Today’s Scrip-Bit   16 November 2021 Isaiah 45:5a.

Isaiah 45:5a.     I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me:

Ah friends, it’s a pleasure to be with you all this bright and shiny but chilly Tuesday morning. Sorry that I’m only now getting to you, although I’ve been up for over an hour, but I had household chores to do that required doing asap. That’s putting out the garbage, the easy part, but before that picking up the humongous pile of leaves sitting in the driveway outside my side door and bagging them, for at least the third time this week, so that the garbage truck could take it away later on. 

It’s a thorn in my side (smile) that the Lord’s given me for the last thirty odd years that I’ve lived here. Unfortunately, for me, the way the houses are built, it creates a whirlwind in my driveway, right outside my side door, so every fall the leaves blow from all over and congregate in my driveway, and so does the snow. You look outside, and all the neighbours’ driveways are spotless, but mine is either filled with leaves or snow. 

In my more youthful years, it wasn’t a major problem, but now with the onset of age and all its aches and pains, it’s become a pain in the butt and back, both literally and figuratively. (smile) But I guess them’s the breaks. You win some, you lose some, and you just have to grin and bear it. So now that’ I’ve emptied my spleen, (smile) let’s see what the Lord wants us to talk about today. 

And it seems that it’s a very timely reminder, as the Good Book just opened on this most important scripture, where the Lord is giving a charge to the Persian king Cyrus. And yes, He often used the heathen or pagan kings for His purposes. This is a portion of what He said to Cyrus, through the prophet Isaiah. 

‘For Jacob, my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by name; I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me. I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me. That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west (to its setting in the west), that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil (calamity): I the Lord do all these things.’ (Is. 45:4-7) 

Yes friends, the Lord was going to use Cyrus to liberate His people Israel from exile in Babylon, and that message through Isaiah was a means of reassuring them that their God, He of their forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, was still on the throne and still had their best interest at heart. And that’s the same message He’s sending to us today my faithful brethren: Our God is still on the throne, still controlling things, with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ sitting at His right hand advocating on our behalf! 

And since He doesn’t change, it means, He still has our best interest at heart, He still has plans to give us a future and a hope, but we need to come to Him and make things right. The sinfulness, the depravity, the ungodliness, the move to drive him out of our society is not sitting right with Him. And how can we expect anything else eh, when we defame, blaspheme and turn away from a most holy, righteous and just God? 

How do you think He feels when we refuse to acknowledge His Son as the Saviour of the world, as the King of kings, the Lord of Lords and the Prince of Peace, amongst His many other titles? He must feel UNLOVED, hard done by, not wanted or needed, like all of us would feel, and do feel, when we are rejected by our fellow human beings. 

But please remember this most salient fact; there is no God beside Jehovah, Yahweh, Elohim, or whatever you choose to call Him. And remember too His words to Cyrus: ‘I form the light and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil (calamity): I the Lord do all these things.’ That means He has control over everything and every situation in our frail and finite lives, because He is our Creator and Controller. 

Oh yes, he’s given us free will, but that’s only to a certain extent. In the long run, He’s still the BOSS, and can do exactly as He pleases without any input from us. And until we understand that, we will always live fearful and anxious, with a shadow of calamity hanging over our heads. 

But let’s clear up one situation here. The scholars explain that ‘The phrase I…create evil. (in verse 7 above) refers to physical evil or calamity, rather than moral evil. God is in no way pictured in Scripture as the author of sin.’ So, let’s get that straight once and for all: God doesn’t deal in sin, but He does cause calamity to overtake us because of or sin! 

And yuh know what friends, all I’m trying to point out here is the power and sovereignty of Almighty God. If he is Creator and controller of ALL things, then why are we so foolishly trying to fight Him, to have our own way, when we can’t even handle our everyday lives properly. That’s why Moses in his psalm prayed to the Lord. ‘Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom (gain a heart of wisdom).’ (Ps. 90:12) 

And do we ever need hearts of majestic and godly wisdom in these turbulent and oh so dangerous times my people! It’s the lack of wisdom that’s catapulted us into the terrible times we are now experiencing. But friends, we know that once there’s life, there’s hope. And you ask, what’s hope, or what does it have to do with anything? Well hope is believing that good things are possible, then sincerely working towards those good things. 

And I just LOVE how Joshua Ryan Butler described hope in an article titled ‘Prisoners of Hope.’ He writes: ‘Hope is a revolution, a powerful presence that breaks in from the future and transforms today. Jesus’ arrival has brought God’s destiny for humanity crashing into now – an explosion of life into a world marked by death. It changes everything!’ 

That’s the gospel truth my fellow saints. Jesus’ arrival marked the beginning of hope, the beginning of life in this world marked by death. And that’s what we ALL need to work towards – the choosing of life over death. Thus crushing the enemy, who desires a world continually marked by death. So though our world is in tumult, please, please, let’s not give up hope. Remember Jesus is still with us in ALL we do, and He will help us overcome each and every situation we face. So, we need to keep on fighting the good fight in His name, more than ever right now! 

And for those of us who are sincerely doing that, let’s go home declaring (yesss!!!) our Tuesday Mantra, letting the world know who and whose we are, to whom we gladly and joyfully belong. As one strong and grateful 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 having said that, we must now go out and share that amazing LOVE and wonderful friendship of Jesus with others, so that they too can come to trust and LOVE Him like we do. Much LOVE!

