UNEXPECTED GIFT

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Have you ever received an unexpected gift?
I have. And most likely, you also had a similar experience.

The Jewish people were expecting a Messiah that would set them free from Roman rulership. But what they got was a baby, wrapped on swaddling clothes with a feeding trough as his crib.
But little did they know that this small baby was the Mighty God that Isaiah 9:6 was referring to.

The gospel of John parallels the thought Isaiah had in chapter 9. John chapter 1 declares that in the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God.

Here are a few truths we can draw from John’s declaration.

1. JESUS IS GOD.

Jesus was both with God and God Himself according to John.

Even Paul declares in Philippians,
“Though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8)

People don’t like this truth because if they embrace this truth, then that would mean allegiance and submission to Him.

Now, because Jesus is God, He is worthy of all our worship. Paul says to the church in Rome that we are to offer our bodies as living sacrifice which is our spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1). This being said, everything now becomes worship – work, studies, recreation, conversation, plus a whole lot mre.

2. JESUS IS GOD OF CREATION.

John 1:3 says, “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

Jesus was the source of creation. All things were made through Him – the planets, living things and non living things.

Colossians 1:15 says that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created through him and for him.

Now, because Jesus is God of creation, He has all authority and power.
He doesn’t only have legitimate rulership, but supernatural power to do all that He says He would.

3. JESUS IS GOD MADE FLESH.

John 1:14 tells us that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

This is the powerful truth about God become like one of us – the incarnation of Christ.
Jesus became one of us so that he can become one with us.
And because He is God made flesh, we have access to His grace.

As we approach Christmas, may we remember not only the Christ child but He who redeemed us has always been and will always be in full control, not only of the universe but of our lives as well.

WHEN YOU GET WHAT YOU DIDN’T EXPECT

What do you do when God brings you to an unexpected road?

I watched a clip from a segment in the show of Jimmy Kimmel about kids who received unexpected gifts from their parents. Reactions were varied. Some were humored by it. Others threw tantrums.

Here’s the clip.

“You broke my heart.”
This was the statement the last child said after he didn’t get what he had expected for Christmas.

The Israelites were hoping for a Messiah to come that was like David – a king and a military leader who will deliver them from Roman rulership. They were looking forward to one who will rescue them from their woes. But the One that came didn’t look like a king, neither did He look like a valiant military man. Born in a manger and coming from a humble family, Jesus wasn’t who they expected.

Isaiah prophesied several hundred of years prior that a child was going to be born and the government shall be upon his shoulder. And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

WONDERFUL COUNSELOR

Because this King (Jesus) is our wonderful counselor, we can rely on His infinite wisdom.
Reason? The Bible says that He is wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom. (Is. 28:29)

God’s wisdom means that God always chooses the best goals and the best means to those goals. (Wayne Grudem)

We are told that if we lack wisdom, we can ask God who gives generously without finding fault. (James 1:5)

MIGHTY GOD

The word mighty in its original is the word used for “hero”. A hero is someone who does great things and mighty acts for someone who can’t do it for themselves.

Jesus is the Mighty God who is able to do what we would be unable to do for ourselves.

You and I can trust His power for He is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine according to the power that works in us. (Eph. 3:20)

EVERLASTING FATHER

This doesn’t mean that Jesus is the Father Himself. The Triune God is one God in three distinct persons. But what this tell us is that Jesus has the attributes of the Everlasting Father. He is one who gives security through His love. God is love (1 John 4:16). And His love secures us.

You can trust that He will never leave you nor forsake you.

 

PRINCE OF PEACE

The Apostle Paul says that God is not a God of confusion but of peace. (1 Cor. 14:33)

God’s peace means that in God’s being and in His actions, He is separate from all confusion and disorder, yet He is continually active in innumerable fully controlled, simultaneous actions. (Wayne Grudem)

King Jesus, who is the Prince of Peace, is in full control and is able to deliver what He said He would. Out of the 7.2 billion people in the world, He is able to orchestrate all the events in our lives in perfect order to bring about what is best for us and ultimately for His glory.

May you remember this week as we celebrate Christmas, that King Jesus is He who brings wisdom, has power, gives security and orchestrates our lives in perfect order so that ultimately He gets all glory and honor.

