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.

 

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Timely Word of Warning - Part 4

 

6 And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.

—The words of the Apostle Jude from Jude 1:6

 

In this series of blog posts, I intend to do my best to unpack this short Book of Jude. The Apostle Jude continues his letter to Christians gathered in the portion of the world that today we call Turkey. He continues to list a series of offences comparable to what he believes has afflicted the newly formed church. In the second example, he moves from the Rebellion of Korah to the Rebellion that took place in heaven when Lucifer tried to be God without God. You can find a record of this particular incident in Isaiah 14:12-15.

Satan banished from heaven
12 How you have fallen from heaven,
        O morning star, son of the dawn!
   You have been cast down to the earth,
        you who once laid low the nations!
13 You said in your heart,
        “I will ascend to heaven;
   I will raise my throne
        above the stars of God;
   I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
        on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.
14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
        I will make myself like the Most High.”
15 But you are brought down to the grave,
        to the depths of the pit.

In this second example of godlessness unleashed, the Apostle Jude intends to prepare the true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ gathered in newly formed churches in Turkey for the hard work of taking a stand against corruption in the church. As I stated in my first blog post on this topic:

...As distasteful as the message the Apostle Jude intends to communicate to the fledgling church, it remains a powerful and timely warning for us today.

We often talk about corrupt politics, corrupt government, corrupt businesses, and sometimes even a corrupt church. The etymology of the word “corrupt” greatly informs the use of the word in our society today. The word “corrupt” comes from the idea that the “core” of someone or something has become “ruptured” or “burst apart from within.”

One cannot be God without God. Satan tried it. It cost him everything. Likewise, in the church, leaders cannot assume the role of God. Rather, they must bow in humility before the one true God and seek His leading. They must become people of the Word. They must follow God’s commands in Scripture. They must become servant leaders. They must guard against impressing their human desires on the congregation they serve. They must approach every situation with seriousness and great care.

The Apostle Jude urgest the true believers to contend for the faith. To break up the corruption. To cast out those who incite dissent and division, just as God cast Satan, and all of the angels who followed him, out of heaven. This seems like a daunting task. But, as we continue our study of the Book of Jude, we will see other examples that the Apostle gives to bolster the courage of believers as they contend for the faith.

As I have stated repeatedly in the series of blog posts, on the one hand, we must strive to push back against those who desire to rupture the core of the church. On the other hand, we must do so with hearts full of God’s love, with an awareness of our own inherent sinfulness, and with total reliance on the leading of the Holy Spirit. And, as I will frequently state during this series of blog posts, that represents quite a challenge.

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.

 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Timely Word of Warning - Part 3

 

5 Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe.

—The words of the Apostle Jude from Jude 1:5

 

Jude continues his letter to Christians gathered in the portion of the world that today we call Turkey. He begins a series of offences comparable to what he believes has afflicted the newly formed church. In the first example, he reaches back into the history of Israel to the time of deliverance from Egypt. You can find a representation of one such particular incident in Numbers 16.

1Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and certain Reubenites—Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth—became insolent 2 and rose up against Moses. With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council. 3 They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?”

4 When Moses heard this, he fell facedown. 5 Then he said to Korah and all his followers: “In the morning the Lord will show who belongs to him and who is holy, and he will have that person come near him. The man he chooses he will cause to come near him. 6 You, Korah, and all your followers are to do this: Take censers 7 and tomorrow put fire and incense in them before the Lord. The man the Lord chooses will be the one who is holy. You Levites have gone too far!”

God had spoken and had given clear leadership to Moses and Aaron. God expected His people to believe Him—to take Him at His word. As a result of what has become known as the “Korah Rebellion,” they perished because of their foolishness:

28 Then Moses said, “This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea: 29 If these men die a natural death and experience only what usually happens to men, then the Lord has not sent me. 30 But if the Lord brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the grave, then you will know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt.”

The Korah Rebellion31 As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, with their households and all Korah’s men and all their possessions. 33 They went down alive into the grave, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community. 34 At their cries, all the Israelites around them fled, shouting, “The earth is going to swallow us too!”

35 And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.

This event demonstrates what happens to those who do not believe what the Lord has said. Jude wants to make a strong case for contending earnestly for the faith in order to repel corruption in the church.

“Corruption” stands as the most important concept to understand. I tried to carefully address this subject of corruption in my first blog post on this topic. In that post, I wrote the following:

...As distasteful as the message the Apostle Jude intends to communicate to the fledgling church, it remains a powerful and timely warning for us today.

We often talk about corrupt politics, corrupt government, corrupt businesses, and sometimes even a corrupt church. The etymology of the word “corrupt” greatly informs the use of the word in our society today. The word “corrupt” comes from the idea that the “core” of someone or something has become “ruptured” or “burst apart from within.”

In future blog posts, as we examine the other parts of this powerfully packed epistle, you will likely come to see that our role as soldiers of Christ remains quite complex. On the one hand, we must strive to push back against those who desire to rupture the core of the church. On the other hand, we must do so with hearts full of God’s love, with an awareness of our own inherent sinfulness, and with total reliance on the leading of the Holy Spirit. And, as I will frequently state during this series of blog posts, that represents quite a challenge.

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.