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 14 June 2020 Philippians 2:5.

Philippians 2:5.    ​Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 
 

And here we are again, another Sunday without corporate worship! But friends, they might be able to keep us apart physically, but never spiritually, for the mighty Spirit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ dwells in all of His saints and can traverse physical space so that we can still come together in worship through the technological revolution. How can they keep God’s people apart eh? Never! But enough talk, (smile) let’s get to some worship. And today’s song of praise is a wonderful, well-known hymn by blind hymn writer Francis Jane Crosby, better known as Fanny Crosby. 

And the website Godtube had this to say about the hymn. ‘Each and every day we sing praises to His name. We are thankful for all of the blessings that He bestows upon us. The lyrics of the classic hymn ‘Blessed Assurance’ is the perfect way to worship. And when you hear the story behind the hymn, you will be even more in awe of His amazing grace. Thank you, Jesus, for dying for our sins!’ 

And the synopsis of the story is that Fanny Crosby, born in 1840, became blind as a baby through a badly treated eye infection. Then her father died shortly thereafter, and while her mother went out to work to support the family, she was raised by a Christian grandmother who ‘became her eyes, vividly describing the physical world.’ This obviously helped to develop Fanny’s descriptive abilities. She also nurtured Fanny’s spirit. ‘She read and carefully explained the Bible to her, and she always emphasized the importance of prayer. When Fanny became depressed because she couldn’t learn as other children did, Grandmother taught her to pray to God for knowledge.’ 

At 12 years of age, Fanny entered the New York Institute for the blind and never looked back after that, eventually teaching at the school for some 23 years. The story continues that while visiting one evening with Fanny, her friend, composer Phoebe Palmer Knapp played a tune on the piano for her and asked what she thought it sounded like. Fanny’s reply was, ‘Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine!’ And the rest is history; they continued singing the melody and writing the lyrics together. Now isn’t that a wonderful story? It surely is, showing the power of God’s Spirit, what we can do with a li’l help from our supportive friends and family! 

So let’s finally sing that wonderful hymn ‘Blessed Assurance’ nuh. (smile) In strong voice, in perfect harmony, with deep soulful feeling, echoing straight from our hearts, let’s offer up our sacrifice of praise. ‘Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood (Chorus: This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long; This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long.) 

Perfect submission, perfect delight, Visions of rapture now burst on my sight; Angels, descending, bring from above Echoes of mercy, whispers of love. (Chorus…) Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my Savior am happy and blest, Watching and waiting, looking above, Filled with His goodness, lost in His love. (Chorus: This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long; This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long…. Praising my Savior all the day long.)’ 

Oh my people, heaven was touched! And as always when we sing praises to Jesus, all of heaven joins in, even the Father, for He is indeed worthy of much praise and worship and glory. And while all of the praise and worship is going on, Jesus just sits there blushing, with a shy smile on His face, for He still not enamoured of the limelight. (smile) 

And to justify it all, the Good Book explains: ‘Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made (coming) in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion (appearance) as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of (those) things in heaven, and (those) things in earth, and (those) things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’ (Phil. 2:5-11) 

Ah friends, Jesus’ sacrifice was no easy task, but because of the LOVE for His Father and perfect obedience to His will, He endured the shame and ‘sufferation’ of the cross. Oh, if we could only have a li’l more LOVE for the Father, who LOVES us so much, that He sacrificed His only Son for us, and be just a tad more obedient to His holy will, our world would be such a wonderful place, not the crazy, troubled maelstrom that it now is. 

And yuh know, all this turbulence that we’re currently experiencing, that the enemy is perpetrating, that God is allowing, is just a simple cry from Him for us to turn back to Him, not try and shut Him out of our society, for He knows that without Him, we are nothing, our lives would be total chaos. Jesus didn’t mince words, He said it plainly: ‘I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.’ (John 15:5) 

How long is it going to take us to realize that’s the gospel truth eh friends? We need to have the same mind that Jesus had, as Bruh Paul describes it: ‘Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same LOVE, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem (the) other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but also every man also on the things of others.’ (Phil. 2:2-4) 

Yes friends as believers in Christ, we are to live harmoniously, like He did, otherwise all our big talk is worthless, and more a hindrance, rather than a help to the kingdom! Much LOVE!

…talk is cheap…but action calls for sacrifice…

Today’s Scrip-Bit 17 May 2020 2 Chronicles 7:15.

2 Chronicles 7:15.    ​Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent (attentive) unto the prayer that is made in this place.
 
Chuh! One more Sunday without physical corporate worship friends. But don’t worry, we’re drawing close to the day when the Lord’s sanctuaries will again be opened, and we’ll greet each other with hugs and kisses and handshakes and other physical greetings, as we sing and dance and enjoy physical fellowship together under one roof. (smile) As children of the Most High God Jehovah we must resonate with hope. And the restrictions are being slowly loosened, so it’s not like I’m totally talking out of my hat. 

