Today’s Scrip-Bit 21 June 2020 Matthew 5:14a.

Matthew 5:14a.     ​Ye are the light of the world… 
 

Yes, we’re disappointed because there’s still no corporate worship on this Sabbath Sunday, but since we’re true and faithful followers of the great, powerful and imaginative Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we will find a way to worship and celebrate the Sabbath while physically distancing! (smile) No doubt about that my people! And we’re not worried, because we know that some day, as soon as the Lord is good and ready, all these present troubles will pass. And all God’s children gave a loud and positive shout of ‘Glory Hallelujah! This too shall end!’ 

But until it does, we have to keep worshipping through technological means, and to tell the truth we still get to do most things, except the physical gathering and touching. But enough talk…we come here to worship not engage in idle chatter. (smile) And as always, we open with a sacrifice of praise, today’s hymn being titled, ‘Give Me Oil in My Lamp.’ And to tell the truth, I didn’t even know that was the correct name until I looked it up yesterday. I always knew it as a local spiritual ditty called, ‘A li’l more Oil in My Lamp,’ sung in some of the more evangelical churches, that got the spirit moving and the feet dancing. 

And so, in honour of that ‘Ole Time Religion,’ we going to sing it that way. I hope you like this one, mih pardner Scotty… hope it brings back memories. (smile) So let’s get the hands a clapping and the feet a dancing and voices in full, harmonious throat, as we sing praises to the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords! 

‘A li’l more oil in my lamp, to keep it burning. A li’l more oil in my lamp, I pray. A li’l more oil in my lamp, to keep it burning. Keep it burning till the break of day. (Refrain: Sing hosanna, sing hosanna, sing hosanna to the King of kings! Sing hosanna, sing hosanna, sing hosanna to the King!) A li’l more LOVE in my heart, to keep me sharing. A li’l more LOVE in my heart, I pray. A li’l more LOVE in my heart, to keep me sharing. Keep me sharing till the break of day. (Refrain) 

A li’l more joy in my heart, to keep me singing. A li’l more joy in my heart, I pray. A li’l more joy in my heart, to keep me singing. Keep me singing till the break of day. (Refrain) A li’l more faith in my heart, to keep me praying. A li’l more faith in my heart, I pray. A li’l more faith in my heart, to keep me praying. Keep me praying till the break of day. (Refrain: Sing hosanna, sing hosanna, sing hosanna to the King of kings! Sing hosanna, sing hosanna, sing hosanna to the King! Sing hosanna, sing hosanna, sing hosanna to the King of kings! Sing hosanna, sing hosanna, sing hosanna to the King!)’ 

Ah mih people, that was indeed a rousing rendition. It reminded me of how the Pentecostal Church where I grew up would be humming and jumping when they gave praise. But I guess to each his own, and I don’t think the Lord refuses any kind of praise, once it’s sincere. And I have one person’s view point on the benefit of the song. ‘For the religious, one interpretation is that it signifies a thirst for spiritual food—spiritual food to get one through the darkest of times in hopes of a brighter day, a clearer vision of one’s path or until one gains their salvation.’ 

And believe me friends, it certainly gives us spiritual food for dark and tough times! When we seek to have more, light, LOVE, joy and faith in our hearts and souls, it does inspire us to rise above our earthly problems and also receive divine guidance and wisdom to do the work that Christ desires of us. And right now I’m seeking some of that divine guidance and wisdom to know where to go from here. (smile) And I believe this is where I’m being guided. 

The first place is to the parable of the ten virgins; five who were wise enough to take extra oil for their lamps, and five who were foolish not to do so. We are expected to be like the first five; wise and take oil with us when we go to wait for the bridegroom at the wedding feast, so that our lights don’t go out if He takes a long time to come. Remember, Jesus expects us to be bright, shining beacons to the world: As He clearly says: ‘Ye are the light of the world… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’ (Matt. 5:14a; 16) 

And to do that in an excellent and diligent manner, as the song says, we need other things; like LOVE. And hear Jesus on the subject: ‘A new commandment I give unto you, That ye LOVE one another, as I have LOVED you, that ye also LOVE one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have LOVE one to another.’ (John 13:34-35) Oh friends, that seems clear and straightforward! But does our behaviour tell that story? Not nearly enough as it ought to! 

And would you believe that if we truly followed Jesus’ advice, our lives would be filled with that unsurpassable blessing called joy? And not the joy of this world, but Jesus’ special kind. ‘These things have I spoken unto you; that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy may be full.’ (John 13:11) And later on, He again told the disciples: ‘Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.’ (John 16:24) And let’s not forget ‘that the joy of the Lord is our strength.’ (Neh. 8:10) So without it, we’re weak, fragile and unable to do His work properly. 

That brings us to the last piece of the puzzle, but the first one we need to acquire, and the one that keeps us keeping on; faith. That ‘substance (realization) of things hoped for, the evidence (conviction) of things not seen.’ (Heb.11:1) Yes friends, buoyed by hope, we achieve faith; assurance in the New Testament, and this brings us to a certain and sure conviction in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Obviously we can get deeper into all of those topics, but hopefully this will suffice for now, will serve as a catalyst to keep us strong and steadfast in prayer, with LOVE for each other, like shining lights filled with joy, and doing the best we can in these turbulent times. Much LOVE!

