Conversations from the Book of Jude by Leza Shupe
Clouds Without Water
Since early 2020, so many things have gone wrong:
- A global pandemic
- Economic hardship and job losses
- Racial unrest, protesting and violent riots
- A more-than-usual divisive Presidential election
- Increasing political and moral decay in our nation
But one problem that caused heartache and destruction through our western states last year were wildfires. Many people found ways to argue about the nature of these fires, but we can all agree on the one thing these locations lacked last summer was RAIN!
Clouds formed and looked promising, but then, no rain. Clouds without water.
Jude uses this phrase in a list of several illustrations to describe those who lead believers astray with their false teaching.
Dreamers of Dreams
The first time I studied the book of Jude, I didn’t dive into these verses. In fact, I think I skimmed over them to get to the next section!
This time, with the help of Godchats, I was able to learn so much more about false teachers and their dreams, something I witnessed in my former church that rattled and troubled me.
Let’s take a look at these Dreamers of Dreams Jude warns us about in verses 8-10.
Some Things Never Change
In these days of constant change and confusion, consistency can actually be more of a comfort than an irritation! Especially when we use it to refer to our Ever-Present, Unchanging God!
In the book of Hebrews we read, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and forever.” (Heb. 13:8) Thank you Lord!
False teachers inside the church must pay attention. For also in this day of political correctness, many preach a God who only loves and no longer judges. For example they may teach that all judgement and wrath ended when Jesus went to the cross.
God’s Word teaches the opposite. God’s righteous judgement continues upon those who lead others astray. Jude illustrates this first with three Old Testament examples of God’s condemnation and prior judgement.
Fighting Against the Trouble Within
Jude began his letter to an un-named Christian church saying that he had intended to write about their common salvation. That would have been nice! An encouraging letter about eternity with God that they all will share because of their mutual belief in Jesus and His death and resurrection.
But something made him change the direction and contents of his letter. Instead, he tells them to fight!
Jude appeals to the church to CONTEND EARNESTLY (another way of saying fight or strive) for the faith they share.
Hey Jude! An Introduction to a Short Epistle
Tucked in between the three letters from John and the book of Revelation, is the tiny, but jam-packed epistle of Jude.
It would be easy for me to breeze right through it, acknowledge the warm and cozy benediction at the end and move on with my day.
But if I take it slow, and really dig in to know the author and the purpose behind his writing, I can do more than just READ God’s Word, but I can LIVE it out.
Conversations from the Book of James by Leza Shupe
Living With Patience in Times of Trouble
James concludes his letter with a series of examples and guidance for believers as they face times of trial.
The year 2020 has been full of trials, even if they haven’t been quite as difficult as those faced by the early church in a time of Roman rule and persecution.
As we LOOK at the bullet list James gives us in chapter five, I can LEARN from cross references, seeing in the whole of God’s Word and then LIVE the way my Savior instructs me to through the hardships of life.
Before planning, consult The Planner
For every human, the Coronavirus pandemic turned our 2020 plans upside down. Many have struggled with the unexpected loss of a loved one, loss of income. These have been difficult hardships. Many others are dealing with much less significant plan changes like cancelling vacations, graduations and family get-togethers.
One funny thing we will remember is how we’ve all had to cancel our haircut appointments.
At my January 29, 2020 haircut, I made a future appointment for March 12. Due to unforeseen work issues, I had to reschedule that appointment for March 26, which ended up being the week our state’s governor closed all hair salons. At the moment, my plan is for a haircut in early May.
But, James 4: 13-17 reminds us of some important principles when making our plans.
Thoroughly Wash Your Heart…as Well as Your Hands
In Chapter 4, James addresses something that happens in every church: conflict and quarrels.
But instead of giving us “5 Tips for Conflict Resolution,” James goes right for the jugular: he admonishes us to cleanse the sin in our hearts.
In the first 12 verses of the chapter, I spent time LOOKING at the words James writes, but even MORE time in prayer with the LIVE questions, examining the condition of my own heart.
The Best Kind of Wisdom
If you’re reading this anytime after the middle of February in the year 2020, then you’re living through or survived the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic.
Never has life as we’ve always known it come to a screeching halt as it did in the early days of spring and never has the “wisdom” of so many voices contributed to that halt.
But let’s LOOK at what James says in chapter 3 about the BEST kind of wisdom:
Who Can Tame the Tongue?
The beginning of James chapter three is a perfect reminder that this is a letter! It was not written with chapter divisions or sub-headings. James was writing his thoughts as the Holy Spirit inspired them.
So, in verse one, he switches gears and warns those who would want to be teachers:
“Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.”
This verse stops me in my tracks!
Reasoning Through the Age-Old Debate of Faith vs. Works
I wonder if James could have had any inkling of the debates that would rise through the ages over this last section of chapter two. Even Martin Luther, the father of the Reformation, at one time took issue with James’ discussion of faith and works.
