Monday, December 31, 2012

A Year of Praise Awaits Us

 

17 I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness
and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.

—The words of King David from Psalm 7:17

 

In a few short hours, we will have turned another page in history. An old year will have slipped away. A new year will have begun.

What kind of year will 2013 prove to be? Neither you, nor I, know the answer to this question. A lot can happen in 365 days—that’s 8,760 hours or 525,600 minutes, or 31,536,000 seconds. Some of the things that happen during 2013 will seem like good things. Other things that happen during 2013 will seem like bad things.

Actually, we really can’t identify whether something is truly good or truly bad until we’ve gained the perspective of the passage of time. Often, things that seem bad, in the long range, prove to be not so bad. Similarly, some things that seemed very good at the time, when looked at through the looking glass of history seem not so good after all.

Few things are certain. One certainty we can cling to: the faithfulness of God.

As King David wrote in the Scripture verse at the beginning of this blog post:

I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness…

So, allow me to boldly suggest that we focus our attention on the God who loves us. Let us join in singing praise to Him for His righteousness—especially since He has given us His righteousness through the precious blood of His Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ:

 

 

Will you please pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

As we begin a new year, we pause to lift our hearts and voices in praise to You, O God. Your righteousness establishes us on firm ground. You have given us a sure foundation of forgiveness for our sins through the shed blood of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

During the times of trials that may await us during this new year, and also during the times of great joy, we do not want to forget that Your loving arms surround us. You protect us with Your great unfailing, undying love.

Keep us ever mindful of Your Presence in our lives. Grant us a full measure of Your special blessing. We thank You for the reality that Your love for us remains unshakable. And, we thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

“The Days are Coming…”

 

5 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
        “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch,
   a King who will reign wisely
        and do what is just and right in the land.
6 In his days Judah will be saved
        and Israel will live in safety.
   This is the name by which he will be called:
        The Lord Our Righteousness.”

—The words of the Prophet Jeremiah from Jeremiah 23:5-6

 

Impatient…Distraught…Anxious…Anticipating…all these words describe the angst of waiting. We have spent the last four weeks celebrating the anticipation of the Incarnation of God’s only Son, our blessed Lord Jesus Christ. At the same time, we continue to wait in eager anticipation of the Second Coming of Christ. We long to see the fulfillment of His coming to earth to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

We need to remember—as best we can—that God’s chosen people, Israel, had waited for thousands of years for the coming of Messiah. We have now waited over two thousand years for Christ’s return. And still, we wait.

 



(Note: Your browser must support Adobe Flash in order to view this video)

 

At this Christmas, in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twelve, may our hearts remain watchful while we celebrate the reality of Immanuel—God with us.

Will you please pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

We praise You, O God, for the gift you have given us in the birth of Your Son. That You would deign to send Him from heaven to dwell on the earth: fully God, yet fully man.

May we always sing: “O come to our hearts, Lord Jesus. There is room in our hearts for Thee.”

Thank You for Your loving and tender care. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

“God bless us, every one!”

 

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
        and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

—The words of the Apostle Luke from Luke 2:13-14

 

May God grant each one of you a most blessed, peaceful, grace-filled celebration of Christmas 2012.

Please allow me to share with you a spectacular version of the “Carol of the Bells” from the University of Mobile Orchestra, directed by Mr. Steve Dun. The song begins with the Chamber Singers playing handbells and singing the opening section of the piece. Then, to step it up several notches, the orchestra and two guitarists take the spotlight. A drumline takes the piece to its final plateau. I hope you enjoy this video:

 



(Note: Your browser must support Adobe Flash in order to view this video)

 

For over 55 years, I have had an intense interest in multitrack recording. When I was twelve years old, my father saved a little bit of money each week for over a year until he had accumulated enough money to buy me a stereo reel-to-reel tape recorder. I used that recorder until it wore out, producing multitrack recordings of my own. Part of the reason that I became such a dedicated fan of The Carpenters stemmed from their elegant use of multitrack recording techniques, where Karen and Richard supplied all the various vocal parts for their numerous recordings.

With today’s technology, this production technique has become so much easier. Here’s an absolutely delightful Christmas carol that demonstrates the use of multitrack technique. Each of the vocalists was recorded independently while listening to the principal track laid down by the lead singer. I hope you enjoy this unique a capella arrangement.

 



(Note: Your browser must support Adobe Flash in order to view this video)

 

Merry Christmas!

Photo of Christmas Card

Will you please pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

Precious Father, we ask for Your special blessing on this Christmas Day. May You grant us an abundant outpouring of Your loving kindness and tender mercies. May You cause us to celebrate with great joy the birth of Your Son, our Savior. May we also look with eager anticipation to the return of our Great King Jesus.

We praise You, O God, for we acknowledge that everything we are and everything we have comes as a precious gift from You. We bow in humble thanksgiving before You. And, we thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, December 24, 2012

“Let the little children come to me!”

 

15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

—The words of Luke the Evangelist from Luke 18:15-17

 

Literally tens of thousands of individuals have offered commentary on the horrific tragedy that occurred on a clear Friday morning, December 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Though the victims have now been laid to rest, we must not cease to pray for their families and for the healing of the community, the state, and our nation.

