The Vital Signs of Spiritual Health

The Text today is:  PSALM 26

THE NEW YEAR IS HERE!

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Have you heard the greeting, “Have a healthy and prosperous New Year!”?

Doctor’s Dilemma–

I couldn’t be a doctor today.  Besides the blood, needles and sharp scalpels…there’s all those sick people!  Sick people all day long!  How depressing!  You visit someone at a hospital…you get them well, and then they turn around and get sick all over again!  Even Jesus said in Mt. 9:12 –  “Those who are strong and well [healthy] have no need of a physician, but those who are weak and sick.”

DOCTORS see you at your worst and they hear all your aches, complaints, pains and physical ailments.  Just once, I would like to make a doctor’s appointment, sit down in the examining room…and, when he asks me what’s wrong, I say, “Nothing…I just wanted to stop by and cheer you up!”

MAKING AN APPOINTMENT TO SEE THE GREAT PHYSICIAN–there’s no waiting! :

This is what DAVID is doing–he’s going to the GREAT PHYSICIAN…getting a SPIRITUAL check-up…only to find out…that he’s spiritually fit!  DAVID has been taking preventative medicine for his soul.  He has found the sin remedy and applied it to his heart and life.

David was a man after God’s own heart.  He wanted to please GOD in everything that he did, just as we did when we were small and wanted to please our parents in everything we did.  Now like David, we didn’t always do it…but that’s what David always wanted to do.

Trusting God to Keep DAVID from “Back Trouble”–

How many of you reading this have had problems with your back?  The older I get, it seems, the more trouble I have.  Notice what king David said in Psalm 26:1 (b):  “…I shall not slide.”

“Backsliding” —

David knew, as long as he trusted in, leaned on, and relied on the Lord, GOD could keep him from sliding back into sin.  As soon as he started looking to his own strength…trusting in himself, he would soon have “Back Troubles”–he would start to slide backward.

“LOVING-KINDNESS” – Psalm 26:3 (a):

What did David see when he looked at GOD’s FAITHFULNESS to him?  It was evident, because he saw GOD’s LOVING-KINDNESS!

Has GOD been GOOD to you this past year?  AMEN?

You may have experienced tragedies…some hard times…some disappointments.  BUT…it could have been a whole lot worse.  If it wasn’t for GOD’s “loving-kindness”…His grace and mercy…the devil would have had a hey-day in your life.

When you’re SPIRITUALLY HEALTHY, like David, you will see the positive side of everything GOD allows in your life.

Walking in GOD’s Truth [faithfully]– 

Psalm 26:3 – “I have walked in Your truth [faithfully]” (Amplified Bible).

Compare this verse now, with Verse 1: “I have walked in MY integrity.”  As far as DAVID knew, walking the way he knew, his WALK should be equaled to his TALK.  I don’t know about you, but boy…do I need the Holy Spirit’s help in this area at times, and He certainly has conversations with me in this area.

DAVID didn’t do one thing and believe another…he practiced what he preached.  He could say with the Apostle Paul in Acts 23:1 – I have lived before GOD, doing my duty with a perfectly good conscience until this very day.”

BUT…some people can be walking in their own INTEGRITY–their character…BUT…still  not walking in GOD’s TRUTH.

Did I confuse you here?  Let me try to explain.  In their own minds, they might be doing what THEY THINK is right!  BUT…in GOD’s mind, they aren’t walking according to His TRUTH–His Word.  They might be justifying their own sins within their own conscience and mind.

In other words, they might not see that SIN as a sin.  There may be sin present in their lives without their acknowledgement.  That’s why DAVID adds in Psalm 26:3 – “I have walked in YOUR truth.”

The Importance of How GOD Sees Our Life–

It’s really not how WE see our life.  We may not see our symptoms of sin…but GOD does!  That’s why we need to go to the Doctor–he may see something we missed!

I’ve heard before, that men in particular,  refuse to go to the doctor after confessing their symptoms to their wives because…he doesn’t want to know for sure what the problem is…and his condition gets worse!

DAVID could say, “I have walked in Your truth”, NOT JUST in what I think is right…but in what GOD thinks is right.

There are many STANDARDS today for right/wrong–

PEER pressure sets one standard;

PARENTS may set certain standards;

SOCIETY may set certain standards of behavior;

RELIGION sets standards for conduct and belief.

That all said, there is only ONE STANDARD by which we will all be judged on…GOD’s STANDARD!  We need to say along with DAVID:  “I have walked in TRUTH.”

HOW TO STAY SPIRITUALLY HEALTHY – Psalm 26:4-5: 

[4]  I do not sit with false persons, nor fellowship with pretenders;  [5] I hate the company of evildoers and will not sit with the wicked.

