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

13 Years and Counting

13 Years and Counting

i have been writing a book for 13 years, that’s right you heard me, 13 years. i guess you can say that i am persistent or lazy. i would say, i am self-conscience of ability. However, one day that book will be completed, and it will be read by at least two people, my mom, and my dad. Now imagine this, the Bible which many refer to as the “Good Book” is actually a collection of works, both books, and letters. There are 66 of them written by 40 different authors over a period of…well…thousands of years.

The influence that the Bible has had over the years is unfathomable. It has had both good and bad impacts on the world depending on who was doing the interpreting. It is an adventure story, love story, comedy, history, and wisdom. It is if read correctly, the answer to all of life’s questions…and by life’s questions i mean any and every question you might have ever in your life.

In 2 Timothy 3 we read in verses 16 and 17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” And again in 2 Peter 1:20-21 we read, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” There are a few other places that talk about this idea of the impactfulness and importance of Scripture, google it some time.

The book that i have been writing will not take thousands of years…at best i only have about 50ish years left to live. It will not even come close to impacting the world as the Bible has either. There have been countless books written, but none have claimed so much, promised so much, explained so much and been right so much ever! There is no book that has outsold or been stolen more than the Bible either…how’s that for distribution?

The Sheep and the Goats

The Sheep and the Goats

We are living in an increasingly partisan culture. We hear the word tribe often to clarify partisanship, which simply is, groupings. It has always been around for sure. We read about it throughout Scripture. However, it has become hyper-partisan. Everything is a group or sub-group with no limitations on how far one can take it and no one needs your permission to put you in that group. “You like chocolate ice cream so therefore you cannot possibly like vanilla too!” It has been a political paradigm for the most part when we would discuss partisanship, up-until-recently, however, the line is now blurred.

First, i will agree that there are definitely two groups, in fact, Jesus taught on these two groups, He called them the “sheep” and the “goats”. That is pretty much where the groups start and finish, however. Within those two groups are people, with various ideas, understandings, ways of life, social status, economic structure, intelligence and the list goes on…and among the goats, the list is even longer.

Now, Jesus, defined these two groups this way, sheep, equals saved, goats, equal not saved. It is worth noting here that these two groups are separated at the judgment and although there are good reasons to watch our associations it should never be a practice to segregate ourselves. “But how can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them?” Romans 10:14.

Let’s talk sheep. Sheep don’t always get along. Paul split ways with Barnabas because they couldn’t agree on a philosophy of ministry, not a philosophy of salvation to which there was no disagreement. It’s ok. However, that is the exception, not the rule. “44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common;45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart” Acts 2:44-46. 

Jesus said, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and don’t do as I say?” Luke 6:46. He also said, “If you love Me, obey my commandments.” John 14:15. He clarified those commandments this way, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40.

For me, here is what it boils down to, Love; Unconditional love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and a genuine faith. (1 Timothy 1:5). We love one another, we sacrifice for one another, we do for one another and we pray for one another…including GOATS! We live the message of Christ out in our love for one another, we tell others about this love by living it out in our actions so that when we say it with our mouths it has a deeper meaning. In the end when Jesus does separate us, the sheep and the goats, we can stand confidently that we did, we lived, and we loved the best we could.

καιρός

καιρός

Have you ever prayed and prayed and prayed, and it seems as if God isn’t listening? Or you haven’t received the answer you were looking for, or you didn’t like the answer you were given? Welcome to life. There are many reasons why prayers go unanswered. There is a country song (Listen Here) that mainly talks about unanswered prayers being a good thing. It definitely isn’t a bad thing when some of our prayers go unanswered.  i want to touch briefly on a few reasons why it seems our prayers go unanswered or why we don’t get the answer that we think is best. This is not an exhaustive study by any means but a quick glance to better our understanding.

