Come Down Lord: We Miss You!
Praise the Lord. I guess it would be unfair of me if I also don't begin with a happy new year. Like elder Kennedy was saying in Africa, New Year is not an event: it's a season. And until you meet someone, they have not yet experienced a new year. So even if you meet them in July for the first time in there, you say Happy New Year. So let me hear you Happy New Year.
[Congregation responds: "Happy New Year!"]
How I Closed the Old Year and Begun the New Year
We praise the Lord for His faithfulness. Now I don't know how you spend the beginning of your year, or how you close to the old year 2019, but I can tell you that mine was the prophetic one. Me and my family had the best closing of the year and the best opening of the year! Now, of course, you will not understand until I tell you how it all began.
It began at around 6:30 am on the 31st of December when we all woke up. The idea was: "go to Jinja and explore. Look around, visit nice places and recount God's faithfulness. We packed our breakfast: which is very unusual; but as we were packing it, I started realizing that this day might be a prophetic one after all. This is not just packing breakfast. This is looking at what we are parking and realizing how God has provided all through 2019 until the 31st. We had the excess to enter into the new year. Now, you can take that for granted. So we get out and we move towards Jinja. And along the way, the Lord again brings another prophetic encounter. I overtake a truck just when a police car is coming in front of us!
So about maybe a minute later a group of traffic officers stops us.
They say, "Do you know your mistake?"
I say, "I don't know."
"So we are going to give you a fine. As you know, you guys are driving recklessly during the holiday season."
So this lady gets her machine and begins punching in my name from my ID and you know, I am ready to pay 100,000 fine. For some reason, the machine freezes and cannot give us the receipt.
So we are sitting there, the machine can give us a receipt. And frankly, this lady doesn't know what to do with us. And of course, eventually, since the machine is frozen, we have to go.
Now guess what her name is. For you who know Runyankore, her name is Tumusiime, which means is "let's give him thanks!"
Now as you can imagine, we leave that traffic spot giving thanks. We leave to suffer another day, right? So we get the Jinja and we start looking around. But as we are looking at the waters of Lake Victoria, I am remembering a number of Bible passages. I am looking at the waters as far as they can go. And I'm thinking, Wow, what a wonderful God! You mean all this is part of his creation? And I hear a verse popping in my mind saying, "As far as the East is from the West, so far have I taken away your sins from you." So I say, Oh, Praise the Lord! So even as I close the year, the Lord is reminding me that it has been him all along, not only in the wonders of His creation but also in how much he is able to do to the extent that he can even cleanse me from my sins.
So from that Lake Victoria, we move to another beach. We reach there and one of the guys there realizes our car is dirty. I hadn't even noticed that it was really very dirty! I mean, embarrassingly dirty! This guy comes and says, "I can wash your car, all I need is just 5000/=. I hesitate a bit and then I hear another voice in my head saying, "I have called, you and have set you apart for cleanliness."
I say okay, let's wash the car, Lord, if that is what you are up to, let's wash the car and see what happens next.
So we clean the car again as a symbol that we are not just closing the year in the cleanness, we must begin a new one in one in cleanliness.
Now from the washing of the car which took us about an hour. We go to Loo for lunch. Oh, by the way, I had forgotten another important detail. The night before we went to Jinja I had received a gift by Western Union. Now I need to tell you that these things don't happen every day! To be sitting there and somebody you don't know sends you some dollars by Western Union. Clearly I thought, God is up to something! I started wondering so what's the purpose of this money and of course later you will find out. So part of what we did that today was to go and withdraw the money on the new year and go for lunch. Guess where? To eat some Mexican food!
Now, some of you who have tested Mexican food will agree with me that we made the right choice, right? So we go to look for this Mexican food, and the place where the restaurant was in Jinja had been moved. So we were now using GPS to locate the restaurant. We end up in some funny place. There were some containers where they sell food like a mobile food court. And I realized that the Mexican restaurant is not the only one that is in the place. There is a Spanish restaurant, there is a Thai restaurant, there is a Mexican restaurant, somebody is selling ice cream, there is a pizza place. And I'm thinking, "God, are you saying now that we have the gift of money we should taste all these dishes? What's really going on?"
Again, a message in my mind, this is not about food. You love their food, but have you ever actually thought about their plight and eternal destiny? When was the last time you moved out of your comfort zone to go cross-cultural begin to think about people from different cultures, languages and tribes, most of whom have not had an opportunity to hear Jesus, what have you done about it? And then I started remembering my new city friends. Of course, I minister to you partly because you come. Probably if you didn't come, I wouldn't know you. In other words, mine is a ministry out of comfort and convenience. And it's liked the Lord was saying, "You need to start thinking outside the box. Church is not only people who come on Sunday. In fact, church is not about people coming to seat. Church is about people going out to proclaim the good news of the gospel."
And I'm like, okay, point taken. So don't just eat Mexican food, start thinking about them, start praying for them. Start reaching out to people from different backgrounds and tribes and I'm like, okay, I admit I need to do something.
We run away from there. It's around 5 pm By this time; so I decided that since there is going to be a traffic jam on the main Jinja road. Why don't we take this road that connects to Kayunga and comes out of Gayaza. It's a nice road after all. So we take that road.
