Gladstone Christian Fellowship Church
Holding forth the word of life...
Blog features news items from our Church and also devotionals written by Marilyn Daniels.
Check back every week for a new posting.
Feel free to contact Marilyn directly about these devotionals or if you need prayer.
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on February 28, 2022 at 9:40 PM|
Sadly lacking in the modern church is the concept of discipling. The emphasis on evangelism in bygone years brought people to a point of decision, but having then birthed a new baby, the child was often abandoned to fend for itself.
What did Jesus mean when he said “Go and make disciples of all nations”? (Matthew 28:19) This commandment – and it is a command, was given just prior to His ascending into heaven. If each believer is part of a “royal priesthood” as Peter tells us (1 Peter 2:9), then they need some training. The purpose of a priest was to minister God’s words to the people.
How does anyone know the will of God for their lives? The Bible is a great source of information regarding the character and works of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our faith is nourished by recognizing and getting to know this amazing God we worship! How thrilling it is to have a real relationship with the invisible God. This God, we read is Sovereign of the universe. Do we believe what we read?
One needs to have faith in the inerrancy of scripture. This comes from the ministry of the Holy Spirit to our spirits. After all, in the beginning we are dead in our sin nature (Ephesians 2:1). But God raised us up! Ephesians 2:4 gives us a glorious hope! “Because of His great love for us, God who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ, even when we were dead in transgressions!” Once we understand this with our minds and hearts, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit who continues the process of sanctification….making us pure, setting us aside for ministry, shielding us from temptation, leading and guiding us into all truth, as we study God’s Word.
Then there is the matter of conversation with God. Prayers have been written that express what we want to say in such a beautiful manner – the Psalms being a favourite of many people. But when we fall on our faces before God to confess our sins, there is no formula to follow; just the transparency of an open heart. “Father I have sinned”! 1 John 1:9 is a good verse to memorize. Prayer is sometimes very misunderstood. If we have trouble praying for 3 minutes every morning how will we ever grasp the joy of being in prayer at all times (1 Thessalonians 5:17)? That prayerful spirit testifies to the reality of God being ever-present in us!
As we already noted, the primary purpose of discipling new believers is to increase their knowledge of God. Their personal interaction with Him equips them to share the joy of the Lord with others. Often it is the testimony of someone who has seen Jesus for the first time that grips the hearts of non-believers. Just as a young man who has fallen in love for the first time cannot stop talking about his lady-love, so a new believer’s conversation overflows from their love relationship with Jesus Christ.
Discipleship requires thoughtful, prayerful commitment to pour into another’s life what God has been teaching us. Are we willing to devote ourselves to such a task? If not, might we justly question our own commitment to the Lordship of Jesus Christ? We must never lose sight of the reason for our covenant relationship with God which makes us servants of the most High God (Acts 16:17). Nowhere does the Bible tell us to make Christians, by simply saying a prayer; Jesus commands that His followers make more followers. This is how Christianity has impacted the nations down through millennia of time.
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on February 22, 2022 at 1:10 PM|
Reflections on Job
“Why” is a little three-lettered word that sometimes gets us into trouble. Children sometimes exasperate their elders as they use it to learn about the world around them. If we question the established order of things, as adults, we may irritate others. Sometimes it is a word used when we fall into desperate circumstances. Often we question God with “Why?” when things are hard to understand, such as natural disasters, or the death of a loved one or a pandemic!
God understands our query more than we know. He too might ask “Why” questions. As His people wandered away from His goodness, His will and His ways, we might wonder why? However, an omniscient God knows all. He knows the end from the beginning. Why? Because He is God. Look at God’s declaration to Isaiah:
“I am God and there is no other [god]!
I am God and there is none like Me!
I make known the end from the beginning!
I say: My purpose will stand! And
I will do all that I please” (Isaiah 46:9-10).
