Today’s Scrip-Bit   6 February 2022 Psalm 18:1.

Psalm 18:1      I will LOVE thee, O Lord, my strength. 

It’s the first day of the week friends – Sunday, the Lord’s Day! That means it’s time to gather round to give thanks and praise, to hear God’s Word and receive inspiration and reassurance for the upcoming week. Now, some of our churches are still closed because of the Covid virus, but others are open, but with the many technological advances at our beck and call, none of us ought to miss attending worship in some form and fashion today. 

And we are going to open today’s worship session with a golden oldie titled ‘Rock of Ages Cleft For Me.’ Yeh, it’s a favourite we’ve been singing for over two hundred years, and it still retains the flavour and delivers the message that we all need to hear, especially in these turbulent times. 

The hymn was written by the English minister, Rev. Augustus Toplady around 1763, and the hymnary.org website tells us: ‘There is a legend that Augustus Toplady was inspired to write this hymn after finding shelter from a thunderstorm in a cleft (space, opening) in a rock at Burrington Combe in Somerset, England. While evidence to support that story is lacking, it does provide a vivid image through which to understand the hymn. Christ and His redemptive work on the cross are like that cleft (space, opening) in the rock, where we can find shelter from the deluge of sin’s guilt and power.’ 

And isn’t that the awesome truth! So with that in mind let’s offer a rich, soulful and sincere sacrifice of praise to our wonderful Saviour Jesus Christ, as we sing: ‘Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee; let the water and the blood, from thy wounded side which flowed, be of sin the double cure; save from wrath and make me pure. Not the labors of my hands can fulfill thy law’s demands; could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow, all for sin could not atone; thou must save, and thou alone. 

Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling; naked, come to thee for dress; helpless, look to thee for grace; foul, I to the fountain fly; wash me, Saviour, or I die. Wash me, Saviour or I die. While I draw this fleeting breath, when mine eyes shall close in death, when I soar to worlds unknown, see thee on thy judgment throne, Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee…Let me hide myself in thee…let me hide myself in thee….’ 

Yes friends, only the blood of Jesus shed on the cross of Calvary has the power to atone for our sins, and only through accepting Him as Lord and Saviour can we ever come to salvation. And once He comes into our lives, He’s always there with us, through His Holy Spirit, never leaving nor forsaking us. 

And I like this excerpt from an article on the website Godtube, which states: ‘Even when we may feel like we are all alone, remember that God is always by our side and will never abandon us. He is truly our light in the dark and our rock that we can stand upon always. What an amazing feeling to be loved by such a kind Father and to give praise to His name with the beautiful hymn ‘Rock Of Ages.’ Hearing the story behind the hymn made this classic song even more powerful. What a way to worship!’ 

Ah mih people, our God is indeed a refuge from the storms of life; the solid rock that has a cleft or space under or in which we can always hide. And it’s a figure of speech, a metaphor that’s used throughout the Good Book to describe our marvellous Creator. So let’s check out a few of those scriptures nuh. Listen first to Moses as he sang his song of praise to Almighty God:…Because I will publish (proclaim) the name of the Lord; ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgement: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.’ (Deut. 32:3-4) Yes my brethren, those words describe our God to a T! 

Meanwhile, the prophet Isaiah, in his hymn of praise, said it thus: ‘Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever; for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength (or Rock of Ages).’ (Is. 26:3-4) Ah friends, more gospel truth about the attributes and excellence of our wonderful God. 

But hear the definitive proclamation on the mighty power of our Jehovah, which comes from Psalm 18, from the pen of Bruh David, who knew the awesome majesty and power and faithfulness of the God of his forefathers. And though it took some twenty years after his anointing for him to become king of Israel, most of which he spent running for his life from the jealous king Saul, the Lord kept him safe. Even when Saul threw a javelin at him at close quarters, he missed twice. (1 Sam. 18:10-11) 

Bruh David solemnly declares: ‘I will LOVE thee, O Lord, my strength. 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 (stronghold). I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.’ (Ps. 18:1-3) 

And Bruh David did call upon the Lord, and he was saved from his enemies. We know his story, so what better or other testimony do we need eh my fellow saints to run to God for refuge when the troubles of this world threaten to overwhelm us? It’s a no-brainer! God created us and has saved us from the eternal damnation to which our sin originally relegated us, by the sacrificial blood of His Son Jesus shed on the cross at Calvary. 

In His great LOVE for us, He reconciled us to Himself, what more do want eh? All He’s asking is that you believe in His Son, and come to Him for help in time of need. The choice is yours. But please note there are serious negative consequences for refusing His offer. So the wise man will gladly accept it. Much LOVE!

…only a fool will say there is no God…when there is so much evidence to the contrary…     

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

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Today’s Scrip-Bit   30 January 2022   2 Corinthians 12:10b.

2 Corinthians 12:10b.     …for when I am weak, then I am strong.

It’s the Lord’s Day friends – Sunday…with bright sunshine too! (smile) That means it’s time to gather for worship, to give thanks and praise and receive rejuvenation and encouragement for next week’s duties. And the days are not getting any easier, especially since we now have a new variant of the Omicron variant in the pandemic business. But, with God’s help and our wise and responsible behaviour, we will fight this virus right down to the end and come out victorious! 

That’s our God’s promise, if we revere and stay close to Him. That’s why today’s song of praise is ever so important. You can tell that just from its title: ‘Just a Closer Walk with Thee.’ Oh friends, in these dark and dangerous times it’s ever so necessary to get as close to God as possible, because it’s only through Him that we can ever hope to be righteous conquerors. 

‘Just a Closer Walk with Thee’ is a traditional gospel song, that most likely dates from way back when the African Americans were suffering significant adversity in the Southern States of the U.S.A. It’s been performed and recorded by numerous artists, and the fact that it’s stood the test of time, and is still very appropriate in our current adversity, says a great deal about its spiritual strength and reassurance. 

