A Balm in Gilead—Your Solution is Nearer than You Imagine

Why suffer when the remedy is just over the river?

Have you ever missed seeing something only to discover it lay in front of you the whole time? Misplaced car keys are one thing. But ignoring help from God is something else.

A Balm in Gilead—Your Solution is Nearer than You Imagine

(Photo: The hills of Gilead. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Few things seem more tragic than for someone to suffer when the remedy stood near all along. Why suffer when the remedy lies just over the river?

The Prophet Jeremiah asked similar rhetorical questions in his day:

Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has not the health of the daughter of my people been restored? —Jeremiah 8:22

The words “balm in Gilead” give us more than the makings of a great spiritual song. They offer a principle we can apply today.

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3 Promises of God to Help Your Fear of Change

Would you be willing to follow God if you knew you couldn't fail?

Let me guess. You sit in the same spot in church each week. You drive the same route to work. You eat the same things for breakfast. And you pray the same way at meals. Right? Me too.

3 Promises of God to Help Your Fear of Change

(Photo by Photodune)

As creatures of habit, we like the efficiency and security of rituals. But when our routine gets changed by someone or something, we get miffed. Here’s why: 

  • The only change we welcome is the change we expect. Like the seasons. We plan for it and can adjust accordingly.
  • We also like the change we initiate, like a new job or even a dry diaper, because it gets us what we want.

God, however, has a different view. We have a fear of change, but He has a strange commitment to it.

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Chorazin—Sitting in the Seat but Missing the Message

Jesus explains why leadership remains a privilege, not a prerogative.

Leadership in any form is a place of honor because of one reason only. You won’t see that reason in the world’s system where leadership often stands upside down. A small town in Galilee reminds us how to keep it upright. 

Chorazin—Sitting in the Seat but Missing the Message

(Photo: Chorazin’s ruins hide at center left. Courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

From a distance, Chorazin seems like it’s hiding. I don’t blame it for trying. After all, it remains one of the three cities in Galilee that Jesus rebuked for failing to respond to His message. The basalt ruins of Chorazin appear little more than a pile of rocks among so many thousands of others. Clumps of grass and volcanic rock offer a variegated green and gray to the hillside above the Sea of Galilee.

Unless you look carefully, you may not even see the city.

But Jesus saw it. So should we.

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How to Show Love When Others Don’t Love You

The motivation has to come from somewhere else.

Who is the person you struggle to love? Let me ask it another way. How do we show love when we don’t feel like it? We reach out with the goal of love without expecting any love in return. That’s hard.

How to Show Love When Others Don’t Love YouHow to Show Love When Others Don’t Love You

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Some years ago I found myself at odds with another person after a conversation went south. This individual spoke severely to our daughter, and I confronted this person with the truth—but in anger, and I failed to speak truth in love.

Later, I tried to get together with this person and talk it through. I knew I needed to ask for forgiveness for how I had spoken. But others asked me to leave it alone for the time being. Although I tried to comply at first, I felt miserable keeping quiet.

I came to realize I needed to ask forgiveness, no matter what.

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How the Pool of Siloam Helps us Connect Sukkot and the Messiah

Jesus' invitation on the Feast of Tabernacles offers life abundantly.

Do you like to camp? Anybody who has ever gone camping knows that we forgo major conveniences. The Feast of Tabernacles required similar sacrifices. In fact, it remains a timeless reminder that everything we possess—both physically and spiritually—comes from God.

The Pool of Siloam Helps us Connect Sukkot and the Messiah

(Photo: Western Wall at Sukkot. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Of all places, an ancient pool in Jerusalem—the Pool of Siloam—helps us connect Sukkot with its ultimate fulfillment.

A statement made by Jesus—really, an invitation—makes it clear.

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The Beautiful Garden of Eden that Will Make You Sad

It's probably not where you think it is.

