Conquering fear during this pandemic
There is no doubt that this pandemic has affected us all. Whether you’ve been affected directly or indirectly, everywhere you go, you’ve either heard someone is hurting because they’ve lost someone , you’ve lost someone, or you’re worried it may reach your family. The truth is, no one is exempt from this virus, even if you’re a Christian. So how does Psalm 91 come into play? “Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling.” This indeed is God’s protection towards us and you should pray this over your life. We do however, need to keep in mind that the Bible describes that Christians will experience suffering and persecution and we can’t have an unrealistic approach and think that we will never experience sickness or suffering. If we experience suffering of any kind, we must remember that God’s grace will always be sufficient to sustain us through it.
This virus is running rampant in the U.S., some are taking precautions and others are not. We’re divided as a country, not surprising. So what do we do now? We can all do our part to protect ourselves the best we can and care for the most vulnerable. Ultimately, only God knows if He will allow this virus to touch you. We’re not in control, God is and this pandemic is a rude awakening to humble us. Now, this doesn’t mean we have to live in fear, but instead, we can live confidently that God is in control of our lives. Keep in mind that the word of God says that fear is not a spirit the Lord has given us, but instead of power, love, and sound mind. A Bible verse that always eases my fear of catching this virus or anyone near me, is the following, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” – Matthew 10:28. This verse is pretty straightforward if you ask me, but it helps me understand that if I’m standing right with the Lord and my life belongs to Him, I shouldn’t fear death, because my soul belongs to Christ. I cannot say the same for an unbeliever, and if you don’t know Christ now, I embolden you to give your life to Him, so that you’re confident that if you die, you’ll be with Christ forever.
Conquering fear is possible through the word of God! He reminds us that, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” And no matter the outcome, God is in control and will continue to be. Remember that God’s “perfect love casts out all fear,” and there is nothing that Satan can bring about in your life that God is not aware of or has permitted. So there is no need to be afraid, He will strengthen you in any given circumstance to overcome any situation. God loves you and He will not give you something that you cannot bear. As we navigate this season together, embrace each other with tender love. Be that person that uplifts those around you; take heart because Jesus has overcome the world and death has lost its sting.
God bless you.
Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?
Jesus said, “Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved,” – Matthew 9:17. We see here how Jesus speaks to the religious Pharisees of the time, explaining to them the importance of living a life that is transparent, holy and righteous. These pharisees thought they could fool God and people by pretending to be holy, using their religious facade. In their eyes they did everything “right,” they fasted, prayed, and appeared holy in front of the public, but nothing about them was holy and righteous. Here we see the significance of what Jesus is saying in Matthew 9:17, the new garment represents a life of holiness and consecration to God. Versus old wineskin, which represents our old sinful lifestyle, the old man so to speak. There is a great lesson to learn here, many Christians consider themselves in good standing with God, simply because they go to church on Sundays and “believe in Jesus,” but the reality is, that false pretense will send you straight to hell. Jesus did not die on that cross for you to keep sinning, but to be set free. Jesus paid a huge penalty for your sins, not for you to continue in them, but to renew your mind and be holy. Now, you may be thinking, “but I still struggle with sin,” then what? We all struggle with sin, we have a fallen nature, but this doesn’t mean we are slaves to sin. We are dead to sin, it no longer dominates us. When you repent, you repent for good, not temporarily. No matter the sin or how hard the struggle may be, Jesus can help you overcome it, if you let Him. This is why we have our helper, the Holy Spirit, to enable us to find a door of escape, to practice self-control, and to deny ourselves daily.
There is a great danger when you see Christians who are lukewarm, professing to be saved, yet remain in habitual sin. Not only is this a stumbling block for unbelievers to trust that God does change someone’s life, but it is also a stumbling block for new believers. 2 Timothy 3:5 says, ” having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.” If we live lukewarm lives, we are on our way to hell. There has not been a true born again transformation. “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Romans 6:1. We have to guard our testimony and conform to the image of Christ. Many new believers look up to Christians leaders and people within the congregation. We must set the best example and show them the standards of God. Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” If we as Christians demonstrated this in our daily lives, we could literally change the world. If Christ lives in us, and Christ is indeed holy, then we should reflect holy living. For it is written: “Be Holy, because I am Holy,” 1 Peter 1:16.
