Talk 5

BRO. LEP SUMERA: I am excited today because God has a very special message for us in this Grand Feast. I hope you’re excited as well.

Our series is still titled Closer and that’s our agenda in this Grand Feast: for us to be closer to our beloved King– King Jesus. And we’re now in Talk 5 and it’s titled God Wants You To Come Closer.

Everybody, please join me in praying: In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Lift your hands to Jesus. Yes, Lord, hands raised, we are saying we surrender and we ‘re declaring right at this moment, Lord, that we also want to be closer to you. And with that we pray:

Let us honor His Word, my beloved friends: Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a Light unto my path.

Lord, speak to us in a loving way. Do not let us leave this place without receiving Your message of hope and love.

Bless this unworthy servant of yours, Lord. To receive and preach Your Word. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

God wants you to come closer. That’s the point, that’s the message we want to share with everybody: That God wants you to come closer.

Last Sunday, we talked about the story of the sons of Aaron—Nadab and Abihu. Because of what happened, God sets up House Rules. And these are actually the Purity Laws—the Rituals.

And please take note:

These Purity Laws—these Rituals – were given, were commanded by God not to prevent the people, not to limit the people (from going near Him) – but for them to be closer to God.

But these Purity Laws – well, for me, they are weird. Let’s read one law:

It states here that they can’t eat animals from the wilderness —we’re talking about the pigs, rabbits, snakes, and even the dog.

They were considered unclean. Just imagine, if we were living back then, during fiesta, there’s no Lechon, no Bopis – I love Bopis, the spicy kind. When we order Sisig, it’s not available.

And imagine, no Sinigang na Baboy. Nooo.

So, what is it that they could eat? They could eat only clean animals. And what were they? The cow,the sheep, and the goat.

When you think about it, my beloved friends, the same animals that were acceptable to sacrifice to God were the same ones acceptable for man to eat.

And this is a beautiful message. This is a powerful message behind this archaic law: Man was special.

God wants you to know that you are special. God wants you to know and to feel that you’re special—and that you are set apart. Yes, He wants all the good things— but He also wants them for you. God wants what is good for you.

So, I’m going to take a moment—and I need to preach to someone here. I don’t know what you’re going through right now… I don’t know what story or what chapter you are in your life: Is it a chapter on so many challenges? Is it a chapter on so much sufferings? Is it a chapter on you don’t do anything but cry?

The thing is this: If it’s not yet good, then God is not yet done. Not yet. So, when every night you cry and cry, keep on reminding yourself:

“Hey, it’s okay. God is not yet done. It’s not yet good. It’s not yet good. God is not yet done. Because only the good things are what God wants for me.”

Another law—Leviticus 12:2:

They are considered unclean because during childbirth, the mother and the child were brought near death’s door – and anything connected with death was considered unclean. That’s why they needed to be ritually cleansed.

Another law—Leviticus 13:2:

Skin disease back then was considered unclean. So, just imagine if you had a Vicki Belo Medical Group (Aesthetic Clinic) business back then, you would be rich. Kidding aside, skin disease was considered unclean because it’s a sign of decay. And decay is a sign of death.

My House Rules

Now, when we look at these House Rules of God, they affected the daily life of the Israelites back then—what they ate, what they wore, even their personal hygiene. Because the thing is, God set up the Purity Laws so people had a way of coming closer to Him. Again, it was not to prevent the people from being close to God, it was not to limit the people—it was a way for them to come closer to God.

Let me give an analogy: I am OC— and my definition of OC is over cleanliness. I always want things orderly and clean.

When the Coronavirus Disease (COVID) happened, I became super-duper-extra- ultra-mega OC. I set up House Rules.

Just imagine, we have a senior and a three-year-old son at home. So, if you want to be near my son, here are the rules: 1. you need to change your clothes;

2. you need to take a bath; 3. you need to disinfect all your things.

When I go out and then come home, I make it a point to take a bath, no matter how cold the water is. I need to disinfect all my things. I need to be clean so that

I can come closer to my son, play with my son, embrace my son, and kiss my son.

Now, are you getting the Purity Laws? I want to be closer to God. I should do the Purity Laws, the Rituals.

And what Fr. Bob McConaghy says is very timely. His message about reconciliation, the Sacrament of Confession —it’s disinfecting our sin.

