Okay, so I used my charms and little bit of manipulation (plus 16 years worth of bestfriendship) but when I invited my high school best friend Chrys to service today, I used my upcoming birthday as leverage. "Early birthday gift mo na sakin to." How could she refuse, hehe?
She made it just in time for the Word and the preaching. I praise God for his timely message today. We were both blessed by Pastor Jon's sermon. One of the first things Chrys told me after the service was, "Uy naka-relate ako dun ha."
Our series break tonight was, of course, related to New Year. 'Tis that time of the year when most people are consumed with New Year's resolutions, senti-mode about the what-happened's and what-if's of the outgoing year, and -depending on one's current situation - either optimistic or pessimistic about the coming year.
In Joshua chapter 4, the twelve Israelites led by Joshua miraculously passed the Jordan river when God dried it up, and commanded for them to take 12 stones from the bottom of the river as a memorial of this favor from Him. It was a physical testament that would show other people of what God had done, and what else He is capable of doing. I urge you to read the whole chapter. :)
Look back and look forward. We have to be good at both. I look back at 2012 and is just blown away by the many blessings and miracles God has given me. One of them was happening right at that moment - me sitting with my "evil twin" at church (that's what we called each other back in HS because we were the magkakuntsaba in all sorts of misbehavior). I keep saying over and over throughout this year, if a year ago someone had told me I'd be where I am right now in my life, I would've laughed my head off. But here I am, walking with God and getting favors after favors from Him. It's no accident I'm here.
God never makes any mistakes; instead he used (and still uses) my mistakes to shape me into the strong, faithful person He designed me to be. Just like the stones God asked the Israelites to pick up from the bottom of the Jordan river, our past victories and even our previous sins should serve as reminders, souvenirs of how God has bestowed those blessings to us, and how he used our struggles to show us His mercy and power to pull us through. We cannot have these "stones" without His help. And without these stones, sometimes it's easy to forget God. Empowered with this knowledge and faith in His infinite grace, we can have the confidence to look forward, to claim that our future is secured if we have Christ Jesus in us.
I know sometimes, we're guilty of being doubtful or fearful. Keri pa ba ni God ibigay ulit yung pinagpe-pray ko, e na-bless na nya ko dati? Baka marindi na si God sa petitions ko. Baka magsawa na Siya? Wow, I sure am glad my God is not like that. As mentioned before, we should be good at both. If we only look back, then we may get stuck in the past, basking only in previous glory, and afraid to step forward. On the other hand, if we set our eyes only in the future, we might become too expectant, feel entitled and lose our gratitude for God. Look back AND look forward.
In John 3:16, we look back on what God has already done - "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son" and look forward to His promise to us - "that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."
What are the stones in your life you have picked up this year? How can you use it to look back at God's past faithfulness in your life, and get you ready for the future?