Twilight Zone 2020

The year 2020 will go down in the history books as the year of the ‘twilight zone’. I recently read a couple tweets that said, “I think we should put 2020 in rice” and “I’d like to leave now, please and thank you!”

There is no doubt, you will find a plethora of memes, tweets, and post that humorously attempts to sum up the year 2020. However, it’s difficult to capsulate a year that has brought so much pain and devastation to so many people across the globe.

With that said, humor is one way we cope with pain, but these catastrophic and historic events shouldn’t drive us to complain, rather these unprecedented events should cause us to drop to our knees!

In Numbers 11:1 we learn the not so good fate of some of the people soon after they began to complain about their hardships. As some of you may know, complaining was second nature for Israel during the wilderness years. In context to the passage of text mentioned above, Israel was only three days into their wilderness journey when they started to complain. They complained about their hardships and the wilderness food. They wanted something different from the manna they had to eat, day in and day out. The food they had eaten in Egypt seemed so much better.

It’s acutely difficult for people to see the good because of all the bad, but we have to force ourselves to think and live positively because when we complain, we fall into the devil’s trap. When we complain, we tend to glamorize what we don’t have because we forget to recognize what we do have. Ask yourselves: Did Israel really have it better in Egypt? Unfortunately, somehow the children of Israel completely forgot the hardships they had endured there as slaves and the 10 plagues the Lord sent down from heaven that led to their exoneration them out of the heartless hands of the Pharoah.

My brothers and sisters, I get it! It’s easy to complain and in some cases it feels liberating when we do. However, when we complain, we tend to see life in a distorted way. Grumbling flows from people who think they deserve something better and Paul encouraged us in Philippians 2:14, “to do everything without grumbling or arguing.”

Contentment doesn’t come from people, money, or possessions. Contentment comes only from knowing God and delighting in His Fatherly care despite the opposition, consequence, or circumstance!

Perhaps, the events in 2020 may be one of God’s way to admonition the world to change their ways before it’s too late! Think about it, how else could one explain a health and a social pandemic? The collapse of economies? Environmental degradation that has led to dramatic heat waves and other disasters across the planet? Wildfires decimating our western forests? Powerful storms and floods?

This present day twilight zone maybe God’s way to highlight the need for us to truly embrace 2 Chronicles 7:14, “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”

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The Ride of Your Life!

When I was a teenager, I vividly remember riding the Texas Cyclone at Astroworld. For the millennials reading this message, the Texas Cyclone was a wooden roller coaster at the defunct Six Flags AstroWorld in H-Town. This roller coaster stood approximately 93’ tall and its drop was a jaw-dropping 80’. Hands down, it was one of the most frightening rides on the park back-in-the day!!

Although it was a dreadfully scary roller coaster, the one thing that’s common about all thrill coasters despite their shape and size is they’re all designed to travel in a crazy circle!

Metaphorically our lives are very similar to a roller coaster. We go up, we go down. The higher we rise the further we seem to fall down. It becomes such a reliable pattern that people often learn to dread when things are going really well, waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting for the fall.

The emotional falls do not even have to be based on actual falls, like being broken up with, suffering from a catastrophic illness, suddenly finding yourself unemployed, or facing some other impossibly scary and grief-filled situation. Even when the outside facts support that things are going well, we seem to still feel these stomach-churning, heart-breaking, life turned upside-down emotional lows after each big win in our lives.

I don’t know if you understand what I am trying to convey here, but as a son and daughter of God you should be so confident about God’s plan that you don’t even get upset anymore when things don’t go your way.

Life has taught me that God never ends on a negative and according to Philippians 1:6, “God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

My brothers and sisters, we need to trust God in ALL circumstances and abandon the idea that we can control it, or that we need to… maybe even that we would want to, even if we could. Because, as it turns out, screaming in terror and gripping tightly to the bar in front of you doesn’t actually change the trajectory of the ride.

Thankfully, God’s plan for our lives were victoriously pre-written before we were conceived in our mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5) and by now we should know that everything that God did and does is good, so even when things aren’t good, it’s just a matter of time before God will cause the ‘bad’ to work for our good because, He will never end on a negative!

The Lord is good and His mercy endures forever (Psalm 100:5), Hallelujah!! That’s our unstoppable God!! He is unquestionably awesome and nothing or no one will ever stop the will of God from manifesting greatest in our lives!!

TGBTG

BeStrong

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Purposed!

Fear can be crippling, debilitating, and enfeebling. Fear by definition is an unpleasant feeling triggered by the perception of danger, real or imagined. How many times have you allowed this false emotion stop you from pursuing your dreams, hopes, and aspirations?

Let’s be honest, we’ve all had to face some fears in our lives and although we may not be proud to admit it; unfortunately we’ve allowed those false emotions to impede our progression in one way or another!

