The Christian Response to the Coronavirus
by Reverend Dr. RB Holmes, Pastor
Bethel Missionary Baptist Church
April 27, 2020
"Reclaim Your Destiny”
I strongly believe that God has given each of us a God-sized dream and destiny. God created us in “…in His own image.” (Genesis 1:27) God has a glorious purpose for your life and my life. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you an expected end.” (Jeremiah 29: 11) Listen, our creator, our sustainer and our savior, Jesus Christ, has a divine destiny for your life: God has a better, brighter, and greater destiny for you.
The challenge in a time of this coronavirus crisis is not to doubt the providential promise and purpose of God for one’s life. You are not to stagger at God’s promises as an unbeliever. Abraham, “the father of many nations,” (Genesis 17:5) became a man of great faith because he trusted the guidance and promises of God. Romans 4: 20-21 confirms this precept. “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully persuaded that what he had promised, he was able to perform.” These verses, if you reflect on them consistently, can and will empower you to fulfill your destiny.
During this period of history, since this unprecedented virus has literally put a pause on our daily activities, I want you to pray more about your destiny and believe in the promises of God that you can reach your goals, at least some of them. I hope you still have some goals to reach. During this season, I want you to become more aspirational, motivating, thankful and thoughtful. I am praying that you will reclaim your destiny. My friend, write that book or try your hand at writing poetry; make some masks for your family and friends. My sister, Bettye, made some lovely masks for the family. Fulfill your destiny: go back to school; start a business; support a friend‘s business; write a letter or send cards to a local nursing home; check on your neighbors and read your Bible.
We must go from stress to strong, from fear to faith and from doubt to destiny. The Apostle Paul gives us the way forward in moving toward our destiny in Philippians 3: 14: “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” My friends, please “Keep Pressing!” Amen.
April 28, 2020
You are destiny’s child; you are a person of destiny and you were born to be great. When I use the word great, I have in mind becoming all that God has called you to be and become. Now, it is never too early or too late to be the best you. Moses understood this principle correctly when he proclaimed in Psalm 90:1-2, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.” Pause! There is a place for you in your season in this generation, even in this coronavirus pandemic, God is dwelling in us and with us. A lack of faith and vision will have you doubting your place and purpose in life. Let’s allow Moses to continue verse 2 of Psalm 90: “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” Take a praise break!
We may not see the end of the road from the trials and tribulations that we may be experiencing, but we must trust the one who is God. “From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” God is able to lead you toward your place of destiny. God has a record of keeping His word to His people. I think we need to make this request of the Lord recorded in Psalm 90:12: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Listen, every day is a day of thanksgiving. Every time you get up in the morning, you ought to turn around and tell the Lord “thank you” for blessing you to see another day. A destiny person, a person who is chasing after God’s perfect will, must refuse to live an ungrateful life. One of the reasons why I think the Lord may have allowed Satan to disrupt our lifestyle with this deadly virus is because too many of us have stopped counting our blessings. We made a habit of counting our cash, counting our clothes, counting our cars, counting our cell phones and counting our friends on Facebook.
A destiny person has to make wise and holy choices. We have to walk in wisdom, walk in faith, walk in the light and walk circumspectly. “Seeing then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.” (Ephesians 5: 15) How are you walking and with whom are you walking? Destiny’s child, I want Jesus to walk with me!
I want Jesus to walk with me; I want Jesus to walk with me;
All along my pilgrim journey, I want Jesus to walk with me.
In my trials, walk with me; in my sorrows, walk with me; in my troubles, walk with me;
When my life becomes a burden, Lord I want Jesus, to walk with me.
My friends, on the road of destiny, I am a witness, that Jesus will walk with you. Amen.
