Talk

I WANT to invite you right now as we begin our talk series today.

To invite God’s Presence in your life and to ask God to speak to you in a very personal way as we all come in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Spirit.

Lift your hands as high as you can and then say this with me…

Everybody, let’s all sing:

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet And a light unto my path

I am declaring that God is going to illuminate your path right now with the things that might be blurry, that might be confusing.

I want to welcome you to our brand new series. It’s a special series.

It’s a unique series called CITIZEN: How To Build a Nation.

And we’re going to talk for the next few Sundays about this thing that’s happening in our country. We’re headed towards elections and I’m sure that a lot of you have a lot of questions: How do we choose the candidates? How do we know who the right ones are that we choose to vote for?

I want you, for a moment, just open your heart and open your mind because God is going to speak, okay? I want God to disturb you at your comfort zone right now. And I want you to know that God is concerned about politics.

Here is our title–you might be shocked a little bit by this:

Did you know that? Some of you are a little bit allergic to the word politics. But God likes politics. How do I know this? Because God is concerned about the welfare of the world because

God cares about you. God loves you. As early as the Old Testament,

God was already showing interest in politics. When was this? When He was deeply immersed in the politics of Israel.

God actually chose the kings of Israel. God chose King Saul, the first ruler of Israel. And then when Saul disobeyed God, you know what He did, He raised a shepherd boy to be king. His name is David—considered to be the greatest king of Israel. And then before David died, He chose another king—the son of David, named Solomon—considered to be the wisest king of Israel.

Daniel says:

So, check it out. God is the real king maker. God is the one who puts people in position. He’s the one who puts people in the place of leadership. So, if you’re the type of person, and you feel like God is calling you to lead, you better make sure that you’ve got God’s blessing in your life and God’s anointing.

If God is concerned with politics, what do you need to do? Listen to this:

I want you to say this to the person beside you…

Say, “My friend, God is calling you to serve Him through politics.”

Really? Are you sure, Bro. Audee? Because you know, like I said, some of you are allergic to politics– like Bro. Bo himself. You know, does that mean that we all need to file our certificate of candidacy the moment it becomes available?

Here’s the thing:

Some of you are going to be called to serve in government. And we pray that some of you will be called to serve in politics because God knows we need more champions to serve the cause of the poor. But some of you are going to be called in different ways. Like, Bro. Bo. Bro. Bo is called to be a spiritual leader. I’m called to be a spiritual leader.

Last Sunday, somebody came up to Bro. Bo and said, “Bro. Bo, I am not BBM. I am BBS.”

What’s BBS? Brother Bo Sanchez! How many of you are also BBS—like me? You’ve got our vote, Bro. Bo.

He may not be for politics—but he is for people. And he is for the Lord. And for that, we honor Bro. Bo. We want to be like him. To be inspired to live a life for people and for God.

Two Ways to Serve Through Politics

You know, some of you will not be called to serve in government. And that’s fine because you can still serve Him through politics. How? Let me give you two ways.

First:

What do you do? You do research. You study.

You don’t just listen to your parents. You don’t just listen to what the popular vote is saying about that person.

You check their platform. Listen to the debates. And then we gave you two qualifications, remember? Character and Competence.

Somebody even suggested another qualification— the third one: Company. Because you can tell an awful lot about persons based on the company they keep. The people that surround themselves with.

I’ll give you a fourth one: Commitment. Check how committed they are in serving not just themselves but the poor. Check those things and once you’ve discerned the best candidate for you, support that candidate. Rally behind that candidate.

Second:

What does that mean? Well, that’s what we’re going to talk about today. I’m going to give you our big message and I’m going to read to you this beautiful Scripture from Isaiah. It’s very personal and I hope that you receive this.

The message today is God is the Restorer.

Say, ‘God is my Restorer.’

I hope that goes deep into your heart. We’re going to read a chapter from Isaiah. I want to give the context first. This was a time when the Israelites were praying to the Lord. And then they were fasting.

