For Love’s Sake

Being a Christian is not easy. Anyone who tells you it is doesn’t know what they’re talking about. When Jesus came to this earth and began the process of sharing what it means to follow Him, His ideas were not well received by many, particularly the religious folks (Pharisees, Sadducees, etc.).

Think about it. When someone slaps you on the cheek, do you really want to turn to the side and offer them the other cheek to slap? When someone wants to take your shirt, do you really want to offer them your coat too? When someone takes advantage of you and says, “Walk another mile, even though you don’t want to…” well, that’s tough stuff. Jesus said that we must forgive 70 x 7. He said that we must deny ourselves daily and take up our cross. He said we must spend our time and money investing in His kingdom, not the world. Nope! I’ll be the first to admit that living the Christian life is not easy. In fact, it’s a supernatural journey that must be lived in surrender and submission to God through the guiding of the Holy Spirit and that’s easier said than done.

Paul would appeal to Philemon’s understanding of “doing the right thing.” Paul is going to appeal to the Christian love that he’s convinced Philemon is going to need to exhibit to forgive and take back a runaway slave, (Onesimus).

Philemon 1:7-9

For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus.

Paul is in prison in Rome (under house arrest, chained to a Roman soldier) and Philemon knows this. As the letter arrives from Tychicus to him, Philemon surely got a report of the difficulty Paul was enduring. Philemon was free, but Paul was living in conditions that were extremely challenging. Imagine living your life today with someone attached to you with a six-foot chain, going everywhere you go (including the bathroom). Yikes!

Paul describes the fact that he’s an old man (see that in verse 9). Paul would be in his early 60’s at this point and yet he’s still trusting in the Lord’s provision and doing the Lord’s work. I’m so grateful for all of my older brothers and sisters who “keep on keeping on” even though their health is not what it once was! Thank you brothers and sisters in your 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and beyond who continue to work for the kingdom, living for Jesus! You are my heroes!

Paul appeals to Philemon’s goodness and love and wants to encourage him to extend that same goodness and love to receive Onesimus back. The truth is, we aren’t sure what the circumstances were when Onesimus left. He could have stolen something from Philemon. He could have committed some other sort of heinous crime. We don’t know. But, we do know that he ran away and ultimately ended up in Rome, where he met Paul and most importantly, received Jesus as His Lord and Savior. And dear friend, when you receive Jesus that changes everything. When you know Him, you are truly regenerated from the inside out and you are literally born again to the point that you are sincerely a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). Because of this transformation, you and I have the ability to do extraordinary things. We can do the things mentioned before. Yes…we can…

  • Turn the other cheek
  • Walk the second mile
  • Forgive
  • Do good to others
  • Invest for the Kingdom

Paul implored Philemon to “do what is required.”

Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you…

You see, Paul could have commanded Philemon to take Onesimus back. How’s that? Because Paul is an Apostle, appointed by Jesus to establish churches and carry out the work on Jesus’ behalf. Therefore, because of Paul’s position, Philemon could have been ordered to take Onesimus back. But, Paul didn’t appeal to the “law,” instead he appealed to “love.” He said, “for love’s sake, I prefer to appeal to you.”

You know the same is perhaps true for you today. The Lord might be appealing to your heart and mind today “for love’s sake.” Perhaps He is appealing to you to “do what is required.” What is being required of you that’s hard? Is it literally to just simply put one foot in front of the other because you are old? Is it to forgive someone who has said some pretty despicable things to you or about you? Is it to turn the other cheek or walk the second mile?

Hey, it won’t be easy. It’s never easy to live the Christian life. Just ask Paul as you look at him trying to get a bit of privacy while he’s chained to a soldier. Just ask Jesus while He was hanging on the cross. But, that’s what Christians do. We do the hard things. We do what is required. Why? Because we love. We love like Jesus and we supernaturally allow His love to carry us to do what is required for love’s sake.

Kevin

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Koinonia

Koinonia (pronounced: coin-oh-knee-ah)

Have you ever heard of that word? Perhaps you have. It’s the Greek word for “fellowship” or “sharing.” It means more than simply enjoying one another’s company. It refers to a mutual sharing of all life as believers in Christ. It means having Christ in common such that you have a mutual partnership and belonging to one another in the faith.

