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Weekly Devotional 

June 27
Jude 1:1-2

1 Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ and a brother of James: To those who are the called, loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ. 2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

Though the book of Jude is a short book of only one chapter, it is packed with information and history. You can tell that the writer is engulfed in the Old Testament and Jewish history. They know their stuff and they are writing to a group of people who know that same history. This makes this book a little harder to read and understand without having that foreknowledge.

The thing we need to understand with this book is why it was written and what we do with it. Jude wanted to make sure that we understand that there are always going to be people who stand against the word of God. He also wanted us to know what to do with the people who are against the word of God.

In today’s verses, we see that Jude is setting the table for understanding this purpose. He starts out by calling himself a slave to Jesus Christ and a brother of James. This is interesting because he is the brother of James, who is the half brother of Jesus, making Jude a half brother of Jesus as well. In knowing that, the statement he is making is a beautiful nod to the supremacy of Christ. It shows that Jude elevated Jesus to a position so high that he called himself a slave of Christ instead of a brother. This is a sign of great humility. Jude then continues with a great reminder of who we are in Christ. He says, “To those who are the called, loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ.” To those who follow Jesus as their Lord and Savior, they are called, loved, and kept. Meaning we have an ultimate purpose in this life, we have ultimate love and we have the ultimate protection.

Think about those three things today. Our purpose, love, and protection all come from God. This is a great promise that we have as followers of Jesus. This should give us great confidence in everything that we do. We have a calling so that means if we are alive we have work to do. Not just work to work but work with eternal significance. We are loved so that means we are never alone, never abandoned from now and into eternity. We are protected so that means we don’t need to fear tomorrow or even the schemes of the devil. We are like a warrior fully protect with body armor and helmet but with pinpoint accurate air support at all times. I don’t know about you but I know for me this gives me comfort and confidence in this life. How do these three words change your day-to-day? How will you put into action the confidence that this should bring?

June 28
Jude 1:3

3 Dear friends, although I was eager to write you about the salvation we share, I found it necessary to write and exhort you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all.

Have you ever had an emergency pop up out of now where? One of those times where you are going to go do something and then next thing you know everything has to change. I had that happen with one of my children once. We were on our way to church and my three-year-old at the time decided to roll head over heels down our brick steps. This made him have an inch-long gash right above his eye. Where we lived at the time was 30 minutes from the nearest hospital and with me being a pastor and the one who was supposed to open up the building and get everything ready. I was in a predicament with this emergency. I had to quickly devise a plan to take care of my child and take care of my responsibilities. The solution was a call to an ER doctor friend of mine who lived five minutes away and had surgical glue. We cleaned the cut and glued it together and were at the church with time to spare.

The emergency quickly changed our plans and altered what needed to happen to accomplish our goals. In the same way, this happened to Jude. His intentions were to right a glorious letter about the salvation that we share through Jesus Christ but in a state of emergency, he had to alter his plans. He quickly found himself writing a letter to the same people about dealing with people who are against God and trying to destroy the church. His letter went from the joy of our salvation to contending for the faith. It went from positive reinforcement to a command to stand strong and battle. Things changed but the goal remained the same, to honor and glorify God. Jude says, “I found it necessary to write and exhort you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all.” In other words, you have heard the message and it is meant for everyone, believe it and fight for it!

We need to strive to do the same. Things may be going crazy around us or they may be going great. No matter what, it is our job to contend for the faith. Believe in God's word and go to bat for it. Be willing to share your faith and defend it when necessary. Anytime I hear about standing up for your faith or fighting for what is right, I think of 1 Peter 3:15-16 “15 but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. 16 However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame.” The idea of fighting for something seems to be negative but not when done with gentleness and respect for the one you are speaking to and a love for what you are fighting for. Let’s make sure that we are standing firm in what we believe, first knowing what we believe and second standing firm, and with that making sure that we do it out of love with gentleness and respect.

June 29
Jude 1:4

4 For some men, who were designated for this judgment long ago, have come in by stealth; they are ungodly, turning the grace of our God into promiscuity and denying Jesus Christ, our only Master and Lord.

Have you ever had a situation where you felt like you were manipulated? Maybe you wanted to go somewhere and didn’t want to go to another place but your friend uses different methods to get you to give in or maybe they just trick you completely. They ask if you want to go with them, and you say yes but express how you don’t want to go to a certain place. Your friend agrees and gets you in the car and the next thing you know, you are at the place you specifically said you didn’t want to go to.