Vance Perry, a master of multitrack recording techniques, has created a video to express his own tribute to those who died needlessly in Newtown. On this Christmas Eve day, let us watch, remember, and pray:

 



(Note: Your browser must support Adobe Flash in order to view this video)

 

Will you please pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

Father, this horrific tragedy has caused a great sadness to settle over our land. We stand in shock and amazement at what has happened to these dear children and the adults into whose care their families commended them. In Your great mercy and love, be pleased to reach down and provide a comfort that only You can provide. For You, O God, have watched Your own Son die on a cruel cross of Roman torture, giving His life a ransom for many.

Even as You comfort these families, this community, this state, and our nation, we ask You to send a great, sweeping revival across our land. Yes, once again—as you have done in days gone by—we ask You to send Your Holy Spirit wih great power to irresistibly draw men, women, boys, and girls to Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

We thank You that You are the God of All Comfort. And, we thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Fourth Sunday of Advent

 

1 “Arise, shine, for your light has come,
        and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
2 See, darkness covers the earth
        and thick darkness is over the peoples,
    but the Lord rises upon you
        and his glory appears over you.
3 Nations will come to your light,
        and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

—The words of the Prophet Isaiah from Isaiah 60:1-3

 

Today, I conclude the theme I began in three previous Sunday blog posts. Over the years, my wife, Shirley, has written hundreds of Calls to Worship for the various churches where she has served as organist. Here is the Call to Worship for the Fourth Sunday of Advent.

 

Advent Candle with Three Candles Lit

Advent deals with both the first chapter and the last chapter of the greatest story ever told.

And, like any story, we want to know the “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” and “why” of the story.

On this fourth Sunday of Advent we ask: “When do these things take place?”

As we light this fourth candle, we are reminded that the “When” of Advent is now.

May the love of Advent come into our lives, as once again we remember the young maiden who said, “Let it be unto me according to Your will.”

O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

 :

I invite you to join me during these final hours of Advent to celebrate the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth as a baby in Bethlehem’s manger and also His coming to earth again at the time of His much-anticipated Second Coming.

Will you please pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

We celebrate the birth of Your Son. What a miracle! We simply cannot comprehend the depth of Your love for us that You would send Your only Son as the One to pay the penalty for our sin.

We also wait in humble anticipation, Dear Father, for the return of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to earth. We long for Him to come quickly and receive us into the fullness of Your Kingdom.

Please help us during the season of Advent to fix our minds and hearts on the eager anticipation we feel for both of these most holy events. By the power of Your Holy Spirit, prepare our minds and hearts to receive Your joy, as we await the Day of Celebration.

Thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas from My Alma Mater

 

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

—The words of the Apostle Paul from 2 Corinthians 4:16-17

 

I hope you will enjoy this video Christmas card from my alma mater, Houghton College. The Houghton College Choir sings a passage from “Lux Aeterna” with video graphics produced by Houghton alumnus, Wesley Dean, from the Class of 2010.

 



(Note: Your browser must support Adobe Flash in order to view this video)

 

May the Eternal Light, the Lord Jesus Christ, shine brightly into your heart this Christmas.

Will you please pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

Thank You for sending the Light of Your Son’s Presence to fill our hearts with joy. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

“What happens when I die?”

 

25 Jesus said… “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die…”

—The words of Jesus from John 11:25-26

27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

—The words of the writer of Hebrews from Hebrews 9:27-28

 

Questioning Child facing left

Daddy, “What happens when I die?”

A surprising number of children have asked this question in the course of the past week following the horrific tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. Children aren’t the only ones asking this question. Many adults wonder, usually silently to themselves, what happens when they pass from this life. Perhaps this video will provide some food for thought in formulating an answer:

 



(Note: Your browser must support Adobe Flash in order to view this video)

 

I hope that this video will cause you to begin to think through the answer to this question: “What happens when I die?” As you think about this, remember the words from the Scripture passages at the beginning of this blog post. God waits to welcome you to His Kingdom in and through the precious blood of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Will you please pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

Thank you for the assurance that we need not worry about what lies ahead of us once we pass from this life to the next. Jesus has paved the way for us with His own precious blood. He has paid the penalty for our sin. He has become our righteousness.

Thank you, Loving Father, for this unspeakable gift. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Third Sunday of Advent

 

14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

—The words of the Prophet Isaiah from Isaiah 7:14

 

Today, I am continuing the theme I began in two previous Sunday blog posts. Over the years, my wife, Shirley, has written hundreds of Calls to Worship for the various churches where she has served as organist. Here is the Call to Worship for the Third Sunday of Advent.

 

Advent Candle with Three Candles Lit

Advent deals with both the first chapter and the last chapter of the greatest story ever told. And, like any story, we want to know the “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” and “why” of the story.

On this third Sunday of Advent we ask: “Where does the story take place?”

As we light this third candle, we are reminded that the “Where” of Advent is here.

May the joy of Advent come into our lives, as once again we remember that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

 :

I invite you to join me during these weeks of Advent to celebrate the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth as a baby in Bethlehem’s manger and also His coming to earth again at the time of His much-anticipated Second Coming.