See this picture…

IMG_2421That’s a picture of “koinonia.” That’s Riverview Baptist Church in Creston, NC. This was picture was from the last night of Revival from when I spoke there a few years ago. The service was about to begin and folks were making room for more people. They were bringing in chairs. There was an excitement in the air as we came together for the last night of time together (last Wednesday night).

As I thought about koinonia, my thoughts were immediately turned to those wonderful folks up the mountain. Koinonia: fellowship, mutual love, mutual sharing. It’s a powerful thought and this is exactly what Paul was describing in his little letter to Philemon. Watch and see if you can pick out “koinonia.”

Philemon 1:4-8

I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.

Did you spot it? Koinonia? It’s in verse 6, “…the sharing of your faith…” and it comes from Philemon’s love and faith for all the believers (saints) in verse 5.

Paul was so thankful for Philemon. This man obviously had a large house and was wealthy (as a slave owner). He and his wife, Apphia and son, Archippus were willing to open up their home for the church in Colossae to meet there. Therefore, they were allowing koinonia (sharing and fellowship) to take place within the body of Christ in that town. Paul says, “…the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.” Wow! What a statement!

I asked myself the question: “Kevin, are you refreshing the hearts of the saints? Are you reflecting koinonia in your life?” Boy, I’ll tell you something… I really, really want to do so! I sincerely desire to be a person who refreshes and brings fellowship and love to other believers.

Philemon shows sacrifice in his sharing. He and Apphia had to prepare their home at least weekly on Saturdays to prepare for the crowd to arrive on the Lord’s Day (Sunday) for the ecclesia (the gathering/meeting) of the church. Because the first church “broke bread” together, I’m confident that they provided food and drink as well. Usually a meal took place each time they met, followed by communion and the teaching of the Word of God. Many would bring food (like a potluck dinner), but Philemon and Apphia certainly made sure that there was plenty for everyone.

You say, “Good for them! They were rich! They could afford to do that!” Did you know that the richest people tend to give the least to charity according to surveys? Being charitable and offering “koinonia” in our lives has nothing to do with wealth. It’s a condition of the heart.

Are you a kind and gracious person? Do you provided fellowship, sharing and love in your life to others? To the saints? I’m pondering these questions today as well.

By the way, do you know at what time of the day the first churches (in the first century) in the Roman Empire met on Sundays? Don’t say 11 am! They met in the evening after the slaves got off work. Remember, 1/3 of the population were slaves. Therefore, around 5-6 pm on Sunday’s they would begin to gather for the ecclesia and koinonia and what joy would ensue.

May we participate in and lead in offering koinonia in our lives today! You are loved!

Kevin

Slaves and Masters

Today we begin a study of the wonderful letter the Apostle Paul wrote to a man named Philemon. It’s a marvelous letter and it’s an account of love, forgiveness and advocacy. Honestly, it’s not a letter that most read that often. It’s tucked away in the New Testament and along with 2 John and 3 John are the shortest letters of the NT. Nonetheless, the example offered to us is timeless and priceless.

Let me set the scene. Paul is under house arrest in Rome. He’s chained to a Roman soldier with a six-foot chain, living in a rented house (likely paid by his own means/funds). We see that by the greeting “a prisoner…”

Philemon 1:1a

Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother.

During this time, he has had the opportunity and occasion to meet a young man named Onesimus, who was a slave in the household of Caesar (Nero). It appears Onesimus (which means “useful”), was led to Christ by the Apostle Paul.

What’s so powerful and compelling is the fact that upon Onesimus’ salvation, Paul learned that Onesimus was the slave of a man who Paul knew. (Talk about a small world.) It appears Onesimus had ran away from his slave owner, Philemon.

