Midweek Fellowship – July 6, 2016

 

Panel Discussion: RESTORATION

Bishop Ariel Santos: There are people who have a gift of being visionaries.  They can see something that doesn't exist yet and instead of seeing the present situation, they see the potentials.  When we were at the Sheridan and Oritgas buildings, did we know what they looked like before?  When we moved there, we did not have air-conditioning.  We did not have the walls, the ceilings, and the place was dirty.  We had a lot of work done.

 

One has to have the gift to see the finished product before it is there.  In order to believe that God is in the process of restoring us and that we will have a glorious destiny, we must understand this.  We must learn not to see the present.  We look forward. We don't walk by sight but by faith.  Like Abraham, we look to a country that doesn't exist yet.  We look to a stage of maturity which is not there yet.  We need to understand that we shouldn't be affected by the present scenario. We must hold on to God's promises to where we are going.

 

God told the Israelites, "I am taking you to a land flowing with milk and honey.”  The reason they complained and murmured is because they were looking at the places where they were - the desert - with no water, no meat and eating the same food for forty years.

 

We are to fix our eyes on Jesus and on our hope. Our eyes should be on the prize because if we look at the present situation, we will be discouraged and be disappointed.  We are looking into restoration of ourselves, as men.

 

There was a heresy in the ancient church that believed that the flesh is just inherently and innately evil; not understanding that when the Bible talks about the flesh, it is about the old nature, which Jesus spoke to death already.  In 2Corinthians 5:14, “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died.”  Why did Jesus have to die for us?  It is to crucify our sinful flesh to the cross. In His death, all men died. Verse 15, "And He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf." The old life had died already; the new life we live is because of Him who died and rose on our behalf.

 

Because of this, "Therefore from now on, we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer." Jesus already crucified the old flesh, in His body, on the cross. That flesh died, and when Jesus rose again, we, who have died with Him, also rose with Him with new life.

 

We need to recognize that this new life is a beginning. It is not the perfect life already, but a beginning and it goes through a process of growth, hence, the restoration again.

When God created man in the beginning, sin was not present.  Man was meant for eternal life; he was just beginning; but sin and death came and the process was interrupted. 

I personally believe that Jesus got us back where we were rudely interrupted by sin and death.  We have a destiny that we are getting to.  I choose to hold on to God's promise.  What He started, the good work in us, He will be faithful to complete it.

 

Fr. Roberto Jorvina:  The flesh was intended by God to be the manifestation of the Spirit. The real struggle for all of us is how we can make the flesh be in the manner by which the spirit has been made by God.  This is what we call incarnation. The Word became flesh.  It is a continuous process of how the Word, which is in us, come to manifest and be made visible through the flesh. It takes first the acceptance of the understanding of the Word that God gives to us.

 

It is a choice that we make every day to be like Mary to be able to say to God, "Be it done unto me according to Your word." This is when the Word becomes flesh; this is when there is a birth in us that will transform us to the very image of Christ.  It is a progression; it is something that doesn't happen instantly. It is a transformation each day that we begin to be like Christ and we progressively move and journey into that image that Christ wants us to have.

 

When we begin to understand the plan of God in us, we will not end what St. Paul calls the momentary life afflictions - the things of this age which are temporary and that will pass away and are subject to change.  We will look at things unseen that can only be perceived by the spirit which are eternal.  This is the process of restoration and it will come as we continue to commit our lives to Christ.

 

Fr. Gary Thurman: The flesh, in the NIV translation, is called the sinful desires, and it is really more about selfish desires. The number one goal of the flesh is to feed itself.  If it is hungry, it wants to eat; if it is bored, it wants entertainment; if it is lonely, it wants companionship.  In the Garden before the fall, Adam and Eve were driven by themselves.  They were there as creatures of pleasure to God. The Psalm says that they were there to bring God pleasure, to obey Him.  God told to be fruitful and to multiply, and this was what they were motivated by.  They were motivated by pleasing the Lord, and they were feeding their spirits by their fellowship with God.  In fellowship with God, in communion with God, in a relationship with God, their spirit was fed.

 

This was what man had in the beginning but was lost in the fall.  Through the fall, man's flesh rose up primarily in the example in the manifestation of man wanting to feed himself and his own desires fulfilled.  Man, now, not just wants to eat; it has become an art.  In the social media, there are the foodie blogs where they talk about how the extravagant, marvelous dishes are made and where they can be found.  Before, this has never been an issue.  If you are hungry, you just fill your stomach. If it is nutritious, that is good. Now, man is obsessed with feeding and entertaining himself more and more in elaborate ways. 

 

When we come to the Lord, it turns around.  Jesus says, "Why do you worry about what you are going to eat? Look at the birds; they don't worry about what they eat."  God says, "Don't worry about that. I will take care of the flesh."  In the kingdom of God, the flesh doesn't need to take care of the flesh.  God takes care of the flesh.  We seek first the Kingdom. Feed our spirit and this is what we call the restoration of man -  the restoration of the state that we have in the  Garden.

