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

Part Two

Part Two

i have been thinking about this for weeks now.  How to exactly followup because as i wrote my heart was being stretched. i want to start by expressing the point i briefly stated in my previous post, Jesus has placed the same value on all humanity because He paid the same price for every soul that would choose Him, His life. i am not talking about self worth, i am talking about individual talent, individual gifts, individual ability, individual lives; lived out however, in one body, with one objective, one goal, one purpose, one mission, one calling.

Let’s look again at the story Jesus told of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30: (full Text Here)

(The Message) Matt. 25:14-18 “It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money.”

Here is what i see, two guys were blessed to do the work they were called to; two guys were unfazed by amounts because they were focused on the goal. One guy was frozen, fearful, lazy, unaccepting and judgmental. Here are the take aways, first, do not compare yourself to anyone. Second, don’t sit idly by while time and the world pass you by. Third, If you are busy with your talent, gift, ability, basically your life and you do so in the context of the Body with its objective, goal, purpose, mission…basically its calling; you will not return void that which you have been given.

Life doesn’t make sense. Why one is given more and another less with the same mission, doesn’t seem fair. However, the one in the middle didn’t think himself less than the first. He went to work with what he had and doubled the amount, still less than the first guy. Yet his reward was the same acclaim, the same prize. It was the one who refused to be about the master’s business who in the end lacked reward but faced a tragic judgement.

Here is the third servant…

24-25 “The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’

26-27 “The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.”

Before we get to the judgment lets look at this conversation. The servant knew the expectation of the master, yet he refused to take risks, refused to live on the edge, refused to take serious the mission. Did he doubt his talent? Did he feel slighted by the amount he was given? Did he feel he couldn’t do anything because he didn’t have enough?

There are a lot of Pastors and Churches that are much like this third servant. They live cautious lives, they wonder why they aren’t bigger, why they have no growth; they feel stuck and restricted while they look out the window and think if we only had the money, the talent, the people, the resources, the….fill in the blank. It is they that have taken the talent, the gift given them and have hid it in a safe place securing it for themselves until the master returns; it is they that i fear will hear what the third servant heard.

28-30 “‘Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’”

Jesus didn’t just talk for the sake of conversation, His words were measured, chosen, and spoken with authority for the purpose of instructing. You are right life isn’t fair. It may appear some have more breaks than you, others may appear to be better equipped; but you are not tasked with being like everyone else…you are tasked with increasing that which you have been given. Sometimes, things need to be stripped away before real growth can occur. Sometimes, things need to be broken before they can be mended. Sometimes,  the foundation needs to be firmed up before a structure can be built.

We need to understand that we won’t ever understand everything…but what we do understand is that we don’t need to understand everything for Jesus to do what He does. He is only looking for the willing heart. The one who says, i don’t get it but yes Lord i will do it. He is looking for the Noah’s, the Daniels, the Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah’s, the David’s, the Ananias’, the Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, and Paul’s…He is looking for servants who don’t look at what they don’t have but look at the goal and say, “With God all things are possible.”

Let me close with this, it is a simple verse, about a simple idea that is also complex and complicated. It is a charge to do, to be, to not give up, to seek, to love…

1 Corinthians 13:12The Message (MSG)

12 “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!”

you are loved,

cj

The Art of Not Understanding

The Art of Not Understanding

It is hard to understand sometimes, what you ask?  Life.  That is pretty much a no brainer right?  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to come to the conclusion that life doesn’t always make sense.  In fact kids will say it all the time, “That doesn’t make any sense!”  And, they are usually 100% correct but we try to pacify them with things like, “You’ll understand when you get older” or my personal favorite, “You don’t need to understand.”  On the contrary helping people to understand, the art of not understanding is vital to civilization.  Life, isn’t always fair.  Let’s look at a story in Scripture about “talents”; We find it in Matthew 25:14-30.

Here is the story in a nutshell; The master of the house is setting out on a Journey.  He gives to three of his servants some money.  To one he gives 5 talents or basically 5 sacks of gold or silver. To another he gives two talents and to a third he gives one.  He gave to each of them according to their ability.  Let me pause here to make a point, Jesus is telling this story, and it is good and profound.  But, it doesn’t seem to make sense now does it? i mean why the difference in amounts?  i get that it is based on ability but even if one has a lesser ability shouldn’t he at least have equal chance? Meaning equal opportunity with equal resources?

These questions stump a lot of people.  We live in a world that has struggled with this idea and have made attempts to make things “fair” for all.  Time and time again these efforts have fallen short, for various reasons.  Life just isn’t fair, and that doesn’t make sense therefore, we as an intelligent species attempt to correct it.  i mean why not, shouldn’t life be fair?  This is going to be a two part series, this week i want to focus on the first part of this story told by Jesus.  The master gave to his servants, according to their abilities.  Did you catch that? Their ability.  We all have various abilities and we receive based on those abilities.

Shouldn’t we all have the same ability, the same chance, the same resources?  Why are some abilities worth more than other abilities?  What was Jesus trying to teach his disciples with this story?  i think the lesson is multifaceted.  1.  Not all abilities are worth the same however, all people are worth the same.  2.  Opportunities are earned.  3.  Abilities are another form of diversity.

We should spend less time worrying about fairness and spend more time finding out where we fit in.  How does our diversity help society better itself?  You see one seeks its own, the other shares;  One maintains status quo, the other expands its horizons; One hides, the other explores.  Jesus is looking for those that will share, expand, and explore.  The take away, seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness….we won’t always understand but we always have opportunity to share, expand and explore life.

You are loved,

cj