Today’s Scrip-Bit 17 May 2018 1 Samuel 15:22b.

1 Samuel 15:22b.    Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

And then it was Thursday; the penultimate day of the workweek… And there were some shouts of ‘Glory be!’ to that announcement. (smile) And it also looks like it’s going to be another glorious day in my neighbourhood…Thank You Lord! 

Unfortunately though, the people living under the influence of the volcano in Hawaii aren’t seeing any relief from it. In fact it’s getting worse.

Likewise those people involved in the deadly storm in the U.S. Northeast a couple of days ago. Their lives have not returned to normal as yet, and who knows when it will? Our prayers and any other help we can offer will be welcome. 

And today I’m going to offer a li’l something on obedience. ‘Obedience is doing what God says, how He says to do it, and when He says to do it.’ Anything other than that is disobedience. That means a lot of us are more disobedient than we might think we are. Why? 

Because we don’t always do what God says, or how He says to do it, or when He says to do it. We like to either put off God’s directives until a more convenient time, or just do what we think is right or sufficient to meet His directives. But friends, God doesn’t tell us to do anything unless He has a perfect reason and plan for it.  

So if we don’t do it, when and how He says, that means we’re throwing that perfect plan off kilter and not accomplishing the purpose He intended. And we all know that the price of disobedience doesn’t come cheap.

So unless we want to pay some exorbitant prices for disobedience, I’m asking us today to spend some more time looking at whatever God asks us to do, and do it when and how He says. 

Look at what happened to Saul, when he disobeyed God’s directives to totally wipe out the Amalekites. ‘And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.

But Saul and the people spared Agag (the king), and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but everything that was vile and refuse (despised and worthless) that they utterly destroyed.’ (1 Sam.15:8-9) 

Yeh friends, Saul thought He had done the Lord’s bidding, but he obviously did not understand the words ‘destroy all and everything utterly.’ And what happened then?

‘Then came the word of the Lord unto Samuel saying, It repenteth me (I greatly regret) that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night.’ (1 Sam.15:11) 

But that made no difference to the Lord’s decision, especially when Samuel confronted Saul about his disobedience: ‘And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag, the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.

But the people took of the spoil (plunder), sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed to sacrifice unto the Lord in Gilgal.’ (1 Sam.15:20-21) 

And once again Saul attempts to shift the blame to others, as he had done in Chapter 13:11-12, after he had usurped the priest’s office, and plead extenuating circumstances. But then who was the king eh? Who made the final decisions eh? King Saul! 

Thus Samuel, whose heart was already breaking for Saul’s demise, had to rebuke him. ‘And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft (divination), and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.’ (1 Sam.15:22-23) 

And that’s what a lot of us do friends; we pick and choose what we’ll do, instead of following the Lord’s directives to the ‘T’. We behave like we know the Lord’s plans better than Him.

But my brethren that only causes us grief and heartache, and we foolishly lose the Lord’s blessings. Please, I once more implore us to take very seriously whatever the Lord asks us to do, and do it when and how He says. It is the epitome of wisdom. 

Now let’s go home declaring our Thursday Blessings, which the Lord has showered down on us, despite our not deserving them. All together now: ‘I declare that I am blessed with God’s supernatural wisdom and receive clear direction for my life! I declare today that I am blessed with creativity, courage, talent and abundance! 

I am blessed with a strong will, self-control and self-discipline! I am blessed with a great family, good friends, good health, faith, favour and fulfillment! I am blessed with success, supernatural strength, promotion and divine protection! I am blessed with a compassionate heart and a positive outlook on life! 

I declare that any curse or negative word that’s ever been spoken over me is broken right now in the name of Jesus! I declare that everything I put my hands to will prosper and succeed! I declare it today and everyday! Amen!’ 

And please remember one of the Lord’s directives is to share those blessings with others, so let’s be obedient and go out and do that nuh. Much LOVE!

