October 12, 2016
Bro. Somerset Abarquez
This morning, we experienced an earthquake and I was on the twelfth floor of our office building. I asked the trainees to vacate the room for any aftershocks. When they came back, I encouraged and read to them Hebrews 12:26-27, “And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.’ This expression, ‘Yet once more,’ denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain…let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe.”
Most of those whom I teach are busy with their computers, and I told them, “One of these days, God will really open our minds to let us know who He is. This earthquake is just another sign for us to open our hearts and minds that there is God. God wants us to focus our hearts and minds to Him.”
When I received an email from Fr. Gary that I will be sharing, I experienced a lot of challenges. For two Wednesdays, I failed to attend the Midweek Fellowship because at one time, I was stuck in traffic. Last week, I was caught by the MMDA driving at the wrong lane. There is also the challenge to praise and to teach before the believers. I said at one time to the Lord, “Lord, I don’t know what to say,” but You said, ‘You have papers. You try to write it down. There is no need for you to teach. Just encourage the Body.’”
The topic given to me is “Body Life”. We know that we have a body, and at the same time, it is alive; but the real and actual body is the body that receives the spirit of Christ. Quoting from the Good News version in John 6:63, “What gives life is God’s spirit; human power is of no use at all. The words I have spoken to you bring God’s life-giving spirit.” It is the spirit of Christ that gives life to the body.
One time, a trainee in my class asked, “Sir, how can you say that we came from the dust and to dust we shall return? Paano binuo ni Lord yung dust from the ground?” In Genesis 2:6-7, “But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground. Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” There was the presence of mist, and a mist is formed when warmer air over water suddenly encounters the cooler surface of land, which happens at early dawn. I believe that God created man early in the morning. When God was trying to seek man, it was during the cool of the day. Before sin, it was God seeking man. After sin, it was man seeking God.
How are we able to help one another as believers? I am a seaman, and when I have a Bible study aboard the ship, I really don’t know what to say. Before, I was a persecutor of people who would open their Bibles. My ex-girlfriend was a born-again Christian and I told myself that I am not going to marry her because of our differences in religion. When the siblings of my ex-girlfriend learned that I became a Christian, they invited me to a Bible study for me to share my testimony. I did not know what to do, but they instructed me to share the life I had before I became a Christian, when I received the Lord, and how the Lord changed my life. I followed their instructions and when I did, they gave glory to God.
Aboard the ship as a seaman, I was also asked to share my testimony, and it being my first time, I consumed the time for the whole service. My Captain, who was also a born-again Christian, told me, “You must learn how to submit and to make use of the time. Don’t make it too long.” I told him, “I did not know what to do.” That very evening, I was invited to a prayer meeting. The Australian pastor asked me, “How is the Philippines now?” I shared that in the Philippines, we need to pray when we are waiting for a jeepney ride; and because we can’t really afford something we want to buy, we pray for it.” The pastor said, “Wow!” I asked, “Why wow?” He said, “In Australia, we have everything, but we forget to appreciate God. In your country, you are praying to God when you walk, in getting a ride, or when you want to buy something. This is how I appreciate how great God is in your nation.”
As Christians, we are only a channel of the blessings of God. He can use us anywhere. Coming for tonight’s fellowship, I thought of not showing myself. However, I was challenged by what I learned last week, “Kung gusto, hahanapan ng paraan. Kapag ayaw, marami ang dahilan.” I chose “Gusto ko, and to stay here in front,” because I believe that God already forgave me from all my shortcomings.
Being a believer and because this body that God has given us has life, there are times that we are hesitant, but God is great. When I did the Bible study aboard the ship, I knew nothing and the Lord sent me some Christian believers and they taught me how to pray. A friend recommended me to go to Christian Life Fellowship and I thought that listening to the different testimonies during a service was good. I was led to attend CTC and I was hesitant because I was a Cebuano. The Lord showed me what I needed because He is training me for a greater purpose and plan in my life.
When I finished CTC Phase one, I joined the ship again, and the Lord told me that it was time that I hold a Bible study. It had six to twelve people attending; it was not something that we would force people to join. Three years ago, in a fifteen-day voyage, an Engine Officer came to me and said, “Sir, I have back pains.” The ship did not have a doctor on board, but we were trained to have medical techniques on what to do. But when it comes to internal body pains, we have to consult the International Maritime Guide Book. It showed that the Officer’s back pains indicated stones in the gall bladder. I told him that I could not help him on this, and what I can only give him was a pain reliever.
During a Bible study, I remembered him and since he was not an attendee, I went to his room and I encouraged him about healing and I administered healing to him. The manifestation did not go away, he still did not attend the Bible study, but my heart ached for him. So in the midst of the Bible study, my heart was for him. Right after the Bible study, I encouraged those who were in attendance that we will pray for our sick colleague. After the prayer for healing, one guy standing in front me was in tears and I really did not know the reason for it. Two days after, he came to me and said, “Sir, right after you prayed for healing, my wife in Iloilo who was diagnosed with cancer called me and she said that she was cancer-free.” He was thankful for my prayer, but I told him that I was just a mere instrument of God who really is our Healer.
If we allow ourselves to be available for the work of the Lord, miracles can happen. Our body must be available, but at the same time, our spirit must be willing. If I will not stand here tonight and share this testimony, how can I encourage the Body? I have witnessed how jam-packed was the services in CLF before; now, the number has gone down, but I believe that God will do something. He has prepared something for us. I have seen our Church having the right direction because we have learned to pray for one another.
In ministry, we are required to pray because prayer is the backbone of the ministry. Without prayer, we are like jelly-fish that is so pliable. Prayer is the means of communication with God, and communication is the life-blood of relationship. In prayer, we hang on to the Lord, and at the same time, we are doing our ministry.