Will you please pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

We celebrate the birth of Your Son. What a miracle! We simply cannot comprehend the depth of Your love for us that You would send Your only Son as the One to pay the penalty for our sin.

We also wait in humble anticipation, Dear Father, for the return of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to earth. We long for Him to come quickly and receive us into the fullness of Your Kingdom.

Please help us during the season of Advent to fix our minds and hearts on the eager anticipation we feel for both of these most holy events. By the power of Your Holy Spirit, prepare our minds and hearts to receive Your joy, as we await the Day of Celebration.

Thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, December 14, 2012

That the Whole World May Know...

 

2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
        though you are small among the clans of Judah,
   out of you will come for me
        one who will be ruler over Israel,
   whose origins are from of old,
        from ancient times.”

—The words of God through the Prophet Micah from Micah 5:2

 

Renowned television producer Mark Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey, will soon bring a 10-hour epic miniseries, The Bible, into homes across America in the spring of 2013. To give you just a taste of this magnificent production, here’s a video clip that features CeeLo Green singing “Mary Did You Know?”—a particularly appropriate song for this season of Advent and Christmas:

 



(Note: Your browser must support Adobe Flash in order to view this video)

 

You can read more about this fabulous new miniseries at the following link:

http://thebible.publishpath.com/

Will you please pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

Father, we ask You to bless the screening of this miniseries. May Your Holy Spirit use this as a tool to reveal Yourself to countless tens of thousands of people across our land. May He draw these ones irresistibly into Your mercy and grace.

May the telling of the story of Your Holy Word bring hope, joy, and peace to many. Thank You for such opportunites to proclaim Your truth. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

It’s All and Only About Jesus

 

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
        and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

—The words of the Apostle Luke from Luke 2:8-20

 

What does Christmas really mean?

Looking at the television, as I write this blog post, it appears that Christmas in 2012 means:

  • Protestors from one side of an issue punching protestors from another side of the issue and tearing down the tent they’ve pitched to protect themselves from the elements.

  • A masked gunman shooting shoppers in a Portland, Oregon, mall; killing two shoppers and himself.

  • Christians right to celebrate Christmas assailed at every turn by those who would not even think about similarly attacking people of the Islam religion.

  • Politicians of all stripes unable to abandon their ideology and solve real problems.

  • A lack of genuine leadership on the part of leaders who advance only their own agenda without considering the effect on the people they supposedly serve.

  • Some of the most hateful, demonizing comments hurled between opponents in virtually every arena of life.


  • A nation of people who will camp for four days outside an Apple Store to get the latest gadget, but would likely seldom, if ever, attend church on a regular basis.

  • A wholesale attempt to marginalize people of sincere Christian faith because they choose to earnestly follow Scripture, rather than bend to the ever-downward spiral of our nation’s culture.

And, as I said at the beginning of this random list, these are but a tiny sample of what I observe in one hour-long news broadcast.

Shall I become a Jeremiah and lament the loss of the nation I grew up in as a boy? Shall I hold my tongue lest I offend someone? Shall I live in fear that writing the wrong words at the wrong time will leave me vulnerable to criticism and disdain?

I honestly don’t know the answer to those questions. I do know that Christmas has absolutely nothing to do with the items on my list above. The one and only true meaning of Christmas resides in the very name: “Christ” and “mas”—the birth of the Christ.

Mary and Baby Jesus

The word “Christ” is simply the Greek equivalent word for the Hebrew word “Messiah.” And, just as our Jewish friends continue to wait for the coming of the Messiah, we Christians celebrate His first coming as a baby in Bethlehem of Judea and wait with eager anticipation for His second coming as a conquring King.

Christmas is all and only about Jesus: Christ’s Mass—the birth of the Christ or Messiah. No matter what Christmas has come to mean to our selfish and self-aggrandizing culture, it remains the celebration of the birth of the deliverer of mankind from the shackles of sin.

Shawna Edwards sings a song that seems most appropriate to this theme:

 



(Note: Your browser must support Adobe Flash in order to view this video)

 

May you set aside every distraction this Christmas and focus only on the One whose name this celebration bears: the Lord Jesus Christ.

Will you please pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

Just a few moments of watching television reveals how desperately wicked our nation has become. Our hearts are sickened by the violent speech and violent actions that we observe.

More than at any other time in my lifetime, Precious Father, we need a great outpouring of Your peace, joy, comfort, strength, grace, and faith. Please hear our prayer and help us. Please grant us a strong sense of Your Presence this Christmas through the indwelling power of Your Holy Spirit.

We thank You for keeping us safe from the horror around us. And, we thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Second Sunday of Advent

 

9 You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!” 10 See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. 11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

—The words of the Prophet Isaiah from Isaiah 40:9-11

 

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, over the years, my wife, Shirley, has written hundreds of Calls to Worship for the various churches where she has served as organist. During the coming weeks of Advent, I will share four of those Calls to Worship with you. Here is the Call to Worship for the Second Sunday of Advent.

