Jude (Part 1)

Jude (Part 1)

Let me start here: if you have not read Jude (an introduction), stop now and go read it . . . it will make more sense that way. However, as a reminder to those who did read it let me refresh your memory. Jude is one of four brothers of Jesus and at some point led the Church in Jerusalem. He came to faith after Jesus’ resurrection. This same Jude then pens this letter and it is powerful! As a call to repentance, as a reminder of judgment, and as a warning to stay alert as we contend for the faith.

He doesn’t waste time with small talk, antidotes, or gibber, he is very matter-of-fact. In the verses, we will look at this week, we will see his heart, and his understanding as the brother of Jesus and leader of the Church. Let’s look at verse 5, “Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.” Here is an interesting point, there are a couple manuscripts out there as well as a few versions of the Bible that use “Jesus” in place of “the Lord”. Could these early manuscripts be more accurate to Jude’s point? i think so. Jude had come to an understanding of who Jesus was and was not ashamed of it.

We love grace, i love grace. We preach grace, i preach grace, and it is glorious! However, we mustn’t lose sight of Jesus. Jesus, actively a part of the Old Testament, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, saves us by His cross. He leads us free from the chains of sin, out of bondage and into freedom. As the Israelites out of Egypt and still, subsequently (lit. the second time) He destroys those who did not believe. Folks, there is judgment. There is a hell and it has been preached since the formation of the Church. Do not be led astray. We must continue to contend for the faith in a world that would pervert the grace of God, even some in the Church.

Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that [e]the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, [f]subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after [g]strange flesh, are exhibited as an [h]example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (NASB)

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved[c] a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire,[d] serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (ESV)

Pray with me for insight, for understanding, for fresh revelation into God’s Word. Let the Spirit of God speak to our hearts through these words written by Jude inspired by the Spirit. May we grow in wisdom and faith, as we seek to walk humbly with Jesus, contending for the faith. Until next week . . .

you are loved,

cj

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!

The shortest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 117, it is just two verses. Yet these two verses are immensely profound in their simplicity. You want to boil things down to the minimum and just look at the core of human existence? Then here you go:

“Praise the Lord, all you nations! Worship Him, all you peoples! Because God’s faithful love towards us is strong, the Lord’s faithfulness lasts forever! Praise the Lord!”

It doesn’t get much simpler than this, Praise the Lord. Worship Him. Because, He is faithful. His love is strong towards us and He is forever faithful. Thus, we should, Praise the Lord! No matter what you are facing, no matter what difficulties or trials befall you, Praise the Lord! In the good and in the bad, Praise the Lord! In the sun and in the rain, Praise the Lord! In life and in death, Praise the Lord! In sickness and in health, Praise the Lord! In the hardest of times and in the best of times, Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord,

you are loved,

cj

The Garden

The Garden

Close your eyes for a moment and try to imagine this: You have lived a good life. You have done right, to include some pretty miraculous stuff. In fact, the only folks who don’t like you are religious people.  You have a few really close friends, twelve you suppose. You have lived with them for 3 1/2 years. Traveled far and near with them. You have been in some pretty crazy situations too, rough seas, mobs, and seen incredible miracles. You just enjoyed the Passover feast with them, washed their feet in a symbolic gesture and had what you imagined was a very intimate moment with your best friends.

One of whom was soon to betray you. Set you up with the only people who didn’t like you, the religious. Now you are have done what you have done for as long as you can remember, you and your friends go and pray. You go to one of your favorite spots, the Mount of Olives. There you ask your friends to pray as you walk a little further to be alone and begin to pray. Now the weight of reality hits you. You realize that the thing you have been talking about and the event you have been describing is about to come to pass. The burden is great, and your heart becomes heavy. You get up to check on your friends and find them asleep. You are alone, and you are being tormented by what you know is now rapidly approaching.

You still have free will. You still have choices. You still have an opportunity to avoid every bit of the immediate future you dread. The fate of the world rests on your decision. This is the burden that weighs you down. It has come close to breaking you. Your friends, all but one really, have fled, but even he isn’t by your side, alone you will face the darkness. What choice will you make? Will you take on the injustice, the betrayal, the punishment, death? Or, will you flee, seek another way, attempt escape? This is the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Don’t feel bad for struggling, Jesus too struggled. i view the garden as a significant moment in time. A moment in time where Jesus fell under great temptation. The choice to walk the road of torment or seek for His own another way. He displayed hours before His humility, His heart, His love. Now in the garden, we see His humanity, His brokenness, and His resolve. His choice was for our future. His punishment was for our sin. His suffering was for our hope. His death was for our life. Read through the account written in Luke 22:39-54. (Below is the NLT). Read it all. Read it slowly. Read it twice or three times. Sit in it. Meditate on it. Pray through it. Let your heart go in the moments of its words. At the end, i want you to switch roles, become Peter, read it again, imagine following at a distance…live this passage in your mind, heart, and soul…

Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives

39 Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives. 40 There he told them, “Pray that you will not give in to temptation.”

41 He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” 43 Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. 44 He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.[a]

45 At last, he stood up again and returned to the disciples, only to find them asleep, exhausted from grief. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation.”

Jesus Is Betrayed and Arrested

47 But even as Jesus said this, a crowd approached, led by Judas, one of the twelve disciples. Judas walked over to Jesus to greet him with a kiss. 48 But Jesus said, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”

49 When the other disciples saw what was about to happen, they exclaimed, “Lord, should we fight? We brought the swords!” 50 And one of them struck at the high priest’s slave, slashing off his right ear.

51 But Jesus said, “No more of this.” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

52 Then Jesus spoke to the leading priests, the captains of the Temple guard, and the elders who had come for him. “Am I some dangerous revolutionary,” he asked, “that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? 53 Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there every day. But this is your moment, the time when the power of darkness reigns.”

Pray through this passage, and i will meet you next week at the cross.

You are Loved,

cj

 

In our brokenness, You have made us whole, Thy Kingdom Come

In our brokenness, You have made us whole, Thy Kingdom Come

This is the final installment of our series, “Thy Kingdom Come.” We have been looking at the significance of God’s Kingdom now, in light of our humanness. Our final look, being made whole even in our brokenness. We are broken. The world that was created in which God took a step back and declared “This is Good,” is, no longer…well, good. It is broken. Sin and death have entered through rebellion, and we are suffering the effects of those choices still today. Our hope, in the promise of God that all things will be made new and that through Jesus we too can experience the newness of His perfect creation.

God’s first step (and the only step we will look at today) in this recreation is to make us whole again. An atonement for our sins offered. That act alone is what is required for our salvation. No amount of good works, good deeds, good thoughts, good vibes, or good anything will make up the difference needed…only what was offered on the cross will do. This redemptive act is the pinnacle of our salvation. Colossians 1:19-22 NLT reads like this:

19 For God in all his fullness
    was pleased to live in Christ,
20 and through him God reconciled
    everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
    by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

21 This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions.22 Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

This reconciliation has come about by God’s grace. As we end this series, “Thy Kingdom Come” and move into a look at the death and resurrection of Jesus. The very thing we talk about today. i want us to understand that we stand wholly in the Kindom even in our broken world on the merits of Jesus our Lord. As our world grows increasingly hostile to Christianity as a whole, we must not only rest in the assurance of our salvation but also in the warning. First here in Colossians 1:23 NLT.

23 But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.

There are countless other warnings that sadly many will ignore, but i offer you this in Colossians 2:6-7 (NLT) a way to keep steady, a way to experience God’s Kingdom here in a broken world. Daily being made whole in our brokenness.

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Finally, yet another warning. Because the power of this world, the pull, the temptation, is strong, so we must remain alert. Let your gratitude and thankfulness flow in a manner that builds on the foundation Jesus Christ is.  Do not be fooled again by the empty promises or the schemes of the prince of this world. You see, “...we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 NLT. Therefore:

Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers[a] of this world, rather than from Christ.For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.[b]10 So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. Colossians 2:8-10 NLT.

In our brokenness, You have made us whole, Thy Kingdom Come.

You are loved,

cj

Question 1 (Pilate’s Plight

Question 1 (Pilate’s Plight

We are in the middle of Lent, Passover is just a couple of weeks away. It was during this Feast time that Jesus was arrested and put on trial. He found Himself before Pilate. Pilate was the Governor of the region, he was a Roman, and he represented the interests of the Emperor of Rome.  For the next few weeks we will be looking at this portion of the trial of Jesus, Pilate, asking Jesus 4 questions. You can read them in context in John 18:33-38. Lets examine the first question here:

1. Are You the King of the Jews?
~This question has always interested me. Pilate was aware of Jesus, he may not have been spending much time thinking about him to this point but he definitely had knowledge and knew the name Jesus.  He was a Roman and at the time the Roman Empire was strong. He had no reason to fear an overthrow least of all from the Jews; civil unrest maybe but not a coup d’etat. In the scene right before this one Pilate is talking with the Jewish leaders about the arrest and what exactly they wanted done.

He wasn’t keen on the idea of putting to death an innocent man. However, he was keen on securing his strength as Governor. Therefore he proceeded with the questioning and he started by determining the threat, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Every generation since has asked that same question, is Jesus the King? Is He the Messiah that the Nation of Israel was waiting for? This one question is where we, the disciples of Jesus, start our journey.

Is Jesus who He says He is or is He a lunatic? C.S. Lewis the author of “The Chronicles of Narnia” said, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.” He went on to say, “Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.”

As we progress towards the cross, as we dig deeper into the person of Jesus we find not only a King, but a Friend and in the end discover our Savior.

You are Loved,

cj

Lent

Lent

The season of Lent is upon us but the question i often hear is, what is Lent? Here are a few basic thoughts on Lent that might answer enough questions to peak your interest, in searching out more information, on your own and maybe even “celebrate” Lent this year.

Lent, is a period of 40 days beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending on Resurrection Sunday. Ashes are used as a symbol of remorse and repentance for sin. It is placed on ones forehead in the form of a Cross to remind us of Jesus love and forgiveness. It marks the start of the 40 days of Fasting, Service, Prayer,  and Seeking God in deeper ways culminating with the victory of Resurrection Sunday.

The 40 days are meant to be a period of seeking Jesus for a refreshing. It is based on Jesus, following His baptism, in which He was then led into the desert by the the Holy Spirit for 40 days. He fasted and prayed and sought what many believe was the mental and physical preparedness, focus, needed for His earthly ministry resulting in the cross, death and of course resurrection.

Revealing to us that we need to spend time alone with God for the same thing. We are called to die to ourselves and live for Christ. We are called to be light in a dark world. We are called to love the loveless. We are called to love mercy, do justly and walk humbly with our God.

Fasting doesn’t have to be food but it can be, it can also just be a meal a day, it could be fasting from meat, or soda, or coffee. It can also be refraining from electronics, TV, video games etc. Traditionally fasts can be broken on Sunday’s during the 40 day period. The point of the Fast is to focus our minds and hearts on Jesus to draw near to Him knowing that He will draw near to us.

For more on Lent go here: LENT

You are Loved,

cj