Today’s Scrip-Bit 23 July 2020 2 Kings 6:16.

2 Kings 6:16.    ​And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
 

And it looks like another cloudy day is in the offing in my area… Wonder if we’ll also get rain like yesterday? Ah, it’s so calming and refreshing when the rain falls – it also gets you lazy and in a LOVING mood… Now I could certainly handle that! (smile) But unfortunately we have more serious matters to attend to this Thursday morning in late July of 2020. 

Now today I’ve been led to some scriptures on encouragement in times of peril and need. I guess the Lord sees our overwhelming need for encouragement and assurance in these rather turbulent and uncertain times. So here’s the first one: This from King Hezekiah when the Assyrians under Sennacherib came to do battle against Judah, in particular Jerusalem. 

‘And he set captains of war over the people, and gathered them together to him in the street of the gate of the city, and spake comfortably (encouragingly) to them. Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him: With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves on (were strengthened by) the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.’ (2 Chr. 32:6-8) 

Oh friends, those are some of the same words our God, that same God, is saying to us today in these frightful times! But are we listening? And if so, are we taking courage like the people of Jerusalem? That’s the million-dollar question! But that brings to mind another similar scripture – this time with the prophet Elisha and his servant when the King of Syria and a mighty host surrounded his house because Elisha was telling the king of Israel the secret things the king of Assyria planned against them. 

Now this particular morning when Elisha’s servant went out early, he saw the host of Syrians surrounding the city, so he ran back and informed Elisha of the grave situation and said: ‘Alas, my master! how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.’ (2 Kin. 6:15b-16) What marvellous words of encouragement, but unfortunately the servant could not see what Elisha saw. So Elisha prayed that the Lord would open the servant’s eyes. ‘And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots round about Elisha.’ (2 Kin. 6:17) 

Yes my people, likewise guardian angels are constantly all around God’s children protecting us, so that we do not come to harm. But we have to believe it to see it! Are we believing it though, or are we constantly being ravished by fear and the evil schemes of the enemy? But please remember these immortal words of Bruh Paul to Timothy. ‘For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of LOVE, and of a sound (disciplined) mind.’ (2 Tim. 1:7) Please my brethren, let’s root that scripture deep in our hearts and souls nuh, and let it grow and flourish to give us strong assurance in these disturbing times! 

Now hear these other encouraging scriptures that our God has been telling us from day one nuh. These from Moses to his people, when he handed over the leadership of Israel to Joshua. ‘Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them (your enemies): for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go before thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.’ (Deut. 31:6) Then he called Joshua and told him the same thing. 

And what I LOVE about the passing of the torch from Moses to Joshua is that the Lord Himself told Joshua the very same thing when He appointed him the official leader. ‘Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest.’ (Josh. 1:9) And not a word of that has changed down to this day my people! So why are we so afraid and fearful of life eh, when we have the assurance of the greatest power in the universe on our side? 

And if yuh want to tell me nonsense about all of that being in the Old Testament which doesn’t matter now – ah Lord eh – then hear Jesus’ most often used words in the New Testament: ‘Fear not!’ And hear His encouraging words: ‘These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.’ (John 16:33) That’s Jesus telling us the same thing in slightly different words! So what’s our excuse now for not following them eh? 

Ah mih people, we just like to talk yes! And we must talk some, but all talk without any action is useless. That’s why James, Jesus’ brother wrote these oh so truthful words: ‘But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves…. What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?… Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.’ (James 1:22; 2:14,17) And yes faith does save our souls like Bruh Paul says, but what’s the point of having faith if you don’t put it to work eh? 

That’s exactly what Bruh Paul did too. As he told Timothy: ‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course (race), I have kept the faith:’ (2 Tim. 4:7) That meant he had done what the Lord called him to do; preach the gospel to the Gentiles; he had put his faith in God to work, and we all know the numerous trials and tribulations he went through to do it. But the Lord saw him through it all…and so will He with us if we are strong and courageous, if we put our faith to work. 

And He’s so magnificent and magnanimous that He’s showered us with numerous blessings, to enable us to do just that! What an awesome God we serve my people! So as we go home now, let’s declare (awright!) some of those wonderful characteristics, what we call our Thursday Blessings, so that we can empower them in our lives. 

All together now: ‘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 having proclaimed them, it’s time to go out and put them to good use now… generously too! (smile) Much LOVE!

…greater is He that is in us…than he that is in the world… (1 John 4:4)

Today’s Scrip-Bit 5 January 2016 James 2:14‏

James 2:14.  What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 

Aye mih breddren, it’s Tuesday! Glory Hallelujah! That means we got through Monday safely and have another wonderful, rollicking day to look forward to under the beautiful guidance of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! Oh glory to God my people! 

