More STUFF from the Minor Prophets: WHEN STUPID DECISIONS ARE MADE…WHAT THEN?

A STUDY IN THE BOOK OF MICAH:

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Back in 2005, the FBI received reliable information about a sitting member of the U.S. Congress illegally using his official position to solicit bribes from American companies.

The congressman in question was William (Bill) J. Jefferson, who had been serving Louisiana’s 2nd congressional district since 1991.  In the FBI investigation, it was revealed from 2000 to 2005, Mr. Jefferson sought hundreds of millions of dollars for himself and other co-conspirators from companies whose success depended on the approval of certain U.S. and West African government agencies.  Mr. Jefferson ended up pocketing more than $478,000 but wasted significantly more in U.S. government resources to further his illegal claims.

During the investigation, the FBI–while serving a search warrant on his residence–found $90,000 in Jefferson’s freezer.

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In August of 2009, Mr. Jefferson was convicted and sentenced to 13 years in prison.   [See Footnote [i] for source.]

CORRUPTION IS STILL ALIVE AND WELL!!!

We hear similar stories to this of BRIBERY in other parts of the world all the time–India, China, and Russia all typically repeat offenders–but it’s not something we expect to happen in our own backyard.  We’re better than that, right?  I’d like to think so, but that doesn’t stop people from making STUPID DECISIONS!

When people make stupid decisions, they have to face the consequences–a trial in a courtroom perhaps–but in Bible times,  bad decisions meant something even harsher, like FIRE & BRIMSTONE, right?

Usually, YES; that is unless you count the time that GOD brings Israel to court for IMMORALITY.

LOOKING AT THE BOOK OF MICAH, Chapter 6:

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In Chapter 6, verses 1-8 are read like a courtroom drama: “Law and Order: Jerusalem Crimes”.

You start first with the PROSECUTION, in verses 1-5:  I can almost hear a southern lawyer, yelling this today–‘God is demanding that the people explain their actions!’  You see, at this point, the ISRAELITES were extremely corrupt and in self-denial.

In Micah 2:8-9 (NIV)–the EVIDENCE presented:

[8]  Lately My people have risen up like an enemy.  You strip off the rich robe from those who pass by without a care, like men returning from battle.  [9]  You drive the women of My people from their pleasant homes.  You take away My blessing from their children forever.

In Chapter 3, God calls out the LEADERSHIP specifically–verses 1-5 (Amplified Bible):

[1]  And I [Micah] said, Hear, I pray you, you heads of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel!  Is it not for you to know justice?–

[2]  You who hate the good and love the evil, who pluck and steal the skin from off [My people] and their flesh from off their bones;

[3]  Yes, you who eat the flesh of my people and strip their skin from off them, who break their bones and chop them in pieces as for the pot, like meat in a big kettle.

[4]  Then will they cry to the Lord, but He will not answer them; He will even hide His face from them at that time because they have made their deeds evil.

[5]  Thus says the Lord:  Concerning the false prophets who make My people err when they have anything good to bite with their teeth they cry, Peace; and whoever gives them nothing to chew, against him they declare a sanctified war.

In Chapter 7, God lists more specifics!

Micah 7:2-3 (NET):

[2] Faithful men have disappeared from the land; there are no godly men left.  They all wait in ambush so they can shed blood; they hunt their own brother with a net.

[3] They are determined to be experts at doing evil; government officials and judges take bribes, prominent men make demands, and they all do what is necessary to satisfy them.

Sounds a bit like William Jefferson did!

So in Micah 6:1-5, the JURY is selected…and, the PROSECUTION begins.

The LORD’S Case Against Israel

“Listen to what the LORD says;  “Stand up, plead My case before the mountains; let the hills hear what you have to say.  Hear, you mountains, the LORD’s accusation; listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth.  For the LORD has a case against His people; He is lodging a charge against Israel.”  (Verses 1-2, NIV Bible).

The “mountains”, the “hills”, the foundations of the earth” are selected for the unshakable JURY.

In the Gospel of Luke (19:40), it says if we’re all silent, the “ROCKS” themselves will cry out in praise–is it then too much to think that mountains, hill’s and the foundations of the earth serve as a JURY if asked to by their Creator?

NEXT, God is asking the defense,  “Why are you doing this to me? What have I done to deserve this?”

He then begins to list off what He has done like it says in VERSE 5–God wants to make sure the Israelites “know the righteous acts of the LORD”–[Num. 23:7-24; 24:3-24; Josh. 3:1; 4:19].

What comes next is such a human reaction to the charges–

THE PEOPLE want to jump to the other extreme!  They go from not listening to God’s commandments at all–to wanting to go overboard with burnt offerings, thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of olive oil…”TEN THOUSAND RIVERS”?  REALLY?  Perhaps a little dramatic?

But this was their thinking.  They were like the criminal who, overcome with GUILT, tells the cops to throw him in jail, throw away the key and let him starve to death in solitary confinement because he did something wrong.

And you know what?

The Israelites deserved every one of those things.  They disrespected the Creator of the universe, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!  God would be well within His rights to point His finger and zap them all with lightning bolts!  BUT…as a loving Father, He doesn’t.

IN VERSE 8, God tells them what He wants; what He requires.

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That sums it up!

God doesn’t care about these huge, outward displays of GUILT–HE’S GOD!

He knows how you’re feeling, and whether your GUILT is legit or not.  All He wants is for you to follow Him.  That is the very definition of MERCY!

Let’s go back to the Courtroom Drama with the lawyers and the jury.

God says, It’s OK!  I will continue to BLESS you, and this is how.”  

Micah 7:11-12 (NIV):

[11]  “The day for building your walls will come, the day for extending your boundaries.

[12]  In that day people will come to you from Assyria and the cities of Egypt, even from Egypt to the Euphrates and from sea to sea and from mountain to mountain.”

So what does this all mean to us–today–right now?

It means that if we sin–if you do something to DISRESPECT God or to ANGER God, He doesn’t expect you to flip a little switch and become a SuperChristian to make up for it!

All God wants is for you to follow Him–the rest of it will take care of itself if you do that.  And when you do sin–and let’s face it, it will happen–don’t wallow in SELF-PITY and make absurd promises to God that you know you can’t keep:  

“God, I’m so sorry that I cheated on my math test that I’m going to eat nothing but bread and water for the rest of my life!”  I think you get the idea.

Instead, just be honest with God–admit that you’ve sinned–and go back to following Him.  THAT’S ALL HE WANTS!!!

 

 


FOOTNOTES & CREDITS –

Footnote [i]:  https://www.fbi.gov/news/…/a-look-back-at-the-william-j-jefferson-corrupotion-case/

Photos:  Google Image Search & Freezer Photo taken from Footnote [i] story.

Bible Translations Used:  New International Version (NIV), except where noted.

Strange Women and Old Men

1 Kings 11:1-14

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KING SOLOMON –

No man began with more promise than Solomon did.  Yet a good beginning doesn’t mean a good finish.  Solomon drifted and finally defected.  Could the same thing happen to us?

Solomon Became The Wisest Man In The World!

1 Kings 4:31-34 (AMP bible):

[31] For he was wiser *than all other men–than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol.  His fame was in all the nations round about.

[32]  He also originated 3,000 proverbs and his songs were 1,005.

[33]  He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall; he spoke also of beasts, of birds, of creeping things, and of fish.

[34]  Men came from all peoples to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom.

[“Wiser than all other men,” until Christ came.  Jesus said, “Someone more and greater than Solomon is here” (Matt. 12:42) – Amplified Bible footnote.]

So What Went Wrong?”

Solomon had a misplaced LOVE (VERSES 1 & 2):

[1] BUT KING Solomon [defiantly] loved many foreign women–the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites.  [2] They were of the very nations of whom the Lord said to the Israelites,  You shall not mingle with them, neither shall they mingle with you, for surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.  Yet Solomon clung to these in love.

I remember when I was in school at an early age–when I would do something wrong, my teacher would shout out my name across the playground and I would pretend not to hear her call.  It was because I knew I’d done wrong and knew I was in trouble.

  • God tells Israel NOT to have anything to do with these women!!!  (Deuteronomy 7:3-4)
  • God told the kings of Israel NOT to marry many wives!!!               (Deuteronomy 17:17)

Now before we misinterpret God’s word into something racial, let me make it clear.

When God commanded the Israelites NOT to marry foreigners–“strange women”–it is not because they are a different color, or from a different country, or because they look different.  It was simply because they WORSHIPPED IDOLS and pagan gods.

God knew that if His people were to marry those who did not WORSHIP the true God of heaven, that the influences of these “strange women” would influence and eventually poison the house, the husband, the children, and the bloodline.

Solomon LOVED these women (VERSE 1) –

Solomon was like that certain kid in school I mentioned earlier–he pretends NOT TO HEAR God give the command NOT to marry these women because deep down he knew it was wrong.

The LORD tells Israel not to marry these women because they’ll turn their hearts away from God and that’s exactly what happened to Solomon.

Romans 12:1 (NIV Bible):

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.

It is impossible to present your bodies as a living sacrifice if your HEART is not right.  Don’t let the WORLD around you squeeze you into its own mould.