…it’s not always easy to obey God to the fullest…but it’s always the wisest decision…

 

 

 

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Today’s Scrip-Bit 12 May 2018 Matthew 6:33.

Matthew 6:33.    But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

‘Sleeping in, sleeping in, sleeping in late on a somewhat cloudy Saturday morning!’ Yeh friends, the ole fella slept in this morning. But what’s the point of being alive if you can’t participate once in a while in some naughty antics eh? (smile) It really wasn’t planned though. I just happened to get up around six, as hungry as ever, and came down and had something to eat. Obviously, after that I had to go back and lie down. And the rest is history. (smile) 

Oh friends, there is so much strife and confusion and bitterness and anger going on all over our world that I don’t know what to comment on. So I’ll just stay with the volcano in Hawaii. At least that’s not a man made disaster. But it does seem to be getting worse rather than better. So let’s keep on praying for them and helping as best we can nuh. 

And since it’s Saturday, let’s take a look at some quotes from our friend Anselm, who truly aspires to inspire us for a better tomorrow. Here is the first one: ‘However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.’ 

And that’s quite true people. The Lord has prepared a plan for each of our lives, with the wherewithal to be successful at it. So there is something out there for each of us to successfully accomplish. But it means we have to seek God’s plan for our individual life and proceed to put it into operation. 

And the second one says: ‘The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.’ Another particle of truth friends! It’s just the way life works. When we celebrate life, life celebrates us back in return, by giving us more stuff to celebrate. It’s just the positive attitude versus the negative one. 

And I believe that not enough of us celebrate the things we do, especially the small ones, falsely thinking that only big, momentous happenings are worthy of being celebrated. But if that’s true, then we’ll very seldom celebrate, because most of us don’t have many big happenings in our lives. Amen! 

Then there is: ‘All of life is peaks and valleys. Don’t let the peaks get too high and the valleys too low.’ Yes my brethren, life is like a roller coaster ride; up one side, then down the other. But the trick to living it successfully is to stay as even as possible. 

And remember when we are basking on the mountaintop, not to get too full of ourselves, because at some point in the future we WILL be heading for the valley. And when we hit the valley, just remember Bruh David’s immortal words; ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.’ (Ps.23:4) 

Ah my fellow believers, that’s ever so important for us to remember and put into practice, because in the valleys we will experience some very rough times, and it’s only our strong faith and God’s faithful help that will bring us back up to the mountain top. 

And the last quote declares: ‘The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy – it’s all that matters.’ 

Now I want to question that somewhat. Happiness does matter but is that the main reason for us being on earth. I doubt it. It’s true that Jesus said he came that we might have abundant life and enjoy it to the full. (John 10:10) But more importantly, He also said we shouldn’t be overly concerned with the needs of our lives, because we can’t serve two masters at once. (Matt.6:24-32) 

‘But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.’ 

There you have it my fellow believers; our most important action on this fragile and confusing earth. Seeking and searching, and knocking and finding God’s kingdom here on earth is our first and major priority. And the beauty of it all, is when we do that sincerely, everything else will fall into place. That’s Jesus’ faithful promise! 

That’s why Jesus continues: ‘Take therefore no thought for the morrow (do not worry about tomorrow): for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the is the evil (trouble) thereof.’ (Matt.6:34) 

And the scholars offer these explanations: ‘6:33-34. This portion of the Sermon on the Mount is summarized by seek ye first the kingdom of God. The disciples who have pledged their allegiance to the King must continue seeking the kingdom and its righteousness. The present imperative form of the verb (Gr. zeteo) indicates a continual or constant seeking. The contrast between the spiritual and the material is again emphasized. 

The believer is to seek first the righteousness that is characteristic of God’s kingdom, and then all these things (material thing) shall be added to him. When our priority is spiritual, God will take care of the material, for where God guides, He provides. 

We need not even worry about tomorrow, for sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. This means that each day has its own troubles and challenges to be responsibly handled, without worrying about the hypothetical problems that could arise tomorrow.’ 