In God’s omniscience, He knew that fear would be one of the greatest challenges we would have to overcome; this is why one of the most oft-repeated commands in the Bible is ‘do not be afraid’. Of course, the Bible does more than issue the command; it gives us good reasons why we do not need to live in fear!

The more you focus your time and energy on fear, the bigger it becomes. Unbeknownst to most, fear grows when you give it too much attention. If you keep thinking on your fears, they will grow out of proportion and take over your life, since whatever you focus on grows, including your fears.

In lieu of focusing your attention on the various kinds of fears aka phobias (unknown, failure, death, etc), the Bible teaches us to fix or center our thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. We “think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8, NLT). As Jairus the synagogue ruler was bringing Jesus home to save his daughter, he received news that his daughter had died (Mark 5:35). Immediately, Jesus told Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe” (verse 36). In other words, Jairus must forgo the natural focus on the tragedy and fear and focus instead on faith and the Lord’s nearness. In choosing to not be afraid, we remember that “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

Faith and praise is the antidote to fear, and gratitude negates worry. Habakkuk the prophet was fearful of the invasion of his country, and he described his fear vividly: “I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled” (Habakkuk 3:16). But in the following verses, the prophet handles his fear in a godly manner: he “waited patiently” to see the Lord’s intervention (verse 16). He acknowledged that difficult times could be on the way (verse 17). He purposed to praise the Lord (verse 18). And he focused on the Lord’s power and promises (verse 19). In that focus, Habakkuk learned to not be afraid. And that’s how he ended his book, on a note of praise to the Lord.

Look at it this way, when David came against Goliath, he didn’t stand for hours starring at the giant wondering how to win the battle. The Bible says that he ran quickly (faithfully) to the battle line, all the time talking about the greatness of God and declaring his victory ahead of time (praise). David didn’t run away from his giant— he courageously ran toward him because he knew that the God in him was greater than the fear (giant) that wanted to consume him!

My brothers and sister, I don’t know who I am talking to today but I’m here to tell you that if you continue listening to your fears, you will leave this earth never fulfilling all that God had purposed for you to accomplish!

You might be wandering did David feel any fear as he approached Goliath? Well, David was 100% man so I would say of course he did. However, in David’s writings he never claimed to be free from the feelings of fear, but he chose to fight anyway, and God honored his faithful obedience! The battle between he and Goliath propelled David to a level of greatness he would have never accomplished had he not overcome his fear with faith and praise!!

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I’m Ready To Play!

I vividly remember my juvenile love for shooting basketball on the courts at Attucks Middle School. I say shooting basketball, but I really meant shooting bricks and air balls. If you know me then you know my heart was really never on the court, but rather on the grass doing backflips. However, my passion for gymnastics did wain my desire to shoot ball with the homies on the court.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the necessary athletic skill-set to play to their level of expectations so I was ‘that kid’ who rarely got picked to play on anyone’s team.

This somewhat painful childhood memory reminds me to be thankful to God for choosing me despite my inexperiences to be His adoptive son through the blood of Jesus and for allowing me a permanent spot to be a part of His heavenly squad.

Ephesians 1:4-6 confirms, “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One [Jesus] He loves.”

For some people God’s choosing of His people even before he made the world is a hard concept to embrace because according to critics, predestination quashes human freedom and free will. The truth of the matter is one doesn’t cancel out the other. How does the adage goes, “The Lord works in……..” Well mysteriously, the Bible shows that there is both election and free will. God’s sovereignty and our human responsibility may be difficult to explain logically, but in the Bible we see lots of examples of both at work. Just think of Paul’s call on the road to Damascus (Acts 9).

In his letters to churches, Paul insists on election, but nowhere does he fully explain the mystery of God’s choosing and how that works with our own will to receive Him as Lord and be saved.

Nonetheless, Paul describes election as a teaching of great comfort. In his amazing mercy and grace, God loved us and chose us even before He created the world! Ephesians 1:11-12 further explains, “In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory.”

Here’s another kicker for you, God’s choosing is also a calling. Out of His unmatchable grace and limitless mercy He has chosen us for acts of love and service so that we can be a part of bringing his love and mercy to all those who wants to be a part of His earthly squad!

My brothers and sisters, by grace alone you should find comfort today in God’s predestination and election because it doesn’t matter if you shoot ball or shoot bricks! God chose you despite the measure of your skill sets before the foundations of this world to be a part of His everlasting squad! 1 Peter 2:9 hit the nail on the head, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Ok, put me in Coach….I’m ready to play!

