Victory Vitamin Blog – John 13:34-35

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” 

John 13:34-35 NIV

This command really wasn’t that new.  In Leviticus 19:18 the LORD said to the Israelites, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  What’s new is the motivation for, and the result of this act.  Jesus says, “Love one another as I have loved you”.  Jesus loved us by serving and sacrificing.  He put our needs before His own.  Jesus didn’t love with words, but with actions.  The cross reminds us of the loving action Jesus took for us.  We are to love others that way, and that isn’t easy.  There are some very un-lovable people out there.  (remember, someone might be thinking that about YOU right now)  Some people are very different from us, they’re from a strange culture, they have different beliefs, they die their hair chartreuse, they’re living an ungodly lifestyle, whatever.  We’re not commanded to condone sin, we’re commanded to love.  We’re not commanded to agree on all matters, we’re commanded to love.  We’re not commanded to dress the same as everyone else, we’re commanded to love all people no matter what.  The result will be that they’ll experience Christ through us.  No one has ever been hated or judged into the kingdom of God which is why Jesus says, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Victory Vitamin Blog – John 10:27-28

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.”

John 10:27-28 NIV

It seems nothing is safe anymore.  A buddy of mine had his car broken into a while back.  Someone filed a false tax return in my name a couple years ago.  I’ve even had a social media page hacked. I’m not sure how that benefits anyone, but whatever.  Home security, Cyber security, what about spiritual security.  We’ve got it!  Jesus says of His sheep, “no one can snatch them out of my hand.”  The Holy Spirit gives the gift of faith and by faith we trust that Jesus has paid the price for our sins.  That faith locks us into eternal life.  It is secure.  Jesus says “no one can snatch them out of my hand.”  That doesn’t mean we can’t jump out of our own will.  Sure we can reject the Holy Spirit, renounce our faith in Christ, but rest assured, no outside force can remove us from the hand of our Savior, Jesus.  He is the vine, we are the branches.  By remaining in Him, our eternal life is safe and secure.  In a world where so much can be taken from us against our will, it’s comforting to know that through faith our eternal life is secure in Christ!

Victory Vitamin Blog – Philippians 3:8-9

“What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.

-Philippians 3:8-9 NIV

I made a mistake when I chose the title for this week’s message.  Happiness appears to be a thing that people are searching for more, and finding less.  That’s because happiness is fleeting and fickle.  Joy is deep and abiding.  So, the secret of happiness might be to not seek happiness, but to seek joy.  Joy is not based on circumstances or possessions.  An article on Psychologytoday.com states, “Joy comes when you make peace with who you are, where you are, why you are”  The apostle Paul declared that he considered all his earthly gains a loss compared to the greatness of knowing Christ.  Paul was content despite his circumstances.  He was in prison for preaching the good news about Jesus.  But faith in Christ gave him joy.  Faith in Christ gives US joy because in Christ we have identity, we know who we are.  We are dearly loved children of God.  We know where we are.  We are strangers here on a journey to our eternal home in heaven.  And we know why we are.  We are here to spread the news of forgiveness and eternal life in Jesus Christ!  No wonder this generation can’t find happiness or joy.  They’re being taught that God doesn’t exist, they are here by accident, and death is the end.  Faith in Jesus gives deep, lasting joy and contentment.  Let’s not keep that a secret.

Victory Vitamin Blog – Luke 15:24

“for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

-Luke 15:24 NIV

The parable of the Prodigal Son is pretty well known.  It shows the love God has for us and the extravagance of the forgiveness he gives to sinners who are sorry for their sin.  It’s easy to forget about the older brother in that parable.  He was the good boy, the responsible one, the one who DIDN’T take his inheritance money and spend it on hookers and blow.  The responsible brother was a little upset when his rebel brother came home and a feast was held in his honor.  And I guess I can sort of see why he was upset.  Why was a party never thrown in HIS honor?  Why a party for the screw up but not the good boy?  Well, let’s be clear, the party wasn’t celebrating the rebel son’s misbehavior.  It was celebrating the fact that he had returned home and apologized for his stupidity.  Is that not worth celebrating?  The dad said, “This son of mine was lost and is found.”  Yes, the older son was responsible and loyal, but do we deserve parties and medals for doing what we’re supposed to do? I think not.  Through Jesus Christ, God eagerly forgives those who come to him and are sorry for their sin.  We are to express joy, not jealousy that our God is as merciful to them as He is to us.

Victory Vitamin Blog – Ezekiel 33:11

“As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.

-Ezekiel 33:11 NIV

The God of the Bible has been accused of being a “bloodthirsty, murderous tyrant.”   I’ve actually heard those words said.  It requires massive manipulation of the biblical facts, and a serious dose of slander to make that accusation.  The verse above makes it clear that God is not a fan of punishing the wicked, but He must because He is just.  He must execute perfect justice.  When someone wrongs you, you expect things to be made right.  Why would we expect anything different from God?  When God’s law is violated, there needs to be justice.  Through a sobering act of unpleasant justice, Jesus paid the price for the sins of all people when He died on the cross.  And yet, some reject and refuse the gifts of forgiveness and eternal life that are given freely through faith in Jesus.  For those who reject God’s free gift, justice must be served.  Is that what God wants?  NO!  He already balanced the scales when Jesus died.  He paid the price out of love and God would much prefer that His beloved people turn to Him rather than reject the forgiveness that’s already been earned.  God has already provided the ultimate pardon through Jesus.  It’s our mission to get the word out.