Why then does God allow trouble and violence and death? Job is the Bible character outstanding for his suffering. Yet he was a man described by God Himself, as blameless. From this we learn that trouble does not always perform as a punishment in our lives. Yes – there are consequences for our poor choices, but what did this blameless man learn from his woeful experience?
He did ask “Why” questions: “Why have You made me Your target?” (Job 7:20).
“Why did You bring me out of my mother’s womb?” (Job 10:18).
It seems Job’s faith passed the test because he concludes:
“I could only plead with my Judge for mercy” (Job 9:15).
“Can anyone teach knowledge to God, since He judges even the highest?” (Job 21:22).
“In His hand is the life of every creature, and the breath of all mankind (Job 12:10).
“To God belong wisdom and power, counsel and understanding are His…..He pours contempt of the nobles
and disarms the mighty…..He deprives the leaders of the earth of their reason” (Job 12:13, 21, 24).
These reflections may not be encouraging, but Job gives us some very beautiful and up-lifting reasons to trust in God. “He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 32:10).
“The fear [reverence] of the Lord – that is wisdom and to shun evil is understanding” (Job 28:28).
Job longed for those days “When I was in my prime…God’s intimate friendship blessed my house!” (Job 29:4). However, Job also looks to the future “I know that my Redeemer lives…and after my skin has been destroyed, yet in
my flesh I will see God!...How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27).
Does your knowledge of God, your experience of His mercy and His loving faithfulness prompt this same response when you face sorrow and struggles, when you ask “Why?”
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on February 15, 2022 at 12:25 AM|
Moab in ancient days was a kingdom east of Israel, in the Transjordan highlands. The nation arose from Lot’s incestuous child by his eldest daughter, named Moab (Genesis 19:38). They were often at war with their Israelite neighbours to the west. However events recorded in the book of Ruth testify to occasions of friendly interaction between the two nations, from time to time at least between Bethlehem and Moab.
Perhaps because he descended from Ruth, a Moabite, we know David also had friendly relations. He committed his parents to the protection of the Moabite King when pursued by King Saul (1 Samuel 22:3-4). However, once David became king he made the Moabites a tributary, while placing them under the rule of a governor. That was the end of all friendly relations.
One small incident remains to be told. When the Israelites were returning to the Promised Land from Egypt, the Moabites denied them passage through their land, causing them a long detour around, heaping God’s judgment upon themselves (Judges 11:17-18). In His judgment on them, God referred to Moab as His “washpot”, a place of accumulated filth (Psalm 60:8).
Israel suffered political upheaval under King Rehoboam. Under him the Moabites may have been absorbed into the northern kingdom of Israel, where they continued in vassalage until the death of Ahab. Eventually they refused to pay tribute, asserting their independence and making war on Israel. Later they assisted Nebuchadnezzar in his aggression against King Jehoiakim in Israel.
Isaiah and Jeremiah both refer to the burden that Moab had become (Isaiah 15-16, Jeremiah 48:42). Isaiah identifies their pride as an abomination to God, as well as their utter contempt for Israel.
At the time of Ruth we believe child sacrifices were still offered to one of their many deities. Chemosh was their chief god (2 Kings 23:13). Their religious influence reached as far into history as Solomon, who erected a “High place” for Chemosh (1 Kings 11:7). Sadly this was not destroyed until the reign of Josiah.
Isaiah is given denunciations by God against other nations, Moab included. Some hold no hope…certain nations will be cut off forever, once God’s judgment falls. However, Isaiah records a couple of very interesting phrases regarding Moab. God says “My heart cries out over Moab.” (Isaiah 15:5). “My heart laments for Moab (Isaiah 16:11).
What is it about this particular nation of Moab, that created angst in the heart of God? (Jeremiah 48:36)
What is it about any of us that generates His great love?
Let us remember that the essence of God’s character is love. His heart is pained when He has to declare judgment, because His intention is for His people to walk with Him in paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake! (Psalm 23).
