Victory Vitamin Blog – John 15:17

“This is my command: Love each other.”

-John 15:17 NIV

 

One command?  That’s all?  Jesus gives many commands in the Gospels, but apparently this one is very high on the list.  How do you think most unbelievers view most Christians?  I think in an unfavorable light.  I think they think we act like holier-than-thou-know-it-alls.  Sadly, they may be right.  Let’s change people’s perceptions of who we are and what we do.  Let’s start by treating each other well.  Love your fellow Christians.  If we treat each other poorly why would anyone ever want to join us?  We’re family, we empathize, we share, we are kind.  Then we take the love we have for each other and share it with the people who don’t yet have a relationship with Jesus.  People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.  Jesus says, “Love your neighbor as yourself”.  He doesn’t say you have to agree with them or condone their behavior, He just says love them.  Imagine how people would react if we went out of our way to care about them, help them, and appreciate them!  God loves us in spite of our sin.  In fact, He died to pay for them.  Love others.  All others.  Why?  Because God does.  We love because He first loved us.  That’s why I love you!

Victory Vitamin Blog – 1 Thessalonians 4:18

“And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage each other with these words.”

-1 Thessalonians 4:18 NIV

 

The end.  One day time will end, life on earth will end.  The Judgment will take place and we will be with the Lord forever in heaven.  I’ve always wondered what we’ll do in heaven.  Will there be activities, trees, music?  Clearly I’m overthinking it.  I love how Paul describes it in the verse above.  He simply says, “And so we will be with the Lord forever.” That’s how the story ends. That’s it, and that’s all anyone needs to know.  We’ll be with the Lord.  Our peace and satisfaction won’t be determined by our surroundings, our joy won’t come from the wide array of activities.  We’ll be with the Lord, in person.  That will be our joy, our satisfaction and our peace.  So encourage each other in good times and bad with the certainty that in the end, all believers will be together with the Lord in a place that Jesus calls “paradise”.  Encourage each other with these words that remind us that this world is fleeting and the world to come is eternal.  One day all of this will end, but it truly will be just the beginning for those with faith in Christ.

Victory Vitamin Blog – Matthew 16:13

“Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

-Matthew 16:13 NIV

 

Christians believe that Jesus is God.  After all, He was conceived by the Holy Spirit.  Naysayers will tell you that Jesus never claimed to be God.  They have not read the Gospel of John.  “I and the Father are one.”  “Before Abraham was, I Am.”  Not to mention the fact that on two separate occasions the Jewish leaders specifically stated that they wanted to kill Jesus because He had committed blasphemy by claiming to be God.  Does it really matter?  It really does.  At the Last Supper, Jesus said, “This is my blood of the covenant which is poured for many for the forgiveness of sins.”  Shedding blood doesn’t do any good unless it’s holy.  It’s only holy if it’s God’s.  If Jesus isn’t God, then He’s not perfect.  If He’s not perfect, then His death on the cross didn’t accomplish anything for you and me.  It all hinges on whether or not Jesus is God.  We see Jesus’ divinity at the Transfiguration.  We see Jesus’ divinity at His resurrection.  Even if Jesus hadn’t claimed to be God, it is manifestly clear in His Words and actions.  Jesus is God.  He died to pay for your sins.  He came back to life and as a result, through faith in Him, you will rise and live forever.

Victory Vitamin Blog – Matthew 7:28-29

“the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.”

-Matthew 7:28-29 NIV

If I asked you to list a few of Jesus’ miracles, could you? If I asked about Jesus’ birth, could you re-tell the story? I bet you could do the same with Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection! What if I asked you to list some of Jesus’ main teachings…(cue the crickets). Jesus did a lot of teaching. Many of His followers called Him “Rabbi”, which is Hebrew for “teacher”. Jesus taught as one who had authority because He’s God in the flesh! Jesus taught God’s wisdom and God’s way to the people of His day, and He continues to teach us God’s wisdom today through the words in your Bible. In a nutshell, Jesus points us away from earthly power and toward lives of service. He discourages becoming obsessed with material things and encourages prayer and preparation for the life to come. He invites us to suppress selfishness and consider the needs of others before our own. His overarching theme is love. Love God most of all, and love your neighbor as yourself, which would include telling them about the greatest gift ever given. The gift of forgiveness and the perfect life that never ends in heaven. Jesus didn’t just teach us how to live. He lived as we are to live. He died to earn forgiveness for our failures. He sacrificed so we could live eternally. Value your relationship with God and your relationships with others. Value service. Value love. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul reminds us that in the end, only a few things will last while everything else will pass away. He writes, “and these three remain: faith, hope, and love.” Focus on these. Life is too short to waste it on things that don’t last.

Victory Vitamin Blog – Nehemiah 2:17

Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” 

-Nehemiah 2:17 NIV

 

When Nehemiah set out to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, his concern was more than cosmetic.  This wasn’t just about appearances.  Yes, it looked shabby, run down, and disgraceful, but the wall provided protection of two kinds.  There was, of course, the physical protection provided by the wall.  It would dissuade thugs, vandals, thieves and foreign armies from harassing and plundering the Israelites, but the wall would also, at least symbolically, protect the Israelites from outside influence.  The Israelites had a long history of wanting to be like the pagan nations around them.  They adopted their sinful practices, worshipped their false gods, and wanted kings like they had.  All along, God desired that the Israelites be distinct, and decidedly different from the pagan nations around them.  The wall would remind them to be in the world, but not of the world.  It may do us well to likewise insulate ourselves, to some extent, from the world around us.  Yes, we should be aware of what is going on around us, we are clearly to be active in loving and serving those in the world around us, but we too are to be different from the world around us.  We are to live holy lives out of respect for the God who has forgiven and saved us.  Some see it as an admirable quality to keep an “open mind”, but if your mind is always open, anything can get in.  We have doors on our homes to keep certain things out.  We open those doors only when we decide that what is on the other side is beneficial for us and our family.  It would do us well to treat our hearts and minds the same way.  Through the power of the Spirit, use God’s Word as a protective barrier for your life.  Be selective about what you read, see, and hear.  God loves you.  God forgives you.  Live a life that shows how thankful you are for God’s love and protection.