“God Is For Me”

Wood cut by Gustave Dore of Sennacherib's Army is Destroyed

How often do we go through our walk with the Lord, thinking that there is no place where we feel like our enemies would not gladly engulf us? It seems as if every time we turn around, a new hurdle, hindrance, or attack comes against us. In some instances, even what we say is twisted and used against us. We may seek help frequently from those we know around us, but it does little to ward off the trials we encounter daily. In the midst of our tears, we find ourselves calling out to God, unsure what our next step should be.

King David, one of the greatest leaders ever of a kingdom, struggled with the same sort of problems we often encounter today.

This same David single-handedly defeated the mighty giant Goliath—the powerful strongman of the same Philistines that David came up against when he wrote Psalm fifty-six.

Every day, he faced these enemies. In verse two he said, “Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: for they be many that fight against me, O thou most High.”

Later in this psalm David said, “Every day they wrest my words: all their thoughts are against me for evil. They gather themselves together, they hide themselves, they mark my steps, when they wait for my soul” (Psalm 56:5,6).

If this was the whole thrust of this psalm, we could easily declare his situation utterly hopeless, with no solution in sight.

Thankfully, he did not indulge himself in worrying about despair and sufferings, as seen in the rest of this passage: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise His word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me…When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me. In God will I praise His word: in the Lord will I praise His word. In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me. Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto thee” (Psalm 56:3,4,9-12).

David’s attitude through all of this is clear: he trusted in God and gave Him praise. We cannot go wrong when we turn our situation over to God and let Him handle it.

Remember, it is not our faith that bring results; it is His faithfulness. The psalmist declares “Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds” (Psalms 36:5) and “Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth” (Psalm 119:90).

Notice what he also said in Psalm fifty-six: “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me” (verse 1). When we are fearful of those around us, or in the situation coming at us, then we have slipped out of trusting in God and have started focusing on our self. See what happened to Peter when Jesus called for him to step out and walk on the water. “…He said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matthew 14:29-31).

When Peter took his eyes off of Jesus, he began to sink. Yet, even then, he still cried out to Him to help him—and Jesus did!

Peter could have floundered around in the rough water trying to save himself, or called on the others in the boat to help him. Instead, he put his trust in the Lord again to deliver him from drowning.

Three times in this short psalm David stated that he put his trust in the Lord. Four times he gave God praise. The more God repeats something in His Word, the more that we need to heed it.

Even though the Philistines were coming against him, David placed his trust in the Lord and His Word. His situation was desperate, but he remained confident that God would take care of Him, and praised Him before the victory even happened.

If Israel’s mightiest leader could cry out to God and trust in Him, so can we, as believers in Jesus Christ—the son of David, and the Son of God!

The victory Jesus won through His ultimate sacrifice on the cross became our victory too. By putting our faith and trust in His finished work, we no longer need to be worried about what our enemies want to do to us.

Jesus already defeated the enemy—all we need to do is to rest in His victory, confident in Him that He will save us. David said, “When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me” (Psalm 56:9 emphasis added). 

Even the Apostle Paul affirmed in the book of Romans, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 10:31 emphasis added).

Therefore, when problems mount against you, or the enemy is close at hand, do not run away or hide in fear. Cry out to the Lord and believe in Him. Give Him praise for who He is and what He is going to do. Do not doubt or let your faith in Him waver. Put your trust in Him alone and let Him take care of the circumstances. Keep David’s words in mind, “When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me” (Psalm 56:9).

 

[Image credit: Gustave Doré/public domain]

A Plan Where Preconditions Are Accepted

graphic showing a doctor at counter with laptop and papers

Today, health insurance coverage is the rage among individuals and governments alike. Many believe that they need it so that they can receive treatment of whatever condition or malady that may occur in their life without having the enormous financial burden that would follow. Since healthcare costs continue to rise, the demand for insurance continues to increase even more. In order to make insurance that people desire available, companies have instituted various requirements for the applicant, one of which is whether or not the individual has any preconditions.

If there is some disease or malady like cancer present, the insurer will often deny coverage—and not for the just the stated condition, but for everything else, too.

So why won’t the insurance companies readily supply the coverage to treat these disclosed illnesses? The answer commonly lies in the cost of treatment. The providers know that if they accept a significant number of people who are already experiencing some kind of expensive or long-term illness, they will not have enough to pay for the recipient’s future care and maintain their own business financial needs as well. In other words, they won’t take the risk for fear that they will go broke.