Anyway, we’re still restricted from gathering physically to worship, but not through all the handy technological means we have today. So let’s get on with it nuh, let’s sing and dance and listen to the Word and gain confidence and enthusiasm and strength from it through our technological interaction, in our own personal spaces, adhering to the restrictions of physical distancing, but enjoying the social and spiritual closeness that we so badly need. And in these pandemic times, times of much anxiety and uncertainty, when our world is caught between a rock and a hard place with this Coronavirus that’s overwhelming us, we need a song of praise and worship that encourages and strengthens us and gives us hope for the future. 

And today we have one such song, most appropriately titled ‘God answers Prayer,’ sung by a young Jamaican lady who calls herself Da Flame. It’s a medium tempo soulful song, that details our many problems, but gives us hope, because we have someone who looks after us in our time of need. So in soulful harmony, let’s raise our sacrifice of praise and pleading to high heaven, drawing every emotion from deep down in our hurting and anxious hearts. ‘If you’re ever feeling down and like you have no where to go. If you’re feeling like an outcast as your problems overflow, just remember there is someone, and all it takes is for you to know, is that God is the answer, and God answers prayer. 

(Chorus: He sees every weakness, every trial, every mountain and sea, and He sees every tear drop, and He wipes them for me. I get down on my knees, and I say Saviour help me please. Because one thing is for certain, is my God answers prayer) You may be broken and feel battered, but your strength will surely come, in the midst of all your heartache. Your battles are already won. Just remember in the hard times, don’t give up, don’t say you’re done, because God is the answer, and God answers prayer. 

(He sees every weakness, every trial, every mountain and sea, and He sees every tear drop, and He wipes them for me. I get down on my knees, and I say Saviour help me please. Because one thing is for certain, is my God answers prayer. Oh He sees every weakness, every trial, every mountain and sea, and He sees every tear drop, and He wipes them for us. So let’s get down on our knees, and say, Saviour, help us please. Because one thing is for certain…our God answers prayer.’ 

Oh yes friends, that’s an indisputable fact: our great and faithful, merciful and gracious, forgiving and ever-LOVING God answers each and every prayer we offer up to Him with a sincere heart. He might not give us what we want when we want it, but He does answer our requests, with either an outright no, because it’s not in His will, a wait, not yet, or a definite yes.

And the one good thing that this Covid-19 disease is doing is turning more people than ever to prayer, because we realize that man made answers are not being quickly forthcoming, and when the chips are finally down, when we have no where else to turn, many of us turn to God, as our last resort, our final hope. 

And nothing’s wrong with that, although He should be our first avenue of help. The problem though is when we finally turn to Him and He doesn’t respond as quickly as we like, we get annoyed and go back to blaspheming and bad talking Him. But that’s another sermon for another day. (smile) Today we’re talking about Him answering our prayers. And that He certainly does, though not necessarily in our time. Remember He says that His thoughts and ways and timing are higher than ours, so one of the things we have to do is learn to wait on Him. He might take a while, but I can assure you, He’s NEVER late. 

And if you don’t believe me that He answers prayer, let’s look at a couple of scriptures that reassure us of it. Remember when Cousin Sol dedicated the majestic temple in Israel? Well he asked the Lord for one basic thing; if His children faltered in their obedience, but then returned and prayed at the temple, His house: ‘Then hear thou from the heavens their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.’ (2 Chr. 6:35) 

And what was the Lord’s reply? ‘If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent (attentive) unto the prayer that is made in this place.’ (2 Chr. 7:14-15) And we see it happen all the way through the Good Book, where the Israelites turned away from God, then turned back, and He heard their prayer and forgave them. The same thing goes for us today my brethren. 

As the scholars tell us: ‘7:14-15. While this promise was originally given to Solomon regarding the people of Israel, it is certainly applicable to all who will call on the Lord in repentance and faith. These verses stand as a high expression of God’s LOVING readiness to hear the prayers of a repentant people (cf. 6:37-39; James 4:8-10).’ 

Yes friends, God answers prayer, but our hearts, our motives must be right. Now are our hearts and motives right, are we being truly repentant in these pandemic times, or are we just mouthing platitudes, and as soon as He heals our land, we’ll go back to our old, wicked ways?  I don’t know, but He will certainly check it out first. 

And Bruh David verified that the Lord answers prayer, when he declared: ‘In the day when I cried thou answeredst (answered) me, and strengthenedst (strengthened) me with strength in my soul.’ (Ps. 138:3) And Jesus faithfully promised the disciples: ‘And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.’ (Matt.21:22) Meanwhile, John says it thus: ‘And whatever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.’ (John 14:13-14) 

Ah mih people, our God does answer prayer, but there are indeed some requirements for us to meet. Much LOVE!

…answered prayer…calls for…sincere hearts…and true belief in Jesus…

Today’s Scrip-Bit 14 March 2020 Philippians 3:7.

Philippians 3:7.    ​But what things were gain to me, those things I counted loss for Christ.
 
