Today’s Scrip-Bit 8 September 2019 1 Timothy 2:3.

1 Timothy 2:3.    ​Thou therefore endure hardness (hardship), as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
 

Sunday’s here again friends! Glory be! It’s the day we cease from our normal labour and instead visit the Lord’s sanctuary and have fellowship with other believers! Yes mih people, it’s time for us to sing and dance and praise the Lord and give Him sincere thanks for the many blessings He’s so magnanimously bestowed on us! Wow! What a wonderful God He is! There’s none other like Him! That’s for certain sure!

That’s why we need to show our true LOVE and sincere gratitude by coming together as the body of Christ, His church, at least once a week! And not only do we offer up praise and thanksgiving, but we are renewed and refreshed in return, through hearing His Word and the encouragement of and communion with our fellow believers, so that we can go out and do His work with vim and vigour this upcoming week.

Now let’s get the show on the road by opening, as always, with a song of praise and worship. And today’s number is certainly an old but still very popular number titled ‘Onward Christian Soldiers.’ And I hear the excited sigh that rises from our throats as the song registers, because it is one we all LOVE to sing! So let’s sing it nuh, with plenty emotion, strong voice and the sweetest of harmonies!

All together now: ‘Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, With the cross of Jesus going on before! Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe; Forward into battle, see his banner go! (Refrain: Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, With the cross of Jesus going on before!) At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee; On, then, Christian soldiers, on to victory! Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise; Brothers, lift your voices, loud your anthems raise! [Refrain]

Like a mighty army moves the church of God; Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod; We are not divided; all one body we, One in hope and doctrine, one in charity. [Refrain] Onward, then, ye people, join our happy throng, Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song; Glory, laud, and honor, unto Christ the King; This thro’ countless ages men and angels sing. [Refrain 2]’

Oh friends, oh friends, what a powerful and emotionally touching rendition! Heaven could see that we truly believed what we were singing, felt it right down in the very depths of our souls! That’s what some of these old English hymns do to us. Now it’s reputed that the words to that song were written by Sabine Baring-Gould in 1865, while the music was composed by Arthur Sullivan in 1871. And has it ever stood the test to time! Becoming the Salvation Army’s favoured processional hymn along the way.

Apparently ‘it was written to encourage Christians in their ongoing battles with temptations within themselves and the evil forces of the world.’ And it takes its theme from New Testament references of Christians being soldiers for Christ. One example of that is our Bit, Bruh Paul’s famous words to his young protégé Timothy. ‘Thou therefore endure hardness (hardship), as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.’ (2 Tim.2:3-4)

Yeh friends as Christians we do need to stand up strong under whatever trials and tribulation comes against us, like a good soldier does. Consequently, that soldier doesn’t get involved with the unnecessary affairs of life, so that he can give his all, his total allegiance and attention to the business of the one who’s chosen him to be a soldier. That means, since Christ has chosen us to be His followers, then we too must endure the tribulation that will certainly come against us, as Christ promised in John 16:33, and neither get involved in the affairs of this world because we are not of it, as He says in John 17:16.

And the analogy of Christians being soldiers in Christ’s army is rather apt, since we are constantly fighting battles of temptation and deceit against Satan and his evil minions. However it’s not a physical battle, although many believers are fighting physical battles in many places in our strife-filled world, but it’s a spiritual battle that most believers face day by day. As Bruh Paul says to the Corinthians: ‘For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after (according to) the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (of the flesh), but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) Casting down imaginations (arguments), and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Christ;’ (2 Cor.10:3-5)

And the scholars offer these explanations of those verses. ‘10:3-5. Though we walk (live) in the flesh (in a body), we do not war (fight) after (according to) the flesh (human standards. The first phrase of verse 5 looks back to verse 3 and expresses the manner in which believers conduct spiritual warfare. It is by casting down (destroying) imaginations (false arguments), such as Paul’s opponents have raised.’

That also means refuting all the lies and deceit and the temptations the enemy constantly throws at us. And we do that by taking all those wrong thoughts captive and making them conform to Christ’s Word. Remember, our minds are where the serious spiritual battles take place, so we obviously must have our thoughts conform to Christ’s Word to be victorious. And as I was reading the words of the hymn just now, one verse struck me as being somewhat untrue in these evil, divisive times. ‘Like a mighty army moves the church of God;…We are not divided; all one body we, One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.’

I just have to shake my head and sadly chuckle because God’s church is certainly not moving in these ungodly days like a mighty army, more like a stagnant, sluggish, complacent, uninterested band of layabouts. And as to being one body with one hope and one doctrine…What a joke! Christ’s church has never been more divided and fractured and going different ways than now!

But friends, let’s remember that where there’s life there’s also hope, so it’s not too late. If we’re serious about rectifying the ills in the church we still can, if we come together, instead of moving further apart. It will take a lot of hard work and effort, putting our selfish, petty desires aside, and showing the true character of Christ. I know it sounds impossible, but remember too, that ALL things are possible with Christ! Much LOVE!

