I am amazed at how certain people will think that, because they were privy to a special time of blessing or a notable time in church history, they are somehow exempt from living the Christian life in the present day.
Occasionally, I will run into people who went to the church where I pastor — Harvest Christian Fellowship — when we first began in the 1970s.
“Greg, I haven’t seen you for a long time,” they will say. “It’s good to see you again.”
“Where have you been?” I will ask. “I haven’t seen you at church.”
“No, I haven’t been around for quite a long time. But I remember those old days,” they will tell me. “They were something, weren’t they?”
“Those were great days,” they continue. “I loved the 70s. God was really working in the Jesus Movement, wasn’t He?”
“Yes, He sure was.”
But my question for them is what have they been doing lately? How are they doing with the Lord today?
It is wonderful if God did a work in your life 20, 30, or 40 years ago. But God wants to make His mercies new to you every morning (see Lamentations 3:22–23). This is why Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me (Luke 9:23 NKJV, emphasis mine).
This is the very problem Jude identified in his epistle. There were some believers who were not moving forward spiritually. They were sloppy in their understanding of biblical teaching. As a result, they were vulnerable to false teaching.
They were resting on their laurels, thinking that because they had been blessed in the past, they were exempt from living a godly life in the present.
Jude then presented an important theme: “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (verse 21 NKJV). Jude was saying, “If you don’t want to go the way of some of these people that I am about to discuss, then you have to keep yourselves in the love of God.”
What an interesting phrase that is: “keep yourselves in the love of God.” The Bible says we “are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation” (1 Peter 1:5 NKJV), but in Jude, we are exhorted to keep ourselves in the love of God.
Obviously, there is God’s part. He is ready to keep us. But we also must take practical steps to keep ourselves in His love.
Does that mean that we are to keep ourselves in a state where God will love us? That is virtually impossible because, no matter how hard we try, we ultimately will fall short of His standards.
Rather, to keep myself in the love of God simply means that I need to keep myself in a place where God can actively bless me.
A good illustration of this is the prodigal son. He was loved by his father, but he foolishly took his portion of the inheritance and went to a distant country, where he lived as a fool. Ultimately, he came to his senses and returned to his father.
The question is: Was he still his father’s son while a prodigal? He was a wayward son (no doubt) and a distant son (without question), but he was still his son.
Was he keeping himself in the love of his father or in a place where his father could actively demonstrate his love? No. His father probably didn’t even know where he was at the time.
When he returned home and his father forgave him and threw a party for him, was he then in a place where the father could actively show his love toward him? Yes.
In the same way, when we disobey God, when we do things that we should not do, it is not that God stops loving us or that we have ceased to be true Christians. But we have essentially taken ourselves out of the love of God. We have removed ourselves from the place where God can actively show His love in our lives.
Simply put, Jude was reminding us that we must keep ourselves from all that is unlike God, from all that would violate His love and grieve Him.We must stay away from the things that could tear us down, and stay close to the Lord and in fellowship with believers who build us up. In other words, keep ourselves in the love of God.
Did you know that the Lord has an amazing trade-in deal in store for you? That’s right; you are going to trade in your existing body, with its aches and pains, for the newest model.
I think it is really important for us to better understand the person of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes people think of the Holy Spirit as more of an “It” than a “Him.” But according to Scripture, the Holy Spirit is not only God, but He has a will, a personality, and can even be offended!
Have you ever had doubts about your faith? Have you ever wondered if it is really all true? If so, don’t be too hard on yourself. Some Christians are reluctant to admit that they have any questions at all.
I have always believed in the promise of Christmas. There has always been something special to me about this time of the year, going back to my earliest days of childhood.
What is it that we love about Christmas, once we get past the initial trappings?
The Living a Prayerful Life book will be sent to you in appreciation for your gift to Harvest Ministries this month.
It’s not enough to just pray here and there. We should be living a life of prayer. Could you honestly say you are living a prayerful life? If not, why not take a step in that direction?
To help you do just that, Harvest is offering Living a Prayerful Life by Andrew Murray in appreciation for your gift of support this month. This book will help you combat prayerlessness and give you practical guidelines for developing a life of habitual prayer.
Living a Prayerful Life will be sent to you in appreciation for your gift to Harvest Ministries this month.