Midweek Fellowship – June 21, 2017
Fr. Roberto M. Jorvina
There is such a powerful force that is released when the people of God praise Him, if only we see this in the spiritual realm. If only we can see once we lift up our hands, the demons tremble and ran away. Once we utter a voice of praise to God, sickness has to flee. Once we allow the high praises of the Lord to be in our lips, it is like a two edged sword in our hand.
Praise is not a weapon or just something where we sing nice, beautiful songs to make us feel good. Praise is really a weapon of a believer. The enemy tries to keep us from praising Him because once the people of God unleash and release the power of praise, once we see this marvelous, magnificent weapon that is in our hands, it binds the enemy. The enemy is paralyzed to affect our lives. We say, “There is still a problem. I can still feel the pain,” but don’t give up. Don’t allow it to distract you. Once we realize the power of praise, we can see those things that have caused us fear and problems in our lives to just flee away little by little. It will bring us understanding in so many things that we have not understood before. It will release us to do powerful things that we have not thought that we could do before.
I could still remember many years ago when I was asked to go and visit a sister in Oroquieta. I was 26 years old then. I reached Cebu, but I didn’t know how to get to Qroquieta. She was there as a missionary and I was her Youth Pastor. When I got to Cebu, I went to the airport having no ticket. I asked the Lord, “Lord, help me to reach Oroquieta City.” I have never been here before. I asked myself, “Where in the world is Oroquieta City?”
I went to the map and saw that it was north of Ozamis. I went to the PAL Ticket Office and asked, “Do you have a ticket to Ozamis from Cebu?” They told me, “Sorry, but M/W/F lang po ang ticket from Cebu to Ozamis.” It was a Tuesday, and so I went back to the map and saw that the next city is Pagadian City. I went back to the PAL Ticket Office and I asked if there was a flight to this city. They said, “Yes, Sir, paalis na po in two hours.” I purchased a ticket from Cebu to Pagadian City. Looking at the map, it seemed that Ozamis and Pagadian are cities closed to each other.
When I got to Pagadian, I went to the bus terminal to get a ride to Ozamis. They said, “Sir, last trip na po ito.” I thought, “At two o’clock in the afternoon, it was already the last trip?” The man said, “Hindi po bumabiyahe ng gabi dito dahil nang-aambush po ang NPA.” As I was travelling, I was just praising God. I got to Ozamis at six o’clock in the evening, and then finally, I got to Oroquieta at 8 o’clock in the evening. I went to the barrio of Tabuk in Oroquieta. Getting to that place during the night is not like Manila where you see people and any mode of transportation, and yet the Lord led me there.
God is a God of miracles. From the very beginning, He destined each one of us to greatness. He will not allow us to be put to shame. Yes, we go through sufferings and trials and tribulations, but the Lord will not allow that to be the terminal point. That is not the ending. There is always something greater and better that will happen.
Even though today may end in despair and hopelessness, there is always the sun that rises every morning that says to us, “It is a new day. It is going to be great. It is going be a day where new hope begins.” Whatever yesterday was, Jeremiah writes in Lamentations, “The steadfast love of the Lord is new every morning.” The book of Lamentations is filled with remorse and trouble, and problems and fears, but right in the middle of this book, in chapter three verse twenty-three, it says, “In the midst of all these things, the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, never comes to an end. It is new every morning. As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, God’s love will always be there to rise with us.
God has called us with a specific task from the beginning. In Genesis, God has already ordained us for greatness. When He created man, He said, “This is your destiny.” This never changed even because of man’s failure. This never changed because things were not going the way we thought it would go. This never changed even though God did not desire man to sin, and man continued to disobey. It was still man’s mandate. God said, “Be fruitful; multiply, fill the earth, rule and subdue.” This is our destiny. This is what we have been called for.
We have been called to be missionaries. We have been called to be mission-oriented. Every one of us has a mission in life. When we were born, when we were formed by God in the depths of our mother’s womb, we already had a mission. Our fulfillment in life will only happen when we align ourselves with this mission that God has for us. It has nothing to do with what we have in our possession. It has nothing to do with what we have accomplished as far as our career is concerned. It has everything to do with what God has planned for us. We must continually seek Him and search for Him. We must see our lives in this light.
Our theme for these Wednesdays is taken from Luke 24:49 which says, “You are witnesses of these things.” We ask ourselves, “What are these things?” “What are the things that we are witnesses of?” For us to understand this, let us look at verse 45, “Then, Jesus opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” All of us have a certain mindset about the Scriptures. We don’t have a clear understanding of the promises of God, and this is true even for the apostles.
The scene of this was after the Resurrection. Two men were walking down the road to Emmaus. They walked side by side with Jesus, and when they did that, they finally recognized Jesus sometime many hours later when they reached their destination and they were breaking bread. Jesus vanished from their midst, and they were filled with awe, fear and excitement that they ran back to their companions who were gathered in the Upper Room that was locked because of the fear of the Jews. They were saying, “We saw the Master. We saw the Lord.” These were two people who saw the Lord plus Mary Magdalene who already said, “I saw the Lord!” Yet, their companions were still filled with doubt. They could not seem to connect what all of these things mean.
When Jesus appeared to them at that very moment, they were startled and were filled with awe. Jesus He had to open their minds to make them understand the Scriptures. He said, “Thus, it is written that Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations beginning from Jerusalem.”
