Today’s Scrip-Bit   10 March 2023   1 Peter 4:12.

1 Peter 4:12. Beloved, think not it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.

And then it was Friday, with a lot of us shouting: ’TGIF! Thank God it’s Friday, and the weekend is here at last!’ But that was earlier this morning when the roads were all clear and dry. I wonder how many of us will exhale the same sentiment now that the snow’s been falling for a couple of hours and it’s another winter wonderland out there, that will surely make the evening commute chaotic? And it’s still coming down, pretty heavily too. It seems determined to leave us something to talk about. (smile) And it also seems like snow on a Friday is becoming a habit in this last part of the winter season. 

And unfortunate as that might be, it’s all a part of living in the northern climes and we just have to grin and bear it, get on with shovelling the stuff and say thank You Lord, for life and health and strength to endure it! Remember friends, with the Holy Spirit of Jesus dwelling within us, nothing is impossible. We just have to put our minds to it. And I believe we have just the right story today that delightfully broaches the subject. It comes from our One Year Book of Bible Promises with writings by Ruth Harms Calkin, and it’s aptly titled ‘Fiery Trials.’  

So please read with me: ‘God is teaching me incredible lessons regarding growth. I see with undeniable evidence that growth means pruning, and pruning means pain. I confess, I’m actually a coward about pain. I certainly never pray for it. I don’t anticipate or look for it. I do only one thing. I ask God to steady me, since the Bible so clearly states that trials are a part of our life-walk with Him. In all honesty I would prefer to escape the testing. 

I don’t like the pain of emotional trauma, which can be so overwhelming and baffling. I don’t like the deep cutting pain that goes on and on without relief. The pain of loneliness frightens me, the pain of losing someone dear to me grieves me. Nevertheless, I am praying for an open heart. I can’t begin to contemplate what fiery ordeals God may choose for my testing and growth, but I do long for my yieldedness to prove my willingness to be conformed to the image of His dear Son.’  

Mama oh Mama! That can surely be the cry, the mantra of every Christian, of every soul that’s ever come to Christ in humble sincerity. For none of us likes pain or trials or testing that brings tough times, even sickness and sometimes death. But in God’s kingdom it is necessary to go through some tough times that we might grow in the image of His Son Jesus Christ. And why is that you ask? Because the scripture says: ‘For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his son, that he might be the first born among many brethren.’ (Rom. 8:29) 

Yes my people, God’s number One plan is that all who come to Him be remade in the image of Christ, who is the only perfect being in the universe. And no, we will never be perfect like Him, but the idea is to become as close to His perfection as humanly possible. That means we need to grow in spirituality, and we can only grow when we go through tough times and hard tests. That’s just the reality of life. Living on the mountain top doesn’t really teach us anything, but when we ‘re down in the valley, that’s where we learn and grow through the rough and tough times found down there. 

And sadly, Jesus spelled it out for us in clear language, when He stated. ‘I am the true (genuine) vine, and my Father is the husbandman (vinedresser). Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth (prunes) it, that it may bring forth more fruit.’ (John 15:1-2) Wow! And we all know the benefits of pruning: cutting off today, to make better tomorrow. And indeed, the Father prunes the children so they can bear more and better fruit. It’s just a fact of life. Our earthly fathers do it to us too and we don’t complain, when some of them say, ‘It’s either my way, or the highway!’ 

But we tend to get antsy with our heavenly Father when He desires to test and prune us so that we can become closer replicas of Christ Jesus. Consequently, Bruh Paul later wrote to the Roman church these encouraging but tough-talking words. ‘And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.’ (Rom. 12:2) Now friends, that verse is one of the most important scriptures in the entire Bible. 

And why is that? Because it points out to us the battlefield where all the actions of life are controlled. Yes, in the mind. The mind is the battlefield of our lives. Both the Holy Spirit and the devil fight for supremacy in our souls through our minds, through our thoughts, that either lead to good or bad decisions and actions. That’s why it’s ever so important to fill our minds with the scriptures so that we can fight the deceitful lies and schemes of Satan as he fights to have us come over to his dark and evil kingdom. 

