Clouds Without Water,
Carried Along by Winds;
Autumn Trees Without Fruit,
Doubly Dead, Uprooted
Jude 1:12–13 These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.
The book of Jude was written by Jesus’ brother, Judas (Matt 13:55; Mark 6:3). Though his one-chapter book is short, Judas contributed greatly to the history of redemption that saves mankind. Have we all at Pyungkang lived with the faith that God desires and expects? We cannot please God without faith (Heb 11:6). Have we lived as true saints, keeping our position and obeying God’s commands with a faith that pleases Him? God knows the truth, and so do we. We know what is truly inside our hearts.
We can fake our lives and try to hide things from others, even try to deceive ourselves, but God will know and He will weigh our hearts (Dan 5:27). If we have yet to live a life worthy of Christ’s calling, then we are nothing but “clouds without water” (Jude 1:12). A farmer will spot a dark cloud and eagerly await rain, but the rain never falls from the clouds without water, as it does nothing but move wherever the wind takes it. This cloud deceived the farmer and others. Are we any different? Let us look closely within ourselves through today’s sermon.
Clouds Without Water, Carried Along by Winds
Proverbs 25:14 Like clouds and wind without rain is a person who boasts of his gifts falsely.
Some people promise to buy gifts and do things for others, but they never keep their promises. They lie to put on airs. Don’t we also make these empty promises to God? We promise that we will live according to God’s will, but do we actually? If I lie to someone, then I receive punishment under the law. So what happens if I lie to God? The life we live on earth is short, and once we die, we immediately go to either heaven or hell. There is no crossing over (Luke 16:26). Should we live like a rainless cloud that is carried along by the wind and deceives the farmer?
We whose sins have been forgiven with the blood of the cross must now have God’s image and Jesus’ heart (Phil 2:5; 2 Pet 1:4). There is a saint who says, “Lord, I will live according to Your will. If You appoint me as an elder, I’ll regularly offer up tithes and thanksgiving offerings.” But when he sees a poor person, he has no heart to help. He is a believer who doesn’t practice love, pretending to have great faith by saying, “I’ve been attending church for ages!”
Everyone is a cloud without rain. I pray in the name of the Lord that the life you have lived until now will be buried beneath the cross. This is the only way we can live.
When we go to heaven, the angels will be our messengers. Even if we are naked, there will be no shame. We won’t ever hunger, or smell, or even need to wash. It takes hours to fly by plane to different countries, but we will be able to move instantaneously in heaven (Ezek 1:14). If we want to eat a banana, it’s already in our mouth. If we want to meet someone, that person will answer before we even call (Isa 65:24). Through the Word, I was awakened to such a world and I believe in it. We must go to that world. How terrible would it be if we cannot enter? Must we really be like those rainless clouds and not go into heaven?
Our faith must be leveled and become like a plain. It would be unfortunate to hear that someone works so hard in the church but stirs up trouble wherever he or she goes. A real saint’s heart is even and steady like a plain. Jesus’ life on earth was like a smooth plain; there were no ups and downs in His heart. All the ancestors of faith — Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joshua, and Caleb — lived their lives as plains. Could we say that our faith is leveled as plain if we panic, staring wide-eyed and heart-pounding, whenever something happens?
Peace must reign in our hearts always so that we can faithfully confess: “Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s!” We cannot call ourselves true believers if we haven’t lived with this faith. Let us repent. What if we die tonight? I say to those facing death: “Have the assurance of faith. Even if you forget everything, you must only hold onto Jesus.” What can our family possibly do when we are on our deathbed and our salvation is on the line?
While we may boast of having “great faith,” have we ever come to church and held a broom or cleaned the windows? Today, some of our ministers and church staff cleaned away the snow until dawn, and I was out with them for about thirty minutes amid the cutting wind. I tearfully prayed for them. What parent could comfortably sleep under a warm blanket while the child is laboring outside in the winter cold?