The world didn’t expect a Messiah in the person of Jesus.
In the beginning, we thought what we got was what we didn’t need. We ended up getting what we didn’t think we want but really, it was the very thing we actually needed.

Merry Christmas!

 

WHERE CAN I FIND PEACE?

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A story is told of a painting contest. The artists were asked to render their perspective on subject of peace. There was one who painted calm waters of a brook. Another painted a man under a tree resting. But one submitted his artwork that didn’t seem to make sense at first. It was a picture of raging waters coming from the top of a mountain. The weather gloomy and it looked like the wind was strong.

But when you zoom into one part of the painting, you will see a bird with her younglings in a cleft of a rock, nestling. In the midst of the raging waters, gloomy weather and strong winds, they peacefully rest.

The Bible says that Jesus is our Prince of Peace and He is with us every moment.

Peace is not the absence of storms
but the assurance of God’s presence in the midst of it.

 

 

In Luke 2:14, the angels declared, ““Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”  Jesus came to bring peace.

 

1. Peace with God.

We have peace with God through Jesus. We were at war with Him. The Bible says that, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.” (Romans 5:10)

Jesus came so that our relationship with God could be restored.

2. Peace of God.

The result of peace with God is the peace of God. Life is now lived before an audience of One. The Apostle Paul says that he lives to please only One – only his Savior Jesus.

We are told in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

3. Peace with others.

Because we have peace with God which brings about the peace of God, it is now possible to be at peace with others. If we have been forgiven of our gravest of offense, we are now empowered by His grace to forgive others.

Romans 12:18 tells us to “do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.”

My prayer is that we will trust God for restoration of relationships this Christmas season. Having peace with God and the peace of God should set us free from any inhibitions to attempt mending broken relationships. It no longer matters who’s wrong or right. The goal is to restore.

Remember, Jesus paid a debt He didn’t owe so that there can be forgiveness for those who owed a debt they couldn’t pay.

 

IMMANUEL: JESUS IS GOD WITH US

Our youngest son Joaquin, when he was 4 years old was in a mall on a December afternoon with his mom looking at the different Christmas decorations. Out of the blue he screams, “Santa is the King of Christmas!” My wife panicked and immediately explained to him why we celebrate Christmas.

Now while this was the response of our 4 year old then, an alien from outer space would be just as confused if he were to visit our malls these days. Looking at the decorations and listening to the songs we play on the radio, it may seem that Christmas is a lot of things except its original reason.

The Bible predicted the coming of Jesus hundreds of years before the first Christmas. The prophet Isaiah spoke in Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

Immanuel is pregnant with meaning. Immanuel is God with us.

1. God With Us.

The Creator God came to be like one of us. This is central to our faith. Nothing in Christianity would make sense without it.

Jesus is God.

Because God is with us, we are assured of His power. Knowing this will tear down every limitation in our minds. Nothing is impossible with God.

Mary asked the angel how can she be pregnant since she’s not married yet. The angel answered, “With man, this is impossible. But with God, nothing is impossible.”

2. God With Us.

Jesus is God and He is with us. He identified with us and lives amongst us.

John 1:1,14 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (ESV)

Jesus became like us and dwelt among us. The word dwell is the Greek word for “tabernacle.”

In the Old Testament, God’s presence would descend every so often to meet with His people. But now, since the coming of Jesus, He is with us and dwells with His people.

Because God is with us, we are assured of His presence.

He promised in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (ESV)

3. God With Us.

Who’s “US”?

The good? The moral? The perfect?

Thank God that He so loved the world that He gave His son. Who did He come for? Not for the health but the sick. Not the found but the lost.

Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost. He came for the messed up people like you and me.

Every other religion will say just follow a set of values and a list of rules. If you do this, you will do well.

But Jesus came and said, self-effort can’t hack it. You and I know that we’ve tried and we’ve failed miserably.

But that God that Jesus came to live a life of perfect obedience so that by imputation, we can vicariously take on a perfect moral record by what He has done on the cross if we accept Him and surrender our life to Him.

All throughout Scripture, there are people who failed that God accepted, called and used.