About 15 kilometres on the road, our car develops mechanical problems. For some reason, wiring is messed up and the lights on the dashboard and the steering has become like that of truck; AC has gone off and it's like we are in a Sauna; the doors and the glasses cannot open and I'm thinking okay, this is not how I planned to end the year! Please, Lord, do something! We need to run home and celebrate the New Year from home! And then a thought comes in my mind: Are you sure that God was not giving us that money by Western Union so that you can end up in a hotel in Jinja tonight.
Or, is it possible he knew you will need to repair this car before you get home so he provided ahead of time. Remember, that's the kind of good we serve, right? So anyway, eventually we call different people. I try some wiring of course with my limited mechanical knowledge. Eventually, we decided to go back to the trading centre to find a mechanic. We find a guy who of course is not a wiring guy; and as you know, Ugandan people, they will never tell you they don't know how to do something. They will learn from your car. So this guy opens left, right, centre, and clearly you can tell he has no idea what he's doing.
So I'm about to stop him and I'm thinking "stop him, go get a guest house, sleep there; end of the story!" This is how 2019 ends, right?
Now all of a sudden, this guy says, "Let me try one more thing."
He opens someplace under the steering, and there was a loose socket; he puts it back, and everything is okay! And I begin wondering in my heart saying, "What? After spending more than an hour here, and all we needed was to do this?
But again, another voice comes to me; and I remember the verse in the book of Nehemiah where it says that the Lord is the repairer of the broken walls. And I'm thinking: "God, what are you trying to say to me?" And it's like he's saying, "This year, that you are getting into is going to be a year of repairing broken things. And I want to begin with you.
So I start thinking about my life and evaluating it, and I realize there are things in my life I hadn't even given much notice too, and it's like the Holy Spirit was pointing at them and saying "When was the last time you dealt with this? When was the last time you repented about this?" And I'm like, "Okay, so you are beginning with me! What a way to begin a new year by getting in the garage!" And we move away from there, of course, cut through the traffic jam, we get home around 10 pm and we start watching your movie. Only to find that this movie is based on a book most of you might have heard of a book called "The shark" and if you have read it, you already know that it's a heretical book because that story about somebody going to heaven is really not verified.
So as we are watching this movie and I'm thinking, "Why a fake movie, talking about heaven at such a time of the year?"
We are looking at a guy in heaven and there is god, the mother and I'm thinking this is weird. And then again it's like the Lord is saying, "Rogers, are you aware that a lot of what is being preached in my church today is falsehood and era? What are you going to do about it in the new year? How will you as a pastor or your church as the new city stand firm in the battle against error and heretic teaching on the ground my people in biblical truth?"
So I'm there, I'm looking at the movie, I'm thinking about what I'm getting in my heart and, and the new year now is coming to a close. And the movie also ends - I think about three minutes to the new year. And when the movie ends, You know, they bring the names of actors, and guess which song is playing in the background? "It is well with my soul!"
So when the fireworks were going on across Kampala, in our house we were singing "it is well with my soul," Funny enough from a fake movie, but it is as if God is saying, "relax, take heart. As the fireworks go out there, my comforting presence is right in here with you. It will with your soul. We gathered around our family table, we cut a cake that we had prepared ahead of time, which we never do, by the way, but for some reason I thought maybe we need to end the year, celebrating God's provision and faithfulness in 2019. And also praying and trusting that there will be more cakes on our table in the New Year 2020, and I pray that that will come to pass.
So basically, that's how we entered our new year in prayer in cake-sharing with lots of Messages, some from weird corners; but it was very clear that the Lord was communicating something to us as a family, to me as the leader, but even more importantly, to us as a church.
Now, of course, I have not asked how you spend your own Yew Year. If I did, I think we would spend the whole year here narrating our stories. But I imagine some of you are in churches, some of you were probably receiving some prophecies and making resolutions for the new year. As you know, the new year is about prophets, right? People telling you what your future is going to look like, what God has planned for you and saying, "At this time next year, you will be driving a Toyota Land Cruiser... and the list is endless.
So I imagine that even as you sit here today, you are waiting for a prophecy to begin your year, right? Just like others who received their prophecies on the 31st of December.
Now allow me to disappoint you, unfortunately. I am not a prophet who foretells the future. And if you are wondering when I will become one, I actually don't think I'm going to be one very soon!
So what is it that I can offer you today? I can only give you a prophecy from the scriptures, a prophecy from one of the great Old Testament prophets, the man known as Isaiah. And I want to ask you to open your Bibles to Isaiah chapter 63. And let's hear what God is speaking through this prophet Isaiah, and how this prophecy can actually be yours for the year 2020 and the future ahead of you.
So as you do that, I will pray and then I will do the reading.
Precious Lord, we thank you again for your presence among us. As we open the scriptures, we pray that you will open our eyes and our hearts to understand that as we get into the message of this prophecy of Isaiah, not only will we see your dealings with your people in the past, but even more importantly we will see how you are dealing with us today as individual believers, as a church, and certainly how you are preparing us for the future ahead of us. Would you please speak to us, Lord. Would you let the power of your presence feel each one of us that we will experience your goodness and greatness in this service for the glory and honor of your name? We pray these things through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Next ⇨ Page 2