So let’s sing a rich, up-tempo gospel version, with plenty background vocals, clapping and riddim instruments, like they possibly did down in those Southern African American churches, when times were really rough, and Jesus was the ONLY positive option they had. 

Therefore, with that same assurance, let’s raise our voices in sweet and sincere sacrificial praise to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. ‘I am weak but Thou art strong; Jesus, keep me from all wrong; I’ll be satisfied as long As I walk, let me walk close to Thee. (Refrain: Just a closer walk with Thee, Grant it, Jesus, is my plea, Daily walking close to Thee, Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.) Thro’ this world of toil and snares, If I falter, Lord, who cares? Who with me my burden shares? None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee. 

[Refrain]When my feeble life is o’er, Time for me will be no more; Guide me gently, safely o’er To Thy kingdom shore, to Thy shore. (Refrain: Just a closer walk with Thee, Grant it, Jesus, is my plea, Daily walking close to Thee, Let it be, dear Lord, let it be…One more time my people… Just a closer walk with Thee, Grant it, Jesus, is my plea, Daily walking close to Thee, Let it be, dear Lord, let it be…’ 

Now let’s hope that we were truly sincere in our praise, because, as I said earlier, we desperately need to walk with Jesus in these calamitous times, if we want to not only survive them, but even more importantly thrive in them. Yes, my brethren, Jesus can cause us to thrive even in the midst of serious adversity. But we have to come alongside Him in total faith and surrender ourselves completely to His will. 

And on a point of interest, the website, Hymary.org informs us that, ‘In this song we acknowledge our human inability to live righteously, but we also express awareness of the grace and strength that God gives us in our daily walk. Even such an esteemed saint as the apostle Paul acknowledged his need for this grace:’ 

And when was that you ask? When he asked the Lord three times to remove the thorn from his side. ‘And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength (power) is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities (weaknesses), that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong.’ (2 Cor. 12:8-10) 

Ah my fellow believers, the same thing applies to us; when we think we are weak, because we cannot do something in our own strength, that’s when we are really strong because the grace and power of God will step in in our weakness and anoint us to do His will. Glory be! 

There’s also this most applicable verse: ‘And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect (blameless).’ (Gen. 17:1) So friends, if the father of our faith was required to walk with the Lord, it’s obvious that we are also required to do the same, and in all seriousness too. 

Then we are told that the title and lyrics of today’s song, ‘Just a Closer Walk with Thee,’ allude to the famous passage from 2 Corinthians 5:7, which reads: ‘For we walk by faith, not by sight.’ And that’s the gospel truth! Christians walk by faith, by what they see and believe in their hearts, not what they see with their eyes. 

And Bruh Paul specified this more clearly when he said to the church at Rome. ‘For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience (perseverance) wait for it.’ (Rom. 8:24-25) More indisputable truth my fellow saints! And the title and lyrics of our song, also allude to this critical passage from James. ‘Draw nigh (near) to God, and he will draw nigh (near) to you…’ (James 4:8a). 

Now that was nothing new, for long before that, there was this warning from the prophet Azariah: ‘And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded: And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The Lord is with you, while ye be with him: and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.’ (2 Chr. 15:1-2) 

Oh my people, that’s the same message that’s been sent to us today, loud and clear! If we seek God, we will find Him. But if we don’t, He won’t bother with us, either and allow us to go our own foolish way, like we’re currently doing. I don’t know what it will take for us to wake up and realize that He is our only hope. But I sincerely hope and pray, that for our sake, and that of our children…and their children, that we wake up soon and sincerely seek Him, before it all falls apart! 

So please, let’s go to God nuh, as we’ve been so wisely advised, walk with Him and cling to Him as closely as possible, because in Him lies all of our hope for a better tomorrow, as well as today! Much LOVE!

…clinging to our Creator for dear life…doesn’t require much wisdom…just basic common sense…   

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

Today’s Scrip-Bit 26 March 2020 Psalm 103:11.

Psalm 103:11.    For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy (LOVING-kindness) toward them that fear him.
 
Well it’s another brand new day in the life! Let’s give thanks and praise to our great and mighty God for it, despite the many problems we face in these trying and uncertain times. There’s no need to fear or worry for our God can handle any circumstance and has promised to do so once we cry out to Him for help. That is our most serious problem; not crying out to Him sincerely for help. But thankfully, this Covid-19 virus seems to be slowly changing our outlook. We’re supposed to be a faithful people, and now it’s time for us to show that faith in true blue colours. 

And I got a very interesting note from a friend yesterday which encourages us to do just that. It reads as follows: ‘In three short months, just like He did with the plagues of Egypt, God has taken away everything we worship. God said: “You want to worship athletes, I will shut down the stadiums. You want to worship musicians, I will shut down Civic Centres. You want to worship actors, I will shut down the theatres. You want to worship money, I will shut down the economy and collapse the stock market. You don’t want to go to church and worship Me, I will make it where you can’t go to church.” 

(And then there’s a quote directly from the Bible; God’s guiding Word and light to mankind:) “If my people who are called by my name will 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.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) And the message continues: ‘Maybe we don’t need a vaccine; maybe we need to take this time of isolation from the distractions of the world and have a personal revival where we focus on the ONLY thing in the world that really matters: JESUS!’ 

Oh my people, that’s what I’ve been saying for the last little while. This Covid-19 stuff is no happenstance circumstance, but a warning from our God! And there’s no MAYBE we should turn back to Him. It’s the ONLY Solution to our problem, for even if and when we do discover a vaccine, it might just be too late. Remember God’s promise: ‘If we humble ourselves and pray, and seek his face, and turn from our wicked ways, then He will hear us, forgive us, and heal our land.’ Now humbling ourselves, praying and seeking His face is comparatively easy, but if we don’t change our wicked ways, then nothing’s going to improve. 