 

Advent Candle with Two Candles Lit

Advent deals with both the first chapter and the last chapter of the greatest story ever told. And, like any story, we want to know the “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” and “why” of the story.

On this second Sunday of Advent we ask: “What is the story about?”

As we light this second candle, we are reminded that the “What” of Advent is the miracle of God taking on human flesh.

May the peace of Advent come into our lives, as once again we remember “What” the season is about.

O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

 :

I invite you to join me during these weeks of Advent to celebrate the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth as a baby in Bethlehem’s manger and also His coming to earth again at the time of His much-anticipated Second Coming.

Will you please pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

We celebrate the birth of Your Son. What a miracle! We simply cannot comprehend the depth of Your love for us that You would send Your only Son as the One to pay the penalty for our sin.

We also wait in humble anticipation, Dear Father, for the return of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to earth. We long for Him to come quickly and receive us into the fullness of Your Kingdom.

Please help us during the season of Advent to fix our minds and hearts on the eager anticipation we feel for both of these most holy events. By the power of Your Holy Spirit, prepare our minds and hearts to receive Your joy, as we await the Day of Celebration.

Thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Season of Contrasts

 

13 I am still confident of this:
        I will see the goodness of the Lord
        in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
        be strong and take heart
        and wait for the Lord.

—The words of King David from Psalm 27:13-14

 

The season of Advent brings with it a contrast of emotions and activities. Some feel enormous joy as they anticipate the colored lights, decorated homes—inside and out—the fun of shopping and picking out just the right gift for the special people in their lives, and a general sense of well-being. Others feel a deep sadness as they remember their friends and family who have passed on from this life to the next. The time of Advent has a bittersweet quality. It represents a contrast of emotions.

Advent also represents a contrast of activities. On the one hand it represents one of the busiest times of the year. The crowded stores. The jammed highways. The higher noise level in restaurants. The pushing and shoving as people line up to get the best bargains.

In contrast, Advent also represents a time for true Christian believers of waiting for the coming of Jesus. It’s a double waiting: waiting for the celebration of Christ’s birth and waiting for the second coming of our Great King Jesus. This waiting stands in stark contrast with the heightened activity of the season that we see in other quarters.

The Scripture passage at the beginning of this blog post urges us to “wait for the Lord.” Implicit with that urging is the reality that the Lord Jesus Christ is worth waiting for. His first coming to earth granted us a full pardon for our sins, as He took our sins on Himself and died on the cruel cross of Calvary. His second coming brings to an end all the bitterness of this sin-cursed life we now live and ushers in the fulfillment of Christ’s Kingdom. The second coming completes the cycle that began with Christ’s departure when He ascended into heaven following His resurrection from the grave. It signals the beginning of an eternity with Him—never-ending fellowship with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

And still, we must wait. Though I have written about this before, it is appropriate at this season of Advent to speak of Felix Mendelssohn, who composed a magnificent work, “Elijah.” That work contains an equisite soprano/mezzo-soprano duet that expresses what it means to wait on the Lord. I invite you to listen very carefully to the words of this piece all the way through to the end.

 



(Note: Your browser must support Adobe Flash in order to view this video)

 

I urge you to join me in finding some time of quiet reflection during the hustle and bustle of this Advent season. Set aside time in a quiet place to consider the true joy of this season—joy that overcomes even the deepest sorrow—joy that comes from the anticipated fulfillment of the Kingdom of God in our midst. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Will you please pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

We celebrate the birth of Your Son. What a miracle! We simply cannot comprehend the depth of Your love for us that You would send Your only Son as the One to pay the penalty for our sin.

We also wait in humble anticipation, Dear Father, for the return of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to earth. We long for Him to come quickly and receive us into the fullness of Your Kingdom.

Please help us during the season of Advent to fix our minds and hearts on the eager anticipation we feel for both of these most holy events. By the power of Your Holy Spirit, prepare our minds and hearts to receive Your joy, as we await the Day of Celebration.

Thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The First Sunday of Advent

 

1A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord3 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; 4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. 5 Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

—The words of the Prophet Isaiah from Isaiah 11:1-5

 

Over the years, my wife, Shirley, has written hundreds of Calls to Worship for the various churches where she has served as organist. During the coming weeks of Advent, I will share four of those Calls to Worship with you, beginning with this First Sunday of Advent.

 

Advent Candle with One Candle Lit

This first Sunday of Advent deals with both the first chapter and the last chapter of the greatest story ever told. And, like any story, we want to know the “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” and “why” of the story.

On this first Sunday of Advent we ask: “Who is the story about?”

As we light this first candle, we are reminded that the “Who of Advent” is God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Light of the World.

May the hope of Advent come into our lives, as once again we remember the “Who” of the season.

O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

 :

I invite you to join me during these weeks of Advent to celebrate the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth as a baby in Bethlehem’s manger and also His coming to earth again at the time of His much-anticipated Second Coming.

Will you please pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

We celebrate the birth of Your Son. What a miracle! We simply cannot comprehend the depth of Your love for us that You would send Your only Son as the One to pay the penalty for our sin.

We also wait in humble anticipation, Dear Father, for the return of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to earth. We long for Him to come quickly and receive us into the fullness of Your Kingdom.