TEMPTATION seems to arise when things start to crop up in our lives; causes us to start missing our personal prayer time in the mornings, and daily Bible reading is skipped over.  How easy it is for Satan to get in and cause us to have a MISPLACED LOVE.

A HINGE VERSE – Things Change From This Point On.

VERSE 4 (AMP):

idol-moloch[4]  For when Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not perfect (complete and whole) with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.

NOTE: “Old Age won’t cure the heart of any evil propensity” – Matthew Henry Commentary.

Solomon had his HEART turned away from God, and as a result of his MISPLACED LOVE, his heart is turned not only away from God, but towards false gods.

The WORSHIP SYSTEMS that Solomon was involved in were sexually oriented and obviously this would appeal to Solomon.  If he wasn’t interested in this kind of thing, he probably would have stuck with just one wife.

Have we had our HEARTS turned away?

Worshipping false gods are just Old Testament stories, right?  Well, let me point out that thousands of churches across the land are EMPTY today because of the WORSHIP of false gods!

  • Sunday is the only day that kids can play football, so we have to take them while church is in session.  Sorry!
  • I can’t read IN my Bible right now, because I would miss too much TV.
  • I go to watch my soccer/football/baseball team play Sunday afternoon.  I could never miss that opportunity for church.

The minute we place more priority on something other than Jesus Christ, then we are in effect, worshipping false gods.

We need to pray and ask God to remove our idols in life.  I don’t want SPORT to be my god or, I don’t want TV to be my idol.  The only GOD I want is YOU!!  I want the TRUE GOD in my life, the only God!!

The Cause of Misplaced Love (women, false gods/money, jobs).

hqdefaultVERSE 5

For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abominable idol of the Ammonites.

What causes us to turn our HEARTS away from God?

Satan will use every means possible to get us as far away from GOD as possible.

That job you’ve been praying for all of sudden requires you to work 12 hours a day and if you don’t do it, then they will find someone who will.

Or, SIN will creep into our lives, and in turn our hearts start to drift away.  I’ve been here before many times and know the results!  Satan makes SIN so attractive and we say to ourselves,  “It will be different for me, that it won’t hurt.”

We have the tendency to justify to ourselves, that it is OK.  How spiritually naive we are to let anything, or anyone, turn our HEARTS away from GOD.

2 Corinthians 6:14-16 (NIV):

[14] Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.  For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? [15] What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?  What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?  [16] What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?  For we are the temple of the living God.  As God has said:  “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

I read a story in the Scientific American that most people are familiar with:

Chimpanzees, can seem like cute, hairy iterations of people.  The chimp, Travis, appeared in television commercials, he seemed comfortable at a computer, and in bathing himself, sipped wine from a stemmed glass, all according to the New York Times.  In February 2009, Travis the adorable, almost human, and his owner gained international notoriety after he suddenly attacked and mauled the owner’s best friend.  The owner later told reporters after Travis’ demise,  “I’m like hollow now.  He slept with me every night.  Until you’ve eaten with a chimp and bathed with a chimp, you don’t know a chimp.”

SIN too often comes dressed in adorable disguises, and as we play with it, eat with it…, live with it daily, how easy it is to say,  “It will be different for me!”

SIN won’t be different, it may come in a different disguise, but it will have the same effect.

If we play with SIN, it will not let us stop where we want to stop!  It will take us down further than we wanted to go.

When we CHOOSE not to do what God wants, we have to face the CONSEQUENCES.  Not following God always has its consequences.

The Consequence of Misplaced Love (God raised up an advisory and tore the kingdom in two/things don’t work out!).

VERSES 11 & 14

The consequence of sin will always cost more than the pleasure the sin provides.

Solomon’s motivation had changed; gone from building God’s Temple and serving God, to building ALTARS to false gods that his wives worshipped and he would be serving them as well.

And the LORD stirred up an adversary unto Solomon (verse 14):

[14]  The Lord stirred up an adversary against Solomon, Hadad the Edomite; he was of royal descent in Edom.

ISRAEL goes from GLORY to EXILE –

ISRAEL went from the glories of having fellowship with God and walking with God– to having their country split into two and several hundred years later, their Temple destroyed and the people carried off to another country in captivity.

We can miss out on what God wants to do in our lives today.

He wants to have FELLOWSHIP with us, that was the reason He created mankind and SIN keeps messing it up!

You see, we get involved in things that appear to be nice, but at the same time, they are destroying our spiritual lives.

Remember, the enemy is always in the background.

Looking back in Chapter 10, VERSE 14, we see the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year as, six hundred threescore and six talents of Gold (King James Version).  I found it interesting in other translations, that this number just happens to be “666” *[See Revelation 13:1, 7, 17-18].

Now this wasn’t all of Solomon’s income, but this is what has been written down in Scripture.  The ENEMY is always in the background!

