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!

“If You Were Arrested for being a Christian…”

Is There Enough Evidence to CONVICT? This title today, might be a cliche but still an effectual question.  After being prompted by the Holy Spirit in reading God’s word this past week, I debated over the title for this particular posting.  Was it to lengthy, to cliche y, would you be drawn into the thought process from curiosity?  Where to begin.

CONCERNING THE “EVIDENCE”:

What EVIDENCE do you have right now that can prove your FAITH in Christ?  Is it a commitment to Christ, more than just an opinion or way of thinking?

In the last days, each of us needs to do all we can to live our lives the best we can in being a testimony to friends and loved ones.  I”ll discuss the “hows”, “whens” and “whys” of calling yourself, “GUILTY” or “NOT GUILTY.”

How Can We Do This “Being A Testimony”?- [Titus 1:10-13]

“For there are many disorderly and unruly men who are idle (vain, empty) and misleading talkers and self-deceivers and deceivers of others.  [This is true] especially of those of the circumcision party [who have come over from Judaism].  [11] Their mouths must be stopped, for they are mentally distressing and subverting whole families by teaching what they ought not to teach, for the purpose of getting base advantage and disreputable gain.
[12] One of their [very] number, a prophet of their own, said, Cretans are always liars, hurtful beasts, idle and lazy gluttons.  [13] And this account of them is [really] true.  Because it is [true], rebuke them sharply [deal sternly, even severely with them], so that they may be sound in the faith and free from error.”

Believers on the island of Crete faced a big challenge.  The culture had many, many gods they could worship, depending on which way the doctrinal winds were blowing.  The people (there) filled their time with much idle chatter, empty promises and lies!  Paul’s letter specifically identifies this description of the people in that place and time.

Who Was Titus?

He was a Gentile convert; an uncircumcised believer.  He was a man made for difficult situations.  You know, the tough tasks, the jobs that no one else wanted.

He had known the apostle Paul for almost 15 years.  He loved being sent out by Paul to face a good challenge.

Let me share with you what I uncovered in the evidence found about this man of God:

2 Corinthians, chapters 7 and 8, Paul said or inferred Titus was,

–DEPENDABLE,

–RELIABLE,

–DISCIPLINED.

–GOT THE JOB DONE!

Paul said Titus had a great capacity for human affection and compassion.  I like him already!  Amen?

CHRISTIAN QUALITIES TO BE DISCOVERED:

Titus possessed both strength and tact.  He calmed desperate situations on more than one occasion.  He is a good model for Christians who are called out to live their witness in tough circumstances.

Our friend Titus was just the man to deal with this bunch of rebels on the little island of Crete.  Paul said these people were–“insubordinate and rebellious people that had to be silenced.”  Pretty strong words then and now.

Paul Identifies A Lot Of Problems That Were Present.

The people being pointed out on the island were new believers.  Paul starts off this letter to Titus with the TRUTH we all need to hear.  That is, “God never lies” (verse 2).

As well, God’s people must be people with truth and absolute integrity.  How can this happen?

“…rebuke them sharply [deal sternly even severely with them]”  (vs. 13 AMP).

There are times when this method becomes necessary, like it or not  There is something for each of us in the next passage of Scripture found in Titus 2:1-8.  Look closely as you read and make notes when necessary:

“BUT [as for] you, teach what is fitting and becoming to sound (wholesome) doctrine [the character and right living that identifies true Christians].  [2] Urge older men to be temperate, venerable (serious), sensible, self-controlled, and sound in the faith, in the love, and in the steadfastness and patience [of Christ].  [3] Bid the older women similarly to be reverent and devout in their deportment as becomes those engaged in sacred service, not slanderers or slaves to drink.  They are to give good counsel and be good teachers of what is right and noble.  [4] So that they will wisely train the young women to be sane and sober of mind (temperate, disciplined) and to love their husbands and their children,  [5] To be self-controlled, chaste, homemakers, good-natured (kindhearted), adapting and subordinating themselves to their husbands, that the word of God may not be exposed to reproach (blasphemed or discredited).  [6] In a similar way, urge the younger men to be self-restrained and to behave prudently [taking life seriously].  [7] And show your own self in all respects to be a pattern and a model of good deeds and works, teaching what is unadulterated, showing gravity [having the strictest regard for truth and purity of motive], with dignity and seriousness.  [8] And let your instruction be sound and fit and wise and wholesome, vigorous and irrefutable and above censure, so that the opponent may be put to shame, finding nothing discrediting or evil to say about us.”

SPIRITUAL HEALTH

This passage of Scripture just read should become our prescription for “spiritual health.”

There is no doubt in my heart as the Word Detective that this is just what the doctor ordered for each one of us!

REMAINING FAITHFUL AND FOCUSED:

The REAL REASON we are here:

1.  Souls to be saved!

2.  Lives to be set free!

3.  Bodies to be healed from sickness!

And during times like this, to find out what we’re made of, by what we say and do… are we helping or hindering?

This passage from Titus 2 is a call for us to act responsibly before our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, and to represent Jesus to those who are unsaved!

Being “SOUND IN THE FAITH”.

Paul uses a word that helps us evaluate our spiritual health in today’s world.  The word is “sound”.

The Greek word is hugiaino.  It is where we get the English word “hygiene” or “healthy” from.