Please help us during the season of Advent to fix our minds and hearts on the eager anticipation we feel for both of these most holy events. By the power of Your Holy Spirit, prepare our minds and hearts to receive Your joy, as we await the Day of Celebration.

Thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Singular Focus

 

7 “Let us go to his dwelling place;
        let us worship at his footstool—
8 arise, O Lord, and come to your resting place,
        you and the ark of your might.
9 May your priests be clothed with righteousness;
        may your saints sing for joy.”

—The words of the Psalmist from Psalm 132:7-9

 

We live in a selfish and self-centered society. The number one question most people ask a dozen times a day: “What’s in it for me?” Is it any wonder, then, that we bring this same attitude with us when we enter the doors of our churches?

When we gather for worship, we should have a singular focus. We have come to “attribute worth to God.” That’s what the word “worship” means—to attribute worth to God. So, isn’t it more than a little silly if we come to our times of worship with our minds and hearts filled with thoughts only of ourselves: our needs, our desires, our wants, our pain, our joy, our distractions?

A couple of dozen years ago, Bruce Ballinger wrote a rather simple Gospel praise song that captures the very essence of what I’m trying to convey in this blog post. The folks at Maranatha Music published and popularized this song for use in worship services across the United States, as they transitioned from more traditional worship music to praise music. Thus, the song has almost become a cliche when traditionalists, like me, talk about the decline of church music. Notwithstanding that self-imposed baggage, I still must confess that even in its simplicity, this praise song elegantly conveys a significant mind change that should take place whenever we gather for worship.

This video should illustrate my point. I hope you will receive my message:

 



(Note: Your browser must support Adobe Flash in order to view this video)

 

The next time we enter church to worship, let’s set aside our normal selfishness and focus on the God who loves us. Okay?

Will you please pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

Help us, O God, when we come into our churches for a time of worship, to focus all our attention on telling You how much we value who You are. Help us give ourselves wholeheartedly to expressing our love for You and our joy at Your appearing in our daily lives.

Help us to become more and more aware of the many times each day You reveal Yourself to us. As we see Your hand at work in our lives, help us to rejoice that You love us and that You have chosen us to belong to You before the foundation of the world.

Thank you for daily sustaining us in the midst of this sinful and perverse world. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, November 26, 2012

So, What’s the Scoop About Advent?

 

2 The people walking in darkness
        have seen a great light;
   on those living in the land of the shadow of death
        a light has dawned.
3 You have enlarged the nation
        and increased their joy;
   they rejoice before you
        as people rejoice at the harvest,
   as men rejoice
        when dividing the plunder.
4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
        you have shattered
   the yoke that burdens them,
        the bar across their shoulders,
        the rod of their oppressor.
5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle
        and every garment rolled in blood
   will be destined for burning,
        will be fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born,
        to us a son is given,
        and the government will be on his shoulders.
   And he will be called
        Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
        Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace
        there will be no end.
   He will reign on David’s throne
        and over his kingdom,
   establishing and upholding it
        with justice and righteousness
        from that time on and forever.
   The zeal of the Lord Almighty
        will accomplish this.

—The words of the Prophet Isaiah from Isaiah 9:2-7

 

Yesterday, Sunday, November 25, 2012, marked the end of the church year. Countless congregations of sincere Christians across the globe celebrated this signal day by marking “Christ the King” Sunday.

Oh, I know that many Protestant evangelical Christians stay clear of any reference to the church year. I used to be one of them. I was raised in strict fundamentalism. The list of things I was not allowed to do stretched so long that if I had carried it with me it would have dragged across the floor—I probably would have tripped over it.

I am very grateful that, over the course of my life, God has brought a large number of devoted followers of Christ across my pathway. Many of them have enriched my worship experience by exposing me to elements of historic Christianity that I would have shunned as a teenager and young adult. For someone who carried his bright red Youth for Christ Bible on top of his school books all through high school to come to understand and appreciate so many elements missing from my upbringing has been a blessed experience.

Advent Wreath

So, as I write this blog post, and particularly as I reflect on Isaiah’s prophecy in the Scripture passage at the beginning of this blog post, I realize that many of the evangelicals reading this particular post may be horrified that I mention the opening season of a new church year that begins this coming Sunday, December 2, 2012: Advent.

To my fellow evangelicals I say, “You need not be horrified by the beauty and richness provided by the observance of the days of the church year.” In fact, who could quarrel with taking a Sunday to celebrate that the Lord Jesus Christ is, in fact, our King of Kings and Lord of Lords. That’s what I did yesterday, along with the members of the congregation where I worship—a fledgling new mission group, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, that one day hopes to affiliate with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

So what’s the scoop about Advent? One of the best explanations I have found comes from the folks at BustedHalo.com a ministry of the Paulist Fathers.

“What just a minute!” you may say. “Paulist Fathers sounds Roman Catholic. Don’t tell me that you, a Protestant evangelical, are using a resource from a Roman Catholic group?”

