May 29
Today's Bible Readings
     Deuteronomy 2
     Psalms 83-84
     Isaiah 30
     Jude 1

       ''Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." (Jude 3)

        Have you ever held a counterfeit bill? It can have all the appearances and feel of the real thing. Most people are not able to immediately recognize one; however, a trained eye can quickly detect fake currency because certain telltale flaws betray a bill's lack of genuineness. Counterfeit money is devastating to a society and its economy. Left unchecked, it can destroy a nation's entire financial basis. In a similar way, counterfeit Christians are devastating to the church. To protect its integrity, a church must take the responsibility of discerning between true and false believers.
       Fight! Contend! Do battle! When apostasy arises, when false teachers emerge, when the truth of God attacks, it is time to fight for the faith. Only believers who are ''in shape'' can answer the summons. At the beginning of his letter, Jude focuses on the believer's common salvation, but then feels compelled to challenge them to contend for the faith. The danger is real. False teachers have crept into the church, turning God's grace into unbindedlicense to do as they please. Jude reminds such men of God's past dealings with unbelieving Israel, disbelieving angels, and wicked Sodom and Gomorrah. In the face of such danger, Christians should not be caught off-guard.     
       The challenge is great, but so is the God who is able to keep them from stumbling. In this fight against apostasy, God has made us an incredible promise that closes out this little epistle of Jude. ''Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you faultless before the throne''. (Jude 24)
       Even in the face of apostasy, it is a blessing to know that God is sovereign and we are secure - both now and forever. In the meantime, we must never cease to earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. And how? By loving the faith…learning the faith…living the faith and…loosing the faith! That charge was delivered to the church and no one else will be responsible. If the foundations are destroyed, the building will fall. If we remain faithful in our work and witness, those imposters among us will be exposed. Our part is to be faithful. The real thing will expose the counterfeit.

       For all of my lifetime, I have considered Japan to be the most difficult country in Asia, and perhaps in the world to reach for Christ. God has answered the prayers of believers throughout the world, however, for Japan. There has been a new openness after very little church growth for over a century. Perhaps this has been provoked by Japan's series of disasters in the 1990's. Earthquakes and the threat of others, the failure of the ruling class, economic meltdown, increasing rebelliousness of young people, and the rise of anti-social and violent cults, have all provoked soul-searching, and even the questioning of Japanesevalue systems. There has also been a rising prayer burden for revival among God's people. There were approximately 8,000 churches in Japan with 270,000 worshippers at the turn of the century. Pray today for the less evangelized areas and peoples of Japan. Of the 672 cities, there are still 9 without a church, unchanged in the last 10 years. A further 77 have but one church. Some missionaries have come from Koreato help reach Japan for Christ. Let's pray for them today. Focus your fervent prayers on Japan.

''It has been well said that our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength."