Today’s Scrip-Bit   22 January 2023 Hebrews 6:19a.

Hebrews 6:19a.       Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast,

And the days of this new year are moving swiftly by. Can you believe we’re already moving into the last full work week of January? Yuh better believe it! January will soon be over and we’ll be looking to Valentine’s Day, another big money spinner. But we’ll take it all in stride once we stay strong and steadfast in Christ and fellowship on the Sabbath, which is today. That means thanks, praise, worship and togetherness in the Lord’s sanctuary. Wow! That’s what the Lord’s Day is all about! 

And today we’ll open with an old but beautiful and favourite hymn, recorded by numerous artistes down through the years, aptly titled ‘Whispering Hope,’ written in 1868 by American musician and poet Septimus Winner (1827-1902). The text of the song refers to the anchor that keeps the soul unwavering – the ‘Whispering Hope’ for all Christians.’ So let’s lift our voice in sacrificial praise to heaven in a mid-tempo soulful, harmonious, heartfelt version of the song, letting them know that our souls are unwaveringly anchored in the biggest and best anchor, Jesus Christ. 

Singing: ‘Soft as the voice of an angel, Breathing a lesson unheard, Hope with a gentle persuasion Whispers her comforting word: Wait till the darkness is over, Wait till the tempest is done, Hope for the sunshine tomorrow, After the shower is gone. (Refrain: Whispering hope, whispering hope, oh, how welcome thy voice, oh how welcome thy voice, Making my heart, making my heart, in its sorrow rejoice.) If, in the dusk of the twilight, Dim be the region afar, Will not the deepening darkness Brighten the glimmering star? Then when the night is upon us, Why should the heart sink away? When the dark midnight is over, Watch for the breaking of day. [Refrain] 

Hope, as an anchor so steadfast, Rends the dark veil for the soul, Whither the Master has entered, Robbing the grave of its goal; Come then, oh, come, glad fruition, Come to my sad weary heart; Come, O Thou blest hope of glory, Never, oh, never depart. [Refrain: Whispering hope, whispering hope, oh, how welcome thy voice, oh how welcome thy voice, Making my heart, making my heart, in its sorrow rejoice.) 

Now wasn’t that just beautiful friends! And I do hope that those encouraging words lifted our spirits, giving us confidence to face the upcoming work week, for that’s one of the purposes of our Sunday fellowship. Now it’s widely acknowledged that the basis for this song comes from Chapter 6 of Hebrews, where the author talks about God’s covenant with Abraham which involves salvation among other things, (Gal. 3:15-24) which he received after he patiently endured. (Heb. 6:13-16) 

However God had more security on His mind, as the author writes. ‘Wherein God, willing (determining) more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability (unchangeableness) of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath. That by two immutable (unchangeable) things in which it was impossible to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered even Jesus, made (having become) a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.’ (Heb. 6:17-20) 

And the scholars tell us that ‘God’s covenant with Abraham, which involves salvation (Gal. 3:15-25), is secure, being based upon two immutable things, that is. elements that cannot change. First, God’s promise is based on His own unchanging Word, He cannot lie, nor will He allow His Word to fail (Matt. 5:18; John 10:35; 17:17). Further, His word was confirmed by an oath. And since He can swear by none greater, He swears by Himself. He rests His Word on His holy character.’ 

Meanwhile, they further explain that in the last three verses ‘the author uses three pictures to demonstrate the security of being in Christ. First, it is described as a safe retreat for the believer, as were the six cities of refuge in the Old Testament to those allowed their protection (Num. 35:6-32).Second, our hope is sure and steadfast as is a well-placed, unbending anchor. Our anchor is not located in the deepest sea but in the highest heaven. The third figure is that of a forerunner. Though the figure changes, the location does not. Our forerunner is likewise positioned in the sanctuary of the heaven. 

As our forerunner, Jesus is different from the Old Testament priests. In the sanctuary they could intercede for the people, but they could not lead the people in themselves. As our forerunner, Jesus has opened the way before us, that eventually (and certainly) we might enter in with Him.’ Oh, I know that might sound somewhat confusing, but just take your time and read it. Now here is some other info on the song, in particular ‘As an anchor so steadfast.’ Now please don’t ask me where I got it from, because there’s no note to it. (smile) But it might just help us understand the anchor scene better. 

So please read with me: ‘It is a striking likeness when he compares faith leaning on God’s word to an anchor; for doubtless, as long as we sojourn in this world, we stand not on firm ground, but are tossed here and there as it were in the midst of the sea, and that indeed very turbulent; for Satan is incessantly stirring up innumerable storms, which would immediately upset and sink our vessel, were we not to cast our anchor fast in the deep. 

For nowhere a haven appears to our eyes, but wherever we look water alone is in view; yea, waves also arise and threaten us; but as the anchor is cast through the waters into a dark and unseen place, and while it lies hid there, keeps the vessel beaten by the waves from being overwhelmed; so must our hope be fixed on the invisible God. There is this difference, — the anchor is cast downwards into the sea, for it has the earth as its bottom; but our hope rises upwards and soars aloft, for in the world it finds nothing on which it can stand, nor ought it to cleave to created things, but to rest on God alone. 