Okay…this is amazing. Philemon had been led to Christ as well, most likely when Paul was in Ephesus. Philemon was now a wealthy man living in the town of Colossae and was allowing the church to meet in his home. Remember there were no church buildings until the third century (some 150 to 175 years later). So, Paul greets Philemon and his wife and son…

Philemon 1:1b-3

To Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now here is the meat of this letter. Paul is seeking to reconcile these two men. Paul is coming alongside Philemon to be his advocate. Most likely Paul would send this letter along with Onesimus from Rome to Colossae to Philemon. It appears that one of Paul’s faithful helpers in the ministry, Tychicus delivered this letter (Philemon) as well as the letter that Paul wrote to the church at Colossae (which, again…was meeting in Philemon’s house). As a slave, Onesimus needed someone to travel with him because there were “slave-catchers” on the roads leading away from Rome. (Many slaves would try to escape and go to Rome to make more money working for the Romans than they could make in outlying cities and towns.)

Now please understand something about slavery in the first century. It’s not like you are thinking of today. Don’t think of slave ships coming from Africa and chains and brutality. Those, by and large, were not the conditions for the first century man or woman in slavery. Slavery, particularly under the Roman Empire, constituted a large part of the economy. According to Bible Scholars, slaves accounted for 1/3 of the population. In Paul’s day, slavery had virtually eclipsed free labor. In fact, slaves could be doctors, musicians, teachers, artists, librarians, accountants, etc. Almost any job you could imagine could be occupied by a slave. It was not uncommon for a master to teach a slave his own trade and many slaves and masters became close friends.

Perhaps you are thinking, “Why didn’t Paul write back to Philemon and tell him to release Onesimus?” Well, Paul’s goal was not to overthrow slavery as an institution. His goal was to preach the Gospel. To have done otherwise would have been to suppress the Gospel. This is why I’m careful to get too locked into social causes that do not include preaching the Gospel. We can quickly become preoccupied and lose our focus to preach the Gospel. Without question, when the Gospel was preached, it undermined the evils of slavery by changing the hearts and minds of slave owners and slaves alike. Paul would emphasize the equality of slaves and slave owners in Galatians 3:28, Ephesians 6:9, Colossians 4:1 and 1 Timothy 6:1-2.

Why do I tell you all of this? Because it’s important to understand the background of the cultural setting in the first century so that we can understand the power of this letter. Paul was encouraging forgiveness and isn’t that the heart of the Gospel? After all, we must become like a slave and surrender (humble) ourselves to the Lordship of Christ (as Master). We must be brought to Him by an advocate (the Holy Spirit draws us) and then we receive Him (Jesus) as Lord.

This is a powerful picture of the Gospel and should encourage us today! Of all that Paul had going on in his life, he cared enough about this young slave, Onesimus, to want to help make things right in his life by being his advocate. Maybe we can be an advocate, like Paul, or perhaps we are like Philemon and we need to forgive or maybe we are Onesimus and need to stop running. Let’s ponder what the Holy Spirit is speaking to our hearts today.

God’s blessings upon you all!

Kevin

It’ll Pay Off!

My dad stayed on me between my junior and senior year in high school to lift weights. He said, “Son if you want to play at the next level (college), then you are going to have to hit the weights.” He said, “You know there are other guys going after the same scholarships you are and most of them won’t put in the effort.” I knew he was right on both counts, but I didn’t like lifting weights. It was hard!

After all, I was scrawny and thin and lifting weights was not something I took great pleasure in doing. It was a chore, a task and I didn’t enjoy it at all. Yet, I knew dad was right. I knew if I had any hope of playing college basketball, then I’d have to be stronger and be able to jump higher and be quicker. And the truth is: all of those things I just noted required better, bigger and stronger muscles. So, I guess what I did? Yep, I lifted weights. And guess what? It paid off. I ended up getting a college scholarship to play basketball.

Now, why do I tell you all of this? Because I want to illustrate a point Jude is making to his readers in the first century. He’s actually contrasting false teachers, who are teaching false doctrine with Christians who know the truth and are living by the truth of God’s Word. He’s juxtaposing the two side by side to contrast the two. It’s like those who choose to lift weights and those who don’t. If you want the scholarship bad enough, you do what you’ve got to do.

Watch this play out…

Jude 1:18b-21

18 “…In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.

