Today’s Scrip-Bit 27 June 2021 Matthew 11:28.

Matthew 11:28.     ​Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Gather round friends, gather round, tis the day of the Lord! It’s an auspicious, a right royal occasion to give Him much thanks and praise for the awesome breath of life and the many other blessings He has so generously bestowed on us during our lifetime. I know we still can’t gather physically in large numbers, but that has not so far stopped us, and will never stop us from worshipping our wonderful God. In His omniscience, during this time of pandemic, He has conveniently made it possible for us to worship Him through technological means. And though something is lost in the translation (smile) it’s still better than not worshipping Him at all. 

Now, as we do each Sunday, we’ll begin worship with a song of praise and thanksgiving. And today’s song is that magnificent and most touching hymn titled ‘What a Friend we have in Jesus.’ Wow! And is it ever a hymn for these trying times! But before we get into it, let’s get a li’l info into its interesting history. According to the Hymnary.org website, the hymn was written by Joseph Medlicott Scriven (1819-1886), and Irish immigrant to Canada. 

‘Because his life was filled with grief and trials, Scriven often needed the solace of the Lord as described in his famous hymn. Educated at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, he enrolled in a military college to prepare for an army career. However, poor health forced him to give up that ambition. Soon after came a second blow—his fiancée died in a drowning accident on the eve of their wedding in 1844. Later that year he moved to Ontario, where he taught school in Woodstock and Brantford. His plans for marriage were dashed again when his new bride-to-be died after a short illness in 1855. 

Following this calamity Scriven seldom had a regular income, and he was forced to live in the homes of others. He also experienced mistrust from neighbors who did not appreciate his eccentricities or his work with the underprivileged. A member of the Plymouth Brethren, he tried to live according to the Sermon on the Mount as literally as possible, giving and sharing all he had and often doing menial tasks for the poor and physically disabled. Because Scriven suffered from depression, no one knew if his death by drowning in Rice Lake was suicide or an accident.’ 

No wonder such touching, encouraging and immortal words were able to come from the soul of that gentleman! Now let’s sing it at a middling tempo, with great gusto, truly acknowledging the wonderful friendship that Jesus provides for all who sincerely believe in Him. As one, harmonious, melodious earthly choir, let’s wake up heaven with our song of praise. 

‘What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer! – Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer! Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer! – 

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge– take it to the Lord in prayer! Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer! In his arms he’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there. What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!’ 

Oh my people, what indisputable words of wisdom! But unfortunately, so many of us refuse to put them into action. We foolishly refuse to accept the truth of the words of the hymn: ‘What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!’ Yes friends, that ability to take everything to our God in prayer is one of the greatest privileges of being a child of God, a believer in Jesus Christ! We won’t even talk about Jesus just yet, but we’ll go back to the Old Testament where from way back when, the Lord promised to hear our prayers. 

Listen to the prophet Isaiah on His behalf. ‘And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.’ (Is. 65:4) Now doesn’t that sound like an invitation for communication, a welcome to prayer? It certainly does! And the psalmist tells us quite clearly from Psalm 91- God is a refuge and a fortress – speaking on behalf of God: ‘Because he hath set his LOVE upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.’ (Ps. 91:14-16) 

Oh precious saints of Christ, what’s the purpose of claiming we know the Lord and not call on Him for help eh? None whatsoever! And when we get to the New Testament, Jesus Himself, our Lord and Saviour, our Deliverer from the bondage of sin, offered us this Great Invitation, the greatest that’s ever been offered: ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of (from) me; for I am meek and lowly in heart (gentle and humble): and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’ (Matt. 11:28-30) 

Listen friends, Jesus didn’t sacrifice His sinless life on the cross of Calvary for fun nuh. He was quite serious when He paid our sin debt in full, and that invitation above is proof that He wants us to come to Him and lay our burdens down at His feet. He wants to help us bear the heavy load that’s this earthly life, that’s what His death and resurrection was all about. However, if we don’t take our problems to Him, in prayer, the method of communication the Father decreed between God and man, Jesus can’t help us. 

And do we ever have loads of trials and temptations, especially in these times of unforeseen storms. As the hymn says, ‘we should never be discouraged,’ but how do we do that without the help of Jesus eh? It’s impossible. Likewise, when friends and family forsake and despise us, Jesus is the One to whom we should look to for solace! And again, way back in the Old Testament the Lord faithfully promised it. Hear Isaiah tell it nuh. ‘Can a woman forget her suckling (nursing) child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.’ (Is. 49:15) 

And that obviously led Bruh David to pen these immortal words of comfort and encouragement. ‘When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up (care for me).’ (Ps. 37:10) And as one commentator points out, Bruh David didn’t say ‘if’ but ‘when’ meaning that’s something he knew for a fact. So friends, I don’t know what else to say to get us to go to Jesus for whatever we need, in whatever situation we might find ourselves. He is the answer! The ONLY true One! Only He can fix our problems and bring true peace, solace and comfort to our burdened souls. 

But we have to take our concerns to Him in prayer, because that’s the only way He will generally fix them. Oh, He can fix them without us asking, but the Father prefers us to initiate the communication when our souls are troubled. So please, let’s wake up to the advantages and privileges we have as sincere believers in Christ Jesus nuh, instead of frivolously wasting them. Much LOVE!

…Jesus not only saves our souls for heaven…but also helps with our problems on earth…                                                                                    

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