It’s mostly the wicked ways, or in everyday parlance, the overwhelming SIN in our world, that causes our problems. And if, as we’re currently doing, venerating everything and everybody else besides Almighty God, in blatant and blaspheming disobedience, then eventually He will take us to task. Just think about all the times God’s Chosen people, the Israelites turned aside from worshipping Him nuh, and how each and every time they suffered some significant dilemma and disaster. Why won’t He do the same to us now eh? Oh yes! He’s still sits on His heavenly throne and still controls the great and wonderful universe He made. 

And in a significant expression of hope, the College of Bishops of the Anglican Diocese of Toronto are encouraging ALL believers to a day of prayer and fasting TODAY, Thursday March 26. And you can turn to the Diocesan Day of Prayer & Fasting, March 26, on the website that follows. You will have to type it in manually, because my limited technological knowledge would not allow me to just copy it for your ease of use. (smile) And there you will find some suggested prayers for morning, noon and evening, and guidelines for fasting. (smile) www.toronto.anglican.ca/2020/03/20/diocesan-day-of-prayer

Oh friends, I cannot stress how important the need is RIGHT NOW for sincere prayer and true repentance! And I just had a thought that made me chuckle. Yuh notice when the Lord start this whole Covid -19 ball rolling – in the season of Lent, when we’re supposed to be more contemplative and godly and into Him and His ways! Remember, NOTHING happens with us and our God without a reason and a purpose. And you know what I LOVE about our God, is that although He punishes us for our disobedience, He never gives us more than we can bear. 

Hear this awesome promise, He makes through Bruh Paul. ‘There hath no temptation taken (overtaken) you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.’ (1 Cor. 10:13) 

And to those inspiring and reassuring words of Bruh Paul, let’s add these momentous words of Bruh David’s. ‘The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous (abounding) in mercy (LOVING-kindness).  He will not always chide (strive): neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy (LOVING-kindness) toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.’ (Ps. 103:8-13) 

Yes friends, the Lord is a most merciful and magnanimous God… but to those who fear, who reverence, who sincerely seek and worship Him! The wicked He will cast away like trash, but the righteous He will comfort and care for. And you definitely can’t say that our world has recently been a place of righteousness, but one of infernal wickedness. 

And just a li’l side story on the subject. Yesterday afternoon I went up the street for a walk; the sun was shining brightly and it was somewhat warm, but much to my surprise along the sidewalk somebody or bodies had drawn smiles, and hearts and sunshine in different colours of chalk, as well as written messages like: ‘Thanks to anyone who is helping others.’ Thanks to all the health care workers.’ ‘Stay healthy – keep moving.’ Well that is exactly what I was trying to do, along with a few other people, but nowhere near the amount you would normally have seen out on such a lovely spring-like day. 

And those messages also show that people are caring. Let’s see if we can’t ramp up that caring nuh. And we do have the tools for doing so; our Thursday Blessings, generously bestowed on us so we can do the same to others. So, in strong voice, with sincere hearts, let’s loudly and proudly declare them: ‘I declare that I am blessed with God’s supernatural wisdom and receive clear direction for my life! I declare today that I am blessed with creativity, courage, talent and abundance! I am blessed with a strong will, self-control and self-discipline! 

I am blessed with a great family, good friends, good health, faith, favour and fulfillment! I am blessed with success, supernatural strength, promotion and divine protection! I am blessed with a compassionate heart and a positive outlook on life! I declare that any curse or negative word that’s ever been spoken over me is broken right now in the name of Jesus! I declare that everything I put my hands to will prosper and succeed! I declare it today and everyday! Amen!’ 

Now, with those awesome tools, let’s do whatever we can in our lockdown state to further the kingdom of Jesus nuh! It is our bounden duty! Much LOVE!

…seek ye FIRST…the kingdom of God…and His righteousness…

Today’s Scrip-Bit 16 February 2020 Luke 14:33.

Luke 14:33.    ​So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that the hath, he cannot be my disciple.
 
Yeah! It’s the first day… the first day of the week my brethren. It’s Sunday…all day! And you know what that means, the church doors are open ready to welcome whosoever wants to come, but hoping that everybody will come. Yeh friends, that’s the hope of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, that all will come to salvation and thus become a member of His earthly organization called the church, and, on a regular basis, show their faces at the physical structures created for those blessed members to come and celebrate, give thanks and praise and receive heavenly succour, so that we can go about His business the upcoming week with vim and vigour, zest and godly energy! 

And for those of us who have accepted that glorious invitation, let’s begin the proceedings as we always do, with a song, a song of worship and thanksgiving, praise and gratitude. And today’s song is a popular hymn with lyrics by Judson Van De Venter and music by Winfield Weeden, published in 1896, and appropriately titled: ‘All to Jesus I Surrender.’ And do we ever need to do that…totally and completely, if we want to enjoy the good and abundant life He has planned for us. So let’s tell Him so now nuh, with sincere hearts and voices raised in praiseful sacrifice. 

As one soulful and harmonious choir: ‘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 Savior, 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, Savior, 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 Savior, I surrender all… I surrender all, I surrender all; All to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all…’ 

Ah friends, I do hope we were all sincere in that sacrifice of praise because the Lord is going to look at our hearts and check our motives, and if we weren’t sincere then we’ll have to answer why and not be blessed as we desired. And the whole thing is simply about surrender my people, surrender to the one who gave His sinless life to atone for our sins and made us right with God, gave us the wonderful option of eternal salvation by His resurrection, and is still advocating for us with the Father. It’s a normal requirement my brethren, if we want to enjoy the fruits of His efforts. 