Red 'denied' inside of retangular box stamped on white surface

Are you aware that we all have a precondition that prevents us from being right with God, from going to heaven, or from having any eternal rewards? It is called sin and it was precipitated, ever since we were formed in the womb, by something called the “sin nature” (the inclination to sin). The Bible flatly states that “…all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Now, like any physical ailment, we can do all kinds to things to try to eliminate the symptoms and byproducts of sin. Yet the sin itself will always remain, because it is a spiritual problem that we are only able to treat unsuccessfully with physical methods.

God cannot tolerate any sin, anywhere, anytime. He is holy, righteous and completely pure. To allow sin—even the smallest possible amount—would invalidate His very existence and bring everything into complete chaos.

Yet there is someone who will accept us, regardless of our past problems and sin. In fact, He welcomes them. And who will give us the coverage that we need anytime and anywhere? It is Jesus. When He came to this earth, He fulfilled all of the laws and requirements God set forth in the Bible. Due to our sins, we could not possibly satisfy them ourselves. When He sacrificed His life on the cross, He sealed and finalized this fulfillment. He made it possible for everyone—past, present and future—to be made free from sin, through Him. He paid the price for our sins for us.

Red approved stamped on white surface

By opening our hearts, asking Him for forgiveness for our sins, and allowing Him to work through us, we can have access to God through Him, and the door to eternal life becomes open for us to walk through. Jesus washes our sins away, removing them completely from God’s sight, through the shed blood of His sacrifice on the cross.

Jesus has a plan greater than any insurance company on this earth could ever offer. Any preconditions that you have are freely accepted.

He said, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). If you will believe in and accept Him, you will not be refused or denied, and your coverage begins immediately. As long as you obey His Word, the coverage He offers is complete and guaranteed for all eternity. Tomorrow may never come; won’t you consider receiving Him today?

If you are interested in knowing more about this plan that God has for your life then please click here.

 

[Image credits:Mohamed Hasan/Pixabay,tswedensky/Pixabay,Clker-Free-Vector-Images/Pixabay]

Connecting to the Right Outlet

Rockwell is a pretty smart guy, except when it comes to non-technical things. Sure, he knows that a car can’t run without gas or oil, and that refrigerators, microwave ovens, and light bulbs all need electricity to operate. But ask him how they function, and he will struggle to give an explanation.

This is why, one cold morning in early March, Rockwell could not get his electric space heater to operate. He plugged it into an outlet in the living room and turned it on. After ten minutes, nothing had happened. He removed the plug and inserted it into the socket underneath, but still no power or heat.

He picked up the heater, shook it vigorously several times and placed it back on the floor. There it sat with no lights, no noise, and certainly no warmth. 

With friends coming for lunch, he knew he had to do something to get the place warm. He went to the basement and brought up another heater—smaller but still adequate. He inserted its plug into the same receptacle, turned the unit on, and waited. It, too, just sat there—cold, dark, and quiet.

Rockwell decided that this was too technical for him to bother with at the moment. So he returned to fixing breakfast. Meanwhile, his neighbor stopped by for a brief visit.  He noticed right off that the house had almost no warmth, but he figured that Rockwell was already aware of this, so he kept silent and sat at the breakfast table. After they chatted a while, the temperature grew colder, and his neighbor could not remain quiet any longer. “Rocky, my boy, are you running absent-minded this morning, or did your heater give out on you?”

“Well, I plugged it in and tried all kinds of things to make it work. I even hooked up another one I got downstairs. I figured if I wait long enough, one might eventually turn on one way or another.”

His neighbor went over, checked both heaters, then the outlet.  Then he took a desk lamp, connected it to the same outlet, and got the same results: nothing. Finally he took one heater and plugged it into another electrical socket across the room. Voila! It came alive immediately and began to warm the room.

“Well, there’s your problem,” his neighbor remarked. “They were plugged into a dead outlet. For some reason, there was no power available there. They have to be connected to the right outlet if they are going to heat the room. All of your efforts earlier were useless.”

Now, how many of us today are living a cold life? Not a physical cold, where we need socks, sweaters, and heaters to get and stay warm, but spiritually, in our hearts. No matter what good method we try, we can’t seem to find the solution. We accepted Jesus Christ in our heart, yet we are still in a constant struggle to be free of some bondage in our life. Whether it is smoking, alcohol, drugs, pornography, immorality, lying, stealing, or a whole host of other sinful habits, we just cannot rid ourselves of their control.

