The Christian Response to the Coronavirus
by Reverend Dr. RB Holmes, Pastor
Bethel Missionary Baptist Church
April 20, 2020
"The Necessity of Faith”
As we walk by faith and not by sight, God will consistently reveal to us His grace, His love, His strength and His mercy. As we move from fear to faith, God will shower us with a renewed sense of purpose, possibilities, and perseverance. I don’t want your faith to falter. I want your faith to grow. This week, I want you to get a “faith check-up.” Why? Because true faith will always have you moving toward God’s perfect will for your life and toward experiencing God’s perfect peace. Hebrews 6:1 tells us: “Therefore, leaving the principles of the Doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance and of faith toward God.” If we don’t grow our faith, we will find ourselves going backwards. Listen, it is dangerous to drive backwards.
“True faith,” says Pastor Warren Wiersbe, “is confident obedience in God’s word in spite of circumstances and consequences.” Here is how this kind of bold faith operates. God speaks and we hear His word. We trust His word and respond to it regardless of the circumstances and consequences. For example, it was the three Hebrew boys’ faith in God whereby they were not afraid of the consequences of being placed in the fiery furnace. They had a bold conviction that the God they served was able. Yes, they believed that “God is able.” This coronavirus is testing our faith in God. Many people’s faith is weak and trembling. My faith says that whatever the circumstances and consequences, we must trust and obey. The unsaved people don’t understand true Bible faith, probably because it sees too little faith in action in the church today. Hebrews 11:1 gives us a description of faith: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The word substance means to stand under or to support a solid rock, not quicksand. A solid faith will move you forward and onward. A quicksand faith, will have you sinking in doubt and despair. Faith is the confidence of things hoped for.
I am praying that you will start off your Monday by having confidence in the Christ. The word evidence merely means conviction. This is the inward conviction that what God has promised, He will perform. The Bethel Missionary Baptist Church is celebrating 150 years as a church. I have been blessed to pastor this church close to thirty-four (34) years. This year is an interesting year because the coronavirus is testing our faith. Pray for me because I still believe that what God brings us to, God is able to carry us through. I am praying that our faithful Lord will strengthen our faith. The Lord will. He promised that He would in 1 John 5:14-15: “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us: and if we know that He hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.” I don’t know how you feel about it these days, but I am going to keep the faith in the name of Jesus. Amen.
April 21, 2020
"Living by Faith”
The Christian is called to live by faith. We are challenged in Romans 1:17 to go from faith to faith: “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it written, the just shall by faith.” True faith is growing faith; true faith is believing faith; true faith is walking faith. When our faith is growing, we will do a greater work. When we operate in believing faith, our outlook will be better; when we have a walking faith, we will be an overcomer.
Let me briefly unpack this gift of faith. When our faith is growing, we will do a greater work. When we have a believing faith, I declare, our outlook will be better and greater. St. John 14:12 tells us, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me, the works I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do because I go unto my father.” Friends, we must measure our faith by the works, the witness, and the worship that we do. Each one of us has been given a “measure of faith.” Once our faith grows, we can see better, act better, do better, live better, pray better, think better, give better, look better, and live better. Yes, we will do greater works for the glory of God and for the transformation of our communities.
How do we pull this off? 2 Corinthians 5:7 speaks to us: “For we walk by faith and not by sight.” That exhortation means by faith, I can reach my destiny, achieve my goal, and respond positively to the struggles, sickness, stress and strains of this life. Furthermore, I must stay in the word of God to defeat fear, agitation, hopelessness and anxiety. Romans 10:17 gives us the assurance: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Don’t let Satan steal your sense of worship. Keep hearing God’s word in such a time as this. You need a stronger faith and not a weaker faith! With which faith are you working? Amen.
April 22, 2020
I think you know by now that my thematic focus for this week is “Faith.” I gave you a definition in faith in our Monday devotional. “True Bible faith is confident obedience to God’s word in spite of circumstances and consequences.” Please do some serious meditation and reflection on this definition. Faith matters. It may be dark and dreary now, but faith matters. You may be worn, torn, sad and weary now, but faith matters. Your body may be sick and your spirit may be broken, but faith matters. Your circumstances may be unbearable and the consequences unsettling and uncertain, but if we ask God to increase our faith, we shall overcome. Listen again to 1 John 5:4, “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world, and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” Hear me. This coronavirus pandemic is focused to destroy our faith.