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Don’t Negotiate With Satan!

A hunter raised his rifle and took careful aim at a large bear in a clearing.  About to pull the trigger, the bear spoke in a soft tone,  “Isn’t it better to talk that to shoot?  What do you want?  Let’s negotiate the matter.”  Lowering his rifle, the hunter replied “I want a fur coat.”  “Good,” said the bear, “that is a negotiable question.  I only want a full stomach, so let us negotiate a compromise.”  They sat down together and after a time, the bear walked away alone.  THE NEGOTIATIONS HAD BEEN SUCCESSFUL!  The bear had a full stomach, and the hunter had his fur coat!

Satan says,  “Let’s negotiate.”

But there are things that should never be negotiable.  We cannot compromise church with the world.  JESUS and His church deserves our very best and absolute loyalty in ALL things.

SOLOMON WAS THE WISEST MAN ON EARTH!!

Yet, he turned away from God.  Solomon’s problem wasn’t ignorance but rebellion!  

He knew better but did not do better!

We need to keep our eyes open in the world around us.  We need to watch for the enemy, because he is always in the background, waiting to trip us up, waiting to turn our hearts.

It is said that the devil will find things for idle hands to do, so let’s not give him the opportunity.

Matthew 5:8 (AMP):

Blessed (happy, enviably fortunate, and spiritually prosperous–possessing the happiness produced by the experience of God’s favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His grace, regardless of their outward conditions) are the PURE IN HEART, for they shall see God.

 


CREDITS:

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP); King James Version (KJV); New International Version (NIV).

Photos:  Google Image Search (1 Kings 10, 11).

Commentary:  God’s lessons from history by Philip Smith – About the Books of 1 Kings and 2 Kings – http://www.easyenglish.info

Be Careful What You Ask For (PART TWO)

460768101_1280x720 THE PROPHET –

The Bible says that the matter displeased ‘Vice-President’ Samuel.  But instead of carrying a protest sign outside a Town Hall Rally, Samuel prayed and called on the Lord.

  • Samuel PRAYED because he feared for the future of his nation.

He wasn’t being unpatriotic because he went against the status quo, no, Samuel was in love with his country–LOVED HIS GOD!

  • The Lord told Samuel, don’t take it personal.

In fact, God said, “they are not rejecting you, but they are rejecting Me!  

That’s a word for the child of God who would speak for God.  Many times it will seem as if we are being rejected, when in reality, God is the One being rejected.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus had “chosen and appointed seventy others and sent them out ahead of Him, two by two, into every town and place where He Himself was about to come (visit)”  (Luke 10:1).  

Then in verse 16, Jesus reminds His followers who are going out in the world to reap the harvest,  “He who hears and heeds you hears and heeds Me; and he who slights and rejects you slights and rejects Me slights and rejects Him who sent Me.”

GOD SAID, “the people don’t want Me as King!”

The evidence had been in view for ages past.  God said, ever since My children came out of Egypt, they’ve done nothing but forsake me and serve other gods.  It’s time for Me to CONCEDE–It’s time for me to admit that they don’t want me anymore.  

Don’t fight them Samuel, you are going to give them what they want.  He said, tell them the procedures for having a king.

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PERMISSION GRANTED (v. 10-18):

Understand today that just because God PERMITS some rulers to be in an authority, that doesn’t mean that He approves them.

Psalm 103 can be nicely tied in with the verses here, because it shows how people can want something so bad…GOD gives in, not to bless them but reprimand them.  He does it to bring RESTORATION to His wayward children.

  • Vice President Samuel now stood before the leaders and the people and uttered God’s CONCESSION SPEECH.

He told them in verse 11, that the king would take your sons and place them in front of his chariots.  Chariots were used in battles.  Since he says, “take”…it wasn’t a volunteer army, they were initiating the DRAFT.

Samuel told them in verse 12, that the king would have many people to do his plowing and to take in the harvest.  In other words, you’ll worker harder, longer for less money in your paycheck.

He said in verse 14, he will take the BEST of your fields and give them to his servants.  In other words, the ruler king will use the people, not only to make himself wealthy but his crony friends as well.

Verse 15, states that the king will take “a tenth of your seed”; in verse 17, “and your flocks”, until you have to borrow in order to survive, ultimately becoming his servants.  In other words, he’s going to use his executive order to put a “flat tax” upon all the people.

  • Then the Lord said that you will cry out and He will NOT LISTEN!

Then people refused to listen to the prophet Samuel and still demanded a specific leader for the nation.

GOD’S CONTINGENCY PLAN!

I’m glad that we can still look to the Hills whence comes our help (Psalm 121).

Isaiah PROPHESIED when he wrote:

“for unto us a child is born, a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government there shall be no end.”