We couldn’t have a better author and finisher of our faith. So please let’s stand strong and true and look to Him for all our needs as He wants and expects of us, and also enjoy all the new blessings and mercies that He’s prepared specially for us today. 

Now let’s declare our Tuesday Mantra with conviction and a true sense of purpose. As one now: ‘I’m not what I do. I’m not what I have. I’m not what people say about me. I am the beloved of God, that’s who I am. No one can take that from me. I don’t have to worry. I don’t have to hurry. I can trust my friend Jesus and share His LOVE with the world.  Amen!’ 

Oh friends, every time we declare that mantra, I just get an all-choked up feeling because it’s so… so touching and heart-warming. I am beloved of God, a friend of Jesus…with no need to hurry or worry. Wow! What glorious truth my fellow believers! Now let’s hold on to it faithfully as we go out and mix and mingle with the unbelievers and show them what true Christianity is all about. 

And we’ll get right to our Bit as we have lots of stuff to talk about today. ‘What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?’ 

That’s a good question, and we’ll keep pursuing the answer by continuing with James theory on the subject. ‘Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought (was working) with his works, and by works was faith made perfect (complete)? 

And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed (accounted) unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. 

Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had receive the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.’ (James 2:21-26) 

Yes precious people, James does put up a good argument for his belief, but we’re going to get some serious explanations, some meat and potatoes (smile) now from the scholars. 

‘2:21-24. These verses present the crux of the issue: Is a man justified by works? Do Paul and James contradict each other? Several factors demonstrate that they do not. First, as already noted in verses 14-17, the apostles use the word for faith with different meanings.

Second, they use “justified” in different senses. It is customary to identify all nuances of this word with the theological idea Paul popularized – that is, God’s act of declaring all believers righteous on the basis of Christ’s redemptive work. 

But a common Old Testament and gospel usage involves demonstrating or showing something to be righteous (cf. Ps.51:4; Luke 7:35; Rom.3:4); it is this usage that James follows. Third, though both men use Abraham as an illustration, they focus on different aspects of his life. 

Paul shows that Abraham was declared righteous by faith when he trusted God (Gen.15:6). James declares that he was shown to be righteous by his offering up of Isaac (Gen.22:9) 

Fourth, even the terminology of these two apostles differs. Paul constantly speaks against the works of the law, as being a false use of those works to merit salvation. James, however, is speaking of works of LOVE that follow belief. 

Fifth, the two apostles are discussing totally different subjects, since they are confronted by different problems. Paul, opposing the Judaizers, seeks to prove that the Gentiles can be saved and sanctified apart from circumcision or any other work of the law. James, opposing merely nominal, professing Christians, seeks to show that true faith confirms itself by deeds of LOVE. 

If James were fighting Paul over law and grace – or faith and works – surely the subject of circumcision would have arisen, since it lies at the core of that issue. James and Paul are not face-to-face fighting each other – they are back-to-back fighting opposite foes!’ 

Wow friends, what a lot to digest! But I would be doing us a disservice if I did not give us the opportunity to feast upon all that scholarship. (smile) And I still have some more for you to digest. Hn! 

The scholars’ also declare: ‘2:25. Just as James presents two examples of spurious faith (vs.16, 19), (not providing for a believer’s needs, and demons believing that God exists), he concludes with two examples of genuine faith: Abraham and Rahab. 

One was a Jewish patriarch of great sanctity, whose faith was perfected by his works. The other was the lowest citizen of a condemned Gentile city, whose newfound faith was dramatized by her works. No matter whether one has the mature faith of an Abraham or the baby-like faith of a Rahab, there must be evidence of that faith.’ 

And the last scholar’s explanation: ‘2:26. The point of this analogy between the body and one’s faith is that both require an energizing element. The absence of that element renders the other component dead.’ 

And therein concludes the messages on faith and works as theorized by James. I do hope that we have all understood what he was talking about, and the difference between his theory and that of Bruh Paul. 

The long and short of the story is that faith ALONE can save us. However, when we embrace that faith, we need to show it by good deeds, otherwise our faith is meaningless. 

So my people, knowing that we all are saved, then let’s go out today and show that faith by our good works nuh. For that is indeed the wisdom of heaven. Much LOVE!

…faith and works are two essential and necessary parts of a believer’s life…

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s Scrip-Bit 4 January 2016 James 2:14

James 2:14.   What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 

Oh friends, oh friends, the Christmas party done now! It’s time to get back to the daily grind and common task; that thing called work, which most of us don’t like, but which is ever so important. So let’s get a move on nuh, let’s be up and at ‘em this first Monday in this highly expectant year of 2016.  