The church at the time of Judes writing all the way to now has had this happen a lot. They are manipulated and taken places they never intended to go by people who are looking to destroy and manipulate. Jude calls these people ungodly but they are more than that. Of course, they are ungodly but they are what Jesus calls wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15). They look like Christians, say Christian things, and have some biblical knowledge but their ultimate goal is to manipulate and use the church and God's word to further their agenda. Jude says that these people have been talked about by Jesus and many apostles. We shouldn’t be surprised by them but we should watch for them and understand that judgment is one day coming to them.

For those of us in the church, this is a hard game to play. We want to be open to anyone to come in and we want all people to participate in the life of the church and serve God right beside us. But we need to make sure that we are watching out for the wolves dressed as sheep. These people are stealthy, as Jude puts it, and they are good at what they do. Their goal is to use Christians and the church for their own glory. They preach freedom in Christ only to take advantage of his grace. They preach love only to use it as a tool to not face judgment. For us, we need to know the word of God so well, that when someone like this comes along, we are able to see them before it’s too late and make the correction before weaker brothers fall into their trap.

Think about the reality of this today. Satan's goal is to destroy the church. We know that he won’t succeed but every person he can take down is another group of people who may never turn to Jesus for salvation. We need to watch out for corrupt leaders and stand against Satan. The only way we can do that is by knowing the word of God and putting it into action. Take some time today to pray and ask God to help you commit to this battle, to be on the lookout, and to always be growing in our faith and in our knowledge of Him. Through Jesus, we can stand against anything Satan throws at us.

June 30
Jude 1:12-13

12 These are the ones who are like dangerous reefs at your love feasts. They feast with you, nurturing only themselves without fear. They are waterless clouds carried along by winds; trees in late autumn—fruitless, twice dead, pulled out by the roots; 13 wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shameful deeds; wandering stars for whom the blackness of darkness is reserved forever!

Have you ever been around people who are worthless to you? No, I don’t mean that in a mean way. I mean, people who bring no value into your life. Either they come and just take or they blow through in a whirlwind and aren’t around long enough to actually have an impact on your life. These people are the ones that are worthless to you.

In today’s verses, Jude continues to work through the people who were against Jesus and corrupting the church. These are the people who had worked their way into the church and were leading the people away from the ways of Jesus Christ. Jude is showing that these people are worthless to the value of the church and the people in the church. He uses some great imagery to show that this is true. He calls them waterless clouds, quickly blown away by the wind. Those clouds look like rain during a time of drought but bring no nourishment to the plants. He calls them trees in late autumn, fruitless and twice dead. This shows that the trees have no leaves or fruit but he calls them twice dead and pulled out by their roots. Not only are they dormant because it’s almost winter, but they are dead because they have been pulled up from their roots. These people may appear to be useful and of good, but when you truly weigh out what they bring to the table, you realize it’s always about them and they bring no value to the whole.

The thing we need to think about today is the value that we bring. I would hope that none of us are in the category that Jude is talking about but I can see how we could accidentally find ourselves in the position of always taking and never giving back. The statistics for most churches go like this: 20% of the church does 80% of the work. The other 80% do very little or just soak it all in, never giving anything back out. This goes for serving with your time and talent as well as the giving of your money. For those of us who follow Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we should never find ourselves in the group that soaks everything in to never give it back out. We are meant to be filled with God’s love, word, and spirit and then pour out in the way God created us to pour out. We are each needed in our church to be the person God created us to be. Without you doing your part, your church can never operate the way God designed it.

Know this today, you are needed in your church. If God has called you to attend there, you are called to serve there. Find out where you can plug in and what you can do to honor and glorify God.

July 1
Jude 1:17-19

17 But you, dear friends, remember what was predicted by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; 18 they told you, “In the end time there will be scoffers walking according to their own ungodly desires.” 19 These people create divisions and are unbelievers, not having the Spirit.

Have you ever had an “I told you so” moment? You know, one of those times where you keep telling someone something specific and they just won’t agree with you. They go on as if they are right, constantly saying you're wrong and they are right and then you find out the truth... You were right all along. You now have the choice of looking at them and saying “I told you” or just letting them soak in their wrongness and you can sit there with a smirk on your face. I have been on both sides of the I-told-you-so’s. Personally, I like to let them soak in the wrongness and sit there with a smirk on my face.

In Jude’s letter, He wasn’t saying I-told-you-so from his mouth. He was saying I-told-you-so from the mouth of the apostles and even Jesus Christ. The threat of scoffers seeking to destroy the church and fulfill their own selfish desires has been talked about from the beginning. Jesus said it first in Matthew 7:15-19. Then Peter, John, and Paul repeated something similar to what Jesus said. God has known since the beginning of time that those who follow Him would be put to the test by those who were against Him. This is why God has provided these reminders and all the tools we could ever need to fight this kind of battle.

