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Beyond the Series: Truths on Suffering and Raising a Godly Family

Beyond the Series: Truths on Suffering and Raising a Godly Family

As the Wordview series comes to a close, we took time to sit down with Pastor Ariel Marquez of Victory Alabang to hear about the Word in action in his life. In this article, he shares his experiences from more than three decades of walking with God and reading the Word.

How did you learn to devote yourself to the Word?

I’m thankful that when I was a young Christian, there were disciples in church who taught me about the Word. It wasn’t just one pastor. Pastor Steve Murrell was the first one who sat down with me to disciple me, but there were also other people who taught me devotion to the Word. These include my friends from church who helped me and my brother Bernard how to read, journal, and devote ourselves to the Bible. That was my first experience of being devoted to the Word.

Can you share verses from Scripture that made a huge impact in your worldview?

“There is an assurance that you can go through life and have stability because of the Word.”

Psalm 1 is so meaningful for me. It starts with: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” When it comes to looking at the world, the question is, “Where do I get my idea, my counsel, or my perspective?”

You’ll see two ways in this chapter—the way of the world and the way of the Word. The first way is a progression of destruction. It shows the pattern of people agreeing with the ways of the world. The Bible says in Romans 12 that we should not be conformed to the world’s ways.

The other way in Psalm 1 talks about one who meditates on the Word day and night, who is likened to a tree. When I heard this passage, I wanted to be like that. I wanted to be always fresh, flourishing, and bearing fruit. The picture in the psalm is a tree planted by streams of water. There is an assurance that you can go through life and have stability because of the Word. The promise in Psalm 1 helped me when we lost our son in 2003. It was one of the darkest moments in our family.

Our son, Jerome, got sick in October 2003. Two months after, he passed away. It was very quick because tuberculous meningitis is aggressive. We were in and out of the hospital for two months while our son had five surgeries. With all these things, you’ll definitely be shaken. It will shake you to the core. I had what I called a “faith quake.” At that time, I asked myself, “Who do I hang on to?” I’m so glad that the Word was there to sustain us. I have a strong wife, but situations like these test a marriage.

I know a couple who ended up going their separate ways because they couldn’t handle the pain of loss in a similar situation. In our case, it was really the Word that brought stability to our marriage. The book of Job helped me during that time. When Job lost everything, he said this statement, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). Instead of Job blaming God, he blessed God. This became pivotal for us. We were a young couple in our early thirties then. Jerome was only eight years old, and Bea was almost twelve, but we were able to go through all that and still hang onto God’s promises. It helped us have a different perspective on suffering.

When people come into a relationship with God, blessings and eternal life are usually what they have in mind. Many expect a good life. Yes, that’s part of our relationship with God. Jesus said that He came to give us life and have it to the full (John 10:10). But, sometimes, people misinterpret this and think it means no more problems, no more sicknesses, and no more sufferings in life. Remember that Jesus Himself said in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble.” It came from His mouth. The book of Job gives us a new perspective on suffering and encourages us that we can serve God in the midst of that. In suffering or pain, you can find your purpose. Jesus, the founder of Christianity Himself, went to the cross for us and suffered so much. Knowing these truths from the Bible helped me go through that difficult time.

“Suffering is part of the completion of our character in Christ.”

If ever a person or a family goes through a situation of suffering, don’t be surprised. James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Suffering is part of the completion of our character in Christ. You can’t forge gold without fire. You can’t make a pot without going through heat. I think this is what I learned most from Job.

God is faithful. He won’t let you go through life without blessing. At the end of Job’s life, you can see the blessing of God. The story of Job gives you a holistic view of life. When we receive blessing, we praise God. When there’s none, we usually question God’s faithfulness. If you’re going through a good experience, you think God is good. What if you’re going through suffering or pain? Is God not good? The right answer is God is still good.

How do you devote yourself to the Word of God every day?

You have to find ways to make the Word fresh and like a novelty. I’ve been a Christian for 31 years. If you’re someone like me who has been reading the Word regularly, you have to find ways to be creative in reading it. When I start the year, I sometimes take on new Bible reading guides. I also buy a new version of the Bible. I just change the versions for my devotion. But for study, of course, I use the English Standard Version. I separate my study time for preaching from devotion time for myself. I study because I’m a pastor, and I read the Bible because I’m a Christian. That’s different. If I weren’t a pastor, I would still read and study the Word. Since I’m a pastor, I do both.

