God’s Blessings
Jeremiah 8: 18 & 22

Dr. Ernest Young, Associate Pastor

Sunday, February 27, 2022
Almighty God,
We come to Thee this day with thanks for who you are. As we worship Thee again during African American History Month, we are grateful for our ancestors; for their legacy of commitment to liberation, their love for and investment in us and their example of steadfast faith in Thee that encourages us to hold on. Thy spirit provides us with hope for a brighter day as You continue to keep us in Your care.
To God be all glory for blessings even now. To Pastor Epps for this privilege to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ through the ministries of Second Baptist Church.
The subject from which to preach: “God’s Blessings”
The scripture text is Jeremiah, chapter 8, verses 18 and 22.
18When I would comfort myself against sorrow, my heart is faint in me.
22Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?
As we celebrate African American History Month in the rich tradition of the history of our ancestors, we are grateful to God from whom all blessings flow. We are also mindful of the insightful and inspiring work of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who in 1926, founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) more than 95 years ago. Woodson’s work provides a powerful push back to the old adage that whenever a people’s history is denied and subverted, they are often overlooked and thus become insignificant in the eyes of the world.
Each year, since its inception, ASALH has developed a theme for African American History Month. The theme this year, 2022, is “Black Health and Wellness”. In this day and time, as we are challenged with the Coronavirus (including both the Delta and the Omicron strains,) which have erupted into a worldwide pandemic. We are all too familiar with the vaccines: Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer, along with their subsequent boosters; therefore, one's health and wellness is quite important.
Consider what it means to observe the historical sequence of events
in which your faith has been an integral part. 
Monday, February 28 2022
The words from the scripture text are proclaimed and written by the prophet Jeremiah as provided to him by God. Jeremiah’s name means Jehovah will lift up, exalt, or will rise. Like Jesus, Jeremiah was:
- Born near Jerusalem (1:1).
-Chosen before he was born (1:5).
-He was called while very young (1:6).
-He was forbidden to marry because of terrible times (16:1-4).
-He was rejected by his people and converted no one (11:18-21).
-He was hated, beaten, and charged with being a traitor (20:1-3 and 37: 11-16).
-And like Jesus, he wept over the destruction of Jerusalem, known as the weeping prophet.

It is through this prophet that God still speaks to us this day.
Beginning with verse 18 of this pericope, the text expresses Jeremiah’s heartfelt sorrow for God’s people Israel. Yet, he reminds us of God’s blessings with the following observations:
1.God’s Blessings are Balm(s). Verse 22a
2. God’s Blessings are Beneficial. Verse 22b
3. God’s Blessings are Bountiful. Verse 22c

Consider how the background of the prophet Jeremiah
prepared him for what he was doing.  
Tuesday, March 1, 2022
 1. God’s Blessings are Balm(s), verse 22a
Jeremiah raises the question in verse 22a: “Is there no balm in Gilead?”
Some biblical scholars contend this “balm in Gilead” that Jeremiah references is resin or extract from the Styrax tree. (Genesis 37:25 and Jeremiah 46:11; 51: 8).
The resin or extract is believed to contain healing properties. The tree grows in the northern Transjordan region of Gilead. It is a mountainous region east of the Jordan called “the mount of Gilead” (Genesis 31: 25) located from the Sea of Galilee to the upper end of the Dead Sea, bounded on the north by Bashan, and on the south by Moab and Ammon (Genesis 31:21; Deuteronomy 3:12-17).
It is also a metaphor for Jesus who would come and bring healing for the sins of humanity committed in the world. Just as the resin or extract from the Styrax tree provides balm, Jesus comes with healing balm, but his sacrificial death on the cross at Calvary extended it. When Jesus shed his blood, that blood was/is sufficient to clean and heal humanity - then, now, and forever if we believe and receive it.

