Today’s Scrip-Bit   15 January 2023 Deuteronomy 33:27a.

Deuteronomy 33:27a.        The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms:

Come Sunday, it will be all right… Yes friends, come Sunday everything will be fine as we gather in the Lord’s sanctuary on His day to give Him thanks and praise for His awesome goodness to His children! Nothing could be better than communing with our heavenly Father all in one place at one time. As the Lord’s word reminds us in Hebrews: ‘And let us consider one another to provoke (stir up) unto LOVE, and unto good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much more as ye see the day approaching.’ (Heb. 10:24-25) 

And the scholars tell us that ‘This admonition involves far more than erratic attendance. It involves the entire worship of Christ and is an outward indication of an inner condition. The assembling of God’s people provides opportunity for reciprocal encouragement, strengthening, and the stirring up that can be gained from one another (cf. Col. 3:12-16). It consists of participation in worship and fellowship. The church is a body interacting (1 Cor. 12:14-27); it is not merely a dispensary of spiritual food and medicine.’ 

And having been told off in no uncertain terms (smile) let us proceed to interact by offering up some sacrificial praise through this marvellous song of encouragement and strengthening, aptly titled, ‘Leaning On the Everlasting Arms.’  And as we raise our voices in sweet harmony, in an up-tempo version of the hymn, let’s do as the website Hymnary.org advises: ‘As the hymn is sung, contemplate what it means to find refuge in our heavenly Father’s arms in times of fear and trial, and to allow His joy and peace to replace our loneliness and anxiety.’ 

We definitely can’t go wrong, doing that my fellow believers. So let God’s people sing: ‘‘What a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms; what a blessedness, what a peace is mine, leaning on the everlasting arms. (Refrain: Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms; leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.) O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim’s way, leaning on the everlasting arms; O how bright the path grows from day to day, leaning on the everlasting arms. 

[Refrain]What have I to dread, what have I to fear, leaning on the everlasting arms? I have blessed peace with my Lord so near, leaning on the everlasting arms. Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms; leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms, Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms; leaning on the everlasting arms…leaning on the everlasting arms of Jesus… oh how good it is to be, leaning on the everlasting arms of Christ my Saviour….’ 

And you’d better believe that there is certainly no better place to lean than on the everlasting arms of Jesus! The story goes that the hymn came about from the letters of two past pupils of Anthony J Showalter, who informed him that their wives had died, and they were seeking consolation. And while answering their letters he was inspired by these marvellous words of comfort found in Deuteronomy 33:27. ‘The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.’ 

Apparently though, Showalter had some problems putting the hymn together, so he approached Elisha Hoffman, a prolific gospel writer for help, and together they wrote the song which was eventually published in 1887. Wow! Another oldie but goldie! And it’s revered as one of the greatest hymns for times of solace, as it encourages us to keep ‘leaning on the everlasting arms’ of God when seeking comfort. 

And why not eh, when Bruh Paul writes it so plainly in his first missive to the church at Corinth. ‘Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble (tribulation), by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.’ (2 Cor. 1:3-4) 

Mama Mia! What a wonderful God we serve and worship my faithful brethren! He comforts us in our trials, so that we can comfort others in their time of need! What a simple but every effective way to do it. And that’s one of the reasons why consistent church going is important; you can’t be encouraged if you’re not associating with your fellow believers. And the opening lines of the hymn just exude comfort and consolation. ‘What a fellowship, what a joy divine…what a blessedness, what a peace is mine, leaning on the everlasting arms.’ 

Then the chorus declares: ‘leaning safe and secure from all alarms;’ How could we not like this wonderful hymn eh? And for good measure, let’s hear some more of those comforting sentiments. (smile) ‘Oh how sweet to walk in this pilgrim’s way…O how bright the path grows from day to day, leaning on the everlasting arms.’ It certainly does my people. Therefore, ‘What have I to dread, what have I to fear, I have blessed peace with my Lord so near.’ Absolutely! 

That’s why the psalmist could unequivocally state in Psalm 91: ‘I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God, in him will I trust.’ (Ps. 91: 2) Likewise Bruh David in Psalm 27 was not afraid to proclaim: ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?’ (Ps. 27:1)  And we certainly can’t doubt Moses when he sings in his famous song: ‘The Lord is my strength and song (fortress, defense), and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him a habitation (praise him); my father’s God, and I will exalt him.’ (Ex. 15:2) 

Yes friends, that magnificent Library of God’s Word, is filled with such sentiments throughout its pages. And not from hearsay either nuh, but from personal experience, thus it‘s ever so important for us to read, study and sincerely consider the many encouraging and uplifting anecdotes found therein. 