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on February 7, 2022 at 8:10 PM|
Growing up I read several books about Jewish people who converted to Christianity. It became a subject of keen interest which carried over into my work as a nurse in a Jewish community. Wikipedia describes the term Judeo-Christian:
“Judeo-Christian is a term used since the 1950s to encompass the common ethical standards
of Christianity and Judaism, such as the Ten Commandments. It has become part of American
civil religion and is often used to promote inter-religious cooperation.“
Since this was a reality in the 1950’s it saddens me to read in a more recent periodical that “The Jewish Community generally views Christianity as a threat because of the long history of ‘Christian’ anti-Semitism.”
One Christian author coined the phrase “Christianity is Jewish.” Since it is our primary authority, what does the Bible say? The first notation we have of the word Christian is in Acts 11:26 “The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch”. By definition the word disciple means partisans, or followers – in this case of Christ. ‘Christian’ is a word which appears very few times in the New Testament. King Agrippa, after listening to Paul preach the gospel in his own defense, asked Paul if he thought he could persuade him to become a Christian. The only other time it is used is by Peter who clarifies “…if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear the name” (1 Peter 4:16). A Christian is one who bears Christ’s name.
We need to recognize that these first Christians, men and women who followed Jesus, were all Jews! Would becoming a Christian make them less Jewish? That question has been debated, even by the Jewish community itself, to this day. The President of ‘The Chosen People’ explains: “Jewish people like myself are raised knowing that Jesus is not for Jews….. I stepped over that line in 1970 and discovered to my great surprise, that I was still Jewish!”
Did becoming Christian, Christ-followers, mean they left the faith of their fathers? If the Messiah was anticipated by the Israelite nation as one sent from God to His own people, to free them from oppression, and if Jesus is that Messiah, following Him would not mean leaving the faith of their fathers.
Christianity must honour the roots of our faith revealed in Judaism. Gentiles have been included in prophecy as far back as Abraham (Genesis12:3), so it is not a nationalistic faith but an inclusive one. The Psalmist urges us to pray for peace in Jerusalem Why?
Praying for the peace of Jerusalem is most appropriate for a city whose name literally means “peaceful” and which is the residence of the God of peace. Further, Jerusalem will be the scene of Christ’s return (Acts 1:11; Zechariah 14:4), and at that time He will establish permanent peace within its walls. True Christians must be eagerly awaiting His return, and praying for the time when the Prince of Peace will reign in Jerusalem. “For unto us a Child is born….the Prince of Peace, of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end, He will reign…..forever!” (Isaiah 9:6-7).
There is no room in the economy of God for anti-Semitism or anti-Christianity between Jews and Christians. We need to encourage one another in our faith because when one reads the Old Testament, under the Spirit of God, Jesus the Messiah is recognizable. Together we may be united under Christ!
What does the designation Judeo-Christian mean to you? Explain.
Does becoming a Christian make one less Jewish?
What binds Jews and Christians together?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on January 16, 2022 at 7:50 PM|
In the Epistle to the Romans, Paul begins with some Biblical truth, in order to ground the Roman Church. He includes truths revealed in scripture about God, Himself. Now that Paul has described God’s character to us, he turns to compare it with man’s. What a disappointment humankind must be to our Creator. He gets little glory or appreciation for all that He has done for us! In fact it is quite the opposite. Man, giving in to the folly of pride, started creating his own gods. ”…their foolish hearts were darkened” (:22).
First of all man’s intellect became his god. What he thought, what he believed, what he chose to worship, became of primary importance. Where did that take him? God first gave man over to sinful desires. His thinking was infected with self-righteousness.
Second, God gave them over to shameful lusts, through which any sexual behaviour became appropriate. The heart of man became suspect, as his feelings led his head. This was not the Creator’s intention. He had revealed Himself repeatedly, through acts of mercy, through scripture, through our Lord Jesus Christ. However, Paul writes - “Although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21).
