Today’s Scrip-Bit 4 April 2021 Luke 24:5b

Luke 24:5b.     Why seek ye the living among the dead?
HAPPY  EASTER!

At last friends, that marvelous day of celebration which we’ve waited so long for, well it’s finally here! We’re talking about Resurrection Day! All praise and glory to our omnipotent and ever-LOVING God! Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has risen from the dead this Easter morn! Glory be! He has conquered the evil Satan, and taken away from him, the keys to hell, death and the grave! Christ is now Master of all He surveys! Glory Hallelujah! The seed planted in His death on Good Friday has borne fruit this Easter Sunday! 

Consequently, these words from the Simple Series musical ‘Mercy Tree,’ featured on the album inspired by the message and mission of Billy Graham’s ‘My Hope,’ are ever so appropriate for us today to hear, read, understand and digest. So please listen up. ‘We have gathered here today to lift up the name of Jesus. We rejoice in His victory over sin and the cross. Our cries of ‘Hosanna! Save us now!’ have been answered. Our Redeemer has conquered death! And because we are certain of that fact, we have reason to celebrate!’ 

Oh my people, do we ever have reason to celebrate and lift up the name of Jesus. So let’s begin doing that by singing this most celebratory and true hymn, written by one of our foremost hymnologists, Charles Wesley (1707-1788) The hymn is titled ‘Christ the Lord is Risen Today.’ And it has been considered by many Christian hymnologists as being the most definitive church anthem for Easter. Each verse features a focus on the Resurrection of Jesus. Wow! 

So enough talk, let’s sing! In an up-tempo beat, with trumps and cymbals, harps and psalteries in full voice, let’s raise our sacrifices of praise in sweet harmony to high heaven, with sincere thanks and gratitude pouring out of our hearts, minds, bodies and souls! ‘Christ the Lord is ris’n today, Alleluia! Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia! Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia! Sing, ye heav’ns, and earth, reply, Alleluia! Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia! 

Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia! Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia! Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia! LOVE’S redeeming work is done, Alleluia! Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia! Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia! Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia! Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia! Foll’wing our exalted Head, Alleluia! Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia! 

Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia! Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia! Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia! Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia! Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia! King of glory, Soul of bliss, Alleluia! Everlasting life is this, Alleluia! Thee to know, Thy pow’r to prove, Alleluia! Thus to sing, and thus to LOVE, Alleluia!’ 

Oh friends, what awesome bliss this Easter morning has provided to us faithful believers in Christ Jesus. For as Bruh Paul preached to the Athenians on Mars Hill: ‘For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring (his children). (Acts 17:28) And isn’t that indeed the gospel truth my fellow saints in Christ!  He is our very lifeblood, without Him, we are nothing! With Him, we are everything! We lack for nothing! 

And our celebration wouldn’t be complete without some powerful words from the Good Book. Hear Luke tell the Resurrection Story. ‘Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they (a group of women) came unto the sepulchre (tomb), bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout (about this), behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: 

And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they (the men) said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered up into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words, And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary, the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.’ (Luke 24:1-11) 

Yes friends, it was difficult for Jesus followers to believe His resurrection, having seen His cruel demise three days earlier, even despite their remembering His words on the subject. They weren’t gullible religionists, but tough, skeptical, hardworking, down to earth folk, who did not find it easy to believe the rather implausible situation. But they eventually did believe when Jesus showed Himself to them, and consequently we too believe, though we haven’t seen Him in the flesh. But here is some interesting info from the scholars, re the Resurrection of Christ, that we all should certainly be aware of. 

‘The Resurrection of Christ included five accomplishments. (1) the physical renewing of His life; (2) the reunion of His body and His Spirit; (3) the subjugation of death under Him; (4) the attainment of His new position; and (5) His receiving of a transfigured body. Application: Because of the Resurrection, the Christian receives both eternal life (John 11:25) and spiritual power (Eph. 1:19-20). Christ’s resurrection also provides for the future resurrection of the believer (1 Cor. 15:20) and is the key to victory in the Christian life because of our union with Christ (Eph 2:6). (First Ref. Ps. 16:10; Primary Ref, 1 Cor. 15; cf. Acts 1:9).’ 

Oh precious people, without the resurrection of Jesus, our faith would be worthless! Let’s remember that nuh, and hold on to it with our very last breath, for it’s our golden key to heaven’s eternal sanctuary! And we’re going to end with these marvellous and ever so encouraging words from the website hymnary.org on our hymn today, and the whole resurrection business. (smile) ‘In every worship service, the words we say and the actions we participate in are somehow shaping us. 

Perhaps without even being aware of it, worship is doing something to us – it’s forming habits and language inside of us to both teach us why we are in relationship with God, and how to be in relationship with God. One practice that many liturgists and hymn authors have brought into worship is describing an event that happened in the past (usually a moment from the Gospel story) as if it were happening today, in order to instill in us the understanding that, just as God worked in the lives of people two thousand years ago, He is still working today. 

The hymn “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” is a perfect example of this. Right in the title is an indicator of the present tense: the word “is.” As we sing this song, we are first brought back two millennia as “witnesses” of the resurrection, and then we are also made aware that though the actual event of the resurrection happened once, it is in a sense an on-going event with ever-present effects. We are called today to live out of the resurrection, to follow our risen Lord in newness of life, and to ever lift our “alleluias” in praise.’ 

So mih bredrin, as we joyfully celebrate Christ’s resurrection, let’s take that wonderful advice and go out today, and every day hence, sincerely following Christ and keeping our voices lifted up to Him, in much deserved praise. That’s our bounden duty as Christians! Much LOVE!