This is why the word of God commands to come out them. To be ye separate. We cannot serve two masters, either we’re hot or cold. Either we follow Jesus’ commands, or we follow our own will. And this does not only pertain to us, but to the decisions that we make every day, who we allow into our lives and who we receive counsel from. I hope this encourages you to reflect and examine your life. To live a life that is with integrity and without hypocrisy. For the Lord knows your deepest thoughts, what you do in the secret, and what is in your heart. Choose whom you will serve today. God bless brethren!
Four emotions to keep in check during the COVID-19 crisis
We’re experiencing some incredible times, where the norm is no longer the norm. Our lives our now consumed with the priority of isolation and social distancing. We don’t really know when this virus will hit its peak nor how soon we will we return to normal. It seems that by fall time we may see the first anti-viral vaccine for it. But as we process these events and live through them, we must remember that aside from making sure we’re safe, our emotional state and how we respond to this crisis is even more important. We should maintain a healthy outlook on life, our future, and check our emotional condition. There are four emotions that I identified during this season that helped me understand that I must be aware of them and not subconsciously fall into the trap of fear, loneliness, discouragement and paranoia. After all, Jesus did remind us to renew our minds daily, so that we do not fall into temptation, self-pity, anxiety, and a slew of other emotions that can grip us and create strongholds as a result of this crisis.
Here are the four emotions I identified:
#1 Fear: With the thousands of deaths that continue to rise on a daily basis, it’s no wonder that fear is the driving force to this pandemic. Obviously no one wants to die, but that shouldn’t cause us to lose our peace. After all, we all will die one day. In God’s word, we’re reminded that “to live in Christ and to die is gain,” meaning, death has lost its sting and it is all thanks to the perfect sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If we die, we gain eternal life and if we live, we live for Christ here on earth. Truly, the perfect love of Christ, casts out all fear. So there is no need to consume yourself with the idea of death, if you trust in God’s plan for your life. Ecclesiastes 3:11- “He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
#2 Loneliness: When someone gets infected with COVID-19 virus, it is an automatic quarantine and isolation for a specific period of time. This can definitely be difficult and challenging for families, and it takes a toll on the person infected. It’s important to communicate and provide support for people who are sick. Rejection can bring sadness in the person, discouragement, lack of hope, and even suicidal thoughts. It is advised that a person who is sick should stay home, but at the same time, we should continue to keep in touch via phone or online, to check up on them. And if you’re on the other side of the spectrum and you’re not sick, but at home, try to see the positive in this as hard as it may seem. Look beyond the crisis and see how this has already impacted the world, and it will never be the same. What we once took for granted, has now taken a new perspective and meaning to the lives of everyone.
#3 Discouragement: Discouragement is definitely an emotion that can reach any of us, even the most positive person. It’s pretty normal to feel this way during this crisis. To prevent this cycle from continuing, I encourage you to read the word of God, pray, and worship. Also, do things that you enjoy doing, to keep your mind distracted from the crisis. Discouragement can easily turn into depression, so watch out for that.
#4 Paranoia: I’ve seen news stories where people have become paranoid and clean every five seconds as a result of this pandemic. It’s understandable that we have to be precautious, we need to disinfect, stock up on groceries and basic essentials, but this doesn’t give us permission to become paranoid. Due to the paranoia of people, shelves are empty of the most basic essentials for daily life. Your peace of mind is everything and it is not worth losing your mind over this. The word of God says in Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” I encourage you to remember that the peace of God gives you the freedom to act with wisdom, but not with anxiety. It’s important to be cautious, but it’s not good for it to become excessive. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face and practice social distancing, and you should be fine.
