One day during our trip out west we drove from Flagstaff, Arizona, where we had spent the night, to Sedona. Several years ago I had driven through Sedona and wanted Brooksyne to see it.Sedona is a trendy tourist town surrounded by red bluffs with a very apparent new age type vibe. You can have “spiritual” experiences that I had never heard of!
My main interest for going down that way though was a train ride on the Verde Canyon Railroad which unfortunately had sold out. But we still enjoyed the beautiful trip down Oak Creek Canyon and a slow walk down the main street of the scenic tourist town. I parked in a free city parking lot and, as we walked down to the main street, we passed through a very pleasant church courtyard with a big bench and flowering planters.
A lady was tidying up the area so I engaged in a conversation with her. She was a Japanese American who has lived in the area about 30 years. I wondered how the church was there on what was surely very expensive property along the main road and she told me it had been there for many years before the town became a popular tourist stop. Around the church property were strategically placed literature displays with tracts and photocopies of the pastor’s sermons. In our conversation it became clear we shared the same faith and I commended her and the congregation for being like a lamp shining in a dark place. (Although I probably didn’t use that exact phrase in the conversation!)
We are thankful for churches like the Wayside Bible Chapel. They surely face much opposition in a spiritually dark place like Sedona. It seems the forces of darkness have always sought to snuff out the light.
Today’s first text will be familiar to many. It is our Lord’s Word to Peter following his great confession of faith when he proclaimed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus responded to this confession with a great promise: “Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). God’s truth marches on. Nearly two thousand years have passed since He initially made the promise to Peter and the early disciples. And today the true church still makes this proclamation, which is at the heart of the Gospel. In fact it is the very foundation on which Christ built His church.
Many years later Peter wrote to the church,“So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19).
Jesus promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against His church, though at times it sure seems like they are prevailing. And that’s been the case all through the Church’s history. We are reminded in our very day of the forces of hell seeking to destroy the church. The hateful, venomous threats and violent actions of the enemies of Christ are quite evident. Again today we especially consider our oppressed and persecuted brethren in many parts of the world, as well as those within our own country. Please God, strengthen and remind them of Your promise: “The gates of hell will not prevail.”
Wherever you live and whatever the conditions, rejoice today in this wonderful promise, “The gates of hell shall not prevail.” And then rejoice when you see the lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.
Be encouraged today!
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber