Sunday, Aug 25, 2019
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Christmas messages

@$:Allow God, and God’s plan

to control your life

By The Rt. Rev. Laish Z. Boyd, Sr.,

Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of The Bahamas And The Turks and Caicos Islands.

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”–Luke 2:10(KJV).

Oftentimes, as human beings on the early journey, we do not feel as if we are getting what we want out of life. If you were to ask 10 people or 100 people or 10,000 people what they yearn for most in their lives, what they deeply desire, you would probably get a lot of the same answers:

•Happiness.

•Peace of mind.

•A closer relationship with God.

•Better family relationships.

•A peaceful home.

•A clear conscience.

•A good name.

•A higher degree of personal integrity.

•More respect of other people.

•Better relationships with people in general.

These are all commendable goals, the kinds of things that we should all work towards and the kinds of things that do bring lasting peace. But I’ll tell you something else about all of these things, they are all things that we individuals can do a lot to accomplish for ourselves.

We live in a TV, instant-coffee, microwave-meal, fast-food generation. We want the world to gratify us and to do it now, and we want to be served. We human beings often look outside of self for answers, for satisfaction and for fulfilment. We like to blame other people for our unhappiness or unfulfillment–the government, the society, the culture, the times we live in, the economy, my family, my neighbors are all to blame, and I am just an innocent, helpless victim. Nonsense!

Beloved friends in Christ, we shape our lives and our own destiny. What we get out of life is based on what we put in and how we respond to realities beyond our control. All of the deep desires listed earlier are things that we can work on in our lives for ourselves right inside of ourselves. No government can do these things for you. No culture or downturn in the economy can steal them from you.

Allow God, and God’s plan to control your life. Embrace the Bible’s teaching as your guide for living. As the Epistle writer says:”Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord”–Colossians 3:16. This Christmas, seek to take simple steps that bring lasting peace.

•Put God first and foremost, His ways and His truth. Remember the biblical injunction:”But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”–Matthew 6:33.

•Make time to worship Him in private and in public. Connection with the divine is priceless. We rob ourselves of our full humanity when we have no space to worship God.

•Lead your home, children, family or household along these lines. If you believe in something that is true and lasting, influence those around you accordingly.

•Strive to do what is right. You’ll have less of a conscience problem afterwards. Doing what is right is difficult, but it is surely best in the long run.

•When you make a mistake, admit it and seek to correct your mistake and/or to make amends for it. When you ignore or refuse to acknowledge your own error, it wounds your spirit terribly.

•Honor and respect all people no matter who they are or where they have come from. Everybody is somebody’s loved one, even if they may not be your loved one. And every person is loved and valued by God.

•Try to build up and to heal and to affirm wherever you go. Be a part of the situation and not a part of the problem.

•Try to live in a way that others will be glad to have known you. Let even the stranger and the passing acquaintance be happy for the encounter with you.

•Speak the truth in love. People may not be happy with you now, but they will respect you in the long run.

•Always do the best you can–no more, no less.

•Make time regularly for family, your own household and your immediate family, but also your relatives and friends.

•Be a true friend to someone or some people. You don’t need money to do that. You only need to humbly and sincerely care.

These are things that we can do. No government, no hard times, no society can take these things from you. These are things which you do to build a life of integrity. These are things which you do to make your environment a better place. These are things which, at the end of the day, make us happy and fulfilled.

These things spring from within a person and when Christians do them, they make the love of Christ and the message of the Holy Gospel real and relevant in peoples’lives. If you touch enough lives, you eventually touch the neighborhood, the island and even the nation.

This Christmas you will probably do lots of different activities–shop, give gifts, go to parties, share in family gatherings, go to Junkanoo, attend concerts and productions, etc., but I implore you to go to church–that’s right, find yourself in the house of God. We can commune with God anywhere, but we have to admit that there is something special about holy ground and God’s house.

And don’t stop there. Don’t just go to church. Also commit yourself to doing those things that governments and hard times cannot take from you–all of the things which I have talked about which make for peace and build up the common life.

Anglicans in The Bahamas and The Turks and Caicos Islands, this is the good tidings of great joy that Luke talks about when the angels spoke to the shepherds in the field abiding.(Hymn 55(A&M)verse 5.”Forth from His Father to the world He goes, Back to the Father’s Face His way regains, Far down to souls beneath His glory shows, Again at God’s right hand victorious reigns.”