And then they asked God, “Lord why are my prayers being unanswered?” How many of you can relate with that? That you’re doing everything—you’re fasting, you’re surrendering– and yet it feels like God is not answering your prayers? That’s what the Israelites were saying. And then God answered them. In verse 6, God says:

So, what is God saying here? You know, we’re used to fasting, when it comes to fasting— the usual fasting is you fast from sweets, you fast from social media, you fast from the good stuff of life. But clearly, God is asking us for deeper fast. And instead of just praying, “Lord…”—sometimes our prayers are very self-centered—Like, “Lord, help me win this argument over this person…” “Lord, I want You to let me have an advantage over this person…”

Sometimes, it’s self-centered. But God is teaching us today that our prayers should be people-centered. You know, we help those who are suffering, those who are wrongfully accused, those who are hungry, those who are suffering. And then God has a promise. That when we do these—it says in verses 8 to 12:

I want you to put your hand on your chest. Pray this with me:

Dear Lord, You are my Restorer. Restore me from my brokenness, from my sins, from the destruction that has happened in my life. Make me brand new today. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

I am going to preach to you the first part of our message today.

I want to give you a little trivia.

Did you know this crazy thing about the praying mantis– what the female praying mantis does right after she mates with her partner?

Here’s what happens. The female praying mantis, right after she mates with her partner, you know what she does? She decapitates, she bites off the head of her partner and then starts to chew the head and then digests the head.

That’s gross, right? But there is a practical reason for this: the female knows that once she goes through the pregnancy, she needs nourishment. She needs sustenance, and what better way to have this than for her partner to offer his life for the baby. I mean, talk about dying to your partner—literally. Like a one-night stand. Solo parenting right after. So, that’s what she does. She needs the sustenance and the head of the male praying mantis is high in protein.

But here’s the most shocking: this is not the only animal in the world that does this.

God-Carrier

Take a look at this photo. You’ve got a lion, a hamster, a chicken, a chimpanzee, you’ve got rabbits and other species. What do they have in common? On some occasions, they actually devour their young. They eat their babies.

And it doesn’t make sense to us.

I mean, when we think about that, that’s gross, that’s unheard of, that’s unnatural.

But you know what? In the animal kingdom, this happens on a regular basis. Cannibalism is a regular ritual when it comes to animals. It’s just that because we’re human, we don’t understand any of that. To us, it’s like, that’s preposterous! You know, whenever we hear something grotesque happening in the world, like you see on social media, like a mother left her newborn baby in a garbage can, you know, something inside of us just rebels. It’s injustice! Whenever you see, like a bigger guy bulling a smaller guy, a weaker guy– something inside you says, “This is injustice!”

Did you ever wonder why we are so much concerned about injustice? Because it says in the Bible, in Genesis 1, that you and I, we are all created in the image and likeness of God. So, guess what: If God is a God of Justice— if you believe that God is a God of Justice—then you have justice embedded in your DNA.

My dear friend, this is the foundation of the Bible’s understanding of justice. Listen to this: that every human being, every person, whether you’re young or you’re old, whether you’re male or female, whether you’re rich or you’re poor, whether you’re Asian, or Australian, or African, or whatever—every human being has equal dignity when it comes to being a God-Carrier.

We’re all equal.

There’s nobody there who has greater godliness inside of him. May I confess something?

Is it okay if I confess—be vulnerable in front of you right now?

I often find myself annoyed– you know, I don’t know if you’ve experienced this—or if it’s just me—that whenever you park in those free parking spaces outside, in the public parking spaces, and you park and it’s good. But the moment you leave, there’s this guy waiting there, who wasn’t there to begin with when you were parking, and he somehow expects, you know, a fee from you like a contribution, little donation, even though he wasn’t there watching the car.

I had an experience many years ago when we had our music rehearsals in Quezon City. And this guy approached me and said, “Boss, ako ang bahala sa kotse mo– I’ll take care of your car, watch over it.” And he was already asking for money and I said, “Wait for me when I get back.”

But for some reason, he was so annoyed that I did not give him money.

I went to the rehearsals, stayed for two hours. And you what, when I came back? Both of my tires were flat. You know, stuff like that just annoys you.

