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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
 www.oaklawnurc.org/
 
Title:God's Blessings Multiplied!
Text:Jude 1-2 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God's faithfulness
 
Preached:07/03/2016
Added:2016-07-08
Updated:2016-07-09
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


 

Pastor Ted Gray
07/03/2016 – a.m.
God’s Blessings Multiplied!”
Jude: 1-2
 
It was the well-known evangelist of the 19th century, D.L. Moody, who aptly observed, “We may easily be too big for God to use us, but never too small.”  What he meant is that sometimes when there is work to be done in God’s kingdom, we may think that the work is too menial. It’s work that someone else could do, but we really want more honorable, more important work!
 
I suppose that Jude could have felt that way. He was inspired to write this brief letter in the New Testament. Perhaps he could have balked and said, “Lord, I deserve a greater place of service than just writing one little letter.”
 
After all, Jude was the brother of James, and therefore a half-brother of Jesus. He is described in 1 Corinthians 9:5 as one of the Lord’s brothers. Perhaps there are many who in his situation would flaunt their relationship to Jesus Christ as a half brother, a son of Mary and Joseph. But not Jude. Instead he gives this description of himself in verse 1: Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James.
 
To those who do not understand what it means to serve Christ, the idea of servanthood is perhaps demeaning. Those who do not understand the concept of the kingdom of heaven cannot grasp the concept of the joy of being a servant of Jesus Christ. Yet every true disciple of Jesus Christ –  every true believer – has rejoiced not only to be a child of God, but a servant as well.
 
Consider the greetings of the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:1: Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God. Consider also the greeting in Philippians 1:1:  Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi… Peter had the same spirit of servanthood. He begins his second letter by writing, Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ…
 
The privilege of serving in God’s kingdom is woven throughout both Testaments of the Bible. The sons of Korah wrote eloquently about that privilege in the 84th Psalm where it is proclaimed, I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked (Psalm 84:10). A door keeper was at the edge of the sanctuary, not in a place of prominence, and being a Levite, often served as a janitor.
 
But it should not surprise us that those who desire to be like Christ, also desire to be servants in his kingdom. It is Jesus himself who said (in Matthew 20:28),“The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” And he proved it over and over in many ways, from washing his disciples feet to going all the way to the cross where he served as our substitute, taking upon himself the curse of your sin and mine, if we truly believe in him this morning.
 
After humbly describing himself, not as a half-brother to Jesus having the same mother, but rather a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother to James, Jude goes on to describe whom he is writing to: To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ…
    
In that statement we see the Trinity at work. In that statement we are reminded that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are all active in the work of redeeming us, sanctifying us and preserving us.
 
Called by the Holy Spirit
 
We see the work of the Holy Spirit in the calling that is mentioned in verse 1. The call to which Jude is speaking about is the call that theologians refer to as “the internal call.” Many hear the “external call” as the gospel goes out into the world. But it is only God’s elect who hear the internal call, which, by the Holy Spirit's regenerating work, becomes irresistible and effectual.
 
An example of the external call and the internal call is found in Acts 13 where Paul and Barnabas proclaim the gospel in Antioch. From verse 16 of that chapter through verse 47 Luke records the sermons that were proclaimed on two separate Sabbath days. Those sermons represent the external call. The people who listened were called to repent of their sins and believe in Jesus alone for salvation. And then Luke makes this observation in Acts 13:48: And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.
 
You see, those who believed not only heard the call of God externally with their ears. They also heard the call deep in their heart and were born again, by God’s grace through the efficacious call and regenerating work of the Holy Spirit.
 
The external call, along with the internal call of the Holy Spirit, was not something just done in Antioch so long ago. That is repeated over and over every day of the year around the world. Even this morning as we listen to the word of God – you and I – we must hear it and respond to it with a heart of faith through that internal call of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, the external call of God, as it is rejected, will stand to condemn us at the last day. As Jesus said, in John 12:47-48,
“If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.”
 
Beloved in God the Father
 
A second characteristic of those to whom Jude writes is that they are loved in God the Father. That statement beloved in God the Father is unique to the letter of Jude. No other New Testament greeting or salutation has that phrase. But the concept is woven throughout the Bible.
 