Please don’t touch the snooze button! Hn! And I hear the moaning and groaning, the chuhing and steupsing, as the weight that we’ve put on over the Christmas season has us moving somewhat sluggishly. But don’t worry my precious people, with the Lord’s help we’ll handle it all with great aplomb! Nice word that- aplomb; simply meaning self-confidence and assurance. (smile) 

And please remember that though it’s a new year we still have some old tools that will serve us in very good stead. So without further ado, let’s sing our Monday Morning Battle Hymn with the new found joy and enthusiasm gained from our resolution to walk ever closer with Christ this new year. 

As one mighty and harmonious choir now: ‘Oh Lord God Almighty, Creator of the universe and all therein! We, your humble servants, praise your Holy Name and thank you that this Monday morning we have jobs to go to; jobs we don’t like, jobs that are unfair, difficult and even dangerous, but which serve a useful purpose here on earth; keeping lives and families together. 

We also thank you Father for the renewed vitality and enthusiasm you’ve wrought in our weary souls over the last two days. It’s that rejuvenation of Spirit which allows us now to sally forth with confidence into the evil, ungodly world that surrounds us, to begin a new week of work, constantly buffeted and bombarded by the enemy’s wicked taunts, wiles and lies. 

But heavenly Father, we’re not afraid, for we know we’re invincible, sure conquerors, once we’re wearing your powerful, protective spiritual armour. We surrender our all to you, and humbly ask that you let your incredible aura of LOVE, the Holy Spirit, lead and guide all your servants as we go out to meet the enemy in battle. 

Fill us with steadfast faith, so that we can make worthwhile inroads into the enemy’s ranks, and thereby further your glorious kingdom. We pray this in the Holy Name of your Son, and our Saviour, Jesus Christ. AMEN!’ 

Now that wasn’t bad at all my brethren, considering our unhealthy lifestyles in the past week or so. And Jesus, our choirmaster understood, and didn’t balk too much when He heard the occasional croak in the voices. (smile) That brings us to our Bit: ‘What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?’

Oh friends, that can certainly be a bone of contention as we saw in the scholars’ explanation yesterday. But I don’t think it is, or should be, because Bruh Paul and James are speaking about different things under different circumstances, and each is right when you consider those circumstances. 

Now let’s continue with James’ treatise from where we left off yesterday. ‘Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know (do you want to know), O vain (foolish) man, that faith without works is dead?’ (James 2:19-20) 

And the scholars have some interesting explanations re those verses. ‘2:19-20. The reference to faith in one God probably alludes to Israel’s great creedal statement of Deuteronomy 6:4. ‘Hear O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.” Adherence to a creed is not true faith. Even the demons know and accept the truth of the creed, but they do not possess saving faith. If one does nothing to enact his knowledge of God, he is worse than the demons, for they at least tremble.’ 

Yes Friends, Lucifer and his evil minions know that there is a God, but that doesn’t make them believers. And we see the truth in that by Jesus’ statements: ‘Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils (demons)? and in thy name done many wonderful works (miracles)? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.’ (Matt.7:21-23) 

And the scholars explain: ‘7:21-23. Not everyone professing Christ is genuinely saved. Even the outward verbal acknowledgement of His lordship is in itself not enough to save the unbeliever apart from true repentance and faith. A genuinely saved person is one that doeth the will of my Father, the Greek present tense suggesting that he is continually living in obedience to the will of God as the normal course of his life.’ 

So my Scrip-Bit family, it is therefore essential that we all thoroughly examine ourselves, under that very critical light. Are we truly doing the will of the Father? Or are we just fooling, pretending that we have faith, professing Jesus, but in reality doing stuff contrary to His will? If that is so, then we definitely need to clean up our act, for we certainly don’t want Jesus to disown us and drive us away when the fateful day arrives.  

I can’t drive home enough, the seriousness of abiding by God’s will, if we profess faith in Him. And on that note, we’ll end for today. I have more stuff to discuss on the subject, but it will be way too long, and you already have enough information to ponder on. Plus I don’t want to hear any crying and whining about the Bit being too long. 

That brings me to this point which relates to what we were just talking about. I can send all sorts of foolish jokes and otherwise and nobody will complain that they are too long or insipid. But let it be about Jesus or God, if it’s not short, there will be much complaining.  (smile) How can we expect God to take us seriously and bless us, if we don’t take him seriously eh? Much LOVE!

…as Calvin said…faith alone saves…but a faith that saves…is never alone…

 

 

 

 

Today’s Scrip-Bit 3 January 2016 James 2:14

James 2:14.   What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 

 

Well my people, it’s the first Sunday in the New Year, and still the Christmas season, so I expect all the churches to be filled to capacity today with believers to give thanks and praise to our most wonderful God for causing us to see not only a new day, but also a brand new year charged with unlimited possibilities. 

