Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Strong Words of Warning!

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

The verses you will read today contain strong warnings and harsh language for false teachers. These false teachers were leading My followers astray. They were creating havoc in the fellowship meals (“love feasts”) and gatherings of My disciples. These false teachers were self-absorbed and had perverted grace to justify their sinful lifestyles.

The first set of verses you read comes from the first part of Jude. These verses are so similar to 2 Peter chapter 2 that I include only Jude’s words for today’s reading. The second set of verses comes from 2 Peter chapter 3. The third set comes from the end of Jude’s short letter. He concludes his letter with praise for the Father. He reminds My disciples that the Father is the only One Who can save them and He will do just that!

The short little letter called Jude is best understood more like a “tract for troubled times.” It is an emergency note written with urgency. The second chapter of 2 Peter contains very similar wording:

Depraved souls who stand condemned have made a mockery of the grace given to you, using it as a pretext for a life of sinful excess, lived without any thought of God.

Both Peter and Jude used images from the Old Testament and also reminded their readers of the punishment the Father brought on rebellious and wanton sinners. These images were written as warnings to My disciples so that they would recognize the gravity of the false teaching and the false teachers who spread it. These false teachers were “dreamers who have slipped in and defiled your community, rejected those in charge, and insulted the glorious majesty of the heavenly messengers.”

Jude had intended to send a much happier letter of encouragement centered on the salvation the disciples shared. However, his heart was so troubled by these false teachers that he sent his short message about them instead. Peter had a very similar strong teaching that paralleled Jude’s message as he addressed similar problems. He followed his warning about these false teachers with teaching about the judgment coming on those who are godless and make life difficult for My disciples and lead them astray. He described that coming judgment in terms consistent with the fate of the false teachers described in Jude’s note.

I want you to notice the strong language used for those who perverted grace into an excuse for immorality and who “lived without any thought of God.” I also want you to recognize that both of these writers ended their messages with encouragement. They were confident that the Father would continue to work in the lives of My disciples and bring them complete salvation.

Until the time they fully experienced salvation, Jude reminded My followers to care for each other. They were to deal with those who had been influenced by the false teachers based on their need and what led them to fall away:

[Y]ou must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.

(Jude 1:22-23 NLT)

Jude’s last words are especially encouraging and helpful. Carefully notice the third set of verses below. They are beautiful, reliable, and very practical. Remember, you cannot save yourself; your salvation depends on the Father’s grace and your trust in Him. Your Father is good. He can and will transform you and bring you to Himself as His pure and holy child.

Verses to Live

Please read straight through these verses as one continuous reading. I want you to get the flow of the message. Look for the strong language that Peter and Jude used to describe the false teachers. Also, look for the encouragement offered at the end of the second and third sets of verses. I AM confident in good things with you and your faith. But I also want you to be aware that there are false teachers who will try to lead you away from Me. So keep your focus on the Father, walk with Me in the Spirit.

Jude, a slave of Jesus the Anointed and a brother of James, to you, the ones whom God our Father loves and has called and whom Jesus, the Anointed One, has kept. Kindness, peace, love — may they never stop blooming in you and from you.

Friends, I have been trying to write you about our common salvation. But these days my heart is troubled, and I am compelled to write to you and encourage you to continue struggling for the faith that was entrusted to the saints once and for all. Vile men have slithered in among us. Depraved souls who stand condemned have made a mockery of the grace given to us, using it as a pretext for a life of excess, lived without any thought of God. These poor fools have denied Jesus the Anointed, our one Lord and Master.

You have heard the stories many times, and the Spirit has enlightened you about their meaning, but you still need to be reminded. Remember when the Lord saved our ancestors from the land in Egypt? He breathed life into their earthen lungs and took back the life from those who did not believe. And God has kept the rebellious heavenly messengers bound and chained in utter darkness — shadowy gloom — until the time when His judgment arrives, because they failed to keep their rightful positions and abandoned their appointed realms. Sodom and Gomorrah and all their neighbors were defeated by their own sexual perversions as they pursued the strange and unnatural impulses of the flesh. Let these who went their own way and are experiencing the eternal heat of God’s vengeance — a punishment by fire — be a warning to you.

