#hillsongconf19

A time of refreshing has truly come. So blessed to be here to reflect, be refreshed and encouraged, and experience rest in God’s presence in this crowd of thousands, after a favoured yet overtaxing season.

The Lord is so faithful and so gracious, and truly, His mercies are new every single day. Praying that this gathering be filled with hope and hunger for Jesus, His Spirit and truth.

Rie Manaloto

My conference companion of many years, my sister.

Rie Manaloto

If it ain’t about Jesus

I dread the misuse of Scripture everywhere these days. Seriously, it’s just as bad as disregarding or dishonouring it, if not, worse.

At the end of it all, simply ask yourself: does it glorify God or you? Is it to satisfy/fulfil what He wants or what you want?

If the answer is the latter, then man, we are in a lot of trouble.

If it ain’t about Jesus, then y’all miss the whole point.

Humanity have done this time and again, everything they can to bend biblical truths towards their own principles and desires (the enemy’s modus operandi way back from the Garden, “Oh honey, you shall not certainly die…”).

But I believe that the Truth will stand His ground—He always will, and always has prevailed.

When God Speaks

When God speaks, you just know that He is speaking.

It’s a masterful, logical, and fervent voice.

You can’t ignore it nor silence it.

His words will pierce you right in the core, and catapult you to the things that need your attention, especially the areas of your heart that you’ve either been avoiding/hiding from or neglecting.

And it’s always coherent and full. Clear and compelling.

Even the metaphors and the analogies jump straight out to you; no need for complex analysis.

You just get it.

He enables you to get it.

Photo taken after an intense conversation.

Well Marked Bibles

Our page has a brand new name!

“Well Marked Bibles” (formerly known as “Dirty Bibles”) continues to encourage people to keep their Bibles open and in frequent use so we can obtain knowledge of the Truth, which is embodied and epitomised in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour—to build our faith, to live our temporary lives according to the will of God; to know about His love and forgiveness and share it to all the world; to honour and revere Him the way a holy, all-powerful God deserves.

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We’re persistent in our belief that a dirtied, well marked Bible, filled with notes and annotations, produces a clean heart; an open Bible keeps us close to God.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

His Word is our lamp and light. His Word is our sole authority and our anchor. His Word is our Truth.

“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (Jesus in John‬ ‭8:31-32‬)

Make God’s Word alive in your life. Make His presence important and a constant in your daily walk. Seek the guidance of His Holy Spirit as you read and meditate on His Word, and watch the Lord renew your mind and transform your life!

Mary’s song: “Let It Be Done”

Composer’s notes on Mary’s song, “Let It Be Done”

I am not ashamed or hesitant to say that I am a Bible-believing Christ follower who treats God’s Word as the sole authority when it comes to my faith. And so, for the musical, I wanted to present a “Biblical” Mary: the highly favoured and uniquely blessed woman; the young woman the Lord chose to birth the Messiah into this fallen, chaotic world. Mary embodied a mother who loved and cared for her child(ren); a servant who exemplified humility, obedience, even sacrifice and suffering (See Luke 2:34-35).

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In the traditional, Catholic Stations of the Cross, it presents Jesus meeting His mother on the way to Golgotha where He would be crucified. This is NOT recorded or present in any of the Gospels at all. The only time they met according to the Scriptures was when Jesus was already crucified, and Mary stood by the cross (See John 19:25-29). But because this mother-son encounter was part of the traditional “script” or “ceremony”, I had no choice but to write a song for her because, I mean, she still is a significant character, and this scenario has been present in several movies and other story depictions.

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I had to make it work—without forsaking what the Bible says about Mary, or add something fictional to the story. So I decided to reintroduce the known Biblical personality of Mary which can be found in Luke 1:26-38, where Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel, announcing that, “Hey, you’re going to be a Mum to the Son of the Most High!” (paraphrased, obviously). And all Mary had to say to close the deal was, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be done to me according to your word.” Hence, the title.

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Mary obeyed. Mary surrendered to the Lord’s will. Mary trusted that God knew what He was doing, and He had a plan and purpose for her and for the Son she would bear. So whatever her song was had to come from a place of humility and surrender, which was proven in the Scriptures; secondly, from a place of pain and suffering being a mother to a son whom she valued all her life, but now was beaten and shamed, and was marching towards his death. I was in tears writing this piece as I seemed to have felt her pain, and generally, the pain of giving up and letting go of the things you have no control over, even sacrificing the things or people that you love in order to obey or carry out the Lord’s plan. It is painful, but there’s definitely an answer to it in the end where it will all makes sense.