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Desert Storm 2020

How many of you have ever traveled through a desert? Most people like myself have never literally traveled through a desert physically but, we’ve all experienced traveling through situational deserts in our lives. Deserts are surprisingly diverse and one might picture it as being a sandy, hot place, but some deserts are snowy and cold, like the polar desert of Antarctica. Likewise, deserts can be small rather than stereotypically vast. Despite their variety, they hold one thing in common: all deserts are dry. And traveling through a desert leaves us dried up, thirsty, and parched.

The good news is that desert moment experiences aren’t meant to break us but they are intended to test and fortify us.

In the gospels of Matthew (4:1-11), Mark (1:9-13), and Luke (4:1-13) we learn that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, filled with the Holy Spirit and was led by God’s Spirit into the Judaean desert to be tempted by the devil for 40 days and nights. It was in this desert that Jesus’ identity was established as the Son of man and His authority as the Son of God to overcome the works and attacks of the world, His flesh, and the enemy. Notice, His desert moment experience took place before the launch of His 3 year ministry. Also, not one single miracle was preformed and not one single parable was spoken until after traveled through this desert.

His plight and latter victory over the temptations in the desert reveals that Jesus is fully one of us; He experienced hunger, fatigue, and weariness in a very physical desert. And just like us, He experienced temptations. Yet, as fully God, He does not fall into sin, He does not fail, and He does not succumb to the temptations of the devil. Truly, Jesus reveals to us what it means to live out one’s humanity in the midst of the physicality of temptation, as well as how to lean on the divine, a reality we all share in as creatures made in the image and likeness of God. 

With all that said, I officially dub this year, ‘Desert Storm 2020’ and I believe that God is getting ready to reboot families, churches, and communities across the globe. I am not an IT expert, but the first thing they will suggest to an end user experiences computer related issues is to shut the device down and reboot it! I am told that when this action is perform it refreshes all the drivers in the system and it also flushes out all the random, unimportant, and temporary data bogging down the device.

Brothers and Sisters, my point of encouragement for you and me is to embrace the journey and don’t quit. Although the desert represents barriers, obstacles and challenges; it also represents preparation (Deut 29:5-6), separation, inspiration, revelation, and elevation (Exodus 19:2-6). So don’t be disappointed if today we set foot on the road that God called us to travel doesn’t immediately lead us out of desert storm 2020. I am unequivocally convinced that for those in Christ Jesus all roads will eventually lead us to God. That is, after all, the purpose of the ‘desert’ in the lives of God’s people and just like Jesus, we too were led into the desert, so that God might bring us to Himself (Luke 4:18-19).

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You Will Be Filled!

Many Christians today are extremely hungry and thirsty for God’s word and touch! As many churches begin to reopen their doors, I am sure ministry leaders are witnessing this earnest and sincere pursuit back to the kingdom of God first hand!

Jesus said in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” This is good news for those who are earnestly seeking God in this season!

The word blessed in the Beatitudes signifies deep, joy-filled contentment and the word righteousness speaks of right relationship with God and with man. Who reading this message don’t want to blessings and righteousness to be part of their everyday lives?!

Brothers and Sisters to hunger and thirst for righteousness is to possess an active spiritual longing! Like the Psalmist said, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When [where] can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:2).

With that said, this desire (hunger/thirst) is not passive; it is a fervent seeking. The servant who hungers and thirsts for righteousness is the same as the one who seeks God’s kingdom and His righteousness before and above everything else (Matthew 6:33). This servant is blessed because he or she experiences a satisfied heart. This servant can openly and unwaveringly say, “It is well with my soul” despite these pandemics, the upcoming election, and this hyper hurricane season.

Now then, for those who are trailblazing in their Christian faith journey, don’t stop and to those are lacking, but seeking spiritual sustenance, don’t stop! The common denominator is don’t stop because as the scripture states ‘you will be filed’!

Let’s be clear, being hungry and thirsty is not so much about what you do. It’s more about how long and where you position yourself (consistency). Like a pot of water, if you sit on God’s flame long enough, the things of God will begin to bubble up. The passion, zeal, encouragement, and excitement for God will start to flow in you and ultimately pour out of you.

Here’s the deal, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been born again for one day or 30 years, your hunger and thirst for God never ends because we who are in Christ are not spiritual bulimics—we hunger and thirst for righteousness because we need to be filled and God in Christ is ready to unequivocally meet that need without fail!

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The Reason Behind The Why?!

These precious kids get it!! This is exactly what these simple yard signs were intended to do! I am amazed at what God has accomplished through this very simply but yet powerful reminder of His everlasting love and unimpeachable presence over and through our lives! Thank you Jesus for giving us a reason to BE STRONG in such a dark and uncertain period in our world today!
TGBTG
Joshua1:9
BeStrong
KeepItSimple
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God+ Your Work=Value

Work, work, work, and more work! It’s seems like that’s all we do and it doesn’t matter what type of work you do, if you’re working on-site or you’re remotely working from home, work is work no matter how you slice it.

