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!

Disaster Prevention

Proverbs 1:28-33 (ESV)

28 “ Then they will call on me, but I will not answer;
      They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me.
       29 Because they hated knowledge
      And did not choose the fear of the LORD,
       30 They would have none of my counsel
      And despised my every rebuke.
       31 Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way,
      And be filled to the full with their own fancies.
       32 For the turning away of the simple will slay them,
      And the complacency of fools will destroy them;
       33 But whoever listens to me will dwell safely,
      And will be secure, without fear of evil.”

        Have you ever known or met a person who just denies any existence of God?  Or worse, maybe they claim to know God and believe in Jesus, yet they believe they can live life in which ever manner they please.  On top of this they seem to be taken care of, they never seem to be out of money, have nice cars, always on vacation and seem to have a peaceful family.  This facade just makes us cringe, doesn’t it?  Well it shouldn’t!

        The fact is that while these people may be thinking they are living the good life, in fact they are living a very shallow life, a life that if all these materialistic components were taken away, they would no longer have a meaning for life.  Sure the fruit of their labor looks good for the time being, but when tragedy strikes, as God promises it will, where will they go?  Many extremely wealthy families have been broken up over the past few years because of the economic depression our country is in.  People are divorcing, turning to drugs and alcohol, and taking their own lives.  This happens because the image the devils paints in our head is one that shows us that money is all we need to live at peace and we believe this.  However, the devil doesn’t tell us that one day we will be left with nothing but our heart and soul, which is to be examined and judged.

        Verse 33 says those that listen will dwell securely  and will be at EASE, without dread of disaster.  Ever notice how all these rich men put their money into stocks to attempt to capitalize on the money they already have earned and then they sit there and constantly watch what the stock market is doing because if their stock crashes they could lose everything.  This raises their stress level and blood pressure and also takes their attention away from their family.  This is why God urges us to take our safety out of our money and lay it into His hands.

        The ONLY way to fully be happy and safe is to invest in the Lord.  Invest with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, because HE is the only disaster protection we need.  He will watch over your family and lead them to the Promised Land.  God Bless!

Watch Out For Snakes

Psalm 18:1-3 (KJV):

 1 I will love You, O LORD, my strength.
 2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
         My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
         My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
 3 I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised;
         So shall I be saved from my enemies.

        When a child is told not to play with fire, what is the first thing that child asks himself?  “Well why can’t I play with fire?”  When my oldest younger brother was 3 years old he was told not to touch the curling iron because it was hot.  Sure enough as soon as he knew my step-mother was not looking, he went for it and grabbed it.  The result was a trip to the emergency room and a severely bandaged hand.  My brother cried, said sorry and never touched a curling iron, hot or cold, ever again.

        With the evolutions in our society, people become curious and are encouraged to test their limits.  Encouraged to “play with fire”, however, they do not realize that there are some fires that are inescapable.  There are parameters that the Lord places around us because He knows, although they may not have an immediate effect, we can become consumed and burnt to the core.  The Lord will allow us to go through some fire as it is, but as prideful humans we believe we can handle more, while the Father already knows the outcome of certain actions.

        This subject came to mind the other day as I was hiking with my girlfriend and a couple of my Christian brothers.  As we were hiking there were noises in the bushes that sounded like Rattlesnake rattles.  In the beginning when I heard these noises I just kept walking, wanted nothing to do with them.  However, as we continued on the hike I started to become curious.  I had reached the top of one of the hills before the other three and as I was attempting to catch my breath I heard the same noise in a bush nearby.  So I started to get closer to see if the noise was truly a rattlesnake or just the wind hitting the brush.  So I was cautiously getting closer I began to think, if it’s not a rattlesnake I’ll have the comfort of knowing that these hills are not infested with rattlesnakes and if it is a rattlesnake, I’m just going to end up running away anyway, unless it’s too late and I get bit.  However, there was also another option, stay put cause they are not bothering me as it is and I’m safe.  So I became curious no longer.

       The Lord will protect us and even when it feels that we are being persecuted it is never a situation that He is not involved in.  Trust in the Lord because He is our Rock and keeps us protected under the shadow of His wings.  Although it may seem hot, the Lord is there to cool us down and refresh our spirit. We must discipline ourselves to stay away from the traps the devil attempts to lay down in our path.

He is With You

Psalm 9:9-10 (NKJV):

“9 The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed,
         A refuge in times of trouble.
 10 And those who know Your name will put their trust in You;
         For You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.”

        Often times when we are in the middle of a bad situation, or a storm, the first question that comes to mind is what did I do to deserve this?  Which many times seems like a reasonable question to ask, however we have a God that is by our side saying, “Don’t panic I haven’t gone anywhere.”  That feeling of panic is exactly what the enemy wants us to feel, because when we are in a moment of vulnerability is when we become more prone to act out in a way that is ungodly.  Like a mother bear that will mind her own business until she feels that someone is getting too close to her cubs.  When the mother bear feels that her cubs are being put in danger she becomes defensive, angry and has a heightened possibility of attacking.  When we as humans get put into a situation where we feel out of control, we feel that our family is in danger, we think there is an easy solution to the problem, we put ourselves into attack mode.  It could be as innocent as finding a lost purse and not returning it or seeing a person who has stabbed us in the back and wanting to start a fight with that person.  Both cases are cases in which sin seems excused.  However, it is at these times that God wants to see your true colors, are you really live a life set our for Him or when times get toughest, do you look to your own strength to get you thorough the storm.

We have a ROCK that we can hold on to during these tough times, He is the Cornerstone Rock that knows us better than we know ourselves.  It is through these dark Storms that He tests us to see our true colors.  They are tests to get us prepared for the blessings He has coming for us.  He has to put us through fire so we become shiny and durable, like refined gold.  The Lord is always looking to promote us, to take us to the next level, it is up to us LEAN ON HIM during the most vulnerable times in our life.  It is during these times that God becomes the most real in our lives.  As He told Paul in 2 Corinthians, His Power is perfected through our Weakness.  It is His sovereign love and justice that makes the impossible, possible in our lives.

Today, when situations, relationships, financial needs, become overwhelming cast your worries upon Jesus, because He cares for you!  Remember, the test is preparing you for the BLESSING!!!