April 29, 2020
"Identity, Destiny and Legacy”
My devotionals this week are about the significance of identity, destiny and legacy. I took a brief tour back to West Africa, Senegal, the deadly island of Goree, where perhaps millions of our ancestors were tortured and packed like sardines in a ship called Jesus of Lübeck, a 700-ton ship was used to transport 400 captured Africans in 1564 to forcefully come to America as slaves. The primary goal of slavery was to steal one’s identity, destiny and legacy. Mrs. Holmes, myself and a delegation of my members from Bethel visited Goree Island around 1992. When we visited this horrible place we felt a pain, an anger and a frustration that was emotionally wrenching. Several of us fainted. It was a real reminder of how our people suffered without their families, without their friends and without a meaningful future. When people are robbed of their identity, destiny and legacy, they can lose all sense of hope and faith. Listen, identity, destiny and legacy are three spiritual weapons that one must have in order to live the “abundant life.”
- Identity: Who has God called you to be?
- Destiny: What has God called you to do?
- Legacy: What will God bless you to leave behind?
A healthy identity leads to a healthy destiny, and a healthy destiny leads to a healthy legacy. This is why it is important that you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior. I am not talking about some Eurocentric Christ. I am talking about the historic Jesus who said in St. John 10:10, “The thief cometh not but for to steal, and to kill and destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” My friends, when I met Jesus, I was able to recover my stolen identity and reclaim a twisted destiny and I was empowered by the Holy Spirit to leave behind a legacy. When Jesus becomes our “Good Shepherd” then life is worth the living. We have vision and values. We have purpose and passion. We have hope and healing. We have strength and salvation. We have peace and perseverance. No slave master, no demon, no negative vicious past, no dream buster, and no hater or heathen can any longer destroy our identity, destiny and legacy. Why? Because we know the “Good Shepherd” and He gives us precious promises. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. “ (St. John 10:27-28) Say it loud, “I am somebody!” Amen.
April 30, 2020
"The Value of Destiny”
Are you determined to run on to see what the end will be? A person of destiny will find his or her identity in Christ. We can’t find eternal security when our identity is misplaced and misunderstood. Yes, the pursuit of destiny is costly. You can’t bump into destiny and destiny will not bump into you. Abraham, in Genesis 12:1-7, had to leave his comfort zone, his safe zone, in order to discover his destiny. Please don’t discount the value of destiny, destiny is worth the discovery. Destiny is what God has ordained you to do and to become.
Your destiny will guide you into the promises of the living God. God told Abraham that if he would follow Him that God will bless him. Genesis 12: 2-3 states “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
Blessing Number 1: God said, “I will make you a great nation; I will make you the father of all nations, and I will do it by myself.” God is saying, I made the heaven and the earth; I made humanity, I can make you a great nation. You see, we know how to make a mess; God knows how to make miracles.
Blessing Number 2: God said “…and I will bless thee.” When you know you purpose in this life and walk in your purpose, walk in your destiny, God declares, “and I will bless thee.” I know God is in the blessing business. I know God is blessing me right now and right now, (PAUSE and tell God) “Thank you Sir, for all these blessings!” I think I can hear somebody saying, Reverend, He just keeps on blessing me.
Blessing Number 3: “…and make thy name great!” God will bless you to have a great life and a great name. See, when the Lord changed your name and gave you a great name and that means a great character. Nobody can defame your great name and great character. Your name is important. Your life is important. God wants to bless your life. He wants to bless you with a life of joy, peace, goodness, kindness, forgiveness, and love. Your money, your degree, and your influence can’t buy these fruit of the spirit.
Blessing Number 4: I am still on verse 2, “...and thou shalt be a blessing.” God blesses us to be a blessing. Your destiny should be one of service to others, helping others, leaving a generous tip for your server, giving something extra to the person at the drive-in restaurant who gives you your food, and saying something nice to a stranger. Yes, paying your tithes and offering. (Malachi 3:10) We were built to be a blessing to others. Hasn’t God been blessing you? Don’t you have more than enough? Isn’t God still blessing you?
