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Most will acknowledge that they have offended a holy and righteous God.
Many realize that they haven’t lived a perfect life.
And hordes will admit that they displeased their Creator.

But here’s a question many ask:
Can God not just grant divine amnesty and declare,
“By My authority, I now give you divine pardon!”

Did Jesus really have to come, become like one of us and die a torturous death on the cross?

Some of you might remember, there was a time when the people of God were held in captivity under the rulership of the Egyptians. God always wanted a people of His own but because they were under slavery, they weren’t their own nation.

God was calling them out through Moses but Pharaoh didn’t want to let His people go. To convince Pharaoh that it was He who was calling them out, He had to send 10 plagues to communicate to Pharaoh that Yahweh is the Lord. The last plague was the plague of the first born where all the first born was going to be visited by the angel of death.

But God’s instruction to His people was to get a lamb, cook it as their meal.
Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 9.03.11 AMHowever, they are to take the blood and wipe it on the doorposts of their homes so that when the angel of death comes, it will recognize the blood of the lamb on the doorposts. As a result, the angel of death will “passover” their home.

It was the last straw that caused Pharaoh to release God’s people from the clutches of the Egyptian hands. From that time on, it became an annual celebration meal of God’s redemption. You could just imagine the first born during that very first Passover meal thinking,

“The only reason I’m alive is because that thing on the table (the lamb) isn’t.”

Fast forward about 1500 years later, Jesus was having a Passover meal with His disciples. He took the bread and the cup, gave thanks and distributed them to His disciples. The meal was complete except for one thing – the lamb. They were probably thinking, “we have the bread and the wine, but where’s the lamb?”

And here’s the clincher:
“The lamb was not on the table for The Lamb was at the table.”

It was the night before Jesus was going to be crucified.

Why did Jesus have to die?

1. Sin’s payment was death. Sin is a capital offense. For the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23). Jesus paid for our death so we can live.

2. Only a perfect sacrifice can pay the penalty. Only Jesus could fulfill this since He was both fully human yet fully God. The sacrifice had to be a perfect, unblemished, sinless sacrifice.
God made Him (Christ), who knew no sin, to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

3. A Holy God cannot allow sin go unpunished.
Jesus paid a debt He didn’t owe to save a people who owed a debt they couldn’t pay.

That’s why when John the Baptist saw Jesus, he declared, “Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” This sacrifice no longer just covers our sins, He is able to completely wash it away.

All we need to do is to trust His atoning work in Calvary.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

This is a reason to rejoice!
This propels us to worship!
This truth will result in a life of gratitude!

Blog Banners.001Have you ever been in a desperate situation?

Someone deathly ill.
Business on a downturn.
Relationship gone sour.
Spirituality grown cold.
Facing a hopeless situation.

Two men who have been blind all their life must’ve heard about this miracle worker named Jesus. They followed him around. When they had a chance, they cried aloud and said, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” (Matthew 9:29)

They had the audacity to interrupt Jesus’ busy schedule! Didn’t they know that the Lord had a lot of appointments to go to? They were being very insensitive!

But what’s amazing about Jesus is that he is never too busy for us. When we call out his name, he responds, especially when we do it in faith.

HIS MERCY

We approach Jesus on the basis of His mercy.
The 2 blind men cried out to Jesus and asked for mercy.
Some call out to Jesus as if he was their attendant.
A few treat him like Santa Claus.

But these two men understood that they can only approach Jesus on the basis of his mercy. They knew that they deserved nothing and could only ask for what Jesus could spare them.

Paul tells us in the book of Romans to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice in view of God’s mercy. Anything we can do for God stems from what He has already done for us.

HIS NAME

“Son of David” was a messianic title attributed to Christ. While they were calling out for mercy, they were also crying out in faith. They were stepping out in faith that if this Jesus was really what men said he was, then he would have the power to meet them at their point of desperation.

Calling Jesus “Son of David” expressed their sense of his deity, dominion and power, declaring that he was the Messiah.

OUR FAITH

The 2 blind men were asked, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9:28a)
What a question!
Previously, he just restored a girl back to life. Whoever has heard of this miracle would be so pumped to go to Jesus for a prayer.

So what was their answer to Jesus’ question?
They said, “Yes, Lord.” (Matthew 9:28b)

Interesting that they didn’t just answer with a simple yes. They followed it up with “Lord.” This was an act of faith indeed!
He is not just the Christ, he is also the Lord.

Jesus doesn’t just meet us at our point of need but more so at our point of faith.

PRAYER:

Lord, we thank You for the example of the two blind men who dared to believe. They acknowledged who You are and trusted that You are able to do what you decided to do.
I pray that we would have the same faith to believe you in the darkest times – that what You’ve said You would do, You will actually do. Thank You that You are not only a Covenant Maker, You are also a Covenant Keeper. And for that, I lift up my praise to You. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

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This week is Prayer and Fasting week for Victory all over the Philippines and for Every Nation Worldwide. The theme is #DareToBelieve. For the next 5 days, including today, I will post reflections on the miracles Jesus performed as a response to the faith of those who dared to believe.

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.