 

Restoration of ourselves is going from seeking to feed our flesh to seeking a union with God and seeking to feed the spirit.  It is not just ours, but those of others.  It is to know God and to make Him known. We see this so much in Jesus.  How many times was Jesus moved with compassion?  This is what we are missing in the Church today.  The Church is so busy; the Christians are so busy feeding themselves, feeding their desire for entertainment and the other things that we forget to be moved by compassion. Having compassion is not an issue with us anymore.   Probably, this should be the number desire of a Christian - being moved with compassion that we can be motivated to see that the needs of others are met rather than feeding ourselves.

 

Restoration is being reconciled with God and it comes when we have compassion for others. 

 

Bishop Ariel: Recognize that we are still in the process of restoration. If we concentrate too much on the imperfections that we see that have not yet been turned into good, then, we would be frustrated and we would give up.  We belong to a society that gives up on a lot of things. We are no longer fixers.  Celphone repair shops would go out of business in a short while. Who repairs toys today? Wealthy nations would just throw things if they are destroyed because they can afford it plus it may be out of style. 

 

There is a picture of an elderly couple who were asked, "What is your secret for staying together for fifty years?" They answered, "I don't know about this new generation, but we belong to a generation that fixed things.  When things are broken, we fix them; we don't throw them away.  When relationships are broken, we fix them; we don't walk away.  We don't turn our back against each other; we fix them."

 

Our culture, our society have not trained us to be fixers. It encourages us to have this mentality that when something is broken, we throw it away and replace it.  It is cheap anyway. People just walk away from things not understanding that people are not dispensable.  People are here to stay. Why is the divorce rate so high now? People don't fix things; they just walk away from the situation because it is the easiest thing to do. This teaches something not godly.  If God did not give up on us, would we fail Him? We should not be getting up against creation or against each other.

 

Fr. Roberto:  Isn't this also related to the attitude of just taking the easy way out?  We are a people that are used to handling conflicts.  We are not a people who want to wait for the seed to grow. We would rather go to the store and buy something instant rather than be patient to plant something, take care of it, and let it grow.

 

The culture today is an instant culture. The flesh wants instant relief. Why is paracetamol very popular today? We don't want to fix the problem because we have to endure the pain and we have to try to work through natural ways for remedy.   We would rather take the short cut of not going to the trouble because we want the instant relief.  Isn't this related to people who do not want to endure or suffer? To be inconvenienced? This boils down to our lack of hope.

 

Restoration is founded on hope. You will not restore anything if you do not believe that it can be fixed.  You will not try to work on a relationship if you find it hopeless.  You will not try to heal cancer if the doctor says it is terminal.  Today, we go through the same mentality.  We do not want it because we have lost the living hope which resulted from the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We were born again to this living hope and restoration is founded on hope.  Lack of restoration, lack of desire to fix something is born out of hopelessness, 

 

Hebrews 10:35 says, "Do not throw away your confidence which has a great reward." Why can't we restore things? Why can't we fix things? It is because we don't have confidence anymore. We don't see the reward of enduring a relationship.  We don't see the reward and the fulfillment of working at something and eventually reaping.  We want the instant. Hebrews 10:36-39 says, "You have need of endurance so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. But My righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith in the preserving of the soul."

 

This is restoration. This is working in the area that the flesh may not be yet perfect but is going to endure.

 

Fr. Dino Jorvina:  God said in the Old Testament, "I will restore the tabernacle of David.”  One mark that He wants to see in His people is a people of praise and worship.   In Psalm 17:15, "As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake."  We are restored in the image that He has made us to be.  This is accomplished if we, as in Psalm 84:10 says, "For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand in the threshold of the house of my God than dwell in the tenets of wickedness."  It comes in our lives when we desire to be in His presence. Praise and worship is a time of communion - just being in God’s presence and worshipping Him.

 

The beautiful thing about this is it is applied in any part of our lives. We can get as practical as we can – in our work places, in our school. Our response to the issues in our lives is always s resounding praise to God.  Our weapon in our warfare in life is worship.  Just like Jehoshaphat and Gideon, we see that God's mercies endure forever in the things we go through.

 

Restoration comes because we are a people of praise and worship.  We are a people who desire to always be in His presence. Being in His courts may mean being in the physical courts of God, in the Altar; it can also be in the presence of the brethren. We desire to be with people of like faith where we are built up and we build others. The courts of the Lord is also spending time with His Word. We will be satisfied when we are restored to the very image that God has called us to be.  This is why the Psalms say, "I will be satisfied with Your likeness, in the image You created me to be."

 

We come to a decision to say, "Lord, may You restore the tabernacle of David in our life. May we be a people of praise, a people of worship."  Right now, there are so many distractions, so many forms of entertainment. I am not saying that it is wrong, but we have become passive.  Worship and praise comes from the inner being, not from an outside source like the gadgets.  It comes from us, relating to God.  It is a wonderful experience because it is also a transforming experience. It is an experience that we use in our life in whatever we are doing.  We begin to see that we are being restored in all the issues we are confronted in life. The tabernacle is being restored in us.  

