The Result of Faith is Always VICTORY!

“What too many athletes fail to mention…. ‘My hard work, conditioning and practicing is what got me here’” – An unmentioned Facebook friend.

To be quite honest, when I first read this quote I was baffled, even angered, if I may. The ignorance to me was astonishing. However, I quickly found myself in a state of remorse, not because the thought disagreed with my perspective or because it ridiculed a professional athlete who was not ashamed to give God glory after a hard fought victory in the second biggest football game of that players’ season. No, I was saddened because in a country and world TEAMWORK and HUMILITY is promoted, someone was annoyed enough by the glorification of Jesus that he would rather have heard Ray Lewis talk about himself and boast about his own work ethic rather than, in humility, give glory to God.

You see, Ray Lewis is not an average athlete by any stretch of the means. He’s one of the greatest linebackers to ever play the sport of football and he is also one of, if not the hardest working athlete in all of sports and Ray Lewis knows this about himself as well. Yet what Ray Lewis also knows is that he did not create himself and he also knows that the Patriots, who lost to the Ravens on Sunday for a chance to play in the Super Bowl, worked just hard, conditioned just as hard and practiced just as hard if not harder than his team. Ray Lewis knows this because it was just a year ago that his team was on the losing side of the same game to the same team, and after that loss Lewis didn’t hang his head, he didn’t say he should have worked harder, because he knows how hard he works on a daily basis. The message he delivered to his team after a heart breaking loss was this “God doesn’t make mistakes…we did what we were supposed to do, we played hard, we fought hard and we played as a team…God is going to bring us back here next year, so it is our responsibility to put in the work.” In a game that the Ravens lost due to a missed field goal, Ray Lewis knew the only reason they lost was because that was the way God drew it up. Not because they were outworked, out coached, out smarted or out conditioned; simply because the Creator and Life giver had a different plan. Lewis knew they had VICTORY whether the score board showed it or not, according to Lewis they did what they were supposed to do, they played like a team in unity and because of it they would be stronger the following year.

Ray Lewis knows how hard it is for a team to make it through the regular football season and knows that no matter how much or how hard a team works, there’s the little things, known as the intangibles, that teams must get to go their way. These aren’t skills, nor are they necessarily things that can be practiced throughout the week. So while 90 percent of athletic competitions are based on preparation and skill, there is 10 percent where faith must be applied. Ask Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith if it was his work ethic and conditioning that provided him the strength to play in a Monday night game earlier this season shortly after he received word that his brother had died. He will tell you it was God and God alone.

Because while we are natural beings who can produce natural strength, endurance and knowledge; we are also spiritual beings. The first chapter of the book of Genesis in verse 26 we read that though we were created out of dirt (Genesis 2:7), life was breathed into us by the Creator, God Almighty. Therefore, life does not exist without the breath God gives us; there is no strength, endurance, knowledge or skill, without the breath of God.

Therefore, I was saddened to hear such a remark that reveals the true state of our country. In a season when the leader of the country promotes hope and equality, we beg for arrogance and self-centeredness. We long to hear others talk about their own work and how decorated they are by their own achievements, on a day when even the president urges the nation to promote others rather than themselves, our world proves to be tainted by sin which produces pride, arrogance and ignorance.
Therefore, when we have the privilege of hearing an athlete humble himself and give glory where glory is due, we should rejoice! For the TRUTH is that without the breath of Life, which comes from the Living God, we are nothing! Literally!

Setting The Bar High

Acts 15:7-11

“7And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

        As Christians we sometimes tend to forget what the Lord has given us grace on and saved us from.  We begin to think that this walk is easy and hold others to extremely high standards.  For some of us we forget that this walk we now have with Christ, like any any relationship, took time to build.  There are times of feeling disconnected, lazy and doubtful.  Yet, we expect others to be able to achieve this relationship with Christ at the snap of OUR fingers.  The fact is that God doesn’t move at the sound of our voice or when we feel it is necessary.  We move at the sound of His voice, at the time He deems appropriate.