Have a blessed Christmas season and a happy new year!

My Holiday Wish

By Leonard A. Johnson

President, Atlantic Caribbean Union Mission of Seventh-day Adventists

Recently a reporter asked,”What would you want to unwrap this Christmas season?”With little hesitation I answered,”Peace and understanding.”And the reporter must have wondered,”Why?”She seemed to be really asking,”Are there not more alluring and appealing gifts?”Quite frankly, these, in my opinion, are most critical in our region, given current unrest, spiraling crime, diseases, ongoing deaths, a stressed economy and the apparent lack of conflict resolution, to name a few. With a sense of peace and understanding, people are able to relate to one another, handle differences and live in harmony.

The Gift of the Christ Child

It is clear to me that the gift of the Christ child 2,000 years ago was intended to offer peace, joy, hope and more. God, in His omniscience, foresaw our needs and offered mankind a most necessary and all encompassing gift–His only Son. In fact, the Gift that is Jesus Christ, says of the Giver,”For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life”–(John 3:16). Years before this declaration, Isaiah, the Old Testament Prophet, penned:”For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace”–(Isaiah 9:6). Capturing this prophetic piece, Luke, another New Testament writer, added,”I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord . And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men”–(Luke 2:10-14).

Why Peace Appears to Be Lacking?

Repeatedly, the Bible makes it clear that the coming of Jesus was intended to offer peace and joy. However, we seem to be devoid of these qualities at a time that they are most needed. What has happened?What has gone wrong?I suggest that the problem does not lie with the gift or the giver but the acceptance and use of the gift. It is like receiving a most sizable check but not cashing it. Though valuable and useful, it will serve no purpose unless used. Could it be that the gift of the Christ Child has not captured our minds and hearts to the extent of controlling and influencing us to live at peace with and loving one another as we should?Could it be that the Gift has not been born in our hearts to the extent that we are led to forgive and move on?Could it be that the gift of Christ has not been received fully, so we fail to accord the respect that we should to one another on the streets, in the parking lot, in the home and even in the church?We must do more than simply talk about Christ. Instead, we must allow Him to be Lord of our lives fully controlling and running”things.”

When Christ is in control, the fruit of the Holy Spirit will be manifested. Says the Apostle Paul in Galatians 5:22-23, as paraphrased by Eugene Peterson in the message Bible,”But what happens when we live God’s way?He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard–things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about. It only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good–crucified.”

Looking Ahead

We all look forward to getting through the rest of this year and embracing 2011. After all, we are tired hearing about the murder count or another traffic fatality. Quite frankly, 2011 would be no different if people(you and I included)do not embrace Christ fully in our daily living. We are attempting to effect changes without resorting to the right resolution, and that is Christ. How could the Apostle Paul, a misguided one and persecutor of the church, experience a turn around?Was it not through Christ?How could Mary, a prostitute, experience a sense of belonging and appreciation?Was it not through Christ who accepted her as a person and showed true love and respect for her?What the world needs is what we through Christ are capable of giving. It is love; it is understanding!It is respect and even tolerance for our differences in this region. Again, I make the point, unless Christ is embraced, do not expect situations to change much. Emily Elliott explains,”My heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus, When Thou comest and callest for me.”Essentially, this constitutes my wish for all in the Atlantic Caribbean Union: that Christ is embraced, and with the Gift mankind will experience what it means to live and to have meaning and lasting value. It is the Gift that lives on and enables one to have a sense of Christmas daily, monthly and throughout the year.

Have a Christ-centered Christmas and a joyous New Year.

All is not lost

By Bishop Elgarnet B. Rahming,CMG, DD, JP

National Overseer Church of God of Prophecy

At this very special time and festive season of the year, we pause from the normal hustle and bustle of life to reflect on God’s goodness anew, and to appreciate and celebrate with understanding and thanksgiving, the advent of the Christ Child into this world over two millennia ago.

This blessed season of advent is marked by a wonderful spirit of joy, of hope, of expectation, of anticipation, and of preparation and longing. Yes, there is a longing and a yearning for deliverance from the injustices and the evils of this sin cursed world. As we are all aware, lawlessness, crime and violence, murders, the fear of crime, the high cost of living, the present state of the economy, job redundancy and all of the other vexing state of affairs in our land have brought many to the brink of hopelessness and despair.

