Steve Downs, Executive Pastor
On Thursday, March 18, 2021
We are living in very troubling and uncertain times. These are days like I have never experienced before in my lifetime (and I have been around for a number of years)
- The impact of the COVID virus has shut down any sense of normalcy worldwide. Most everything has been altered in our daily lives. Fear and differing opinions resulting from the virus have driven a wedge between families, friends and even the church.
- There is an acute political upheaval, division and turmoil across our country like I have never seen before in my lifetime.
- Social and cultural changes have twisted right and wrong and threatened the very morals, values and traditions on which our country was founded.
- People are frustrated, discouraged, angry, and depressed. Crime, divorce, abuse, and suicide are on the rise. Children/Youth are suffering the most as many have lost an entire year of critical development in their lives.
For people who are looking to the world for answers, it is no wonder that they feel pretty dismal and hopeless right now. If you are looking to a government, an economic system, wealthy/powerful people, technology or climate change measures to provide answers and solutions, you are going to be very disappointed and discouraged.
However, for those of us who follow Jesus, we always have hope in Him. We don’t have to be fearful, discouraged or angry because our hope is in Him and what He has accomplished for us through His sacrifice on the cross.
Our hope is energized and reinforced by the promises and truths reflected in God’s Word. One of the passages that gives us great hope in these troubled times is found in Hebrews 10:22-25. In these few verses we are given three key exhortations by the author.
- “Let us draw near to God” – We can do this because of what Jesus accomplished through His death on the cross. Because he took the punishment we deserved and paid the debt we could never pay on the cross, our sins are completely forgiven. As a result of this sacrifice of grace, His righteousness has been credited to our account and we are now reconciled in relationship back to God. Therefore, “we can draw near to God” and have personal access to Him on a moment by moment basis.
- “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope” – we have complete confidence in our salvation because of what Jesus has accomplished on the cross and the promises given to us in God’s Word. Our eternal destiny is secure and one day we will be with the Father in His Heaven. Until that day, we can live in full confidence that God will be faithful and true to the promises in His Word. No matter what temptations, hardships, struggles, or persecutions we face in this life, God has promised to work all for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28).
- “Let us consider how to spur one another on to love and good deeds” – these actions are best accomplished through meeting together for encouragement and support on a regular basis. God made us to be relational beings. Because of what Jesus has accomplished, all who believe in Him and are now part of His new family and need to be in relationship with one another. This is crucial to what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Scripture commands us to meet together regularly as a church for preaching, singing, prayer, administering the sacraments, fellowship, and proclaiming the Gospel to others. If we neglect meeting together, we are violating the principles and standards that God has established for His church to function in a healthy and effective way.
As we near the “The Day Approaching” (when Jesus will return for His chosen people), we will face more and more spiritual challenges, opposition, and maybe even persecution. Anti-Christian forces are already growing in strength. We cannot let these troubles and opposition keep us from gathering on a regular basis as a church.
Rather as troubles and difficulties arise, we should make an even greater effort to be faithful in our attendance and participation as the church. We must always remember to keep our hearts and minds focused on Jesus and the hope we have in Him and “the Day Approaching.”