Oh my people, I don’t know how it could be stated any simpler nuh. But regardless of how many times we hear it, too many of us still seek the things of the world before the things of God. Remember though friends, there is always a price to pay for disobedience, and sometimes it can be quite high. So to him who has an ear to hear, let him hear. Much LOVE!

…in the immortal words of Uncle Charles (Charles Stanley)…our wisest action is to…obey God…and leave all the consequences to Him…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s Scrip-Bit 2 May 2018 Isaiah 1:19.

Isaiah 1:19.   If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.

And then it was Wednesday; the midway point of the work week… And we’re getting a li’l bit earlier everyday with the Bit. (smile) Hope within the next few days we’ll be back to an early morning Bit. And when are we going to dance the Maypole eh people? Wonder if some of the young people even know what that is. 

It’s a celebration for the month of May. You have a tall decorated flagpole with long ribbon streamers attached at the top, and then everybody takes a ribbon and dances around it to form an intricate pattern all the way down the pole. I remember going to May fairs as a boy in High School, but usually thinking myself too macho to dance the maypole. That was something for girls. 

Now here is a li’l something from Matt Chandler, lead Pastor of the Village Church, a Southern Baptist Church in Texas. He tells us that ‘God is awesome. He doesn’t need us to be awesome. He needs us to be obedient.’ And isn’t that the gospel truth friends? 

All our magnanimous and magnificent God really wants from us is obedience to His law. If we’d only practice greater obedience, we’d be surprised at how blessed we’d truly be. But we insist on choosing our own areas of obedience. However my brethren, our God wants total obedience from His people. Not some obedience here, and some obedience there, like a hodgepodge of obedience and disobedience. 

And friends, the Lord made His intentions clear a long time ago to the Israelites through the prophet Isaiah in our Bit. ‘If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.’ That’s fairly simple and straightforward eh my fellow believers. 

And the corollary to that is the next verse: ‘But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.’ (Is.1:20) And it’s not like the Israelites, who were found to be disobedient several times did not suffer by the sword and all kinds of pestilence. 

I don’t know why we think that the Lord isn’t going to keep His word. He kept it with the Israelites and He’s going to keep it with us too, as our disobedience level is riding sky high. Can’t we see all the unusual things that are happening in our society? And even though we’re the most advanced civilization ever, we’re still flailing along in a mire of poverty, sickness, greed and poor relationships. 

A lot of our trouble stems from our disobedience. The Lord is not going to allow us to continue the way we’re currently going forever, so we need to smarten up as soon as possible, if we want to get out of the quicksand that we’re slowly drowning in. 

Now let’s look at some important scriptures that tell us about obedience. And we’ll begin at the beginning, with the words of Bruh Paul to the Roman church. ‘For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.’ (Rom.5:19). 

Yeh friends, by Adam’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden, sin flooded the world, likewise by the sacrificial death of Jesus, on the cross at Calvary, grace, salvation, and eternal life were provided by our Lord to overcome the bondage of sin. 

And more words from Bruh Paul, this time to the Philippian church, pertaining to Jesus. ‘And being found in fashion (appearance) as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.’ (Phil.2:9) 

Oh my people, there’s no better example of obedience than our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!  Though He was God Himself, once He took the form of man, He didn’t try to boost His ego or importance here on earth, but gave total obedience to His heavenly father. Even when He tried to get out of going to the cross in the Garden of Gethsemane, He finally gave in and said, ‘not my will, but thine,’ acknowledging the Father’s supremacy. 

As Hebrews tells us: ‘Though he (Jesus) were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the author of salvation unto all them that obey him.’ (Heb.5:8-10) Yeh people, Jesus learned obedience just like all of us do, through suffering, through adversity and trials. That’s the only way to learn it. And that’s why the Father elevated him to the highest position there is; the one to whom all knees will bow, and all voices will cry Lord to the glory of the Father. 