After all, it was the love of the Father that sought out Adam and Eve, even though they had disobeyed him and had placed their human reasoning above his fatherly guidance. It was the love of the Father that called Israel to the promised land, and it is the love of the Father that draws us to the heavenly Canaan.
 
The love of the Father for sinners who are called by the Holy Spirit is perhaps most clearly portrayed in the parable of the prodigal – or lost – son recorded in Luke 15. You recall how he took his inheritance and went to a far away land where he wasted it on reckless living. After spending his inheritance he found himself broke, living among the pigs, desiring even the pods of food that they had for himself. He said to himself, I will return to my Father and say, “Father I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”
 
And you know how that parable goes. When the father saw his son returning in the distance he ran and embraced him and kissed him. The father called for the fatted calf to be killed. He threw a great feast of celebration. The father said, “Let us celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” And the Scripture tells us, they began to celebrate. The point of the parable is that such is the love of our heavenly Father for every sinner who acknowledges their sin and turns in humble repentance and sincere faith to Jesus Christ.
 
That the Father would love us is one of the great truths of Scripture. Everyone who has been called by God and has experienced that fatherly care, love and protection can relate to the words that we sang earlier:
 
No earthly father loves like Thee,
    No mother, have so mild,
Bears and forbears as Thou hast done,
   With me, Thy sinful child. (Frederick Faber, My God, How Wonderful Thou Art)
 
Do you know that love of the Father? And do you rejoice in that love? If so, it shows that you know the effectual call of the Holy Spirit and that you are preserved – kept – in Christ. That is the third characteristic of those to whom Jude writes: To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ...
 
Kept for Jesus Christ
 
If it were left up to you or to me to persevere in our faith none of us would be able to endure. But Christ, having redeemed us by the shedding of his precious blood, guarantees that all those who believe in him will not perish, but will persevere to the very end. In John 10:28-29 Jesus describes how no can snatch a believer out of His hand, for we are held in the almighty hand of both God the Son and God the Father.
 
Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, ­(an example of responding to the internal call) and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:27-30).
   
The words of assurance that he gave to his disciples just before ascending into heaven are also words of assurance for you and for me. Many of you recall the last words in the gospel of Matthew where Jesus said: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
 
He is with us by his Holy Spirit’s indwelling power, as the Spirit was sent in a special way from the Father and the Son after Jesus ascended into heaven in the event that we know as Pentecost. But another way that Jesus is with us, preserving us to the very end, is that by his ascension he ever lives to intercede on our behalf.
 
We persevere not only because of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, who is described as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come, (1 Corinthians 1:22), but we also persevere because of the prayers of Jesus on our behalf.
 
We see that demonstrated and foreshadowed in the example of Peter. Peter had said that he would never desert Jesus. He proclaimed that even if all the other disciples deserted him Peter never would. We all know how that turned out. Peter did not persevere in his promise. Instead he denied the Lord three times over before that rooster crowed. But Jesus foretold that scenario this way in Luke 22:31-32: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like week, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
 
Peter fell. But he was also restored again. And it goes back to the prayer of Jesus, that although the evil one wanted to sift Peter like wheat, totally destroying him, Jesus prayed that his faith would not fail. Peter’s faith flickered. It became like that smoking flax that the Lord promises not to snuff out, but God also fanned it back into flame again as Peter became one of the most bold of all the apostles.
 
Our preservation in Christ is often likened to a sailor on a ship deck. When the rough seas and the strong winds come we may fall down on the ship deck of life many times, but because we are preserved and kept in Christ we will never be swept overboard.
 
God’s Multiplication of Mercy, Peace and Love
 
After describing whom he is writing to, in verse 1, Jude asks in verse 2 that mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to his readers. It is worth noting that Jude desires that mercy, peace and love, not just be given to those who are called, loved and kept by our triune God. Rather his desire is that those blessings of God would be multiplied in our lives.
 
You children among us know the great difference between addition and multiplication. You know how quickly multiplication adds up compared to addition. For instance, we all learned 2+2 = 4; 4+4 = 8; 8+8 = 16 and so forth. But consider how quickly multiplication adds up: 2x2 = 4, but 4x4 = 16; 16=16 = 256; 256 x 256 = 65,536.
 