Look at how we give our allegiance to earthly organizations, many of whom don’t do a blooming thing for us! Why then should it be so difficult to give our all to Jesus, who gave His all for us eh? We’re just being selfish and greedy and carnal. But Jesus made it quite clear when He spoke about counting the cost of discipleship. The Good Book says: ‘And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned and said to them, 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 14:25-27) 

Wow friends, it sure looks like being a disciple of Jesus is not for the sorrowful or fainthearted! (smile) And Jesus certainly doesn’t want us to hate out families, because He is all about LOVE. He’s just saying that Him and His business must come first. Hear the scholars with some explanations. ‘14:25. Jesus had gained a wide hearing. Here was the temptation to water down the demands that discipleship entail. Yet in the following verses Jesus clearly does just the opposite.’ 

‘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.’ Then Jesus in His inimitable style goes on to talk about building a tower and contemplating war, where the costs of both have to be considered before any serious commitments are made. (Luke 14:28-32)  

And the scholars say those verses are only found in Luke. And Jesus pinpoints the major lesson of the two stories in verse 33, which states: ‘So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that the hath, he cannot be my disciple.’ Yeh friends, to truly follow Jesus, one ought to count the cost. It’s not an easy row to hoe, but with His awesome help we can all handle it if we seriously commit our lives to Him. We have to be ready to give up a lot of stuff on His behalf. 

Remember the rich young ruler that came and wanted to be His disciple? (Matt.19:16-22) Jesus told him to first go and sell all his possessions and give to the poor and thus store up treasure in heaven then come back and follow Him. The young man went away sorrowful, because he had a lot of possession. Jesus didn’t really mean for Him to literally sell everything, but was merely testing His resolve. 

According to the scholars, His outward righteousness seemed fine, but he hadn’t really kept the commandments because his wealth and self-righteousness had blinded him to his real weakness; he LOVED himself more than he LOVED his neighbour, the poor. And he LOVED his possessions more than he LOVED God. This passage teaches the seriousness of true discipleship, but it in no way teaches the average man that he must sell his possessions in order to be Christian. 

So don’t worry my rich and well off friends, you don’t have to go and sell your possessions to be a disciple of Christ. (smile) But you do have to pick up your cross daily and follow Him, as He says early on in Luke. ‘If any man will (desires to) come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.’ (Luke 9:23) 

Now that’s the crux of the message my people: everyday we have to be willing to stand strong in His name and do whatever it takes to further His kingdom. Are we doing that in a satisfactory manner? I don’t think so, otherwise Christianity would be much stronger and much further ahead. So please, let’s spend some time today pondering our individual situations nuh, and ask the Lord to help us do better, because we all have room for improvement. Much LOVE!

…discipleship…means to be willing to forsake one’s self…every day… for Christ…

Today’s Scrip-Bit 10 November 2019 Hebrews 4:16.

Hebrews 4:16.    ​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.

Time to refuel once again friends; time to revitalize our spiritual energy with a visit to the Lord’s house this Sunday morning, or evening, where in fellowship with other believers, we give thanks and praise to our heavenly Father, hear His awesome Word, filled with wisdom and encouragement and come away strong and confident, empowered to face our turbulent world for another seven days, diligently doing His holy will! Hn, hn! I like that sentence; though it’s long, it’s chocked full of truth! And as believers in Jesus Christ, that ought to be a major priority in our lives. As Bruh David says in Psalm 25: ‘All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.’ (Ps.25:10) If you are a true believer, you certainly can’t deny that. 

Anyway, let’s get on with the praise and worship, beginning, as always, with a song of heartfelt LOVE being floated up to heaven. And today’s song is an old favourite, ‘How sweet the name of Jesus sounds,’ written by none other than John Newton (1725-1807); the licentious sailor, slave trader, abolitionist and priest, who contributed numerous songs to our Hymn Book, the most famous being the immortal, ‘Amazing Grace.’ So let’s sing out our souls in all sincerity to Jesus, letting Him know how much we LOVE, adore and appreciate Him. 

As one voice, in perfect harmony: ‘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.’ 

Ah friends, there’s really no sweeter sound to a believer’s ear than that magical, mysterious, powerful and all-encompassing name of Jesus! Give Him much heartfelt thanks and praise for all He’s done for us miserable, sinful human beings nuh. I guess because of Newton’s ungodly early life, he was able to hit the nail on the head when writing this hymn. Most likely Jesus did it all for him; soothed his sorrows, healed his wounds, drove away his fear. I’m sure He made whole his wounded spirit and calmed his troubled breast…and undoubtedly, He was manna to his hungry soul, and in his weariness, gave him peaceful rest. And yuh know what my people, Jesus will do the same for each and everyone of us, if we will just accept Him into our hearts and be obedient to His will. 

Listen to some of the awesome, but oh so truthful statements that Jesus made in His time here on earth. ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but my me.’ (John 14:6) Right there the situation is explained in living colour: only through Jesus, by believing in Him, and living a lifestyle in concert with His, will we ever get to see the Father’s face and behold His immaculate glory! Then hear Him on the shepherd scene: ‘I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so I know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep.’ (John 10:14-15) And did He ever lay down His sinless life in a most sacrificial manner for us, the sinful and willful sheep of His pasture! 

And as for obedience, hear Him: ‘A new commandment I give to 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) He also emphasized the LOVE factor later on in talking about the Holy Spirit. ‘If you LOVE me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever.’ (John 14:15-16)  And He kept His promise, that’s why we have the Holy Spirit indwelling each and every believer today! 

And there’s nothing in this whole wide world like Jesus’ Great Invitation: ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of (from) me: for I am meek and lowly in heart (gentle and humble): and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’ (Matt. 11:28-30) Coming obediently to Jesus is wisest way to find rest friends! I can certainly vouch for that, and so too can many of you. 

And if you want more, He is also the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (1 Tim. 6:15); the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last (Rev.1:8); The name above every name, to which every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:9-11) He is also our Advocate, our lawyer in heaven. ‘And if any man sin, we have an advocate (intercessor) with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous’ (1 John 2:1b) Glory be mih breddren! 