Now listen to this last scripture from Peter in his call to Christian dedication. ‘Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind (prepare your mind for action), be sober, and hope to the end for the grace (rest your hope fully upon the grace) that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 

As obedient children, not fashioning (conforming) yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance. But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (conduct). Because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy.’’ (1 Pet.2:13-16) 

I can’t say anything more friends, except to lead us in our declaration of our Wednesday Wail, which tells the world our strong and obedient position in Christ. 

As one now: ‘Wednesday, Wednesday, Wednesday: I’m so glad to be alive on this Wednesday! Wednesday, Wednesday, Wednesday: Thank God the breath of life is still flowing through me on this Wednesday! I am halfway home. My hands are fixed securely on the plough, and I’m not turning back. I’m not looking back at the past, not focusing on what has gone before. But my eyes are fixed straight ahead; straight ahead to a glorious future with Jesus. Glory Hallelujah!’ 

And we can’t even imagine how glorious that future will be, because our minds are too small and finite! Much LOVE!

…to obey is better than sacrifice…and to hearken than the fat of rams… (1 Sam.15:22b)

 

 

 

Today’s Scrip-Bit 5 April 2018 Proverbs 1:20.

Proverbs 1:20.   Wisdom crieth without (calls aloud in the street); she uttereth (raises) her voice in the streets (plazas).

Greetings and salutations this glorious Thursday morning in the springtime of our lives my faithful brethren! (smile) Awright, so some of us might have already passed our best by date, but that doesn’t mean we have to be thrown away. In fact we are the kind of people the Lord finds much use for when the world is no longer interested in us. He uses the poor, the elderly, the broken hearted, the humble to do great things in His name. 

So though we are actually in the winter of our days, we ought not to give up hope and stop trying to do productive stuff. And saying that, here is some encouragement from Gramps Schuller (Dr. Robert H. Schuller) from His Hour of Power Devotional as he talks about being in the valley of the shadow. 

He says: ‘Peace comes to the person who feels the presence of God…. Don’t trust the clouds – trust the sunshine. Don’t set your compass by the flash of lightning – set it by the stars. Trust the sun – don’t trust the shadow. Believe in your dreams – don’t believe in your despairing thoughts. Have faith in your faith – and doubt your doubts. Trust in your hopes – never trust in your hurts.’ Amen friends, Amen! 

And I believe that’s useful not only for the ole fogies, but also for the young uns. The sooner they learn that kind of stuff, the more productive and godly lives they will live. But ALL of us need to pay serious attention to that woman of all women; WISDOM, for without her we are completely lost. 

As Cousin Sol says in Proverbs: ‘Wisdom crieth without (calls aloud in the street); she uttereth (raises) her voice in the streets (plazas). She crieth in the chief place of concourse (concourses), in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, How long, ye simple (naïve) ones, will ye LOVE naiveté? And the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?’ (Prov.1:20-22)  

Ah mih people, those words are ever so true in these tumultuous times, as real wisdom, that of God, is being trampled down by the falsehood that the world purveys as wisdom. And too many of us, Christians included, are foolishly following that supposed wisdom the world perpetrates. However we need to desperately understand that TRUE wisdom comes ONLY from God; from His word, His statues and His commandments. 

As Gramps Schuller says in the passage above: ‘have faith in your faith.’ Otherwise, what’s the purpose of having a faith, if you don’t have faith in it eh? None whatsoever! 

And the scholars offer this explanation. ‘1:20-33. Wisdom is personified here as a prophetess calling in public places to everyone to come to her and learn. Three groups are especially singled out in the appeal: ‘the simple ones, or untaught; the scorners or scoffers; and the fools, or morally dull (v.22). The consequences of rejecting wisdom are immense (vs.26-28).’  