It was Robert Lowry who also posed a provocative question:
       What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
       What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
I contend, the balm that Jeremiah speaks and writes about is indeed Jesus and his cleansing, healing blood and power. There is power in the blood of Jesus. What a blessing that God has bestowed upon us (humanity) through Jesus. This blessed Jesus is the balm who blesses us through calms and storms. These “balms” of blessings are replete with healing properties and pleasant fragrances.
Consider what it means that God’s blessings are balm for our lives.  
Wednesday, March 2, 2022
2. God’s Blessings are Beneficial, verse 22b
In the B clause, Jeremiah raises another question. He asks, “Is there no physician there?" Yes, because God has equipped and supplied the physician with knowledge and skills to attend to the health care concerns of God’s people. Not only was it the case in Jeremiah’s day, but it is also the same today. A few African American physicians/scientists come to mind.
With her gift of intelligence and parental encouragement, Dr. Patricia Bath’s
(1942-2019) academic interest led her into the medical profession. She believed that eyesight was a basic right. She invented the Laser Phaco Probe (1986), which provided a less painful and more precise treatment for cataracts.
Also, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett’s (1986- ) research and the team of scientists produced the vaccine that inoculated millions against the Coronavirus, Covid-19. She was the Vaccine Research Center’s lead scientist for Covid-19. Her work was the blueprint for developing the Covid-19 vaccine.
Dr. Charles Drew’s (1904-1950) research methods of storing blood plasma (1940) saved countless lives during WWII and beyond. His work developed the blood bank program for the American Red Cross. However, he resigned when the Red Cross proposed separating (segregating) the blood of African Americans from the blood of White donors.
Dr. Samuel Kountz (1930-1981) pioneered the field of kidney transplant surgery. He performed the first kidney transplant using non-identical twins donors in 1961.
Finally, when days were dark and times were hard for African American people in this nation, God blessed Dr. Daniel Hale Williams (1856-1931) to accomplish the first human heart surgery in 1891 at Chicago’s Provident Hospital.
Moreover, the preeminent and ultimate physician is God through Jesus Christ. The Biblical record reminds us of those healing powers. God through Jesus
heals all thy diseases" (Psalms 103:3) because with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Also, Jesus went about all Galilee …healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people(Matthew 4:23). God’s blessings are beneficial, God has no respecter of persons; God does not choose little i’s and big U’s. God’s blessings are advantageous to all and favorable to all who will receive them.
Consider what it means that God’s blessings are beneficial. 
Thursday, March 3, 2022
3. God’s Blessings are Bountiful, verse 22c
The term bountiful reminds me of the stage and screen production, “The Trip to Bountiful” written by the American playwright, Horton Foote. Bountiful, in the play. is a town in Texas near Houston. In life, bountiful is a place or space where God graciously blesses us. The award-winning actress, Cicely Tyson, appears in a leading role along with co-stars Vanessa Williams and Blair Underwood. The story involves Mrs. Watts, “a woman who has to live with a daughter who hates her and a son who does not dare take her side”. After moving away, she returns, thus “The Trip to Bountiful”. The play provides vivid insight into human behavior.
The prophet Jeremiah did not take the side of Judah, the southern kingdom, but proclaimed God’s word to them. Despite his trembling voice deliverance of the prophetic utterances, yet he remained steadfast to God and the work he was called to do. We are still challenged by the words and work of this prophet.
In the C clause of this verse Jeremiah continues the inquires; the questions regarding God’s people Israel. He writes: “Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered”? In other words, let this be a warning to you Israel (and us), that God is concerned about God’s people, including and especially their (our) health. God simply just loves and cares for us. Also, God often grants and provides us with more. I mean more than we can ever dare to dream or think possible for us.
God’s blessings are inclusive and often includes more, much more, so much more. God’s blessings include:
-More Blessings than we can balance, and more Breath than we can breathe.
-More Love than we can lift, and more Grace than we can grip.
-More Faith than we can find, and more Hope than we can handle.
-More Compassion than we can carry, and more Joy than we can judge.
-More Mercy than we can manage, and more Deliverance than we deserve.
-More Kindness than we can keep, and more Salvation than we can secure.
-More Truth than we can tell, and more Value than we can validate.

God is a generous God, I tell you. God is abundant and plentiful with blessings toward us.
Consider what it means that God’s blessings are bountiful. 
Friday, March 4, 2022
Several years ago, a fire broke out in an apartment building near the business district around the row houses in a busy city. The Fireman’s ladder was not long enough to reach the top floor where a mother and her three children were trapped. But there was an individual in the crowd of African American descent, decorated from military service. He volunteered to ascend the ladder to rescue those trapped inside. When he reached the top step on the ladder, he stretched his body across the remaining distance to the window ledge. His body became the bridge for those inside to walk across to the ladder, descend it, and thus be saved from the destruction of the fire.
What I am saying, beloved, that this is what Jesus did for all humankind when we were “trapped” by the fires of sin. The judges', kings', and prophets' “ladder” was not long enough to reach the areas of our entrapment. Jesus became the “bridge” that reached out to us and stood in the gap to make a way back from our separation from God and we were saved from destruction.
-In burdens, He’s the Barrier, and in calamities, He’s the sharer.
-In darkness, He’s the light, despair, He’s the hope
-In emergencies, He’s the responder, and in failure He’s the success.
-In hate, He’s the love, and in loneliness He’s the friend, as Joseph Scriven said it well, “What a Friend we have in Jesus"
-In pain, He’s the relief, and in problems He’s the solution.
-In weakness, He’s the strength.
-In sickness, He’s the balm, and in storms He’s the calm.
-In sorrow, He’s the joy, and in trouble He’s the triumph.
-Every, every, every care on Him to roll.
He’s the Lily of all the valleys, and the bright and morning star.
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to our soul.
Consider what it means that Jesus bridged the gap between us,
the Lord, and one another, with his life to save us and heal us.  
Saturday, March 5, 2022
Thank you, God for the prophet Jeremiah. Thank you, Jeremiah, for your questions that still challenge us. Is there no balm in Gilead? In there no physician there?
Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered? Thank you, beloved, for your belief and faith in God and God’s way, will, word, and work. Also, a “thank you” to our ancestors who, experienced injustice day in and day out. Although they did not see it, they believed that a brighter day was coming. They revised Jeremiah’s question, they flipped the question from “is there”? to “there is”! and proclaimed with profound clarity in the song:
There Is a Balm in Gilead
Sometimes I feel discouraged and think my work’s in vain
But then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again.
There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole,
There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.
Don’t ever be discouraged, for Jesus is your friend.
And if you lack for knowledge, He’ll ne’er refuse to lend.
There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole,
There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.
                                                 --Negro Spiritual
Yes, there is a physician there despite the Coronavirus, Covid-19’s Delta and Omicron strains. This physician is Jesus who heals all our diseases, crowns us with loving kindness and tender mercies, and make our wounds whole again.
The people of God are recovered, and their health is restored.
Oh yes, there is a balm in all of our Gilead’s to make the wounded whole
There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.
When our ancestors were sold and enslaved, parents and children were separated and lost. God was there. There is a balm I tell you.
When we could not go to Harvard, we could go to Howard, and the first Supreme Court justice of the United States, Thurgood Marshall was a Howard Law School graduate.
When we could not go to Stanford we could go to Savannah, Savannah State College, now University.
When we could not go to Yale, we could study through the mail and today by email.
There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole,
There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.
Consider what it means to embrace the balm that
God provides through Christ. 

There is a Balm in Gilead
Kathleen Battle & Jessye Norman
2412 Griffith Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90011 
Phone: (213) 748-0318