Today’s Scrip-Bit 6 June 2021 Mark 1:11.

Mark 1:11.     And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

And the heat wave is on this Sunday morning in Southern Ontario! Hope your A/C units are working well, otherwise you are liable to burn up in the heat – a small preview of what hell is like. (smile) And come to think of it, that might just motivate us to turn to Christ! For if we can’t stand this minor earthly heat, then how we going to stand the blazing heat that’s supposed to exist in Hades eh? But since we not going there, we don’t have to concern ourselves about how hot it is, just think about getting through this earthly summer weather in good stead with Christ, our Lord and Saviour. 

And as is our custom when we gather to worship on the Lord’s Day, be it in person in His sanctuary, or through technological means, we open with a song of praise and worship. And today’s hymn titled ‘I Need Thee Every Hour’ is a magnificent anthem to how much we do need Jesus Christ. The song was written by Anne Hawks, an American poet and gospel hymnist, in 1872, with the music annotated by Pastor Robert Lowry. 

The website Godtube claims that Hawks explained the purpose of the hymn thus:”For myself, the hymn was prophetic rather than expressive of my own experiences, for it was wafted out to the world on the wings of love and joy, instead of under the stress of personal sorrow.” And they report Lowry as saying: “I believe it was the expression of her own experience. It came to me in the form of five simple stanzas, to which I added the chorus to make it more serviceable. It inspired me at its first reading. It first appeared in a small collection of original songs prepared for the National Baptist Sunday-school Association, held in Cincinnati, Ohio in November 1872, and was sung on that occasion.”  

Meanwhile the website umcdiscipleship.org claims ‘to have a personal account of the genesis of the song: Hawks writes, “One day as a young wife and mother of 37 years of age, I was busy with my regular household tasks during a bright June morning [in 1872]. Suddenly, I became so filled with the sense of nearness to the Master that, wondering how one could live without Him, either in joy or pain, these words were ushered into my mind, the thought at once taking full possession of me — ‘I Need Thee Every Hour…'” 

However, ‘Following the death of her husband, Hawks reflected on the power of her song: “I did not understand at first why this hymn had touched the great throbbing heart of humanity. It was not until long after, when the shadow fell over my way, the shadow of a great loss, that I understood something of the comforting power in the words which I had been permitted to give out to others in my hour of sweet serenity and peace.”Ah friends, such is the mysterious working of our great God. He causes us to do stuff that doesn’t take on any serious personal importance until much later on, when something happens in our lives, and that same stuff is there to comfort and help us. 

So, having gotten all that info on the hymn, let’s finally sing it nuh, lifting up our hearts and voices to heaven with sincere need.‘I need thee every hour, Most gracious Lord, No tender voice like thine, Can peace afford. (Chorus: I need thee oh I need thee, Every hour I need thee, Oh bless me now my Saviour, I come to thee.) I need thee every hour, Stay thou near by, Temptations lose their power, When thou art nigh (Chorus) 

I need thee every hour, In joy or pain, Come quickly and abide, or life is vain. (Chorus) I need thee every hour; teach me thy will, and thy rich promises in me fulfill. (Chorus) I need thee every hour, Most holy one, Oh make me thine indeed Thou blessed Son. (Chorus: I need thee oh I need thee, Every hour I need thee, Oh bless me now my Saviour, I come to thee. I need thee, Oh I need thee, Oh bless me now my Saviour, I come to thee…I come to thee…’

Oh my people, what heartfelt sentiments, sentiments that are all basically about intimacy with God. And today, we’re just going to look at some scriptures that deal with that intimacy. Now it was a hard choice because there are so many, and I therefore chose those that spoke to my heart. And the first one is obviously these words of Moses to the Israelites, which Jesus hailed as the greatest commandment. ‘And thou shalt LOVE the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.’ (Deut. 6:5) If we’re talking about intimacy with God, we must totally give our all to Him. 