A good family friend of mine gave me some sad and shocking news. She revealed that she doesn’t believe in God anymore. Please pray for her; you don’t need to know her name, just her condition. She doesn’t believe in God anymore. Life’s bitterness, besiegement, blindness, bombshells, and blizzards can have you distancing yourself from the living Lord. We need faith; we need worship; we need a stronger faith and not a weaker faith. Hebrews 11:6 declares “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”
We’ve come this far by faith, leaning on the lord, trusting in His Holy Word,
He’s never failed me yet. Oh, can’t turn around, we’ve come this far by faith!
You ought to hear me. Just the other day I heard a man say he didn’t believe in God’s word.
I can say God has made a way; he’s never failed me yet!
The doors of the church are open! Amen.
April 23, 2020
Our focus this week has been on faith, specifically, stepping out in faith. Hebrews 11:1 states “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Having true faith means we believe in God and act on His word; true faith means we trust in all of His promises. Faith is a substance, a reality, a hope, a conviction, even though we have not yet seen it come into fruition. Having true faith means we believe in God’s word at all seasons and in all struggles. Having true faith means I am still holding on to God’s unchanging hand.
In today’s culture, many people have more faith in self, in the world, in the government, in the daily news and in others more than faith in God. This statement is troubling, but it is a true statement. The level of our belief determines the level of our obedience. Listen, the Lord said in Deuteronomy 11:26-28, “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; a blessing if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day, and a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God.” True faith is obedience, trusting and obeying the word of God.
The word of God is spirit and life and results in a fruitful and fulfilling life when believers obey the word of God. Hear this again; I just love this verse: Romans 10: 17, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Faith is our way back to God. We must not be more concerned about them opening up the government again. Beloved, I am more concerned about us opening up our hearts again to our faithful Lord. “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
The old hymn is challenging us to “Trust and Obey“
When we walk with the Lord, in light of his word, what a glory He sheds on the way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey - for there’s no other way to be happy with Jesus, but to trust and obey. Amen.
April 24, 2020
The Bible says in Galatians 3: 11, “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident, for the just shall by faith.” The question is on this Friday, the last Friday in this month of April, 2020: Are you living by faith? Living faith will move us forward, trusting in the power of the risen Christ. The just shall live by faith, not finance, fitness, fashion nor food. Living by faith means that we believe the promises of God that His grace is sufficient. His mercy is everlasting and His truth endureth to all generations.
The opposite of a living faith is a dead faith. Dead faith needs a funeral today; dead faith must be eulogized and buried. A dead faith is dangerous and contagious. Many people are falling away from the church by using this coronavirus as an excuse for not worshiping, but worrying. They are not worshiping, but they are still working, still shipping, still shopping, still entertaining, and still gossiping because they have allowed their faith to falter. James Cleveland used to sing a song called “Where Is Your Faith?” A lack of faith creates the atmosphere for a dead faith to dominate our spirits and souls. A living faith is an active faith. A living faith is a worshiping faith, a walking faith, a working faith, a waiting faith, a warring faith and a winning faith. Please study the eleventh chapter of Hebrews.
Our faith must come alive; this is no time to operate in weak or dead faith. A dead faith is no good to your church, your family, your neighbors, your colleagues, not even your enemies. Dr. Phillip Paschal said that “a dry faith is just as bad as a dead faith.” Listen, if you stay away from church, God’s word and prayer for a season, your faith will dry up like a raisin in the sun. I don’t know about you, but I don’t appreciate dry stuff. Dry bones in the valley, dry skin, dry lips, a dry mouth, dry bread, dry cake, dry chicken, dry steak, a dry church and dry people. The truth be told about this dryness stuff, God does not like a dry faith. Faith has to be alive and active. Show me your faith and mountains will start moving. Show me some faith and the Goliaths will start falling. Show me some faith and some people will be getting saved. Show me some faith and somebody will start believing more in the Person of God, the Peace of God, the Provision of God, the Promises of God, the Presence of God, and the Power of God. Faith is what gets God’s attention. Hebrews 11:6 declares “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” Really, be truthful; this is a devotional. Who are you trying to please? The just shall live by faith. Amen.