…because He lives…we too shall live…  

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Today’s Scrip-Bit 12 April 2020​ 1 Corinthians 15:57.

1 Corinthians 15:57.    ​But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Happy Easter

First there was Christmas – the birth of Christ, the greatest gift ever to mankind; then Good Friday – the savage torture, injustice and horrible crucifixion He endured for the payment of our sins; then today – Easter Sunday, His triumphant resurrection from the dead! Yes friends, today is possibly the most important of those three days, because without Christ’s resurrection our faith would be worthless, since eternal life would have been merely a pie in the sky promise. That’s why it’s ever so important that Jesus won the battle with Satan for the keys to hell, death and the grave and rose victorious. 

Jesus told it thus to John in His Revelation: ‘Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore. Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.’ (Rev. 1:17c -18) Oh my bredrin, it couldn’t be any plainer than that! And though we have no corporate fellowship these days because of the lockdown for the Covid-19 virus, it is still such an important occasion in our faith calendar that we must do our best to celebrate it with whatever means are at our disposal. 

And as always, we’ll open with a song of praise and worship, one that is ever so appropriate for this momentous occasion. It’s the old hymn by that magnificent writer, Charles Wesley, titled ‘Christ the Lord is Risen Today!’ But before we get into it, listen to this enthusiastic monologue that opens the version of the hymn from the Simple Series Musical ‘Mercy Tree’ available on Youtube. ‘We have gathered to lift up the name of Jesus. We rejoice in His victory over sin and the cross. Our cries of ‘Hosanna! Save us now!’ have been answered. Our Redeemer has conquered death! And because we are certain of that, we have reason to celebrate!’ 

Mama Mia! What awesome truth that is! So, without further ado, let’s celebrate, let’s rejoice in the resurrection of Christ, the redemption of our sins and the sure promise of eternal life! In a rollicking, but soulful and harmonious fashion let’s sing the praises of Christ our wonderful King! ‘Christ the Lord is ris’n today, Alleluia! Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia! Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia! Sing, ye heav’ns, and earth, reply, Alleluia! Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia! Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia! Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia! Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia! 

LOVE’S redeeming work is done, Alleluia! Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia! Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia! Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia! Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia! Foll’wing our exalted Head, Alleluia! Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia! Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia! Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia! Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia! Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia! Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia! King of glory, Soul of bliss, Alleluia! Everlasting life is this, Alleluia! Thee to know, Thy pow’r to prove, Alleluia! Thus to sing, and thus to LOVE, Alleluia!’ 

Oh friends, what a magnificent rendition of a magnificent hymn! Wow! And as somebody wrote, every word in it truthfully refers to Christ’s work in the resurrection! And I particularly like two statements therein. The first is ‘LOVE’S redeeming work is done!’ And is it ever! The enormous price of Christ’s life has been paid for our sins for ALL TIME! Now that’s certainly nice to know! And the other statement that captivates me is: ‘Christ has opened paradise.’ And that He surely has done, by giving us the option to believe in Him and spend eternity in His amazing presence. 

Now since all of us know the Resurrection Story itself, with the women coming in the early morning to check on Jesus, finding the tomb empty and two angels telling them that He is risen and gone to Galilee to meet them, and they running to tell the others, and Peter and John coming to check it out, and Mary Magdalene mistaking Jesus for the gardener until He calls her name, (smile) we won’t get into it, rather we’ll look at some other scriptures that have to do with our own resurrection and how we ought to behave. 

The first thing is Bruh Paul’s advice to Timothy: ‘Thou therefore endure hardness (hardship) as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.’ (2 Tim. 2:3) Now that’s rather important if we want to set a good example to the unbelievers and create heavenly rewards. And yes, ministry is not an easy task, especially with the enemy constantly trying to spoil our testimony. We must be willing to suffer privation if we want rewards. And I like how Bruh Paul continues later on: ‘It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer (endure), we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us. If we believe not (are faithless), yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.’ (2 Tim. 2:11-13) 

Yes friends, it’s all a matter of standing strong and faithful, of growing and maturing; of suffering with and for Christ, if we want to reign with him in eternity. As the scholars explain: ‘2:11-13. The principles of endurance are enumerated on the basis of the assurance of salvation.’  And there’s no better time for us to show true faith and endurance than RIGHT NOW in this scary pandemic situation! 

And to bring it all together, hear these marvellous words of Bruh Paul to the Corinthians. ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave (Hades), where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ (1 Cor. 15:54a-57) Now all of that is gospel truth my people. Death and the grave were defeated. They can’t touch us anymore, because of Christ’s victorious resurrection on Easter Sunday. And we owe it all to the great LOVE that our heavenly Father had, and still has, and will always have for us. 

But in the long run, the crux of the matter is our behaviour, as Bruh Paul said to Timothy above, and as follows to the church at Corinth. ‘Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain (futile) in the Lord.’ (1 Cor. 15:58) Oh my fellow believers, not because we achieved victory through Christ’s sacrificial death we can afford to now sit on our laurels and our fat fannies and do nothing. 

Please note, that the enemy, though he was soundly defeated by Christ, has not turned tail and run home whimpering, but has revamped his army of evil minions and is still out there fighting, trying to recapture his lost territory. That means that we also need to continue working as hard as we can, keep on fighting the good fight, doing what Jesus desires of us; spreading the gospel to all parts of the earth, and thus helping to making disciples of the unbelievers. That’s what Christ’s death, resurrection, redemption and atonement of our sins requires of us. So let’s get to it this Easter Sunday as we celebrate and rejoice over His magnificent victory nuh! Much LOVE! 

…though victorious in battle… a wise army…NEVER lets down it’s guard…or lowers its work ethic…