 

Fr. Roberto:  In the battle that Israel had, Moses hands were lifted up.  The song says, "Lift up the hands that hang down. Lift up the voice down still.”  This is how praise and the victory of our lives are related. When Moses' hands became weary, Israel lost. We see the connection of praise, of prayer, and our attitude with God.  Sometimes, we don't feel God. Sometimes, we don't feel like praying.  We don't feel like going to Church, and yet these activities will usher us into being awakened to righteousness.

 

When we come into the presence of the Lord, we see the effect if it.  Paul and Silas chains got loosened because of praise. There was praise that just ascended and as one person said, "God got so excited with the praise of Paul and Silas and God began to stomp His feet and His hands as they were singing praise to God.  He caused the earth to move and shake."  Like Carole King's song, "I feel the earth move under my feet."

 

Fr. Dino: I am excited with our journey as a Church because as we are in a process of building a physical building, may we be a people restored to the tabernacle of David who will always say, "A day in Your court is better than a thousand outside." This will be our drawing factor.  Even if there are many obstacles like the traffic, like what Diana Ross said, "Ain't no mountain high enough." We would always want to be in the presence of God and this is applied in any aspect of our lives.

 

Praising God is a victorious living. We know that the victory in our lives is in God. God said that a day will come when people will worship in spirit and in truth. This is a reality that starts with a yearning for the very presence of God in our lives.

 

Get excited about our journey.  Even if there are many things confronting us, we would see the very restoration that God is building.  This has been prophecy way back in the 80's when Brother Jeffrey Lai said, "The restoration of the tabernacle of David will be done in this Church." It is going to be done!  For the next generation, carry the torch that we may see a different kind of people - a people of power and a people of praise.  The tabernacle is not just a physical one, but it is in our hearts that can never be taken away.

 

Bishop Ariel: What if in the court, you had a conflict with your brother?  What if the air-conditioning in the court was not working? What if the court is not in its completed form yet? I believe that one very important factor that should be there is compassion.  Why is God restoring us? This is because He loves us enough to not throw us away.  He loves us enough to correct us, to fix us.  It should be there so that we would have a firmer hold on our belief and our faith for the restoration.  If we don't care enough for somebody, we divorce them.  We don't make every effort in us to believe that they can be restored. Motivating our faith should be compassion and love.

 

Fr. Gary:  There is a verse in the Bible that says that we are perfected in love. We are restored and perfected in love.  Psalm 27:4 says, "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." This was said before Solomon built the temple.  What David was talking about was a raggedy old tent that was five hundred years old and it had been ignored for years.  It probably may be in bad shape already but yet David said, "I would rather stay there for the rest of my life," because he saw something deeper than just the flash, the stars and the lasers.

Compassion is what holds us together, and this is what we are perfected in, where we are restored in love.

 

Bishop Ariel:  There is a Jewish American guy named Eli Wiesel, a Nobel Peace Prize Winner, who died a few days ago.  Mr. Wiesel was a survivor of the Nazi's concentration camp in the mid 1940's. He was fifteen when he was orphaned.  His whole family was killed by the Germans. The last surviving member was his father and he was also executed just before the Americans came and liberated the Germans.  Rephrasing what Mr. Wiesel said, "It is so easy to lose faith in God and in humanity. I belong to a generation that is often felt abandoned by God and betrayed by mankind. Yet, I believe that we must not give up on God, on our faith in Him, and on man in their restoration.”

 

Man is not perfected yet.  We may see the horrors, the cruelty, the injustice, the abuse and the evils in man, but we must not give up on them because God is at work in them. I can assure that many of our brothers and sisters in the Cathedral of the King have a head start because God is at work in all of us.  We must choose between the evils that we see by sight because of the imperfection of man, being in the process of being perfected.  Mr. Eli Wiesel said, "We must choose between the violence of the adults and the smiles of the children, between the ugliness of hate and the will to oppose it.  Between inflicting suffering and humiliation on our fellow man and offering him the solidarity and hope he deserves. Or not. I know – I speak from experience – that even in the darkness it is possible to create light and encourage compassion. I still choose to believe in man inspite of his weaknesses."

 

See that God is at work.  See that the seed has potential in us, as a Church, small as it may be. The seed has been planted a long time ago and so far, it has, somehow, produced some fruit.  It has already gone through some growth and so the potential is multiplied than it was in the beginning.

 

We have gained ground somehow.  We have gotten somewhere, so this is not the time to give up. This is not the time to focus more on the weakness but rather on the potential.  God is the potential in each of us.

 

Do not give up.  We are to see the work of God in us.  We don't look at each other according to the flesh, but according to Christ who lives in us. If we look to people according to the flesh we will be disappointed. This explains to us visually that over the black vestments of the clergy, a white cassock is worn over it because he is being restored.  One day, along with martyrs and other saints, they will just be wearing white robes - none of the black cassocks anymore.

 

This is our destiny and we fix our hope on this.  We don't walk by sight, but by faith. We hold on to the promise of God. Look at people around you as people in the process of being perfected.  We can enumerate their weaknesses and our weaknesses, but each of us has something in common: God is at work in us and He is in the business of restoring us.

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