Today’s Scrip-Bit   23 January 2022   1 John 5:5.

1 John 5:5.     Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God.

So this is what they call a winter wonderland eh? The white snow spread all over, with ice in between, and try as you can, you cannot get away from either of them. (smile) But last weekend’s major snow storm, with high winds and a dash of rain, plus a tornado down in the U.S, really mash up North America. It showed our frailties and weaknesses, as well as our unpreparedness for the mighty onslaught of Mother Nature, whenever she desires to pay us a powerful visit. And when you add the negative effects the Covid-19 storm has already caused, you can’t help but wonder what’s next, and how much more we can stand? 

But you know what friends, we have an answer for that. We can withstand a whole lot more! How, you ask? Because we have Jesus, that’s how! For He ‘is our refuge and strength, a very present help (an abundantly available help) in trouble. Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst (the heart) of the sea.’ (Ps. 46:1-2) 

Yes my fellow believers, in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, through His most wonderful Son, Jesus Christ, we have the sure and safe rock of salvation to whom we can take all our troubles, and find a reassuring place of refuge under His mighty wings. We don’t need anything or anyone but our Jesus, both in the good and bad times! 

And to open today’s worship, with mostly electronic gatherings, because of the Covid restrictions,  we are going to raise our rooves, that’s figuratively now (smile) with an African American spiritual that goes by several names, including: “Down by the Riverside”, Ain’t Gonna Study War No More” and “Gonna lay down my burden.” For our purposes today though, we’ll call it ‘Gonna Lay Down my burdens.’  

The Wikipedia website tells us that ‘Its roots date back to before the American Civil War, though it was first published in 1918 in Plantation Melodies: A Collection of Modern, Popular and Old-time Negro-Songs of the Southland, Chicago, by the Rodeheaver Company… The song was first recorded by the Fisk University Jubilee Quartet in 1920 (published by Columbia in 1922), and there are at least 14 black gospel recordings before World War II… Because of its pacifistic imagery, “Down by the Riverside” has also been used as an anti-war protest song, especially during the Vietnam War. It is also included in collections of socialist and labor songs.’ 

Wow! What an all-purpose song! And just like it has several different titles and versions, it also ‘has many lyrical variations, though usually, each stanza follows a standard form, with one sentence that differs from one stanza to the next.’ And for our purposes today (smile), here’s what we’re gonna sing, in an up-tempo, scintillating, modern contemporary style, with plenty music, dancing and joy, a la the Craig Adams version, as befits a soul that truly declares: 

‘I’m gonna lay down my burdens down by the riverside Down by the riverside down by the riverside Oh I’m gonna lay down my burdens down by the riverside Ain’t gonna study war no more Well I ain’t gonna study war no more ain’t gonna study war no more Ain’t gonna study war no more I ain’t gonna study war… I’m gonna lay down my sword and shield down by the riverside Down by the riverside down by the riverside I’m gonna lay down my sword and shield down by the riverside Ain’t gonna study war no more Well I ain’t gonna study war… I ain’t gonna study war…ain’t gonna study war no more. 

I’m gonna put on my long white robe, down by the riverside, gonna put on my long white robe down by the riverside Ain’t gonna study war no more Well I ain’t gonna study war no more ain’t gonna study war no more Ain’t gonna study war no more I ain’t gonna study war… I’m gonna try on my starry (golden) crown down by the riverside Down by the riverside down by the riverside I’m gonna try on my starry (golden) crown down by the riverside Ain’t gonna study war no more Well I ain’t gonna study war…I ain’t gonna study war…Ain’t going to study war no more.’ 

That was marvellous my people! And according to Wikipedia, ‘The song suggests baptism in water, using the metaphor of crossing the River Jordan to enter the Promised Land in the Old Testament. The refrain of “ain’t gonna study war no more” is a reference to a quotation found in the Book of Isaiah 2:4: “nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”  

Now, if we could only truly lay down our burdens at the feet of Jesus, at the foot of His cross, where He pleads with us through His Great Invitation to ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden (burdened), and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of (from) me; for I am meek and lowly in heart (gentle and humble): and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’ (Matt. 11:28-30) 

And that is indeed the greatest invitation ever meted out to mankind my brethren! But sadly, too many of us unwisely refuse to accept it, when it’s simple acceptance can radically change our entire lives… for the better that is! It’s all about joy and peace in Jesus despite the troubles of the world. Listen to how John puts it in his first gospel nuh. 

‘For this is the LOVE of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous (burdensome). For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God.’ (1 John 5:3-5) 

Oh my people, it could not be said any plainer or simpler. Only those who believe in Christ Jesus, who have a strong relationship with Him, and who obey His commandments can overcome the world, can truly lay down their burdens by the riverside! That’s the long and short of it all! 

So please, let’s take all that we’ve said to day and sincerely and seriously ponder it nuh, and make the necessary changes in our individual lives, so that we can truly become one of those saints of Christ, who truly accept His invitation, and gratefully lay down our burdens at His redeeming cross. That’s the wisest decision we can ever make in this life, and it will definitely go a long way in deciding where we spend the next one!  Much LOVE!

…only through Christ…can earthly burdens…be truly laid down… 

Hear our podcast at https://open.spotify.com/show/3aVfqIC1CqwGybISs9dZJ8                 

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