And sadly my brethren, in this supposedly wise society, there seems to be way more of those three groups who are not interested in true wisdom, than those of us who are. But true and godly wisdom keeps crying out: ‘Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.’ (Prov.1:23) 

Yes friends, the wisdom of God is crying out for us to turn back from our sinful, worldly ways and embrace His LOVING-kindness, for that’s the only wise and sensible option open to us. But we don’t seem to be paying any serious attention to His call. 

Thus wisdom continues: ‘Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought (disdained) all my counsel, and would (have) none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear (terror) cometh. 

When your fear (terror) cometh as desolation (a storm), and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early (diligently), but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord. 

They would (have) none of  my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. For the turning away (waywardness) of the simple shall slay them, and prosperity (complacency) of fools shall destroy them.’ (Prov.1:24-32) 

Ah mih people, yuh see the serious consequences involved in rejecting the wisdom of God! And that’s exactly what’s happening in our society today; we are being slain by our waywardness and disobedience, and our complacency is destroying us. 

But it’s not too late to call out to wisdom friends. Please, let’s be wise and do so nuh, that our children and us can benefit from it. ‘But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet (secure, or at ease) from fear of evil.’ (Prov.1:33) 

And accompanying that peace of mind will be numerous benefits, like those enshrined in our Thursday Blessings. Let’s declare them out now, loud and proud, so that the unbelievers can see what to expect when they wholly embrace the wisdom and ways of Jesus. 

‘I declare that I am blessed with God’s supernatural wisdom and receive clear direction for my life! I declare today that I am blessed with creativity, courage, talent and abundance! I am blessed with a strong will, self-control and self-discipline! I am blessed with a great family, good friends, good health, faith, favour and fulfillment! 

I am blessed with success, supernatural strength, promotion and divine protection! I am blessed with a compassionate heart and a positive outlook on life! I declare that any curse or negative word that’s ever been spoken over me is broken right now in the name of Jesus! I declare that everything I put my hands to will prosper and succeed! I declare it today and everyday! Amen!’ 

Now let’s go out and share some of those many blessings as Jesus intends for us to do. Much LOVE!

…blessings only come with obedience…which is a by-product of wisdom…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s Scrip-Bit 2 April 2018 Nehemiah 1:7.

Nehemiah 1:7.   We have dealt (acted) very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgements (ordinances) which thou commandest thy servant Moses.

And then it was Monday once again; but a Monday with a difference; Easter Monday where a fair amount of us don’t have to go to work and we’re still celebrating the miraculous and momentous resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ from the depths of Hades through the awesome power of our omnipotent God! 

What blessed people we are my fellow believers to have such a magnificent and magnanimous Deity as our Creator, Controller and Provider! Give Him some most fitting thanks and praise nuh! 

We have one problem though, some of us have to go to work, so no doubt they will be in a funk, jealous that they have to go out and labour while the rest of us get to stay home and party. Others however, might just be flat out tired and exhausted from their Easter celebrations, so it’s also hard for them to get up and get going. 

But as always, we have the antidote for the Monday morning whatever ails you, namely our Monday Morning Battle Hymn. So let’s belt it out with as much gusto as we can manage nuh, to help our unfortunate brethren who have to go out and labour today. 

All together now: ‘Oh Lord God Almighty, Creator of the universe and all therein! We, your humble servants, praise your Holy Name and thank you that this Monday morning we have jobs to go to; jobs we don’t like, jobs that are unfair, difficult and even dangerous, but which serve a useful purpose here on earth; keeping lives and families together. 

We also thank you Father for the renewed vitality and enthusiasm you’ve wrought in our weary souls over the last two days. It’s that rejuvenation of Spirit which allows us now to sally forth with confidence into the evil, ungodly world that surrounds us, to begin a new week of work, constantly buffeted and bombarded by the enemy’s wicked taunts, wiles and lies. 

But heavenly Father, we’re not afraid, for we know we’re invincible, sure conquerors, once we’re wearing your powerful, protective spiritual armour. We surrender our all to you, and humbly ask that you let your incredible aura of LOVE, the Holy Spirit, lead and guide all your servants as we go out to meet the enemy in battle. 

