Today’s Scrip-Bit 2 April 2021 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.

So friends, we have at last come to that sorrowful day of mourning in the lives of Christ’s followers! A day that we contrarily call Good Friday. But the truth is, that day, two thousand years ago, was one in which a most horrific crime was committed, the inhumane abuse and eventual crucifixion of Jesus Christ on an old, rugged cross on the hill of Calvary on the outskirts of Jerusalem. And the unbelievable thing is that this took place, less than a week after they had welcomed Him in such a wonderful manner on Palm Sunday, hailing Him as their Saviour, their Immanuel, with Hosannas to the Son of David! 

And it’s not so much the crucifixion itself that was most hurtful, but the shameful manner in which the dastardly act was perpetrated. As the song, ‘The Old Rugged Cross’ puts it, that Cross was and still is ‘the emblem of suffering and shame.’ But the most important point of that day is the purpose behind Christ’s crucifixion, why He allowed Himself to be so abused and demeaned. Hear His fateful words on the subject as He talks about there being one fold and one shepherd in His kingdom. 

‘Therefore doth my Father LOVE me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it up again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.’ (John 10:17-18) Yes friends, as Jesus said, they didn’t take His life from Him, He gave it to them, willingly, so that a world of lost sinners could be saved, so that our horrible sins could be forgiven by a just and righteous God the Father, otherwise we would be heading directly to eternal damnation! 

But Christ’s sacrifice on that old, rugged cross gave us another option, a most wonderful one, that of reconciliation with our Creator! And all God’s children declared a loud and grateful: ‘All praise to Jesus and His atoning death on our behalf!’ And what’s so great about Jesus’ sacrifice, is that the Father didn’t force Him to do it, but He did it willingly, because of His LOVE for the Father, and knowing the Father’s great LOVE for us! And that’s why we call it Good Friday, because the good of salvation, of atonement, of sin debt relief in full was embedded in, and born of that fateful act! 

Oh, glory be mih people! What a mighty and unselfish act! And that’s why we cherish that old, rugged cross, though it’s the ‘emblem of suffering and shame,’ the manifestation of an act that could only be described as ‘sufferation!’ And yuh know what friends? We ‘LOVE that old cross with the dearest and best, for a world of lost sinners were saved.’ And we’ll keep cherishing that old, rugged cross ‘till my trophies at last I lay down. I will cling to the old, rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown.’ 

Oh my fellow saints, what a wonderful Saviour Christ is! Who else would have spilled His divine blood on a rugged, man-made cross for a bunch of ungrateful sinners eh? NOBODY! In fact, nobody else possessed the ability to pay for the sins of a lost and fallen world, just the sinless Son of God. And God LOVED us so much, despite the bunch of disobedient ingrates we had become, that He broke His own heart and sent His Son to earth to sacrifice His life on our behalf, so that we could have an opportunity to be reconciled to Him. Now if that isn’t real, true LOVE,I don’t what is nuh. 

As Jesus so graciously puts it. ‘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.’ (John 3:16) Yes precious people, all we need to do is believe in Christ, and we become saved, sanctified, justified, forgiven, indwelt by His Holy Spirit, with our name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that means eternal life with Christ! Now what could ever be better than that eh? Absolutely NOTHING! 

So those of us who simply refuse to accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour are just fooling ourselves, laying down a most unwelcome path to eternal damnation with that ole fool Satan, when we could have a most excellent journey through eternity with Christ. But as the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. And that’s the same way with us hard-headed, stubborn sinners, who believe in the now pleasures of sin, and don’t think of the serious then consequences of our ungodly behaviour. 

Oh yes, there are always consequences to sin, because our righteous and just God can’t stand sin, can’t stand disobedience, and the pleasures of sin only last for a fleeting moment, while the consequences can last a lifetime, even an eternity. So my people, there’s no better day to embrace Christ and all that He stands for, than on this Good Friday, when He selflessly gave His life, His all for us, so that we could be filled with new and eternal life. 

And do we ever need His saving grace in this time of pandemic and strife that’s engulfing our entire world. So please, let’s go to Him in prayer nuh, the medium that He’s set out to communicate with us. So as one strong, sincere, but humble voice, let’s offer up our Friday Chant. ‘Oh Lord, thanks for getting me safely through this past week. Yuh know it’s been rough… what with all the anxiety, the confusion and havoc that the Covid-19 virus and the racial strife causing. We not accustomed to that kind of life Lord, and it really telling on us. And we know we can’t handle it on our own, that we desperately need your help. 

