Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. – Romans 12:2 NLT

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Hey Jude!

In the very short book of Jude, the writer warns us about people who divert, disrupt and destroy the work of God. These individuals are said to also “worm their way in,” perverting the grace of God. The writer goes on to describe these people as dangerous reefs, shameless shepherds, empty clouds, wild waves, and wandering stars (Jude 1:12-13). Notice the underlying “form-without-substance” connotation; shepherds caring only for themselves; clouds offering no rain, waves only stirring up foam, etc. All their actions and flattery serve as a means for them to simply get what they want.

Several years ago, when I read that I remembered I…had known a guy. The guy I knew loved Jesus and would never have wanted to pervert the grace of God. He actually had enough understanding to be somewhat productive in the Kingdom of God. He had never set out to deliberately divert, disrupt or destroy anything or anyone. Somewhere along the line though, he lost focus and after some time he found himself willing to cast aside anything holy in his life for selfish gain. The brother didn’t even know why he had become that way.

Thankfully, one day the light of the Lord penetrated that guy’s hard self-centered heart. All the hidden motives were finally exposed. The Holy Spirit began revealing why those motives were even there in the first place; why he seemed driven to do certain things. Quickly godly men responded and chose to rescue that man as though snatching him from the flames. Yes, they brought a harsh rebuke and correction, but they also extended the mercy and love of God to him. Daily they spoke the Word of God into him and over him.

Now, I know this new guy. One who thinks differently, walks differently, and talks differently. This guy strives to snatch others from the flames so that they too can be free.  By the grace of God, he responds when others are walking through their own dark days. He chooses to extend the same mercy and grace that he received. The Word of God is spoken into and over the lives of others as it was his. This guy understands WHY it is that freed people want to see people free. He gets why Jude reminds us that we are to build others up in the faith and pray for them in the power of the Holy Spirit (Jude 1:20-23).

News flash: God takes seriously anything that hinders His plans and purposes in lives of His people. So let the light of the Lord penetrate down deep and expose any hidden motives in your own life. Because, I’m telling you right now, you don’t want to be another guy who can say…I knew a guy!

Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault.” – Jude v24

Kind of makes me want to sing…Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, “thanks” Jude!

A Need To Know

As a follower of Jesus, have you ever stopped serving Him long enough to ask yourself, “Who is this man?” Before you roll your eyes, keep in mind even the twelve disciples questioned. They saw with their own eyes everything He did and heard firsthand what He taught. Yet, they still asked that question…often.

Although the following passages may be familiar, stay with me.  My hope is that the truth at the end will (at least in part) provide a fresh understanding as to who Jesus is, based on what He did.

In Luke 7:12-15, Jesus approached a village gate as large funeral procession was coming out.  In the procession was a widow who was about to bury her only son.  With His heart overflowing with compassion, Jesus said to her, “Don’t cry!” He then walked over and touched the coffin, stopping the pallbearers in their tracks. “Young man,” He said, “I tell you, get up.” To the amazement of everyone there, the widow’s son sat up in his coffin and began to talk! Jesus turned back toward the widow and gave him back to her.

In Luke 8:43-48, there was a woman in a crowd who had suffered for years with constant bleeding. Her only success in looking for a cure was that she exhausted all of her earthly resources. One day she heard that Jesus would be passing by. She resolved that if she could push through the crowd and just touch the fringe of his robe, her healing would come. The Bible records that as Jesus passed by; the woman did push through and did touch His hem. It goes on the say, “Immediately, her bleeding stopped.”

Both in Luke 8:53-55 and Matthew 9:23-25, Jesus is on His way to the house of a religious leader who had a very sick daughter. By the time Jesus arrived though, the girl had already died. He could hear the noise of the mourners and funeral music that had already begun even before entering the house. Eventually, Jesus dismissed the crowd, because they were all convinced it was too late. Once they were put out, Jesus went in and took the girl by the hand, and she stood up!

There may be times when we may face seemingly hopeless situations.

Be encouraged and hold fast to the Word of God. It reveals Jesus as the one who can stop the “funeral procession” and raise us to new life (while others still have us in a coffin). He is the one who has, even in the hem of His garment, the power to stop years of constant “bleeding” ( sorrow, depression and pain).  He is the one who dismisses the crowd that would have us dismiss any hope of healing, restoration and life.

“Who is this Man?”  He is Jesus, Son of the Living God; the one who takes us by the hand and says, “My child, get up,” and returns us to life again.

No Matter What

Jesus was often challenged publicly by religious leaders. They would demand answers to their questions; Why was He doing what He was doing;  By what authority was He doing those things?  Well, when the appointed time came, Jesus stood trial before the religious High Counsel. What did Jesus do during that trial that threw the Counsel into a rage? What would cause the High Priest over all Israel to tear his priestly robe and send Jesus to the cross?

Some three years earlier, John had baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. As Jesus rose from the water the Bible records a voice from heaven saying, “You are My dearly loved Son, and you bring Me great joy.” God the Father, Creator of heaven and earth, affirmed Jesus as His Son!

Fast forward again to Jesus’ trial.  The High Priest asked Him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”  Jesus said, “I AM.”  He simply agreed with what God had said.  That agreement resulted in His crucifixion.  However, without His death there could be no miracle of resurrection, no forgiveness of all our sins.  You can say His life and ministry consisted of two things; agreement with the Word of God and fulfillment of the will of God.

Before you find yourself in a personal trial, seek the Lord (through prayer) and read His Word (the Bible).  If you’re already in a trial, and need wisdom or direction…do the same thing. “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” (James 1:5)  There in the Word of God you will find the Will of God. And yes, He wants you to know His will.

Inevitably, our willingness to agree with the Word will be tested.  When God gives you a Word, stand firm on it.  No matter what anyone else may say or how desperate things may seem, stand on it.  Why stand?  Because, circumstances do not determine whether or not the “Truth” is indeed truth.  Isaiah 55:11 declares that no matter what, you can rest assured that the Word of God will, “…always produces fruit. It will accomplish all (God) wants it to, and it will prosper everywhere (He) sends it.”  Even if you find yourself standing alone in an impossible situation, hold-fast to what God has given you.  Then, lift up your eyes and see what He will do.

As for me, I have been guilty of much in my life. But now, if I am to be guilty of anything, let me be found guilty of agreeing with the Word of God. No matter what!
(Matthew 3:16-17 & Luke 3:21-22)

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