Even though I write this before Christmas I am able to say a big Thank You for the cards, gifts and kind messages that we have again received this year. 2019 has been a challenging year, but God has been good to us and greatly encouraged us. For that we give Him due praise and glory.
In this first letter of 2020 we are all aware that it is going to be a year of change. I want us to begin by looking at some of the directives given in the letter of Jude. I find it interesting that the Holy Spirit has seen fit to record a change in the mind of Jude “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.” (v.3) At this point I don’t know what will happen at the General Election later in the week, but that is not our concern. Our first concern is that whoever governs our country we do all that we can to further the unchanging message of Christianity. It is vital that we not only come to a personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but that we grow together in that faith. Jude spells that out later in the letter, writing “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith” (v20). It is going to be a year of change, but let us maintain and develop a mutual care for one another, with that aim of building each other up; helping one another to trust God daily.
Jude spells out the importance of prayer,
Praying in the Holy Spirit. Jude v.20
I am grateful for ALL THE GOOD WORK THAT IS GOING ON AT EMMANUEL, but I have an equal level of concern for the low priority given to prayer. That is manifest in a number of ways. Numbers at the prayer meeting fluctuate, reflecting the fact that we see other things as a priority. My second concern is that often those who attend the prayer meeting do not always pray. There is nothing more encouraging than to hear another Christian pray. There is nothing more important than to seek God in humble prayer.
Notice what Jude then goes on to say “keep yourselves in the love of God,” (v. 21). He does not say, keep yourselves in the Law of God. Both love and law are related. If we love God we will keep His commandments. In a way keeping ourselves in the Love of God can be seen from two angles; we are
to daily remind ourselves of God’s love for us in sending His Son our Saviour, but we are also to be those through whom the love of God is made obvious in a hostile world. As Christians, we are not only to love one another, but also those who are hostile towards us. Jude’s understanding of history is important in that he says we are to live “waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” (v. 21) If we are Christians we already know the mercy of God in that the Lord Jesus Christ has paid the full price of our sin. That is mercy indeed, but when Christ returns we will know the fullness of His mercy as we enter into the full experience of eternal life. That mercy is to drive everything we do in our lives and ministry. Notice what he goes on to write, “have mercy on those who doubt” (v.22). Since God has been merciful to us we are to be merciful to others, especially those who might become unsure of their Christian faith. He began his letter saying that we must contend for the faith, but we are never to be contentious. When people doubt we are to be merciful. He develops his concern in ministry with a marked urgency saying that when people seem to be hurtling to a Christless eternity we are to “save others by snatching them out of the fire;” (v. 23 ). We do not live in a perfect world; we are not perfect as Christians, therefore we are always “to others show mercy with fear, hating even the
garment stained by the flesh.”
It will be a year of change, but let us all be committed to making it a year of mercy as we declare the Gospel and receive to salvation those who have been damaged by sin.
Grateful for His Mercy,