Compare and contrast:

Scoffers versus Beloved 

False Teachers versus True Believers

The scoffers (False Teachers) were causing divisions in the church and Jude said, “Don’t be like them. Keep doing what you know is right.” Jude begged them to keep building themselves up in the “most holy faith.” That’s in purity and righteous. That means, “Keep living right.” Jude says, “…praying in the Holy Spirit.” This means to pray in harmony with the Holy Spirit and His leading rather than according to our own agenda. (I’ll admit, that’s really hard sometimes.)

Jude says, “…keep yourselves in the love of God.” That’s a command. It’s a bit like my dad staying on me to lift weights. He didn’t “make me,” but he “highly suggested it.” Ha! Ha! He knew there would be times that I would need a kind kick in the pants and he wasn’t afraid to tell me to “get with the program.” That’s what Jude is doing. He’s saying, “Stay with the game plan. Stick to the Word of God and live right before the Lord and when you do it’ll all pay off.” How’s that?

Jude said it… “waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” Isn’t that what we are living for and longing for? What? Heaven. Eternal Life. Isn’t that the goal? It should be, shouldn’t it? Yes, indeed!

Look, I know this life is difficult and you are likely dealing with difficulty of sort in your life right now. Perhaps you are having a hard time even trying to pray (or even reading this devotion for that matter), yet I want to encourage you to persevere. I want to encourage you to “keep on keeping on” and to “hang in there.” Keep putting your hands to the weight bar. Keep pushing! Keep working! Keep trusting! Keep believing! Why?

Because it’ll all pay off in the end! No, it won’t be a scholarship that you’ll win. It’ll be something much better than that! It will be the crown of life. It will be a home in glory and it will be an eternity with the King of Kings in His magnificent kingdom.

I’m always amazed at the pristine grandeur of Disney World.

IMG_2355

 

IMG_2345

Immediately, I think of heaven. In fact, my kids have said to me several times when we’re there, “Dad, I bet you are thinking about heaven.” And I’d say, “Yep, I sure am!”

Disney can’t touch heaven. It’s an awesome place…don’t get me wrong. It’s one of my favorite places on earth because it’s where my family can rest and relax and relish in one another. But, it’s just a place that man has built. Can you imagine heaven? Can you imagine the absolute joy! Hey…it’ll all be worth it one day! The joys of the Kingdom of God. Not the Magic Kingdom, but God’s kingdom. Not a scholarship, but a crown of glory!

Keep on keeping on dear one! Persevere! It’ll all be worth it! It’ll pay off, I promise…based on God’s unchanging Word!

Kevin

They Told Us This Would Happen

Do you remember growing up as a kid and your parents trying to encourage you to choose a particular route or way of doing something and you wanted to do the exact opposite? Why? Well, just because they were encouraging you to choose one way, you simply wanted to go another way. Perhaps they gave you enough rope to choose that path and you chose it and later, sure enough, it ended up unsuccessfully. I guess you could say, “They told you this would happen.” Why do parents seem so dumb when we are 15, but all of a sudden seem so smart when we are 25? HA! We know that answer don’t we? They were smart (seasoned) all along and yet we were too stubborn to listen.

Jude is sharing with the readers of his letter something similar to that which our parents did to us. Jude is reminding them that they have been warned and encouraged in how to live and what was coming from wicked and evil people.

Jude 1:17-19

17 But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.

Did you see those words in verse 17, “But you must remember, beloved…”? He is reminding the believers of the predictions of the apostles that false teachers would come. He reminded them they would come in the “last time.” When is that?

Well, “last time” is a phrase that means “epoch.” It means an era or season of time. In this case, the epoch or season began with the first coming of Jesus and will end with His second coming. From the time Jesus entered into humanity until His return to the Mount of Olives (at His second coming) is the epoch of time Jude is speaking of. It’s during this time that false teachers and “fakes” will preach and teach false doctrine and erroneous truth in many of our churches. This teaching will cause divisions and Jude tells us that these teachers are “devoid of the Spirit,” meaning that they are lost and do not know Jesus Christ as Lord. They are impostors and are not true followers of Jesus.