Oh heavenly Father, with your omnipotent help, and our trusting faith, we know that we can stand strong and steadfast and defeat both the virus and the unrest in our streets. So Lord, we sincerely ask you today to give the governments and those involved in the forefront of this serious and unexpected storm, the sure and wise guidance to handle the situation properly, with the least amount of loss to life and property as possible. And please help those of us who must go out to work amidst all the confusion, to be responsible and to stay safe, so that we can avoid any more serious setbacks. 

And Lord, we fervently pray that You’ll use this situation to also bring a lot of backsliders back to your fold, show them the error of their ways. It’s also a good opportunity to introduce a whole new flock, who will embrace your LOVE and compassion because of the way we, your faithful believers, handle the situation. Yes Lord, please use this pandemic and the unrest in the streets as a means of restoring faith in You, so that our sinful world can wake up and smell the coffee, sweet and strong! We pray this in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! Amen!’ 

Now let’s go out and show the Lord that we are indeed faithful believers nuh, by handling the situation in a godly manner! Much LOVE!

…weeping may endure for a night…but joy comes in the morning…Easter Sunday soon come…

P.S. I didn’t forget the ordinary workingman’s spiel, but he was so angry today because the province wide lockdown that starts tomorrow, has cancelled his long awaited return to work, and he bluntly refused to talk to us. Them’s the breaks! (smile) Much LOVE!

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

Today’s Scrip-Bit 3 October 2020 John 10:17.

John 10:17.     ​Therefore doth my Father LOVE me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.

Break open Saturday…wide and free…sunny and bright, but somewhat chilly, as most of the days henceforth will be! (smile) But that’s just how life is, how it was made to unfurl in the northern climes, and we just have to make the best of it with the tools we’ve been given. And believe me, we can do so successfully, if we just settle down and concentrate on the Lord for He’s already given us all the tools we need to be successful. He wouldn’t create us and then leave us in the lurch. That’s definitely not His style. 

Remember these immortal words of Jesus: ‘The thief cometh not but for (except) to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have live, and that they might have it more abundantly.’ (John 10:10) Wow mih bredrin! What an amazing promise! But as always, we have to go out and receive it, make it come true, through our sincere, godly efforts. Sermon done! (smile) 

Now let’s see what words of wisdom our friend Anselm sent us this week, as he aspires to inspire us for a better tomorrow. Hear this first one: ‘Success is a process that continues, not a status that you reach. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.’ And that is ever so true! Success doesn’t just stop when you reach the top of the hill; it’s a continuous learning curve. What happens if you stop when you’re on top eh? You lose all motivation, you get lazy and apathetic, then you slowly start sliding back down to the bottom. To stay on top, you have to be continuously learning and improving in some area(s). 

As the quote says, once we’re alive, there are always things for us to learn…if we want to stay truly alive. (smile) And that’s why this next one is such good advice. ‘Don’t settle for mediocrity; never let good enough be good enough.’ Oh friends, is that ever gospel truth, especially if you’re a believer in Christ, because Christ does not do mediocrity! In his realm it’s either excellence or nothing at all! But so many of us, beset by the troubles and trials of this world settle for just good enough. That’s wrong my people. The Lord made us to excel, not to come in second, to make it just by the skin of our teeth. That’s the world’s way, not the Christian’s! 

As believers we should always be fighting to reach higher ground as we do Jesus’ work. And that nicely segues us into the next quote. ‘No matter how good you get you can always get better, and that’s the exciting part.’ That’s for certain sure precious people of God! There is always room for improvement. And when we believe that, then learning and growing gets exciting, especially if we’re living for Christ. 

Now, living for Christ is always somewhat difficult, but we know that living for Him is also always interesting and adventurous. So let’s hold on tightly to Him and all that He has and provides nuh, so that we can live the more abundant and excellent life that He expects from us and died for us to have. And the good thing about Jesus is that He does not expect whopping big miracles and deeds from us, but just that we do our daily, mundane tasks with a good attitude, a sense of pride and fulfillment, even though the everyday tasks are often boring and same old, same old. 

And that’s where this next quote comes in: ‘Small daily improvements over time lead to stunning results.’ That’s the magic formula my people! A little every day, eventually adds up to a great amount. As mih Jamaican bredrin would say: ‘One one cocoa full basket.’ And that’s the living truth! The problem with our society these days is that we all want to reach to the top, but too quickly. We don’t realize that if we don’t grow to the top, when we get there we won’t stay there. 