This reminder from Jude is one of many and it is a reminder for us even today. We will always have wolves in sheep's clothing. We will always have people who stand against us if we follow Jesus. Just remember, Jesus, the creator of the universe, walked this earth for over thirty years and He did nothing but good yet He had many who hated Him. They hated Him enough to even crucify Him to try and get rid of Him. That same hatred can easily be against us. We need to remember this in our walk with Christ. Don’t let the world's hate bring you down. Remember who you are fighting for and remember that He always has your back. He is there in the middle of the adversity ready and willing to carry us through to the other side.

Take some time today to think about the adversity that you have faced for being a follower of Jesus and the adversity that you could one day face. It’s safe to say, if you haven’t faced adversity for your belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior, most people probably don’t know you follow Him. Work on that. Don’t go out looking for adversity but go out and live your life for Jesus, taking the adversity when it comes and standing strong for Him.

July 2
Jude 1:20-21

20 But you, dear friends, as you build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, expecting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life. 

I am a person who loves to build. I have always been a builder since I was little. I loved Lego when I was a kid (still do) and now that I am an adult I love building everything from cars to houses. If it has lots of pieces and problem solving, I love it.

This is something that Jude is trying to show his readers in today’s verse. Whether building is your cup of tea or not, this is something that we should all get into building. This is the building of our relationship with Jesus. Jude has spent much of this letter warning and describing to us the people who will try to bring us down and destroy the church. Today, he gives us the building blocks for our relationship with Jesus. He talks about our faith in Jesus which is the Gospel. That is our foundation. It is where everything is built. Jesus died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day to conquer sin, hell, and the grave. This foundation is solid and is the only way we can build anything. The next thing he says is Prayer and the love of God. Prayer is obviously our communication with God, but keeping ourselves in the love of God is our obedience. Prayer and Obedience to God are the pillars that we can build off of the firm foundation of the Gospel. The last thing he says is, “expecting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life.” This is our open eyes for what Jesus is doing for eternity. This is staying alert for Him and where He is working. Our foundation is the Gospel, our pillars are prayer and obedience and our roof would be diving into where ever God is working.

This is what it looks like to be in this awesome relationship with Jesus. The gospel shows us that Jesus already did all the work. Our prayer and obedience are our communication with the creator of the universe saying I trust you. And diving into what God is doing in our life and the world around us is our way of being with Jesus every step of the way. These are all key to having a healthy relationship with Jesus Christ. He is worthy of everything we can give Him and Jude see’s that plainly. Take some time today to think about the house you are building in your relationship with Jesus. Is your foundation the Gospel? How are you with prayer and obedience? Are you jumping into the areas where He is moving and working? We each need to take the time to check our “buildings” out and make sure we are building what we are supposed to.

July 3
Jude 1:22-23

22 Have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; have mercy on others but with fear, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.

After all that we have learned from the book of Jude, you may have come to a conclusion about this "good versus bad battle" that we are in. That conclusion could be that you think you need to fight against the people who are against God. I can understand where you are coming from if that is where you are but I beg you to think of it in this way. We are not to fight against these people, we are to fight for God. The only one that is our enemy is Satan. We need to fight for God so that those who are against us have the opportunity to know Him not be defeated by Him.

That is exactly what Jude is reassuring us of at the end of this letter. He doesn’t want us to direct our anger toward our fellow man but toward our one true enemy, Satan. He says, “Have mercy on those who doubt.” Those who doubt don’t know Jesus as their Savior. They don’t understand what is happening or who Jesus is. Because of this, it is our mercy that can show them who Jesus is and lead them to His salvation. Our mission is to snatch them from the fire. This is the mindset that everyone who doesn’t know Jesus as their Lord and Savior is on their way to a place called hell. This place is full of darkness, evil, pain, suffering, and fire. We are to stand strong in our belief in Jesus Christ by standing at the gates of hell begging people to look to Jesus for salvation.

This is a different kind of passion for Jesus. I know I constantly find myself in the position of telling people about Jesus and then thinking, “They made their choice, so be it!” We do need to remember that when they reject Jesus as Savior, they are not rejecting us, they are rejecting Him. But, when we have the attitude of, “They made their choice, so be it.” We are giving up too easily. We don’t need to be a pest, but if the person is still alive, there is still time to pluck them from the fire. My question for you right now is this: Are you willing to stand at the gates of hell and snatch these people from the fire? This is a matter of checking our hearts and our passion for Jesus. If Jesus is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, are we acting and feeling the same way? Sometimes we allow our selfishness and hatred to get in the way of our love for God and for others.

