Janet Smith – 9-19-2021 ©gardenministries.org
“Jude is the vestibule [i.e., the lobby or passageway to] to the book of Revelation.” “Where the Book of Acts tells us about the Beginning of the Church and is the message of the Acts of the Apostles, the Book of Jude is the about the end of the Church Age and is the Acts of the Apostates.” – Dr. Chuck Missler, Koinonia House.
Jude verses 20-25 (CSB) But you, dear friends, as you build yourselves up in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting expectantly for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life. 22 Have mercy on those who waver; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; have mercy on others but with fear, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. 24 Now to him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of his glory, without blemish and with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now and forever. Amen
The only way any of us will be willing or able to stand in Jesus and endure to the end in what is coming is because of this one simple fact: we are in love with Jesus.
We don’t just love Jesus for what He did for us or for what He does for us—even though it is awesome—we love Him for who He is. We can even say we are lovesick for Him. We are IN-love with Jesus. We are desperate for Him. We can’t live without Him, nor will we. We are even willing to die for Him if that’s how things go. If we are not in love with Jesus, we are more likely to fall prey to compromise in the days ahead, maybe even delusion. We may fall prey to believing lies that contradict and invalidate the truth of His Word found in Scripture.
If we fall prey to compromise and begin to water down or invalidate God’s Word, we are really just trying to lessen our responsibility to obey Him. This is how we will not stand with Jesus in times of persecution. But if we are completely in love with Jesus, we will by nature hunger and thirst after His righteousness and our desire to obey is Word will be our first desire. This is what keeping Jesus as our First Love means. We are in love with Him. In the face of persecution and darkness, we will consider no other option but to stand with Him Who is the Light of Life.
Jesus’ Bride is lovesick for Him and will be faithful unto death to her Husband, her Best Friend, her Savior, her Lord. Any lesser love for Jesus than being head-over-heels lovesick for Him will not stand in the fire of betrayals and persecution that the Bible says are coming.
When a life-or-death situation is set in front of us or shocking events unfold in front of our eyes, unless we intimately know the Voice of the One we Love and remember to look up at Him, we will be paralyzed by fear and our dead religion won’t hold us, because it can’t hold us. It is a form with no power.
1 John 4:8 (CSB) There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears is not complete in love.
In moments of crisis, without Jesus’ Lordship and Voice established within us through practiced obedience, our animalistic, fight-or-flight survival instincts will kick in and start to drive our decision-making.
But Jude promises that if we “vs. 21, (CSB) keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting expectantly for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life… 24 [He] is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of his glory, without blemish and with great joy.“
Greek: “Keep” = Guard and Keep Watch Over. “Stumbling” = Falling
Jesus is able to protect us and keep us standing firm so that not only are we making it, we are standing in the presence of His glory SPOTLESS and WITH GREAT JOY. That is not just making it. That’s overcoming.
Psalm 50 tells us that when God comes to judge, it’s quite the entrance. There is fire and there is a Storm.
Psalm 50:1-3 (CSB) The Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks; he summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. 2 From Zion, the perfection of beauty, God appears in radiance. 3 Our God is coming; he will not be silent! Devouring fire precedes him, and a storm rages around him.
For years, we’ve heard prophesies about the Lord coming in the midst of a Storm. Each prophecy warns us is to keep our eyes on the Lord through the Storm and not let the Storm distract us from Him and what He is doing in it. Each prophecy promises sunshine, rainbows, and peace after the storm. The Storm has purpose. Stay fixed on the prize in the midst of it. Jesus is coming in the Storm!
There’s a song entitled, “Cloud Rider” and it starts with these words, “A fiery storm is coming. Intense the heat it casts. It comes with little warning. Before the Trumpet blast. And sorrow’s hold has found no home. For Christ has come at last.”
On March 18th, 2021, a word came during prayer, “Be ready for trouble. Ground Zero: Brace yourself. Things are about to get ‘real’. There is nothing to be afraid of. God is our shelter in the storm. Things are about to get worse before they get better (Jeremiah 12).” That morning there was a dream that a cosmic war had started in Minneapolis and St. Paul and it came suddenly.
The Lord comes in the Storm. Do we know how to stand on God’s Word and fight in faith-filled prayer, no matter the cost—even unto death if that be the case? Are we settled with that question answered in our hear-of-heart’s? If we are settled, we will stand in the days to come and we will thrive in the storm, not just survive. We won’t compromise because we are in love with Jesus more than we love our own lives. If our testimony of faithfulness to Jesus is true in our hearts, it will come out in truth in the Storm.