…to know Christ’s joy…and LOVE…and peace…is to accept Him forever…as Lord and Saviour…

Today’s Scrip-Bit 3 August 2019 John 13:34-35.

John 13:34-35.    ​A new commandment I give unto you, That ye LOVE one another; as I have LOVED you, that ye also LOVE one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have LOVE one to another.
 

Oh friends, please forgive me for the lateness of the Bit, but the last two days have been pretty hectic, and I’m no longer a spring chicken…not yet old though. (smile) I’ve been trying to burn the candle at both ends, going to bed late, getting up early to write the Bit, then getting out and about for the whole day. Well it’s finally caught up to me. 

Thursday was a cricket match in the neighbouring city of Brampton, and then yesterday, Friday, was a funeral in the eastern city of Ajax, on the other side of Toronto. The turnout was so overwhelming that the big chapel was packed to overflowing and we had to sit in a holding area downstairs and watch the proceedings on close circuit t.v. 

The overlong glowing tributes of our friend made him sound like the perfect man. (smile) But I guess that’s how it is when we bid our friends a final adieu. We don’t recall their faults, just their strong points, like the Lord does in His wonderful forgiveness, casting away our wrongs as far as the east is from the west. 

After the hour and half ceremony we spent another hour in the cemetery, this time in the hot sun. Then we went south to another part of the city for the repast. That was a wonderful time, with good Jamaican fare; curry goat, rice and peas and jerk chicken. But the best part was the renewal of several friendships, with people whom we haven’t seen in ages. 

We were all a part of the young, well-educated West Indian Diaspora who migrated to Canada in the early seventies and changed the face of Toronto, adding vibrancy and colour, both literally and figuratively to a staid, old white town. (smile) People with whom we worked and partied in those long ago, cold, long winter days, but with whom we’d lost touch as the area expanded and we all became immersed in our building our new lives. That’s just the way it is with the big city. 

Unfortunately though, the duchess and I had to eat and run, because there were people back in our town waiting for us to come and pick them up to go to the Pan Competition in the heart of Toronto. So we left there around four, got on the toll road and hustled back home, changed, then hit the road again. Luckily though, for some unknown reason, on a Caribana Friday evening, the traffic into T.O. wasn’t bad, and we made it in time for the seven o’clock start of the pan event. 

That was good too, and better organized than in earlier years, though I don’t understand why they allowed some bands to play two songs and others only one. But the music was excellent. However, it finished around midnight and the duchess and my friends were tired, so we didn’t stick around to hear the results, which I’m sure, caused much dissent, as it usually does. 

But that’s the nature of pan competitions, everybody rooting for their own side, though knowing deep down that they weren’t good enough to win. The long and short of the story though, is that by the time I dropped everybody home, I didn’t get home till after one. And it was close to two before I finally went to bed. So it’s obvious I was late getting up. So that’s my story…and I’m sticking to it. (smile) 

Now let’s see if we can get in some quotes from our friend Anselm, who sincerely aspires to inspire us for a better tomorrow. Hear this first one: ‘There’ll be two dates on your tombstone and all your friends will read ’em but all that’s gonna matter is that little dash between ’em.’ That’s certainly interesting and true, because the day you were born and the day you died, don’t really matter. What matters most is what you did in the time period between those two days. And I guess a good example of that are the glowing tributes my friend Linton had at his last celebration yesterday. 

Now listen to this one: ‘Where you see wrong or inequality or injustice, speak out, because this is your country. This is your democracy. Make it. Protect it. Pass it on.’ That should be a no- brainer my people, because it’s exactly what Jesus came to help us do; right wrongs, stamp out inequality and injustice, help the weak and fight the strong. So as a believer those things are expected of us. 

Then this quote speaks for itself: ‘When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.’ Ah mih people, I won’t call not giving thanks for all that we have, the good life we’re living, a fault nuh, but utter stupidity! You didn’t give yourself the ability to rise and see a new day, or the breath that’s still flowing through you. 

Remember Bruh Paul’s words to the Ephesians: ‘Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ (Eph.5:20) And to the Thessalonians: ‘In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.’ (1 Thess.5:18) Yes friends, even though our circumstances may be difficult or unpleasant, it’s our bounden duty to give thanks at ALL times! 

And this last quote says it all: ‘Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in LOVE.’ Oh mih people, LOVE is the transcendent power of the universe! John said it thus: ‘Herein is LOVE, not that we LOVED God, but that he LOVED us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation (atonement) for our sins. Beloved, if God so LOVED us, we also ought to LOVE one another.’ (1 John 4:10-11)  

And Jesus not only gave us a living example of our quote, but also clearly made it known that He expects the same of His followers. ‘A new commandment I give unto you, That ye LOVE one another; as I have LOVED you, that ye also LOVE one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have LOVE one to another.’ 

Oh friends, it couldn’t get any clearer or plainer than that! And I’ll leave it there; just let those words speak to our hearts, and let the Holy Spirit convict us as it will, in regards to our LOVE Walk! That’s what it’s there for! Much LOVE!

…hatred stirreth up strifes…but LOVE covereth ALL sins… (Prov.10:12)

 

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!