And finally, Jesus is also our High Priest: ‘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) For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched (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. 4:14-16) That’s the best advice to end with today friends! Please pay significant heed to it. Much LOVE!

…Jesus is our Be All…and our End All…our Everything in ONE…

 

Today’s Scrip-Bit 13 August 2019 John 13:15.

John 13:15.    ​For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done unto you.
 

Oh my people, it’s a perfect beginning to what seems like a perfect day! The sun’s shining ever so brightly although it’s just eight o’clock in the morning, merrily reflecting off every possible surface. I was quite surprised at how bright it looked when I went outside a short while ago. And the temperature is nice and comfortable, so let’s hope it will continue like that all day. 

But the most important thing is that we’re alive to enjoy it! Yeahhh! Through God’s LOVING grace, mercy and forgiveness, we’re still around to enjoy another memorable day! Wow! Give Him much thanks and praise my fellow saints in Christ for being so wonderful to us when we don’t deserve any of it. 

But most of all, we have to give Him thanks for His most wonderful Son, Jesus Christ, who sacrificed His sinless blood on the cross at Calvary so that we could be made right with the Father! Glory to God! That’s why the Daily Bread Devotionals could tell us: ‘In a world filled with heartache, we can model the compassion of Jesus.’ And furthermore: ‘We serve Christ when we serve people!’ 

Words of gospel truth my brethren! Jesus is the most worthwhile example of all that we should aspire to be! Yes, we can never be truly like Him, be perfect in every way, because of our inherent sinful nature and His accompanying deity, but we can certainly try to get as close as possible to perfection in our humanity. And serving others while having a heartfelt compassion for mankind are possibly the two most important ways we can model Him. 

Oh, we won’t forget spreading His gospel, but people are more receptive to that good news when we first assuage their physical wants. Meaning, if someone’s hungry, before we begin preaching, we should first feed them. And likewise, if they are naked, clothe them first before trying to shove the gospel down their throats. 

And unfortunately that’s a mistake we often make. We reach out to the impoverished, both in body and spirit, but we put the gospel first. But as Sparrow once said in a calypso, ‘Yuh can’t make LOVE on an empty belly!’ (smile) And that goes for almost every other situation. You’re not receptive to much of anything if you’re cold and hungry. So please, in our own li’l worlds or spheres of influence, let’s try and satisfy the physical needs of others before we begin preaching to them nuh. 

And sadly, there are so many of our brothers and sisters in Christ in these supposedly prosperous times who are suffering severe and serious want, especially with all the natural disasters, like flood and famine and sickness, plus rampant greed and strife that’s occurring all over our world in these last troubled and trying days. 

And I just came upon a most interesting and ever so applicable statement of Bruh Paul’s to the Philippians, when he promised to send Timothy to help them in their faith walk. ‘For all seek their own, not the things which are Christ’s.’ (Phil.2:21)  Yes friends, in this age of me, mine and my own, everyone is more concerned about seeking their own needs and wants than those of Christ. 

But remember He said that if we seek first His kingdom and the things that are important to Him, we would be granted all the other ancillary stuff. (Matt.6:33) Sadly though, very few of us really pay attention to those words and instead run off to do what we think is best for us. But I’m straying from the original topic; servanthood amongst the followers of Jesus. 

Friends, we ought not to be too proud to do whatever job is necessary, even if it’s the most menial of jobs, like sweeping the floors or cleaning the toilets. And again in Jesus, we have the best example possible, when He washed the feet of His disciples. That was possibly one of the most menial jobs in Israel in those days, reserved for slaves, since they wore sandals and their feet were always dusty and dirty. 

But Jesus stripped Himself at the Last Supper, the Feast of the Passover, took a basin of water and washed every disciple’s feet. Why? Listen to His reasoning. ‘Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master (Teacher) and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 

If I then, your Lord and Master (Teacher), have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done unto you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord (master); neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.’ (John 13:12-17) 

Ah friends, as always, Jesus gives us some dynomite examples to follow! And is that one about doing menial jobs ever so applicable in these days, where we all are so proud and hoighty-toighty and only want to do the jobs that the world thinks are so uplifting and convey what it calls success. 

But please remember that though the C.E.O might make the most money and have the biggest say about how to do things, it’s the lowly factory workers who actually do the jobs, make whatever they sell. Without them, he wouldn’t be in His glorified position. Likewise we should never forget the poor and unfortunate around us and not be too big and proud to help them in whatever way they need it, because that’s what our Lord and Saviour, Our Leader, Jesus Christ was all about. 

And if we want to truly follow His example, then we have to do what He did! And having washed away some of our foolish pride, (smile) let’s go home declaring (right ho!) our Tuesday Mantra, telling the whole wide world, in no uncertain terms, who and whose we are. 

All together now in strong and sincere voice: ‘In God’s eyes, I’m not what I do. I’m not what I have. I’m not what people say about me. I am the beloved of God, that’s who I am. No one can take that from me. I don’t have to worry. I don’t have to hurry. I can trust my friend Jesus and share His LOVE with the world.  Amen!’ 

And if we believe it, then let’s follow Jesus’ example and go out and share His amazing LOVE and wonderful friendship! Much LOVE!

…no job…should ever be too menial…for a true believer in Christ…

 

Today’s Scrip-Bit 31 August 2017 Deuteronomy 8:18.

Deuteronomy 8:18.   But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish (confirm) his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.

One more day, one more day mih people, to dance and sing, give thanks and praise to Almighty God! Wow! For, like us, Jesus is alive and well and His awesome LOVE is shining down from heaven in a blaze of warmth and glory, falling on all who sincerely believe and trust in Him! 

