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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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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God Lays Siege to Your Life to Restore You, Not Destroy You

The biblical sieges illustrate the Lord's love for His people.

In ancient Israel, a city wasn’t a city without a wall. The wall served as the primary means of protection from an enemy. Without a wall, you were a sitting duck.

When God Lays Siege to Your Life

(Photo: Jerusalem’s Old City Walls. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In times of war, an enemy would surround a city wall and lay siege to it. This method purposed to starve the inhabitants of food and water—forcing surrender. Often a siege took months or even years. But it was very effective. All it took was time.

The sieges of ancient Israel serve as a fitting metaphor for what God often does in our lives when we erect walls to keep Him out. But there’s a key difference.

God lays siege to your life not to destroy you, but to restore you.

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Do You Understand the 2 Kinds of Forgiveness?

A simple example serves to illustrate which of the two applies to you today.

The Bible’s teaching on forgiveness can seem confusing. Even contradictory. In fact, over the years I’ve heard one question more than any other.

Do You Understand the 2 Kinds of Forgiveness?

(Photo By Todd Quackenbush. Courtesy of Unsplash.com)

On one hand we have the marvelous promise that once we believe the gospel message—that Jesus died for our sins and rose again—we have forgiveness of all our sins.

All of them.

But that begs a question: If Jesus has already paid for our sins, why then does the Bible tell us to confess our sins for forgiveness?

It’s because the Bible teaches two kinds of forgiveness.

Do you understand the difference?

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Mount Carmel and Elijah’s Place of Burning Leave a Lasting Lesson

Elijah’s question to Israel remains a question we too should answer.

Even when God allows hard times in our lives, He means to draw us back to Him. Elijah’s question to Israel on Mount Carmel remains a question we too should answer and apply.

Mount Carmel and the Place of Burning

(Photo: Fires on Mount Carmel in 2010, by יחידה אווירית משטרת ישראל CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

I’ll never forget the images of Mount Carmel’s scorching flames in December 2010. The largest fire in Israel’s history billowed so much smoke that a NASA satellite could photograph it. In addition to the tragic loss of life—both human and animal—the devastating inferno destroyed 5 million trees.

While reading about the fire in the news, I thought about the scenic overlook on Mount Carmel I have visited many times. The name of the place is Muhraqa, which means, ironically, “burning.”

Fortunately, most of Mount Carmel’s beautiful historic sites (including Muhraqa) escaped the 2010 forest fire. Beauty untouched beside utter devastation.

In a land where water is life, the lushness of Mount Carmel came to represent nothing less than the blessing of God.

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How Unlearning the Past is like Untying a 6-Ton Elephant

God gives 3 steps to freedom from the lies that hold you back.

We’ve all heart it. When we’re young and impressionable, some unthinking, insensitive person says it to us. Maybe it’s a parent or a teacher. Or someone of the opposite sex. Or a preacher.

The secret to untying your 10-ton elephant.

(Photo by SuperJew. CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.)

They tell us things like:

  •  “You’re stupid! You’ll never amount to anything.”
  •  “Your nose is ugly.”
  • “You are going to hell for that!”
  • “You’re not very good at what you do.”

Ever heard words like that? I sure have.

These words embed in our brains like a stake in the ground. Loosening that stake is like trying to untie a 6-ton elephant.

But God can help you. In fact, He already has. Here’s how.

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4 Excellent Strategies to Really Conquer the Tug of Temptation

When you feel the pull, here's what to do.

Temptation tugs hard at our hearts at times. It’s like pulling a rope tied to an elephant. In this tug-of-war with our hearts, we need a mindset that goes beyond a defensive strategy and takes an active approach to sin and temptation.

4 Excellent Strategies to Really Conquer the Tug of Temptation

(Photo by Photodune)

Here are 4 basic strategies to help you battle the tug of temptation and sin on your heart.

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The Inestimable Value of Solitude with God

Saint George's Monastery in the Judean Wilderness reminds us to get away with God.

In our lives busy with people, it’s tough to appreciate the value of solitude with God. But one look at Saint George’s Monastery in the Wilderness of Judea gives us reason to pause and ponder the necessity of solitude with God.

Saint George's Monastery—The Value of Solitude with God

(Photo: Saint George’s Monastery. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

As I scanned the monastery’s blue domes and white arches that dot the colorless canvas of the wilderness, I marveled at the time and ingenuity it would have taken to build and rebuild these structures.  

I found myself wondering, Why would ANYONE want to live way out there? A friend of mine wondered if the monks in the monastery thought the same thing about us.

Sometimes in our hurry, it does us good to contemplate the value of solitude.

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Why Your Conscience Can’t Really Know it All

Can you always let your conscience be your guide?

Has your conscience ever been wrong about something? I had to smile when I heard about a mother who tried to explain to her son the difference between the words conscious and conscience. Afterwards, she asked him if he understood the difference.

Can you always let your conscience be your guide?

(Photo by Photodune)

“Yeah,” he answered. “Conscious is when you’re aware of something, and conscience is when you wish you weren’t.” Pretty sharp kid!

Too many people believe Jiminy Cricket’s catchy tune that reminded Pinocchio: “Always let your conscience be your guide.” Sounds great, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work. God never intended your conscience as your guide.

It has another purpose.

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How to Disarm Your Short Fuse of Impatience Right Now

Strength from God as you stand in life's long line of slow servers.

Do you have a long fuse or a short one when you get dawdling service at restaurants? For some reason, life hands us a long line of slow servers. At lunch not long ago my family got poor service from our waiter. Here’s what happened.

How to Disarm Your Short Fuse of Impatience

(Photo by Photodune)

I never let on to the waiter that I was miffed, yet inside my fuse was burning. Here’s why:

  • The table next to us ate and left before we did, though we arrived at the same time.
  • Our water glasses were often empty and the food order came out wrong.
  • The waiter fouled up the bill.
  • I was late getting back to work.

But then, just before we left, I felt like a complete idiot. The waiter made mention that it was his first day. You see, the problem wasn’t his incompetence.

It was my impatience.

Life hands us a line of slow servers. Does God offer some help?

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