Just look at all the one hit wonders, all those who flew to the top on a jet plane. Hn! And what happened eh? They descended with just the same speed…or even quicker. But those who do their time in the trenches and learn what life is really all about, knowing that it takes a while to reach the top, when they get there, they will know what it takes to stay there. 

Yuh see friends, real life is all about learning and growing. It’s just like planting a seed. You have to wait for it to grow; it doesn’t just grow up overnight. But all the while you have to LOVE and nurture it; water and weed around it. That’s how we ought to treat our lives, LOVING and nurturing them as we patiently grow them. 

And this last quote gives us some invaluable advice on the whole subject. ‘A good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better.’ Yeh friends, real leaders help others to grow! Leadership is not about us, but about those who are following us. That’s why Jesus is such a wonderful leader. He cares about those who follow Him more than he cared about Himself. That’s why He sacrificed Himself on the cross at Calvary for a bunch of no good sinners like us. 

Yuh think He really wanted to die such a horrible death? No way! But the Father asked, and there was no other way, so He went obediently like a lamb to the slaughter. That’s what true leaders do; sacrifice themselves for their people, not ask their people to sacrifice themselves while they sit quietly by and enjoy the fruits of that sacrifice. And I believe that’s the best way to judge a leader; by what he or she is willing to sacrifice for the movement. 

And another thing about leaders, they must be able to follow. Yes friends, you can’t truly lead, unless you first know how to follow. Then you know how following feels, and that then enables you to lead properly. Sadly, that means that many leaders today are not real leaders because most of them don’t know how to follow, and are calling on others to sacrifice for them, but they themselves are not willing to sacrifice for the cause. But our Leader, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ did just that! He knew how to follow too. And that’s why He’s the greatest Leader the world has ever, and will ever see! 

These words of His will prove my contention. ‘Therefore doth my Father LOVE me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.’ (John 10:17-18) 

That’s true leadership my people! Jesus had the power, but He did not abuse it, as so many of today’s so-called leaders do. And He was willing to sacrifice for the cause. But He also knew how to follow because He was always obedient to the Father. As the Good Book says: ‘He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.’ (Eph. 2:8b) Now that’s the example we need to go out and do our best to follow. We won’t ever perfect it, but we’re certainly expected to try. Much LOVE!

…God’s people… learn and grow…bit by bit…as He moves them…from glory to glory… 

Today’s Scrip-Bit 10 April 2020 Hebrews 9:22.

Hebrews 9:22.    ​And almost all things are by the law purged (cleansed) with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission (forgiveness).
 
Prologue: Yes, it’s long and late, but that’s nothing new. (smile) I thought though that a heads up was necessary, since today’s Bit is somewhat different to what we might all expect on a day like today. But that’s where I was lead. So I hope it does make sense and it resonates strongly and deeply with us all. (smile) Much LOVE!

And then it was Good Friday! But you ask what’s so good about it, when they tortured our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ so terribly, then nailed Him to a cross to suffer and die in the burning noonday sun? Well the simple answer is that we were, and still are, a bunch of disgusting, ungrateful sinners, and if we didn’t get some form of salvation, we’d all go to hell and be eternally separated from the Lord God Jehovah, our wonderful Creator. However, though the Lord is all powerful and can do anything, there is another side to His nature, one that’s just and righteous, and requires justice to be done. 

He couldn’t deny Himself, so though He LOVED us ever so much and wanted to save us from eternal death and damnation, it would not have been right to just forgive us without any payment for our sins. And the Good Book, His eternal Word, says: ‘For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Rom. 3:23) It also stipulates without any hesitation or distinction: ‘For the wages of sin is death;’ (Rom. 6:23a) The Good Book also says: ‘And almost all things are by the law purged (cleansed) with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission (forgiveness).’ 

And right there is the roadblock. Something or somebody had to die to pay for sin. Now earlier on in the Old Testament, the Lord allowed the Israelites to kill animals in temporary atonement for their sins. Moses wrote in Leviticus on the Lord’s behalf: ‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.’ (Lev. 17:11) That’s why there was so much killing of animals and sacrificing and sprinkling of blood in the olden days; atonement called for blood. That’s also why the Israelites were not allowed to eat blood. (Lev. 17:10-12) 

But we also know that from the beginning, when Adam and Eve sinned, and the Lord threw them out of the Garden of Eden, though He placed a curse on them, He also promised that by Eve’s seed mankind would one day be eventually redeemed. (Gen. 3:14-24) In that bit of scripture (vs. 21) the Lord also made more durable clothing for Adam and Eve by clothing them with ‘coats of skins,’ as opposed to the fig leaves that they had originally used to hide their nakedness. 