God’s House Rules

Now, God introduced His House Rules by saying, in Leviticus 10:10:

When we read this message, our modern mind will think: what is holy and what is unholy?

In Leviticus, there are these categories:

What is common? Common simply means it’s not holy—but neither is it bad.

This is our starting point.

We all know that God is the Holy One and He wants to share with us that holiness. That’s why He is calling us, inviting us to be closer to Him—for we become holy when we’re closer to Him.

When we’re far from God, we are common. But when we’re close to God, we become holy.

And believe every day, every day,

God is inviting us, calling us, “Come closer.” To bless us some more.

Let’s listen to Alvin Barcelona.

Song for God

Why do birds, suddenly appear— every time you are near?

Just like me, they long to be close to you.

Why do stars fall down from the sky— every time you walk by?

Just like me, they long to be close to you.


Happy Post Valentine’s Day to all of you!

You know, the songs that I sing, when I give a talk, always have a connection with what I’m going to talk about. That classic song by The Carpenters may be sung to the Lord: Just like me, they long to be closer to You…

You know, what we’re talking about, this is heavy stuff. Those of you who have been faithfully following the talk series on Leviticus (may find) this is heavy.

The talk last Sunday—Whoa!—that was heavy. We learned that God is both good and dangerous.

Like we learned from the story Bro. Philip Sumera narrated to us– the story of Nadab and Abihu.

They were already close to the Lord. They were priests, the sons of Aaron. But they goofed about their Offering. We learned that it’s not just about messing some

Liturgical or Ritual Rules. No. It was an act of rebellion. It was telling God, “We don’t need You. We want to do things on our own terms.”

So, they died. But it was not God who killed them.

When we go far away from God, that’s what dangerous means.

It’s not God who is dangerous. It’s going away from Him that’s dangerous.

When we don’t obey His commands – that’s what is dangerous.

Good but Scary News

Like, when you jump from the fourth floor of a building – that’s dangerous. Because you’re going against the natural law of gravity.

When you fall and you die, you can’t blame the Lord: “Lord, why did You kill me? Why didn’t You catch me?”

You went against the law – and it has some fatal consequences.

What was painful (about Nadab and Abihu) they were already close with the Lord. They were even anointed by Him.

They were already singing: Just like me, they long to be close to you…

But their song changed to: Gusto ko nang bumitaw—I already want to let goYou’re already close but you still want to let go…

That’s the meaning of backsliding. Too bad. They were already in God’s Holy Presence but they treated God’s House – and themselves—as common.

We learned that powerfully from Bro. Philip: holy and common.

Now here’s another good but scary news. That was not only for Nadib and Abihu – for the Old Testament. It’s also applicable for us. Why? Because all of us are called to Royal Priesthood.

We learned that Leviticus is in the center of the Torah – the first five books of the Bible. And one of the themes of Leviticus is priesthood.

Some might be thinking, “We can’t relate to that. We are not priests.” Oh, no. 1 Peter 2:9 says:

This means that priests are representatives of God. And all of us are representatives of God. That’s good news. But the challenging news there is that to whom much is given, much is expected. Those who have more privileges have more accountabilities.

If you are Marvel fan, “with great power comes with great responsibility.” That’s why some don’t want to be close to the Lord because more will be asked from them. But there’s no other way but to come closer to God.

The Bigger News

The good news, the bigger news, is that because of Jesus, we are no longer common. We are all made holy.

Just a qualifier: We don’t make ourselves holy. Jesus makes us holy. There’s really no one holy among us. But because of the Cross of Jesus, when He died—you know what happened: the curtain, that heavy curtain that separated the people from the Temple, especially the Holy of Holies— the holiest place of the Presence of God—it was divided.

That is a very big statement. Because before, the one who could go near the Holy of Holies was only the High Priest.

But when the curtain was torn down, it means all of us now can come close to the Lord. We already have the privilege, the access to God.

Furthermore—this one is heavier and more beautiful—1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says not only can we go near God—God is already with us. Emmanuel—God is with us.

Another qualifier: We are not God. But the Presence of God is with us.

But again, with great power comes great responsibility. Now that God is with you, you must take care…

Because you’re already holy, don’t treat your life as common.