If there’s one thing we can learn from Mary, it is to trust and surrender to the Lord however ugly and painful that process may be. This is exactly what Jesus did, to live in accordance to His Father’s will. What’s the result? Salvation for mankind, reconciliation with our Creator.

God knows what He’s doing. You just have to learn to trust and to yield to Him more.

 

Role of Mary played by: Maxine Lopez

Photos by: Jade Cadelina

Rie Manaloto

“It is finished.”

In the words of Jesus, “It is finished.” We must’ve been so blessed and favoured to stage this presentation we all worked hard for—this project I have personally fully surrendered and committed to the Lord.

He’s remained faithful, and walked this road with us, all so we can proclaim His relentless love. He’s become our strength and cornerstone in telling the greatest story of all time—His story of grace, His story of salvation, His story of redemption. Jesus is alive, and He lives and reigns forevermore.

Here are some photos from my personal camera:

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Here are some professional photos, from our very own Tito Jade Cadelina:

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Road to Calvary: Music excerpts

Here are some excerpts from the songs I have written and composed for our Good Friday mini-musical, “Road to Calvary.” THIS IS A FREE EVENT! Come as you are! Please join us in remembering Christ’s death and resurrection next Friday, 30th March, at The Stations of the Cross in Pinegrove Memorial Park. Soli Deo Gloria!

(Watch it in HD)

© 2018 All Rights Reserved

Music and Lyrics by Rie Manaloto

Will you walk the road?

So stoked to announce that I have written some music for this year’s Senakulo + Stations of the Cross.

Join me and the “street kids of Jerusalem” to remember and reflect on Jesus’ death, suffering, and most importantly, His resurrection (because, hello, He is alive!) in this mini-musical.

See poster for details.

Road to Calvary square photo

#9Mornings 9: Peace of the Prince

(Read John 14:27)

Because of Jesus and His ultimate sacrifice, we finally have peace with God (Romans 5:1). His sacrifice reconciled us with the Father, which therefore fulfilled His role as the Prince of Peace. But apart from having peace with God, Jesus’ first coming and sacrifice also gave us the peace of God.

Jesus said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

This peace comes from knowing, believing and accepting the truth that the Lord is in control. 1 Peter 1:2 says, “May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord”. As we grow to understand the depth, richness and wonders of His love, we get to learn how to rest in His power and wisdom, and give our lives in His divine care (Ephesians 3:18–19, Psalm 27:13-14, Psalm 37:39-40, Psalm 55:22).

Our trust in Him grows, and we rely on His goodness and faithfulness to us. We may not know what the future brings nor can we predict it; but we learn to trust that “if God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). This is how we know that He truly makes all things work together for our good (Romans 8:28). We can be sure that His purposes will prevail and be fulfilled (Psalm 33:11; Proverbs 19:21; Isaiah 45:9; 46:9–11).

Because of Jesus, we can be confident that “nothing can separate us from the love of God.” (Romans 8:39).

And this is the kind of peace we get to experience; the peace that truly “transcends all understanding”, so different and life-changing. It’s like no other. And we have Jesus to thank in this whole lifetime and beyond.

Let the incomparable peace of God rule in our hearts this Christmas and always.

Have a blessed and grace-infused Christmas! Thank You, Jesus!

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For further reading/reference:

#9Mornings 8: Peace with God

(Read Isaiah 9:6)

Hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Isaiah foretold God’s plan and will to enter history as our Prince of Peace. Jesus is our Prince of Peace. He came to the world one peaceful night, with no extravagant fanfare, in the humblest of places.

The angels announced His birth to the shepherds, proclaiming, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests (Luke 2:14). This signified the ultimate purpose of Jesus’ role—to establish peace between us and God.

Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” In our sinful and broken state, we are considered enemies with God (Romans 5:10). “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Isaiah further prophesied, “He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).

This is the salvation that we sing about—Christ Himself dying on the cross for sinners who deserved wrath and death, reconciling us to God.  All our sins, transgressions, and iniquities have been forgiven because Jesus bore them, crucified them on the cross with Him. Christ, who knew no sin became sin on our behalf, so that we could be made right with God (2 Cor 5:21).

Because of this sacrifice, God’s people have been restored to a relationship of peace with Him (Romans 5:1). And this ultimately fulfils Jesus’ role as “Prince of Peace”

If we embrace Jesus by faith, we can be forgiven. When we acknowledge Him as Lord and Saviour, we also receive Him as the heavenly Prince who established our peace with God.

