smaller chambers (loculi) cut into its side.[21] Bodies were placed in the loculi or inside sarcophagi which were the placed in the loculi. A sarcophagus with an inscription identifying its occupant in Greek as “Antiochus, the son of Phallion” may have held the cousin of Herod the Great.[21] One of the most interesting Roman grave finds was a bronze incense shovel with the handle in the form of an animal leg and hoof, now in the University of Pennsylvania Museum.[25]

Byzantine period

Copious archaeological remains were found dating to the Byzantine period (330 CE – 636 CE) and were excavated by the University of Pennsylvania Museum from 1921-23. A rotunda church was constructed on top of the Tell and the entire city was enclosed in a wall.[26] Textual sources mention several other churches in the town.[26] Beit She’an was primarily Christian, as attested to by the large number of churches, but evidence of Jewish habitation and a Samaritan synagogue indicate established communities of these minorities. The pagan temple in the city centre was destroyed, but the nymphaeum and Roman baths were restored. Many of the buildings of Scythopolis were damaged in the Galilee earthquake of 363, and in 409 it became the capital of the northern district, Palaestina Secunda.[23] Dedicatory inscriptions indicate a preference for donations to religious buildings, and many colourful mosaics, such as that featuring the zodiac in the Monastery of Lady Mary, or the one picturing a menorah and shalom in the House of Leontius’ Jewish synagogue, were preserved. A Samaritan synagogue’s mosaic was unique in abstaining from human or animal images, instead utilising floral and geometrical motifs. Elaborate decorations were also found in the settlement’s many luxurious villas, and in the 6th century especially, the city reached its maximum size of 40,000 and spread beyond its period city walls.[23]

The Byzantine period portion of the northern cemetery was excavated in 1926. The tombs from this period consisted of small rock-cut halls with vaulted graves on three sides.[27] A great variety of objects were found in the tombs, including terracotta figurines possibly depicting the Virgin and Child, many terracotta lamps, glass mirrors, bells, tools, knives, finger rings, iron keys, glass beads, bone hairpins, and many other items.[27]

Arab Caliphate period

In 634, Byzantine forces were defeated by the Muslim army of Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab and the city was renamed Baysan. The day of victory came to be known in Arabic as Yawm Baysan or “the day of Baysan.”[2] The city was not damaged and the newly arrived Muslims lived together with its Christian population until the 8th century, but the city declined during this period and its glorious Roman-Byzantine architecture was lost to neglect. Structures were built in the streets themselves, narrowing them to mere alleyways, and makeshift shops were opened among the colonnades. The city reached a low point by the 8th century, witnessed by the removal of marble for producing lime, the blocking off of the main street, and the conversion of a main plaza into a cemetery.[28] Abu Ubayd al-Andalusi noted that the wine produced there was delicious.[2]

On January 18, 749, Umayyad Baysan was completely devastated by the Golan earthquake of 749. A few residential neighborhoods grew up on the ruins, probably established by the survivors, but the city never recovered its magnificence. The city center moved to the southern hill where a Crusader fortress surrounded by a moat was constructed.[29]

Jerusalemite historian al-Muqaddasi visited Baysan in 985, during Abbasid rule and wrote that it was “on the river, with plentiful palm trees, and water, though somewhat heavy (brackish.)” He further noted that Baysan was notable for its indigo, rice, dates and grape syrup known as dibs.[30] The town formed one of the districts (kurah) of Jund al-Urdunn during this period.[31] Its principal mosque was situated in the center of its marketplace.[32]

Crusader period

Crusader remains
In the Crusader period, the settlement was part of the Belvoir fiefdom. A small fort was built east of the defunct amphitheater.[33]

During the 1260 Battle of Ain Jalut, retreating Mongol forces passed in the vicinity but did not enter the town itself.

Mamluk period

Under Mamluk rule, Beit She’an was the principal town in the district of Damascus and a relay station for the postal service between Damascus and Cairo. It was also the capital of sugar cane processing for the region. Jisr al-Maqtu’a, a bridge consisting of a single arch spanning 25 feet and hung 50 feet above a stream, was built during that period.[2]

Ottoman period

Beit She’an was long home to a Jewish community. The 14th century Jewish topographer Ishtori Haparchi settled there and completed his work Kaftor Vaferech in 1322, the first Hebrew book on the geography of Palestine.[34]

During the 400 years of Ottoman rule, Baysan lost its regional importance. During the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid II when the Haifa-Damascus extension of the Hejaz railway was constructed, a limited revival took place. The local peasant population was largely impoverished by the Ottoman feudal land system which leased tracts of land to tenants and collected taxes from them for their use.[2]

