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…

Today’s Scrip-Bit 6 June 2019 Matthew 6:19.

Matthew 6:19.    Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt (ruin), and where thieves break through and steal.

 

Well it’s wet and somewhat cloudy…but that’s nothing new! (smile) And it’s certainly not going to stop we saints of Christ from going about His business, witnessing to the unsaved, making disciples of them, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and leading lives that exemplify the glory and LOVING-kindness of Jesus! 

Oh friends, that’s what we are called on to do, and do it we must, or the world will just be more strife-filled and sink even deeper into the mire of evil and ungodliness. It’s too bad already! Can you imagine it getting worse? But that’s what will happen if we don’t stand up NOW and be counted! 

Just think about your children or grandchildren living in such an ungodly and evil world nuh. Think about them not knowing or even hearing about Jesus and the awesome stuff He’s done for mankind, and the wonderful treasures He has stored up for those who sincerely LOVE and obey Him. What kind of life would they be living eh? A satanic life of greed, selfishness, lust, envy and all the other stuff that will have them heading straight for hell and eternal damnation! 

That means you won’t be seeing them in heaven, won’t be congregating with them in better circumstances that this evil earth. Like the rich man and the beggar Lazarus, they’ll be begging you to send a drop of water to cool their burning tongues in the raging fires of Hades and you’ll be unable to help them in the least bit! So let’s think on these things nuh and try to do better in our teaching and the examples our lives portray. 

Oh, none of us are perfect, but we can all certainly improve and do better with the help of God. The problem though is that we are either too lazy, or too interested in the fancy but worthless baubles of the world…and asking God for help, well that’s definitely not in some of our proud, haughty and foolish personalities! But please remember people, in this world you got to bow to somebody, and the two main options are God and the devil himself! 

You have to choose one. You just can’t sit on the fence, as so many of us try to do, and hope that everything will work out right, because it won’t! The two powerful entities that control things want you all for themselves, don’t want to share one iota of you with the other, so they’ll both try their level best to get you fully into their camp. That means a constant struggle between the devil; your earthly and fleshly self, and the Lord; your heavenly and spiritual being! 

So whom are you going to choose eh? Remember Jesus said that no man can serve two masters; you can’t serve God and mammon too. (Matt.6:24) That means you have to make a conscious choice. And hopefully we’ll all declare like Joshua did: ‘But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.’ (Josh.24:15d) Yeh friends, that’s the smart thing to do, the wise move to consciously make. 

Why? Although Jesus calls on us to be more selfless, generous, LOVING and kind, sentiments that the world consider folly, the things that He has in store for us are way way more useful and important than the things Beelzebub, the prince of darkness has to offer. 

And as always, Jesus put’s it so simply and succinctly: ‘Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt (ruin), and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’ (Matt.6:19-21) Now doesn’t that sound like simple, sensible logic and wisdom? It certainly does! 

That’s because all the treasures we amass here on earth, time and insects will eventually destroy, or people will steal them. And for sure we can’t carry any with us! Oh, I know some of us will have them place some in the box with us, (smile) but they’ll be no good on the other side, neither in heaven nor in hell. That’s why listening to Jesus, and following Him is the wiser of the two options we have. For if we do that, then we’ll end up in heaven, and will have treasures stored up their for us, that will be even better than those down here on earth. 

Unfortunately though, many of us can’t see the forest for the trees, can’t see the bigger picture, always believing that a bird in the hand is better than two or three in the bush. But friends, with Jesus, we have to see it that way. And we can only do so by faith, believing for that which we don’t see. And yes, that’s not easy, especially with the kind of world we’re currently living in. 

But as Jesus taught in the parable of the rich fool, (Luke 12:13-21) who, not caring about anybody but himself, kept building bigger and better and storing up treasures here on earth. And what happened when the Lord called him home unexpectedly eh? All his earthly treasure was left behind for others to fight over, and he had none in heaven to go to. ‘So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.’ (Luke 12:21) 

And it’s oh so important that we hear this explanation from the scholars. ‘6:19-21. The attention of the believer is directed toward treasures in heaven. The term treasures implies the addition or accumulation of things. The two kinds of treasures are conditioned by their place (either on earth or in heaven). The concept of laying up treasures in heaven is not pictured as one of meritorious benefits but rather of rewards for faithful service, as is illustrated elsewhere in the teaching of Jesus.’ So heavenly rewards depend more on the attitude of our hearts and service, than just what we deserve for doing good. 

Now let’s go home declaring (yes!) our Thursday Blessings. In full voice and strong belief: ‘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 please remember, those wonderful blessings haven’t been given to us to selfishly hoard, but to go out and share with the less fortunate…generously…and with the right motive in our hearts! Much LOVE!

…in all that we do…be it good or bad…the Lord looks for the motives in our hearts…