Well here it is at last; the churches have been shut down! What’s next? The hospitals! Can you believe it? The scare of the Covid-19 virus, in conjunction with the Government’s directives has caused the Church Leaders to finally pull the plug on church worship. Hn! Did you ever think it possible that one day, most, if not all of the churches would be closed to public gathering? Certainly not! And though it’s not as good as actually gathering in the sanctuary,  there are enough other outlets; radio, t.v. and computer streaming for us to keep in touch with our corporate worship. 

But it’s interesting to see how one small, unknown, but apparently powerful virus has brought the world to its knees in just a couple of weeks. Personally, I think we’ve overreacted and caused unnecessary fear and panic. There’s no need to be buying out the stores and stocking up as though we’re going to war, or suffering from a nuclear fallout. But that’s the problem with too much easy and convenient communication and too many fearful and ungodly people in the world. And though it’s a serious matter I still have to chuckle. If we can’t handle a simple virus with all our modern technology and medical prowess, can you imagine the mess Egypt must have been in when the Lord brought those 8 plagues on them to force Pharaoh to set His people free.

 Can you imagine been pestered by lice and flies and blood and frogs and locusts and death and whatever? But before we move on, here’s something to ponder on, a li’l food for thought. Remember Moses’ warning to the Israelites: ‘If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.’ (Ex. 15:26) 

Oh my people, can this be a warning from our God? We certainly are not keeping His commandments and doing as He desires, and all throughout the Good Book, He’s warned of serious penalties for willful sin and disobedience. And since this virus has now become pandemic in nature, all over the world, who knows if it’s the hand of our mighty God moving in one of His many mysterious ways to remind and warn us of our sinful ways? And in these last tumultuous days, that is something we should surely ponder on, but I doubt too many of us will. 

Anyhow, it’s Saturday, so let’s look at some of the quotes our friend Anselm sent us this week as he aspires to inspire us for a better tomorrow. Hear this first one: ‘It’s the little things you do that make the big things happen.’ And that’s a fact my people! Unless we do the small things, and do them well, the big things won’t turn out right. That’s why we’re warned to pay particular attention to the small things in our lives, since God, or no man will ever give us big things if they see we can’t take care of the small ones. And remember the Jamaican saying: ‘One one cocoa full basket.’ But unfortunately, in this brave new, but very foolish world of ours we don’t treasure the small stuff, everybody just wants to be on the big stage! 

And the second quote says: ‘He who stops being better stops being good.’ And there is a lot of truth in that also. If we don’t keep getting better but insist on sitting on our laurels, then we’ll eventually rub out, use up, whatever good we have, because we need to keep replenishing our souls and spirits every day. That leads us quite nicely into this next quote. ‘Do not be afraid of improving slowly. Be afraid of standing still.’ Whoa! Is that ever the killing of the human soul! Standing still is definitely not an option, especially if you’re a child of the Most High God Jehovah! And you can’t get truly better overnight; it all takes time. It’s like learning a craft; only with continuous practice and time spent with it will you ever learn it. And that’s what life is really, the craft of living! (smile) 

Now the next quote is like the previous two: ‘Practice the philosophy of continuous improvement. Get a little bit better every single day.’ Now that is basic logic and common sense. But sadly those two very important things are almost nonexistent in our current society, where we value the need for speed, now for now, above all else. But in the words of some wise person, let’s remember ‘that speed kills!’ It certainly does. If you do anything too fast it most likely will end up in a mess. But it’s how our society views life nowadays; we desire and want to have everything right away. The number one technological aspiration these days is how to make everything work quicker and faster. But there are undoubtedly stumbling blocks in that approach, which we’ll discover as time goes by. (smile) 

And the last quote wisely advises: ‘Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.’ Now that is gospel truth. The only perfect being in our universe is our Creator, and He did not make us to be perfect, but He does expect us to do our best in that direction, being diligent towards it, and thus ending up excellent. Yuh know the two most important things in being ambassadors of Christ is being diligent and excellent in His service. We can’t be wishy-washy, irresponsible and lazy, for that’s not the lifestyle He wants us to portray to the unbelieving world. 

And I think one of the best scriptures in that regard is Bruh Paul’s letter to the Philippians, where after listing all his earthly accomplishments, he sincerely declared. ‘But what things were gain to me, those things I counted loss for Christ. Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung (rubbish, refuse), that I may win Christ.’ (Phil. 3:7-8) 

Oh friends, the most excellent thing we can ever seek in this world is the knowledge of Christ! All of our earthly accomplishments, wealth and power, mean absolutely nothing until we have Jesus securely embedded in our hearts, souls, minds and bodies! That’s the only true and sure way to live this earthly life! So on this controversial Saturday, where the whole world is in an uproar, please let us, the truly faithful, place all of our cares in the Lord’s hands, and just relax our souls and spirits and minds. Incessantly worrying about Covid-19 won’t make it go away, but with God’s Spirit working in us, we can be relaxed and rest in His promise that He is indeed Jehovah Rapha…the God who heals! Much LOVE!

…what’s the purpose of faith…if you don’t use it in times of crisis eh…