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Sunday, March 3, 2024
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Do not be afraid for The Lord is our light and salvation. Psalm 27:1

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Dear friends, how quickly another year seems to have passed and the new year 2024 is here with us. Permit me to reflect with you briefly on some words of God’s encouragement and the assurance of His eternal presence among us as we enter this new year 2024. 

Our world today, my brothers and sisters is full of fear and replete with many uncertainties. We wake up each day full of fear of the unknown ahead of us. God in many ways told our fathers in faith before us in the bible not to be afraid. As we begin this new year, I wish to assure you all not to be afraid for our God is with us to keep us safe from every evil. St. Paul is therefore right when he says to us, ‘if God be for us who can be against us’ Rom 8:31

Permit me to explore more with you on why we are not to be afraid through the unknown changing scenes of life. From the pages of the Old Testament through to the New Testament, we discover that anytime God initiated an encounter with His people, He first encouraged their heart not to be afraid. When He met with Abraham, He told him not to be afraid of the unknown, when He spoke to Moses, He assured him not to be afraid of going back to Egypt. Elijah was not to be afraid of Jezebel and Ahab and all the false prophets of Baal. He will assure Isaiah, ‘do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you and I will uphold you with my victorious right hand’ Isaiah 41:10

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Jesus, severally would tell His disciples not to be afraid of the enemy. After He triumphantly rose from the grave, He appeared to his disciples and the first thing He did was to remind them not to be afraid.

From my readings of these various encounters between God and his people, I discovered something deeper and that is, anytime God announced to his people not to be afraid, He would continue to pledge that his presence will be with them. They were therefore not to be afraid because God was going to be with them.  

As we edge ever closer to the threshold of the new year, I wish to assure you in words that reflect the message that Jesus shared with his disciples, do not be afraid for He is with you to protect you and to deliver you from the troubles and chaos of life. Notice that it is God who is promising to be with you. May He, who has made us this solemn promise neither forsake nor abandon us in this new year.

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Having said this, let me also remind us of some of life’s realities that the devil uses to drown us deep in the ocean of fear – stress, nervousness, anxiety, sickness among others. These are the weapons the devil uses to throw us off course. No matter your state in life, no matter your age, no matter your background, no matter your academic credentials, there is bound to be something that causes you stress and anxiety. There are things in and around us that make us nervous. In the midst of all these, Jesus’ sweet utterance to us is clear and unambiguous, ‘be of good cheer, it is I, do not be afraid’ Matt 14:27.

Let us go back to the text of our theme from Psalm 27:1 and ask this pertinent question, why would

David, out of all the symbols he could have used to describe the Lord, choose to say the Lord is his Light? Notice dear friends that the opposite of light is darkness and in scripture, one of the symbols of fear is darkness. So, if David is encouraging us and telling us that the Lord is his light and salvation, then David is also telling us this; as light dispels darkness so our God this new year will dispel all our fears and darkness. The enemy may do his worse against you but the assurance is that God will show up to do his best for you in the course of the new year. This year 2024, our God will be for us and nothing and no one in life or in death will be against us. This year 2024, the Lord will be your light and your salvation. He will save you from all your fears and every weapon of the enemy fashioned against you and your children will never prosper.

On this high note, let me congratulate all of us for witnessing God’s blessings of a new year and to take this opportunity to wish His Excellency the President and his cabinet and the entire government of The Gambia, God’s protection and wisdom even as they lead us in this new year and the days to come. May the peace of incarnated son of God continue to reign supreme in the affairs of all men.

I wish all of us a happy and prosperous new year full of God’s favour and grace.

Issued at the Bishop’s Court, Banjul, The Gambia.

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