Jude (a final thought)

Jude (a final thought)

Let us consider for a moment, who was Jude? We know that from verse one he is the brother of James. We know of a few Jude’s in scripture, but only one who is a brother to James and that James was the half-brother of Jesus. Making Jude (a form of Judas) also a half-brother of Jesus. i didn’t mention this in the introduction because i didn’t want to influence your reading too much. i wanted you to go in and take each word without that influence because i think we have a tendency to over think things. Besides, i suppose there is some question as to whether or not it is true, i am of the camp that sees it as true.

Jude never mentions he is a brother of Jesus. Nor does James, rather, they identify themselves as bondservants. They had no special entrance into the Kingdom, they entered the same way you and i did/do, by faith in Jesus the Messiah. In fact, we can read that at one point Jesus’ family was not impressed by His declaration and thought maybe He had gone mad. They even tried to influence Him in Mark 3:31-32 we read, “And His mother and His brothers came, and standing outside they sent to Him and called Him. And a crowd was sitting around Him, ‘Your mother and Your brothers are outside, seeking you‘” Now it is unclear what their intentions were but many believe, as do i, that they were there attempting to “calm” Him down from His rhetoric because He was really beginning to stir the pot and bring shame in a sense to His family, “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And are not His brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas (Jude)?” Matthew 13:55

Jesus’, response to them brings light to the nature of the Church. (Mark 3:33-35) “And He answered them, ‘Who are My mother and My brothers?’ And looking about at those who sat around Him, He said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers! Whoever does the will of God, He is My brother and sister and mother.‘” Blood maybe thinker than water, but obedience to God’s will is paramount! Want to be included in the family of God? Be obedient to the will of your Heavenly Father. Jesus says, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15 ESV) Later in that same chapter (v23-24) Jesus says, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.  Whoever does not love Me does not keep My words. And the word that you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent me.” 

Jude came to faith after Jesus was resurrected, as did James. It is another, proof, if you will, of the power of the resurrection and the truth of it! God, shows no partiality and recognizes those who obey His word as, family. Which brings us back to the stern warning in the book of Jude. That judgment is real, and there will be some that scoff, even within the “Church” and they will bring division. It is a great introduction to the book of Revelation, which starts out with its own warnings to the Churches. Therefore the true believer is to, “build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.” Jude 20-23 (All Bible references are from the ESV).

You are loved,

cj

Jude (Part 4)

Jude (Part 4)

This is the fifth installment in this series and there will be at least one more after. We find ourselves now in the 17th verse and we will explore to the 23rd. It is a call to remain faithful. It is written to the Church, believers, you and i . . . if you by some chance find yourself here and you are not a believer, this still can apply to you as you ask God to reveal himself to you through the pages of His Love story written to us we call the Bible.

As we have been dealing with judgment we now turn the corner a bit and Jude begins this next section with the word, “But.”But you, my dear friends, must remember . . .” Take note here, Jude is trying to point something out for us, remember this, “what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ predicted, They told you that in the last times (end of days) there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires. These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them.” We live in a time that even in the Church people scoff at the Word of God, “certainly,” they will say, “it doesn’t mean that! God is Love. So let us just simply love everyone.” i think we can love someone and still tell them the truth. Consider for a moment what the writer of Proverbs says in 12:1 “To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction.” Later in the same chapter, they write, “An honest witness tells the truth; a false witness tells lies. Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing. Truthful words stand the test of time, but lies are soon exposed.” (17-19) A bit further on in verse 26 we read, “The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray.” Chapter 12 concludes with verse 28, “The way of the godly leads to life; that path does not lead to death.

i could very easily continue but you get the idea. Jude then writes, 20-21 “But you,” again, take note, “dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.” Why the emphasis in remaining in? i think Jude is stressing the need to remain faithful, connected, and looking out for each other. Why this conclusion? Well, he continues, 22-23 “And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.”