Let’s take the time today and ignite that passion in our lives. The passion that says, I will go to the gates of hell to get your attention and point you to the salvation only Jesus can bring. Our friends and family only have this one life to choose heaven. Whether it’s when they are young or when they are taking their last breath, it doesn’t matter. But after death comes judgment. Without Jesus, as your savior, your friends, family, and yourself will be found guilty and sent to hell for your sins. Jesus already paid for those sins don’t refuse Him or be ok when people do.

July 4
Revelation 1:4-8

“John: To the seven churches in Asia. Grace and peace to you from the One who is, who was, and who is coming; from the seven spirits before His throne; and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and has set us free from our sins by His blood, and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father — the glory and dominion are His forever and ever. Amen. Look! He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, including those who pierced Him. And all the families of the earth will mourn over Him. This is certain. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “the One who is, who was, and who is coming, the Almighty.”

This week, we are getting into the book of Revelation. This is always depicted as a difficult book to read and understand. There are many people who avoid studying this book and there are many who spend their lives explaining and trying to connect every dot in the book. We need to know a couple of things before diving into this book. First, while it is a book full of prophecy, don’t get stuck on the prophecy. This book is describing the final days of the earth, the tribulation, and the 1000-year reign of Jesus. The main idea that we need to understand is how important it is to know that today is the day of salvation. Don’t wait to give your life to Christ. Why? Because judgment is coming. The next important thing to remember is that most of this book was prophecy when John wrote it. John is describing things in the best way he knew how. He is describing things he has never seen. Because of this, the book of revelation is like cross-stitch or tapestry. Look up the difference between the front side and the back side of a tapestry. The front side is a beautiful picture with full, amazing detail. The back looks like a jumbled mess of strings and utter chaos. Although the book of Revelation can feel like the underneath side of a tapestry at times, know that when all the prophecies are fulfilled, we will see that they paint the beautiful story of God's plan for His creation.

Today we see the beginning purpose of the book of Revelation. John starts his letter to the seven churches in Asia. This is a way of calling out the complete church. Although the seven churches are real churches that John is connected to, the number seven means complete. This is a great way to start a letter to every church that will ever be. John then spends the next few verses voicing who Jesus is and what He is doing. He shows Jesus as our resurrected savior, our king, the ruler of the universe, the beginning and the end, the one who was and is and is to come. The picture is painted vividly that Jesus is the savior of the world and He is coming back again.

This is our motivation as followers of Jesus. We know that Jesus died for us and saved us from our sins but we must also remember He didn’t just leave us to live this life out on our own. He sent the Holy Spirit to guide us through this life and Jesus will one day return again to bring peace back to the earth. That is part of the hope that we have. We have the hope that our salvation gives us heaven, but also that the earth will one day be restored. Think through this today and set your mind up for the rest of the book of Revelation. Remember it’s all about knowing Jesus as your Savior, the coming judgment, and the restoration of the earth.

July 5
Revelation 3:15-16

“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth.

On a nice hot day do you want a nice cold glass of water or lukewarm water? Most people would say yes to the cold water and spit out the lukewarm water. When you go to take a bath or a shower do you want to get into a nice hot bath or a lukewarm bath that has been sitting there for a while? Again, most people would choose the hot bath over the lukewarm bath. Most things that are lukewarm tend to be nasty. Think about the temperature of the ocean versus a swamp. The ocean's water is always moving and tends to maintain a steady temperature. Whereas the swamp water doesn’t move much and begins to get warm and smelly. Things like algae start to grow in it and it gets pretty nasty.

In today’s verses, Jesus is speaking to the church in Laodecia. They are one of the churches that gets a bad grade when they are mentioned in the book of Revelation. Jesus says that they are neither hot nor cold and because they were lukewarm, He would spit them out of His mouth. The people of Laodecia would have known what was meant by this term, lukewarm. They were a town built in the valley of a mountainous area. Above them were cold mountain streams. They wanted this cold water for themselves so they built aqueducts from the mountain streams down to them. By the time it got to them the water was lukewarm. The problem with this is that cold and moving water keeps out germs, same with hot water, but when it comes to lukewarm water, that’s where the germs and bacteria grow rapidly. This would cause their water to be bad to drink at times. All the work they did for this aqueduct became a waist because the water was not healthy for them to drink. It would be gross and it would only be worthy of being spit out.

