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]

He Will Never Do It Again

graphic displaying Jesus and Simon the Cyrene carrying cross up hill with a red 'no' circle overlay on top of picture

Many years ago, I heard a song that said, “If He had to do it all again, He’d do it all again.” The song’s overall message tells how great the love of Jesus is. It is true that He loved us so much that, even though there was nothing in us to deserve it, He came to Earth to take away our sins and give us a new life by dying on the cross for us. This song implied (with no expectation of it actually happening) that Jesus’ love for us is so great that He would willingly come and die on the cross again to redeem us. But, in reality, though this never can or will happen. Jesus became fully man when He came to Earth to die for us.

No man can die more than once, including Him. It is therefore impossible for Jesus to return again to die again to redeem us from the curse of sin and death.

When Jesus was on the cross, He made a statement in His final hours that completed God’s plan for the salvation and victory for everyone in the world, past, present and future, who will believe Him. “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up [His spirit]” (John 19:30 emphasis added). He fulfilled all of God’s requirements found in the Old Testament. Throughout His time here on Earth, He satisfied every expectation His Father deemed necessary, in order to re-establish the relationship with Him that man lost due to sin.

Before all that God’s Son accomplished on the cross, sin could be covered only temporarily by the sacrifice of an animal in our place. Therefore, people had to continually go before a priest, who would take the item a person brought to be sacrificed and present it before God on his behalf. There was no real means for someone to go freely before God by himself. A priest and a physical sacrifice had to go before him.

Now Jesus’ finished work on the cross enables us to freely come before God through Jesus as our Great High Priest.

He fulfilled the role of the priest, and He also gave His life as the final and ultimate sacrifice. There is no longer a need for us to offer up an animal, as was previously required.

This is the reason that it is impossible for Jesus “to do it all again.” What He did for us on the cross was final. If He had “to do it all again,” it would mean that the first time was incomplete. It also suggests that when He declared “it is finished,” everything was not accomplished after all, and therefore Jesus made a mistake. To carry this train of thought out even further, for Jesus to be in error would mean that His heavenly Father is wrong as well, since Jesus is always fully obedient to what His Father tells Him. This would contradict the nature and existence of God therefore, resulting in total chaos!

When Jesus came in person to this world to provide the way of deliverance from the curse of sin and death, it was once and for all.

The love of God and His Son for man is so immense, perfect, and infinite that there is no need whatsoever for a ‘repeat performance.’ On the contrary, we need to accept His finished work at the cross as our own, based solely on the first and only time He did it. Jesus is coming back to this Earth again. This time, though, it will not be for another attempt at redeeming man, but rather in judgment for those who have rejected His initial offer of salvation and deliverance, when He died on the cross on their behalf to free them from the power of sin. Everything man needed to come to God was completely provided for then. There is no point in standing around waiting to see if Jesus will ‘do it all again.’ We need to yield our heart to Him now, based on what He has already done on our behalf, while we still can!

If you want more information on how to accept this finished work Jesus made possible during His time here on the Earth for yourself and receive external life, please click here.

 

[Graphic credit (without red slash and circle): raphael/Pixabay]

Where Is The Center Point of Our Faith?

A drawing of a plumb line attached to a small wall

Builders constructing a building make regular checks as they go to be sure that it does not lean in any direction. In spite of all the advanced technology available today, there is one ordinary, non-technical device still being used to make sure a structure being built is straight: the plumb line. This tool consists of just two simple components—a line, such as a string, a rope, or a strong, flexible wire, and the plumb—a small metal weight attached to the end of the line. When it is held at a specific position on a structure, it will show how far off center the building being constructed is, by revealing how straight the framework is in relation to the line itself. A plumb line left unhindered will always swing back to the center point in relation to where it is hung.

A photo of a gold pendulum swinging on a printed diagram

A pendulum also follows the same principle as a plumb line. It is essentially a weight attached to a string, a rod, or a flat decorative piece of metal that is connected to a pivot point. A pendulum may swing back and forth in many different directions, but when left to itself, it eventually slows down and comes to rest at the center point.