So we turn to the medical world, psychology, self-help programs, religion, government assistance, pastors, churches, neighbors, and family members. We pray, go to church, read the Bible and consult other Christians, yet we still struggle with these problems. They frequently make us ashamed, depressed, confused, and overwhelmed.

We vow at the beginning of each day or week that we will not give in, but we still end up succumbing to the same sinful actions. 

As a Christian, why does it have to be this way? Why can’t we be free and victorious? Why do we have to be in this bondage? The answers lie in our understanding of Jesus Christ and the cross. By putting our faith in something else, we will always be under the control of sin. God does not want us to be in this state any more than we do, which is why He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins. He fulfilled all of the requirements of His Father that we could never accomplish, and paid a debt that we are unable to repay. 

The problem is that, when we accepted His Son into our hearts and made Him Lord of our life, we did not totally yield to Him. Instead, we continued to fight these battles with sin (a spiritual problem) in our own strength and effort (a non-spiritual answer).

Look at this another way. We are attempting to remove the coldness (sin) from our heart by connecting to a dead outlet (the world and its hopeless solutions). But when we plug into a live outlet (Jesus Christ and His victory on the cross), we allow power (His Spirit) to flow freely in our life. He is now able to remove the control all of these sinful habits mentioned earlier have on us, and our heart begins to warm up.

But, as long as we keep trying to clean up our sins by our self, we remain connected to a dead outlet and receive no connection to the power of the Holy Spirit to work within us. 

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2). The “law of the Spirit of life” refers to when we connect into the live outlet. By plugging into a dead outlet, we are walking after the flesh, meaning the ways of this sinful world, which will always be followed by “the law of sin and death,” or bondage. 

Jesus said, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).

The only way to be free of the sin habit that perpetually plagues us is to accept the victory of the finished work of Jesus on the cross as our own victory. Stop plugging into a dead outlet of our own futile works, thereby cancelling out all Christ has done for us. Connect to the right outlet and we, as children of God, will find freedom from the control sin has had in our heart and life.

 

[Image credit:Clker-Free-Vector-Images/Pixabay]

Born to Die?

Since the time of creation billions have been born into this world, lived out their lives and then died. Yet out of these there was only one who was born to die. Over two thousand years ago Jesus Christ was born as a man to make a way for all of those who accept and believe in Him to have life for eternity.

No king, queen or leader of a nation, no prophet, apostle or leader of a religious organization was ever born to die for every human being who lived, is living or is yet to be born. Not a single person in the history of the world ever sacrificially gave their life like He did.

Jesus came to this world so that we could have everlasting life. He took on Himself all of our sins to the cross where he willingly gave His life. He loved us so much that paid a debt that we could never possibly repay, a debt He did not owe.

Whether it is Christmas day or any day of the year let us remember the One who was born to die so that we, if we accept Him, might live forever.

To find out more about accepting Jesus into your heart and life please click here.

 

[Image credit: Jeff Jacobs/pixabay & Derek Boggs/freeimages]

Want to Build a Fire?—Let Go of the Wood!

Two recently cut sections of a small tree

The woodpile grew rapidly as Leo and his dad finally cut up the old tree in the far end of the backyard. The huge tree fell eight years ago after a Nor’easter hit the region. It did not really obstruct anything, but had become an eyesore and home for many critters that raided the trash bin. Leo felt torn between holding onto the old tree and breaking it down for the fire pit. He had lots of fond memories of climbing and hiding between the various crevices of its larger branches. Sometimes when he was upset, he would sit on its large trunk pondering the meaning of life, or, at least, what little he knew of it.

The crisp Fall morning grew warmer as the sun climbed across the sky. Leo’s dad urged him to pick up his pace if they were to finish the tree before sunset. As Leo picked up a small bundle of cut branches, his mind wandered back to the time when the tree became his snow fort. It was impenetrable as long as he kept below the trunk. One time he failed to, just as a hard-packed snowball slammed into his forehead. Then he recalled the five-hour emergency room visit and head bandage.

A chain saw cutting a tree trunk

“Leo!” shouted his father over the chain saw growl, “if you don’t get that wood stacked immediately, I’m going to….” His voice disappeared as the growl changed back to a snarling roar. Leo quickly abandoned reminiscing and resumed his vigorous collecting and stacking of cut branches. Then the noon chime sounded on his watch, and he recalled the day when the neighbor’s dog slipped into his yard, chasing what Leo thought was a black cat with a white stripe. After a few minutes assisting the dog, a pungent ‘fragrance’ filled the air. Leo grabbed a broken branch from the tree and chased the dog instead, shouting, “Get away from here, you crazy dog! That’s not a cat!” but to little avail.