And if you don’t believe me, then listen to the Lord as He speaks to Joshua when He made him the leader of the Israelites on the death of Moses. ‘This book of the law shall not depart out of (shall continually be in) thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.’ (Josh. 1:8) 

Yes my fellow saints, that’s really the only scripture we need to ever learn and follow yes! So please let’s begin doing it seriously and sincerely as of right now nuh. For then we will make our way prosperous and have good success. I‘m sure we all desire that. And it’s right there in the palms of our hands, ready for the taking. So please, let’s be wise and do it. Much LOVE!

…in the storms of life…there is no where else to find true peace and comfort…than leaning on the everlasting arms of Christ our Saviour… 

 Hear our podcast at https://open.spotify.com/show/3aVfqIC1CqwGybISs9dZ    

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Today’s Scrip-Bit   9 October 2022   1 Thessalonians 5:18.

1 Thessalonians 5:18.         In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

HAPPY  THANSKGIVING  CANADA !

And once again we are gathered here to celebrate God’s Day, Sunday, the day He rested from His labours, after creating the world and all therein in the previous six. And on this Thanksgiving Sunday in our blessed country of Canada, we must remember that gathering in the Lord’s name is not simply a suggestion, but our bounden duty, as the author of Hebrews tells us: ‘Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.’ (Heb. 10:25) 

And the scholars explain it thus. ‘The admonition “Not forsaking the assembling,” involves far more than erratic attendance. It involves the entire worship of Christ and is an outward indication of an inner condition. The assembling of God’s people provides opportunity for reciprocal encouragement, strengthening, and the stirring up that can be gained from one another (cf. Col. 3:12-16). It consists of participation in worship and fellowship. The church is a body interacting (1 Cor. 12:14-27); it is not merely a dispensary of spiritual food and medicine.’ 

And do I ever like that last line. The body of Christ is one that thrives on total interaction, and we gather not just for spiritual enlightenment but to exhort, to uplift each other in whatever aspect we might need it. So, having seen the many benefits of assembling, (smile) let’s get to giving thanks and praise on this Thanksgiving Sunday by opening with a most appropriate song. It’s fairly new, in comparison to some of our other hymns, and was written by one Johnson Oatman, Jr (1856-1922) an American ordained minster, a very prolific songwriter. 

And the song is one we all know and LOVE, titled ‘Count Your Blessings.’ I chose it for today because I figured that we can never truly give thanks until we are fully aware of what we’re giving thanks for, and counting our blessings reminds us of all that we have to be thankful for. So, let’s open our harmonious voices, sending up sacrificial praise, in a rollicking rendition of ‘Count Your Blessings. 

Singing: ‘When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done. (Refrain: Count your blessings, name them one by one; Count your blessings, see what God hath done; Count your blessings, name them one by one; Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.) Are you ever burdened with a load of care? Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear? Count your many blessings, ev’ry doubt will fly, And you will be singing as the days go by. [Refrain] 

When you look at others with their lands and gold, Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold; Count your many blessings, money cannot buy Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high. [Refrain] So, amid the conflict, whether great or small, Do not be discouraged, God is over all; Count your many blessings, angels will attend, Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end. [Refrain] 2’ 

That was indeed a rollicking rendition my people! Heaven surely knows that we are sincerely grateful for the many blessings they have poured down on us. And what does ‘Count Your Blessings’ really mean eh? I have a note here, don’t remember where I got it from, (smile) but it defines counting your blessings as ‘to be grateful for the good things in your life, often to stop yourself becoming too unhappy about the bad things.’ And that’s all it is really: being thankful for the breath we breathe, for our friends and families, for our jobs, health, food, clothing and shelter, plus the ability and joy of sharing what we have with others. 

Oh my friends, so much of our world right now is in such bad shape, they have nothing at all, that we should be awfully glad and thankful for whatever little we have. As one quote so rightly advises: ‘If you always find yourself numbering your troubles, you will never find time for counting your blessings. There is no use becoming frustrated in your difficulties while you have all opportunities hiding in them for a turnover.’ And that’s the gospel truth; there are always opportunities in our troubles to begin again, to turn over a new leaf, to find something useful, some blessing in those same troubles. 