We can apply these examples to our walk with God. If a plumb line was held next to our spiritual position with God, how far off would we be in relation to His straight standard? Our center point must always be Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross. If we lean in any direction toward anything other than Him, the faith we are ‘building’ will become off center. And, if left unchecked, it will eventually lean so far off center that our faith will collapse and fall. Therefore, our central focus has to remain on Jesus and nothing else.

In order to stay right in the center of what God has planned for us, we need to stop trusting in our own efforts and start trusting in His Son instead.

Now, the question for us is, where is the center point of our faith? Is it in Christ and His finished work on the cross, or in something else? It doesn’t matter what we do that is good, bad, or somewhere in between—if Jesus is not the focus, the center, of our life, then we will always be ‘off.’ Whenever we turn to anything other than Him, we are swinging away from the center point of true peace in our heart.

When we put our efforts into other areas, we are basically saying that His sacrifice was not enough, that we also have to do something ourselves to make our life right with God. The more we try, the more we move away from the plumb line, and lean the wrong way spiritually. We need to stop swinging back and forth, like the pendulum, away from our center point.

The Apostle Paul said, “But to him that worketh not [himself], but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5). Who is “Him that justifieth the ungodly”? Jesus.

By believing on Him and what He has done for us on the cross, our“faith is counted for righteousness.”

That’s it. We have no need for special programs and rituals, or counseling and treatment, or anything else. We just need to place our total trust in Him, keeping Him continually as the center point of our faith—not the world, not religion, not our own ideas, not anything else. Then we will be able to rest secure, trusting in the center point of our faith—our Lord Jesus.

 

[Image credits:(plumb line) Pearson Scott Foresman [Public domain]; (pendulum) Manfred Antranias Zimmer/Pixabay]

The Vine, the Branch, the Fruit

A cluster of grapes hanging on a vine

“I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Jesus stated here that He is the Vine and His followers are the branches. This verse emphasizes the importance of a branch abiding in the vine it comes from, meaning that it is absolutely necessary for Christ’s followers to abide in Him. It is only the branches which abide in Him that will produce worthwhile fruit.

Look closely at a vineyard. You’ll see that the vine and the branches are attached, like your head is attached to your body. Jesus is referring here to branches that now are, or once were, in union with Him by a living faith. “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12). Close union with Christ is the real message here.

An orange hanging on a tree doesn’t try to find a way to make itself plump and ripe. It just hangs from the branch, and, with proper care, when the right time arrives it becomes ripe and ready to feed someone. It is only natural for the vine to produce fruit through its branches. It doesn’t plan ahead or work at it. You need to just hang in there with Christ, and let the fruit He is producing in and through you develop naturally and mature. Then it will be of benefit to others. Christ is telling you here to just abide in Him, because you can’t produce fruit on your own. Are you abiding in Him? If not, there is no way you can produce fruit for Him by yourself. Your intentions may be good, but you can’t make plans and projections on your own to fulfill your goal of bearing fruit for Christ.

You can find all kinds of ‘Christian’ projects going on these days that look good, but they have not been initiated or directed by the Spirit of God. They are therefore actually just a waste of time and energy and money.

In fact, anything you do for God that does not come forth from abiding in Christ has as much value as wood, hay and stubble—which are only fit to be burned in the end.

You simply cannot bring forth any worthwhile fruit unto God separate from the power of Christ living within you. Only fruit produced as a result of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ will be worthwhile in the end.

Once you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you start out grafted into the Vine, which is Him. You slowly become part of the Vine and it feeds you. If you continue to grow with Him, your life will start to bear fruit. It will not be much at first, but soon you will have more than you started with. And it won’t be long before you will have much fruit coming forth from your life. It is the power of Christ’s presence and His Holy Spirit in you that will enable you to produce the fruit of the Spirit. Then the love and peace and righteousness of Jesus will come forth from you and through you.

Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and you are the branches” (John 15:5a). He meant that you need to be united to Him and to commune with Him by sincerely believing in Him. As you faithfully stand for Christ and practice your faith in Him with action that is steady, serious, and energetic, it will be accompanied with His blessing and assistance. The Holy Spirit will inspire you to do what Jesus wants. This is where you will find the only way for a believer to become fruitful in holiness.

So continue steadily in your love and attachment to Jesus by living a life of constant communion with Him. Make it a habit to fix your heart on Him daily in full confidence and faith.

This will be your indisputable method to get all the supply you need from Him. You will gain both the influence of His Holy Spirit and His comforting presence. He will protect you and provide for you and direct you by His Word. Continue on united to Him. Doing this on a regular basis, like daily exercise, will become necessary in order to produce works of righteousness, both from within and without. Then you will be like a branch on a vine, laden down with fully developed fruit!

But if you defect from your loyalty and relationship with Christ, you will lose His influence over you and what you produce. No one who is separated from the True Vine can bear any fruit that is worthwhile. Only the one who abides in Christ is able to produce worthwhile fruit. Christ alone is the vine and the fountain and spring and source of life. His branches don’t have any life or power apart from Him. You need the grace of God and the power of Christ in you, or you cannot produce action that pleases God, any more than a dry, withered branch can produce succulent fruit. You are nothing, you have nothing, and you can do nothing at all that is truly spiritual and acceptable to God if you do not abide in Christ.

Jesus told us: “Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5b). Underline that in your Bible. How often we try to do things for God which always fail in the end. Then we realize, when we are finally able to see the truth of the matter, that apart from Jesus, “I—can—do—nothing!” But Paul declared in Philippians 4:13: “…I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

Keep foremost in your mind these two statements which go together:
Apart from Christ, I can do nothing.
But through Christ, I can do all things!

 So remember: Christ comes before fruit. Remain attached to Him and trust in Him. Depend on Him by remaining near His heart on a regular basis. In this way He will be your constant source of strength and fruit, because He will be in you. And then, the more fruit you bring forth, the more you will abound in what is good, and the more He will be glorified!

[Image credit: Jassy Onyae/unsplash]

New Year, Same Sin

At the beginning of each new year, it is the same old thing: a large majority of us want to improve some area of our life. Almost everywhere we look, from gyms to retail stores and restaurants, even to financial institutions, like banks, investment firms, and tax preparers, there are promotions of some kind regarding a new outlook on life. Churches and ministries are now getting in on the trend with various programs to revitalize and enhance us physically and spiritually. Most follow the tagline of ‘New Year, New You’ or some other variant. Yet, with all of these means in place to assist us, why do we still need them all over again next year and each successive year thereafter?

The key lies with something that each and every one of us has to deal with all of the time. It is called sin. No matter what effort we take to hide or overcome it, sin will always be there. In essence, sin is disobedience to God’s Word. It is also something that keeps us from entering into God’s Kingdom. God cannot tolerate any sin, even the tiniest amount.

Sin brings us into a period of pleasure while we are committing it, and then leaves us in a state of emptiness, despair, and disappointment afterward.

Therefore, we are never satisfied with just one act of sin. We continually seek more and greater ways to sin in order to reach a point of gratification.

Sin escalates while, at the same time, it degrades. Sin is never isolated to just the one who is sinning. Many feel that as long as it is hidden, then everything will be fine. Yet, whether the results are seen or not, our sin impacts some thing or someone else. From the rocks to the animals to the oceans to the sky, and everybody in between, the whole earth is ultimately affected by our sins. Since the time of Adam and Eve to the present time, the world has been steadily in decline. Every attempt throughout history to save this world from destruction has been nullified by our continual sin.

Nothing in our own efforts will solve the sin problem in our life or anyone else’s. While not all of our ills are directly caused by our sin, we are still impacted by it. Sin is like quicksand—the more you try to escape, the deeper you sink into it. It may not have hurt when you slipped in, and may not be painful while you are in it, but you still are descending slowly to your death.

The only solution to the sin problem is to turn to someone who is greater than sin itself.

