Talk

Talk 2: Sleeping on Stormy Seas 

BO SANCHEZ: Thank you, Audee.

Give a big hand to Audee Villaraza. Thank you, Worship Team. Thank you so much.

Happy Mother’s Day! This day is very special because May 8 is the birthday of my Mom who is with the Lord. And it’s really, really special.

If there’s one thing that I want to happen in our study of the book of Jonah, it is this: That we learn to read the Bible the way Jesus read His Bible.

What does that mean? You’ll find out as the weeks go by. I pray that when you open the Word, you will hear God sing to you:

I will open your eyes

Take you wonder by wonder.

I’m dedicating this song to my nephew Quino, 7 years old. And I pray that God will show you a new world. A fantastic point of view. It really is.

I’ve got two messages I’d like to share with you today:

No. 1: See God in the storm.

No. 2:  God loves them more than you do.

Prayer for My Sons

I’d like to begin with a story.

The timing is perfect: Mother’s Day. Mothers, you will resonate with what I am going to share.

I have two sons. Bene, right; and Francis, below.

When you have children, you pray for them         a lot. Mothers, Yes, or No? Yes. Fathers, Yes, or No? Yes. We do.

Half of my prayer time is dedicated to those two gentlemen. Do you know when I started praying          for them? Even before they existed in the universe,         I started praying for them. They were but a dream in my heart. They were but an idea in God’s mind, and I was praying for them already. And then when my wife came up to me and showed me those two blue lines on a pregnancy test, my prayer intensified tenfold. Like, I would put my hand on the tummy        of my wife and I would pray, “Lord, bless my baby. Lord God, work on my son. Lord, Lord God, I pray, pray for my child.”

And to the Holy Spirit, I would be praying fiercely.

My wife would tell me, “Pag nagdadasal ka, Love, parang may hawak kang microphone—When you are praying, it’s like you’re holding a microphone and there are a thousand persons in front of you…when you pray intensely.”

And I would say, “I can’t help it. I mean, I want my sons to be filled with the Spirit of God and God to work.”

I would do that every day. I have a confession—I am embarrassed to say this– When my kids were born, I tried my best to avoid changing diapers.

I wasn’t very good at it. If there’s somebody who could do it, they would do it.  But if there was no one else, I’d do it. And when I did, there would be accidents—like major leakages that would cause the flood of Noah to flow in my home.

But—very proud to say this—I would not mind carrying my baby and trying to make my baby sleep. And if it would take an hour, I would do it. If it would take two hours, I’d do it. Because the whole time, I would be praying—praying fervently for my baby.

Jonah Is Not About Whale

Today, my sons are 22 and 17. And I still pray for them every day.

I would still say the same words. But there’s something that has changed.

One day, I felt God speak to me. I felt God say this to me:

“Son, you’re praying out of fear.

 I want you to pray out of trust.

Because I love them more than you do.”

And it shook me. That message shook me. And you know, what I really felt was that all my worries for my kids just fell on the floor—when I realized that. And so now, I pray out of surrender.

By the way, it’s okay if you pray out of worry, and if you pray out of fear. Why? Because God wants you to be real before Him. And He loves you to pray with your raw feelings. But, I think, as the years go by, He will invite you to get to know Him more. And He will invite you to get to know His character—which is exactly what the book of Jonah is all about.

The book of Jonah is not about a whale. The book is not even primarily about a reluctant prophet.

The book is about God’s character.

And God is going to say, “Get to know Me more. Because if you get                to know Me more, and if you get to know My character, here’s what’s going to happen: you’re not going to be praying from your weaknesses but from My strength.”

Surrender

So, what God is going to do is

He is going to tell you: “Surrender your concerns, your worries, your fears, your loved ones. Surrender your loved ones to My greater love for them.”

Does this resonate with you?  I know many of you are praying for people you care for. And you’re praying and praying for them.

May I speak God’s Word to you? Surrender them to God’s greater love. Continue to pray for them – from trust.

We’re going to open the Bible now.

We’re going to read Jonah.

About the book of Jonah, before we read: The book of Jonah is a satire. The reason a lot of people misunderstand this book is they do not know that. The literary form satire was already existing in the ancient world. And so, my dear friends, this is very important.