April 25, 2020
Let me sincerely thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedules to read the daily devotionals. Let me thank Dr. Linda Fortenberry for editing these devotionals and for her faithfulness. I do these devotionals primarily early in the morning, “while the dew is still on the roses.” Why? Because it is in the quietude of the morning when I hear God’s voice most clearly. It’s like “Hush, hush, somebody’s calling my name…it must be Jesus!” During this coronavirus pandemic, I want to encourage you to rise up with joy and thanksgiving and pray the prayer of faith.
David said in Psalms 5:3, “My voice shall thou hear in the morning, O Lord, in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and look up.” There’s power when we look up the Lord. When we look up to the Lord, He will direct our paths. When we look up the Lord, He will give us a word that will lift our weary soul. When we look up, God looks down and pours us out many blessings from His holy place. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from which cometh my help; my help cometh from the Lord which made the heaven and earth.” (Psalms 121: 1-2)
My friends, our morning times with the Lord will strengthen our faith. When we know that the Lord still lives, we don’t need a leap of faith, but a walk of faith is so much better. When we meet God wherever we may go in this life, if we keep the faith, God promises to be with us. Here is a key faith factor that all believers must never cease to believe: God cannot lie. “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me and thy right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:9-10) We ought to be shouting about now. Somebody shout out “Lord, meet me in the morning!” When you have some morning time with the Lord, you will discover that “…Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)
So, on this Saturday, do me a favor, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this king of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.” (Psalm 24:7-8)
“My faith looks up to thee, thou lamb of Calvary, Saviour divine! Now, hear me while I pray,
Take all my guilt away, O let me from this day be wholly thine!”
My friend, look up to Jesus and hold your head up high. Praise the Lord!! Amen.
April 26, 2020
I have been greatly blessed by almighty God to have been born into a family that has great faith in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. My beloved parents and grandparents were people of great faith. My parents never lived in fear and doubt; they instilled in all eight of my siblings and me the power of faith and vision. “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5: 2) Through our faith, Christ has brought us into the blessing of God’s Grace that we now enjoy. My parents and grandparents literally taught us that with God nothing is impossible.
The faith of my mother and father has had an enduring impact on my life. We really saw faith in action in the Holmes Family. Oh Lord, how we thank you. My parents walked by faith; they were faithful providers; they took care of us; they gave us the best of themselves. They taught us by precept and example that the God we served was a faithful God. Listen parents, your walk of faith will make a lasting difference in the lives of your children. My parents not only encouraged us to go to church; they went to church. My grandparents not only told us to go to church; they went to church. Because of their great example, you have it right, we all are in church. Friends, faith is contagious. This past week’s devotionals called us to walk by faith. We reap what we sow. Maybe you have heard the quote from the English novelist, Charles Reade: “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.” The word of God says in Galatians 6: 7-9, “Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap; for he that soweth to his flesh shall reap corruption; but he that soweth to the spirit shall of the spirit reap life everlasting; and let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season; we shall reap if we faint not.”
I thank God for family faith. You know, the month of April is a month where many members of my family celebrated birthdays. For example, my beloved late father, the honorable RB Holmes, Sr.; my dear sister, Betty; my dear sister-in-law, Constance; my late, esteemed brother-in-law, Kenneth; my cherished niece, Joi, and her adorable son, Kadin; my loving late grandmother, Ma, and my beautiful niece, Shaen were all born in April. Happy birthday, guys. My point is that God honors faithfulness. Family faith is extremely significant. We must never cease to honor and serve our most high God and praise God daily for his great faithfulness.
“Great is thy faithfulness, O God my father; there is no shadow of turning with thee;
Thou changest not, thy compassion they fail not, as thou hast been thou forever wilt be.
Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed thy hand provided, great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto to me.”
The household of faith. Keep the faith. Amen.
(April 13 - April 19, 2020)