Midweek Fellowship – June 28, 2017

 

Fr. Roberto M. Jorvina

 

 

 Luke 24:45-48 says, “Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, ‘Thus it is written,  that Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead on the third day, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.’”  

 

There are three points that we are witnesses of:  first, we are witnesses of Christ’s suffering and death.  This means that we are witnesses of the very key to the salvation and hope of man.  Second, we are witnesses of His resurrection.  Not only did He suffer and die, He rose again from the dead. We partake of that so that we can be witnesses of the forgiveness of sin, which is the third point.   This is the effect of the first two points.   If there were not the first two points, there will be no forgiveness and we will be forever damned and separated from God.   But because of Christ’s life, we have been made witnesses.

 

Before Jesus ascended on high,  just before He went up to the Father and sat down at the right hand of God, and ten days later when He told His disciples to go back to Jerusalem, He told them to stay there because few days later, they will endued with power from on High.   After Jesus Christ ascended,  the Holy Spirit came upon all the believers, so that there was no longer just one Jesus on earth, but there was now the Body of Christ on earth of which the Holy Spirit was at work. 

 

The same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is the same power that works in every believer.  It is very important for us to believe the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives.  After the day of Pentecost,  there was a transformation.  When Jesus rose from the dead, and even a few days after that, when Jesus was crucified, where were the disciples?   Where were the apostles? 

 

When they had their Last Supper,  Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane and Peter, James and John were asleep, and the rest of the disciples were nowhere to be found.  Suddenly, Judas led this band of officers to Jesus and there was a commotion and all the apostles fled.   In fact, even Peter denied Jesus three times.  When Resurrection came, they were in the Upper Room for fear of the Jews.  They were afraid that they were going to be next in line.  A few days later, after the day of Pentecost, this band of cowards was transformed.  Suddenly, there was something new that happened in their lives.

 

There is something new that can happen in our lives today.  Paul said, “If any man is in Christ, He is a new creature.  The old has passed away.”  You are no longer the person who is always late.  You are no longer the person who sleeps during class.  You are no longer lazy.   This is because you are a new creature.  On the day of Pentecost, you will be like the apostles going out on the streets like drunken men shouting the mighty works of God.  No one is afraid anymore.  In fact, one day, Peter and John were going to the temple to worship, and they saw this crippled man. He was begging, and Peter said to the man, “Look at us!” 

 

These are the same words that we can say to the world.  “Look at Cathedral of the King!  Marimar II and Marimar I, look at us!”  Do they see Jesus in us? Do they see the power?   We are transformed.  We are no longer the fearful people who are always talking about problems and difficulties.  

 

Peter said, “I don’t have silver and gold, but what I have, I give to you.  In the Name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise, stand up and walk.”   Not only was the man walking; he was leaping and praising God!  The officials saw this and they said, “We better stop this.”  They got Peter and John and threw them in prison and said, “You are  not going to do this anymore.”  Peter and John were persecuted.  They tried to put them down, and they threatened them, “Don’t ever preached about Jesus Christ in the city.”  

 

Peter and John, who a few weeks before were locked, hiding,and afraid, went back to where the disciples were gathered.  They gathered the apostles and they had this prayer in Acts 4  which made them witnesses.  It was not a prayer to ask the Lord to help them escape or to supply their needs for these men had transformed lives.  Acts 4:24-29 (NIV) says, “When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “ ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one. Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.”

 

This is my prayer for all of us.  We are witnesses of these things, Church.  We have to have great boldness to be able to share.  

 

I try to travel as often as I can in my clerics, so that the people would see the image of God.  Not me as the man, but the image of God in society.   This is what God wants from us.  Verse 30 says, “Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”  As you stretch out your hand to those who are in need, it is the hand of Jesus being stretched out. Become transformed because this is what the Resurrection power does. Being a witness transforms us.  We are given a new life.  It is no longer the old life that we have, but the new life.  This is the life that happens to each and every one of us. 

 

Testimony of Lourdes Lim:

 

It is an opportunity to share the goodness of God. I always share in small groups, but this is the first time that I am able to share in front of many people over 27 years.  I have been with the Cathedral of the King for 27 years.  I have been with the Church for more than half of my life.  

 

My testimony is not something spectacular like raising someone from the dead or healing the sick. My story is very ordinary.  What is extraordinary about it is the love of God that I could not explain.  The song says, “How can I ever say enough.  Your love is so amazing.”  To say that I am grateful is an understatement because God is really alive in my life.  