A satire has a lot of exaggerations. And so, the book of Jonah is filled with exaggerations. Now, when I say that, some people get nervous. Because exaggeration, meaning not true. But my dear friends, the author of the book wrote it with exaggerations. He wrote it funny, hilarious.

Last week, we read that God told the Prophet, “Go there.”

What did he do? He went the other way. Hilarious.

Now, I want you to think with me: If you and I believe that the Holy Spirit really inspired the author of the book of Jonah, to write it as a satire—if we really believe the Holy Spirit inspired that author, then we have to follow the Holy Spirit—so that we can read it as a satire.

Because you see, when Jesus read His Bible, He looked at that. He looked at how did the author of the book write it. He wrote it as a satire. So, I’m going to read it as a satire. That’s how Jews read it. And so, that’s how Jesus read it.

Modern people, we don’t read it that way. We look at the Bible and we look at the verse and we say, “Ah, the verse from God.”

No, no. You’ve got to look at those things. What I am opening up to you is a whole new world, a new fantastic point of view. You’re going to be blown in your mind when you understand and when you read the Bible in this way.

So, here we go: Jonah, Chapter 1:4.

The word wind, in Hebrew, is the same for the word spirit: ruach.

So, what does that mean? That Jonah was running away from God but when he ran away from God, the Lord hurled a powerful wind— and wind equals

Meaning to say, while Jonah was running away from God, fleeing from God, what was God doing? God, the wind, the spirit, His Presence, running after Jonah.

You think you can run away from God? You can’t.

The author of the book is already saying, Please connect this to Psalms 139. He was hyperlinking it there. You know, the Jews knew their Bible—even if they didn’t know how to read. Ever since they were kids, they’ve been hearing Bible verses, so they’ve memorized the Bible. And so, when they read Jonah, immediately, they were hyperlinking that line to Psalms 139, where it says:

God Is Chasing After You

In the 1970s, there was this guy who composed this song based on Psalm 139, and it became very popular during my time:

Yahweh, I know, You are near. Standing always at my side…

Where can I run from your love… If I climb to the heavens, you are there

If I fly to the sunrise, or sail beyond the sea, still I’ll find you there…

God is chasing after you. He really is.

Verse 5:

Jonah and these sailors were in the ship. Who recognized the Presence of God in the storm?

I repeat, think with me: Who were in the ship? Two characters— the Prophet—Jonah– and the Sailors—the pagan sailors.

Question: Who saw God in the storm?

If you said Jonah, read the verse again. Because the answer is the Pagan Sailors—they were the one who saw God in the storm.

Jonah was asleep. Why is that?

Something Funny

Let’s read Verses 6-9:

Isn’t this funny? Do you understand that this is satire at its finest? Who was telling who to pray?

It was the Prophet who should have said, “Pray, pray. There’s a storm.”

No. It was the other way around: the Pagan Sailors telling to the Propjet, “Hoy, magdasal ka. –Hey, pray.”

Isn’t that hilarious? But this is the story.

We Are on the Same Boat

Here’s something very interesting:

Jonah confesses, “My God, He is the God of the sea and the land.”

But where was he running? He was running away from God on the sea.

And here’s what I believe: What the author was trying to say, both Jonah and the Pagan Sailors are on this boat. And I believe, I really totally believe this: that God is working even among people who are very different from us. And sometimes, you see the author was speaking to Jews, religious Jews, who think that God is only working in us. But no. God is working everywhere.

You see, God is here, right now at The Feast. But I also believe that the Spirit of God is blowing all over this world, touching the lives of people who may be very different from us—with different beliefs and different practices.

God is there working in them.

Let me tell you one story…

I met this entrepreneur—very, very successful. Amazing guy. But he was what you call the KBL Catholic. He went to church only pag Kasal, Binyag,  at Libing. In English, he went to church only if people are hatched, matched, dispatched. He was not, you know, a church-going guy. He was not religious.

But then over coffee one day, he told me, “Bro. Bo, may I tell you something about me?”

And so here was this guy, worldly, doesn’t go to church, he said, “Something happened in my life a few years ago. I realized I’m not in control.