And when our minds are flooded with the scriptures we can then appreciate, though not necessarily like (smile) this promise of Peter, on which our story was based today. ‘Beloved, think not it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you. But rejoice, inasmuch as (to the extent that) ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached (insulted) for the name of Christ, happy (blessed) are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth on you: and on their part he is evil spoken of (blasphemed), but on your part he is glorified.’ ((1 Pet. 4:12-13) 

Ah friends, I know those are hard scriptures to accept, but we just have to grin and bear them as we said earlier, because it is the will of God, that we go through some tough times to make us tough people. And remember that Christianity was never designed for cowards, but for people with belly and backbone, like Jesus possessed. Now let’s go to God, through our Friday Chant, asking for the wisdom and strength to handle all the problems that are currently coming against us. 

As one strong voice:  ‘Oh Lord, thanks for getting me safely through this past week. You know it’s been rough… what with all the confusion and anxiety caused by the pandemic and our many other serious problems. We can’t fix them on our own Lord, so we desperately need your help. Oh heavenly Father, with your omnipotent help, and our trusting faith, we know that we can stand strong and steadfast and defeat the simmering unrest in our land. So Lord, we sincerely ask you today to give those involved in the forefront of this serious and unexpected storm, the wise guidance to handle the situation properly, without further serious setbacks. 

And please help those of us who must go out to work amidst all the confusion, to be responsible and to stay safe. And Lord, we fervently pray that You’ll use this situation to return backsliders to your fold, show them the error of their ways. And please introduce a new flock of believers, who will embrace your LOVE and compassion by the example, we, your faithful believers set. Yes Lord, please use this pandemic, the bubbling discontent and dissatisfaction in our land, as a means of restoring faith in You, so that our sinful world can wake up and smell the coffee, wake up and smell it sweet and strong! We pray this in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! Amen!’ 

And if want the Father to do all that we’ve asked, we’ve now got to do all that we’ve promised. Much LOVE!

…tough times don’t last…but tough people do… 

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Today’s Scrip-Bit   4 March 2023 Luke 18:8b.

Luke 18:8b.       Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

And after the storm comes the calm, with the sunshine shining brilliantly on the snow-covered land, making it truly a winter wonderland! Yes friends, for easy terminology, (smile) we got a good shower of snow yesterday evening, as promised by the weather forecasters. You couldn’t even look through the windows properly because they were all covered with what looked like snowy icicles. (smile) And I can’t get over how beautiful the snow looks when it’s clean and undefiled by man. 

By the way, I know my mas costume for next year carnival already, something based on ‘Ole Man Winter.’ Oh, there’s a tree in my backyard, whose leafless limbs are all covered with snow, like all the other leafless trees, but this one looks just like a carnival costume, with a sort of peacock feather-like tail. So, look for me next year on the big stage in the Big Yard in mih all white costume with plenty sequins and whatever else will provide some radiance to it. (smile) 

But now, as I hear the snow shovels and snow blowers working outside to clean up the snowy mess, I’m losing that pretty snow fantasy, and getting to the reality that it’s dangerous and oh so inconvenient. I don’t care how long you live with it, and how beautiful it might look, I don’t know if you ever get accustomed to cleaning it up and trudging through it. Unfortunately though, it’s all a part of living in the northern climes, and sometimes it does take a lot of faith to conquer it. 

And speaking of faith, I didn’t get any quotes from our friend Anselm this week either, so I guess we’ll just continue with the faith talks of Jesus that we never got finished with yesterday. We left off yesterday where Jesus was on His way to the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader to heal his young daughter, but He got way laid by the woman suffering from the affliction of a blood flow for a long time, who showed her large faith by simply believing that if she could only touch the garments of Jesus she’d be healed. And thus, she pressed through the crowd that surrounded Him, touched His clothes and was immediately healed. 