The same goes for ministry. How faithful have we been in our positions in the church? Have we been living a life of prayer and praise? Jesus said it would be better to hang a millstone around the neck and be thrown into the sea than to cause others to stumble. Haven’t we perhaps tested others to the point that they no longer come to church? Yet, we might have brushed it off by thinking, “We don’t need people like that in our church anyway.” I’m sure if we carefully ask them, they will tell us the real reason why they don’t want to come to church. Please know that such a mindset will not be overlooked by God. He says, “You haven’t died to yourself yet.” We must be crucified with Christ and only live with faith in Jesus (Gal 2:20).
Jesus rebuked the Pharisees who believed in God only with their lips (Matt 15:8-9). God said, “…This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me…” (Isa 29:13). Some believers believe only with their lips, while others have true and genuine hearts. The difference between these two is like heaven and earth (Mark 7:6; Ezek 33:31). The latter is a believer with faithfulness and sincerity. What God wants is a sincere and upright heart.
Proverbs 11:3 The integrity of the upright will guide them, But the perversity of the treacherous will destroy them.
I trembled in great fear as I prayed and meditated upon the Word of God last night. God does not look at the appearance but the heart (1 Sam 16:7). God did not appoint any of Jesse’s seven strong and handsome sons. He chose David, a smaller boy whose face was ruddy from shepherding in the fields. Having no time to spare, God told Samuel to anoint him as soon as he saw him. He said, “I have found David…a man after My heart, who will do all My will” (Acts 13:22).
Beloved saints, shouldn’t we also live a life that’s recognized as sincere and upright? When we go to heaven, God will ask, “You heard the Word, but what did you do afterward? Have we truly lived according to the Word and properly settled the accounts in our life?” David prayed, “Let integrity and uprightness protect me, for I wait for You” (Ps 25:21). He could pray like this because he truly lived in that manner. Without sincerity and uprightness, it doesn’t matter how much we pray or sing hymns; none of it will be valid to God. Please, never, ever forget these verses.
Psalm 78:36-37 But they flattered Him with their mouth And lied to Him with their tongue. For their heart was not steadfast toward Him, Nor were they faithful with His covenant.
Jeremiah 12:2 You have planted them, they have also taken root; They grow, they have also produced fruit. You are near to their lips But far from their mind.
1 John 3:18 Little children, let’s not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.
Jeremiah 22:17 “But your eyes and your heart Are intent only upon your own dishonest gain, And on shedding innocent blood, And on practicing oppression and extortion.”
During Jesus’ time, the religious leaders tried to appear righteous and consciously prayed before the public, but God did not recognize them. Jesus rebuked them, saying they were like beautiful whitewashed tombs on the outside, but were actually full of unclean, rotting corpses on the inside (Matt 23:27). But then there was a tax collector, who could not lift his own face in shame and prayed in tears, begging God for forgiveness. It was a short prayer, but God accepted it (Luke 18:13-14).
People love to look at appearances. One who speaks loudly of love all for show is not exemplifying true love. However, to the person offering a gentle smile and a small snack with a loving heart, God will say, “You have truly practiced loving-kindness,” and He will be greatly pleased because loving-kindness is God’s nature.
Don’t just look at outward appearances. How beautiful it would be to pray, “God, I do not wish to be rich lest I become arrogant. Please feed me my daily portion and bless me just enough so that I will not become poor” (Prov 30:8). Realizing how great of a blessing it is to believe in Jesus, being healthy, having a monthly income to share with your spouse, having a slice of cake to give to a friend–what an enjoyable life this is! While living on this earth, we may go through many hardships, being unable to eat good food or own the best things. However, knowing and believing in God makes us the wealthiest person in the world. God does not delight in the outward zeal, but in the faith that comes from the heart. To our middle school and high school students, please believe that you will become great people because you have heard this message today.
Romans 10:2-3 For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. 3 For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.
They may have shown outward zeal in working for God, but they sought to establish their own righteousness rather than to follow the Word of God. How unfortunate is this! Faith that is not sincere and upright is not true faith. The one thing that the Almighty God cannot do is lie (Heb 6:18). Would it be right for us to be haughty before God and pretend to believe when we actually cannot? That would bring a terrifying judgment.