Lunch was a brief break before he and his dad prepared a crude fire pit in a sandy clearing. “That ought to help keep the fire in one place,” his dad remarked, while turning toward the house. “Leo, start stacking those logs while I go for the water hose and then get the fire underway. And I want results this time.”

Leo grabbed a tiny section of trunk. The day had become quite warm by then. This, along with his dad getting the hose, reminded him of the time when his friend came over to help build their version of a water park. They drilled holes in the newly-fallen tree, and were going to put sprinklers in at various intervals—until he broke the drill.

“Leo! What is taking so long? What’s going on in your head?” his dad angrily interrupted. “Stack the logs in the pit so I can get a fire going! How hard is that?”

Leo sighed, grabbed more logs, and stacked them down while his dad stuffed wood scraps all around the logs in the pit. He then turned one branch into a torch, lit it, and started setting the scraps on fire. Initially, Leo kept adding more of the old tree to the pile, but before long, strangely enough, he decided to take a few logs back and lay them aside nearby. Then he just stood staring at the newly-started fire and retrieved a few more branches that by now had begun to catch fire. It seemed like he wanted to get rid of the tree and all of the problems it caused, but at the same time, he didn’t want to completely let go of it.

A bonfire at night with large flames

“Leo! Come over here for a moment,” his dad motioned. Leo hesitantly walked a short distance from the fire. “Now you and I, along with everyone else around here, want this tree removed, right? Yet ever since we began, you have been daydreaming and taking your time. I’ve finally reached the point where we are able to burn the tree and get rid of it. But here you are, holding onto some of the logs. You’ve even gone so far as to pick them back up from the fire!”

“But I…” Leo started his defense.

“Look,” his dad interrupted, “we can’t get this fire going if you won’t let go of the logs!”

As believers in Christ, we are often guilty of doing the same thing with God—not with wood and a fire, but with leaving our problems and concerns at His altar. So often we want God to take care of our situation, but our unbelief won’t let Him. We go to the altar, commit our needs before Him, and leave. Then, after a few days, weeks, or even just a couple of hours, we return to the altar to retrieve what we left there. We never give God a chance to do much of anything. As a result, we become down in spirit or depressed. We may even complain that the problem doesn’t go away. Maybe we never truly wanted to give up the concern in the first place. We were moved in our heart to let go, but our old self, or “the flesh,” rose up and overruled—denying us the victory.

As our Heavenly Father, God wants us to come to Him with our needs and concerns. In fact, He will often allow, or even bring about, problems to affect us, to bring us to the point of committing them over to Him. In His love for us, He wants us to come to Him first and leave all of these things with Him. When we take them back (or never give them up in the first place) we are not allowing God to work in our lives. In essence, we tell God that we want to be free of the situation—but only on our terms and in our time frame.

Looking up a a stone cross with clouds behind

When Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice for us, it was a complete, finished work. There will never be a return trip and another sacrifice, much less multiple sacrifices. He did everything required and was victorious, so that we can be victorious. But we must lay our concerns on the altar and leave them there, putting our complete faith and trust in Him and His victory at the cross. Don’t be like Leo, and hold onto, or, worse yet, retrieve the logs from the fire. How can we start a fire, if we don’t let go of the wood?

Have You Reached Your Dead End?

A pale rust covered block wall indicating a dead end

Once you were in bondage to sin, but a way was made for you to get free. You acknowledged the price paid, and were then granted your release from captivity. The enemy was forced to let you go. Now the world you are in is a beautiful place. The burdens that weighed you down are gone. You triumphantly travel down the road of victory, eager to tell others what has transpired in your life. It’s a happy journey! You feel like nothing can stop you anymore.

But what is this obstacle ahead? It looks something like a great channel of water. You cannot safely cross it, nor go around it. To make matters worse, the one who released you from captivity is now in hot pursuit and threatening to capture and destroy you. You can’t go forward, left, or right. You certainly can’t go backward either. Even standing still can only be for a limited time. You have hit a dead end.

You thought that, by following the One who led you out of the depths of sin, you were now free from all kinds of problems and difficulties. Yet it seems like everything is going against you. So what do you do?

The first inclination is to doubt, complain, and murmur about your circumstances and leadership, just like most of those around you.

But this never solves the problem and only worsens your relationship with God (although it hasn’t stopped anyone to this day from trying!). Or you could just continue to trust in the One who led you out. He is in direct communication with God and surely will know what to do next.