We are witnesses of these things. To summarize, there are three points that Jesus says that we are witness of: first, we are witnesses of the suffering and death of Christ. We weren’t there. We did not physically see Him suffer. We did not see Him die, but we are a witness of this. Second, we are witnesses of His resurrection. We were there when they crucified the Lord. We were there when He rose from the dead. Because of these, the third point of our witness is that we are now to proclaim the repentance for the forgiveness of sins to the world.
These three points may be something that is cloudy to us, but stay with us. In the next weeks, we will get to know what these points are. Where will our life lead to? What will be the meaning of us being a witness of Christ? Jesus said that we are witnesses of these things, and this witness, what our lives will become, will depend on the witness we have of Christ.
How have we witnessed in our own personal way His resurrection? His suffering? His death? I can’t do it for you. I can pray that your eyes may be opened and there will be a witness in your heart.
There is a term in Christianity that says, “May witness sa akin.” When someone would do something and they were supposed to go out in a mission, they would check with their Pastor and would say, “Pastor, I feel that I am called to go to Bislig, Surigao, and leave all my belongings an establish a Church there.” The Pastor would say, “Yes, I have a witness of that in my spirit.” What is this witness? This is not just an eyewitness that you are seeing an event. Yes, you see something happening, but there is more that you can see as compared to a person who just saw the physical incident. It is more than just seeing something happen. It is having a deep-seated conviction of the truth of God and His ways, and what He is doing in our lives.
When this happens in us, when we can become true witnesses, nothing can move us. Nothing can deter us. We will be so steadfast in our ways that even though troubles and storms of life may come, we will be tested. We will be like that man who built his house upon the rock that even if the winds came and all of the disasters tried to shake the house, it remained steadfast and strong. Why? This is because we have become a witness of these things.
After Christ left and ascended, the Church began to grow by the thousands and even more. In two years, they were able to reach many places without the benefit of communication or transportation that we have today. Christians were just passionate despite the persecution. They were witnesses of something that we today, two thousand years later, would also like to be witnesses of. We must begin to realize the greatness of God.
Dcn. Ben Abalajen’s testimony:
I have several testimonies, but I would only share one. We all have testimonies in our lives. We should not be timid to share them because this is God’s blessing in our lives.
In the year 2006, our Church had a feeding in Alabang, Muntinlupa. Our Church there started to feed people there, and because it grew, they asked help from the Cathedral. In a matter of three years, we were already feeding about 200 children already and less than a hundred adults. One of the priests who were with us said, “Deacon, kailangan natin ng simbahan dito.”
In one of our trips for this feeding, our L300 stopped when it reached the Alabang flyover. Because there was still the momentum, we were able to push the L300 going down to reach the toll. When I checked the van, there was no oil. We made arrangements so that the food may be brought to the feeding place.
The Skyway Patrol approached me and said, “Brod, kahit nasa gilid kayo, hahatakin pa rin yan at dadalhin sa Bicutan at maiimpound at magbabayad kayo ng Php2,500.” In a little while, a tow track, whose service is exclusively for their members only, came to us. I was surprised because the man from this tow truck said, “Brod, kung gusto ninyo, dadalin ko kayo sa Alabang Town Center. Maraming parking doon at safe kayo doon.”
I obliged and we brought the van to Alabang Town Center. During the ride, we had a conversation. I found out that the man was from my hometown in Samar. The friends that he mentioned was known to me. Being comfortable with him, I told him that I need to bring the van to Sheridan. However, he had to go somewhere, but he promised that he would come back for me at 7 o’clock in the evening. He gave me his calling card. I came back at this time, but he did not show up. However, I was thankful that the van was in a safe place and that I did not have to pay any fee.
The following day, I asked my wife, Emee, to call the person whose name was in the calling card. I wanted to thank him that our van was safe in the parking lot in Alabang, and we did not have to pay Php2, 500. Emee dialed the number, and she had the right company as written on the calling card, but the name written on it was not an employee of the company. Scriptures says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers because some of them are angels.”
This testimony shares with us that when we do the things of God, there will be miracles. I have several of them, but because of time, I can only share this. God is so good. If we only allow ourselves to be used by God, miracles will flow.
If you have a testimony, please let us know. We want to see ourselves as witnesses of Christ. To be a witness of Christ, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to be physically there to what happened in the life of Christ. When we go through situations like this, we become a witness of these things – of what Christ has done. It is now our task to be able to share it and let others know.
I am sure many of you have encountered miracles, things which were impossible, but because of God’s work, it has become possible.
What Dcn. Ben encountered may possibly be an angel that was non-existent as far as man is concerned, but God can dispatch anyone. Once in a while, you may encounter an angel that you have. We are not just mere man. We have to rise above and see ourselves in the realm of the supernatural. When there is sickness, there is healing. When there is a problem, there is a solution. When there is a lack, we have the supply and the source. This is because we are the people of God. Even if God perhaps did not send an angel to Dcn. Ben, remember what the Hebrew child in the fiery furnace said, “Even if God does not deliver us, we will not bow down to Nebuchadnezzar.”
This is what God wants us to realize. Be steadfast and have a firm faith. May we be truly be blessed with the things that are happening in our lives; and as we go, we go as witnesses of Christ’s perfection.
The worship that we did tonight is not just singing nice songs. It is a witness of the power of the resurrection of God, of the great power of God in our lives!