However, all is not lost. In the midst of our social challenges there is progress, development and growing opportunities for a brighter future for many. In the midst of our social challenges, the Almighty God is blessing our fair land with favor and sustained economic growth. Moreover, God is blessing our beloved land with redeeming grace and with spiritual strength and prosperity. And so, no matter how dark the day might seem, there is hope in God. The spirit of advent is the spirit of hope. This, my friends, is the season of hope.

Hope is not based on what one has. You see, friends, due to circumstances beyond your control, you may not have many things that you desire to have at this Christmastime. However, if you have hope in God, if you know that God is with you and that He will come through for you regardless of your situation and circumstance, that is all that really matters. God is unfailing. Expect, long for, yearn for, and expect to receive the best from God. Anticipate His working on your behalf. Keep hope alive. The Psalmist declared to himself,”Why art thou cast down, O my soul?And why art thou disquieted within me?Hope thou in God: For I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”–(Psalm 42:11)

And so, my friends, it is that hope, however faint at times; it is that God, however distant He might seem sometimes; which bring to this world the anticipation of a King who will someday rule over His people and in all His creation with truth, justice and righteousness. Yes, hope thou in God. The spirit of advent is hope.

Those who believe in Jesus Christ ought not allow their hope to be thwarted by life’s adverse circumstances. The reality of human existence is that God’s people experience a physical existence the same way others do. Christians get sick and die. Christians are victims of violent crimes, and Christians are hurt and killed in traffic accidents, in train and plane crashes, in bombings, in wars, in natural disasters, and, in some parts of the world, in famine. And so, at this blessed Yuletide Season, let us hope not in circumstances, but in the unfailing God. Let us hope in the God who reveals Himself as the God of newness, of creativity, of endless possibility, of redemption, and of transformation, deliverance and victory.

Jesus Christ is alive and well. Friends, keep your hope in Jesus alive. For this is the season of hope.

My wife, Minister Jacqueline and our children, Pastor Jarenda, Janeene, Jadeena and Elgarnet, Jr., join me in extending to you and your family a very Merry Christmas in Christ, and the hope of a happy and prosperous New Year in Him. God bless you all!

Please daddy don’t get drunk this Christmas

By Bishop Simeon B. Hall

Senior Pastor, New Covenant Baptist Church

The words of the song(Please Daddy Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas)by Bill and Taffy Danoff bespeak how we, as a people, indeed as a nation, have profaned the sacred season that is intended to reflect on the birthday of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Instead this season has become a time to get drunk and engage in licentious lifestyles.

This 1974 song places on the lips of a child, words of pathos and deep melancholy, it says:”Please daddy don’t get drunk this Christmas. I don’t want to see my mama cry. Just last year when I was only seven, now I’m almost eight as you can see. You came home a quarter past eleven, and fell down underneath our Christmas tree.”It is most discouraging to know that this scene will be played out a thousand times in many homes throughout our Bahamas.

Christmas is the queen of Christian festivities; second only in significance to Easter.

For now, and for all times let us set aside as puerile and insignificant those who would make a case that Christmas has pagan historical ties.

In Israel’s history, God sent His Son into the world. At some point serious Christians look forward to the celebration of the birth of Christ, the incarnation. This is the event when God punctuated human history with His divine presence.

“Born to raise the sons of earth. Born to give them second birth.”

We show our highest capacity to profane the sacred when we would use the time set aside to reflect on the Lord’s birth as a time to lower our standards and get drunk.

The song”Silent Night, Holy Night”is wrong. There was nothing holy or silent about the night on which the Christ child was born. But those around were so intoxicated with their way of life that they missed the fact that God, through the promised Messiah, had come to them. I appeal to those who might make the same mistake as those who did at the time of Christ’s birth: Please daddy, don’t get drunk this Christma Do not become so intoxicated by this world(literally and figuratively)that you miss the divine presence in our midst.

Daddy, please don’t leave the rent money or the school fees at the corner bar and embarrass us again. Please daddy, we would like to have a peaceful time like the neighbor next door. We would like to exchange gifts like the people in church. Please daddy when you get drunk you beat and abuse my mother and sometimes you forget I am your daughter and the way you look at me makes me very uncomfortable.

God comes to us in Jesus Christ that is the meaning of Advent. Time, place, color of the child are all incidental to the central theme of this cosmic drama. Drunkenness is escapism and those who try to drown their sorrows in alcohol come to know that sorrows can swim.

