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

Aim for the Target!

Aim for the Target!

You have made the Lord tired with your words. You say, ‘how have we made Him tired?’ When you say: ‘Anyone doing evil is good in the Lord’s eyes,’ or ‘ He delights in those doing evil,’ or ‘Where is the God of justice?‘” These words are found in Malachi 2:17 . . . Later in 3:6 it says; “I am the Lord, and I do not change; . . .” The last book found in the Old Testament is profoundly challenging. It is my currently book of study, meaning i am reading it, rereading it, and re-rereading it. It also means i am sitting in it, meditating on it, and praying through it.

i am by nature a quiet person, but i am also intentionally quiet for reasons also; mainly, to not tire the Lord with my words. This isn’t specifically talking about talking too much but rather not speaking truth when i do open my mouth. We have fallen in love with our culture, much like the Jewish Nation fell in love with theirs and others around them. It became such a challenge for the Priest that they too began to “water down” the Scriptures. They took the standard of God and reduced it to the desire of man. Malachi was called upon to set the record straight. “The Lord does not change, get out of your sinful ways and return to the Lord.

i often go back and forth over struggles of the culture, the Word of God, grace, mercy, Old covenant, NEW covenant, and how does it all fit and where does it all lead? This warning however at the end of the O.T. is repeated at the end of the N.T. in Revelation written by John in the second and third chapters we read; “…I have a few things against you…” “So change your hearts and lives. If you don’t, I am coming to you soon, I will move your lamp stand from its place if you don’t change your hearts and lives.”

Clearly there is a call to repentance, to right living, to holiness. We by our fallen nature are not in our right minds and therefor need the presence of God to make it! To run the race to the end. In Micah we are told what the Lord requires of us, “To act justly, love Mercy, and to walk humbly with God.” In 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 we read, “Don’t you know that all the runners in the stadium run, but only one gets the prize? So run to win. Everyone who competes practices self-discipline in everything. The runners do this to get a crown of leaves that shrivel up and die, but we do it to receive a crown that never dies.”

In a letter Paul writes to the Philippians he says, “. . . become imitators of me and watch those who live this way, you can us us as models. As I have told you many times and now say with deep sadness, many people live as enemies of the cross. Their lives end with destruction . . .” If we put all of this together we see that over and over again humanity in its fallen state, continues to veer off course; That rings true for me and you. Paul gives us hope, in his same letter to the Philippians he writes, “It’s not that I have already reached this goal or have already been perfected, but I pursue it, so that I may grab hold of it because Christ grabbed hold of me for just this purpose. Brothers and sisters, I myself don’t thing I’ve reached it, but I do this one thing: I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me. The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus. 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. Only let’s live in a way that is consistent with whatever level we have reached.”

We may not always hit the target, but that doesn’t mean we don’t aim for it! As Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” If we don’t aim our lives in the right direction and course correct when needed we will miss the target and that my friends is a frightening thought.

You are Loved,

cj

Learning to Swim

Learning to Swim

i recently purchased a snorkel for my lap swimming that i enjoy so much.  i am no Michael Phelps when it comes to swimming, my technique isn’t even probably a sight to behold…or it might be just not in a complimentary way.  i have always had a hard time breathing so swim with my head lifted out of the water which after swimming for 30 minutes or more really begins to give you a crick in the neck. i have seen others use them, have always wanted one and finally so (because of a gift card i received for my birthday) i purchased one.

i do not regret my purchase but man oh man, it has definitely taken some getting use to…some adjustments were needed.  i have noticed however, now with some time under my trunks, that i am focusing more on my technique.  i am more aware of where i am, how i am kicking, my arm strokes, each breath even.  At first it was completely foreign all i could think about was breathing underwater!  i was underwater, for all intents and purposes anyway, and breathing isn’t something you do underwater…unless you are a fish.

Often times we as Christians can flail about trying to figure out how to “live” as a “Christian”.  We know some practical things and well, it doesn’t make sense that we are free in Christ.  When we feel bound by the world that we are so familiar.  So, we try beating against the wind in vain attempts at figuring out “how” to be “good enough”.

Let me start here: Ephesians 2:4-5  “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)“…  It’s Jesus who makes us ALIVE, not anything we do!  When i figured out that that snorkel was making it so that i could breath, that it wasn’t me breathing underwater but this device was in affect breathing, supplying the oxygen to my lungs, it help with the prospective which allowed me to be free in the water.

Understanding, that Jesus fills us, enables us and grants us both mercy and grace while loving us…gives us the opportunity to see things from a new prospective a freeing one.  We didn’t do anything but choose to accept the gift of grace.  The process of learning to live within the Grace God has so richly provided through His Son Jesus is just that a process.  Paul writes to the Philippians, “Not that I have already attained perfection or that I have already arrived, but forgetting the past, I press on…toward Jesus!”

Like learning to swim with a snorkel it does get easier…but you have to allow yourself room to understand that it isn’t you that is making water into air but that you are reliant upon the snorkel.  The same is true in faith, in learning and growing we must realize that it isn’t under our own ability that we are saved but we are reliant upon Jesus.  We are called to run the race diligently, prepare earnestly, be prepared in season and out to give the reasons for the hope that we have.  We are on a journey that requires the ability to rely on someone else…even when the culture tells us to be self-reliant.

Not that we will ever be perfect or never need reminding but there will come a day that as we walk this road called “Faith” that we will begin to live….What good did our pride do us? What good were our wealth and pretension? These things have all passed away like a shadow. They’re gone like old news. They’re gone like a ship passing through a storm-tossed sea: once it has passed, it leaves no trace of its passing; its keel leaves no lasting mark on the waves. That’s all disappeared in the way a bird flies through the air and leaves no hint of its path: it beats its wings against the thin air, dives with a rush, uses its wings to circle round—yet afterward there’s no sign in the air that the bird was ever there. It’s all vanished like an arrow that’s shot at its target: the air opens up as the arrow flies through it but immediately closes up behind the arrow, and no one can detect any trace of the arrow’s path. (taken from Wisdom 5:8-12 a book found in the Apocrypha). 

You are loved,

cj