Repentance, in these days and season, must be calling out to most of us stronger than ever. The uncertainty of the current pandemic had us reflecting over our lives and how we’ve been living it. The threat of the COVID-19 has led many to confront the possibility of death - of ourselves, of our loved ones, and the people around us. Those who are mentally and spiritually strong are able to rise above while some of the weak were overcome by fear. Most have begun to put much importance to building up their sense of existence. Many charitable acts were initiated, some relationships were restored, many people have manifested better versions of themselves, advocacies and movements were birthed out, and many more. Of all these things, whether we have realized it or not, one common ingredient that triggered many to take action is the value of repentance - or the lack of it (to those who have deteriorated and gave in to the weakness of the human flesh).
While repentance may have drastically changed or redirected the lives of some people, it is more important for us to look deeply into its attributes and to realize that this virtue is a lifestyle founded on the attitude of our hearts. Our goal? It is to recognize or acknowledge the value of repentance and develop the lifestyle and attitude that comes with it. Being repentant must not only be activated when things are uncertain but must be deeply rooted in our hearts and consciousness. Its fruits must be developed then it must come out naturally and consistently from us. As Thomas Carlyle said, “Of all acts of man, repentance is the most divine…,”which is true as it has the power to change everything in our lives.
Now, how do we begin? Let us start by understanding true repentance - which begins with the KNOWLEDGE of sin which goes on to work SORROW for sin. It then leads to CONFESSION of sin before God then will show itself before a person by a thorough BREAKING OFF from sin. Finally, it results in producing a DEEP HATRED for all sin. Does it look easy? Of course not. That is why we have to look closely within us and develop a heart of flesh from a heart of stone. This is the foundation from which all the fruits of repentance are rooted on. A righteous lifestyle will then become inevitable.
An influential man once said, “A man who repents after doing any action, he will certainly become pure one day, that is definite.” If we ever wish to become pure this is the secret - the key. In short, being quick to repent. How can we figure out the tenderness of our hearts? The level of our repentant attitude? It is when, even in the smallest or seamless sin, we are quick to recognize that it is wrong and we are quick to turn around and mend our ways. As long as we live this way, we will never be swayed nor be tossed to and fro by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. We will become strong pillars that are able to withstand every calamity.
As we have now realized the role of a repentant heart in our pursuit of a meaningful life, let us see further and know that the next step is to enlighten others not only ourselves. We have to keep producing fruit in keeping with repentance. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. One of the manifestations of having a tender heart is our compassion for others. Let us be the voice to speak hope and life to them. Having grown closer to God because of our repentant attitude, he will pour out His thoughts to us and make known to us His teachings, making us effective as His messengers here on the earth. We are now able to represent Him. For He does not take pleasure in the death of anyone, instead, He admonishes all men to repent so that all men might live!
As one people, who are called by God, if we will humble ourselves and pray and seek His face and turn from our wicked ways, then He will hear from heaven, will forgive our sins and will heal our land. Let us do this together - not only for ourselves or our loved ones, but for the rest of mankind. We are a company of men and women with tender hearts and repentant attitude. In no time, healing and recovery will come. To heal as one is to work is one. Let us go out into the world and keep sharing God’s call for men to repent and to believe His good news of hope and life. (KMB, CRFV)
“Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.”
Most people, if not all, since the start of the COVID crisis, started to pray genuinely. Some longer than the usual time and some with more intensified prayer. Driven by whatever reasons, prayer is the norm in this new norm. Prayer is simply talking to God, the God who spoke the universe into creation, who gives breath of life and holds all things together. He is the same God who desires for us to commune and relate to Him. In the vastness of everything, He cares about us individually in whatever situation that we are facing.
Considering the said statement, the question now is, how much do we pray especially in this storm and pandemic-stricken circumstance? How much do we put our prayers into action? When and how often do we pray? Do we pray before, during or after the storm or problems in life?
To answer these questions, let us define the word ‘prayerfulness’. Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines it as the condition wherein one is given to prayer, praying much or often as a devout. If we are to be devoted to God, we should go into deep and intensified prayers. This includes meditating on the things of God and His Word, and praying continually in all undertakings. We should therefore commit ourselves to pray for one another just as Prophet Samuel did to the people during his time. In so doing, God changes our hearts and we become like Him.
Storms in our lives may cease but our prayers never do. We pray before the storm, we pray during the storm and we still pray after the storm. For this reason, Saint Paul of Tarsus highly encourages and challenges us to pray without ceasing. Indeed, we will be a nation that will never cease to pray because our God never ceases to intercede for us. Our Great High Priest and intercessor, Jesus Christ, who was raised to life, makes intercession for us.
Billy Graham also said, “True prayer is a way of life, not just for use in cases of emergency”. We must not pray just because we are in an emergency situation or our nation is at a state of calamity. Instead, we pray in both good times and bad times, in sadness and gladness, in sorrow and joy. In everything we do, whether we sit or stand, eat or drink, we do it all for the glory of God. Our lips must be filled with prayers of gratitude and supplications. Imagine if the whole nation unites to pray, not only in disaster and emergency cases, our government will not just save up thousands of pesos for the betterment of our country but also for the next generation - a generation that is in pursuit of prayer. (CD, CRFV)
“God stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind. Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people and praise him in the council of the elders.”
The nation has been witnessing too many harrowing storms. While a community is still rebuilding, another threatening tempest is forthcoming. Trauma, fear, anxiety are everywhere and uncertainty grips the future. The people mutter distress, confusion and frustration while seeking help especially from the government that swore to oversee their well-being and protect its citizenry. Many Filipinos struggled and some have started to complain. A lot of people prayed but some still trusted their own strength and instincts.