Jesus, the Son given, the Christ, the Prince of Peace —made it all happen.

 

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Further readings/references:

Knowing the Peace of the Prince

Jesus is the Prince of Peace

#9Mornings 7: The Grateful Gives

(Read 2 Corinthians 9:11)

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Christmas is a very special time of the year because it is a time of giving. People give a lot more than usual during this season for varying reasons and intentions.

For Christians, gift giving normally reminds us of the wise men who traveled from very far to honour the newborn Jesus with gifts such as gold, frankincense and myrrh. But most importantly, we give gifts to thankfully remember and celebrate the true and greatest gift given to mankind—our Saviour and King, Jesus Christ. He is God’s most precious and valuable gift He gave out of His incredible love for us—”God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son …” (John 3:16).

We must also recognise that God is the giver of everything as “every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). God is always able, and He has promised to bless us abundantly so we could channel these blessings to others who are in need, both physically and spiritually (2 Cor 9:8, 11). We are blessed by God so we can bless others; we are enriched so we can be generous (Zech 8:13, 2 Cor 9:11).

In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul was encouraging churches to give financial gifts to believers who were in need in Jerusalem. He encouraged believers to have the heart to give voluntarily, out of what they have, and motivated by love and gratitude for what Jesus Himself had given us—”For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich” (v9).

Steven J Cole says, “When we give, we act as God does.” Give because God has given to you. It is our natural expression of gratitude for the grace and mercy we have received in Jesus; not only during Christmas season, but year-round, as a way of life.

And so this season, see giving as an opportunity, a privilege. Be a blessing to others. Find a way to give not just to the people special to us like family or friends, but to the ones you do not know personally, and who are in actual need.  Let’s donate to charitable organisations and foundations. Give out of what you have—from material and financial needs, food, shelter, clothing, medicine, etc.; to sharing and sacrificing our time with people who need company, encouragement, love and support; to volunteering or helping out in certain causes that aim to support other people in any way possible. Gifts do not have to be grand to be valuable; they simply need to be given out of compassion and thankfulness for the blessings you have personally received. And the love and grace of Jesus is reason enough for us to give generously, even sacrificially, to those who are in need.

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#9Mornings 6: What Grace

(Read Titus 2:11-12)

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The best Christmas gift anyone has received and can receive is God’s grace. And it is the probably the most important concept that we must know, understand and live by.

Grace is commonly defined as God’s unmerited favour, or God’s love in action. But it’s beyond being just “unmerited”—it is favour granted to sinners who deserve His judgment and wrath, yet the Lord chose to show them favour. A Christian pastor said, “Showing kindness to a stranger is ‘unmerited favor’; doing good to one’s enemies is more the spirit of grace” (as in the concept of Love your enemies in Luke 6:27-36).

Grace is embodied fully and tangibly in the person of Jesus Christ (see John 1:17). The first coming of Jesus Christ, which we celebrate during Christmas, was God’s saving grace dawning upon this broken, sin-infested world. Grace means God sending His one and only Son, to die on the cross so that we unworthy sinners may be saved from sin and death (which what our sinfulness deserves), then be reconciled to God and receive eternal life and citizenship in heaven (see John 3:17, Romans 6:23, 1 John 4:10, 2 Timothy 1:9-10).

And that is the good news of the Gospel! When you understand and experience the grace of God in Jesus Christ, it propels you and teaches you to live a life that pleases Him; to live sensible, righteous, godly lives, so we can draw those who live otherwise to the Saviour amidst the sin-darkened age. Through His grace, God has blessed us with the abilities to “deny ungodliness and worldly desires” so that we can live out a sensible, righteous, and godly life (Titus 2:12). His grace also enables us to point people home to God and/or to draw them back to having a personal and intimate relationship with our Saviour.

And that is how what the grace of God does—it saves us, then it propels and teaches us to be godly people who do good deeds, as we look forward to second coming of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ who sacrificed Himself for our salvation. Remember what Ephesians 2:8-9 teaches, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” This Christmas, take some time to reflect on how the grace of God works in your life, and how you can live it out right in and under His amazing grace.

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For more readings/references:

#9Mornings 5: Mary Did Know

(Read Luke 1:46-56)

Mary’s hymn of praise, or commonly known as the “Magnificat” is one of the most iconic and celebratory moments in the Bible. After Mary was visited by an angel foretelling the birth of Jesus (see Luke 1:26-38), she met with Elizabeth who was pregnant with John the Baptist (see Luke 1:39-45). They shared the inexorable joy that’s about to come their way.