Hope this blesses you and reminds you to keep your emotional state in check. Do not let any of these emotions take over your peace of mind nor allow the emotions of others to be inflicted on you. Trust in the Lord, with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
Find joy in your worst circumstance
For many of us, finding joy in the midst of difficult situations may seem impossible. But did you know that it is possible to have the joy of the Lord, during the worst times of your life? In your moment of grief, pain, or sorrow, we hardly pay attention to joy. What can we do to endure through the worst moments of our life? We simply look at the joy that is set before us, just like Jesus did. If you recall, Jesus Christ was devastatingly beaten, punched, spit on, mocked and crucified at Calvary. But, Jesus was able to endure this tragic death because He looked at the finish line with hope, knowing that the world would be saved through Him. “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:2
It’s important to stay in the presence of God, in order to find that joy. God’s presence is everywhere, but not everyone is aware of it, because they don’t have a relationship with Him. Entering His presence is different, He abides in you and you abide in Him. This is the key to maintaining joy and calmness during your worst times. Because in those moments, your eyes are fixed on Jesus, and He will provide you the comfort and peace, that no one else can. I remember the time I heard the news that my Golden Retriever, Bentley, had lymphoma cancer. I was in the middle of a tutoring session with a client and I had to keep my composure after hearing the most devastating news. I’m not going to lie, I was devastated until the day he passed away, but little by little God gave me peace as I came to accept that this was his fate and God was taking him. All I could do was enjoy every single moment I had with Bentley and keep praying for joy and peace. There was absolutely nothing anyone could do to provide me comfort and joy during those moments. It was not their fault, they just were not experiencing my grief. But the incredible thing about God’s character is that He is experiencing this grief right along with you. God cares about your emotions and He can also empathize with you, because He himself bore our iniquities on that day that he died. This verse comes to life when you enter His presence and actively pray to experience this joy, even in your worst moments. Psalm 16:11 – “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
The bottomline is to seek His face and do not neglect His presence. And if you don’t have the strength to pray, simply say, “Jesus, please be with me.” I promise you, He will show up.
If you’re going through something difficult, feel free to comment below or contact me personally, so that I can pray with you. May the Lord bless you, give you peace, and may His countenance always shine upon your face. God bless, beloved!
Finding love in a Christian circle
Waiting on God for your spouse is not easy, it requires great patience. This is why the word says that patience produces character and character hope. If our character is strengthen, we are sure to not lose hope in Christ and in His promises to us. Throughout my journey as a Christian, I remember being single for a few years, wondering if marriage was in God’s plans for me. I remember having countless conversations with single Christians and married ones, and they all shared a common theme – waiting is hard. Every time I would see a godly couple courting or someone successfully married, I would hunt them down to ask them all types of questions. No one truly had the formula on finding your spouse, except, they would always say that God ordained it. Now it may seem as though your pool of options are limited, after all, we are a minority. It may seem impossible to man, but with God all things are possible and He can bring you your spouse. Our God is supernatural, He isn’t random with His decisions about your life and He definitely isn’t a God of chaos, but a God of order. You’re probably asking yourself, are my opportunities of getting married looking dimmer and dimmer? Has God forgotten me? Is there any hope? And my answer for you is… God is good, kind, and just. All you have to do is trust Him. Below are some practical tips on how to approach the wait and run the race with endurance.
#1 Fast & Pray: If you have not done it yet, it’s time to get on this. Fasting and prayer combined together will open the heavens and bring divine intervention in your life. It will also bring repentance, in case you’ve idolized marriage, and it will bring revelation. God is interested in your love life and believe me, He wants you to be fruitful and multiply, but before that happens, you must walk with the Lord, just like Adam did in the garden.
#2 Stay focused on your God given assignment: This may seem like a given, but not many singles do this. Instead, they focus their energy on finding their spouse or making sure they’re found (with manipulation). This never works, folks, manipulation won’t help the cause, but instead cause you heartache. Focus on your calling, or on asking God to reveal your calling, so that you can put the Kingdom of God first. God will process you during this time, He will show you the mysteries of the Kingdom and when you’re ready, He will open the door to the promise land.
#3 Understand the times: A lot of single Christians are impatient and believe that God is late to the party. This isn’t the case my friend, sometimes we’re late to the party. God gives us all seasons of opportunity, to seize the day, to bask in His presence, but when we’re distracted, we miss the mark. What do I mean by this? There will be times when the Lord will bring you your spouse, he or she may even be in your circle, but you are closed off. Sometimes it’s not that God has not brought them, but instead, you have the walls of Jericho surrounding your life and people are naturally intimidated by you. Maybe you’re shy and don’t attempt to form friendships. And in other cases, you have may have a hard time discerning if this person is the right fit for you. I’m not saying you have to advertise yourself as available to everyone, be discrete, but don’t be closed off either. Learn to make godly friendships, surround yourself with people of God constantly, work in ministry together, and you will see how God will weave in this person into your life. You won’t even know what hit you, when you see it happen! We also have the other side of the spectrum, perhaps your heart isn’t in the right condition to embark on a love journey or you have not grown spiritually mature in the Lord. God will teach you how to wait for the harvest, when it is ready. But for the moment, sow, sow, sow!