I like being in control, Bro. Bo. I control my business– I control my company.

But when that happened, I started to pray. And every morning I prayed.

And do you know, Bro. Bo, I pray a lot?”

I was just listening to him– just blown away, awed.

And he told me this: “You know, my friends don’t know—not even my family either. And this is what I am doing.”

Surrender Them to the Lord

And so right now, may I speak to you?

Are you praying for someone you feel is far away from God, and you’re losing hope? Maybe you’re praying for a brother who’s taking drugs. Maybe you’re paying for a sister who has an affair with a married man. Or a married man who has an affair with a married woman. Maybe you’re praying for a son who the whole day, maybe 16 hours a day is in front of a video game. Maybe you’re praying for a daughter who just recently told you she doesn’t believe in God anymore. Maybe you’re praying for a father who abandoned your family. Maybe you’re praying for a mom—and though you know she loves you,   — she’s going through hell.

I want you to believe that God loves them.

Each one of them more than you do. And they may not be doing what you’re doing – going to church, reading the Bible.

But you know what? God is chasing after them. And God is sending

His Spirit in them.

God is in the storm in their life.

And so, I want you to pray and ask that you will have this moment of surrendering them to the Lord. Amen.

Let’s Thank the Lord

Father, thank You for the love that You have for everyone, every person. And thank You for being in the storm. Thank You for being in these people’s  life. Running after them, chasing after them, loving them.

May I invite you to picture this person in your mind, this person who needs grace, this person who needs love. Lift up your hand and extend to that person who needs God’s love, God’s Spirit, God’s grace. In Jesus’ Name, surrender that person to the Lord. God is working. We’re all in one boat. Prophets and pagans are in one boat. And God is in the boat. And everybody say, “Amen.” Everybody say,

“I believe.” Everybody say, “I trust.” In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Give the Lord a big hand, Everybody.

AUDEE VILLARAZA:  Everybody say,

“See God in the storm.”

Now, here’s the second message and I do hope that you can preach this to somebody beside you. Say, “God loves you more than I do.”

That’s Good News. Because our love is limited. Our love is conditional. God’s love isn’t. And so, God loves people.

God loves your loved ones. And that’s very good news for all of us.

Let’s continue to study Jonah—we are in Verse 10:

They were terrified. This is nothing new. We know that they were already terrified. This is déjà vu. Verse 5 says:

We know that they were scared… But this is the first time that we’re finding out what they did out of that fear. What did they do?  They threw their cargo overboard to lighten the ship. This is funny. Because when I was reading it this week, I’m like, “This is me.”

And this is you too.

The Last Resort

Isn’t it true that whenever we’ve got a problem, the first thing that we do is we try to handle it on our own?

You know, we try with the best of our abilities to make sure that we solve the problem. We don’t even want asking help, sometimes, from other people. But then when the problem becomes even worse, what do we do? That’s when we start looking for others to help us.

And then eventually, when we get desperate enough, that’s when we start praying to God.

I said this, I think last week, or a few weeks before, that sometimes, God is not our first option. God is more like our last resort. We go to God in case of emergency. We break glass in case of emergency. And sometimes, here’s the worst part: We do what the sailors did. We pray to our other gods. You might be a Christian. You might be a believer. But guess what? Sometimes, you have other gods.

What gods am I talking about? When you get emotionally distressed, what happens? What’s the first thing that you do?

You add to cart, right? You go shopping, thinking, “Ah, if I buy the next heels, or the next pair of shoes, that’s going to solve my loneliness.”

Thinking that the next thing is just going to solve your need for stuff. But then as you buy more stuff, what happens is that you get hungrier for other stuff. Am I right?

So, we turn to other gods. Sometimes, our other god are substances.

You know, we turn to substances. We run to them.

We run to other people, treating them like they are our God. If there is anything that’s in the center of your life other than God, it’s time to unseat that thing. It’s time to place God as the rightful King of your life.

My Lowest Point

Continuing the story… By now, the sailors actually have found someone to blame.

Just like us. Whenever we’ve got a problem, we look for the next person to blame. We’re not accountable…

You know, I preached the message about Jonah many, many years ago.