Can you feel it? Can you feel it just moving through your soul, warming the cockles of your heart and putting an amazing sense of peace and joy in your spirit? If you’re a true believer, then I’m sure you can feel it. 

And if you don’t feel it, then please get serious about growing your faith, and somewhere along the line you WILL feel it and rejoice in knowing that your faith is strong and you’re a true believer. (smile) 

Yeh friends, trusting in Jesus is such a wonderful, heart-warming experience that it makes you tingle all over, wondering what you’ve ever done to deserve such outstanding LOVE.  

But the truth is that the only thing you’ve done is to believe wholeheartedly in Him, His awesome LOVE, and the promises He’s made in His Word. That includes that He is the Son of God, your Lord and Saviour, your everlasting Redeemer, your heavenly Advocate and your Prince of Peace. 

Chuh mih breddren! Yuh see what a li’l faith and belief can accomplish! (smile) And it’s not rocket science either! His LOVE is there for ALL to share, and you were just one of the wise and smart ones to accept it. 

But please be careful, for it’s not going to be wine and roses all the way, because our Jesus is indeed a LOVING, but also demanding Master. We have jobs to do in His kingdom, and He expects excellence, diligence and obedience from ALL of His followers. 

And when you do your best to serve Him, with a right heart of course, your life will never be the same again. Take it from me people! I’m talking from personal experience here. 

Oh, you will have tests, and adversity like everybody else, because Christianity is not just a feel good organization, but if you persevere, your life will also be filled with unexpected adventure and rewards. 

Our Bit says it oh so well. ‘But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish (confirm) his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.’ 

Yeh friends, the earth and all therein belongs to the Lord, so whatever good thing you receive obviously comes from Him. But you need to stay obedient to His Word and persevere even under the toughest conditions, truly showing your faith, by believing the promise before you see it come true. 

Now let’s look at a glowing example of what we’re talking about from the Good Book; the story of Hezekiah, king of Judah. The Book of 2nd Chronicles tells us that he began to reign when he was 25 and reigned in Jerusalem for 29 years. 

‘And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done.’ (2 Crh.29:3) 

Yuh see friends, like the scholars declare: ‘Hezekiah is commended for his godly faith and trust in the Lord (cf.31:20-21).’ 

And what did he actually do to deserve such commendation? Well he brought on a revival of repentance and worship in Israel, after a time of evil and wrongdoing and idol worship in the reign of his father Ahaz. 

He reopened and repaired the Lord’s house, brought back the priests and Levites to do the tasks commanded by the law of Moses, destroyed the groves and other places that were used for idol worship. 

He also had the priests and Levites singing ‘praise unto the Lord with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with joy and gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped.’ (2 Chr.29:30) 

Yeh mih breddren, Hezekiah brought about a whole new transformation of Judah, (including many of those from the northern kingdom of Israel) bringing them back to worship the One and Only True God of their fathers, Yahweh. 

He also reinstituted the celebration of the feast of the Passover –  and was the first one ever a feast! You should read 2 Chronicles 29-31 and see what great and wonderful changes Hezekiah made during his reign. 

And the Good Book concludes his story thus: ‘And thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah, and wrought that which was good and right and truth before the Lord his God. And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.’ (2 Chr.31:20-21) 

Oh friends, that’s the kind of epitaph the Lord would like ALL of His followers to have, and that’s why He’s showered us with so many earthly blessings. So as one big, strong, faithful family, let’s go home sincerely and truthfully declaring them this Thursday morning nuh. 

‘I declare that I am blessed with God’s supernatural wisdom and receive clear direction for my life! I declare today that I am blessed with creativity, courage, talent and abundance! I am blessed with a strong will, self-control and self-discipline! 

I am blessed with a great family, good friends, good health, faith, favour and fulfillment! I am blessed with success, supernatural strength, promotion and divine protection! I am blessed with a compassionate heart and a positive outlook on life! 

I declare that any curse or negative word that’s ever been spoken over me is broken right now in the name of Jesus! I declare that everything I put my hands to will prosper and succeed! I declare it today and everyday! Amen!’ 

And since blessings are made to be shared, let’s go out and bless others now, for that’s the will and desire of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! Much LOVE!

…oh where would we be without Jesus eh….languishing in Hades with Lucifer…

 

 

 

Today’s Scrip-Bit 24 May 2017 Psalm 27:1.

Psalm 27:1.   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?

Oh people, oh people, we’re alive on this blessed Wednesday morning! Wow! Give thanks and praise to our wonderful God for that marvellous blessing! 

And if you’re wondering why, just think about the many people who went to bed alive last night but did not wake up alive this morning! 

Oh glory to God my faithful brethren! The Lord looked down on us with special favour because He has great plans for our lives today and everyday He keeps us treading this bountiful earth, therefore much praise and thanks ought to be going up to high heaven from us, His blessed people! 

And in keeping with our theme of courage from yesterday, we’ll continue with the second part of Gramps Schuller’s (Dr. Robert H. Schuller) ‘Courage Is a Decision,’ talk from his Hour of Power Devotional. 

And he emphatically declares in the second half: ‘I have it! My fears are going, going, gone! I feel a mysterious calm, quiet, tranquil assurance rising deep within my being. This remarkable spirit of courage is overpowering me. 

It is the very presence of God working peace at the core of my invisible soul. Thank You Lord. All my fears are gone. What a relief! Amen.’ 

Glory Hallelujah my people! For that’s exactly how we feel when Almighty God works His miracle of courage and peace in our souls! It’s invigorating, overwhelming, surprising, but oh so real! And we rise up with a newfound power, anxious to do His daily work. 

And remember, ONLY belief, trust, surrender and faith in the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob can bring that kind of feeling and emotion to our beings! So we’d be rather foolish to reject His awesome LOVE and thus deny ourselves the wonderful opportunity to enjoy His heavenly favour. 