Third God gave them over to a depraved mind. The mind of mankind, originally created with all the potential of Godly decision-making, became filled with every kind of evil, greed and depravity resulting in a whole list of godless activities (Romans 1:29-31). Today our society, if not condoning these, will excuse murders, insolence, mistreatment of parents, hating God, in a spirit of senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless living. The final line is drawn when they decide to approve of everyone doing such things (Romans 1:32); seen in the freedom of man’s wisdom running loose.
Note that three times Paul says “God gave them over”. Leaving man to decide his own fate, God withdrew. His character did not change. He is always, eternally, a God of love and truth and holiness. However, sin and holiness are like oil and water – they do not mix.
How is the faith community to respond? We are to love our enemies – the person, not the sin. That is very hard to do. Out of fear we want to see these evils corrected. We fear for the salvation of our loved ones, for the infection of sin which is spreading throughout society, pandemically. But we are a community of faith and our faith is put into practice by doing what Jesus would do. What would Jesus do if He walked through North America today, for example?
Is it possible to bridge the gap between right and wrong? No! Jesus already has done that with His life, and death, yet people still reject His remedy for the sickness of sin. The best we can hope for is that His joy and peace, demonstrated in a spirit of love, will create a yearning in hearts darkened by an error that is spreading like wild-fire in our hedonistic society today. We know that God has already gone to the nth degree to correct these evils, but His love is everlasting!
So we pray that the Light will still provide Life, drawing men and women out of the pit they are digging for themselves. Let us all remember at the dawn of a New Year, that positive change always begins with “me”. Furthermore, I am the only person over whom I can really have any control. With God the Holy Spirit’s help I can exercise that required control which will temper my mind and heart, and my reactions to things others do to irk me.
Which is the greatest sin of our day? Is one worse than another? Do we not all continue to sin in small ways or large? How dangerous is prejudice? Is this why Jesus commanded us not to judge others?
The Psalmist prayed that God would search his heart (Psalm 139:23).
Let us pray: “Create in me a new heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit in me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, or take Your Holy Spirit from me, Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and grant a willing spirit to sustain me.” Amen (Psalm 51:10-12).
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on January 10, 2022 at 2:10 PM|
The long awaited Christ [Messiah] came to earth as a baby. Lost in the tinsel and twinkle of earthly celebrations today, the majesty of all that Christ is from eternity past, is often lost. That baby embodied all that is God – infinitude, wisdom and power. Yet as we sing “O come let us adore Him” what is it that we really mean? Do we envision the baby Jesus as “Christ the Lord”? What honour do we give to His Sovereignty? As we come face to face with Jesus do we surrender control of our lives to truly make Him “Lord” over all we are and have?
When we think about the baby in the manger, it is hard to comprehend that all the characteristics of the Godhead were wrapped up in that tiny bundle, so loved by Mary and Joseph. There lay the Creator of all things (John 1:3); yet He humbled Himself, scripture records. His humility cost. As a man, Jesus died on the cross, obedient to His Father’s plan to save you and me from the jaws of hell (Philippians 2:8).
Here's a thought…..Jesus gave up His glory and majesty to become like you and me. We might reflect on how important our status is, in our family, community or church in comparison to His. However, He lived a life like no other recorded down through history. Born into humble circumstances Jesus was kind, caring, and forgiving. He encouraging goodness in others; His example is the mission of every believer. During His earthly sojourn He was Godly, connected intimately with His Father in heaven. They were never separated until that awful moment on the cross when sin, yours and mine, dragged Him out of the Father’s presence (Matthew 27:46).
When we look at the baby who gave Himself so that you and I might live (John 10:18), we celebrate the reality of Christmas. Recently a pastor proclaimed “Christmas is not all about family because it is all about Jesus”. Within this reality there is both a call and a cost. We, who claim Jesus to be our Saviour, are called to represent Christ here on earth, if we say we follow Him – if we declare ourselves to be “Christian”. Do we look and act and talk like the Lord Jesus Christ? (John 13:35).
Here on earth Jesus entered into every aspect of life along with His fellowman. He met folks at weddings and worshiped according to Jewish law, in the synagogue. Jesus began at a very early age to be “about My Father’s business” – found teaching in the temple at the tender age of 12 (Luke 2:49). He continued traveling throughout Israel, teaching, eating, praying, fishing, serving on His Father’s business.
What is God calling us to do, since we say we know Jesus? Do we fear the cost of His call? Do we find ourselves changed by the indwelling Holy Spirit, becoming more Christlike as we look at others? Are we accepting, forgiving, loving our neighbours as ourselves? What are we willing to sacrifice in order to serve our Lord, to be “the only Jesus” another might ever see? Are we becoming hardened to the needs within our world today – physical, material, emotional, as well as spiritual needs?
I sometimes wonder: What would Christ be doing about the environment, the pandemic, the anger, fear, hostility and abuse to be found in every corner of our globe? Derived from His loving character, Jesus laid down His very life for others, including you and me. Might this be written on our tomb stones?
“Here lies the most Christlike person who ever lived”.
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on January 3, 2022 at 8:45 PM|
Recent research on nurses in the workplace has found that the need for resilience is critical, linking resilience, hope and optimism together. Other psychological studies demonstrate this linkage in the development of emerging positive organizational behaviour, which simply means happiness in the workplace.
What is your greatest hope today? Health? Happiness? Strength? Wisdom? Love? There is a multitude of things we as Christians pray for, but do we recognize the depth of the hope that we have in Jesus Christ?
Let’s look at David’s hope. In Psalm 62 he describes its source. “My hope come from Him”….from God alone in whom his soul finds rest (:5). What is it about David’s God that differs from other gods of his era? Twice he refers to God as his rock and his salvation (:2, 6). In the challenges of change we all need to know our souls are resting on the solid rock, don’t we?
This God is a “mighty rock” which forms a fortress or a refuge for the King of Israel. David’s job is not an easy one. His people are wayward, his sons rebellious (:3,4). Facing all of this, plus international warfare, we must not be surprised to learn that he became disheartened. At such a low point in his life, David seeks strength and security in God, knowing he can trust His faithful love (:12). Where do we go when needing consolation and direction?
David’s testimony declares God to be One who listens, and he encourages others, including you and me today to “pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge”! (:8). As I examined my own hopes for today I wondered if I could affirm what David says: “My salvation and my honour depend on God” (:7)?
Billy Graham spent his long life teaching and preaching hope to a world writhing in pain. “For the believer there is hope beyond the grave, because Jesus Christ has opened the door to heaven for us by His death and resurrection”, he reminded his listeners. We often celebrate this hope at Easter, but do we consider the cost that put a baby in a manger? Facing a life of distrust and even persecution and death, Jesus came to give us eternal hope.
Do we ever look at hope from God’s perspective? It actually is a gift to us voiced through the prophet Jeremiah who, on God’s behalf declared “I know the plans I have for you…plans to give you hope and a future” (29:11). Eternal hope! God doesn’t intend for mankind to feel hopeless. He created an eternal home for all those who love Him and follow Jesus (John 14:1-3). Eternity is a long time – much too long for our finite minds to comprehend. God, the author of hope, looks forward to our fellowship with Him throughout eternity. He sent His Holy Son to make a way for this dream of eternal life to come true. At Christmas time our thoughts turn to gifts. What an exquisite gift we have in Jesus Christ. Eternal Hope!
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on December 27, 2021 at 3:00 PM|
Outside my window is the most beautiful tree. Its graceful shape and glorious fall colours stimulate my very soul to worship the Creator! In every season this tree represents the genius of God’s design and reminds me of the glory of His Sovereignty over all creation. Our minds, so limited by time and space, find it hard to understand anything outside those limits; mankind is just beginning to grasp the expanse of our universe yet the reality of other universes is also beginning to dawn in recent times. This raises a question: Where was Jesus before the world began?