…to be true soldiers of Christ…Christians must stop seeking and seeing life…the way the world sees it…

 

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Today’s Scrip-Bit 7 October 2018 2 Timothy 2:3.

2 Timothy 2:3.    Thou therefore endure hardness (hardship), as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

 

So where are all roads leading this Sunday morning eh friends: to church or not to church? I sure hope that the road to the Lord’s sanctuary will indeed be the one more travelled by His children.

That’s because we need to refuel our souls and spirits on a weekly basis, and there’s no better place to do so than in God’s house with other believers; singing and praising, worshipping and receiving His tender mercies, forgiveness, assurance and confidence to keep on keeping on in His name. 

And as always, before we receive the Lord’s Word, we like to engage in some praise and worship, to soften our hearts and make them more receptive to the Holy Scripture. And today’s song of praise is one written way back in 1865 by Sabine Baring-Gould.

However it never became popular until 1871 when Arthur Sullivan composed some music he called “St. Gertrude,” after the wife of his Friend Ernest Clay Ker Seymer, at whose country home he composed the tune. In time, the Salvation Army adopted the hymn as its favoured processional.’ 

But it was never clear sailing for ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ because some religious people considered it too militant and militaristic.  But as all good tunes do, it has weathered the storms of controversy, and is now one of our favourite processional hymns.

So let’s blast it out now nuh, in full voice and sincere hearts. Let out song rise to heaven so mightily and sincerely that it will have them up there marching and singing with us.

‘Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, With the cross of Jesus going on before! Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe; forward into battle, see His banner go! (Refrain: Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before!)

At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee: On, then, Christian soldiers, onto victory! Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise; Brothers, lift your voices, loud your anthems raise! (Refrain) 

Like a mighty army moves the church of God; Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod. We are not divided; all one body we, One in hope and doctrine, one in charity. (Refrain)

Onward, then, ye people, join our happy throng, Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song; Glory, laud, and honour, unto Christ the King; This thro’ countless ages men and angels sing. (Refrain: Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, With the cross of Jesus going on before… (Repeat).’ 

Yeh friends, what better way to describe Christ’s followers than as a victorious army marching forward, subduing all the evil world before it! Unfortunately though, I don’t think Jesus would look at His church right now as a conquering army, but more like a divided, lazy, compromising, bunch of misfits, for all the progress we’re making. 

On our current watch, more people seem to be turning away from God than are turning to Him. So how does that make us victorious eh? Hell’s foundations aren’t quivering, neither is Satan’s host fleeing because our efforts on Christ’s behalf are not powerful or compelling enough to do either. 

My heart hurts when I sing the line, ‘We are not divided; all one body we, One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.’ That’s just not true, because the church of Christ is more divided than it’s ever been, and mostly over petty stuff, that’s why the evil one and his evil minions are having such a heyday in today’s world. 

The theme of the song is apparently based on Bruh Paul’s encouragement to Timothy regarding the Christian being a soldier for Christ. ‘Thou therefore endure hardness (hardship), as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.’ 

And remember my fellow believers, it’s not a physical but spiritual war we’re fighting. Thus Bruh Paul continues to Timothy: ‘No man that warreth entangles himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.’ (2 Tim.2:4) 

And Jesus is the one who has chosen us to lead His LOVE Revolution in these combative and perilous times, so we ought to be about His business more seriously and diligently than we are. I guess what we need is a refresher course in what it takes to be a true soldier in Christ’s army.

Hear Bruh Paul spell it out to the Ephesians, and consequently to us. ‘Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. (Let yourselves be constantly strengthened by His mighty power.)  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles (schemes) of the devil. 

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world (age), against spiritual (hosts of) wickedness (wicked spiritual beings) in high places. Wherefore take unto you (take up) the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.’ (Eph.6:10-13) 

Yes mih people, the first rule in being a good soldier is to put on protection, in this case God’s armour. And what’s that? ‘Stand therefore, having your loins girt (girded) about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked (one). And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:’ (Eph.6:14-17) 

Yuh see friends, just like a soldier has armour, protection to fight a physical war, we believers in Christ’s spiritual army also have protective armour; truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation and God’s word.

But you know that still isn’t enough, Bruh Paul then concludes: ‘Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.’ (Eph.6:18) That’s right my brethren, with all that armour, prayer is still a necessity for us to win the fight, and prayer for all of God’s children too. 

So now that we’ve had that refresher course in spiritual soldiering, (smile) let’s buckle down and do better nuh. Look at all Christ has done for us, can’t we just stand up strong for Him? Aw shucks friends, we ought to be ashamed of ourselves with the miserly effort we’re putting forth on His behalf! Much LOVE!

…the word of God is quick (living)…sharper than any two edged sword…piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit…

 

Today’s Scrip-Bit 12 January 2014 Psalm 5:3

Psalm 5:3.     My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.
 
Oh Friends, oh Friends, what an awesome, amazing and incomparable God we serve and worship!
 