I don’t know if you remember this. The title of the talk was How To Make  Godly Decisions.

I talked about Jonah and then Paul, side-by-side—how two of them were in the boat. And I shared for the very first time—at The Feast, publicly—one of the lowest points of my life was when I became bankrupt. I had a financial debt, at the age of 25. I owed many people a huge amount of money. And it started all because of one very selfish decision. It was a business decision but I did it on my own, thinking that this was going to make me rich. I was already planning what I was going to buy, where I was going to go, what to spend the money on.

But then the deal exploded on my face. Nobody knew about it. I tried to handle it on my own—without telling anybody, not even my family, not even my closest friends. When the deal exploded, I did the one thing that all of us do:

I thought of running run away.

My Burden Turns into Blessings

Sometimes, we think, the easiest and quickest solution to solve our hardest problems is to run away.

Just like Jonah did.

And I almost did. Had it not been for a family friend. Because I came to a family friend with the hope she was going to be able to help me out. You know, lend me the money I needed – and then I can be able to work on paying her back, little by little. And I thought I knew she could help me. She was good with money, and I wish I could tell you who she is, but I’m afraid you might get in touch with her as well.:)

I spoke to her and I felt she was going to help me. But the help that she gave was not the help that I expected. Because the next morning when I woke up,

I saw my Mom at the foot of my bed—crying.

She said, “Anak, bakit hindi mo sa akin sinabi? Natulungan sana kita nang mas-maaga.  In English: “Son, why didn’t you tell me about your problem? I could have helped you early on.”

And I found out that the family friend told my Mom my problem. And what turned out to be at first a burden eventually turned out to be a blessing. Because when my Mom found out—it was painful, my Mom finding out for the first time that I owed so much from so many people–you know what my Mom did?

She helped me out.

And I want to honor all the moms here. Can we give a big hand to all the moms?  All the mothers who sacrifice for their children. Thank you so much. We don’t know how much it takes to be a mother, and so we just honor you, right now.

So, my Mom helped me out. But my Mom didn’t have money. She also had problems. I will never even to this day forget what my Mom did for me to be able to pay for my debt. She sold our house. We had a townhouse in Quezon City but we had an ancestral house in Taytay, Rizal. She sold that, for me to be able to pay for my debt. It was one of the craziest moments of my life. But by God’s grace, I worked very hard to be able to pay off that debt, little by little, to my Mom. Just to be responsible.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask for Help

One practical lesson, Everybody:  Don’t ever be too afraid, be too proud to ask for help. Especially if your problem is still very small. Reach out to somebody. Sometimes, you’ll be surprised that God will send you somebody. He’ll send help through the form of a person. So, ask for help if you need help. Especially if it’s something that you feel like you can’t handle it on your own.

Because sometimes, we get too proud, thinking, “Kaya ko ito.”

You want to prove yourself to somebody.

But don’t ever be too proud to ask for help.

And so, my Mom helped me out and eventually, here’s what I realized– thinking about Jonah right now, how Jonah ran away from that problem:

When I made that decision, that business decision, I owed so many people the amount of P1.7 million at age 25 years old. But by the end of the first year because of bad decisions, and bad decisions, and bad decisions, that P1.7 million turned to P6 million. I didn’t know what to do. And the only thing I wanted to do was just run away. I had my passport in my hand. I was ready. And with a few cash in the bank, I was ready to fly to another country—without telling anybody—  to start my life again. But thank God, He stepped into the form of my Mom.

You know what? When I made that decision, it was based on my elfish motives. I wanted, you know, an increase– it was a good intention—I wanted, you know, profit. I wanted to earn. I wanted to buy some stuff. I wanted to get married very early. But I made that decision on a very selfish motivation.

And you know, I realized it in the story of Jonah:  When Jonah rode that boat, he had very selfish intentions about running away from the Lord—because he was angry at the Ninevites. But what he did not realize—the same I did not realize—is that there are other people in our boat.

Because not only was I the only person affected. Now, it was my Mom was affected. Now, it was my brother who was affected. And now, it was my sister who was affected.

