My Dear Parishioners,
As we begin another year, many people are looking forward to a better 2016, looking forward with hope. But where do we get hope from? I believe that there’s hope in many of the things we find in everyday life. Our family can give us a great amount of hope. And as we look around us, we can see hope and optimism in others as well. Many people are living in a productive and happy way—even though they may have hit some bumps along the way like everyone else. They have a resiliency that enables them to go on.
But there’s more to hope than good wishes and optimistic points of view. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the anchor of our hope. He is our rock and foundation. We have the confidence that He loves us and is greater than any of the challenges or disappointments that we face. He is in control and He never fails. Scripture reminds us that for Christians, greater is He that is in us, than whatever is in the world. Life is too big for us to handle on our own, and there are issues of life that cannot be fixed with human hands. In our sin, weakness, and need, we are drawn to the God who gave His Son so that we could be forgiven of our sins and wrongdoings and made whole. We can indeed be a part of His family.
We can find wholeness only at the foot of the cross. As we are told in the most familiar verse in the Bible: “ For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn.3:16). So there is hope available for everyone. Jesus Christ came to bring healing and salvation to all people. Put your trust in Him today, not because of a trial you nay be experiencing, but because you need Him.
The most defining moment in anyone’s life is the decision to surrender to God by accepting Christ as personal Savior. God’s word, the Bible, tells us that our greatest need is not simply guidance in life; it’s a relationship with God. We can have this relationship through Jesus Christ alone, resulting in peace with our heavenly Father and the gift of eternal life with Him. At the beginning of John’s Gospel we are told, “But all who believe who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave power to become children of God.”
If you’ve never taken this step of faith, remember that faith is not something you wait for like a letter in the mail. Rather, faith is something you step out on, like ‘a bridge over troubled waters’, or a raging river. Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins by dying on the Cross. After three days, He rose from the dead and is now preparing a place for those who put their faith and trust in Him. If you do that, you will become a child of the living God and an heir of eternal life.
Someone has said, “Knowing Christ died - that’s history. Believing He died for me - that’s salvation.” a personal relationship with Christ begins at the moment of our salvation. Only when we are born spiritually into God’s family do we become members of His spiritual kingdom.
The first step to begin this new life and to develop this relationship with Christ is to admit that we are lost without Him. All of us are born to the parents of a fallen humanity. We come into this world separated from the life of God and absorbed with an interest in finding satisfaction and significance on our own terms. We don’t show a natural desire for God who made us for Himself (Rom.3:11-12). Paul said that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; and that there is none righteous, no not one. He also made it quite clear that the wages of sin is death. While we all have earned that wages of spiritual death and separation from God (Rom.6:23), no one can earn a relationship with God. It is a gift of His love and mercy. No one is saved by trying to be good. We are saved by trusting in Christ. “For by grace (God’s undeserved favor) you have been saved through, and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of God, not works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph.2:8-10). Put simply, we need a childlike faith to enter into a personal relationship with the One who created us.