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

Come now, and let us reason together

Come now, and let us reason together

Isaiah 1:18-19
18″Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be as wool.
19If you are willing and obedient…”

The Maker of heaven and earth, the One who formed you in your  mothers womb, says to you, “Come now, and let us reason together.” This is truly magnificent, He desires to dialog with you, have a conversation regarding life, love, sin, death, redemption, liberty, justice, forgiveness, hope, joy, heaven and hell. In order to reason one must be aware of truth, aware of life and aware of His voice calling out to you, “Come now, and let us reason together.” How will you respond today?

Take 30 minutes, 15 minutes, 10 minutes…take some time today to sit quietly, to listen to the Lord calling to you, “Come now, and let us (you and Me [Jesus]) reason together.”

You are loved,

cj

Trees of Righteousness

Trees of Righteousness

When i have writers block…sitting at my computer just staring at the blinking curser, growing ever more frustrated as nothing comes to mind (i know that most of you can understand somewhat of what i am trying to express) anyway, at the point of absolute frustration i put on music. It is usually my favorite album of all time, David Crowders Neon Steeple Deluxe Edition, and grab my “magic” Bible and just flip it open and begin reading.
Today i opened to one of my favorite passages in Isaiah. In chapter 61:1-3 is says this: (NKJ)

61 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
3 To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” 

This passage really speaks for itself but it also speaks for me and my heart, where i am on my journey. So, i wanted to share it with you. Read this passage yourself a few times, asking Jesus to show you through His Holy Spirit insight into your own walk with Him. Where are you in it, are you being called? Are you brokenhearted, mourning, bound? Hear the passage…Hear the Spirit…Listen!  Leave a comment or share a prayer request.

You are loved,

cj

#LifeIsMoreThanJustAHashtag

#LifeIsMoreThanJustAHashtag

i enjoy social media, probably too much. i like to scroll down and read stories, look at pictures, watch funny and thought provoking videos…oh and post some too.  i like Facebook for its functionality in seeing what my friends are up to…sometimes the posts break my heart, not always because a tragedy had taken place but because poor choices are being made. Twitter is another place i enjoy visiting. It is quick reads, with occasional links to longer stories. Snap shots into ones thoughts or experiences or views on life, love and laughter.

i can get so wrapped up in it that i spend time thinking of hashtags, you may know them as pound signs or the number symbol. Which ever way you remember them the hashtag is a line or words run together that makes a point and links your point to others making the same point.  For instance a popular hashtag is #MondayMotivation so if i were to write something like, “Monday’s are hard without my #coffee #MondayMotivation” i would be linking my tweet or FaceBook post with others talking about coffee or Monday Motivation. i say all that as if those reading this have no idea what a hashtag is having just woken from an 11 year coma.

Colossians 1:15-20 reads;

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God,
the one who is first over all creation,

16 Because all things were created by him:
both in the heavens and on the earth,
the things that are visible and the things that are invisible.
Whether they are thrones or powers,
or rulers or authorities,
all things were created through him and for him.

17 He existed before all things,
and all things are held together in him.

18 He is the head of the body, the church,
who is the beginning,
the one who is firstborn from among the dead
so that he might occupy the first place in everything.

19 Because all the fullness of God was pleased to live in him,
20         and he reconciled all things to himself through him—
whether things on earth or in the heavens.
He brought peace through the blood of his cross.

Let me put this into present day terms we might better understand, Jesus is our hashtag. When we live our lives in Christ, we live them linked together with Him and those that are linked with Him are also linked together by #Jesus. It is both and, not either or…we are linked if you are in Christ. Which means we are living each others lives, living the experiences, challenges, hopes, fears, triumphs, AND failures together. Our life joining hashtag is Jesus and with HIM comes community. The world says FaceBook or Twitter or by a half dozen other social networks we can share with others but the Word says, Jesus, and together, we are one, experiencing life together.  Let me close with this, life, is more than a hashtag, Jesus is more than a hashtag but if the language you speak is hashtag then #Jesus because #lifeismorethanjustahashtag.

You are loved,

cj

Go Deeper

Go Deeper

Tomorrow i have the privilege of speaking at family camp at the morning teen service.  i am so excited to be able to speak into the lives of the teens on our district.  The theme this year is “Go Deeper” which fits really well with where i am on my own personal journey with Jesus.  i was preparing for Sunday Edition a few weeks back and stumbled upon this quote from Wesley, “Have you availed yourself to the means of grace this week?”

In thinking about this it really does draw one to a deeper thought, making one “go deeper” into who Jesus is…which is where we are with Coffee with Jesus; “Who do you say Jesus is?” Based on Jesus’ own question to His disciples in Mark 8:29.  The idea of understanding who Jesus is to us, how He is revealing Himself to us or stirring in our hearts helps us to draw nearer to Him.  Of course in turn Jesus draws nearer to us, which brings us to the camp verse, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…” James 4:8a

Although i must say that i am not one for partial verse extractions like this…so here it is in its contexts; James 4:7-10 (NLT).

“7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.9 Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

In its context we read there is a lot involved in drawing near to God…but it really does boil down to Wesley’s question, “Have you availed (made yourself available) to the means of grace (God’s grace, freely given) this week?” Have you drawn near to God? Well, have you?

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

Hope

Hope

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” i have said this often but wasn’t sure where it came from; so i did what everyone does when they want to learn new information, i googled it. You know what i found? An amazing poem written by Robert Burns in 1785. Here is the stanza in which this oft` repeated line lays:

But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!
The poem sheds light on the mental state of Burns, who at the time was only 26 years old. He had a lot going for him, popular, young, well respected, yet still in this and the closing stanza we find a man with a bleak outlook and little hope of change. The author of the biography that i read made this observation, “Not at all what one might expect from a young man of twenty-six, supposedly so popular  with the lassies, and with his whole life ahead of him, but nevertheless expressing sentiments with which many of us today can easily relate.” 

It seems that we do live in a world that in~spite of its many advantages, technologies, entertainments and beauty, we suffer from a lack of, for a lack of a better term, hope. Hope for a future that is better than ones present.

Let me encourage us with this, there is hope, life can get better, and our choice to choose joy and hope over sadness and despair is ours to make. Psalm 65:5 & 78:7 gives a look into true hope…

“You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas.”

“So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.”

Finally, Matthew writes, “And his name [Jesus] will be the hope of all the world.”

There is HOPE, You are Loved,

cj