Ushering In A New Year

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Today is the last day of 2016—the eve of 2017. Many, if not all churches, will hold watch night services to usher in the new year. These watch night services often attract large numbers of people than any other church meeting usually will. Even those who have never stepped foot in a church throughout the year will show up.

In a certain sense, there is something positive about this because these people still acknowledge there is a God who has seen them through a whole calendar year into a new year and will want to show some appreciation–even if it is lip service–to this God they have no relationship with and don’t obey in their daily living. In our society, almost everybody believes in the existence of God so it is no wonder these services get full at such crucial times of the year. As I said earlier, people who have no relationship with God nonetheless show up in church for 31st December night vigil. This is indeed a great opportunity to point people to Christ. But would Christ be pointed to them? You probably will be a good judge if you will attend any of these meetings.

Considering some of the fanciful themes given to these meetings, one is tempted to believe nothing of gospel substance will be preached. I have taken note of some of these themes:

Night of Power and Prophecy
Night of Signs and Wonders
Exodus Night 2016
No Carry Over 2016
Free Money To Prosper Crossover To Overtake

These are just a few samples of themes, an indication of what will occur in many of these services. If there is anything worth today, we must take the opportunity to point people to Christ. People will show up in our services whose first time of hearing the gospel would be today. What kind of gospel will they hear ? A man centred gospel with everything evolving around man’s needs and how to use God to achieve them or will it be Christ centred with everything evolving around Christ and what He has done to purchase the salvation of sinners? To be sure, prayers  will be offered and there will be preaching. But as to whether these will be done in a biblical manner is another question to be answered.

For you as an individual, probably, you might want to ponder what is of utmost importance as you enter the new year. Don’t be carried away by the irreverence of the age. The Westminster Shorter Catechism gives us something to think over as we enter a new year:

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?

A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God¹, and to enjoy him for ever².

The catechism asks what’s the very reason for our existence? The answer is simply to glorify God and enjoy him for ever. Nothing matters than a life that glorifies God. To glorify God is simply to live lives pleasing to Him. And to enjoy Him is simply to make Him our greatest pursuit and desire. Many people will have many pursuits for 2017 but not a pursuit for growth in their knowledge of God and lives consistent with His calling of us. I hope you will make it  your desire to glorify God and enjoy Him for ever. For the Christian, this means living in daily obedience and for the unbeliever, it means most importantly, turning to Christ from your sins and making Him Lord over your life. Anything short of this makes your watch night attendance of non-effect. I will love to conclude with these emphatic words from Solomon:

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bringevery deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

Notes:

1. Ps. 86:9; Isa. 60:21; Rom. 11:36; I Cor. 6:20; 10:31; Rev. 4:11

2. Ps. 16:5-11; 144:15; Isa. 12:2; Luke 2:10; Phil. 4:4; Rev. 21:3-4

Christmas: To Celebrate or Not To?

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It is that season of the year—Christmas, where Christians are divided on the occasion. You may have heard the oft repeated “Christmas is pagan and must not be celebrated” mantra.

Here is a three part series providing answers for Christmas celebrations. Originally posted on thedecablog.wordpress.com as “Christmas and Christianity” by Pastor Nick Kennicot .

Here are the three part series: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

Below are also some salient points from the series.

“I am convinced that while opponents of Christmas raise necessary and important questions for our consideration, their conclusions often serve to bind the consciences of Christians, rob Christians of their God-given liberty, are filled with logical fallacies, and rely upon historical anachronism

Christian liberty is the central issue in a discussion on Christmas. Yes, proper precautions must be made and pastors are right to offer warnings of excess and wholesale purchase of the world’s observance, however the outright condemnation and calling Christmas celebration sin is a violation of Christian liberty and a most grievous sin in itself.

If you love Christmas, enjoy it, but please question why you do what you do and whether or not it honors God. Avoid the sins of poor stewardship, gluttony, drunkenness, and materialism while focusing your attention and love toward Christ. Likewise, if you’d prefer to avoid Christmas altogether, you are more than welcome to do so. However, please do not insist that others do the same lest you condemn what God does not. It is neither safe nor right to bind the conscience of another Christian to that which God has not clearly revealed. If there is true, God-glorifying music and preaching focused on the incarnation in your church on the Lord’s Day leading up to December 25th, do not despise it because of your distaste for the holiday – remember, it is biblical truth being proclaimed so long as your pastor is faithful to what the Bible say.

Ghana Decides :Election 2016

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Tomorrow, 7th December, God willing, Ghana goes to the polls to decide who will govern the nation in the next four years. Who will you vote for? What will determine your choice? I believe anyone reading this might have made up their mind already. Now, there are fundamental issues I believe must influence our choice; among which are: good governance, sound economic policies and upholding the rule of law.

Probably, the period God’s name is most blasphemed in Ghana is during elections. And this year’s election is no exception. All manner of predictions in the name of God have been made. The major parties—NDC and NPP have all taken to the twisting of Scriptures to propagate their message.

Ghana’s former President J.A. Kuffour is quoted as saying:

I must confess, I am a Christian but I hardly read the Bible. While I thought of what to say at this function, something told me to open the Bible and I read the Book of Joshua where I saw God directing Joshua how to lead Israel unto the promised land. “God has spoken and his word is that the NPP would win Wednesday’s elections

Mr. Johnson Asiedu Nketia, the NDC General Secretary  is also quoted to have said: “The governing National Democratic Congress’ third spot on the parliamentary ballot paper represents John 3:16”. He further went on to say; “You haven’t heard John 3: 16 before huh? We have already composed songs with John 3:16,”

James Agyenim Boateng, a Presidential Staffer at Office of the Vice President also in a Facebook post wrote: “In the name of the almighty God, I claim the victory of election 2016 for John Mahama and the NDC”.

All are claiming victory in the name of God. Who is right? Now, as a Christian who affirms the sovereignty of God over all things, I believe whoever wins tomorrow’s election is ordained by God. That means, whoever your candidate is, and whatever party you support, one thing is certain; God has the final say. He is sovereign over all things, including appointing rulers of a nation:  “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD (Proverbs 16:33). “He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings” (Daniel 2: 21). “there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13:1).

God has His “king”.  I believe that and no amount of predictions and twisting of Scripture will determine the outcome of tomorrow’s election. The winner of tomorrow’s elections is known and ordained by God. See your vote as God’s means by which what He has ordained will come to pass. If your candidate wins, glory to God. If your candidate doesn’t win, glory to God.

Whatever happens after tomorrow, let us all pursue peace.

God bless our homeland Ghana
And make our nation great and strong,
Bold to defend forever
The cause of Freedom and of Right;
Fill our hearts with true humility,
Make us cherish fearless honesty,
And help us to resist oppressors’ rule
With all our will and might for evermore