Today’s Scrip-Bit 31 December 2009 Matthew 12:34‏

Matthew 12:34      O generation of vipers, how can ye being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
 
Oh Friends, New Year’s Eve, the big party day, is here at last! Everybody’s taking out their best party clothes and polishing up their dancing shoes, cause tonight’s going to be a big night on the town; lot’s of fun and plenty hoopla! Anyway, let’s remind everybody to be super careful: NO drinking and driving; NO hassles or arguments. LEAVE your guns, knives and whatever weapons you possess at home. We want tonight to be a clean night, one of just fun and frivolity, of peace and LOVE, celebrating the end of a painful year for our world. Let’s not make it any worse than it already is. However, as we can see from our Bit, it’s difficult, if not impossible for the offspring of evildoers to speak good tidings. ‘O generation of vipers, how can ye being evil, speak good things?’ Jesus made this statement when talking about good and corrupt fruit. He states: ‘Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.’ (Mat.12:33) And that’s no lie my people. We can tell almost any tree from the fruit it bears. The same goes for people. So how can evil, sinful people do good eh? John the Baptist likewise admonished the Pharisees and Sadducees when they came to be baptized. ‘O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance.’ (Mat.3:7-8) Meaning to say that baptism would be of no avail, unless they changed their evil ways and did deeds that were worthy of repentant sinners, worthy of Jesus’ name. Later on, Jesus again denounced the scribes and Pharisees: ‘Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?’ (Mat.23:33) Yes Friends, iniquity workers, purveyors of evil will not escape eternal darkness and damnation since they bring forth evil fruit. Heaven is reserved for those bringing forth good fruit. And as it’s impossible for a tree to bring forth both good and evil fruit at the same time, then we must produce either one or the other. As James queries: ‘Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water with bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.’ (James 3:11-12) Likewise my Friends, we can’t produce good and bad at the same time. Whatever is predominant in our nature, in our hearts, is what will come out. As Jesus clarifies: ‘for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.’ It means my people, that if our heart is predominantly evil, then mostly evil will flow from our mouths. And believe me, there are a lot of evil hearts currently floating around in our society, judging by the large number of evil words and deeds being spoken and perpetrated. Bruh David justified not killing Saul, when he both had the chance and good reason, by saying: ‘As saith the proverbs of the ancients, Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.’ (1 Sam.24:13) He was insinuating that Saul’s soul was evil, since he came out, hunting him down like a wild animal, when he’d done no wrong. However, he, Bruh David, would not touch the Lord’s anointed, because he highly valued his soul before his good and perfect God. And in talking, re the coming reign of the righteous king, Isaiah said: ‘For the vile (foolish) person will speak villainy (foolishness), and his heart will work iniquity, to practice hypocrisy (ungodliness) and to utter error against the Lord, to make empty (unsatisfied) the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail.’ (Isa.32:6) Yes my people, the state of our hearts will most certainly dictate our words and deeds, for as our Saviour rightly declared; It is not what we ingest that destroys us, ‘But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.’ (Mat.15:18) Therefore Friends, it’s imperative that we continuously monitor the state of our hearts, and make sure that they are good and Christ inspired because, in Jesus’ words again: ‘A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgement. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.’ (Mat.12: 35-37) There we have it Friends, the ultimate authority on the matter; our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I can only encourage us to do as He advises. We therefore need to check our hearts, clean them up, make them right hearts, so that whatever issues forth from us is good and decent, edifying, as Bruh Paul says. For remember, we’ll be saved or condemned by our own words. Much LOVE!…may the words of my mouth…and the meditation of my heart…be acceptable in thy sight…O Lord…
 

Today’s Scrip-Bit 30 December 2009 Ephesians 2:1‏

Ephesians 2:1     And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.
 