Then there are these magnificent words of intimacy written by Bruh David: ‘As the hart panteth after (deer long for) the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before him?’ (Ps. 42:1-2) And if those words of Bruh David didn’t inspire you to intimacy with God, then try these: ‘O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land.’ (Ps. 63:1) How much more intimate can we get than by sincerely longing to be with our Maker, our Provider and our God eh? 

Now hear Jesus to the disciples. ‘Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine: no more can ye, except ye abide in me.’ Wow! That’s intimacy personified! One abiding in the other! You couldn’t get any closer than that! 

And we obviously could not leave out this gem from Bruh Paul: ‘But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ…That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.’ (Phil. 3:7, 10) Yes friends, Bruh Paul wants to experience the stuff that Christ went through so that he could have a real personal experience, suffering His death, as well as His resurrection. Now that’s what you call hungering for real intimacy! 

Now, let’s close with what I believe is the most intimate scripture, that at Christ’s baptism: Mark describes it thus: ‘And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened (torn open), and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ (Mark 1:9-11) 

Oh my fellow saints, I think that is the greatest picture of intimacy we can ever get; that wonderful interaction between Father, Son and Holy Ghost, our wonderful Triune Godhead! I’m sure it warmed the cockles of Jesus’ heart, that the Father chose to acknowledge Him before the earthly crowd, and have His Spirit empower Him for His upcoming ministry. 

Now, since we are representatives of Christ, we surely need to have intimacy with Him. And the best way to get it is, as He says, abide in Him, and let Him abide in us, for when we do that, both the Father and the Holy Spirit will also come to abide in us. Then we can show intimacy to those around us. It’s all in a day’s walk with Jesus my people! Much LOVE!

…our God created us…above all else…for intimacy with Him…                                                            

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

Today’s Scrip-Bit 6 September 2020 John 14:19b.

John 14:19b.     ​…because I live, ye shall live also.

The last Sunday friends, the last Sunday of purely technological worship! Glory be! Yeh, the Anglican church is finally reopening its doors next week…and about time too. It will certainly be strange and somewhat uncertain entering those portals of the Lord’s sanctuary to worship after such a long time. But as prime believers we’ll handle it very nicely, just as we handled the sudden stop in physical worship some months ago. Now we don’t expect everyone to show up, since many are still timid and uncertain about the Covid-19 scene and don’t trust the arrangements put in place for the resumption of physical worship. But that’s okay because the important thing is for everyone to feel safe and comfortable in what they do. 

So let’s get the show rolling with a magnificent Christian contemporary song nuh. Something titled ‘Because He Lives,’ written by the popular song writing team of Bill and Gloria Gaither. And if you think the Lord doesn’t move in mysterious ways, then think again nuh, for up to Saturday I couldn’t think of a song to sing today. But a couple days ago a friend had shared a version of ‘Because He Lives,’ and later on Saturday I further shared it with some other believers and that was the end of that. I was so touched by it that I knew it was today’s Song. 

Therefore, without further ado, let’s offer up some sacrifice of praise in a soulful, harmonious and passionate manner, meaning truly believing what we sing. ‘(Chorus: Because He lives, I can face tomorrow Because He lives, all fear is gone Because I know He holds my future And life is worth the living Just because He lives.) (Repeat) God sent His Son they called Him, Jesus He came to LOVE, heal and forgive He lived and died to buy my pardon An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives. (Chorus) 

How sweet to hold a newborn baby And feel the pride and joy he gives But greater still that calm assurance This child can face uncertain days because He lives And then one day I’ll cross the river I’ll fight life’s final war with pain And then, as death gives way to vict’ry I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives Because He lives, I can face tomorrow Because He lives, all fear is gone Because I know He holds my future And life is worth the living Just because He lives And life is worth the living Just because He lives And life is worth the living Just because He lives…’ 

And isn’t that the awesome truth my brethren…because Jesus lives, we too will live, and moreover be able to face any and everything that comes against us. As one pastor says, Jesus is alive, and that’s enough! Give Him thanks and praise my people! 