Abraham was deceitful.
David was an adulterer and murderer.
Jacob was a liar.
Jonah was arrogant and had no compassion.
Miriam was a gossip.
Moses had a short fuse.
Elijah was suicidal.
Peter denied Christ.
Paul ordered Christians to be killed.

You and I can add our names on the list. Thanks be to God who has given us salvation through Jesus Christ.

God loves you just the way you are.
But remember, God loves you too much to let you remain just the way you are.

Have a great week ahead.

 

 

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THE INFINITE BECAME AN INFANT

Upon reading the paragraph below, it never ceases to amaze me what God did and went through for us. Truly amazing…

Infinite and yet an infant.
Eternal and yet born of a woman.
Almighty, and yet nursing at a woman’s breast.
Supporting a universe, and yet needing to be carried in a mother’s arms.
Heir of all things, and yet the carpenter’s despised son.

—Charles Haddon Spurgeon

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM VICTORY FORT

 

Here’s our announcement video for our Christmas activities this December.

Sambang Gabi, December 15 @ 5 am.
Christmas Eve Service, December 24 @ 2pm, 4pm, 6pm.

We also would like to take the opportunity to greet you a very Merry Christmas.

 

CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS ON DVD

Christmas is just around the corner. And it is in this season when many of our families, friends and loved ones are most open to the gospel. Because of this, we’ve come up with a tool which you may use to share the love of Jesus during this season.

The Christmas Traditions video hopes to build lasting memories with family and at the same time an opportunity to share Jesus to others.

This video may be used in several ways:

1. Show it to your family to share how to start Christmas Traditions in your own homes.
2. Get together with your Victory Group to learn how to make Christmas more meaningful in your own families.
3. Use it as a tool to invite friends and family in your Victory Group as an outreach event.
4. You may even join up with other Victory Groups to have a mini-cluster of groups to invite people from the community or office.

The 3-part video teaching of Christmas Traditions will be available for download starting Saturday, November 24, 12:00 NN from http://victoryfort.org/christmastraditions.

If you are a Victory Group Leader, you may request for a DVD copy.
Click here to request a copy.
We pray that God will use us to share His love to many during this holiday season.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

WHAT IN THE WORLD IS ADVENT?

We had our Advent Night as a family this evening.

We have been doing Advent Nights the past several years to prepare for the Christmas season. It has been a good way to prepare our kids and focus on the primary reason why we celebrate this particular holiday.

The word “advent” comes from the Latin word  “adventus” which means “coming” or “arrival”.

Advent is a time to revisit parts of the Christmas story for 4 weeks before December 25.

We usually…

1. Sing a Christmas song that is related to the part of the Christmas story we are going to read.
2. Read part of the Christmas story (straight from the Bible or a Christmas story book for kids)
3.  Find a lesson to learn and apply.
4. Pray. (for application, for a family …)

I just thought it might be helpful to give you ideas in case you’d like to do it with your family. The following I gleaned from Virginia Knowles’ article in the Startwell Homeschool Site.

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Family Advent Night #1: “God is With Us”

1. Song: “O Come, O Come Immanuel” – The lyrics of this song (originally written in Latin) are a prayer for the Messiah to come and set the people free from their misery in sin. The tune was written in a minor key, which makes it sound melancholy to fit the lyrics. You may wish to point this out to your older children.

2. Scripture:

Isaiah 7:10-14 – Immanuel promised
Matthew 1:18-25 – Immanuel comes

3. Application:

Immanuel means “God with us” and Jesus means “The Lord saves.” Why do we need a Savior? Because we are sinners! Remind your children that you told them ahead of time some of what you would be doing, so they could know what to expect and how to prepare. Relate this to how God took the time to tell his people, through the prophet Isaiah, several hundred years early, that a special Messiah would be born. He told them many details so they could know what to expect.

4. Pray

5. Possible Activity:

Drive around through different neighborhoods to look at Christmas lights. Remind your children that Jesus came to light up the dark world. We should be lights in the world, too, if we have Jesus in us.

Family Advent Night #2:“Jesus is Our Glorious King!”

