A Christian healthcare sharing program that’s been around for more than 20 years has exploded since the launch of Obamacare, Fox News reported.
Exempt from the Obamacare mandate to buy health insurance, Medi-Share is a network of Christians who pool their financial resources to cover members’ medical expenses in what the organization deems a “proven biblical model of healthcare.”
According to Fox, the nation’s three largest ministries have 242,000 members from all 50 states. Since the Oct. 1 Obamacare rollout, Medi-Share has enrolled 30,000 new members, more than the number of people who selected Obamacare plans in 24 states.
“Fellow believers who are living God-honoring lifestyles, based on biblical principles and service to others,” according to MyChristianCare.org, who meet the following requirements are permitted to apply to join the network:
• Attend church regularly and submit a “verifiable Christian testimony indicating a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and profess the Statement of Faith;
• Abstain from sex outside “traditional Christian marriage” ;
• Cannot use tobacco or illegal drugs and cannot abuse alcohol or legal drugs;
• Must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident with a green card or visa and Social Security number living full time in the United States.
A “New Testament way of thinking,” Medi-Share is not health insurance, and there is no guarantee that it will cover a member’s healthcare costs. But CEO Tony Meggs told Fox that during its 21 years in existence, there have been only a handful of complaints about coverage.
Medi-Share does not cover abortion or morning-after pills, since those things violate members’ religious beliefs.
Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a healthcare consumer advocacy group, told Fox News that Medi-Share does not offer the same protections as federally regulated coverage.
The Trinity is the most unique aspect of Christian truth. Christians believe there is one God who eternally exists in Three Persons — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a doctrine that is easy to state, yet impossible to understand. After all, if God were small enough to be understood, He wouldn’t be big enough to be worshipped.
Perhaps the simplest explanation for the Trinity comes from Charles Colson, who described the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as: God Above, God Beside, God Within. We have a Father — God above us. We have a Savior — God beside us. We have a Spirit — God within us. That’s a humble explanation for the Trinity, but it’s not inaccurate.
God’s grace is conveyed to us through the Trinity. We are triply blessed in every way, as reflected in the Apostolic Benediction of 2 Corinthians 13. Anytime we see a passage in the Bible mentioning all three members of the Trinity, it is invariably a passage of blessing and grace (see Revelation 1:4-6). We are healthier people when we understand and enjoy God above us, God beside us, and God within us.
The Trinity … answers the deepest needs of the human heart, offering a depth of spirituality unknown in any other religion.
Charles Colson, in The Faith
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. —Romans 5:1-2
There is no way anyone will understand justification by grace appropriated only through faith without looking at it from God’s perspective. When we see the holiness of God on one hand and the depth of mankind’s sin on the other, a lot of things come into a new light. Justification by faith alone makes sense only when you realize that no amount of human effort could bridge that immeasurable gap. No amount of consecration or sanctification could earn the right to the gifts of the Spirit any more than indulgences could gain forgiveness or Simon’s money could purchase God’s power. Gifts of the Spirit are given based on the grace of God, not on the maturity, wisdom, and character of the vessel.
Father, there is a great gulf that stands between Your perfect holiness and the sinful, hopeless condition of mankind. Nothing but a simple faith in You can bridge that gulf and cause Your forgiveness and mercy to flood over my soul.
God’s solution on the cross makes sense
when you realize that the human effort
equation is hopelessly flawed.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” –2 Corinthians 1:3-4
On September 11, 2001, all or our lives were changed. On that day, I expected to go to the hospital and be there for my daughter-in-law, son, and soon-to-be-born granddaughter. The tragedy of that morning in New York changed those plans.
“I will not have my baby born today” were my daughter-in-law’s words as she held on until the next day. My brother, who shares the date of September 11 as his birthday some 64 years earlier, regrets having to celebrate his birthday on such a horrific day.
Loss came in a shocking and tragic way as we in the U.S. felt a loss of freedom that day, a loss of innocence, a loss of security, a loss of lives. We watched people weep covered with ash. We watched as people jumped from buildings to their deaths. We watched planes crumble buildings. It went on all day, story after story, day after day.