The challenge for me when studying this part of God’s Word is to do what Janet encourages us in the GodChats lessons: remove all presuppositions I have. I need to zero in on the Word, let God’s Word teach me about His Word, not what man says about these words.
Let’s dive in to the text!
Making Sense of the Law of Liberty
Does the phrase “Law of Liberty” seem like an oxymoron to you? Much like the terms: “Genuine Imitation,” or “Jumbo Shrimp?”
In James’ last example of the sin of showing partiality and favoritism, he stated that conviction comes by the law. In this next section, he further explains this “law of liberty” and how we are judged by it.
Correct understanding of the law will help me correctly live out my faith.
How We Look at the Outside and Those on the Outside, Looking In
Reading James chapter two reminds me of a couple different scenarios in my life:
That time I first walked into a country club and felt so out of place, as if my clothes weren’t stylish enough, or I knew I didn’t fit in because I didn’t have enough money to be a member. The other is driving down a city street full of homeless people huddled near their pile of belongings and feeling somehow ashamed of all the excess that I have.
In both situations, I was looking at the external, and feeling like an outsider, looking in.
James begins chapter two by reminding us that Jesus’ Church is never to be a place where people feel like outsiders.
How Forgetful We Are!
Have you ever gotten ready to leave the house in the morning, walked away from the mirror, and can’t remember if you put your mascara on?
Or how many of us drive away from our home and can’t remember if we closed the garage door?
This may be more true of me because I’m over 50! But James points out in chapter one that we are indeed forgetful people, especially when it comes to God’s Word.
3-Stepping Our Way to Implanting God’s Word
Have you ever tried to learn a dance move with three steps? Like the Waltz or Texas 3-step?
Basically, these dances follow a pattern of “Quick – Quick – Slow.” Two Quicks, One Slow.
James 1:19 shows us another kind of 3-Step: Only ONE Quick and TWO Slows:
- Be Quick to Hear
- Be Slow to Speak
- Be Slow to Anger
My husband is a pastor and often recites this verse during wedding ceremonies to remind couples that we often get these three commands backwards when we communicate with one another.
Without thinking, we can be quick to speak, or quick to anger, but slow to hear.
Who Dangles the Bait of Temptation?
Early followers of Christ were persecuted for their faith. They may have faced verbal and physical harassment, but most certainly experienced financial hardship from loss of business due to their faith.
So James is encouraging and exhorting them in their trials. Here, he goes on to teach them what can happen when they go through a trial: a bait dangles in front of them called temptation.
Were these early Christians tempted to steal when funds ran low and provision seemed impossible?
Or worse yet, were they tempted to give up on their faith when faced with persecution?
Blessed By Hanging In There!
Staying the course. It’s a phrase we all must live by to keep us from wandering from our faith, our spouse, or even from our job, when we face trouble, testing, or boredom.
Perhaps I contradict myself by saying that I intended to “stay the course” in my study of James, chapter 1 – to continue at verse 12 and dig in to an entire paragraph.
But verse 12 stopped me in my tracks: “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
How the Humility of Trials Can Lift Us Up
So far, reading and studying along in the first chapter of James has been pretty cut and dry. I am following the thought process of James and then, I hit verses James 1:9-11.
Wait, what?! I’m stumped by what seems like a slight diversion.
Does this happen to you too?
Before learning to study with the app, I might have just kept on reading, missing the discovery God wanted to show me in these three verses. Instead, I slow down, even stop and take a more in-depth look at these verses IN CONTEXT.
Wisdom: A Promise With a Condition
Christians know that God’s love for us is unconditional. However, many of His promises in Scripture are not. Some promises come with a condition. One of those is found in James, chapter one.
The brother of Jesus explains how endurance through trials will bring forth a perfect result – that being we lack nothing.
Then in verse five, James adds a contrast: “But, if any of you lacks …”
Endurance Through the Trial
There is not a one of us exempt from trials. Everyone in the world lives through trials. They have come, and they will continue to come, in many various forms, large and small. It could be as simple as losing your keys to the loss of a loved one, a fatal disease, an accident, surgery, employment, a financial crisis, difficult relationships with family and friends, persecution, and the list goes on. All of these things touch us in some way or another, and if they haven’t, they will. And when trials come, do you wonder why? Do you become overwhelmed? Do you tend to give Satan the credit thinking it is an attack from the enemy? Or blame others? Well, let’s see what God has to say about trials. (from Godchats)
As I engage with God in the book of James, verses two through four leap off the page in a new way.
Brother and Bond-Servant
Have you ever planned a vacation, going over books and maps to get ready for your trip? And then once there, you were able to enjoy your journey because you knew what to look for and how to find it? Well let’s do that today, so you will understand why you would want to join us on this journey of Discovery in theBook of James. (from Godchats)
I dove into the book of James today, but got no further than the first verse!
Jam-packed with information, I didn’t want to miss anything, so I stopped to tap on a couple of words. In just the simple, short greeting of a letter, I discovered a whole world of meaningful insights.