So here we ready the delicate nature of loving someone who is steeped in sin. We do not, we cannot condone one’s behavior of sin. The sin is vile and destructive. The person, however, is loved!  “For God SO LOVED the world . . .” “While WE were YET SINNERS Christ died for us . . .” Our mission is reconciliation, agents of change in a culture that has wandered far from the Creator, but sent by the Creator to draw as many back as possible, “snatching them from the flames of judgment . . .”

Let us remain faithful, honest, and loving.

You are loved,

cj

Jude (Part 3)

Jude (Part 3)

We now find ourselves in a unique place in Scripture, the 14 verse of Jude 1. Here he references a Prophet named Enoch. We read of him in the old testament book of Genesis, the beginning. In Chapter 5 we read that Enoch was the seventh from Adam. He had children. He lived 365 years and “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” Enoch never died but was taken into heaven, there is only one other we know of who was taken to heaven before death, Elijah. In Jude, he quotes Enoch saying, “Behold, the Lord came with ten thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.

Interestingly, there is a book of Enoch, it is not in the Canon of Scripture, never was, the Jews did not include it in their collection either. It wasn’t written by Enoch, best we know, although he was taken so, well you never know i guess. However, Jude thought so well of it that he quotes Enoch 1:9 in Jude 1:14-15. The writer of Hebrews also thought to include Enoch in his writing in Hebrews 11:5 all-be-it not as inclusive as Jude. Yet, here we are faced with the idea of Enoch and what or why did Jude include him in his warning? If you were to read Enoch in Chapter 1:2 you will see that the book is written for a generation yet to come, “…but not for this generation, but for a distant generation that will come.” So Jude taking this prophecy somewhat seriously to have included it in his writing to the Church.

The fear of the Lord is a real thing and in it, we must conclude that fear and respect, humility and self-control are absolutely required characteristics of the Church, and of the individual Christian. For here is the description of the other, “These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.” Jude 1:16

This is a difficult passage. Not because of its teaching, but because of its implications to the whole. Judgment, wrath, and doomsday are real ideas, thought so highly of by one of the Fathers of the Church that he writes a very poignant letter of warning. Should we not then take heed of it? Let us sit here, pray, listen, and wait for the Lord to reveal to us His truth.

You are loved,

cj

Jude (Part 2)

Jude (Part 2)

Once again we will be looking into Jude. This is, as the title states, part 2, there is also an introduction. If you have not yet read those i would suggest going back and reading those before continuing here.

Jude is writing about those who have crept into the church unnoticed. The warning is for us to be alert. So that we do not fall prey to them. To continue to search the Scriptures daily so that we remain knowledgeable and able to spot the imposter.  These folks have come in the side door, they slipped in the back. Yet, their resume and their teachings are not the same. In as much as they have subtly shifted meaning, context, and even grace, ultimately denying the very person of Jesus, while claiming His name.

Verse 8 reads, Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile [i]angelic majesties. These men, by dreaming, let me say this, that dreaming isn’t bad, it is good, and we should have lofty dreams. However, these men were not dreaming lofty God-sized dreams, they were dreaming as men. It was for power, prestige, influence that these men dreamed. We know this because they defiled the flesh, this is the same as “strange flesh” that of Sodom and Gomorrah. It is a perverted sense of grace and self-assumed authority in matters best left to God’s Word and not man’s opinion. You see they reject all authority to include Church authority and all the way down the line to government authority. They have taken it upon themselves to pronounce judgment rather than hang onto the authority of Scripture. Thumbing their noses at Jesus Himself as they curse the very Word.

These men are like hidden reefs that would shipwreck your faith. Pual writes to Timothy in 1:18-20 says, “This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.” These men are hollow, waterless clouds, pushed my any which wind that blows, in other words, their moral compass is broken and they are persuaded by the mood of the people rather than the Word of God. Trees without fruit. We are told that we will know them by their fruit, Jude isn’t saying anything new and yet we need to be reminded.

