Today’s Scrip-Bit   4 May 2022 Matthew 21:22.

Matthew 21:22.       And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

Oh, it’s been a very persistent drizzle; right from yesterday afternoon, through the night…and believe it or not, (smile) it’s still happening in my neighbourhood! So, this middle day of the week, Wednesday is wet and cloudy. It’s the kind of day we expected in April, you know, April showers that bring May flowers. But it hasn’t worked out that way. It’s May, and we still haven’t seen any flowers. What’s with that eh? But after a somewhat colder than normal April, the trees are now venturing to bud. 

And we’re laying it all at the feet of climate change. Now isn’t it strange that we always find something or someone else to blame for our problems rather than the usual cause, that’s ourselves? For sure! We don’t like to accept blame, even when it’s staring us full in the face. And our society is daily getting worse in that respect. But I’m not going to go any further into that topic, because it’s one fraught with all kinds of pitfalls. (smile) But rather, I’m going to revisit our Bit of yesterday, the reassuring and uplifting words of Jesus on prayer. ‘And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.’ (Matt. 21:22) 

And why is that you ask? Simply because some of the scriptures I had planned to share yesterday never got shared, and I believe they are important enough for us to consider on the subject of prayer. And the first scripture we want to address is this one that Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion, when His heart was heavy and His spirit pretty low. ‘And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.’ (Mark 14:36) 

Yes friends, we need to note there, that although Jesus would have liked to be spared the ‘sufferation’ of the cross, He was willing to bow to the Father’s will. We saw the same thing with Bruh Paul yesterday, when the Lord refused to remove the thorn from his flesh because it showed the Lord’s power more in his weakness. And that’s the same thing we must understand. God will not always answer our prayers, the way we want them, when our problems serve for His greater good. You can see that instead of taking away the ‘sufferation’ of the cross, He gave Jesus the wherewithal to handle it, and likewise with Bruh Paul, He gave him the strength to handle whatever was the annoying thorn in his flesh. 

So please don’t be dismayed if we ask for relief in some way and the Lord provides it in a different way. Remember, whatever we ask for, must be in line with the Lord’s will, and there will be times, when we truly believe we need genuine relief from problems, but facing those problems will accentuate His glory and raise our maturity level, so He might just give us the strength to face them, instead of removing them completely. 

Then there is this very interesting and true statement from Jesus to the disciples, after He came and found them sleeping, instead of watching and praying with Him. He said to them: ‘Watch ye and pray, lest ye fall into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.’ (Mark 14:38) And that’s the indisputable truth my people! Our flesh is easily ruled by our sinful nature, and we need to be in a state of spiritual perception to be able to resist the wiles and evil schemes which the enemy constantly throws at us. 

And the best way to do that is through prayer. For when we are praying, temptation cannot overcome us. Now listen to Jesus again to the disciples after telling them that He was the vine and they the branches. (John 15:5) ‘If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto (for) you.’ (John 15:8) And that relates directly to the fact that we ask for whatever in Jesus’ name, because it’s only through His work on the cross and His name, that we have access to the Father. So only if we are His true agents and ambassadors, living His Word, will using His name work. 

And these words of James, Jesus’ brother, on the topic of prayer, really tell us how important it is in the believer’s life. He says: ‘Is any among you afflicted (suffering)? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults (trespasses) one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual (effective) fervent prayer (supplication) of a righteous man availeth much.’ (James 5:13-16) 

Yes my fellow saints, prayer should be our number ONE response to everything! As Bruh Paul said to the Thessalonians: ‘Pray without ceasing.’ (2 Thess. 5:17) The Lord our God ought to be the first person we tell about any problem. Then He will direct us to the best road to take. As Cousin Sol so wisely and rightly says in Proverbs. ‘Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct (make straight) thy paths.’ (Prov. 3:5-6) 

Truer words were never spoken or written my friends! That’s why we can turn to the first epistle of John to read and hopefully learn these most valuable lessons. ‘Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.’ (1 John 3:21-22) 

Now the scholars give us a very good warning about those passages of scripture. ‘We have confidence toward God if our lives are in line with the standard of Christian living set forth by John in the earlier passages. John is not saying that whether a person is right or wrong is simply a matter of how he subjectively feels about himself. That is why John has given so many indicators and commands for Christians to take note of and assess themselves by. And one of the great results of a life lived in purity before God is a life where there is effective prayer. Right living is an important part of successful praying.’ 

And that hits the nail right on the head my brethren! Prayer is non-functional unless we are living right. In other words, right living determines the successfulness of our prayers! And for those of us who are endeavouring to live right, let’s go home declaring (yesss!!!) our Wednesday Wail, letting all and sundry know of our most wonderful position in Christ Jesus! 

Altogether 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!’ 

And the corollary to that is this: if we endure to the very end, then the future will be even more glorious and marvellous than we can ever ask or imagine! Now doesn’t that give us good reason to endure right down to the very end? It surely does! Much LOVE!

…and this is the confidence that we have in him…that if we ask anything…according to his will…he heareth us… (1 John 5:14) 

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Today’s Scrip-Bit 25 April 2020 Mark 6:50b.

Mark 6:50b.    Be of good cheer (take courage); it is I; be not afraid.
 