Fill us with steadfast faith, so that we can make worthwhile inroads into the enemy’s ranks, and thereby further your glorious kingdom. We pray this in the Holy Name of your Son, and our Saviour, Jesus Christ. AMEN!’  

That was uproarious friends! As usual, you could hear the sore, croaky voices louder than the others, and know that they weren’t going to work, while the soon to be working were barely audible. But that’s just the nature of the human animal. 

Oh, let me apologize for not reminding us of Granny’s serious warning this long, Easter weekend. Sorry, I guess I just got carried away by all the activities myself. But it’s not too late to issue the warning now: ‘Sonny boy, drunk or sober, please mind yuh business!’ 

And that applies to all believers as we celebrate one of the biggest occasions in our Christian faith. It’s a time when we’re liable to let our hair down too much and allow Lucifer and his evil minions to catch us offside. And we don’t want that at all now mih people. So please be careful; give plenty thanks and party hearty, but please mind your p’s and q’s. End of sermon. (smile) 

And today’s Bit is an obscure verse of scripture from Nehemiah’s prayer for Israel when he learned of their sorrowful state back in the homeland. Israel had been punished by captivity in Babylon because of their disobedience to God’s laws. ‘We have dealt (acted) very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgements (ordinances) which thou commandest thy servant Moses.’ 

Friends, I believe that right now we’re also holding the short straw, because of the unbelievable sinful ways and attitudes predominant in our current society. And we all need to be seriously praying that the Lord might save us from our shortcomings, for who knows if some of the disasters we’ve been recently suffering are God’s hands at work. 

But I can assure us of one thing, if we aren’t already feeling God’s wrath, then if we continue down the sinful and ungodly path we’re presently travelling, then it won’t be long before we do feel His wrath. For our God does not make promises lightly. What he says He means. 

And here is what He said way back when to the Israelites under Moses, as the consequences of disobedience. ‘But it will come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken  unto (obey) the voice of the Lord thy God, to (carefully) observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee.’ (Deut.28:15) 

And the curses run from verse 16 to 68, while the blessings of obedience only run from verse 1-13. That ought to tell us something friends; that the punishment for disobedience is harsh and long lasting and to avoid it, we need to improve our godliness and righteousness.  We ought to read them for ourselves so that we can better understand the seriousness of our situation.  

And it’s not like there aren’t many examples of societies who got too big for their britches and were eventually cast aside through God’s machinations. Why do we think ours will fare any differently eh? Especially, like Israel, when we were once upon a time God’s poster society for general obedience to His laws and He made us strong with His blessings. 

So friends, this Easter Monday, while we’re celebrating Jesus’ victory, let’s take some time to also ponder our own situation nuh, and see how we can bring our society back into line with God’s law, because our death knell is ringing. Much LOVE!

…he who has ears to hear…let him hear…he who doesn’t listen…will surely feel…

 

 

 

Today’s Scrip-Bit 30 March 2018 John 13:34.

John 13:34. A new commandment I give unto you, that ye LOVE one another; as I have LOVED you, that ye also LOVE one another.

Well my friends and fellow believers it’s Friday, but a special Friday, one that only occurs once a year. And we call it Good Friday! I know some of us must be wondering how can we call a terrible Friday like that good, where our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was horribly crucified, shamed and violated without remorse.

But it’s not what happened, so much as the reason for the happening and the resultant consequences. Christ was crucified, gave His life for us, so that we could have eternal life. He took ALL our sins on His shoulders, so that we could have the option to return to a right relationship with Almighty God. That’s what’s good about it friends!

The once and for all sacrifice, the once and for all payment for our sins, that’s what makes it good! Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, the Lord washed clean all our sins, forgave us of our disobedience and welcomed us back as His children. Wow! How can we not call such an event good eh?