It’s not just about dying-to-self and then remaining empty and swept clean. We are also to be filled up with Jesus. We accomplish this through a hungry pursuit of Him and by maturing in our faith and trust in Him through obedience to His Word. Every time we choose to obey Him and trust Him more than ourselves and don’t succumb to or seek out the world’s pleasures to fill us, we are maturing and growing and being filled with the eternal Life of God—who is Jesus. God is making his home in us. That is what will keep us standing. Christ IN US, the hope of glory.
John 14:20-24 (CSB) On that day you will know that I am in my Father, you are in me, and I am in you. 21 The one who has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. And the one who loves me will be loved by my Father. I also will love him and will reveal myself to him. 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it you’re going to reveal yourself to us and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 The one who doesn’t love me will not keep my words. The word that you hear is not mine but is from the Father who sent me.
We have to come to terms with the fact that in the right circumstances, all human love, apart from God’s love, is self-centered and will fail God and will fail us. That is why God is sanctifying us from depending on human love. We can only depend on His love. But we have to learn how to tell the difference between broken human love and God’s eternal love. The Holy Spirit wants to teach us how to recognize and walk in God’s love.
Human love relies on and is dispensed by the power of self. When the world around us loses its civility, when the nations rage, and injustice abounds, the human ability to be noble and to love disintegrates quickly into animalistic self-preservation tactics where it’s every man for themselves. Most middle-class-or-above Americans are used to a fairly comfortable lifestyle because they’ve been protected through the rule of law and live amongst generally civilized, good mannered, neighborly folks.
When the lawless one comes and all that civility is out the door, many people will find themselves in unfamiliar territory. Many have not had to face circumstances where the fabric of society has unraveled. We need to learn now, ahead of the times, how to completely depend on God’s love and be ok with standing alone in Him; standing by faith and hope, held secure in God’s love in which we feel empowered to “love not our lives unto death.” We can only stand like this if we are in love with Jesus.
We have to let the Holy Spirit wean us from being codependent in our relationships. Are we rooted and grounded in His Love so, if necessary, we can steadfastly stand alone in our faith in Him? If we can’t live without that other person, then we are subject to fall if they fall. Can we even tell the difference between human love and God’s love? Human love has hooks and pulls and is riddled self-centered give-and-take expectations. We “give” to get, in order to receive what we define we must have from the relationship.
That is human love. It is self-defined, self-empowered, and self-promoting. Christians and non-Christians alike operate in human love. By its very nature, human love is self-centered because it is from self. Believers in Christ have the unique invitation to enter into a transcendent love through the work of the Holy Spirit within them. God’s love is unique in that, while His love does have requirements, God’s love and His requirements of us are based entirely in perfect Truth and God’s truth promises to set us free.
John 8:31-32 (CSB) Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you continue in my word, you really are my disciples. 32 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Only God’s Love is complete Truth and only His Truth can impart true liberty. It is the beautiful fruit of knowing Him. God doesn’t need any of us humans but He wants us. He wants us so much, He sent Jesus to die for our sins so we could be reconciled to God and then, sent the Spirit to sanctify us so that we can even marry Jesus and be His eternal dwelling place. Amazing.
To know God’s love, we need to know God. To know God, we need to fall in love with Jesus and believe He is Who He says He is. To do this, we have to know what He says about Himself and believe it! Are we letting Him woo us and set us aside to spend time with Him? How can we fall in love with someone we ignore, put off, and barely spend time with?
If we are not falling in love with Jesus, we will not empty ourselves of human self-love and make room for God’s love to fill us. It is God’s love that will hold us in the days ahead. Self-love is powerless in the face of what’s coming. Humanity’s self-love does not have enough fortitude to endure through times of chaos, betrayal, and lawlessness. Christ’s love alone can and will hold us through the storms—even to the point where we are full of joy in the storm, eagerly anticipating seeing Him face-to-face without shame or shrinking back.
How do we fall more in love with Jesus? Spend time with Him. Wait on Him. Be still before Him. Pray. Read and meditate on His Word. Sing Praises to His Name. Ask for hunger—and more hunger. Ask for thirst—and more thirst—to know Him. Set your mind on heavenly things, on eternity, and on being married to Jesus in the Age to come. Spend less time looking into and running after what this current and fleeting age is offering. It is fading out fast right before our eyes.