The Israelites encountered this kind of situation when they left Egypt several thousand years ago. For years, they endured the bondage of the Egyptians, which continually grew more harsh and demanding. God heard their eventual cry for freedom and raised up Moses—one of their own—to be their deliverer. In due time, the Egyptian leaders finally let them go, and God led them out into the wilderness through the obedience of Moses. During this time of exodus they rejoiced greatly. The weight of Egypt and their taskmasters was gone at last. They also had the glorious visible presence of God with them as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

But all of this joy ceased when their journey abruptly ended at the Red Sea. They immediately descended into murmuring and complaining also—first against Moses, and ultimately against God Himself. In fact, what they really wanted was to kill Moses for leading them out into this wilderness to die. To make matters worse, the Pharaoh of Egypt changed his mind, and now the whole Egyptian army was rapidly gaining on them, intending to permanently end this migration! Even if they were capable of building a bridge or some type of watercraft to cross the water, there was absolutely no time. They (like you are at this very moment) couldn’t safely travel in any direction. They were truly at a dead end.

A yellow street sign displaying the words 'dead end.'

Did God abandon them and leave them to their own devices for survival? Did He tell them: “I delivered you from the bondage of the Egyptians. Now, go figure out the rest of the way for yourself”? No! He made a way that was completely unexpected by everyone. But first, Moses had to be obedient to God and not give in to the unbelieving crowd around him. Then “…the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea” (Exodus 14:15,16).

Moses did as God commanded and the millions of Israelites went across the Rea Sea just as dry as they were on the shore. The Egyptian army believed in God less than the Israelites did, which they demonstrated when they hotly pursued the people right through the parted waters! They could have stopped on the shoreline, or even have just sent a small company—but no, the entire army went forward! As a result, after Moses led the people across the waters, “…the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen. And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them” (Exodus 14:25-27).

God led the people across a great sea without so much as a sandal getting wet! He even took care of their oppressors (who might have survived if they had only feared God). Therefore, if God can open a dead end for millions of people, and bring them through safely, He can certainly bring you through your impossible situation right now. God has allowed you to reach this point to show His faithfulness. God wants you to believe in Him for the impossible, to expect the unexpected. If you trusted Him for what you or someone else could accomplish for you, then there is really no need for Him in the first place. But He already planned a way out for you long before you reached your present dilemma.

When you try to solve your problems on your own, you will always reach a dead end.

In Proverbs 3:5 God said, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” He sent His Son to sacrifice His life on the cross, not just to save you from being eternally lost when you die, but also to make your life right now victorious in Him. Jesus has already fought and won the war; all you are expected to do, as a believer in Him, is to put your complete trust in Him to bring you through the battle you are facing right now.

Throughout the Old Testament, when the Israelites went before God in unbelief, they encountered impossible situations. Yet when they cried out to God, repented, and put their trust in Him, He changed their impossible situations. Take your eyes off of the impossible, and place your faith in the victorious and finished work of Jesus at the cross. Make His victory your victory, and watch the dead end you are facing turn into an open pathway.

Same Direction, Wrong Destination

A red electric train on curved tracks.

Many major cities around the world have specific areas where multiple railroad tracks cluster together. A great number of trains pass through these hubs to pick up and unload passengers or freight. For some, this is their destination, for others, just a stopover. Looking down on these rail yards from above, you would see many tracks running parallel to each other. Some will cross paths with another, while many never meet at all. Even in some towns, two or more tracks may run near each other yet never come together.

An overhead view of three red cabooses sitting on one of several train tracks including one that curves away from the others.

Now suppose two people decided to each take one of these parallel tracks and travel on it, expecting to get out and meet the other at the end of the line. After only a short period of traveling, they might discover that the tracks they chose depart from their parallel course instead, and end up reaching separate destinations. For the one who ended up at the wrong destination, everything seemed right in the beginning. His companion riding on the other track started off shortly before he did and moved along in the same direction as he was about to travel. Therefore he assumed that the end of the trip would work out just as well.

Two trains sitting side by side at a station.

Many think that they can just get on a track that seems right when it comes to really finding God and entering Heaven and they will surely arrive at the feet of God Himself, along with everyone else on other parallel tracks. The Bible spoke of this and its outcome thousands of years ago: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12). Just because we think the way we want to travel is the best way does not always mean that it is. God made only one way available to get to Him, and that is through His Son, Jesus. “Jesus saith…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). But many vehemently disagree with this statement, because they want control over the whole process. They do not want God’s way, because it involves giving up of the right to their self. They want everything on their own terms. They feel God must come down to them, not the other way around. They would prefer to accept a verse out of the ‘anti-Bible’ –“…I am a way, a truth and a life; all persons can come to the Father whether by me or anything else.”

