Monday, June 30, 2014

Jude in July

    I don't think you can understand how excited I am about this reading guide. The process has been truly inspired by the Lord (I would have never chosen Jude of my own accord) and His handprints are all over it-but then, of course, they are-it's His Word!

      I have been praying and praying for inspiration for a new study. I had thought about it even in the last few days, but just kept hearing, "Wait". And so, I was completely shocked when I felt the Lord say yesterday, in church service, "Jude". To which I said, "What?" a little afraid I had misunderstood. Then it just all fell into place, because that seems to be how things work in my life: wait, wait, wait, pray, pray, pray, wait....and at the last possible moment I get an amazingly clear answer!

    So, here it is: Jude. This guide has taken me more time and effort than both of my other guides combined. That just seems crazy when you look at it superficially. It is one of the shortest books in the Bible, eclipsed only in brevity by Philemon and 2 & 3 John. (Just in case you were wondering, 3 John is the winner.) It would seem to be a quick read, right?

   Wrong! In my study I discovered that this is a fascinating, confusing, conflict-arousing little bit of Scripture. Short and sweet it is not! It almost didn't make it into the canon because it was debated as being inspired of God. I love a little bit of heated debate, so I was definitely impressed that this slim epistle had to fight for its spot! But, oh, I am so glad it made it in. The fact that it triumphed over the naysayers proves even more to me how truly inspired it is.

    A lot of the conflict took place over the fact that Jude references literature from the apocrypha (Don't know what that is? Don't feel bad, I didn't either. Basically it is Jewish literature written between the period of the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament, that isn't believed to be inspired of God, although it is moral and religious in nature.). He is the only NT author to do this. (Curious about those references? They are Jude 9 and 14.)

 Those references make this an even tougher nut to crack. When speech is short, sometimes it causes more assumptions to be made about what wasn't said than what was. Enter the second twist into this crazy journey. Second Peter.

    What? Yes, that's right. You get two books (mostly) for the price of one. Covering the Scripture from Jude quickly made me realize that you almost can't read it without repeatedly being introduced to 2 Peter. My studies revealed that these books are very closely linked. Commonly it is believed that 2 Peter (the longer book) borrowed extensively from Jude. It almost comes across as plagiarism! Of course, it's not, but I have found that when God repeats Himself we better sit up and take notice. He really wants us to catch what He is saying. And when you have two books that say so many things in practically the same way, out of a carefully selected 66, I would say it becomes even more important.

   And what is He saying? Believe the Truth and only the Truth, and be prepared to defend it against wicked teachers who lack knowledge. In Jude and Peter's day that was the Gnostics, but aren't false teachers, liars, and dissension-stirrers just as prevalent today? I say, "yes!". That makes these two books every bit as meaningful today as they were in the decades immediately following Jesus' ascension.

   A little bit of background. Jude 1 says the author is "a brother of James". Yes, if you are calling to mind the book of the Bible immediately preceeding Hebrews, it is one and the same. Guess who James is related to? Jesus! Though it isn't 100% certified it is commonly believed, and cannot be disproved, that the James who wrote James is actually the same one mentioned in Matthew 13:55. And then tracing this back through, Jude=brother of James=brother of Jesus, so Jude=brother of Jesus. I believe it is a testimony to Jude's humility that he didn't start of by proclaiming his biological, familial  connection to the Savior of the World, instead choosing to list himself as His "servant" instead. Definitely a point in Jude's favor!

    I almost couldn't stop reading, studying and searching out all the relating Scriptures, I am so utterly fascinated by this book. Matching up the verses from Jude to 2 Peter gave me chills. I couldn't believe some of the similarities! If you have never kept a study journal before, this is the perfect time. You will definitely find inspiration that you will want to write down.

   I have poured my heart into this, and it is taking me much longer than I anticipated, so in order to get it to you before the first (tomorrow, eek!) I had to break it up. I am giving you the first 15 days and I *promise* I will get the other part done before then! I have totally revamped the format for printing the guides. I am hoping this one will be easier to use. Also, because we are literally taking this book apart verse by verse, I have decided that on Saturday we will review the Jude verses from the week to get a little more context and perspective. Won't you try to review some of your other favorite passages that day, too? If not, it *is* summer time, and a little Bible reading is a whole lot better than none!

   It's easy to use:
1. Read the listed passages Monday-Friday. Pray for the Holy Spirit to show you the connections between the passages and bring to mind other similar Scriptures. Keep a journal if you are inclined.
2. Re-read the Jude verses on Saturday, and any other passage that piqued your interest during the week.
3. Rest, reflect and worship on Sunday. Share what you are learning and seeing with other. Research the Scripture history and wording. Be still and let the Lord lead.
4. Check back with me (join me on Facebook to be the first to know!) for the second part. I'm praying that will be by the end of the week!

   Whew! This is the longest intro ever, so with no further ado:

Right click on the image to save, go to saved location, right click to print. 

I am fervently praying that this will inspire you the way it has me. Will you kindly let me know if you spot any errors? Also, pray for me as I finish this out...I'm excited!

As promised, here is the other half. Enjoy!

Linked up at: 
"Motivation Monday" at A Life in Balance 

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