DAVID tells us how he was able to stay in Spiritual Health–he separated himself from the ways and influences of the wicked.  Much of our sinful indulgences are determined by the company we keep–by outside influences.  That certainly doesn’t mean we should avoid all contact with non-believers.  How else can we give our testimony?  What the emphasis here is, association is different than “hanging out with” continually.

While it is true that our hearts are “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9)…it is the INFLUENCE of others that drives us to commit these sinful acts.

My mother repeated this phrase to my brother and I when we were young on several different occasions:  “SIN LOVES COMPANY”…AND…the easier it is to join in…commit to the sin…we want to justify it.

How many times have you heard, perhaps used the words yourself...”But everybody else is doing it!”  Not for DAVID!  He’s going to stay away from people who TURN THEIR HEARTS away from GOD.

Another Spiritually Healthy Key – 26:6:

“I will wash my hands in innocence, and go about Your altar, O Lord”

DAVID points out another vital sign of Spiritual Health– Hand-Washing!

David came to the HOUSE OF WORSHIP with INNOCENT HANDS!

Have you ever wondered…why do people stay away from church today?  Perhaps, it’s because of a guilty conscience.  And yet, what a better place to come, with guilty hands and receive cleansing!

A LOVE for God’s House – 26:8

Another SIGN of a Spiritually Healthy Christian is LOVE for God’s house.

Those who sincerely LOVE GOD, have a love for God’s house…and will be in Church regularly.  It’s one thing to shun evil companions (that’s “negative goodness”)…it’s another thing to shun GOD’S HOUSE.

One way to bring joy & fulfillment into your life is to do what DAVID did in 26:8:  “Lord, I love the habitation of Your house, and the place where your glory dwells.”

Why was this so important and special?

“That I may make the voice of thanksgiving hear and may tell of all your wondrous works”  (26:7).

TO DAVID, WORSHIP was a POSITIVE experience…not just NEGATIVE living (shunning the “bad and the ugly” company you keep).  He LOVED to go to GOD’S HOUSE, because there, he could proclaim in public, what GOD had done for him in PRIVATE!  Psalm 122:1 says,

I WAS glad when they said to me,

Let us go to the house of the Lord.

DAVID MAKES A REQUEST!

“Gather me not with sinners and sweep me not away [with them], nor my life with blood-thirsty men.  In whose hands is wickedness, and their right hands are full of bribes”  (26:9-10 AMP).

I like the way the Message Bible gives a mental picture:  “When it’s time for spring cleaning, don’t sweep me out with the quacks and crooks.”  

Being in sound Spiritual Health, DAVID can come to GOD with his requests.  David is saying, “When the day of harvest comes, GATHER ME in with the Godly.”

 THERE ARE 2 Types of HARVEST…WHEAT and the he TARES.

Harvest Time
Harvest Time

There are only 2 types of people – the LOST and SAVED.

Only 2 ways…GOD’S WAY and the DEVIL’S WAY.

Only 2 destinies…HEAVEN and HELL

Psalm 1:6:  “For the Lord knows and is fully acquainted with the way of the ungodly  [those living outside God’s will]  shall perish (end in ruin and come to naught)” – Amplified Bible.

DAVID KNOWS …which harvest he will be gathered into.

GOD KNOWS…who belongs to His family…He knows your name, how many hairs on your head (in my case, there’s not much there to count)…the thoughts and intents of your heart.

WE CAN’T TELL the wheat from the weeds (“tares”)…BUT GOD KNOWS!

What lies ahead for David (and us)…IF we are Spiritually Healthy Christians?

26:11 –  “But as for me”  

David isn’t going to let anyone drag him down, ruin his Spiritual Health.  He knows the wicked are infected with SIN–Society calls it a “Social Disease”–but whatever you want to call it…it’s still SIN.  And DAVID is going to stay away from them.  He knows that it is GOD’S MERCY keeping him away from SIN!

HAVING A GOOD FOOTHOLD ON THE ROCK–

The Vital Sign of having a good foothold on the Rock unfolds in 26:12 (a):  “My foot stands on an even place” ; “I am standing in a safe place”– NOT on a “slippery slope”.

DAVID KNOWS that slipping on SIN will ruin his relationship with GOD.   So, David wants to stay away from slippery places; to stand on FIRM GROUND–there, in the midst of “the congregation will I bless the Lord” (26:12 (b).

Having a Healthy & Happy New Year Ahead!

How concerned are we for our health…Spiritually speaking?  EVERYONE wants to have good health this coming year, I know I do.  AND David points us in the right direction.

OUR PHYSICAL AILMENTS –  We should follow our Doctor’s orders.  So why don’t we follow the orders of the GREAT PHYSICIAN for our SPIRITUAL AILMENTS?  Might the diagnosis be as simple as...”self-denial”?

Let’s spend the New Year, as concerned about our PHYSICAL HEALTH, as we are about our PHYSICAL HEALTH.  AND…when we do…we might find out…THAT…our PHYSICAL HEALTH will improve too!

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!