Now, tell me truthfully, how many of us nowadays would have that kind of faith eh my people? Definitely not too many, not with the way things are currently going. No wonder in the gospel of Luke we find these words. ‘And he (Jesus) spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint (lose heart). (Luke 18:1) And that parable deals with the wronged widow and the unjust judge, who doesn’t revere God, or is really interested in meting out justice, but only deals with her because she is persistent and he is tired of her complaints. 

Jesus states: ‘Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge (vindicate) his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge (vindicate) them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?’ (Luke 18:6-8) Now that’s a very good question my brethren? 

And the scholars explain it thus: ‘If an unjust judge acts in this way, how much more hope may God’s children place in God? However, the issue is not God’s faithfulness. It is whether believers will persist in supplication (vs. 7), or whether their patience and perseverance will give out by the time Christ finally returns (vs. 8, see also vs. 1)’  

Yes friends, the problem here is not God’s faithfulness, but man’s! Will we keep doing like Jesus asks in vs.1: ‘pray and not faint or lose heart,’ or we will be exhausted from all the crying and complaining we’ve done to God and stop persevering by the time He returns? We need to keep on keeping on my faithful brethren, regardless of what we undergo, or how long it takes for Jesus to come back! That’s the foundation, the backbone of our faith: NEVER GIVE UP! 

That brings us back to the story of Jairus and Jesus. Looks like we’ll never finish it. (smile) But anyway, just as Jesus was finishing with the woman who had the issue of blood, he heard one of Jairus’ servants tell him that his daughter was dead, so he should now stop bothering Jesus. However, ‘As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue (Jairus), Be not afraid, only believe.’ (Mark. 5:36) What tough words, but very necessary sentiments my people! Belief! That’s where it all begins! You can’t have faith in anything until you believe in something! That’s the long and short of the story! 

Then Jesus continued to Jairus’ house with only His three henchmen, Peter, James and John. But when he came to the house there was a crowd inside weeping and wailing. Jesus said to them: ‘Why make ye this ado (commotion), and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him (Peter, James and John), and entereth in where the damsel was lying. 

And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is to being interpreted (translated), Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. And straightway the damsel arose and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment. And he charged (commanded) them straitly (strictly) that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.’ (Mark 5:39-43) 

And I like how the scholars explain it all. ‘The crowd would eventually know of course, that the girl had been raised from the dead. Jesus wants the fact to be concealed for the time being, giving Him time to depart and avoid ostentatious acclaim. Also, the parents will still be able to keep the details of the resurrection secret from the scornful unbelievers outside the door. Jesus’ custom all along was to make Himself known to earnest seekers, but to conceal His true identity from skeptics.’ 

That brings up another very important question my brethren: which group are we in, the earnest seekers, or the unbelieving skeptics? And according to our answer, so will the Holy Spirit of Jesus deal with us. It’s ever so necessary to believe, to have faith in Jesus, if we want to enjoy the benefits that accrue from Him. Note Jesus’ admonition to the disciples who could not heal a demon possessed boy. ‘Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove (move); and nothing shall be impossible to you.’ (Matt. 17:20) 

Ah my fellow saints, a whole lot of faith is not needed to follow Jesus, but you do need some faith, be it as small as a grain of mustard seed. Much LOVE!

…truly believe…and faith will come… 

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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… 

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Today’s Scrip-Bit 15 March 2017 Matthew 6:19.

Matthew 6:19.   Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt (ruin), and where thieves break through and steal.

Welcome friends, to a winter wonderland! Hn! We all thought we were in for an early spring, but Mother Nature had other ideas; we’re in for a late winter! 

Yes, for the last couple of days severe winter storms have been raging all over the Northeastern and Central parts of North America. We seem to be rather lucky in my li’l neck of the woods with only a few inches, but parts of the U.S have two to three feet of snow, and the winds have been constantly howling. 