Do you like snakes? Me, not so much. Whether it’s a “good snake” or a bad snake, I tend to err on the side of caution (especially with ladies in the house). After all, even the Garden of Eden had snakes.

Searching for the Garden of Eden

(Photo: Euphrates River. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Have you thought about Eve, standing there in paradise, conversing with a forked-tongued reptile with no eyelids? Ew! 

But it’s essential we remember even Eden had snakes. Why should we think of that? Because many of us live our lives on a quest for the the Garden of Eden.

Eden had snakes. Here’s what to look for instead.

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How to Look Past Monday to Eternity

This life is only the foyer to forever. God made us for eternity.

It’s hard to look past Monday to eternity. But Monday will be better if you do. The road of our lives leads to death. Yes, but it never ends there. Our soul bounces and it never slows down.

How to Look Past Monday to Eternity

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Heaven will have the bright streets of gold and the pearly gates and the awesome beauty of an unspoiled place. But these things are only the stage upon which the joy of eternity occurs.

Perhaps you have discovered, as I have, that heaven seems far more real the more people we know who have gone there ahead of us. Our loved ones who have died are like the leaves inside branches waiting for the spring.

Life is still there, hiding behind death, until something cues it to resurrect.

You will be part of that. 

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The Eye-Opening Results You’ll Discover by Using Maps in Your Bible Reading

How a good atlas can serve as your biblical GPS

How do you know which way to go when your smartphone has no service? Just this week, Cathy and I faced this problem as we drove through Glacier National Park with some friends. So, we used something I hadn’t used in years. An actual roadmap. 

The Eye-Opening Results You'll Discover by Using Maps in Your Bible Reading

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Amazingly, the roadmap worked! We made our way just fine. (Back to the service of our smartphone satellites.) 

It struck me how we don’t have a GPS for our understanding of Bible lands. Instead, we have great maps in a wonderful variety. 

 Do you use maps when you read your Bible? Here’s why you should.

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When God Finally Gives You Want You’ve Begged For

Remember that some of the Lord's most gracious answers are nos.

Got any unanswered prayers? That may be a good thing. Sometimes the only thing worse than God refusing to give us what we want occurs when He gives us want we want. 

When God Gives You Want You've Begged For

(Photo by Photodune)

Many years ago, our young daughter had only one thing on her mind.

She knew we planned an Easter egg hunt, and she asked if she could eat lots of candy on Easter. We told her no, but she kept after us, day after day. Easter came and she continued to plead. So we decided to let her learn by experience what she refused to learn by instruction. We let her eat as many little chocolate eggs as she wanted.

That night was pitiful.

“Oooooh, mommy, my tummy hurts!” She had learned by experience what she refused to learn by instruction. My toddler’s lesson gets repeated in the life of most of us adults.

But it doesn’t have to.

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God’s Incredible Plan Includes Your Ordinary Days

The Dothan Valley shows how our God wastes no experience in our lives.

Sometimes the ordinary days make us wonder if God has forgotten us. After all, when we read the Bible (or Facebook), it all seems so exciting. God is working! Our lives, on the other hand, seem exceedingly boring.

Your Natural Stuff in God's Marvelous Plan

(Photo: Dothan Valley, where Joseph’s brothers sold him. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

But the events in Joseph’s ordinary day in the Dothan Valley revealed God behind the scenes.

Jacob’s 10 oldest sons had traveled north to pasture their father’s flocks at Shechem. So Jacob dispatched Joseph, whom he loved more than all his other sons, from the Valley of Hebron to check on their welfare.

When Joseph arrived, he found that his brothers had moved further north to the lush pastures of Dothan. Seeing him in the distance, the brothers—jealous of their father’s love for Joseph—purposed to kill the boy. But the presence of a nearby cistern convinced them instead to hurl Joseph into it—and leave him there to die (see Genesis 37:12-28).

It seemed that God dropped the ball. But His painful providence would prove wiser than Joseph’s limited insight.

The same is true for you. God uses your ordinary days in His marvelous plan.

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