Because of our sins, we are not allowed to come before God, since He is holy and righteous. No other being can rival or equal God. He is supreme and almighty. On the other hand, we—the human race—are sinful, finite beings. Our sinful nature cannot mix with God’s holiness; if we could do so, it could not make us more holy and free of sin. Instead, it would corrupt God Himself, nullifying His very existence, and cause complete chaos in the delicate balance of all of His creation (including us). In fact, with our limited knowledge of this world and the universes beyond, we cannot possibly comprehend the fullness of the consequences of God’s annihilation (if such was possible).

Prior to Jesus coming to Earth as a man, God made a temporary way for man to come before Him. But man still could not actually be in His presence, similar to children being in the house of their parents but still not in the actual room where their parents reside. The whole process found in the Old Testament exceeds the scope of this article, but the essence of it involves a sacrifice. God required the blood of an innocent, spotless, defect-free lamb to be shed as a temporary covering for the sins of the people. The lamb took the death penalty man deserved. Note the word ‘temporary,’ as these sacrifices could never permanently remove anyone’s sins. Therefore, they had to be repeated over and over. By obeying God’s commandments outlined in the Old Testament, and the offering up of the sacrifice by a high priest, God’s judgment could be avoided. But God never intended for this sacrificial system to go on forever. It necessitated a final sacrifice, one that would, once and for all, pay the price for the sins of every man, woman and child—not just the ones alive now, but even for those who already died and those yet to be born. The problem was that no one on Earth, or anywhere in the universe, could qualify as a man who was a perfect, sinless substitute.

A silhouette of a cross and brush with fog, sky and mountains in the distance.

That is where Jesus comes in. He willingly came down from His place in Heaven and became a physical human being just like us—only without any sin, ever. He, in turn, became the ultimate, final, living sacrifice needed to pay the penalty for our sins. During His time here on Earth, He fulfilled every requirement God had laid out in the Old Testament. This was something impossible for any other person on Earth to completely accomplish. When He was crucified on the cross, He took upon Himself every sin—past, present and future—of every person who was, is, and will be on Earth. His shed blood covered our sins. They are completely removed from God’s sight. “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission [elimination]” (Hebrews 9:22). But, unlike the lamb mentioned earlier, Jesus’ sacrifice was final and permanent. Not only that, after He was taken down from the cross and buried, He rose three days later from the grave and soon ascended back to His place with God. This further seals the finality of His sacrifice.

This is how Jesus alone became “the way, the truth, and the life.”No man or animal ever sacrificed his life for us and rose from the dead afterward. Furthermore, no one every loved us to the point that he gave his only son to die for us.

But “…God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Remember also, that Jesus loved us as much as the Father, in that He willfully came down and gave His life in our place.

Which track are you riding on right now? Is it the one that you think (or have been taught) is going to God? Or is it one that everyone else is riding because they also believe that it is going to the right place? Just because the train’s cars are full does not make that track the right one. There may be two tracks at that station, or there may be many tracks in the rail yard, but only one is the right one that will take you to eternal life with God. Are you on that track? Or are you on a parallel one that will ultimately take you away from God? Don’t let today’s smug rejection be tomorrow’s surprise for eternity. There is still time to get on the train that is riding on the correct track. Why don’t you take a moment now and ask God to lead you to it?

For more information on finding God, please check out our main website here.

Faith or Just Hope?

mother baby looking at plane

Is the object of our faith…

woman looking at planes

just a hope that a plane will get us to our destination?

airplane cockpit with pilot

Or do we place our faith in the pilot with his wisdom, training and experience…

woman looking out airplane window

to get us to where we are to go as safely as possible?

How often the child of God feels inadequate when it comes to faith. Our thinking seems to be—if we only could have more faith, then our doubts would dissipate completely. Actually many of us already have a great amount of faith. Jesus said, “…If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder [a distant] place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matthew 17:20). Our problem is that the faith we already have does not have works. “…faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (James 2:17). Therefore, it is ineffective.