Mary’s song expressed her personal praise to the Lord for His treatment of her, and how the Almighty God had blessed the righteous through all generations. Moved with joy and gratitude, Mary sang of God’s favour and blessing in her life, and in the lives of the people who fear Him, who humble themselves before Him, and serve Him (v48-55).

Mary knew she was uniquely blessed, and magnified the Lord’s name, still recognising her humble state as a servant of God in a place of utter thankfulness. She declared the goodness and faithfulness of God over her life and her community (v48-55).

Mary knew and understood God’s consistent character and nature. She knew that the Lord loves and cares for the poor and the humble, always lifts them up, and never forsakes those who are in need of Him, especially His own dutiful servants (see Ps 102:27, Ps 149:4, James 4:10, Prov 3:34, Luke 6:20, 1 Pet 5:6-7).

Mary knew and acknowledged that everything that comes from God’s hand, is out of His mercy and grace (see James 1:17, James 4:6, Psalm 84:11). As one commentary says, Mary knew that “God owes her nothing; she owes God everything.”

Mary knew that when she accepted this blessing and responsibility, she had nothing to fear, because God Himself was her “Saviour” (see Isaiah 41:10, Ps 27:1). She trusted God enough to surrender her life, her future to His will, responding, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38).

Mary knew that God’s plans always prevail, and He never breaks His promises (Prov 19:21, Isa 14:27). She knew that God is in authority and His Word never fails (Deut 4:39, Joshua 21:45).

Let’s all learn from Mary’s example of humility—a servant who fears and honours God, who joyfully remembers His goodness and love, and who trusts in His plans and purposes.

 

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#9Mornings 4: Light in the Dark

(Read John 1:4-5)

In a world covered in spiritual darkness because of sin, we need the Light.

Jesus is this Light. He declares in John 8:12, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

Jesus came to a world of chaos, a world full of pride, hate, greed and self-centredness; divided and prejudiced; a world where the religious leaders were misleading the crowd, where people misunderstand and misinterpret God’s precepts, plans and purposes (Romans 3:23, Matt 23:23-24, Isa 64:6)

But in His first coming, Jesus brings in His light “that darkness has not overcome” even up to this day (John 1:5). He embodies hope in our despair; He whispers peace in the midst of the turmoil; He becomes the inextinguishable light in the surrounding darkness.

Even in our personal spiritual journey where darkness persist to break in, Jesus is the light we need to illuminate our skies, to expose the lies and snares of the enemy, and to free us from the bondage of sin. His Light does not in any way excuse our sins, but instead, His sacrifice on the cross propels us and brings us to a place of repentance, with a desire to change our life direction.

Jesus said in John 12:36-37, “Believe in the Light while you have the Light, so that you may become children of light.” When we receive Jesus and believe in Him, we become rightful children of God, “not of natural descent or human decision, but born of God” (John 1:12-13).

We become children of Light when we follow Jesus. When we follow Jesus, we believe and obey His Word even though oftentimes we cannot clearly see the next steps. But we can trust that His Word will be “the lamp to our feet and light to our path” (Psalm 119:105). We can be sure that Jesus will always lead us to the right direction, according to God’s will and purpose.

 

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#9Mornings 3: Immanuel

(Read Matthew 1:23)

It was around 735 BC when the birth of Jesus was predicted by the prophet Isaiah to the nation of Judah (see Isaiah 7). And interestingly, Jesus was named hundreds of years before He was even born!

His name “Immanuel” translates to, and basically summarises the real essence of Christmas in these three words: “God With Us”. However, “Immanuel” is not really a personal name for Jesus, but rather a title or description of His role of bringing God’s presence to humanity.

When you look more closely into it, and reflect on this phrase more deeply, doesn’t it stagger you? The Lord, the Almighty God made a way to be physically with us, to dwell visibly among us. It speaks of the loving nature of our God—that out of His grace, He has given us a Messiah, a promise He had fulfilled us a long time ago because He is a faithful God (see Deut 7:9, Heb 10:23, 1Cor 15:57, Acts 15:11, Eph 2:8-9)

And notice how He didn’t send an angel or some sort of delegate or representative to do the job. He did it Himself, He came down Himself to rescue His people, to give life and hope to this desperate world. His name “Immanuel” merely signifies what kind of God we serve—a God who cares, a God who is personal, a God who is present.