Oh Friends, it’s the Eve of the Eve of the New Year. We’re getting closer to that long awaited, euphoric moment of ringing out the Old Year and ringing in the New, with all our life-changing resolutions. But does it really make a difference, does anything really change, do we keep those resolutions, and if so, how many? I humbly offer that nothing really changes except the date on the calendar. It’s merely a contrived moment of euphoria, a time to party to excess, to make us feel good about ourselves and provide a window of self-delusion whereby we can make all sorts of promises, which deep down, we know we’ll never keep. Some of us do sincerely embrace the resolutions and really try to keep them, but generally speaking, our New Year’s promises can be compared to Jesus’ parable of the sower, where the seed is dispersed over different types of ground, with limited success, for only a few fall on good ground and actually live long enough to bear fruit. It’s the same with our resolutions; only a minute amount ever comes to fruition. Okay, so I’m raining on your New Year’s parade. (smile) Well, not really, I’m just trying to point out the foolhardiness of the situation, for come the 2nd of January, we’ll all go right back to the rude, crude, obnoxious, aggressive, resentful behaviour we displayed before the Christmas season began. I guess the only way to change that and keep our friendly Christmas spirit is to celebrate Christmas all year round. (smile) Then we might eventually become truly friendlier and more concerned about each other and lose much of the hypocrisy that pervades the season of Christ’s birth. Now, how different is the New Year’s hullabaloo to the changes put forth in our Bit. Bruh Paul, in expounding on grace and faith, joyously declares: ‘And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins.’ Praise God! And that’s a fact we cannot dispute people. Why? Because before Jesus came and died for us, we were dead; dead in the sense that we were completely wrapped up in evil and wickedness, the greed, violence, the lust for power and the material, non-enduring things of this world. In other words we were fully ensconced in the enemy’s camp. As Bruh Paul puts it: ‘Where in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (Lucifer), the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. Among whom also we all had our conversation  (conducted ourselves) in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.’ (Eph.2:2-3) It’s the same thing he said to the Colossians: ‘And you being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven your trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances (certificate of debt with its decrees) that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.’ (Col.2:13-14) Oh shout some praises to Jesus’ name mih people for nailing that death warrant of our sin to His cross, thereby eliminating it forever! Ah Friends, we were certainly in a bad way back then. But the Lord God, whose LOVE for us was, and still is, so great, sent His ONLY Son, Jesus, to die for us, to pay for our sins, so that we could be set free from an unholy bondage to Beelzebub, if we so desired. Note, there’s still the element of choice, but because of Jesus’ death we now have the opportunity to be quickened, made alive again, reborn. ‘But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great LOVE wherewith he LOVED us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.’ (Eph.2:4-5) Wow! What a most wonderful God! Yes my people, it’s only by the gift of the GRACE of God, which flows from His vast, never-ending store of unconditional LOVE, that we can exult today in righteousness with the faithful promise of salvation and eternal life. It all stems from God’s divine power. ‘And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.’ (Eph.1:19-20) Yes Friends, that quickening, that rebirth of our souls and spirits was all accomplished through the divine might, power, brilliant planning and execution of said plans by the Most High God Jehovah. Without His undying affection for us, the carefully crafted work of His hands, we’d still be in bondage to the evil one. So, since we’re reborn, and have the unexpected opportunity to live a new life in Christ, let’s ensure; ‘That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight (trickery) of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. But speaking the truth in LOVE, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.’ (Eph.4:14-15) Oh Friends, I can’t put it any better than that. I can only encourage us to do our bounden duty, which is to LOVE our God, LIVE our Faith, and SPREAD His Word. Much LOVE!…Jesus died so we could be free…but we must first… desire to be free…then actively seek that freedom…
 

Today’s Scrip-Bit 29 December 2009 Acts 8:20‏

Acts 8:20     But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. 
 