Yes I am! One of the blessings that God has given me in my life is the realization that I have many brothers and sisters in Christ who worship as Roman Catholics. And, the Paulist Fathers is one group within the Roman Catholic Church that has a particular emphasis on evangelism—and isn’t that a significant part of what being “evangelical” is all about?

In any case, here’s the video from the great team over at BustedHalo.com. I hope you enjoy it and find it both interesting and instructive.

 



(Note: Your browser must support Adobe Flash in order to view this video)

 

I invite you to join me during the upcoming weeks of Advent to celebrate the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth as a baby in Bethlehem’s manger and also His coming to earth again at the time of His much-anticipated Second Coming.

Will you please pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

We celebrate the birth of Your Son. What a miracle! We simply cannot comprehend the depth of Your love for us that You would send Your only Son as the One to pay the penalty for our sin.

We also wait in humble anticipation, Dear Father, for the return of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to earth. We long for Him to come quickly and receive us into the fullness of Your Kingdom.

Please help us during the season of Advent to fix our minds and hearts on the eager anticipation we feel for both of these most holy events. By the power of Your Holy Spirit, prepare our minds and hearts to receive Your joy, as we await the Day of Celebration.

Thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Day 2012

 

1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Worship the Lord with gladness;
        come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the Lord is God.
        It is he who made us, and we are his;
        we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
        and his courts with praise;
        give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
        his faithfulness continues through all generations.

—The words from Psalm 100

 

May God grant you and your loved ones a most blessed Thanksgiving Day. I hope you will enjoy John Rutter’s arrangement of the timeless hymn “Now Thank We All Our God” from his album Te Deum and Other Church Music.

 



(Note: Your browser must support Adobe Flash in order to view this video)

 

Will you pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

On this Thanksgiving Day, our hearts overflow with praise to You, O God, for all the magnificent gifts you have given us. We pray that You will keep us ever mindful of Your great love for us and for the gracious way You keep Your steadying hand on our lives.

Thank Yor for every good and perfect gift. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Timely Word of Warning - Part 8

 

20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21 Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

24 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

—The words of the Apostle Jude from Jude 1:20-25

 

We ended the last blog post wondering what do to if we discover that the kind of people Jude describes have wormed their way into the leadership of our churches and have set about pushing true believers out of leadership roles and out of the church. These evil people who bring corruption to the church—that is the rupture of the core—diminish the effectiveness of the ministry of the church. They profoundly damage the people of that church, especially the young people. In fact, they do such damage to the young people of the church that the effect of their corruption lasts for at least two or three generations.

Faced with such an overwhelming challenge to the cause of Christ, the Apostle Jude hastens to end his short letter with clear instructions to the true believers who want to turn this damage around and heal the wounds inflicted on the church. Specifically, Jude suggests the following:

  • “Build yourselves up in the most holy faith.” Take the steps necessary to increase your own faith. Spend time in God’s Word. Implant the Truth deep within your hearts and minds. Build a point of reference against which you can measure every action to make certain it aligns with God’s revealed instructions.

  • “Pray in the Holy Spirit.” Such prayer is not a weak, pleading, selfish prayer. This is warfare praying. This is pounding on the gates of heaven. This is significant time spent—both alone and with other believers—beseeching God to act decisively to protect the church, restore wounded believers, and uproot those with evil intent.

  • “Keep yourself in God’s love.” In some ways, this is one of the hardest instructions of all. In the midst of a soul-wrenching battle against the forces of evil, maintain a protective barrier around yourself with God’s unfailing, undying love. This goes against every fiber of our natural beings. When we’re attacked, diminished, disrespected, and forced out, our natural inclination is to rise up in great anger and utterly destroy those who have wounded us. But this is not God’s way. And Jude reminds us that we must face our attackers wrapped in a protective cocoon of God’s love.

  • “Wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Wow! But we don’t want to wait. We want action, now! We want to overthrow our enemies. We want to haul them out into the streets and stone them. We want to beat them with the clubs of righteousness until they scream for mercy, sob in asking for forgiveness, wail in repentance, leap to make restitution, and humbly beg for restoration. (I can’t even write these words without laughing at our foolishness!)

    No! Instead, we must wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. He, and he alone, will be the One to bring justice. So, you who have jumped to your feet and drawn your swords, put your swords back in their scabbards and sit down. Now is not a time for action. It is a time to wait for the mercies of the Lord to overtake those who have ruptured the core; those who have perpetrated evil in our midst.

    And, it may not happen in our lifetime here on earth. Some matters may never become settled this side of heaven. Some evil will not be overcome until Christ returns. We may step from this life into eternal life without ever seeing the resolution of the horrible deeds that have been done to us.

  • “Be merciful to those who doubt.” Keep proclaiming the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ with love and with honesty. Make every effort to build up those who doubt or are weak. Stand in the gap for those who are not strong enough to stand for themselves. At every turn, give glory to God by sharing with others the power that comes from the Holy Spirit.

  • “Snatch others from the fire and save them.” Remain watchful for those who have strayed too far from the fold. Go after them in God’s love and gently restore those who have strayed away.

  • “Show mercy, but don’t become corrupted by their sin.” Stand firm on the Truth of God’s Word. Extend mercy to those who do not deserve mercy. But guard yourself so that you will not become stained by the evil that has driven them to sin.

