November 9, 2016
Dcn. John Añora
God is a good God! When we gather together, we believe that God is present. Exodus 25:8 says, “The Lord dwells in His sanctuary.” The Lord is here! The Lord is present! His presence makes the difference. If we go outside, there is chaos and traffic amongst others. When God is here, we should be prepared to listen to Him. We should set in our hearts tonight that we will listen to what God will say to us for nothing happens by accident.
We are to listen when God speaks, and when we listen, we obey Him. What is His instruction to us tonight? What is the Lord telling us right now? Can we accept that and are we ready to obey that? We are to keep the commandments as stated in Deuteronomy 8:6, “We are to keep the commandments to walk in His ways and to fear Him.” To keep means to observe; to do it. To fear Him means to please Him. What we do, the decisions we make are not of our own, but His.
Isaiah 59:9 says, “His ways are higher than man’s ways.” We sometimes encounter problems because we tend to make our own decisions out of our mindset. I pray that when we make decisions in our lives, we take time to listen to God because He speaks. He is present amongst us.
As a testimony, in 1988, my sister invited me to attend Christian Life Fellowship. As it was an invitation from my elder sister, I had to oblige being the youngest among the siblings. I was invited to attend the Youth Fellowship. There was the praise and worship, the Word, the offering and the announcements. There was the Altar Call for those who were willing to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. I stepped out of the aisle and I prayed, and I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ. From then on, I felt that I should join the Youth Ministry.
I joined the Youth on the Move when I was sixteen years old and I believe that I attended every meeting that the Youth Ministry then had. I was involved in the Street Ministry, in the Vision Media where there were street and musical plays. I attended the Youth Camp, the Leadership Camps, and the Discipleship Camps. I also joined ministries going to provinces like Gingoog. I also completed the series of the Feast of Tabernacles. I joined the Feast of Unity where I was part of the “Trashbusters” - those who cleaned the area after a gathering. The Youth Ministry also had a Comfort Room Ministry where the workers were assigned to keep and maintain its cleanliness every service. I was involved in relief operations. At one time, I became part of a ministry to the soldiers, and at another time, a feeding of the poor where the Church ministered and served food by batches.
Why am I sharing this? The Church was very active then. Why were we doing these Church activities before? There were no gadgets then, but when we would meet at a certain place, we were on time. I was a teenager and I was not working, but I was able to fulfil my responsibility to attend the meetings. I would not get a subject that would be in conflict with my ministry activities. I am sharing all of these things that I did and we accomplished things in the ministry because we love God. This is the Kingdom work. We do things not only for ourselves, but we thought of reaching out to others.
When we are gathered, we know that God is present amongst us, and we have that in our hearts. We cannot help but reach out to others and share the good news. This is what made us grow; this is what strengthened us. We share what we have, that is, Christ, to the people around us.
For the teenagers, have you ever been in love? Do you have a crush? When we love someone, we always want to be with them. We want to do something for them to make them happy. Receiving a simple smile from someone elates us. When I was in high school, I had a crush. One time, I rode a bike from Sun Valley to FTI. I did not know where the house of my crush was, but I was determined to see her. I did not know where she specifically lived, but I awaited her presence. It was such a good feeling seeing even a glimpse of her. When I do these things, there is a different feeling that I feel inside. I would always want to see her. I would want to see her happy. I would see to it that I am well-groomed when I face her.
Shouldn’t be that this same passion that we have for our loved one or crushes be given to our Supreme God? We love God so much that whatever we do, we make sure that it pleases Him. All that we do, we offer it to the Lord. In school, in the work place or at home, and whatever we do, it is not to please our teachers, our superiors or our parents. The ultimate goal is because we love God. We do things because we want to give glory and honor to God’s name. We should have the same attitude toward the Lord of pleasing Him. If we spend time with someone, if we spend so much hours with gadgets and internet sites, shouldn’t we spend also as much time with God with our daily devotion to Him? Shouldn’t we devote much time listening to Him speak and give us advice as to what we will do in our future? Do we really take our time to read His Word or we would rather use our gadgets?
We are to be an active part in His work. We are to read His Word to equip us. Equipping us is not for ourselves, but for others. God has given us so much love; now, it is our responsibility to pass it on to others. We live not for ourselves, but for others. Galatians 2:20 says, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ living in me. The life that I now live, I live by faith.” The life that we have now is not ours, but Christ lives in us. Having Christ in us, we pass it to others; we share it with others.
Do we know who we are? Are we just going through the flow because that is what is in and what is trending? Are we sensitive to God’s voice when He speaks? In our culture, decisions of people are not necessarily what they heard from God, but of what they see from their environment. There is stability when we know that we heard from God. When we hear from God and we follow Him, even though how difficult it is, we are going to hold on to His Word.