Yet in the same way, these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile [i]angelic majesties. But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10 But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are [j]destroyed. 11 Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay [k]they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. 12 These are the men who are [l]hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, [m]doubly dead, uprooted;13 wild waves of the sea, casting up their own [n]shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the [o]black darkness has been reserved forever. (Jude 1:8-13)

Take a deep breath. Ask yourself this, are you seeking the approval of man or of God? Let us together walk the road less traveled and seek the will of God, dream God-sized dreams and live out our lives flowing from the grace that we have been shown. Not by running from God’s Word, or watering it down, but by living it out — that we might save some.

You are loved,

cj

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

Jude (an introduction)

Jude (an introduction)

We live in a very perplexing time as a church. There are conflicting sides of “faith”, grace, grace and more grace and the super pious, full of law, rules, and condemnation. It is easy to look at Jesus and side with the grace side of the argument. Besides it just seems nicer. The movement against judgment because “how can a loving God judge anyone?” is a very popular movement, even in the most conservative of churches. Now i don’t pretend to know or have all the answers. i seek the Lord daily and He has on more than one occasion corrected my thought. Which He promised to do, through Paul, the Lord taught us in Philippians 3:15, “So all of us who are spiritually mature should think this way, and if anyone thinks differently, God will reveal it to him or her.”

i have been in Jude recently and even though i taught this book at Alaska Bible Institute, in Homer, Alaska, i still find it both enlightening and challenging. i discover what seems new or just new perspective given the move of society. i want to take the next few weeks and look into the depths of Jude. What did one of the four brothers of Jesus have to say? This Jude eventually led the Church in Jerusalem. He didn’t follow Jesus right away, arguably he came to faith after the resurrection. Which says a lot, and i find particularly interesting and convincing of Jesus’ resurrection and victory over the grave. It has two possible dates of being written, 50 A.D. or 90 A.D. many lean towards an earlier date, although, some settle in the middle 70 A.D.

He was writing to a Church that was beginning to express itself in ways that were contrary to the teachings of Jesus. They were swaying, not from faith, but from judgment. The early Church began to gamble a bit in their expression of faith living as they saw fit rather than following Jesus and honoring Him through their life choices. Jude isn’t casting anyone into hell, in fact, he begins with this greeting, “Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ and brother of James. To those who are called, loved by God the Father and kept safe by Jesus Christ. May you have more and more mercy, peace, and love.” Not the condemnation one would expect given his warning.

3 “Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people. I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 3-4)

Sit in that for a moment. Weigh the words. Understand the author. Give heed to his warning. There is more, so much more. We will look more and more into this . . . verse by verse. But for now, pray, pray on this, the introduction, and then these two verses. Jude is a short book, one chapter, twenty-five verses. You can easily read it in a minute or two or a few seconds for you speed readers. Do it. One time read through it quickly. Then, go back and reread the first four verses. Then sit, weigh, understand, heed, and pray. 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

More Mercy, Peace, and Love

More Mercy, Peace, and Love

We have been studying Jude at Coffee with Jesus in the mornings.  i love when we can read an introduction and spend the morning talking about it. Jude is one of those introductions.

“…I am writing to all who have been called by God the Father, who loves you and keeps you safe in the care of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more mercy, peace, and love.”

Much like the whole of Scripture the letter is being written to those who have already accepted Jesus as Lord, they are already born again. The words to follow, are for those that already follow. We often want, and in varying degrees it is assumed, that these are for the non-believer first…well at least it is how we talk and act, it appears this is our thought process.

As we read here in Jude, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Verse 2 is spectacular, “May God give you more and more mercy, peace, and love.” What do we take away from this? That He, Jesus, has already given us some, if Jude is implying there is more. The reason most of us believe is because we experienced the Mercy, Peace and Love of Christ first.

If we came because Christ first loved us…and we are called to be like Christ, doesn’t it stand to reason that we first love others? That we extend mercy, peace and love so that others too can experience the MORE?

You are Loved,

cj