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Glad Tidings of Comfort and Joy [12-24-23]




December 24, 2023

Jude 17-21

“Glad Tidings of Comfort and Joy”


We ended last Sunday with this quote from Charles Spurgeon:

“OH, JOY ABOVE ALL JOYS, TO KNOW THAT I AM HIS EVERLASTING AND INALIENABLE INHERITANCE, GIVEN TO HIM BY HIS FATHER OR EVER THE EARTH WAS! EVERLASTING LOVE SHALL BE THE PILLOW FOR MY HEAD THIS NIGHT.”

If you were here last week, or touched base with the message through another option, I hope you remembered that thought before falling asleep every night. What a wondrous thing.


This morning before Christmas, let’s now turn to Jude 17-21. This is the corner we said we would be turning toward last week. As a reminder, Jude calls us, “Those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ.” We are the opposite of grumblers and malcontents. Our voices and our attitudes proclaim “Joy to the World.” Knowing we are saved in Christ, we reflect love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control whenever we can, wherever we can. We know we will never be able to do it 100% of the time, but with God’s grace and mercy, we will bring joy to and know joy in our little corner of God’s world. That’s the truth Jude is building to.


So, Jude 17-21:

But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.


Did you catch what Jude does in the first three verses? He summarizes what he’s already told them. He especially wants to assure them not to be alarmed by apostates, misfits, and malcontents. God’s going to deal with them. The only thought we give them is the time it takes to recognize their unbelief so we can make sure they have no influence in the church. Everything else is up to God according to His sovereign purpose.


So here’s where we’re at. We’re at God’s sovereign purpose for us. For believers. For those who recognize and reject apostacy. Here, again, are two beautiful verses:

But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.

That is our orientation. We don’t care if people disagree with us. We don’t care if people have different Biblical interpretations from us. We don’t care if people hate us or revile us or mock us. A while ago, someone, knowing I am a pastor, said one of the most ridiculous, angry, insulting things to me. To which I replied, “Thank you for sharing what’s on your heart and mind.” What do I care? What should we care? We live in a hostile world. It is broken. That’s why our orientation is, as God’s beloved, “to build ourselves up in our most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit…to keep ourselves in the love of God…and to wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” Amen?


Here's something you might want to write down. This is:

A SURVIVAL STRATEGY FOR APOSTATE TIMES


What is the root of that strategy? God’s plan is for us to be bathed in the truth of His grace and mercy. In Jesus Christ, God has chosen us to receive eternal life. We can withstand any assaults on our faith or on our being when we know that truth.


I love how two profound Christmas songs put it.


The first is verse four of “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing”:

Come, Desire of nations, come!  Fix in us Thy humble home:Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring seed,  Bruise in us the serpent’s head;Adam’s likeness now efface,  Stamp Thine image in its place:Final Adam from above,  Reinstate us in Thy love.


There are some beautiful truths in what some call the forgotten verse of  “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing”:

  • All people are made in the image of God and are created to have a desire for His rule in their lives.

  • Yet Satan has a death grip on people, but Christ will vanquish him.

  • Original sin creates a chasm of brokenness and rebellion between God and His creation.

  • Jesus Christ reinstates our full, loving relationship with God.

  • Jesus brings us everlasting comfort and joy.


Next, two verses from “Here Comes Santa Claus” {“Pastor has lost his mind…citing a secular song; about Santa Claus, no less!”}. Here’s a little Gene Autry wisdom:

Here comes Santa ClausHere comes Santa ClausRight down Santa Claus LaneHe doesn't care if you're rich or poorHe loves you just the sameSanta Claus knows we're all God's childrenThat makes everything rightSo fill your hearts with Christmas cheer'Cause Santa Claus comes tonight


Here comes Santa ClausHere comes Santa ClausRight down Santa Claus LaneHe'll come around when chimes ring out that it's Christmas morn' againPeace on Earth will come to all if we just follow the lightSo let's give thanks to the Lord above'Cause Santa Claus comes tonight


Now, am I suggesting we sing this song in worship? You know me better 

than that. But its subtle message hits the sweet spot of comfort and joy. It 

even has Santa acknowledging that we are the called and beloved of God.


What is our focus? Where is our focus? It is on glad tidings of comfort and joy. Nothing else. Pagans gonna pagan. Let the culture clatter and chatter and babble and complain and scoff and mock. Our focus is rightfully drawn to this affirmation from verses three and four of “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence”:

Rank on rank the host of heavenspreads its vanguard on the way,as the Light of light descendethfrom the realms of endless day,that the pow'rs of hell may vanishas the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six-winged seraph,cherubim with sleepless eye,veil their faces to the Presence,as with ceaseless voice they cry,“Alleluia, alleluia,alleluia, Lord Most High!”

There it is. Hell has been vanished. The called and kept of Christ…that’s us…the called and kept of Christ live in the light. And in the light there is no false teaching or apostacy. Our hearing is tuned to the voices crying ceaselessly, “Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, Lord Most High!” We persevere in the one, true faith because that is all we can hear.


Here's the last thing you might want to write down:

WE ARE KEPT IN THE LOVE OF GOD.

Another way to put it is this, by John P. Sartelle, Sr., “On our worst day, we are still bathed in God’s incomparable grace.”


Remember what Paul said in Romans 8. Nothing can separate us from the love of  God. Nothing. In the case of Jude’s letter, that means false teachers or false followers or grumblers or malcontents. They hold no sway. We are kept in the love of God.


And so we go about our business of loving God and loving Jesus and worshiping them and letting the light of Christmas shine in all we do. What 

a wonderful gift for us to give those around us…most of the time, in all 

areas of our lives, to be loving and joyful and peaceful and patient and kind and good and faithful and gentle and self-controlled. When we focus on these things, we won’t be distracted by unbelievers. And that is what comfort and joy are all about.

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