One thing that should be clear to us is that we are children of God and we belong to Him. Our heart should be that regardless of what is trending in the world, we will not be affected because what should be trending in our lives is that Jesus is Lord. This never changes and it will always be trending because Jesus is the same – yesterday, today and forever. Let us not base our decisions on other people, but let us base our decisions because we took time to listen to the voice of God.
Listen to God! We are not to compromise with what God says. Let us do our best to listen to Him and to stand on His word to us. It is said that if we know who we are, we will not compromise to the system of the world. We will be good witnesses. If we are to be good witnesses, we set a good example so that others would know the difference of Jesus being in our lives. We share Christ to others. The best proclamation or evangelism that we can give to other people is not our talk, but how we walk the principles that God has given us. Stop talking; show it. Wherever we are, we witness a good example to others. Being a good example is one of the best tools to win people that there is something different having Christ in our lives. In all of the things that we go through, we should remember that God is present.
Before July, 2007, I was struggling because I did not like what was happening in my life. There was a time that I cried because I did not like to face the big problem I had. I rejected it, and I was somehow questioning God, “God, why?” I went to several doctors and I said, “No, it cannot be.” It took some people to bring me to the hospital. In front of the doctor, I was jesting although I was struggling inside. I was diagnosed with End-stage Renal Disease. My two kidneys shrunk and I was advised to go on a dialysis. I said, “Ayaw ko! Hindi pwede! Lord, ayaw ko!” It was hard and I was struggling.
At this point, as personal testimony, how can I say that God is near? I had my operation; I was confined; I had dialysis. I was stressed because before this, I had gout. My friends told me, “Bakit ka magkakaroon ng gout? Pangmayaman lang iyan at sa mga mapuputing tao lang.” I was saying, “Mabait naman ako. Hindi naman ako kumakain ng bawal. Hindi ako umiinom; hind ako naninigarilyo.”
This situation placed me with a perspective that this is the time that I needed God the more. It placed me in a state of hunger and thirst for Him regardless of what I felt physically, emotionally, and financially. When we can’t overcome because we want to stand for something we believe in, it is time to kneel. If we are tired of standing, it is time for us to kneel; pray to God; seek His face; and enter His courts. The more we question God, the more we won’t realize that everything happens to us has its best purpose. If we believe and we profess that God is good, then, His heart is good and in whatever situation we face in life, though how burdensome and difficult it may be, do not give up. We have God!
The question I asked myself, “How can I say that He is near?” The fact that I am alive, with nine years of dialysis, is all by the grace and mercy of God. When I am in the hospital for my dialysis, I am being told, “Mr. Añora, yung katabi mo dito, patay na.” One doctor told me eight years ago, “Mr. Añora, you are a walking time bomb. Anytime, magsho-shoot up na yan.”
In Psalm 43:5, it says, “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” Psalm 42: 11, “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” These are a few of the Scriptures that I hold onto every time I go through my dialysis.
God is near! He never left me. When I was studying for tonight, I thought, “Has the Lord left the Cathedral of the King? Did He leave us because we went through a lot of tests and tribulations in the past years? Did He really leave us?” No, God did not ever leave us. He is near! He allowed situations for us to grow together, not to divide us. There is a reason, and I really don’t know what it is. There is something that we can do, and that is, to kneel before His throne, pray for His wisdom and trust Him that He is doing a good thing in our lives and in our Church.
The Church land is there. The building up of the Church structure is coming soon. It will never be easy. We need to work together. We cannot be divided now because the promise is already at hand. Let us not divide just for petty issues and petty things. Let us use this time to spend time with God, to enter His courts, and to listen to Him. His presence will make the difference. How can God dwell if there is no sanctuary? Deuteronomy says, “You build a tabernacle for Me and I will dwell there. I will meet My people there because if they are together, I will meet them.”
I shared my personal testimony to encourage everyone that we have a God who is with us. His presence is with us. Jesus said in Matthew 28:20, “I will always be with you even to the end of the age.”
I leave these Scriptures with you, encouraging you that regardless of what we go through in life, we always come back to God and hear Him. There is no other place that we can get wisdom and understanding, but from Him. Psalm 27:4, “One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to meditate in His temple.” Psalm 84:10, “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.”
Our life is with God, in His Church. His Church is not limited here in this place. His Church is brought to everywhere we go, wherever we are – in the workplace; in school; in our families. We bring Christ to the world, so regardless of what we are facing, our decision tonight is: one thing we shall ask from the Lord is for us to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of our lives for better is one day in God’s court than a thousand elsewhere.