Jude is emphasizing to us that God’s mercy and peace and love are multiplied to us. As the NIV puts it, may mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance, but the abundance is most clearly seen in the more literal translations which emphasize the multiplication of God's blessings to his people.
 
The first great blessing is God's mercy. Consider how we who are habitual sinners are in need of God's mercy. If God were not merciful, none of us could be saved. Without his mercy, none of us would be forgiven. Without his mercy none of us would have a place in heaven.
 
We not only need his mercy at the day of judgment; we need his mercy daily, and that mercy of the Lord is multiplied to us to a degree that is infinite. In Lamentations 3, as Jeremiah looked at the ruins of Jerusalem after the Babylonian invasion, he wrote: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23). Indeed, because God multiplies his mercy to us, his mercy is infinite. His mercies never come to an end; throughout all eternity we will be discovering the infinite mercy of our God!
 
The second great blessing that the Lord gives to those who are His people is peace. Through faith in Jesus Christ we have peace with God. As Romans 5:1 puts it, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. When we have peace with God the Father through faith in his Son, then we are also enabled to have peace with others and with our circumstances, even the most difficult circumstances of this life. Many a Christian has found that in the most difficult circumstances imaginable God not only grants an inner peace but multiplies that peace to them.
 
As Philippians 4:6-7 explains it: ..In everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
 
Not only does Jude write, May mercy and peace be multiplied to you, - but also love. We will spend all eternity grasping how high, how wide, how deep, and how long the love of God is! Just as his mercy is infinite, so also is his love. The multiplication has no end. Is there anyone of us who can really count our blessings? Can we really count the blessings of God’s mercy, peace and love multiplied to us infinitely!
 
* * *
 
As we move on through the short letter we will see that those to whom Jude wrote faced great adversity and challenge from many false teachers. This salutation reminding them that they were called by the Spirit, loved in the Father and kept by the Son would be of great encouragement to them, just as it should be to you and to me.
 
But when we consider Jude’s description of himself as a servant in verse 1, it leads us to another application. When we begin to understand what Jude is writing about, when we truly understand what God has done and is doing for us in the multiplication of his mercy, peace and love, then we too, like Jude of old, will rejoice to be his servants, no matter what the job may be.
 
In the Louvre, in Paris, there is a painting entitled, The Miracle of San Diego. A door in the painting is open for a priest and two noblemen to enter into a kitchen. The noblemen and the priest are amazed to find that all the kitchen workers are angels. One is handling the water pot, another is trimming some meat, a third has a basket of vegetables, a fourth is tending to the fire.
 
The message of the painting is that no task in God’s kingdom is insignificant or meaningless. All service is honorable to the Lord.  He who was willing to wash the feet of his disciples does not consider any work in his kingdom to be too small or too insignificant for you and for me to joyfully do it.
 
Jude certainly understood that, as did the other New Testament writers who rejoiced at opportunities for service in the kingdom of God. They echoed the words of Psalm 84:10, I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked.
 
In each case those who were called by the Holy Spirit’s internal call, loved by the Father, and preserved by the Son, saw God's blessings multiplied to them – blessings of mercy, peace and love. Seeing those blessings they were eager to serve in whatever capacity they could.
 
As you and I also experience the blessing of God’s multiplication of mercy, peace and love may we also rejoice to be his servants, – working in his kingdom for his honor and his glory! Amen.
 
 
- bulletin outline -
 
 
Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. - Jude 1:1-2 (ESV)
 
“God’s Blessings Multiplied!”
Jude: 1-2
 
I.  Jude, a brother of Jesus and James, rejoiced to be a servant (1a). He writes to those who are (1b):
       1) Called (by the internal call of the Holy Spirit)
 
 
 
 
       2) Loved in God the Father
 
 
 
 
      3) Preserved in Christ
 
 
 
 
II. Jude desired that God’s blessings be multiplied to his readers (2), blessings of:
      1) Mercy
 
 
 
 
      2) Peace
 
 
 
 
      3) Love
 
 
 
 
III. Application: Just as the first century readers were encouraged by this salutation, so should we, as we also seek to serve the Lord (1, 2)
 
 
 
 
07/03/2016 – a.m.
 



* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 07/0, Rev. Ted Gray

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