  • “Receive a closing benediction”—a blessing on your life—and rest in the security of knowing that you belong to God through Christ.

This brings our examination of the Book of Jude to an end. I sincerely hope that the lessons of this short, but amazing, book will remain with you throughout the days, weeks, and months ahead.

Will you pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

As we have examined this powerful epistle, we feel enormous gratitude for the message You sent to the church through the pen of the Apostle Jude. Having explored these words of warning and examined our own churches to see whether Jude’s warning applies to our situations today, we want to move forward protected by what we have learned.

Thank You, Precious Father, that we can count on You to guard us and guide us. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Timely Word of Warning - Part 7

 



17 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

—The words of the Apostle Jude from Jude 1:17-19

 

Over the course of previous six blog posts, I have examined the potent prose of the Apostle Jude as he writes to the churches spread across Asia Minor—the land we know in the modern world as Turkey. Since Jude only wrote one letter that survived the canonical scrutiny, and since it is a relatively short letter, we need to carefully heed the warning Jude presents. He has become increasingly concerned as he hears of great strife in the church.

Solidly grounded orthodox believers have been pushed out of leadership positions by individuals who have wormed their way into the church. These newcomers have brought with them false doctrines and a spirit of divisiveness that strains credulity. Why the very leaders who had led the churches to accomplish significant Kingdom work have now been vilified, disrespected, and dismissed.

In today’s verses, Jude reminds the faithful that what has happened should not come as a surprise. In fact, the apostles predicted that scoffers who follow their own ungodly desires will divide the believers in a church. Jude urges the faithful to keep in mind that these divisive ones do not have the Holy Spirit. In other words, they are false believers. They do not really belong to Christ. They really are not brothers or sisters in the Lord.

“I’m sure glad nothing like that happens today,” you may opine.

Don’t kid yourself. The same kind of issues that Jude deals with in his short epistle face countless evangelical churches today. People have come in and taken positions of leadership with the aim of destroying the effectiveness of the ministry of the church.

In this series of blog posts I have talked much about corruption in the church. Corruption, this rupturing of the core, renders the church ineffective. It diminishes the church’s ability to serve Christ and His Kingdom. It may take the church in a direction under the guise of a new and improved program of ministry. But careful examination will disclose that instead of increasing effectiveness, the new and improved program has pushed the church backward, not forward.

Take a look at your church. Is your church better off today than it was one year ago? Two years ago? Five years ago? If not, why not?

Could it be that the new leadership in your church has taken steps to rupture the core?

If you discover that leaders are rupturing the core, what do you do about it? Well the Apostle Jude has some suggestions. And, we’ll talk about those suggestions in the next blog post.

Will you pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

As we continue to examine this powerful epistle, we also continue to feel gratitude for the message You sent to the church through the pen of the Apostle Jude. We want to explore these words of warning and examine our own churches to see whether Jude’s warning applies to our situations today.

Thank You, Precious Father, that we can count on You to guard us and guide us. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Timely Word of Warning - Part 6

 

8 In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. 9 But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10 Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals—these are the very things that destroy them.

11 Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.

12 These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. 13 They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.

14 Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 15 to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” 16 These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.

—The words of the Apostle Jude from Jude 1:8-16

 

As you read the Scripture verse at the beginning of this blog post, you can easily come to the conclusion that the Apostle Jude pulls no punches. He calls it like it is.

Today, I continue this series of blog posts doing my best to unpack this short Book of Jude.

Word has reached Jude that the churches in Asia Minor—what today we call Turkey—have fallen victim to a common problem. Evil people have come into the church and, over time, ruptured the core of the church. They have taken steps to defame the long-term formal and informal leaders. They have told lies about the more spiritually sensitive believers. They have slowly, but surely, taken over the leadership of the church.

Then, they have brought in other outsiders and elevated them to significant positions of authority in the church. Thus, having seized the reins of control, they have systematically destroyed the effectiveness of the church as a witness for the Gospel and an earthly expression of the Kingdom of God.

The church stands corrupted—its core has become ruptured. In this sad state of affairs countless lives have been adversely affected.

Contemporaneous liturature of the time talks about the effect these actions had on the youngest members of the church—the children and youth. Many young people who had walked the Christ-road have now fallen away. They have seen their godly leaders replaced with ungodly ones. They have seen those who taught them the whole counsel of God replaced by ineffective strangers. The sense of close knit family that they once had has vanished, as the corruption within the church has spread to completion.

Into this utter morass of despair comes a strong letter from the half-brother of Jesus, the Apostle Jude. A son of Mary and Joseph, Jude has come to an understanding of the power of the risen Christ somewhat later in his life than you might have expected. It was hard for Jude, his brother James, and his other brothers—Joseph and Simon—to understand that their older brother was not only the son of their mother Mary, He was the Son of the Living God.

But, having come to this reality, down through the years that follow, Jude has taken a significant leadership role. While his brother James became the principal leader of the church at Jerusalem, Jude has become a counselor to the leadership, has traveled widely visiting the fledgling churches, and has become a significant voice in encouraging the spiritual formation of the new believers.