Oh Friends, it’s one day less of the Christmas season and one day closer to that big, annual bash of Old Year’s. Yeah, I know in the northern climes it’s called New Year’s Eve, but in the good old, southern Caribbean tradition, I prefer Old Year’s. ( smile) Although today was a holiday for many, the stores were open and did a brisk business; money and sales were certainly in vogue for another day. When and where will it end eh? That brings us to our Bit, where Peter and John were offered money for the power to lay hands on people and give them the Holy Ghost. Poor Simon the sorcerer, of a city in Samaria; he really had no clue of what the Spirit was all about. Now yesterday we looked at a couple of examples where money or some inducement was offered for God’s free gift, free blessing, but turned down. Today we’ll talk of another. One day, while king Belshazzar and the Babylonian court partied in the palace using the golden and silver vessels brought from the temple in Jerusalem by the king’s father Nebuchadnezzar; ‘In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candle-stick (opposite the lamp stand) upon the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.’ (Dan.5:5) Obviously the king became afraid and called for all his astrologers, soothsayers and wise men, but none could interpret the words. However, the queen remembered Daniel interpreting dreams for Nebuchadnezzar, and eventually he was called to interpret the words on the wall. Here’s the king’s offer: ‘now if thou canst read the writing, and make known to me the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be clothed with scarlet and have a chain of gold about thy neck, and shalt be the third ruler in the kingdom. Then Daniel answered and said before the king, Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet will I read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.’ (Dan.5:16-17) Yes Friends, Daniel did not need the king’s gifts to interpret God’s words. His services were freely offered because our God doesn’t have to indulge in menial trading and bartering for His blessings. And the words of Jesus, our Lord, Leader and Saviour clearly verify that. ‘Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.’ (Mat.10:8) If Jesus says so, then it’s so, my people. Whatever we’ve received freely, we should also give freely, not charge or expect remuneration for it, though in many cases in our corrupt world that’s exactly what happens; men of God are charging or expecting gifts in return for blessings they have freely received. Now that’s not right my people, for as Peter continued admonishing Simon: ‘Thou hast neither part nor lot (portion) in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of (poisoned by) bitterness, and in the bond (bound by) iniquity.’ (Acts 8:21-23) Oh Friends, that’s what it’s all about; a right heart. Even when we’re doing good deeds, the Lord also expects us to have the right motives, not just doing them to get rewards. We should remember that in all we do, motive counts for everything with our God. Unfortunately it doesn’t say if Simon really changed, but he did plead with Peter: ‘Pray ye the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.’ (Acts 8:24) But at least he seemed headed in the right direction. And that’s very important too my people, because we all make mistakes and our God will be more forgiving if He sees that we’re truly trying to do the right thing for the right reasons. But if the Holy Spirit can’t be bought with money or gifts, then how can we receive it? Peter answered that question on the Day of Pentecost, when they, the apostles, received the Spirit of Jesus in a mighty rush of wind and ‘cloven tongues like as of fire.’ (Acts 2:3) He told the crowd: ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.’ (Acts 2:38-39) Yes my people, that’s the ONLY way to receive the Spirit of Jesus; through sincere repentance, baptism and acceptance of Him as your Lord and Saviour. It’s easy, simple and FREE to ALL; Jews and Gentiles alike, and promised to all generations. No money or gifts are necessary; just proffer a right and repentant heart. Let’s remember that and be wary of those who try to make us pay for what they’ve freely received. Much LOVE!…for the LOVE of money…is the ROOT of all evil…
 

Today’s Scrip-Bit 28 December 2009 Acts 8:20‏

Acts 8:20     But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
 
Ah Friends, the Christmas festivities are slowly winding down. Boxing Day is over, and so are the many sales it spawned. I understand people were lined up outside stores from before six a.m. At one mall it took over an hour to find a parking spot. Steups! What is wrong with us eh? We have become such slaves to commercialism it isn’t funny. And the sad part is that many of the items we rush, push and jostle each other to purchase really aren’t that much cheaper. And if they happen to be, when you add the time and energy you waste waiting and enduring the hostile crowds, the few dollars you save aren’t really worth the harassment; at least to me. But that’s the mentality that exists in our society today; it’s all about the money. It does seem though, as our Bit suggests, that the money can buy all things philosophy also existed in ancient Israel, albeit on a lesser scale. Now the story here is that after Bruh Paul, then known as Saul, encouraged the stoning death of Stephen, ‘he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and hailing (dragging off) men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.’ (Acts 8:3-4). Oh Bruh Paul! What a monster he was before the Lord struck him down! In a sense though, his persecuting the early Church actually helped spread the Word, for when they ran from him, they preached the gospel wherever they went. This led to Philip going down to a city in Samaria and having a successful tour, preaching, healing and converting many. However, in that city lived a man named Simon, a sorcerer (magician) who held the people captive with his unethical practices, proclaiming that he was someone of worth. Now he had done this for such a long time that they all believed; ‘This man is a great power of God,’ and held him in high esteem. (Acts 8:9-11) But when the people heard Philip preach the gospel, they believed and were baptized, including the sorcerer Simon. ‘And when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered (was amazed), beholding the miracles and signs that were done.’ (Acts 8:13) But his celebrity days were numbered, for when the apostles back in Jerusalem heard that Samaria was bubbling with excitement over the gospel, they sent John and Peter to further spread the good news. When those two arrived in the city, they prayed that the people would receive the Holy Spirit, cause they hadn’t as yet. They’d only been baptized in the name of Jesus. ‘Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.’ (Acts 8:17) Simon must have been rendered speechless or simply exclaimed a mighty ‘Wow!’ ‘And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whosoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.’ (Acts 8:18-19) And that’s when Peter lit into him with Today’s Bit, proclaiming; ‘Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.’ My Friends, that’s gospel! It can’t be bought because it’s a gift of God, though there are many examples of people trying to buy or barter it, all unsuccessfully of course. Let’s look at a few. The first one that comes to mind is the Syrian captain, Naaman, healed of leprosy by Elisha telling him to go and wash in the Jordan seven times. He then offers Elisha gifts. ‘Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore I pray thee, take a blessing (gift) of thy servant. But he (Elisha) said, As the Lord liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it, but he refused.’ (2 Kings 5:15-16) And we all know what finally happened: Elisha’s greedy servant, Gehazi, ran behind Naaman and lied, saying that Elisha had a change of heart, and now wanted some money and clothes for two sons of prophets that had just come to him. In his euphoria at being healed of the leprosy Naaman gave him more than he asked for. But when Gehazi returned to Elisha and was asked where he’d been, he lied again and said nowhere. But Elisha being a true man of God, knew his lies and gravely declared: ‘The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.’ (2 Kings 5:27) Oh Friends, it doesn’t pay to lie to God or His people, or be greedy and go behind the backs of others and accept gifts for services or blessings that were freely given. Isaiah was even more forceful and adamant about God’s blessings in a free offer of mercy to all. ‘Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness (abundance).’ (Isa.55:1-2) Yes my people, the blessings of God are FREE! They are offered to all and sundry who believe. There’s no need for money or gifts to be passed or offered so they can be procured. The only requirement is to accept Him into your hearts and keep Him securely dwelling there. Oh my Friends, sadly, time and space have run out today, but there’s much more to say on this topic, so we will continue it tomorrow; God willing of course. Till then, let’s truly seek God and His free blessings, without which our lives will be lost forever. Much LOVE!…oh the promise is free…the gift is free…only believe…
 

