As the world makes ready for 2021, Bishop Delton Fernander encouraged Christians to “light it up” and spread the good news to aid in dispelling the darkness that abounded in 2020. But he reminded people that this is not the time to try to do it on their own. If there was ever a time people needed the Lord, Fernander said they need him right now.
In his Sunday sermon at New Destiny Baptist Cathedral, Fernander said life often gives opportunities, and that sometimes those opportunities come dressed as work, and sometimes as crises, but he said no matter which one it is, it’s an opportunity. He said that in a dark situation, sometimes it’s an opportunity for people to shine their best light, and to not be discouraged.
“Whatever you’re going through for 2020, God said the light is about to shine. Whatever you struggled with, God said get ready to see the light. Get ready to get yourself together,” said the senior pastor.
During the Christmas season and Advent, the Baptist pastor said the “light” is not dependent on a person’s pocket, but on God who loves his people and made the greatest sacrifice for them.
“If you can think back to the beginning of this year and just to make it to this month, you should find a praise. Just to be here in the land of the living, you should find a praise in your spirit.”
Fernander said God was by their side every step of the way.
Even those people who didn’t have any worries, he said didn’t come this far by themselves. He said God was by their side too.
“For me, the first sign that we are in Advent, or the Christmas season, is when I see the lights. Somehow, the lights seem to ‘sing’ the glad Hosanna. If you look at them long enough, it lifts your spirit, because a place that was dark now has light. I know some of you are saying it doesn’t feel like it usually feels … for many of us, it feels like a dark Christmas.”
Fernander said too many people have defined Christmas by their pocket, ham and turkey, bonus and vouchers, and not by Christ.
“The challenge of our time is that we found ourself in a period where our spirits are not lifted. We find ourself where people have a gross darkness – not on the outside, but on the inside. It is that darkness called depression that makes you feel that you’re not significant, that leads you down the road that you have a conversation with yourself that if ‘I get out of here, nobody will miss me’. Start thinking suicidal and start thinking about how you would exit this earth – but can I tell you, God knows your name and he knows you by nature, that no matter what you’re going through, you have to look to the hills from whence cometh your help. Your help comes from the Lord.”
Fernander said people are finding themselves in exile from God, which he said contributes to why it doesn’t feel like Christmas.
“Because you don’t feel the Christ, you don’t feel the true essence of God’s presence in your life. Sin will cause that. We can get to the place that we’re so discomforted by what we’re going through that we don’t even want to see church much less hear church. When you don’t even want to open the book, you don’t even want to read your scripture. You stop praying at night. You slip further and further away from God’s presence. That’s Babylon. It’s when you find yourself at a place where you start saying, ‘what’s the use?’ What’s the use of serving God, I’m unemployed too? What’s the use of serving God, I can’t find two cents to rub together? What’s the use of serving Him in spirit and in truth and I’m going through the same as my neighbor who is doing whatever they want – however they want.’”
The New Destiny Baptist senior pastor challenged people to allow their light to shine to move out of the darkness. He said he believes too many people have become content in the “darkness” and living any kind of way.
“God is saying there’s a standard to the kingdom, a way we ought to live – even when things aren’t going our way, God’s people still live the standard.”
Fernander chalked up the “darkness” to the absence of the presence of God – who he said is the “light” that has been disregarded.
“I believe, sadly, there are so many of us that have chosen darkness over light. So many of us have reached the place where darkness has broken the relationship which we shared with God and rather than seek his ‘light’, we have become rebellious, we have become a society that don’t want to hear anything about Christ.”
But he said the more darkness, the more light needed. He urged Christians to allow their light to shine.
“I’d rather walk the way God wants me to walk, rather than the way man wants me to walk. But we have reached the point where we have crossed over the Jordan. We’re right there to cross into a new year, but I want to suggest to you that if we’re going to make it, you have to make up in your mind that you’re not going to live in this darkness. I’m not crossing over with a down spirit – I’m going to freshen myself up. I’m going to clean myself up. I have no gas in the car, but I’m coming to church because I have to get refueled. I have to be charged up. I have to find within me, the ability to shine in dark situations.”
Fernander said whatever people have gone through in 2020, that God’s light is about to shine.
“Whatever you struggled with, God said get ready to see the light. Get ready to get yourself together. Jesus wants us to live in Him and as we live in Him, we move from darkness to light. The light in my context is an expression of joy. There are some sad people in this town, we have to light it up. We’ve been called to walk in these times and show forth His light. It’s times like this that we need true Christians.”
He said God needs His people to turn their light on.
“This word has been dark too long. God said I need Christians to light it up – spread the news and heaven is about to turn on the lights.
“Just as physical light will destroy physical darkness, spiritual light will break the heaviness of the spiritual darkness. Jesus Christ is the answer to our dark times. This is not a time to try to do it on your own. If you ever needed the Lord, you need Him right now.”
Fernander challenged Christians to find the strength within themselves to let the world know that the light they reflect is not their own, but the Christ that lives within them.
He said the light within him is what causes him to keep striving. “The Christ that is in me keeps pushing me. The Christ that I serve keeps encouraging me. Just when I want to throw in the towel, He says use it for My glory,” said Fernander.
“This life that you are going through is nothing that can compare to the glory that shall be revealed to you. Satan has thrown his best dart and he’s come at you harder than he’s ever come after you before, but you still got your praise, still got your worship, still in your right mind, still in your spirit, God still gets the glory. All it takes is one of us to turn on the lights. Jesus wants us to be a people to let the world know that God’s glory hasn’t vanished. His protection hasn’t gone anywhere.”
Fernander said God is still in charge and has not forsaken his people.
“I trust God. The God I serve is the one that lifts up, pulls down and is the shelter in a storm.”
After months of darkness, Fernander said Christ needs to be seen in people’s dark places and people have the tools to allow their light to shine.