Week of April 10: Be prepared to defend and build upon your faith


 Scripture Lesson: Jude 17-25
For centuries, militaries have been defending their countries and individuals their causes. Sometimes weapons are utilized as the mode of attack against the enemies. Other times the power of voice has been proven to be a formidable mechanism. In the book of Jude, the author explained that there was opposition against the gospel and encouraged believers to stand up for their faith.
Contend for the faith
Jude wrote this letter to warn the people against apostasy, falling away from the truth of God and embracing false doctrines. In verses five through seven, he reminded the Christian community of the dangers of these teachers. He brought to their attention the following examples of divine punishment that God brought upon those who rejected God’s grace and did not believe: faithless Hebrew people who had been delivered “out of the land of Egypt,” rebellious angels and Sodom and Gomorrah.   A stern admonition was given to believers not to abandon their faith but to remain committed to their faith in Jesus Christ.
Jude emphasized the truth was under attack and had to be defended. He explained they should recall the teachings of the apostles, who foretold of the day when ungodly persons would try to convince them of deceitful ideas and practices. He stated, “But you, beloved, must remember the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, for they said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, indulging their own ungodly lusts” (Jude 17-18).  
A proper defense of any kind requires being alert. Alert is defined as an attitude of readiness or caution of an impending attack. Just as the believers who Jude addressed were to be ready to defend their faith, we must be ready to defend our faith. We need not be militant with our defense, but we must be willing to stand firm on our beliefs. When we don’t defend our faith we can become more vulnerable to the opposition. Have you experienced contradictions to your faith? How did you defend your faith?
Ways to contend
While Jude advised persons to remember the admonitions of the apostle as one way to contend for the faith, he also recommended they include these four things: building up in faith; praying in the Spirit; staying in love of God and looking to the mercy of Jesus that leads to eternal life (Jude 20 -21). Jude encouraged believers to nurture their relationship with God. By engaging in spiritual disciplines, we deepen our relationship not only with God but with others as well. 
Faith is our foundation that we must constantly foster. Peter tells us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Just like newborn babies need constant sustenance to grow physically, we need spiritual sustenance for spiritual growth.
Prayer is one way that we build upon our faith. Jude suggests that we “pray in the Spirit” (Jude 20). Prayer is communion with God; we can talk and listen to God. It reminds us that we do not exist on our strength and skills alone. Through prayer, we build up on our faith that we are not alone; God is with us.
Next Jude told believers “Keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21).   This declaration focuses the Christians’ attention on the love of God rather than the denial of Christ that was proposed by their adversaries. Keeping ourselves in God’s love keeps us guarded against the opposition. 
Then Jude counsels persons to “look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus that leads to eternal life” (Jude 21). Too often persons look backward instead of looking forward. We are called to live in the present, not the past. We can find hope for the present and the future knowing that our future belongs to God. 
What are some spiritual disciplines that help you grow in the faith?
Benediction: “The Good Word”
The conclusion of Jude’s letter is commonly known as a benediction. It is probably one that was used in Jude’s community during a worship experience. The benediction is a closing prayer that provides us with a “good word” as we leave worship services and enter into our daily lives.
This benediction offers us some good words that can inspire us and helps us contend for the faith. It begins by assuring us that God is able to keep us from falling and enables us to stand. Jude also affirms that God is our Savior and that glory, majesty, power and authority belong to Him. This benediction acknowledges the power, the promise and the presence of God. 
We are all in need of the grace and strength that comes from God. Without it, we will not be able to stand and endure. So, we praise God not only for what He does, but for who He is. 
Each Sunday worship service is closed with a benediction, a good word. When you leave the presence of others, what good words do you leave with them?