True, it resulted in the terrible abuse and violence toward Jesus, but that was the only way for our sins to become paid up; forgiveness called for a blood sacrifice. And today, as we flock to the Lord’s house to sing His praises and glorify His holy name, let’s remember the significance of this day.

And as always, before we hear the word, let’s offer up some praise and worship with sacrificial voices to our heavenly Father. And today we’ll sing one of my all time favourites, one that I cherished since I was a boy growing up in Tobago.

It appropriately describes the scene that took place at Calvary, two thousand years ago. The words apparently were written by Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895) and the music by John H Gower (1855-1922) and it was based on the scriptural texts of John 19:16-20 and Hebrews 13:12.

Please sing with me: ‘There is a green hill far away, outside a city wall, where our dear Lord was crucified who died to save us all. We may not know, we cannot tell, what pains he had to bear, but we believe it was for us he hung and suffered there. He died that we might be forgiven, he died to make us good, that we might go at last to heaven, saved by his precious blood.

There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin, he only could unlock the gate of heaven and let us in. O dearly, dearly has he LOVED! And we must LOVE him too, and trust in his redeeming blood, and try his works to do.’

Yeh friends, the story’s told simply and tenderly, but the reality of it all is oh so heart wrenching and tear jerking! Just imagine an innocent man nuh, being crucified; one of the worse methods of death and punishment ever subscribed to by man, to pay for the sins of a motley, unappreciative group of people.

And the beauty of the story is that He underwent that gruesome ordeal without a word of complaint, because He knew that He was the ONLY person who could pay for the transgressions of the entire world, and besides, that was what His heavenly Father required of Him. As the Good Book says: He was ‘obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.’ (Phil.2:8)

Ah mih people, yuh see what Jesus did for us, for you and I? But how many of us are obedient to the Lord’s doing nowadays eh? Not as many as there should be. But let me point out the most important part of our hymn above: ‘O dearly, dearly has he LOVED! And we must LOVE him too, and trust in his redeeming blood, and try his works to do.’

Yes precious people of God, that’s all Jesus requires of us in return for His sacrificial death on this day so long ago: LOVE as He LOVED; trust in His redeeming blood; and do the work He wants us to do!

Oh, my fellow believers, it does look simple and sounds good on paper, but from personal experience I know that it’s not easy to do. However, if we are serious about living and working for Christ, we can do it with His help, because we know that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. (Phil. 4:13)

Now let’s turn to our Bit: ‘A new commandment I give unto you, that ye LOVE one another; as I have LOVED you, that ye also LOVE one another.’ Yes friends, I purposely stayed away from the story of the cross, because we all know it and rehashing it isn’t going to make much difference at this stage of the game.

What we truly need to know and recognize is why Christ died for us; and the simple answer is that He LOVED us. And His earthly ministry was one of sincere LOVE. Plus the only new thing He told us is that we must LOVE each other as He LOVED us. And that LOVE is just treating each other and ourselves in a decent, pleasant manner, not necessarily going overboard in our attentions.

But unfortunately, in today’s cruel, crazy and godless society, those pleading words of Jesus have fallen on deaf ears. However friends and fellow believers in Jesus, I’m pleading with us, today, as we recognize Jesus’ immense sacrifice on our behalf, let’s learn that the lesson the cross really teaches us, is not one of death, but of LIFE and LOVE.

Jesus died because He LOVED us, and wanted us to have life eternal. Let’s show our appreciation by living the way He wants us to nuh. Much LOVE!

…living for Jesus…means living in LOVE…

P.S. Yes I know we didn’t sing the workingman’s song, or our Friday Chant, but this was a special Friday. (smile) Much LOVE!

 

Today’s Scrip-Bit 23 December 2017 Jeremiah 29:13.

Jeremiah 29:13.   And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Well friends, that white stuff looks like it’s here to stay for a while yes! Steups! And more is forecasted to fall over the next couple of days. Brother! So the folks who so desire might get their white Christmas after all. Good for them! 

