Who has ever been labelled? Good or bad? I have noticed that most labels given to people these days are not of a nice nature. Why is this? Is this because we live in a judgemental society where the first thing we do is judge others and label them? How does this help us – does this make us better people, does it make you feel better? In Romans 12 verse 14 says “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” It also says in Deuteronomy 30 verse 7 “The Lord your God will inflict all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate and persecute you.” So what this is saying is that we simply smile and pray for the person who is persecuting us and DO NOT retaliate, God will look after the situation – sounds quite simple, we tell our children not to say nasty things back, but is it that simple. It really is about being the ‘bigger’ person.
While preparing this morning’s message, and searching for inspiration, just when I was about to give up, my son came to me with what he and I believe was a message from God. He has asked me to watch a clip on YouTube, which he felt everyone needs to watch. Before I show you this clip, I need to find out how many of you have ever heard of Justin Bieber. What comes to mind when you think of him or hear his name?
I simply asked the same question on a public social forum, and these were some of the responses I can share with you. Justin Bieber – young; “Bieber fever” or the craze that is him and his music; singer; boy; gay; blonde; cute kid; hairstyle; eeewww; and ‘does nothing for me’. Not all nice labels. But do any of these labels really tell you who Justin Bieber is? Well, yes, he is a singer, and that’s about it – there is more to this talented young man than superficial labels. Justin Drew Bieber is an 18 year old Canadian singer-song writer who was musically discovered in 2008. He is a Christian and he said he has a relationship with Jesus and talks to him and that Jesus is the reason he is here. He is the only son of Jeremy Bieber and Patricia Mallette. His parents were never married, and she was only 17 when she fell pregnant with Justin. Everyone tried to talk her into having an abortion, which is where Justin’s strong opinions on anti-abortion have been formed. Justin has a stepfather, Bruce. He also has two half-siblings to his father. Why am I telling you this you might ask – it is to simply point out that, while he is famous and people have labelled him, we do not actually know who he is. As a friend on Facebook pointed out “So many people dislike the guy and yet they’ve never met him.”
The YouTube clip that my son wants to share with you is a Justin Bieber song titled “Pray” and these are the lyrics:
I just can’t sleep tonight
Knowing that things ain’t right
It’s in the papers, it’s on the TV, it’s everywhere that I go.
Children are crying, soldiers are dying, some people don’t have a home.
But I know there’s sunshine behind that rain
I know that there’s good times behind that pain
Hey, can you tell me how I can make a change?
I close my eyes and I can see a brighter day
I close my eyes and pray
I close my eyes and I see a better day
I close my eyes and pray
I lose my appetite, knowing kids starve tonight
Am I a sinner, ‘cause my dinner is still on my plate?
Ooh I got a vision to make a difference
And it’s starting tonight.
I close my eyes and pray for the broken hearted
I pray for the life not started
I pray for the ones not breathing
I pray for the souls in need
I pray, can you give ‘em one today?
So now, I want to look at different aspects of this song.
Have you ever not been able to sleep or wake up in the middle of the night? Someone told me recently that I should use this time as a time to pray. If you don’t know who or what to pray for, then ask God for a name. You may not know the name you are praying for, but rest assure, this is God’s moment and this person needs prayer. Romans 12, verse 12, New International Version says “Be joyful in prayer” – the New Living Translation says “Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying”
The third line in that song says “It’s in the papers, it’s on the TV, it’s everywhere that I go” – this line is so true. So much of today’s news headlines are made up of heartache. Again the Bible says in verse 13, “When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them.” For some people and situations all we can do is pray for them.
The next line – “Children are crying, soldiers are dying, some people don’t have a home” - this is an example of the previously mentioned heartache. But what can you do? You can sponsor a child in a developing country; you can send greetings and messages to soldier fighting on our behalf for peace. And you can Pray.
When Justin sings “But I know there’s sunshine behind the rain, and good times behind the pain” He is displaying his faith in God to make things right. How does he do this – “He closes his eyes and he prays.”
In the second verse of the song he talks about losing his appetite knowing that kids in the world are starving. And also the fact that while we leave food on our plates, does this make us sinners. When I first heard the third line of this verse – “I got a vision to make a difference, and it’s starting tonight” – the first thing that came to my mind was Michael Jackson’s song “Man in the Mirror”. This song was also about making changes and differences in the world, and the best person to start with is the person staring back at you in the mirror. While researching Justin Bieber’s songs, I discovered that he was influenced by this same song, which resulted in him wanting to make a difference and how he came to write this part of his song. Bieber said the following about his song ‘Pray’ – “It’s a very uplifting song, very motivational. It definitely comes from the heart. It’s very beautiful. I definitely thought of Michael Jackson’s ‘Man in the Mirror’ when I was writing it.
The final verse of this song lists some of the things or rather people that Justin prays for, and we could take a leaf out of his book. He, we can pray for the broken hearted. The life not started or unborn babies, those not breathing or those who have passed on – we can pray for those left behind and for the memories we share. We can pray for souls in need, everyone needs prayer. And then Justin offers a challenge – can you pray? Can you spare a few minutes or even seconds to say thank you for the things you have in life, for your family and friends, to pray for the sick, the lonely, and the poor.
If you don’t know how to pray – talking to God is just like having a conversation with anyone, it doesn’t have to be fancy, just tell him what you’re thinking and what is on your mind and in your heart.
You can view the video clip that goes with Justin Bieber’s song, Pray by clicking this link. Please open your minds and your hearts and hopefully after watching this clip, you will not only be encouraged to pray, but also have a different opinion about Justin Bieber.
God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer. The most important part of prayer is listening and waiting for God’s response.Let us pray – Lord, we do pray for the broken hearted, the crying children, soldiers, and the homeless. We pray for people both within our church community and out that are unwell. May you help us to make a difference in this world, starting with our community. Help us to pray and to be able to hear the answers to the questions we seek. In your name we pray, Amen.
My Copious Comments
The only comment I am going to add to this is Amen.
May God bless you richly this week.