AND THE WORDS OF PAUL, 1 Thessalonians 5:3:

When people are saying,  All is well and secure, and, There is peace and safety, then in a moment unforeseen, destruction (ruin and death) will come upon them as suddenly as labor pains come upon a woman with child, and they shall by no means escape, for there will be no escape.

In other words, there is no ‘political’ plan for PEACE in the world, except through Christ Jesus only!

When the LORD establishes His Kingdom, there will be:

  • UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE – We will be given glorified bodies.
  • UNIVERSAL EQUALITY – All men/women will be treated the same.
  • UNIVERSAL PEACE – We’ll lay down our swords to study war no more.
  • UNIVERSAL WEALTH – Mansions in the sky’ Walk the streets of gold.

And we’ll be able to say,  “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty we are free at last.”

 

 


CREDITS:  See PART ONE https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2016/04/19/be-careful-what…ask-for-part-one/

IN THE MIDST-Disappointed, Perplexed and Disillusioned (part two)

(Part Two) – Looking Further Into the Qualities of God in Remembering:

GOD’S IMMANENCE: God’s presence in Creation–a personal and relational God.

In PART ONE, we discussed how in the midst of circumstances–when we become disappointed, perplexed (baffled, confused, mystified), and disillusioned with where we find our self in life.  FEAR often sets in to our spirit; of what is going to happen to us and our family.  We get the wrong images of and misbelief about who God is, which then keeps us from God’s presence.

FEAR Casts out LOVE–

“There is no fear in love, [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror!  For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love”  (1 John 4:18 AMP).

GOD IS LOVE (1 John 4:16):

God’s IMMANENCE is how He is unwavering; determined to be with us. close to us and for us.  We have a LOVING COMPASSIONATE GOD who chose to be attentive to our pleading cries IN THE MIDST…forgiving and merciful.

‘God Believers’ in Old Testament (First Kings 8)–

GOD shows His goodness through fulfilling everything He promised David.

There were visible signs of encouragement!

— a throne…Solomon reigning.

— a new magnificent Temple.

The people were EXPECTING God to not only stay or tabernacle with them as before; not to actually dwell, but abide–settle permanently in a House as it were (Solomon’s Temple).  Or as The Message Bible reads: “move into the neighborhood”–to stay with them forever!

Yet, was there some selfishness to this motive?  Did they want to keep God for themselves under their control somehow?  Do we?

How patient and longsuffering do you think God is?

Most believe that God would bless us if obedient and good; did what God wanted, but do you believe God would bless you with His goodness, even if you chose the total opposite of what He wanted, even when you failed Him over and over again?

I made an amazing discovery in my WORD Detective investigation from this Biblical story,  God does just that…remembering that prayers are inspired by God’s Spirit; a gift of His grace & prompting…we see very interesting words God puts in Solomon’s mouth (1 Kings 8:22-53).  Solomon actually prayed for God’s mercy from all the consequences the nation of Israel were going to experience from the people’s sins.

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The people disobeyed ALL THE WARNINGS; chose curses instead of blessings.  But God already knew this, since He spoke about this very thing through Moses in Deuteronomy 28–warning the people of the consequences and rewards of disobedience and obedience–through blessings and curses. 

God’s Presents Us with Choices and His Recommendation:

I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you LIFE and DEATH, the BLESSINGS and the CURSES; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live  (Deuteronomy 30:19 AMP).

Wrong Choices Made–

Everyone of the disasters that Solomon prayed about in 1 Kings 8, actually happened as a consequence of wrong choices & actions:

— Defeat by Enemy Forces,

— Drought,

— Famine,

— Pestilence,

— Natural Disasters,

— and Plenty of Wars.

Do any of the items listed above sound familiar in our world today?

It all culminates in a nation of God’s people, going into exile… and as Psalm 89 says, rather than becoming a nation where foreigners are attracted to come and pray, Israel and Jerusalem become an object of mockery and ridicule (just as God warned Solomon in 1 Kings 9:6-9):

[8] This house shall become a heap of ruins; every passerby shall be astonished and shall hiss [with surprise] and say,  Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?  [9] Then they will answer,  Because they forsook the Lord their God,  Who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have laid hold of other gods and have worshiped and served them; therefore the Lord has brought on them all this evil  (1 Kings 9:8-9 AMP).

The people were in a long-term state of sinning against God and yet…God turned this kingship into a blessing and fully redeemed it through JESUS; who is the true Son of David, the Promised King of Kings–whose reign of shalom peace will never end.  He is the anointed Savior, who sacrificed himself for us; extends His forgiveness to full restoration to you and I.