“The Word you’re reading right now will not only have an impact in your life. It will create a ripple effect in generations after yours.”

What inspires me? My children. Deuteronomy 6 tells us about impressing the Word on our kids. “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”  You’re not the only one who benefits from the Word you read. I know my kids will think, “Is my dad living it out?” This is my inspiration. My family is the one who is following my leadership. My children and the people I’m discipling continually inspire me to devote myself to the Word.

Whatever you have in your heart, impress them on others. The Word you’re reading right now will not only have an impact in your life. It will create a ripple effect in generations after yours. This is probably my main inspiration. If I fail in the home, no amount of success in the ministry can compensate for my failure. When it comes to the Word and love and passion for God, I would rather see my kids passionate for God first before the Victory group leaders in church. I always ask, “How’s my family? Are they walking with God? Are they loving the Word?” My home will validate my ministry.


Pastor Ariel Marquez is the senior pastor of Victory Alabang. He is happily married to Shirley, and they have three daughters—Bea, Anna, and Andrea.

Beyond the Series is a set of interviews with Victory pastors dealing with topics related to our sermon series. For our Wordview series, we also sat down with Bishop Manny Carlos to talk about devotion to the Word.

Beyond the Series: Why Personal Devotion Is Essential to a Christian Life

Beyond the Series: Why Personal Devotion Is Essential to a Christian Life

For the past weeks, through our series, Wordview, we at Victory have been learning about the Word of God and how it shapes our worldview. In this interview, Victory chairman Bishop Manny Carlos shares how his worldview was personally shaped by the Word, and discusses how a daily habit of reading the Bible can transform lives the way that it transformed his.

Bishop Manny, what is a worldview?

“A worldview is the way you perceive and make sense of the world around you.”

A worldview is the way you perceive and make sense of the world around you. All of us grow up having a worldview. It’s a combination of what we’re taught in our families, our schools, our churches, and through our own experiences. A worldview is something that is developed over the course of one’s life and shapes one’s values. It is like a set of lenses through which you view life and reality. If you’re wearing sunglasses that have a yellow tint, everything you see will be tinted yellow. If you change the tint of your sunglasses to blue, then everything has a hue of blue. That’s what a worldview is. It’s a set of lenses that basically colors the way you see the world.

How did the Word of God shape your worldview?

The Word of God brings a counter-imagination to what is prevalent in the world. A biblical worldview enables you to see the world from God’s perspective. If we are to live a life that is pleasing and honoring to God, then we want to develop a biblical worldview, which is how God sees the world we live in.

“The Word of God does not just inform us or conform us to a standard. It has the power to transform our lives and change us into a whole new person.”

When I committed my life to Christ, I began to be exposed to the Bible. Yes, I started to go to church, but my thinking and values were not aligned to His Word in many ways. My worldview began to change as I read, meditated on, believed, and obeyed the Word. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” The Word of God does not just inform us or conform us to a standard. It has the power to transform our lives and change us into a whole new person.

I experienced this, but it didn’t happen instantaneously. God changed my heart and desires. I used to live for my own dreams and visions, and I had my life pretty much planned out for myself. I wanted to be in the corporate world and succeed there. But as I devoted myself to the Word of God, I grew in my relationship with Him. Eventually, I heard the call of God to be a minister of the gospel. He changed my desire to live for my own dreams into desiring to live for His dreams.

The Word of God also changed the way I understood His purpose for relationships, such as marriage and family. It helped me prepare not just for the call of God in my life, but also to be a husband and a father who honors God. It also made me see my family as a great blessing. I learned that we can serve God together and fulfill His purpose, because God has purposes not just for individuals but also for families. The Word also helped me to see the church as a spiritual community, and that it is the instrument that advances His kingdom on earth. All of these things came from the Word of God. It changed the whole way I view my life. Apart from God’s Word, we will not understand His plan for humanity, society, and the world.

How did you develop a devotion to God’s Word?