…God is calling out to us through our calamities…but unfortunately…we are not listening to Him…and until we do… 

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Today’s Scrip-Bit 1 August 2021 Psalm 34:19.

Psalm 34:19.      Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. 

One more Sunday is on deck friends! What a way they come around often and quickly! (smile) But that only means it’s time once again for corporate praise, worship and thanksgiving to Almighty God, our Creator and Provider. And there is definitely no problem in doing that. In fact, it ought to be an exciting and joyful time to which we gladly look forward. For what can be more energizing and uplifting than giving thanks and praise to our heavenly Father, considering all that He has done for us, is currently doing, and has promised to do until eternity? Absolutely nothing my faithful saints in Christ! 

So let’s get on with it nuh, opening as always with a song of praise. And today’s song has been one of my favourites ever since I first heard it a few years ago. It’s titled ‘The Anchor Holds.’ The song was originally written by a small-town pastor called Lawrence Chewning. According to Chewning, around 1992 his wife and him were having a rough time. He was a burned-out pastor, and then his wife had her third miscarriage. He took a sabbatical for six months, and just ended up playing the piano all the time, while talking to God. 

One day he found himself playing a song that sounded familiar, but he really didn’t know it. Then he began singing some words that the Lord put in his heart and the song was born. But that’s not the end of the story. Sometime later, he was talking to the singer Ray Boltz and told him about the rough times and the song the Lord had given him. Then one day, out of the blue, Ray called and said he wanted to record the song. Obviously Chewning said yes, but told Ray that he would have to shorten the song, because he felt it was too long. Ray remodelled the song to what it is today and released it in 1995. 

It seems he even had problems getting the record company to release the song because they didn’t like it. But he persisted because others who heard it liked it. And to show how God doesn’t leave His children in the lurch, Chewning says that at the time of the release of the song, he had become an out of work pastor, having resigned some time before, wondering how he was going to support his family. Obviously, he was going to get some financial rewards from the release of the song. Isn’t our God great? He certainly is! 

Now after hearing that touching and encouraging story, let’s sing the song in an up-tempo reggae riddim like the Jamaican gospel singer Judith Gayle. Remember the background vocal, the flourish of hands and the high stepping, with joy and gratitude emanating from our hearts, as our sincere voices are raised to heaven in sacrificial praise. Wow mih bredrin, let’s sing! 

‘I have journeyed, Through the long, dark night Out on the open sea By faith alone, Sight unknown And yet His eyes, were watching me. The anchor holds, though the ship is battered. The anchor holds, though the sails are torn. I have fallen on my knees, As I face the raging seas, But the anchor holds, In spite of the storm. I’ve had visions, I’ve had dreams, I’ve even held them in my hand, But I never knew, They would slip right through, Like they were only grains of sand. The anchor holds, though the ship is battered. The anchor holds, though the sails are torn. I have fallen on my knees, As I face the raging seas, But the anchor holds, In spite of the storm. 

Oh, I have been young, but I am older now, thank the Lord, And there has been beauty, that these eyes have seen, But it was in the night, through the storms of my life, Oh, that’s where God proved, His LOVE for me. The anchor holds, though my ship is battered. The anchor holds, though my sails are torn. And I have fallen on my knees, As I face the raging seas, But the anchor holds, In spite of the storm.  I have fallen on my knees, As I face the raging seas, But the anchor holds, In spite of the storm. Yes, the anchor holds, In spite of the storm. Thank You Jesus! I have fallen on my knees, As I face the raging seas, But the anchor holds, In spite of the storm. Yes, the anchor holds, In spite of the storm.’ 

And is that ever the gospel truth my people! When Jesus is our Lord and Saviour, whatever storms we go through, be they literal or metaphorical, the anchor always holds because He is the Master of the storm! However, we need to believe that and put it into action when the storms of life come against us. Even in the raging seas, when our ship is battered and our sails are torn, the right thing for us to do is get down on our knees and cry out to Him for safety and succour. 

It is all based on the premise of hope in Christ Jesus which leads to an undying faith in Him. I like how the prophet Zechariah puts it as he speaks to his people, Israel about the coming of their future king, Jesus, the Messiah. He says: ‘Turn you to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope…’ (Zech. 9:12a) Yes friends, that’s what believers in Christ are, ‘prisoners of hope!’ And what’s hope? Uncle Charles (Charles Stanley) describes ‘Hope as a revolution, a powerful presence that breaks through from the future and transforms today.’ Oh my people, that is exactly what hope in Christ does for us; gives us an encouraging glimpse of a wonderful future with Him! 

And we are just going to quote a few verses of scripture to back up our contention, re hope in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This first from Psalm 34 – The Lord hears the righteous. The psalmist declares: ‘The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite (crushed) spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.’ (Ps; 34:17-20) 

What marvellous words of assurance friends! And just in case you don’t believe that psalmist, then listen to the Sons of Korah from Psalm 46, who tell us in no uncertain terms: ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help (an abundantly available help) in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst (the heart) of the sea. Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.   Selah.’ (Ps. 46:1-3) 

But all talk aside friends, there is only one way to find out if all of that is true; and that’s by putting one’s hope, faith and trust in Christ Jesus. Otherwise you’ll just keep wandering aimlessly in the wilderness like the Israelites did so long ago. And in these desperate and uncertain times, our lives definitely call for less talk and more action! So let’s get to some serious action nuh! Much LOVE!

…talk is a precursor to action…that means…talk without action is useless…                                                                                                     

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