And ONLY if you are a true believer, can you proclaim with genuine passion and sincerity, the uplifting words of our Bit, like Bruh David so long ago. ‘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?’ 

Yes friends, ONLY when Jehovah God is our guiding light, can we utter such confident words. And we see this overwhelming confidence in God throughout the Good Book. Hear Bruh David expound from Psalm 86 – Teach me thy way, O Lord. 

‘Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works. All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name. For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone.’ (Ps.86:8-10) 

Oh friends, what a marvellous declaration; one of indisputable truth, as the last four words remind us! ‘Thou art God alone!’ That is the basic foundation of our faith! There’s ONLY ONE God; the One we serve and worship! 

And until we get that straight and clear in our hearts, minds, bodies and souls, we’ll never be able to truly enjoy the peace, LOVE, forgiveness, mercy, salvation and eternal life that proceeds from His magnificent and magnanimous Being. 

Bruh David was so assured of this, that he continues in Psalm 86: ‘Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart (give me singleness of heart) to fear (have reverential awe for) thy name.

I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore. For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest (depths of) hell.’ (Ps.86:11-13) 

Mama Mia! Oh friends, that’s the kind of confidence we develop when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour! We know His awesome power and relinquish our all to it. Fear and all its negative associates cannot pierce the shield of courage and faith that we derive from a true relationship with the Creator of the universe and all therein. 

Now listen to Moses as he counselled the Israelites on the law concerning war. ‘And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people, And shall say unto them, 

Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them; for the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’ (Deut.30:2-4) 

Yuh see friends, even in the heat of battle, our God is working on our behalf. Yes, He certainly is in the spiritual warfare that we’re currently fighting, so please don’t lose heart, don’t fear or be terrified, because the victory is ours, it has been guaranteed by our great God. 

Consequently, we can afford to go home in peace, with courage, declaring these truths from our Wednesday Wail. All together 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!’ 

Have a most blessed day my fellow believers in Christ! Much LOVE!

…ONLY when we know Christ…can we be strong and courageous in this evil world…

 

 

 

Today’s Scrip-Bit 24 January 2016 John 3:16

John 3:16.    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.

Oh Friends, just as day follows night, so does Sunday follow Saturday, and yesterday was Saturday, which means that today is Sunday. Oh what excellent reasoning my brethren, worthy of our favourite fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes! (smile) 

And since it’s Sunday, the Lord’s Day, then we should be preparing to go to church and worship, give thanks and praise with other believers to our wonderful Creator because that is His desire. 

So let’s not dilly-dally in performing our duty nuh, raising up all kinds of feeble excuses, which we full well know don’t hold water, but merely reflects our laziness and lack of godliness. 

Now friends, going to church is not merely our duty, it is also a means of upliftment for us, of encouragement, of strengthening our faith and keeping us steadfast and true and on the right track, the straight and narrow one. 

And let me remind us that whatever God desires of us, it’s not for His benefit, but for ours. He doesn’t really need anything that we have, but we do need a lot of what He possesses. 

Consequently, I shouldn’t have to badger us to go to church. And I’ll stop it right now. (smile) But if you don’t go, you’ll never know the beautiful soulful experience that comes from worshipping God as a body of believers.  End of sermon. 

Instead, here is some wisdom from our friend Anselm who always tries to inspire us for a better tomorrow. This quote wisely declares that ‘Someone who is worthy of your LOVE will never put you in a situation where you feel you must sacrifice your dignity, your integrity, or your self-worth to be with them.’ 

And that’s oh so true my people. Anyone who wants, or expects you to compromise your truthful and godly character is definitely not worthy of your LOVE! They definitely are not friends or LOVED ones, just users, only interested in their own selves and/or desires. So anytime that kind comes around you, just ignore them and move on. 

And if they put up a fuss, just let them know that you already have truer and more important personages who sincerely care about you, as so passionately and powerfully declared in our Bit. ‘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.’ 

Yes my fellow believers, once you have the Holy Triumvirate in your corner, you don’t need anyone else, especially selfish, uncaring human beings. Please remember that in whatever situation you might find yourself, you and the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit always constitutes a majority, and that there is NO circumstance that you all can’t successfully handle together! 

Now let’s continue looking at some scripture that confirms and upholds our Bit.  And we’ll begin with Bruh Paul’s second message to the Thessalonians. ‘Wherefore he (God) called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or by our epistle. 

Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath LOVED us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish (establish) you in every good word and work.’ (2 Thess.2:14-17) 

Oh friends, what uplifting and edifying words! Words for us to hold on to, to write indelibly in our hearts, minds and souls! 

And here are a couple of scholarly explanations. ‘2:14. By our gospel (see Rom.10:17): “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.’ He is here referring to the oral communication of the gospel; what we hear brings about faith. ‘2:15. Traditions…taught refers to more than customs. In view here is the totality of the apostolic doctrine as it was given to them.’ 

Now I’d be rather amiss and falling down in my duty if I didn’t share this most interesting explanation of ‘Tradition’ by the scholars. 2:15. The word tradition literally means “a giving over by word of mouth or writing.” It refers to teachings handed down from one person to another. Tradition is not in and of itself wrong; it is only wrong when opposed to the Word of God. 

In the early church, good tradition was the principal means of Christian instruction (Luke 1:2). Paul used this word to describe his teachings, especially at Corinth and Thessalonica (v.15; 3:6). False tradition ends up as heresy or apostasy (renunciation of a religious faith). 

Illustration: The religious leaders of Jesus’ day erred in placing the traditions of men above the Word of God (Matt.15:1-9).  In contrast, Luke sifted through existing records and apparently interviewed witnesses in writing an inspired record to instruct Theophilus  in the faith (Luke 1:1-4). 

