"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage (for Mon., Oct. 15, 2012)
II Thessalonians 3:1-18
May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ. II Thessalonians 3:5 (NASB)
In 1678, John Bunyan published an allegorical story called The Pilgrim's Progress. It is the tale of a man named Christian who seeks to travel from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. The symbolism is rich and the lessons are profound as we walk with Christian down the path of life.
There are several obstacles, traps, and temptations that complicate his journey. There is Vanity Fair and the Slough of Despond. There is the Hill of Difficulty and the Valley of Humiliation. Through all of these, Christian continues undeterred in his pursuit of the goal.
He encounters individuals along the way. Some of these help him and others hinder him. Of those who boost him along there is Goodwill, Watchful, Prudence, and Piety. One man is simply named Help. There are also evil men who seek to thwart his progress. Men such as Obstinate and Pliable who try to keep him in the City of Destruction. Mr. Worldly Wiseman is assisted by Mr. Legality in trying to persuade Christian to seek the City of Morality rather than the Celestial City. Formalist and Hypocrisy claim that there is another path called Vainglory that will be easier. It will avoid some of the hard spots like the Hill of Difficulty.
John Bunyan wrote this allegory to illustrate the different stages and stopping points of our walk with the Lord. Like Paul, he wrote from a prison cell, having been arrested for holding unsanctioned religious services.
Like Christian, YOU ARE ON A JOURNEY. For anyone who would "seek first the Kingdom of God" (Matt. 6:33), there will be obstacles in the path. One of the hardest parts of that path is the "evil men" who can distract and deter -- detain you as you move forward. It seems at times that Satan actually sends individuals with snares and temptations to get you off track.
Even though you might endure the disappointment of faithless, false friends, yet "the Lord is faithful." HE WILL ESTABLISH YOU. HE WILL GUARD YOU. He will keep you from treacherous traps of the Evil One.
Like a ship sailing into a safe harbor, the Lord will "direct your hearts into the love of God." While the paths that we walk might be beset with ups and downs, highs and lows, good days and difficult ones, yet the Lord is our STEADFAST ROCK. He is not only our sure destination, He is our Helper along the way.
The last man that assists Christian is a man named Hopeful. Together they enter the Celestial City. May you, armed with Hope today, make progress in your pilgrim journey. Remember, "THE LORD IS FAITHFUL."