In His high priestly prayer Jesus asks the Father to glorify Him “in His presence with the glory I had with You before the world began” (John 17:5). How often do we limit the person of the Lord, Jesus Christ, to the figure who walked our earth for 33 short years? Have you ever tried to imagine what His pre-incarnate glory was really like?
Isaiah had a glimpse of this glory. In fact, the whole earth, in his vision, was “full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3). If we allow God to be God, we might just see Him outside of the part of creation we experience day to day. His presence not only fills the earth, a concept pretty hard for mere humans to understand, but also fills the universe, beyond what we can see.
Paul clarifies this picture. “He who descended”…this Jesus who came to us as a baby in a manger, “is the very one who ascended higher than the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe” (Ephesians 4:10). This Jesus, God’s “Son, whom He appointed heir of all things,” is the One “through whom He made the universe” (Hebrews 1:2). According to the Bible God’s “Son is the radiance of God’s glory” and He sustains all things by His powerful Word” (Hebrews 1:3). This is the Creator God whom John identifies as the “Word” (John 1:1).
When we worship the Holy Baby in Mary’s arms, do we give ourselves time to contemplate the Majesty that prevailed on the day when God declared His creation “good”? (Genesis 1:31). According to the Biblical record that declaration covered everything - the separation of light and darkness, the sky, the seas and dry land producing vegetation like my tree, the universe with sun, moon and stars, the bewildering variety of birds and fish, all living creatures, the crowning glory of which was man, made in God’s own image! What a quotable quote: “Let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26)!
I like to imagine that the majesty of Creator God appeals to every one of mans’ senses, as well as to the delight of knowing that He calls us into fellowship with Himself. What an honour it is to be called the child of Almighty God! The whole purpose of Creation was to mingle with His creation…and so we read that God walked with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:8). He brought the woman He created, to the man (Genesis 2:22). He also brought the animals to the man to see what he would name them (Genesis 2:19). He was and is personally engaged!
Creator, sustainer – our Creator God is an awesome God! Will we allow Him to be greater than our comprehension can see? It was Satan’s desire to be like God which caused his expulsion from heaven. We have been given the privilege of serving God, but even in heaven we will not be like the One who is eternal, since we are created beings. Neither we will ever know all things, or have all power. Even Satan has to operate through his demon host, since he, as a created being, can only be in one place at a time. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, children of God can celebrate Creator God as He takes us on a voyage of discovery day by day! Hallelujah!
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on December 14, 2021 at 12:00 AM|
1 John 1:8-10
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to free [purify] us from all unrighteousness”.
Who is writing this? The author identifies himself: “We have seen and heard”. This is an eye witness account from one of the followers of Jesus Christ, the Apostle John. His goal is for his readers to enjoy fellowship which is “with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). Knowing his message will make a difference in the lives of those who accept it, will make his joy complete (:4).
Let’s unpack John’s proclamation. He is talking about his first-hand experience walking and working and listening to the “Word of life” for a period of three years. This “Word” means a lot to John – he wrote about Him in his gospel. Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of a promise made to Abraham (Genesis 12:3) appeared in person to folks living in Israel, but alas! ….the very nation to whom He offered Himself as a sacrifice for sins, rejected Him (John 1:11). Thankfully Jesus’ offer of eternal life extended then to “…all those who received Him, to those who believed in His name”. To these, down through centuries of time Jesus gives “the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
What we see here in just a few short verses challenges you and me to receive and believe God’s eternal plan of salvation. All of us have sinned. No one has been able to measure up to God’s glory by doing good works. Neither can salvation be inherited. It is quite simply a personal acceptance of God’s gift, born out of His faithfulness to a promise made so very long ago! “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you” God told Abraham (Genesis 12:3).
From the beginning of time God was aware of how fragile the humanity He created, is. Adam failed to live up to His standards, disbelieving the truth of what God had said. What a sad rejection of our loving heavenly Father! Only a few short generations of time elapsed before the wickedness in the then-known world was so great that God was forced to begin again, saving Noah and his sons, the only people left on earth to remain true to God by following Him.