        Many tend to turn into a person who becomes resentful at the things others do because they can no longer do them.  A bitterness sets in and the grace and mercy God shed on us, we cannot shed on others, which in return takes that covering of grace and mercy off of our own lives.  There were two commandments that Jesus gave during His time on earth: 1. Love the the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength 2. Love your neighbor as yourself.  Have you ever heard someone say ” Well I love God, I just think that some of the people around me are idiots.”  I can’t help but laugh when I hear comments like this, or with somewhat of the same meaning, because if you love God those who act foolish should be receiving more of your love than those closest to you.  Jesus said that He came for the lost, yet we feel that the lost having nothing to live for and should just be wiped off the face of the earth.

        In the passage above the people were exclaiming to the Apostles and Elders that the gentiles were not baptized therefore they should cannot be saved.  I love the response of Peter when he says why should we place a yoke on the disciples that not even our fathers were able to bear.  In other words, why are we requiring others to be holy before coming to the Father, when even when we were circumcised we acted worse then them.  Why are we setting standards for others, that we were never able to attain?  Why do we not show the grace and mercy that the Father showed to us?

        Don’t hold others to standards that we were once not able to reach ourselves.  Shower others with love and encouragement and allow God to be in charge of the increase.  I urge you to shower people with love and encouragement today, let the love of God flow out of you.  I’m going to end today’s post with a prayer, be open to the spirit and receive it. God Bless!

“Heavenly Father we come before you Lord with longing hearts,desperately seeking grace, mercy and favor in your eyes. We ask Lord that you would forgive us of the standards we hold others to, when we ourselves cannot attain these standards. We ask Lord that your hand would be among us today, that as we pour out love and encouragement on others today, they would receive it and fell YOUR touch. Their hearts would turn to YOU and YOU would begin to lead them in righteousness. I ask that YOU watch over us and continue to guide our footsteps and make clear the path YOU have set before us.  In the name of YOUR SON JESUS, AMEN!”

Got Swag?

Psalm 27:1-3 (NIV)

“1 The LORD is my light and my salvation—
   whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
   of whom shall I be afraid?

 2 When the wicked advance against me
   to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
   who will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me,
   my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
   even then I will be confident.”

        Confidence is defined as; full-trust, confidence and assurance.  I define confidence as being able to walk with your head held high, chest out, without fear.  The slang term used for confidence is SWAG or swagger.  In sports there are many teams that have extreme amounts of confidence.  These teams are usually the best, or one of the best, in their sport.  These teams recognize that in order to be an elite team, they must hold themselves to an elite level.  These teams always remain confident, even when faced with bad stretches where they may have lost five games in a row or are on the brink of elimination, these teams never doubt themselves.  The players understand the organization they are representing and although situations may seem daunting they know they have the ability to overcome all obstacles.  They must maintain their swag to instill fear in the opposition.

        Now you may be thinking, “What in the world does this have to do with Christ?”  I’m here to tell you it has everything to do with Christ!  You see because as children of the Most High God we were created to live with Jesus Swag.  Not to be ashamed of our creator and our savior, but to be able to walk in confidence, without fear, knowing that the Lord hold us in the palm of His hand.  As Christians we must be confident that the Lord will not forsake us, we must walk boldly in His name, giving Him credit for everything we have been blessed with.  Standing up for our obedience in His name.

        When we remain confident in the Lord, He keeps the enemy at bay, out of striking distance.  Like the intimidation factor that sets into other teams morale as soon as the Yankees take the field.  When we represent Jesus, the devil will only come so close, because He FEARS the Lord.  When we remain confident in the Lord, we know that even if the series is 3-1 and we feel like we are on the brink of destruction, at any moment the Lord can stretch forth His hand change the tides, in our favor.  For this reason David says, even when my enemies surround me, going for the kill, I will remain Confident!

        This confidence is not a confidence that should only be shown in times of uncertainty, because what kind of confidence only shows up when destruction is on the horizon?  Paul tells us in Romans 1:16, “I am unashamed of the Gospel.”  We must also be unashamed of the Gospel, when others ask why we can’t go to the bar to watch the game, why we don’t have sex with our significant others out of wedlock, why we refrain from perverse conversations, our answer should be “Because I’m a child of the Most High and everywhere I go, I go with Jesus Swag!”  Walk with your head held high! God Bless.