Jesus is using this as an example for their hearts for Him. Today we need to ask ourselves whether we would be caught hot or cold or would we be caught lukewarm. Don’t think of hot as good and cold as bad, both are useful in their own way. Hot can be the Christian that is on fire for God and cold can be the Christian that is refreshing to those that around them. But the lukewarm Christian is of no value to God. They are the Christian that doesn’t care enough about people or God. They are the ones who are more worried about the life they live, what they get and how they are treated. Think through this today, when Jesus returns are you going to be caught on fire for Him or refreshing those that are around you, or are you going to be caught focused only on yourself and your way of life. I truly believe many of us would be caught lukewarm if we were honest with ourselves. Work through this today and make the adjustments you need to be hot or cold for Jesus.

July 6
Revelation 5:5-10

“Then one of the elders said to me, “Stop crying. Look! The Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has been victorious so that He may open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw One like a slaughtered lamb standing between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent into all the earth. He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of the One seated on the throne. When He took the scroll, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slaughtered, and You redeemed people for God by Your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation. You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth.”

Have you ever had a moment that just seemed hopeless? John was in the middle of one of those moments. In his vision from God, he was taken into heaven and heard the cries of heaven calling out, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” The scroll seems to be the title deed or ownership papers of the earth or it is the salvation, or new covenant, for the earth. Either way, all of the earth depended on this scroll being opened. This made John feel completely helpless and hopeless. No one was worthy, no one could be found.

In today’s verses, you see that John is crying and one of the elders said, “Stop crying. Look! The Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has been victorious so that He may open the scroll and its seven seals.” This is Jesus who was victorious. It’s like a scene that took place after Jesus was placed on the cross. No one was worthy to open this scroll but at the resurrection of Jesus, He was the one found worthy because He had paid the debt owed for all the earth. He made the payment to gain the title deed of the earth. John continues this vision watching as all that were present worshiped Jesus for what He had done and simply because He alone is worthy of this worship. They sang a new song that says, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slaughtered, and You redeemed people for God by Your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation. You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth.”

We too have a new song to sing when we have accepted this payment that Jesus made for us. He alone is worthy to open the scroll. He alone is worthy of worship but we are the ones who receive the benefit. We go from death to life. From an eternity of suffering in Hell to an eternity in Heaven. From lost to found. From hopeless and helpless to fulfilled and hopeful. Because of Jesus, we have a new song to sing. Think about how Jesus has changed your life and path today. What are the things that He has done? What has He kept you from and what did He save you out of. He is worthy of praise and worship, so let’s do that today!

July 7
Revelation 7:9-10

“After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were robed in white with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

John does an amazing job of painting a beautiful picture of the revelation that he was seeing. He goes through the seals and shows the judgments that are to come on the earth and even how 144,000 Jews, 12,000 from each tribe, have come to accept Jesus as their savior and then they go out to all the world and preach the gospel message.

His beautiful picture continues in today's verses. He shows how there will be a great multitude to come to salvation during the tribulation period. Where we are at this point in the story is during the tribulation period (a horrible time of judgment and destruction for the earth). The rapture of the church has taken place already, the time where the church is taken from this earth to meet Jesus in the clouds, and many of those who came to know Jesus as their savior have been killed for accepting Jesus. This sounds like a horrible time and it really is, but look at the beauty in the description. There was a “vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language.” There are so many people who accepted Jesus as their savior that they couldn’t be counted. That’s beautiful. There are people from every, yes, every tribe, nation, people, and language. That is beautiful. They are robed in white, showing the purification they are given through the salvation of Jesus. They are made righteous because of the blood of Jesus washing away their sins. That is beautiful. They are worshiping Jesus at His feet, waiving palm trees in a visual message of victory. That is beautiful. Only God could take the chaos and pain of the judgment of the earth and turn it into something that is beautiful.

Notice today that we are looking at this from the perspective of the sinner who comes to know Jesus as their Savior. These are the people that God takes the ashes of this world and turns it into beauty. That is not true for the ones who reject Jesus as their savior. They will have the opportunity to choose Jesus, but many will reject Him. This tribulation period is all about the redemption of those who know Jesus as Savior and the judgment of those who have rejected Jesus as their savior.  Today we should think about the people we know who do not know Jesus. We can celebrate the fact that we don’t have to go through this tribulation but we should use this as a motivation to bring as many people with us as possible. Are you reaching out to those who are lost? Are you doing all you can to be an example of Jesus for them to see? Are you passionately seeking opportunities to share Jesus with them? I believe this is something that we all need to work on. We allow the distractions of life to get in the way. Push those aside and strive to live a life to bring others to the feet of Jesus for salvation.