The problem though is that we pay more attention to our troubles than our blessings, when the fact is if we write both our blessings and troubles on a sheet of paper, we’ll most likely find that we have way more blessings than troubles. And it’s not like the scriptures doesn’t continually tell us to give thanks, to be grateful for all we have. So, let’s look at a couple of them. 

And this advice from Bruh Paul the Thessalonians as he exhorts the brethren to good works, is one of the most all-encompassing, but very problematic to many of us. He says first of all: ‘Rejoice evermore.’ Then ‘Pray without ceasing.’ And finally: ‘In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.’ (1 Thess. 5:16-18) 

Now those are certainly tough scriptures to continually enact, but with proper understanding and God’s help, we can certainly do them. It’s simply keeping a good attitude regardless of our circumstances, while being in touch with the Lord throughout the day talking to Him about whatever is going on with us and giving Him thanks through Christ for all His help, because that’s what He desires of us. Please remember that the Lord created us so that He could have good fellowship with us, that we should do His will and in so doing, glorify Him. So those three things that Bruh Paul asks of us, is what we were really created for. 

And here is some more advice from Bruh Paul, this time to the Colossians, on the topic of Christian virtues. He writes: ‘And above all these things put on charity (LOVE), which is the bond of perfectness (the crowning grace of Christian virtues). And let the peace of God (harmony) rule in your hearts, to the which ye are called in one body, and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.’ (Col. 3:14-17) 

Right there we have the basic virtues of our Christian faith, beginning with LOVE, the crowning glory, and ending with thanks, sincere appreciation for it all. Now, let’s go home this Thanksgiving Sunday with this beautiful and most useful recommendation from the website http://www.godtube. It says: ‘God truly gives us so many blessings each and every single day. Some may even be so small that we might overlook them. The classic hymn ‘Count Your Blessings’ truly reminds us to stop and give thanks for all God has done in our lives. This is definitely a pause we all need to take. Amen.’  

So please my fellow saints, let’s pause today and count our many blessings, then give God our grateful and sincere thanks for them nuh. It will go so much better with us. Much LOVE!

…to God the Father be all the thanks and the glory…through Jesus Christ…the Son… 

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

Today’s Scrip-Bit   5 December 2021 Luke 14:27.

Luke 14:27.     And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

Here we are together friends on another Sunday, just thrilled to be in each other’s company, whether physically in the Lord’s Sanctuary, or by technological means. The important thing is that we are together for worship, prayer and thanksgiving. And I recently read an interesting statement where a lady asked a pastor why we go to church, and he replied that we go to church because someone might need us there. That’s good. It’s also true. And the corollary to that is also true, we too might need someone there. 

Now if you have doubts about why we gather on the Lord’s day, then listen to these moving words from Hebrews, written to the displaced Christian Jews who were suffering serious persecution all over the Roman Empire. The author writes: ‘Let us hold fast the profession (confession) of our faith (hope) without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke (stir up) unto LOVE and unto good works. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.’ (Heb. 10:23-25) 

And the scholars explain: ‘10:25. Not forsaking the assembling: This admonition involves far more than an erratic attendance. It involves the entire worship of Christ and is an outward indication of an inner condition. The assembling of God’s people provides opportunity for reciprocal encouragement, strengthening, and the stirring up that can be gained from one another (cf. Col. 3:12-16) It consists of participation in worship and fellowship. The church is a body interacting (1 Cor. 12:14-17); it is not merely a dispensary of spiritual food and medicine.’ 

Wow! Yes friends, we don’t go to church just to be spiritually revived, but also to give of ourselves and to interact with others in praise and thanksgiving to our wonderful God. And now that we have a better understanding of why the saints of Christ ought to assemble, let’s get to some good old fashioned hymn singing, offering up praises to our heavenly King and Father. No doubt some of you are surprised that we didn’t begin as usual with the singing, but I happened upon those verses of Hebrews, or was led to them, who knows, and thought it a good idea to refresh our minds on the subject. 

And today’s hymn is a great favourite, one written around 1896, by the American hymnwriter, Judson W. Van DeVenter (1855-1939) and most appropriately titled ‘All to Jesus I Surrender.’ So, in a soulful, harmonious, scintillating, mid-tempo riddim, let’s offer up our sacrifices of praise from deep in our sincere hearts. 