Work in the noun form is defined as activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result. When you look at it from this perspective, work doesn’t sound half bad. Who doesn’t want to reach their purpose and achieve positive results in life.

Arbitrarily, many people think work is a bad thing because of the fall. They either misinterpret or was erroneously taught that work is a curse that stemmed from Adam and Eve’s fall from grace in the garden. If that’s you, let me set the record straight. Work was a part of God’s plan for man from the beginning and no, God didn’t curse man to work, He cursed the land. Then to Adam God said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; CURSED IS THE GROUND because of you; in toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you shall eat the plants of the field..” (Genesis 3:17-18).

Philanthropist and industrialist Andrew Carnegie said: “The average person puts in 25% of the energy and ability into their work. The world takes off its hat to those who put more than 50%, and stand on its head for those few and far-between souls who devote 100%.”

What if I told you that God expects us to give 110%? Check out what Paul said in Colossians 3:23-24: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

Now do you fully comprehend why I said we should shoot for 110%? No one should blatantly want to give God their second best, right? Well, Cain tried it and hmmm, let’s just say that didn’t turn out so great for him (see Gen 4:5).

Having said that, here are a few things I’d like you to consider before you clock-in to your ‘job’ today: work is done not only to benefit the worker, by others also (Eph 4:28), work is a gift from God for his people to be bless (Ecc 3:12-13), and God equips people for their work (Ex 31:2-11).

Although God’s original design for work was distorted by sin, God will one day restore work without the burdens that sin introduced. However, in the meantime God never said for us to sit back and be idle. Remember the parable of the talents spoken by Jesus in Matthew 25:14-30? God calls the laborers (us) to come forth and work—not lay down and sleep!! Brothers and Sisters, our attitude toward work should mirror that of Jesus: “My food, said Jesus, is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work” (John 4:34). If you don’t take away anything from the context of this devotional, let this soak in: work is of no value except when God is in it.

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Called To Greatness!

In 1992 author and spiritual leader Marianne Williamson in her book ‘A return to love’ wrote the following powerful poem entitled “Our Deepest Fear”:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make and manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

These are some powerful awe-inspiring and convicting words. This poem reminded me that God placed a seed of greatness in each of us. And those seeds were intended to germinate and blossom as this is irrefutably God’s will for each of our lives.

Unfortunately, Satan has done an impeccable job at obscuring our vision and minimizing our seeds of greatness through personal fear, anxiety, worry, and doubt. 2 Cor 4:4 confirms, “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe…..” However, Paul reminded us in Eph 1:4-5, “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”

Here’s some more good news-God is bigger than our fear(s)!! Therefore, we don’t have to live in fear. We can let go and allow the God who created a billion stars to lavish us in unmatchable love, grace, mercy, favor, and greatness.

The choice is yours to make! You can either accept God’s call to greatest or you can live in fear of being great! It’s just that simply, but before you choose know that you did nothing to earn God’s greatness, but through Christ you have been given the opportunity to be great! The funny thing is you don’t have to seek greatness—greatness seeks you!

TrustGod

TGBTG

BeStrong

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Preach it…Teach it…Live it!

The power is not in preaching rather, the power is in living out the words you preach. This statement is not only applicable to preachers and teachers of the word of God but to everyone who hears the word of God. James 1:22 (NLT) says, “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” With that said, teachers of the gospel will be held to the letter of what they teach. James 3:1 (NIV) confirms, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

Practicing what you preach as pastors, teachers, parents, supervisors, trainers etc requires that you behave in the same way you encouraged others to behave in. According to Hebrews 4:12, “the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” The living Word is active in the lives of those who receive it and lives it. According to the psalmist, the person who meditates on and delights in the Word will be “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither” (Psalm 1:2–3).

Now, I’ll be the first to openly admit that I am a ‘continued’ work in progress. God is still removing some scales, pruning some flesh, and reshaping my mind. Paul said it best in Philippians 3:13-16, “Brothers, I don’t regard myself as yet having taken hold, but one thing I do. Forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, think this way. If in anything you think otherwise, God will also reveal that to you. Nevertheless, to the extent that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule. Let us be of the same mind.”

Jesus, who is the greatest Preacher/Teacher that ever walked the face of this earth summed up a life lived for God when a teacher of the law asked Him the most important of commandments. Jesus replied, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).

Brothers and Sisters, those who truly desire to live for God must seek Him in His Word. We must seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to apply the Word to our lives. Living for God means giving up ourselves and desiring God’s will above all else. As we draw nearer to God and come to know Him more, His desires will more naturally become ours. As we mature, our desire to obey God’s commands increases as our love for Him and our fellow man increases. As Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15).

As it stands, the best sermon ever preached 🗣is the one that is lived out through your feet 👣 because if we live by the Spirit, we will also keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:24–25)!

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