A LEGACY TO DAVID:

God gave the throne and enduring kingdom, a legacy to David in spite of his sinfulness.  God allowed Solomon to build the temple and promised to all–His presence to be present in this man-made temple, even though He couldn’t be contained, even in the vastness of the universe.  All of this in spite of Solomon and the mixed motives of the people trying to box Him in–to domesticate Him for their own benefit.

Though God knew of Solomon’s upcoming actions, even though he was given the gift of wisdom–even wrote the Book of Proverbs–yet he would later live foolishly, turning his heart away after many other loves and hundreds of wives and concubines–worshiping false idols from many nations that came along with them.

GOD, His name, the temple and the worship of God is not a commodity to be used as a means for our own selfish ends, yet that is what Solomon and the people of Israel made them.

You might be asking the question at this point of the series, “What’s all of this have to do with me and my life as it is right now…IN THE MIDST, as you call it?”

Wisdom Given…

WISDOM is not a possession!  It is a gift and we can lose it… if we let go of the reverence for God, the Lord of our lives.  It’s a slow fade when we give ourselves and our hearts away.

No one demonstrates this erosion in his life more fully than king Solomon:

He did everything that God warned the kings not to do–

Solomon Examples: misusing power; amassing weapons, riches, wives; let his heart go astray; lost his reverence for God; turning away from following the Law…

All of the above and more, because he proudly considered himself better than other people (Deuteronomy 17:14-20).

And yet, God is still merciful–

Later in life, Solomon writes Ecclesiastes, realizing all the mistakes he has made in the past; how he’s wasted his life chasing after many dreams and desires that turned out to be illusions…all is vanity and futility without God.  He repents and at the end of his life realizes that worshiping God is indeed, above everything else.

You can also regain WISDOM and God’s MERCY and His relentless LOVE restored IF…you return to God, the source of ALL GOOD THINGS, including wisdom and love.

God even blesses us when we choose to go against Him.  Are you surprised?

The Israelites wanted a king

God never intended for His people to have or need a king.  But the Israelites saw their neighbors had kings, so they prayed to God…We need one too!  Kind of like keeping up with the Jones of the neighborhood.  God even told them if He gave them a kings, they would be sorry.  My mom and dad told me the same when I was a child–You will be sorry Mel.  They knew ahead of time the consequences that came along with my request.

Our Heavenly Father lets us have what our flesh desires…even when He warns us about the harmful consequences to us.  And it breaks His heart and hurts Him in the process.

In His heart of LOVE, He is constantly waiting for you, aching with yearning for your return to His presence with outstretched arms, ready to give you a ‘big hug’!  [The Parable of the Prodigal Son–Luke 15:11-32]. 

Is it too late?

Maybe you are reading this blog series, thinking that it’s too late.  You’ve failed miserably in this mess you call life–disappointed, perplexed and disillusioned.  You might be feeling there’s no turning back, or some sinful habits or patterns or ways that you think or believe about yourself–in the midst of all of what you’re going through right now.  Feelings of rejection, low-self-esteem, hurts, trauma; that keeps you emotionally bound–STRONGHOLDS–that plague your life that you just can’t seem to overcome.

THE PROMISE:  With Our God Comes GRACE, MERCY, HOPE, FORGIVENESS–

With our God, who is patient and kind, full of Grace and Mercy, there is HOPE!  God will hear and He will FORGIVE:

2 Chronicles 7:14, God gives the PROMISE:

If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves,

pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face

and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven,

forgive their sin, and heal their land.

I like to think that God’s promise in the above verse is conditional — with the use of the word...”IF”:

IF…YOU HUMBLE YOURSELF,

IF…YOU PRAY,

IF…YOU SEEK,

IF…YOU CRAVE,

IF..YOU REQUIRE OF NECESSITY OF GOD’S PRESENCE–HIS FACE,

IF…YOU REPENT–TURN FROM WICKED WAYS,

THEN–and only then, will God hear from heaven, forgive sin, and heal their land.

Back to the beginning–The story of Adrian Plass (part one):

The youth worker’s life was seen as a field of overrun weeds and bramble…a wasteland…and he was feeling hopeless.  But the man of God goes on and says,

But wait…I see fire burning up the weeds and then ashes being put back into the soil and now the soil is enriched with all that was burned up.  And the Lord puts a sign over this field…

“NOTHING SHALL BE WASTED”

Philippians 3:13-14 AMP:

I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.

I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.

The Lord desires to pour out on us ALL THE BLESSINGS and JOYS in Him that we’ve missed or missing IN THE MIDST-Disappointed, Perplexed and Disillusioned.  Yet He doesn’t make it all up with outpourings alone!  These “outpourings” become “overflowing s” in our life:

And the [threshing] floors shall be full of grain and the vats shall overflow with juice [of the grape] and oil”  (Joel 2:24 AMP).