The Swiss-German traveler Johann Ludwig Burckhardt described Beisan in 1812 as “a village with 70 to 80 houses, whose residents are in a miserable state.” In the early 1900s, though still a small and obscure village, Beisan was known for its plentiful water supply, fertile soil, and its production of olives, grapes, figs, almonds, apricots, and apples.[2]

British Mandate

In 1934, Lawrence of Arabia noted that “Bisan is now a purely Arab village,” where “very fine views of the river can be had from the housetops.” He further noted that “many nomad and Bedouin encampments, distinguished by their black tents, were scattered about the riverine plain, their flocks and herds grazing round them.”[2] Beisan was home to a mainly Mizrahi Jewish community of 95 until 1936, when the 1936–1939 Arab revolt saw Beisan serve as a center of Arab attacks on Jews in Palestine.[34][35][36] In 1938, after learning of the murder of his close friend and Jewish leader Haim Sturmann, Orde Wingate led his men on an offensive in the Arab section of Beit She’an, the rebels’ suspected base.[37]

Pioneers of Kibbutz Ein Hanatziv settle in Bet She’an, 1946
According to population surveys conducted in British Mandate Palestine, Beisan consisted of 5,080 Muslim Arabs out of a population of 5,540 (92% of the population), with the remainder being listed as Christians.[38] In 1945, the surrounding “Beisan district” consisted of 16,660 Muslims (67%), 7,590 Jews (30%), and 680 Christians (3%); and Arabs owned 44% of land, Jews owned 34%, and 22% constituted public lands. The 1947 UN Partition Plan allocated Beisan and most of its district to the proposed Jewish state.[2][39][40]

State of Israel

Jewish militias and local Bedouins first clashed during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War in February and March 1948, part of Operation Gideon,[2] which Walid Khalidi argues was part of a wider Plan Dalet.[41] Joseph Weitz, a leading Yishuv figure, wrote in his diary on May 4, 1948 that, “The Beit Shean Valley is the gate for our state in the Galilee…[I]ts clearing is the need of the hour.”[2]

Beisan fell to the Jewish militias three days before the end of British Mandate Palestine. After Israel’s Declaration of Independence in May 1948, during intense shelling by Syrian border units, the Arab inhabitants, followed by the recapture of the valley by the Haganah, fled across the Jordan River.[42] The property and buildings abandoned after the conflict were then held by the state of Israel.[2] Most Arab Christians relocated to Nazareth. A ma’abarah (refugee camp) inhabited mainly by North African Jewish immigrants was erected in Beit She’an, and it later became a development town.

From 1969, Beit She’an was a target for Katusha and mortar attacks from Jordan.[43] In the 1974 Beit She’an attack, militants of the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, took over an apartment building and murdered a family of four.[35]

In 1999, Beit She’an was incorporated as a city.[44] Geographically, it lies in the middle of the Beit She’an Valley Regional Council.[45]

Beit She’an was the hometown and political power base of David Levy, a prominent figure in Israeli politics.

During the Second Intifada, in the 2002 Beit She’an attack, six Israelis were killed and over 30 were injured by two Palestinian militants, who opened fire and threw grenades at a polling station in the center of Bet She’an where party members were voting in the Likud primary.

Travel to Israel December 29, 2012

Preparing for a two week international trip can be very taxing. In addition to making sure you have enough shirts, socks, pants, AND UNDERWEAR, you need to check thhe weather report for the place you’re traveling to as well as the cities where you will be changing planes. If you are going to some place like Hawaii or west Africa, you can just pack for warm weather and possibly rain. If you’re traveling some place like Iceland, you pack for cold weather. But traveling to places around the Mediterranean rim like Souhern Europe , North Africa or the Middle East, you will do well to check the season and the weather reports.

Israel can be deceptive in that way. Even in the winter, you may encounter temperatures from 40 to 60 degrees F, and temps sometimes approaching 70 or 30 depending on the altitude. Their terrain is desert, urban, rural, savannah, mountainous, you name it. One can go from 900 ft above sea level to almost 1500 ft below sea level at the Dead Sea.