And as the scholars explain: ‘This is how Yahweh provides clothing for Adam and Eve after their feeble attempt to cover their nakedness and shame. It is His way of demonstrating that He acknowledges their act of faith in verse 20. The word for “skins” presupposes the death of an animal and therefore the idea of blood sacrifice is clearly implied.’ 

And having said all of that, I guess I now have to quote verse 20 so you might get a better understanding of the topic. (smile) ‘And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; (life or living) because she was the mother of all living.’ The scholars say: ‘Eve comes from the verb ‘to live.’ Here is Adam’s act of faith, looking to the future with hope. This word sounds like the word used in this verse, living. Adam seems not only to believe that God spoke the truth, but also to have faith in the salvation God had promised in verses 15-16.’ Please read them for yourself. (smile) 

And life moved on through the flood and Noah, (Gen. 6-7) then the City and Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1-9) and finally to Abraham, whom God promised to make a great nation of and from whose seed a Messiah, a Saviour would eventually come. (Gen. 12:1-3) And all through the ensuing years, in fact centuries, the Lord, through the prophets kept promising the Israelites, His Chosen People, Abraham’s main descendants the coming of a Messiah to save them from their sins. The only problem there was that Israel thought the Messiah would be a warrior king, coming to release them finally from all their days of slavery and impotence. 

That’s partially why when Jesus came, in the Lord’s much belated time, saying He was the Promised Messiah, but speaking peace and LOVE, so many doubted Him. That brings us finally to the real reason for Good Friday. I guess the Lord finally got tired of all the blood sacrifices and decided it was time to put on the grand show; so we have Jesus being born supposedly at Christmas time, growing up as the carpenter’s son, then ministering, doing miracles, healing and teaching and showing the people what their great God was like in person. As he said so often, if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father. 

But then His rhetoric and deeds were too revolutionary for the rulers of Rome and Israel, so they hatched a plot to get rid of Him. But little did they know that that was His express plan for coming to earth as a man; to die and be a once and for all blood sacrifice for man’s sins. That’s why He specifically said: ‘Therefore doth my Father LOVE me, because I lay down my life. That I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.’ (John 10:17-18) 

Yes friends, Jesus death on the cross was the next step in God’s plan to provide a real and serious but fairly easy option for us to be reconciled to Him and be redeemed. Remember no real atonement was possible but though the shedding of blood, and it still isn’t, except that Christ with His sacrificial death on the cross paid for ALL our sins once and forever. The father placed them ALL on His shoulder that extremely rough but nonetheless blessed day. That’s why we can afford to call it Good Friday. 

And don’t think that it wasn’t rather rough on the Father to turn away from His wonderful One Son. It was pure hell for Him. And I guess especially so when Jesus cried out on the cross: ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ (Matt. 27:46). Yeh friends, that must surely have broken the Father’s heart, because it was the very first and only time that He and His precious Son had been on opposite sides. But He had to do it, if He wanted to save mankind from their deadly sins. 

His ultimate plan of atonement and forgiveness, because of His righteousness and justice, called for a sinless soul, and Jesus was the only other sinless soul in existence, that’s why He was forced to sacrifice Him. And strangely, whenever I think about the Father sacrificing Jesus for us, an old song always comes to mind. It was made famous by BL&D, Byron Lee and the Dragonaires back in the late sixties, ‘Only a fool breaks his own heart.’ I always picture small, but powerful Keith Lynn singing that soulful ballad and consider How Jesus’ death must have broken the Father’s heart. 

And the sad part is that His heart is still breaking because two thousand years later we’re still reluctant to accept His magnanimous offer of salvation and redemption and forgiveness and eternal life through the sacrificial death of His wonderful and selfless Son Jesus Christ on this Good Friday, and His glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday, a couple days hence. Please friends, let’s remember that without Good Friday, this rough and heart breaking day, there’d be no rejoicing and glorifying on Resurrection Day; Easter Sunday, and wisely make the most of the time we have left on this earth! Much LOVE!

…the wages of sin is death…but the gift of God…is eternal life…through Jesus Christ our Lord…  (Rom. 6:23)