Here’s the worst part: the people that you affect because of your decisions– they’re actually good people. Hardworking people. People who just want to live a good life– and they obey the Lord.

And sometimes, you know, just like the sailors, they’re non-believers.

But it doesn’t mean they are bad people.

In the story, listen to this:

Let me just say this: Non-believers are not bad people. I have to say that because I know of a few persons—Christians– who will do business only with fellow Christians. Why? Because they think non-Christians, they are deceitful, they’re manipulative, they are evil, they are sinful. And so, they don’t do business, they don’t deal with non-Christians.

But here’s a question: What is our mission at The Feast? To make disciples.

So, how in the world can we ever make disciples, if we hang out only with other disciples? How in the world are we going to be able to reach people who are far from Christ if we’re hanging out only with those who are already close to Christ?

The only way we can make disciples is if we step out of our boat.

Jonah was saying:

I felt like, oh, my goodness, Jonah was humbling himself. I was thinking, how humble Jonah was! Until I realized the context of Jonah’s life—that he was running away not because he was afraid but because he was angry. You realize that he wasn’t doing that out of humility. He was doing it out of what? Self-pity.

I have a phrase for it: negative self-talk. Just like that movie One More Chance—where lovers Popoy and Basha break apart and at one point, Basha tells Popoy: “Sana ako na lang, ako na lang ulit…I’m still hoping that I’m still the one that you still love…”

That’s self-pity. You know, you want the world to revolve around you.         You’re like thinking, “My problem is the biggest problem in the world, so you need to give me your attention.”

That’s self-pity. And that’s not what God wants.

And all it takes—you don’t even need to be a prophet like Jonah, you don’t even need to be a preacher just like Bro. Bo Sanchez or Bro. Alvin Barcelona—all it needs is just a little humility and a whole lot of love for people. That’s what you need: to be vulnerable in front of other people.

God Blesses Others too

Something amazing happens. After everything that Jonah was going through, when the sailors were about to die themselves, in Verse 14:

Then they cried out to the Lord, Jonah’s God, and said, Lord, don’t make us die for this man’s sin and don’t hold us responsible for his death. Oh, Lord, you have sent the storm upon him for your own good reasons. Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea. And the storm stopped at once. And the sailors were awestruck by the Lord’s great power. And they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him.

This is exciting. Jonah was running away from Nineveh. Why? Because he didn’t want God to forgive the pagans, right?  He was angry. He didn’t want God to forgive the Ninevites. But here’s the thing: Jonah was running away from the pagans only to wind up in a boat full of pagans.  https://www.freebibleimages.org/illustrations/jonah-disobeys

God Serves Everybody

Sometimes, God is going to send you the people you don’t like— right in your path. Now, why is that important? God is going to send you the people you don’t like and then, He’s going to bless them, to tell you this message: That God will bless not only you but God is going to bless others too. God loves others. You’re not alone. Even if you don’t like other people, guess what: God loves them too. God is going to bless them too. God is going to save them too. God is going to rescue them too.

It’s not just about you. Even if the sailors were non-believers, what happened? All of a sudden, there was a conversion.

“Oh, Lord!” they said.

They started serving Him. And look at Jonah. Jonah who did not want to go to Nineveh, because he didn’t want them to change their ways. I said this last week: We took a step forward in the Reading and said that a time will come when Jonah will have a second chance. And he will be able to preach to Nineveh, and then they will repent. Jonah would witness the conversion of all these pagans. But guess what? Before Jonah could witness the conversion of many, Jonah was now about to witness the conversion of a very few people.

Now, what is my point? My point is very simple: When you refuse to serve God, when you run away from God, guess what: God is the one who’s going to choose to serve you and then serve others too. That’s the God we worship.

The God who will serve everybody. Even if you don’t want to serve them.

But why is that? Why did God allow us to hear this story?

Let me share with you one last thing…

A Reluctant Feast Builder

Some of you know my story in Ministry. You know, if there’s anybody that I could honestly relate to in the Bible, it would definitely have to be Jonah—because I’m also a runner. You probably know this already about me that I was one of the last people who said that I’m going to build a Feast. I ran away from the Lord’s calling for as long as I can remember.