Now that’s why I don’t like to be in this country for March; the winds always seem to be colder and more powerful in March. And it doesn’t seem to be over yet. But that’s what you get for living in these northern climes. 

Anyway, here’s a li’l something from Gramps Schuller’s (Dr. Robert H. Schuller) Hour of Power Devotional to bring us in from the cold to God’s warm and everlasting LOVE. (smile) It’s titled ‘For Renewal.’ 

Please pray with me. ‘Almighty God, it is a beautiful way to live to know that you are there with a plan for my life, and through prayer I can draw my life into harmony with your plan. I know, God, that your plan for my life calls for me to follow Christ. 

Jesus Christ, I give my life to you. I’ve never done it before. That has been my problem. That has been my hang up. O God, I give my life to you now. Take my life, Jesus Christ, and make it yours. Forgive my sins. Fill me with your LOVE. You are doing it now and I thank you. Amen!’ 

Yes my brethren, there’s nothing better than making a commitment to Jesus for the first time, or renewing it for the umpteenth time! The important thing is that we make a commitment to live the way Jesus wants us to live, for that’s the only wise and sensible way to live this earthly life. 

Lucifer and his evil world offer lots of pretty baubles, bangles and fine looking things, but they are only façades, they have no real substance and only last for a short while, and they can also get stolen. 

On the other hand Jesus offers eternal stuff, stuff with real substance and value, which will last for eternity, and there are no thieves in heaven. Glory Be!  

That brings us to our Bit, a seminal teaching of Jesus from His Sermon on the Mount. ‘Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt (ruin), and where thieves break through and steal.’ 

That’s exactly what we were just talking about friends. Concentrating on storing up earthly treasures does not bring true joy and happiness, for eventually you will die and leave it all behind for someone else to dissipate. 

Bruh Paul said it to Timothy thus: ‘For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.’ (1 Tim.6:7) 

Now that doesn’t mean we should not save or purchase nice things and try to live a comfortable earthly life. The problem occurs when we let that be the main focus of our lives, when we idolize the things of this world rather than the things of heaven. 

And Jesus continues after our Bit: ‘But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will you heart be also.’ (Matt.6:20-21) 

Oh friends, that last sentence is indeed a mighty one! Gospel truth indeed! For wherever our treasure is stored that’s where our hearts will be leaning and looking towards. You’ll notice that when we concentrate on storing up earthly treasures our hearts are constantly aimed at the earthly stuff. 

However, if we concentrate on storing up heavenly rewards, then we spend most of our time concentrating on those things that bring heavenly benefits. 

Now listen to this interesting explanation from the scholars. ‘6:19-21. The attention of the believer is directed towards treasures in heaven. The term treasures implies the addition or accumulation of things. 

The two kinds of treasures are conditioned by their place (either on earth or in heaven). The concept of laying up treasures in heaven is not pictured as one of meritorious benefits but rather rewards for faithful service, as is illustrated elsewhere in the teaching of Jesus.’ 

Ah mih breddren, as we’ve already said accumulation of earthly things should not be our main focus of this life, but rather the stocking up of rewards in heaven through godly service down here on earth. 

And anyway, when you get to heaven, all the stuff you sought down here either won’t be necessary, or they will be of better quality than the shoddy stuff we have down here. (smile) 

Now listen to these telling words from the sons of Korah, from Psalm 49 – Trust in God, not wealth. ‘Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased; For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend with him.’ (Ps.49:16-17) And that’s the ultimate truth friends! 

Now let’s go home pondering all that, while invoking our Wednesday Wail with much enthusiasm and a strong sense of purpose. 

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!’ 

Yes my fellow believers, though we’re going through storms in our lives, both physical and emotional, we’re still glad to be alive and are looking forward to a glorious future with our wonderful Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Now that’s wisdom for the ages! Much LOVE!

…only in and through Jesus…can we find true joy and security for ever…