1. Song. “Joy to the World”

2. Scripture

Luke 1:26-56 — The angel told Mary that she would give birth to a king. When she visits her relative Elizabeth, she speaks forth what is now called the “Magnificat” – a psalm of praise to God. When you read the Scriptures this evening, choose people to read the parts of the narrator, Mary, the angel and Elizabeth. Practice ahead of time, if possible.

3. Application:

Ask what good things we can say about God and what he has done for us.

4. Pray

5. Possible Activity.

Watch the movie The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which you can rent or buy on DVD. Talk about it and how Aslan represents Jesus as the King who came to redeem his people.

 

Family Advent Night #3: “Angels Sing!”

1. Song. “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing”

2. Scripture

Luke 2:1-21 – the birth of Jesus
Colossians 1:15-20 – the deity of Jesus (optional)

3. Application:

Who was Caesar Augustus? What is the census? Talk about how many people would have to travel to Bethlehem for the census, and that’s why there wasn’t any room in the inn. Shepherds were some of the lowliest and least respected members of society, but God chose them to be the first visitors to the newborn King. Perhaps that is because Jesus is our Good Shepherd, who lays his life down for his sheep!

4. Pray

5. Possible Activity.

Go Christmas caroling! You can walk around your own neighborhood, drop in on special friends or relatives, or visit an orphanage. If you do visit an orphanage, check ahead with the administrators to make sure this is OK, since there may be other groups visiting or the residents might go to sleep really early in a particular facility.

If you plan to stay home, choose another activity, such as:

Read your favorite books about the first Christmas.
Act out the Christmas story.
Draw pictures of the Nativity scene.
Make a simple nativity scene with felt or clay.

 

Family Advent Night #4: “Wise Men Still Seek Him”

1. Song. “We Three Kings”

2. Scripture

Luke 2:22-40 – Simeon and Anna were very old, but they had been waiting many years for the Messiah to come. They were wise enough to recognize baby Jesus as the one God had promised through the Scriptures – and to praise God for it! The Holy Spirit even told Simeon to go to the temple courtyard that day!

Matthew 2:1-12 – The Wise Men had come from a long distance to see the newborn King. God can even use a special star to guide someone to Jesus! Compare their response to Jesus to the jealous reaction of King Herod. You can also talk about the meaning of the gifts the wise men brought. If you sing all of the verses of “We Three Kings” (as listed on the Cyberhymnal site linked below) they tell us that gold is for a king, frankincense was used for prayer and worship, and myrrh was a burial spice reminding us that the Messiah would die for our sins.

3. Application:

Are we led by the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit? Do we love to spend time at the Lord’s house like Simeon and Anna did? Are we willing to go anywhere for Jesus, even if it is a long way from home? What gifts can we give to God?

4. Pray

5. Possible Activity.

Decorate Christmas cookies which you have baked ahead of time. Deliver some of them as a gift to someone who might need a lift in their spirits – because what you do for other people in his name, you do unto Jesus. Or, if you want to be really ambitious, choose a needy family and buy presents for them. Enclose an encouraging note with Scripture, and deliver the bundle secretly to their doorstep.

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Hope this helps.

Merry Christmas.

 

ADVENT

Advent comes from the Latin word that means ‘arrival.’

Every year, our family come together once a week to journey through the story of the first Christmas to refresh our memory and remind us the purpose God had in sending His only Son into the world.

We invited some of the singles from church.  For some of them, it was the

first time they’ve experienced something like that.  We sang a couple of songs, Janina read a portion of the Christmas story, particularly the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem and then the moment when Jesus was born.

Then we talked about a few of the insights we got from reading the Christmas story.  It was interesting to hear the things that spoke to us.  We’ve heard the story and read it so many times but we still are able to get new revelations from it.

I shared about the prophecy made by Micah hundreds of years before Jesus was to be born, that from the town of Bethlehem, the Messiah was to come.  God prompted Caesar Augustus to issue a decree for a census to be taken.  It was pretty amazing how God orchestrated the events leading up to the birth of Jesus.  His birth became to pinnacle of human history and calendar, dividing B.C. from A.D.

If God is able to orchestrate the events of the most important event in history (HIS STORY), then wouldn’t you think it would be so easy for God to orchestrate events in your life and thereby leaving no room for us to worry?

He is Savior, He is Lord… and HE IS GOD.

Merry Christmas everyone!