But Real Talk…

Even in the Bible, Nadab and Abihu were not the only ones who were already called by God but still made a mistake.

There’s this book about the sins of the saints– from the patriarchs to the judges, to the kings, to the apostles of Jesus – God already called them, still they sinned.

Remember Abraham? Father of nations– but a liar.

Remember David? A man fashioned after God’s heart – but enjoyed watching a woman— Bathsheba– taking a bath.

Solomon—most intelligent but had 700 wives and 300 concubines.

There are only 365 days in a year, so to be able to sleep with them all, three years are not enough.

The apostles. Peter, already called the Rock, became weak at the end.. The judges. Samson—already given the privilege to have long hair, also fell.

Let’s face it: We also mess up—even if God is already with us.

But this talk gives you the secret: to avoid committing a mistake, always remember: “God is already with me. I belong to God.”

Don’t allow anyone else to snatch you away from God. Or if you’re separated, come back to God right away.

All right, put your hand on your heart and say: “I belong to God. I will no longer let go of Him. And if ever I go astray, I will go back to Him right away.”

Going back to that wonderful discussion on holy- unholy. Those are our only categories.

But in Leviticus, unholy means common. And under common are clean and unclean.

Well, we’re reminded only the clean may go near God’s Presence. You must be pure because God is pure.

Did you hear the Readings during the Mass?

The First Reading powerfully tells us that you must be holy because “I, the Lord, am holy.”

And then in the Gospel, as we read, we were told by Jesus Himself that “you must be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

We Need Rituals

We really cannot go near God if we are blemished with dirt. But how can that be—when we are always blemished?

That’s why we have Rituals in Leviticus.

As Bro. Philip said, those rituals are not to make life hard for us. No.

They are meant to bring us closer to God.

But it is also qualified that unclean is not necessarily bad.

For example, the woman who’s bleeding. When you are menstruating, you are ceremoniously unclean—but not morally bad.

Or, when you have skin disease, you may not be morally unclean. It’s not your sin to have skin disease.

But you are considered ceremoniously unclean. That’s why you are supposed to offer sacrifice so you become clean.

It’s like when I was new in this preaching mission, many were bashing me: “Why is Bro. Alvin singing secular songs? Isn’t it that when you’re in church you should sing only holy, worship songs?”

I’d disturbed many when I was invited in the Light of Jesus Family.

People were saying, “Who is this? He looks like a drug addict. Then he’s singing rock songs. Like opening his talk with: Just like me, they long to be close to you…”

It’s good that I’m vindicated by talks such as this one now.

The song of Karen Carpenter is not a holy song—but it’s not bad. May not be categorized as holy, but it’s not morally bad.

What Becomes Holy

And what’s beautiful is that something that’s neutral, when you offer it to God, it becomes holy.

Like this cell phone. Is this holy or unholy?

It depends… That’s my response to the bashers.

If you use the phone to fool, or hurt, or destroy, or bash people, it becomes unholy. Or if your entire life is focused on the phone— Mass going on, or Bro. Alvin is preaching, you’re busy texting. Ay, that’s unholy!

But if you’re using your phone for sending messages of hope, or love, for encouragement and affirmation…and especially if your phone has a Feast app.

— He-he that’s a segue to our AD… In the Feast app, everything you need to feed your faith is here… So, download the app now…And your phone becomes holy.:)

A Painful Story

When you think about it, your take away from this Leviticus Purity Laws, as Philip said, is for us to have a healthy fear for the Lord.

The Lord is always saying, “Do not be afraid.”

But we have what we say in Tagalog: Banal na takot sa Diyos.

We also need to have fear for the Lord – fear to be separated from Him.

Or fear over the consequences of our faith risks…

Let me tell you a painful story, actually, of a televangelist in the 1980s by the name of James ‘Jim’ Bakker.

He was so huge in the 1980s – he was followed by millions worldwide and he owned the biggest Christian television network that time. He even had a Christian version of Disneyland.

One day, he was caught allegedly committing fraud and adultery.

He was accused allegedly of raping his secretary. And he allegedly gave her hush money for her to keep quiet.

So, imagine: One day, Pastor Bakker was enjoying his success– in his Ministry, his wealth, his prestige – and then the next day, he was in prison.