We shall never be the same after that black day. We are marked and scarred and 12 years later still find a need for healing. For this, we must turn to God. Yet, he who provides all good things for our well-being as individuals and citizens, he who millions clung to in the aftermath of that day, has been pushed aside in the name of political correctness.
Therefore, let us mark this day, September 11, 2013, with prayers of remembrance, prayers of healing, prayers of thanks, prayers for guidance, prayers for courage to stand up for our God as we go forward in our lives together.
Prayer: Lord of all, help us through this day of remembering…where we were, what we witnessed, and how we felt…all that will be forever emblazoned in our minds. We need you, God of all people and nations. You gave of yourself so that we might be free. Help us to honor that sacrifice. Amen.
Reflection: What do you remember about 9/11? How has that day affected the way you see the world? The way you see God?
Being in the valley of trials stinks. It’s painful, disorienting, and confusing. As we stagger and stumble along we often wonder, Where is God? Why is he allowing me to go through this? We feel stuck and broken, like we can’t move forward. We are perplexed, crushed, weighed down, and in the dark. We move ahead slowly, groping and grasping, hoping to find a handhold.
The reality is, however, that God often does his best work in the darkness. As senior demon Screwtape says to junior demon Wormwood in The Screwtape Letters:
Now it may surprise you to learn that in His efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, he relies on the troughs [low points, valleys, etc.] even more than the peaks; some of his special favourites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else.
God does not throw trials at us haphazardly, like an angry fan throwing a beer bottle at a baseball player. He does not accidentally let trials slip into our lives, like an absent-minded babysitter. No, God deliberately leads us into the furnace of trials for very specific reasons. He does not waste suffering. He is not a sadist who derives sick pleasure from inflicting pain on his helpless creatures. Every trial we experience has been handcrafted by God for our good. Trials are God’s kiln. We are the clay, he is the master potter.
What good does God accomplish in the darkness? Here are just a few of the thousands of things God accomplishes.
He Forces Us to Rely on Him
Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:9)
Trials remind us of what is already true: we are desperately dependent on God. We cannot function apart from God. We cannot make it to heaven apart from the sustaining grace of the God who raises dead men. God takes us through trials to decrease our self-confidence and increase our confidence in him.
He Produces Steadfastness in Us
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. (James 1:2-3)
Without steadfastness we will never make it to heaven. We will be like seed that springs up quickly but has no root. We will have the life choked out of us by the cares of this world. God wants us to have a steadfast, steady faith, which is not easily rocked by trial and hardship. Trials cause our faith to mature and become steadfast.
He Prepares Us to Comfort Others
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
When we experience trials we also experience God’s comfort in a unique way. As God’s comfort flows into our lives, we are then divinely prepared to comfort others who are enduring trials. We could not adequately comfort others if we didn’t first receive God’s comfort. Trials ready us to comfort others.
None of us can come to the highest maturity without enduring the summer heat of trials. As the sycamore fig never ripens if it be not bruised, as the corn does not leave the husk without threshing, and as wheat makes no fine flour till it be ground, so are we of little use till we are afflicted. Why should we be so eager to escape such benefits? We shall have to wait with patience, saying, “The will of the Lord be done.” He waited to give grace to us; let us wait to give glory to him.
Take heart – God is using the summer heat of trials to bring you to the highest maturity.
I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them. —John 17:26
Do you long to impact people for Jesus? Do you yearn to glorify Him in your personal life? Then I urge you to make our Scripture verses for today two of the paramount prayers of your life. Read those two verses over and over. Meditate on them. Write down what comes to your mind as you pray them. Begin asking God for a spirit of revelation in the knowledge of Jesus’s beauty. Ask that you might love the Son as the Father loves the Son. We must persevere in these prayers until we are “strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man” (Eph. 3:16, NAS).
Father, give me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that I can know You better. Make Yourself known to me in new and fresh ways each day of my life. Give me a spirit revelation in the knowledge of Your splendor and beauty.
We will be restless until we become prisoners of God.
As captives of His divine purpose, we will lead others into
passion for Jesus and into captivity to Him.