Perhaps you ask, “How can this happen?” It’s a great question. Why is it that so many people in many, many churches have been continually led astray through the centuries by false teachers? I think of the Lutheran Church in Germany that allowed Hitler’s teaching to circumvent and override the teaching of Scripture. Thus the nation would follow Hitler’s “gospel” and they would exterminate over 6 million Jews in what we now know as the Holocaust.

How in the world does this happen? Simple. People don’t know the Word of God. People start following man instead of allowing the Spirit of God to lead them through the teaching and admonition of Scripture. In plain and simple terms: most “followers of Jesus” are Biblically illiterate. And this has been the case for almost 2000 years and that’s why we are easily led astray.

If you were to take a microphone and TV camera and walk the streets of any average city or town today, and you started asking basic Bible questions of those who “claimed to be Christians,” you would be shocked at how little most “Christians” know about the Bible. Therefore, they can’t make good assessments of what they are hearing taught or espoused. Thus, they make bad decisions and follow false teaching.

The Apostle Paul warned Timothy this would happen:

2 Timothy 4:3-4

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

Can you tell the difference between false teaching and Biblical teaching? The only way you can is if you know the Word of God. And the only way you can know the Word of God is to consistently read it.

So, I’m lovingly (like a parent) encouraging you today: Read the Bible. I’m assuming if you are reading this devotion that you are a “student of the Word.” Yet, I’m guessing there are people in your life (perhaps your own children) who do not know the Bible very well and don’t read it much. Perhaps they are really, really good students in school and/or good athletes. But, do they have the ability to make proper assessment of the truth? If they can’t, then it doesn’t matter how well they know the Periodic Chart of Elements and the Quadratic Equation. When they are being led astray by false teaching, it won’t matter that they could hit a ball over a fence or put one through a hoop. None of these things are wrong. In fact, they are good things. But, they are not the MOST important things. The most important thing you and I can do each day is to be in the Word of God and in prayer. If we neglect those things, then we will likely fail miserably.

Be a student of the Word of God. Read it for pleasure. Read it as least as much as you spend time watching TV or surfing the net. If you will, then you’ll be wise. If you don’t, well…you can’t say that you’ve not been lovingly and kindly warned. wink…wink… 🙂

Kevin

Jesus and Judgement

It’s not very popular to discuss today, nonetheless, the Bible is very clear Jesus is coming back to this earth one day and when He does, He will execute judgment. People today don’t like talking about this truth. They would rather talk about the love, mercy and grace of Jesus as He died on the cross. Believe me, so would I! However, to neglect the fact that Jesus is coming back and bringing God’s judgment with Him would be to deny the existence large portions of Scripture in the Old and New Testaments.

When Jesus came the first time, born as a babe in Bethlehem, He came as the “Lamb of God.” He came meek, lowly and mild. He came as a sheep before the slaughter and uttered not a word. He surrendered and submitted Himself to death on a cross and said, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” However, when He comes the second time and steps foot on this earth, He comes not as the “Lamb of God,” but as the “Lion of Judah” bringing vengeance and wrath on those who have refused Him as Lord. The Bible is very clear about this fact and it’s this fact that Jude (the half-brother of Jesus) articulates in his little letter.

Jude has described how there are false teachers who are teaching error and rebellion. He has indicated how these men consider themselves “shepherds” or “leaders” of the people. Yet, Jude describes them as “waterless clouds,” empty of any life-giving moisture (truth). He goes deeper in his description of these men by using the Old Testament saint, Enoch to give more insight into the future of such liars and deceivers.

Jude 1:14-16

14 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”16 These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.

Enoch lived in tumultuous times. He was the 7th from Adam and life on the earth had already gotten wicked and perverted. He prophesied about the coming of Jesus centuries before it would happen when he said:

“Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

See if this compares with what the Apostle Paul said to the Thessalonians.

2 Thessalonians 1:5-8

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

Sound very similar doesn’t it? Jude and Paul are on the same page. Jesus is coming one day and He’s bringing judgment and wrath on those who have rejected Him. Is this fair? Sure it is. Everyone gets a choice whether or not we are going to accept or reject Jesus. We aren’t robots. We get to choose. Even the angels got a choice whether to worship God or follow Lucifer (Satan). So, man is without excuse.

