As we begin the year 2014, many Americans are fearful of the future and have lost hope. Broken families, unemployment, crime and lawlessness and a general malaise have set in for many as a secular society continues to distance itself from the one way to find true happiness: belief in the Holy Trinity as found in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For these three parts of the God of Abraham represent the creation and the law (the Father), hope and the gift of forgiveness leading to eternity (Jesus), and the cleansing and guidance of our inner soul (Holy Spirit). Without them we are nothing; with them we can handle all problems and conquer all obstacles.
We are certainly not the first people of the world to find ourselves floundering and fearful. If you go back to Bible times you will certainly see horrible oppression, vile living examples and evil working its way through men by putting money and power in the place of God. Plagues, disasters, war and abject poverty were clearly found in places where others lived in opulence. Yet, despite these hardships, the early Christians labored on for they knew that by living by God's law and living for Him not only could they increase His flock but they could also earn the greatest gift of all, salvation.
The biblical quote above from the Prophet Isaiah says it all. God is always with us and he will see us through our trials and tribulations if we only seek Him and follow Him. But while this sounds simple, we as mortals find it difficult sometimes to devote ourselves to Him instead of the acquisition of wealth and power. And while wealth and power might give a false sense of satisfaction and pleasure, it is always short-lived, because there is always someone else who is more cunning and more devious to devise a way to take it from us. So what we must do is turn to God, open our hearts and our souls and ask for the deliverance of the Holy Spirit into our bodies so that we may look at things differently, always putting Jesus Christ first. Jesus is, after all, the only way that we can reach the Father.
Study some biblical history and look at the things that the great martyrs stood for and died for. John the Baptist, the wild eyed preacher who served as an advance man for Jesus, ultimately captured and beheaded by King Antipas for standing for Jesus when told to remain silent, continued to loudly proclaim his belief right up until the moment of death. Stephen, stoned to death outside of Jerusalem for angering the high priest of the Temple and falsely accused of blasphemy, asked God to forgive them right up to the point of his death. And there are many more examples in the Good book. And as the picture of the map depicts, St. Paul traveled thousands of miles throughout the Biblical world, always preaching the Way, the Truth and the Life no matter what torment he might face, which was ultimately death. And he, from his early years as Saul, a brutal and feared opponent of Christ and His teachings, changed when he "saw the light' on the road to Damascus. Jesus opened his soul to the Spirit and Paul became one of the most fervent missionaries to the non-Jewish world.
In more modern times, men like Bonhoeffer who refused to bow to Hitler, Richard Wurmbrand, author of Tortured for Christ and an occupant of a Communist torture prison for fourteen years, never sold out his Savior and many thousands of others in this day and time face similar fates around the world. Yet the strength of the Cross and their open conversations with God have kept these people strong and resolute as they know that when death comes here on earth a much more wonderful life, one without human limitations awaits. Most of us Americans who complain about the state of our society's conditions should be ashamed by comparison and the power is within us to rise up, speak up and actively work for a resurrection of the Spirit in the American psyche.
So I would say that we must all take heart, throw off the chains of fear and loss of hope, and open our hearts to Jesus, letting the Holy Spirit enter and fully infect us. If we do so, a new hope will arise within us and it will give us the strength to labor on in this world for all the right reasons and will ultimately deliver us to a better one. Give it a chance and the future will be much brighter. Remember, we can't do this alone; we must have His strength, love and guidance at our side always for there is always hope as long as we are working for Him.
God bless you all, throw off your worries and troubles and have a wonderful Saturday, and don't forget to thank Him for loving us tomorrow, the Sabbath Day.