New Year Message 2019 From The Rt. Reverend James Allen Yaw Odico Bishop Anglican Diocese Of Gambia

Fellow Gambians and all God’s People, As we bid farewell to the year 2018 and welcome the New Year 2019, most of us have been taking stock of our achievements and challenges so far, and making resolutions for the New Year.

Intriguingly, we had diverse expectations and experiences in 2018. Many of us made brilliant resolutions with dynamic strategies for their attainment, which we now review. Unfortunately, due to the nature of our world today, most of our New Year’s resolutions may focus on materialism: improved income, increased assets, better security, completing a building project, getting a new car, getting a new job or earning promotion in existing job, which, to a certain extent is not bad. However, we need to investigate whether these resolutions are geared towards our attainment of eternal life.

Having eternal life should be the primary goal of every individual. Anything short of this is secondary. Earthly riches and worldly pleasures would not take us anywhere, King Solomon with all his splendor  describe the worldly pleasures, riches, power and influence which we are striving for, as vanity. (Ecclesiastes chapter 1&2)  Friends, Jesus’ admonition to his disciples, which is also applicable to us, is “not to store up treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal but advises that we store up for ourselves “treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Matthew 6:19-20 NIV)

When the angel of the Lord break the news of the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, to the shepherds who were watching over their flock in a nearby village to Bethlehem, they responded immediately urging one another,

“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:15b NIV); the shepherds were full of praise to God after confirming the message and shared the Good News of the birth of the savior of the world who has come to restore mankind with God and give eternal life. The wonder with which the news of Jesus’ birth was received is further exemplified in Simeon, a righteous and devout man inspired by the Holy Spirit, who was pleased to ask God to  dismiss him in peace  after seeing Jesus the  salvation of God (Luke 2:25-32 NIV)

Fellow Gambians and all residents, “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. (Hebrews 2:1-3 NIV)

Beloved in Christ, God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood–to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished (Romans 3:25 NIV).

Fellow Gambian We need to be strategic in our decision making process for the New Year. I implore you to declare 2019 as the Year of Salvation. Let our resolutions focus on claiming the promise of God’s salvation for our personal lives first, and then on sharing the Gospel of salvation to others.

Jesus illuminates Gods love and care for us and noted that we “cannot serve both God and money” like pagans, running after worldly pleasures, but advise that we “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given” to us as well.  (Matthew 6:24-34 NIV).

Friends, God loves you.  You only need to take a step of faith by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. No matter what your life in the past has been, God is ready to restore you to himself today. His hands are open to receive you. He wants your life to illuminate His glory.

As John puts it, “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1:5-9 NIV)

Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, advocate with the Father on behalf of sinners. “He is the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. Whoever claims to “know him, but does not do what he commands is a liar …Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” (1John 2:1-6 NIV)

Friends, to live as Jesus did may seem impossible to many, but the good news is that ones you believe in Him the Spirit of God dwells in you, and if you allow the Holy Spirit to rule your heart then your thoughts, interests and actions will be aligned with the will of God.

Beloved Gambians, this is our excellent opportunity, let us grab it now.

When the angel of the Lord break the news of the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, to the shepherds who were watching over their flock in a nearby village to Bethlehem, they responded immediately urging one another,

“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

Therefore, like the shepherds, let us urge one another to respond immediately to this message to the glory of God.

The God news is that almost all of us know and believe that Jesus will return to judge the world.

Beloved Gambians, let us ponder over these questions: “If Jesus comes today are we prepared to receive Him?  If death should strike today, what will be our fate? These questions are not meant to intimidate us but just to guide our reflection.

We should rather consider Gods love for us, and the benefits of eternal life, once we repent, than the consequences of Hell fire if we remain stubborn and disobedient.

On behalf of the Anglican family in the Diocese of Gambia, I wish the Head of state, the Government and people of our beloved nation, The Gambia; My colleague Bishops, our mission partners, our brothers and sisters in the Muslim fraternity, people of other faiths, and well-wishers, a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

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