The Bahamas has the infamous distinction of ranking number three in the world in alcohol consumption and abuse. By extrapolation, it means that at any time of positive social reconstruction and progress many Bahamians will be found inebriated and without good sense. It is clear to me that some persons with power and influence in our history decided that the best way to keep some Bahamians back is to keep them drunk.

We pursue and prosecute those who deal in the illicit drug trade–indeed as we ought; but at the same time we reward liquor barons who trade in the nefarious business of alcohol. This is a naked contradiction. Alcohol is a killer and those who benefit from it have the blood of thousands of weak persons on their hands.

The national health initiative recently passed in the House of Assembly is worthy of support, but what about taking another look at those things in our country that causes ill health. I am safe within the mark that wanton alcoholism ranks at the top.

We speak passionately about the health of the nation but then we have high-ranking government officials organizing government event being sponsored by the liquor merchants–suggesting that this practice is okay.

Alcohol is one of the sacred cows in our Bahamian society. Would it not be interesting if a scientific study was done on the effects of alcohol on the Bahamian society?How does alcohol affect family life?How does this demon of alcohol impact the work and study habits of employees and students?Ought we not to make a scientific assessment on this accepted area of Bahamian life before the National Health Program is implemented?I think so!

Here are some quotes on the matter of alcoholism:”People who drink to drown their sorrows should be told that sorrows know how to swim.”–Ann Landers.”One reason I don’t drink is that I want to know when I’m having a good time.”–Nancy Astor

I have always been a little suspicious, perhaps even more contemptuous of persons who make a living off someone else’s pain and death.

During this Advent Season many children will receive gifts from their parents and friends. Sadly there will be those who will have to face these days in painful dismay and disappointment because daddy is drunk, and that is sad.

My immediate family and the people of New Covenant Baptist Church join me in wishing you and yours an Advent Season full of joy and peace and one that is free of any abuse and destruction.

God with us

By Rev. Fr. S. Sebastian Campbell

Priest, All Saints Parish

The Virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel–which means”God with us.”–Matthew Ch. 1:23

Mark Twain wrote a story called”Terrible Catastrophe.”It concerns a group of people who get trapped in a tragic situation. They are doomed to die. They have no way to escape. They are indeed on the verge of a terrible catastrophe.

Mark Twain did not want the story to end unhappily. But he did not see how he could save the people. It was like having them trapped in a plane that was seconds away from crashing into the sea. And so Mark Twain concluded his story with these two sentences: These people are in a fix. Help!Can someone save them?”

Now in one sense that’s an unfair ending. But in another sense it’s a good ending. It makes you think; it makes you get involved.

When all hope is gone to whom should you turn?When your father and mother forsake you to whom should you turn?

When friends rip you off and drag you into the gutter and your own familiar friends put a dagger in your back to whom should you turn?

When brother and sister despitefully use you, to whom should you turn?

When people you thought had your back, act funny now . . . Read Ps. 55:12.

When sickness wracks the innocent . . . when bad things happen to good people . . .

Thousands of years, ago the human race found itself in a similar situation. Sin had entered the world and was spreading like wildfire. The human race was trapped. There was no way it could save itself. If Mark Twain had been alive then he would have summed up the situation the same way he summed up his story:”The people are in a fix. Help!Can someone save them?”

God saw the tragic situation. He didn’t want the story to have a sad ending. He loved the world so much that He himself decided to come down.(See Ex. 3: 7 and 8). So the God of the Exodus is the God in John 3:16.”God loved the world so much . . .”

The good news of Christmas is that God himself comes. No prophet, no angel, but Immanuel–God with us–comes. It was God’s way to rescue people from the terrible catastrophe of sin, brokenness, despair, broken hearts, etc. It was God on a rescue mission. God comes to give us a new start–we who have sinned, He comes so we can start all over again.

We who have wronged people, made people feel bad, ripped them off, caused people much grief, He comes to give us a new start.

Jesus Himself says it,”I am come that you might have life, life in all its fullness.”Many of us are not living a full life. We have pain or are causing others pain.

Now, Jesus did not complete the job. The job of infusing people with the fullness of life is left for all of us to continue. Participate, is the watchword. An example may give us a better idea of what Jesus did for us.

