Today’s Scrip-Bit   21 November 2021 John 10:11.

John 10:11.     I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

It’s that time again my brethren, Sunday morning, where we gather to worship our wonderful God, to sing His praises, hear His refreshing and enlightening Word, and give Him much thanks for His awesome LOVE and compassion towards us, His most undeserving children. But that’s the kind of God we serve and worship. And today’s opening song is a not so old hymn, (smile) as compared to some others we sing, written by John Willard Peterson (1921-2006), in the early years of his ministry, and aptly titled ‘No One understands like Jesus.’ 

And believe me friends, that’s the indisputable truth! And why shouldn’t it be true eh, since He is God whose thoughts and understanding are incomparable, and when you add the fact that Jesus Himself underwent all the stuff that we go through down here on earth, it certainly adds up to a wealth of understanding. That’s why Hebrews can tell us: ‘For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched (who cannot sympathize) with the feeling of our infirmities (weaknesses); but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly (confidently) unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.’ (Heb. 4:15-16) 

Anyway, enough talk, time to do some singing. And in our usual harmonious and soulful manner let’s offer up our sacrifices of praise to heaven and our marvellous Godhead. ‘No one understands like Jesus. He’s a friend beyond compare; Meet Him at the throne of mercy; He is waiting for you there. (Chorus: No one understands like Jesus When the days are dark and grim; No one is so near, so dear as Jesus– Cast your ev’ry care on Him!) No one understands like Jesus; Ev’ry woe He sees and feels; Tenderly He whispers comfort, And the broken heart He heals. 

(Chorus) No one understands like Jesus When the foes of life assail; You should never be discouraged; Jesus cares and will not fail! (Chorus) No one understands like Jesus When you falter on the way; Tho’ you fail Him, sadly fail Him, He will pardon you today. (Chorus: No one understands like Jesus When the days are dark and grim; No one is so near, so dear as Jesus– Cast your ev’ry care on Him! Cast your every care on Him, Cause no one understands like Jesus.’ 

You can say that again my people: ‘No one understands like Jesus!’ (smile) And there seems to be an interesting and heart-felt story behind the writing of this song, as there usually are behind many of our favourite tunes. Mr. Peterson appears to have been quite involved in Christian music and tells the story thus: ‘”At one time I had a responsible position with a well-known gospel ministry. One day a supervisory position opened up in my department. I was led to believe that I was to be promoted to this position. I was thrilled and challenged by the prospect of a new joy. But I was by-passed, and a man from the outside was brought in to fill the position.  

There followed days of agonizing heart searching. It was all I could do to keep from becoming bitter. One night I had occasion to spend an evening with the man who was brought in for “my” position. For some reason or other, though otherwise a very pleasant fellow, that night he became quite caustic in some of his remarks to me; and I was deeply hurt. Later that evening, after returning home, I was sitting in our living room thinking about the events of the past days and about the bitter experiences of that evening. I began to feel very alone and forsaken. 

Suddenly, I sensed the presence of the Lord in an unusual way and my mind was diverted from my difficulties to His faithfulness and sufficiency. Soon the thought occurred to me that He fully understood and sympathized with my situation–in fact, no one could ever completely understand or care as did He. Before long, the idea for the song came and I began to write. “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you” (Ps. 55:22). 

And Peter, who witnessed the perfidy of Judas, echoed his words: “Casting all your care [anxiety] upon Him, for He cares [is deeply concerned] for you” (I Pet. 5:7). Discouragement gripped him. He felt alone and forsaken, and was tempted to become bitter, until he began thinking about the great compassion of the Lord. Who cares? He does!’ 

Yes friends, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ does care deeply about us, else why would He leave the joys and comforts of heaven and come to earth in human flesh to suffer the humiliation and abuse He did eh? These awesome words of His speak plainly of caring. ‘For God so LOVED the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ (Jon 3:16) There was no reason for the Father to do that, except that His LOVE and compassion for us was so great, He couldn’t just allow us to lose our souls and end up in Hades with Beelzebub. 

So Jesus’ coming to earth was all about caring. And the Good Book tells us in so many instances of God’s care and concern for us. Let’s check out a few nuh. Mr. Peterson mentioned a couple. The first one being the words of Bruh David from Psalm 55 – A cry against deceitful friends – where he declares in no uncertain manner: ‘Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer (permit, allow) the righteous to be moved (shaken).’ (Ps. 55:22) and if you are a believer in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, then it’s imperative that you believe those words! 

Then there was Peter, who experienced Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, as well as his own, when he thrice denied knowing Christ, having been forewarned by Christ that he would do it. And when the cock crowed and Jesus looked around at Peter, he must have wished the earth could open up and swallow him, the shame he felt. (Luke 22:55-62) But the Lord not only forgave Peter, but also encouraged him, ‘Feed my sheep.’  (John 21:15-19) And Peter rose to be one of the leaders of the church. 

All of that caring and compassion of Jesus, must have compelled him to write: ‘Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.’ (1 Pet. 5:6-7) And that’s the gospel truth friends! Peter experienced it, so he could testify to it. Likewise, many of us have also experienced the Lord’s care and compassion in our normal everyday lives, but you know what, in these turbulent and dangerous times we need to seek His care and compassion even more than usual, since the world is in such turmoil. 