First, motives. We need to have the right motives when praying. How are we using the answer or how will the answer benefit us? James 4:3 says, “And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong-you want only what will give you pleasure.” i could stop there because that is pretty clear but let me take us to another passage. 1 John 5:14-15 reads, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have what we asked of Him.” Let me assure you that if you “Seek first the Kingdom of God…” Your will and God’s will, will be one in the same and motives will not be what hinders your prayers.

Second, sin. God is under no obligation to answer our prayers and especially if we are not living right. If you are a non-believer the only prayer that you can be 100% assured God will hear and answer is that of you crying out to Him for salvation. After that, our continued sin can be a hindrance to our prayers. Isaiah 59:2 says, “Your iniquities (sin) have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.” and in 1 Peter 3:12 we read, “The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and His ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns His face against those who do evil.” Now we know that God does not abandon us. He desires to bless us, i simply point out God’s word to us. Jesus teaches God’s desire in Matthew 7:9-11 (NIV) “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Third, delays. It could be that your answer was sent to you from the moment you started praying. However, there is a spiritual battle going on that you can not see but is there, and it is delaying your answer. Daniel finds this out, and we can read about it in Daniel 10:12-14 (NLT) “Then he said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first-day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia. Now I am here to exprain what will happen to your people in the future, for this vision concerns a time yet to come.‘”

Fourth, timing. This one is a big one! If you say, i have confessed my sin, and i trust that my motive and intention are in line with God’s will, it may just be, that the timing might not be right. There might be work yet to do. It might involve others who have free will as you do and God is still working on them. Patience is key. Hebrews 10:36 (NLT) says, “Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised.” Hebrews 6:13-15 (NLT) reads, “For example, there was God’s promise to Abraham. Since there was no one greater to swear by, God took an oath in His own name, saying: ‘I will certainly bless you, and I will multiply your descendants beyond number.’ Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised.'”

Finally, we need to trust in God’s timing.  Kairos (καιρός) is an Ancient Greek word meaning the right, critical or opportune moment. His timing is perfect. Instead of being angry or impatient with unanswered prayer, look at it as an opportunity. An opportunity to make sure you and God are in a good place. An opportunity to make sure your motives are pure. An opportunity to grow in spiritual strength equipping you for more significant battles down the road. An opportunity to be at the exact right time and the exact right place to see God’s mighty hand move in ways you couldn’t even have hoped or imagined!

You are Loved,

cj

The Adventure of a Lifetime!

The Adventure of a Lifetime!

Once when i was eight years old, i went exploring a construction site. A soon to be apartment building made for a great playground in the eyes of my friends and i. Framed in staircases, partially framed walls, and planks across open spaces in the floor made for a grand adventure. Albeit, a dangerous and illegal one. Our mission, to avoid the one lone security guard patrolling the site which included several separate buildings.

Many spend most of their lives doing what my friends and i did at eight. They feel as if they are living a life of adventure because the adrenaline is pumping through their veins. What they don’t realize, often until it’s too late, is they are in constant peril. The danger of a wrong step could lead to severe injury or even death and of course, there is the constant looking over your shoulder in fear of getting caught.

The world would have you think that being a Christian is boring. That life in Christ is the opposite of adventure. However, that couldn’t be any further from the truth. There are countries where being a Christian is illegal, and you could be thrown in prison or killed. Although we live in a relatively safe environment to be a Christian, there is still some great adventure to be had! Just take a look at some of these stories…