Then, a co-pastor (John) Bevere, visited him in jail and asked him, “Jim, what happened? You were already with the Lord. When did you fall out of love with Jesus? When did you stop loving Jesus?”

The answer of Pastor Bakker should make us think and reflect…He answered, “No, I didn’t stop loving Jesus. I love Jesus. But I didn’t fear God.”

For some reason, for many of us, that’s our spirituality. We are like, “Anyway, God is good. He will forgive me.

He’s loving. Anytime I commit a sin—no matter how grave it is — He will still embrace me.”

Somehow, that’s true. But it seems, we are losing our respect, our holy fear over separating from the Lord.

It’s like an ocean. We marvel, we are awed by the power of the ocean— we swim in it, we sail on it, we harvest food from it. But we should also be afraid of it because it has the capacity to drown us. If you don’t dive or swim correctly you can drown in it.

So, the secret to surviving in the ocean is we remain humble before the ocean’s great power, and we have to follow its natural laws. When we pollute it, when we destroy it, the dire consequences come back to us.

It’s the same with God. We must have that reverence, that humility, that awe– saying, “Mahal na mahal ako ng Diyos. God loves me very much. I need to respect Him.”

You know, that’s what I am anxious about. This is personal, especially because I have children. That’s how the world is going—human ways overpowering God’s ways.

Sorry, this might be sensitive: like there are moves to make into law concepts that go against the natural laws, or against God’s laws. Because today, the world norm seems to be: “Follow your heart.” “Obey your desire.” “Fight for your rights.”

Those are right. But whatever happened to: “Follow God and obey His commands.” “Fight for God’s Word.”

Let’s be careful. Because when we legislate and institutionalize concepts contrary to the laws of nature and the laws of God, there will be ill effects not only on individuals, but also on the society, and the entire world.

Let us pray for our country and our universe.

But in case we are overpowered by sin that leads to death, know this: Jesus is more contagious than death.

God’s love is more infectious than death or sin that causes death.

Remember the story of the bleeding woman?

Again, remember in the book of Leviticus or in the Old Testament, blood is considered dirty—because it is associated with death. This woman had been bleeding for 12 years. So, you can imagine: she was abhorred and avoided by society. She was a walking dead. As we read in Matthew 5:26-27:

That was a brave thing to do. If something like that happened to you, you will be talk of the town.: “Oh, my, that’s the bleeding woman! Avoid her! She’s dirty! ”

There was a huge crowd and she squeezed herself through it.

She touched the cloak of Jesus. And Mark 5: 27 tells us:

That’s also what happened to one suffering leprosy. What does Leviticus say?

If you have skin disease, you’re unclean.

A leper would warn people: “Leper! Leper!” so that the crowd would avoid him.

So, again, it’s not just physical uncleanness. Lepers were also considered spiritually unclean. Like the bleeding woman, this one leper bravely approached Jesus and said, “Lord, if You want to, You can clean me.”

And Jesus answered him, “I want to.”

Jesus even held his hand! That was a big No! Why? Because if you held the hand of someone dirty, you were considered dirty too. You were already infected. You could no longer enter the Temple. People would also avoid you. But not Jesus.

Because when you are dirty and you touch Jesus, you do not make Him dirty. He makes you clean. When you come to the Holy One—no matter how dirty, filthy you are—you become clean.

Sin is dangerous. But Jesus is more powerful than any kind of sin.

But isn’t it Leviticus says that for the leper or the bleeding woman to be clean, they should offer a sacrifice?

So, Jesus, and the persons He healed violated the law—because they didn’t offer any sacrifice.

Ah, but they did offer a sacrifice.

Jesus told the woman, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.” So, what did the bleeding woman offer? What did the leper offer? Their trust. Their faith. Their humility.

A few Sundays ago, that’s what we said. Today, what we are asked to offer is no longer a cow, or goat, or sheep. What we are asked to offer is our humility—to humbly admit: “I am a sinner. I am blemished. I want to be clean. But I can’t do it alone by myself. I need God. I need Jesus.”

And that’s the biggest sacrifice that we can give: to believe that Jesus’ Love is enough to make us holy.

Let’s come before the Lord and offer our trust, our faith, our humility to the One, True, Holy One.

Published by THE FEAST (February 26, 2023)


This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.