‘All to Jesus I surrender. All to Him I freely give; I will ever LOVE and trust Him, In His presence daily live. (Refrain: I surrender all, I surrender all; All to Thee, my blessed Saviour, I surrender all.) All to Jesus I surrender, Humbly at His feet I bow, Worldly pleasures all forsaken. Take me, Jesus, take me now. (Refrain: I surrender all..) All to Jesus I surrender, Make me, Saviour, wholly Thine; Let me feel the Holy Spirit, Truly know that Thou art mine. (Refrain: I surrender all…) 

All to Jesus I surrender, Lord, I give myself to Thee; Fill me with Thy LOVE and power, Let Thy blessing fall on me. (Refrain: I surrender all…) All to Jesus I surrender, Now I feel the sacred flame; Oh, the joy of full salvation! Glory, glory, to His name! (Refrain: I surrender all, I surrender all; All to Thee, my blessed Saviour, I surrender all…I surrender all, I surrender all; All to Thee, my blessed Saviour, I surrender all… All to Thee, my blessed Saviour, I surrender all…’ 

Ah mih people, that was a wonderful rendition, but the problem now is how many of us are truly ALL surrendered to Jesus? We sing it like we mean it, but in actual life do we give Him our ALL, do we let every aspect of lives fall under His omnipotent dominion, or do we hold back some parts that we still feel the need to control? Remember Jesus sees our hearts and explores the real motives that lie hidden there, so it doesn’t make any sense to sing one thing and deep down inside do something else. We might fool our fellow believer, but we won’t fool Jesus. 

And remember Jesus said He requires all of us, or nothing at all. Please don’t forget what He told the rich young ruler who enquired about eternal life, about keeping the commandments. And when the ruler said he had been doing that all his life, ‘Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt (want to) be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.’ (Matt. 19:21) 

Obviously, the man didn’t want to do that back then, and so do a lot of us today. We want to follow Jesus, but we don’t want to give up our earthly possessions to do it. However, Jesus requires us to sacrifice our will for His own. As Luke recounts of Jesus in his epistle. ‘If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren (brothers), and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.’ (Luke 14:26-27) 

Those are certainly tough words my brethren. But they are surmountable ones. Hear how the scholars explain them. ‘14:26. In comparison to one’s devotion to Christ, one’s family ties must be secondary. This does not set aside Jesus’ other teachings to LOVE one’s enemies, to honour father and mother, and the like. It does highlight that absolute loyalty to Christ is paramount, even though in many societies, including the one in which Jesus taught, as well as many today, following Him, involves precisely the either-or that this verse sets up.’ 

Thankfully though, in our current society, most believers do not have to give up all their physical belongings to follow Christ, but He does need our spiritual wherewithal, which can call for different kinds of sacrifices on His behalf. And that’s the main point in being a follower of Christ…that we subordinate our will to His, and are willing to give up whatever it takes, to make whatever sacrifice that’s necessary to do His will. 

Now that’s something for us to ponder on today. Considering all that we’ve said, are we fully surrendered to Christ? Only the individual believer can truly answer that. But let’s hope that we can all answer truthfully the question with a resounding ‘YES! Much LOVE!

…surrendering all to Jesus…is small potatoes…compared to what He surrendered for us…His sinless life… 

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

Today’s Scrip-Bit 31 December 2014 Hebrews 10:24

Hebrews 10:24.      And let us consider one another to provoke (stir up, encourage) unto LOVE and to good works. 
 

Oh Friends and neighbours, what can I say to us this fateful Wednesday morning eh, the last day of the very troubled and tumultuous year that was 2014?
 
As we said a few days ago, circumstances don’t really change much from one day to the next, but our attitudes and mindsets can. And it’s in that vein I want to address us today.
 
First of all, I want to remind us of a very salient and most important fact, through a prayer from the back of my late mother’s Bible. It says: ‘Father in heaven, we thank You for Your faithfulness during the past year. Help us to remember that Your faithfulness will go with us into the New Year. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.’
 
Yes my people, we need to remember that God’s faithfulness will not change, and hopefully, neither will ours. In fact, it’s a sincere wish that our faithfulness to Almighty God will grow with each passing day, so that we can have a win-win relationship with our Creator and Provider.
 