Today’s Scrip-Bit 27 December 2009 Proverbs 13:15‏

Proverbs 13:15     Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.
 
Oh Friends, it’s the Lord’s Day, so ‘chant a chant, and give thanks for the morning!’ Offer up some thanks and praise for being granted the supreme privilege of seeing another day cause it’s so good to be alive. Don’t you just feel marvellous and exhilarating when you open your still sleepy eyes in the morning and see the bright sunlight shining through your window and hear the birds chirping their early morning praise? Yes, that’s what they’re doing; giving thanks and praise for another glorious day of being alive. And so too should you lucky ones who see the sun and hear the bird’s choir everyday. For us in the northern climes that won’t happen for another few months, but that should not prevent us from also giving much thanks, just for being alive. And I have an interesting quote to share, which gives great advice to us all. ‘Never let life’s hardships disturb you. After all, no one can avoid problems, not even saints or sages.’ Wise words, gospel my people, reputedly said by one Nichiren Daishonen. We should not let the difficulties of life disturb or overwhelm us, since it’s inevitable that all humans will face problems on planet earth, even men of great faith and wisdom. And I have to laugh, because I’m having a difficulty, a hardship right now, trying to decide which of five scriptures to use for Today’s Bit. Yes, I’ve begun writing although I’m not sure what I’m writing on. But that’s just my faith showing through cause I know that the Sprit will eventually lead me in the right direction. Now all five scriptures seem applicable, but none really jump out at me, saying; ‘I’m the one!’  So, following the advice given above, I won’t sweat it. I’ll just pick one and write on it. Hn! And which one did I choose? As so often happens, I chose the first one I came across. Don’t you just hate that? After going through lots of stuff, you end up using the first one. Chuh! Anyway, the Bit says: ‘Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.’ The problem though is that not only transgressors have it hard, but so too do believers. Although Jesus said; ‘For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light;’ (Mat.11:30) He also declared: ‘And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.’ (Mat.10:22) And also: ‘Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all those things will they do unto you, for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.’ (John 15:20-21) Yes Friends, believers will have it hard in this world simply because they are believers, and the unfaithful will also find it difficult, because that’s just the way life operates. However, whereas the transgressors have no recourse, the first part of the Bit gives hope and great expectation to believers. ‘Good understanding giveth favour.’ Now that’s an awesome truth believers should all hold dear. And what does it mean? Let’s check out Cousin Sol’s exhortations to obedience: ‘My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments. For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Let not mercy (LOVING kindness) and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding (high esteem) in the sight of God and man.’ (Prov.3:1-4) There you have it Friends; the whole story on good understanding and favour. It all comes from following the Lord’s precepts. So, though life may be difficult for all, and sometimes more so for us believers, if we persevere in the faith, trusting Christ and surrendering our whole lives to Him, obeying His will and living as He desires, then we’ll certainly be blessed with His mercy, wisdom and understanding in our time of need. So don’t give up. Muddle and putter through, but NEVER, NEVER  give up, for with Jesus as our guide and leader, there’s always a bright light at the end of any tunnel of darkness, and all sadness and troubles only last for a while anyway. Then, at the very end, the transgressors will be cast out into eternal darkness with much weeping and gnashing of teeth. However my Friends, for those who sincerely endure and persevere in the faith, there will be great exultation. Everything will joyously morph into one huge celebration; eternal life with Christ! Wow! So let’s encourage ourselves and each other, to do our duty: LOVE our God; LIVE our Faith, and SPREAD His Word. Much LOVE!…when the going get’s rough…believers get going…

