Victory Vitamin Blog – John 13:34-35

“As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” 

-John 13:34-35 NIV

It’s clear from Jesus’ words that we are to love others.  In fact, we MUST.  What may not be as clear is how we are to love others.  Jesus says we are to love others as He loved us.  How exactly did Jesus love us?  He loved us by sacrificing, suffering, and dying.  Now, hold the phones.  I’m not saying you need to die to show your love for others, that likely wouldn’t do them any good.  The point is that as you put love into action for the benefit of others, you will likely have to make sacrifices of your time and your money.  You may be inconvenienced, you may experience suffering.  Real love isn’t easy, just ask Jesus.  Jesus gives us a new command, and it is that we must love other people.  We don’t have to agree with them, enable them, or even like them, but we must love them in action.  Sacrifice for their good.  Give of your time and energy.  Encourage, serve, provide, just as Jesus provided us with something we never would have acquired on our own, forgiveness and eternal life.

Victory Vitamin Blog – John 10:27

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

-John 10:27 NIV

 

“Be a leader, not a follower.”  I’ve said it to my kids.  It’s generally good advice but there are times when it would be ignorant not to be a follower.  If a firefighter wants to lead you out of a burning building, by all means follow.  If you’re lost in the woods and a ranger finds you, please follow them back to civilization.  If you’re destined to die, (and we all are) please follow Jesus to eternal life.  It makes good sense to follow Jesus.  He’s proven His love for, and His loyalty to us.  He’s promised to lead us beside still waters (Psalm 23), and to springs of living water (Revelation 7).  As followers of Jesus, we will go where He has gone.  He entered the tomb dead, and walked out alive. We will do the same.  He ascended into heaven and on the day we die, our souls will follow Him.  On the Last Day, our bodies too will rise perfected and follow Jesus to heaven.  It’s foolish to follow people who aren’t trustworthy, but when it comes to Jesus, being a follower is a sign of strength and wisdom.  Follow the Leader!

Victory Vitamin Blog – John 21:14 NIV

“This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.”

-John 21:14 NIV

 

When it comes to the resurrection of Jesus, the only question is, “Do you believe the witnesses or not?” Jesus appeared to plenty of people, plenty of times. Do you believe the witnesses? If you won’t believe their words, let their actions speak. Remember how the disciples locked themselves in a house after Jesus was crucified? They were afraid they’d be the next to die. But after the risen Jesus appeared to them in that house they had no problem walking the streets and talking freely about what Jesus had done. According to tradition, 10 of the 12 disciples were martyred for their faith in Jesus. Do you think they’d be willing to die for a man who was a fraud, a man who said He’d rise, but never did? There’s no question the tomb was empty that Sunday morning. We know that because the guards had to come up with an excuse to explain why Jesus’ body was gone. The question is, do you believe the witnesses? Are you influenced by their bold post-resurrection actions? What those men and women saw with their own eyes, we now cling to by faith, and it makes us bold to talk about what Jesus has done. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, and because He lives, you will live also!

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.