I read a book of Winston Churchill where he said that the snout of the bulldog was moved back in order for him to breathe while holding on something. As Christians, while holding on to the promises of God, we can breathe our prayer to Him. We live because of our prayers. I am here because somebody prayed for me. I was born-again because somebody prayed for me, who was my ex-girlfriend. She did not give up on me. Before she went to Australia, she told a pastor that she wants me to know Jesus Christ and be a Christian. I did not know this until such time that I went to a restaurant in Cebu and saw a sign, “Bible Study.” I went to that the Bible study and I learned that the pastor who was leading was the one praying for me. The congregation present were hurting because of the departure of my ex-girlfriend for Australia. I persecuted them because of our differences in religion. This is where I saw that when one hurts, the whole Body suffers, too. When I was asked to introduce myself, they found out that I was the one being prayed for by them.
When I was involved in the Street Ministry, a miniature castle was made and it had bricks. We were asked to put our names on each brick. We were declaring that as believers, as Christians, we are supposed to be one and without the presence of one, it will collapse. Now, how many of those names are still with the Church? This is now the time that we must learn to pray because prayer is required of us. Every time we have fallen short of God’s glory, we need to pray. Psalm 51 says, “Be gracious to me, O God,” because of His unfailing love. Prayer is required to develop an intimate relationship with God. We have to be prepared in season and out of season.
During the voyage that I had together with the man who got sick from gallstones, there was another crew member who suffered a heat stroke. He came in before lunch and I saw him shaken and weak. As he was placed on the sofa, his body stiffened, his body was raised and was struggling in his breathing. The medical officer who was supposed to apply first-aid couldn’t understand his condition. I thought to myself, “Lord, I believe this is the time to lay hands on this guy.” I prayed for healing, “In the Name of Jesus, I command all pain to get out in all parts of this body and I speak forth life upon this body….” The body was fighting, so I thought, “It is time to talk to the spirit of this guy.” I said, “Now, you have to listen and to receive the promises of the Lord about healing. I command your body to relax, in Jesus’ name!” Then, the guy’s body relaxed. After this, we needed to observe his condition.
Two days later when I saw him, he said, “Sir, thank you talaga sa ginawa mo. Kung hindi ako nakinig sa sinabi mo, hindi ko alam kung ano ang mangyayari sa akin.” Our trip had to undergo medical evacuation and we had to deviate our voyage to Olongapo so that we can bring him down together with the man who had gallstones. When the crew member who had gallstones was operated on, the doctors found out that his stones were already crushed.
When we are in prayer, it is required that we maintain purity. A consistent life prayer causes one to quit sinning or sin will cause the believer to quit praying. It is our choice, as believers, whether we continue or we quit. When I was invited for the overnight intercessory prayer, I did not hesitate. I wanted to come because of what I have experienced in how God had delivered me. I could not say, “Lord, I want to relax.” No, the more I must be prepared. Two years ago, I had a heart attack and I did not know what to do. God showed me what to do, and I followed His instructions to me. This body that I have is not to please man but to give glory to God.
In prayer, we need to walk by faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing the words of God. If we don’t have any faith, we need to strengthen ourselves in faith and prayer. To walk in freedom, we need to persevere. We need to spend quality time in prayer. If we, as the Body, do not pray, what will happen to our Church leaders?
Prayer requires to have the power of God. There is no short-cut in God’s power supply. The path to God’s power source leads us to this prayer room. No prayer, no power. We have to be prepared in season and out of season. In everything that I have experienced in the ship as a seaman, God delivered me through it all.
What kind of needs do we have? We need to know this so that we can support one another. We can’t remain silent; we need to open up. During our Counseling Ministry gathering, one lady counsellor, who was due for operation, was declared free from cancer. She shared that God is her healer and that she had been meditating on the Bible stories about people getting healed. Now, she is completely healed! If there are no gatherings in the Body, how can we know of these testimonies? How can we give glory and praise to God? The lady counsellor was thankful for the prayers that people around her offered for her.
We know that the Church is a gathering of people who are operating in their respective gifts whose main purpose is to give glory to God and to other people. In this very hour, I could not talk to you straight because I do not have the gift of teaching. I can only encourage, which is the gift that I have. We are joined together for the purpose of coming together in unity.
Christians are described as a Body and as a family. In the community, we have the families and this builds us up to become closer to each other. Not only are we a Church community, but also a family. If your body and the family are functioning correctly, pain is taken care of.
Though we are few, it is not by might nor by power; but by it is by the spirit says the Lord of hosts. Aboard the ship, I did not mind that we were few in number during the Bible studies. I have said, “The Lord is with us. Whenever two or three are gathered together, He is in our midst. The most important thing is that we are gathered together.”
This is the same kind of care that God intends for the Church. God has so composed the Body, giving more abundance, more honor to a member that is in lack so that there may be no division in the Body. We need to pray for each other. We need to pray for unbelievers that they may come to our Church.
One time, Dcn. Kenneth approached me to be a proclaimer during the Mass. I struggled because of how I pronounced words because I am a Cebuano. He told me, “Are you willing?” I said, “You are a Church leader and I am just a member. I was called, so I have to say, ‘Yes.’” This is for the glory of God not of men. Even if we sing out of tune, in the ears of God, our song is beautiful because whatever we sing for Him, He is pleased with us for it is like a sweet smelling fragrance to Him.
When I joined the mission work to Samar, I had my struggles but I said, “Lord, if it is Your will, You will give me the time.” I went on leave from my work to encourage the unbelievers. People were delivered from unforgiveness and they were set free from the ignorance of the Word.
Just like the seed, we need to grow. We need to build our relationship with God. Like the Cross, it is a vertical and horizontal relationship. It is relationship with God and witnessing and fellowshipping to others.