Today’s Scrip-Bit 26 December 2009 John 8:58‏

John 8:58     Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
 
Christmas day is over Friends! That’s it for another year. It wasn’t the white Christmas in my area, that many dream of and yearn for, but it was wet. Rain’s been pouring all day. Can’t say the same for those folks in the U.S Midwest though. The white stuff sure has been flying down there. But regardless of the prevailing weather, I sure hope you all had a wonderful day with friends and family, didn’t overdo the partying, and found some time to ponder on Jesus and His importance to the celebration. However, it’s now Boxing Day! The day for which a lot of people have very anxiously and excitedly waited; the day of dramatic sales, bargains and long lines to return stuff. By the time many of you read this, the crowds would have already descended on the malls and stores with a furor and frenzy worthy of wild beasts, such is the shopping savagery now embedded in our society. But all I can say is, better them than me yes. (smile) I won’t be facing a mall or a store before next week when the madness has settled down some. Anyway, Today’s Bit finds Jesus talking to some Jews who seemed to believe in Him, but after hearing His words, they had serious doubts. ‘If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?’ (John 8:31-33) And that’s how the whole shebang started. The Jews weren’t thrilled with Jesus’ words, and He continued to annoy them. ‘Verily, verily I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.’ (John 8:34-40) And the argument went back and forth, with Jesus igniting the flame, as He liked to do. At one stage they called Him a Samaritan with a devil, which Jesus refuted and further stirred up the argument by telling them: ‘Verily, verily I say unto you. If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil (demon). Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. Art thou greater than our father Abraham which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?’ (John 8:51-53) Ah Friends, that’s what everybody wanted to know; who was this man going around saying all these contrary sounding things? And you can feel the annoyance rising amongst the Jews. Sadly, Jesus’ words did nothing to calm the rising storm, when He finally told them: ‘Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?’ (John 8:56-57) As usual, Jesus spoke in such riddles that it sometimes confused His listeners, and some of His claims made them real angry. And this next verse is one of those. ‘Jesus saith unto them, Verily, verily I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.’ Hn, hn! Well that brought it to the boiling point. ‘Then they took up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.’ (John 8:59) What a man; our Jesus! The problem was that some of His teachings conflicted with those of the Old Testament, the old Abrahamic covenant that His listeners had been taught for generations. That’s why when Jesus came with His new ideas, His new covenant, they found some of His comments very contentious and at times even blasphemous. But we know that Jesus had no cause to lie or to inflate His position. He was of the Father, and was only doing the Father’s bidding. He’d also been around long before Abraham, as Micah acknowledges. ‘But thou Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.’ (Mic.5:2) Yes Friends, Jesus has been in existence since day one, and will be until eternity, as evidenced by the powerful words of Revelation: ‘I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.’ (Rev.1:8) And that’s an important fact for all believers to wrap their minds securely around; that Jesus being God, existed long before He became man and walked this earth. And likewise, He’ll be around long after man’s final demise. Oh my Friends, please understand that Jesus is real, not a fake; a living Spirit that dwells on the inside of those who believe in Him, and if we keep His words, then they’ll set us free from the hellfire and damnation promised to those who continue to dwell in sin, without any effort at righteousness. Please, let’s not be numbered amongst the latter group. Much LOVE!… yesterday…today…forever… that’s our Saviour’s lifeline…
 

Today’s Scrip-Bit 25 December 2009 Matthew 1:21‏

MERRY CHRISTMAS.

