2 Timothy 2:7 Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this. NIV
As 2011 is coming to an end, it is common for each of us to reflect upon the past year before we begin to look forward to the next. I found myself doing that very thing this week as we put our final touches on our church calendar and as I work toward preparing my first sermon series of the new year. As I look back and reflect on everything that happened last year, God began to give me insight into those events.
The world economy has been dismal at best with far reaching effects on us. There have been many dictators overthrown causing unrest in much of the world.
At home, our nation's economy has sparked protests. Our state's economy has forced furlough days and layoffs. The unemployment rate in our county is still lingering around 20 percent. There are many desperate and suffering people all around us. Yet, at the end of the day there are many who are joining together to bring help to those in need.
I am still convinced that Los Banos is filled with good people who are kind and compassionate toward others. Overall, good will triumph and the love of God will always overcome.
I have endured much this year, but I have learned more about myself and my God than I ever have before. I have learned that my God is faithful and His Word is true. I want to encourage you with this thought, it doesn't matter what other people say about you or do to you because they can never define who you are. Tune in to what God says about you and how He defines who you are.
There were many positive things that happened in 2011. I have watched many people grow and become deeper rooted in Christ. I have noticed more and more people choose what is right and good instead of the easy road, which often leads to destruction. I see a city which is struggling but choosing none the less to bind together and fight to survive.
We have seen hard times before and we have endured. I expect that as we reflect on those hard times and the lessons we have learned from them, that we will use what we have learned to see us through these hard times also. We can make it if we stay together and we rely upon God to see us through.
I expect 2012 to be a great and miraculous year for all those who love God and love each other in Los Banos. God Bless each of you.
Rev. Stephen Hammond is the Senior Pastor of Bethel Community Church