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.

Victory Vitamin Blog – Philippians 4:1

“that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!”

-Philippians 4:1

  

The Bible is full of examples of those who faced resistance and persecution because of their faith.  The prophet Jeremiah’s life was threatened because the people didn’t like the message God had given him.  The apostle Paul was imprisoned because he regularly preached about Jesus’ death and resurrection.  The list is large, but you can look those up for yourself.  Christians in this nation have until recently enjoyed a time of almost favored status.  That is changing.  The erosion of religious freedom in our country has begun.  We need to be ready.  In the Bible we see many examples of persistence in the face of resistance.  The people of God have never been ones to cower or compromise when it comes to what God’s Word clearly declares.  Our goal is not to be quarrelsome or antagonistic, but we will be faithful to God.  We’re able to do this boldly and confidently because Jesus’ death and resurrection have earned not only forgiveness for our sins, but also the precious gift of eternal life in a place of perfection and peace.  No amount of earthly resistance can steal that precious gift.  The certainty of eternal life makes us bold to be faithful to God and loving toward others in all circumstances.  We press on toward our heavenly goal exercising persistence in the face of resistance here on earth.

Victory Vitamin Blog – Luke 6:31

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

-Luke 6:31 NIV

Christians are to live differently.  Jesus lays out various thoughts, attitudes and behaviors that are to be evident in the lives of His followers.  This one from Luke 6 is commonly referred to as The Golden Rule.  It’s a general guide for our actions toward others.  It may seem vague, but with a little thought on our part it provides very specific guidance as we display the love of Jesus in our lives.  Think about it, If you were new on the job and struggling to run the cash register would you want someone to be rude with you, or patient?  If your were carrying coffee in one hand and a young child on the other arm, would you want someone to hold the door for you?  If you were homeless and hungry, would you appreciate someone buying you a sandwich and a bottle of water?  I hope you get the point.  Jesus saw our need, the need for a Savior from sin, and without asking He came and met that need by living a perfect life, and giving it up so that our sins would all be forgiven.  Jesus put love into action.  That’s what He now asks of us, that we think less of ourselves, and more of others.  Do to others as you would have them do to you.  It’s the rule, so stay Golden.