Victory Vitamin Blog – Mark 11:7

“When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it.”

-Mark 11:7 NIV

 

When we consider the suffering and death of Jesus, we often look at Him as a poor helpless victim. This Sunday we’ll explore how Jesus’ own actions led to His death. It hinges on the verse printed above. By the simple act of riding a donkey, Jesus was making a murder…His own. (More on that Sunday) It goes without saying, that’s a strange strategy. Arranging one’s own death? It’s one thing to fake a death, but to orchestrate one’s own actual death? For what benefit? The events of Palm Sunday sealed Jesus’ fate. It doesn’t make sense until we consider the mission Jesus was on. God became human in Jesus, and lived His perfect life with the cross in His sights. The cross was His goal. It was His destination and destiny. Not for His benefit, but for ours! Jesus’ love for you caused Him to do the things He did. Love for you caused Jesus to allow His arrest and torture. Love for you made Jesus resist the urge to fight back. Love for you held Jesus to the cross. It’s difficult to grasp, but I’m sure glad He did it. Jesus made a murder so you and I could escape death. Next week, I strongly encourage you to attend services on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. It will add meaning and joy to your celebration of Christ’s resurrection next Sunday. Yes, by His actions, Jesus was making a murder. His own. But by rising from the dead, Jesus made resurrection and eternal life for you.

Victory Vitamin Blog – Philippians 3:13-14

“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

– Philippians 3:13-14 NIV

 

These words were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by Paul.  Paul had quite the checkered past.  He was a persecutor of Christians, and approved of their imprisonment and execution.  God performed a hostile takeover of Paul’s heart and made him a passionate missionary.  It makes sense that a man like that would want to forget what was behind, and focus on the future.  So, what is there in your past that you can’t seem to forget?  God promises that when we confess our sins, He forgives them.  (1 John 18-9)  He forgives them because Jesus was punished in our place.  God goes so far as to say that He remembers our sins no more.  (Jeremiah 31:34)  It’s one thing to learn from our sins and not repeat them, but even then, we’re looking forward, not back.   We may have hurt people with our past actions.  The best we can do is express our sorrow, seek to right the wrong if possible, but then we move on and focus on the future.  For those with faith in Christ, there is no reason why past sins should trouble us.  God forgives you for Jesus’ sake.  Forgive yourself and focus on  what lies ahead: a life of service to God and others, and an eternity of perfection in heaven.

Victory Vitamin Blog – Luke 15:21

“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”

-Luke 15:21

 

These are the words spoken by the prodigal son, to his father upon his return home.  Remember that parable?  The kid demands his inheritance early, goes and blows it all, then realizes what a stupid thing he’s done.  Unfortunately, throughout history, people have emphasized the son’s role in this parable.  The focus is really to be on the father, and the amazing love he displays by welcoming his son home, and throwing a party for him.  Even his older brother was jealous.  I’ve talked to too many people over the years who feel like they’ve done something that God is still holding against them.  I’ve talked to people who feel like their past actions disqualify them from certain levels of involvement in the church.  They feel as though they wear a scarlet “S” for sin that only God can see.  This parable reminds us that God forgives.  All He wants is His children back.  It doesn’t matter if they’re battered, bruised, and dirty.  He’ll take care of the cleanup.  In His Word, God tells us, “I will forgive their wickedness, and remember their sin no more.” (Hebrews 8:12)  Jesus died on the cross for exactly that reason, so that anyone, everyone can return to God, admit their sin, and be forgiven.  God doesn’t hold grudges.  He doesn’t “get even” with sinners.  He took all of that out on Jesus.  C’mon home.

Victory Vitamin Blog – Luke 13:6-9

“A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any.”

-Luke 13:6-9 NIV

 

Well, that would be frustrating.  It’s one thing to have a single tree in your yard as a hobby, it’s quite another if you make your livelihood harvesting produce.  Jesus tells this parable about the barren fig tree to assure us of God’s patience.  In the parable, the caretaker convinced the vineyard owner not to cut the tree down.  He said he would give it extra care and attention over the course of the next year.  Jesus is our caretaker.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, we are fed and nourished to produce fruit for God.   Galatians 5:22-23 teach us that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self–control.”  As those who receive the regular care and attention of God through Bible, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, we are to see these fruits growing in our lives.  Even if you’re not a big fan of memory work, that list would be worth memorizing, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self–control.   They are the fruit of the Spirit who lives in you.  God has invested the blood of Jesus  in your life.  He’s given you the gift of faith.  You are forgiven, eternal life is your possession in Christ.  Now is the season for us to produce fruit so that others can see it, and glorify God for His goodness.

Victory Vitamin Blog – Philippians 4:1

“Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!”

-Philippians 4:1 NIV

What comes to mind when you think of someone “taking a stand”?  Oddly enough, some of the most famous “stands” didn’t go as planned, (Leonidas and the 300 of Sparta, Rosa Parks being arrested) but we remember them just the same.  We remember their courage, we remember their cause.  For what will you be remembered?  I’d like to be remembered as one who took a stand for Christ.  God’s Word encourages us to “stand firm in the Lord”.  It doesn’t have to be a confrontational or abrasive stand.  Just stop hiding who you are!  You are a child of God, a follower of Jesus.  He is not ashamed of us, we will not be ashamed of Him.  He took the ultimate stand for us.  He willingly died in our place so that we could be forgiven and set free.  Take a stand by letting others hear Christ’s love in your words.  Take a stand for by letting others see Christ’s love in your actions every single day.  Take a stand by clinging to the Truth of the Bible even though the world around you dismisses it.  Be passionate about reflecting Christ’s love and the Truth of the Bible in your life.  Take a stand for Christ!