 

I am a certified provincial lass.   I lived in a barrio, on an island, in a province in the Visayas.  Where in the world is Bantayhan Island, where I live?  It is a five to six kilometers to a town proper and an hour ride going to the port of Santa Fe.  From Santa Fe, a ferry boat will take me one and a half hours going to Hagnaya, which is the northern tip of Cebu province.  Reaching Hagnaya, I have to take a three to four hour bus ride through a zigzag road going to Cebu City. From Cebu going to Manila, it would take an hour and five minutes by plane or a 21 to 23 hours by boat. 

 

How did I reach Manila?  My story has lessons for a student, for daughters, for a wife, for a mother, and a servant of God.   I would like you to know that even if a person changes and fails in life, God never changes. 

 

When I was growing up, I had a very low self-esteem. I was bullied and people were critical of my physical appearance.  I came to terms with this reality, and that made it easy for me to accept it. In addition to this, my family was semi-dysfunctional.  My mother and father were not separated, but my father was working in Cebu City as a driver, and my mother was not able to finish school because she handled all the household chores.  She also had to sell root crops, fruits to animals just to get us by.  

 

Looking at my situation, you would see that I had lesser opportunities while growing up.  My other siblings were not in good terms with my mother.  It may be that all the concerns of my mother were too much for her to bear that she had to vent it out to my siblings.   It was only my eldest brother and I who were in good terms with my mother.   My brother managed to have a course that could have given him a job as a seaman, but our relative who promised to help him did not do this, but instead he made him as a helper and a driver. He, then, was not given  a chance to financially help the family.  

 

When I graduated from high school,  I wanted to be a doctor. My mother’s friend advised me to take up Medical Technology so that even if I won’t be in a Medical School, I would have a degree. I enrolled at the Cebu Doctor’s College, which was home to the rich people from the Visayas and Mindanao like the Tiongbians, to the Sarabia, and the hacienderos.  What was I doing in this school?  I was able to enroll because I graduated as a valedictorian in high school.  I was a scholar, but I wasn’t able to  maintain my grade to gain full scholarship.   I asked my father to help me pay  my tuition, but  He replied in our dialect to mean, “Kung hindi kaya abutin ang langit, huwag na lang ipilit.”

 

I was bent on finishing college. My mother’s dream was for us siblings to finish college. I applied for a Studend’s Grant-in-Aid, which needs me to maintain a grade to get a scholarship and with a condition that I have to work for the school.   It was my first shot to talk with the Dean of the school, and I didn’t know how I did it, but I was accepted. I worked in the laboratory, and out of this, I was able to pay for my tuition and I even had an allowance.

 

During my second year, a classmate of mine introduced me to Jesus, and we attended the Maranatha Christian Fellowship.  Every time that I would go there and there would be an altar call, I would respond because I could not get enough of my new found love.  I was excited, and so I attended Bible Studies.  My mother was furious because she was a devoted  Roman Catholic, but this did not stop me from attending. 

 

When I graduated from college, I had to come to Manila to take the Board. However, my mother had some legal issues about a small property that she inherited, so I was compelled to work to help with the expenses.  I sold children’s books and one of the buyers invited me to Christian Life Fellowship.  I was searching for a church that I could attend to, but when I got to Christian Life Fellowship, I felt that it was my home.  The moment I stepped into the theatre, I told myself that this is what I was looking for.  

 

I did not leave, and for 27 years, I am still here.  Everything happens for a reason.  One leads to another, and without you knowing it,  all work together for our good and benefit.  When I was selling books, I also met the manager of an insurance company who happens to be the uncle of Stu, my husband.  Not only was I recruited in their company, but also into their family.

 

I really did not want to go into insurance.  I was waiting for the results of the Boards, and I got the surprise of my life when I found out that I was points away from being in the Top Ten.  I asked the Lord, “What do You want me to do after this?”  I applied for a job abroad and I failed.  I tried taking exams at different hospitals, but I got sick and I couldn’t be accepted for a job in the hospitals.

 

I went back to selling books, and there I discovered that I liked serving people,  I liked to talk with people; I loved encouraging them.   My people’s skill was thus developed.  I did not ask God why He did not use me as a Medtech.  I just knew that God has a better plan for me.  What may have been started in our lives may not be our final destination.  God will do something to get us out of the situation so that we will be more effective. 

 

During all these times, I knew that the Lord was with me.  He provided for me. It was hard to be separated from your family.  I never experienced what it really was to have a normal family, but what compensated this lack or this void was having a Church with me. 

 

I have shared with my children that the Church has always been a vital part of my life because this is where I would get my strength from.  I could not imagine myself  out of the Church. I was only 23 years old when I joined the Church, and there were a lot of temptations with regards to my career, but it was always the Church that guided me.  It was in the Church, too, that I saw the Lord face to face – through the people in the Church. I saw Him in every face, in the hand, in the touch of every brother and sister who cared for me all these years.