Somebody taught me to live a life of prayer and meditating on the Word. I’m combining both because these are the main spiritual habits that God wants us to develop. Left to ourselves, we can’t develop either. We need others to model it for us.

The classic example of this is the disciples themselves. In the Bible, Jesus was approached by His disciples, who asked Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” 

Prayer and meditating on God’s Word are not something you automatically learn by yourself. You need someone to help you. That is why discipleship is key to developing your devotional habits. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He began by saying, “This is how you should pray.” He gave the model prayer. We learn not just by being informed, but by being mentored. When I began to walk with God, there were several people who helped me learn about prayer and reading the Word. These included my discipleship group leader, pastors, and friends. However, it is the Holy Spirit who will ultimately help us develop the habit and give us understanding of His Word, for He is our teacher who leads and guides us into all truth.

“Careful meditation leads to careful obedience, which brings success.”

I start my personal time with God by reading His Word. In my early years as a Christian, I read more than a chapter a day and used materials such as Bible reading calendars and Bible study guides like The Purple Book. When I didn’t know how to study the Bible by myself and was not yet familiar with the Word, these foundational books helped me. They helped me go through different Scriptures, and developed in me the discipline of writing Scripture down. Writing Scriptures helps you learn the habit of getting into the Word.

Over the course of time, I’ve been able to read through the Bible. I usually don’t finish the entire Bible in one year. I don’t read for the sake of reading. I read to reflect and meditate. Meditation enables the Word to take root in your soul and in your mind. Careful meditation leads to careful obedience, which brings success.

Why should we devote ourselves to God’s Word?

“The reason we engage with the Word of God is to grow in our relationship with Him.”

God wants to have a relationship with you. That’s the starting point. God already took the initiative to bring you to Him. He already made the effort to draw you near. God wants to commune with you, and desires to teach you and instruct you in His ways. A relationship with God is the motivation. He wants to communicate with us and reveal His will for our lives. This is why reading the Word is not an obligation.

In devoting yourself to the Word, you can’t read without praying. You can’t pray without reading. God’s Word propels you into communion with Him. The Word of God is more than the renewing of the mind. It helps us to be spiritually nourished and strengthened to walk in faith and obedience to His Word, enabling us to fulfill His purpose for our lives. When you commune with God through prayer, He often brings back to remembrance that which you have read in His Word. He communicates with you, and you communicate with Him. The reason we engage with the Word of God is to grow in our relationship with Him.


Bishop Manny Carlos is the chairman of Victory, a church with multiple locations in Metro Manila and over ninety churches in the provinces.

Beyond the Series is a set of interviews with Victory pastors dealing with topics related to our sermon series. For our Wordview series, we also sat down with Pastor Ariel Marquez to talk about devotion to the Word; be sure to visit our website next week to read his interview.

The Word of God is Truth

The Word of God is Truth

Last week, we have learned about the inerrancy and infallibility of God’s Word through the messages preached on the fourth week of the Wordview series. This simply means that the Word of God is not only true, but is the standard of truth. Throughout Scripture, many passages declared this characteristic of God’s Word:

 

Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true. (Psalm 119:142)

 

But you are near, O Lord, and all your commandments are true. (Psalm 119:151)

 

The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever. (Psalm 119:160)

 

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. (John 17:17)

 

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)

 

Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (James 1:18)

 


It is one thing to know that the Word of God is truth, and another thing to live it out in life as the final and ultimate standard of truth. Although this is a hard pill to swallow, we can embrace the Word of God as truth knowing that the Author is reliable and trustworthy. We can believe and depend on God’s Word because of His character. In a world bombarded with lies, we can take comfort and have security in the truth of God’s Word.

Is there a part of your life that hasn’t been surrendered to the truth of God’s Word? Pray that the Lord will teach you to embrace His truth and delight in it this week.

Develop the habit of going deeper into God’s Word!

Develop the habit of going deeper into God’s Word!

We are devoting ourselves to study and obey the Word of God together this year. One of the practical ways to do this is by making a commitment to read the Bible daily and apply it. This discipline enables us to sustain our devotion to God and His Word. A simple way to help develop this habit is through the S.O.A.P. method. You may use this tool together with a Bible reading plan.