The rest of us will simply have to suffer in silence, (smile) because that’s just the way it is: if you live in the northern climes, then you can expect snow in the wintertime. 

But somehow you never seem to get accustomed to it. And in any case, we’re lucky or blessed, because with the effects of climate change, we don’t get half as much snow now as we used to get when I first came here forty something years ago. 

Oh how sweet it would be to be lying in the sun on the warm beaches of God’s li’l Acre, Tobago! But right now that’s just a dream for the future. You can’t allow those dreams to die though. (smile) 

Now, since it’s Saturday, -and several different kinds of hot, nourishing soup are being concocted up Calder Hall Road in Tobago – Oh just smell the beautiful, mouthwatering aroma nuh! Dreams friends, dreams; without them we’re just empty vessels. (smile) 

Let’s see what our friend Anselm had to say in his quotes this week. Listen to this first one: ‘Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.’ Yeh mih people, what we do today is important, because that sets the tone for our tomorrows. If you want to have good, productive tomorrows, you have to begin by having good, productive todays. 

And remember that ‘All things are difficult before they are easy.’ Well I wouldn’t necessarily say ‘all,’ but certainly many things begin with such difficulty that unless we’re strong, focused and truly committed, we’re likely to give up before we really get started. 

But here’s a li’l secret: ‘When life gets blurry Adjust your focus.’ Ah mih breddren, unfortunately life is getting very blurry these days, and there is only so much focus to adjust. Only if you are focused on Jesus can you have enough leeway for proper adjustment. 

Another helpful hint is to ‘Start telling the universe what you want instead of what you don’t want.’ Yeh more positive talking and thinking will certainly be of more benefit than dwelling on the negatives of life. And finally, remember this: ‘The control center of your life is your attitude.’ 

Oh friends, you’ll be surprised at how much our attitude controls our life, especially in our Christian faith. Sour attitudes simply suck! They turn others off and away. On the other hand, a good, positive, pleasant attitude draws people to you and encourages them to either help you, or be helped themselves. 

It’s like the saying you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. And that’s definitely the kind of attitude we need this Christmas season of peace, LOVE and good cheer, because that’s what Christ came to spread amongst us angry, evil, warmongering humans. Yeh friends, Jesus did come to save us, but that salvation is not automatic. We need to first turn to Him and accept Him before we can find salvation. 

Listen to the Lord’s promise to the children of Israel during their time of captivity, which in the first place happened because of their gross disobedience. ‘For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place (Jerusalem). 

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil (calamity) to give you an expected end (a future and a hope).’ (Jer.29:10-12) 

It’s the same basic idea and promise God held out to Jews and Gentiles alike when He sent His only Son Jesus into the world to save it. Jesus made that very clear several times. ‘For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.’ (Matt.18:11) ‘For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them…’ (Luke 9:56) 

Oh my people, Jesus came as a Saviour, not a destroyer. However, like any other offer, His is also dependent on acceptance. Saving grace, salvation doesn’t just fall on everyone like a blanket. No, we have to come to Jesus and consciously accept His offer of salvation. 

Like the Lord said through Jeremiah: ‘Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto (listen to) you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.’ (Jer.29:12-13) 

Yes friends, salvation and eternal life have been guaranteed to us through the sinless sacrifice of Jesus’ life, but we have to go seeking it diligently and sincerely in and through the Lord. Until we come to Him and confess our sins with a humble heart, salvation will elude us. 

The important thing my brethren, is truly searching and seeking out God because we can’t handle our sinful life any longer and we need the forgiveness, the mercy, the grace, the comfort and LOVE that only He can provide. 

So this Christmas season, when we celebrate Christ’s birth, I implore us to sincerely seek out the Lord and let Him give us all that He’s promised to those who diligently search for Him. That’s wisdom in spades! Much LOVE!

…anything worthwhile is worth seeking…and nothing’s more worthwhile…than the saving grace of Jesus…so please be wise…and seek it…

 

 

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