Years ago there was a thought-provoking”Peanuts”cartoon. The first picture of the cartoon shows Charlie Brown staring at a tool box, saying to himself,”I can’t do it. I can’t do it!”The second picture shows Lucy entering and saying to Charlie,”What’s wrong, Charlie?You seem so unhappy.”Charlie answers Lucy,”I am unhappy. I want to build a work bench, but I don’t have a work bench to build it on.”

The point of the cartoon when we apply it to Jesus is clear. Jesus made us a work bench on which we can complete the work He began. He did not complete the job Himself. He gave that job to us. He gave us the work bench called love.”By this shall all men know you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

On this workbench God, Immanuel is always with us. For God is love.

Advent is the season when we call to mind the terrible situation that the world was in before Jesus came. Only by appreciating it can we celebrate with proper joy Jesus’coming on the first Christmas. But Advent is more than that. It is also the season when we call to mind that Jesus will come again.

He will judge each one of us, personally, on how well we contributed to the work that He left for us to complete the work of love. St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 spells it out for us. Vs. 6″Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth . . .”vs. 8″Love never fails . . .”What a workbench!

You and I are living in the interval between the lightning of Jesus’first coming and the thunder of His second coming. Read Acts 1:10-11 what the angel said to the apostles at the ascension applies to us too:”Why are you standing there looking up at the sky?This Jesus who, was taken from you into heaven, will come back again in the same way you saw Him go to heaven.”

Our job, as we wait for Jesus’return, is not to stand idly by looking up to heaven. Rather, it is to roll up our sleeves and complete the work Jesus gave us to do. We are to use the workbench Jesus built for us–the workbench of love. We are to be disciples of love. Our duty is to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome strangers in our midst and work for peace. Make love come alive.

As Advent gives away to Christmas, we are challenged to be just like Jesus. Be the good news, Immanuel, God in The Bahamas.

Advent reminds us that He will come again to judge us on what we are doing and what we fail to do since His first coming.

Christ will come again!Until He does, we must walk as people in the light as we complete the job He gave us.

St. Paul puts it like this:”Our salvation is closer now than when we first believed. The night is far spent; the day is at hand. Cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”

Three questions to consider as Christmas beckons us: What are we doing right now to build God’s kingdom on earth?What ought we be doing right now?

What will we resolve to do this Christmas that the world may know God has come in us?

The terrible catastrophe in which this country is in right now can be overcome in a people resolved to be the hands and feet of God today. The catastrophe of our own broken lives and divided families is summountable in a people living the love life of Christ followers.

Look again at St. Matthew ch. 1:23–“The Virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel which means, God with us”.

Now look at St. Matthew Ch. 28:20b–“And surely I am with you to the end of the age.”From the beginning to the end of this Gospel the message is clear: God is with us, and He can only be present in and through a transformed me and you.

Let God’s presence be felt now in us this Christmas!

Is the Christmas promise trustworthy?

By Oral Rex R. Major

Senior Pastor Emeritus Grace Community Church

The Christmas story tells us of a visitor from another place.”He came down to earth from heaven,”sounds forth the popular carol. He came with a sincere offer–“Peace on earth”, savior for their sins, light to lighten the darkness, life giver, reconciler, mediator and redeemer. Why then has earth felt so little impact from this historic supernatural event?Why has so little changed?

There is a tendency to blame God, to say that God has failed, that Jesus Christ was an optimist, that He did not have the wherewithal to deal with the hard issues of life.

A Christmas Mood

The Christmas event provides beautiful illustrations of the true nature of man. These illustrations make it quite clear, why humans so often miss the true purpose of Christmas. If the Christmas event intended to bring us help, why, then, do we enjoy so little help?If the Christmas event is truly the work of God, enabling us to achieve a nobler life, a fuller purpose and a more blessed existence, why then have so many of us benefited so little?Events in the Christmas story help to provide answers for these questions. As we view God at work in such mysterious realities, during the Christmas event, we also see man at work.

Mood of Disinterest

Just as God is working the details of His plan, we see details of man’s true state unveiled before our eyes.We meet the mood of disinterest. It is stated in words like this in the gospel of Luke. In chapter 2 and verse 7, Luke writes:”And she[Mary the Virgin]brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for Him at the inn.”

Even though the very Savior of the world is to be born, yet the innkeeper has no space for Him. He is too booked up with reservations from soldiers and priests and Levites and Roman officials and other important people whose check books are more dependable than peasant persons from Nazareth. And so, at the very entrance to human experience, the Savior is crowded out.