Remember Who You Are…

Acts 3:20-26

“19 Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, 20that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. 22Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. 23And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ 24And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. 25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ 26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”

         There are times in a person’s life when they feel powerful, including myself.  Everything seems to be going the right way, no wrong decision can be made, money is flowing through the bank, paying for food and gas is not a worry, all your friends and family members are praising you for all your good works.  During this time our pride begins to get built up , the devils most frequently used tool, which is used to separate us from God.  It separates us in that we begin to believe that we are the ones responsible for our success.  However, if we become a little too self-reliant we see that just as quick as things turned in the right direction, they can turn in the wrong direction.  You see as Peter said here, we are the sons and daughters of the covenant that God made with Abraham, therefore we will be blessed.  We prosper and can turn to joy instead of wickedness, solely for this reason.  God blessed us with the presence of His Son to show us the way, to allow us to turn away from the wickedness we are entrapped in.  His Son died for our sins, He was the ultimate sacrifice, so that we can have new beginnings.

I say new beginnings because we can repent from our sinful ways at any time.  As Peter urges these people to repent and turn to the Savior,we too can repent and turn our hearts to the Savior.  He is the answer for your problems today and tomorrow and wipes away the guilt of your yesterdays.  Now some of you may say well if I’m supposed to be blessed then why is my family poor, why does my family hate each other, why has my family fallen apart, why is there so much evil in this world?  All extremely good questions, questions that every human being has asked at one time or another.  The fact is that we live in a fallen world, sin entered the world through the actions of Adam.  Due to this we are constantly fending off attacks of wickedness and the only way to conquer these demons and begin to make things right with your family and this world, is to turn to Jesus.  He’s the only way out, He is the Light at the end of your tunnel, He is the Savior and Protector that we need to enter into our Father’s Kingdom.

Don’t forget who YOU are, don’t forget WHO created you, don’t forget that HE wants to talk to you.  Remember that our Father in heaven has created you with a purpose, not to fail or be miserable to live a life of abundance.  There are daily stresses we all have to deal with, but we do not have to do so alone.  There are also many times of joy in our days, but we must also remember to share that joy and thank the Lord for  that joy as well.  He wants to be remembered in the good times and in the bad times.  Remember who you are and talk to the Lord today…..

A True King

Acts 2:25-36 (ESV)

“25For David says concerning him,
    “‘I saw the Lord always before me,
   for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
26therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
   my flesh also will dwell in hope.
27For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
    or let your Holy One see corruption.
28You have made known to me the paths of life;
   you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

29“Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

    “‘The Lord said to my Lord,Sit at my right hand,
 35until I make your enemies your footstool.’

 36Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

            Our society, in the era we currently live in, loves to look for the next greatest gadget, hand-held device, computer, television, athlete, etc.  When we truly think about it, it seems foolish that we would look for the next greatest rather than using and enjoying what we already have.  On the other hand, there are also many out there that believe they have all they need and no longer need to look to developing and updating their appliances and devices or who think they’ve already seen the greatest athletes and/or leaders. With the NBA Finals taking place there are a lot of people talking about who the greatest basketball player ever is, this conversation is similar to the one that Peter was having, only his argument is much stronger than any sports fan.

          The Jews, in which, Peter is speaking to in the passage above believed that King David was that leader.  The Leader which was the greatest of all time and no one else could ever take his place.  So as Peter pleads with them that this Lord that David referred to is not himself but Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus Christ.  The people were being thrown thru a loop.  They were not able to comprehend this, because the Old Testament scriptures stated that David’s throne would rule Forever!  And indeed it is, because Jesus Christ of Nazareth is a descendant of the family line of David. We now have the GREATEST KING sitting on the right hand side of the Father.  As followers of Christ there is no one else that can ever take His place, therefore it is our duty to serve Him willfully.

          The Jews believed in God and tried to obey the law, however they struggled because they knew inside that no matter how hard they tried they could not do it alone.  They needed the help of the savior, who was hung after being accused of breaking the law, by men who were breaking the law themselves.  We are a fallen creation and sin daily.  The way of atonement, is accepting that the only way to perfect the law in our lives is to allow Jesus to do so. We don’t have to struggle through everyday stresses on our own, Jesus was sent to be the helper that we did not deserve, but the helper that we need.  He is able to assist and clear our vision, but we must allow Him to do so.

HE is the True King, through Him the veil that kept us from the Father was torn, however we must follow Him, so that we might be able to Lead others to Him.