And Psalm 37 – the true state of the wicked – has a couple of interesting verses that we should all take hold of. ‘Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass…The steps of a good man are ordered (established) by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.’ (Ps. 37:5, 23-24) 

Oh my fellow believers there’s no doubt whatsoever that Jesus cares for us. How else can you interpret these words of His: ‘I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.’ (John 10:11) My fellow saints, please ponder those words today, and see if they don’t add up to a tender and heartfelt caring on the part of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Much LOVE!

…no one understands…or cares…like Jesus… 

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

Today’s Scrip-Bit   3 October 2021   John 6:35. 

John 6:35.     I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

It’s that beautiful day of the Lord again friends – Sunday! And all God’s children shouted a loud, proud and grateful: ‘Glory Hallelujah! All thanks, praise and honour be unto our wonderful heavenly Father, who created us in His marvellous image and blesses us with all we need to see life through, here on earth! We LOVE You and bless Your holy name on this Your day, as we gather to worship You, either physically in your sanctuary or by technological means. 

There’s no distance in prayer nor worship, so it doesn’t matter whether we are together or far away, our prayers and worship still come as one to Your waiting ears and excited, expectant heart! That’s because we know Your great LOVE for us, and Your desire for us to only be blessed and not cursed, as You told Moses way back when. ‘O that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever.’ (Deut. 5:29) 

Yes Lord, we know that the cockles of Your heart are warmed when we live the way You desire of us, that’s why today we come to give you an earful of praise and worship. So please listen up Lord and accept our thanks and praise which sincerely come from the depths of our hearts. This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!’ 

And our opening song of praise is one we know so well, and sincerely LOVE. It was written in the 18th century by that old rapscallion and slave trader turned slave abolitionist by God’s mighty hand. We’re talking about John Newton (1725-1807), the writer of that other masterpiece, ‘Amazing Grace.’ Today though, we’ll raise our voices in sacrificial praise to ‘How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds,’ another of Newton’s beautiful hymns. That’s God’s mysterious working, where He takes pleasure in turning notorious sinners into amazing saints! Think of Bruh Paul. 

So, in soulful harmony, in an up-tempo riddim, because it’s a song that conveys joy, let’s sing. ‘‘How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear! It soothes our sorrows, heals our wounds, and drives away our fear. It makes the wounded spirit whole and calms the troubled breast; ’tis manna to the hungry soul, and to the weary, rest. Dear name! the rock on which I build, My shield and hiding place, My never-failing treasury, filled, With boundless stores of grace.

 O Jesus, shepherd, guardian, friend, my Prophet, Priest, and King, my Lord, my Life, my Way, my End, accept the praise I bring. How weak the effort of my heart, how cold my warmest thought; but when I see you as you are, I’ll praise you as I ought. Till then I would your LOVE proclaim with every fleeting breath; and may the music of your name refresh my soul in death… and may the music of your name refresh my soul in death…’ 

Ah friends, that was wonderful, because it was indeed sincere, and the name of Jesus sounds ever so sweet to our ears, as He is our Everything! As the song says, He’s our ‘Shepherd, Guardian, Friend, Prophet, Priest and King, my Lord, my Life, my Way, my End.’ The only thing that’s probably left out is ‘Brother,’ and some versions do sing ‘Brother’ instead of ‘Guardian.’ So, when we say He is indeed our everything, it’s certainly no lie! 

And though the song is fairly short it is chocked full of biblical references. So let’s check out a few. We’ll begin with Peter’s confident words to the High Priest. ‘This is the stone which was set at nought of (rejected by) you builders, which is become the head of the corner (the chief cornerstone). Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.’ (Acts 4:11-12) Wow friends! Under those circumstances, what sweeter name can there be to us believers eh? None whatsoever!  

And when the hymn talks about manna to the hungry soul, it refers to the Lord providing manna for the children of Israel in the wilderness in Exodus 16. But when the people brought their arguments to Jesus about Moses giving their ancestors bread from heaven to eat. He calmly disputed them by saying. ‘Moses gave you not that bread from heaven, but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life to the world. Then said they unto him, Lord evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.’ (John 6:31-35) 

Ah mih people, Jesus is indeed manna to our hungry souls, for when we believe in Him, we neither hunger nor thirst spiritually! And we know what Psalm 147:3 says: ‘He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds (sorrows).’ Now, it’s obvious that talking about giving rest to the weary, refers to Matthew 11:28, where Jesus declares His Great Invitation. ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ 

And when we talking about building on the rock that’s Jesus, nobody says it better than Bruh David in Psalm 18. ‘The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength (lit. rock), in whom I will trust; my buckler (shield), and the horn (strength) of my salvation, and my high tower (fortress).’ (Ps. 18:3) You can’t get any more faith and trust than that. 

Now what about Jesus being our priest eh? Listen to the author of Hebrews. ‘Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession (confession of faith). For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched (sympathize) with the feeling of our infirmities (our weaknesses), but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly (confidently) unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.’ (Heb. 4:14-16) 

What a wonderful person is our Jesus! He can sympathize with all our problems, yet be without sin. Now that’s an exceedingly good thing, otherwise He would not be able to redeem us. And we’ll do one last scripture, that’s where Jesus considers us friends. He clearly says to the disciples: ‘Greater LOVE hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.’  (John 15:13-15) 

And there are lots more scriptures that we can pluck from the skillfully created masterpiece of John Newton. I would suggest some valuable homework; you look through the song yourself and see what other scripture references you can find. That ought to be an interesting task for a quiet Sunday afternoon (smile). Much LOVE!

…there’s no greater or sweeter sounding name in all the world…than that of…JESUS…                                                                                                                                  

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