First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday June 11, 2023)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“God Is Able!”
Psalm 121; Jude 24-25
The story is told of a little girl and her father who were crossing a narrow bridge. Concerned about his daughter’s safety, the dad turns to his little daughter and says, “Sweetheart, please hold my hand so that you don’t fall into the river.” The little girl replied, “No, Dad. You hold my hand.” “What’s the difference?” asked the puzzled father. “There’s a big difference, daddy,” said the little girl. “If I hold your hand and something happens to me, chances are that I may let your hand go. But if you hold my hand, I know for sure that no matter what happens, you will never let my hand go.” In a greater, deeper, and richer way, our Scripture lesson from the Letter of Jude reminds us this morning that God is ABLE. He is able to keep us when we feel we cannot keep ourselves. Real power comes from clinging to God.
In the Bible, God’s hands are described as mighty, righteous, strong, delivering, upholding, healing, creative, good, and powerful. As children of God, we can be comforted knowing that God’s hold on us is never at risk, even as we falter.
Jude is a very short letter. It is one chapter, only 25 verses long. The purpose of the letter is found in verse 3: “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.” The Book of Jude, therefore, is a call to live faithfully and to hold onto the truth of the gospel.
Well, since this is my last Sunday in the pulpit as your Pastor and at the same time, we are celebrating two baptisms today, Rae and Dean are getting baptized, I thought to leave you with a word of encouragement. Like those early Christians who lived during the time of Jude, we live in a culture that’s not very friendly to the Christian faith. Those early Christians were persecuted and discriminated against because of their faith. Will the Christian faith be able to stand that hostility? Will the second generation embrace the faith of their parents?
The words of Jude 24-25 remind us that God is able when we realize our own inability. The doxology of Jude 24-25 is a song of victory, a high note of praise, and a great assurance of the redeemed. Out of the most desperate situations in life, we are to keep our eyes on the Lord when everything else fails us. So as we look at this short Scripture passage this morning, please allow me to underscore two observations:
First: God Will Keep us from Stumbling
Jude reminds us in verses 24-25, “To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy — to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” Friends, we live with the awareness, the daily possibility of stumbling. We know the weakness and wickedness of our own heart. In James 3:2 we read, “We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.”
If stumbling is a sad reality, there is even a greater and more comforting reality. God is fully committed to us. Like in the story of that little girl, our hope does not lie on the fact that we hold God’s hand, but on the truth that He holds our hand. His work in us is being perfected. He will keep us from stumbling today, until by His grace, stand before His throne faultless and fully sanctified by the blood of the Lamb. 1 Peter 1:5 states, we are “kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Second: To God Be Glory, Majesty, Power, and Authority
As we contemplate the depth of this truth this morning, as we think about God’s ability to save and to perfect, we find ourselves shouting our halleluiahs. “To the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore,” says Jude 25. May our lives reflect not our inability, but God’s capability; not our limitations, but God’s limitless power and grace. “I lift up my eyes to the hills-- where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth” Psalm 121:1-2.
Friends, may the God who is an ever present help in times of need strengthen this congregation and keep you from stumbling in the days to come. May the God of might and power give extra grace to young families as they raise their kids in the instructions of our Lord. Pray for Franco, Erica, Rae, and Dean. May we learn to lean on the everlasting arms of God. Be there for each other in the days to come and even more importantly, remember that Christ, our companion, is always there for you. “To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy — to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”
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