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Meditation: Don't Ditch the Benediction!

The nice thing about a closing prayer at church is it gives you time to gather up all your stuff and get a head start on the mad rush to the restaurant. The truly adventurous church-goer might even take advantage of all those closed-eyed people and bolt for the door when no one’s looking. Pity the poor benediction. It’s no more than a holy starters gun: ready set, amen, go!

But what if the benediction is filled with revelation and life? What if the Holy Spirit has inspired life-changing words available to anyone with ears to hear?

We have at least one example of a life-giving benediction buried near the back of the book. Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, speaks words of life over his original hearers, and these words are life-giving still today:
Now unto him who is able to keep you from falling 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. (vs 24-25)
Before we turn the page and rush into the Apocalypse, perhaps we can discover some of the revelation in this short good-bye prayer.

He is able to keep us from falling ~ This is an amazing comfort! Jude reminds us that part of God's greatness is not only that he can remove our guilt, he is also able to keep us from falling. Do we dare believe it? To walk with him means becoming the kind of person able to walk uprightly before him.

Presented before God--without fault! ~ As we are learning to walk free from stumbling, God is actively taking care of those moments when we do stumble. How to you react to this statement: “The day is coming when you must stand before God.” It should be a source of joy because we can have the confidence that he himself will present us faultless. So what’s to worry about? He teaches us how to walk and repairs our missteps--the best of both worlds.

With great joy ~ Today, like every day for a student of Jesus, we are reminded that the end of our journey is joy, even great joy, or as one translation says, exceeding joy. If this is my destination, why shouldn't I grow more joyful with each step?

The author of these three assurances is God, our Savior, who has the glory, majesty, power, and authority to bring it all to pass. He has proven it in Jesus Christ, and Jude reminds us this is so--but only if we stay for the benediction--the good speaking. Who will speak good over you today? Your brother, Jude--who was also the Lord’s brother. Peace!

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Reader Comments (10)

I wonder what would happen if one day the preacher walked out when everyone's eyes were closed?

Try to think of it this way, in John 8:7-8 Jesus delivered a message that having its desired impact eventually whittled the crowd down to none. Consider those who miss the benediction, those who have enough to think about already...even if the explanation is reserving the usual booth at the restaurant. "I've heard just about enough!!! (and I'm not sure i can handle any more...)"

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEd

Wow, that's an outstanding example, Ed. Thanks so much.

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRay Hollenbach

Well the second comment sounds like one I remember from a movie, "you can't handle the truth..."

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarci

Hi Marci: well it's possible--I'm a total movie geek, so sometimes I quote movies with realizing it. Still, I liked Ed's comment (and yours).

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRay Hollenbach

I love that verse, and this happens to be one of those cases where I love the verse even more as a song (I assume you know it?). Thanks for this meditation and reminder.

September 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKristin T. (@kt_writes)

I love that verse, and this happens to be one of those cases where I love the verse even more as a song (I assume you know it?). Thanks for this meditation and reminder.

September 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKristinT

I love that verse, and this happens to be one of those cases where I love the verse even more as a song (I assume you know it?). Thanks for this meditation and reminder.

September 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKristinT

Hi Kristin:

Somehow a spam filter blocked your comment for a while--I'm truly sorry. At last, to answer your question: yes, I know the song, and it's one reason you should be grateful this is not an audio blog.

September 11, 2012 | Registered CommenterRay Hollenbach

This benediction holds a very special place in my heart. I was the worship pastor of a very small fellowship in a rough neighborhood right up the street from the Ballpark in Arlington, Texas. I served week after week with a great guy who always remained optimistic that God was going to be faithful to salvage our diminishing population, and fill the sanctuary. Every Sunday my 28-year-old good friend and dear pastor would preach polished sermons he'd spent the entire week piecing together, and every homily would culminate with Jude vs. 24-25. He encouraged me to meet him in our sanctuary each week to pray the simple prayer, "God, I don't care what it takes, just fill our sanctuary."
On March 10, 2011, my pastor was murdered inside of our church, our 67-year-old ministry assistant beaten beyond recognition, due to a senseless act of robbery. On March, 13, 2011, we couldn't fit the people inside of our facility.

Not only did God honor my pastor's request, He let him know face to face.

September 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJake

Wow, Jake. I can see why these verses hold a dear place in your heart. I look forward to meeting your pastor, and worship alongside of him by the the Throne. Peace to you.

September 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRay Hollenbach

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