Often we say we have faith, but the truth is we just really, really hope that the problem will solve itself! So we cringe; we strain; we agonize. Yet in the end, we either solve the problem some way ourselves, thinking that our faith worked, or, by sheer coincidence, the problem has gone away somehow on its own. Our idea is to make faith into the actual effort, instead of having faith in the One who can solve our problem at hand. But it is the faithfulness of God that brings godly results, never our faith alone. If we will put our faith in God’s son, Jesus, and His finished work on the cross, then our sinful self is taken out of the picture, and He is able to carry out the actual works needed, through us.

Father, help me to make my understanding of faith not according to my own works, but of believing solely in your Son. May Jesus be the object of my faith and never anything else. From this point forward, I will look to Him and what He has done on the cross as the means for my victory. Amen.

Greater Than Any Fence

sunset and heron behind fence

A simple chain-link fence was all that separated me from the Great Blue Heron standing at the pond’s edge. Hoping for the “perfect shot,” I carefully inched closer, camera in hand. With each successive step toward the fence, the heron became more wary of my presence. I slowly raised my camera to the fence top, when—whoosh—the heron made its rapid egress gracefully into the sky, evading me once again.

I spotted ibises later, moving across a grassy bank. With the tangled network of trees, bushes, and vines before me, the possibility was small that my presence would disturb them. Yet they still continued to hurriedly move farther down the bank. I cautiously repositioned myself just a short distance down along this barrier between the birds and me. Taking careful aim, I brought the ibises into focus, and waited silently. Suddenly, two boys gleefully bounded out of woods nearby toward my direction. The birds spotted them through this ‘fence’ and quickly flew off. Another fine photograph evaded me!

One would think that birds and animals feel safer behind fences and barriers. Yet almost every time, they flee at the slightest disturbance without hesitation. I’ve seen squirrels and doves high in a tree quite alarmed, that would run or fly away while I carefully walked underneath them. They didn’t know how difficult it was to reach them. So why would they, or a larger animal such as a cow or deer, feel compelled to move away from a human being, even though a large barricade stands between them? Could it simply be that they don’t understand just how secure they really are?

sheep behind fence

Many in today’s world harbor a similar fear. They consider the devil and all the evil associated with him a threat, and flee in the opposite direction at the slightest disturbance. This effort may be effective if someone nearby deliberately planned to throw a large object at them, but the devil operates in both the non-spiritual (natural, visible) realm, and in the spiritual (supernatural, unseen) realm. He is already waiting on the opposite side before they even get near there!

Wait—what about the fence mentioned earlier? Could the devil attack if a fence is in place in our life to protect us? It depends on our relationship with God. When we allow sin in our life, gaps appear in our fence, giving the devil access to us. Ever since the first man’s failure in the Garden of Eden, no human being has been able to be in God’s presence—whether in Heaven or on Earth—because of sin. Sin is disobedience to God’s laws and commandments, put in place for our benefit. Violating them results in both natural and spiritual consequences. God cannot permit or tolerate any sin in His presence, yet God wants every human being to be in His presence.

fence with hole

This is the point where Jesus, God’s only Son, comes in. Sin caused separation in the relationship between God and man. Through the requirements laid out in the Bible’s first five books, God made a way for man to come before Him, but only in a veiled manner back then. Sin couldn’t truly be defeated, because it required something sinless to overcome it—meaning no one from this earth would ever qualify. Sin could only be covered, or temporarily hidden, through the shed blood from the sacrifice of a spotless, innocent lamb. This meant that these lambs had to be continually sacrificed.

Jesus was sinless before He was born on this Earth as a man, and remained so all the way through His death on the cross and beyond. He was therefore able to fulfill this sinless requirement. He was the ultimate ‘spotless, innocent lamb’ that willingly (God never forced Him) shed His innocent blood by sacrificing His life on the cross. He permanently covered the sin of every man, woman and child that has lived, is living, and is yet to be born! Because He was the final sacrifice, no more lambs had to be sacrificed. When He cried out on the cross, “It is finished (literally just “finished,” John 19:30), He was referring to the end of the old physical sacrificial system, and of sin’s control over our lives. Not only did He sacrifice His life on the cross—three days later He arose from His tomb alive, completely victorious over sin and death!

So how does this apply to the fence I mentioned? Well, initially you need to admit to God that you were wrong and accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross by faith, as if it was your own sacrifice of yourself. He took your place and paid your debt for sin that He didn’t owe (remember, He was continuously sinless and blameless) —a debt impossible for you to repay. In fact, you can’t even pay the interest! Ask Him to forgive you for all of your sins against Him, and turn completely around in the opposite direction of them, thereby allowing Him to be in control of your life. [Click here for more information about giving your life to Him.] Do this, and He, in essence, becomes a hedge or fence around you. Not a literal fence you can see, but a spiritual fence that the devil and his minions are aware of, yet cannot get past.

cross with blue sunset

Because of Jesus’ victory at the cross, the devil no longer has the legal right to break through this fence and attack you—as long as you are yielding to Jesus, allowing Him to work in your heart and life. This doesn’t mean that the devil won’t threaten and intimidate you though. Like the boys running near the barrier scaring the birds, the devil will still create quite a racket—enough to make you believe that he has actually broken through the fence! The difference is, when you put your trust in Jesus, focusing on Him and not yourself or anyone else, that fence will remain secure.

Actually, you will be even more protected than the birds I mentioned. They are only safe from direct attacks on the side that the physical fence covers. But Jesus protects you on all sides. “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust” (Psalm 91:2). He is greater than any fence or hedge of protection that you’ll ever find on this Earth. Make a commitment to Jesus today and let Him be your shield and barrier.

Pushing Fear Out of Your Life

headshot closeup of fearful man

Whether it’s something small, like a pen running out of ink in the middle of an important exam, or something major, such as a bomb detonating on an airplane, there will be fear in our life. None is exempt from having fear, regardless of age, background, standing in society, or physical location. Now fearing something, someone, or a certain circumstance is not necessarily wrong in itself, as long as we recognize it, and heed it as a warning to be careful or to make a change. But fear becomes a problem when it begins to hinder or control us. If fear dominates part or all of our life, and we just can’t seem to free ourself, then something in our heart is causing it—like doubt, unbelief, rebellion, or a whole host of other things. God may also use fear to alert us to the presence of sin in our life. As a result, even if we attempt to elude or hide from the situation, it is very likely to return until we are overtaken. God never wants anything in our life to bring us to the point that we are forced to succumb to our fears. But He does allow problems and difficult situations to come our way to wake us up, and to stir us to the point of repentance. God loves us greatly and does not want fear in our life any more than we do.

To remove fear from our life, we need to establish a solid relationship with God through His Son Jesus. But as long as sin dominates the heart, an intimate, godly relationship cannot exist. If a spouse in an earthly marriage relationship has an affair with another person, the marriage trust is broken and the original intimacy is lost.

Similarly, fear and perfect love cannot coexist in the same person. What we need is perfect (complete) love to fill our hearts, not sin.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love [drives] out fear: because fear hath torment [corrective misery]. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18). The perfect love mentioned here is not the kind of love expressed toward a family member or a friend, and is certainly not the love of erotic desire. It is, instead, the sacrificial, godly type of love. This kind of unconditional and unselfish love transcends all physical boundaries. It is the love that “…suffereth long, and is kind…envieth not…[boasts] not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

The more love enters in, the more fear is pushed out. But when we continue to allow sin in our heart, perfect love is driven out, allowing fear to rush in to take its place. Think of this like a transparent, U-shaped tube filled with a dark, putrefying fluid—a dreadful mixture representing fear. Then picture pure, clear water being poured into one end of the tube. The dark fluid will begin to spew out of the other end, until eventually the tube is as clear as the water itself. God’s perfect love accomplishes this toward fear when we let it flow in our hearts. But if we break that flow of love with sin, then that appalling black fluid has a place to re-enter and flood our heart again with fear.

U shaped tube showing fear and fear exiting

Do fear and anxiety currently dominate your heart? Are you able to sleep in peace? Or do you regularly feel like someone is watching you, like an evil presence hovers over your every move? Does a sense of failure or defeat continually loom over much of what you do? Are you filled with worry about how to make it through tomorrow, or even tonight? Then you need to lose no more time in yielding your heart and life over to Jesus Christ. He unselfishly sacrificed His very life on the cross so that you could have victory over fear and even death. Don’t try to remove the ugly fluid of fear from your life by trying to draw it out yourself. You’ll only form a void for some other abysmal hindrance to fill later. Fear can’t be defeated simply by your own effort or strength. If you truly want to have victory, it has to be turned over to Jesus.

“Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth [abides] in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:15-16). Take a moment right now and go before Him in prayer. Ask Him for forgiveness for your sins, and then open your heart fully to Him. Seek Him for a deeper relationship that will fill your heart with not just love, but perfect love. Don’t let any more time go by without yielding your deepest fears over to Him. “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed” (Psalm 34:4, 5). You can trust in Jesus—the only One who can expel your fear, and fill your heart with perfect love.

(If you want to surrender your heart and life to Him right now, look at this page to learn more.)