This very attitude of disinterest in God’s concerns has characterized the human race through the centuries. God never ceases to knock at doors, seeking entrance, control and lordship, but too often the answer from the inside is:”Sorry, filled up, crowded out, no room.”

A Tragic Choice

The tragedy is that the very incident of history which brought the innkeeper his greatest prosperity becomes the reason for his missing the God who knocked at his door. It was because business was so good, that he missed God.

Tragedy, too, is that for him the event was not repeatable. That knock at that door would never come again. He might have filled rooms on future occasions, he might have prosperous seasons again, but never that knock. How tragic!

And human experience has not changed. God knocks; God speaks; God brings His hope of Salvation, His light of glory, as well as His answers for your perplexities, but”Sorry, not now, too busy, preoccupied, crowded-out,”is too often the response. The mood of disinterest still prevails.

Memorial of Warning

History erects a memorial to the innkeeper in Bethlehem that stands forever as a warning to the pre-occupied; to the earth-man whose interest are merely material gain.

The innkeeper’s eye to business spelled his tragedy. His very acumen for progress and his capitalistic expertise ill-prepared him to see a real bargain. His preference for profits, his sharp eye for the bigger deal were the very facts that led him to by-pass his God.

As human beings, it is in the highest and wisest use of our good sense that often leads us to turn God away from our doors. It is our superior wisdom that turns God from our door because we see no sense in dealing with Him. It is our very scientific achievements that augment and consolidate our atheism, because we sense no need of supernatural aid. It is our increased accumulation of wealth that fits us to be more easily disposed to relegate God to the backwoods of antiquity, because we then have no imperative to say:”Give us this day, our daily bread.”It is our very advances in medicine that lead us to see no need to seek God’s healing. It is the buildup of a strong gross national product that gives us false self-confidence, thus robbing us of that glorious experience of knowing the deliverance of a living God.

A Religion of Convenience

Jesus, Mary and Joseph were offered the manger. That manger represents the kind of response to God that costs us nothing. This arrangement was one of convenience.

The innkeeper did not have to make any agonizing decisions–no sacrificial plans to offer the manger. No one would have to be turned out of the crowded rooms to make space for the Christ, the Savior, and the Lord. Nothing would have to be reorganized, or rearranged. We could have all we want the way we want it and accommodate God, too. How nice!

We could still preserve our own personal lifestyles as intact as ever. No real exercise of thoughts, and will and heart are needed. Instead,”Let Jesus have the manger. After all, no other guests would ask for that. I will not lose anything by giving that.”

Such is the all too common response to the living God:”My life is too crowded with important matters. If I have any convenient time, any left-over energy and unneeded resources, any useless investments, I’ll give you those God, but please don’t expect me to make any serious readjustments of my life to please you.”

God Wants our Intelligent Worship

Life will never be so uncrowded that it will ever be easy to accommodate God’s demands of us with natural flow. We will always be crowded by the demands of ourselves, our friends, our families, our associates, our commitments. And some of these demands will be very proper and good.

But the demands of God, that we give Him first place, that we love Him with all our hearts, minds, our will, our strength, are still our first priority, from God’s perspective.

The decision to yield to God’s demands will have to be made while all the other crowds clamor for our limited space.

We must say”yes”to God while we say”no”to others. Christmas says, God is seeking our lives, to enter into them, take them over, to rule them. And we must decide whether or not He will have the privilege to do so.

Christmas puts us on the spot. We must react to God. Will you let Him in and turn away the crowds, or will you entertain the crowds and thus crowd Him out?

Why not have a true Christmas experience and say, as we so often sing:”O come to my heart Lord Jesus, there’s room in my heart for thee.”

May you find time and room for your God during this season and for the rest of your life.

Jesus can give us the peace we need

By Bishop John Humes

Church of God Bahamas and Turks&Caicos Islands Overseer

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men” –Luke 2:13-14.

Warmest season greetings in the name of Jesus The Christ, whose birth we celebrate. Once again the Christmas season is upon us and it is a good time to reflect on the year as we bring it a close and look ahead to 2011. This year marked a historical one for the Church of God as we celebrated the centennial of Church of God World Mission in early January, which saw hundreds ofd missionaries and leaders from aaround the world converging at the Wyndham Nassau Resort and our convention center. This was a red letter day for The Bahamas and it impacted our economy as many of them returned after such a warm Bahamian welcome. The Bahamas was also showcased at the International General Assembly, when thousands were given the report and video presentations of The Bahamas. This will go a long way in bringing more people to our shores.