About ten years ago, while I was aboard a plane, I read Mother Teresa’s testimony that greatly moved me. I thought to myself, “She’s a person just like me, but how can she do such things?” We might be able to commit to certain things for a short while, but she committed from the age of eighteen until her death at the age of eighty-seven. She gave great inspiration to mankind. She served her entire life in the slums of Calcutta, India. When she left her home at the age of eighteen, her mother held her hand tight and said, “There is one thing that I have to give you.” She thought her mother was going to hand her something, but she gave advice instead. “No matter how hard things get, even if you reach the point of death, you must not let go of Jesus’ hand.” Her mother repeated this a second time, “No matter what happens, even if you are sentenced to die, do not let go of Jesus’ hand.” Mother Teresa said that she has always remembered those words ever since. She confessed that if it was not for that advice, she might have given up on everything. “With Jesus’ hand on my heart, I can embrace even those suffering from leprosy. No matter how unlearned or lowly someone may be, I will always be their friend.”
Until now, we may have been like those clouds carried by the wind that grieves the farmer’s heart. Even though we have broken people’s hearts and failed to live in the Lord, God has extended our lives and given us His love and blessings through this worship service, so how thankful is this! With the hand of Jesus upon our hearts, there is nothing we cannot do or believe.
Autumn Trees Without Fruit
Today’s main text speaks of how it is the autumn season and yet the autumn trees are “without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted.” Because the roots have been uprooted, it is thoroughly dried up and dead. This teaches us that nothing will ever work out for people who live such a life. They will not even have the opportunity to repent until death. It’s a life without hope, a life of failure.
Our lives can be likened to the autumn season before the coming of winter, which symbolizes death. But, this forlorn autumn is also a season of golden harvest that anxiously waits for the master’s hands, as well as a season of graduation and glory. Jesus is waiting for us to bear the fruits of evangelism, love, salvation, offering, and service (Matt 7:16-18; 12:33-35; John 15:2, 6). A tree that does not bear any fruit is cut off and thrown into the fire (Luke 13:7; Matt 3:10). Beloved saints, everyone bears fruit in their lifetime. Our children, our possessions are such fruits. When we have ten dollars and give it to help someone, we end up with less but God has harvested the fruit of alms from us. It is never a waste to give what we have. Even in our world, those who don’t repay what they borrowed are called swindlers. How far more would the Almighty, Omnipresent God not repay us what we lend to the Lord?
Proverbs 19:17 One who is gracious to a poor person lends to the Lord, And He will repay him for his good deed.
The descendants of the righteous will not perish. When a mother does many good deeds by helping and clothing the poor, there will be no poverty from her household for generations to come. People think the fruits of life are beautiful bodies, pleasures, joy, expensive clothing and jewelry, and the like. None of these are fruits that God seeks. He will see us when we tearfully pray for others with the love of the Lord, and say, “You have produced the fruits of love and mercy,” and He will reward us. How wonderful is it to buy something as simple as a microwavable for a neighbor who is going through a tough time? God sees the cold, trembling hands cleaning up the church in the freezing weather after everyone else has left, and says, “Oh, how hard your hands are working to serve My body, the church!” God sees the fruits of the labor of love caring for the needy and the poor in our districts by buying them medicines, cooking meals for them, and cleaning their homes. We say the fame, applause, and praises are the harvest of life. But, to God, compassionate hearts toward the poor and the needy, generous hearts to help friends by going ten miles when asked for five, and all such deeds that no one else knows about, are true fruits of the cross (Matt 5:41). Would God not care for Simon the Cyrene who picked up the cross and carried it for Jesus when our Lord was beaten and fell to the ground? (Matt 27:32; Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26).
God is intimate with the upright (Prov 3:32). Please believe that God will be intimate with our family and with us when we live an upright life of faith (Job 29:4). Look at Adam’s seventh-generation descendant, Enoch. Even when God was distressed and frustrated, whenever God looked upon Enoch, he was pleased. Because he did not cause God any grief, not even once, God just could not end Enoch’s life. Every single one of Enoch’s actions for 300 years was pleasing to God. That is why he did not see death and was taken up alive. The fruit of pleasing God is the greatest legacy we can have. How beautiful is it for a man to leave a memory of such a wonderful fragrance?