Until something would happen that changed the way I see people, the goodness of people…

One time, I was parking in a space where it was tight. So, I was parking, reversing very slowly, and then a guy, as usual, jumps in and starts helping me and I was very thankful that he did that. Because I didn’t know there was a big pot of plant right at the back (of my car). I would have hit it. And so, he was directing me, and I was expecting him to do the same thing, you know, to ask for money.

Instead, this guy just walks away. And that’s what I saw– I found out that he wasn’t actually a bantay, he wasn’t even part of the building’s security or maintenance. He was just a random guy wanting to help me out. And in that moment, I felt that God wanted to serve me through that person and what I wanted to do was also to serve him back.

I saw he was holding a red plastic bag and I said, “Kuya ano yung laman ng plastic bag mo—what’s inside your bag?”

And he opened it. And apparently he was selling face masks.

And so, I bought some and he said, “I’m kidding you not. Kuya, ikaw ba si Rocco Nacino?”

Of course, I had to buy more from him. That’s true! And I was like, you know, sometimes God shows up in the most ridiculous way.

But here’s the truth: Why am I sharing this? The truth is everything will change– the moment you see God in everyone. Everything will change the moment you experience and you feel God is in this person—That street vendor is a God-Carrier. That security guard is a God-Carrier. That grocery bagger is a God-Carrier. That Lalamove driver is a God-Carrier. Everything will change— the way you see people, the way you relate to people, the moment you know that every person contains God. Even that politician is a God-Carrier.

Here’s the Problem

Sometimes, we don’t act like we’re God-Carriers. Why? Because we forget.

And we forego. We don’t know we are God-Carriers.

I want you to take a look at this picture:

I saw this picture making its rounds on social media. And some people were using this to bash one of the candidates running for government. And they say that this is what your rally proclamation looks like. And when you see it, “Wow, daming tao!—so many people, no social distancing.”

But when you actually zoom in the photo, it’s a photo of an aerial perspective of a dumpsite.

And this is just my personal opinion. Don’t judge me. This is just my raw, sincere, humble opinion. When I saw this photo, I got disgusted. It was witty, it was creative, it was genius to use a dumpsite and say, “This is what your…”

But to actually call people garbage? Yes, you’re thinking might be trashy, might be messy. But to actually go as far as calling people garbage— I mean nowadays, it’s so easy for us to call people names. Like you know, bobo, basura, bayaran. And yet we forget, you’re not garbage. You are wonderfully, absolutely, perfectly made by our God. The truth is, when you cancel people, you know what you’re doing? You’re also cancelling the God that’s inside them.

God is a God of Justice. I want to give to you two forms of justice.

First:

It’s a kind of justice where you get an equal amount of punishment based on the crime that you committed. Like an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, an eyebrow for an eyebrow, a nail for a nail… That’s retributive justice.

Second:

It’s kind of justice closer to God. Restorative justice is amazing. Because this is the kind of justice where, yes, a person gets a punishment for the crime that he committed. But you help the person become a better person. This is where they rehabilitate the drug addict. This is where they counsel the rapist. This is where they actually enlighten the murderer, and the thief.

And my friends, this is God’s Justice. God’s Justice is restorative. Because unlike us— we cancel people. Whether you believe it or not, you cancel people in your life.

God doesn’t cancel. God counsels. God directs those who get lost from him. God restores those who have wandered away and puts them on the right path.

God restores your original identity as a God-Carrier.

The Bible says this– in the Psalms. The Book of Psalms describes

God in this way:

You see, my dear friend, God is a Restorer. I mean, when I read this, I imagine, no wonder, Jesus came and chose a career in carpentry. Why? Because he’s in the business of reshaping, remolding, recreating, re-transforming lives, one life at a time.

So, my dear friend, if you’re sitting there, if you’re watching this live, online, and you feel like you’re broken, and you’re messy, and you are weak, and you are lacking, I want you to know, hey, that is not your fate. That is not who you are. Because in the eyes of God, you are precious. You are loved, you are blessed, you are anointed.