These stories are examples to help you understand the fate of those dreamers who have slipped in and defiled your community, rejected those in charge, and insulted the glorious majesty of the heavenly messengers. Even their chief, Michael, when disputing with the devil over Moses’ body, did not offer his own taunting judgment against him. Michael simply said, “May the Lord’s rebuke fall on you.”

The deceivers among you despise what they do not understand; they live without reason like animals, reacting only with primal instincts; and their ways are corrupting them. Woe to these deceivers! They are doomed! They have followed in the footsteps of their father Cain, sold their souls for profit into Balaam’s deceit, and suffered the devastation of Korah’s rebellion.

These men are cold stones on the warm hearth of your love feasts as they glut themselves without fear, thinking only of their own benefit. They are waterless clouds, carried away by the wind; autumn’s lonely and barren trees, twice dead, uprooted; violent waves of the sea breaking over the bow, foaming with shame; lost and wandering stars destined to live forever in gloomy darkness.

(Jude 1:1-13)

This is now, my dear friends, my second letter to you. In both of them, I have tried to inspire you to a sincere and pure way of thinking by reminding you of what you already know. Remember the words spoken earlier by God’s holy prophets and the commandment that our Lord and Savior gave to you through your emissaries. Above all, be sure to remember that in the last days mockers will come, following their own desires and taunting you, saying, “So what happened to the promised second coming of Jesus? For everything keeps going just the way it has since our ancestors fell asleep in death; since the beginning of creation, nothing’s changed.”

When they make fun of you, it’s as if the scoffers are deliberately forgetting that long ago when God spoke the word, the heavens came into existence and the earth formed from water and by water. The waters later flooded and destroyed that world. By that same word, the heavens and earth we see now are being reserved for destruction by fire, preserved until the time comes for the godless on the day of judgment.

Don’t imagine, dear friends, that God’s timetable is the same as ours; as the psalm says, for with the Lord, one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like one day.

Now the Lord is not slow about enacting His promise — slow is how some people want to characterize it — no, He is not slow but patient and merciful to you, not wanting anyone to be destroyed, but wanting everyone to turn away from following his own path and to turn toward God’s.

The day of the Lord will come unexpectedly like a thief in the night; and on that day, the sky will vanish with a roar, the elements will melt with intense heat, and the earth and all the works done on it will be seen as they truly are. Knowing that one day all this will come to pass, think what sort of people you ought to be — how you should be living faithful and godly lives, waiting hopefully for and hastening the coming of God’s day when the heavens will vanish in flames and the elements melt away with intense heat. What will happen next, and what we hope for, is what God promised: a new heaven and a new earth where justice reigns.

So, my friends, while we wait for the day of the Lord, work hard to live in peace, without flaw or blemish; and look at the patience of the Lord as your salvation.

(2 Peter 3:1-15)

You, however, should stand firm in the love of God, constructing a life within the holy faith, praying the Spirit’s prayer, as you wait eagerly for the mercy of our Lord Jesus the Anointed, which leads to eternal life.

Keep being kind to those who waver in this faith. Pursue those who are singed by the flames of God’s wrath, and bring them safely to Him. Show mercy to others with fear, despising every garment soiled by the weakness of human flesh.

Now to the One Who can keep you upright and plant you firmly in His presence — clean, unmarked, and joyful in the light of His glory — to the one and only God, our Savior, through Jesus the Anointed our Lord, be glory and greatness and might and authority; just as it has been since before He created time, may it continue now and into eternity. Amen.

(Jude 1:20-25)

Response in Prayer

Father, please help me discern Your truth and recognize false teachers. I don’t want to be strident or arrogant in my faith. Neither do I want to tolerate doctrine and teaching that are harmful to Your people. Give me wisdom, dear Father, through Your Holy Spirit within me as I seek to discern Your truth, Your teachers, and Your will. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.

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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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