As the cable also by which the anchor is suspended joins the vessel with the earth through a long and dark intermediate space, so the truth of God is a bond to connect us with himself, so that no distance of place and no darkness can prevent us from cleaving to him. Thus when united to God, though we must struggle with continual storms, we are yet beyond the peril of shipwreck. Hence he says, that this anchor is sure and steadfast, or safe and firm. It may indeed be that by the violence of the waves the anchor may be plucked off, or the cable be broken, or the beaten ship be torn to pieces. This happens on the sea; but the power of God to sustain us is wholly different, and so also is the strength of hope and the firmness of his word.’ 

Now that ought to clear up a few things. (smile) So let’s go home filled with heavenly hope that’s solidly, safely and securely anchored as it ought to in Christ our Lord and Saviour, our High Priest and forerunner or precursor in the heavens. Much LOVE!

…hope is what leads to faith…without hope, you can’t have faith… 

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Today’s Scrip-Bit 5 October 2014 John 15:13

John 15:13.    Greater LOVE hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
 
And then Friends, it was Sunday, the first day of the week!
 
That means it is supposed to be a restful kind of day, including a trip to the Lord’s sanctuary to worship and fellowship with other believers, give God His praise and thanks that’s so well deserved, and get encouragement and strengthened faith from the gathering to keep on keeping on in Jesus’ name.
 
It also should encompass some quality family and/or friend time; all the while keeping our souls open to Jesus. As I keep reminding us, the way we spend the first day of the week, is usually a harbinger of how the rest of the week will unfold.
 
So if we have a busy, stressful /Sunday, then Monday will no doubt open with stress and fatigue, complaining and whining, as we have to get up and go out to labour, and the week will probably go all downhill from there.
 
However, if we spend Sunday in prayerful peace, we at least wake up rested and renewed on Monday. Then, at least we’re starting from the top and going downhill, which is always easier than starting from the bottom and having to trudge up hill.
 
And with those words of wisdom (smile) – hope you adopt them – let’s get to our Bit, the same as yesterday. ‘Greater LOVE hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’
 
And again, I will remind us, that not as servants, but as valued Friends, Jesus then went out and died for us on Calvary’s cross!
 
I therefore can’t emphasize enough, how important it is that we recognize and truly appreciate His selfless sacrifice at Calvary, for it was indeed the beginning of all our good fortune, which stemmed exclusively from the great LOVE of our heavenly Father, who desperately wanted us to be brought back in to right standing with Him.
 
It’s just like we bend over backwards sometimes with our wayward children whom we LOVE dearly and want to see get back to the right path and right standing with us.
 
Now today we’ll deal with some scriptures that highlight friendship; what it is supposed to be, and as time permits, also look at some friendships, both good and bad, from the Good Book.
 
And first off is the wisdom of Cousin Sol, telling us from Proverbs, what a friend, and friendship ought to be. Listen up closely my brethren. (smile) ‘A friend LOVETH at all times, and a brother is born of adversity.’ (Prov.17:17)
 
And that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be my people! As the scholars declare: ’17:17. A true friend has unquenchable LOVE that is not diminished by adversity.’
 
But today, unfortunately, as we all know, that kind of true friendship doesn’t exist as much as it used to. Now friends are only friends when times are good. When they are rough and you need support, you’ll usually find yourself alone, because all you really had were good times friends.
 
However my people, let’s look at what a true friendship ought to be like. It begins with Jehovah God’s covenant with Abraham in chapter 17 of Genesis, where He establishes Abraham as the father of His Chosen People.
 
And we all know the story of Abraham’s tumultuous but interesting pilgrimage throughout the land, and how throughout it all, he stayed faithful and true to God, and God also remained faithful and true to him.
 
It was such a great friendship that centuries later, king Jehoshaphat of Judah, when besieged by foreign armies, could cry out to God: ‘Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend forever?’ (2 Chr.20:7)
 
Then Isaiah, in talking of the final restoration of Israel, declares: ‘But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham, my friend.’ (Is.41:8)
 
And later on, James, the half-brother of Jesus, who only believed at the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, in talking about faith without works, boldly proclaims: ‘But wilt thou know (but do you want to know), O vain (foolish) man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
 
Seest thou how faith wrought with his works (was working), and by works was faith made perfect (complete)? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed (accounted) unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.’ (James 2:20-23)
 
Yes my brethren, that is what a true friendship ought to be like. Abraham is so revered, that even when we speak of God, and we qualify it by saying, the God of Abraham, everyone knows whom we’re talking about.
 
So today my people, as we fellowship and worship, peacefully rest in prayerful meditation, let’s consider the words ‘friend and friendship.’ Let’s ponder what they mean to us, then on that basis, ponder who our true friends might be in this earthly life, as well as who we might be true friends to.
 
And lastly, let’s ask the Lord for his help, so that at the end of our earthly pilgrimage, our faith and works will be of such excellence and integrity, that we too will be called the Friend of God! That’s the zenith of wisdom! Much LOVE!
 
…oh…to be considered…a Friend of the Lord…and a Man after His own heart…that is my greatest desire…