For no relationship can progress, or even last for any length of time if it is constantly weighted on one side, like our faithfulness to God can often be. We must keep being aware that God doesn’t change. He has no need to.
 
But we, His followers can change, and do need to in many respects. We definitely need to come up higher, to grow and mature in the nature and character of Jesus Christ.
 
That’s why we resolved to have only ONE overriding resolution this past year; to grow closer to Jesus each and every day, in some form and fashion. And we’ll continue to let that be our Number ONE promise to ourselves and each other for the coming year of 2015.
 
Oh my people, I know that all of us grew some this past year, some more than others. But the good news is that if we were truly concentrating on Christ in 2014, we would definitely have improved our relationship with Him. How much, only you and God can tell.
 
By the same token, we all have room for improvement, for growth. So let’s continue to stay the course, difficult though it may sometimes be, remembering that our faithful God has promised to be with us wherever we go, and to bring us out safely, more Christ-like, from whatever situations we’re forced to endure.
 
That brings us to some rather appropriate scripture verses that includes out Bit. The author of Hebrews, whom I sincerely believe is Bruh Paul, timely reminds us: ‘Let us hold fast the profession (confession) of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
 
And let us consider one another to provoke (stir up, encourage) unto LOVE and to good works. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.’ (Heb.10:23-25)
 
Yes my brethren, if we want to see the full effect of God’s faithfulness, we do have to stand strong and steadfast in our faith, without wavering, without being wishy-washy.
 
But then we also have to stir up, to encourage our fellow believers, promoting LOVE and good works, which are the foundations of our Christian faith! We need to do this through constant assembling, regular fellowship, not a once in awhile attendance at church meetings.
 
Now hear some important explanations from the scholars on those verses above. ’10:24. The word translated provoke (Gr. paroxysmos) usually has a negative sense, as is witnessed by its only other New Testament usage (Acts 15:39).
 
The positive connotation which the word has in the present text means to stir up. It is easy to stir up hatred and godless deeds; it takes much more to stir up another to LOVE and good works.’
 
And isn’t that the gospel, gospel truth my people! It’s ever so much easier for us to do evil and ungodly deeds than to do godly and good ones!
 
Then ‘10:25. Not forsaking the assembling: This admonition involves far more than erratic attendance. It involves the entire worship of Christ and is an outward indication of an inner condition.
 
The assembling of God’s people provides opportunity for reciprocal encouragement, strengthening, and the stirring up that can be gained from one another (cf. Col.3:12-16).
 
It consists of participation in worship and fellowship. The church is a body interacting (1 Cor.12:14-27); it is not merely a dispensary of spiritual food and medicine.’
 
Oh Friends, unfortunately that is often what we refuse to see. The church is supposed to be a totality of all things that pertain to Christ, and consequently to life itself. It’s where believers ought to go for succour and sustenance in whatever circumstance that afflicts us.
 
Anyway, I know you all are busy making your New Year’s preparations, so I won’t keep you any longer. (smile) We’ll end with this rather appropriate poem, an excerpt from an editorial by Ann Daily Goodwin published in the St. Paul Pioneer Press on December 31 1986.
 
‘Peace rises like dawn in the hearts of hope…. Peace reaches from warm and welcoming houses when workers go home. Peace wraps congregations as worship comes to comforting conclusions…. Peace floats like music through cabin windows to porch-sitters outside. Peace shimmers like lake water on star-dashed extravagant nights….
 
Peace blesses the day’s end, in the Dylan Thomas way: “I turned the gas down. I got into bed. I said some words into the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.” And so the last page turns to the new page, and we wish the world a happy new year. In peace.’
 
Oh my beautiful Friends and Scrip-Bit family members, let’s hope and pray that 2015 is not such a tumultuous year as 2014 was! Let’s hope that it is filled with much more peace and LOVE and good deeds!
 
And we can start it off on the right foot by not overdoing it later tonight, by paying serious attention to Granny’s warning: drunk or sober, mind yuh business. That’s truly wisdom at its zenith! Have a happy New Year’s Eve my brethren in Christ. Much much much LOVE!
 
…if we make following Jesus our number ONE priority…then everything else in our lives will fall into place… 
 
P.S. Please don’t expect the Bit too early tomorrow morning. For though my celebrations may be somewhat muted, compared to yours, they will continue late into the night, or early in the morning; your choice.  (smile) Much LOVE!