And I included that reminder about the Christmas season for those who only go to church at Christmas and Easter.  (smile) Now, for the life of me, I just can’t figure out why supposed Christians do that. Church was meant to be a fairly regular occurrence, not once in a while, mostly at the high times of our faith. 

To my mind, if you can’t go more often than that, then why go at all eh? What does that do for you and the other people in the church eh? Nothing at all, as far as I can see! 

So you claim to your friends and family, you went to church at Christmas and Easter. Big deal! That doesn’t cut it my fellow believers. And I’m sure that’s not what Jesus expects. 

You’ll notice that wherever He was on the Sabbath, He always found Himself in the synagogue participating in the services. That’s what He also expects of us; not a wishy-washy, once in a blue moon, stick your face inside the doors of the church. Remember the church is supposed to be the body of Christ, and how can it be a properly functioning body when so many members only show up occasionally? 

Friends, no man is an island, especially a Christian in this evil and godless world. You cannot make it successfully on your lonesome; you need the help, encouragement, sentiments of praise and worship, of exhortation and teaching, and the steadfast faith from which a gathering of like believers emanates! 

That reminds me of an old adage, re those who seldom go to church.  Unfortunately I can’t remember the exact saying, but they are words to the effect that the church and its doors would crumble, would fall down when the occasional goers show up. 

Anyway my people, since we have designated and dedicated 2016 as the year of HOPE and the astronomical rise of Jesus’ LOVE Revolution, it’s therefore necessary that we sincerely come together under the umbrella of the church and decrease all the divisions and dissensions that are rife and rampant within that supposedly august body. 

Now here are some quotes from our friend Anselm, who is always trying to inspire us for a better tomorrow. The first one is very appropriate for this season. It says: ‘Bless us Lord, this Christmas, with quietness of mind; Teach us to be patient and always to be kind.’ And do we ever need those attributes in these stressful and dangerous times! 

The next quote from Anselm declares: ‘If you raise your children to feel that they can accomplish any goal or task they decide upon, you will have succeeded as a parent and you will have given your children the greatest of all blessings.’  

Now I don’t know if that is the greatest of all blessings, but it sure is an important, indispensable teaching which builds confidence and chutzpah in our offspring. 

And the last quote segues nicely into this final one. ‘He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.’ And that is the gospel truth friends! If we don’t have the courage to take risks, sensible ones now, (smile) we will never accomplish anything worthwhile. 

And that’s exactly what is happening to Christ’s church in these modern times. Too many of us are afraid, or just too sedentary to step up and do what needs to be done to further God’s kingdom down here on earth. And yes, many of us talk a good talk, but we need to remember that Christianity is an ACTION movement, and without deeds to back up the talk, it’s all useless. 

That brings us to our Bit, where James talks about faith that works. ‘What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?’ 

Now that is certainly an interesting question my people.  And James continues his theory with this explanation. ‘If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food. And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 

Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.’ (James 2:15-18)  

Ah friends, the scholars have some interesting but long explanations here, though time and space might not allow me to copy it verbatim, but I believe it’s important enough to try. 

‘2:14-17. Can faith save him? This statement and others in verses 14-26 persuade some critics that James is teaching salvation through faith and works. Luther called this epistle “strawy,” believing it emphasized works too much. Today, some regard it as a late writing in which the author is reacting to Paul’s doctrine of salvation by faith alone. This is not the case. 

James’ teachings reflect neither a negative nor a positive response to Paul’s teachings. For Paul, faith practically equals salvation. James, however, sees two kinds of faith: saving faith and professing faith (much like the usage today). For Paul, justification is by faith (Rom.4:5) For James, justification is by a faith that works – by a genuine faith that manifests itself in post-conversion works. 

Before salvation, these Jews had believed in the efficacy of works. Now some were reacting at the opposite extreme, imagining that works play no part in the salvation experience. James retorts that the kind of faith that does not produce works is not saving faith. As Calvin said: ‘Faith alone saves, but a faith that saves is never alone.”  

Thus James’ question is not simply “Can faith save?” but as the Greek text may suggest, “Can that faith save him?” Can merely professed but undemonstrated faith save?  (See vv.21-24 for further discussion.) The Greek grammar expects a negative answer to the question that ends verse 14. Hence it can be rendered, “That faith (i.e. the one mentioned in verse 14a which is without works) cannot save.’ 

Ah mih people some interesting stuff for us to ponder on this first Sunday in the New Year. And the Lord in favour, we’ll continue this discussion tomorrow. Till then, please let’s darken the doors of our churches and get our New Year’s resolution to follow Jesus more closely into full swing nuh. For that’s wisdom of everlasting and eternal proportions! Much LOVE!

…faith and works…one saves…the other complements it…