Application: Christians need to sit under the preaching and teaching of the Word of God, but when the content conflicts with the Scriptures, the teaching of men should be disregarded for the certain truth of the Bible. (First Ref. Matt.15:2; Primary Ref. 2 Thess. 2:15; cf. 2 Tim. 2:15).’  

Oh friends, we on a roll! (smile) And I do hope that you appreciate the lengths the ole fella is going to, to give us all a better understanding of God’s Word, for if we don’t understand it, then how can we obey it eh? And for your benefit, I suggest that you look up the references mentioned, to make sure they make sense. (smile) I did before I wrote them down. 

And now, may the Lord God bless and safely keep us all, grant us His unmatchable wisdom and unsurpassable peace, as we go about today to do His bidding! Much LOVE!

…when circumstances go against God’s Word…we ought to obey God…rather than men…and be ready to suffer the consequences… (Acts 5:29)

 

 

Today’s Scrip-Bit 3 January 2016 James 2:14

James 2:14.   What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 

 

Well my people, it’s the first Sunday in the New Year, and still the Christmas season, so I expect all the churches to be filled to capacity today with believers to give thanks and praise to our most wonderful God for causing us to see not only a new day, but also a brand new year charged with unlimited possibilities. 

And I included that reminder about the Christmas season for those who only go to church at Christmas and Easter.  (smile) Now, for the life of me, I just can’t figure out why supposed Christians do that. Church was meant to be a fairly regular occurrence, not once in a while, mostly at the high times of our faith. 

To my mind, if you can’t go more often than that, then why go at all eh? What does that do for you and the other people in the church eh? Nothing at all, as far as I can see! 

So you claim to your friends and family, you went to church at Christmas and Easter. Big deal! That doesn’t cut it my fellow believers. And I’m sure that’s not what Jesus expects. 

You’ll notice that wherever He was on the Sabbath, He always found Himself in the synagogue participating in the services. That’s what He also expects of us; not a wishy-washy, once in a blue moon, stick your face inside the doors of the church. Remember the church is supposed to be the body of Christ, and how can it be a properly functioning body when so many members only show up occasionally? 

Friends, no man is an island, especially a Christian in this evil and godless world. You cannot make it successfully on your lonesome; you need the help, encouragement, sentiments of praise and worship, of exhortation and teaching, and the steadfast faith from which a gathering of like believers emanates! 

That reminds me of an old adage, re those who seldom go to church.  Unfortunately I can’t remember the exact saying, but they are words to the effect that the church and its doors would crumble, would fall down when the occasional goers show up. 

Anyway my people, since we have designated and dedicated 2016 as the year of HOPE and the astronomical rise of Jesus’ LOVE Revolution, it’s therefore necessary that we sincerely come together under the umbrella of the church and decrease all the divisions and dissensions that are rife and rampant within that supposedly august body. 

Now here are some quotes from our friend Anselm, who is always trying to inspire us for a better tomorrow. The first one is very appropriate for this season. It says: ‘Bless us Lord, this Christmas, with quietness of mind; Teach us to be patient and always to be kind.’ And do we ever need those attributes in these stressful and dangerous times! 

The next quote from Anselm declares: ‘If you raise your children to feel that they can accomplish any goal or task they decide upon, you will have succeeded as a parent and you will have given your children the greatest of all blessings.’  

Now I don’t know if that is the greatest of all blessings, but it sure is an important, indispensable teaching which builds confidence and chutzpah in our offspring. 

And the last quote segues nicely into this final one. ‘He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.’ And that is the gospel truth friends! If we don’t have the courage to take risks, sensible ones now, (smile) we will never accomplish anything worthwhile. 

And that’s exactly what is happening to Christ’s church in these modern times. Too many of us are afraid, or just too sedentary to step up and do what needs to be done to further God’s kingdom down here on earth. And yes, many of us talk a good talk, but we need to remember that Christianity is an ACTION movement, and without deeds to back up the talk, it’s all useless. 

That brings us to our Bit, where James talks about faith that works. ‘What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?’ 

Now that is certainly an interesting question my people.  And James continues his theory with this explanation. ‘If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food. And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 

Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.’ (James 2:15-18)  

Ah friends, the scholars have some interesting but long explanations here, though time and space might not allow me to copy it verbatim, but I believe it’s important enough to try. 

‘2:14-17. Can faith save him? This statement and others in verses 14-26 persuade some critics that James is teaching salvation through faith and works. Luther called this epistle “strawy,” believing it emphasized works too much. Today, some regard it as a late writing in which the author is reacting to Paul’s doctrine of salvation by faith alone. This is not the case. 

James’ teachings reflect neither a negative nor a positive response to Paul’s teachings. For Paul, faith practically equals salvation. James, however, sees two kinds of faith: saving faith and professing faith (much like the usage today). For Paul, justification is by faith (Rom.4:5) For James, justification is by a faith that works – by a genuine faith that manifests itself in post-conversion works. 

Before salvation, these Jews had believed in the efficacy of works. Now some were reacting at the opposite extreme, imagining that works play no part in the salvation experience. James retorts that the kind of faith that does not produce works is not saving faith. As Calvin said: ‘Faith alone saves, but a faith that saves is never alone.”  

Thus James’ question is not simply “Can faith save?” but as the Greek text may suggest, “Can that faith save him?” Can merely professed but undemonstrated faith save?  (See vv.21-24 for further discussion.) The Greek grammar expects a negative answer to the question that ends verse 14. Hence it can be rendered, “That faith (i.e. the one mentioned in verse 14a which is without works) cannot save.’ 

Ah mih people some interesting stuff for us to ponder on this first Sunday in the New Year. And the Lord in favour, we’ll continue this discussion tomorrow. Till then, please let’s darken the doors of our churches and get our New Year’s resolution to follow Jesus more closely into full swing nuh. For that’s wisdom of everlasting and eternal proportions! Much LOVE!

…faith and works…one saves…the other complements it…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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