Christianity 201

July 25, 2018

Benedictions, Again

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
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We covered a number of blessings in April 2017. I was reminded of this again as I read a short item at Out of the Ordinary:

Quotes of Note

by Rebecca Stark

In my church, we frequently use the last two verses of Jude for a benediction. You’ve heard them, I’m sure:

To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (Jude 24-25 NIV)

When we hear or repeat bits of scripture regularly, there’s a danger the words will become so familiar to us that we stop really hearing them.

I’ve been using Douglas Moo’s NIV Application Commentary on 2 Peter and Jude for a bible study I’m participating in. Moo ends each section of this commentary with a few paragraphs on the contemporary significance of the verses he has just explained. In other words, he writes a bit about how to apply the truths of 2 Peter and Jude to the issues we may face in our lives right now. Of Jude 24, he writes:

Think of the marvelous security promised to us . . . .  God is able to preserve us so that we can stand before him on the last day spotless, forgiven, assured of an eternal “home in the heavens.” Doubt and anxiety are constant companions on our earthly pilgrimage. We worry about our health, about money, about our children, about our jobs. In sober moments we perhaps become anxious about death. God does not promise to take away these worries, but he does take away from us our greatest worry: where we will spend eternity.

Next time these beautiful words of doxology are recited at the end of a service, I want to really hear this promise.

And I want them to make a difference in the way I live. Moo ends his paragraph of application for this verse with these questions to ponder:

Do we reflect this confidence [that we will spend eternity with God] in the way we live? Do we truly value heaven enough so that our earthly worries, while sometimes pressing, fade in importance in light of our eternal destiny?

This got me wondering when the last time was we looked at the last verses of Jude, which took me to a 2013 piece, which featured writing by Deryk on the blog, Becoming Less. Although the blog is inactive, we found this related post today:

When the Spirit breaks through – Benediction

The other day I was in desperate need of fellowship. I needed to be with someone, to talk about and confess where I was at. But instead I sat at work with my thoughts and didn’t ask for it. I knew God would grant me grace through another person if I sought what he was offering – I know I have those people in my life. All it would take is a text to someone, a quick request for their time in the near future. But I sat alone.

A few minutes into this ridiculousness, a dear brother sent me a text. We hadn’t talked recently; he didn’t know anything going on or what was on my mind. In his message, these Spirit-led words pierced through the darkness and reminded me of the God who knows me and offers grace and the fullness of life. This is what he said:

“I thank God for your life. May He give you conviction to live in obedience and His presence to guard you from the consequences of stupid decisions you will make and from any attack on you. May you see continually His Fatherly love as well as heed His instructions. Lay up treasure in heaven and thank God for every circumstance that is being used by His Spirit to build you up to minister His name, to forgive, to ask for forgiveness, to seek after those who give up on the church, to love those who do not know God, to care for other brothers and sisters, to support your authorities… I look forward to seeing the good works that God has prepared for you that we and many others might give thanks many times, not just in a year.”

I am undeserving of such words. Who am I, that God would have his spirit give such words to my brother in the first place? Who am I that my brother would bring such words before the God of the universe, before Jesus, my high priest… who am I that God would hear those words, or do anything about them?

Exactly. I’m nothing. I’m a rebellious child. I’ve tasted of the grace of God – I’ve thrown myself into the boundless ocean that it is and been submerged. I’ve been overwhelmed in a way that enables, leaving me strengthened and striving for his glory. His grace. For his glory.

Who am I? No one. Who is he? He is the lavish God of grace and glory.

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