This celebration continued here in The Bahamas as we had three major dedications, an all-time high for any one year in our church, despite the global economic crisis. In February we dedicated the Harold Nairn Activity Centre at the Vision of Hope Cathedral in Yamacraw and Elizabeth Estate Communities. Bishop Kirk Smith, senior pastor, along with the members were happy to make this investment of over$500,000 to serve the community where they are situated. In November, the New Victory Temple, under the leadership of Bishop Revy Francis, dedicated its new sanctuary, a project that cost over$1,000,000 which is built for the community of Bain Town, where the Church of God started over 100 years ago. On Friday, December 17, Bishop Moses Johnson, senior pastor at the the East Street Cathedral dedicated The H. M. Pinder Day Care Centre for the Elderly and the Michael West Youth Activity Centre for effective ministry to the Farm Road Community, both old and young.

The construction of the Vision Centre, our new adninistrative office reached a major mark with the roof having been poured and the first phase of the electrical upgrade completed. This is a part of the overall strategic plan to position the Church of God as a major influence to bring about relevance to the gospel of Christ–reach people and making disciples. I have launched a national drive to pray for our churches and country, and am calling upon every member and the public at large to spend some time each day in prayer and the reading of the Bible, the Word of God. We will also bring Christ back into our communities, with outreach programs to offset the negative and unwholesome activities in our inner city and communities.

Christmas is fast becoming a pagan and culture celebration with Christ being left out of the picture completely. Look around and see the amount of pagan activities that comes around this time of the year–armed police in every mall and shopping center just to make us feel safe, but as for them they dare not use their arms otherwise all hell will break lose. More crime and suicide along with road traffic accidents occur because many cannot handle the pressure and stress that come with keeping the spirit of Christmas–whatever that means!. Then there are the Junkanoo parades, which is our culture. Check it out–many of our people spend long hours to satisfy our appetite for this expression, which when it ends, leaves our streets lined with discarded costumes and wares. Where is Christ in all of this?Just like the first Christmas, no room for Him in the inn, our homes, lives and country

Let us not forget the primary message of Christmas and the birth of Christ, which is what we should be celebrating. He came to bring peace on Earth, peace in our home, peace in our schools, peace in our work places, peace on our streets and in our communities, and peace in our churches. I do not want to berate the crime in our country. While the government and its agencies are doing all they can to control the high level of crime, and while the cry for capital punishment and corporal punishment in our school and home continues to resonate, we will not see any major turnaround unless we return to Christ as a nation.

Christ came to bring us peace, not strife or civil disobedience called by a few people who are bent on having their way instead of building our country. Peace–not what the world gives or calls peace, rather the peace which comes in fear and knowing God and Jesus Christ as Savior. The year 2011 is shaping up to be a good year, and please let us not get besides ourselves by being led by men or women who have very little regard for law and order. The police must be commended for enforcing the seat-belt laws which can only benefit us all. While the fine appears very steep, if you buckle up you would not have to a pay a cent.

Recently, Parliament approved the BahaMar project, which would be a major injection to the economy in producing thousands of jobs, this is a good sign of the starting of the recovery. Let us learn from this project good working ethics and standards to make us the leading tourist destination in the world when this project would have been completed. We cannot continue to take things for granted. The peace that Christ brings will make us respect each other and love our country. We would have a good mind or good will towards each other. This is what Christ brings to us. The disrespect must stop and the fear of God must be evidenced in our lives so that our children would be more responsible and godly. Let us return to the values that made The Bahamas the envy of the Caribbean and the place where there is room for Him. The devil steals, kills and destroys, and when we do so to our brothers and sisters we are under the control of the devil. Jesus came to bring goodwill to all men, and if that is Christ’s mission, then it should be yours. Remember our trademark–love one another, especially we who are called by His name. As we celebrate Christmas and look forward to 2011 then we have a simple solution ahead to overcome a mammoth task and that solution is”If My people who are called by My name(Christians)will humble themselves and pray.”–2 Chronicles 7:14 .

Sister Humes along with the 84 local congregations in the Church of God Bahamas Turks and Caicos Islands wish you a safe and joyous Christmas and a Christ-centred new year and let us remember Christ came to bring the peace that we need as we enter 2011. God bless!

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