 


 

Practice S.O.A.P.

Follow this simple format when reading the Bible.

 

Scripture

Read a portion of Scripture slowly and thoughtfully.

Observation

Reflect on the Word. What does the Word say about God and the people in the passage?

Application

Apply the Word. Does it reveal an attitude to change, a sin to forsake, a specific promise to claim, an example to follow, a command to obey? What did you learn from this passage, and how will you apply it in your life?

Prayer

Respond to the Word in prayer. Pray the Word.

 


 

Sample of S.O.A.P. Entry

 

Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments. I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules. I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me! (Psalm 119:1-8, ESV)

 

Scripture

“Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.” (Psalm 119:6, ESV)

Observation

Following God’s commandments protects me and keeps me from being put to shame. His rules and commands are not burdensome, but are for my benefit and protection.

Application

I need to fix my eyes on His commands. For me to do that, I need to read the Word more consistently. It’s easy to get distracted and fix my eyes on other things, but I need to fix my eyes on God!

Prayer

Father, Thank You for Your Word and all Your commandments. Thank You that this is for my benefit and protection. Give me the grace to consistently fix my eyes on Your Word, no matter what. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Worth of the Word

The Worth of the Word

One of the characters in the Bible who greatly expressed a love for the Word of God is David. In Psalm 19, he described it as something desirable like gold and honey. One cannot help but be intrigued with the reasons why he compared God’s Word to such things. As we read the rest of the psalm, we will see the qualities of the Word of God that make it worth than gold.

 

The Word of God is perfect.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul . . . (Psalm 19:7)

 

The Word of God is sure.

. . . the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. . . (Psalm 19:7)

 

The Word of God is right.

. . . the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart . . . (Psalm 19:8)

 

The Word of God is pure.

. . . the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes . . . (Psalm 19:8b)

 

The Word of God is true.

. . . the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether . . . (Psalm 19:9)

 

In the coming weeks, we will understand the attributes of God’s Word more as we go through the Wordview series. We pray that we will learn to delight in God’s Word like David, and see its worth like he did.

The Power of God’s Word

The Power of God’s Word

Our God is a God who loves to communicate with us, and one of the ways He connects with us is through His Word.

For the past two weeks, we have been learning to value and delight in God’s Word through our Wordview series. We have been studying psalms in our worship services that lead us to appreciate God and His Word even more.

A psalm that vividly discusses the importance of God’s Word is Psalm 119, the longest psalm and longest chapter in the Bible. It gives us insight into the benefits of the Word of God and its effect on our lives. Here are some of its parts which reveal the power of God’s Word.

The Word of God helps us walk in purity.

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. (Psalm 119:9)

 

The Word of God keeps us from sinning against Him.

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11)

 

The Word of God makes us wise and gives us understanding.

Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts. (Psalm 119:98-100)

The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. (Psalm 119:130)

 

The Word of God provides us with direction.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)

 

The Word of God gives us peace.

Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble. (Psalm 119:165)

 

These are only a few examples of how God uses His Word to guide us and, ultimately, to reveal Himself to us. As you devote yourself to God’s Word, you will discover more ways by which God strengthens, encourages, and comforts us.

Which among the five benefits of the Word are you claiming today? Pray that God will demonstrate His power in that part of your life this week.

New Series: Wordview

New Series: Wordview

 

After a series break this week, we will start 2018 with  “Wordview,” an 8-week series about the Word of God. We are committing ourselves to a deeper devotion in studying and applying God’s Word in our lives. Because God’s Word is true, inerrant, and authoritative, it defines our worldview. As Christians, our views, beliefs, and convictions should no longer be shaped by the world, but by the Word.

Here are the list of topics:

  • Week 1: Devotion
  • Week 2: Benefits
  • Week 3: Inspiration
  • Week 4: Inerrancy and Infallibility
  • Week 5: Canon of Scripture
  • Week 6: Sufficiency
  • Week 7: Clarity
  • Week 8: Application

Join us in the coming weeks as we learn to love and live God’s Word! You may come to any of our worship services across Metro Manila and the Philippines.

You may also share your thoughts on this series by using #WordviewPH on social media!