God remembered Abraham, who did things that satisfied God’s heart. Because God remembered him, Abraham was able to rescue his nephew Lot. Words cannot express what Abraham must have felt in his heart when he was told to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, whom he became the father of at the old age of 100. He could not even say a word to anyone. If he said anything to his wife, do you think she would allow them to go? After walking for three days, he could have just said, “Son, let’s just go home,” and turn back. His heart must have felt pierced through with a dagger when his son asked him, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Still, he did not reveal anything until they arrived and he tied up his son. The son said he would obey his father if it was his will, and stayed silent. This prefigures Jesus Christ. That is the moment when God said, “Now I know that you fear God.” At this point, God addresses Abraham as His friend. It was as if God said, “No need to call Me Father God anymore! We are now buddies!” God was pleased whenever He looked upon Abraham. He was a friend of God. Let’s say a friend visits us after a long time when all our kids have been married off and we are alone. Wouldn’t we heartily welcome them by saying, “So glad you came! Please stay with me for a while!”
Beloved saints, God became friends with a man who amounts to no more than dust! Hence, during this time of service, let us thoroughly repent and pray, “God, let me enter the realm of faith like Abraham. You called Abraham Your friend, and since I am so unworthy to be called as Your friend, at the very least, take me as Your servant.” I ask this of you all in the name of the Lord. We only have one chance at life. Our life is so precious, even more so if we are followers of Christ, so we must make sure that we are not ashamed of our faith.
Can we pretend to believe when we don’t? What kind of fruits have we born up until now? Are we going to only think about it and do nothing? We must give a definite answer whether or not we have produced fruit. It should not be a dried-up fruit that the master does not reach for, but fruit that looks delicious, desirable, and scrumptious. I pray in the name of the Lord that all Pyungkang saints bring themselves as well as other souls to the Lord. Let us not be the autumn trees without any fruit but let us bring joy to the Lord by producing abundant fruits of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
The Wild Waves of the Sea that Casts Up Foam
Today’s main text describes the false believers as: “They are like wild waves of the seas, casting up their own shame like foam.”
Isaiah 57:20-21 But the wicked are like the tossing sea, For it cannot be quiet, And its waters toss up refuse and mud. “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”
Have we not burst in anger and fierce temperament? We must remember that the wrath of man hinders the will of God (Jas 1:20). When a fight breaks out and I ask why they refuse to yield but keep fighting, they respond, “Pastor, I have my reasons, so please stay out of it. Have you ever seen me refuse to yield or get angry like this? This is the first time I have ever been this way in church.” But the Lord clearly says that we cannot act in such ways. The Lord does not want to see the filthy foam cast up by the wild waves of the sea. Have we perhaps lived in this way? When Solomon was building the temple, God told him to quarry several kilometers outside and bring them in. Everything has a meaning. God did not say this for no reason at all. Only the sound of the Word of God must be heard from the church; the sound of man is absolutely unnecessary.
1 Kings 6:7 The house, while it was being built, was built of stone finished at the quarry, and neither hammer, nor axe, nor any iron tool was heard in the house while it was being built.
In today’s text, the “wandering stars” refer to the churches that cannot play their roles. God spoke of Babylon, the symbol of wickedness: “O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth” (Isa 14:12). The wandering star is a star that has abandoned its domain, in other words, a star that failed to fulfill its duty. This world may tolerate people protruding themselves by behaving according to their nature, but Christians’ greatest virtue is self-control.