Blessing Number 5 (Verse 3) “And I will bless them that bless thee.” My Living God! You can’t beat God giving, no matter how hard you try! When I bless you, God turns around and blesses me much more. Find someone this week to bless! When you bless them, God will bless you. Now, we don’t give to get a blessing but the promise is that we will be blessed. The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, “But this I say, he which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly, and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give, not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” We do know that the number “5” stands for grace. The Grace of God has been really blessing us, even in the midst of this coronavirus calamity. God’s Grace is mighty sufficient!
I have to close this devotional now and pick up the other promised blessings in Genesis 12 tomorrow. Why don’t you join me this day by biblically counting.
“Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your blessings,
see what God hath done. Count your blessings name them one by one,
count your many blessings, see what God hath done.”
A person of destiny will always remember what the Lord has done, is doing and will do! Amen.
May 1, 2020
"Destined to Bless Others”
Well, my brothers and sisters, the Lord has blessed us to see the fifth month in this year. My God, we are still living! Over a million of our fellow Americans have been infected by this virus. More than (60,000) sixty thousand Americans have died. Let us ask our Lord to bless those families. The Bethel congregation has felt the impact of this virus. About a dozen members of our church have lost loved ones; they are in my fervent prayers.
This week we have been discussing identity, destiny and legacy. Let me encourage you not to give up on your destiny. God has kept you alive because he has a divine assignment and purpose for your life. If you forget your identity, who God has called you to be, you will forfeit leaving an inspirational legacy behind and Satan would have stolen your identity. Since we are still here, we are called to be a blessing.
I left off yesterday at Genesis 12:3. Let us review. God called Abraham at seventy-five years old to pursue his destiny for the purpose of leaving a legacy. Yesterday, we discussed the five blessings that God promised to bestow upon Abraham. However, these promises of the blessings were conditional; Abraham had to walk by faith and obey God’s word. The Bible tells us in Genesis 12:3, “And I will bless them that bless thee.”
I think this month you and I should make a conscious effort to be a blessing to someone. As a matter of fact, we should do it on purpose! Those who bless you, God will bless them. “And thou shalt be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:2c) If you bless me, God will bless you; if I bless you, God will bless me. Why so much this week on blessings? We live in a selfish, self-promoting time; we live in a day where we eat the seed and eat the whole cow and pig by ourselves. We live in a day where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. We live in a day where so many in the body of Christ are takers and not givers.
The God who created us is a giver. Abraham was blessed because he understood his destiny. He obeyed God; he wasn’t a perfect man, but he was a faithful man.
Blessing Number 6. (Genesis 12: 3b) “…and curse them that curseth thee.” Yes, beloved, be careful that you don’t mess up and “curse a child of God.” Maybe another reason for this coronavirus devastation is that we may have been cussing at the wrong people! Maybe our policies have too many people living in poverty, living in poor neighborhoods, neighborhoods where there is medical disparity, food insecurity, high infant mortality, environmental injustice, elderly abuse, child abuse, and more. It is dangerous to curse a people of God! God said “I will curse him that curseth thee.” The blessing is that God will take care of the cursed and He will stop the cussing. Our responsibility is to fulfill our destiny, reclaim our destiny and walk in obedience.
Blessing Number 7 (Genesis 12:3-4) “And in thee all families of the earth be blessed. And Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him.” Have you left yet? The street of self-pity, the avenue of anxiety, the road of refusal, the boulevard of bitterness, and the place of panic. Have you left yet? From fear to faith, from stress to strength, from doubt to destiny and from ignorance to identity. Have you left yet? “So Abram departed, as the Lord hath spoken unto him, and Lot went, and Abram was seventy five years old when he departed Haran.”
What is your excuse? Child of God, come on, and get on up now. Get your dance back! Get your smile back! Get your hope back! Get your gusto back! Get your faith back! Get your confidence back! Get your courage back! If you get on up now and follow God, He will keep His word and change your character. “Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham, for a father of many nations have I made thee.” During this coronavirus pandemic, let the Lord make you better, stronger, more thankful and a “blessing.” Amen.
