Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Jude 24, 25

 

We have all seen what it is like in a courtroom. This may be true from real life experience or these impressions might have come to us through television or film. There is one word that generally does not describe the scene in that place, and that word is joy. The exception to this is probably when the verdict is pronounced, and then. sometimes joy or joyous describes the prevailing party. This verse depicts a different sort of courtroom where the outcome, the verdict, carries a much more significant weight than does the one that can be handed out in any human court of law. In God’s court, each of us is held accountable for the life that we lived, for the righteous conduct of our days, and to the decisions that we made in regards to our relationship with the judge, God Himself.

 

Frankly, no one passes the test of the high standard of righteousness that God sets for us. Every one of us fails as no one is worthy of being in the presence of the pure and holy being that is the Lord. However, this same pure, holy and righteous God does not want to be separated from us. He designed and created each person on this earth with the desire and intent of enjoying a relationship with us that would continue into the infinite. So, God came into our world in the person of Jesus. He brought to us an answer to our guilt as Jesus took upon His absolutely blameless and innocent self the punishment that we deserve. With our guilty verdict proclaimed upon Christ, God allowed our death sentence to be carried out upon Himself so that when we appear before the seat of judgement after our days in this world are completed, the verdict that we will hear is innocent, and we are set free to enjoy the eternal presence of the Lord as we dwell in His glorious realm.

 

Although living for eternity in God’s presence is an extraordinary outcome to the highly flawed and blameworthy lives that we all live, it is not all that Christ grants to us through His sacrificial acceptance of our verdict of shameful guilt. In Christ, we are set free from a form of slavery that oppresses the soul and so subjects the heart and mind to its bondage. Christ redeems us from that life-long captivity, from that pre-sentence incarceration, so that we can live out our days breathing the free air of God’s Kingdom on earth where our lives are given great purpose and meaning as we are called by Christ to serve His redemptive mission. It is Christ’s grace that makes us, sinful and disobedient as we may be, suitable for this service. He pours out His righteousness upon us, and so, we are found to be blameless, and God joyously pronounces us to be fit for service to Him.

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Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to preserve you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Jude 24, 25

 

There is real wonder and magic in the air as we tell the story of Jesus’ humble birth to the specially and specifically chosen young virgin woman. The enormity of God’s desire to reconcile humanity and the rest of creation to himself is written all over the way that these events transpired, and God’s heart for that redemptive work continues to be on full view throughout the life and especially in the death that Jesus was to encounter. So, it is of little wonder to me that God’s real intent in all of this is found in Jude’s few simple words of praise, for there is only one being who can do what is stated here. Jesus is the answer to all people’s need to become blameless before God just as He is the singular source of the wisdom, strength, and grace that are required daily to make it through life while living out those days righteously.

 

This redeemed life that Jude is praising is the point behind all that God did by and through Jesus. God did not need to demonstrate Himself to the world for any other purpose. He certainly did not need to undergo the pain and the suffering of living out a short lifespan in human flesh in order to be able to relate to us or to understand us, for these are things that God has been capable of doing in ways that are deep and profound from the dawn of our inception at His hand. Jesus was with us and journeyed along our pathways so that we would be more fully able to grasp the enormity of what has been lost to sin’s death and decay. In Christ, we are also provided with a tangible means of return to a now and an eternal place of right standing before our Lord as it is through faith in Jesus the Christ that all sin is forgiven and that our lives are transformed into ones that follow God’s design for living in the full appreciation of the Lord’s intent for us.

 

As I know this Jesus whose birth is celebrated in the festivities of Christmas, the true importance of Jude’s words of praise take on greater meaning for me. These are not just some spiritually right sounding words and phrases to recite in rote liturgical fashion; they are the essence of the calling that Christ has placed upon my life. Christ is shown most fully in His glory, majesty, dominion, and authority as I and other people of faith live out the love, grace, mercy, justice, and righteousness that the Lord has pour over and into us. The point of Christmas is that the lives of people in this world would be changed. The focus of that long-ago birth is the salvation of the people of this world from our separation from our Creator and thus from a death that starts at birth and that knows no end. We are each and all called upon to live out the salvation that God has gifted to us through Jesus. We do this by making Jude’s words of praise the on-going descriptor of the manner that we conduct our lives.

 

Blessings in Christ, and Merry Christmas.

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Jude 24, 25

 

There is a lot of debris littering our streets these days. This hard part of our reality has little to do with city budgets or road maintenance practices. Instead, it is directly related to the fact that we live in a world that is filled with conflict, disillusionment, and even despair. As we walk about we are probably going to encounter the damage that results from all of this strife. The sharp and hard-edged objects in the paths of the day are made up of broken hearts, shattered dreams, defeated plans, and deceived spirits. This world has become a workplace where hard hats and safety shoes are required.

 

So, what does singing praises to God have to do with safely getting from home to my destination and back again? The first thing that comes to mind is the fact that safety is relative and some aspects of it are overrated. If we are talking in terms of cuts, bruises, and even some broken bones, these are inevitable. Our bodies and our hearts will suffer as we go through life. There are too many obstacles and too much opposition for that not to happen. The safety that Jude is describing is different. He is focused on our spirits and on the deep-seated aspects of our hearts where our true beliefs and identity dwell.

 

God does protect our souls. He guards His children with a ferocity that dwarfs that of the most protective of animal or human parent. He is the one who guards and cares for us with no hidden agenda, concealed motive, or additional payment required. Jude is saying that we can enter into the peace and the joy of God’s loving presence by taking our eyes off of ourselves and by looking up toward God. As we do this we stop focusing on the damage that life has caused and we tune our ears to hearing God’s voice. As we look upon the Lord’s glory, see His extraordinary love and grace, recognize God’s position as Creator, and submit to the absolute authority of Jesus Christ; the truth of God’s Word becomes the loud voice of reason that guides each step that we need to take today.

 

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Jude 24, 25

 

Jude’s short letter is all about the fact that salvation has always been the work of Jesus. That is true for all of history, not just the period of time that we might call the age of the New Testament. So, if we desire to be saved, we need to remain singularly focused on the One who saves, that is Jesus, the Christ. He calls upon us to follow Him in all things and with a totality of commitment that literally drives all else out of us and replaces those former, worldly elements with Christ-imbued righteous truth. There is much in our world that wars with this transformation. Many people and the institutions that they promote are antagonistic to God and to His people. This is the struggle that Jude warns about.

 

Yet, I think that this little benediction speaks loudly about why people who know Christ can be thankful in the midst of the many struggles and uncertainties of life. Christ does not leave us out here all alone. He provides each and every one of His followers with absolute truth that we can anchor to in order to withstand the storms that come our way. His grace is more than all that we need to be brought into the presence of the most holy God and declared worthy, pure, blameless, and innocent. Christ stands as our defense against the attacks that evil launches against us and provides the touch of healing that we require in order to recover from the inevitable bruises that we receive as we contend for our faith.

 

In all of this there is great cause for thanksgiving. God is in this world. He has never been absent. Christ has been working for the redemption of people since the first of us defied God and became needy of grace and salvation. He has not and will not stop doing the same for all of humanity until the day of His final return. It is ours to choose to accept God’s mercy and follow Christ. So, as we have done that, we can know God and understand His greatness and live in the security of His rule of authority over this world. In Christ, we are the beloved subjects of the one and only true King. We are the recipients of the royal blessing of life, and there is no greater reason than this to cause us to lift up our voices in choruses of thanksgiving and praise.