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy.  I [JESUS] came that they [YOU] may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)”  (John 10:10 AMP).

There’s Still A Balm in Gilead!!!

Jeremiah 8:19-23

Behold [says the prophet, listen to the voice of] the cry

of the daughter of my people [for help] because of those who dwell

in a far country: Is not the Lord in Zion?  Is not her King in her?

[But the Lord answers] Why have they provoked Me to anger

with their carved images and with foreign idols?

The harvest is past, the summer has ended and the gathering of fruit

is over, yet we are not saved!

For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I [Jeremiah] hurt;

I go around mourning; dismay has taken hold of me.

Is there no balm in Gilead?  Is there no physician there?

Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people restored?

[Because Zion no longer enjoyed the presence of the Great Physician!].

When I Was A Child…

When growing up,  it seemed I would get ‘the common cold‘ at least once a year.  Mom would always have her stand-by remedy in the medicine cabinet: “VICKS VapoRub”.

She would coat my chest with the salve, put some at the end of my nose and…though the label says to use for ‘external use’ only— mom would stick her index finger in the dark blue jar, then pulling out a large glob and say, “Mel, put this in your mouth and swallow.”  Give me a break, it was my mom’s instructions!  Did the remedy help cure the cold?  Well, I’ll put it this way: I still have a large plastic jar of VICKS nearby in case of colds [I don’t swallow the medicine anymore!].

What does all this have to do with Scripture?  The investigation begins!

There’s a song (a spiritual) of old, based upon the Scripture found in Jeremiah 8:22:

“There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounds whole;

There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.”

So as we look together at the referenced Scriptures, we will look more at why this is mentioned in the Bible and its significance then and now.

Where is the Region of Gilead?

Gilead is important and mentioned along with this balm of the region of this particular plant or tree.  Many people came to the area to obtain this well-know substance and if the ‘moms’ of that day had medicine cabinets–they most likely would have a large jar of the ‘balm of Gilead’  on the lower shelf and easy to get at!

The Natural Aspect of this BalmWhy it is mentioned in the Bible?:

This particular balm was famous as a gum or spice used to heal wounds and also as a cosmetic.  The substance of this particular balm was similar to honey; had a pleasant aromatic smell to it.  It was sometimes mixed with olive oil and was swallowed [like “Vicks”] or put on wounds and sores.

In my detective investigation, I uncovered a current recipe for the balm found @ LearningHerbs.com/ Balm of Gilead/Cottonwood Oil.  I wonder if it would be cheaper to make than buying a jar of VICKS?

A Few Scriptures Where We See the Balm Mentioned (particularly the value, sought-after substance):

1.  Genesis 37:25:  “Then they sat down to eat their lunch.  When they looked up, behold, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites [mixed Arabians] coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing gum [of the styrax tree], balm (balsam), and myrrh or ladanum, going on their way to carry them down to Egypt.”

— A caravan of Ishmaelites, coming from the region of Gilead, took Joseph after his brothers sold him to them on their way to Egypt.

2.  Genesis 43:11:  “And their father Israel said to them, If it must be so, now do this; take of the choicest products in the land in your sacks and carry down a present to the man, a little balm (balsam) and a little honey,aromatic spices and gum (of rock rose) or ladanum, pistachio nuts, and almonds.”

— Father Israel had Joseph’s brothers take back gifts to Joseph when they went to Egypt to purchase more food.

The items they took were considered highly valuable, specialty items not found common in Egypt.  Because of the famine, even more rare.  And as you can see among theses items, balm is mentioned.

Let’s go back to Jeremiah 8:22 (our theme Scripture for this ‘blog-study’)–

I thought it somewhat interesting in the Amplified Bible, the adding to this verse in brackets: [Because Zion no longer enjoyed the presence of the Great Physician!].

To tie this thought in with this verse in Jeremiah, lets look at Exodus 15:26 to answer the question…is there no physician there?:

“If you will diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord your God and will do what is right in His sight, and will listen to and obey His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases upon you which I brought upon the Egyptians, for I am the Lord Who heals you.”  Hopefully your answer is…YES!!!

When it came down to their own choosing and they had rejected the One Who can apply the healing balm they would not use as the remedy–they would not apply (or go to) the healing of the Great Physician.  Therefore, they could no longer enjoy His presence (not walking in obedience).

Thinking about that in application of your own life…where you may have hurts/wounds of any kind–

Have you gone to the Great Physician?

Let me rephrase that question:  Do you just take what He offers as “matter of fact”, not really in the depths of your being, knowing He is the only answer?

More Questions to Ask–

We can sometimes know this in our minds, but do we really know it from our hearts and apply it? 