Winter travel in the US can be deceptive. While it may be sunny in New Orleans, there may be rain, sleet or even a blizzard occuring in New York, Boston or Philly. Warning : if the plane taking you to California is coming from an airportnthat is shut down due to weather, you may be waiting; sometimes hours for the next flight out. (The travel agent in me wants to recommend that you purchase travel insurance to assist you if you’re stuck away from home, luqggage is lost, you have to stay overnight somewhere unexpected, you need medical or dental care, hospitalization or other mishaps)

Our flight was delayed by about 20 minutes arriving. We arrived safely in Tel Aviv. I have to remember the exchange rate for shekels against the Dollar. very nice hotel and I’m meeting some really great people on the trip.

Meals in Israel are almost always made with the freshest ingredients. dinner was delicious. Tomorrow promises to be a super day.

Fall prayer and fasting

ICCF,

Today begins our 21 day prayer and fasting until 6pm daily. Stay hydrated with water and fruit juices.

As you go through the day remember to pray for wisdom and guidance; for protection and provision. I’ll be praying for for you- please pray for me. I love you. PT

Days 4-7 – West Africa Journey

Sunday morning we took a ride out to the farm in Akrokerri. The trip took only about 25 minutes. we picked up some materials from a storeroom in town and went out to the farm.

ICCF partnered with a parent in Obuasi in 2008 to purchase some land and seedlings. As a micro economics project, revenues coming from the farm will ultimately be used to support future educational projects.

The land was greatly overgrown with tall weeds. The weeds need to be cut constantly or they take over. Rising above the 6ft weeds were the orange trees we planted 4 1/2 years ago. They were loaded with oranges. There have been several fires during the dry seasons; the most recent in 2011 burn over 17 acres including about 5 that were planted. Mr. Mensah would try to replant as soon as possible but the young trees require a lot of attention and protection from insects and nutria.

Despite, these setbacks, we still have nearly 15 acres of trees planted. Some of the younger trees were so loaded that branches were breaking under the weight. Happy and sad at the same time. happy to see the growth, sad that we were in a battle with the weeds that they seem to be winning.

We bought a bush hog 2 years ago which they are still learning how to use (in under developed countries, the grass is not cut with motor powered devices but with a machete, called a cutlass, here). When the grass gets too high, the bush hog is less effective at weed control.

I help to cut a swath for us to walk through and check the trees. We sampled some of the fruit. They are coming along very nicely. The crop will be ripe and ready for harvest between late August and early October. We’re looking forward to see how that goes.

We need to take on a couple of workers to keep the weeds and insects in check. At present, we have estimated another 2 years of investment before the farm reaches a break even point.

MONDAY

I took an early bus back to Accra. The previous trip had several changes. One of the parents told me about a bus that would take me directly back. Four and a half hours later, back in Accra. One of our sons, Enoch, picked me up. We ran a few errands and back to my home away from home, the Pentagon Inn. I had dinner with Sister Gladys and Gloria at the house. Gloria was returning to the U. S. later that night.

Tuesday

Caught up on a little paperwork and phone calls before lunch with Sister Gladys and Abigail at the house. My hotel is about a mile down the road past the US Embassy from their home. Sis. Gladys invited me over for lunch. I shared some oranges from Obuasi with her. She was really impressed because she lived on a farm in times past and knows the amount of work it takes to run. As always we prayed. More errands. Found a battery for my other cell phone, only cost about $16. Go figure. Back to the hotel. Getting packed for tomorrow.

Wednesday

Got up about 8 am, cleaned up, dressed up and packed up. 30 minute ride to the airport and got checked in. Flight left on time at 1:00PM arrived in Monrovia at 3PM. Bishop Conto and 2 of his pastors came to greet me. What a joy after 2 years to return to Liberia, America’s first colony. I checked in to the Atlantis Guest house on the Atlantic ocean and had pizza with my hosts in a restaurant overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. I have seen the Atlantic from North America before but I was mesmerized by the breaking waves as they kept rolling in on the Africa side. Even as I am in my room, I can still hear the breakers dashing. Imagine, our hurricanes that threaten us from the Gulf of Mexico frequently have their beginning on this side of the Atlantic. Just a random thought.

Tomorrow, a city tour and my first meeting with the pastors.

Praise God for safe travel and the family of God.

PT

Day 3 – West Africa Journey

Isaiah 26:3

New King James Version (NKJV)

3 You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.

My day started on an Air-conditioned motor coach heading for Obuasi. I took a different route than normal because the heavy rains of the past few months (their rainy season) has left the main road in great disrepair with long delays. I transferred to a TroTro (It’s a van where people get on and get off at various points on the route. I unfortunately had to make two changes on the way; each time with my two suitcases. The trips were each about 1 1/2 – 2hours in duration. You get to know people very well when you are almost sitting on their laps. LOL

All told, the trip took about the same time as my other route and I didn’t have to transfer to another station to change buses and wait in a line for 30 minutes. Change is a good thing, right? I intentionally didn’t eat anything before leaving. Drinking only from the 2 liter bottle of water I always carry with me. Even after 12 years traveling to West Africa – I DON’T DRINK THE WATER. A ghanaian proverb says, “The African germ is friendly to the African”. I choose not to “tempt the Lord” on this one, for sure. I had to go to the cellular carrier’s office in Obuasi. For some reason, whatever was suppose to happen with activation didn’t happen. It’s working now.