1 Corinthians 9:25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. So they do it to obtain a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
Too many times we say whatever we want, getting angry and throwing tantrums, saying, “Do it yourselves. You think things will go well if I’m not here at church? I’ll just do it all on my own, so don’t interfere!” Beloved saints, we must have self-control in our words and deeds. Who among us does not have any greed? Yet, we must have self-control even in our greed and our desires. This is what it means to be the light of the world and the lamp set on the hill. This is what it means to be the saints that shine their light. We are all the light of the world. We must light our lamps and shine brightly. To practice self-control, Apostle Paul said that he disciplined his body and made it his slave. He said that he died daily (1 Cor 15:31). As a great scholar for the gospel, he practiced dying daily to save the saints’ souls. Let us not become the filthy foam that is cast up by the wild waves of the sea. Let us not become wandering stars.
In the main text, Jude harshly rebukes the false shepherds and believers.
Jude 1:11 Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have given themselves up to the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
Cain became a murderer because he was jealous and hated his brother. He is the representative figure of the ungodly before God (Gen 4:3-5). Hating someone is murder (1 John 3:15). Please wipe our slates clean of hatred.
Balaam sold his conscience because of his greed and self-interests, and acted in defiance of God’s command (Num 22:8, 14, 22, 32-33; 23:28; 24:14; 25:2, 9; 2 Pet 2:15; Rev 12:14). When that did not work, he caused the people to commit the sin of immorality (Num 31:16). Immorality is still in the world today, which is a great problem. There is no cure once the sin of immorality is committed.
Out of envy and jealousy, Korah formed a faction and grumbled against Moses, the leader that God had established. This resulted in the deaths of 250 people and even their innocent sons, daughters, and wives (Num 16:1-4, 32-35). They were ungodly before God and led the people astray down the path of deceit. As a result, they received the judgment of destruction. “To execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him” (Jude 1:15). In today’s main text, the word “ungodly” appears four times. During the time of Noah, the ungodly were judged by the flood (2 Pet 2:5). God has been so patient with us to this day, bestowing His endless mercy, grace, love, and compassion. Yet, we have not been helpful to God and His enterprise, the church, and lived according to the flesh. Let us repent all of this today. Let us become true believers who are confident to enter through the gates of heaven even if we were to die right away! I pray and bless this upon us all in the name of the Lord.
Let us pray.
Dear God, what are we, that even until now, You have lavished us with Your love and grace in Your providence of salvation? How You have poured out Your heart in various ways to save us! Yet, without realizing, seeing, or understanding this, we have been living as people who have lost their sanity. So please forgive us. Help us to bear fruits in our lives through Your Word today.
Thank You for giving us life today. Thank You also for the Word that You have given us. For Your fervent love that is poured upon us so graciously and freely day after day, we pledge our lives in thankfulness. Please uphold us so that we may bear good fruits for You.
No one believes in us but You alone. No one is sincere to us and hopes in us but You alone. No one loves us but You alone. Who are we, that You would wait for us to be humble, and every time you look at us, You are not worried but You believe that we will become people of faith and take pride in us? For this, we give our sincerest thanksgiving. What are we that You would believe in us this way? We look at ourselves and see that we are unable to believe. Yet, You always encourages us, just as You did for Thomas by telling him, “Do not be unbelieving, but believe.” We bow down in thanksgiving before such fervent, passionate love for us. How You desire us to love while we still have our strength, lavish compassion upon us while we still have the opportunity, and hope that our short existence yields a gratifying, fruitful life! Please bless us to become such pleasing fruits for You.
May our lives of faith become fragrant and beautiful! Through this Lord’s Day service, may all the saints of Pyungkang receive healing and be completely transformed and renewed by the Word of the cross of our Lord.
Bless us with a vision that looks higher than the autumn skies, and with gratifying life of burning with divine passion like the red autumn leaves, so that we may live a life without any regrets. Like the farmers harvesting golden grains, may we take our penitent heart of faith in Jesus and delightful fruits and race toward You throughout our life’s journey. But, above all, please help us to bear fruit in keeping with repentance. We pray this in Jesus’ name with thanksgiving. Amen.
Sermon by Huisun Rev. Abraham Park
The Lord’s Day 3rd Service on December 4, 2005
*This post can also be read in 'Champyungan'. (http://champyungan.com/en/)