And recognizing the indisputable truth of that statement, all God’s people at once responded with a loud and proud: ‘Praise the Lord God Jehovah! For He is truly mighty, and indeed worthy of our reverence and worship!’ 
 
And I know that because of the fastness, the curiosity, your natural inquisitiveness, (smile) you’re wondering what brought on that beautiful burst of adoration. Well nothing more than His LOVING-kindness and faithfulness!
 
A short while ago, as I was getting ready to write the Bit and pondering what to put in the preamble, I opened a desk drawer looking for paper, and lo and behold, I came upon this Christmas tract put out by Sally Anne (the Salvation Army), and right at the end was this short but beautiful poem that touched me, and I immediately knew that I had to share it with you. 
 
A title isn’t listed, but the author’s name is Christina G Rosetti. The poem is printed above what looks like a charcoal drawing or dark picture on a white background, of a new born babe peacefully lying in a bassinet made of reeds or some other fibrous material that can be plaited together, with the mother sitting on the left side, while the father kneels on the right, both tenderly and LOVINGLY gazing down at their new bundle of joy, much like how Mary and Joseph must have gazed down at baby Jesus with wonder and LOVE. (smile)
 
And having set the scene, this is what the poem says: ‘What can I give Him, Poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would give Him a lamb; If I were a wise man, I would do my part. But what can I give Him – I give Him my heart.’
 
Oh mih people, there’s no better gift that we can give to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, than our hearts; the very lifeblood of our souls! In fact, that’s all he ever asks of us. As He so generously offers in Revelation. ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup (dine) with him, and he with me.’ (Rev.3:20)
 
What an invitation, Friends! It’s the door to our hearts that Jesus is knocking on! How can we ever refuse to open it eh? For it’s the BEST INVITATION THERE IS!
 
Sadly though, millions of people around the globe are indeed refusing it every day. How unwise and foolish of them! Instead they are accepting Lucifer’s deceitful invite to sample the evil things of the world and the ungodly lusts of the flesh. But that’s a story for another day, so let me leave it alone, before I get carried away. (smile)
 
Let’s belatedly turn to our Bit; a glowing proclamation and testimonial of Bruh David, from his prayer for protection. ‘My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.’
 
Again my people, once we’ve given our hearts to Jesus, that is the BEST ACTION we can take at the beginning of each and every day!
 
Why? Because it gets our day off on the right foot, gives us a positive start. We get infused with strength and guidance from the Holy Spirit right from the get go, before the wily Beelzebub can get into our consciousness with his negativity and have us all tied up in knots, with doubts, fear, anger and self-pity.
 
That is why my people, it’s ever so important that the first set of clothes we put on every day is our battle dress, our suit of spiritual armour. As Bruh Paul told the Ephesians. ‘Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles (devious schemes) of the devil.’ (Eph.6:11)
 
And the scholars define that verse thus: ‘6:11. Put on (Greek ingressive aorist imperative) denotes a sense of urgency, demanding immediate action. To stand has military overtones. This verb was used in classical Greek meaning to resist the enemy and hold a critical position in battle. The wiles of the devil (or, “the Devil’s strategy”): Satan carefully devises schemes and tactics against believers.’
 
And is that ever the disgusting truth my brethren! And for those of you who don’t know or are too lazy to read it, the description of the spiritual suit of armour is found in Ephesians 6:13-18.
 
But I spoil you all so much, (smile) that I’m going to give you a brief description of what they are: the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, the sandals of peace, the shield of faith, and the mighty sword of the Spirit, the omnipotent Word of God.
 
Oh Friends, I’m so excited and enthused and chuckling as I write this Bit, that I’m not sure if I’m on course or not. And the truth is, I really don’t care, because I know that it will turn out all right… no, not just all right, but most excellent, through the Lord’s guidance and help. So how can I not praise and serve and worship and LOVE Him eh?
 
Ah Friends, that is what happens when you get caught up in the excitement of Jesus!
 
But yuh know what mih breddren? I think we’ve run out of space and time for today. (smile) But we’ll close with the definitive statement on prayer that totally supports our Bit.
 
And as we like to do whenever possible, it’s from none other than our Master, Jesus. ‘And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint (lose heart).’ (Luke 18:1) 
 
Immortal words of awesome truth and wisdom Friends, straight from the author of all truth and wisdom! We certainly can’t do any better than that. So please, from henceforth, let’s begin each day with prayer nuh.
 
And it doesn’t have to be anything lengthy, just acknowledging that the Lord is the strength and joy of our life and that during the ensuing day, we’ll try to walk and talk and be obedient to His holy will, be worthy of being called His child. By so doing, right from the outset, we’ll be filled with strength, truth and wisdom, spiritually enabled to fight a good fight in Jesus’ name, each and every day.
 
Oh my fellow believers, that’s such tremendous wisdom, that I don’t even know how to categorize it! (smile) It’s surely been a smiley day, but that’s a great medicine for anything that ails us, and besides it’s also the cheapest. Much LOVE!
 
…there’s no greater power in this world…than sincere prayer…