Derrick, one of our parents who has also become a friend, met me and welcomed me to Obuasi. Dinner, a walk to get a new adapter – the one I brought from home died, a little reading, TV, then bed. It’s been a long day. Looking forward to being greeted by some others tomorrow. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

PT

Day 2 – West African Journey

Me fe Ghana. That means I love Ghana in Twi, one of Ghana’s primary languages. The flight across the ocean seemed to pass so fast. 10 1/2 hours came and went. I told you, they gave the baby food and entertainment and he was gone. LOL

Last night’s dinner was a chicken breast and rice with all kinds of vegetables and a little Couscous ( look kind of like grits). Very tasty. Watched 2 movies I hadn’t seen yet. The people around me knew that I was really enjoying myself. i especially like the part on A Joyful Noise when Latifah and Dollie were fighting in the restaurant. I’m glad that stuff like that doesn’t really happen with church folks (sic). I digress —

Arrived in Accra on time, 10:30 AM. I was met at the airport by Sister Gladys niece, my sister Joyce, along with her daughter, Miriam and son, Enoch. I have watched the two of them grow up to be fine young people with great hope for their futures. They’re both in college. How proud I am. After dropping my bags at the Pentagon Inn, my Accra home away from home, Enoch accompanied me to exchange dollars for Ghana cedis (approximately 1.9 GHS to 1 USD). I went to purchase a sim card so that I would have a Ghana number while I’m here and make it easier for me to stay in touch with the folks in this region. I never roam on my T mobile phone overseas; talk about go home broke with a whopping bill awaiting. that is not a fitting end to a great trip – just trust me on that one.

I found out after the office was closed that they hadn’t activated my chip. So I have this local phone and phone number that I CAN’T USE right now. Sorry. It will be taken care of some time over the next 2 days. I leave in the morning for Obuasi. There’s an actual gold mine in the mountain at Obuasi. It’s an important place because most of the young people we have sent to school live there. I have also developed wonderful relationships with their parents. Ain’t God good. Just outside of Obuasi is a town mostly known for the Teacher’s College located there, but it’s also the location of the farm we planted as a micro-enonomics project for the community. The orange trees should be well matured now, the palms ready to be tapped for their oil, plantain is also growing on the 50 acre tract we acquired some years ago. Last time I was here Mr. Mensah, our primary contact, had cultivated only about 20 acres.

Fire and nutria (which they call grass cutters here) wreaked havoc on some of the trees when they were younger. We purchased a powered bushhog to help keep those little varmints out and help the trees to grow. I am really looking forward to seeing the progress. I talk to some of kids on the phone Facebook and Skype from time to time. It will be nice to sit down and hear from them as well.

The ride by bus can take upwards of 5-6 hours. I’m getting myself psyched for it. You learn how to appreciate interstate highways and streets that don’t have potholes as large as a bus when you travel on some of these roads. Keep us in your prayers and maybe one day soon you might consider a first hand look at the Mission field. Love to you all.

PT

Day 1 – The West Africa Journey begins

I’m at JFK airport in New York waiting to board the plane to Accra, Ghana. Just sharing with another passenger who has had a rather difficult day. After listening to her laments, I shared how as late as last night, I was unsure if my passport would arrive in time this morning from the Liberian Embassy for me to catch my 10:45 AM flight. An interesting thing happened, as i was doing everything I could to effect a positive result. God simply reminded me that it’s all in His hands anyway. At the end of the day – I realize that I’m not in charge of much that relates to my being: it’s all in His hands. I missed the drycleaner yesterday; I didn’t get to the bank; waiting on the passport. WAITING TO EXHALE. LOL. God reminded me that this trip to Ghana and Liberia is His idea and that I must trust Him completely. Once I surrendured my need for control, the peace of God engulfed me and I just did what I could. He had already taken care of all the problems. My flight to New York was on time and pleasant. I caught a nap for a little while: not much sleep last night and angst had taken their toll. I awoke refreshed 20 minutes later and had an enjoyable conversation with the mother of a early twenties college student who loves Jesus but may be a little self righteous. She was so appreciative that I shared with her God’s answer to those who want to send everybody to Hell who doesn’t do life as they would – “For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him (and us for that matter) might be saved.”, John 3:17. It starts with love and continues with STOP JUDGING.