And if there is somebody here who feels like, you know, this is my fate— I was molested when I was young. I was rejected when I was a teenager. I was an abused wife… I want you to know that, hey, that doesn’t define who you are. You are not garbage. You are loved by God. Can we clap our hands for the love God – who heals us, who restores us.

I want you to put your hands on your chest, close your eyes, and say this again:

Lord, You are my restorer. I thank You that You have the power to cleanse me, and free me from my sin. Thank You, Jesus, for Your love. Amen and Amen.

Let’s give the Lord a big, big hand.

TELL somebody beside you again, God is the Restorer. He is, He is. And because we are made in the image and likeness of God, we also are restorers.

Everybody, put your hand over your chest and say, “I’m a restorer.” Proverbs 31:8-9—Can we read these verses together?

Say it out loud with me. Let it sink deep:

Restoration. God restores people who lack abundance—brings them back to abundance. And then He says you do that as well. Let’s read from Jeremiah, the prophet, Chapter 22:3

My dear friends, the title of our talk is pretty jarring—especially for me. I don’t like politics. You know, for the longest time, for me, politics is messy— it’s dirty, and it’s beyond repair. That’s how I thought.

And yet, the more I read this Book, the more I realize my gosh, God likes politics.

Why? Because God loves people. That’s why.

And what He does is that He sees something that we don’t see– that I don’t see personally.

God sees politics as a tool for restoration.

That’s how He sees it.

I see corruption. I see greedy people.

But what God does is, He says, “No. This is going to be a tool that can restore people from lack to abundance. That’s how He sees it.

Now, there are 4 Types of People in the World.

1.

The abused, the exploited, the people who are stuck in evil structures of society. They are poor– they were born poor. And because they lack money, you know, no education. It’s almost like a cycle– in the next generation, they will continue to be poor. Economic and cultural systems of evil that keep them there.

2.

It’s funny because when I talk about the four persons in society, it will be very difficult for people to say, “Well, I think I’m No. 2.”

Ah, but the oppressors are persons who benefit from the evil structures of society. And this could be corrupt politicians. This could be greedy employers.

3.

The indifferent are persons who live in their own bubble. And when their stomach is full, they do not care for anyone else’s suffering. No. 3 are the indifferent persons and the indifferent persons are the goats in Matthew 25.

Jesus shared a story in Matthew 25 where He says the goats are the persons who do not feed the hungry, who do not give drink to the thirsty, who do not visit the prisoners. These are the goats.

4.

The restorers are persons who are the sheep in Matthew 25.

These are the persons who feed the hungry, who clothe the naked, who give drink to the thirsty, who visit the prisoners.

God is saying, “Hey, are you the oppressed? I will restore you. Are you the oppressors? Come and repent. Are you the indifferent? Get out of your bubble. Selfishness is idolatry. Why? Because you’re worshipping yourself.

There are persons around you who are in pain and who are suffering. And God says, “Get out and become a restorer—just like Me.

Tell somebody beside you, “God is calling you to be a restorer.”

4 Steps To Be a Restorer

One of the Kakaibang Bisita Iglesia steps that we decided to do together was the idea from Fr. Bob McConaghy: that is, there are persons you meet every day.

And don’t say, “Bro. Bo, ako ang mahirap.

I am poor.”

There are persons who are poorer than you.

Yes or no? And so, look for these persons.

Maybe you say “Hi!” to the janitress in your office every day. And that’s wonderful. But this is what you do: Fr. Bob says: One day, prepare a sandwich. And then sit beside that janitress. Give her that sandwich. And thenlisten to her story. Nurture empathy. How many children does she have? What province does she come from? Anong klaseng buhay meron siya? What kind of life does she have? Ah, hiwalay na pala siya—ah, she’s already separated from her husband. Ang nanay niya may cancer—her mother has cancer.

When you listen to that story, that person ceases becoming just a face in the crowd– but a person.

I am going to say something and I hope this something that you’re going to take home with. I hope that this is one statement that if you will forget everything I’ve spoken so far from this stage, you will not forget this next statement:

Let that statement sink deep. Because that’s what it means to be a restorer. If there’s a family member beside you, a dear friend, hold that person’s hand—it’s okay, pamilya mo naman ‘yan–squeeze it hard, and tell that person: “Make their problems your problem.” That’s the idea.