#4 Let God be God: If you recall the story of Lazarus being resurrected from the grave, you may know where I am going with this. Martha in her grief demanded from Jesus and told him he was late and if he would have been there on time, Lazarus would not have died. Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life” – John 11:17. It’s quite clear that Jesus reminded Martha that He is in control. This is a reminder that God knows the desires of your heart and He knows what you need even before you ask. Keep in mind that your time is not His and His time is not yours. Ask God to give you revelation, patience, and discernment while you wait for your spouse to arrive. Because it is a fact, “Everything is beautiful in His time” – Ecclesiastes 3:11
Resist the devil and he will flee
One of the strongest attacks from the enemy (also known as Satan) is the constant condemnation and accusation he brings to your life. Whether you’re a Christian or not, Satan doesn’t discriminate, he’s always ready to accuse you. Thankfully there is a way to stop these thoughts. Jesus has set us free through the redemption of His perfect sacrifice on the cross. Due to this, we now have the power through Jesus to cover ourselves with His precious blood. “Now there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who not not after the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” – Romans 8:1
There is a grave danger when we allow ourselves to dwell in the past, our uncertain future, or on what could have been. These are tactics the enemy uses to ensure that you don’t move forward. The devil gets a foothold if we give it to him. Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated nor taunted by the devil. Propose it to yourself to not allow Satan to play with your emotions, you’re not his puppet. I believe that part of the reason why we allow these thoughts of condemnation to filter through our mind and spirit, is the lack of self-dominion. We do not know how to stop these thoughts and we entertain them. We have the Holy Spirit talking to us, but instead, we choose to ignore that still small voice. So how do we choose to stop these thoughts? Below are a few tips on how to do this effectively.
#1 Remember that you’re in control. God’s word says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and sound mind.” – 2 Tim 1:7. This means you have the fruits of the Holy Spirit and one of those fruits is self-control. Believe that you are equipped to stop those fiery darts with the shield of faith. You can lift that shield and cover your mind with the word of God. This will counter those lying words.
#2 You have been set free. The word of God says that “Whom the Son sets free is free indeed.” – John 8:36. You’ve been forgiven, redeemed, and purchased at a price. Nothing that you did in the past is unforgivable, Jesus already paid the price for your sins. Your past is “finished” and so are you sins. You’re no longer a slave to sin, but a slave to Christ. Proverbs 28:13 says, “Whoever conceals their sin does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” That word gives me a lot of hope. To know that if you’ve sincerely repented to God about what you’ve done…mercy is sure to follow. God’s mercy is indeed new every morning. Let your soul and your mind rest in the Spirit of the Lord. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom!
#3 Look ahead. The greatest weapon you have against the enemy is the present and the plans that God has for you. While we shouldn’t boast about tomorrow, God is the one who decides where we go, if we do this and that. Those days are filled with hope and desire…days of prosperity. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Don’t look behind, the past is considered garbage, whether good or bad, you’ve gained Christ now. Have hope in your heart that all will be well and God does not remember your sin. He’s that kind and generous. His desire for you is to move forward in Him, remain in Him, and He will make His home in you.
Social media and the age of idolatry
We’re living in a time where idolatry is subconsciously socially acceptable by the double tapping of a thumb. We’re no longer concerned about our own lives, but we vicariously live out our lives through the Instagram feed of others. For some, it’s just a pass time, for others it’s an indirect way of “keeping up” with the life of someone, and for the majority of us, it has become a place of constant comparison. Brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s be honest, how many times have you’ve scrolled up and down a stream of IG pictures or videos and compared yourself, or possibly even coveted? Whether you admit it or not, did it consciously or subconsciously, the fact is – we’ve all done it. There is a serious consequence to idolatry and the Lord definitely doesn’t approve of it, simply because it only expresses the “ingratitude” we feel about our own lives and our own journey.
Thankfully we have a merciful God that is patient, kind, and slow to anger. As followers of Christ Jesus, we must always remember what he said to us regarding idolatry, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money,” Matthew 6:24. We cannot constantly worry about our inadequacies, our failures or shortcomings, the truth is… God is sufficient and your life is in His hands. We can easily be ensnared by idolatry, simply by just scrolling through social media. In an age of constant information and easy access to it, we need to learn how to stop the buck when it gets out of hand. I highly believe that Satan will use social media and pervert what was intended for good and use it to his advantage. The good news is that we have the authority in Christ to have dominion over what we allow to dwell in our spirit and in our thoughts.