When the Bible speaks of “sound doctrine”, “sound faith”, “sound speech”, or “healthy speech”; it’s referring to the kind of doctrine, faith and speech patterns that makes people healthy.

How Do We Maintain “SPIRITUAL HEALTH”?

How do we know we are demonstrating “healthy faith and speech”?  I’m going to change the old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” for effect; to “reading your bible every day will keep the doctor away.”

“My dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear.  Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you.  Not everyone who talks about God comes from God.  There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world”  (1 John 4:1 The MESSAGE).

There are all kinds of “teachers” nowadays.  Some teach good things from the Bible while others teach bad things; discord, anger, bitterness, resentment, jealousy, etc.

GOOD TEACHERS are the folks who are “spiritually healthy.”

THE FIRST TEST OF GOOD SPIRITUAL HEATH (in us) is…?

Our relationship to “sound doctrine.”  

If our spiritual health is going to be good…it has to be based on the right information.

Sometimes people say things that are not true and you know not to accept it.  But sometimes people say things that are negative, bringing pain and condemnation into your life.  This was the problem for Titus on the island of Crete. This is not “sound speech” and we shouldn’t be listening to it!

What Then Is “SOUND SPEECH”?

Titus 2:1:  “[As for] you, teach what is fitting and becoming (wholesome) doctrine [the character and right living that identifies TRUE CHRISTIANS].”

2 Timothy 1:13:  “Hold fast and follow the pattern of wholesome and sound teaching which you have heard from me (Paul), in [all] the faith and love which are [for us] in Christ Jesus.”

Then in Titus 1:9, while giving the character qualities of a pastor, the Bible says,  “hold fast to the sure and trustworthy Word of God as he was taught it, so that he may be able both to give stimulating instruction and encouragement in sound doctrine and to refute and convict those who contradict and oppose it.”

SOUND SPEECH AND SOUND DOCTRINE:

They both have encouraging and uplifting effects towards others (saved or unsaved).  I have found this information in reading, studying and hearing teaching and preaching from the Word of God [thank you Pastor Andrew].

Sound speech and sound doctrine is beneficial and encouraging in the process.  They are always healthy, always encouraging because it’s TRUE.  You can TRUST it with your life!

One Example:

Years ago, on a local PBS (TV) program, they were filming at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

A scholarly man brought out a little blue box from a small closet that held rare keepsakes.  The label on the box read, “Contents of the president’s pockets on the night of April 14, 1865.”  That was the tragic and fateful night President Lincoln was assassinated.

The learned man began to remove these personal items, to display them in front of the camera.  These were the FIVE ITEMS pulled out of the small box:

1.  A handkerchief embroidered “A. Lincoln.”

2.  A country boy’s pen knife.

3.  A spectacles (eye glass) case repaired with a string.

4.  A purse containing a $5 bill–of confederate money.

5.  And some old and worn newspaper clippings.

The newspaper clippings said the man, “were concerned with the great deeds and accomplishments during the Presidents term in office.”  But in 1865, millions of people didn’t agree with the President’s accolades.  In fact, the President’s critics were mean and there were many.

Photo taken one month before President Lincoln was assassinated.

Can you imagine Mr. Lincoln pulling out those newspaper clipping over and over again in the midst of discouragement through the war years?  It was perhaps all he had to hold on to as a reminder.

Listen carefully to one of the most encouraging things any of us can do in picking-up and reading a clipping that is about us.  We call it the BIBLE!

We have proof found only in God’s Holy Word of who we really are in Jesus

Sometimes our spiritual health grows weak, pulled down by all the negative things people are telling us.

Today our HOPE can be found in a constant diet of “sound speech”, and “sound doctrine.”

We should know that false doctrine and slanderous remarks only causes us to doubt, get disgusted or discouraged.  So, why do we feel like that sometimes?  Paul gives us all a warning in 2 Timothy 4:3 AMP:

“For a time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold.”

We can,t let ourselves be taken in by false teaching, false condemnation.  It’s not healthy for us.  It won’t give us strength and energy we need to survive.  You do want to survive don’t you?

It’s like eating “junk food.”  It tastes satisfying at the time but eventually we will have to pay the price.  What we say is what we our communicating to anyone who’s listening to us.  Our speech must be “sound”, and your doctrine (what you believe) must be “sound.”

FINAL QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

1.  Do the people you work with see Christlike deeds or attitudes from you as a believer?  Do they even know that you are a Christian where you work?

2.  Has your walk with Christ produced any visible fruit in front of a fellow worker?  Such as:

–patience.

–staying power.

–compassion.

–loyalty.

–better management.

–hard work!

–faithful service.

3.  How can I tell if my spiritual health is good?

4.  How’s your speech around others?  Is it sound?  Is your speech uplifting and positive?  Is it NEGATIVE (a curse), or is it POSITIVE (a blessing).  If you find yourself speaking negative about someone, you are CURSING them!

Let me close this conversation with two Bible verses I found and answer the question in this topics title:  “If Arrested for being a Christian, is there enough EVIDENCE to CONVICT You?”

“Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it”  (Ephesians 4:29 AMP).

“The good man from his inner good treasure flings forth good things, and the evil man out of his inner storehouse flings forth evil things.  [36] But I tell you, on the day of judgement men will have to give account for every idle (inoperative, nonworking) word they speak.  [37] For by your WORDS you will be justified and acquitted, and by your WORDS you will be condemned and sentenced”  (Matthew 12:35-37 AMP).