Matthew 1:21     And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
 
It’s Christmas Day Friends! Hallelujah! The big day’s finally here. Wow! Let’s mark the momentous occasion with song. ‘Hark the herald angels sing. Glory to the new born King. Peace on earth and mercy mild. God and sinners reconciled. Joyful all ye nations rise. Join the triumph of the skies. With angelic hosts proclaim. Christ is born in Bethlehem. Hark the herald angels sing. Glory to the new born King.’ Yes my Friends, that’s how it was one beautiful, starry, moonlit night two thousand years ago, when Christ, our Redeemer was born. A long awaited prophecy of immense proportions came through that night. Around 734 B.C Isaiah warns the ungodly king of Judah, Ahaz, not to form an alliance with Assyria, but to trust the Lord to protect them from their enemies. Ahaz refuses to listen, so the Lord tells him to ask for a sign. Surprisingly, Ahaz piously refuses to tempt the Lord. (Isa.7:10-12) Then Isaiah, on the Lord’s behalf declares: ‘Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.’ (Isa.7:13-15) Yes my people, the Lord took it upon Himself to give them a sign of hope, that a child, a Branch of David’s line would one day rise up and save his people. But before that happened Israel and Judah would be invaded, humiliated, cut down and brought to their knees. (Isa.7:16-25) However Friends, some seven centuries later, on this day, that prophecy came through. Praise God! It took a long time, but remember a thousand days in God’s sight is like one day in ours. That is what makes the Good Book and the Word it contains so remarkable. Just imagine nuh, a lowly prophet in an agrarian society talking about a virgin birth almost three thousand years ago Hn! We can do that now, but it still needs some human manipulation. The conception of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ though, had no human interference whatsoever. What a mighty God is our Lord! And if that sign wasn’t sufficient, Isaiah further declared: ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgement and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.’ (Isa.9:6-7) And all God’s people sang ‘Glory Hallelujah!’ Now Isaiah couldn’t make such big, daring, outlandish predictions without some prescient knowledge, some spiritual insight eh? Friends, that just shows the truth and power of our God and His Word. Finally Immanuel came. God came to us, for Immanuel means, ‘God with us.’ And He not only came in a contrary and unusual manner, but also to places of no renown; Bethlehem and Nazareth. Mary was engaged to Joseph, but found herself with child. What a bam bam that must have been! Not married but pregnant, giving poor Joseph nightmares. But people, our God never does a half-baked job. And while Joseph was contemplating his next move an angel of the Lord appeared and assured him of Mary’s loyalty and new found favour with God, and that he should marry her; ‘for that which is conceived of her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.’ Amen mih people! Joseph wisely heeded the angel’s words. And a new beginning began! As the carol says: ‘Peace on earth and mercy mild. God and sinners reconciled.’ That’s exactly what the virgin birth set in motion. The Prince of Peace came to earth to bring us His peace, pay for our sins and thus reconcile us with His Father, fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy, and the angel’s words to Joseph: ‘for he shall save his people from their sins.’ And our God has a sense of occasion. Look at the night He chose, designed to send His only Son to us; a clear, beautiful night; the heavens alight with stars, possibly a full moon too, and the angel choir just singing out rich, sweet, heavenly music. No wonder the poor shepherds in the fields watching their flocks were somewhat scared. It was a night like no other they had ever witnessed, and only made scarier when the angels informed them of the Saviour’s birth nearby. The Lord even brought three kings from far away to pay obeisance to His Son. They came bearing gifts of frankincense and myrrh, valuable commodities in those days. But where our God outdid Himself was having His Son born in a lowly manger. He could have put Him anywhere, but He chose a poor carpenter and his young fiancé, from a poor part of town. That’s because He came first to help the poor, the sick, the suffering, the lost, the lonely, those without hope. He came to bring hope, peace and a future to a world that was overrun by sin and headed for eternal darkness. But He, being Mr. Wonderful, Counselor, The Prince of Peace, The everlasting Father and The mighty God, would fix it all. And He did Friends, by giving His innocent life to pay for our sins, so that we could once more have a right relationship with the Father, through a new covenant, a new promise, that if we believed and trusted in Him, He would set us free from our sins and receive us at the end of our earthly days to live in eternal light and glory with Him and His Father. ‘Glory Hallelujah! Nothing can beat that mih breddren! And that’s why we celebrate His birth today, cause it was the first real sign of the hope of a better way long promised. The word Jesus means Saviour, so when John the Baptist saw Jesus walking towards him by the Jordan river, he could right proudly say: ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.’ (John 1:29) My Friends, while we’re celebrating today, let’s not forget the real reason for the celebration: the birth of Jesus, a harbinger of a new way of life, which we now enjoy solely because of Him. So let’s recognize, praise and rejoice in His Holy Name. Amen! Much LOVE!…Christ’s birth…stirs joy in the hearts of believers…joy of a better life to come…
 

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