We can’t get out of the quicksand through some self-help program or a fitness or dietary regime. No amount of financial planning or seminars will help. We might be able to stay afloat for an extended period of time, but it is not until we grab hold of a lifeline, like someone’s hand or the equivalent, that our rescue is possible.

That ultimate help is Jesus Christ. He is the only one qualified to deliver us from the hold and finality of sin. He willingly left His place in Heaven and came to this sinful earth to rescue us. He took all of the sins of the world – past, present and future – upon Himself and was crucified on a cross so to pay for them so that we could be free. He paid a penalty that was impossible for us to pay on our own. He gave us the means to come before God through Him. When we acknowledge and accept the sacrifice He made for us as our own, ask for forgiveness of our sins, and allow Him to live in our heart and life, then He will pull us out of the grip of sin. His blood shed for us will cover our sins, never more to be seen by God.

Not only are our sins removed, but we are given a whole new nature—one that is no longer bent toward sinning and desiring the sinful ways of this world.

Instead of trying to make ourselves better each year by our own strength and efforts, we just need to yield to Jesus and turn our concerns over to Him, “casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Only He can bring about real success and change in our life—when we let Him. Won’t you do it today?

For more direction on how to let God remove the sin in your life click here.

“In Spite of It All, the Lord Stood With Me”

Man sitting alone in large area with dark background in sunlight

Paul the Apostle is considered to be one of the greatest men in the Bible. He was educated by highly distinguished teachers, and obtained the status of a very knowledgeable and outstanding religious leader among the Jewish people. He said of himself that “I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city  at the feet of Gamaliel [well-respected teacher and authority of the Jewish law], and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God…” (Acts 22:3).

He considered believers in Jesus Christ to be heretics and enemies of the Jews, and he was determined to try to exterminate them all in the name of God. But God turned all of that around by bringing Paul to the point where he, himself, became a believer in Christ. This forced him to reconsider all that he had been taught. He eventually came to the point where he could say, “…I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Philippians 3:8). As a result, instead of continuing to berate and eliminate the Christians, he began to humbly exhort and teach them and to preach Christ and Him crucified to them.

Paul became the author of almost one third of the New Testament. He encouraged both individual believers and churches, and set certain erroneous beliefs in the fellowships of the believers of that day straight. He also traveled extensively across the Mediterranean region, from Spain to Jerusalem, by land and by sea, preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ to Jews and non-Jews alike.

Throughout all of this, a great number of fellow believers in Christ assisted and encouraged him, both physically and spiritually, wherever he went. But in the end, when it came time for him to stand trial before the Roman emperor Nero, he said that “…no man stood with me, all men forsook me” (2 Timothy 4:16). Like Christ at His trial and crucifixion, not one person stood by his side. Imagine how disappointed and downcast he could have been at that point.

Thankfully, the story does not end there, as we read in the next verse: “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear…” (2 Timothy 4:17).

Paul had the greatest support of all—the Lord Himself. What a wonderful, reassuring thought, to know that Jesus is by our side giving us strength and encouragement, much more than any other person on this Earth could ever do.

While we may never be in a position as dire as what Paul encountered, how often do we wallow in self-pity and despair over circumstances and situations that are nowhere near the level of Paul’s? Proverbs describes the best characteristic of a real friend: “…there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). The friend most true is Jesus Christ Himself. Through thick and thin, He will be right there by our side, “…for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). No matter how great or small the trial is that we are in, we can always rest assured that He is there with us, if we have put our trust in Him.

As we read through the New Testament, we find that God kept Paul in a position where he would not want to do anything else but look to Christ.

Even though he went from being beaten almost to death, then shackled in a prison cell, to being in the heart of an angry mob, to surviving a shipwreck, he never believed that God had abandoned him.

We as believers in Christ must remain continually in this same attitude. Our desire, our focus, and our faith must all be on Jesus Christ and the cross. Our best friends, closest relatives, and other loved ones may all forsake us at some crucial point in our life. Yet, as long as we pursue and obey Christ, and do not look to our self, He will always remain by our side and will never forsake us. In our most trying times, may we, as well, be able to say to others: “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me” (2 Timothy 4:17a).