And I remember one conversation. The night before I made the decision to say yes, I’m going to build a Feast, I was talking to my friend George Gabriel. George and I, we had a lot of meetings together. But at one particular night, he said a line to me.

He said, “Bro, the reason I want you to become a leader is I want you to experience leadership.”

And then he said this: “I love you too much as a brother and as a friend not to let your experience leadership. And I’m like, wow, I don’t really know what that means. But over time, as I dove into leadership, you know what happened?

I realized that he was right. Because leadership not only changed me in terms of Ministry. It changed me, and turned me into a better person, turned me into a better husband, a better father, a better business owner.

And it will change you to become a better person—if you take on that role of leadership.

And then, here’s the funny thing. George actually said, “Bro, that’s actually not my line. Somebody spoke that over my life as well.”

You want to know who told that same thing to Bro. George?

Bro. Bo Sanchez.

Because there was a time– you need to know this– that George was in the same boat. He wanted to become a perennial Worship leader in Feast Makati under the wing of Bro. Randy Borromeo.

And he said, “I’m fine with this, serving in the background, you know, just leading Worship.”

But God had other plans. And Bro. Bo said that same line to him. And it changed his life. I’m going to pass on that same anointed message to all of you right here, right now: I love you too much as a brother to not let you experience  servanthood and leadership.

So, stop running away from God’s calling. Stop running away. It’s time to step out into the calling. And then start serving the Lord. Because God wants to change you. God wants to change the people around you through you.

Mark’s Story

I want you to know that four years after Jonah wrote this beautiful book, it’s a very short book. What happened was another author wrote another story in his book. And this is amazing. This comes from the book of Mark. Mark wrote about a man named Jesus. And then he used the story of Jonah as a platform to launch his story. It says here, in Mark 4:35-39:

Connection Between Jonah and Mark

In the first story, we saw how the sailors were afraid of the storm, right? And then when they saw God’s power, they became afraid of God. And now we’re seeing in the story by Mark that the disciples were afraid of the storm. But when they saw the great power of Jesus, they became afraid of Jesus.

Now, what is the connection between these two? They started out with fear. They became afraid of God. But it says here that it did not end with fear.

In Jonah’s story, the sailors were:

In Mark  4:

The response was one and the same. It started with fear. But it did not end there. It began to transition to what? Fascination: Who is this man? Who is this amazing God?

From Fear, to Fascination, to Faith

Even in the book of Mark, the disciples started following Jesus. So, from fear, to fascination, it ended with faith.

The story started with worry—and I wonder how many people are worried now…

But this is my declaration: that your worry will transition to wonder–Who is this God that can save lives, that can give a miracle.

But I don’t want it to even end with worry. I want you to take that all the way to worship. To worship the God who can rescue you. I want you to entrust your life right now to this sovereign God. A God so powerful that He can command the wind and the waves to be still. A God that’s so powerful He can calm the storms. But that’s not all. A God also so personal the He can climb a Cross to save you and me. That is God. He’s a sovereign God. And He’s not just your God. He’s the God of those who don’t even believe in Him.

If you feel you don’t belong in God’s family, if you don’t believe in God. Guess what:  God believes in you, if you don’t love the Lord, guess what: God still loves you. If you’re not faithful to God, guess what: God is faithful to you. He;s the God of the backslider. He’s the God of the lost. He’s the God of the least. He’s God of the last. This is the God we worship, my friends. He;s the God who will be the God of the believers and the non-believers. That’s our God!

From Worry, to Wonder, to Worship

You can be feeling lost right now but I don’t want you to end in that feeling of desperation. I want you to take that all the way from fear, to fascination, and then faith. From worry, to wonder to worship.

May I ask you to lift up your hands. We are in the Presence of an amazing  and magnificent God and I want you to know this: that God is good even if you’re not good. God is faithful even if you’re not faithful. The goodness of God is something we will never fully comprehend and we will never fully understand. But it’s up to us to just receive that and to thank Him for it.

Father we offer our life though imperfect and though broken we offer it Lord  as a gift  And we thank you inspite of our brokennenss, inspite of our failures . God, we declare your goodness over our life.  Thank You, Jesus. Thank You, Jesus!

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