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Garde Bien … the great Amen!

To him who is able to keep you from falling 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

This week, in Jude, I have been amazed at the ways of God, at the sensitivity of Jude, at the words of love and mercy, at the hope we share, at the timeless relevancy. And now Jude’s doxology reverberates deep down in the soul. It is pure icing on the cake. I am reminded, ladies, that studying God is not an end in itself. It is the doorway to worship.

So let us worship: God, You are able. You are so able. Amen!

Lord, we know the folks in the time of Jude were being bombarded by raw immorality and outright denial of Jesus as Lord. So are we. They were in danger of falling into sin. So are we. But You God are able to keep us from falling. Even when we’re being blindsided and don’t know it, You are able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). We will enter into Your glorious presence at the end of time perfect, without fault in Your eyes. As we build ourselves up in the faith, we are being transformed into (Jesus’) likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the LORD, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18). The joy in heaven will be grand. Amen!

You, God, are the only God! You are our Savior! Amen!

O God, we recognize that glory and majesty and power and authority belong to You alone. One day we will join the elders before the heavenly throne and say with them: “You are worthy, our Lord and God…for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Revelation 4:11). Amen!

In the meantime we wait Lord Jesus. We wait, secure in Your loving arms. We wait knowing You have cut off the head of death and will one day bring us into eternal life. How great is Your mercy! We live to bring You glory. We guard, we cherish the faith.

For You Jesus, You are the Christ. You are our Lord. You were there before all ages. You are with the Father now. You will reign forevermore. Amen! And Amen! 

Garde Bien, ladies. Watch well. 

Nancy P

Garde Bien … be merciful

Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
Jude 22-23

The more I study Jude’s writing, the more impressed I am with its fluidity in light of the known illiteracy of the Galileans. Hmmm—inspired or what! At this point Jude reminds his friends they are not of the world, but they have a purpose in the world. I wonder if he was on the edge of the crowd of disciples when Jesus prayed His priestly prayer: “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” Yet, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world” (John 17:15-16,18).

As we keep ourselves in God’s love ladies, we too take on the character of love. We learn to fulfill the “new command” of Jesus: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 14:34).

And love involves mercy. There were those who doubted in Jude’s time; there are those who have honest doubts now. Don’t avoid them. Be patient. Maybe begin a Bible study in your neighborhood. Be the kind of friend whose lifestyle invites conversation about the things of God.

Know your story with God so you can share it: Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect (1Peter 3:15). You each have a story. Take the time to write it down, then share it with some friends to work out the kinks. I have a necklace of charms which remind me of all the times God has intersected my story. You could do that too.

With others, those who are heading for the pit, you might have to be rather blunt in order to snatch them from the fire. And then there are those whose corrupt practices you need to steer clear of so they do not rub off on you. Sin is sin as measured by God. But all people have dignity in the eyes of God. Remember, be gentle and respectful at all times, and above reproach. Don’t be surprised that all eyes are on you.

God’s mercy runs deep. In the end it will bring us to eternal life. In the meantime a little mercy on our part may just bring someone to Jesus.

Nancy P

Garde Bien … keep yourselves in God’s love

Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you into eternal life.
Jude 21

Keep yourselves in God’s love—now that’s a cool way of putting it. The life we live in anticipation of eternity is within the safe confines of the loving arms of God. Oh, you messed up; or you would have if Adam and Eve had not done so first. But because of the mercy of Jesus, you are back where you belong.

The question Jude raises then is not, “Does God love you?” God is full of love, so full He can’t help but love you. Love is inherent to His character (1 John 4:16). The question then becomes how to keep yourselves in God’s love.

But first of all I’d like to ask Jude how he found himself in the circle of God’s love. I am intrigued with what we know of the family stories. In John 7:1-5 we read how Jesus’ half-brothers, and that would include Jude, tried to embarrass Jesus publicly. They might as well have said, “You are off your rocker, brother.” So, when and how and how many of them were eventually persuaded He was who He said He was? Both James and Jude for sure, considering the passionate pleas each made in their writings.     

I’d love to hear your stories, ladies, as to how you found your way into God’s arms. The good news is that once there, you have the Spirit in you. You have God in you filling you with His love. You just need to let Him.