We are invited to love Jesus with our whole heart, mind, and soul. He wouldn’t ask us to love Him like this if it weren’t possible—even necessary—to love Him like this. It is His love formed within us in Christ that loves Him that way. All the more, we need to purpose to give Jesus plenty of our focused time so we can cultivate an intimate, knowing relationship with Him. How can we expect to fall in love with someone we barely know?
Over time, our love for Jesus will deepen every time we obey Him and every time He discloses and reveals Himself to us. Every time we push distractions aside and choose to quiet ourselves and meditate on His Word and draw near to Him, James 4:8 says, “he will draw near to you.” Just show up and wait on Him in prayer and fellowship—alone or with other believers. These are ways to give Him our Yes in this hour before the Storm.
Do we believe that Jesus likes times of fellowship with us? That just hearing our thankful, faith-filled hearts singing to Him in praise from our secret place is like precious gold?
A Lovesick Bride will Hunger, Thirst, Yearn, and Wait for God
Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Psalm 63:1 O God, You are my God, earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my body yearns for You in a dry and weary land without water.
Isaiah 30:18 Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore He rises to show you compassion, for the LORD is a just God. Blessed are all who wait for Him.
Daniel 12:12 Happy is the one who waits for and reaches 1,335 days.
How do I know if I am in love with Jesus? What is my first instinct when crisis hits or a fiery trial comes my way? Do I turn and run to Him? Do I trust His Word? Do I believe He loves me and wants to help me find His way through this trial? Do I believe He is my answer in this crisis?
In John 6, when many disciples thought that following Jesus was too intense and left Him, Jesus looked at His 12 disciples and asked if they were going to cut and run too? Peter answered, (vs. 68) “Lord, to whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus replied to them, “Didn’t I choose you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He was referring to Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son, one of the Twelve, because he was going to betray him.
Peter saw and said that there was no other option. Jesus fulfilled all that Peter knew to recognize as being God. There wasn’t an option to leave Him. Peter knew this truth conceptually and declared it, yet when crisis hit and his self-love animalistic instincts kicked in, he denied Jesus.
But later, when Jesus restored Peter, it all came down to God’s love versus Peter’s human love. Jesus asked three times, “Peter. Do you love Me?” Then He told Peter what love looks like in service. “Feed my lambs.” And then told Peter by what kind of death He would glorify God. Only God’s love in us can carry us through the work of feeding His lambs and enduring persecution and death-to-self.
Fellowship with others in the body of Christ can help us fall more in love with Jesus but we can only trust another person’s faithfulness to the relationship to the degree that they are in love with Jesus for themselves. We can tell if someone is in love with Jesus to the degree that they turn to Him in their fiery trials, rely on His Word, and are eager to obey Him. They will bear the undeniable fruit of the Holy Spirit.
If someone is half-hearted and dull toward Jesus and His Word, they only want to do the bare minimum to get by with God and their church family. While this kind of coasting on the others spiritual hard work might work during times of peace, when they all see the Bridegroom is really coming and the storm kicks in, it won’t be long before those who coasted start to scramble and realize they need more intimacy with Jesus than they thought. In desperation, they may try to get what they should have gotten for themselves all along.
The 5 foolish virgins tried to get oil from the 5 wise but had to be turned down or it would cost the 5 wise virgins their own supply. Point is. We all have to fall in love with Jesus. We can’t fall in love with Jesus for someone else. And blaming others for our own lack of pursuit and sacrifice is just a coverup for our refusal to take responsibility for our own work and sin of unbelief.
All we have to do in the moment we realize our lack is to accept our responsibility and start right then and there to ask for hunger and thirst to fall in love with Jesus. If we confess our need for Jesus and admit where we have been living half-hearted, as long as we have the Holy Spirit in us, we can start living in wholehearted pursuit of Jesus.
After Jesus told His listeners about the coming persecutions and to abide in Him, He went on to say in John 16:1-3: I have told you these things to keep you from stumbling. 2 They will ban you from the synagogues. In fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 They will do these things because they haven’t known the Father or me.
2 Timothy 3:1-2, 5-7,12 But know this: Hard times will come in the last days. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, demeaning, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, … 5 holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people. 6 For among them are those who worm their way into households and deceive gullible women overwhelmed by sins and led astray by a variety of passions, 7 always learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. … 12 In fact, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
Additional scriptures: Matthew 24:9, Matthew 10:16, 32