Now most of you don’t know that there’s a rather interesting and touching story behind that song. And here it is, as told by Gloria Gaither to interviewer Lindsay Terry. ‘In the late 1960’s, while expecting their third child, the Gaithers were going through a rather traumatic time in their lives. Bill was recovering from a bout with mononucleosis. It was a special period of anxiety and mental anguish for Gloria. The thought of bringing another child into this world, with all of the “craziness,” was taking its toll on her. 

On New Year’s Eve, she was sitting in their living room, in agony and fear. The educational system was being infiltrated with the God is dead idea, while drug abuse and racial tensions were increasing. Then suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, she was filled with a gentle, calming peace. It was as if her heavenly Father, like an attentive mother bending over her baby, saw his child and came to her rescue. The panic gave way to calmness and an assurance that only the Lord can impart. She was assured that the future would be just fine, left in God’s hands. 

Shortly after the baby was born, both Bill and Gloria remembered that the power of the blessed Holy Spirit seemed to come to their aid. Christ’s resurrection, in all of its power and affirmation in their lives, revitalized their thinking. To Gloria, it was life conquering death in their daily activities. Joy once again dominated the fearful circumstances of the day Those events gave rise to one of the most famous Christian songs of our time, “Because He Lives.” 

In this song, which begins, “God sent His son, they called Him Jesus,” we are reminded that Christ came to this earth. And the purpose for His coming was that we might be able to face tomorrow, with all of the uncertainty that it brings. She also reminds us that God holds the future right in his hands and makes life worth living for all who trust in him.’ 

Ah mih people, what a magnificent, magnanimous and comforting God we serve and worship…and One who moves in such mysterious and unexpected ways His LOVING-kindness to accomplish! So tell me why the world doesn’t gladly and joyfully serve and worship Him eh? Pure pride and stupidity! And that brings us to His simple but yet so important promise: ‘…because I live, ye shall live also.’ (John 14:19b) Glory Hallelujah my faithful friends! 

Oh saints of Christ, His death on the cross of Calvary was important, because there He paid our sin debt in full, but the real crowning glory is His resurrection; His immortal victory over hell, death and grave! Wow! Hades couldn’t hold Him, and because of that it won’t hold those who sincerely believe in Him either! Our faith wouldn’t have been worth anything if Christ had stayed dead, but that miracle of rebirth – for want of a better word –  (smile) makes all the difference. No wonder Bruh Paul’s greatest desire was: ‘That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.’ (Phil. 3:10) 

What a powerful scripture! And the scholars explain it thus: ‘3:10. This verse may also be paraphrased: “In order that I may personally know Him, that I might both experience His resurrection power and share in His sufferings, and thus I will be more and more conformed to His death.” Paul wants “the righteousness…of God” (vs.9) so that he can obtain a personal relationship with Jesus in actual day to day experience. This knowledge of Christ is obtained by experiencing in daily problems, needs, ministry, and so forth, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. 

Knowing Christ also entails participating in His sufferings. Paul desires to share in the Lord’s sufferings because they bring him into a deeper and more meaningful relation with Him, companionship in sorrow establishes the most intimate and lasting of ties, as afflicted hearts cling to each other. The result of participating in Christ’s sufferings is that Paul is made like Him in death. This word “death” has a double meaning here, including inward and outward, ethical and physical death. As Jesus died in regard to sin on the cross, so Paul is doing more and more in his daily life. As Jesus was bodily slain, so the apostle, should Caesar’s verdict go against him, is prepared to be slain.’ 

Wow! Now that is the height of discipleship and faith! It’s doubtful though that many of us can attain it, but it’s nonetheless a good standard to aspire to. Let’s see how close we can come to it nuh. (smile) Much LOVE!

…Christ’s death and resurrection…the best news ever…