  • Rachel from the Axiom has a great story of when she was just starting to get back into the church when she had a confrontation with a girl she had fought in the past. This girl wanted a “rematch” however, Rachel in her now living for Jesus refused to fight. Several years later the girl saw her in church and gave her a big hug, “That day changed my life!” she said.
  • Some local Missionaries the LaGatta’s, were in El Salvador when they were kidnapped at gunpoint, driven to the desert and left. They survived with not only a great story of faith but a memory of great adventure.
  • Then there is this: 9 Year Old Willie Myrick <<< Click the link it’s awesome!
These remind me of some stories found in the greatest adventure story ever written…
  • Acts 9:23-25 tells the part of the story (read below) of Saul/Paul’s escape after many were seeking to kill him.  “After this had gone on quite a long time, some Jews conspired to kill him, but Saul got wind of it. They were watching the city gates around the clock so they could kill him. Then one night the disciples engineered his escape by lowering him over the wall in a basket.”
  • Acts 16:25-26 a story about an earthquake and a none prison break that lead to the jailer coming to know Jesus with his whole family. “Along about midnight, Paul and Silas were at prayer and singing a robust hymn to God. The other prisoners couldn’t believe their ears. Then, without warning, a huge earthquake! The jailhouse tottered, every door flew open, all the prisoners were loose.”
  • John 11:1-44 shares the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. It’s insane! Here is part of it:”Then he shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And he came out, a cadaver, wrapped from head to toe, and with a kerchief over his face.

    Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him loose.”

If you have accepted Jesus and consider yourself a follower of His, a disciple, rest assured…you are on the adventure of a lifetime!

You are LOVED,
cj

You must be stupid or something!

You must be stupid or something!

“It seems as if we have come to a point of disagreement.” “It doesn’t appear as though we will ever see eye to eye on this issue.” “Can we just agree to disagree?” “It may seem arbitrary to you but to me it is a huge concern!” “Why can’t you see what I see? Why are you so ignorant!?” “You must be stupid or something!” “You have no clue how the world works do you?”

Through life, both cultural life and individual life, we have and continue to evolve, learn, grow; some would say the opposite is true however, that we are actually unraveling socially and culturally. One thing is certain, our ability to have differing opinions and our further ability to discuss those differences considerately and compassionately have eroded to epic lows. Where at one time one might say, “It seems as if we have come to a point of disagreement.” We now say, “You must be stupid or something!”

Have you ever had a conversation with someone where you thought to yourself, “Talking to you is like talking to a brick wall.” i know i have thought, maybe even said that often. Here’s the problem, by me thinking or saying that i have put the assumption on the other person that i am superior to them or more intelligent than they…i have devalued their opinion and along with it any knowledge they may have on the subject. i have now limited my ability to learn from them or even for them to learn from me.

We live in a culture gone made with a lack of humility. Everyone has become a know-it-all in every subject. Regardless of the facts. As since everyone knows everything or we know someone who knows everything we don’t research, we don’t ask questions, we don’t seek for truth because we don’t know what we don’t know unless we first seek.

This is why i love the interaction between Jesus and the woman at the well. (READ FULL PASSAGE HERE) Here is Jesus, who surely did know everything, have a conversation with a woman in a manner that inspired and did not condemn. In the end the woman heads back into town to tell others about Jesus. We are called to be like that. To live and love as Jesus. To inspire others with the truth of the Gospel in hopes that they too will react as this woman did, going and telling others.

But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it?” (Romans 10)

you are LOVED,
cj

Finding Jesus

Finding Jesus

i have walked past many red kettle pots, gave to some, felt guilty at others. i have waited in lines at the post office, the grocery store, and while shopping for gifts. i have heard sermons, read blogs, listened to music that reflect the season of Christmas.

Our house is decorated, complete with tree lit up in the corner of the living room and stockings all hung by the fireplace with care. The gifts wrapped and placed under the tree stir the anticipation of Christmas morning.

As i look at all the “Christmas” around me and as i am reminded constantly by meme’s on Social Networks, to keep Christ in Christmas. i can’t help but remember the question asked by the wisemen from the east when they stood before Herod, “Where is the newborn King of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”  Matthew 2:2

Let me encourage you today to ask that question now through Christmas. As you ponder the question, “Where is the newborn King of the Jews?” Look for Him, in the red kettle pots, in the lines you stand in, the sermons you hear, blogs you read and songs you hear. Look for Him in your home among the many decorations. And, each time as you find Him as the wisemen did may you be filled with joy.

You are Loved,

cj