By the mere fact that you’re able to sit down with the person and listen to the person, show kindness and even just smiling at that person… What are you doing? You’re telling that person, “You’re worthy of love. You’ve got dignity. You are a child of God.”

Find little ways. You know, you might be saying,  “How can I do that, Bro. Bo?

I have nothing. Mahirap lang ako.”

There might be a way… Say, “Maybe, the first step is to work on your own finance—so that you have more to give. “I’m going to discipline myself. I’m going to set aside a part of my income as alms—so that I’ll be able to give more. I’m not just going to give fish.

I want to teach people how to fish– so, it might be helping their kids go to school. Or maybe facilitate micro-loan.”

You might be thinking, “Bro. Bo, napaka-komplikado naman ‘yan—those steps are too complicated.”

Then you’ve got to learn and dirty your hands with money. And find ways to be able to learn, learn, learn about money so that you can teach people how to get out of their poverty.

My dear friends, I’ve been trying to love the poor for 40-plus years—living with them, building Anawim Home for Abandoned Elderly. I remember the early days of Anawim—five hectares of property we were able to have for a song. I remember time…I was just crazy…welcoming the poorest of the poor, old persons we pick up from the streets, orphans… I live with them for a year…

Some 40-plus years of serving, trying to love the poor. It’s exhausting. Let me say to this to you: It’s tiring. Sometimes, I’m filled with despair.

God Never Gives Up

I’ll give you one story: was helping this young guy— Let’s call him Jimbo.

Lived in the slums all his life. Became a drug addict.

I gave him a full college scholarship.

He told me, “Kuya Bo, gusto kong maging engineer—I want to be an engineer.”

And in my mind, I was already imagining: when Jimbo becomes an engineer, oh man, it’s going to be a bridge for his whole family to be able to get out of poverty. And the cycle of poverty will stop in his generation.

I already had dreams for him.Somewhere in the middle of his college years, he went back to drugs.

Got his girlfriend pregnant. Was caught stealing. Ended up in prison.

You know, I was so frustrated. I sent him not only to college. Early on, I sent him to high school. And then everything gone!

I went to God and I said, “Lord—” You know sometimes when this happens, I don’t see all the good stuff happening. I see only the bad stuff happening.

So, I said, “Lord, it’s pointless. Helping people—it’s pointless.”

And in the middle of my despair and my darkness, I heard God tell me, “Bo, trust Me—I am the Restorer. I am the Restorer.”

And I just said, “Yeah, You’re the God. You’re the Restorer of Jimbo.

And it’s taking time—he falls a lot. But You’re going to do it, right? You’re going to do it, right?”

Is  that what we feel with our country today? Decades of poverty.

Third World country. And sometimes, we feel hopeless.

May I say this to you: You are not the restorer of the Philippines. He’s going to do it. And He’s going to do it in His own time, in His own way. We’re just assistant restorers.

You know what I’m doing now as I speak to you? I’m sending the kids of Jimbo to school.

Poverty may not have ended in the generation of Jimbo. I’m  not giving up.

It will end in the generation of his kids.

I cannot give up. Nor can you. Because God never gives up. We fail— He sticks around. And He says, “I will restore you.”

My dear friends, God is a Restorer of the four types of people in society. He restores the oppressed. He restores the oppressors and calls them to repentance. He restores the indifferent and says to them, “Love more.”

And then He restores the restorers who are tired and in despair. And He says, “Come. I am the Restorer. And you’re just my assistant. Do not give up.

We’re going to do this together.”

As we come and worship the Lord, I want you to come to Jesus. And tell Him to restore you. Whatever needs to be restored. Is there a lack in your life, your soul, your relationships– wherever, whatever decisions you have to make right now… Tell God, “You are my Restorer. Restore me. Bring back abundance in my life. And Lord, help me to be Your assistant restorer.”

If you could just pray with me:

“Jesus, You are my Restorer. Restore me now.”

My friends, as you come before the Lord in Worship, submit to God the area in your life that needs His restoration. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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