I've been so blessed by going slowly and intentionally through the New Testament in 2018. I've decided to keep it going, but this time I'm starting a little further back...back in Genesis 1. Starting January 1, I'll be posting short daily devotionals walking through the entire Bible over the course of 2019. I've decided to save my Revelation posts for the end of these devos, so follow along at JESUS 365!
I hope you'll join us starting on January 1st!
One short chapter tucked in God’s story to us closing out the letters to individuals and churches before the revelation received by John. Jude is widely believed to be the brother of James, the half-brother of Jesus and leader of the early church in Jerusalem, making Jude also the half-brother of Jesus. Like James, he also did not believe in Jesus as Messiah prior to the resurrection. All of the words penned in the Bible are inspired by God to us, but there is something powerful to me about these words from someone who spent the early years of their life with Jesus as an older brother…can you imagine?!?!
Jude is primarily concerned with false teachers. This is a common theme, warned about by Jesus, as well as the others in their letters. Something so often repeated should give us pause.
Like Satan, the Father of Lies himself, these false teachers are good at what they do. They are manipulative and often charismatic, using smooth words, impressive speech, with a commanding presence, and some truth sprinkled in to throw us off. Here’s how Jude describes these false teachers…let it be a warning to us to be alert and aware!
They creep in unnoticed. They become part of the Christian community. The ones we need to worry about aren’t the loud antagonist shouting from the outside in obvious opposition, but instead the deceitful ones from the inside. They pervert the grace of God into sensuality and deny Jesus as Master and Lord. They indulge in sexual immorality, defile the flesh, and reject authority. They blaspheme what they don’t understand, relying on their instincts. They are in our community, but they are wandering with the waves of the day. They are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters. They show favoritism to gain advantage, full of smooth and flattering words. They deny Jesus as Christ – God in the flesh -- crucified for our salvation.
It is a serious warning. Let us not be deceived...there is only ONE Gospel; only One path to salvation. So, what do we do? We tend to want to fight back, point fingers, and wildly expose. But according to Jude our response should be to continue building our faith, to pray, to keep in the love of God, to have mercy on those who are doubting, to show mercy to others. I think we need to be discerning and careful about who we lump into this category of false teacher and how we respond. It isn’t about our instincts and preferences, it is about Jesus Christ as savior and the glorification of God. Our response should focus more on us than on others. These warnings should drive us to dig deeper in the Word, seeking truth, abiding in God, showing mercy and love, desiring that no one be deceived. It is a posture of surrender and humility, working on ourselves, loving our neighbors, and trusting God is in control.
I’ve been so strongly convicted this past year about being intentionally and consistently in the Word. I believe the most effective way to not be deceived by false teachers Jesus and the apostles repeatedly warned us about is to know God’s truth and pray for the spirit’s wisdom and discernment. I’m starting a daily devo on Jan 1 that will journey through the Bible in a year. If you want to join us, follow along at Jesus 365.
1, 2 & 3 John • Day 237 of 260 • #NTin2018
We are all wired with different personalities perfectly instilled in us by our Creator. I happen to me more on the wordy/studying/academic side and less on the emotional/carefree/feeling side (I’m as boring as I sound!). I’m not sure if it is my personality or if everyone wonders these things, but I sometimes ask myself, “How do I know if I believe what I say I believe? How do I know if I really love Jesus vs. loving to study about Jesus? How do I know if I am placing Him in the proper place of Lord of my life?” Anyone else? The academic side tends to come more easily than the heart side. But I know head knowledge means nothing if it doesn’t penetrate our hearts and then flow out through our hands and feet.
John’s letters (1, 2 & 3 John) have a lot to say about what it looks like to truly be sold out for Jesus. Here are a few litmus tests courtesy of John…
If we truly know Jesus, we will obey His commandments. We will do what He says. We won’t just read about it and study it and write about it…we will DO IT.
If we are in Jesus, we will walk in the same way in which He walked. We will want to live our life like He did. In obedience, submission, humility, with peace and love, staying on task instead of arguing with every naysayer and antagonist.
If we love Jesus, we will love other people. John says if we hate a brother, we aren’t in the light...we are still in darkness.
If we love the world more than Jesus, the love of the Father is not in us. John goes on to describe what the “love of the world” is…desires of the flesh, desires of the eyes, pride of life. When we want things because they look good, make us feel good, or elevate us personally, we are probably on the wrong track.
John further describes what love looks like…laying down our life for our brothers. And if we have the world’s goods and see a brother in need, but close our heart against him, God’s love does not abide in us. Those things Jesus said about loving others....He meant it! We are to love not in word or talk, but in deed and truth.
None of these things save us...only the blood of Jesus does that. But these things do demonstrate our love and commitment to follow Him while we wait for His return to take us home.
John acknowledges that it will be hard. That we shouldn’t be surprised if the world hates us and there will be many false prophets out there preaching a different way to live. He says we should test the spirits to make sure they are from God. And this is how we will know: if they confess Jesus Christ has come and is from God. Any other voice, no mater how slick and seemingly wise and sophisticated it seems…if it doesn’t confess Jesus, it is not from God.
John closes his first letter, “Little children, keep yourself from idols.” They trip is up, get us off track, and shift our focus away from God. Idols are anything that take first place over God. They can be things, people, experiences, approval seeking, etc. Kyle Idleman says, “The one thing that we are most reluctant to give up has the most potential to become a substitute for Him.” What are we chasing? Idols or God? God doesn’t settle for second place.
2 Peter 3
Advent is a season of waiting. Waiting is hard. Really, really hard. Especially when things are falling apart all around you. At first you truly believe the promise that things will get better. It gives you hope and gets you through those rough days. But them time goes by. And more time. And even more time. You grow weary, cynical, and more receptive to other voices that may be telling you a different story.
Peter’s letter is to people who are waiting. It had been roughly 65 years since Jesus left. The expectation was a quick return by Jesus. Instead, things seem to be getting worse as the years drag on.
False teachers use this waiting to try to convince the people that Jesus isn’t coming back again ....why keep striving to live a Godly life?
Peter continues to implore the displaced believers to hold fast to the Truth, God’s promises, and the hope they once had. “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Peter 3:8). Time isn’t purposelessly dragging on in God’s eyes. He isn’t bored or discouraged by the waiting. He sees the beautiful, perfect fulfillment of it all. He knows we will one day see it was worth the perseverance in the waiting.
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9). What the false teachers are trying to throw in their face as a reason not to believe, Peter calls mercy. We ALL have someone in our lives that is perishing. God was patient to wait on us and He is patient to wait for them.
Perhaps in some way our pain and our waiting is part of a bigger story; a redemption story that we just can’t see yet. Don’t grow weary in the waiting. God’s promises are good and true. God is patient and God keeps His promises.
All 1 1 Corinthians 1 Peter 1 Thessalonians 1 Timothy 2 & 3 John 2 Corinthians 2 Peter 2 Thessalonians 2 Timothy Acts Colossians Ephesians Galatians Hebrews Info James John Jude Luke Mark Matthew Philemon Philippians Revelation Romans TItus