Therefore, the best part of Christmas is not just the festivities or the presents we give and receive; but it is knowing that the presence of God with us. In sorrow and joy, in trials and successes, He is with us.

 

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#9Mornings 2: Word Became Flesh

(Read John 1:14)

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We must realise that the Word of God is more than printed pages in a book. The Word of God is the person of Jesus Christ.

John 1:1-5 say, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

The Word (or Logos in Greek) refers to no other than Jesus Christ. And this passage speaks of the relationship between the Son and the Father even before everything was created. Jesus was right in the beginning with the Father and was God Himself (v1-2); was involved in the creation (v3); and is the invincible light of all mankind (v4-5).

Jesus Christ is the divine expression of God, the complete embodiment of the invisible and incomprehensible God. Everything that God is, His truth and totality is expressed in His Logos (Word), and this expression IS God. In Jesus, we see God. Verse 14 says, “…We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Jesus was the Word. The Word was God. The Word became flesh. In other words, God became human. Hence, Jesus Christ was fully human, and Jesus Christ was fully God.

John 1:18 says, “No one has ever seen God…” God the Father, the Creator of the universe is Spirit, and is invisible to the human eye. In Biblical history, the law has been given to Moses by God (v17); and Yahweh has spoken through the prophets, all His promises and precepts. But there came a time when people, including leaders and so-called law enforcers had violated His words, and easily disregarded these divine commands from an “invisible God”, that they continued living in sin and rebellion (Ezekiel 22:26; Matthew 23:37).

And in due time, the Word (Jesus), the total embodiment of the nature of God, became flesh, was born human, and came to live with us (Matt 1:23; Rom 8:3; Phil 2:5–11). God’s Word in the person of Jesus, the “one and only Son, who is Himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made Him known” (v18). And while the law came through Moses, “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (v17). God Himself came down to preach the truth about His goodness, love and redemption to all mankind in the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the gift of grace sent to mankind, to save us from sin and death, and to offer us eternal life regardless of our racial or social backgrounds (Colossians 3:11). Jesus—who experienced being human Himself, who got tempted, got hungry, got thirsty, became physically weak and tired, even experienced death—has become our High Priest who can empathise with us, having experienced all these, yet lived a sinless, spotless life, in complete surrender and obedience to God (Hebrews 4:15). And He offers us grace, He offers us mercy. He wants to forgive us, to be reconciled with us, to show us His loving ways, and share heaven with us. If only we will attempt to get close to Him, accept our need for Him, and embrace this priceless gift He is offering by His incarnation.

We must seek Jesus, and ask His Holy Spirit who dwells in everyone who’s placed faith in His name to make the living and active Word of God to be made flesh, and be alive in our own lives.

 

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Some substantial reads/references:

What does it mean that the Word became flesh (John 1:14)?

Jesus is the Eternal Word of God

The Word Became Flesh

 

 

#9Mornings 1: God so loved

(Read John 3:16-17)

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John 3:16 is probably the most popular and widely used Christian statement of why Jesus came to earth. And it points us to one simple thing: the love of God.

Jesus is the manifestation of this love. Jesus came to reveal God’s unfailing love and faithfulness to mankind (John 1:17). Because He loves us so, God made THE way for us. Jesus is that way (John 14:6), our way back to the Father.

Jesus offered Himself–fully God, He became fully man, took on flesh and blood, and dwelt among sinners (John 1:14). He lived a perfect and blameless life, in perfect obedience and surrender to the Father’s will (Heb 4:15, John 18:29).

As God had done with Abraham in Moriah, God had provided the perfect sacrifice for our sins; but this time, it’s His own Son. Jesus died in our place. He had to be born man to die for us sinners–to save the lost, to give His life a ransom for many, and to give us life (v17, Luke 19:10, John 10:10, Mark 10:45).

God loves you, the sinful and broken you, that He was willing to offer His own Son, heaven’s perfect Lamb to save you. His love is so immense, so powerful that He did not even spare His own Son (Romans 8:32). His love is so consuming and unconditional that even when we’re still sinners He died for us (Romans 5:8).

He offers eternal life through Jesus; we gain eternal life by believing in Him, and placing our faith in His sacrifice.

Jesus is the Father’s gift of grace to mankind, out of His boundless love. The gift of grace that we do not deserve. And this undeserved gift is, and must be the main reason for the season, the reason why we’re thankful, the reason why we celebrate.

#JESUS
#Godsolovedtheworld

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