And the world keeps turning, like the Lord planned it to: it’s pages quietly and unconcernedly rolling along from one day to the next, regardless of what happens from one day to the next! (smile) And it’s finally rolled around to this Saturday in what’s supposed to be spring time, but we haven’t seen any rain in such a long time that the old adage ‘April showers bring May flowers’ is in danger of not being true this year of the Coronavirus. But what else is new eh? Cousin Sol said long ago that there’s nothing new under the sun. Yes: ‘The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.’ (Eccl. 1:9) 

And yuh know, if the wisest man ever said that, then it ought to be so. (smile) But it also shows up in our age old cliché that ‘History repeats itself.’ And that is oh so true. If we look back we can see every powerful society that ever walked the earth making the same mistake of getting too full of themselves, too big for their britches, replacing God with man made idols as they obtained some basic knowledge of life, and then getting fat and lazy off of their prosperity, which meant they stopped growing and began falling behind into eventual oblivion. 

And the same thing is happening in our current society, and our current worldwide trouble is simply a reflection of our stubbornness, hard heartedness and highly egotistical nature. It’s a wake up call from the Creator to the created, warning that we’re on the edge of a terrible precipice, and if we don’t heed the warning and repent and turn back to Him, a whole lot more damage will be done to our world. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! End of sermon! And friends I’m chuckling here, because I never came out to preach this morning, but that’s where I was led, so please take it easy on the ole fella nuh. 

But moving right along, since it’s Saturday, that lazy, late wake up day – most days are like that now though – let’s see what interesting quotes our friend Anselm sent us this past week, as he aspires to inspire us for a brighter tomorrow…and do we ever need one! And he seems to have been on progress kick this past week. Hear this first quote: ‘Delay is the enemy of progress.’ And so it is! Laziness and procrastination, and anything else that keeps us from doing what we have to do, is in fact delaying our progress. We can’t progress unless we get up off our fat fannies and do what we need to do! 

And the next quote also declares a great truth: ‘Comfort is the enemy of progress.’ Yes my people, as we said above, that’s why most societies eventually die. We start out by working hard and making progress, then when we reach a certain point of prosperity, we believe we can now rest on our laurels and enjoy what we have. But the sad fact of the matter is that continued prosperity depends on continued hard work, and resting comfortable on one’s laurels only eats away at said prosperity. 

It’s like your savings in the bank. The more you put in the more you will have, but when you stop putting in and only withdraw, then it will wither away li’l by li’l until it runs out. Well it’s the same way with progress and prosperity. Unless you keep building, working and saving, you will stop making progress and eventually fall. 

Now hear this one: ‘Some quit due to slow progress. Never grasping the fact that slow progress is progress.’ That’s more gospel truth my brethren! Good progress is usually a creeping thing that includes some failure in between. We don’t just begin something today, if it’s a worthwhile project, put in a li’l elbow grease and declare victory or significant progress tomorrow. No friends, progress is a time consuming thing, and ofttimes needs a lot of blood, sweat and tears before it can be significantly achieved. 

And that’s a major problem for this generation. We the parents have not taught the children sufficiently about waiting and working and being satisfied or contented with a little, that’s why they’re all going crazy, feeling entitled to everything while not wanting to work for or make a sacrifice for anything! That thing called true progress is ever so slow my people that sometimes you can’t even see it, although you know you’re making it. So let’s not quit when it looks like positive things are not happening for us nuh. It just means that the Lord is working in the background, doing the hard and dirty work that’s necessary to move us forward. 

In light of all that, it is therefore necessary for us to quickly befriend this next quote and hold on to it tightly, as our very lives may depend on it. ‘Courage means to keep making forward progress while you still feel afraid.’ And isn’t that the living truth! All of us feel afraid at some time or other in our lives, so it’s not a matter of never being afraid, or never having fear, for fear is a natural aspect of human life. But the important thing there is like Sister Joyce (Joyce Meyer) puts it: ‘doing it afraid.’ That’s what courage is really all about; doing what we need to despite the fear or anxiety we might feel. 

And the only thing that really conquers fear is faith! That’s why the most used command or warning in the Good Book is ‘Fear not! Do not be afraid!’ Moses said it thus to the Israelites when they were leaving Egypt and the massive Egyptian army was hot on their heels: ‘Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation (deliverance) of the Lord, which he will show to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more for ever.’ (Ex. 14:13) And that promise did come true in spades as the entire Egyptian army was drowned in the Red Sea when the Lord closed it back up. 

And the psalmist gives us this small but everlasting treasure: ‘The Lord is on my side, I will not fear: what can man do unto me?’ (Ps.118:6) Yes friends, if the Lord is on our side, man cannot prevail over us. And Isaiah drives it home on the Lord’s behalf. ‘Say to them that are of a fearful heart, be strong, fear not: behold your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense: he will come and save you.’ (Is. 35:4) And he did exactly that through His Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 

And when Jesus walked on water towards His disciples and they were afraid, His comforting words were simply: ‘Be of good cheer (take courage); it is I; be not afraid.’  Yes my people, simple, but oh so reassuring words from our Master. That’s the beauty of His philosophy and words! 

And we’ll end with this most important warning from Bruh Paul to Timothy in his tough times, which we all ought to know by now, even if we didn’t know it before Covid-19. (smile) ‘For God hath not given us a spirit of fear; but of power (His Holy Spirit), and of LOVE, and of a sound (disciplined) mind.’ (2 Tim. 1:7) Now let’s go out and use those marvellous gifts in His work nuh! Much LOVE!

…fear and courage…two sides of the same coin…