However, Jesus makes it clear that there is a degree of participation on your part and mine: “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love” (John 15:10). To obey Jesus’ commands I have to know Jesus’ commands.     

Jude continues to pound home the fine points of guarding and cherishing our most holy faith. I love to spend time in the mornings on my porch with the word of God. But as iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17), I’ve found it invaluable to study with girlfriends. That’s when we get down to the nitty-gritty, to the “how do I really feel about what God is saying?” Our combined insights and our varied experiences keep us better in God’s love, and give us hope in light of the daily headlines. 

Nancy P

Garde Bien … build yourselves up in holiness

But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith. And pray in the Holy Spirit.
Jude 20

Ladies, I don’t know about you but I’m having to do more and more mental calisthenics to bend my mind around today’s slippery slope of decline in morality, ethics, family values—you name it—away from God. What in the world is going on?

Jude had nothing kind to say about those who claimed divine revelation apart from the Spirit. The Message translation is blunt: This is exactly the same program of these latest infiltrators: dirty sex, rule and rulers thrown out, glory dragged in the mud. These people sneer at anything they can’t understand, and by doing whatever they feel like doing—living by animal instinct only—they participate in their own destruction (Jude 8,10 MSG).

Hmmm, demeaning of sexuality—check; rejection of authority—check; dragging God’s glory through the mud—check; doing as they saw fit in their own eyes—check! 2000 years and the world is at it again.

But you, dear friends… Jude’s tone abruptly changes. He is about to paint the world’s canvas of despair with broad brush strokes of hope. Exactly what these first century believers needed—a good dose of hope, and a few godly instructions. And that is exactly what we need today, in the midst of the blatant ungodliness around us.

After all, we have been entrusted with the gift of faith. Yes I believe, or have faith. But Jude was referencing here the body of truth I am to guard, cherish, build myself up in. Call it the sum total of Scripture, the word of God carefully spelled out for me by divine inspiration and then graciously clarified to my spirit by His Spirit. I am to treat it as most holy! I am to read, ponder, and apply it to my life. I am to steep myself in the sacred.

Too big a thing for me to do? Of course. It is the Spirit who reveals truth. Those who do not have the Spirit (Jude 19), do not have truth (1 Corinthians 2:14). No wonder the world is in such a mess.

But we have the Spirit. All we need to learn to do is to rely on the Spirit in us to talk to the Father about all things (Romans 8:26-27). Then truth can be applied to all facets of our lives. Thank you Jesus.     

Nancy P

Garde Bien! … guard and cherish your faith

Dear Friends, I’ve dropped everything to write you about this life of salvation we have in common. I have to write insisting—begging!—that you fight with everything you have in you for this faith entrusted to us as a gift to guard and cherish.
Jude 3 (MSG)
Come back with me in time ladies, back to AD65, back to the desk of Jude. See his furrowed brow. Sense the burden on his heart, the urgency of this, his letter to Jewish Christians everywhere. A mere thirty years have passed since Jesus’ death on the cross, since Jude caught a firm hold on the divinity of his half-brother Jesus. Jude begs!

And why? What prompts Jude’s letter? It is apparent the godless abound, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord (Jude 4). 

Focus in on Jude’s colorful descriptors: These men are blemishes at your love feasts…shepherds who feed only themselves…clouds without rain…autumn trees without fruit…wild waves of the sea…wandering stars (Jude 12-13). The fight for the faith has begun. With everything in them these new believers are challenged to both guard, and cherish, Jesus’ gift of life.

Whew—that was then. But wait a minute—that is now. The religion of the god of this world is percolating once again to the surface. Thankfully our parents, and their parents before them, followed the God of their fathers. Sadly, Jude’s words could have been written today: “There will be people who don’t take these things seriously anymore. They’ll treat them like a joke, and make a religion of their own whims and desires” (Jude 18 MSG). In fact, they follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit (19).   
The crest of the clan Montgomery, my family of origin, hangs inside my front door. Look carefully at the motto: Garde Bien, translated to watch well. Take another look at the rather gruesome image of a maiden resting her right hand on an anchor, the severed head of her enemy held high in her left. We Scots take our heritage seriously.  

As we Christians should. The head of the enemy has been severed. The life of salvation which we have in common is firmly anchored in Jesus. But it is up to us to guard and cherish our faith ladies. Watch well!

Nancy P