Well I’m about to get on my 10 1/2 hour flight. I feel like a little baby – give me food, entertain me for a minute (the movie or the personal entertainment center in front of me), then I’ll be ready to go to sleep and not bother anyone. When the morning comes, I’ll be practicing Twi (a Ghanaian dailect I’ve been learning). See old friends and hopefully make new friends of the Kingdom.

I love it when a plan just comes together. Keep me in your prayers.

De ye (pronounced day yay) looses translated sleep tight, see ya later or whatever for that moment.

Love,

PT

Day 40 – Living With Purpose

Living on purpose is the only way to really live!

 “For David … served the purpose of God in his own generation.” Acts 13:36 (NASB)

In the Upper Room, as Jesus was concluding his last day of ministry with his disciples, he washed their feet as an example and said, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”  John 13:17 (NIV)  Once you know what God wants you to do, the blessing comes in actually doing it.

You may wonder, “What about God’s will for my job or marriage or where I’m supposed to live or go to school?”   Honestly, these are secondary issues in your life, and there may be multiple possibilities that would all be in God’s will for you. What matters most is that you fulfill God’s eternal purposes regardless of where you live or work or whom you marry.  Those decisions should support your purposes.  Focus on God’s purposes for your life, not your plans, since that’s what will last forever.

It’s easy to drift away from what matters most and slowly get off course.  To prevent this, you should develop a purpose statement for your life and then review it regularly.

Imagine what it is going to be like one day, with all of us standing before the throne of God presenting our lives in deep gratitude and praise to Christ. Together we will say, “Worthy, Oh Master! Yes, our God! Take the glory! the honor! the power! You created it all; It was created because you wanted it!”   Revelation 4:11 (Msg)

We will praise him for his plan and live for his purposes forever!

Pastor Tilton

Day 39 – Balancing Your life

Blessed are the balanced; they shall outlast everyone!

“Don’t let the errors of evil people lead you down the wrong path and make you lose your balance.” 2 Peter 3:17 (CEV)

One of the events in the summer Olympics is the pentathlon. It is composed of five events.  The pentathlete’s goal is to succeed in all five areas, not just one or two.  Your life is a pentathlon of five purposes, which you must keep in balance. These purposes were practiced by the first Christians in Acts 2, explained by Paul in Ephesians 4, and modeled by Jesus in John 17, but they are summarized in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission of Jesus.

These two statements sum up God’s five purposes for your life:

1.  “Love God with all your heart”: You were planned for God’s pleasure, so your purpose is to love God through worship.

2.  “Love your neighbor as yourself”: You were shaped for serving, so your purpose is to show love for others through ministry.

3.  “Go and make disciples”: You were made for a mission, so your purpose is to share God’s message through evangelism.

4.  “baptize them into …”: You were formed for God’s family, so your purpose is to identify with his church through fellowship.

5.  “teach them to do all things …”: You were created to become like Christ, so your purpose is to grow to maturity through discipleship.

A great commitment to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission will make you a great Christian.

Pastor Tilton

Day 38 – Becoming a World-Class Christian

The Great Commission is your commission!

“Jesus said to his followers, ‘Go everywhere in the world, and tell the Good News to everyone.’” Mark 16:15 (NCV)

You have a choice to make. You will be either a world-class Christian or a worldly Christian.

Worldly Christians look to God primarily for personal fulfillment.  They are saved, but self-centered. They love to attend concerts and enrichment seminars, but you would never find them at a missions conference because they aren’t interested.  Their prayers focus on their own needs, blessings, and happiness. They want to use God for their purposes instead of being used for his purposes.

In contrast, world-class Christians know they were saved to serve and made for a mission. They are eager to receive a personal assignment and excited about the privilege of being used by God.  World-class Christians are the only fully alive people on the planet. Their joy, confidence, and enthusiasm are contagious because they know they’re making a difference. They wake up each morning expecting God to work through them in fresh ways.

Which type of Christian do you want to be?  If you want to be like Jesus, you must have a heart for the whole world.  You can’t be satisfied with just your family and friends coming to Christ. There are over 6 billion people on earth, and Jesus wants all his lost children found.

The Great Commission is your commission, and doing your part is the secret to living a life of significance.

Pastor Tilton