Victory Vitamin Blog – Ezekiel 17:23

“On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar.  Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches.”

-Ezekiel 17:23 NIV

 

God gave Ezekiel a parable to share with the Israelites.  It compares Christ to a branch, and the kingdom of God to a cedar tree.  The point is that there is shelter and shade to be had through Christ in the kingdom of God.  Even if the whole parable thing doesn’t make sense to you, consider those words, “shelter” and “shade”.  God offers relief when this world is too much to bear.  He promises to guide and orchestrate the events in our lives.  That’s comforting because sometimes those events seem very random and chaotic.  God promises to love us, and be with us every moment while we live here on earth.  That’s a relief because it’s easy to feel isolated and alone in this sinful world.  God promises to take believers in Christ to be with Him in eternity when this life is over.  That’s a relief because it removes uncertainty and dismisses my fear.  God is with us while we live, and we are with Him after we die.  Eternal life is real, and eternity is secure in Jesus.  He is my shelter and shade in the midst of life’s hardships.  There’s plenty of room for you under His branches as well!

Victory Vitamin Blog – Matthew 11:28-29

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

-Matthew 11:28-29 NIV

 

Jesus mentions “rest” twice in those two verses.  He’s talking about a special kind of rest.  We don’t need divine intervention to know that our bodies need rest.  For many people, going to sleep is the best part of the day!  Apparently we do need divine intervention so that we’ll realize we need spiritual rest.  Jesus tells us that in Him we will find rest for our souls.  I’m gonna suggest that a good number of the ills in our lives would be remedied through regular worship and Bible study.  I’m also going to suggest that a good number of the ills in our society have arisen because of a lack of spiritual rest.  Less than 30% of Americans worship on the average Sunday morning.  Am I equating church attendance with spiritual rest?  Yes.  Yes, I am.  When we gather for worship, God comes to us through the reading of His Word.  Jesus gives us rest through the forgiveness of our sins in the Lord’s Supper.  Our souls rest in the certainty that because Jesus died and rose, we will rise as well.  We are reminded that life on earth is temporary, while life in heaven is eternal.  These certainties give much needed rest to our souls and soothing hope to our troubled minds.  Heed the invitation of Jesus to come to Him.  Open your Bible and be fed.  Worship this Sunday and receive the spiritual rest that Jesus gives.

Victory Vitamin Blog – John 3:5

“I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.”

-John 3:5 NIV

 

Here’s the bad news.  By nature, because of our sin, we are spiritually dead.  The Good News is that the Holy Spirit makes us spiritually alive!  Jesus refers to it as being “born again”.  Jesus says we need to be born of water and the Spirit.  Baptism.  Perhaps you’ve heard people refer to themselves as “born-again Christians”, like they’re some kind of special class.  To call oneself a born-again Christian is redundant.  Everyone who believes that Jesus’ death on the cross paid the price for their sins has been born again.  If they hadn’t been born again, they wouldn’t believe.  They COULDN’T believe.  By nature we’re spiritually dead until the Holy Spirit revives us.   The Spirit comes to us through Baptism, and the Word of God.   So all who believe and are baptized are “born-again” Christians.  Live each day in the confidence that you’re spirit has been raised to life by the Holy Spirit, and as a result, one day your body will be raised to life to live eternally with Christ in heaven.

Victory Vitamin Blog – Acts 2:4

“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” 

-Acts 2:4 NIV

 

Super Powers

What an epic event that must have been.  One minute you’re sitting in a room, chatting in Hebrew or Aramaic, the next you’re speaking a language you don’t even know.  Mind blown.  The Holy Spirit enabled the disciples to do that as a display of His power, and as a means of spreading the good news about Jesus.  The Holy Spirit is still imparting super powers to God’s people today.  Through the power of the Word, and through baptism, the Spirit gives gifts that enable us to do incredible things to make a difference in this world.  For starters, the Spirit enables us to believe that Jesus is our Savior from sin.  That faith changes everything.  Where the Spirit is, His fruit is.  Galatians 5 says the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.  Those are super powers that our world definitely needs.  The Spirit also empowers us to be Christ’s witnesses (Acts 1:8).  That power is super because it equips us to share with others what Christ has done, and the Spirit works through that witness to bring others to faith in Christ.  You may not feel like a super hero, but God has given you powerful the gifts of faith, love, and witness which will make a difference wherever you use them.  Happy Pentecost!

Victory Vitamin Blog – 1 John 5:13

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

-1 John 5:13 NIV

 

 

I’ve heard it said, “Question everything.”  Can you imagine living that way?  Daily questioning whether the sun will come up, whether the bridge you’re driving on is safe, whether the food you’re eating has been poisoned?  That’s no way to live.  There are things we don’t need to question because God has given us His Word.  John wrote the letter of 1 John to Christians so that they WOULDN’T question their salvation.  God wants us to KNOW His love, to KNOW His forgiveness, and to KNOW that we are saved.  That’s why God’s Word is so clear on HOW we are saved.  John 3:16 tells us that whoever believes in Jesus will not perish, but have eternal life.  Faith that Jesus’ death on the cross paid for your sins gives eternal life.  No more, no less.  Faith in Jesus.  It’s the Holy Spirit who grants that faith (1 Corinthians 12:3) so even faith does not depend on us.  You can be certain of your salvation.  Your feelings don’t determine whether or not you’re saved.  The opinions of others don’t determine whether or not you’re saved.  God is not tallying up your good works to determine whether or not you’ve done enough to get into heaven.  Faith in Jesus.  Period.  Yes, the presence of the Spirit in our hearts does produce certain fruit in our lives, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, but these are NOT what saves us.  Faith in Jesus saves.  God has given you His Word, the Bible so that you may KNOW that you have eternal life.  You have eternal life!  If that doesn’t make your day, I don’t know what will.