If you could ask God for one, and only one thing, in your life, what would you ask for—more money, health, a long life? What would you ask? In fact, there’s an account in the Old Testament where God actually gave a man the opportunity to ask for anything he wanted, and this man asked for wisdom. You probably know the story from 2 Chronicles chapter 1—Solomon became king of Israel following his father David, and he became a great king because the Lord was him. One day Solomon went up to the tabernacle his father David set up for the ark of the covenant, and he offered a sacrifice on the bronze altar. That night, God appeared to Solomon and said, “Ask! What shall I give you?”
When God looks at you and me, He sees our potential; He sees people who are able to do great things through Christ who strengthens us. He sees more than conquerors; He sees champions. But the only way we are going to discover our own true capability in Christ is to go through the hard times to learn that we can get through the storms and struggles of life when our faith is fixed on Jesus.
The personal journey from being the unbelieving brother of Jesus to a believer in Jesus as the Messiah, had been difficult, but James shows us that it doesn’t matter how you get there, just get there.
Jude opens his epistle making it clear that his intention is to sound the alarm about “certain men” who have “crept in unnoticed.” Jude intends to expose these people and to warn the church not to let these men to seduce the church with their twisted message. These people taught that it is possible to be a believer while also engaging in sexual behavior that violates the very precepts of God’s Word, including the teaching and example of Jesus Christ. Indeed, these people even denied “the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” So why were these people in the church, how did they get into the church, and why should these people be forced out of the church unless, of course, they repent and observe whatsoever Jesus commanded? In verses 12 and 13 Jude provides a compact but powerful answer to these questions.
Like Israel, the history of the church shows that when things go from bad to worse in society, if a remnant will humble themselves, pray, repent, and seek God’s face, God can turn it around. Some of the greatest revivals in church history were sparked by some of the most unlikely people who simply fell on their faces before God. For example, in the late 1940s Christianity in the New Hebrides Islands (located off the coast of Scotland), was complacent and declining, with the young people turned off by a spirit of legalism and empty ritualistic religion. Alcoholism and despondency were serious problems plaguing the local communities. However, two sisters, Peggy Smith and Christine Smith, were not ready to surrender their island to Satan, so they began to pray fervently for revival. Who were these two women? Peggy was 84-years-old and blind, and her 82-year-old sister, Christine, suffered from severe arthritis, but they were committed prayer warriors and together their prayers and petitions sparked a revival.
A common misconception of Christians is we must always be non-confrontational and passive … no matter what. Even within the Christian community there is a rather pervasive view that believers should always be smiling and agreeable while conceding to others in our attempt to keep the peace. It is true that we are called be peacemakers, ministers of reconciliation and ambassadors of Christ (2 Co 5:19-20), yet the example of Jesus clearing the temple with a whip, along with various militant metaphors employed in the epistles, demonstrate that there are, in fact, times when we must fight for what we believe. Jesus Himself said that “from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force” (Mt 11:12).
Your life will indeed impact the lives of others, your life will make a difference, but not all lives have a positive impact, not all lives sow seeds of goodwill or produce a harvest of positive outcomes. Hitler’s life mattered, but most believe the world would have been a better place if he had never been born. There is no question that our life matters, the only question is what kind of life we will live and what kind of legacy we will leave behind.
The relationship between children and their parents, and especially between a father and his children is a key characteristic that differentiates between the evil end of days when God will pour out His wrath, and the restoration of all things, when God “will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” In Romans 1:30, apostle Paul speaks of the decline of civilization, which will result in the wrath and judgement of God upon the earth, and among the list of things he mentions are that men will be “backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents”
This letter from the Elder is short and comes to the point quickly; the point being that we must not allow the poison of false teaching to infect our lives, our home, or the local fellowship of believers. He had already seen the damage done by the false doctrines of those denying that Jesus Christ had come in the flesh, and he was determined to do all he could to protect other churches and Christian fellowships from falling prey to these charlatans who were spreading deception and error. So being perhaps the last living apostle at that time, John stepped-up and stepped-in to send a warning to the church.
The Barna Research Group reports that 84% of Americans claim to pray, yet we still see suffering, social disparities, racial hatred and hostility. The population of the United States is around 330 million people and if 84% are praying that means in the U.S. alone there almost 280 million people calling out to a god of some sort … yet, here we are. Why are we in the mess we are in if that many people are praying? How many people have to pray before God answers? According to the research, a lot of people are praying, but according to the Bible all prayers are not created equal. Anyone can pray, but does that mean God is listening to or answering every prayer the people are flinging toward heaven.