We have the Almighty God who sits on the throne in heaven and never abdicates His position of power. When He speaks, all of creation quiets down and listens. Even the strongest of typhoons in the east and hurricanes in the west are stilled to a whisper whenever He moves. With these things in mind, we must be led to fully trust Him and humble down to honor, worship and utter praises to our Great God. We are reminded that it is better to trust in the Lord than to put our confidence in men. The people that we look up to have limitations and their words or actions may fail us but God never will. Therefore, let us praise to give thanks and worship Him - honor Him for His unfailing love and for His wonderful deeds for mankind.
Praise and worship should be the norm in the midst of the storms that we are experiencing. Whenever we praise and worship Him, we acknowledge that He is supreme and very much in control over our lives. Moreover, praise and worship rejects fear; instead, we enter into a triumphant life that is full of faith as God inhabits the praises of His people. As He dwells in our midst, He rises to scatter the enemies - seen or unseen. That’s why we can boldly say that if He is for us, who and what can be against us? Further, praise and worship expresses how grateful we are to Him. We start to shut down complaints, ungratefulness and murmurings that attract the spirit of death. Whenever we praise and worship God, inner peace, everlasting joy and tangible hope will flood our innermost being resulting to a life lived in confidence. We can walk victoriously. Oh, we can proclaim that we are more than conquerors!
The next time storms threaten your life, rise up to praise and worship God.
Therefore strong peoples will honor you;
cities of ruthless nations will revere you.
You have been a refuge for the poor,
a refuge for the needy in their distress,
a shelter from the storm
and a shade from the heat.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
VUCA times! Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous - this is how people would describe these present challenging times. The speed of change is too fast and unpredictable. The many unanswered questions and the fear of the unknown is slowly creeping into the hearts of even the bravest. It has paralyzed their decision-making skills because of complex misconstrued facts. More so, the lack of understanding and clarity of what is really happening around us causes anxiety. Trouble and tribulation indeed has blanketed the world.
In the midst of distressful circumstances and darkness, be of good cheer. God is sovereign and is very much in control. He has overcome the world. As we are with Him and in Him, we can live in peace because He made us to become more than conquerors. The tranquility of our souls is anchored on the blessed, tangible and glorious hope that is in the Victorious Life of Jesus Christ.
Peace is the desire of every person and nation. It is the objective of every prayer declared. It is the promise of every politician. It is also the heartbeat of every religion. Peace is the gallant, spirited and decisive rejoinder to the notion that violence affords. Where conflicts destroy, kill and steal; peace restores, builds, strengthens and provide life.
Peace is always present in every instance of reconciliation. It nourishes the optimism of forgiveness within ourselves and towards the community with whom we share the world. Deng Ming Dao, a Taoist author writes: “When we see ourselves as separate from our community and from nature, then violence and strife arise. It is only when we understand our part in an overall unity that there is the possibility of peace on a large scale.” “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.” Above all, be reconciled and reconnected to God. Beyond our weaknesses, frailties and sins; we have “been justified by faith, therefore, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Possessing peace in our hearts, VUCA will now metamorphose into V-vision, U-understanding, C-clarity and A-agility. We can see the future and will journey towards it in spite of the unpredictable things around us. We view things in the light of what God is saying thus we comprehend soundly to make decisions. We have precision and accurate actions to overcome the obstacles in front of us. And lastly, we have the sprightliness to execute things and yet we have the power to persevere to last the distance until we see the fulfillment of our dreams and aspirations. So we pray, “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.” (JVS, CRFV)
Truth be told, when COVID19 pandemic has first stricken our nation, many feared for its transmission, causing them to stay inside their homes and observe quarantine protocols. However, as days turned into weeks and weeks into months, people started looking for ways to “live with” this pandemic causing business establishments to slowly open up their doors for more people and cities and municipalities to slowly open their borders once again. What’s more, the freedom to roam around that everybody wanted is slowly being granted. However, we have also noticed that for the past weeks, cases of COVID19 infected patients escalated to hundreds of thousands that can lead us to think, “When will this pandemic end?” Why is it still transmitting fast like wildfire when everyone should have learned by now how to protect themselves from it?
Sad to say, widespread stories of exposure of COVID19 positive patients resulted from disobedience to the set quarantine rules and protocols. Imagine someone who tested positive for COVID19 from a drinking spree. Still, another acquired the disease as a result of his/her tour in a known COVID19 infected place. Another got infected for not taking steps to safeguard his/her health like not having enough sleep or not maintaining clean surroundings. Sad to say, this disobedience of some people caused the lockdown of their communities and their workplaces, not to mention endangering the lives of those around them. It’s true, we can heal as one but without adherence to protocols and basic sanitation practices, we can never attain our goal. Yes, we need to survive but we still have to keep safety in mind or we will end up as unnecessary casualties in these trying times. It is basic that we should follow quarantine protocols, not just for our own sake but for the sake of the community we belong to.
Obedience plays a major role in combating this pandemic. Without obedience, people perish. As old as history, we could see that people who caused harm to their environment and nations are those who are practically disobedient to basic rules. One major example of this is Pharaoh of Egypt during the time of Moses. During those days, Moses went to him to bargain for the release of his people, shouting, “Let my people go!” However, he never allowed them to. That disobedience sadly put his people in danger, allowing them, the Egyptians, to experience ten plaques until the point of losing an entire generation of Egyptian firstborns. From here, we can see how the disobedience of one leader led to the suffering of his people. We can therefore conclude that disobedience can result to curses while obedience can lead to blessings. Not only will it keep us from COVID19 but will also allow us to enjoy the best of the land. The Word says, “If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land.” (JBB, CRFV)
CRFV Winning Team
A company of men and women who have committed their lives to the cause of national transformation.