How do we have dominion over our thoughts and prevent it from becoming thoughts of vain imaginations and idolatry? After all, thoughts are likely as fast as the speed of light, can we really stop them? While those thoughts may be coming at you like fiery darts, you have the ability to hold every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, even after it has passed through. You don’t have to agree with it, nor accept it as your own. Simply discard it, repent, and give it to God.
You’re probably thinking, but how do I know if a thought is idolatrous? Well, let’s first identify what is idolatry? Idolatry isn’t just having deep adoration for something, the true essence of idolatry for God is to replace that “thing” or “person” over God (Read Exodus 20:3-5). The depth of idolatry can creep in like a little fox that comes in to ruin the vineyard, it only takes one thought of comparison or ungratefulness, to literally covet. Colossians 3:5 describes what idolatry is, “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience.” Before Christ, we were disobedient and likely ignorant to Satan’s devices. Today, I encourage you to evaluate your thoughts and determine whether they are idolatrous. Do not let those thoughts overrule you, define you, or create something in you that is displeasing to the Lord. After all, we have a responsibility to control and monitor what we think. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”
So how do I know if a desire or a thought is idolatrous? A good rule of thumb is to always use the filter of the Holy Spirit. When a thought comes through, ask yourself – is this true, is it noble, is it right, is it pure, is it lovely and admirable? If you cannot answer this with sincerity, something is off. If you take a look at the story of Hannah in the book of Samuel, you can see how Hannah desired deeply to be a mother, but was barren. Peninnah, the second wife of Elkanah, was a very bitter woman. She had the ability to bear children for Elkanah, but the idea that Elkanah loved Hannah more, consumed her. She did everything in her power to make Hannah feel miserable for not bearing children. Peninnah’s idol was her husband. Hannah didn’t want children to supersede Peninnah, nor to gain more value in the sight of her husband – she simply yearned to be a mother. Hannah understood the importance of depending on God for her needs and not allowing a deep desire to become more important than the presence of God. She did what any devoted person to God would do, she put it in prayer and vowed to give this son, if granted, back to God. It takes a strong woman to be able to let go of what you so deeply yearn to have. That’s a good sign that the gift did not become an idol for her, her first love was God. Later we see how the Lord not only answered her prayer, but gave her more than what she asked for. 1 Samuel 2:21 says, ” And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters.”
What is the ultimate lesson? We must always depend on God and thank Him for what He has already given us. As social media takes on different forms and evolves, we must make sure that we’re transformed by the renewal of our minds. Hope this blesses you and ministers to your life. God bless.
Jesus takes the pain away
Many of us struggle with letting go of our past or releasing the pain we feel because of afflictions. Perhaps it is a loved one that passed away, friendships that dissipate, a romantic relationship, or a recent layoff at the job. Whatever it is, letting go of pain is difficult. What does God say about these situations in our lives, how do we cope and how do we move on in a healthy way? There is a verse in the Bible that is very encouraging when it comes down to seasons like this in your life, and of course you may feel free to share any verse you may know, too.
Philippians 3:12 – “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.”
Jesus understands our pain and He is there to comfort us. Jesus wept when Lazarus died, even knowing that He could resurrect him, He still mourned the loss. In Philippians 3:12, the Apostle Paul is looking forward to what lies ahead, and his goal was to resemble and mold his character to that of Christ; to run this race faithfully until the very end. As Christians, we set our eyes towards heaven and the promise of eternal life. While things here on Earth can and are to hurt us, every suffering and every tear we shed, our Lord Jesus will wipe away. Revelation 21:4, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” There is great comfort in knowing this, and we have this hope in Christ, that nothing can separate us from His love.
As we go through this pain of letting go, we can also look forward to better days. Weeping will endure for a night, but joy will come in the morning says the word of God. 2 Corinthians 4:17 reminds us that our afflictions here are temporary, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” Whether it is persecution for believing in Christ or any type of grief, God is holding your hand through it all. Be honest to God about your pain, your trouble with letting go, and He will help you. Remember that Jesus is near the brokenhearted and like pastor Joe Wyrostek at MPI Church, says, “Jesus takes the pain away.”
Give your burdens to Him, cry out to Him. Little by little, the Holy Spirit will show you why that dear beloved person left your side, or why that season ended in your life. He will make light of it and your spirit will comprehend it, until you are ready to let go. And if you’re having a hard time letting go, ask the Holy Spirit to help you, and He will.
God bless you, beloved child of God.