Knowing all of this, what should be our response? I believe two responses are warranted:

#1 Holy Lives

Knowing all that Jesus has done for us by buying are pardon on the cross, we should return to Him lives of love, adoration and submission to His will and His ways. If that is the case, then this will translate into lives of holiness.

#2 A Warning to Others

Yes, I said it. We need to warn others. We need to lovingly, yet forthrightly share with others that Jesus Christ is coming again. We should not be afraid to quote the Word of God and even use passages like these to help people see their sin.

Friend, we must not be afraid to use the Word of God. We must not be afraid to quote it. The Bible is the power of God. It is the double-edged sword. It is supernatural. And as we wield it and use it, the Bible has the power and ability to convict of sin and show the need for a Savior.

Jude offered a warning to first century believers and that warning is offered to us today. Please know you will not be popular when you share the truth of God’s Word. You will be called a fool, closed-minded, bigot and even hateful. Yet, don’t be dismayed, because you will fall in a long line of men and women who courageously stood on the Word of Truth, boldly proclaiming the love of Jesus and the need for repentance before the wrath to come.

Courageously march forward soldiers! Onward!

Kevin

Contend for the Faith

You know Jesus had brothers and sisters don’t you? Contrary to Roman Catholic teaching (which says Mary was a perpetual-continuing virgin for the rest of her life), Jesus really did have brothers and sisters. Here they are listed in Mark’s Gospel:

Mark 6:3

Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

See the name Judas (Greek name) in the verse above? The nickname of that man is none other than Jude (Hebrew), the author of the letter we’ll begin to consider today.

Think of it. Jude grew up in the same house with Jesus. He watched Him day by day. Can you imagine? We also have another Bible writer in that list: James. That’s right. The author of the book of James in our Bibles is the half-brother of Jesus as well. He would later become an Elder in the church at Jerusalem. However, we know that James and Jude did not believe in Jesus (as the Son of God) until after the resurrection. Can you blame them? Would you believe that one of your siblings was from God when you were a kid if they told you they were?

Yet after the resurrection, everything changed. They witnessed (as did the world) that He was alive. There were the holes in His wrists and feet and no one could deny that. He is the Son of God! From that point forward, we know James and Jude became leaders in the church and would give their lives for their brother’s kingdom.

Jude simply labels himself as “servant of Jesus Christ.” He calls himself a brother of “James,” not Jesus. He did this out of humility, respect and deference to Jesus’ position as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Jude 1:1-4

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,

To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:

We aren’t exactly sure who Jude was writing to in this brief little letter, however most scholars believe it was written to a Jewish audience (congregation of new believers) who were being ravaged by false teachers.

 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

Jude was going to write about salvation, but the Holy Spirit encouraged him to write “contend for the faith.” Why? Well, this letter appears to have been written before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, but enough time had gone by that there was severe persecution on the young Christian church, which was only about 40 years old. The church was not only being persecuted by the Romans (Nero), it was also being ravaged by false teachers.

Friends, the parallel to today is striking to me. Christianity is 2000 years old, but we are under persecution from the government (the United States) and the Church is being infiltrated with many and much false teaching. Just think of things we’re seeing in the news.

I’m sure you heard about Jack Phillips, the cake baker from Colorado, who was vindicated last week by the Supreme Court. He simply wanted to honor his conviction to Jesus and His Word and the Biblical definition of marriage. He was “contending for the faith.” But those convictions offended the Colorado Civil Rights commission. So, they attacked him. They actually called him: “Hitler” for his stance. The Supreme Court said the Commission was “mean-spirited.” Understand this: when you contend for the faith, you will face persecution and you will be maligned.

Can you imagine why Jude’s words are so appropriate for today? Will we stand for truth and “contend for the faith” or will we wilt?

Persecution and false teaching is on the front doorstep and we should stand ready to defend and contend for the faith. If we aren’t, then we can be assured that this nation will slide into moral apathy and we’ll cease to have the blessing, protection and favor from the righteous hand of God.

Therefore, I feel like Jude:

I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

Kevin