The Encourager

The Encourager

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Nothing New Under the Sun - by Jeff Curtis

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Nothing New Under the Sun

By Jeff Curtis

The wise man Solomon observed, “There is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl.1:9). He had noted that generations come and go, as they always have (1:4); that the sun rises and sets as it always has (:5); and that the wind continues to blow (1:6) and rivers to flow (1:7) as they always have.

The fact that “there is nothing new under the sun” can be viewed in two ways. First, we might consider it proof of a hopeless monotony in life, seeing life as being boring, unchanging, and wearisome. Second, we might find the idea that “there is nothing new” to be a comforting, stabilizing truth. There are some things we can count on.

Solomon wanted to teach a very important point: Life without God is wearisome, repetitive, and hopeless. But life with God is comforting, exciting, stable and filled with hope.

Let’s consider the statement that “there is nothing new under the sun,” and think about a few truths related to God that are not new.

The nature of God is not new: He is still the all-powerful God of the universe. In the New Testament, this idea is comforting because we know that God (and Jesus) will never change (Heb.13:8).

God’s work is not new: (Eccl.3:14), it will remain forever and not be added to or taken away from. False teachers may misrepresent the gospel or the plan of salvation, but they cannot change any part of the unchangeable will of God.

God’s plan for man is not new: God wants people to fear Him (3:14), to live holy lives ((3:12), and to prepare to face Him in eternity (He has “set eternity” in man’s heart, 3:11).

The nature of man is not new: God created people upright, but they have sought out many devices. The truth teaches us that it is not “natural” for men to sin, in other words, God didn’t create man so that he would sin. This would have been against the basic character of God, “13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed” (James 1:13-4). Rather, man was created good. Yet, all have sinned (Rom.3:23). This was true in Solomon’s day and remains true in our time.

Solomon emphasized that each person should seek to do good and live to please God. The same truth applies today. God wants everyone to be “conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29-30) and to obey His word (John 12:48).

Meditate on this:

2 Kings 20:15

And he said, “What have they seen in your house?”

So, Hezekiah answered, “They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shown them.”

The Cure for Our Souls - by Bill Fairchild, Jr.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

The Cure for Our Souls

by Bill Fairchild, Jr.

“Is there no balm in Gilead, is there no physician there? Why then is there no recovery for the health of the daughter of my people?” (Jeremiah 8:22, NKJV).

In every generation, diseases and illnesses of every sort are threatening our well-being and in some cases our lives. It was not so long ago that Polio was a serious illness for so many. Now in our time, cancers of every sort, HIV, and Hepatitis C have become our modern nemesis!

Each of these diseases serves to challenge the medical community and research institutions at alarming costs in the effort to find a cure.

Found in the heart of the Old Testament, the weeping prophet Jeremiah has seen with his own eyes the sickness and stubbornness of his people. He also understood that because of their rebellion against the God of heaven and His will, his people could not be healed by the “balm of Gilead.”

Gilead stood on the eastern side of the Jordan River. There would be trading caravans that traveled through this area from the east, moving south in the direction of Egypt. One of the products they brought

with them to sell was an aromatic substance used for healing, called balm. In time, then, the term “balm of Gilead” became a phrase associated with “cures” and “healing.”

Jeremiah asks a very poignant question comprised of two parts, “Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there?” It is this type of question, asked centuries ago, that even now echoes through time and resonates with us today. It speaks to mankind of our own shared human experience of pain, brokenness, and longing for healing. It points us to the “balm of Gilead,” a symbol of God’s provision for spiritual healing.

The “balm of Gilead” was a real, tangible substance, a resin derived from a tree native to the region of Gilead. It was known for its healing properties, used to soothe and heal physical wounds. But in the context of Jeremiah’s lament, the balm of Gilead takes on a deeper, spiritual significance. It becomes a metaphor for God’s healing, a symbol of His ability to soothe our spiritual wounds and restore our broken souls.

In the same way, mankind is lost in sin and need of a Savior. God’s love for us is demonstrated in the great sacrifice of His “only begotten Son!” It is as real as the balm of Gilead, as tangible as the resin from the tree and it is by His grace and mercy that forgiveness of sins, the opportunity to be at peace with God and be adopted into His spiritual family can be obtained.

The “balm” God offers is found in the person of Jesus Christ, the Great Physician, who came to heal the broken-hearted and bind up their wounds - yours and mine! And the healing that He provides is not something to be taken lightly. It is not some sort of a superficial band-aid for the heart and soul of man, but rather it is a cleansing that reaches to the very depths of our being.

It is deep and lasting. It touches our wounds with His love, soothes our pain with His grace, and restores our souls with His truth. It is a healing that transforms us, that makes us new creatures in Christ, which brings us the joy and peace of the salvation He alone provides. And it is to be understood that the “balm” found in Jesus requires our choice and participation. We must choose to come to Him and surrender our will to His!

This choice is not always easy. It requires humility, courage, and faith. It requires us to let go of our pride, our fear, and our self-reliance. It requires us to trust in Jesus, to rely on the strength, comfort, and guidance that will never fail us, and to rest in His love. He alone can heal us of all our sins!

Meditate on this:

Joshua 22:18

but that you must turn away this day from following the Lord? And it shall be, if you rebel today against the Lord, that tomorrow He will be angry with the whole congregation of Israel.

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