Daily Encouragement - July 27
Acts 19:2, 5-6a, He [Paul] said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them.
Jude 3-4a, Beloved, while eagerly preparing to write to you about the salvation we share, I find it necessary to write and appeal to you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain intruders have stolen in among you, people who long ago were designated for this condemnation as ungodly.
The “Life Application” topic associated with this reading at the beginning of Jude suggests that, “Though we may be informed, we still need periodic reminders of what is true.” A lot of Christian teaching and preaching is made up of reminders and applications of ideas we already know. The Book of Jude is about under–standing, knowing, and living the true faith which has been “entrusted to the saints.”
John Wesley was distinctive in affirming that eternal life as described by Jude is not simply going to heaven, but that it is a present thing, a blessing that begins in this life. A blessing which; “through the free mercy of God, ye are now in possession of.” The ideas that we need to contend for the faith, and recognize the present reality give us some things into which we can sink our teeth.
There are communicable graces as well as communicable diseases. Transmitting the Good News of the gift of Jesus Christ through God's grace is the witness of the Holy Spirit. Paul was anxious to make sure all who confessed Christ experienced the Spirit so that the gospel could spread quickly through the world.
The final truths of life are Spirit: love, joy, peace, grace. These are not material solid things, but they are spiritual solid things. They are the things to contend for. The "scoffers" who are "devoid of the Spirit" are those fully invested in the material, and not at all in the spiritual. These are the worst "viruses" threatening our world today. Their attitude is "gimme," their mantra is "more," and their voracious appetite leaves virtually nothing in its path.
A story is told of a woman going to her doctor with a catalogue of complaints about her health. The physician examined her thoroughly and became convinced that there was nothing physically wrong with her. He suspected it was her negative outlook on life, her bitterness and resentment that was the key to her feeling the way she did.
The wise physician took her into a back room in his office where he kept some of his medicine. He showed her a shelf filled with empty bottles. He said to her: "See those bottles. Notice that they are all empty. They are shaped differently from one another, but basically they are all alike. Most importantly, they have nothing in them. Now, I can take one of these bottles and fill it with poison -- enough poison to kill a human being. Or, I can fill it with enough medicine to bring down a fever, or ease a throbbing headache or fight bacteria in one part of the body. The important thing is that I make that choice. I can fill it with whatever I choose."
The doctor looked her in the eye and said, "Each day that God gives us is basically like one of those empty bottles. We can choose to fill it with love and life-affirming thoughts and attitudes, or we can fill it with destructive poisonous thoughts. The choice is ours."
As stated in Jude 2; “May mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance.”
Where Charity and Love Prevail v.6
Love can exclude no race or creed if honored be God’s name;
Our common life embraces all whose Maker is the same.
Lord God, thank you for helping us understand what we contend for, and what consequences are the results of our choices. Help us remain strong to live in ways that spread the truth of your love. Amen.