May 2, 2020
"Lord, what do you want me to do?”
Let us continue to pray that our Lord will lead the scientists and physicians to find a vaccine for treating this deadly coronavirus. We know that God is able to do anything but fail. I hope that during this virus pandemic that you have committed yourself to walk closer with our Lord, Jesus Christ.
As you truly seek your identity, I hope you are finding the answer to the question, “Lord, who am I?” Let me tell you, who you are: You are a child of God. “Know ye that the Lord He is God. It is He that made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” (Psalm 100:3) Here is the key to having a strong self esteem, self image and self awareness. You must know who your creator is. Perhaps this virus made us reconsider how we are powerless; it’s made us realize that money, possessions, things, pleasures and people are not our God. I hope that in the season of this virus we have opened our hearts to understand how powerful God is.
Also, I hope during this week, especially in the midst of this coronavirus, that you are sensitive to your destiny. The question is “Lord, what do you want me to do?" It is never too late or too early to seek the Lord’s recommendation for your being. Many people don’t know their purpose. Why are some people gossipers? Why are some people addicted to face book and keep up pure mess? I know you are not in that number. A purposeless person will most of the time walk in fear, doubt, and distress. A purposeless person will socially distance one’s self from the Lord and will lean on their own understanding. However, a person of destiny will live by the directives of Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding, in all thy ways acknowledge Him, and he shall direct thy path. “
My friends, Proverbs 3:6 tells us, “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy path." This precept is legacy: you want to be on the stage of life where you want to bless others. Listen: Lord, what shall I leave behind? You are writing your own eulogy. Yes, don’t be afraid of dying; you are writing your legacy. Over 60,000 plus people have died of this coronavirus pandemic; many more die each year from all kinds of issues. Therefore, legacy is about helping somebody until the day is done.
Well my friends, today will be my last devotional until further notice. I am saddened to end this chapter of devotionals. God’s spirit laid upon my heart to write these devotionals during the most critical stages of this virus. Why? Because this is a period in history no one has ever experienced. For the first time in our history, we had to close the physical doors of God’s church at a critical time where fear was trumping faith. Many believers were trapped in a state of fear. God humbly used me to write about faith, hope, peace, prayer, salvation, God’s grace and His promises. There are now over forty plus devotionals for your edification and encouragement. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. “(2 Timothy 3:16-17) This has been a good work. My beloved friends, once you come to the spiritual transformation as it relates to your identity, destiny and legacy, you will walk by faith and not by fear. Once you truly believe that God has all power over diseases, demons, devils, and death, you can never be afraid to worship him in all seasons of your life.
I thank God for your faithfulness in reading these devotionals. I truly hope that you have been helped and blessed. I hope that you will be a blessing to others. Let me thank my wife, Dr. Gloria P. Holmes, for her encouragement to keep writing during this storm; Dr. Linda T. Fortenberry for her superb editing; my extremely gifted Media Ministry led by Bro. Robert Seniors, Sis. Beverly Gavin and Sis. Rene Johnson, for posting these devotionals, keeping the website fresh, and live streaming our Sunday and Wednesday worship services. Furthermore, I sincerely want to thank the Music Ministry under the stellar leadership of Dr. Cassandra Poole and The Voices of Bethel for providing great music during this virus crisis. I want to thank the Chairman of our Trustees, Deacon James Coleman, for his support and encouragement and for how he has worked so efficiently behind the scenes for the church to flow smoothly during this most critical time in our history.
Finally, I want to thank my family for their daily encouragement and amazing feedback from these devotionals. I am greatly blessed to pastor this remarkable Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. Thank you for reading these devotionals, giving and praying that Bethel will come through this season so much stronger. Thanks to everyone. “Now unto him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen" (Ephesians 3:20-21) My dearly beloved, Amen.
(April 20 - April 26, 2020)