Fellowship. What a great word! It comes from the idea of two people sitting together in a ship. These two men or women would be companions, working or relaxing together, sharing community and conversation. Together they could enjoy the strength of relationship and experience the smooth sailing that camaraderie brings.
But what would happen if one of the men in those close quarters was not a nice guy, but instead rude and arrogant? What if one of the women in that boat was a constant downer, endlessly complaining about her troubled marriage or deviant children? The ride would be rough, to say the least. Fellowship like that could cause you to look for the nearest port of call or even tempt you to jump overboard!
It’s important who you fellowship with; that’s an obvious truth. The Bible says, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’” (1 Cor. 15:33, NASB). But this Scripture can apply to more than the people you hang around with.
What if we considered it in light of the attitudes we fellowship with? If we were to check the passengers that are on board in the cabins of our hearts, whom would we find there? Would it be the stowaways of discouragement and depression? Perhaps we would find pride, bitterness or faultfinding.
Maybe you have never thought about fellowship in this way before, but the attitudes we stow are as important as the company we keep. We fellowship daily with our own thoughts, and the attitudes that develop as a result of them, like friends, affect our behavior. If we are bound to a negative thought life, are we not fellowshipping with darkness?
The Bible says, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14). This Scripture is clearly speaking of our human associations, but it’s interesting to apply the truth to our fellowship with our own attitudes.
If we are listening to the voices of anxiety, we may be fellowshipping with the darkness of fear. How can we launch out into the deep places with God if fear is rowing against us? That fellowship would keep us anchored to the shores of safety and comfort.
Or how could we set sail with negativity as our navigator? We would find ourselves seeing everything through a dense fog and then be surprised when we arrived at the wrong destination. Clearly, not the kind of fellowship we need!
Because we are with ourselves 24/7, we are feeding our spirits all the time. Therefore it is important to know with whom—or what—we are fellowshipping. If faith comes by hearing (see Rom. 10:17), what do our hearts hear us say? Does the inner fellowship of our attitudes increase our faith, or do we discourage ourselves and provoke our own unrest?
Faith does indeed come by hearing, but so do doubt and fear. If I hear a negative report, these two shipmates are all too ready to climb on board and set sail with me. There on the open sea of my soul, I wrestle with the fellowship of darkness.
How much better it would be to voyage with the peace of Christ—to descend into the bottom of the vessel and find Jesus at rest there in spite of the storm around me. How inviting it sounds to raise the sail of hope and embark on a journey, knowing that joy and wisdom will travel with me. This is the fellowship I long for.
Of course there may be times when pirates invade our fellowship. The hostile takeover of our serenity is often a real threat. We must be diligent to carefully watch the compasses of our thought lives so we do not wander into enemy territory. Random thoughts, like pirates of the seas, will try to enter your boat and ride with you, tormenting your mind and heart.
If you had to take inventory of the passengers on your ship, what would you find there? Are you on a five-day cruise with criticism, perhaps? This little cabin boy seems to hitch a ride on many of our vessels. How easy it is to point a finger and judge what we see in others while at the same time excusing ourselves from similar flaws!
Or would your inventory reveal that you have braved the open sea with anger as your co-captain? This is one navigator that will steal your peace and take you in the wrong direction.
Whatever you find in the hold of your ship that causes you to fellowship with darkness, throw it overboard now! We are called to fellowship with the light. We do that by inviting Jesus’ thoughts into our minds and asking the Holy Spirit to pilot us into the safe waters of the Word of God.
Paul prayed that “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit” would be with us all (2 Cor. 13:14). Those are companions we can safely take anywhere!
PRAYER POWER FOR THE WEEK OF 4/8/2013
This week invite Jesus’ thoughts into your mind, recognize the love of God, and enjoy the fellowship of the Holy Spirit each day. Pray with faith for a positive outcome. When you pray for the nations, continue to pray for our own government and ask God to intervene on behalf of His children and bring a spirit of repentance and revival in our midst. Remember the persecuted church and continue to pray for Israel to fulfill God’s purposes in these last days. 2 Chron. 7:14