Do you “draw the line” when it comes to some areas of obedience to His Word…because it hurts?

Let’s move on in Scripture:  Jeremiah 46:11–

“Go up into Gilead and take [healing] balm, O Virgin Daughter of Egypt!  In vain do you use many medicines; for you there is no healing or remedy.”

What really “jumped out” at me in reading this particular verse in the Amplified Bible, is that it states that– “in vain you use many medicines and for that one, there is no remedy.”

What about your life?  Have you tried many other “remedies” for healing?  Have you looked to others to find the answers instead of the One Who has the balm for the remedy?

IS THERE A SOURCE FOR “BALM” TODAY?

The Sin-Sick Soul–God’s Word:

–Man has a sin problem

1.  Romans 3:10 and 23- 

[10]  “As it is written,  None is righteous, just and truthful and upright and conscientious, no not one.”  [Ps. 14:3].  [23] “Since all have sinned and are falling short of the honor and glory which God bestows and receives.”

2.  Greeks have sinned.  Romans 1–Perverted the natural.

3.  Jews have sinned.  Romans 2–Become Hypocritical.

4.  Therefore, all have sinnedRomans 3.

John says that if we say we have no sin, we–

1.  Deceive Ourselves– 1 John 1:8.

2.  Make God a liar– 1 John 1:10.

3.  The Truth is not in us– 1 John 1:8.

4.  God’s Word is not in us– 1 John 1:10.

QUESTION: “What are the consequences of sin?”

Romans 6:23-“For the wages which sin pays is death, but the [bountiful] free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Notice this picture portrayed of sin as a cruel master:  “Sin is regarded as a sovereign who demands the military service of its subjects, levies their quota of arms and gives them their soldiers pay of death.”  (Lightfoot).

SIN is an ugly sore that is placed upon our souls [our ‘heart-soul’] and it festers and festers until we wash it away!

God’s Word gives us freedom from sin:  John 8:32; 17:17; Romans 6:17-18; Romans 8:2.

God’s Word supplies us with everything for life and godliness–2 Peter 1:3:

“For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue).”

If a doctor prescribes medicine, it is supposed to meet the needs for which it was prescribed.  Is there a physician who has prescribed the medicine of the sin sick soul?

THERE IS A PHYSICIAN WHO HAS PRESCRIBED GOD’S WORD–JESUS THE CHRIST!

JESUS is God’s WORD!  (John 1:1, 14)–

JESUS said to the Pharisees,  “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.  I have not come to arouse and invite and call the righteous, but the erring ones (those not free from sin) to repentance [to change their minds for the better and heartily to amend their ways, with abhorrence of their past sins].”  (Luke 5:31, 32 AMP).

How do we learn of the Christ?

“And this report concerning [JESUS] spread through the whole of Judea and all the country round about”  (John 7:17).

The Hippocratic Oath–

DOCTORS Taking the Oath
DOCTORS Taking the Oath

DOCTORS take this oath at their graduation of medical school, promising to give their patients the best care they can give.  How much more shall the Great Physician give the best care to His patients?

There Are Sin Sick Souls Needing to Apply the ‘BALM’– You and Me!

In Revelation 3:14-22, JESUS talks to the church at Laodicea.  He sees their spiritual poverty and is prescribing ‘spiritual medicine‘ to the church.  They are to apply this eye-salve, ointment, BALM, to their eyes to see the TRUTH and this ointment is GOD’S WORD.

James says, “But he who looks carefully into the faultless law, the [law] of liberty, and is faithful to it and perseveres in looking into it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he shall be blessed in his doing (his life of obedience)”  (JAMES 1:25 AMP).

Notice, a continued comparing of ourselves with God’s Word, along with a doing attitude bringing spiritual blessings.   Readers, this is how we apply the “balm”!  Comparing ourselves with God’s Word and do what is right.

JESUS Himself says,  Not everyone who says to Me,  Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven”  (Matthew 7:21). 

It would be foolish of us to receive the doctor’s prescription, then never get it filled.

THERE IS STILL A BALM IN GILEAD–“Will you and I apply it?”

1.  Are you looking into God’s “perfect law” every day?

2.  Are you applying the “Balm of Gilead” to your life?

3.  God’s Word is still here!

4.  JESUS’ prescription is still the same!

5.  All you need to do is apply it to your life!

6.  Will you be willing to do that?

7.  If you are a Christian…

8.  If you are NOT a Christian…

a)  Hear Romans 10:17.

b)  Believe  Hebrews 11:6.

c)  Repent  Acts 17:30.

d)  Confess  Romans 10:10.

e)  Be Baptized  Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16.

9.  Remember, a doctor’s prescription can only do us good if we get it filled!