Millenia later God sent His only begotten Son – incarnate God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ, to save His people from their sins (1 Timothy 1:15). Surely this act of kindness demonstrates the love God yearns to share with mankind. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God”! (1 John 3:1). Jesus travelled throughout Judea “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3”:3). It isn’t enough to regret when we have done wrong, but repentance requires a turning away from those sins which so easily best us.
God knows the sincerity of our hearts and what motivates us to try harder to please Him. Knowing our weaknesses, God’s great love sets us free (John 8:36) from the bondage we naturally have – that terrible affinity to sin! He knows the battle we are in and provides us with the support we cannot live without. The indwelling Holy Spirit guides children of God into paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake (Psalm 23:3), thus restoring our souls!
Have you received forgiveness and freedom because you believed Jesus was sent by our faithful God? What does that make you? (…a child of God). What do you enjoy as a result? (freedom from bondage to sin, fellowship with the Father, fruitfulness and purpose, fearlessness as we war against evil).PTL!
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on December 5, 2021 at 6:45 PM|
It never hurts to review the basics of our faith. Let us take a look at the over-all picture that necessitated Jude’s letter. His first love was the gospel. His intention was to write about the salvation they shared. I wondered, when was the last time I shared the joy of my salvation with another believer? So often we think of sharing as a witness to the unsaved, but in reality it is a discussion that we can more truly enjoy when we share with other believers what Jesus is doing in our lives, today.
However, Jude’s heavy burden regarding false prophets in the church became his focal point. He was energized by an awareness of evil, and the harm it could do to the reputation of the church. Therefore, he strongly advised the church to contend for the faith. In our world today we might advance the same concerns, for similar reasons.
To substantiate his theme, he reviews patterns in history: Sodom and Gomorrah giving in to the evils of their day, fell under God’s judgment (:7). God released His chosen people from bondage and provided for their needs in the wilderness, but eventually had to punish those who did not believe (:5). Even some angels fell under God’s condemnation, by willfully giving up their positions of authority (Ephesians 6:11-12). Their eternal punishment still awaits; at present they remain bound in chains (Jude :6).
With such a history Jude might rightly fear what will happen to the church of his day, already influenced by Godless men. They know the history, but have they learned from lessons of the past? Have we? Are we standing guard against the infiltration of evil into the congregation of the righteous? To be inclusive is a good thing, but it can be carried to a dangerous extreme if it involves compromise.
Without doubt we face some very difficult choices in the church today. “Be merciful…snatch others from the fire and save them…show mercy, mixed with fear” (:22-23). How do we balance righteousness with the desire to see all people come into fellowship with God? God has a standard. Jude writes about the return of the Lord for the purpose of judging everyone’s acts, words and self-interest, according to that standard (:15-16).
Then Jude offers a solution. Each individual Christian bears a covenantal responsibility. By asking for forgiveness of sin we enter into a covenant relationship with God. We are to keep ourselves close to God by building ourselves up in our most holy faith (:20) Jude fills our minds with God – His character, His goals, His protection, His love! Jude testifies to the depth of knowledge and experience he has as a believer. Do our lives bear such a witness to our world today?
It may seem simplistic to say we do that by reading the Bible, but what does that entail? Is it just a religious exercise? Or – do we read it to learn how we might best please God, how to recognize evil when we see it, to accept its rebukes for our personal sins, to gain comfort in our distresses, to experience the very mercy, peace and love that form the basis of our testimony to others?
Learning comes through repetition. Therefore it is imperative that we meditate, mull over, ask questions about what we have read. How does this apply to our world today? To me? “Think on these things” (Phil.4:8).
Are our choices and decisions a result of fervent prayer in the Spirit. In the Spirit? What does that mean? Do we pray for what we want, or do we search to know the mind of God and pray He will accomplish His purposes in and through us? How then do we know the mind of God? By observing His principles for Godly living contained in Scripture. Then we are prepared to contend for our faith!