 

I knew that the Lord never left me.  He was with me when I got married.  He was with me with I became a mother of four.  I know that He has always been there for me, even at the lowest point of my life. 

 

In 2007, I gave birth to my son, Hanz.  My father got sick and he died in March, 2007.  I managed to talk to him and ministered to him on the phone.  I invited my mother to go to Manila, but I felt that something was keeping her.  She was coughing, and I told her to get herself examined.  In July, a certain Dr. Edward Yu called me, and he told me that he just saw my mother and the laboratory tests came out, and she has been diagnosed with Stage Four lung cancer.   I invited her to come to Manila, and she did in September.  She was already skin and bones and my heart just went out to her.  

 

The events happened so fast, but during this time, the Lord was my comfort. He gave me inner peace, and I said, “Everything is going to be all right.  You have always proven that to me.”   Late October, I brought her to the hospital with the help of our Church members.  Physically, I wanted to give up with lack of sleep, and with a son to breastfeed.  However, I saw how the Lord sustained me at all times.  I could never forget how the Church worked together to comfort us as a family and to hold us up in prayers from the death of my mother until she was laid to rest in Cebu in November.   I told myself again, “Lord, I may not physically see you, but I see You in the Church.”  

 

I saw my siblings during that time and I told them that I couldn’t have done all these things without the Church.  I told them I want you to know Who the Lord is in my life.  I was hoping that this would open their eyes that there is a living God that is working in each other’s life.  Even if they were angry with my mother, I believed that it was the time for them to heal their wounds to forgive and to release everything. 

 

My family came back to Manila on November 15, but on November 28, I got a call at 4:00 a.m. and I was told that my sibling committed suicide.  Looking at all these three events that happened in my life, I could only cry my heart to the Lord, “Lord, I just give it all to You.  I cannot handle it anymore. You are the only One that sustains me. You know that I love You.  I do not know Your plans, Your reasons for allowing these things, but I can never, never question You.”  I know that the Lord never makes mistakes.  He has a plan for each event in our lives for our good.  At that time, all that I knew was that God was a living God.

 

In all, God has always been our Provider, our Comforter, our Encourager and our Refuge.  I know that I have undergone a lot of pain, a lot of failures and disappointments, but I did not see them. All I saw was the love of God, and God’s character has never changed. 

 

Four years later, my husband, Stuart, had a heart attack.  I don’t know if this is something unique in me because when there is danger, I am oblivious to it.  I just have this peace in my heart that everything was going to be alright.  I was told by the doctors that Stu would need to go angioplasty. I received the diagnosis with the cost of the procedure at the back of my mind.  All I knew was that I will text the Church for prayers. 

 

After 24 hours, as Stu was in the ICU, the doctor said to me, “You could have lost your husband if you were delayed in bringing him in by ten minutes.  Mabuti na lang magaling kami, alert kami, at nagawa naming ng paraan.”  In my mind, I knew that it was the hand of God, and they were used by God to rescue my husband.   After fourteen days, our bill was Php 800,000.  I asked the Lord where we would get it. The Lord told me not to worry, the Church is there.  All of you, every part of the bill that was paid for came from all of you. I said, “I will never leave this Church no matter what happens,” because this is where I would get my strength.  

 

When something happened in the Church last 2014, I continued with my business of serving the Lord. Now, that we live within the Church premises, I am thankful to God for it. 

 

These things that happened in my life are not spectacular, but the grace, the love, and power of God has been ever present.  In every small thing that transpired in my family, the Lord never left us.  Stu had another heart attack and my children are all going to school.  I cannot say that we are okay, and we might be facing humongous challenges in our life, but I said to the Lord, “Lord, You are not done with me yet.  If You have been faithful to me, I know that You will never leave me or forsake me.”  I did not waiver in my faith and I continued to serve the Lord.

 

I asked myself and the Lord, “Lord, why am I a Medical Technologist? What is its use?”   I was used for the COTK members to have their blood examined.  Not all that we plan is what transpires in our lives.  It is the Lord who calls the shots.  We are just obeying His instructions to us, so let us do our part.  My desire is that whatever happens in our lives, even if we change, and even if men will fail us, the Lord will never fail us nor leave us nor forsake us.  As long as I live, I desire to serve Him and that my passion will be passed on to my children, so that whatever talents and abilities they have, it will also be offered to the Lord. 

 

Our lives are not ours; our families are not ours.  It is not what we have, but the heart attitude behind what we have is what matters.  Most importantly, all the glory is to God.  I may die today, but my Lord is very much alive.

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