With such a significant role, you may wonder why we only have this short letter to remind us of the role Jude played at the inception of the church. Could it be that he was simply too busy doing the work of the Kingdom to write many letters?

The very paucity of written words makes this short Book of Jude all the more powerful. He certainly doesn’t mince words. He has clearly and methodically defined the nature of those who have wormed their way into the church and, empowered by Satan, have set about rupturing the core and destroying the effectiveness of the church.

How clever these false leaders were. They did not cause the church to cease to exist. Rather, they corrupted the church, leaving it in place, but blunting its ability to do the work God had intended it to do for His own sake.

Do the words of Jude apply to us today? To discover whether or not they do, you must ask yourself: “How effective is my church in serving God? If I take a census of all the families in my church, do all the young people love Jesus and do they have an active part in the ministry of the church?”

You see, when the young people in a church begin to fall away—shy away from church attendance, exhibit no interest in learning about Jesus, give no example of faith leading them through their daily lives—this offers one of the major signs that the core of the church has become ruptured.

When a church loves Jesus and is fully committed to obediently serving Him, the young people in that church capture the vision of the Kingdom of God alive and well here on earth. They become excited and burst with enthusiasm. Not enthusiasm for a program, nor for a personality leading a program, but enthusiasm for the things of the Lord that such a program or personality presents to them. Thus, the spiritual life of its young people provides a significant way of measuring the health of a church.

In my next blog post, I will endeavor to continue unpacking the words of the Apostle Jude. In the meantime, examine your own life and the life of your church. Has the core of your church become ruptured? If so, what do you intend to do about it? If you don’t know what to do, the Apostle Jude will have some intruction for you.

Will you pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

As we continue to examine this powerful epistle, we also continue to feel gratitude for the message You sent to the church through the pen of the Apostle Jude. We want to explore these words of warning and examine our own churches to see whether Jude’s warning applies to our situations today.

We pray for the young people in our churches. We ask You to draw them irresistably into Your mercy and grace. Plant the seed of Christ deep within their hearts. Well up within them an enthusiasm for the life-transforming power of the risen Christ. Give them joy in knowing they belong to You. Given them unbridled enthusiasm for the life of faith. Guard them against those who would woo them away from You.

Thank You, Precious Father, that we can count on You to guard us and guide us. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Timely Word of Warning - Part 5

 

7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

—The words of the Apostle Jude from Jude 1:7

 

I began this series of blog posts with the intention of doing my best to unpack this short Book of Jude. If, as the old saying goes, “Dynamite comes in small packages!” then the Book of Jude packs a terrific whallop.

Concerned about all manner of sin and corruption that had wormed it’s way into the church, the Apostle Jude wrote with determined urgency. He wanted to warn the church about impending disaster if they did not amend their ways.

By the time he wrote this letter, Jude had observed that they greatest threat to the church came from within. By slyly finding an entrance into the inner circle of the believers, individuals with evil intent could cause an erosion of trust and effectively rupture the core.

I have written in each of the previous blog posts in this series about the harm that comes to the church—the body of Christ—when the core becomes ruptured. It spells doom for the church. Why? Because once the core of a church becomes ruptured, it can no longer fulfill the mission that the Lord Jesus Christ gave His church in the Great Commission, as recorded in Matthew 28:

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

A ruptured core means the church has positioned itself in a place of utter failure. Oh, it may continue to meet and otherwise exist for some time after the core becomes ruptured. But it operates as a shadow of its former self. And the very people who have ruptured the core inherently lack the spiritual sensitivity and discernment to identify that the core has become ruptured. If someone does suggest that something seems wrong with the church, those same core-rupturing individuals quickly deny the obvious truth.

In the verse at the beginning of this blog post, Jude adds one final example to his list of dramatic experiences by making reference to the plight of Sodom and Gomorrah. You can find an account of this tragedy beginning in Genesis 13 where the Scripture records:

13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.

Homosexual behavor principally marked their sin. The king of this area seized Abraham’s nephew, Lot, and his family, and carried them off. Abraham had to come to Lot’s rescue.

Later, as recorded in Genesis 19, God sent two angels to Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot welcomed them and housed them in his home. But the wicked men of Sodom demanded that Lot surrender the angels to them so they could sexually molest them.

Even though Abraham had pleaded for God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah—if he could locate just ten righteous men in those cities—Abraham could not find even that small number of God-fearing men. So God rained fire and brimstone (burning sulfur) down on the cities and utterly destroyed them, sparing only Lot, his wife, and his two daughters.


The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by artist John Martin

God’s judgment is swift and sure. Though God has great patience and waits a long time for men, women, boys, and girls to repent of their sin and receive His pardon through the precious blood of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, He will bring judgment on those who rupture the core—those who corrupt His church.

Will you pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

As we continue to examine this powerful epistle, we also continue to feel gratitude for the message You sent to the church through the pen of the Apostle Jude. We want to explore these words of warning and examine our own churches to see whether Jude’s warning applies to our situations today.

Thank You, Precious Father, that we can count on You to guard us and guide us. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.